Things We Learned » Heskin and Moore making waves

Heskin and Moore making waves

It has been a good week for two Irish jockeys who have just taken the leap across the Irish Sea, who have taken up high-profile associations with British-based trainers.

On Saturday, Jonathan Moore rode Irish Cavalier to victory in the Grade 2 Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase for his boss Rebecca Curtis.  It was a fine ride by the young rider, he got his horse into a nice even rhythm from early, he got him travelling down the back straight, and he was strong and balanced over the last three fences, getting him home from Menorah and Cue Card. 

It was a good call by Rebecca Curtis, to put her 3lb-claiming rider up in a race in which he couldn’t claim, but she obviously has huge confidence in her rider – why do you think she offered him the job in the first place? – and it is a confidence that is continually being rewarded.  It was Moore’s biggest win yet, his first graded race win, and the 50th of his career.

He maintains his base in Ireland too.  After winning the Charlie Hall on Saturday, he was back for three rides at Wexford on Sunday and three more on Monday. 

On Tuesday, Adrian Heskin landed the Grade 2 Haldon Gold Cup on Sir Valentino for his (relatively) new boss Tom George.  Again, he had to be strong in the finish to get his horse home by a short head from champion jockey Richard Johnson and Garde La Victoire. 

Then on Wednesday, Heskin went to Chepstow and rode a treble: Valseur Du Granval in the two-mile novices’ handicap chase, Rocklander in the two-mile handicap hurdle and Sumkindofking in the bumper, all for Tom George, and he finished second on his only other ride on the day, Some Are Lucky in the three-mile handicap hurdle.  

George has had 22 winners in Britain already this season, which is just 16 fewer than he had in the entire of last season.  Curtis has had 15, which is only nine short of last season’s total.  It could be an interesting season ahead for the trainers and their riders.


Turf the correct race for Found 

It would have been a brave decision for Team Ballydoyle to make, to run Found in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita this evening, but you have to think that it is the correct one to allow her run in the Turf. 

Found has never raced on dirt, she has never even raced on Polytrack.  It would have been a massive ask for her to win even an ordinary Breeders’ Cup Classic on her first attempt on a new surface. 

And this is no ordinary Classic.  In California Chrome and Arrogate she would have faced two monsters of dirt racing.  She could have run out of her skin and finished third. 

The Classic is a tremendously difficult race for European horses: taking on the Americans on their home ground on their specialist surface.  In the 32-year history of the Classic, it has been won by just two European-trained horses, and one of those was the John Gosden-trained Raven’s Pass, who won it at Santa Anita in 2008, when it was run on the Euro-favouring Pro-Ride, and when Henrythenavigator chased him home.  

It could be a risk that would be worth taking with a colt, to demonstrate the versatility and class of a stallion prospect in full American Technicolor.  But with a filly, a top class filly like Found, the risk may not be worth the potential reward. 

The Turf is the race for Found.  It is run on, well, turf, for starters, the surface on which she is proven, over a mile and a half, the distance over which she put up the best performance of her life in the Arc.  She won the race last year, and it is correct that she is favourite for the race this year.


Melbourne Heartbreak

For the second time in as many years (two), an Irish-trained horse went mighty close in the race that stops one nation and makes some people in others set their alarms for 3.50am.

The Willie Mullins-trained Max Dynamite was unlucky last year, he was beaten by a largely unconsidered 100/1 shot and, if he had gone left instead of right at the two-furlong pole, he probably would have won by a half a length instead of getting beaten by a half a length. 

Heartbreak City was beaten by a head on Tuesday morning, and that was, well, heartbreaking.

Although you wouldn’t have known it if you watched co-owner Aidan Shiels’ post-race interview with hapless Channel 7 reporter Neil Kearney.  If you have a smart phone or a computer with a screen and a connection that is faster than that provided by a 56k modem, you have probably seen the interview by now.  Or what amounted to an interview, after Shiels released the reporter from that bear hug.  It was television gold.

Heartbreak City was unlucky, not in the run, but in that he came up against Almandin, because the pair of them pulled four lengths clear of favourite Hartnell.  It was a massive performance by the horse, and it was a serious training performance by Tony Martin, for whom the Lando gelding was a first runner in the Cup.  It is only seven months since Heartbreak City won a handicap at Cork off a mark of 88, and it is only six since he won his maiden hurdle.

God knows how things would have panned out if Heartbreak City had won.  It was well named, that Here For The Craic Partnership.


Dewhurst gets stronger 

The form of this year’s Dewhurst Stakes looks even better now than it did four weeks ago.

Three horses from the Dewhurst had run again at the time of writing.  First Rivet – fifth in the Dewhurst – went and won the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster two weeks ago, and then last week, Thunder Snow (Dewhurst fourth) won the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud, with South Seas (Dewhurst sixth) chasing him home.  

Lancaster Bomber (second in the Dewhurst at 66/1) was the fourth horse from the Dewhurst who was due to run, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita last night.  Regardless of how he fared, the Dewhurst horses will all be worth a second look in the early stages of the 2017 season.



Quote of the week

“I don’t care!  I don’t care! I don’t care!  We would have been happy with last!”

(An owner whose horse finished second)


© The Irish Field, 5th November 2016