Racing: Moscow Flyer smarter, faster, better

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The Independent Online

Moscow Flyer, as we should know by now, is unbeatable over fences. The only horse that can beat him is himself. Jessica Harrington's equine machine made it 19 wins from 19 completed starts in the Melling Chase here yesterday. The only occasions he has not won over fences are the four times he has thrown himself to the floor.

Moscow Flyer, as we should know by now, is unbeatable over fences. The only horse that can beat him is himself. Jessica Harrington's equine machine made it 19 wins from 19 completed starts in the Melling Chase here yesterday. The only occasions he has not won over fences are the four times he has thrown himself to the floor.

The worrying message from yesterday for those who seek to get even close to his shirt-tails is there is no sign of decrepitude in the 11-year-old. On the contrary. The engine remains roaringly intact, while the on-board computer has been updated.

Moscow Flyer has become a cleverer athlete, one which can correct himself at his fences. He is smarter, faster and better. "That's probably the easiest ride I've ever got off him," Barry Geraghty, the jockey, reported. "It was like sitting in a Ferrari.

"That last circuit was the easiest ride you'd ever get in the world, popping away from fence to fence and having the pleasure of knowing there was nothing good enough to beat him. He was even better than Cheltenham [where he regained the Queen Mother Champion Chase] and he's still mad keen about the job. There's no reason that next year should be any different."

Moscow Flyer was flighty and keen early on yesterday. The 4-9 favourite breasted a few of the early obstacles, minor collisions which served to awake the competitive spirit within him. At the same time, a gentle surrender unfolded among the five others who deigned to take part.

Davoski was never at the races, while Mister McGoldrick fell at the third. Kadarann's white flag was hoisted when he whacked the sixth fence and, by the 12th, Moscow Flyer was out on his own at the head of what remained. A yawning vault at the cross-fence, four out, sealed it. A gap of 16 lengths was established to Le Roi Miguel and Therealbandit by the line.

"Barry says he's getting better," Harrington said. "Finally, at the age of 11, he's getting much easier to ride. I'll never get another one like him. He is one hundred times very, very special, but, one day, he is going to get beaten." But only when Moscow Flyer, as well as Geraghty, is carrying a stick. He runs next at Punchestown in two weeks' time. Book early to avoid disappointment.

It was a windy day on Merseyside and also a green one, with four winners coming from Ireland. Like-A-Butterfly, the mare who is more like a buffalo, began the sequence for Ireland in the Mildmay Novices' Chase and for the sport's premier owner, J P McManus.

Like-A-Butterfly was a failure in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase at the Festival when not at her best. "In hindsight it was the wrong thing to do, but Cheltenham is like a bug and everyone wants to get there," Christy Roche, the trainer, said. "She might not be the mare she used to be, but very few mares will have won a Grade One bumper, a Grade One hurdle and a Grade One chase."

The first of the home salvos was fired by Mighty Man, who retained his unbeaten record in the Top Novices' Hurdle. Henry Daly's gelding is gradually getting rid of the habit of running two races - one to get to the start and a second when the tapes go up - and even greater triumphs beckon. He even received one quote of 20-1 for the 2006 Champion Hurdle.

"He is going to be a lovely horse," Daly said. "He is a lovely horse now, but he will get better when he learns to settle and take less out of himself even in the paddock.

"There is no obvious race for him now unless he travels to Punchestown and he hasn't really got the mentality for that at the moment."

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