When Titania won the Derby in 1974, David Vernon was still in charge of RJR’s commentary booth but the skill and artistry of George HoSang ruled the racetrack. Titania (trained by Michael “Buddy” Silvera for Mrs. Hazel Chen) was the third filly to win the Derby and HoSang’s second Derby win (he won with King Pin for trainer Ossie Lee and owner Mrs. M. Chung in 1973).
George HoSang is Jamaica’s Lester Piggott, simply the best, and the little boy (by then a college student) can never forget being taken to the races by his father on Derby Day 1976. As usual, George HoSang rode the Derby favourite, a big strapping colt named Reca but, also as usual, the by-then-not-so-little boy had used his $2 ticket to oppose the favourite.
Father and son watched the race from the ground floor. The sounds and images of the field thundering past the winning post for the first time is indelibly imprinted in the boy’s mind. To everybody’s shock and amazement, Reca was the early leader. “A who dat?”; “It caaaan’t be Reca?”; “A mad Fooksang mad?” was some of the kinder comments from the crowd around us. In 1976, Derbys were not won from the front. Yet, under an expert pace controlling ride, HoSang went all the way on Reca establishing himself, with one ride, as one of the best ever and quieting all doubters, including the boy.
And there’d been several doubters. HoSang’s career began nine years earlier and when Laurie Silvera decided to give the young apprentice the ride on Derby winner Creation, in an “A” Class race, punters were skeptical. Georgie didn’t disappoint them, as a weak and confused riding display duly resulted in a narrow loss for Creation. Upon his dejected return to the unsaddling enclosure, every available missile was hurled at him together with a torrent of boos, and the image of the young apprentice almost in tears as he unsaddled in full view of his tormentors was unsettling.
That night, on JBC TV’s sports report, the now legendary Lindy Delapenha, who was then famously always wrong, pleaded for the youngster to be given another chance. He chided the stone throwers and concluded his plea with the words “who knows, this young man might turn out to be the best rider Jamaica has ever had.” And so the man renowned for never being right used up his quota of “rightness” with one breathtaking prediction which he has never allowed us to forget.
Of all the commentators, the smoothest was Desmond Chambers, the original “Good Morning Man” credited for teaching his protégé, one Allan Magnus, all Allan knows. But, as a race caller, Desmond is permanently fixed in the little boy’s memory for the race he couldn’t call.
It was the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup of December 12, 1972. The electrifying stretch run by the great Monte’s Stitch, carrying 140lbs and Glenford “Cuttoopeg” Walker, to win the most competitive Gold Cup ever, left the usually suave Chambers stuttering and stumbling for words. The first time he called the winner’s name came after the horses were well past the post when it finally dawned on Dessie that neither Zareba nor Fearless Princess had won.
In a short five-year history, the Gold Cup had already developed a reputation as the season’s most anticipated event due entirely to the exploits of the imported gelding, Kilowatt, owned by the irrepressible Neville “Bunny” East and C. Fornaris, trained by veteran Valbert Marlowe and ridden by Cleveland “Velvet Gloves” Suckie.
Kilowatt won the inaugural race in 1967 as a three-year-old under the featherweight of 94lbs. The same combination successfully defended the Cup in 1968 (112 lbs) but, on the eve of the attempted hat trick (1969), Suckie declined to ride, citing an injured wrist and the ever-paranoid Bunny East, who trusted no other jockey, withdrew Kilowatt from the race. Salmon Spray won.
In 1970, Kilowatt duly made it three from four Gold Cups (104lbs) and clearly would’ve retired the Cup for his owners had he competed in 1969. Kilowatt’s dominance of the Gold Cup (he was second in 1971 as a seven-year-old) and his lack of form otherwise was the stuff of racing legend, and Bunny East’s Gold Cup Day appearances, dressed in full Gold outfits, were the talk of the track.
By 1972, the first time Kilowatt and the attendant intrigue were absent from the Gold Cup, it had a lot of “living-up-to”, which it achieved thanks to Monte’s Stitch’s amazing weight-carrying feat.
Part V coming up!
This regular review of local performances is based on REAL times.
Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of the effect of track conditions on official times to arrive at “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” a slow track (e.g. -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
It’s been a profitable few weeks for Clocked-in followers. Princess Caula won (August 6) at 2/1; Hilly’s Halo (written up in July 13’s issue) has run up a sequence; Master of Hall came good and Nuclear Flight turned the tables on Another Vigorous up the straight at 5/2 (September 1). August 25 should’ve been great for readers as Princess Zalla (4/1) and Diferentgenerastion (2/1) did Clocked-in huge favours but the latter was inexplicably disqualified after winning on merit. Sigh!
Let’s see what’s happened since we last met:
August 25, 2018 [TV +0.2 per 200m (Rd); +0.2 (str)]
Princess Zella (-2) continued on the upgrade (Race 8; 3yonw2; 1000m Rd; TV+1) making all to beat Formal Gladiator (-1), staying on, in 1:00.3! The winner’s CT (1:00.2) is only 1/5th second faster than nw3 but she’s improving so can win one of those before long. The 2nd (CT 1:00.3) is 2/5th second faster than nw2 so confirms his entitlement to one of these.
August 26, 2018 [TV+0.1 per 200m (Rd); +2 (str)]
Hilly’s Halo (-11) continues her way to the top (Race 4; Overnight Allowance; 1400m; TV+1) clocking 1:24.0 (CT 1:23.4) a second faster than Grade 1 average. But the 2nd Dysfunctional (-9) and 3rd Dontae (-4) make this a KEY RACE. The 2nd’s CT (1:24.1) is also better than Grade 1 while the 3rd (1:25.1) is a second faster than Overnight Allowance.
Laguna Point (-4) beat Princess Brianna (-3) by ¾ length (Race 8; $180,000 claimers (nw$); 1000m Round; TV+0’) in 1:02.1! They aren’t the most reliable campaigners but the winner’s CT (1:02.0’) is 1.5 fifths faster than open $180,000 standard and 3.5 fifths faster than $180,000 (nw?) while the second’s (1:02.1) is only ½ length slower so both can win small races.
SEPTEMBER 1, 2018 [TV +0.2 per 200m (Rd); +1 (str)]
Master Of Hall (-3) finally confirmed debut promise after excuses for two intervening losses (Race 8; Imported 3yo+maidens; Native Bred 3yonw2; 1600m; TV+2) producing a taking turn of foot to win going away in 1:40.3! His CT (1:40.1) is 4/5ths second faster than nw3 and he’s very much on the upgrade so should win again. .
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
OBOs fan struck gold last time when Muntahaa, written up as a “perfect fit” for the Ebor, duly obliged at 11/1. This followed Via Serendipity’s win in the Shergar Mile a fortnight earlier at 7/2. Yum, yum!
Tomorrow’s feature is the Group 1 32 Red Sprint Cup (Haydock; 6 furlongs) and, before we meet again, England’s final classic, the St. Leger (Doncaster; 14 furlongs), goes off on September 15. Last year’s Sprint Cup winner, Harry Angel, is the early favourite but three year olds, who tend to progress in the autumn, have dominated the last four renewals. The best of them is Eqtidaar who won the Group 1 for 3yos at Royal Ascot although tending to hang on the quick ground. He should relish any softening of the ground always likely in the north of England at this time.
For the St’ Leger, I’ve been keen on Derby 2nd Dee Ex Bee ever since his brave Blue Riband run on unsuitable ground and am keeping my fingers crossed for rain. He’s currently available at double-digit odds.
Now, a notebook horse for flat racing’s back-end:
Zagitova [2 ch.f. Galileo – Penchant (Kyllachy)]: 1,600,000 guineas as a yearling; a half-sister to Garswood (very smart winner at up to seven furlongs); dam a half-sister to seven-furlong specialist Infallible, seems to have inherited her sire’s stamina as she won a mile maiden at Cork (August) and improved although looking disadvantaged by the drop to 7f when running-on third in the Group 2 Debutante Stakes (Curragh; September 2). She should improve back at a mile and is a decent prospect for Newmarket’s Fillies’ Mile (October).