Magazine article The Spectator

Give Him Time

Magazine article The Spectator

Give Him Time

Article excerpt

I am glad that Sheikh Mohammed has taken this column's advice and spent the L75,000 on supplementing Godolphin's brilliant filly Cape Verdi so that she can take on the colts in Saturday's Derby. On balance, after he had finished 12th of 14 in the Flanagan and Allen Handicap at Brighton last Thursday, my partners and I decided that we would not spend the L75,000 supplementing our Rhapsody In Blue for the big race. Unfortunately the only thing that he has in common with those running in it is that he is three years old. His form figures now read 000-0. Before the Brighton contest the Racing Post tersely and cruelly summed up his racing career so far as 'Unfancied and soundly beaten in three maidens at 6-7f.' The next day its only comment was 'Always behind.' But not for nothing is our syndicate named The Eternal Optimists, and we found plenty to cheer about, quite apart from the sheer exhilaration of taking in the sea air from the centre of the parade ring as 'Rhaps' strode around the tarmac circle, very much on his toes and glowing with health.

He must have been one of the biggest two-year-olds in the country last year. At three he is still on the leggy side but has begun to fill out nicely. Indeed, if not watched he could fill out too much. Trainer Andy Turnell says that he is 'a good doer' which is trainer-speak for `he eats like a pig.' So much so that Rhaps will munch his way through his meals and then start on his bedding, even if it is shredded newspaper. So after mealtimes he is muzzled.

You might think that when Andy tells us that the horse does things slowly it is a gentle way of warning us that we have bought a dud. But what he means is that Rhaps is a long-striding animal who takes time to wind up. The orders to jockey Nicky Carlisle were `Pop him out and keep hold of him as long as you can.' The highly professional Carlisle, no doubt an indulgent parent too, said: `You mean get him organised as soon as possible but give him time to find himself?' He did precisely that and Rhaps lobbed along at the back, taking some time to find himself and rather longer to find the others in the race. Being the big fellow that he is, he did not handle the downhill track too well but once they reached the rising ground a couple of reminders from N. Carlisle saw him doing his best work at the end of the seven furlongs.

'I'd rather see them slow to start and running on at the end than the other way around,' said Andy Turnell, who is clearly fluent in trainer-speak. …

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