Saturday 24 March 2018

Star on course despite drift

W ILLIE MULLINS has confirmed to the Sunday Independent that Secant Star is on course for the Triumph Hurdle, whatever about an alarming drift in his price last week.

Generally 8/1 after a smooth Gowran win on his second hurdling outing, the French import -- if Betfair's market movements were to be believed -- had effectively lost a leg. He was matched at 25/1, even though there were no public utterances about his well-being or otherwise.

Such drifts happen for a reason, of course: Secant Star had encountered a problem, albeit one his handler has played down. "He had a little setback but every horse has a setback now and again," said Ireland's champion trainer.

Mullins would not fill one with confidence about the gelding's prospects, instead emphasising the credentials of another Irish-trained contender. "My fellow jumps very big; he's very novicey, but he has a few more gallops to go yet. Carlito Brigante is probably the slickest four-year-old hurdler I've seen for a while. His jumping was electric in Musselburgh, I thought." Secant Star's most immediate victim when he won at Gowran was Capellanus, the connections of which had the favourite for the Fred Winter last March in the shape of Alexander Severus.

He failed to land a monumental gamble in the four-year-old handicap but Edward O'Grady's smart son of the brilliant Montjeu is understood to be fancied to go very well on Wednesday week.

* * * * *

THERE have been more than a few succesful syndicates in horse racing, but few can claim to match the 30 Australians who cashed in their investment for a handsome Aus$10.25 million courtesy of the Coolmore stud.

The horse, who cost 31 owners (one decided to hold onto her 5 per cent stake) a total of $150,000 as a yearling and made them rich in a couple of years, had his last run in Australia after being sold to Coolmore.

For his final outing in their colours, he treated the owners to a solid third in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap at Flemington, taking his career winnings to almost Aus$1.4 million.

"Today is probably the day when you're a bit upset, a bit sad. This is actually the last time we get to come to the races and watch him race," owner Craig Decorsey said.

But while Decorsey admitted an emotional attachment to the dual Group 1 winner, the financial benefits of selling up were too attractive. The Melbourne plumber estimates he spent a total of around Aus$30,000 on Starspangledbanner, including his original Aus$15,000 investment for a 10 per cent stake, and now walks away with more than Aus$1 million.

"From a business point of view, it was a pretty easy decision," Decorsey added.

Starspangledbanner now heads for Aidan O'Brien's stables, where he is likely to have a couple of runs before heading to stud.

* * * * *

THE Turf Club and its officials appear to be on the cusp of resolving their differences, to some extent at least. Though tension very much remains between chief executive Denis Egan and workers, the squabbling parties met last week at the Labour Relations Commission and three more meetings are planned this month.

It would seem a trip to the Labour Court is very much against the Turf Club's wishes and that may well be avoided. The regulatory body is expected to buy out many of the workers' old contracts, despite persistent pleas that it has been badly affected by the recent HRI cutbacks.

It is understood that the employees will agree to more regularised terms and conditions, having called off last Sunday's scheduled strike in advance of their talks at the LRC.

One of the employees has suggested a little suspicion at the timing of the Turf Club's offer, ahead of envisaged changes to how racing is funded by the Government and how betting is taxed.

In any event, something had to be done.

* * * * *

THOUGH virtually every Irishman seems to consider Dunguib a near-certainty for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, he is still available at close to even money on Betfair. Paddy Power are offering punters their money back on the race if they choose another horse but Dunguib wins, while Celtic Bookmakers have already paid out on ante-post bets on the son of Presenting.

Today's card at Naas is of little significance in relation to Cheltenham but a good class one nonetheless. Colm Murphy will be hoping Zaarito adds a number rather than a letter to his form figures in the novices' chase, in which Lastoftheleaders is an intriguing runner. Silver Friend can continue to progress and land the opening novices' hurdle for John Walsh.

Sunday Independent

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