A good day’s racing today, but one that has left me more concerned than ever before about the state of the game at the top level. It seems to be standard these days for Ballydoyle to have multiple entries in every group one to be run in the UK, and this is a situation that needs to be monitored carefully.
In the Coronation Cup this year Getaway managed to get boxed in between two O’Brien horses. Fair enough and Macarthur had the right to run his race, but would he have moved over a little if it had been Soldier of Fortune jammed in behind him I wonder? Roll on to the Queen Anne and Honoured Guest, apparently a pacemaker, is on the rail with Haradasun in his slipstream. If he’s running his race he’ll stick on that rail, but he doesn’t – he pulls out to let Haradasun through, causing a ripple effect – others in the race have to pull out further. Haradasun, with the perfect passage, scrapes home by a head.
How is this fair? Why was there not a stewards enquiry??
In the Eclipse last year two Ballydoyle pacemakers apparently conspired to cut Authorized off from his pacemaker. Where are the limits on this sort of behaviour? In the Irish 2,000 and 1,000 the respective Ballydoyle trained winners were heavily backed while their beaten teammates drifted, in some cases sharply. There’s plenty of betting money to be made by the insiders here, particularly if they know the plan. The Derby was a strange race this year, and was surely affected by the two no-hopers that cut out the pace, one of them from Ballydoyle. It detracted from the race – it wasn’t the stamina test that it is intended to be. When horses are running for reasons other than to win the race there are a lot of issues to deal with.
Aiden O’Brien has a huge number of talented horses at his disposal and it’s entirely reasonable for him to have multiple entries, but he should be upfront about his plans and ensure that his pacemakers keep it honest. If there are question marks over his team’s tactics then he has to be called to account.
Well that’s my view anyway. Moving on…
I like the Jersey as a race – it’s only a group 3, but the winner often goes on to be group 1 standard. It looks wide open this year and I’m struggling to come up with a strong opinion. I’ll side with War Officer, who has decent form, looks progressive and may prefer this ground to the soft ground he’s run on for most of his career.
The Windsor Forest is another I can’t settle on, and I’ll have a little interest in Enforce. She’s currently in foal to Sir Percy, and this will probably be her last race – she’s in good heart and may improve further on this ground.
On to the two bankers, and the question is whether to be with them or against them. I’m with them both. Duke of Marmalade is my main horse to follow for the season – he wasn’t quite right last year, but he’s well now and I’ll keep backing him until he gets beaten. They say the bigger the field the bigger the certainty, and maybe Bankable is in that sort of category. I generally avoid “handicap good things” but when they are potentially top class horses I take more notice.
I’ll take Excellent Show in the Queen Mary – Exceed and Excel has had one winner at the meeting already (Flashmans Papers) and Excellent Show looked a nice type to me when she came second first time up. She’ll need to have improved. In the last I’ll go with Maramba and the brilliant Ryan Moore to land the spoils.