A couple of Stakes races remain to be run in Ireland in 2012 but there will also be plenty of interest by trainers of all hues in an upcoming ‘Succession Stakes’ for the individual that will steer them through some turbulent times.
Jim Kavanagh’s impending retirement as chief executive of the Racehorse Trainers Association has provoked quite a lot of behind-the-scenes speculation about his successor with several names being bandied about.
The consensus seems to be that the post is an attractive one although the task of dealing with such a disparate group which is usually less than shy in voicing its own various self-interests wouldn’t immediately strike anyone as being a walk-in-the-park.
Despite that, and the job of steering the Association through some uncertain economic times, there appear to be plenty interested in the gig. There could even be a series of interviews to help the process along.
A touch of political ‘nous’ would look to be essential for steering a course through some choppy waters and the Association pick will be informative in terms of the type of tack they wish to take.
Having said all that though, there are those who will tell you the only course that really matters is the one keeping Coolmore to starboard.
Speaking of Coolmore, Excelebration’s Breeders Cup eclipse must have been a serious disappointment to them, although with the benefit of hindsight, the task facing the colt was immense.
Enduring a six thousand mile trip and running just a fortnight after a career-best performance in the QEII was always going to be a tough task but maybe there was an underestimation on this side of the pond of the home team.
Wise Dan’s defeat of Cityscape in Canada had been at least as authoritative as Excelebration’s at Ascot and he had a much more suitable prep for Santa Anita.
In the event he looked the winner throughout and had a length and a half in hand of the real revelation of the race Animal Kingdom who could well have won with a similarly smooth passage to Wise Dan.
The depth of the Breeders Cup challenge always looks obvious in the immediate aftermath but it is remarkable how the excuses for defeat rarely vary from year to year. No doubt the lessons will be forgotten again by 2013.
Those of us cursed with radio faces tend to begrudge the good looks of others but appearance does tend to be a help in carving out a television career.
Nevertheless the recently re-jigged Channel 4 team for 2013 looks to be heavily subscribed in the appearance department and it will be interesting to see how the editorial rigour of the new team stacks up in the new regime.
The continuing presence of Jim McGrath is reassuring but Emma Spencer, Rishi Persad or Alice Plunkett’s strengths appear to lie more in glossy professionalism than cutting-edge analysis or strident opinion.
Mick Fitzgerald is taking over from John Francome in the ex-jockey role but Fitzgerald’s record to date indicates someone who determinedly follows the middle of the road.
It is hard to visualise him going out on a limb on any subject, never mind the contentious issue of the whip on which Francome has been a notably independent voice of reason, probably at the expense of quite a lot of flak within the racing parish
And finally, Kauto Star’s retirement, a feel-good story to make any amount of scepticism redundant.
At his peak the French bred was probably the most accomplished steeplechaser of the last forty years. That he has emerged unscathed after such a remarkable and lengthy career is a plus point for National Hunt racing that shouldn’t be under-estimated.
As for Kauto Star’s greatest performance, there are so many to choose from. But the horse that could have beaten him in the 2009 King George would have been an extra-terrestrial indeed.