The Gurkha has certainly attracted his fair share of critics, following a costly defeat in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown last Saturday.
Two judges, for whom I would harbour lots of respect, told me this week that they believe the horse has become “disappointing’’ and I have read plenty who feel The Gurkha may lack resolution when it comes to a battle.
Clearly, the son of Galileo’s failure to cope with Hawkbill at Sandown was not what was expected, after he had been backed as if defeat was out of the question.
The Gurkha was supported from 5-6 to 4-6 and that meant there was massive amounts of cash wagered on him.
There had to be at least one, if not more, major player in the game, only such firepower could see a horse tighten to that extent in a competitive Group 1.
After looking all over a winner two furlongs down, the Gurkha was eventually outstayed by the winner and went under by half a length.
But was he actually outstayed, or just lacked the courage to beat a tough opponent when the real war began to rage?
My view is that it is far too early to be giving up on The Gurkha and he may well be seen in a far better light, in different circumstances.
I’m inclined to the notion that ten furlongs, on soft ground, was a step too far and cannot wait for his reappearance in the one-mile Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on July 27.
All the evidence points to that being his ideal trip and the likelihood is the ground will ride far better than it did at Sandown.
Ryan Moore wasn’t seen at his best when partnering The Gurkha to a length and a quarter second behind Galileo Gold in the St James’ Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and those hostilities are set to be renewed at Goodwood.
Prior to that, of course, The Gurkha ran away with the French 2000 Guineas at Deauville, by no less than five and a half lengths.
It shaped as something of a nothing contest on the day, but hasn’t been working out too badly in fact. Look, there is no point in dressing this up too much, it wasn’t an exceptional race, but was won in exceptional style.
Last Saturday, we were bursting to get the few quid from The Gurkha, but couldn’t attempt to do so because of the tight price.
If the big boys have more than enough money not to worry about value then it is a luxury we mere mortals cannot afford.
But the odds for the Sussex Stakes will be far more punter friendly and this week The Gurkha was on offer at 11-4.
We won’t be getting involved until sure of a run, but all things being equal will land in the camp that thinks the three-year-old should get the benefit of the doubt, until more is known.
THE Galway festival is now looming large on the horizon and the next couple of weeks, as well as the last couple of weeks, will be very much about trying to identify possible winners.
Two that are very much on this list are a pair trained by Willie Mullins, namely Bamako Moriviere and Muthaza.
Mullins has finally found the key to the hitherto disappointing Bamako Moriviere, reasonably good ground and being allowed to bowl along in front.
The front running tactics were first adopted at Punchestown in early June when the five-year-old took a handicap hurdle in fine style.
They were repeated at Bellewstown a week ago, when he again made all to win a minor contest with any amount in hand.
Bamako Moriviere shapes like a chaser in the making and could Mullins decide to start him of over fences at Galway?
The French recruit, Muthaza, also won at Bellewstown, having made a successful start in this country at Tramore previously.
You’d imagine Mullins will have a novice hurdle at Ballybrit pencilled in for the progressive summer campaigner.
I WOULDN’T be much of a one for betting in handicaps, but thought Jim Bolger’s Intense Stylist had solid claims at Roscommon on Monday night.
She was previously beaten seven lengths into second by Midnitemudcrabs at Gowran Park and was meeting her rival on 16lbs better terms.
Midnitemudcrabs still went off the 11-4 favourite, while you could back Intense Stylist as high as 7-1 on Betfair. It seemed a no-brainer as to the course of action that had to be followed.
Kevin Manning couldn’t do 8-6 and so Rory Cleary was in the plate. What followed was a horror show.
Cleary bounced off everything all the way up the long straight and by the time he extricated Intense Stylist it was too late and she was beaten half a length and a neck into third. Oh Rory!
The same evening, Dermot Weld’s Simannka finished third behind Red Stars and Chemical Charge in a Listed race.
She ran her heart out, but the testing conditions did not play to her strengths and Simannka is definitely one to keep on side.
SADDEST story of the week was the news that Kieren Fallon is suffering from “severe depression.’’ So much has been said about it over the last few days, but I though the comment from National Hunt jockey, Mark Enright, who is fighting his own battle with depression, was perfect.
Quoted by David Jennings in the Racing Post, Enright said: “He’ll, hopefully, realise he is not alone and that depression is more common than the flu. That’s the reality of it.’’
Depression is a horrible disease and we can only pray that Fallon emerges at the right side of his most important battle.
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