Let’s be straight: if the stewards on duty at Limerick last Thursday hadn’t thrown the “non-trier” book at Denis Hogan over his effort on Norah Starr, then it would have been a dereliction of duty. So, credit where it is due. And now let’s be just as straight again. Put the colours of one of Irish racing’s big guns on Norah Starr and do you believe duty would have been done?
Hogan’s protestations of shock at the sixty day ban for the horse, the fourteen day suspension for his ride, and the E1,000 fine with his trainer hat on, make one suspect he must be leading a very sheltered existence down there in Tipperary.
Checking out the replay, one could almost sense Hogan’s growing realisation that things were turning pear-shaped very badly indeed down the straight as Norah Starr looked to be full of run despite what has to be said minimal encouragement from the saddle.
Quite whether she would have found as much for pressure as first indications might suggest is another matter, and in this case pretty much irrelevant. First impressions do count and Hogan was always going to come under scrutiny from the stewards for that ride.
However those wanting to believe it was an outrageous once-off in overall terms are fooling themselves. Most cases might not be as open and shut as Norah Starr but that’s only because it was a particularly obvious case. Ray Charles in a blindfold could have spotted it in a darkened room.
There is other less obvious stuff going on a regular basis that on a level playing field would result in penalties but which are being let go.
The difference is of course is that many of those cases concern some very high-powered people whose first reaction to a perceived stain on their honour would be to reach for their solicitor. And if a trip to the High Court didn’t work, who knows what kind of strop might happen, maybe one that Irish racing can ill-afford right now.
You see it really is true that everyone wants to see justice done – to somebody else.
Hard to know what to make of Meydan and the World Cup meeting: except to say it might be interesting but anyone punting seriously on it must really like a challenge.
How else to explain a performance like the one Cityscape put up in the Duty Free. The six year old looked a world-beater in putting a high-class field to the sword. It put in the shade anything he’d ever done before and made him some kind of certainty when winning a Group 3 at the Curragh last year. But you’d like to see Cityscape do it again in Europe this year before totally buying into him.
And Monterosso and Capponi pulling off a one-two for Godolhin in the World Cup was exciting but would you back them to do the same thing again to So You Think and Planteur back in Europe?
Having said that, buying into the So You Think hype has turned into an expensive pastime. He was significantly backed for the World Cup and once again failed to quicken up like a real top-notcher. Hopefully Bart Cummings paid up his couple of bob to watch!
Much of the Meydan coverage though focussed on the sad demise of Fox Hunt in the Gold Cup, a fact that probably had something to do with how the horse sustained his fatal injury directly in front of the massive crowds.
Often, as was the case with Trafford Lad’s sad demise at Navan, these incidents happen away from the stands, allowing onlookers to conveniently turn away – out of sight, out of mind and all that.
But the reality is the same wherever it happens. Thoroughbreds are desperately fragile creatures and when something goes badly wrong, it is rarely nice and quiet and refined. A badly injured horse means pain, and fright and often death.
And with the various Grand Nationals coming up, it’s worth pointing out Fox Hunt hurt himself on the flat, in the early part of a race where he was under no pressure whatsoever.
In every way, they’d damn near break your heart.