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Swiss pride for Big Ray

August 11th, 2018 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

It took me a little while to recover from Goodwood. Not that I over-indulge these days but there were several near misses and at least one major mistake on the betting front. All one can do is store up the knowledge and hope that it bears fruit at York or wherever.

As a big follower of Roger Charlton I was always going to struggle if he had a blank meeting. He saddled two seconds and a third, the latter being Second Step, who disappointed in the Glorious Stakes on Friday, having never really travelled in the race. He would not have beaten the impressive Mirage Dancer anyway, so matter closed. The minor thing I was right about concerned Blakeney Point, who kept on quite strongly in fourth, clearly needing another couple of furlongs. I still think the race for him is the Ebor, though it looks unlikely now.

One really good forecast should pay for the meeting. I backed Alfarris on the opening day but, having mentioned Plutonian as the major threat in a corporate box, should have had the gumption to reverse them. At 13/2 and 20/1 the meeting suddenly takes on a rosy glow but I settled for the winner.

The big mistake was Wild illusion, whom I’d backed since her fine effort in the Marcel Boussac. The point about the Nassau was that Rhododendron might easily have had enough after a long and distinguished career during which she fought back from at least one serious setback. If that turned out to be true  –  she cut a sad figure in the straight, her tongue lolling out as she laboured and Ryan Moore soon accepting the situation  –  William Buick had merely to point Wild Illusion in the right direction and try to make all over what always looked her best distance, ten furlongs. 4/1 was a very fair price and she won comfortably.

Journalists do not always ask even the mildest of ‘tricky’ questions. One might wonder, for example, who Jason Watson got up on the winner of the Stewards’ Cup, Gifted Master, when his boss is Andrew Balding and he had ridden the much-fancied Foxtrot Lady before. Sure, it might easily have been because David Probert’s arguably stronger handling was required, but it would be nice to know. The ‘cut’ between the big one and the consolation race came at a point no one had predicted and Foxtrot Lady made it quite easily. Therefore, she might well have got in with 8st 4lb and would have been in the nature of a good thing. However, the trainer could not possibly have known where the dividing line would come.

It didn’t help my friend George Materna’s Open Wide, who found himself in the big one when he might well have gone close in the rather weak opener, won by Tommy G, whose stable-companion Golden Steps flatly refused to race. That was a pity, because Golden Steps might well have given us a line to Evergate, second when he was third at Ascot recently and who goes in the Shergar Cup Sprint. Both he and Line Of Reason look handy in that, with the latter having missed a good opportunity at Goodwood because of the fast ground.

Other horses to note? Well, Marnie James came down from Scotland and ran a cracker in one of the nurseries but could not get past the ultra-game winner, so I’d follow him from now until the end of the season. And another friend, ‘Big’ Ray Greatorex, was unlucky with Swiss Pride in the nursery on Friday because he looked nailed on each-way at 16/1 before finishing fourth in a rough and frantic finish. If that has not dented his enthusiasm, Swiss Pride should be winning before long.

Finally, a word of congratulation to Tony Carroll, whose modest handicappers have been in form all season and who won yet again with Pour La Victoire at Brighton on Friday. The horse habitually runs twice in three days there and sometimes at Goodwood and is a credit to his trainer.

Finally, who would ever have thought soft ground would suddenly play a part in deliberations. Thank goodness it did, with Summerghand, third after the recent cloudburst at York, winning under a big weight at Newmarket on Friday evening. That York form in the soft will pay to follow and it was pretty easy ground at Headquarters, making 13/8 a good price with two non-runners taken into account.

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