Trainers Are The Real Superstars

Exciting contests for the last two trainers’ championships have brought the work of race horse conditioning into focus. Jockeys are the super-stars of racing (undeservedly in my opinion) because...

Exciting contests for the last two trainers’ championships have brought the work of race horse conditioning into focus.

Jockeys are the super-stars of racing (undeservedly in my opinion) because they’re the obvious “talent” seen on racedays similar to TV/radio hosts who, however famous by exposure, are really the product of behind the scenes producers and technicians. In horse racing the producer is the trainer who, over extended periods, puts in consistent, tireless work (usually unseen) to produce the finished product we see at races. After that, all most jockeys do is to make mistakes nullifying the trainers’ work.

A good trainer employs a dedicated, hard working staff including Assistants, grooms and exercise riders. He ensures a competent Veterinarian is always on call but also studies veterinary science as best he can by reading, watching Vets at work and pestering them with questions so that the trainer knows what to look for next time.

The difference between the average and excellent trainer is in the attention paid to details like staff supervision and the horses themselves. After morning exercise, each horse is visited and a report taken from the groom as to the effects of the work. Problem horses are examined personally by the excellent trainer and detailed instructions left with the groom as to daily care. Nutrition is an individual exercise. No two horses are treated the same. The excellent trainer knows each horse as well as the trainer’s children and is aware of every one’s quirks.

Excellent trainers genuinely love and care for their horses. They aren’t afraid to set stern examples. Many years ago I saw a leading trainer interrupt a tour of his barn by V.I.P. prospective owners to remonstrate with a groom. He took away the scissors the groom was using; trimmed the horse’s mane; and clipped hair from the horse’s ears himself.

There’s one thing only the very best can do and that’s to prepare a horse for a specific race especially after a long lay-off. Any buffoon can enter a horse at the races; run him until he’s fit; and then win a race. It takes an expert to aim a horse for a particular event (the richer the harder) and find the exact way to win that race. Training legend and fourteen-time Champion, Philip Feanny, did it repeatedly with Eros who was almost a medical cripple but whose race record is one of the best of all time. Eighteen-time Champion, Wayne DaCosta, did it with top class sprinter, Spectacular Run, whose fragile hooves were a constant source of concern.

One area where most Jamaican trainers fall short is client care. Most trainers treat owners as nuisances when in fact they are the source of trainers’ livelihood. Spectacular Run’s owner Derrick Smith was quoted by Jamaica Observer effusively praising his trainer after winning a Derby with Seeking My Dream:

I’ve been with trainer DaCosta for so long now, I can’t even remember. He has become a part of the family. DaCosta is like no other, a truly dedicated horseman who keeps owners in contact with what he’s doing and is always giving progress reports on the horses.

Current Champion Anthony “Baba” Nunes was the first to embrace modern technology and give his owners updates by e-mail and “What’s App”.

So I look forward to yet another battle for the 2020 Championship between Nunes and DaCosta. Those who believe the eighteen-time Champ who was relieved of his title last year by Nunes’  outstanding performance has faded away should think again. After a slow start to an adumbrated season, his barn is flying and I expect a very close thing by December 31.

DEPARTMENTS:

Clocked-In

Our regular review of local performances based on REAL times makes a welcome return.

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 2/5th of a second). Variants beside horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.

Two issues ago, I advised regarding August 15 races:

They finished in a heap but Race 7 (3/4yonw4/Imp 3yo+nw3; 1600m; TV-3) is a KEY RACE! Punters must apply the caveat that it was run on a wet track.

EROY/NIPSTER/GREENGOLD RUSH/DOUBLE CROWN (-7) were separated by less than a length. The winning time (1:39.3) converts to between 1.40.0/1:40.1 at least 4/5th second faster than nw3 for which all are eligible.”

Eroy was unable to cope with a drop to 1200m on September 13 finishing a staying on 2 ¼ lengths 3rd to importee Sir Alton but the other three contested a non winners of 3 over 1820m on September 6 when NIPSTER won at 3/1 (despite conceding weight all round) and the St. Leger which NIPSTER won in a deluge at 31/1! Yum, yum!

Let’s see what’s on today’s menu.

SEPTEMBER 19, 2020 [TV-0.67 per 200m (Round) -1 (straight)]

DOUBLE JEOPARDY (-7), starting asTouty’s NAP OF THE DAY (9/1), looked all over the winner 100m out (Race 10; 3yonw2; 1100m; TV-4), before being nabbed within shades of the wire by brilliantly ridden (Omar Walker) ALEXA’S LODGE. Their final time (1:06.3) produces CTs of 1:07.2 which is 3/5th second faster than nw2 (where compensation awaits the second) but not good enough for nw3.

SEPTEMBER 26, 2020 [TV-0.8 per 200m (Round) +0 (straight)]

CAPTUREMYSHIP (-8) romped a weak heat (Race 6; $750-$700,000 claimers/Native Bred 4yonw2/Imported 4yo maidens; 1200m; TV-5) by nine lengths in 1:12.0! His CT (1:13.0) is 1/5th second slower than Overnight Allowance standard so good enough to win any claiming race. But he’s still relatively unexposed even as a 6yo (this was his 8th win in 28 lifetime starts) and there’s more in the tank if he can be kept sound.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2020 [TV-1.0 per 200m (Round) 1st 7 races; -0.8 8th race (Summer Sun/sloppy track); -3 (straight)]

AWESOME TREASURE (-11) was 4 lengths 2nd to Shepanza (Race 3; 3yonw2; 1500m; TV-7’). The winner’s CT (1:33.1’) is half-second faster than nw3 where she can win. The second’s CT (1:34.0’) is 7/10th second faster than nw2 standard so she’s a good thing next time.

Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)

Last time we met I told you that, in the Group 2 Mill Reef stakes “a chance is taken at likely double-digit odds on #1 ALKUMAIT a Showcasing colt whose dam was a winner in Italy up to six furlongs and who has shaped with promise on both starts (green on debut at Newbury then winning at Goodwood again getting the plot late). He seems certain to improve and is well worth each way support here.

Good news. ALKUMAIT won the Mill Reef at 8/1! Pay, Pool, Pay!

On Sunday man-eating mare Enablegoes for a record-breaking third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe win in four years (2nd of 12 last year). She’s now six years old and the likelihood of a slog in heavy ground may not be what she relishes these days. She was beaten last year on very soft ground; and won in 2018 (good) and 2017 at Chantilly (soft). Eleven of her fifteen career wins have come on good or faster ground.

So, at likely skinny odds the value must lie in opposing her. Two contenders likely to offer double-digit odds catch the eye. Firstly there’s Aidan O’Brien’s Mogul for whom the Epsom Derby came too soon but who has since improved markedly winning the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in fine style and following up in commanding fashion in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris over course and distance on September 13. Then there’s French 4yo SOTTSASS who was 3rd as a three year old last year (1¾ length behind 2nd placed Enable) on very soft. He hasn’t tackled twelve furlongs since but won the Group 1 Prix Ganay at Chantilly (good to soft) and finished a neck second in the Group 3 Hong Kong Jockey Club at Deauville (10f; heavy).

The latter, who appears to have been laid out for this race by outstanding French trainer Jean-Claude Rouget (also enters 3yo Raabihah) is preferred.

Last issue’s Notebook horse Music Society unseated his jockey at the start of the Ayr Bronze Cup but returned at Haydock (September 26) to finish one length second of 11 (at 4/1) to Commanche Falls. Keep him on the right side for the rest of the autumn.

Let’s add one more to the Notebook.

Mardoof [2b.c Awtaad-Yanabeeaa (Street Cry) looked a quintessential Michael Stoute improver on debut around Kempton’s polytrack (7f; September 26) taking time to work out what was required then shaping much better than the bare result despite running green over 2 furlongs out. Stoutey’s two-year-olds tend to step up markedly on their debuts and this May 20 foal has the scope for plenty of improvement.

