William buick

Paddington emerged victorious but Eclipse was an enthralling duel

I should have listened to George Duffield. Sandown Park’s Eclipse Stakes, the first time the Classic generation of three-year-olds take on their elders, is one of my favourite races and the then 53-year-old rider’s triumph on Giant’s Causeway in 2000, beating Kalanisi by a head after Pat Eddery had driven him into the lead 200 yards from the finish, was the duel I will never forget. Duffield was Sir Mark Prescott’s stable jockey and soon after that race the Newmarket maestro took a call from Aidan O’Brien, Giant’s Causeway’s trainer. ‘Whatever you do Sir Mark,’ said the quiet Irish voice, ‘make sure you breed from him before you let him

Lesson to self: don’t put a bet on in autumn

When things went wrong in his days running the Daily Mirror, the scoundrel Robert Maxwell used to shout: ‘Which effing idiot thought of doing that?’ Told once by a bolder-than-average subordinate that what proved to have been a disaster had been his own idea, he responded: ‘In that case what effing idiot let me do it?’ Thanks partly to generous layers who pay up to six places in Heritage handicaps, it has been a prosperous punting season for me but at Newbury last Saturday it was bookmakers 7 – Oakley nil and I have nobody to blame but myself. Every year I counsel myself to hold back as the autumn

Charlie Appleby is the trainer to beat

I know what Keats was on about with his mists and mellow fruitfulness, but autumn is less of a joy when you daren’t rock up at the local petrol station with a jerry can to fill the mower for fear of being lynched by fuel-hungry vigilantes taking you for a hoarder. For me this time of year is defined more by my annual quest to bring off the autumn double, finding winners two weeks apart for the Cambridgeshire and the Cesarewitch. This year I managed two seconds with Anmaat (11–2) and Burning Victory (13–2): the dream goes on. The Cesarewitch is my favourite, partly because it brings to Newmarket a

My Arc de Triomphe tips

The emphasis may all be on speed horses these days, with breeders interested only in horses that struggle to get a yard more than ten furlongs without the aid of a horsebox. But I remain a devotee of the St Leger, the last and longest of the English Classics run at Doncaster over a mile and six furlongs. In this year’s contest it took only one look at the favourite Hurricane Lane, five furlongs out, to know that the money was as good as in your pocket. Jockey William Buick had him in the perfect rhythm in midfield and was clearly unworried when rival Rossa Ryan, on the handsome Mojo

A great contest without the skulduggery of the past

Taking a day off racing to enjoy Joe Root’s regal 180 not out against India on the third day of the England-India Test — tranquillity interrupted only by a call from home to say that Flat-coated Retriever Damson had eaten the TV controller — I was struck by the amount of ‘gardening’ indulged in by batters. After any ball that has beaten them they stroll down the pitch, glare malevolently at an innocent patch of turf and prod back into inoffensive conformity the infinitesimal protrusion on the surface which they have assured themselves was responsible for the ball whipping past their hung-out bat. Excuse accepted. Mental confidence restored. Confidence is