Saturday, February 26, 2011

And he's all heart too

The praise which the Racing Post gave to Ethics Girl last week would be equally fitting for Kadouchski, whose win at Sandown yesterday resulted from his ability and readiness to dig very deep. Conditions there were as testing as you could ever find and it really was a war of attrition up the final hill, a situation tailor-made to bring out the best in horses willing and able to force their heart and nerve and sinew to serve their turn long after they are gone. I know that Kadouchski's form is a bit up-and-down, but his seeming inconsistency is in no way the result of any lack of heart. If anything, in fact, his inconsistency is a true indication of the fact that he is incredibly genuine: it stems from the fact that he's a hard horse to get right and keep right, and consequently sometimes isn't physically able to post a personal best - but still he keeps trying as if the concept of going amiss isn't one with which he is familiar. Lest you think that I'm making excuses for the fact that I make a lot of mistakes while training him, by the way, I'll point out that I am his fourth trainer and that he was a maiden when he arrived here - so I'm probably not the only one to have found him hard to get right. He'd run below his best on his two previous jumps starts this winter when I'd expected him to run respectably, so I gave him a few easy weeks after his poor run at Folkestone on January 2nd, built him up again slowly - and happily it turned out that when he went to Sandown yesterday he was ready to show his best again. What I did, too, was to make sure that I put him in a race in which he didn't carry a big weight. He's only small and not even very stocky (unlike Ethics Girl, who is small but built like a tank) and so I think that it was as important yesterday that he was racing with a relatively low weight on his back (10 stone 3lb) as it was that he was racing off a relatively low rating (97, the lowest rating he'd raced off for over two years, and 7lb lower than the rating off which he'd won at Sandown 26 months ago). Even in weaker company, I think that the 11 stone 11lb which he'd borne at Folkestone last month was just too much for him. So that was all grand - and his fighting spirit meant that in a stirring slog up the hill, he came from well off the pace to collar the favourite/long-time leader about four strides from the line and win by a hard-fought three-quarters of a length. Great stuff!

While paying credit to Kadouchski's heroism, I should also point out that a big part in his win was the excellent ride which he received from his young jockey Peter Hatton. I'd had to recruit someone new for him as the race was for conditional jockeys, and I'd been surprised by how many people had said "Who?" when I told them that he was being ridden by a lad called Peter Hatton. Peter clearly hadn't caught many eyes previously, which I suppose is understandable as he's only a youngster and has only ridden a handful of winners, but he'd caught my eye when I'd been watching racing on ATR and RUK, most notably when he'd ridden the winner of a conditional jockeys' hurdle race at Kempton for his boss Alan King a few weeks ago, and I was very happy to put him down for the ride when his name featured in the list of jockeys which Dave Roberts presented to me. It all worked out perfectly because Peter still claimed 5lb in the race for not yet having ridden ten winners, while other 7lb-claimers only claimed 3lb. That, in fact, made the difference for us between victory and defeat, because it's fair to say that we wouldn't have won with another pound on our back. What also made the difference was that Peter's ride was faultless: I'd told him not to get conned into putting the horse under too much pressure too early because there's plenty of time coming up the hill at Sandown, the horse would stay on, and it's a track which favours good jockeys, ie ones who appreciate that the winning post is at the top of the hill, rather than halfway up it. He took all that in and rode accordingly, so he, like Kadouchski, can hold his head very high after the victory.

What was also very nice about yesterday was that Kadouchski's win kicked off a treble for Newmarket stables at Sandown. Kadouchski's win came in the first race; and the second leg of the treble came in the second when Russian Flag, trained by Neil King (who also sent out Fashionable Gal to win on the Flat at Lingfield yesterday and who is pictured here being interviewed on Racing UK by Lydia Hislop in the Sandown winner's enclosure, with Russian Flag walking around in the background), won a handicap steeplechase under Alex Merriam. The treble was completed later in the afternoon when the Lucy Wadham-trained Aviador won a two-and-a-half mile handicap hurdle under Richard Johnson. It's always good to remind people that Newmarket is an excellent training centre for both codes, a fact which is seemingly often forgotten. From my point of view, the reminder was particularly topical as I'd been to the AGM of the National Trainers' Federation earlier in the week and, having given my views on the (poor) collective response by the nation's National Hunt trainers to the tarriffs, I was told by one wise guy that I wasn't in a position to comment, being a Flat trainer. I did, of course, point out that I am not a Flat trainer, but a dual-purpose trainer - but I suppose some National Hunt stalwarts might not be able to grasp such a distinction. Anyway, I was particularly pleased yesterday to be able to reflect that in the past 12 months we've had 15 wins, with eight coming on the Flat and seven over jumps. I'd actually hoped that we might have been able to make it a true 50:50 split today as Alcalde was set to start favourite in a novices' handicap hurdle at Chepstow, but sadly rain stopped play there (and not before we'd got 80 miles down the road). That was disappointing, but no lives were lost and, God willing, he'll be able to fight another day. Perhaps as soon as next Friday, at Newbury.

1 comment:

racingfan said...

A fantastic piece John and your update about the horse on thursday was appreciated, Really pleased for the stable with the win on friday. I had heard of Peter Hatton but only recently, and to come from behind like that as an apprentice jockey is testament to his skill.

I have also noticed how well James Doyle is riding on the all weather at the present time,

Keep up the great work john,