Emotional Struggles

By Oakley, Robin | The Spectator, August 31, 2002 | Go to article overview

Emotional Struggles


Oakley, Robin, The Spectator


We all have our perspectives. In Sweden for CNN last week, I found that the locals have been enjoying the hottest summer since records began. But for the good-- humoured Prime Minister Goran Persson, needing a high turnout in his election to be sure of clinching another victory for his Social Democrats, there was a snag. The weather has made it such an enjoyable summer, he told me, that nobody was taking the slightest notice of politicians' doings: 'I need some rain to be re-elected.' Best not to be seen performing a killjoy raindance all the same, I suspect. Back home on Saturday Goodwood's so-called Celebration Mile proved anything but for trainer Terry Mills, jockey Kevin Darley and thousands of favourite-backers, and I found perspective a struggle.

It had been such a blissful week, and nothing to do with those suntanned blondes all over Stockholm either. Not long ago, after her Ascot victory, I urged readers to snap up the 10-1 then available on Sir Michael Stoute's Russian Rhythm for the 1000 Guineas. I have not liked the look of a filly so much since Bosra Sham and I warned that such a price would not last. After Russian Rhythm's scintillating victory at York's Ebor meeting, when she showed not just speed and elegance but the courage to come again after being stopped in her tracks by Wunder's Dream, she was cut to a mere 5-2 for next season's first Classic. Two other long-time favourites of this column, Henry Candy's sprinter Kyllachy and Marcus Tregoning's classy middle-distance performer Nayef, both in the Ten To Follow two years ago, won York's Nunthorpe and Juddmonte International respectively.

But then came the bad news. When I spent a day recently at Terry Mills's Epsom stable the star of the yard, Where or When, was lying down in his box having a mid-morning siesta. He might just as well have stayed there for all the chance he had of winning Saturday's Celebration Mile, for which he was backed down from 8-1 to 11-4 favourite. Reckoning him nailed on, I had taken 4-1 with all my York winnings and some more besides. But coming down the finishing straight Where or When's jockey Kevin Darley, sitting on the heels of the leaders, went for one gap after another, only to find them all closing in his face. Finally, he elected to come the long way round the outside, only to find as he did so that he was penned in by Richard Hughes, coming from further behind on the eventual winner Tillerman.

The exuberant Hughes pointedly raised a single finger as soon as he had crossed the line, with four horses abreast close behind him. The gesture was not lost on many of the crowd who remembered him doing the same on Tillerman at Ascot only to find out he had been judged second by the photo-finish. …

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