Spencer says “it was like being the man who shot Bambi”
It was a tough day Friday after losing the Valiant Stakes on Namhroodah in the Steward’s Room, and I was glad to get Saturday over and done with too. James Tate had said before the race that Namhroodah was a strong staying miler which basically meant that where you are at the start is where you will be at the finish, in other words she has one pace and doesn’t have a kick
So the way the race panned out, I jumped out and it was all going fine. I used her stride and then said “right let’s get going” at the three pole to try and get a run on them and build up a bit of momentum. She picked up well, and I used the stick a couple of times, and had a quick look and I was three of four lengths clear of the field inside the two. I got after her again, and as I hit the furlong pole, I could feel her start to tire. It was inevitable, given I’d tried to nick the race from a fair way out, that it was going to be a long final furlong. I glanced up at the big screen, and I saw that I was still a couple of lengths clear, so I put my whip down to straighten her up, and get her back to the fence. I’d seen that Ryan’s horse was two lengths behind me, but I didn’t factor in how fast she was finishing, and by the time I’d moved across, as she was getting tired, he was coming right up to me. The first I was aware of how close I was to Irish Rookie was when Ryan shouted, and the dye was cast, even though I then immediately straightened her up. There was nothing more I could do.
Losing the race was disappointing, and the way everything panned out I’m just glad Saturday is over, as it was like being the man who shot Bambi. I didn’t enjoy Saturday at all. You know in your heart of hearts what’s right and what’s wrong, and what happened was wrong, but it was a mistake, an error from me. You even had some people saying, “Spencer saw him coming, he blocked him off, that’s good race riding”, but it’s not good race riding. Number one, Ryan is the fairest rider you can ride against bar none. Number two, he’s a good fella. If he could do you a favour, he would do you a favour. There’s lots of people out there that would rather do you a bad turn than a good turn, whereas Ryan just wants to do everyone a good turn. He’s very fair to ride against. So I was a little bit embarrassed about the whole thing. We left the Steward’s Room and we shook hands, and he texted me that evening to say he was glad that I only got a couple of days and that it hadn’t ended up too bad. He’s a good man.
I went home and watched the replay. I keep a lot of recordings of my rides, but I watched that ride and deleted it straightaway. I thought it’s no good to me to keep reviewing that, just get rid of it and move on to next week.
Look it’s a sport of ups and downs. It’s just the way the racing is. I was having a brilliant week up until then, including a treble one day and then a double, and then within the space of half an hour Namroodah got thrown out, and I was on one of Richard Fahey’s horses, Masterpaver, that came upsides one of Mark Johnston’s and I got beat a narrow margin. It was half an hour of hell. But I’ve had both Sunday and Monday off, and went for runs on both days, and I’m now feeling positive and ready for action for the week ahead.
I ride Shakopee in the first at 2.00 for Luca Cumani. He’s good enough to win the race but whether he can get through everything to win the race is another matter. I won on him twelve days ago at Doncaster, and he’s a very reactive horse. He’s nervy at the start and anything that happens in front of him, he magnifies it. So when you look at his first two runs this year, you would think he looks exposed, but he never settled in either race and over-raced and flattened out. He’s out of a two miler, and he’s bred to get a mile and a half to a mile and six, but at this stage a mile and a quarter is as far as he wants. He’d just run too free over any further. If he can relax and he gets a good pace to run at, he’ll go there with a favourite’s chance. He’s on eight stone nine pounds, and I don’t think he’s badly handicapped at all. It’s all down to him getting into a rhythm. He’s got a good draw in three, but if I give him a squeeze early to hold his position he’ll just over-race the whole race, so it’s not going to be an easy ride, but if I get him nice and relaxed, and they go a good gallop, he should be coming home well. He ought to have a good chance. I won this race fifteen years ago for Luca, so I hope I can do it again.
Goodwood is a track that you need to get the breaks and Richard Hughes always described it best. When it’s happening for you at Goodwood everything seems to happen in slow motion, but when luck’s going against you, the doors keep shutting, and it’s over before you know it. It’s a confidence track, and if you believe in yourself and take a deep breath, you’ve got a good chance of riding the track. It’s been good to me over the years. I’ve ridden plenty of winners there, but you need plenty of luck too.
I then ride Isomer in the Vintage Stakes at 2.35. He’s a gorgeous horse this fella. I rode his dad and his mum, and won on both of them. He was second in the Chesham, came back and won at Salisbury the other day, breaking his maiden. War Decree looks the biggest danger. Boynton has a good chance but carrying a penalty in Group races is quite hard to do. My fella has got a bit of experience and I’m sure he’ll like the ground. He’ll be better suited by a mile but he’s an improving horse. He has a few attributes like his father in that he’s very lazy and he takes it all in, which I’m sure will help given it’s Glorious Goodwood and it can wind up horses. That should all stand him in good stead, and he’ll run a big race. I might be hopeful to say he’d win but he’ll be in the firing line at the finish.
In the Lennox Stakes at 3.10 I’m on Buckstay. He’s been a victim of his own success as he’s now got to the stage where he can’t give the weight away in those big, valuable handicaps. So we are trying a new route with him. If he picks up a place we’ll be delighted. I thought Home Of The Brave would get an easy lead up front and the track would bend to his talents. If he can run like he did on the first two starts this season then I think he’s probably unbeatable in this. I can’t see anything taking him on up front. The only other pace angle is his stablemate Gifted Master and I can’t see Hugo Palmer allowing them to take eachother on.
I then ride Colonel Frank in the 4.55. I rode him in a piece of work in the spring, and he was slow, fat and lethargic. He showed me nothing. He then ran at Yarmouth and ran well, not beaten very far, in a race that worked out well. Then I rode him in work the other day and he worked really well. He’s really come on for the run. It’s amazing how a horse that was so lethargic and lazy, has a run, and it just switches him on. It’s a warm race, and the owners like to have runners at Goodwood, and he may not be quite good enough, but I expect him to put up a good showing.