Mick Channon saddles Lincoln at Pontefract on Thursday
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
By David Ashforth 5:50PM 21 SEP 2016
THERE is something appropriate about the runners in this year’s running of the historic Newmarket Challenge Whip (5.55), a race whose continuance was in doubt at the start of the century.
The race, first run in 1830, lacks most of the essential ingredients of a modern horse race – notably prize money and runners. There are three runners today, which is more than there have sometimes been, due largely to the absence of prize money and conditions that restrict admission to horses at least half-owned by members of the Jockey Club, Jockey Club Rooms or companies controlled by them.
For a long time the winning owner was presented with a whip containing hairs from the mighty Eclipse. Perhaps out of fear that Eclipse would run out of hairs, that tradition ended and the winner now receives a trophy.
The owners are generally not in dire need of prize money and although bookmakers are unlikely to fight hard for the race’s survival it is a nice curiosity to preserve. The race is placed eighth and last on the card so that disengaged racegoers and bookmakers can express their disapproval by leaving early while betting shop customers aren’t left with too much of a gap between the 5.45 at Chelmsford and 6.10 at Pontefract.
While waiting to see whether the fittingly named Primogeniture beats Nigel and Satish we can see whether or not Lincoln (Pontefract 3.30) confirms his conversion into a sprinter. When Mick Channon’s five-year-old appeared in a five furlong handicap at Ayr almost a week ago it seemed likely to prove too short a trip for him. Lincoln had not run over five furlongs since he was a two-year-old. He had since run 37 times, with each of his three wins being over seven furlongs.
Graham Lee, who has been underused this season, has established a fruitful partnership with Channon. Helped by a good pace and perhaps not wholly hindered by having to seek out a gap, Lincoln came with a strong run and won nicely. If he repeats the performance, which isn’t certain with Lincoln, the 6lb penalty probably won’t be enough to stop him over an extra furlong.
It’s all jolly interesting and there’s Perth as well. Nigel Twiston-Davies likes to go there and to prove it has a runner in every race on Thursday.
When I went, ten years ago, you could buy a bottle of Tullibardine 1965 vintage malt whisky at the course for £300. As far as I remember, it was quite a big bottle but I suppose it would cost more now. Does whisky keep on getting more expensive as the years go by or does it reach a peak and then decline, like bananas?
Twiston-Davies has got eight runners but Gordon Elliott has got ten. They love it there and if I knew what was going to win I’d adore it. As it is the big attraction will be watching champion bumper horse Ballyandy (3.20) make his debut over hurdles. I wonder if he can jump? Twiston-Davies will be hoping he does.