Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The land of plenty


The plan had been that this posting would be entitled 'Famous Blue Raincoat', but that's going to have to wait, because I don't have the energy just now to start on such a big topic. But I'd like to throw a ball into the air anyway and see who'd like to catch it.

Jack Dawson (pictured), of course, is our hero; and Joff brought Dandy Kid's mighty feat to our attention. But there are so many wonderful horses doing the rounds just now that I'd like to doff my cap to a few more of them.

Indian Maiden - 6-year-old daughter of Indian Ridge. Even at the start of last year she was running around in sprint handicaps on the all-weather. On Sunday she won her first Group race, to add to the SEVEN Listed races she'd won in the previous 16 months.

Quito - 9-year-old son of Machiavellian. David Chapman bought him out of the Sheikh's herd as a five-year-old. By this stage he'd won two races at Nad Al Sheba, a maiden and a 45-65 handicap. Chapman started running him on the all-weather that winter, and he won his first UK race rated 59. He's subsequently won another sixteen races, including the Ayr Gold Cup and six Listed races. He won at York last week, at which time he was rated 112. That's two heroes really, I suppose: Quito and his trainer.

Danehill Dancer. Sired yet another Group One winner at the weekend, Miss Beatrix in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh. She's from a Catrail mare from a Horage mare from a Swing Easy mare - how about that for upgrading a pedigree?

Sheikh Mohammed. It rather goes against the grain to nominate the Sheikh in this list, particularly as his team doesn't emerge from the Quito story with much credit, but one has to salute the tremendous weekend he enjoyed at Saratoga. Three Grade Ones, one Grade Two and one maiden (mind you, the maiden winner had cost $1.5 million, so that's buying a whale to catch a sprat).

And looking at things from a slightly different angle, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that Aidan O'Brien has entered 45 horses in the Racing Post Trophy. Entries close two months in advance of the race. So that means that, at that stage, he had 45 two-year-olds (and I presume they're mostly colts, because I can't remember a filly ever running in the race, so I guess that means he probably has a similar number of equally promising fillies) who he felt might be up to winning a Group One race over a mile two months thence. I must at this point say that I respect Aidan O'Brien hugely as a trainer and as a man. He started with no advantages whatsoever and, by his own skill and efforts, has achieved feats as a trainer that I will never get even remotely close to. And he has remained throughout a very decent and humble man. What I would suggest, though, is that you remember these 45 potential imminent Group One winners (it might even be instructive to write down their names, and look at the list at the end of next year to see how many names you recognise) and, when next you read some journalist spouting on about genius and magic worked etc. - which will surely happen - question how secure a grip on reality that journalist actually has.

And to revert to our list of heroes ... The Duke. Vale. A true colossus. I only remember him as a trainer who ended up with a team of the most wonderful horses, real equine heroes such as Viking Flagship, Moorcroft Boy and Relkeel, and who ran his stable on the almost forgotten basics of loyalty, integrity and sportsmanship; and as the BHB roving bloodstock ambassador who surprised me with his approachability and friendliness. But another image I treasure of him was told to me by Ian Watkinson. Ian is as tough as they come, so any jockey he admired had to be a fine man. The David Nicholson Ian described to me was a jockey without fear, invariably cheerful, a big strong man who'd starve himself to ride at 10 stone 4lb and who would keep a bottle of red wine by his peg in the changeing room and enjoy a glass between rides. They don't make them like that any more.

And, finally, another legend. Yesterday I "enjoyed" a fruitless trip to Ascot Sales, but it wasn't time wasted because, to my delight, I found myself having lunch with Britain's maddest trainer. Yes, "Mad" Manners himself. I happened to be queuing up behind him in line for fish and chips, and was surprised when he hailed the chef thus: "SERVE THIS MAN - he had a winner on Sunday - JACK DAWSON!!" He then proceded to tell me how pleased he was that Jack had won, and that I probably didn't know who he was - and he was delighted when I replied, "Of course I do - you're Mr Manners". We ate our lunch together, and it was a privilege for me to enjoy his company for 40 minutes. He treated me to some recollections - and was genuinely pleased when it became clear how well I remembered his horses and the wins which he was describing - including how he was warned off for three years for running a horse in a point-to-point with the wrong weight, and was fined £50 by the stewards at Cheltenham for getting so excited when his horse Knight Of Love jumped the last fence in front with victory assured that he jumped over the rails and ran up to the line behind it, throwing his hat in the air and cheering. If I'm in as good shape physically (bar dentally) and mentally at the age of 80 as he is I'll be very happy indeed.

