Colombo backers must be nuts!
By Pat Keane
I really had to smile when reading earlier in the week about the so-called sustained gamble on Aidan O’Brien’s Cristoforo Colombo for next Tuesday’s Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Perhaps certain punters were knocking each other over in an effort to get on the once-raced son of Henrythenavigator, but if so then they must be nuts!
This story broke on Tuesday afternoon, 6-1 down to 7-2 we were told, and it took a fair bit of swallowing.
I’m not saying Cristoforo Colombo won’t win the Coventry by half the track - anything is possible when it comes to Ballydoyle inmates - but to go backing a horse a week before a race, not knowing the shape of the contest, well you would want to be hard up for some action.
The Coventry is a serious test for two-year-olds and you essentially need to be capable of coming down that straight Ascot six furlongs like the proverbial rocket.
There is little room for error and if slowly into stride or meeting trouble in running then your goose is almost certainly cooked.
Cristoforo Colombo made a reasonably impressive debut at Navan last month, easing to a length and a half success, despite drifting alarmingly in the betting from 13-8 to 7-2.
Obviously, O’Brien had left loads to work on and that clearly augurs well for the horse down the road.
But the Navan contest hasn’t been working out terribly well. The runner-up, Scream Blue Wonder, subsequently finished a disappointing fifth of six behind Richard Hannon’s Sky Lantern at Naas.
Others to run in the meantime are Rockabilly Riot (fifth), Boston Rocker (sixth), Is Feidir Leis (seventh) and City Square (eighth.).
Only Boston Rocker, who took a modest event at Fairyhouse on Wednesday night, has done anything at all for the form.
If there was genuine money for Cristoforo Colombo for the Coventry then it could only be based on what has been going on at Ballydoyle, since Navan.
It will be more than interesting then come Tuesday to note just how much confidence there really is behind the horse because, on what we mortals know, he wouldn’t win if he started now.
Anyone else already have a bellyful of the Australian wonder mare, Black Caviar, even before she has run on these shores.
She’s in Britain to contest the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Ascot next Saturday and, apparently, defeat is simply out of the question.
Black Caviar is unbeaten in 21 races and the Racing Post has been shovelling all sorts of you know what in our direction since she touched down in England.
Maybe she is the greatest racehorse of all time, but that’s what she is, a horse, and we can definitely say with some certainty she is not the second coming.
It seems to be almost universally accepted that all Black Caviar has to do at Ascot is to go down and come back.
That may well be the case, but there will be plenty of hardened punters - they utilise cold logic and treat hype and sentiment with the disdain it deserves - who will be willing to take her on for hundreds of thousands come the day.
There is a very strong case for preventing a horse from running in a race, after dumping the jockey at the start and getting loose.
Personally, if I have a few quid on one I never, ever want it to run in the event of such a happening.
At Roscommon on Monday night Violet Lashes, regarded as less than reliable by many punters anyway, deposited Fran Berry to the turf, before careering away on her own.
There were those who had already resolved to lay the filly and when she was enjoying herself, jockey-free, they moved from a gentle trot to flat to the boards faster than you could say “lay it to win a grand!”
Eventually, Berry was reunited with Violet Lashes and then proceeded to give her a magically patient drive and, of course, the combination won in a canter.
Queue a major gnashing of teeth, but for once it was the ‘clever’ layers, rather then the ‘less talented’ players, who were on the receiving end. Quite right too!
There was a lot to like about Michael Halford’s Mizani at Navan last Saturday and he looks a horse to follow.
Admittedly, he only had three rivals to beat and one of them, Swerve, performed way below what might have been expected.
But the son of Bachelor Duke won this mile race by a National Hunt distance - eight and a half lengths - and there was just a style and swagger about it which was impressive.
It would be wrong to get carried away, because this was a weak race. But, nevertheless, one cannot escape the feeling that Mizani may well line the pockets at some stage in the future. Home