Aidan O’Brien’s record in the Arc a big negative for Continuous, while racecourses are still ripping off punters
I WATCHED a documentary on telly the other night about what holds ships together. It was riveting.
Of course, like all good puns, I stole that pearler from someone else but I plan on taking all of the credit.
You know what else is a joke? Aidan O’Brien’s record in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
I mean, you can make a very good argument he is the greatest trainer of all time, and he is backed by the world’s most powerful breeders in Coolmore.
‘The Lads’ have produced more middle-distance stars than I’ve had hot dinners over the last two-and-a-bit decades — yet, surprisingly, Europe’s biggest race has never been a happy hunting ground.
O’Brien has won it just twice during his long and illustrious career — one of them in 2016 when the race was run at Chantilly and his iron maiden Found led home two stablemates.
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But his other winner, Dylan Thomas, was incredibly lucky to keep the race after the French stewards dropped a bollock.
He hung right across the track and almost wiped out half the field, causing Mick Channon’s Youmzain to lose vital momentum before he flew home late and just failed to get up.
Lé disgrace, as they probably remember it in Channon’s yard.
And, sorry Templegate followers, but look away now if you are a backer of Continuous — O’Brien has run six of his seven St Leger winners in the Arc and they have all been stuffed.
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Of course, records are made to be broken but, even so, that’s hardly going to make you feel warm and fuzzy if you’ve put your hard-earned on the Donny hero in tomorrow’s big ‘un.
The Ballydoyle bloodbath in Paris includes Japan, Camelot, St Nicholas Abbey, Fame And Glory, Duke Of Marmalade and High Chaparral, to name just a few.
Like everyone else, I’m an admirer of big Aidan and he is one of the few top trainers who hasn’t let his success go to his head — but his Arc record baffles me.
Then you’ve got Frankie Dettori, who seems to win the race every other year.
He first did it as a sprog in 1995 on Lammtarra and then bagged a brace for Godolphin in the early 2000s. In recent years he has fired in a hat-trick of wins for John Gosden.
His ride on Golden Horn, who was drawn in the car park in 2015, was one of the best of his career, and his two wins on Enable — plus the heart-breaking defeat — will be remembered for decades to come.
This will be his final ride in the historic race as he nears retirement — although there is a bit of talk doing the rounds at the moment he would ideally like to carry on.
You see there is a theory Johnny G — as part of an agreement between the two men when they reunited after a high-profile ‘sabbatical’ last year — insisted they go their separate ways after a final swansong in 2023.
Was Frankie pushed or did he jump?
We will probably never know, but he keeps talking about carrying on if someone makes a ‘massive’ offer, which feels very much like a ‘come get me’ plea to a rich backer in the US.
We will see how that plays out over the next few months, but even miracle-man Frankie has his work cut out if he is to win the Arc for a seventh time on Free Wind.
And as for Aidan? I can’t see any other outcome bar another of his Leger heroes being sunk at Longchamp.
The 2023 Arc winner is Ace Impact. There, don’t say you weren’t told.
No such thing as a free lunch
RACECOURSES are once again disgracing themselves when it comes to letting in punters with their own food.
I wrote last year about a family who were left embarrassed at Cheltenham when heavy-handed security forced them to throw their food away at the turnstiles.
And there have been a few grumblings on social media over the past week after a number of racegoers once again had a negative experience.
One reported that several punters were told to neck their snacks outside the entrance to Warwick as they were not allowed to take bags of crisps and sandwiches in with them.
Another was left disappointed when he was told to chuck away lunch – which he had packed for his young daughter who is a “fussy eater” – at Wetherby.
And it’s not just Jockey Club courses who have declared war on the humble sarnie, with others reporting problems at ARC tracks and independents like Redcar.
If racecourse chiefs hadn’t noticed, the price of food has skyrocketed over the last 18 months.
A day at the races isn’t cheap, is it really that big a deal if some people bring their own packed lunch because they don’t want to fork out £12 for fish and chips?
It’s a simple tweak that every track should make – especially as in most cases we are talking about pensioners and families.
For once, let’s put the punter first.
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