I went to Ascot on Saturday to watch Mon Michel run – I took a box and invited a few mates along. MM was in the first race – Rodger arrived at the box fairly early, and he was unhappy about the jockey bookings.
Jamie Moore normally rides MM on the home gallops, and often MM works with Altilhar. Both horses were in the race, and Jamie had chosen to ride Altilhar. Jamie has the right to choose whatever horse he likes, but it was a blow to lose him – MM is not the easiest of rides and there was a lot of value in him having his regular pilot. We had targetted this race a long way out and missed Cheltenham whereas Altilhar was coming here opportunistically having come second at Cheltenham. Rodger has supported the stable and Jamie for many years, and is probably the biggest owner there by value.
The race came and we headed down to the ring. Chocolate Thornton took the ride – we had a short chat but didn’t over egg the instructions. MM looked better than ever in the ring – he’s developing into a great looking horse. He was a bit keen early but that is normal and he settled ok – as they came away from the second last Thornton was still motionless and looked to have the race at his mercy, but Jamie came upsides on Altilhar at the last. The two of them fought out the finish, with Altilhar just prevailing and MM getting his third consecutive second place.
After the race Gary looked mortified – he came over and said how sorry he was. I smiled and said that was the breaks, but he carried on apologising. Jamie didn’t look too happy either. Rodger was clearly upset – to lose out to Jamie by a very short margin in a driving finish was the worst possible outcome.
I sloped off quietly back to my box to reflect. Altilhar had come second at Cheltenham, and Gary had been highly critical of the ride that Noel Fehily had given him. Jamie had missed Cheltenham through a ban, and no doubt felt very guilty that he had not been able to ride Altilhar as he may have cost the owner a Cheltenham winner. He’d have been keen to make amends and would have felt a strong obligation to take the ride this time around.
I believe MM is a very good horse – he was beaten in receipt of a lot of weight, but I don’t think that this is very relevant. He travels incredibly well, but once he hits the front he can idle a little. He needs the race to go his way if he is to win, and it is more likely that he will get the right factors going for him in a competitive handicap than a weak maiden