PAT KEANE: Thin line between hero and villain

PERFECT TIMING:  Ryan Moore - timed it just right on Adelaide to land the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in Australia last Saturday.

There isn’t half a thin line in this racing game between emerging as a hero, or being torn asunder by the public and press alike.

That was certainly one of the first things to strike me after watching Adelaide land the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in Australia last Saturday morning.

Normally we only bother with Australian racing for the Melbourne Cup and that means having to ease from the cosy cot at the God-forsaken hour of around 4am in the early hours.

But the Cox Plate was available at a much more civilised time, off at 7.40am, and that required no sacrifice at all.

Ryan Moore has been universally lauded, and rightly so, for the drive he afforded Adelaide

But the bottom line is that he was literally only inches away from being slated, especially by the Australian media, notorious for their detestation of foreign riders.

Adelaide had a terrible draw, 13 of 14, and Moore immediately gambled on passing every other horse in the race by going in behind all of them.

It took real balls to do that, because Moonee Valley has a very short run from the final bend to the line and you will rapidly run out of real estate when trying to make up ground.

Truth to tell, Adelaide was in a most unpromising position for most of the mile and a quarter journey and when he was asked to mount a sustained challenge on the wide outside from the five furlong pole seemed to be facing insurmountable odds.

And that is really where the thin line comes in. Remember Joseph O’Brien and Australia in that never to be forgotten Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in September?

From about half way — six furlongs from home — Australia was inexplicably requested to race wide by his young pilot.

When the horse was chinned near the post, ironically by the Moore-ridden The Grey Gatsby, Joseph was quickly catapulted into the limelight.

Basically, he was blamed for the defeat of Australia and that was perfectly understandable.

The margin of failure was just a neck and if it had been a nose, the minimum margin, in the other direction, little or nothing would have been said-by anyone.

There were clearly similarities between Australia and the ride Moore gave to Adelaide, although admittedly circumstances did, at least to some extent, force Moore’s hand.

When Adelaide crossed the line a short neck to the good then all in the garden was rosy and Moore cemented his place in the folklore of racing.

But if Adelaide had failed by a short neck, to close down Fawkner, then don’t have a doubt in the world that he would have been pilloried.

The Australian press would have enjoyed a field day, but that’s what makes Moore one of the best the business has ever seen, that extraordinary ability to get it just right.

First prize was just under £1m, which means he earned not too far short of £100,000 for a piece of work that lasted 2m 3.76 seconds.

When Aidan O’Brien’s Giovanni Canaletto made his debut at Navan last month, the word about him could hardly have been more positive.

He ended at 8-11, from evens, but could only manage a well-beaten third behind Kevin Prendergast’s Mohaayed and stable companion Jinsha Lake.

In retrospect, Giovanni Canaletto hadn’t a prayer of rewarding his supporters in that Navan contest.

That’s the only logical conclusion you can make after watching him at Leopardstown last Saturday.

He went off at 4-7, to beat 15 rivals, and won easily, even though shaping as if he hadn’t a clue as to what was required.

Giovanni Canaletto had plenty to do early in the straight and even turned his head sharply sideways when asked to buckle down.

The fact he was a whopping six and a half lengths clear of the second at the line was quite amazing. He really could be anything!

What are the chances of Dermot Weld enjoying a reasonably lucrative winter campaign, hot on the heels of a great flat season?

He is obviously not going to be big in numbers and it will clearly be a case of quality over quantity.

But the likes of Windsor Park, Cheltenham festival hero, Silver Concorde, and Vigil are nice sorts with which to be going to war.

And there are rumours as well that the yard may house a potential star three-year-old hurdler, or two.

A name we persistently hear is Timiyan, a five lengths winner of a 12 furlongs handicap for three-year-olds at the Galway festival.

He then went to Gowran Park in the middle of August for another mile and a half handicap that was open to older horses.

Racing off a mark 16lbs higher than at Galway, Timiyan won by four and a quarter lengths.

Watch out as well for a real big-name jockey - okay it’s Davy Russell — getting the leg-up on literally all of the Weld National Hunt horses through the campaign.

At Thurles recently a horse called Down Ace was beaten at 4-7, having been backed from 8-11.

In the good old days that would have been very tasty for the layers, but the good old days are, sadly, long gone.

Do you know what one of the bookmakers, who is more than willing to take a half-decent bet, won on that race?

I’ll tell you - €11.00. Doesn’t that sum up what the betting rings of Ireland have largely become.

Make no mistake when the people on the boxes have disappeared, as they surely will, unless something is done to save them, this game will be very much the poorer.


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