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TEN OF JAMIE'S GEMS.

Sarangani York, May 15, 2002 If you wanted to show a man from Mars the Jamie Spencer way of riding horses in one easy lesson, the video of this staying handicap would suffice. Spencer buried Sarangani deep among 16 rivals, shuffled him through the pack on the rail at halfway, eased him through to challenge on the bridle and he was still hard held when hitting the front a furlong out.

Sarangani absolutely bolted in by two lengths without knowing he was in a race; a Spencer masterclass of unhurried expertise.

Moon Ballad York, May 15, 2002 Shurely shome mishtake. On the same day as Sarangani, Spencer would have confused that man from Mars with a peach of a front-running ride on Moon Ballad in the Dante Stakes. York tends to favour horses who sit on the front end and Spencer dictated matters impeccably, pushing his mount clear with a quarter of a mile to run to catch his pursuers flat-footed before husbanding Moon Ballad's dwindling reserves through the final furlong for a length-and-a-quarter success. A one-trick jockey? Not by a long chalk.

Sariska Curragh, July 12, 2009 At Epsom, Spencer had been required to drive Sariska right out for a narrow success. In the Irish Oaks, the situation was the reverse. With the filly manifestly superior to her rivals on the heavy ground she relished, Spencer had the luxury of riding his favourite race. A roar went up from the crowd - when would he let her go? - and it wasn't until inside the final furlong that he let out a half-inch of rein and allowed Sariska to stride on for a three-length win. The easiest Classic winner ever? Few would argue.

Inchnadamph Doncaster, November 10, 2007 This was a typical Spencer performance, but it merits inclusion owing to the highly unusual circumstances. On the final day of the turf season, Spencer and Seb Sanders were duelling for the jockeys' title. Sanders was one ahead with no rides remaining, Spencer had one last throw of the dice in the final race on the card with Inchnadamph. This was no time for frills or finesse; Spencer played it by the book, producing his mount to lead a furlong and a half out and driving him right away to win by eight lengths. Job done, and a shared title.

Tarascon Curragh, May 24, 1998 Even more fresh-faced than he is now - if that were possible - a 17-year-old Spencer announced his arrival in the big league with a nerveless display in the Irish 1,000 Guineas. He was still claiming 5lb - obviously not in this race - but his lack of experience was outweighed by his natural talent aboard a horse who had finished last at Newmarket on her previous start. Spencer wriggled Tarascon through the pack to challenge two furlongs out and brought her fast and late to score by a neck, setting the template for countless cool-hand coups in the years to come.

Mine Behind Newmarket, August 5, 2005 Allied to Spencer's tactical nous is an apparent inability to panic, showcased to great effect on the July course on this sweaty evening. Riding Mine Behind in a big field of sprint handicappers, at the threefurlong mark Spencer found himself behind a wall of horses spread halfway across the course. He had to wait until a gap flashed open and then, hurling Mine Behind through it, had to hold hard a second time behind the leading group until well inside the final furlong before seeing daylight once again. The winning margin was a head; a cool head.

Kyllachy York, August 22, 2002 Only two people knew how the Nunthorpe Stakes would play out - Spencer and his mother. Mrs S was the only one trusted with the information that - to defy his unfavourable central draw - Spencer would adopt an outrageous game plan. He missed the break on Kyllachy and turned left, losing ground but reaching the 'golden corridor' on the far rail after a furlong, albeit a long way adrift of the field. By halfway Kyllachy had begun to recover lost ground, a furlong out he was in front and unstoppable, his jockey reaping due reward for his tactical bravery.

Pizarro Cheltenham, March 13, 2002 His father George trained 1963 Champion Hurdle winner Winning Fair, and Spencer also wrote his name into the Cheltenham Festival record books when switching codes for a dramatic victory in the Champion Bumper. He gave Pizarro a patient ride, only committing for home with a furlong to run. That's where the problems started: Pizarro drifted badly right and veered that way again in the dying strides, compromising the chance of Rhinestone Cowboy - but the stewards took no action. Classic winner and Cheltenham winner - that has a nice ring to it.

Brian Boru Doncaster, September 13, 2003 It's all very well holding on to a horse, but what happens if there's nothing there when you let him go? The St Leger is a place where class is played off against stamina, and Spencer solved the equation with suitable panache on Brian Boru. He put him to sleep at the back of the field and set the alarm for the three-furlong pole, whereupon he coaxed the doubtful stayer into action. The final wake-up call came a furlong out, and Spencer nursed Brian Boru home without giving him the chance to drop off again. It was the horse's only win beyond 1m2f.

Zidane Newmarket, April 17, 2008 Lightning may not strike twice in the same place but a flash of brilliance can be repeated ad libitum. Zidane had won the Stewards' Cup the previous season under a never-too-late Spencer ride, and the pair pulled off the same smash and grab in the Abernant Stakes. Buried in the ruck, Zidane was only allowed to make forward progress with a furlong to run and it wasn't until the final strides that he poked his nose in front, Spencer waiting until all the chips were in the middle before playing his trump card. Centimetres covered the first four but Spencer measured it to perfection.

CAPTION(S):

Spencer wins the Irish 1,000 Guineas on Tarascon - his first Classic success at the age of 17 Celebrating Kyllachy's Nunthorpe Stakes victory in 2002 Zidane (left) wins a blanket finish to Newmarket's Abernant Stakes under Spencer in 2008 Inchnadamph wins at Doncaster to give Spencer a share of the 2007 jockeys' title
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 8, 2010
Words:1064
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