First, there is a matter of timing. Pippy, the horse in question is a two-year-old colt, and as is usual for horses in their first season, his race, the Lily Agnes Stakes at Chester, is the first on the card. It’s due off at 1.35pm this afternoon. Chester is a 45 minutes drive from the Manchester United training ground at Carrington, where Rooney will be spending the morning as his team prepares for the final match of the Premiership season. Training is expected to last until 1.00pm
Now it’s true that manger Sir Alex Ferguson knows a fair bit about the excitement of owning a horse and seeing it run, but is he likely to give Rooney time off to make it to Chester in good time? I doubt it.
The second block to a first time out victory for horse and owner is Pippy himself. Trainer Tom Dascombe was clear yesterday that he didn’t expect the horse to be boosting Rooney’s bank balance yet. He said, “Pippy is a perfectly nice two year old. He’s being thrown n at the deep end because we wanted to run at Chester. It’s going to be incredibly difficult for him, taking on six horses that have already run and won. He will win, but not necessarily tomorrow.”
Rooney has another shot at the winner’s enclosure tomorrow when Tomway, another juvenile, makes his racecourse debut. Dascombe doesn’t expect any success with him either. “He’s drawn out with the washing (stall 11 of 13) and that’s probably put an end to his chance. I know everyone’s hoping that Mr Rooney’s going to have a winner straightaway but I’m afraid it’s going to be tricky.”
If anyone from the United camp has a winner this week it’s more likely to be “Mr Owen’s” distance runner Brown Panther, who runs in the Ormonde Stakes. He’ll be seeking a second victory at the Chester meeting, after winning a 12 furlong handicap last year.