Trainers who are unhappy with the ride a jockey has given their horse usually let them know about it in private. Peter Charalambous took a different route yesterday, launching a scathing attack on the ride Nicky Mackay had given to one of his horses at Newmarket on Saturday.
He contacted the Racing Post to explain the instructions he had given to the jockey for the 12-furlong handicap at the Suffolk course. His statement said, "Peter Charalambous wishes to apologise to anyone who backed his horse Ela Gonda Mou on Saturday at Newmarket in the 4.40, ridden by Nicky Mackay. My instructions were to sit second or third but if there was no pace, then he could make the running, give the horse a breather at halfway and then kick on at the two-furlong pole. I can only presume Nicky Mackay thought he was in a five-furlong race and not a mile and a half; 35 lengths clear in the first two furlongs, the writing was on the wall before she got to the mile pole.”
Maybe Mackay didn’t follow those to the letter, but the commentary on the race suggested that the horse had taken off with him, rather than being sent on at a rate of knots. That was how Mackay saw things, too, when he was asked for his reaction to the trainer’s comments. In a measured response, which hinted at a different interpretation of what the trainer told him, Mackay said, “I was told in the weighing room before the race that the horse was keen and was stepping up from ten furlongs to 12. She jumped the gates and ran free, and basically it was just one of those things.”
On that basis the reaction of Charalambous might be thought rather hard on the rider, especially as he only came in for the ride at the last minute.
Really, if the trainer had grounds for complaint, fellow jockey Raul da Silva, who had been booked to ride the horse, is the one who should have been in the firing line. His agent was sure da Silva could do the weight of 7st 13 lbs, and Charalambous had challenged that, referring to the overweight da Silva had put up just a week earlier when he rode at 8st 1lb. Less than an hour before racing started on Saturday the trainer was told that the lowest da Silva could do was 8st 3lb, which would have meant the horse carrying four pounds overweight.
It left the trainer with little time to find a replacement who could do the weight, although in the event Ela Gonda Mou might have benefited from a bit more ballast.