AROUND the BEND with John Elsegood
Don’t you just love a nice drop of alliteration in the heading?
I know my rapacious racing readers revel rapturously in all I write so I decided to compete with that great poem The Highwayman, you know the one –‘over the cobbles he clattered and clashed etc.’
So, what I am waxing lyrical about this week?
Well, important things that the ‘lame stream’ media fail to grasp but I, as always in my self-effacing, humble fashion, reveal. (My former friend, Col from Merredin, once said I had a lot to be humble about).
First, there was Gavin Foster’s ghostly grey galloper, Silver Plated, winning the second last at Ascot’s mid week fixture yesterday.
So help me the old bloke is older than me (the horse, not Gavin, you fool) but just as athletically built!
Before I talk about young Gav, it is appropriate to note that the eight year galloper was ridden by Jason Whiting. Why appropriate you say?
Well, a couple of summers ago ‘the Fish’ was privy to witnessing trainer Darren McAuliffe and myself flexing our mighty torsos on the scales after the last at Ascot.
That ‘weed,’ McAuliffe, weighed in at 109kg but I did him cold by 1kg. A goggled eyed Whiting said ‘‘I only weigh 52kg.’’ We threw him back into the jockeys room, as he was clearly out of his class amongst the sperm whales!
His infant son, (Baby Whiting to you) was then only 2kg and it was proud Dad’s comments about his weight that prompted McAuliffe and Moi to bust the Ascot scales as we flexed our perfectly precocious pectorals, proudly like a couple of latter day Arnie Schwarzeneggers (I hope you are noticing the alliteration).
Anyway, I digress, so back to Gav’s grey.
Despite his age, Silver Plated was having only his seventh race start and he has now an impressive three wins and three places. Ironically, earlier in the day I was talking about another grey eight year old, with 77 starts in his career. I refer to Ask Me Nicely. Having bumped into that grey’s trainer, Fred Kersley, and his wife Judith, I asked, nicely, how much longer that galloper would race. Fred thought the Winter Broome Carnival might be his last hurrah.
(Third in a Perth Cup, Ask Me Nicely has won eight times with the same number of seconds and a dozen third placings.)
Indeed, Kersley and Foster both had similar things to say about their respective charges. Both greys are considered kind, responsive, easy to train and ride. Both trainers also have strong affections for their aged geldings.
Foster has show jumped Silver Plated and so the gelding clearly is a responsive type to be in such a sport.
“He has had a few tendon problems and so I have never pushed him. He is a big lovely horse and he can carry weight, and was the easiest horse ever to break-in,” Foster said.
Whiting was content to slide back to last on Silver Plated in the Perth Ice Works Handicap(1600m). Being a bit tardy early, Whiting said he did not want to try and slide up on the fence. Instead the grey was charging from the back to be five deep and threatening, from sixth place, on the home turn.
He kept coming and after hitting the front never looked like being run down, winning by three quarters of a length from Theodora.
Foster, a young trainer, has had a licence for four years and this was his fourth win, with Silver Plated accounting for three quarters of those victories.
By John Elsegood