Magazine article The Spectator

The Turf Winners and Losers

Magazine article The Spectator

The Turf Winners and Losers

Article excerpt

My favourite racecourse-bar story this year involved a towel-clad jockey who had enjoyed his game of golf so much that in the shower room he demonstrated the iron shot that had gained him an eagle. Hearing a clunk behind him he discovered that his backswing had connected forcibly with a dwarf, who was lying prone. 'Oh, my God, ' he said, 'I'm so sorry. How are you?' 'I'm not happy. I'm definitely not happy, ' said his groaning victim. 'Oh, in that case which one are you?' inquired our golfing friend, whose parents had clearly brought him up on Snow White.

Hopefully followers of this column are a little more chuffed than the golfing victim.

As the Flat season closed, our Twelve to Follow showed a decent profit. On more than half the 41 occasions on which they graced a racecourse, they finished in the frame with 12 first places, four seconds and six thirds.

The return to a £10 level win stake was a profit of more than £28.

Winners among the Twelve (two never made it to the racecourse) included Akeed Mofeed, Aljamaheer, Baccarat, Bated Breath, Melvin The Grate, Starboard and Mince. After a nice win at Cork, Akeed Mofeed was sold off to race in Hong Kong.

Bated Breath was often unlucky, running a close second at Royal Ascot to Hong Kong sprinter Little Bridge, and so was Roger Varian's Aljamaheer, going down by just a head and a neck in Goodwood's Celebration Mile.

Something clearly went wrong with Baccarat. He won first time out at 5-1 but never appeared again after fading tamely on his second outing. Our star was Roger Charlton's Mince, who won five times including her 6-1 victory under international star Matthew Chadwick in Ascot's Shergar Cup.

Dragging down the average were Richard Fahey's Mirio Bianco, who ran six times without winning, and William Haggas's Harris Tweed, who turned out on five occasions without scoring. Since Fahey is one of the sharpest operators in the north, I went for the wrong one there (although since Mirio Bianco finished third on one occasion at 50-1 each-way backers would have got their money back for the season) but I make no apologies for Harris Tweed. William Haggas is both one of the nicest human beings in racing and a cracking good trainer and Harris Tweed is a really honest horse. He ran his heart out every time but sadly often succeeded only in setting up the race for a faster finisher.

It has been a momentous Flat season.

We all relished the Frankel phenomenon. …

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