OH TO BE A FLY ON THE WALL

As I am not a fly, I can only guess what might happen behind the scenes at the Final Acceptance stage at Borrowdale Park. Mainly due to the small pool of horses, races fold because of insufficient runners and must be hastily re-opened under different conditions.

The 1260m Open Handicap which was due to be run on Sunday is a case in point. Ten horses were nominated with index figures ranging from 108 down to 78 – it was open to all horses after all.  When the weights were published top sprinter, Coachella was set to carry 67 kgs – a tall ask for any horse – and the bottom weight was 52 kgs.

Not surprisingly Coachella was scratched along with his stable companions Peggson, Christofle and Coastal Torrent.  Armstrong and Golden Lion must have also bowed out as only four of the original runners – Fareeq, Kingston Passage, Silver Coin and What A Dandy – were left in the race.

The new race is called the Open Merit Rated 88 Handicap and the four who stood their ground have been joined by a newcomer at Borrowdale, Daffiq, and Lunar Dancer (MR 58). Now we have a six-horse race but what we don’t have is a chance to see a top horse in action.

Races for our best performers are few and far between and there isn’t another racecourse just down the road to cater for them.  Of course, I haven’t a clue what I am talking about, but wouldn’t it be better to give them a manageable weight more often even if a large portion of the field is running under sufferance?  Good horses add interest and deserve a fair crack of the whip.

On Sunday Fareeq (MR 88) will carry top weight of 60 kgs and will give half a kg to Daffiq, a two-time winner who has scored over 1400m and 1450m in South Africa.  His last race was in November 2018.

Kingston Passage will carry 59 kgs, Silver Coin 58.5 kgs, What A Dandy 55, and Lunar Dancer 52.  Claiming apprentice Rodgers Satombo rides Lunar Dancer but is unlikely to make 48 kgs.

On the 15 December Silver Coin, What A Dandy and Fareeq finished behind Verdier and Coachella in the 1200m SKM Gold Cup.  That day Coachella, 0.05 lengths off the winner, was giving Verdier 11 kgs.

Kingston Passage has not raced since July but won the 1100m Hachiman Sprint in 2019. What A Dandy enjoys the 1260m trip. So does Lunar Dancer, second to White Winter over this distance on January 19. She is drawn on the outside on Sunday.

Silver Coin is always interesting because although bred to stay further he has won over 1200m and 1400m and seems to prefer the shorter distances.  Hennie Greyling rides.

The Open Merit Rated 88 Handicap is due off at 13 30 on Sunday. Racing starts at 12 20.

Photograph by Andrew Philip: Fareeq and Coachella matching paces in a 1100m MR 100 Handicap in November.  Coachella, giving away 7kgs, won.

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