Mike Cattermole reflects on working alongside Freddie Tylicki whilst looking ahead to the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival in his latest column.
FREDDIE TYLICKI IS A HERO
I worked in the Sky Sports Racing studio for the first time with Freddie Tylicki last Sunday, covering the action from Windsor and Deauville. It was a long afternoon but the time flew by. It was a real pleasure and a humbling experience, too.
Freddie and I arrived in the car park at the same time and, not knowing him well, I wasn’t sure at first if he would need any help getting out of his car and onto his wheelchair as he had travelled alone.
It was soon clear that he wasn’t expecting anything of the sort, however, and within a few minutes, he had joined us all in the offices there.
That Freddie’s burgeoning career was over within weeks of his celebrating top level successes on the brilliant filly Speedy Boarding in 2016 was a crying shame and I wonder, with the third anniversary of the James Fanshawe-trained filly’s famous win in the Prix Jean Romanet upcoming on Sunday, if he will pause for reflection.
He wouldn’t be human if he didn’t, but his strength and upbeat nature, which is incredible to observe, are two big assets in his armour and clearly help him cope with what life has thrown at him.
Freddie is strong physically too and is building up muscle in his upper body as obviously his arms have to take the strain whenever he moves about or gets in or out of his chair.
All about keeping his core strong, I ventured. “No, there’s no core” he responded. That was a sobering moment.
By the way, the Romanet win on Speedy Boarding was Freddie’s only ever ride at Deauville and there are not many out there who can boast a 100% record at that famous venue!
HARRIET BETHELL - GET WELL SOON
As if we needed more proof that this is a very dangerous game, at Lingfield on Tuesday it was revealed, by her father William, that Harriet Bethell, the young Yorkshire trainer, had been badly injured in a fall on the gallops last week.
William, a retired steward and the most likeable of men, has taken over the licence on a temporary basis and was clearly emotional and extremely brave to come on Sky Sports Racing and hold it all together to explain why it was him and not his daughter who was saddling Steel Helmet to land the opening race.
Harriet is in intensive care with bleeding on the brain and has been placed in an induced coma so things are not great and we can only hope that she pulls through.
The wider Bethell family have had more than their share of sadness in recent years. It was just seven years ago that Jessica Bethell, daughter of James (William’s cousin), passed away at the age of 24 after contracting meningitis.
Our thoughts and prayers are very much with Harriet.
BRING ON YORK – AND LAURENS TOO!
Not long now until the Ebor Festival - one of my favourite meetings. Tip-top racing spread over four days at a superbly-run track, with equine stars aplenty in front of a passionate and knowledgeable crowd, what is there not to like?
Enable will be there on Thursday of course in the Yorkshire Oaks and the four-day bonanza begins with Crystal Ocean heading for the Juddmonte International where it looks like Japan and King Of Comedy could be in opposition.
And can Battaash finally nail it at York on the Friday in the Nunthorpe?
Then there is the first £1m Sky Bet Ebor to round things off on the Saturday when, making a welcome cameo, will be Laurens who is a surprise runner at her local track in the Group Two Sky Bet City Of York Stakes over seven furlongs (under a 5lb penalty).
I don’t get why some are not into Laurens. She is a magnificent filly whose amazing never-say-die attitude has notched up six Group Ones on her CV – six!
No, she doesn’t have a sparkling turn of foot like a Goldikova, for example. She is a galloper, who has the ability to race flat out for around three, maybe four furlongs. Most horses can’t do that, only special ones can.
SAUDI CUP NOW THE RICHEST IN THE WORLD
How things change.
The Arlington Million (won by the brilliant Bricks And Mortar last week) was the world’s first million-dollar race and how we were all wowed and seduced by that when it was launched back in 1981.
Indeed, the Brits took it very seriously in those early days and Luca Cumani soon bagged the purse with Tolomeo (Pat Eddery) in 1983 before Bill Watts saddled the popular Teleprompter to take it again just two years later under Tony Ives.
It was a while before a British-trained horse won it again, though, when Sulamani (Saeed Bin Suroor) struck in 2003. The last to do it was the David O’Meara-trained Mondialiste in 2016.
You do wonder, however, whether many British horses will contest the $20m Saudi Cup, over nine furlongs on the dirt at King Abdulaziz racecourse in Riyadh next February, and which is the latest “world’s richest race”.
Some big names were drafted in at Saratoga last week to promote the new event, including Frankie Dettori who said all the right things about the track and suggested that the surface may even suit turf horses.
Who knows, with 10 million dollars to the winner and another 10 million shared all the way down to tenth place in a likely 14-runner field, the prize money might attract some decent turf horses to have a go.
The Saudi Cup has been placed strategically right in between the Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park in January and the Dubai World Cup in March.
It would be some treble if the same horse won all of them but, truth to tell, dirt racing has never floated my boat so forgive me if my enthusiasm is tempered.
JIM OLD GOLF DAY
Jim Old’s legendary golf day, to raise funds for the Injured Jockeys Fund, took place at Marlborough Golf Club on Monday and I was lucky enough to play there for the first time in many years as part of Josh Apiafi’s Rewards For Racing’s team.
Josh and I were alongside former BHA Chairman Steve Harman and Freddie Grive of Alizeti. I know, quite a high-powered team so God knows what I was doing there.
Anyway, we did ok, coming home in a respectable 11th place out of 47 teams with 81 points scored as the two best at each hole – on three quarters handicap.
The winners – by nine points – on a staggering 97 were Warren Greatrex, Charles Sutton, Phil Molony and Lee Bolingbroke.
That’s 25 under par! Can you sleep at night, lads?
Next year, I hope they are handicapped accordingly - or banned!