Robin Oakley

The Turf | 28 February 2009

Winning streak

I like the sound of the restaurant that has apparently opened in a former bank with a banner urging ‘Put your mouth where your money was’. Actually, after Kempton on Saturday, there is a little more of it than there usually is. Money, that is. I cannot recall the last time I had five winners on a card which, since we all remember our winners better than our losers, probably means there wasn’t a last time. Sadly, since Mrs Oakley’s 20-year-old food mixer coughed itself to death last week, the winnings will probably be put to practical rather than celebratory use. Food mixers these days, I have learned, come at about the same price I paid for my first car.

Racing with my canny friend Derek Sinclair, a former amateur rider, I was deeply envious when he backed Eleazar, the 22–1 winner of the first (an early-bird punter, he had got 27–1) while my selection finished 12th of 13. Alfie Flits then failed to oblige in the second. But then I hit the mother lode, scoring with Herecomesthetruth (5–6), Nacarat (10–1), Hebridean (2–1) and Le Burf (11–2) and getting up the forecast in the last with King’s Legacy and Ballybach (paying over 8–1). The sun shone, the bacon and cheese toastie was done to a turn and Derek bought the celebratory chablis. What more could a man want from life?

A glorious day’s racing was a reminder of the different qualities it takes to get a horse across the finishing line first. Sometimes it is patience. As the steaming Eleazar was doused with buckets of water after victory on his first run since September 2007, trainer Lucy Wadham revealed that he had injured both front tendons. Praising his owners for sticking with him, she pointed out that the handicapper often drops you a few pounds after such a long lay-off and reflected, ‘It is best to strike early.’

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