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24th July 2024 11:29 am

“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries."

“To win without risk, is to triumph without glory.” Pierre Corneille

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I was reminded of Corneille’s view when wondering why I felt quite so deflated after Serpentine’s Derby victory.

It is certainly nothing to do with Aidan’s training abilities, although his entry numbers must have an impact on various stakeholders. There is at least something devastatingly simple about Aidan’s racing philosophy and I paraphrase: “Contrary to what people think, we do give each jockey the best riding instructions that we think will help the jockey and his horse to win.  I told him that he could be certain the horse would get a mile and a half and to ride him like that. You never expect anything, you always do your best, hope it will happen and then accept the result.”

He had raced in pretty well the same manner LTO when fitted with headgear for the first time. My Raceform comment for Serpentine’s last race said: “Serpentine (IRE) was bounced out in front, set a good gallop and had a clear lead most of the way, and when his rivals threatened to come at him in the straight he found plenty and it didn’t take long to break their resistance. He galloped and stayed against a weak enough field. He might well improve further for a step up in trip and he could be ready to go up in grade, which will tell us a good bit more about his ability than this did.”

No what irked me, was that a little over an hour earlier, the Oaks had also appeared to have a brace of front-runners acting as pacemakers. As is so often the case, the field was happy to let them have their day in the front knowing that, as should always happen, the tank empties and the grown-ups can get on with the proper racing. In the Derby, they did exactly the same, content for the three who had taken the lead after the first 1½ furlongs of the race, to remain in that order until 2f from home.  However, at about 3f from the finish, Moore, Dettori et al, suddenly realised they had cocked it up and that McNamara now had a probably unassailable lead on a proper stayer. By then, Serpentine and McNamara were the most relaxed pair on the course and at the 2f pole one also realised that McNamara knew he still had fuel and probably a spare gear in hand. Too late, the other jockeys realised their mistake – one that was compounded by the usual melange of Derby problems – mostly to do with ability or stamina.

On the subject of Stamina, and with the 20/20 vision of hindsight, we now know that if we had simply permed the first 8 in the Dosage Index I presented in yesterday’s Derby article, (described by one gentle reader as the greatest inducer of sleep he had ever encountered), for a £336 Trifecta, we would now be near £56k better off. Having introduced many of you to Dosage, in that respect alone, I feel should perhaps claim some moral victory. Sadly I can’t and neither can anyone of at least ten other jockeys. Even more sadly, in order for the 241st running of the Derby to make any sense, Serpentine needs to prove himself the greatest 3yo of his generation. Otherwise, this is just another race that underscores a number of people’s perceptions – primarily that it’s a mug’s game.

Talking of which, eyes down for another day’s racing when subject to the outbreak of Common Sense, we might see a truly great racehorse today. Time is again me so it’s selections only today.

1:50 SANDOWN Coral Charge (Group 3) (Registered As The Sprint Stakes) Cl1 (3yo+) 5f ITV 12 runners

A’ALI e/w – TARBOOSH e/w

2:05 HAYDOCK bet365 Handicap Cl2 (3yo) 1m6f ITV 9 runners


2:25 SANDOWN Coral Henry II Stakes (Group 3) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m ITV 5 runners


2:40 HAYDOCK bet365 Lancashire Oaks (Group 2) (Fillies & Mares) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m4f ITV 6 runners


3:00 SANDOWN Coral Challenge (Handicap) Cl2 (3yo+) 1m ITV 10 runners


3:15 HAYDOCK bet365 Old Newton Cup Handicap Cl2 (4yo+) 1m4f ITV 16 runners


3:35 SANDOWN Coral-Eclipse (Group 1) (British Champions Series) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m2f ITV 7 runners

Had Lord North been running, ENABLE might have had a scare. But not now. GHAIYYATH is an absolute beast – but I think needs time between races, as demonstrated by his losses in The Ganay and The Arc, both of which came too soon after victories. No, ENABE wins this.


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