Sport Horse Racing

Thursday 22 February 2018

Kingman shows no ground for concern

Gosden call vindicated as Irish 2,000 Guineas avoids surface tension

James Doyle pushes Kingman clear of runner-up Shifting Power to claim Saturday’s 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh
James Doyle pushes Kingman clear of runner-up Shifting Power to claim Saturday’s 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh

Richard Forristal - Monday Outlook

The deteriorating ground conditions threatened to render Saturday's Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas a proper damp squib, but John Gosden's exquisite judgment once again prevailed to save the day.

Satisfied that there was sufficient fresh ground to race on, Gosden sportingly allowed Kingman the opportunity to atone for his defeat at Newmarket.

Kingman's uncomplicated Curragh victory vindicated that call, prompting one of the game's most revered thinkers to commend the track management for the pristine state of the ground despite the rain that had been battering the turf.

Modern watering policies and their long-term consequences have been a topic of some debate recently.

Thanks to our incessantly wet climate, it tends to be a less contentious issue here, but our three marquee tracks at headquarters, Leopardstown and Punchestown invariably get it right.

The directors at Cork went on a bit of solo run over Easter when ignoring the advice of Turf Club officials and the regulator's guidelines by applying an excessive quantity of water.

Anxious to ensure safe jumping ground, they artificially irrigated the turf so much so that it went from good-to-yielding on the Saturday to soft on the Sunday.


Had the Saturday card been over jumps, the ground might well have been given as good, so the amount of water applied must have been substantial.

The board's intentions were laudable, but the raft of non-runners that followed on the Sunday confirmed that it was ultimately an ill-advised and unnecessary undertaking. Inevitably, the fact that so many Irish tracks must regularly function as dual-purpose venues complicates matters.

On the Flat, watering should only be necessary in extreme circumstances to ensure safe ground.

Officially, the days of firm ground are no more, but it often still prevails and few Flat heads complain when it does.

The same lightning-quick surface would be treacherous over jumps. What happened at Cork was an exaggerated expression of the fear that exists that horses and jockeys will get badly hurt as a result of falls on hard ground.

It was a judgment call that they got wrong on the day, but a far more real problem in Irish racing is the inaccuracy of going reports.

Frequently, the official description will change once the jockeys come in after the first race. There is often a sense of inevitability about it, to the point that it's something of a running joke with regulars.

Turf Club officials were understandably irate about what happened in Cork, and an investigation is ongoing into the matter.

However, the clerks of the courses also need to be seen to do a better job more consistently in relation to ground descriptions.

It is an inexact science, but racing professionals and punters are entitled to expect more than they are getting in terms of accuracy.

The Curragh has become one of the best courses at getting information out there via Twitter, so everyone knew how the situation was unfolding on Saturday morning.

Once Aidan O'Brien withdrew War Command, the threat of Kingman being scratched meant the first domestic Classic came close to ruination.

Still, as Gosden himself said afterwards, all's well that ends well. The Invincible Spirit colt's dismissive triumph reaffirmed suspicions that the best horse inexplicably didn't win at Newmarket.

If Australia fulfils his potential, it could yet prove to be one racing's most freakish results that both he and Kingman were thwarted by Night Of Thunder's bizarre late lunge.

Kingman's superior rout of Shifting Power, whose €60,000 yield constituted a 100pc return on Richard Hannon's decision to cough up a €30,000 supplementary fee, represented a first Classic success for James Doyle.

It also continued the incredible Ballydoyle-British duopoly of the race, with 28 years now having passed since Dermot Weld's Flash Of Steel recorded a local success.

This time, Weld's Mustajeeb emerged with credit in third, as O'Brien's four remaining runners failed to secure him a place finish for a first time since 2007.

Some semblance of normality resumed for Ballydoyle at headquarters yesterday, an ominous development with Epsom now looming large.


Events at Haydock over the weekend highlighted that we don't have a patent on contentious going descriptions.

