Friday, May 11, 2012

A mighty night

Goodwood actually turned out to be one of three meetings abandoned yesterday: Kelso's evening card was called off around midday.  Chester went ahead in atrocious conditions, but we didn't have to face quite such tough going at Yarmouth, where the ground-staff had clearly done an excellent job.  The horses did find it extremely hard work as the ground was clearly very gluey, but it was in great nick on the surface and it wouldn't have been too great a stretch of the imagination to call it 'good jumping ground'.  Batgirl (pictured with Tom McLauglin at the start) probably didn't mind the conditions, but under the circumstances she found the mile rather farther than she'd like to have been going.  Seven furlongs is probably her best trip, although she can run well at a mile; but yesterday's races all seemed as if they were a lot longer than they actually were (witness our race being run in the supposedly good time of 1:49.72, which was 12.72 seconds slower than standard) so, after looking as if she could win two furlongs from home, she got very tired in the final furlong, fading to finish a well-beaten third. Still not disgraced, but.

So that was good enough - even if my personal highlight of the evening came in the previous race, which turned out to be the first race in mainland Britain of which I have bred the winner.  This came courtesy of a terrific display by young Dream Walker, having only the fourth start of his life and the first since last August.  He still looked something of a baby, and one is entitled to think that he is going to improve further for more distance as well as more time - but he fair dinkum bolted up under Paddy Mathers by six lengths.  At 25/1 to boot.

I sold him - or rather Chris Murray and Nicky Howarth of Whitwell Bloodstock sold him on my behalf - as a yearling at Doncaster in October 2010 and yesterday was the first time I had seen him in the flesh (as opposed to on TV) since that day.  He's still recognisably the same horse, but it is clear that his trainer Ian McInnes is doing a really good job in ensuring that he develops along just the lines one would wish.  He's still got the little cheeky baby-face which Minnie's Mystery seems to give to her stock, but he's in the process of becoming a fairly imposing little horse, which is just how Minnie's herself developed as she matured in her younger days.
It was pure chance (ie that we had a runner) that I happened to be there when he won, and this was very fortunate as well as fortuitous.  Let's hope that he can progress from here (and one is entitled to believe that he should) but whatever the future holds for him, he's already brought plenty of joy.  I was so pleased to be there not only to see him, but also to salute Ian McInnes on his success.  He didn't pay a lot of money for him, and as we know buying an inexpensive yearling and turning him or her into a winner is easier said than done - it's hard enough doing so with an expensive horse, never mind with one which the major players have passed over.

Minnie's Mystery has thus now won with her first two foals, who are the only two to have raced.  Her four-year-old Grey Panel (by Largesse) has won this season in Jersey for Tony Le Brocq (thanks to whose kindness I own the mare) while Dream Walker (by Gold Away) has now won too.  We have her two-year-old Roy Rocket here (by Layman, broken but currently doing nothing) while Dream Walker's yearling full-sister is still at her birthplace, Haras de la Cauviniere in Normandy.  The mare now has a foal by the stud's resident stallion Le Havre, born a handful of weeks ago, and she has recently been tested in foal to Youmzain.  So the dreams, recently fuelled by her two oldest foals, can continue!

Minnie's Mystery wasn't the only star broodmare to breed a winner on Yarmouth's card last night.  In fact - and I hate to say this - she can't be rated the most distinguished to do so: that honour falls to the mighty Magnificient Style, one-time Musidora Stakes winner who has so far bred six stakes winners including the Group One winners Nathaniel and Playful Act, the Sun Chariot Stakes winner Echoes In Eternity, the Yorkshire Cup winner Percussionist and the dual US Grade Three winner Changing Skies.  One can hope that her latest winner Great Heavens, a full-sister to Nathaniel, might soon follow suit, judging by her effortless win in the opening maiden race last night under Robert Havlin (pictured).

Other broodmares to produce a winner at Yarmouth last night also included the mighty Celestial Choir, a magnificent racemare in her racing days, when Les Eyre trained her.  I remember her best for winning the Grade Two Dipper Novice Chase at Newcastle, but I've looked up her record and see that she won 12 from 78 on the Flat, 3 from 10 over hurdles and 4 from 13 over fences.  That's 19 (plus 22 minor places) from 101 all told, and records don't come much better than that.  Not even the super-tough Minnie's Mystery could compile quite that record!  Anyway, it would be impossible for such a mare to be unable to breed winners, so I was particularly pleased to watch her High Chaparral four-year-old Cairanne salute the judge last night under Stuart Williams' good apprentice Ryan Powell - and doubly so because the filly (pictured after the race) is trained by Tommy and Hayley Keddy, two of racing's nicest people.

We'll end with tonight's 'Strange but (almost) true'.  Was the admirable Brown Panther really racing in my colours in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester this afternoon?  Looked very much like that.

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