Worth waiting for Ginger

May 2nd, 2020 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

Trying to remain optimistic, I’d been hoping for a resumption of racing, with people actually at the track, that is, just before the three-day Goodwood meeting at the end of May. I see now this is virtually out of the question and quite a lot of people would settle for the Glorious meeting two months later. I’m assuming Brighton on September 7 is ‘nailed on’ but I dare say I’m biased with the 25th running of the Carnaby seller due on that day.

Maybe I’m in a small minority but I haven’t missed the game all that much  –  until the last couple of weeks, anyway. It was probably because of all the rain over the winter, with meetings abandoned and going on the heavy side more often than not. I started to rally around Cheltenham time but we all know the fixture should not have gone ahead and when Uttoxeter carried on without a murmur it was hard to believe.

Maybe we all needed a break. When I say ‘all’ I’m not including those whose livelihood depends on racing, of course. I’m talking about those of us who turn to the relevant pages as a matter of course and ponder any possible wagers on a daily basis. Those of us who were happy enough to give Punchestown a miss this year but then felt quite relieved when it was off anyway because we knew, in our hearts, that watching it on television wouldn’t be quite the same. Certainly not the same as sheltering from the teeming rain in the Guinness marquee in 2012 and wondering how much to have on What Jacksays in the three-mile handicap hurdle, even though he was only first reserve. To no one’s great surprise, the top-weight dropped out.

What Jacksays had won a Wexford handicap very easily and was raised only 4lb. He won the Punchestown race by a long, long way and it was one of those unusual contests that you can enjoy the whole way round because he was travelling so easily . 8/1, too, even though two prominent Racing Post tipsters had gone for him. The world and its wife expected him to get in, needless to say, and it’s one of the many reasons we love Ireland, which is like the past in that they do things differently there.

The first Brighton and Bath meetings will have come and gone around now and it’s impossible to say when we shall be down by the furlong pole, waiting for some familiar old sweats to loom into view. I felt quite a pang when thumbing through Nigel Richardson’s engaging book Breakfast in Brighton because a chapter is given over to the Eric Simms Memorial Handicap in 1997, won by dear old Sooty Tern with Royston Ffrench’s colours ‘bright as a maharajah’s in the afternoon gloom’.

Royston could claim 5lb in those days and Milton Bradley was quite brilliant with apprentices. When he had two or three in a sprint handicap at Brighton or Bath it was even worth studying who could claim 3lb, 5lb or 7lb because the horses would replicate their form to the ounce and the difference in allowances was all-important. In the end all the old boys went up a fraction too much, of course, and Milton is not the same force nowadays.

I was never disappointed in these races because I knew how difficult they were and you had to accept narrow defeats. But I never mastered Scottish sprint form in the same way and, where Linda Perratt and Jim Goldie were concerned, I felt the number of times they ran moderate handicappers left punters with very little chance.

Working at Nottingham one day in September 2006 but keeping an eye on Ayr, I remember Linda running Ptarmigan Ridge twice in 24 hours on identical ground over 5f with the same jockey on top. 12th of 21 the first time and a clear-cut winner at 25/1 the second. There was nothing ‘iffy’ about it; Ptarmigan Ridge simply felt more like it at the second time of asking, but results like that sound a very loud warning bell to people like me who ponder workaday sprint handicaps.

I’d like to spend a few hours studying the Scottish circuit but one of the tricks in this game, and it’s a trick you learn all too late, is acknowledging when things are simply too hard. Jim Goldie’s owners must be very understanding because there are often three or four stable-companions in Class 5 and Class 6 handicaps at Ayr, Musselburgh or wherever.

Fascinatingly, the trainer wears a very different hat, so to speak, when sending runners south, especially to Ascot and Goodwood.

And that is why, wondering where to start after this protracted break, I come back to Call Me Ginger, a late starter who is four now but has had only five outings in his life. He was never sighted in two AW Newcastle runs last winter but then, after an absence of several months, won a minor four-runner event at Redcar.

The going was good to firm that day but soft at Ascot, where Goldie sent him afterwards. Entered in both the 5f and 6f sprint handicaps over two days, the trainer opted for the sharper trip on the Saturday and Call Me Ginger finished sixth of 17. He reverted to 6f for his final effort in truly appalling ground at Doncaster and came home in his own time, beating only four of the 12-strong field.

The point is simply this. Goldie does not send horses to Ascot unless they have a very fair chance and that sixth for one so inexperienced was a fair effort. I disregard the unplaced effort on Town Moor, which probably guarantees us a generous price when we start up again any day, week or month now. That victory at Redcar was achieved on pretty fast ground and Call Me Ginger did not encounter anything remotely similar afterwards.

I’m not about to suggest a list of ten to follow because I’d need another nine, starting from scratch, but if following J Goldie over several years is to count for anything at all, we should monitor Call Me Ginger very closely from now on.