On Friday, the two-day meeting got under way with it being given as firm, good to firm in places, something that surprised many observers.

It was duly changed to good after the first race and, following further rainfall, deteriorated to soft after a third change on Saturday.

Eddie Lynam travelled Sole Power over to Liverpool keenly aware that he might have to withdraw the fast-ground specialist, which is exactly what happened.

In his absence, Killarney-born 18-year-old Oisin Murphy defied his apprentice status to plunder the biggest win of his career in the five-furlong Group Two Temple Stakes aboard the 9/4 favourite Hot Streak.

Just 12 months after his first ride under rules, the sensational youngster belied his years to steer Hot Streak to an authoritative defeat of the fellow Qatar Racing-owned Pearl Secret.

It was a performance that left Yorkshire-based Kevin Ryan, a native of Golden in Co Tipperary, purring.

"He's without a shadow of a doubt the best I've trained," exclaimed the trainer who has enjoyed Group One wins with the likes of Amadeus Wolf and Palace Episode.

Lynam fared better on home soil, with Slade Power (5/2) recording a superlative reappearance victory in the Group Three Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes at headquarters.

After Wayne Lordan's mount's defeat of the favourite Maarek, Lynam suggested that he would now be trained for a tilt at the Golden Jubilee over the same six-furlong trip at Royal Ascot next month.

The most popular winner of the day was surely that of That's Plenty in the finale.

Pat Shanahan's 7/1 shot rallied bravely to give the brilliant 2012 champion apprentice Ronan Whelan an overdue first win of the season. Hopefully it will spark a change in fortunes for the Monasterevin native.


It could be a case of better late than never for Hydrogen, the three-parts brother to the 2007 Derby winner Authorized that cost Sheikh Fahad a record 2.5m guineas (£2625,000) as a yearling in 2012.

The Qatar Racing colt, a son of Coolmore's super sire Galileo, has had setbacks, but he is entered in a 12-furlong maiden at Newmarket on Friday.

Trained by Authorized's two-time Derby-winning handler Peter Chapple-Hyam, he could yet put in an appearance in he Irish equivalent on June 28.

"It is a very distant possibility," Qatar's spokesman David Redvers said recently of a tilt at the Curragh Group One.

"Clearly, if he was to win his maiden with his head in his chest then maybe we would start thinking about it, but all these things are conjecture until he has won his maiden."


The point-to-point riders' championship will go right to the wire after perennial champion Derek O'Connor narrowed Jamie Codd's advantage to three over the weekend.

The Galway native shaded proceedings with a treble to Codd's double at Ballybunion on Saturday, and they rode one apiece at Clonakilty's island meeting yesterday to leave it at 90-87.

Injury denied Codd the opportunity to get over the line from a commanding position last season, so he will be desperate to finally dethrone the imperious 10-time holder.

There are three days' racing left – Kinsale next Saturday and Kinsale and Roscrea the following day, with the curtain set to come down at the Tipperary venue next Monday. Squeaky bum time.


Tony McCoy (@AP_McCoy)

Lucky for me I had 2 winners in Cartmel, got 2 watch the champions league final...and I didn't have 2 watch 1direction sorry @mccoy_chanelle –The 19-time champion jockey was happy to leave his wife Chanelle and daughter Eve to enjoy One Direction at Croke Park on Saturday night. He followed his Cartmel brace with another at Uttoxeter yesterday to continue his typically explosive start to the campaign.


1,342,599 The sterling amount that each of the eight lucky punters who shared the Scoop6 winnings on Saturday will receive.

After 12 weeks, the total pool soared to £16,222,560, and only one of 13 runners in the final leg, Haydock's Silver Bowl, wasn't covered by the 122 remaining live dockets.

Chatez's win in the finale meant that at least three punters emerged as the biggest winners of a betting shop payout in Britain, two having staked just £2 and one £6.

Each of the eight can now play for a near £5.5m bonus in a race yet to be nominated this Saturday.

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