Beware of loose comments and the preconceived notion

IT is sometimes quite amazing how a simple comment, or a preconceived notion, can have such a bearing on one’s behaviour.

Take John Oxx’s newcomer, Born To Sea, the already much celebrated half-brother to the magical Sea The Stars, who made his debut at the Curragh last Saturday.

On the lead-in to the contest, Oxx emphasised that the son of Invincible Spirit would not be “knocked about’’ and so most of us immediately factored that into our thinking.

The bookmakers appeared to take it on board as well and Born To Sea was freely available at 4-1 on Saturday morning. Indeed, as high as 6-1 was there for all to see on Friday night and one particular shrewdie, of my acquaintance, had a little on at that price.

The layers, in any case, had to feel reasonably comfortable and most of us were not prepared to avail of the odds on offer.

By Saturday morning one became aware that Born To Sea was highly regarded in the Oxx camp, but that there was no possibility of him being subjected to a hard race and so we sat on the sidelines.

After all he was making his debut in Listed company and that was a fair old ask for a newcomer.

As well as that you just knew Oxx’s mutterings were an effort to protect punters, rather than any attempt to lead them astray.

Oxx knew that, as a half-brother to the great Sea The Stars, Born To Sea was going to attract a lot more attention than might be normal.

Someone, somewhere, however, decided to take their courage in their hands and Born To Sea developed into a strong order and went off a heavily-backed 5-2 shot.

He wasn’t the quickest away, didn’t enjoy the clearest of passages, but strolled through late for Johnny Murtagh to win with his head in his chest. Queue much gnashing of teeth.

And then there’s the preconceived notion. At Listowel on Monday, Dermot Weld ran a horse called Swerve in a fillies’ maiden for juveniles.

She had run perfectly adequately when fourth on her debut at the Curragh and this certainly appeared winnable.

The phone rang about an hour or so before the contest and the message was crystal clear: “This is well fancied.’’

But, hold on a second, the ground is atrocious, she is by Oasis Dream and they do not operate on such surfaces.

The clever thing was to resist the urge and watch as she got bogged down in the ground. Oh horror of horrors. She bounded out of stalls like a gazelle for Pat Smullen and, at all stages of

the contest, appeared more than at home.

She absolutely flew up the straight and crossed the line a whopping eight and a half lengths clear of the second. Smart boy wanted, but not too smart!

You simply cannotbeat tradition

YOU know most of us take racecourses for granted and rarely give any thought to the amount of works it takes to hold a meeting at a place like Listowel for a massive seven days.

It was certainly brought home to me this week, as I made my way into the track at around 9.45 in the mornings.

There for all to see were a dozen or more guys travelling right round the entire course filling in any holes which might need tending to.

I know Blazing Tempo could only manage fourth in the Kerry National on Wednesday, but you’d have to say emerged with reputation enhanced.

The handicapper gave the mare 12lbs for winning the Galway Plate and there is no doubt that nailed her.

But the way she moved through the contest, on terrible ground, was impressive and there is little doubt is more than capable of landing another decent prize, sooner rather than later.

Shark Hanlon’s Murchu was impressive in the bumper on Wednesday. Murchu had indicated he might be decent enough in two previous outings, but they had come on good ground.

But he went to the front here a fair way out and showed no signs of stopping at the end of two and a half miles.

The attendance on Wednesday, for the Kerry National, was an astonishing 26,572, and proved one more time that you simply cannot beat tradition.

And it was a pleasure to circulate throughout the enclosures for the week and not have your senses constantly attacked by senseless and needless noise.

Best story of the week surely came with the guy who was caught in traffic on National day and knew he wasn’t going to make it for the first race.

He rang the track and asked if they might delay the time of the opener by 30 minutes. You can’t bate a good laugh!

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.


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