Good Friday may be the most solemn day in the Christian Calendar but it didn’t prevent the godless and the goy from flocking to Lingfield racecourse for the annual All Weather Fest. Crowds were out in numbers and attendances were a record for the fixture. Glorious weather added to the feel good factor but it must have affected the general population who seemed intent on gracing the M25 with its inevitable jams.
I was itching to oppose the odds on Cold as Ice in the first but wanted to see Volunteer Point in the flesh before I did so. An addition of an hour and a half to my journey time rendered this a missed gig and the day went downhill thereafter. The last couple of Championship days have been wages but not this time around.
Nevertheless there were the usual high quality entrants and I am sure a few winners will come out of the meeting.
Realise was in great shape before the Sprint event but needs at least 7 furlongs these days. He also has decent form on the turf and is still rated 88 on that surface. Likewise the stayer Anglophile can mix it on the turf and he keeps a rating of 103 which can be employed to best effect under either code. He was in supreme nick and continues to progress.
Given that he had had surgery for colic and was only one race fitter for the experience, Captain Joy turned in a career best when taking the Mile Championship under a strong ride from the brilliant Pat Smullen. This also has to be a contender for the Training Performance of the Year by his handler Tracy Collins. In the same heat Jammy Guest was by no means out of place in this company and retains a mark of 85.
Grendisar has improved during his campaign and he was in fine trim in advance of the Middle Distance Championship. Marco Botti has confirmed himself a top trainer in recent years and there is no finer handler of older horses. The disappointment of the day has to be Maverick Wave who appeared to have come of age in the prelims. The Weight For Age Scale will tell you that Thoroughbreds do not fully develop till they are 5 Years of Age and the John Gosden trained gelding had hit the height of his powers when spied in the parade ring. However he was under the cosh some way out and I will be keen to know if there was a valid excuse for this indifferent running.
Somebody once asked me what I thought was the biggest problem facing Punters. The obvious reasons were quickly floated. Was it bent jockeys hooking horses up so that they and their mates lay it on the Exchanges? Or perhaps crooked Trainers keeping back their charges so they might get a cheap handicap mark or to save the horse for a specific target. Other possibilities included Clerk of the Courses reporting False Going Descriptions or altering the Course distances without telling the Public. Then we were onto the fraught subject of Bookies not laying advertised prices or closing accounts with no good reason.
After spending time considering all these possibilities my colleague was surprised when I said ‘None of Them’ While all the above certainly have an adverse affect in my opinion the reason for most losses are Hormones especially when they influence young colts. Unfortunately testosterone surges through many a young male and this can have a negative motivation on the behaviour of said animal. The net effect is that instead of concentrating on running to their best of ability many a buck fails to cooperate and runs below its full potential. If the animal fails to behave then probably the only option is for the gelding operation to be invoked. The gelded youngster can now focus his attention on more athletic pursuits. Over the years I have lost substantial amounts of money betting horses that I believed to have the ability to win races only to watch them run miserably below par. In the time after being eventually gelded they then gave more consistent performances.
I think it was the Epsom Trainer Stanley Wootton who once said ‘Give me a Stable of Geldings and I will break the Bookmakers’ Unfortunately Stanley is long dead and unable to confirm the remark but I am sure the sentiment holds an element of truth.
If my thesis is correct then there is no finer example than the display of Gracious John on the penultimate race on the Lingfield card. In his previous race the 3 year old had tried to runout when favourite for a conditions event at Chelmsford. After that fiasco it was mooted that the colt was lame and thus a fair excuse was proffered. However on Friday after stumbling as the gates opened original doubts were rather confirmed as he then pulled like a lunatic and ran badly. A blocked run finished what chances he had of taking the spoils. It can only be concluded that the stable have little option but to have the colt cut with the hope that he may perform more kindly in future.
On the other hand trainer David Barron has made no secret in the past of having his juveniles gelded early on if they have no stallion potential. He can then get on with the job of training them without having to cater for their wayward manners. It must of course be easier to ride them at home and make for a safer conveyance on the gallops if they are on their better behaviour. His winner Wolowitz was allowed two runs to be prove himself as an entire last Summer but when he failed to win was then gelded and he returned to the racecourse at Southwell at the end of December. Since then his CV has been faultless and he gave an honest display to coin £93 Grand for connections as a consequence. Connections of Gracious John copped a measly £1,755.
I one time outlined my views on the matter to my Mrs. She looked at me, I looked at her. I looked at her, she looked at me. Nothing more was said!!!!!!
Having had enough of crowded motorways and lousy results I headed home without wishing to attend another racecourse in the foreseeable future. I might have had second thoughts if I had known what was to unveil at Kempton the following day. Saturday saw the introduction of two very promising juveniles from the Mark Johnston yard. Named Boater and Chupalla respectively, the fillies fairly blew away their opposition and seem Epsom and Ascot bound. Furthermore they appear well made sorts with plenty of scope for improvement. Both are by the Australian Stallion Helmet who was a Group One Winner on that Continent and I am sure his Share Value will soar as a result. He is a stallion to watch if these two are anything to go by.
Also at Kempton, the Roger Varian trained Barsanti ran away with the £28K Rosebery Handicap off a mark of 85. The time of the race was excellent and Group aspirations might conceivably be on the Agenda as the season develops.
Meanwhile in the Desert The Dubai Carnival was concurrently taking place. I do not know if it is the Dirt track replacing the Tapeta or just the nature of the Cards but I am definitely taking a bigger interest in The Meeting. The highlight for me was the victory of Postponed who has been a favourite of mine since I saw him before his first race at the Newmarket July Meeting a couple of years ago. He ran and won like a machine at Meydan and is a wonderful prospect for the top middle distance races this Summer.
Intilaaq was a disappointment and the occasion might have just got to him but he was well fancied beforehand and he made very favourable impressions on me when I saw him every time last Summer. He remains one to follow.
Elsewhere, I punted Big Orange and was feeling very confident as he pressed on but he was cut down with a rapier burst of speed from the French trained Vazirabad who surely has to be targeted at the Arc de Triomphe in the Autumn. He is better than a mere stayer. I have mentioned Jungle Cat here before and he acquitted himself well against hardened Group One sprinters He might be better again back at 6 furlongs but should go on again from here.
With the brighter nights and The Flat Season upon us can I Now safely assume that the Winter is behind us – Please????!!!!????
Be Lucky and May The Gambling Gods Be With You
Back next Saturday.
Chris Anzani Racing