Monday 23 July 2001

July 23rd, 2001 | 2001 Journals Ian Carnaby's Racing News

There are times when one needs to take a break and approach the form-book from a fresh perspective. When Lone Piper won at Doncaster last Wednesday, quickly followed by Kilmeena Lad at Kempton, I was mining a fairly profitable seam. Harsh reality stepped in when Pacific Place finished unplaced in a maiden sprint handicap at Ripon on Saturday.

Any self-respecting horse should refuse to wear whatever those things are called, the vertical noseband efforts on either side of the head. Pacific Place looked quite ridiculous, and when Tony Culhane kept him on the outside of the far group, letting him see daylight the whole way, I would happily have settled for half of my stake back. The form is terribly moderate, of course, but I’d give Pacific Place one more chance back over five furlongs, given that he is tucked in behind the leaders.

I had written in Marten’s Weekend Card that Honesty Fair was a likely sort for a valuable autumn handicap, so a 20’1 victory at Newmarket a few weeks too soon did not cheer me up. I thought Peruvian Chief ran well to be third but, not for the first time, looked like a horse which needs to find trouble to work his way out of it again. The flashy headgear does not inspire confidence, either.

Doctor Spin simply ran poorly at Newbury, and it is probably best to wait for Fulke Johnson Houghton to hit form before backing him again. As for Zucchero winning the hot mile handicap, the only surprising thing was the price. An excellent second when poorly drawn at Lingfield in the spring, and with David Arbuthnot having taken the trouble to book Pat Eddery, 12’1 looked a likelier SP. There is a certain inevitability about these things when it is all too late to step in.

And so to Brighton, where Billie H knows the course well enough to win the seller, and I know the course well enough to look on without reaching for the wallet. In any case, I thought Ron Hodges’ Queen’s Song looked a bit of a danger.

A man still hooked on maiden handicaps at this particular course probably needs counselling, but it occurred to me that Gerald Cottrell’s Sandpoint had an each-way chance in the last. Gerald would have dropped her to a seller at Bath (where, interestingly enough, Queen’s Song finished a fair seventh), but that does not put me off because maiden handicaps are glorified sellers anyway. Sandpoint’s previous second to Stiletto may be the most important piece of form. Needless to say, we should spend no more than the bare minimum on putting the theory to the test.

Ian Carnaby