George Duffield: rides Red Charmer at Doncaster for his wife Ann
PICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)
By David Ashforth 5:30PM 6 SEP 2016
Oh, good, it’s the Leger Legends race at Doncaster (3.35). It’s fun looking down the list of riders and remembering the times they ruined a win double. He’s too old, he’s too fat, is he still alive?, oh, him – I suppose he’ll be trying today.
I’d like George Duffield to win on Red Charmer. Duffield is 69 so it would be a welcome blow for the elderly. Also, if he doesn’t win, he’s bound to get a rollicking from the splendid Ann Duffield and be relegated to the spare bedroom.
George will explain that the ground was too soft for Red Charmer, a top of the ground horse, and Ann will tell him that it wasn’t the ground, nor the horse’s fault, it was the jockey. There’s another reason for wanting George to win.
Over 20 years ago I was part-owner of Quinsigimond, well placed by Sir Mark Prescott to win four times in 1993, and then part-owner of Petomi, ditto to also win four times in 1994/1995. Duffield was on board for seven of the eight wins and if spread betting hadn’t arrived there would have been more horses and doubtless more successes.
It was great fun and Duffield was the sort of jockey you wanted – brave, honest, no nonsense and made few mistakes. Injury intervened when he was 57 or he might have carried on race-riding. It’s a tribute to him that he’s still riding work and keeping fit, although his wife is probably about to tell him that he isn’t fit enough for her requirements.
Having said all that, sadly the winner probably lies elsewhere. Luke Harvey, naaah. Joseph O’Brien, wrong horse. Peter Buchanan, needs three miles and fences. Richard Hughes, I expect he’s put on height since he became a trainer – too tall.
What we need is a blend of determined middle age and professionalism combined with a horse that won’t exhaust its rider before they reach the start. That brings us to Chiswick Bey.
Richard Fahey’s eight-year-old is a bit frustrating nowadays but he’s consistent and usually thereabouts and ideal for a 48-year-old. So it’s up to Dale Gibson not to make a complete mess of it.
Rovers or the races?
It would be nice to see Seamster (Doncaster 5.15) win again although, to be honest (a silly expression and I apologise for using it), it would be quite nice to see him given a holiday.
Sprinters don’t usually improve a lot as nine-year-olds but since Seamster joined David Loughnane in June he has won five times, all for apprentice Cameron Noble, and his handicap mark has risen from 56 to 85. That’s pretty amazing.
Seamster must be tough, too, because he’s run 14 times in the last 12 weeks and his busy schedule and the handicapper’s attention may finally have caught up with him.
Soon, it will be the St Leger and time for people to decide whether to go to the racecourse or get a coach to Morecambe to watch Doncaster Rovers.