Monday (ish) Musings: Mixed Fortune for the Raiders

I was at Gosforth Park on Saturday – where the Turf meets the Tapeta, writes Tony Stafford. At 11.20 a.m. Del Mar time, Newcastle racecourse’s big screen showed what was to be the forerunner of a brilliant day for Ballydoyle as Declarationofpeace and Ryan Moore came with a nicely-timed run to win one of the 100 grand warm-ups to the nine Breeders’ Cup championship races.

He was a 14-1 shot and I hope some of the Aidan O’Brien/Coolmore acolytes had finished breakfast in time to throw away a few dollars on him. Big crowds and big pools make for big dividends – even bigger than some of the gargantuan breakfast buffets you get in the US.

I’d stopped wearing my “wish I was there” face long before undertaking the five-hour drive on Saturday morning, even making a late decision to stop en route at Wetherby. After all it’s only a five minute diversion which I usually take at the services there anyway.

The country’s most underrated and certainly under-publicised jockey had a winning chance and I wanted to watch him show his class. Jack Quinlan had just the one ride, for the highly professional Amy Murphy on her father Paul’s Kalashnikov, winner of his only previous start in a bumper on the same track last season.

Kalashnikov shared second-favouritism behind a Dan/Harry Skelton favourite in a good novice hurdle, but brushed the jolly aside with a stylish 10-length win. Unable to curb my delight, I picked out the Racing Post’s David Carr in the winner’s enclosure and said: “Maybe somebody might now start to notice what a good jockey Jack Quinlan is?”

Maybe not. The following day’s report gave a complimentary comment on the winning horse and trainer, but unlike the usual glowing reference to a later Richard Johnson winner, Jack remained as ever conspicuous by his absence. Mr Incognito. I’m not sure who it was, but one observer likened his style to Declan Murphy’s, praise indeed. Don’t worry Jack, Amy has enough nice horses to get you some coverage if only during the race commentaries.

I had intended staying in the north overnight, but after watching a couple of Raymond Tooth horses finish unplaced, although not entirely without promise, I reckoned I might make it home in time for the Turf race, although news that Ulysses was unable to take on Highland Reel took away some of the potential glamour.

It did mean I’d miss seven of the races and in retrospect it was not such a bad thing as it must have made macabre watching for anyone other than pin stickers, or punters who like the number 5.

Generally the term “Industry Prices” has me instinctively going into “It’s a Rip Off” mode, but in actual fact most of the winners paid more here than on the US tote.

The carnage started in the first of the six dirt races, with a 20-1 winner, Caledonia Road, followed by 40-1 (Stormy Liberal) and 66-1 shot Bar of Gold. Those three dirt races were the opening three legs of the early Pick Four, which carries a 50 cent stake. The total Pool for the bet was $2,272,356 and after Wuheida and William Buick saw off a late-running Rhododendron in the Fillies and Mares race on the turf, the half dozen lucky winners collected $289,000 each.

Daily Racing Form’s post-race analysis pointed out mid-meeting that the inside on the dirt track had become so slow in relation to the rest of the track that the jockeys were re-directing their horses away from the rail. While somewhat less impossible from that point, Roy H won the next dirt race at 9-2 (11-8 fav unplaced), before World Approval became the sole Breeders’ Cup winning favourite on the day in the Mile in which Lancaster Bomber was second and Roly Poly unplaced.

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Two more double-digit winners followed, Good Magic at 12-1 in the Juvenile (dirt) with odds-on Bolt d’Oro a well-beaten third, and US Navy Flag miles back after trying to make all, while Talismanic and Mikael Barzalona battled home at 14-1 in the Turf with Highland Reel a close third.

Then, having collected my thoughts and unpacked my bag, I settled down to watch Gun Runner beat Arrogate – and he did. There was nothing majestic about it. They probably went fast enough, although they were outside the normal US mile-and-a-quarter “standard” of two minutes flat, but there was little evidence of any majestic thoroughbred motion as they slogged home in another apparently slow-motion finish.

I was amazed that Arrogate, whose slovenly starts had transformed him from the Horse of the Century – “best since Secretariat”, said Bob Baffert – to a grinder who never looks the part, should head the market. They had to give him one last hurrah, but he couldn’t even finish first of the Baffert quartet, with Collected second and West Coast proving best of the three-year-olds in third and Arrogate a never-nearer fifth.

Churchill, who never recaptured his double Classic-winning  spring brilliance once surprisingly beaten in the St James’s Palace Stakes, was seventh, presumably finding the dirt as awkward to contend with as many of the locals who deal with it every day. As I hinted just above, dirt racing can make for an unappealing spectacle, especially when the outsiders win!

On the day, the lemmings in the stand, those who love a favourite and that means many of us, will have collected just once with 11-4 shot World Approval. He was one of eight winners by US based sires in the nine races, the only exception being Charlie Appleby’s Wuheida, a daughter of Dubawi. The beaten favourites were, in time order 9-4, 8-11 (the highly disappointing Lady Aurelia), 6-4, 9-4, 11-8, 10-11, 11-10 (Highland Reel) and 2-1 (Arrogate).

If I was there I would have backed the last winner Gun Runner, whose form all year entitled him to be favourite, but the undeniable instinct to go to the well one last time with the old champ was hard to resist for many.

