Taylor lands own cash – and a lot of interest
Monday 10 January 2011
Never mind Lou Reed, just ask Douglas Taylor about a perfect day. At Leopardstown yesterday his Dublin-based company, MCR, put up the prize fund for the afternoon's feature hurdle, one the most competitive and prestigious handicaps in the Irish racing programme.
His sponsorship, as these things do, provided a platform for entertainment and networking at an afternoon at the races.
And the craic was made oh so much the better when Taylor's own horse, Final Approach, galloped to victory. The businessman not only won back his own money – some €60,000 (£50,000) – but relieved the bookmakers of considerable funds too. The Willie Mullins-trained gelding was the best-backed in the race, supported from 14-1 to 6-1 second favourite, and was howled home uninhibitedly by 200 MCR clients and staff.
Final Approach was having only his fourth outing over hurdles, but belied his inexperience as, guided by Paul Townend, he cut through a closely grouped pack next to the rails rounding the final bend and quickened clear going to the final obstacle. At the line he was two lengths clear and for good measure it was a stablemate, 16-1 shot Call The Police, who took the runner-up spot.
To win such a contest on such a day is a considerable feat, but then his trainer is one of the shrewdest. Before yesterday Final Approach's only hurdle victory had come on his debut in a minor contest at the small Northern Ireland track of Downpatrick. The clues were there, though; he gave a glimpse of the light under the bushel in his warm-up at Fairyhouse last month.
"This was his Derby, so to speak, and it's not often a plan comes together like this one did," said Mullins. "His run the last day gave us some encouragement, because he shaped as if he might win but just got tired. But in a race like this one, with a big field, you need all the breaks if you go down the inner, and luckily he got them."
This was not the first time Taylor had been involved in a successful Plan A. At a lowly Kilbeggan evening meeting last June his horse D Four Dave, trained by Conor O'Dwyer, famously – or infamously if you are a bookmaker – landed a monster gamble in a carefully planned betting coup that yielded €200,000 (£166,000).
There are those who believe that everything in racing involves an orchestrated plot and the conspiracy theorists' bush telegraph was in overdrive after 4-7 shot Jessies Dream, a Grade One winner on his previous run, failed by three-quarters of a length to catch Magnaminity in a three-horse field for the card's Grade Two chase. But though Timmy Murphy, on the favourite, appeared to be going best the likely truth was that the winner coped the better with the testing underfoot conditions on the day.
There was a winner for Tony McCoy on Rahan De Marcigny in the beginners' chase, following the victory the previous day on Synchronised in the Welsh Grand National, adding to the original and Aintree and the Irish and Scottish versions already on his CV. Just the Kent, Sussex, Durham and Northumberland Nationals to go, then.
Sue Montgomery's Nap
Bottman (2.25 Towcester)
Will surely benefit for today's stiffer test and stronger handling than he experienced on his nonetheless promising first effort over hurdles.
Rackham Lerouge (1.55 Towcester)
Punchestowns' highly regarded younger sibling should follow up his chasing debut third in hot company with a win.
One to watch
Smad Place (A King) was patently unsuited by the steady gallop in Saturday's Finale Hurdle at Chepstow and bookmakers may prove to have been overgenerous in extending his Triumph Hurdle odds to 20-1.
Where the money's going
With rain forecast at Kempton this week, soft-ground specialists The Nightingale, trained by Paul Nicholls (12-1 from 20-1), and David Pipe's Madison Du Berlais (25-1 from 40-1) were yesterday's King George VI Chase movers with Totesport.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Squadron (2.15 Taunton)
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