Good Luck!

Trainers Are The Real Superstars

Exciting contests for the last two trainers’ championships have brought the work of race horse conditioning into focus.

Jockeys are the super-stars of racing (undeservedly in my opinion) because they’re the obvious “talent” seen on racedays similar to TV/radio hosts who, however famous by exposure, are really the product of behind the scenes producers and technicians. In horse racing the producer is the trainer who, over extended periods, puts in consistent, tireless work (usually unseen) to produce the finished product we see at races. After that, all most jockeys do is to make mistakes nullifying the trainers’ work.

A good trainer employs a dedicated, hard working staff including Assistants, grooms and exercise riders. He ensures a competent Veterinarian is always on call but also studies veterinary science as best he can by reading, watching Vets at work and pestering them with questions so that the trainer knows what to look for next time.

The difference between the average and excellent trainer is in the attention paid to details like staff supervision and the horses themselves. After morning exercise, each horse is visited and a report taken from the groom as to the effects of the work. Problem horses are examined personally by the excellent trainer and detailed instructions left with the groom as to daily care. Nutrition is an individual exercise. No two horses are treated the same. The excellent trainer knows each horse as well as the trainer’s children and is aware of every one’s quirks.

Excellent trainers genuinely love and care for their horses. They aren’t afraid to set stern examples. Many years ago I saw a leading trainer interrupt a tour of his barn by V.I.P. prospective owners to remonstrate with a groom. He took away the scissors the groom was using; trimmed the horse’s mane; and clipped hair from the horse’s ears himself.

There’s one thing only the very best can do and that’s to prepare a horse for a specific race especially after a long lay-off. Any buffoon can enter a horse at the races; run him until he’s fit; and then win a race. It takes an expert to aim a horse for a particular event (the richer the harder) and find the exact way to win that race. Training legend and fourteen-time Champion, Philip Feanny, did it repeatedly with Eros who was almost a medical cripple but whose race record is one of the best of all time. Eighteen-time Champion, Wayne DaCosta, did it with top class sprinter, Spectacular Run, whose fragile hooves were a constant source of concern.

One area where most Jamaican trainers fall short is client care. Most trainers treat owners as nuisances when in fact they are the source of trainers’ livelihood. Spectacular Run’s owner Derrick Smith was quoted by Jamaica Observer effusively praising his trainer after winning a Derby with Seeking My Dream:

I’ve been with trainer DaCosta for so long now, I can’t even remember. He has become a part of the family. DaCosta is like no other, a truly dedicated horseman who keeps owners in contact with what he’s doing and is always giving progress reports on the horses.

Current Champion Anthony “Baba” Nunes was the first to embrace modern technology and give his owners updates by e-mail and “What’s App”.

So I look forward to yet another battle for the 2020 Championship between Nunes and DaCosta. Those who believe the eighteen-time Champ who was relieved of his title last year by Nunes’  outstanding performance has faded away should think again. After a slow start to an adumbrated season, his barn is flying and I expect a very close thing by December 31.

DEPARTMENTS:

Clocked-In

Our regular review of local performances based on REAL times makes a welcome return.

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 2/5th of a second). Variants beside horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.

Two issues ago, I advised regarding August 15 races:

They finished in a heap but Race 7 (3/4yonw4/Imp 3yo+nw3; 1600m; TV-3) is a KEY RACE! Punters must apply the caveat that it was run on a wet track.

EROY/NIPSTER/GREENGOLD RUSH/DOUBLE CROWN (-7) were separated by less than a length. The winning time (1:39.3) converts to between 1.40.0/1:40.1 at least 4/5th second faster than nw3 for which all are eligible.”

Eroy was unable to cope with a drop to 1200m on September 13 finishing a staying on 2 ¼ lengths 3rd to importee Sir Alton but the other three contested a non winners of 3 over 1820m on September 6 when NIPSTER won at 3/1 (despite conceding weight all round) and the St. Leger which NIPSTER won in a deluge at 31/1! Yum, yum!

