"Very Wise virtually lives in the equine spa (ECB)....
This years opening day of British flat turf season mixed the traditional and the temporary, with the Williamhill.co.uk Lincoln on a camping trip to Newcastle. Doncaster, its home since Lincoln Racecourse closed, is due to reopen after a major redevelopment in August.
With so much prize- money on offer in Dubai, flat jockeys going to Newcastle must have felt a bit like jump jockeys who travel to Hereford on Grand National day.
But Joe Fanning had no complaints about his short journey, nor William Haggas about the slightly longer one he made on a train from Newmarket, when they teamed up with “Very Wise” to win the Lincoln.
The five year old, owned by John Greetham, began to stretch clear a couple of furlongs from home and, though tiring as second- placed Rio Riva closed in on him in the later stages, he never looked like being beaten. He secured the first major handicap of the season with a length to spare over the poorly drawn runner-up.
Yorkshire-born Haggas won the race 15 years ago with his father’s High Low. He recalled how Very Wise had won, completely unfancied at 50-1, on the bridle on very soft ground first time out at two.
“Subsequently he became fairly unsound,” explained Haggas. “It was just general stuff, he wasn’t dramatically lame, but he wasn’t sound, if you know what I mean, and he struggled a bit. But as he’s matured he has become sounder and in December I had an equine spa (ECB) put in. He virtually lives in it.”
The spa, where horses can stand up to their knees in swirling, freezing water, is an increasingly popular training accessory.
Haggas, an expert at placing his horses, now has a dilemma with Very Wise. Should he keep running him and go for something like the Spring Mile at Newbury or the Hambleton Handicap at York, where there’s a good chance of cut in the ground or, after a busy winter, give him a holiday and bring him back for the Cambridgeshire in the Autumn?
“John Greetham is one of those rare owners who lets the trainer get on with it, but that was job done,” he said.
Traditionally the Lincoln is the first leg of the spring double, the second being the National, though I’m not sure how many people attempt to double up these two races in bets these days. Plenty have people would have been on the favorite, Mick Easterby’s “Gentlemans Deal”. The six-year-old full horse either did not handle the soft ground or was exhausted, having covered two mares during the week since his win in Lingfield’s Winter Derby.
One Imagines, with the prevalence of all-weather gallops these days, that when 17 runners go to the post for the Brocklesby Stakes, the first turf two-year-old contest of the season, the vast majority are galloping on grass for the first time in their lives.
Fastest of the precocious types that turned up at Newcastle, by some straight margin, was “Mister Hardy”, a Kyllachy colt trainer by Richard Fahey and ridden by Paul Hanagan. This combination is likely to be one of the major forces in the north during the coming season.
Back to Articles...