Magazine article The Spectator

The People's Toff

Magazine article The Spectator

The People's Toff

Article excerpt

Eclipse Day at Sandown Park was nearly a disaster. Feeling for my wallet en route to Waterloo, my heart sank as my hand went into an empty pocket, and then I remembered. Mrs Oakley, by then uncontactable at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, had the night before purloined it to pay for a MarshRuby takeaway curry. (Don't miss them. The perfectionist Mrs O never normally allows across our doorstep a meal prepared elsewhere but makes an exception for this one-woman enterprise in Lower Marsh. ) Shorn of cash and credit cards for rail ticket or racecard I slunk home, reconciled to TV racing. But then I wondered: didn't Mrs O have somewhere a secret cash-stash for window cleaners, charity collectors and emergency taxis? Ten minutes' search proved successful (and, no, friendly burglar, it was not in the cocoa tin marked 'Rice').

Thirty seconds later, with folding-stuff in my top pocket, I was back en route for Sandown, convinced it was my day.

There were four objectives, the first three financial. One of this column's Twelve to Follow, William Haggas's Triple Aspect, a horse who goes down to the post like a goat and comes back like a cheetah, was running in the first. Sir Mark Prescott, who does not tilt at windmills, had entered a promising filly in the Coral Distaff, a Listed race. And Andrew Balding, who does not often use the former champion, had booked Kieren Fallon, still for me the strongest rider on the circuit, to ride his Kakatosi. The other objective, all being well, was to join the crowds cheering home another Coral Eclipse winner for trainer Henry Cecil in the Eclipse, 32 years after his last one, Gunner B.

For once almost everything went according to script. I arrived too late for the first, but a gateman confirmed Triple Aspect had prevailed by half a length. Foolishly I then played up the winnings on Fallon's ride in the next. He rode a polished race on Luca Cumani's Acrostic, holding him up and getting to the leader a furlong out. What neither he nor I had expected was that the 33-1 outsider Black Spirit, also well-ridden by the unfashionable Luke Morris, then stayed on well enough to resist Fallon's charge. Black Spirit's improved form, it seemed, was down to a breathing operation and the restoration of a tongue tie. Horses so often seem to improve these days after wind operations, particularly over jumps, that there is almost a case for their compulsory registration. …

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.