Robin Oakley

The turf | 15 November 2008

Twelve to watch

‘Look here, Sunshine,’ I remember Eric Morecambe responding to a raised eyebrow from André Previn about the comedian’s musical efforts. ‘I am playing the right notes, just maybe not in the right order.’ My tipping goes like that too.

For the previous Flat season I suggested that William Haggas’s Conquest might ‘pop up at a nice price later in the season’. So he did. Unfortunately, Conquest’s 40–1 victory in the Stewards’ Cup and his 16–1 handicap victory happened not in the 2007 season but in the one just ended.

After our healthy profit over jumps the Flat Twelve sadly proved more a case of appreciating quality than counting profits. But it takes only one horse to give you a joyful season and Raven’s Pass did that for me. Though he won Goodwood’s Celebration Mile it took him until his fourth attempt (after three seconds) to start beating Henrythenavigator, which he did at 3–1 in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. He then gloriously repeated the feat at 8–1 to take the Breeder’s Cup Classic in America.

There were victories in classy company too for Henry Candy’s sprinter Corrybrough and for Richard Hannon’s Major Cadeaux. John Oxx’s Katiyra, who finished third in the Oaks and second in the Irish equivalent, won a couple of Irish contests too. But sadly all three were so well backed to win their races that they made little impression on the bank balance. The same was true of Aidan O’Brien’s Psalm in her one victory.

Il Warrd, moved on from Marcus Tregoning to Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor, won nicely over seven furlongs at Redcar. But, second in the Jersey Stakes at Ascot and fourth in the Betfair Cup to Paco Boy, he kept running well, though not quite well enough, in distinguished company. Punters need sparing from over-ambitious owners.

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