Magazine article The Spectator

A Perfect Gent

Magazine article The Spectator

A Perfect Gent

Article excerpt

Move over Robert Sangster. Stand aside Sheikh Mohammed. Well, perhaps not just yet. But as this 15th part of the Eternal Optimists syndicate managed by Corals' Malcolm Palmer joined the other proud owners huddling in the parade ring at Kempton's evening meeting last week, my excitement was every bit as great as racing's superstars when they introduce an expensive new star to the racecourse. One of 24 two-year-olds contesting the six-furlong European Breeders Fund Median Auction Stakes, carrying a prize of 2,386 to the winner, Rhapsody in Blue (No, I wasn't responsible for the politically incorrect name) did not exactly earn rave previews on his racecourse debut.

The Racing Post said ungenerously, '3,500 (Irish) gns foal from a stable hardly associated with first-time out winners.' `This first outing will probably be required,' noted the racecard, tersely, if accurately. It was indeed intended purely as an educational experience, a first trip to the racecourse for our son of Magical Strike (USA) out of Palace Blue (IRE), to learn what racing was all about.

Six-furlong sprints will not be Rhapsody's future. His canny trainer Andy Turnell, who had him looking a picture, told us he will almost certainly need further. He was the biggest horse in the parade ring at Kempton and jump jockeys who visit the stable are already looking at his impressive frame and inquiring about the chances of getting a leg up on him over timber in a couple of years. But he did everything right. Bright of eye, ears pricked, he strolled around the ring with athletic dignity, led by conditional jockey Colin Rae.

When he first arrived in the stable Rhapsody had been somewhat coltish, his mind rather less on the job of getting fit than on mounting anything from passing lasses to the stable door to the visiting postman. But whether it has been his working regime or whether he had caught the whispers about a possible visit to the vet to deprive him of his wedding tackle, he has turned into the perfect gent. At Kempton's Irish Night he was not distracted in the slightest by the barbecue smoke, the strong whiff of Guinness on the breeze nor the ghetto-blasting efforts of the energetic Irish band.

But what about the serious part of the evening? He went down comfortably to the start, entered the stalls without a fuss and set out, more or less, with the others under the coaxing hands of Nicky Adams, John Reid having initially decided he couldn't make it from York to Kempton, only to turn up riding the favourite in Rhapsody's race. All we cared about was that our horse returned safely from this first experience. …

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