Robin Oakley

The Turf | 25 April 2009

Stroppy minx

If she was human Rainbow View would be a stroppy teenager, chucking down her school satchel and heading straight out to the sort of club you wouldn’t want your daughter in. One word from a parent and she would do the other thing. Threaten a smacked bottom and she’d be off to the child protection officer, knowing her rights. She is a head-tossing little madam who puts the x into minx, the original wild child. But she also inspires infinite patience because her strength of will is matched with exceptional physical ability. Given the right mood on the day, Rainbow View will confirm that by winning the first fillies Classic, the Stan James 1,000 Guineas, on 3 May for her trainer John Gosden and owner George Strawbridge.

Visiting a trainer’s yard is always fun at this optimistic end of the racing year. Serious questions are just beginning to be asked on the gallops. Any of the heads popping inquisitively over box doors can turn out to belong to something special. But visiting John Gosden’s Clarehaven yard is an experience. The running commentary, delivered at shock-jock speed, is not limited to recitations of horse performance. It throws in a condensed history of the great Pretty Polly, who was trained there in the early 1900s — ‘She ate the colts from five furlongs to two and a half miles’ — and a discussion of the Munnings and Constable Suffolk skies. There is no shortage of opinions either, for example on racecourse parades: ‘It’s nice for the public to see them cantering down but I’ve never been a believer in them marching to the furlong pole and coming back. You can do it in America where they train on track but they’re all accompanied by ponies. They’ll sleep on the pony and the jockey doesn’t have to ride them.

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