THANKS BARRY NOW LET’S HAVE SOME ‘GOODBYE’ GOLD: Daqman has a pot at a 13.5 trade, trained in a Windsor handicap tonight by Barry Hills, who has announced his retirement. He pays tribute to the trainer but remembers the ‘gold’ that slipped through their fingers.
The owner was a man who liked to celebrate. Before as well as after the race. So he opened his own club off Oxford Street. He liked girls. So he gave them free entry after the dancing clubs closed. He liked horses. So he bought a Derby winner. Almost.
So it is that I will remember Barry Hills for a loser. Defeat was not of his failing. He’d been my favourite trainer – and still is until he retires after next week’s Ebor – mainly for his shrewdness with handicappers (thanks Barry), including never-to-be-forgotten raids on Newmarket, where he liked to show the trainers there who’s boss!
But that loser still hurts. The horse was winning the Derby until the last few strides, maybe the very last stride. We were counting our money on Rheingold but had forgotten one minor detail. Lester Piggott.
Piggott ‘lifted’, cajoled, rousted and – I have to say – whipped the Guineas runner-up Roberto to inch past Rheingold and score by a head. When owner Henry Zeisel wanted revenge in the next year’s Arc, he and Barrington Hills nominated a new jockey for Rheingold. Lester Piggott. He won, of course.
Not until Dancing Brave would daylight ‘robbery’ occur again on the Epsom Downs in the world’s greatest classic. Punters remember their winners, and just the one or two ‘great’ losers. Dancing Brave and Rheingold are etched, unfading, into the leather of an old wallet.
I think Barry will want to bow out with a decent winner before son Charlie takes over. Five more would bring the 50 up for the year, less than half the total of the great days (113 in the 1990 season).
Swilly Ferry (6.40 Windsor) is a typical Hills’ handicapper: just when you have forgotten him, he bounces back. It will have to be a very big bounce after his last of 20 at York a fortnight ago but he is 5lb lower than for his last success and is dropped to class 3, in which – on his last run in that division – he was less than four lengths off the winner, hampered in a big field at Haydock.
‘Ferry’ has never raced at Windsor, but Barry has: he averages a 20% strike rate across the board in all types of races there, and Raceform noted in their analysis of Haydock that Swilly Ferry was ‘ready to strike again soon.’
At 13.5 as I write, he’s well drawn in 15, though the pace among the low numbers – front runner Zero Money for instance – makes for an intriguing contest.
A line through New Leyf suggests that Dorback (trading at 9.8 and drawn 13), fifth at Ascot recently, is in with a big shout; he’s 7lb better off with Novellen Lad on Spring form at Newbury when unable to get a run but still finishing close up.
Mac Gille Eoin and the long-term-bridesmaid Secret Witness were both hampered out of the Stewards’ Cup but ‘Mac’ seems to win only at Goodwood and Epsom. Zero Money (3.6) is the obvious stakes saver, with Roger Charlton in cracking form.
There’s another decent sprint tonight (8.00 Thirsk), in which the unexposed Jamaican Bolt has his ground. Any further rain would increase the chances of this son of Pivotal.
Another who likes some cut is Boundaries, with his trainer on a 50% win-and place record from eight runners in this race.
Boundaries’ form figures don’t tell the story: he’s been hampered; he’s been badly drawn; he’s run over the wrong trips. That’s shed a few vital pounds.
Talking of strike rates, Sir Mark Prescott is currently on 12 out of 14 placed (85%), seven of them winners (50%). Contrast that with Richard Fahey’s slump to 3-67 (which is 4.4%) and you’d fancy laying Ladykin (4.15) and backing Prescott’s only runner of the day, Lucky Money, the two principals in the same race at Wolverhampton.
LAY to win 10pts LADYKIN and BET 8pts win (nap) LUCKY MONEY (4.15 Wolverhampton)
BET 2.2pts win DORBACK and 1.6pts win SWILLY FERRY, plus 1.4pts win (stakes saver) ZERO MONEY (6.40 Windsor)
BET 6.6pts win JAMAICAN BOLT and 1.6pts win BOUNDARIES (8.00 Thirsk)
BET 1pt win and place SHORT SUPPLY (8.30 Thirsk)