Horse Racing: THE PERFECT TONIC; 'This was one of those big Flat wins that genuinely connected with the public - the warmth of the reception told you that'.
AUTHORIZED ended an inexplicably long drought for Derby winners when injecting a shot of passion into proceedings on the Knavesmire yesterday with a conclusive victory in the Juddmonte International.
Most racing folk would be surprised that you have to go back to the 2002 Derby winner High Chaparral to find a horse who ever won another race. But just think how hard it would be to explain to a layman that the Derby is our most prestigious race if they could bounce back with the rejoinder "then why have the last four winners been unable to muster a single subsequent success between them?".
So Authorized's correction of the Epsom anomaly was good news for the reputation of the Derby and this likeable colt could hardly come with a better brace of ambassadors than Messrs Chapple-Hyam and Dettori.
This was one of those big Flat wins that genuinely connected with the public - the warmth of the reception told you that. Frankie has long been our fastest conduit to injecting real enthusiasm into a racecourse and nobody has played a crowd better since the days of music hall.
Frankie was in fine form considering he had been suffering with flu for a fortnight. The more ill-informed members of the female sex utterly fail to appreciate the seriousness of 'man flu', an horrific affliction right up there with bilharzia, and green monkey disease. Strong men weep when struck down and it was little less than heroic of Frankie, faced with the choice of an afternoon at home with five screaming kids and six paracetemol or riding the Derby winner for a chunky percentage of pounds 300,000, that he rose from his bed of pain and made it to York.
But don't underestimate the part played by Chapple-Hyam. Most top trainers are held in esteem by the racing public but Chapple-Hyam, with his tubby geniality and blokeish, heart-on-sleeve approachability, is one of the few who bridges the gap between public respect and public affection. There is a difference between the two and commanding both is usually a matter of the passage of the years as, in Britain, even the most ghastly villain can become a popular favourite if they hang around long enough. But Chapple-Hyam is the sort of guest most people would welcome round for a bite of supper, particularly if they could find a well-heeled sponsor for the wine. People are pleased for him on an occasion like this and glad he is back firing at the highest level.
In a true-run Group 1 such as this there is one quality that sets the class act apart - the ability to travel. Authorized, kept much closer to the pace than in his abortive Eclipse run, looked thoroughly at ease throughout, but it must be said that the race fell beautifully into his lap.
From three furlongs out Johnny Murtagh, on Dylan Thomas, found himself just where he didn't need to be, tracking Notnowcato up the rail with Authorized one horse wider and half a length off the Stoute colt. With over a furlong to go Frankie sent Authorized the message and they took it up, nicking a stride before Murtagh could react. Dylan Thomas has many qualities, but instant acceleration is not one of them. He is a remorseless lengthener who has to build momentum, and by the time he had switched a second horse's width to the outer to challenge on Authorized's far side, the winning bird had flown.
Dylan Thomas got to within a length but wasn't closing any further at the death and the race had been won when Frankie had seized the issue 300 yards from home.
This was the first meeting on British soil of the three individual, reigning Derby, King George and Eclipse winners. They duly came home one, two, three to reinforce the status of a race that is a relative baby compared to some of our ancient Group 1s, but has earned its place from that very first afternoon when the peerless Brigadier Gerard was humbled by the combination of a demented, pace-setting Panamanian and Derby winner Roberto, who was stung on the arse by three hornets and a queen wasp.
Now Authorized heads for the Arc, his presence guaranteeing an even greater influx of les rosbifs to Longchamp on the first Sunday in October when the Parisians make their annual discovery that there is a racecourse in the Bois de Boulogne. The rematch between Authorized and Dylan Thomas is reason enough for a Eurostar ticket, but throw in Manduro as well and you have a proper horserace.
And if Authorized wins an Arc, then the Epsom PR machine can trumpet from the rooftops that the old tart of a race who lets her hair down on the first Saturday in June is back at the top of her game.
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|Publication:||The Racing Post (London, England)|
|Date:||Aug 22, 2007|
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