Robin Oakley

A new star in the saddle

There were plenty of thrills in a glorious day at Lingfield

One to watch: Billy Loughnane at Lingfield. Credit: Alan Crowhurst / Stringer

I can always tell when Mrs Oakley has walked our flatcoat retriever. On our next outing Damson nudges my pocket every 200 yards having been encouraged to consider completion of that distance sufficient accomplishment to be rewarded with a treat (although, truth be told, it is Mrs O. who deserves the treat for three-mile dog walks just two months after breaking her hip).

Rewards were much harder-earned at Lingfield Park’s Winter Million meeting last Saturday on the all-weather polytrack surface. To my shame I had travelled there grudgingly: plan A had been to watch the mighty Energumene at Ascot, plan B to see if Bristol De Mai could do it one last time at Haydock, but both meetings were frosted off and so I settled for what I thought would be second-rate racing on the all-weather. But what the crowd got was an eight-race card with only one involving fewer than eight runners, good prize money, a series of thrilling finishes, early sight of the latest infant prodigy in the saddle and victory for a filly who could just be a rising star at four. The staff were welcoming, the coffee was hot and they do a good bacon bap at Lingfield. What was not to like?

There was no shortage of star quality either. Jockey Ryan Moore, briefly back from his travels, lost out by a neck on Ehteyat and three quarters of a length on Paris Lights, both well-backed favourites for George Boughey. But I don’t suppose it caused him too much grief; while away he picked up 10 per cent of the £2.5 million prize for winning the Japan Cup and another good sum for first place in the Hong Kong Sprint worth HK$24 million.

Ehteyat’s race was won by the hard-grafting Luke Morris, hero of the 2022 Arc on Alpinista, who last week rode his 2,000th winner.

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