Saturday’s Tingle Creek was a vintage race, and for a race that has a pretty amazing roll-call of vintage renewals, that is high praise indeed. It wasn’t simply the victory of Un De Sceaux that warmed the heart (if not the wallet), it was the realisation that racing in winter has a glorious capacity to surprise you.
I always had Un De Sceaux down as a highly talented, highly charged speed merchant. His Arkle win 18 months ago was bloodless and all his wins either side of the Festival success have been done with a minimum of muck and bullets.
When he was beaten so memorably earlier this year by Sprinter Sacre, the lights went out immediately. Un De Sceaux wasn’t supposed to be a scrapper, a grinder, a gutsy-as-heck battler. And yet when Sire De Grugy headed him over the last on Saturday, back came Un De Sceaux under Ruby’s driving hand.
It was the street-fighter we’d never before seen, and despite doing my brains on the race it was a pleasure to see!
Sire De Grugy lost nothing in defeat. Stablemate Ar Mad couldn’t quite live with the pace of more chiselled rivals, but he too will be back for more. The pair falls under the care of Gary Moore.
Moore is a sire and a half, having Ryan and his talented siblings in the family stable. I wouldn’t be in a rush to upset Gary as he has a stare that could melt mountains, but a little like last week’s trainer Colin Tizzard, he is shot through with tough mettle and the soft touch of a man in tune with his animals.
Moore’s daughter Hayley is dating a top man and broadcaster, Martin Kelly, and they make a wonderful couple destined to make their mark in international broadcasting for many years to come. I’ll wish Kelly well should he ever decide to approach Moore for Hayley’s hand in marriage: that will be an interview and a half in reverse!
Three Hs to cherish
Hayley Moore co-hosted the Annual Horserace Writers and Photographers Association Awards yesterday, alongside the talented John Hunt.
It’s a festive jamboree with some 500 folk or so talking parish gossip and anointing their own favourites to coveted titles including best snapper, racing reporter and broadcaster.
As the lunching season enters its peak fortnight, it was a privilege for me to be drawn next to the great Hugh McIlvanney, whom I could listen to for ever.
McIlvanney first went racing with the Observer in 1962 and was a dear pal of the late, great Sir Peter O’Sullevan.
Yesterday, McIlvanney, and his wife Caroline, who joined us later, were on blistering form. He talked of this being a golden age of sports broadcasting and, in particular, racing broadcasting: in Nick Luck, who took the top gong for an umpteenth time, we have a diamond in our midst, but the commentating triumvirate of John Hunt, Richard Hoiles and Simon Holt are right up there.
McIlvanney makes no secret of his admiration for the three Hs – and that is the highest of high praise.
In with the old
We’re off to Cheltenham this Saturday for what used to be known as the Bula. It is likely to see the return of The New One who seeks to add to his 2013 and 2014 haul before setting off on a novice chase career.
The New One could run into Yanworth and My Tent Or Yours in what would be a sensational renewal for this time of the year, but if last year’s winner Old Guard turns up at the current 9/1, I’ll find him irresistible to back on the day.