Dobbs the unsung hero

July 30th, 2019 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

Having named the first two in the Bunbury Cup (but the wrong way round) and the first and third in the Moet & Chandon International at Ascot (without showing a profit), I may be going through a difficult phase at this late stage in life. There comes a point where we are unlikely to grow out of things and move on. 70 might be such a point, come to think of it. 

I keep returning to Richard Baerlein’s advice in the Guardian before the 1973 Epsom Derby    “Therefore I say, bet like men!”    when his confident selection, the once-raced Morston, obliged at 25/1. But every time I stand on the brink, memories of darker days cloud the issue and I become merely a watcher on the shore, which may be the title of a Stan Barstow novel. Yes, that’s right, soon after A Kind Of Loving and just before Alan Bates made it big.

Of course, there is pleasure to be taken from advising people well, which happens now and again and I was pleased to see Blue Mist running a much better race in third at Ascot after his  wretched effort at Ayr, where we must assume something was troubling him. Well, we’ve all been there. 

I need this run of form to continue at Goodwood and am looking forward to working in George Materna’s box, as in previous years. It’s just a pity that none of the five cards will resemble the Saturday of a few weeks ago when the last six were easy enough to find at shortish prices and Mr Lupton went in at the Curragh. I remember thinking that I’d happily settle for a couple a day this week instead of that extraordinary burst which is highly unlikely to be repeated. 

George, one of Goodwood’s most dedicated supporters, owns Open Wide in partnership with his dentist friend John McInerney. They so nearly enjoyed the perfect aperitif before the big meeting when the sprinter, who has the Timeform ‘squiggle’ regarding temperament, willingness or whatever, came fast and late in the valuable Marathonbet Finale at Windsor on Monday evening but failed to get up by a head. He needed one more stride, this after finishing third in the race last year. It’s worth around £46,000 to the winner, not bad by Windsor standards, and his recent form figures now read 122.

I never agreed with the Timform symbol in his case because there is a big difference between finding trouble in running and downing tools in a set-to. Open Wide needs to be held up and look for a gap late in the day before producing a telling burst. One of the greatest pleasures of recent weeks has been the sight of Pat Dobbs riding him to perfection after gradually coming to know and allow for the horse’s quirks. Open Wide ducked in behind Puds, who went on to win the race, at Goodwood in the spring and the jockey immediately apologised to George and trainer Amanda Perrett. He then produced a masterclass at Windsor next time, found only Tis Marvelous too good in a hot sprint handicap at Ascot and, of course, all but got there earlier this week. 

One thing you don’t want in life is to labelled ‘a journeyman’, as I’m sure you agree. There are worse things; a TROUBLED journeyman for a start. You wouldn’t want to be cantering down to the start as one of those. Pat Dobbs may not be the name that most punters look for when they pick up the paper in the morning but when everyone from Richard Hannon senior to Sir Michael Stoute rates him, it’s easy enough to see he is a long, long way from being a journeyman. He also got up on Blue Mist for Roger Charlton in the International, incidentally, Jason Watson having preferred Makzeem (18th in it last year, so a very strange choice unless the softly-spoken master of Beckhampton had strong views), which further underlines how highly he is regarded.

The plan is for Open Wide to take in the Stewards’ Cup on Saturday. It may not be his type of race and there will be any number of blind alleyways without one of those funny blue signs with a red bar but he could hardly be in better form and should probably go on the short list, together with Khaadem, whose profile resembles that of two or three few recent winners. If either of them prevails, I can think of a journeyman tipster who will be quite ecstatic.