Let’s see what’s on today’s menu.

SEPTEMBER 19, 2020 [TV-0.67 per 200m (Round) -1 (straight)]

DOUBLE JEOPARDY (-7), starting asTouty’s NAP OF THE DAY (9/1), looked all over the winner 100m out (Race 10; 3yonw2; 1100m; TV-4), before being nabbed within shades of the wire by brilliantly ridden (Omar Walker) ALEXA’S LODGE. Their final time (1:06.3) produces CTs of 1:07.2 which is 3/5th second faster than nw2 (where compensation awaits the second) but not good enough for nw3.

SEPTEMBER 26, 2020 [TV-0.8 per 200m (Round) +0 (straight)]

CAPTUREMYSHIP (-8) romped a weak heat (Race 6; $750-$700,000 claimers/Native Bred 4yonw2/Imported 4yo maidens; 1200m; TV-5) by nine lengths in 1:12.0! His CT (1:13.0) is 1/5th second slower than Overnight Allowance standard so good enough to win any claiming race. But he’s still relatively unexposed even as a 6yo (this was his 8th win in 28 lifetime starts) and there’s more in the tank if he can be kept sound.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2020 [TV-1.0 per 200m (Round) 1st 7 races; -0.8 8th race (Summer Sun/sloppy track); -3 (straight)]

AWESOME TREASURE (-11) was 4 lengths 2nd to Shepanza (Race 3; 3yonw2; 1500m; TV-7’). The winner’s CT (1:33.1’) is half-second faster than nw3 where she can win. The second’s CT (1:34.0’) is 7/10th second faster than nw2 standard so she’s a good thing next time.

Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)

Last time we met I told you that, in the Group 2 Mill Reef stakes “a chance is taken at likely double-digit odds on #1 ALKUMAIT a Showcasing colt whose dam was a winner in Italy up to six furlongs and who has shaped with promise on both starts (green on debut at Newbury then winning at Goodwood again getting the plot late). He seems certain to improve and is well worth each way support here.

Good news. ALKUMAIT won the Mill Reef at 8/1! Pay, Pool, Pay!

On Sunday man-eating mare Enablegoes for a record-breaking third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe win in four years (2nd of 12 last year). She’s now six years old and the likelihood of a slog in heavy ground may not be what she relishes these days. She was beaten last year on very soft ground; and won in 2018 (good) and 2017 at Chantilly (soft). Eleven of her fifteen career wins have come on good or faster ground.

So, at likely skinny odds the value must lie in opposing her. Two contenders likely to offer double-digit odds catch the eye. Firstly there’s Aidan O’Brien’s Mogul for whom the Epsom Derby came too soon but who has since improved markedly winning the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in fine style and following up in commanding fashion in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris over course and distance on September 13. Then there’s French 4yo SOTTSASS who was 3rd as a three year old last year (1¾ length behind 2nd placed Enable) on very soft. He hasn’t tackled twelve furlongs since but won the Group 1 Prix Ganay at Chantilly (good to soft) and finished a neck second in the Group 3 Hong Kong Jockey Club at Deauville (10f; heavy).

The latter, who appears to have been laid out for this race by outstanding French trainer Jean-Claude Rouget (also enters 3yo Raabihah) is preferred.

Last issue’s Notebook horse Music Society unseated his jockey at the start of the Ayr Bronze Cup but returned at Haydock (September 26) to finish one length second of 11 (at 4/1) to Commanche Falls. Keep him on the right side for the rest of the autumn.

Let’s add one more to the Notebook.

Mardoof [2b.c Awtaad-Yanabeeaa (Street Cry) looked a quintessential Michael Stoute improver on debut around Kempton’s polytrack (7f; September 26) taking time to work out what was required then shaping much better than the bare result despite running green over 2 furlongs out. Stoutey’s two-year-olds tend to step up markedly on their debuts and this May 20 foal has the scope for plenty of improvement.

Good Luck!

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