By Tony Stafford
I don’t know about you, but I needed that extra hour. Ever since I drove overnight to Deauville for a Thursday race and then back again the same evening, I’ve been struggling a bit, and at no stage was I going to travel up to Doncaster for the Racing Post Trophy.
The trip to France was highly satisfactory as the boss and his new partners’ debutant filly Laughing Water ran a blinder in fourth about a length behind the winner in an 18-runner newcomers’ race, apprentice-ridden and quietly-so. The daughter of Duke of Marmalade should be primed next time.
Improvement from first to second run is usually the case for horses trained by Nicolas Clement and the same goes for Roger Varian. When Kingston Hill won on debut at Newbury five weeks ago, the Racing Post’s analyst suggested the colt’s future “is presumably in nurseries”.
Three weeks later he carried the colours of owner Paul D Smith – son of Coolmore partner Derrick – to an easy triumph in Newmarket’s Autumn Stakes, a better than usual Group 3 beating Oklahoma City, the latter sporting dad’s purple and white silks in emphatic fashion.
All the Coolmore boys were very free with the congratulations that day and no doubt two weeks on at Doncaster, those felicitations would have been magnified exponentially as Kingston Hill put himself in Derby-winning position by landing the Racing Post by four and a half lengths from Johann Strauss – you’ve guessed it – again in the purple livery.
Johann Strauss, who played a minor role on debut on the same Newmarket card where Kingston Hill notched his first group success, was stepping up greatly on a never-nearer fourth there in a maiden and defeat again just six days previously in Ireland.
An extra thrust, though, for Coolmore’s joy for Paul, revolves around the fact that Kingston Hill is a son of their first-crop sire Mastercraftsman, winner of the Irish 2,000 Guineas. Of the previous ten Racing Post Trophy winners, three, Motivator, Authorized and Camelot have gone on to Derby success at Epsom, while two others, St Nicholas Abbey and Kingsbarns (this year) might have done so without suffering injury at the wrong stage of their three-year-old careers.
It was a fair day for Paul Smith all round. He’s an Arsenal fan unlike his father, a Chelsea nut. As with Ryan Moore, Tony McCoy and Frankie Dettori, he’s finding life quite agreeable one way and another – well maybe not quite so much for Treve- and Olympic Glory-missing Frankie.
One of my favourite weeks of the year is coming up as Tattersall’s stages its Horses in Training sale at Newmarket and I’m just wondering what’s going to happen tomorrow. The weather map, itemising the promised 80 mph hurricane, might reduce the attendance – naturally with Raymond Tooth selling a decent sort – and I’m wondering whether there might be an unprecedented delay in proceedings.
If they did it at Keeneland in 2001 in the aftermath of 9-11, then maybe there’s a precedent for Tatts. Sometimes I say the silliest things – you’d think I’d know better at my age.