Magazine article The Spectator

The Turf Hot Candy

Magazine article The Spectator

The Turf Hot Candy

Article excerpt

Cape Peron was my easiest choice for our Twelve to Follow. When Henry Candy smiles his gentle smile, as he did after Cape Peron won the Park Hill Hospital Handicap at Newbury in early May, and tells you 'this one could be pretty good', you take notice.

Cape Peron has run twice since and hasn't won yet, but he will. Both at Royal Ascot and Goodwood, the ground was too firm for him, yet at Goodwood only a brilliant tactical ride by the champion jockey Richard Hughes on the Richard Hannon-trained Wentworth denied Cape Peron victory in the Betfred Mile.

Entering the straight, Dane O'Neill was well positioned, ready to pull out Cape Peron and make his effort. But at that moment whom should he find on his outside, quite legitimately holding him into the rail, but the canny Hughes, who kept him there until he wanted to make his own run for the post.

By the time Cape Peron could be extricated Wentworth was too far ahead to be caught, yet Cape Peron got within three quarters of a length.

Henry acknowledges Hughesie's skill with a rueful smile, but he shares Hannon's view that Wentworth and Cape Peron were effectively Group horses masquerading as handicappers. Cape Peron's problem is that he has flat feet and suffers from corns so we are unlikely to see him again until he has ground soft enough to suit.

The legend 'Winner trained H.Candy, Kingston Warren' has been appearing since 1973 and it delights me every time I see it.

Kingston Warren, a mini-village of its own outside Lambourn amid 1,000 acres of varied gradients, offers a sneak preview of what I hope the Almighty might have in mind hereafter if some of us can start being good.

I hadn't been to Henry's yard for 13 years and it remains a glorious time capsule. As we crunched across the stubble in his 4 x 4 with three Labradors in the back, this epitome of the countryman trainer pointed out proudly the eight miles of hedges he has planted to give small birds some protection from the buzzards circling at altitude, the copses now nicely matured after 30 years of care. For 27 years he combined training with farming 750 acres of countryside so vibrant that you keep hoping to see a besmocked van Gogh or Paul Nash at an easel capturing it for future generations.

Like all good trainers he is a calm man of infinite patience: the word unruffled might have been invented for him. …

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