Ponderings from the Weekend

July 4th, 2023 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Hi there,

Before I pass on my thoughts about the Irish Derby I want to bring to your notice the victory of Manxman in the opening extended 1m 3f 0-55 apprentice handicap at Windsor on Saturday.

I would not blame you for not giving this modest contest on a busy weekend a second glance, but this race is another boost to my tried and tested principle that a decent trainer would not keep a lowly-rated young horse in training without good reason.

The winner, trained by Simon and Ed Crisford, is a son of Cracksman named Manxman. Not cheap at 200,000gns as a yearling, he is a half-brother to Australian Group 1 winner Dubai Honour out of a mare by Montjeu.

In three runs he had beaten just two horses home, beaten an aggregate of 98 lengths, without even a glimmer or hint of promise, with his last race as recently as 6th June.

Rated on a mark of 38 he ran off 46, stepped up in trip from a mile, having been well-supported from double figures to 4/1. Despite running green for much of the way, he steadily made his way through the field to lead inside the final furlong and win going away by four and a quarter lengths.

I am not sure how good Manxman will turn out to be – judging by this display he still has a lot to learn – but the significance is that this yard is not normally associated with horses of this type of profile. This would be more akin to a horse trained by Sir Mark Prescott, to whom Simon Crisford was once pupil assistant.

I have long said that a good trainer must know how to train a horse to lose, notably one with limited potential. It is, of course, relatively common to run a backward horse three times over an inadequate trip to acquire a favourable mark, but the significance is that this was from a yard not normally associated with such a practice.

One trainer that doesn’t need to get his horses handicapped is Aidan O’Brien, and I was particularly struck by his post-race comments after City Of Troy won the 7f maiden at the Curragh on Saturday.

Even by his standards he was positively gushing, noting in particular the colt’s enormous stride. He said that his sire Justify also had a long stride, and I formed the impression that this full brother to Bertinelli is ranked high in the trainer’s estimation. His dam won the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile and is a full sister to Oaks winner Forever Together, so this colt should prove effective over middle distances next season.

As for the Irish Derby, I probably agree with the view of joint-owner Michael Tabor that Auguste Rodin was not seen at his best. The steady pace – surprising given the trainer had four other runners in the field – would not have been in his favour while he was knocked off his stride when San Antonio was fatally injured half a mile from home.

Adelaide River, beaten 11 lengths at Epsom, made up almost 10 lengths of that deficit but White Birch and Sprewell, third and fourth at Epsom, finished way back.

I’m not sure what to make of the winner.

He definitely looks more a galloper than a horse with gears – indeed, this was the impression gleaned from him as a two-year-old last autumn – and for the longer term I would prefer King Of Steel, who ran him to half a length at Epsom and has since won the King Edward VII Stakes, especially given his physical scope.

Time will tell, but at this stage of the season the middle-distance three-year-olds don’t strike me as being a great bunch.

We have the three-day Newmarket July Meeting starting next Thursday and I will be covering this with my Daily Bulletins. Please refer to our Online Shop for details or contact Rebecca (

Bye for now