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Lammtarra win meant so much for so many reasons; My best ever bet Racing figures talk about their most memorable punts.

Byline: Rishi Persad

THE journey behind my best bet started in 1994 and ended in the summer of the following year with one of the most spectacular performances ever seen.

It began when I read an article in The Sporting Life about how three trainers had gone to Sheikh Maktoum Al Maktoum at Gainsborough Farm, Kentucky, where they were to choose from a selection of yearlings.

The trainers were Sir Michael Stoute, who usually had first choice, Criquette Head and Alex Scott. However, for some reason it was Scott who got first choice and took the yearling the other two later admitted they would have chosen.

That yearling was Lammtarra, a son of Nijinsky out of Oaks winner Snow Bride.

I eagerly awaited his debut in the Washington Singer Stakes over 7f at Newbury on August 12, 1994.

However, at halfway Lammtarra looked nothing like the Derby winner Scott hoped he would become. Off the bridle and being pushed along, it wasn't looking good until Walter Swinburn switched him to the outside. Then the youngster found top gear and ended up winning in impressive style.

That was it. I knew I would back Lammtarra for the Derby, as his top-class pedigree showed he would stay the 1m4f.

However, then came the tragic news in September of that year of the death of Scott, shot by a disgruntled employee at the age of 34. His death was a huge loss to the sport. Obviously, Lammtarra wouldn't run again as a two-year-old. Several months went past and I heard nothing of Lammtarra.

I was working at Harrods at the time while still studying and I remember reading a story by Claude Duval about a horse tearing up the gallops at Newmarket a few months before the Derby.

The horse was Lammtarra. He was now with Godolphin's trainer Saeed Bin Suroor, who had got him ready after a major sickness scare over the winter.

I thought this had to be fate. I backed him at every price from 33-1 to 14-1. I told everyone at work to back him, whether they were interested in racing or not.

Derby day soon came around and I remember watching the race at home with my brother and my mum. Mum was prostrate on the sofa, as she had only come out of hospital the previous day after some serious health problems.

I was extremely nervous but confident before the race, having tracked Lammtarra for more than a year.

"It's got absolutely no chance," shouted my brother as they rounded Tattenham Corner. I was silent.

Swinburn had Lammtarra held up a long way behind the leaders, but then he took him to the centre of the track and the colt started to pick up under strong driving.

My brother was still shouting that Lammtarra had no chance, but the horse had hit top gear and was making giant strides down the middle of the track. I remember looking behind me and, to my astonishment, seeing Mum jumping and screaming as she cheered Lammtarra to victory.

Lammtarra became the first horse in almost 80 years to win the Derby on its seasonal reappearance, and he set the quickest time in the history of the race as he emulated the success of his sire 25 years earlier.

But that Derby was memorable for a lot more than just the records. It was particularly poignant to see the horse win after what had happened to Scott.

I've had plenty of bigger bets since, some winners but mostly losers, but Lammtarra winning the 1995 Derby was the most memorable for the right reasons.

Rishi Persad was talking to Mark Ingram

CAPTION(S):

Lammtarra and Walter Swinburn swoop late to win the 1995 Derby
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 2, 2008
Words:622
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