A million and one things to write about this week means a longer than normal article but then I have used a bit of cut and paste for some of it, so guilty as charged your honour!
First things first and I feel the sad passing of Sir Eric Parker needs a mention even if none of us currently mix in such circles. A true friend of racing and the breeding industry for more years than I care to count he was also a real fighter to the end ands will be missed by anyone who ever met him. Stints on the board of the Racehorse Owners Association, BHA, National Stud and others, and I gather his sage and sometimes understated advice will be sorely missed by a great many people, especially his family.
Next on the big news list was the announcement that Jamie Spencer will be retiring from the saddle at the end of 2014 and at the tender age of 34, though the announcement met with a mixed reaction from the punters I have spoken to. Some saw him as a disaster and I have to admit, he could find trouble in a race when it wasn’t necessary on occasion, but I also remember plenty of winners that needed his patient approach to be seen at their very best and on balance I believe my betting accounts were better off wit him than without him. He will stay involved in the sport as part of the Qatar Racing management team, and who can blame him for scaling down the physical efforts of a day to day jockey for an office job?
Third on a very busy news day was the statistic (Ron just loves statistics) that the human dynamo that is A P McCoy break his own record for the fastest 100 winners in a season by an amazing 13 days! Now 4o years old (make a note, Mr Spencer!), he is as focused as ever and to be honest, I don’t know how he does it after so many winners and so many spills but as a punter I am so glad he does, our sport needs him more than ever with possibly less racing personalities (other than me and Ron of course), than ever before despite all the jockeys medias training!
My next little snippet is a cheat I suppose, but for those thinking we are the only racing industry plagued by leech like bookmakers, have a read of this from Australia which made me laugh and almost cry in equal measures – hands up who else thinks our major industry paper (Yes you The Racing Post) would bend over and take in in similar fashion – odds on favourite me thinks!
“A passionate racehorse trainer prepared to pay for advertising space to have his views on corporate bookmakers heard has been told his ad won’t be accepted by racing industry-owned publication Winning Post.
Paul Banks, who trains at Bendigo, said he first attempted to have his thoughts on corporate bookmakers and their impact on Australian racing published in a letters-to-the-editor column in the publication, but the copy that appeared was so changed from the original version that he decided to book a page advertisement in this week’s edition.
“I’m so upset about what the corporate bookmakers are doing to our game and our business. I don’t think some trainers have the time to look closely at the economic problems they bring to our industry and I want to put our case,” Banks said.
“When my editorial was slashed I thought I won’t be pushed aside and contacted the paper and they agreed to give me the back cover for a page ad. I agreed to pay $1900 but soon after my copy arrived at Winning Post it was knocked back,” Banks said.
Banks also added that he questioned the freedom of speech and that corporate bookmakers had as many as 20 ads of their own throughout the racing newspaper.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by very concerned trainers who are disgusted that my attempt to put my side of the story was thwarted. In fact once word got out that the page was rejected I received 10 calls in no time,” he said.
Apart from preparing a small team at Bendigo, Banks oversees a hugely successful advertising company.
It is also believed that there have been complaints from within the industry that a staff member has been writing positive stories about the Melbourne Racing Club and its chairman Mike Symons without placing a disclaimer that Symons is on the board of Winning Post.
Fairfax Media attempted to contact Winning Post and TVN general manager, Stephen Dole, but he did not return our calls.
Looking ahead to the weekend again now and race fitness is so difficult to define as is its affect on how a horse runs. I have naively assumed in the past that as a horse is supposed to perform as best as possible that every horse is at least 90% fit regardless but recent trainer comments have left me realising my own stupidity on that one! Reckless Abandon would be a great (or terrible) example as the now four-year-old Middle Park winner returns to action at Newmarket in the Hopeful Stakes at Newmarket, a Listed event over six furlongs. Now in the care of Charlie Appleby and the Godolphin boys having previously raced for Clive Cox, he is the best of these by some margin and has more room for improvement than most, but after 321 days off the track (anyone else remember Ted Rogers?), the balancing act is between talent and fitness –a tough one to call.
Talking of horses who have needed the run (and may still do so according to trainer Roger Charlton), how about Al Kazeem who is yet to show his old form since returning from stud? After backing him and tipping him on his return where he was thrown in at Newbury, how I laughed after the race to hear his trainer tell us all how badly he needed the run, but although he is still not apparently 100% there, he really ought to be too good for his rivals in the Group Three Winter Hill Stakes due off at 6.45pm at Windsor. He looks to have True Story to beat at these weights but his best form would see him pick this lot up and carry them and I am hoping that even if he is still a little ring rusty, his class should carry him over the line at the front of the queue.
Selections this week (both each way):
Reckless Abandon 3.55pm Newmarket Saturday
Al Kazeem 6.45pm Windsor Saturday
Horses to follow:
Enraptured – a lovely looking progressive daughter of Oasis Dream whose two-year-old form would put her in to Listed class as a minimum assuming she has trained on. Her handicap return at Newbury disappointed me to be fair as I thought she was thrown in at the weights, but she was far too buzzy for her own good and the betting suggested she will improve considerably for the run – her first in eleven months. Update – she was beaten on Thursday 21 August at York where the weight of my money seemed enough to stop her but I still feel she will win a race soon.
***No current entries***
Toronado – could be absolutely top class and looked to ease up in front at Ascot in the Queen Anne Stakes for a cozy victory. Bound to improve again for the run he will be aimed at the top all aged mile events this season and will hopefully mop up and boost our profit margins! Finished second in the Sussex Stakes but was anything but disgraced and well worth leaving on our list.
*** Entered at Ascot 18th October ***
Joyeuse – the mile of the 1000 guineas was clearly a step too far for the daughter of Oasis Dream but switched back to six furlongs she won with any amount in hand at Haydock. With her fillies and/or three year old allowance it seems certain that Lady Cecil will place her to good effect for the rest of this season and beyond, and with a bit of cut in the ground she seems certain to win more races. A dismal ninth at Deauville last weekend but still worth keeping on the list.
***Entered at Ascot 18th October ***
Rewaaya – word at the John Gosden yard is that she is better than we have seen so far and certainly Group class – be that here or possibly abroad as the three-year-old options start to run out. She was talked of as an Oaks filly so no great shock to see her win her maiden with ease at odds on but she still showed all the customary signs of inexperience and I am sure there is more to come.
***No current entries***
Horsted Keynes – always seen as a late developer, connections hope he will be even better as a four year old. He started well enough with a comfortable victory at Yarmouth and was blowing hard enough after the race to suggest there is improvement to come despite the fact that the seven furlongs that day were covered in an impressive 1.m 23.44 seconds, 0.16 quicker than standard! Beaten since they are struggling to get him to repeat that form but he is still held in the highest regard at the Roger Varian yard and may be worth sticking with in the hope they lower their sights a little!
***Entered at Goodwood Sunday ***
Tominator – back in training at the Jonjo O’Neill yard they are very happy with him and he looks a picture – expect a few wins this season with the Chester Cup very much on the agenda.
***No current entries***
Mutakayyef– trained by William Haggas I had a quandary this week – do I or don’t I back the son of Sea The Stars? As with all the stable juveniles he was a shoe in to improve for the run but he is spoken of in glowing terms by gallop watchers in Newmarket. Fact is he ran as expected – slowly away, green as grass, and hampered as well, he will learn plenty from the experience and can be ignored at your peril.
***Entered at Newmarket 27th September***