Magazine article The Spectator

Leave It Alone

Magazine article The Spectator

Leave It Alone

Article excerpt

Venerability does not always add charm and attraction. The American society hostess Alice Roosevelt Longworth in advanced old age used to sit on a sofa at parties with a cushion beside her embroidered with the invitation: `If you don't have anything good to say about anyone come right over and sit next to me.' And as I gazed on Saturday at Doncaster's attractive bank of flowers spelling out that it was the 221st St Leger I was reminded that many think the final three-year-old Classic past its prime and are urging the rejuvenation of the race by opening it to older horses.

One can see the temptations in a year in which stars like the Stoute duo Singspiel and Pilsudski and Godolphin's Swain have added such lustre to the racing scene. But, even with the sad late withdrawal of the second favourite Stowaway, Saturday's race of ten runners provided a convincing argument for keeping the St Leger as it is. There is no greater pleasure in racing than watching an honest horse win an honest contest, and Silver Patriarch's triumph after a hard-run race and a tussle through the penultimate furlong with the French challenger Vertical Speed offered precisely that spectacle. It was all the more pleasurable in that Silver Patriarch is trained by the ever-courteous John Dunlop and owned by Peter Winfield, whose gracious and sporting response when Silver Patriarch went down by the width of this column to Benny The Dip in the Derby was a model to winners and losers in any field.

I wrote here after Silver Patriarch had won the Lingfield Derby trial in May looking as if he could have gone round again: `Whatever happens at Epsom Silver Patriarch is a horse I would be keen to have on my side for the St Leger.' Fortunately I never changed my mind and when, in Glasgow for the Scottish referendum, I found the Foreign Secretary supporting him in his Herald column I doubled my bet, on the basis that the way luck is running for this government the ground would have opened and swallowed any of the rest of the field who had the temerity to head his selection. It seemed an omen too when the weekend supplement I was reading on the Doncaster train declared: `Fashion welcomes the classic grey for autumn.'

The long-backed Silver Patriarch is not exactly a fashion plate but you could call him the epitome of the Classic grey. His gallant defeat at Epsom after coming from a long way back had been followed by a flop in the Irish Derby when he proved to be unwell. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.