Spare a thought for the owners of Mad Moose, one of most unpredictable horses in training. Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, the 10-year-old gelding has refused to race in four of his thirteen races since the start of last season and has just been handed a nine-month ban by the British Horseracing Authority.
the same period, he has won one race, been placed in three (finishing second to
the almighty steeplechaser Sprinter Sacre) as well as putting in a fine fourth
to Zarkander, Grandouet and Rock on Ruby – three of the top hurdlers of last
BHA has reportedly taken action in an effort to protect punters, but when you
consider that he has only started at odds of less than 10/1 once in his last
thirteen races and has been sent off at 33/1 or more on six occasions, you have
to believe that his quirks are already factored into the bookmakers’ prices.
Sunday, The Racing Post reminded us that it is exactly 25 years since Desert
Orchid dug his way into our hearts by giving 22lbs and a head beating to Panto
Prince in the Victor Chandler Chase Ascot – one of the most exciting races of
all time. I remember the race clearly because my money was on Vodkatini –
another equine rogue who sometimes refused to start and often gave away huge
distances at the beginning of a race, only to come shooting past his rivals in
the finishing straight. Yes, he could be frustrating, but even now I’d have to
put him in my top ten list of favourite horses. Racing needs characters,
especially equine ones.
this week’s tips, though, we’re not going to Ascot (even though it is a good
card), nor are we relying on the quirks of an equine character – instead we’ll
be putting our faith in one of Cartmel’s most reliable, honest and hard-working
trainers (okay, he’s the only trainer in the village, but he’s definitely a
good egg!) – Jimmy Moffatt.
yard has been in excellent form recently and he’s likely to have two runners at
Haydock, both of which are worth backing for a place at potentially large
prices. Quel Elite enjoys soft ground, has come out of a recent
Sedgefield race in good order and will carry very little weight in the opening
race on the card.
However, the star of the stable is Morning Royalty.
He may have nearly two stone to make up on official ratings to threaten the
favourites for Haydock's Champion Hurdle Trial, Ptit Zig and Melodic Rendezvouz, but
I suspect that the real difference in ability is not nearly so great – he might
not win, but he’ll surprise a few people. Back him each way.