Friday, November 3, 2017
Relief all round as Glendevon remains in yard
Last week was stressful, to say the least. I knew that offers were bound to be made for Glendevon after his impressive Kempton win. It was inevitable.
Sure enough, a handsome offer came in from America, and at one stage it looked likely I was about to lose my first really good horse so soon after I had found him.
When I told my wife Lizzie he was about to be sold, she was naturally very upset. “You can’t let him leave the yard. You have to find someone to keep him here,” she said.
I was desperately still trying to find people who could match the offer from America and keep Glendevon at Weathercock House when a phone call came out of the blue, very late in the day.
It was an offer from Cheveley Park Stud to buy 60 per cent of the horse, and I am delighted to report that four days of worry have ended in relief.
His owners Dave Campbell and Danny Waters get to keep 40 per cent of Glendevon, and he stays in the yard.
Glendevon is quoted at 20-1 for the 2,000 Guineas, but there are no plans at this stage other than that he won’t run again this year.
We’ll wrap him in a big ball of cotton wool over the winter and see how he progresses. The horse is just in light work now and we’re all feeling very lucky to have Cheveley Park Stud as owners in our yard, with Dave and Danny retaining a significant share.
It’s a win, win situation for everyone and I just hope that I can now deliver the goods. Glendevon’s form was boosted when the Kempton runner-up Moqarrar, who finished five lengths behind him, won at Newcastle on Tuesday.
The dream lives on.
Proud of my nephew’s apprentice jockeys’ title success
The one disappointment from another excellent Qipco British Champions Day was that the two lads battling out the Stobart Apprentice Jockeys’ Championship, David Egan and Kieran Shoemark, were at Catterick instead of the big stage at Ascot.
David eventually got the better of the duel by 53 winners to 52, and ideally should have received his prize - the Tom O’Ryan Trophy - at Ascot, where Silvestre De Sousa was crowned Stobart Champion Flat jockey.
One of the reasons we all agreed to the changing of the format of the jockeys’ championship was that the winners of each category could be honoured on a single card at Ascot in mid-October.
That didn’t happen this year as far as the apprentices’ title was concerned as the battle had gone right to the wire and wasn’t settled until the third-last race on Catterick’s card, 25 minutes before Ascot’s final race, the Balmoral Handicap, which ironically used to be for apprentices.
Naturally I was thrilled for David, who is my nephew. His grandad would have been very proud of him. His mother is extremely proud of him.
David is very keen to learn, and uses the advantage of being tutored every day by his dad, who is always there to give advice.
There is the obvious worry with all young riders who lose their claim so quickly - David might encounter a dip at some stage - but if he reacts in the right way he has a good future in the saddle.
It was certainly nip and tuck stuff between David and Kieran over the last few days and, in fact, David was very lucky to get to that stage after suffering the most horrendous fall at Brighton a few weeks ago.
Badly bruised and beaten up, I don’t know how he managed to walk away from that fall. Maybe his grandad was looking down on him?
Why is Cracksman rated superior to Enable?
I had my doubts about Cracksman’s claims to be favourite for the Qipco Champion Stakes, but he answered them in the best style imaginable.
I didn’t fancy him, yet he was brilliant on the day. It looked like the Cracksman who won the Prix Niel and the Cracksman who landed the Champion Stakes were two different horses. It was great to watch, and nice to see a Frankel improve with age.
Having said all that, I do think people are getting carried away with the hype about a clash between Cracksman and Enable next year, and I am very surprised to see him rated superior to the filly on both BHA and Racing Post Ratings.
What did Cracksman beat at Ascot? Ulysses wasn’t in the race, Barney Roy didn’t like the ground, and the runner-up Poet’s Word’s best win has come in Group 3 company.
I don’t want to take anything away from Cracksman, but he was beaten in what was widely considered to be the worst Derby in years whereas Enable has won five Group 1s this year, culminating in the Arc.
The handicapper doesn’t often get things wrong, but has Cracksman really improved 13lb since
August when he won the Great Voltigeur? If he had done, then surely John Gosden would have been keen for the horse to take his chance in the Arc.
Ultimately that was a very good trainer’s decision not to run at Chantilly. He dodged the Arc with Cracksman, won it with Enable, and got to lift the Champion Stakes with Cracksman.
It has been a joy to see Enable improve all year and watch what John does best. I can’t wait to see both of them next year.
Some of the other results on Champions Day were far less fathomable, which is always a problem when you run championship races at the end of the year on very soft ground.
People tend to forget that soft ground at York, Haydock and Ascot are three completely different surfaces.
I liken it to playing golf at St Andrews and Wentworth, where the ball reacts totally differently at each course on the soft-ground fairways.
Ascot’s sand-based track is totally different to the black soil at Haydock, and some horses - many of whom have excelled on fast ground all summer - proved unable to cope with the conditions.
Don’t bet against an Aidan one-two in Racing Post Trophy
It’s a fairly safe bet for Group 1 races in Britain nowadays that Aidan O’Brien will have the first two so look no further than his runners in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.
Aidan has enjoyed a truly amazing year, and needs just one more victory to break the world record for Group 1/Grade 1 wins in a season.
Yes, he has the best horses, but he manages to get the best out of the best horses year after year.
Lots of people have good horses, but don’t get the best out of them.
Aidan has huge ability. He has done it for such a long time, and knows all the families inside out. He knows what training regime suits them, and no stone is left unturned in his bid to get every horse to fulfil its potential.
If a horse at Ballydoyle is good, you can rest assured it’s form and results on the track will be good too. I am sure Aidan even surprises himself at times!
Having Ryan Moore on his side is the cherry on the top. It’s a massive operation, and Ryan will take the pressure off Aidan.
Ryan does his homework, and knows the strengths and weaknesses of every rival in every Group 1 he rides in. He can tell Aidan what he believes will happen in a race. More often than not he will be right.
Aidan has four runners in the Racing Post Trophy, including Ryan’s mount Saxon Warrior, unbeaten in two starts and favourite for the Derby.
He is also represented by The Pentagon, currently second favourite for the Derby, and Dewhurst third Seahenge, who landed the Group 2 Champagne Stakes on his previous visit to Doncaster.
It’s an enormous show of strength to take into the final Group 1 of the British Flat season, and it would take a brave - or foolish - man to bet against Aidan registering a record-breaking 26th success.