Things We Learned » Divided opinion

Divided opinion

The Diego Du Charmil thing has divided opinion like few other incidents in racing in recent times.  Entrenched views on both sides.  It’s Diegoducharmilxit.

You can see why the decision to allow Paul Nicholls’ horse keep the race was the ‘easy’ decision, but that doesn’t mean that it was the correct decision.  You can easily argue that Diego Du Charmil was the best horse in the race on the day, and that carries a lot of weight in horse racing.  We know by now that the benefit of the doubt usually goes to the best horse in the race in this part of the world.  And you can easily argue that he completed the course.

And there is the fact that both Diego Du Charmil and Capeland are trained by Paul Nicholls.  It may not have come into it, but how unlucky would it have been if the trainer who had the two best horses in the race – by some way – ended up having both horses disqualified?

The decision taken was the decision of least resistance.  Diego Du Charmil’s connections were not going to feel aggrieved, that’s for sure.  And Capeland’s trainer was not going to feel aggrieved.  And runner-up Clondaw Castle’s connections cannot have felt wronged.  Clondaw Castle would have finished third at best without the incident, he ended up finishing second, so how bad would it have appeared if his connections had come out and said that they should have been awarded the race?

Capeland’s owner Kathy Stuart, and his rider Bryony Frost (and his backers) are justified in feeling hard done-by, in that they were deprived of the chance of winning the race, and in knowing that they would have finished second at worst.  However, there is nothing that the stewards could have done for them in the aftermath of the race, given how things had panned out.  Hugely unfortunate though it was, Capeland did not complete the course.  It wasn’t his fault, but he couldn’t have been awarded a finishing position.

And if you throw Diego Du Charmil out, where do you put him, given that the horse that he hampered did not finish?

So it was the easy decision, but it surely wasn’t the correct decision.  Diego Du Charmil deprived Capeland of the chance of winning the race.  Whether or not the jockey did or didn’t do anything wrong shouldn’t be relevant, nor should the fact that Capeland consequently didn’t complete the course.  It is possible, as Tom Segal suggested in the Racing Post during the week, that the stewards became so pre-occupied with deciding whether or not Diego Du Charmil had completed the course, that they didn’t really get into the question of interference.

If Capeland had jumped the fence, and had been placed fifth officially, would Diego Du Charmil have been demoted and placed behind him?

Two other things to consider.  Firstly, the stewards’ report says that, as Capeland had been disqualified for taking the wrong course, the stewards were unable to consider the placings in respect of the interference.  That seems like a bizarre state of being.

And secondly, if Capeland had jumped the fence and finished second, you have to think that he would have been awarded the race, that the places would have been reversed.  But you never know.  We are only four years on from the Sire De Grugy/Special Tiara Tingle Creek Chase, and the he-would-have-won-anyway train of thought seems to be even stronger now than it was then.

Dramatic end

The drama in the 2019 apprentices’ championship went all the way to the end.  Andrew Slattery was two ahead of Oisin Orr going into Naas on Sunday, 43-41, and he had four rides on the day.  The SPs of his four rides suggested that his expected number of winners for the day was 0.39.

Oisin Orr had six rides which, at SPs, had an expected value of 0.69 winners.  It was a big ask, to ride two more winners than Andrew Slattery would ride on the day, but he did it.

When Orr was beaten by a nose on Soul Seeker in the opener, it looked like his chance had gone.  You thought that the 2017 champion had to get the first winner on the board if he was going to give himself a chance this year.  But then he won the five-furlong handicap on Tide Of Time for Eddie Lynam, and it was possible again.

It went down to the wire too, Maria Christina for Dermot Weld in the last race of the day, the last race of the season.  The Moyglare Stud filly stayed on well from the furlong marker for her rider and, while Nan Yehi finished off her race well, it always looked like Maria Christina was going to hold on.

It was a fine end to an enthralling encounter between these two.  They have both had fantastic seasons, 43 winners each, and they both bagged their first Group race winners, Slattery on Kastasa, Orr on Imaging and Hazapour, and all three for Dermot Weld.

Donnacha O’Brien had the senior jockeys’ championship wrapped up before racing started on Sunday, but that was a treat too, the battle between him and Colin Keane.  They propelled each other through the 100-winner mark, the first time ever that two jockeys have ridden more than 100 winners each in a season in Ireland, and they both reached new milestones.  A first domestic Group 1 win for Keane on Siskin, a first Champion Stakes for O’Brien on Magical. 

Breeders’ Cup resonance

Last weekend’s Breeders’ Cup seemed to have less resonance here than it usually does.  Maybe there was a feeling that the strength of the European challenge was not as strong as it usually is.  Maybe we were lacking a star.  Maybe the defection of Magical had more of an impact than was initially apparent. 

But Iridessa was brilliant again in the Fillies & Mares Turf, and Wayne Lordan was brilliant on her.  He had her out of stall one and he rode her along for a few strides to get her into a position, in third place and along the rail behind a strong pace. 

Castle Lady came up on her outside as they neared the end of the back straight, but Lordan didn’t panic.  They had gone fast, he knows his filly well, and he didn’t need to use her at that point of the race.  He asked Iridessa for her effort as they raced around the home turn, and angled her off the rail.  As he did, Joseph O’Brien’s filly picked up, got the better of Vasilika, and stayed on well to get home by a neck.

It was a first Breeders’ Cup win for Wayne Lordan, and another victory at the highest level this season, to go with his Pretty Polly Stakes and Matron Stakes on Iridessa, and his 1000 Guineas on Hermosa.  And it was another landmark for Joseph O’Brien, now the youngest Breeders’ Cup-winning trainer, as well as the youngest Breeders’ Cup-winning rider, and the only other person after Freddy Head to both train and ride a Breeders’ Cup winner. 

Don’t give up on Delta

I wouldn’t go giving up on Delta Work yet, despite his defeat in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal on Saturday.  It wasn’t an ideal start to the season, for sure, but there is mitigation. 

Gordon Elliott’s horse is a second-season chaser who was taking on experienced and top class proven rivals in Road To Respect and Clan Des Obeaux.  Also, the moderate early pace wasn’t a help, and his jumping wasn’t as fluent as it needed to be.  He is going to have to jump better if he is going to be competitive at the highest level in open company, but there is every chance that he can improve with experience as the season develops.  And he should do better when he has an even greater test of stamina.

And remember, he wasn’t overly impressive in winning his beginners’ chase at the same meeting last year.  He is deserving of another chance.

Two words

A two-word argument for giving a novice chaser another chance after an abject performance, hindsight being 20-20 vision and all: Brahma Bull.

© The Irish Field, 9th November 2019