Racing: Two tests of Smith's humility

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THE CHALLENGE of achieving success as a racehorse owner without allowing it to intrude too much on a healthy personal privacy has proved something of a triumph for Jeff Smith.

His name usually protects him from the incessant ring of the telephone that comes with the spoils of the turf. His initials only partially simplify the search for his number in the book. A preference for reticence on the racecourse, founded in a belief that the professionals deserve the credit, has enabled him to keep an anonymity that might make a Sangster shudder.

But the last few weeks have thoroughly tested Smith's resolve to protect his quiet life. First Lochsong and Philidor sent the historians scurrying to the archives by registering a Thursday double at Glorious Goodwood, matching the first- day brace the pair achieved at the same meeting the previous year. Meanwhile, the rest of his 20-horse string chipped in to complete a five-in-a-row winning sequence straddling Goodwood that is the owner's best-ever run.

The double act reappears on Thursday at York, Lochsong in the Nunthorpe Stakes and Philidor in the day's big handicap.

Smith, 47, the chairman of an aircraft interiors company, has been an incredibly lucky owner. His decision to send Lochsong, a delicate filly, to Ian Balding's Kingsclere Stables and some of the kindest gallops in Britain, was a logical one, however.

The reward, so far, has been a unique treble last season - the Stewards' Cup, Portland Handicap and the Ayr Gold Cup - and the Group Three King George Stakes this year. 'She thrives at this time of year,' Smith said. 'It's one of the great sights of racing at the moment, Lochsong bursting out of the stalls and leading her rivals a merry dance. She's a wonderful character. Ian is convinced she knows when she has won.'

We are all suckers for a gutsy mare. Lochsong, ably assisted by her soul mate Philidor, threatens to test Jeff Smith's humility as well as the strength of our heart strings again on Thursday.