So that’s what all that whinging sounded like, all the moaning the Americans had to put with when the latest European superstar went belly-up in the Breeders Cup. It gets real boring real quick, doesn’t it? Especially when Australians pride themselves so much on being anything but whingers. So You Think you know people.
The good thing from a Euro point of view is that there were some genuine excuses for all that failure in those early Breeders Cup years. The timing is hardly ideal and running on dirt is a totally different ball-game. There is also a drugs issue that can make even American juveniles look like Clydesdales. But what are the excuses for So You Think?
Ryan Moore made his move a tiny little bit early? The pacemaker went a tiny bit quick? Aidan O’Brien hadn’t him absolutely fully tuned up? Although in relation to the latter point, there is so much invested in So You Think that O’Brien throwing himself into the line of fire like a self-flagellating kamikaze felt like a duty rather than the real deal. All in all though, it’s hardly like anything went disastrously wrong.
So You Think is a top class racehorse. He proved that even in defeat at Ascot. And he may yet prove to be the top middle-distance performer in Europe this year, although I doubt it. But what he isn’t is the equine second coming the Aussies still believe him to be.
Comparisons with the very best Australian and New Zealand runners of the last few decades is all very well but context can be difficult when tucked away at the other end of the globe. So You Think is good, but he’s playing with the big boys now. And it remains a truism that the real champs – horses like Sea The Stars – rarely if ever need excuses made for them.
As for Bart Cummings’ rant about So You Think needing an Australian jockey, this corner always remembers the reaction of one prominent European trainer whose Melbourne Cup hope was minus a partner a week before the big event. The name of a major Aussie pilot was mentioned to him and the response was instant and dismissive – “I need a top class jockey.”
That’s not to say the jockeys on this side of the globe are all paragons. Lester Piggott once defined the best riders as those who make the least mistakes. So where Tom Queally ranks in the pecking order right now is debatable.
Never a stylist, Queally’s appeal lay in an uncomplicated capacity to get the job done and an impressive ability to articulate. But by Piggott’s criteria, the Irishman must be rapidly slithering down the pecking order.
Last year Twice Over was widely regarded as an unlucky loser in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. There was also some flak about Midday’s Breeders Cup defeat, although not nearly as much as when that same mare got turned over in this month’s Coronation Cup.
But that all pales in comparison to Frankel in the St James’s Palace.
Queally’s ride had all the signs of a jockey whose brains had been fried by big-race pressure. Henry Cecil’s face as they went by the post said more than anything he uttered afterwards. It would be fascinating to be a fly on the wall when the great trainer and the Juddmonte team have their next heart-to-heart.
And now for something completely different: The proposed “Tipperary Venue” has been getting more than its share of publicity since An Bord Pleanala’s decision to mostly give the project a green light. Not surprisingly much of it centres on the personalities at the centre of it all, an ex-guard who made a fortune from the slots, and an ex-minister with a history that can safely be characterised as “colourful.”
Wrapped up in it all is the backing that Coolmore has given the project which from a racing point of view will centre on the provision of a new racecourse. Part of Coolmore’s argument in favour of the new course is the old chestnut that it will enable Ireland to host a Breeders Cup meeting.
This really should be put to bed. The Breeders Cup is an American gig designed to promote racing in America to an American audience. Any European participation is incidental; at best a sop to the presumptuous “World Thoroughbred Championships” title the Breeders Cup organisation gives itself.
Two Mile Borris does not figure on its horizon. That might be tough for some to swallow but whinging about it is going to change nothing – mate.