Mike Cattermole gives his views on the current racing news including the difficult situation at Santa Anita and Jeremy Noseda handing in his licence.
NOSEDA HAS TIME TO RETURN
Jeremy Noseda will saddle his last two runners at Royal Ascot next week.
Don’t be surprised if at least one of those – Bomb Proof, in either the Windsor Castle or Norfolk Stakes, or Cenotaph in the Wokingham – is able to add to his fine record at the meeting.
Having played a pivotal role in the early days of Godolphin – during the heady days of Balanchine and Lammtarra - Noseda was surely destined for the top.
Indeed, that was where he was heading in the middle of the 2000s when he sent out his first Breeders Cup winner in 2004 (Wilko, Juvenile) and British Classic winner in 2006 (Sixties Icon, St Leger). Two big winners on two very different stages.
There have been many other examples of his training talents, topped off perhaps by the way he brought back the fragile mare, Laddies Poker Two, from over 600 days off, to land a spectacular gamble in the 2010 Wokingham. She hacked up but didn’t race again.
Mind you, Forgotten Voice’s win in the Royal Hunt Cup the previous year, as 4/1 favourite, runs that pretty close.
To a certain extent, it can be seen as puzzling as to why he has not been up there challenging the likes of John Gosden (his former mentor), Aidan O’Brien and others over the last few years. It certainly isn’t for the lack of desire and hard work. Jeremy’s loyal workforce at Shalfleet Stables will tell you that.
Yet it has been a rocky rather than even road for him, during which the backing of some of the big guns, Sheikh Mohammed being the obvious one, has been taken away.
There was also a time when he trained more than just the odd horse for Michael Tabor. Yvonne Jacques is another prominent owner who has come and gone elsewhere.
More recently, Phoenix Thoroughbreds withdrew all of their horses from Shalfleet Stables after what had been a highly promising start to their partnership. This was a genuine shock to the trainer.
Noseda had made no secret of the hopes he held for Phoenix’s Gronkowski and it must have been painful to see the colt go on and run second in last year's Belmont Stakes and this year's Dubai World Cup for his new trainer, Chad Brown.
There will be questions about the turnover of owners and he has either been unlucky or made to pay for some poor decisions, including some involving his personal life. Probably it is a combination of both.
In the Phoenix instance, for example, he found himself crushed in the middle of a dispute between the bloodstock investors and the agent who was buying on their behalf.
Now, he has come to the point where he has realised that he needs a break. He craves time with his 10-year-old twin boys, Richard and James, the sons of his ex-wife Sally. Once the summer is over, there will also be more time with them to watch Tottenham Hotspur who Noseda, a north Londoner, has supported passionately since he was six.
But I suspect that Noseda, who has been in racing since his teens, will start to miss the buzz he gets from training. He admits he is lucky in that he doesn’t need to worry about money and as the owner of Shalfleet, based on the desired Bury Road in Newmarket, he might be tempted to rent the stables out or just mothball them until the mood takes him again.
It would come as a huge surprise were he to walk away completely. I think he will be back, perhaps on a smaller scale to begin with. If afforded the luxury of hand picking his owners, no doubt he will, with the benefit of experience, do so with more vigilance. I hope so.
GOOD LUCK TO MARK BRISBOURNE
Unlike Jeremy Noseda, Mark Brisbourne didn’t own his own stables and is not from a wealthy background (as far as I am aware) but he too is handing in his licence after a successful training career, albeit at a lower and less heralded level.
Brisbourne is an admirable character, a proper grafter who just gets on with the job the best he can. He did everything, from riding out a few lots to driving the horsebox. He produced results with horses that have not cost the earth or have failed to fulfil their potential with others.
One particular favourite was Hannibal Lad, a horse he did exceptionally well with at the turn of the century. Hannibal’s trademark was coming from off the pace with a steady, late run and he improved into a smart handicapper who landed Haydock's Old Newton Cup back in 2001. Whether heavy or firm ground, it didn’t matter one bit to him.
Another notable win, and probably Brisbourne’s most valuable, was landing the £100,000 Tattersalls Autumn Auction Stakes at Newmarket in 2003 with Milly Waters who cost a mere 800 guineas.
Mark is the sort of guy you want to do well. Honest and straightforward, it is not his fault that his landlord is selling on his stable for development. It is good to hear that his daughter Becky has been taken on, along with the horses, by Kevin Frost.
I just hope that there is another opportunity out there too for Brisbourne who is clearly too young and has got too much to offer to be forced into retirement at 62.
Who wasn’t stunned and saddened to hear dreadful the news about Lady Kaya on Tuesday morning? Sheila Lavery and her team must be totally devastated. One minute incredibly excited about Royal Ascot, the next…nothing but deep sadness.
Lady Kaya was a pretty smart two-year-old (who had thrashed Pink Dogwood by ten lengths on one occasion) but she seemed to have improved over the winter and was truly impressive when winning at Leopardstown before her excellent second to Hermosa in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Her high cruising speed was her greatest asset and the prospect of seeing her drop back in trip for the Commonwealth Cup next week was going to be intriguing.
It is always sad when an injury ends a horse’s career but in some cases there is the prospect of life in the paddocks.
When something like this happens, it is impossible to see an upside.
PROBLEMS AT SANTA ANITA
With Royal Ascot upon us, it seems a strange time to be talking Breeders' Cup but one of the most disturbing stories around this week was reported by the New York Times concerning Santa Anita which is due to host the event in around six months' time.
Following the deaths of two more horses there last weekend, the death toll since the meeting started on December 26 now stands at 29, both while exercising or racing.
I don't know how those figures stand up compared to elsewhere but they don't sound great at all, indeed enough for the California Horse Racing Board to ask for the course to close and give up its remaining fixtures until the end of the season on June 23.
This request, however, has been turned down by both the California horsemen and the Stronach Group, which owns the course. They claim that certain reforms have been carried out which have led to a drop in catastrophic injuries.
The Stronach Group statement said: "To be clear, there are no acceptable losses and every day we work toward ending all serious injuries. But the reality is that our improvements and changes have been effective."
All the same, would the Breeders' Cup committee be wise to start thinking of some sort of back-up plan at this stage?