Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Reflections on the two wins by Mubtadi and the disappointment of Autumnus


It has been a good couple of weeks overall. And it was particularly satisfying to see Mubtadi score twice in a week. Ever since I took on the job as race planner to Ismail, the one horse that had put a dent in the percentages had been this son of Dr Fong.

Admittedly, he was sick after he ran at Redcar but slow breaks at Southwell and Wolverhampton posed plenty of problems, the basic one being the horse is too smart. He recently got loose on the gallops; found the gates locked on his return so he decided to nip next door to James Tate’s.

Mubtadi was gelded after Southwell but still behaved like an entire. He tried to bite, kick and acted like the school bully. What was changed, and it has succeeded, was to treat him with respect. All the headgear (tried in a visor, blinkers and a hood) were removed, as was the tongue tie.

He started working on his own and tactics were changed to make the running.  It has worked perfectly twice under two super rides from Tom Brown. It’s not often I praise jockeys, but Brown, who is criminally underused at Andrew Balding’s, is a star apprentice in the making.

It’s not often a jockey, let alone an apprentice, not only listens to instructions but carries then out. Brown has brought out the best in Mubtadi and the horse in him. The 21-year-old is now starting to make a name for himself and will pick up plenty of rides for Ismail.

It wasn’t all good, though, with the disappointing run of Autumnus. After a promising return from a five-month break, I thought he would win last week at Wolverhampton. Instead, he downed tools from an early stage and, though Shane Kelly got him to the front, he never travelled with any fluency. He soon gave up when challenged.

Disappointments are always laying in wait, but the problems that had beset Autumnus hadn’t returned so the only conclusion is that it’s in his head. He will now go to the sales but the good news is that the owner of Mubtadi has decided to keep him.

Runners are thin on the ground for the next week. Admiralty, twice denied a run, is likely to wait for a race at Southwell in two weeks, a surface he has ran well on in the past, while Light Burst is due back from a break in around three weeks.

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