2.15 Newmarket, Friday, November 9

2.15 Newmarket, Friday, November 9  In the Christmas at the Heath Court Handicap (2.15) at Newmarket on Friday, Kasbaan appeared to have benefited from wind surgery earlier in the year when returning from a 159-day absence to readily account for odds-on favourite Welsh Lord in a novice stakes at Lingfield last month. The Dansili colt starts life in handicap company on a stiff enough mark, but remains open to further significant improve on his second start back from a break and just his fourth start in all. Of course, he has to prove that he’s at least as effective on the prevailing good to soft going on the Rowley Mile Course at Newmarket as he is on the Polytrack at Lingfield, but his racecourse debut – over a mile, on soft going, at Newbury last October – wasn’t without promise, so he should be fine on that score.

Of 19 three-year-olds that trainer Owen Burrows has saddled on the Rowley Mile in recent years, four have won, five have finished second and one has finished third, giving the Lambourn handler a 21% strike rate and an enviable level stakes profit of 18.00 points. Jockey David Probert is similarly 4-22 (18%) for the yard over the last five seasons, for a level stakes profit of 19.07, so the statistics offer cause for optimism. Kasbaan ran over course and distance, without distinction, on his seasonal debut in April, but his latest Lingfield effort was much more like it and he deserves another chance to demonstrate his ability on turf.

Selection: Newmarket 2.15 Kasbaan to win 9/4

Red Rum

Red Rum  “He’s coming up to the line to win it like a fresh horse in great style. It’s hats off and a tremendous reception – you’ve never heard one like it at Liverpool. Red Rum wins the National.” Those were the words of the erstwhile ‘Voice of Racing’, Sir Peter O’Sullevan, as the 12-year-old Red Rum, trained by the late Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain and ridden by Tommy Stack, galloped into race guides and racing history with a 25-length win in the 1977 Grand National.

 

Red Rum remains the only horse to have won the world’s greatest steeplechase three times. His record-breaking hat-trick was all the more remarkable for the fact that he suffered from a debilitating condition called ‘pedalosteitis’, which caused him to have very delicate, tender feet. Indeed, ‘Rummy’, as the horse affectionately became known, had already had several skilful trainers before McCain – a blunt, plain-talking Northerner – bought him for 6,000 guineas on behalf of owner Noel Le Mare at Doncaster Sales in August, 1972.

 

However, in the absence of grass gallops, McCain worked his new acquisition on the vast expanse of Southport beach, where the cold waters of the Irish Sea brought about a remarkable transformation in the once crippled horse. He returned sound; sound enough, in fact, to win his first five races for Donald McCain and was subsequently allotted 10st 5lb for his first attempt at the Grand National, in 1973.

 

Red Rum, ridden by Brian Fletcher, started 9/1 joint favourite with Crisp, ridden by Richard Pitman, and the two of them produced arguably the most thrilling finish ever seen at Aintree. Carrying top weight of 12st 0lb, Crisp jumped to the front at Becher’s Brook on the first circuit and was still 15 lengths ahead of Red Rum jumping the final fence. However, approaching the infamous ‘Elbow’ Pitman made the mistake of letting go of the horse’s head to reach for his whip. Crisp hung off a straight line, losing three lengths in the process and, agonisingly, Red Rum made relentless progress on the run-in, wearing down his exhausted rival in the dying strides to win by an unlikely threequarters of a length.

 

At the time, much of the media attention centred on Crisp and his valiant effort to concede 23lb to his younger rival, but the time, 9 minutes 1.9 seconds, beat the previous course record, achieved by Golden Miller in 1934, by nearly 20 seconds and would not be beaten until Mr. Frisk’s effort on unusually firm going in 1990.

 

Portrayed by some as the villain of the piece in 1973, Red Rum returned to Aintree for the 1974 Grand National, but this time himself carrying top weight of 12st 0lb. Partnered, as previously, by Brian Fletcher Red Rum was sent off 11/ third favourite, but duly obliged once again, passing the post seven lengths ahead of L’Escargot. In so doing, he became the first horse since Reynoldstown in 1936 to win the Grand National two years running. Just three weeks later, Red Rum won the Scottish Grand National at Ayr under 11st 13lb. He remains the only horse ever to have won both races.

 

Red Rum and L’Escargot also finished first and second in the 1975 Grand National but, having jumped the last together, it was L’Escargot, aided by a 10lb weight pull, who proved too strong this time, drawing away to win by 15 lengths. Red Rum subsequently finished second in the 1976 Grand National, rallying strongly in the closing stages, but ultimately going down by two lengths to Rag Trade.

 

New jockey Tommy Stack received criticism, including from Brian Fletcher, for not seizing the initiative sooner, but the Kerryman was to have the last laugh as far as Red Rum was concerned. When the pair lined up for the 1977 Grand National, some observers believed that, as a 12-year-old, Red Rum was too long in the tooth for the demands of the race. However, nothing could have been further from the truth because, having been left in the lead at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit, where the clear leader Andy Pandy fell, Red Rum was never in danger of defeat and eventually sauntered home by 25 lengths from Churchtown Boy.

 

After the hullabaloo of his record-breaking victory died down, Red Rum remained in training for a sixth attempt at the Grand National in 1978 but, having been diagnosed with a hairline fracture, missed the race and was duly retired. By that time, Red Rum was a household name, as was his ‘colourful’ trainer Donald McCain, and he made dozens of public appearances, even appearing as a studio guest at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards ceremony in 1977, until his death, at the age of 30, in 1995.

 

Fittingly, he was buried on the finishing line at Aintree and is commemorated by a magnificent life-sized bronze statue at the course. In over 100 races, he never fell, although he did unseat his rider once, and came to epitomise all that was, and is, ‘Grand’ about the Grand National at a time when the future of the great race hung in the balance. In a poll, conducted by the Racing Post, to find the favourite racehorse of all time in Britain and Ireland, Red Rum finished third, behind only Arkle and Desert Orchid.

Top 5 Funny Horse Racing Quotes

Top 5 Funny Horse Racing Quotes  A horse doesn’t know whether the rider on his back wears a dress or pants away from the track –
Diane Crump

 

“This is really a lovely horse and I speak from personal experience since I once mounted her mother.” – Ted Walsh – Horse Racing Commentator

 

 

 

A good jockey doesn’t need orders and a bad jockey couldn’t carry them out anyway; so it’s best not to give them any –
Lester Piggott

 

My horse’s jockey was hitting the horse. The horse turns around and says “Why are you hitting me, there is nobody behind us!” – Henny Youngman

 

A horse is dangerous at both ends and uncomfortable in the middle. – Ian Fleming

3.45 Lingfield, Tuesday, September 25

3.45 Lingfield, Tuesday, September 25  Welsh Lord ran green on his racecourse debut, over a mile, at Chelmsford last October and was again restless in the stalls when making his belated seasonal reappearance, over 1 mile 2 furlongs, at the Essex track earlier this month. However, on the latter occasion, despite taking a keen hold, the Dark Angel gelding made all the running to beat the favourite – and subsequent winner – Saint Diana by 3 lengths, eased down. The third horse, Enbihaar, who was beaten a further 3 lengths, also won comfortably at Kempton last Tuesday to give the form an especially healthy glow.

Gelded during the summer, Saeed bin Suroor’s three-year-old remains open to significant improvement on just his third start and, while he holds no fancy entries, can take the Carol McDonagh Well Done Novice Stakes (3.45) at Lingfield on Monday en route to better things. The Newmarket handler has a healthy 13-47 (28%) strike rate with his three-year-olds at the Surrey track over the last five seasons and, while he faces a number of unknown quantities, Welsh Lord looks to have every chance of improving that record. An unexposed, progressive type, with compelling winning form on Polytrack, Welsh Lord appeals as a potential ‘good thing’.

Selection: Lingfield 3.45 Welsh Lord to win 9/4

4.45 Goodwood, Tuesday, September 4

4.45 Goodwood, Tuesday, September 4  In recent months, Sweet Pursuit has developed a liking for Ffos Las, winning three times at the West Wales venue before finishing a closing fourth, beaten 2¾ lengths, in a competitive 0-95 affair 11 days ago. Rod Millman’s 4-year-old filly has been raised 1lb for that effort but, granted better luck in running, the daughter of Pastoral Pursuits can make her presence felt in the Netbet Betmaker Fillies’ Handicap (4.45) at Goodwood on Tuesday.

Sweet Pursuit ran creditably in defeat over course and distance last summer, but has since improved 29lb, according to official ratings, and may still have more improvement to come. In any case, she’s clearly at the top of her game and this might her last opportunity to race in 0-80 company for a while. She’s won on soft, good to soft, good and good to firm going, so should run her race whatever the weather in West Sussex between now and Tuesday afternoon and can hopefully make it three wins in four starts under capable apprentice Finley Marsh.

Provided four races in the space of a month doesn’t prove to be going to the well once too often, Sweet Pursuit is hard to fault and it’ll be interesting to see what the layers make of her chance in due course. Trainer Rod Millman reports her in “top form”, so it may just be a question of taking whatever price we can get against some largely uninspiring opposition.

Selection: Goodwood 4.45 Sweet Pursuit to win 11/4