Another group 1 wings its way to Ballydoyle, but again it was an unsatisfactory race. I’ve watched the race a few times – it isn’t clear to me whether or not the AOB trained Tabor owned Frozen Fire would have won had the AOB trained Tabor owned Alessandro Volta not veered dramatically left when he did, taking out most of the opposition.
I’m certainly not cynical enough to believe that this could have been planned, but it adds more weight to what is a cumulative argument. Johnny Murtagh could feel his horse tying up and he took action to try and stoke him up – fair enough, but if he had a stablemate looming up on his outside with a double handful would he have ridden the same race? Perhaps under those circumstances his instinct would lead him to a hands and heels ride – he wouldn’t want to upset his bosses after all. I can’t recall the last time a Ballydoyle horse lost a race through traffic problems created by one of his stablemates.
O’Brien himself made a rare comment on the subject, although he didn’t use the word “pacemaker”:
“When we want our horses to run we want an even pace to make sure the best horse wins. If it isn’t a strong pace then the best horse often does not win, and to have the best horses winning is important for our whole industry.”
Well that clears that up – it isn’t about accumulating Ballydoyle group 1’s, it’s all about maintaining integrity in the worldwide pattern book.
New Approach didn’t run having developed a problem. Jim Bolger said he definitely wouldn’t run in the Eclipse, and stated categorically that the horse hadn’t stepped on a stone as there were no stones at Coolcullen. It’s always nice to have a bit of clarity in these matters…
I’m going to Wimbledon today. Interesting fact of the day is that of the 32 players in the third round of the men’s at Wimbledon, 30 were European – the two exceptions were Bobby Reynolds (USA) and Lleyton Hewitt (Aus). Hewitt is the only non-European in the last 16, and he faces Federer tomorrow, so he may not be around for long.