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Sussex Stakes: Time for big guns to take more selective approach to employing pacemakers.

Byline: James Willoughby

WHAT a Blatant waste of time. Why did Godolphin run a pacemaker in the Sussex Stakes yesterday? Their main hope Moon Ballad is a soft horse who needs to dominate, yet he was forced into a competitive situation by his own stablemate.

It won't take anyone to point out to Godolphin that they blew the

Sussex Stakes by overcomplication. They have some sharp minds, like racing manager Simon Crisford, while jockey Frankie Dettori will surely have been unhappy about the way the race developed.

This defeat notwithstanding, Moon Ballad will have an outstanding chance of winning the Juddmonte International at York next time - if allowed to stride on. After all, he was

world class when making all of the running in the Dubai World Cup.

And don't make the mistake of thinking that he is best on the dirt, because he set incredible fractions out in front when winning at Goodwood and York last season.

The example of Moon Ballad yesterday is part of a larger madness associated with pacemakers, which is costing both Godolphin and Aidan O'Brien big-race wins.

Remember the Irish Champion Stakes last year, when Hawk Wing was softened up for Grandera's late charge by his own pacemaker Sholokhov going off too fast?

Properly employed, a pacemaker can be a valuable tactical weapon - so long as he is good enough for the race. Godolphin got it so right in the Irish Champion Stakes two years ago, when the smart Give The Slip set the race up perfectly for his stablemate Fantastic

Light to beat Galileo.

Pacemakers are nothing more than a fashionable accessory for the top stables; perhaps even an attempt to give the impression that no stone has been left unturned, tactically speaking. When the right one manages to win, the individuals behind the decision are naturally made to look smart.

However, pacemakers should be used sparingly, and only when something can be clearly gained from their presence, such as to deny a rival an uncontested lead or to ensure a good pace. And they only work when the horse employed is good enough to be considered a genuine threat to make all.

Stables who use pacemakers should remember the golden rule: if in doubt, leave them out.


Here's looking at you: Pat Eddery and groom Francis Hatfield pay close attention to Sussex Stakes hero Reel Buddy after the feature race at Glorious Goodwood
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Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 31, 2003
Previous Article:Sussex Stakes: Fairytale for Eddery as Reel Buddy springs a 20-1 surprise.
Next Article:Sussex Stakes: Eddery plays his cards to perfection in Buddy game; Alastair Down on a surprise Group 1 victory for Pat Eddery that, in some ways, was...

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