Our pundit reflects on the recent wins of Pinatubo and Logician and ponders Graham Bradley's desire to take out a licence to train.
PINATUBO – PURE TALENT BUT POOR VALUE
I had wondered why Pinatubo had not been getting the plaudits he deserved before his explosive win in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh.
He is certainly getting them now!
Wasn’t he just incredible? It was great to see William Buick’s face as he was pulling up. Pure joy. This is what it is all about.
There is something about a brilliant two-year-old that stirs the blood and I don’t think there would be many disputing the claim that this could be the best we have seen since Frankel.
Unlike Frankel, Pinatubo apparently does very little at home and seems a pretty laid back sort of dude.
Let’s just hope he makes it to the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas as Team Godolphin have had little luck with some of their more recent good two-year-olds.
Quorto, absent in fact since last year’s National Stakes (when he defeated the subsequent Derby winner, Anthony Van Dyck), is a case in point.
Sunday’s demolition job was on a par with the likes of Celtic Swing and Arazi who, between them, put up the best performances I have seen from two-year-olds. Who can ever tire of watching Arazi’s incredible performance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile?
Celtic Swing, of course, won the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster by a stunning 12 lengths but on his previous start had broken the juvenile track record at Ascot when easily beating a colt called Singspiel by eight lengths (with another 10 lengths back to the rest).
After that race, I availed myself of 20-1 for the 2,000 Guineas and 25-1 for the Derby which, when he lined up as 4-5 favourite for the Guineas, looked like pretty good business.
But touches like that have a habit of collapsing on me and, as we know, he didn’t win. Pennekamp beat him a head and then Celtic Swing didn’t even make Epsom (rightly so, because of worries about the track – he didn’t really handle Newmarket) and he went off and won the French Derby instead.
So quotes of even money about Pinatubo are short enough. There is still eight months to go and he has yet to get there. Let’s hope he makes it, maybe with a little cameo in the Dewhurst en route.
Incidentally, Pinatubo’s sire Shamardal is flying. As well as being responsible for another brilliant unbeaten colt in Earthlight, trained by Andre Fabre and who is heading for a showdown with Mum’s Tipple in the Middle Park, the Darley stallion also has another Fabre inmate, Victor Ludorum, who made it two out of two in style at Chantilly on Saturday.
LOGICIAN SET FOR THE VERY TOP
Had Logician, the brilliant St Leger winner, not been owned by Khalid Abdullah, he would surely be supplemented for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Logician was in a different league at Doncaster, having destroyed them with a great turn of foot and then being heavily eased near the finish. Classics are not often won in that fashion.
The son of Frankel is still improving, clearly, and rather than being a contender against Stradivarius in the Cup division, he looks set to assume Enable’s mantle in the top races over middle distances next season.
Logician was the best result for this year’s St Leger, no doubt, as I felt that the race lacked a little on paper beforehand. That may turn out to be totally misguided as Sir Ron Priestley enhanced his reputation too as he battled on bravely for second. Now, he could indeed be a Cup horse.
Time will be the judge and few Legers have worked out as well as the 2017 running, of course, when Capri beat Crystal Ocean, Stradivarius, Rekindling and Coronet.
But what on earth has happened to Capri? He has won just once since in 11 subsequent starts (a Group Three) and although fifth to Enable in last year’s Arc, he finished last in Sunday’s Irish St Leger and retirement looks imminent.
GRAHAM BRADLEY STILL WAITING
Graham Bradley, the former top jump jockey who was banned for five years back in the last decade for passing on tips to someone who turned out to be one of Britain’s most notorious drug dealers, has made no secret of his desire to take up training, whether with his own licence or assisting someone else.
I visited Brad at his Sparsholt home this week to speak to him about the ups and downs of his colourful career for Sky Sports Racing. His has been a fascinating journey, on a road littered with brilliant success but with numerous damaging, deep pot-holes spoiling the ride along the way.
Reading again his extremely honest account about his career in “The Wayward Lad”, published nearly 20 years ago, the vast majority of his brushings with the Jockey Club, who managed the sport’s integrity in those days, were found to be unnecessary.
One of them, involving his unseating from Starjestic at Southwell in 1989, was ridiculous. Brad was accused of jumping off deliberately but even when a photograph was produced as evidence to prove his innocence, which showed Starjestic’s hind legs in the open ditch, it took the Jockey Club months to back down.
His alarm clock failing to go off due to a power cut to get up and school hot favourite Alderbrook for the 1996 Champion Hurdle – which cost him the ride – is a classic. Only Brad could then go and secure the mount on Collier Bay and duly get the better of Kim Bailey’s star.
Brad admits now that the ban from racing that he served from 2002 until 2007 was a defining moment and he bitterly regrets breaking the rules.
His promising ventures into the bloodstock world were stopped in their tracks and it has been nearly impossible to rebuild his reputation.
That said, he has worked hard to pass all of the training modules required by the BHA to train horses and in spite of emailing them regularly for an update, there is a marked reluctance from the authority to allow him back in.
More recently, in 2014, he was cleared of all charges after the BHA had claimed he was acting as an unlicensed trainer for Brendan Powell. However, Robin Mounsey of the BHA said the findings contained “significant concerns about Bradley’s conduct, which will be considered when determining his suitability to hold a licence.”
It seems that they still have those concerns, five years later.
I say, get him in, clear the air, and let him move on - with provisos if necessary. The man has done his time and I believe that he represents no threat to the integrity of British racing.
I don’t think, and never have thought, that Graham Bradley has a bad bone in his body. The only thing he has been guilty of is gross naivety and being a sometime moderate judge of character.
If the BHA still don’t fancy giving him a licence then let him use his other talents for the benefit of the sport. There is no dispute that he was a superb jockey and his wisdom and knowledge should be passed on to others, to the younger riders coming through.
He would make such a good jockey coach.