Racing: Top Irish hurdler Solerina retired to paddocks
Friday 03 March 2006
There were momentous tidings here yesterday about two of the three outstanding racemares in Ireland.
Solerina, the indomitable little scrapper who has won 19 races over hurdles, will never run again while Asian Maze, currently one of the favourites for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, may make an audacious switch to the Smurfit Champion Hurdle. Mind you, if she were Solerina, she would probably run in both.
Solerina was hewn from the same flint as Limestone Lad, who had seemed a horse in a lifetime in winning 35 races for Michael Bowe and his father, James. She too operated with ruthless simplicity, jumping her rivals into submission from the front, and their humble origins nourished one of the great romances of recent winters. "It was just a freak, the way they came one after the other," Bowe Jr said. "It won't happen again. I'll be lucky to get another half as good as either of them."
Her retirement will leave the Co Tipperary family with just "three and a half" horses in training, and though Bowe is busy breaking in her half-sister, he knows that things will feel hollow without Solerina. Equally he is aware that she did not display her customary gusto when winning at Naas in January.
"The fact is that we were no longer enjoying watching her over hurdles, waiting for her to go and hurt herself," he said. "As a mare, the great thing is that there is a future for her in the paddocks, and she deserves her chance there now." Bowe is fully conscious of the miraculous odds against this tiny stable successively housing two such ferocious competitors. "People are always asking me the secret," he said. "They did have the same toughness. I must be doing something I don't realise I'm doing, to transform them both into that mould. I'm going to miss her, but it's time to lead her up the aisle." In contrast, Asian Maze represents a member of the most eminent training dynasty in Irish jump racing. Convention prescribes that she should run over three miles at Cheltenham - she is as short as 5-1 for the World Hurdle and is 66-1 for the Champion - but the instinct and upbringing of Tom Mullins demand respect when he confesses himself tempted to run her over just two. He will decide after working the mare after racing at Leopardstown on Sunday.
"I've certainly got an open mind," he said. "The ground will be the major factor. The quicker it is, the more likely she is to run in the World Hurdle. But if it were to get softish, then it shouldn't be a major shock if she ends up in the Champion. It's just she ran so well over two miles on her comeback run at Gowran Park. Soft ground would open it right up, because Colm Murphy thinks Brave Inca doesn't jump out of it. And Macs Joy is second favourite - well, I wouldn't mind another run against him after Gowran, which was her first race in a long time."
Murphy will also take Brave Inca to Leopardstown on Sunday and reports that Feathard Lady is back in light training and may yet make Punchestown in April.
* Police yesterday arrested another jockey as part of their investigations into allegations of race-fixing. The City of London Police said the jockey was arrested in Cumbria on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud.
NB: New Entic
Latest in Sport
Kevin Garside: Manchester United may have history and tradition but, as David Moyes never realised, a big-time manager always bends such things to his will
F1 Hungarian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton disobeys orders and closes gap to Nico Rosberg in title race
Manchester United latest: Juan Mata emerges as Louis van Gaal's favoured No 10 as prospect of signing Angel Di Maria fails to improve
Arsenal: Arrival of Calum Chambers and David Ospina puts Arsène Wenger's spending past £50m
Tour de France 2014: Vincenzo Nibali confirmed as champion as he puts Italy back on the map with triumph
- 1 Secret Cinema interview: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 Iraq crisis: End 'very near' for Christianity after Isis takeover, says Bishop
Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
£21000 - £32000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wo...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We urgently require Primar...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wo...