Things We Learned » Poetic Dude

Poetic Dude

You could choose from a list of adjectives to describe Paul Carberry’s ride on Monbeg Dude in last Saturday’s Welsh National at Chepstow.  Cool would be on that list, as would calm, and composed, and relaxed.  Poetic, however, would be on top of it.

Carberry set off in last place on Michael Scudamore’s horse towards the inside, got him settled, got him jumping.  His jumping was characteristically imperfect, he made one fairly significant error down the back straight but, passing the winning post with one circuit to go, half the marathon distance covered, the partnership was still intact, and they were travelling well, even if they had only passed one rival.

Moved towards the outside down the back straight final time, the pair of them started to pick through their rivals.  While the omission of two of the fences in the back straight undoubtedly helped, another shuddering error at the second fence on that part of the track certainly did not, and, beginning the turn for home, as the front three broke clear, Monbeg Dude was not numbered among the first 10.

From the top of the home straight, however, it was obvious that he was going to be a player in the final act.  It is unusual to see a rider take a pull after jumping the fourth last fence in a Welsh National when he still has about eight lengths to make up on the leaders, but Carberry is an unusual jockey.  Despite another mistake at the final fence, he produced Monbeg Dude to join Teaforthree half way up the run-in, before going on to get home by a half a length.

This was classic Carberry.  This was Bellvano in the 2012 Grand Annual, this was Frenchman’s Creek in the 2002 William Hill Chase.  And it wasn’t showboating.  Monbeg Dude had idled when he hit the front in the Henrietta Knight Chase on his previous run at Cheltenham, and he idled again on Saturday when he got to the front.  Had he been in front a little earlier, there is a big chance that he wouldn’t have won.  He doesn’t last long in front.  His challenge had to be as well-timed as it was.

AP McCoy did everything right on Teaforthree.  He had him in the right position, he had him jumping, and he kicked for home at the right time on a game and genuine horse who stays well.  This horse under this ride would probably have won most Welsh Nationals.  The champ was unlucky that this was just an extraordinary Welsh National.

Fever pitch

When a horse with Champagne Fever’s potential gets beaten by as far as he did in the Slaney Hurdle at Naas on Sunday, you almost hope that something was wrong with the horse, that something comes to light afterwards to explain his poor showing.  Thankfully, something did.

Not that the winner of the race, Rule The World, isn’t a hugely exciting prospect, because he is, possibly more so as a chaser than as a hurdler.  However, Willie Mullins’ horse was beaten so far, and so far out, that initial reaction was that wasn’t his true running.

The fact that the horse was suffering from a respiratory tract infection – and fair play to the champion trainer for being as quick off the mark with the news as he was – is not ideal, but it is a welcome revelation, given how poorly he ran.  Winner of the Cheltenham and Punchestown champion bumpers last season, and runner-up in a red-hot Royal Bond Hurdle over an inadequate distance at Fairyhouse last month, hopes are high that he can recover quickly from this setback, and Cheltenham 2013 is not an unrealistic objective.

Interesting entries

It is not at all surprising that Peter Casey has entered Flemenstar in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.  Given that the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on 9th February is the horse’s immediate objective, Casey really had no option but to put him in the Gold Cup, leave the door ajar.  An Irish Hennessy winner without a Gold Cup entry is indeed a rate entity.

There were several other interesting inclusions among the Gold Cup entries published during the week.  Here are five.

Prince De Beauchene: He is probably more of a Grand National horse than a Gold Cup horse, but his trainer Willie Mullins sent out Hedgehunter to finish second in the Gold Cup 11 and a half months after he had won one Grand National and three weeks before he finished second in another, so why not?

Bold Sir Brian: Lucinda Russell’s horse looks way out of his depth at first glance, but he jumps well, he stays well, and he is seriously progressive.  He does have almost 20lb to find with the top ones on official ratings, but he is so progressive that his entry may not be the greatest waste of money in the world.

Weapon’s Amnesty: Impressive winner of the RSA Chase in 2010, he was lamentably absent from then until his return in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown two weeks ago.  The now 10-year-old’s comeback run had only a limited degree of encouragement, but the fact that he has been handed a tentative Gold Cup ticket suggests that Charles Byrnes and Team Gigginstown at least retain some hope.

Mail De Bievre: Winner of a bumper for Alan King on his racecourse debut in 2008, he has been plying his trade in France most recently, with his record over fences there reading 1222211.  His most recent chase win was achieved in a Grade 2 contest in which he had Princess D’Anjou and Or Noir De Somoza behind.  He hasn’t run since September 2011, but he is obviously showing current trainer Tom George enough at home to persuade him to give him a Gold Cup entry.

Monbeg Dude: Who ever heard of a Welsh National winner winning a Gold Cup?

Soft days

It is around about this time every year that we begin to contemplate the prospect of a soft ground Cheltenham Festival.  With soft ground the order of the day in January, it is always difficult to envisage faster conditions anywhere, ever, so Cheltenham in just nine weeks’ time is not exempt.

This year could be different, however.  (Don’t we say that every year?)  This has been the wettest time since Noah rescued two horses, and the water table has never been higher, so it’s time for the (annual) soft ground Lucky 15: Oscar Whisky (Champion Hurdle), Flemenstar (Champion Chase), Reve De Sivola (World Hurdle), Tidal Bay (Gold Cup).

Frankie in the house

I’m not sure about Celebrity Big Brother evictee Paula Hamilton’s assertion that Frankie Dettori’s thinking in nominating himself for eviction was part of a master plan, that it was so that he would look like a hero, thereby enhancing his chances of winning the thing.

Maybe Frankie simply wanted to get out.

(Why go in in the first place?)

© The Irish Field, 12th January 2013