The persistent rainfall at York on Tuesday made it highly unlikely that Gleneagles would line up in the Juddmonte, and so it proved.
That seemed to leave the race a penalty kick for Golden Horn but the Epsom and Eclipse hero fluffed his lines when chinned by Arabian Queen.
It was like a light of other days to see David Elsworth back in the big time – well, we didn’t actually see him, for he did a vanishing act!
Of course we can all get carried away when sentiment and nostalgia combine to give a warm glow.
For even the normally brilliant racing writer Alastair Down might, for once, have lost the plot a wee bit.
He claimed in the Racing Post that Elsworth is “without a shadow of doubt the greatest dual purpose trainer since Vincent O’Brien.”
Mmm… Istabraq’s handler hasn’t done too badly since he switched his attentions to the summer game.
Ballydoyle plans for the Ladbrokes St Leger are still up in the air a bit, and it must be a slight concern that Bondi Beach was seeing stars after meeting Storm The Stars.
Whatever the relative merits of that bruising encounter – and the all too predictable if debatable outcome in the Stewards Room – both horses were in the wars.
While the layers immediately chalked them up at the head of the Leger betting there is a fear that last Wednesday’s Punch And Judy Show might take the edge off them for what looks a potentially tough renewal at Doncaster.
Should Fields Of Athenry land the Ebor today then clearly he’s in the mix, but Aloft would need to sprout wings at this stage.
Order Of St George (14/1 William Hill, Boylesports, Betfair) is the Tipperary dark horse.
In the Curragh Cup, over a mile and six furlongs, he was Ryan Moore’s pick while Seamie Heffernan was on Bondi Beach (both were carrying 8-10 so Joseph had to sit it out).
Seamie lost his whip just over a furlong out but still got Bondi Beach home by a short head, the pair well clear of the rest.
Fogotten Rules, making a quick reappearance after the Ascot Gold Cup was a disappointing fourth having tried to make all.
That run should be ignored completely, and in no way used to boost the achievements of the O’Brien pair.
Ironically in hindsight, Aidan O’Brien suggested after that Curragh race that while Bondi Beach mightn’t need another run before the Leger, Order Of St George certainly did “and might go for something like the Voltigeur at York.”
It didn’t quite pan out that way.
Instead Order Of St George went to Down Royal for a race that – despite it’s imposing title Her Majesty’s Plate – was a relative egg and spooner where he dotted in.
In contrast Bondi Beach headed to York for what proved an absolute grueller.
However Order Of St George can forget the quiet life tomorrow when he takes on smart stablemate Kingfisher in an Irish St Leger Trial at The Curragh.
As a four year old the Irish Leger is the obvious target for Kingfisher though there are whispers that the Melbourne Cup (40/1 Bet365 and Betfair) could be on the agenda.
Ryan Moore had a glorious Royal Ascot but made no bones about it that he totally messed up on Kingfisher in the Gold Cup.
Anyway, lets not overreact to the defeat of Golden Horn.
Hindsight as ever gives us great (retrospective!) wisdom, and perhaps the pacemaker tactics didn’t work out, and the ground seemed particularly sticky near the finish.
Take nothing from the excellent winner though.
Many of us suspected that the three year old fillies might be superior to the males this season, all of which makes the anchored-out-the-back tactics used on Oaks heroine Qualify in the Irish Derby all the more frustrating.
For sure she has a finishing kick to die for, but mightn’t that be better unleashed from just off the pace rather than from a different postal zone?
Back to the present though and Golden Horn remains a superb racehorse.
Now it’s on to the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown next month where he is likely to finally meet Gleneagles, not to mention Cirrus Des Aigles and Free Eagle.
Plenty to look forward to there!
Strange that the thing that always springs to mind first when I think of Andrew McNamara is a Cheltenham Festival that he wasn’t at!
David Walsh of The Sunday Times, an old sparring partner of mine from our Irish Press days together and now a regular UK Sports Journalist of the Year, asked “Where’s Andrew McNamara, why is he not over?”
Which proves that not only does Mr Walsh know the time of day but how easily for those of us on the regular racing beat someone can just drift off centre stage without us noticing too much.
Outgoing and friendly, McNamara was a class act in every way, and in the early years everything was progressing smoothly.
Top jobs with Michael Hourigan and Edward O’Grady and of course his brilliant Cheltenham Queen Mother Champion Chase win on Newmill.
That was a superb front running performance where they went off at an electric pace and put gifted rivals like Kauto Star and Moscow Flyer to the sword.
In total contrast one day he staged an unbelievable Tortoise and Rabbit type job on Beef Or Salmon at Leopardstown when somehow reeling in The Listener in the Hennessy when Bob Alner’s fine chaser at one stage seemed half the track in front.
Ironically Andrew later became The Listener’s regular partner, and booted him home to win the J W Nicholson Wine Grade One at Down Royal.
While Andrew cherishes that Hennessy day at Leopardstown and rates “the Beef” as one of the best he ever rode, Hourigan’s great chaser was already in the twilight of his career.
McNamara has often been unlucky like that.
For example the once all powerful O’Grady yard – 18 Cheltenham Festival winners lets not forget – was in decline and as often happens in that kind of scenario – just ask Adrian Maguire – the jockey is often unfairly in the firing line.
And he’s been attached to the Shark Hanlon yard in recent years where – with the obvious exception of Hidden Cyclone – things have not been exactly thriving.
Of course that’s only part of it.
For, and speaking of Sharks, the Irish jump jockeys weigh room – where he was, as everywhere else – a highly popular figure, is mighty competitive.
And, duck when you say this, would even the great AP have won his 20 titles in a row had he stayed in his native country, or indeed come anywhere near it?
For it’s no easy task taking on Ruby Walsh, Paul Carberry, Davy Russell, Barry Geraghty, Paul Townend and company – not to mention Willie Mullins – every time you go out.
Not that for one moment anyone should reflect on Andrew McNamara as any kind of underachiever.
A CV that includes big race success on the likes of Sizing Europe, The Listener, Hi Cloy, Beef Or Salmon, Hidden Cyclone, Tranquil Sea, Catch Me and an Irish Grand National victory on the mare Bluesea Cracker speaks for itself.
Constant back problems have forced him to retire perhaps earlier than he planned at 32.
Yet as a first cousin of J T McNamara and a brother of currently wheelchair bound Robbie, he’ll appreciate better than most what it means to get out while still in the prime of your health.
He’s already shown an aptitude – as has Robbie – for media work which will continue.
But his main focus is elsewhere as he’s ready to launch a training career, and, typically, he has been planning and preparing for this for a long time.
He has followed top agents around the Sales and of course listened and learned in all the leading yards he worked in as a jockey down the years.
He should be well equipped too on the oft neglected but oh so vital business side of things.
For while most jockeys leave school at a very early age Andrew got an A1 in Maths in his Leaving Cert and indeed was doing a Maths Degree in the University of Limerick before walking out to become a full time jockey.
Most of all though he’s a brilliant horseman, and of course his dad, also Andrew, is a successful trainer and little doubt that Robbie too will join the training ranks before too long.
With one thing and another it’s been a nightmare few years for the McNamara clan.
So as Andrew hangs up his saddle to launch his new career from a new base near Mullingar, everyone in racing will wish him well.
We’ll miss him as a jockey, but no doubt in his new role he’ll be returning to the Winners Enclosure many times over.
Who knows, David Walsh might finally get to see him back at Cheltenham.
Back next Saturday.
Irish Racing Club