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Something to lighten the mood….

Home Forums Horse Racing Something to lighten the mood….

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    I’ve noticed that it’s been all doom and gloom in here over the last few days, what with dodgy jockeys, horse fatalities, poor racing and tortuous arguments on ratings.

    It appears that too many people seem to have forgotten that racing is a sport which should bring people joy and happiness: the challenge of picking out the winner; the thrill of the race; the heady celebration in the immediate aftermath; the more cerebral analysis later on.

    What makes racing special? All of the above, of course, but there is one thing which, in my mind at least, defines the sport: the sheer draw-jopping awe when a champion thrashes the opposition. Such equine performances don’t come along very often, of course, but we can all remember certain races where we’ve just stood there and been rendered speechless by the sheer majesty of what had just transpired before us.

    What I would like to know, then, is which single performances most stand out in users’ minds. Is there any one performance which stands out from the others, one of those moments where racing isn’t just a means of making money or a question of crunching statistics but something which transcends mere "sport" and becomes a thing of rare, dazzling, beauty?

    I’ve been following racing since I was eight, in 1980, and there is one performance which stands out from all the rest for me. The date was 21st December 1991, the place Chepstow. The race was the Welsh National and the horse, of course, was the mighty Carvill’s Hill. Here was a true giant of a horse, a sheer monster of a staying chaser with the enormous strength necessary to carry heavy weights through the most stamina-sapping of mires.

    His performance epitomised horse racing in its simplest form: the formbook reads "made all, soon clear, unchallenged." What really elevates the performance of Carvill’s Hill that day from "great" to "unbelievable" was not just that he left the field trailing in his wake and won on the bridle but the quality of that field. Those bludgeoned into submission in the Chepstow mud were Party Politics (receiving 19 lbs and beaten a long-looking twenty lengths), who had finished runner-up in the Hennessy on his previous start and went on, famously, to win the Grand National; Aquilifer, a real slugger who would have been ideally suited by the conditions; Bonanza Boy, twice a winner of the race but beaten forty lengths (in receipt of seven pounds from the winner) this time; Zeta’s Lad and Boraceva; those run so ragged that they were unable to even complete the course included such established high-class staying chasers as Cool Ground (the subsequent Gold Cup winner), Kildimo, The West Awake and Twin Oaks.

    The last-named was making his seasonal reappearance but surely not all of the others could have run so far below form? The simple fact is that they could not match, let alone maintain, the gruelling pace set by Peter Scudamore on the winner, who was never in any danger whatsoever. Watch the video again and you will see that you actually have the time to count the sheep grazing in the background while waiting for his rivals to appear, such is Carvill’s Hill’s lead as he turns for home.

    Nearly everyone replies "Desert Orchid" when asked about the best ‘chaser since Arkle. I don’t. Dessie was a true great, a flamboyant jumper and a courageous battler, seemingly impervious to changes in trip and going, blessed with a solid constitution and tremendous longevity. Although his wins in some of the top handicaps were extraordinary, notably in the 1988 Whitbread and the Racing Post Chase and Irish National two years later, he didn’t put up a single performance which compares with that of Carvill’s Hill at Chepstow. The ratings boys all have Desert Orchid’s Racing Post win as the highest rated performance of the post-Arkle era but he simply didn’t beat as strong a field as that which faced Carvill’s Hill; nor did he do it in such utterly uncompromising, brutal, style. It really was a massacre. I’ll be the first to admit that Desert Orchid was a more versatile and consistent racehorse than Carvill’s Hill. However, judged on their best individual performances, he was not better.

    That was the single most impressive performance I have ever seen (although Sea-Bird’s stroll in the Arc, which I have only watched on video, comes a close second) and I don’t think that I’ll ever witness anything quite like it ever again. Carvill’s Hill is gone now, having passed away a couple of years ago, but the memory of that performance at Chepstow will stay with me for a long time yet.

    (Edited by yquem21 at 12:08 pm on Aug. 11, 2006)

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    One that really sticks in my mind is seeing Montjeu win the King George. That year really was an absolutely fabulous summer of racing. Giant’s Causeway’s epic duels with Kalanisi. Sinndar winning a very good Derby.

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    Great post. I was at Goodwood last Saturday and found t strange to say the least that all people spoke of here was value, etc. Surely everyone would want to talk of the best flat race I have seen in a long, long time?? Seems not to be the case.

    Favourite races I can remember right now:<br>Desert Orchid winning the Gold Cup, just amazing how many times he looked beaten and with everything against him. The post races scenes were just incredible.

    Dubai Millennium’s Dubai World Cup. Just amazing.

    I loved Alamshar’s King George victory, fantastic field trounced.

    Moscow Flyer, Azertyuiop and Well Chief in the Tingle Creek. Unforgettable.

    • Total Posts 303

    <br>Milan winning the leger<br>Dubai Millennium winning the Prince of Wales<br>Montjeu winning the King George<br>Sakhee winning the International

    Many good memories of top quality horses beating others by lengths, but also I’ll not forget my first win when Primo Valentino won the Middle Park in 1999 or Blue Velvet winning the handicap that day which was the first time I ever went racing. Nor will I forget the one that started my obsession with racing when asking myself the question "why did Beat Hollow win" at Newmarket, before he came 3rd in Sinndar’s Derby. Its been a fascinating highly enjoyable, (quite expensive at times) learning curve.


