Full of promise
Mike Deasy, sitting in for Gary McKenzie, on the promise of future stars and the jumps season
I’m going to be deputising on and off over the next few weeks for Gary McKenzie who is fine but has to be elsewhere.
So, let’s begin with last week’s racing at Longchamp. It was not what anyone would have wanted really.
Only 1,000 spectators were allowed to attend. It rained and it rained so the ground was the worst that many could remember. Contaminated horse feed ruled out the Ballydoyle brigade. And it wasn’t to be for Enable in her attempt to make history with a third Arc win.
The ground went against her, the pace went against her (who knows what might have been if the O’Brien contingent ran), and everything fell into place for Sottsass.
He led home five home-trained horses, some of whom got caught up in a bit of rough-and-tumble in the home straight, and it was Enable, finishing sixth, who was the best placed runner from foreign shores.
If Sottsass looked a smooth winner, the preparations were otherwise. His trainer, Jean-Claude Rouget said: “We worked all this year for this. Our entire aim for 2020 was for this and it’s not been easy with the changes to the calendar. We’ve never been able to do quite what we wanted with Sottsass. But these last few days I’ve really felt he was in top form.”
Twenty-four hours later and it was announced that Scottsass had been retired. A similar decision for Enable has yet to be made.
We’ll know after the weekend what the plan is and whether or not there is a swan-song at Ascot on Champions Day. If there was a crowd at the Berkshire track, it would have been nice to give her a big send-off, regardless of how she fares.
But with virtually no one to see her in person, maybe its best that we remember her for the two Arc victories, her nine other Group 1 wins and the Breeders’ Cup Turf win at Churchill Downs.
Retirement has come the way of Pinatubo. A brilliant unbeaten two-year-old over seven-furlongs, including two Group 1 triumphs, but frustrating to watch as a three-year-old until, after two tilts at one-mile contests, he was back to winning ways over 7f again, at Deauville in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat.
Then, returning to one-mile, he was runner-up in his final race at Longchamp last month, beaten one-and-three-quarter lengths by Persian King.
I saw him win last year’s Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh in spectacular style, where his winning margin was nine-lengths. He was my Guineas horse from that point on, but we know now that those extra yards did not play to his strengths.
Seven-furlongs is a specialist’s distance – and he was some specialist.
The autumnal colours are ever more present and Chepstow hosted the first major jump race of the new campaign, with the running of the Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle. McFabulous is a name to tempt fate, but his third win, an effortless one by a three-length margin, makes him another Paul Nicholls star to look forward to.
I’m happy with either the Flat or the jumps – no preference. But with the changing of the season I’m ready for the winter game.