While Aidan O’Brien is setting all sorts of records in the Beresford Stakes, it’s highly unlikely that another victory in last Sunday’s Curragh main attraction had the Master of Ballydoyle doing cartwheels of joy.
That Port Douglas was sent off at 14/1 – the outsider of the stable’s three runners – perhaps says it all.
Stablemates Unicorn and 9/4 joint favourite Beacon Rock were more strongly fancied and indeed Beacon Rock was a most unlucky third, flying home for Ryan Moore.
Of course as the late Sir Henry Cecil once said “horses make fools of us all” and it’s interesting that Found was 14/1 on her debut where she beat stablemate Together Forever who was an 11/10 hotpot.
Back in the mists of memory Alleged was 33/1 when winning the Royal Whip for Vincent O’Brien at the Irish 1,000 Guineas meeting which was run on a Friday evening.
Peadar Matthews was aboard, having what may have been his only ride ever for Ballydoyle, with Lester Piggott and Tommy Murphy on more fancied stable contenders.
When it was put to Vincent that there had been some support in the U.K. during the day – evening opening of bookies offices was not permitted at the time – he said:
“Well obviously some people know more about my horses than I do, because I’m astonished by the result.”
Maybe so, but the horse went on to win the Gallinule and the Great Voltigeur and was then second to The Queen’s Dunfermline in the St Leger.
Then Lester Piggott steered him home in front in the Arc, a feat they repeated in Paris twelve months later, the last to win in successive years before Treve.
St Nicholas Abbey and Sea The Stars both won the Beresford but since those heady days the standard has slipped alarmingly.
True, Old Man River, from whom all sorts of stellar achievements were eagerly anticipated, won it last season.
Sadly things did not exactly go to plan for him this season, and the other recent Beresford winners Geoffrey Chaucer, Battle Of Marengo and David Livingston are unlikely to have statues erected in their memory down Ballydoyle way either.
Perhaps though we’re being a wee bit unfair to Port Douglas.
After all he made the running, and certainly dug deep to hold off True Solitaire in a controversial finish.
Not for the first time in big races lately the Stewards were called into action.
In betting on the exchanges the clear majority expected Port Douglas and Emmett McNamara to keep the race.
This they did, but only after a long wait and it must have been a tight call for the beaks either way.
There was no doubt that True Solitaire and Pat Smullen were impeded though whether it cost them the race is debatable.
The Stewards, after prolonged deliberation, decided that it didn’t.
True Solitaire is a decent yardstick, though no world beater, and the general view that third placed Beacon Rock will prove best of all in the long run is hard to argue with.
In many ways the Park Stakes on the same card was proving even more disappointing than the Beresford in throwing up serious Classic contenders in modern times.
But last year’s winner Qualify changed all that when landing the Oaks in June.
And her aptly named stablemate Coolmore could follow in her hoof prints.
She swooped late for Joseph O’Brien to beat Mick Halford’s very smart filly Anamba with another potential big improver Last Waltz in third.
While she left it late and only scored by half a length, there was absolutely no doubting Coolmore’s superiority.
She looks every inch an Oaks filly, yet, while 16/1 with Boylesports and 888sport looks reasonable, a lot can happen between now and next June!
The bizarre events at Southwell last Tuesday where Aidan Coleman was attacked by drunken racegoers in the weighing room was a very alarming development.
Thankfully it was an isolated incident but many racegoers have been complaining about increasingly unacceptable behaviour from a small minority.
While the sight of champagne bottles flying in a drunken brawl on Ladies Day at Royal Ascot drew plenty of media attention as we might expect, there have been stories of many more low profile unpleasant incidents at various venues.
It is very important that there is no kind of over reaction to all this.
There is generally a happy and convivial atmosphere at race meetings and long may this continue.
Indeed some friends of mine say that the friendliness and warmth they encounter at the track, often when meeting complete strangers, is for them one of the main attractions of a day at the races.
So in many respects the last thing we need is visible high security and an obvious police presence.
Nonetheless there is no doubt that rowdy behaviour by a few can spoil a day out for everyone else.
And of course an attack on a jockey and valet – or indeed anyone else at the track – is totally unacceptable.
Certainly then there should be increased security but hopefully this can done discreetly.
Perhaps we could make an exception of the bar area where a more visible presence would reassure those who just wish to have a pleasant drink in friendly company.
It might also serve as a warning to any idiots that have imbibed not wisely but well that any sort of unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated.
What with petrol money, the cost of admission, race cards, food and beverages, a day at the races can prove quite an expensive business – even before you think about having a bet!
Lets hope the powers that be can find a proper balance with increased security and vigilance not in any way detracting from the enjoyable atmosphere which happily still prevails at all the racetracks on these islands.
Back next Saturday.
Irish Racing Club