    • Total Posts 2208

    Black Jack Ketchum, truly an awesome racehorse, particularly its run at the Aintree festival…

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    I haven’t seen much racing but Shamardal in the St James Palace Stakes made me go wow.

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    Desert Orchid’s gold cup was actually a moving experience

    Indian Skimmer in the french oaks. Perfect Cecil/cauthern

    Dayjur destroying any sprint field. (think there was one at sandown where he was incredible)

    The great Cigar. An awesome almost frightening animal

    theres so many….

    Maxilon 5
    • Total Posts 2432

    Superb post Y 21. I don’t particularly remember Carvills Hill and I’m sure I would disagree with you about his merit compared to Dessie, but you certainly made me want to watch the race to see just how good a performance it was. Cheers.

    And good point about focus too. I reckon it’s been the most memorable (and by extension, easy to discuss)  flat season for years.

    The improbable rise of Les Arcs to champion sprinter, (and Young Mick’s even more unlikely development from polytrack claimer to Melbourne Cup).

    Sir Percy’s last gasp Derby win. George Washington’s blistering turn of foot to win the Guineas. Speciosa. Sir Gerard’s nationwide gamble in the Britannia.

    The magnificent Ouija Board at Ascot and Goodwood, (I’ll be gutted when she retires). And the majesterial Hurricane Run displaying an iron will to win in the King George when all was lost.  

    And we’ve still got Autumn to come. :biggrin:

    Historically? Dancing Brave’s career, (all of it bar Santa Anita); Grundy vs Bustino, (difficult to speak before, during, and after that race) and the battles between Giants Causeway and Kalanisi. Epic.

    (Edited by Maxilon 5 at 2:45 pm on Aug. 11, 2006)

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    Quote: from clivex on 2:31 pm on Aug. 11, 2006[br]Indian Skimmer in the french oaks. Perfect Cecil/cauthern

    <br>Mustn’t underestimate the part played by Willie Ryan and the pacemaker Laluche in that race; the Cecil team got it right perfectly in draining Miesque’s stamina that day.

    Plenty of good recollections here; hope that there are many more to come.

    • Total Posts 3420

    Blimey Y. Your memory is good!

    Nice thread mate

    but remeber Reference point (most underrated horse of that era?) taking on the pacemaker in the Diamond stakes?

    • Total Posts 438

    Quote: from clivex on 3:00 pm on Aug. 11, 2006[br]but remeber Reference point (most underrated horse of that era?) taking on the pacemaker in the Diamond stakes?

    <br>Reference Point’s display at Ascot was quite reminiscent of that of Carvill’s Hill in that he ground the opposition into the mud with a top-class exhibition of front-running. Celestial Storm, Triptych, Moon Madness, Tony Bin, Acatenango, Sir Harry Lewis, Unite and Bourbon Girl were the vanquished that day: a truly representative and high-class field all hammered.

    You’re right in saying that Reference Point was underappreciated (although Timeform rated him 139) but there was no pacemaker in his way in the King George.

    By the way, I knew Laluche but had to look up the King George field.


    (Edited by yquem21 at 3:10 pm on Aug. 11, 2006)

    • Total Posts 1801

    yquem is right and this is what makes racing special and while everybody else is rightly recalling great horses of the past, 2 performances that i particularly enjoyed and which sent me home with a smile that lasted were Palawan winning a sprint handicap at lingfield over 5 years ago and Nayyir winning his first ever race, also on the polytrack at lingfield.  though they went different ways they were special days for me and far surpassed some of the top drawer racing i have been too as well.  great days they were and one of my many email accounts is palawan – my favourite racehorse (rip)

    • Total Posts 5123

    The Klairon Davis/Viking Flagship/Sound Man battle in the ’96 Champion Chase – the sight of them over the last two fences remains fresh in the memory

    Burrough Hill Lad’s Hennessy win off topweight

    Desert Orchid at Kempton – take your pick

    Suny Bay’s second in the ’97 National – such a tough and resolute performance

    Dayjur’s win in the Nunthorpe, then him jumping the shadow in the Breeders’ Cup

    Lester’s Derby rides on Roberto and The Minstrel – brutally beautiful

    Steve Cauthen’s ride from the front on Slip Anchor in the Derby – finest piece of pace judgement I’ve seen

    Not only but also…many more.

    Love of punting evolved long after love of the spectacle.

    • Total Posts 8798

    Anyone who watched Dawn Run overcome Wayward Lad in the Gold Cup and failed to be moved by the experience is emotionally bereft!

    • Total Posts 3901

    Moscow Flyer, Azertyuiop, & Well Chief in the Tingle Creek for me.

    Another is Limestone Lad vs Like-A-Butterfly in the AIG Champion Hurdle. Neck and neck from about the 2nd last to the line with LAB winning by a head. Fabulous race and finish.

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