The Borderlescott fairy tale gains a remarkable epilogue on Saturday when he comes out of retirement at the age of 11. Having already stretched credulity by winning consecutive runnings of the Nunthorpe Stakes for a tiny local stable, in 2008 and 2009, he will be sent back to York for a comeback spin that could yet set up another crack at the big one next month.
Robin Bastiman, his trainer, reluctantly called time on Borderlescott’s career after he disappointed at Dundalk last October, though the horse had remained spry enough to win a Listed race at Beverley the previous month. Now he is set to test the water in a similar event at York, with a Nunthorpe entry already up his sleeve.
“We’ll obviously have to see about that, but I wasn’t going to supplement him for 25 grand!” Bastiman said yesterday. “My view is he’s still got it – still got those gears. Certainly, he still annihilates anything I’ve got to work him with. And he looks a million dollars.
“He had a long season last year, and I don’t think he was quite right in Ireland. But my daughter was messing around with him during the winter and we thought: ‘Come on, let’s check his heart and see if he’s 100 per cent.’ They’re creatures of habit, they get into a routine. And he’s a one-off, this horse. He wants to win. That’s what sets him apart from all the others I’ve had.”
Bastiman accepts that the old horse may prove a little rusty. “But he comes right this time of year,” he said. “It’s a fun thing, and you might only run him a couple of times. But I can’t wait to see him run.”
The racing community meanwhile maintains its vigil for Brian Toomey, the young jockey who remains in an induced coma after suffering head injuries in a fall at Perth last Thursday. Yesterday the Injured Jockeys’ Fund confirmed that Toomey had undergone surgery in a Dundee hospital on Sunday to reduce swelling and resultant pressure on his brain. “The surgery went well and Brian remains in a stable condition,” a statement said. “It is anticipated he will be kept sedated for the next few days as his progress continues to be monitored.”
CHRIS McGRATH’S NAP: Yahilwa (8.05 Southwell)
Has a dirt pedigree and found improvement to bolt up in a maiden over course and distance in May.
NEXT BEST: Bapak Muda (7.35 Southwell)
Bred to relish this surface and plainly not himself when well backed for his handicap debut. Given a break since and bred to surpass this sort of rating.
ONE TO WATCH: Jacqueline Jouliac (John Gosden) proved very green on her debut at Kempton last week but was getting the hang of things late.
WHERE THE MONEY’S GOING: Lethal Force is 4-1 from 5-1 with Coral for the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday.