The turf season is just around the corner ...

We have four runners today

Friday, 06 October 2017

"And oftentimes excusing of a fault

Doth make the fault the worse by the excuse."

William Shakespeare.

The sun rising

... even though the moon is still out

It’s much colder once again this morning, but bright and sunny, in fact a proper autumn morning. There was a big full moon last night, which I call a poachers moon, and you certainly didn’t need any light to walk about if you were out and about during the evening. We have had a good morning with plenty of people in and did some good work with a bunch of two-year-old fillies Across The Flat. One or two others did some fast work on ground that was perfect. With four runners today, the two non-runners we had didn’t make any difference as we had Joey Haynes and apprentice Paul Hainey in.

Working Across The Flat

Astrofire was being stubborn last night when going into the stalls. She is not frightened at all, just being awkward and so will have some more lessons at home before going back to the track in the not too distant future. I think the class of the race and the trip were greatly against her, but she has had another experience, won the best turned out and will be handicapped after her next run. It may be that it didn’t look it last night, but she is capable of winning races.

We have four runners today, all tonight at Chelmsford so it is going to be a busy period for everybody. We start at 5.45 with Roof Garden who has had two runs so far. We step him up in trip a bit tonight and I think he will run better than he has done so far.

Our next two run in the same race at 6.45. Saint Anthony ran 16 days ago at Yarmouth. He will have come on for that race, is drawn reasonably well and will, once again, run ok. This looks a strong race with at least five horses costing over £150,000. Topapinion has had two runs so far. He certainly improved from the first to the second and will improve again after his run tonight, but I think we will be at a big disadvantage drawn out with the washing at 14. We will have to drop in and try and get lucky.

Our last runner is Indian Red at 7.45. We step him up again to two miles. He has got two winners to contend with, both carrying 6lb penalties for recent victories, so he is another that has it all on, but could certainly run well at a reasonable price.

On Saturday we only have one runner and I couldn’t have picked a worse time or place. Dixon runs in the mile and quarter handicap in the 9.15 at Wolverhampton. He ran well last time at Chelmsford, but it is annoying he is drawn quite wide, but I will be very disappointed, if barring an accident, he doesn’t run with credit. 

Lost The Moon and Clearance

October 1 finished yesterday with all the records being broken. One yearling made £4 million to the Godolphin buying team. The whole thing looks to me to be between an elite band of buyers where money is no object and it just gives the wrong impression that the industry is in a healthy state. There were plenty of horses during the week that struggled to sell and in fact a considerable amount of those knocked down, were certainly not changing hands. October 2 and 3 will be a better gauge and they start on Monday.

Bracken Brae

I see that the appeal by Richard Hughes’ apprentice has been upheld and her 10 day suspension has been overturned, and quite rightly in my opinion. It is very lucky that Richard Hughes has a column in the Racing Post to publicise the matter. This just goes to show that if you have professional stewards they can have their own personal opinion of what happened and can make or break a career. I am sure in this case the right result, and only result, has been resolved, but if it hadn’t it would have left a slur against a young person’s name and would have been very detrimental to her career. The BHA’s aim to do away with amateur stewards and just have professionals will make it much harder for these occurrences to be overturned in future. In this case a quiet word in the ear, and an understanding one at that, about the ride in question would have been the best way to have dealt with it.

Phil On Friday

Another Arc, another hero – or in this case heroine. What a brilliant performance it was by Enable, and a master class in jockeyship by Frankie Dettori.

Is she one of the all-time ‘greats’ though? What defines a great? I don’t know. We all have our own ideas.

Near the start of it all there was Eclipse. Now he was definitely a great horse. Then there was Flying Childers, followed by Sceptre, Hyperion, Ribot, Dancing Brave, Galileo, and obviously in more recent times, Frankel. There are so many others that could qualify; it’s all a matter of opinion. What do you think?

One of my top three favourites would be St. Simon, unbeaten in his racing career though he never won a Classic. In fact he did not run in any. His owner, Prince Batthany, fell dead from excitement at Newmarket after seeing Galliard win the 2,000 Guineas and under the rules in force at the time all his horses’ engagements, including of course those of St. Simon, became void. But St. Simon won many prestigious Cup races and the legendary jockey Fred Archer said of him: “He’s not a horse, he’s a blooming steam engine.” Trainer Mat Dawson reckoned he was “as good at a furlong as he was at three miles.”

St. Simon had his quirks. He would “sweat like a pig” at times and mysteriously developed a hatred of umbrellas. But at stud he exerted tremendous influence and sired the winners of 17 Classics including a clean sweep in 1900 of all five.

Continuing our theme of last week on ‘bargain buys’ St. Simon must be near the top. After the death of Prince Batthany he was sold for 1,600 guineas, a deal described by racing historian Robert Rodrigo as “one of the greatest bargains of all time”.

He has a rival, though, in Atalanta, who didn’t exactly stamp her name indelibly on the pages of racing history but was to become the dam of 1888 Derby winner Ayrshire. As a youngster she was bought by Lord Rosslyn, after much haggling, for seven and sixpence (37 and a half pence), a wheelbarrow, and a free nomination to one of Lord Rosslyn’s pigs for the vendor’s prize sow.

Enable might produce a Derby winner one day so, on that reckoning, what’s she worth?