David is hoping for a bit of poetry at Dunstall Park
PICTURE: Getty Images
By David Ashforth 6:00PM 11 DEC 2016
THE most extraordinary meeting in modern times takes place at Wolverhampton on Monday, when Percy B Shelley and Kissinger take each other on over nine and a half furlongs (3.40). It’s a tricky one to call because Shelley’s dead while Kissinger’s still alive, aged 93, but very slow. Both have been resurrected as two-year-olds. Let’s hope it isn’t Stalin next.
Two more different people are hard to imagine. Percy Bysshe Shelley, the romantic poet who died aged 29, drowned off the coast of Italy, and Henry Kissinger, the unromantic US secretary of state under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, admired by some and loathed by others.
Which of them said the following? “The sunlight claps the earth and the moonbeams kiss the sea” – “The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer” – “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac” – “Joy, once lost, is pain.”
It would be nice to see Percy B Shelley win but even nicer if Munaawib won the amateur riders’ race (2.10) for Miss Sarah Peacock and trainer Ray Peacock. The omens, not to mention the form book, are not encouraging.
This will be Sarah’s first ride of the year. In 26 previous attempts, she has yet to finish in the first four while Ray, now 82, has not had a winner since 2014, when Interchoice Star won four times for him.
The family are patient. Carmen Peacock, Ray’s wife and former amateur jockey, went 20 years between winners before Dream Carrier won at Southwell in 1997.
It is Munaawib’s debut for the small Worcestershire stable but in the eight-year-old’s three previous runs this year he faced a total of 31 opponents and beat only one of them. Victory is unlikely but that isn’t the point.
The point is that, 17 years after breaking his back in a fall when riding work at the age of 65 and being in a wheelchair ever since, Ray, helped by his family, has kept going, kept training and kept the hope that a better horse will come along and there will be more winners.
There once were, above all Rushmoor, who memorably won the 1984 Scottish Champion Hurdle and 1986 Galway Hurdle.
Sarah is one of three riders in the race who have yet to ride a winner, the others being Charlotte Pownall and Miss E Bushe. Simon Walker’s mount, recent winner Polar Forest, will doubtless be favourite but New Agenda, ridden by Max Kendrick, should go close.
Of course, if it’s going close you want then it’s the maiden race for three-year-olds and upwards (4.40) for you. The newcomers look unappealing, as do most of the non-newcomers.
Tarseekh, likely to be odds-on, has already shown that paying 320,000 guineas for him was a mistake but he should beat Deeley’s Double (800 guineas) and Fire Empress (1,000 guineas). In fact, if he can’t beat this lot then what can he do? Even so, Amor Invicto might improve enough to disturb him and it will be interesting to see what his odds are.