Racing: Does Man stay or will he go?

COMMENTARY

There was a surreal moment at Cheltenham on Saturday when a horse won a race and then had his price lengthened for a future event. If One Man achieves nothing further in his career he can at least be remembered for this watershed reaction among bookmakers.

They may pretend otherwise - wittering on sagely about the performance and promise of horses - but our expert friends the layers are guided by just two criteria, weight of money and weight of words from connections. Thus the big three were steered by Gordon Richards's comments after One Man's victory in the Pillar Chase at Prestbury Park.

Some rather strange noises came out of Gordon's mouth on Saturday. Before racing he seemed to suggest only intergalactic conflict would stop his grey contesting, and winning, the Gold Cup. After picking up his bottle of champagne, the preferred option was then revised to the Queen Mother Champion Chase followed by the Martell Chase at Aintree. After a night's sleep the ball was still bouncing around the trainer's skull yesterday. "The Gold is really the one that I want," he said. "It's a very frustrating situation at the moment because I've won most of the others but I've never had that Cup. I've got others who will run in it but the grey is the class among them at home.''

You would have to feel sorry for anyone who went racing for the first time on Saturday, because it was an experience that would be hard to replicate. The sky was clear and blue, its edges lighter where it hit the land, the air invigorating, the competition compelling in the sport's most attractive amphitheatre. If you did not enjoy this then racing is probably not your game.

It may have been because Jimmy Harris, the trainer of multiple handicap winner Vindaloo, was present that Cheltenham's parade ring scoreboard chose to refer to the Pillar Chase favourite as One Nan. When our hero appeared he wore boots in front and a lively appearance, his red and yellow colours matched both by a rug bearing the teddy bear and rosette insignia of owner John Hales's toy firm, and the apparel of his stable lass.

This neatness was transferred to the battle scene, where One Man did not once miss a target area the size of a handkerchief on the landing side during his round. The plan was to keep One Man in check, to forfeit his ground-saving extravagance at fences in an effort to conserve energy.

There is a potentially destructive characteristic in One Man. At Greystoke, you could put a nursery class of babies in his box and go out for lunch untroubled, but once the horse is introduced to the gallops he becomes a monster. On the track, when asked to attack his fences, the blood begins to bubble and he tests the sockets of his rider with his enthusiasm. This eagerness militates against staying the Gold Cup distance.

If he is to win the blue riband - and One Man is now a top-priced 8-1 with Coral - he needs freakish circumstances in his favour. The ground must be on the firm side and the race will have to be run sluggishly to help him eke out his stamina. At no point on Saturday was he put under any pressure until the last few strides, and he was probably acting the goat then anyway. It was hard to accept his faltering as evidence of non- staying. His body was dry as parchment on return and he was silent among the other wheezing figures in the enclosure.

While his connections muse over Festival arrangements, One Man will be asked to contribute towards his keep. The Comet Chase at Ascot on 5 February or Wincanton's Jim Ford Chase 15 days later are the alternatives.

Before then, Richards will supervise another of his Gold Cup aspirants when The Grey Monk runs in the Irish equivalent, the Hennessy Gold Cup, at Leopardstown on Sunday. Rivals will include Danoli as well as Imperial Call, who won the contest 12 months ago. Imperial Call was reported in fine fettle by his trainer, Fergie Sutherland, yesterday. "I'm chuffed with him and he is pinging." Just like the thought processes in Gordon Richards's head.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution