Magazine article The Spectator

Battling On

Magazine article The Spectator

Battling On

Article excerpt

The turf

If you ask me, Craig Evans was lucky to get away with one left jab from John Prescott. I remember once hearing the deputy prime minister discuss his style when faced by an opponent: `I'm not the fancy rapier type,' he said. `I'm more of a broadsword man. I prefer to take the head off.' `Two Jags' would probably have made a better first opponent in the professional ring for Audley Harrison than Mike Middleton, the hapless American selected as the first victim for Britain's new heavyweight hope. Middleton lasted just two minutes 45 seconds. The best thing about the imported knuckle-fodder was his interview the day before the contest. Wasn't he a bit small to be fighting the massive Harrison, he was asked? He replied with the authentic voice of smalltown America: `It's not the size of the dog in the fight that matters, it's the size of the fight in the dog.'

I was reminded of that remark twice in the course of Saturday's racing. Determination and the readiness to battle on is such a crucial quality in man or beast. You could not have seen those qualities better exemplified than in Kieren Fallon's riding of Sir Michael Stoute's Medicean. Talking to the BBC team before the 87,000 Juddmonte Lockinge Stakes, Kieren had almost sounded as though he would rather be on James Fanshawe's Warningford, who was better suited on the soft going and on whom the currently unstoppable Pat Eddery had the ride. He proved to be a shrewd assessor of a race as well as the talented rider that he is. Warningford went into the final furlong two lengths up on Medicean and a length up on Swallow Flight, a quirky character who was given an enterprising ride by Frankie Dettori. Having obtained the first run, Eddery drove Warningford for the line for all he was worth in that inimitable bounce-about style of his. As low as a human being could hope to get in the saddle, the fluent Dettori coaxed the last ounce of effort out of Swallow Flight. But suddenly there was the crooked white blaze of Medician's head forcing its way into the picture as Fallon drove his mount up the stands rail. Every corpuscle of Fallon's body was engaged in imparting forward momentum to Medicean, who responded gamely and inched past the others in the last 50 yards to win by a neck.

The Group One race gave us the most thrilling finish so far this season and should you get the chance to see the head-on replay do not miss it: you will not see a better study of the styles of three top jockeys. …

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.