Things We Learned » Dead-heats


Strange things, dead-heats.  You are a pixel away from winning it outright on your own, but you are also a pixel away from losing. 

Interestingly, the magnitude of the positive difference between winning on your own and dead-heating is probably not as great as the negative difference between dead-heating and losing.  Therefore, ask any photo finish involvee as the judge deliberates and the tension mounts, and most would probably tell you that they would settle for a share of the laurels. 

For Fozzy Stack and Chris Hayes and Brian Parker, the difference between Son Of Rest dead-heating and winning the Ayr Gold Cup on his own last Saturday was probably small to the point of negligible in terms of achievement.  There was a prize money differential of course, £80,890 for dead-heating as opposed to £124,500 for winning it on your own, but in terms of achievement, there was virtually no difference.

It was vindication for Son Of Rest, an Ayr Gold Cup win, the continuation of the re-capturing of his top form from last season.  Vindication for his trainer, sending him to Scotland to contest the race, just six days after he had finished second in the Flying Five.  Vindication for the handicapper too.  10lb well-in.

It is remarkable that Son Of Rest was the first Irish-trained winner of the Ayr Gold Cup in its 214-year history, even if it is just a 110-year history if you only start counting from when the distance of the race was reduced to six furlongs.  G Force finished fourth for Adrian Keatley in 2016, and Maarek finished third for David Nagle in 2012, but that was as close as any Irish-trained horse got in the race in the decade that went before last Saturday.

Fozzy Stack is now talking about supplementing Son Of Rest for the British Champions Sprint at Ascot on Champions’ Day, and why not?  The Pivotal colt’s rating of 111 would probably leave him with a little to find strictly on ratings with the top-rated horses who will contest that race, but there is every chance that he will get the soft ground that he relishes, and the 2017 winner Librisa Breeze was rated just 112 going into last year’s race.

Hayes flying

Son Of Rest’s win was the culmination of a super seven days for rider Chris Hayes.

It began the previous Saturday at Leopardstown, on the first day of Irish Champions Weekend, when he won the Group 2 KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes on the hugely exciting Madhmoon for Kevin Prendergast.  He rounded off that day by landing the valuable seven-furlong handicap on Zap for Richard Fahey, finishing wide and late to get up and win by a neck.

Then there was a double at Galway on Tuesday, Dream Walker for Jarlath Fahey and Gentil J for Harry Rogers, and another double at Naas on Wednesday, Chestnut Express for Darren Bunyan and Eclipse Storm for Fozzy Stack.  And it was nearly a treble, as Chernish was just caught by Fox Hill.  Then he went and won the Ayr Gold Cup on Saturday.

In with the new

Ask different people when the new National Hunt season starts, and you get different answers.  Some say Listowel.  Some say Down Royal.  Some say Cheltenham’s November meeting.  Some say Chepstow’s Mercedes Benz meeting.  Some say the morning after Punchestown.

You can argue the case too for Navan last Sunday.  Gordon Elliott had a double, Henry de Bromhead had a double, Willie Mullins had the favourite for the bumper.  There was a familiarity about it all.

This is a meeting at which stars of the future have in the past shone an early light.  Mengli Khan won the opening maiden hurdle on the card last year.  Ballyoisin won it three years ago. 

Moulin A Vent won the conditions hurdle last year.  De Plotting Shed won it in 2016.  Rawnaq won the beginners’ chase in 2014.  Tofino Bay won it in 2012.  Realt Dubh won it in 2010.  Donnas Palm won the bumper in 2008. 

There were horses to note from last Sunday too.  Its All Guesswork was impressive in winning the two-and-a-half-mile beginners’ chase under Davy Russell.  Abbey Magic was game in making just about all for Rachael Blackmore in the handicap chase.  Optical Confusion travelled like a good horse in the conditions hurdle before just getting run out of it by Rolanna. 

It’s all getting going all right.

Kaya deserves her chance

Fair play to Sheila Lavery and her niece Joanne for retaining faith in Robbie Colgan for Lady Kaya’s date with the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket this afternoon.

You can be sure that trainer and owner could have had their pick of bigger-name riders, British and Irish.  Riders who have more experience of Newmarket’s Rowley Mile, riders who have more experience of riding in Group 1 races on the flat.  You never would have thought, when Colgan was riding Royal County Star to victory for Tony Martin in the Troytown Chase in 2007 as a 3lb claimer, or when he was winning the Galmoy Hurdle in 2014 on Mala Beach for Gordon Elliott and Chris Jones, that he would be lining up on a filly with a chance in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket.

But Colgan is a top rider, and he has been very good on Lady Kaya in her four races to date.  There is a real chance too that she will upset some bigger names this afternoon.  She ran a massive race in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes last time to finish second to Skitter Scatter, when she was still on the bridle at the two-furlong marker.  She deserves her shot at another Group 1 prize, and the drop to six furlongs could be just the thing for her.

Doyle set for Class

It is not surprising that James Doyle is set to do whatever it takes to get his body weight down below 8st 9lb so that he can ride Sea Of Class in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Doyle has struck up a formidable partnership with William Haggas’ filly.  Unraced as a juvenile last season, the Sea The Stars filly has run five times this year, and Doyle has ridden her on all five occasions.  Beaten a neck by Ceilidhs Dream on her racecourse debut at Newmarket in April, she has won her next four.  Two listed races and two Group 1s, the Irish Oaks and the Yorkshire Oaks. 

Doyle was particularly inspired on Mrs Tsui’s filly in the Irish Oaks at The Curragh, taking her from last at the two-furlong pole to first at the winning post, getting up to beat Forever Together by a neck, without recourse to the stick, in one of the finest riding performances that we have seen all season.

He is probably important to the filly too.  Not only is he a top class rider, but he knows the filly well.  He knows her subtleties.  And that is important with a filly who, for all her talent, does have her own unique characteristics. 

The rider hasn’t ridden at a lower weight than 8st 11lb in the last 12 months, but you can be sure that he will find the extra 2lb.  He may not have an overly large saddle underneath him, but you know that he will do the weight all right.

Rider Cup

Team Europe:

Frankie Molinori

Kevin Nanning

Shane Fowry

Emiliano Greatrex

Billy Horschlee

Justin Thomas Marquand

Rossa Fisher

Jamie Stenson

Rory McClearoy

Daniel Berghope

Ryan Moore

Captain: Paul Hanaginley

© The Irish Field, 29th September 2018