Racing: Luck of the draw ruined by rain
Friday 26 March 1999
Yet in one, very small way, a little bit of Kentucky came to Yorkshire yesterday lunchtime, as the trainers and owners of tomorrow's field for the Lincoln Handicap assembled to choose their stalls. The Derby at Churchill Downs was the first race to introduce an element of thought into the process of deciding the draw, and the Lincoln followed its lead 12 months ago. Racecard numbers were picked from a hat by David O'Leary, the Leeds manager, who was described beforehand by John Sanderson, the clerk of the course, as "the thinking man's Irishman" - as if there is any other sort. The connections of the horse concerned then had 60 seconds to choose its draw from the boxes which were still available.
Not everyone is delighted by Doncaster's innovation. David Nicholls, who will saddle Further Outlook, one of the favourites tomorrow, recently described it as a "publicity gimmick", and claimed there were "a lot more important things in racing they should be spending money on," with "the hovel they call an owners' and trainers' bar" prominent among them. But it was at least a distraction from close study of the Spring Apprentice Handicap Stakes, the first race of the turf season (and a valuable one, since the winner was Prince Nicholas, the outsider of the entire field at 40-1).
You could hear the cogs grinding in 24 heads as the process began, and Therhea became the first horse out of the bag. Rod Millman, his trainer, thought for a few seconds and chose stall six. Next up was China Red, whose owner chose 24, the stands' rail box, from which Hunters Of Brora was successful 12 months ago. Interestingly, though, the next six picks were all towards the opposite side of the course. As soon as Nigrasine, the top weight and eighth horse drawn, was placed in number four, Coral took enough money to cut him from 25-1 to 16-1, although what "enough" means is anyone's guess.
Punters with an appreciation of Sod's Law, which is most of us, will probably end up backing Dushanbe, who was the last horse out and thus the only one whose connections had no choice in the matter (he ended up in 16). A greater irony, though, was that within a few minutes of the draw being completed, the Yorkshire sky started to deposit steady rain onto Town Moor's straight mile. All the trainers diligent enough to walk the course before choosing their stall may therefore have been wasting their time.
By the time of the Doncaster Mile, yesterday's feature race, there were good-to-soft patches in the previously good going. It was soft after the fifth, and it could easily be heavy by the time of the Lincoln, at which point backers would probably be better off playing roulette. The Spring Mile, over the same course and distance this afternoon, may be a much better guide to the draw than plans which were laid before the rain arrived.
The runners in the Mile were kicking up heavy clods of turf, and the winner was White Heart, who has a preference for cut in the ground. Darryll Holland slipped his field at the two-furlong pole, and while Kieren Fallon did his best to chase him on Generous Libra, he could not find a finishing kick on the rain-softened going.
The Brocklesby Stakes, the first two-year-old contest of the season, fell to the filly Seraphina. It took her 62 seconds to run down the straight five furlongs, and like most winners of the race, she will probably retreat into obscurity just as quickly. The Flat season has to start somewhere, but like the weather, things can only get better.
Latest in Sport
Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger says he will be 'actively involved' on deadline day... but may not buy a striker despite Giroud injury
Fernando Torres to AC Milan: Jose Mourinho talks up Mattia Destro with Torres on verge of Chelsea exit
Mario Balotelli has been 'spoken to at length' and Liverpool have ensured he lives on Merseyside rather than Manchester
Burnley vs Manchester United: Why Louis van Gaal has been unflustered by United's terrible start to the season
Tottenham vs Liverpool: Hugo Lloris expects Spurs to wipe away shame of 4-0 and 5-0 defeats last season
- 3 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 4 George Galloway attacked on Notting Hill street by man 'shouting about the holocaust'
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...
£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...
£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...