Monday 30 July 2001

July 30th, 2001 | 2001 Journals

I completed work on the Summer Bulletin Book on Sunday evening. I must say that there’s plenty of valuable information in it, especially regarding handicappers for the autumn, but whether we’ll match the almost 80% strike-rate achieved by the ‘dark horses’ in the Spring Bulletin Book remains to be seen. That’s the best we’ve done in thirty years.

Anyway, back to the action, and I reckon when Richard Quinn took the job as first jockey to Henry Cecil he never thought he’d be spending the first day of Goodwood taking a couple of ordinary rides at Beverley!

In fact he was also away from the action for one of the days at Ascot this weekend, and it says much for his popularity amongst the training ranks that he’s still attracting enough outside mounts to keep his name up there in the jockeys’ table.

He’s a capable jockey and a thoroughly nice person, but it’s been evident for many weeks that he’s not been riding the Cecil horses with any confidence. It’s almost as if he expects them to fade from under him, and even odds-on favourites from the yards, such as their Diesis colt Continuously at Newmarket on Sunday, are having to be hard ridden – in his particular case to get the better of a 100’1 chance.

In fact Quinn is at Beverley to ride Sparkling Water, a beautifully bred colt by Woodman from the family of Commander In Chief – a family Cecil knows well. He was beaten six lengths by Imtiyaz on his debut at Sandown, and that winner was then beaten at the July meeting, but his work suggests he’s useful and they’ll be disappointed if he gets turned over.

Sir Michael Stoute introduces a newcomer named Figurehead, a 300,000gns son of Entrepreneur and the first foal of a full-sister to Amrak Ajeeb. This is probably a fair maiden by Beverley standards, but Sparkling Water’s experience should stand him in good stead.

I’ll be dwelling a little more on the Cecil conundrum over the next few weeks, but looking back to the weekend’s big race, and I think it’s important to maintain a sense of perspective regarding Galileo’s achievements.

Yes, he is without the shadow of a doubt the best middle-distance three-year old colt of his generation, but I’m not sure that a two-lengths’ defeat of Fantastic Light quite justifies the ‘Wow!’ headline in the following day’s Racing Post.

For a start, Fantastic Light has been around a long time. Furthermore, his Group One victories have been over trips at less than a mile and a half. In fact he’s won only once over the King George distance, from nine races, and this was his seventh consecutive defeat over a mile and a half.

Yet, for all that, I actually thought Fantastic Light ran very well. He quickened discernibly from off the pace to go upsides, if not marginally ahead, of Galileo only for the three-year old to pull out the superior reserves of stamina inside the final furlong. But let’s not forget how easily Montjeu strolled past him in last year’s King George; Galileo had to work much harder!

Furthermore, a line through Storming Home suggests that Galileo wasn’t any better here than in the Derby – in fact conceivably worse! Barry Hills’s colt managed to reduce the deficit from six lengths to three, though it’s probably fair to add he didn’t enjoy the best of runs at Epsom.

Yes, this was a good race, but only time will tell how it compares with some of the great King George performances of recent years. For me, the jury is still out on this one.

Bye for now!