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Sorry, wrong number – it leads to great Moviesta for Bry and Harry
Moviesta triumphs at Goodwood to the delight of trainer Bryan Smart and QPR football manager Harry Redknapp
CONCLUDING the build-up to the Ebor Festival at York Racecourse, Turf Talk talks to Hambleton trainer Bryan Smart about Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes hope Moviesta.
IF I ever get the chance to cross swords with Queens Park Rangers boss Harry Redknapp in a press conference, the question I’ll ask is about the wrong number that cost him £44,000.
Not that you’ll find ‘Arry complaining if his ‘mistake’ wins Europe’s richest sprint at York Racecourse next week.
Moviesta has already more than justified his price tag.
After the three-year-old won the Group 2 King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood at the start of the month, he took his career earnings to more than £110,000.
Not bad for a fluke, reckons his trainer, Hambleton’s Bryan Smart.
“I was at the breeze-up sales at Newmarket and I watched the horse breeze and I loved him. Simple as that,” he said of the moment he first clapped eyes on the super sprinter.
“He was really my type of horse, compact, breezed nicely, but not brilliantly. The guy that was selling him I had bought from before and there was nothing wrong with him.
“I was wondering all day ‘Am I going to get this horse?’, ‘Am I going to get someone to buy it?’ I had valued him between £40,000 and £60,000.
“Harry Redknapp rang me by mistake. He was trying to ring another Bryan. He’s got two in his phone.
“I said to him ‘You’re not going to believe this, I was just going to ring you’. And I was.
“I just thought I would ring him to see what he said about owning the horse.
“We started chatting and the horse was just going in. He said ‘Let’s follow him in’. We did and Rabbah Bloodstock were also bidding on him.
“We went 40, they went 42, I went 44 straight back and we got him for that. So Harry got a horse for a mistaken phone call.”
A week today, Moviesta bids to bring the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes back to North Yorkshire. It’s a mad, colourful dash down the Knavesmire straight. A race of such speed and precision that it can be won or lost in the first seconds after the starting stalls open.
The gelding has brought the life back to Smart and his Hambleton House yard. It’s not even two years since Tangerine Trees won the Group 1 Prix De L’Abbaye on Arc day at Longchamp but racing in a recession has proved to be a fickle business.
After a record 69 victories that year, nearly half, 36, were achieved a year later as Smart tried to wring the best out of a smaller string. Some owners left and have not returned.
“It’s like being a jockey,” is how he rationalises it. “You are only as good as the last winner you rode.
“People soon forget. We have only got a small string of horses now. Times have been hard. I had certain owners who I thought were loyal who have disappeared and it’s nice to have this good horse to see us through.
“I have had a few kickings lately and it’s been a bit upsetting – from owners who I didn’t think were like that.
“It does disappoint you. They own the horse, it comes and goes, but I have always been loyal – through my racing career as a rider.”
All of which has made Moviesta’s subsequent success this season all the sweeter.
Now a part-owner Redknapp, who met Smart through a football agent when the latter trained in Lambourn, is the kind of man trainers love – “he says ‘you get on with it, you tell me when it’s entered, you tell me when it is going to run’” – and, after a slow start, the horse has come good this year.
A winner at Wolverhampton as a juvenile, he burst on to the scene in the spring with quick-fire wins at Doncaster and York at the Dante Festival.
After pulling so hard back on Knavesmire in June that Smart thought he would “lose by a furlong” before posting a runners-up finish, and then going down by just a head at Newmarket, he smashed the field at Goodwood and returns to York in the best of form.
“We’ve always thought a lot of him,” Smart said. “He was a horse that was very strong and he wanted to do it too much.
“We wanted to teach him to settle and that’s been the secret with this horse.
“The more he has settled, the more he has improved. We’ve got him really settled at home now. If you watch him work, he is that laid back it’s unbelievable.
“Once we get that on a racetrack, you’ll have an even better horse.”
The key for Smart is that time is on his side.
With Moviesta still a sprinting baby, his success at Goodwood – a “hell of a performance” according to the trainer – means anything more this year is considered a bonus. The best is yet to come.
“He was very impressive at Goodwood,” Smart reflected.
“What was nice was the turn of foot and that he was still a little bit green when he hit the front.
“I think five (furlongs) at York will suit him and he has won over that and he has handled York.
“He’s in great order. He has got everything to look forward to. Win or lose, we can’t complain.
“He’s won £110,000 this year. We haven’t seen the best of him – not at all.
“I think we have got more to come. I shouldn’t wish my life away at my age but it will make the winter a lot shorter.
“It is great for the yard. It’s great for the staff that we have got another good horse.
“It’s brewing up and the place has been electric since Goodwood. The phone has not stopped. The lads are all excited and it’s good.”
• The Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes on August, 23 at York Racecourse is the fifth leg of the QIPCO British Champions Series Sprint Category.
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