Magazine article The Spectator

Great Judgment

Magazine article The Spectator

Great Judgment

Article excerpt

Germany, next in the European Union presidency, won't be trying anything too adventurous. We know that from the Berlin official who cautioned memorably against having too many ambitions: 'Put too many stones in your rucksack and you will not move an inch.' British racing fortunately boasts bolder spirits. At Newmarket on Saturday trainer Barry Hills took on what looked like mission impossible with his filly Spinning Queen, and by scoring a remarkable victory in the one-mile Sun Chariot Stakes demonstrated that he remains one of the shrewdest brains in racing.

Earlier in the season there were doubts whether Spinning Queen lasted a mile or could handle soft going. So when her rider Michael Hills took the filly straight into the lead on the soggy ground it looked like he was really overloading her rucksack, especially as she was the outsider in a field of five, including those prolific Group One winning mares Soviet Song and Alexander Goldrun. But the further they went, the more Spinning Queen extended her lead.

The filly, who has clearly improved with racing, looked as happy as a seal in a fish farm and the expected challenge from the big guns never materialised. From two out Soviet Song and Alexander Goldrun, tussling for second, were chasing a disappearing tail and at the line Spinning Queen was nine lengths clear.

'There's still some artistry in it, isn't there?' said a beaming Barry Hills as she returned. 'But you've got to get the script right. We got the script right today because they were all hold-up animals.' He had reasoned that there would have been no point in letting two horses who had won eight Group Ones between them dictate the pace and then hope to take them from behind.

So the plan was to let Spinning World do her own thing and wind it up from the front.

So she did, with son Michael Hills riding a beautifully judged race. And as he came in he confirmed, 'That was Plan A. All the front-runners had been taken out of the race so I had no option.' Sometimes we forget the value of distilled experience. Barry could even recall riding a winner on the track back in 1953, for George Colling -- at a riding weight of 6st 10lb. As for the others, Oscar Urbina, reunited with Soviet Song for the first time since her three-yearold days, acknowledged they had never been in the contest. Oscar summed it up in four words: 'The winner? Bloody 'ell', which resonates even better in his Spanish accent.

I had been impressed enough with Spinning Queen in the paddock to do a reverse forecast including her with my idea of the winner, Alexander Goldrun.

Naturally, Soviet Song beat Alexander Goldrun by a neck for second and an exact dividend of £53. For me it did not get any better in the next race, the Cambridgeshire, where my hope, Andy Turnell's Blue Bajan, also finished second at 25-1 to Formal Decree. …

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