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Horse racing: O’Meara’s golden oldie seeking compensation
EVERGREEN veteran Blue Bajan heads to Doncaster this weekend in search of deserved compensation.
At least, that’s the view of his Ryedale trainer David O’Meara, who came away from Haydock last Saturday a frustrated man, convinced that had Blue Bajan gained a clear run, he would have come out on top in the Old Borough Cup. As it was, he had to settle for fourth-place under Graham Lee.
“It was a messy race, with a lot of trouble, and he just couldn’t get out. By the time he did find daylight, it was all but over,” said O’Meara, adding, “Graham was adamant he would have won.”
At the age of 10, Blue Bajan owes nobody anything, least of all his Ryedale owner, Dr John Hollowood, a neighbour of O’Meara’s, who has enjoyed countless golden moments with the versatile gelding, who has won 12 of his 67 races – nine on the Flat and three over hurdles – and prize money nudging £377,000.
Last year, in his first full season with O’Meara, Blue Bajan admirably gained Group 2 honours when winning the Henry II Stakes at Sandown. He may no longer be up to quite that level of achievement in the autumn of his career, but his latest effort confirms he can still at least cut it in strong handicap company.
“The plan is to take him to Doncaster on Friday for the Mallard Handicap,” reported O’Meara. The compensation bid is underway.
ALL signs point to Doncaster this week.
The famous Town Moor course plays host to its four-day St Leger Festival, kicking-off on Wednesday and culminating with the showpiece event on Saturday, and Ryedale trainers will be out in force trying to snatch a piece of the action.
Tim Easterby will be looking to his speedsters to have a say throughout the meeting. His high-class juvenile Body And Soul bids for Group 2 honours in the Flying Childers Stakes, while Confessional is Scarborough Stakes-bound and Captain Dunne is heading to the Portland Handicap.
Richard Fahey will be relying on his juveniles. The unbeaten Flyman, together with Majestic Moon, a luckless beaten favourite at York’s Ebor Festival, will be heading to the £300,000 Weatherbys Bloodstock Insurance Stakes, a race the Malton trainer won with Wootton Bassett two years ago. Unsinkable, two-from-two, could step up to Group 2 company in the Champagne Stakes.
Watch out, too for, Paul Midgley’s Haajes, a winner at the meeting last year, the David O’Meara-trained Mayoman and New Hampshire, trained by Tony Coyle.
LINDA Stubbs is never afraid to travel her horses to far-flung venues if there’s the chance of a winner at the end of it, and opportunity came knocking for the ambitious Norton trainer, not once, but twice last week.
Norton-based Stubbs sent two runners to Bath – a round-trip of 478 miles – and was rewarded with a notable double, courtesy of Bogsnog and Ice Trooper, both of whom obliged in the hands of Graham Lee.
Oddly-named juvenile Bogsnog, after a series of near-misses, broke his maiden by a short-head, while hardened sprint handicapper Ice trooper had half a length to spare after being sent off at 20-1.
PHOTO-FINISHES seemed to be the trend with a whole host of locally-trained winners last week.
Richard Fahey’s Romantic Settings, a half-sister to last year’s high-class juvenile stablemate Miss Work Of Art, prevailed by a nose at Haydock, where David O’Meara’s Set The Trend and the Brian Ellison-trained Calaf both scored by a neck.
It was even closer that evening at Kempton, where Belinsky, trained by Julie Camacho, won in a blanket finish at 6-1, scoring by a neck and with only a head and a neck back to the third and fourth.
Belinsky was a second winner of the week for Norton-based Camacho, who had sent out Dubai Celebration, an £800purchase by her husband Steve Brown, to win at Musselburgh.
IT’S the St Leger, the final Classic of the season at Doncaster on Saturday, and although, without a Ryedale runner, you may think there is no local connection to the race, you’d be mistaken.
All eyes on Saturday will be on Camelot, who, having won the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby, now bids to add his name to the roll of honour of Triple Crown heroes, of which there are only 15 since the race was first run.
Remarkably, Britain’s very first Triple Crown winner in 1853, West Australia, was trained in Norton by the legendary John Scott at the historic Whitewall yard, now owned by Mark Campion. Frank Butler was the jockey.
Furthermore, the last horse to complete the Triple Crown was the great Nijinksy in 1970. Ridden by Lester Piggott, the Vincent O’Brien-trained superstar cruised to victory to easily beat Meadowville, the runner-up, who was ridden by a Ryedale jockey, Johnny Seagrave.
Want another Ryedale connection to the St Leger? Well, Ryedale’s most recent Classic winner was Bollin Eric, trained by Tim Easterby to win the 2002 St Leger with Kevin Darley in the Classic.
TWO weeks on from the hugely successful and much-applauded Malton Stables’ Open Day, it was owner’s day at Malcolm Jefferson’s Newstead yard last Sunday when patrons and supporters of the Norton stable turned out to view the horses and dream of what might be to come during the forthcoming campaign.
Jefferson enjoyed a truly magnificent time of things last term, pulling-off a memorable double at the Cheltenham Festival with Attaglance and Cape Tribulation and, incredibly, placing both horses to win again the following month at the Aintree Festival.
Horace Young, owner of Attaglance, conducted a collection at the yard last Sunday in memory of Lord John Oaksey, who had died earlier in the week. One of the finest ambassadors British racing has ever had, through his charity work, his exploits as an amateur rider, journalist and broadcaster, Oaksey’s death saddened everyone within the sport.
Admirably, a total of £405 was collected, which will be passed on to the Injured Jockeys’ Fund, which Oaksey had founded.
Attaglance, incidentally, will be embarking on a new phase of his jumping career this season. “He’s going novice chasing,” revealed Young, who feels the gelding could hardly be in better hands. “What Malcolm achieved last season with him, and the rest of his horses, was unbelievable. He’s got a nice string for this season and we’re hoping for the best.”