Charles Dickens suffers the same fate as Baaeed in surprise defeat
King’s Plate favourite beaten narrowly by jockey’s enterprising tactics
To the chagrin of SA and British racing fans, the two countries star performers, Charles Dickens and Baaeed, have followed almost identical career paths over the past three months. Both lost their unbeaten record unexpectedly.
In Britain in October, four-year-old Baaeed headed for a final bow in the Champion Stakes before retiring to stud. Pundits predicted it would be no more than a stroll in the park.
That didn’t happen. Baaeed was beaten by outsider Bay Bridge. After the race, trainer William Haggas said: “It’s deflating, but he is still a good horse. There you go, it’s racing.”
Candice Bass-Robinson, trainer of Charles Dickens, will have had the same emotions after her unbeaten three-year-old, Charles Dickens, was defeated by the 80-1 chance, Al Muthana, in Saturday's grade 1 L’Ormarins King’s Plate at Kenilworth.
Even bookmakers seemed resigned to this being one favourite they weren’t going to beat. Most won’t have written Al Muthana’s name in their betting sheets.
Perhaps what was forgotten with all the hype in the build-up to the race was that a serious horseman, Ricky Maingard, was back in town. Rewind the clock 38 years and the history books will reveal that he saddled Wolf Power to a notable Queen’s Plate-Met double in 1984.
Al Muthana, previously trained by Mike de Kock, is a seriously well-bred thoroughbred being a son of the high-ranking Aussie stallion Deep Field. The five-year-old went to post boasting a career record of seven wins from 17 starts and a jockey, Bernard Fayd’Herbe, who knows a thing or two about winning big races.
Some feel it was Fayd’Herbe’s heading for the outside rail that won him the race, and his mount kept on resolutely in the closing stages to just hold off the favourite.
Fayd’Herbe will be far from impressed that the stipendiary board saw fit to fine him R40,000 for using his whip more than 12 times on Al Muthana. This is nearly half of what he will receive from the prize money for winning the race and he will surely appeal against the severity of the fine.
Jet Dark — winner of this race for the past two years — had every chance in third and will hope to get back to winning ways in the WSB Met at the end of the month.
Kommetdieding was sluggish at the start and is also headed for the Met but there appears no reason he should turn the tables on Jet Dark.
A horse who makes far more appeal is Rascallion who rewarded trainer Vaughan Marshall — and his owners — for their patience in nursing the son of Vercingetorix back to his best after a tendon injury.
Under a strong ride from Corne Orffer, Rascallion found extra when it was needed to take the first cheque of R237,500 in the Anthonij Rupert Wyne Premier Stakes.
Rascallion was this column’s tip for the 2021 Durban July when he should have finished closer than fifth — granted a decent draw it may be payback time in the Met.
Racing rarely follows the script and another favourite, Captain’s Ransom, had to settle for the runner-up berth behind three-year-old Make It Snappy in the grade 1 Paddock Stakes.
The win by Brett Crawford’s daughter of Dynasty was a good result for punters who backed the filly from 11-2 to 3-1. Still, it will have been a favourable result for bookies with Captain’s Ransom starting at evens in attempting to post her 14th win.
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