A busy week, and a difficult one with Jane being ill with flu and me not being able to drive. I still managed to fit in three visits to the racecourse, and with Cheltenham coming up I’m going to be raced out be the end of next week.
On Wednesday I went down to Fontwell, where Betfair were hosting a Cheltenham preview. Mark Winstanley, Matt Williams and Brendan Powell were on the panel, chaired by Tony Calvin. Gary Moore and Nick Gifford are both local to Fontwell, and I invited them to the box – Rodger also came. We decided to go for the Imperial Cup with Mon Michel.
On Friday I went to Sandown (my local course) where Betfair were hosting a PR day for Harry Findlay and Clive Smith. The Gold Cup this year has more hype about it than any race in my memory, and the suite was packed full of journalists along with a couple of tv crews. I know both Clive and Harry fairly well – they are very different people but both great ambassadors for racing. I caught up with a lot of people, including a few journalists.
I had intended to go to Kempton for the breeze ups but I opted for Sandown and both Mick and Tom Goff went to Kempton – I was interested in lot 99, a Kyllachy colt. Tom checked him out – he breezed well enough and he looked decent with Tom picking up only minor flaws. As the day went on though Tom became more and more taken by lot 58, by One Cool Cat out of Bahamamia. I bought him for 52k guineas – he’ll go to Tom Dascombe. I had promised Tom a 2yo as I have decided to send Shawhill to France – she has more options there and she will be trained by J C Rouget.
Saturday was Imperial Cup day, and for the first time ever I had two horses in the same race. I got there fairly late and spent my time going back and forth between the Pipe and Moore camps. I spoke to David Pipe while he saddled Ashkazar – a big and extremely striking racehorse who made Prince Ary look like a midget. I chatted to Martin Pipe – he said he thought Prince Ary had a proper each way squeak but Ashkazar was their main hope and they were very positive. Gary was very positive about Mon Michel. Jane’s brother was there and he had a piece of Hue – we also met with Andrew Balding who was running Albinus and fancied his chances. I think it was a very strong race.
I decided to sneak off and watch the race on my own (as I often do). Disaster struck – Mon Michel hit the first and unseated Jamie. Gary and Rodger ran off to catch him as he bolted up the track – fortunately he was unharmed. Prince Ary ran well for most of the race, running out of steam in the last few furlongs. The form of Mon Michel’s last race was franked by Fredensborg, who finished 10L behind MM last time and ran a good second. Ashkazar looks a quality act who could win again at Cheltenham and will make a chaser one day.
All in all it wasn’t a great day. MM will now hope to get in to the County Hurdle, but he needs 20 to come out and that looks unlikely. Having had two horse in the same race for the first time on Saturday I have the same tomorrow – Hope Road and King’s Head both run in the 4:40 at Stratford. I doubt I’ll be backing either of them – King’s Head would probably like it a bit firmer and Hope Road is on a fairly mean handicap mark.