Thursday, July 27, 2017
Lambourn is home to a stunning sprinter in Harry Angel, the super winner of the super race that formed the highlight of what proved to be in some ways a strange meeting at Newmarket.
To my eyes there appeared to be a significant draw bias up the nearside rail, which isn't a new thing when they use the stands' side track there. When there is a draw bias, whether it's real or perceived, it can lead to jockeys being indecisive about where to go. That's what we saw during the July festival.
On the Thursday, when the stalls were positioned against the far rail and we ran Goodwood Crusader, there was uncertainty about whether to trek across to what they believed was the favoured stands' rail or to stay where they were.
Although the stalls were placed against the stands' rail in the July Cup, I think the lads still weren't completely convinced about what was the best part of the track to be on. When you get that sort of uncertainty it inevitably follows that the early pace tends to be less strong than it would otherwise have been.
As a result, they went slow in the July Cup, which didn't help Caravaggio, who to make his own life harder also missed the kick. When that happens a jockey's main hope is they go flat to the boards, making a position in the rear less of a disadvantage. That didn't happen.
That said, I have absolutely no doubt Harry Angel deserved to win. I also have no doubt Harry Angel was the best horse running in that race - although as I made him my Hottie last week you would expect me to say that!
Newmarket's July course is a faster track than Ascot and, quite simply, I think Harry Angel is the fastest horse.
He was very unlucky in the Commonwealth Cup. As Clive Cox has kept saying, this is a colt who is still learning.
At the royal meeting he showed his relative immaturity by racing too freely. He still managed to fight off every challenge that came his way, apart from the one delivered late by Caravaggio. By the time Ryan came through with his effort, Harry Angel had been softened up. For me, that made it a hell of an effort from the runner-up.
I would expect Harry Angel to confirm the form with all those July Cup horses should they ever meet again over 6f, or indeed over 5f. In the circumstances, it probably seems sensible Caravaggio is slightly moving up in distance for the Prix Maurice de Gheest.
Our own prolific winner, Goodwood Crusader, ran nicely in another slowly-run event that developed away from him. He is a hold-up horse who needed them to go quick. Unfortunately for him, they didn't. Not surprisingly, his next stop will be Goodwood, in all probability in the Stewards' Cup consolation race.
Irish racing came together on Sunday to honour Tommy Carberry. It was a privilege to attend his funeral.
Tommy was a brilliant jockey. He looked like a feather on a horse. This was a man who rode winners of the Gold Cup, Grand National, and Irish Grand National, plus big Flat winners as well, yet he can only have weighed about 9st in colours at the time. That didn't stop him from being an incredibly strong rider. He was also incredibly gifted.
My dad used to ride against Tommy and always spoke very highly of him. They were very different characters - Tommy was invariably full of beans and the life and soul of every party - but Dad was in awe of his talent. That's because Tommy was a total natural.
There would be fellas who might practice hour after hour to improve their riding. Tommy would have forgotten more than they were trying to learn. He was born with a rare gift and, remarkably, so was his son, Paul, who rode in a way so similar to his father.
My view has always been a person either does or doesn't have what it takes to be a jockey.
You can teach someone who is quite ordinary to get better, but I'm not sure you can actually teach someone to be a jockey. It's already within that person or it isn't. That's why the top jockeys all have their own styles and each looks different on a horse to the others. Similarly, the best golfers are all in the same position at the point of impact but they also all have their own very individual styles.
To have both ridden and trained a Grand National winner was remarkable. For the Aintree hero he trained to have been partnered by his son made for an amazing story.
I actually rode Bobbyjo myself in a handicap hurdle - and managed to get round! We finished fourth in a big field at Naas about six weeks before Paul rode him to win the Irish National. Tommy certainly knew what he was doing in bringing Bobbyjo to a peak. It was obvious that afternoon at Naas.
I would say in Ireland Tommy Carberry would have been as big as figure as Lester Piggott in Britain. We have lost a great man but through his racing family his legacy lives on.
It was great to read about Sheikh Mohammed bringing back his famous maroon and white silks through his daughter Sheikha Al Jalila. It was even better to read that Sheikh Mohammed is rekindling his past relationship with John Oxx.
Sheikh Mohammed's old colours were much more associated with Steve Cauthen and Walter Swinburn than with me, but I well remember donning them myself on occasions, most regularly for John when back in Ireland. John was a brilliant trainer then and he remains a brilliant trainer now, so it makes complete sense for Godolphin to have sent him some firepower.
It says much about John's astuteness that when Sinndar went to Epsom in 2000 he was his first ever runner in the Derby. He was asked why he had never before that point sent a horse over for the race? His reply was he had never had one good enough.
Even now John has only had four runners in the race, yet thanks to Sinndar and Sea The Stars he has won it twice and finished third with Alamshar. John would be someone who would only ever run a horse in a race like the Derby if he was confident that horse was more than worthy of taking his chance. That's something to be admired in a trainer - although when it comes to John there are plenty of things to admire.
In recent years things have not been so smooth for him with top owners having decided to head elsewhere. That shows how fickle this sport can sometimes be. There are times when it can also seem downright unfair. Yet you won't ever have heard John complaining about it. As a true gent of the sport, he's not that sort of man.
John spotted the amazing talent in Sea The Stars way before other people in the same situation might have done.
I remember Mick Kinane saying he was taken aback when John asked him to ride the colt as a two-year-old one morning. Mick was shocked as it was quite early in the year, but John knew what he had. He then excelled with what turned out to be one of the all-time great horses. To have won Group 1 races with Sea The Stars across six consecutive months was an exceptional achievement.
There wouldn't be a better trainer at planning the right route with a good horse. I hope through the new link-up with Godolphin John will have some horses good enough for him to start making some of those plans.
Some of our familiar friends left the yard after going through the ring at the Tattersalls July Sale, where the prices horses changed hands for were quite extraordinary.
I enjoy listening to Micky Quinn on the radio while I'm driving the jeep in the mornings. Not surprisingly, he's often talking about football and players who have been sold for £50 million and now expect to be paid £300,000 or £400,000 per week. Those figures are bananas. It's absolutely madness.
In some ways, though, you can draw a comparison with the prices that racehorses sell for these days.
Everybody seems to want a good horse but there just aren't enough of them to go around. Even horses who, with the best will in the world, are only ever going to reach a certain level are now becoming very expensive.
We sold Bunbury, a five-year-old who had won just one his 14 races, for 45,000gns. Now, he's a nice horse who should do well for his new connections abroad, but it's still remarkable he could fetch so much money.
The lesson seems to be that while British prize-money is pretty rubbish, British horses appear to be the most wanted and valuable in the world.