During his career Orpen Wide has contested every type of race, starting in a Class E Auction Maiden for 2yos at a Doncaster evening meeting in July 2004 where he finished last of the 18 runners at 66/1. More often than not he’s gone off at double figure prices, and sometimes even higher, including 150/1 when he contested the Arkle at the 2008 Cheltenham Festival. For the record he was 10th of the 11 finishers.
But it would be wrong to think that Orpen Wide’s career was one of hope over achievement, for the gelding has shown his versatility by winning 19 of his races, (10 on the flat, six hurdles and three chases), at odds ranging from 13/8 to 50/1. Add to that a further 27 placed finishes and you know that this is a horse that always tries.
And backing him wouldn’t have done anyone’s wallet harm, as he’s actually returned a profit of over £60 to a £1 win stake throughout his career.
Today he teams up with another veteran, when 47 year old jockey Ann Stokell gets the leg up. She’ll become the 53rd jockey to ride Orpen Wide competitively. They all come alike to him, claimers, amateurs, though no champion jockey has yet had the privilege. Stokell’s 5lb claim (is she the oldest claiming rider, I wonder?), might help, but he’s once again the outsider in today’s field of seven runners.
Orpen Wide is Stokell’s first ride since she was given the go ahead from the BHA to return to race riding after taking a break last year. Trainer Michael Chapman said of the pairing, “He isn’t the easiest of rides, but Ann got on so well with him when he worked at Southwell that I promised her the ride when she got her licence.”
To make sure that he continues to train the horse Chapman has put a £10,000 claim on Orpen Wide this afternoon. It’s clear he doesn’t expect to win today, but is hopeful of better things later in the season. “The six furlongs wouldn’t be ideal for his first race for some time, but we’ve got to start somewhere. He is a top of the ground horse and I am sure he will do us proud again this year when he finds conditions to his liking.”
But Orpen Wide’s career has included victories at 50/1, 33/1 (twice) and 25/1, so he clearly has the capacity to surprise. It’s unlikely, but I’ll definitely have a look and see how he does.