Things We Learned » Martin rolling

Martin rolling

It has been an incredible week so far for Tony Martin. It may have started a little inauspiciously, when Green Dragon could only finish seventh in the opening novices’ hurdle on Monday evening, but then the week took flight.

Later on Monday, Edeymi and Redera provided the trainer with a 1-3 in the Connacht Hotel Handicap, the feature race on the first evening, under Steven Clements and Maxine O’Sullivan respectively. Indeed, if Redera had had a clearer run through the final 200 yards, it could have been a 1-2 for the yard.

Edeymi is entered in the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle today, in a handicap hurdle at Cork on Monday, and in the DBS Sale next week. You get the feeling that he may not be taking up at least two of those entries.

Later on Monday, Fran Berry but the cap on Martin’s evening when he got Dark Crusader home by a head from the subsequently disqualified Lady Giselle in the Galway Oyster Hotel Handicap.

Martin had just one runner on Tuesday, John Breslin’s mare Busted Tycoon in the two-mile handicap, who duly obliged fairly easily again under Fran Berry. Breslin runs a hugely successful scaffolding company in New York, and he loves to come home for Galway, so you can be certain that any horse that carries the green and yellow colours during Galway week is primed to run for his life.

Just two runners on Wednesday, Blackmail in the maiden hurdle and Victrix Gale in the three-mile handicap hurdle, both ridden by Ruby Walsh and – yes you’ve guessed – they both went in. On Wednesday evening, with Ted Veale and Thomas Edison dominating the market for Thursday’s Guinness Galway Hurdle, there was even heretical talk of Martin taking the top trainer’s title.

Alas, the rains fell again on Thursday morning and Martin’s Hurdle horses floundered, but not before Ted Veale loomed large on the run to the home turn and traded at even money in-running. Even so, the trainer had a couple of big chances last night, and he has a couple more today and tomorrow, so he may not be finished for the week yet.

Martin has long-since morphed from a trainer of handicappers who can plot one up into a trainer of high-class horses who can compete at the very highest level. He has an exciting bunch of horses now, he has top class facilities at his yard just outside Summerhill in County Meath, and it will be interesting to watch his progress this National Hunt season.

Keane edge

Colin Keane received plenty of accolades for the ride that he gave Brendan Brackan to win the Topaz Mile on Tuesday, but the reality is that, such was the magnitude of the Ger Lyons-trained gelding’s superiority over his rivals, most jockeys would have won on him.

Keane’s talent was much more in evidence in the ride that he gave The Black Devil to finish second in the one-mile handicap on Wednesday. Bouncing his horse out of his wide draw, the youngster quickly had The Black Devil settled in the front rank without using up too much early energy, no more than three horse-widths off the inside rail.

Riding a 10-furlong winner over an extended mile, Keane was aggressive on his horse without bursting him early. He didn’t panic when Daigreen came past on his outside around the home turn, he kept his horse balanced and going forward, found a gap between Daigreen and the rail inside the final furlong and looked a possible winner for a few strides before Toufan Express just proved stronger inside the final 100 yards.

He is a talent all right, one of a seriously talented current crop of Irish apprentice riders, he is big value for his 5lb claim, and he deserved his chance on Brendan Brackan in the Betfred Mile at Goodwood yesterday.

Well-kept Secret

Cap O’Rushes and Express Knowledge dominated St Leger talk after they finished first and a running-on second respectively in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood on Wednesday. However, another Godolphin horse, Secret Number, was at least as eye-catching as the runner-up in finishing fifth, and he may have gone under the Leger radar a little.

The son of Raven’s Pass sweated up beforehand, he was keener than ideal through the early stages of the race, and he was lit up further when he sought some racing room at the two-furlong pole and got into a barging match with Havana Beat. But he picked up nicely once in the clear and was just building momentum when Skillway came back across him and cut him off deep inside the final furlong. Despite racing freely and encountering that trouble at the two-furlong pole, he still could have gone very close to winning the race had the final incident with Skillway not happened.

His pedigree does not scream stamina, he is a half-brother to Librettist and Dubai Destination, both Group 1 winners over a mile, and his dam is a half-sister to Group 1 sprinter Agnes world. But his dam is by Alleged and, while his sire Raven’s Pass is a QE2 winner over a mile, he stayed 10 furlongs well enough to win a Breeders’ Cup Classic.

More than pedigree straw-clutching, however, it is Secret Number’s running style which suggests that he has every chance of staying further than a mile and a half. A staying-on fourth in the Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot over 10 furlongs, this was his first attempt at a mile and a half, and he saw out the trip well, again staying on well at the end and leaving the impression that he would be suited by further. Current odds of 25/1 for the final Classic look big.

Of course, he could stick to a mile and a half, the Great Voltigeur is the obvious next step for him, but he would be a player in the St Leger if Godolphin chose to send him down that route. Interestingly, last year’s Leger winner Encke used the Gordon Stakes as a stepping stone to Doncaster.

Even if Secret Number does not make it to Doncaster, this is a race that is well worth saving with the Leger in mind, and it isn’t just the winner on whom you should concentrate. 2006 St Leger winner Sixties Icon won the Gordon Stakes, as did 2008 Leger winner Conduit, but Encke was second in the Gordon, beaten a whisker by Noble Mission, while Arctic Cosmos finished third in the Gordon Stakes in 2010 before going on to victory in the Leger.


Garswood finally gained the Group race success that his undoubted talent deserved when he landed the Group 2 Lennox Stakes at Goodwood on Tuesday. It may not have been the strongest Lennox Stakes ever run, and the time was not good, it was a messy race, but Garswood wasn’t suited by being held up off the slow pace, and he rolled around on the track a little, so he probably did very well to overcome all that and win.

Richard Fahey has never tried to conceal the height of the regard in which he holds the son of Dutch Art. Reading between the lines, his homework must be exceptional. Ryan Moore said after Tuesday’s race that he was still a little green, so there could still be significantly more to come.

Seven furlongs could be his trip for now, he won a listed race over five furlongs last year, he has bags of pace, his pedigree says more six or seven furlongs than a mile, and the three best runs of his life have been on the three occasions on which he has raced over seven furlongs. He does go well on easy ground, so the Prix de la Foret is a legitimate target.

The plan is apparently to keep him in training next year, despite this Group 2 win, which is good news. He is a big horse and he could progress considerably again as a four-year-old.

City mad

You know that Alex Ferguson has really retired when he is down as part-owner of a horse called Magic City. It could be another astute move by the gaffer, mind you.

© The Irish Field, 3rd August 2013