Just before I sign off, one final thought on the famous blue raincoat. Gemma and Aisling are so enjoying James' absence that I fear that, if he is his usual ebullient self on his return, my first posting next week might be entitled 'Death of a ladies man'.

11 comments:

Sinndar1 said...

I suppose it is only fair to add Benbaun, to the list of heros at the weekend......roll on Japan and Hong Kong!!

Commander Collings said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Commander Collings said...

Sorry, had to remove the last one. My head's so thick with a combination of cold and hangover from Tish and Henry's Darley darlings leaving do last night that I realised I had completely lost the ability to type.

Ah Sinndar, you don't miss a trick, do you? How have the gifted men (Messrs Wallace and Oxx) survived without you this summer? At least you'll be back in time to mastermind Benbaun's repeat Hong Kong bid.

I'd like to add to the list of heroes. How about Young Mick? A Wolverhampton Claimer on a cold Monday night in January to the race that stops the nation? Let's hope so. I can't wait to hear jolly George recite the complete works of Banjo Patterson in the winner's enclosure. I'm sure Mr. Weld will lend him his copy to read on the flight to Melbourne.

alamshar2 said...

No doubt that the ultra-consistent Benbaun deserves his place on the high-achievers list. His Flying Five win was as well-deserved as it was hard-fought. I suspect the only reason John didn't mention it was because it had already been discussed on this blog (by westtip, whoever that is) in the comments after his previous posting.

I note that Benbaun's in-form handler had yet another winner yesterday. I only hope that his run of success can survive the return to the UK of his erstwhile stable manager.

alamshar2 said...

No doubt that the ultra-consistent Benbaun deserves his place on the high-achievers list. His Flying Five win was as well-deserved as it was hard-fought. I suspect the only reason John didn't mention it was because it had already been discussed on this blog (by westtip, whoever that is) in the comments after his previous posting.

I note that Benbaun's in-form handler had yet another winner yesterday. I only hope that his run of success can survive the return to the UK of his erstwhile stable manager.

Sinndar1 said...

I hope to mastermind another HK trip!! Manchurian is held in high regard by his handler and looks a very exciting prospect for the Super Sire Singspiel......!

Commander Collings said...

Yes, Manchurian does indeed look the business. Becky (Limit Down's owner) rides him out at Wallace's and has been raving about him. Fingers crossed for the big Singer.

Monstarex said...

Had a look at this after reading Sunday's Racing Post.

Canmot help after reading previous logs that a lunch involving "Mad" Manners and "Barmy" Berry would of been quite a spectacle.

However what a refreshing racing site to visit somewhat differant from the normal garbage you read from the other yards.

Keep it going.

One question

Did Stanley ever race?

Stato-man said...

Here here Monstarex!
The BHS site is a site with it's own vitality - and brahmameisters.
You are quite correct - the others are boring compared to our Wath's mighty site - esp now we have Emma's sideshow to boot. And it's energetic souls like yours and KYWC that keep it lively and entertaining.

Keep contributing please because we also have a monthly "over-achievers award" on this site and you sound like just the sort of blogger who could collect a prize!

Commander Collings said...

Hi Moonstarex,

Excellent to ahve a new contributor. No, Stanley didn't race. He was supposed to but is a non-chaser and didn't quite get the point of bounding out of traps in pursuit of mechanical bunnies. I can't work out if it's because he's too stupid or too clever (almost certainly the former).

Our new recruit Sarah, who arrives in about 12 hours, didn't race either as she broke her hip as a puppy. For the greyhound residents of this yard, Dickie, you'll have to start an under-achievers' award.

Commander Collings said...

I meant Monstarex, sorry. Two long days at the yearling sales in Ireland and I'm too tired to type/spell properly. But we did buy a nice filly. I'm sure the blogmeister will be telling you all about her.