Disappointment On The Downs


Well another Derby weekend comes and goes and I have to admit I’ve come away from the 2013 renewal feeling slightly flat and deflated.

The Hill on Derby DayIt wasn’t all bad, of course, the horrible weather of the previous few days  finally relented and the sun shone on the Downs. The crowds were healthy, 120,000 on the big day itself but those large crowds bring inherent problems as an annoying minority seem to be unable to control themselves after a few drinks.

Friday didn’t get off to a good start as it finally saw the return of Frankie Dettori after serving a six month ban after being caught with traces of cocaine in his system after a drug test in France last September.

With the delays in the returning of his licence I was beginning to find the whole affair more than tiresome.

Of course when he finally did return the frenzy in certain parts of the media was frankly nauseating and one of the worse offenders was Channel Four.

You would think we were witnessing the return of some long lost hero – we weren’t.

Let’s get this straight Dettori was banned after taking a drug which it is a criminal offence to both possess and use. This is not the action of some immature youngster this is the action of a supposedly mature and responsible 42 year old man, father to five children – what a wonderful example to set to them.

He then moves the Dettori PR machine into overdrive claiming it was a moment of madness, a one of mistake. Towards the end of a ban he agrees to the softest of soft interviews with Clare Balding, who by her own admission has been a friend of his for years – so  no danger of a Paxmanesque interrogation there then?

Also, let's not forget Dettori has previous when it comes to cocaine .... he must be a very unlucky person to have only had the drug twice and to have been caught both times. 

Remember Dettori is a shrewd PR operator – switch on the TV cameras and he is the jolly chirpy Italian jockey, away from the cameras and the big meetings the story is different.

I have witnessed, first hand, the other side of Dettori and frankly I think he is an objectionable, obnoxious individual.

For me, after all the fuss about his return, I was actually two of his three mounts came home last.

One of the biggest smiles about his overblown return actually came courtesy of Channel Four.

Emma Spencer, clearly employed for her supposed good looks rather than her racing knowledge, interviewed Neil Callan the winner of Resurgent  and then proceeded to ask him about his “ride” in the next race on Sri Putra – a ride where he had been jocked off by one L Dettori.

He soon put Ms Spencer in her place but how ironic that one of the star presenters of Channel Four was unaware of the jockey change, when the broadcaster she is employed by were having the broadcasting version of an orgasm over Dettori’s return.      

Racing in Friday was good with the aptly named Talent winning The Oaks giving trainer Ralph Beckett an amazing 1-2 in the race, although not in the order expected and it gave Richard Hughes a second classic win in a few weeks.

Saturday dawned and the two feature races were starkly different.

In the Coronation Cup we had St Nicholas Abbey looking for an unprecedented third consecutive win.

St Nicholas Abbey wins teh Coronation CupWith around 9.5k on offer for finishing fifth it was disappointing to see only five runners, especially when two of the five were simply in the race as pacemakers. With trainers complaining about the lack of prize money you would have thought more would have had a pop, even if it were for the decent place purse.

In the end the script worked out as planned with St Nicholas Abbey coming home, barely breaking sweat, followed home by Dunaden.

He can only beat what is put in front of him but with almost 5m in winnings he has been a credit to connections.

Before I turn to The Derby I must mention The Dash over the fastest five furlong course in the country.

Duke Of Firenzi trappedRyan Moore gave Duke of Firenze a sublime ride. I 9th place and behind wall of horses a half-a-furlong from home, he weaved through rivals to go on and record a neck victory.

Even more impressive was the run of the runner-up, Smoothtalkinrascal, under  Daniel Tudhope, who was as far back as 14th at the half furlong pole.

Well in the big race itself we had a well touted favourite in Dawn Approach. I have to admit he is a horse I have long admired and I really wanted him to do well in The Derby – as we now know it wasn’t to be.      

I think it's the worse Derby I can remember, a very messy race and I can't recall the last time there were six stewards inquiries into a single race.

Poor Kevin Manning didn't stand a chance in the race - Dawn Approach ran as if a pot of mustard had been shoved up his backside, he took off like a horse possessed and it would have been no surprise if Manning had not returned with arms six inches longer than when he had set out.

Ruler Of The WorldFull credit to Ballydoyle who employed perfect tactics, in not employing a pacesetter  they played on the perceived weaknesses of the favourite. Although looking at Dawn Approach I think he would probably have blown up whatever tactics had been employed.

French raider Ocovango probably would not have won but would have been possibly been placed were it not for him getting mullered twice. I wonder  would a jockey with more experience of Epsom have done better on him?

Mars, fancied in some areas, didn't get the best of runs either.

OK The Derby is always a rough race but this one just didn't seem right at all.

Did the "best" horse win - possibly but it's open to debate.

It was a fantastic day for Ryan Moore though.

Moore often gets slated for “not having a personality” but I would rather have him ride a horse of mine than the coke snorting showman Dettori.   

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