Ashforth's Angles: This Lomu proving little easier to stop

Newcastle-1

We will see Lomu do his stuff under the floodlights at Newcastle

  PICTURE: RP GRAPHICS  

 By David Ashforth 4:50PM 24 OCT 2016 

YOU have to feel sorry for Prince Of Cool and White Royale, who are drawn next to Lomu in the nursery handicap at Newcastle (6.30). If Lomu is back to his destructive best, he will brush both of them aside and then, to quote the likely close-up, “barged through pack 2f out, ran over leader inside final furlong, broke winning post, easily.”

Perhaps the equine Lomu, two from two so far, is very big, very powerful and very fast because his namesake, Jonah Lomu, was all three and for a while 20 years ago an unstoppable force for the All Blacks. There had never been a player like him. The England hooker Brian Moore summed Lomu’s impact up nicely – “I suppose you might stop him with an elephant gun.”

Lomu was stopped, tragically, by kidney disease, dying almost a year ago, aged 40. Keith Dalgleish’s two-year-old has a long way to go to be a shadow of the great man and Colin Tizzard’s four-year-old gelding Elegant Escape has a long way to go to justify his €150,000 purchase price.

Not so profitable pointers

Elegant Escape, who makes his debut for Tizzard in a maiden hurdle at Chepstow (4.05), is one in a long line of costly recruits from Irish four-year-old maiden point-to-points. There’s a certain fascination about watching the progress of these expensive acquisitions, mainly geldings with no breeding potential. Some do very well and provide their owners with a lot of fun without recouping their purchase and training costs while more do less well.

Elegant Escape is not unusual. The Dubai Destination gelding was sold for €5,000 as a foal and for €32,000 as a three-year-old. In April this year he finished second of four finishers in a maiden point-to-point at Monksgrange and at the end of the month was bought by John Romans for €150,000.

It seems a lot but was a lot less than the odds-on winner, Samcro, had fetched five days after the race, when Gordon Elliott bought the four-year-old Germany gelding, which had fetched €95,000 as a three-year-old, for £335,000. In the strange world of bloodstock sales, there is a ban on the law of diminishing returns.

Samcro will need to be as special as connections presumably believe he will be and they will doubtless watch Elegant Escape’s performance at Chepstow with interest. It is early days for both of them. We can all wait and see what happens. They certainly have the benefit of accomplished trainers and if the ground is deemed suitable for Thistlecrack to make his chasing debut (Chepstow 3.35) it will be a particularly important day for the Tizzard stable.

The champion staying hurdler faces undemanding opposition but there is always a question mark about horses that make the transition to chasing at a relatively late age. Thistlecrack, vying for Gold Cup favouritism, is an eight-year-old. It is over 20 years, perhaps a lot longer, since a horse won the Cheltenham Gold Cup without having contested and won a chase at a younger age. Just saying.

 
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