Racing Heroes: Persian Punch
In the new Racing Hub series on Racing Heroes – Whistlejacket chooses Persian Punch
Persian Punch, sixteen years after his last race, still has a magical appeal to me. Why is this?
I think it is because of the way he ran his races and the way he won his races. He had no great pace but was superb at setting a steady gallop and he stayed for ever. But it was his ability to win races which looked lost which made him special.
I can still remember watching him fight back from a seemingly hopeless position to win the 2003 Goodwood Cup, after being driven over four furlongs out and headed by old rival, Jardines Lookout in the final two furlongs before rallying to hold on at the line.
I can then remember running down the steps, through the enclosures to greet the old warrior after he had already made a hero’s return past the stands before heading into the parade ring.
His final performance of the 2003 season at Newmarket in the Jockey Club Cup was even more remarkable in that he was threatened by three very good rivals including a true Group 1 performer in the shape of the St Leger winner Millenary and turned them all away after looking he might finish fourth.
But that was the thing about Persian Punch, he ran in a way that seemed to say: “Come and beat me if you dare“. He was there to be shot at, was vulnerable and that vulnerability appealed to me.
He was probably not as good as some top-class stayers of the day but always ran his race and on some memorable days could turn the tables against the odds of rivals such as Royal Rebel and Millenary.
He reminded me of an old-fashioned heavyweight slugging away and punching (!) seriously above his weight.
What a horse to own, train and ride! And there were many pilots including Hughes, Fallon, Richard Quinn, Ray Cochrane and even Walter Swinburn and Cash Asmussen.
His end at Ascot was sad but there were so many good days and I made sure I followed him round to all the big days at Sandown, Goodwood and Newmarket in particular.
I never made it to Melbourne but let’s not forget he was third in two Melbourne Cups where you probably needed more pace than he had.
For six or seven years he lit up the summer for me, like staying chasers such as Kauto Star did shortly afterwards. You looked at the fixture list and knew he would be there in the first big stayers’ race at Sandown, the Henry II Stakes and he would still be there battling away at Newmarket in October.
A horse to enthuse about and to be so grateful we were able to see him try, try and try again to defeat all-comers.
Racing Heroes series
Lester Piggott http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3Yo
Kieren Fallon http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3Ua
The Aga Khan http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3SB
Best Mate and Kauto Star http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3Rk
Persian Punch http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3Px
Sir Peter O’Sullevan http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3NB