This afternoon Ferguson’s horse If I Had Him, trained by George Baker, bids for a third success in the islands. After two victories over the jumps in Jersey, he will be one of three runners Baker sends on his first foray to Guernsey.
The L’Ancresse racecourse surrounds the Royal Guernsey Golf Club course on the northern tip of the island. Today it hosts the island’s annual race meeting, and although Ferguson is unlikely be there to see his horse run, he’ll probably be on the phone to Baker for a running commentary on the race.
Mattie Batchelor has the leg up on If I Had Him for the mile and six furlongs of the Minogue Handicap. He’s ridden there before, as Baker explained on his website blog. “Mattie Batchelor and Kieran O’Neill with us yesterday morning. As mentioned, Mattie to ride his ‘Guernsey boys’. And Kieran with us for the first time. Mattie describing Guernsey’s unique racecourse to us. It does sound utterly unique, and we are clearly in for a ‘different’ day at the races….”
There was an unusually high value of equine traffic on the ferry across to Guernsey as If I Had Him’s four opponents include one each from the Liam Corcoran and Neil Mullholland yards. Baker himself has Nenge Mboko running in the day’s most valuable race, and a win will see him pick up £3,100 towards expenses in the Cenkos Channel Islands Handicap. Meanwhile, Blue Pencil, trained by Roger Curtis, is at least guaranteed second place in the Guernsey Race Club Handicap. Only two horses line up.
The fixture attracts a crowd of over 6,000, some 10% of the island population. With mainland trainers happy to support the event, it has a solid future ahead of it. Baker and his time are clearly looking forward to his day out. He said, “It’s the first time I’ve had runners in Guernsey, but we’ve had a couple of successful missions to Jersey and it’s more fun for the others than running for peanuts back home. Sir Alex is leading owner in the Channel Islands at the moment, though I’m not sure that’s the height of his sporting hit list. It would be wonderful if I could get the hat-trick with If I Had Him, although a mile and six furlongs wouldn’t be his ideal trip.”