Preconceived thinking has no answer to the mad Irish weather

It really is sad that watching the weather forecast has become more important than anything the Form Book can tell us.

But such has been the case for many months now and when the ground is completely inconsistent then rest assured results will be just as inconsistent.

Last Sunday was a typical example as to how the madness of the Irish weather can have such a profound effect on what’s happening out on the track.

There was every reason to believe the Curragh would race on a decent surface, but torrential rain before the meeting commenced changed so much of the preconceived thinking.

Those of us preparing to give Aidan O’Brien’s Cristofofo Colombo the works, in the Grade 1 Phoenix Stakes, were left up a creek without a paddle, so to speak.

Basically, it has now become lunacy to play in the morning. Outside of the fact that for most half-decent punters trying to have a bet is a waste of time anyway - they won’t let you on unless you are a confirmed mug - you just can’t risk a wager until knowing exactly how the ground is going to ride.

When the rain began to bucket there was no way Cristoforo Colombo could be backed with any confidence.

After all, admittedly on worse ground, he had got run over previously by Probably at the Curragh in a Group 2.

As it turned out Cristoforo Colombo appeared to be full of running, and poised to challenge, when clipping heels and crashing to the floor a furlong down.

In the end, of course, it was another Ballydoyle inmate, Pedro The Great, who emerged as the clear-cut winner.

This was a particularly difficult outcome to swallow. When Probably proved too good for Cristoforo Colombo in that Group 2 at the Curragh, Pedro The Great was beaten out the gate in fifth place, no less than 10 lengths adrift of the winner.

Yet here he was on Sunday turning around the form to a savage degree. This time he beat Probably by five lengths, which was a difference of 15 lengths, compared to their previous meeting. That’s alright with everybody then! The jury remains out on Cristoforo Colombo. His third in the Coventry at Royal Ascot, behind Dawn Approach and Olympic Glory, was a cracking effort and, you suspect, he is an especially smart horse.

John Oxx must have travelled to the Curragh with high hopes of beating Famous Name with Born To Sea. But once the skies opened the three-year-old was always going to struggle to get in a blow against the admirable Famous Name.

Mind you Born To Sea has to be regarded as fairly over-rated anyway and didn’t especially impress at the Curragh with his attitude.

He made a race of it with Camelot in the Irish Derby, but chasing up that much-hyped colt, as we have seen in plenty of other cases, is no great indicator of future success.

Away from the Curragh, we were getting organised to give Zerashan a minor lashing in a conditions hurdle at Downpatrick.

Zerashan has to have good ground, or better, but with watering apparently having taken place at Downpatrick then all the boxes were being beautifully ticked.

That was until discovering the track had been hit by a deluge as well and everything had gone flying out of the window.

Zerashan duly got hammered by market-rival Gold Ability, and, one more time, this cursed weather had prevented the wages being earned.

It will be terrific to see Frankel finally moving out of his comfort zone in the Juddmonte International at York next Wednesday.

This time he will be tackling ten and a half furlongs, which is much further than has been travelled before.

Frankel is unbeaten in 12 races, nine at a mile and three at seven furlongs. He is absolutely unbeatable at those trips and you only had to watch Excelebration winning a Group 1 at Deauville last Sunday to understand just how good Frankel is.

Four times he has thrashed Excelebration, by an aggregate of 24 lengths, the latest to the tune of 11 lengths at Royal Ascot.

But this offers an entirely different challenge, although all logic tells us Henry Cecil’s charge will come through with flying colours.

But I’ll bet there will be plenty willing to take him on. Frankel will leave the gate at very prohibitive odds and those laying the horse will be banking that he mightn’t stay.

He shapes as if he will get the extended ten furlongs standing on his head, but the layers will convince themselves that you just don’t know!


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