Last Saturday, Aidan O’Brien won the English Leger with the progressive Capri, one of four horses he ran in the contest.
In the wake of a superb display by the grey son of Galileo, however, there followed a fair amount of sniping at O’Brien, centring on his use of so-called “team tactics.’’ There was no major controversy or anything like that, no just some comments that essentially smacked of sour grapes on the part of the auld enemy.
O’Brien’s no-hoper, The Anvil, a 66-1 shot, set a scorching pace and was ignored by all ten of his rivals. He may not as well have been in the race for all the use he was.
The Anvil was then chased for much of the journey by O’Brien’s three other runners, Venice Beach, Douglas Macarthur and Capri.
Over four furlongs down The Anvil was legless and eventually folded to trail home just under 60 lengths last of the 11 runners.
Venice Beach and Douglas Macarthur both went west soon after also, but Capri was made of much sterner stuff.
Taken to the front three furlongs out by our old friend, Ryan Moore, he was soon tackled on all sides. But, in typical fashion for one of O’Brien’s, was not for turning and was nicely on top at the line.
The fact, though, that the O’Brien team filled the first four places for a lot of the 14 furlongs seemingly annoyed a handful across channel and the moaning began.
Lee Mottershead, who generally writes rather good stuff, in many ways led the field in Monday’s Racing Post.
He made the not unreasonable point that a jockey must ensure his horse is given the opportunity to achieve the best possible placing.
That rule works fine when you are talking about a horse, often a live one on form, which is clearly prevented from achieving the best possible placing by his pilot.
But the rule is arguably ineffective when it comes to dealing with a case such as The Anvil going off like a bat out of hell.
The stewards, of course, could have gone through the motions and inquired into the performance, but it would have been a wasted exercise.
All rider Michael Hussey had to say to the stewards was what he actually told anyone who was listening, that he simply got the fractions wrong.
All O’Brien had to say was that he thought The Anvil was an out-and-out stayer, but, in any case, would have been surprised if he got into the first six no matter what way he was ridden.
The Mottershead paragraph that particularly caught my eye, however, was this: “Although precious few punters with a knowledge of racing would have backed The Anvil, not least because he had been ridden with similar excess positivity in the Irish Derby, there will have been those less au-fait with the form book who may have supported him financially. They were on a loser from the off.’’ Really, weren’t they on a loser no matter what?
My suggestion to such mugs is they bail out of the racing game immediately and, perhaps, take up bingo. If bingo isn’t exciting enough then maybe mud wrestling might be more satisfying .
The bottom line is the best horse won the Leger, end of story. And The Anvil was no inconvenience to any other runner, dropping back over on the far rail away from all others.
Call it team tactics, whatever, the fact is the O’Brien battalions go to war for each other.
The Brits have a choice, get out of the kitchen if it’s too hot, or else fight fire with fire!
If O’Brien now decides the ‘Arc is next for Capri, he will be far from being a forlorn hope. Saturday was his first outing since winning the Irish Derby, 77 days earlier, and, you suspect, there is a lot more to come.
a phone call from a punter last Sunday morning. He was heading to Galway on Monday for the two-day meeting and had something on his mind.
Our pal was puzzled as to why Galway on Tuesday wasn’t followed by Ballinrobe on Wednesday. Instead Irish racing took place at Fairyhouse on Wednesday, with Ballinrobe on Thursday.
He would have gone to Ballinrobe, which is a handy trip, probably less than an hour, from Galway, but a marathon from his Cork base.
You would have to say he had a good point as it didn’t represent very good planning, indeed it made no sense at all in fact.
we go on and on about Willie Mullins’ talent as a trainer, but surly what he achieved with in-foal Airlie Beach, having her last run, at Galway on Tuesday was a remarkable feat.
Airlie Beach has long been a brilliant mare and was a top-class hurdler. But she did seem to have it all to do in this Listed race over a mile and a half, on the back of her previous effort at Tramore last month.
All she won at Tramore was a lowly maiden, a bad race, and was far from impressive in doing so. But she went off a heavily backed favourite at Galway, way up in class and duly delivered. It would be some fun if Mullins took the flat even more seriously.
Meade’s Aint Dunne Yet was no star over flights and chances are will be no star over fences either.
That said, I will be disappointed if he fails to give us a pay-day in a beginners’ chase, sooner rather than later.
He shaped as if in need of the outing when beaten five lengths into second by Montana Belle at Galway on Tuesday and is fancied to get off the mark at this game, before the real big guns begin to emerge.