Now the attention switches over here to jumps, and Kalashnikov will be one to follow until beaten – or when Jack Quinlan gets a mention in the Racing Post – probably the former. At around the same time tomorrow that I began these thoughts today, I hope to be awake in time to see Marmelo and Hugh Bowman win the Emirates Melbourne Cup for the Hughie Morrison stable.

If they cannot win, let’s offer the best of luck to Aidan and Joseph O’Brien, Willie Mullins, Iain Jardine and Hugo Palmer. It would be especially nice if Hugo could win as he has an Australian wife and worked for some time with legendary Melbourne trainer Gai Waterhouse as well as once being assistant trainer to Morrison.  He has certainly gone along the local route with his light-weight Wall of Fire, the mount of lightweight Craig Williams. Hugo gave him a nice work out in a Caulfield Group 2 over a mile and a half and his strong-running second puts him in with a shot, just like 20 others!

[Stop Press: Since this was written, Ireland enjoyed a 1-2-3 with Joseph O’Brien’s Rekindling fending off father Aidan O’Brien’s Johannes Vermeer and Willie Mullins’ Max Dynamite. Europe claimed six of the first seven spots home, and nine of the first eleven. Australia must be spitting!]

Stat of the Day, 25th February 2017

Friday's Result :

2.30 Warwick : Night of Sin @ 11/4 BOG WON at 7/4 Made all, pushed along after 3 out, stayed on well to win by 1.25 lengths

Saturday's pick goes in the...

4.10 Kempton...

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.


Sir Note 10/3 BOG


A fairly short and simple one for a change today!

A 7 yr old gelding with 6 wins from 13 races to his name, but more impressively since a switch to James Eustace's yard and being sent chasing with Jack Quinlan on his back, he's finished 11131!

He likes the supposed good ground, but I feel it'll deteriorate and that too will suit, as he's 2/2 on soft and goes well in small fields. He's also 4/4 going right handed. 2/2 after a break of 31-60 days and has 1 win and a place from 2 starts at Class 3 company.

He won a Class 3 handicap chase at Leicester last time out (59 days ago) by a good 5 lengths despite not having had a run for almost 29 weeks and this leads us to our stat...

...that tells us that male Class 3 chasers aged 6-9 yrs old who won a handicap chase by 2 to 10 lengths LTO 11 to 150 days ago are 159/765 (20.8% SR) for 167.4pts (+21.9% ROI) since 2008, with those who won by 5 to 10 lengths last time, scoring again on 93 of 405 (23%) occasions for profits of 156.4pts at an ROI of 38.6%, which is...

...enough for...a 1pt win bet on Sir Note @ 10/3 BOG which was available with Betfair Sports, BetVictor & SkyBet at 5.25pm on Friday, but DO take the 7/2 BOG on offer with Paddy Power if you can! To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply... here for the betting on the 4.10 Kempton

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!


Here is today's racecard

Monday Musing: Channel Hopping and Interrupted Airwaves

No Bank Holiday this week? Then I’d better crack on, writes Tony Stafford. There has been an unreal feel to the past fortnight, but everyone should be getting back to work, unless they travel on London Underground, that is, where I understand there’s a strike today; or Southern Railway, where there usually is.

One good friend, Prince Pippy, called yesterday for his tri-monthly catch-up and our chat touched on those travel difficulties which often prevent his sister’s managing to reach London from Brighton. Of more concern to him was the damaging stand-off between the Arena Racing Company (ARC) and several major bookmaking chains over the broadcasting of pictures from the 15 tracks they control – those of the original Arena Leisure group and Northern Racing tracks formerly owned by the late Sir Stanley Clarke.

William Hill, whose yearly results are due this morning when the City are anticipating the green shoots of recovery <nice cliché, Ed>, and Paddy Power are in the “in” corner, having agreed, along with a sizeable number of independents, to pay ARC for their pictures. Ladbrokes and Coral, their merged main rivals for supremacy, and Betfred, staunchly refuse to join them.

I didn’t plan to visit a betting shop later today, and if I did it would almost certainly be to a William Hill outlet as they have almost a monopoly around here. And, more critically, it’s possible to park for free nearby – a rarity in the London Borough of Hackney.

I’ve had a bit of an Internet look at the William Hill situation, whereby it appears they have been attempting to find a suitable successor to James Henderson, their last Chief Executive, who resigned last year apparently because of the “digital decline of its online verticals”. If, like me, you are still mystified, look it up on the net.

But to return to Pippy, as he suggested, Ladbrokes and their allies in this dispute will be unable to show action from any of the three fixtures from Doncaster, Lingfield and Wolverhampton, all ARC tracks. I first got wind of this last week, when another pal, Roger, called from Yarmouth asking if I was watching the racing at home.

I was, and then he said: “are they near the start?” “Where are you?” I replied. “In Ladbrokes, but there’s no pictures, can you give me a commentary?” Apparently someone had had a decent bet and was shocked that he couldn’t see what was happening. Needless to say, the horse lost. They always do when you can’t see it. And when you can.

According to Charlie Brooks, writing in the Daily Telegraph, Ladbrokes intend relaying an in-house commentary, without pictures, from an employee watching in an office at their HQ. There are also plans for the firm to offer their shop punters an app (getting the hang of this techno talk!) enabling them to get the pictures on their mobile phones.

As usual it’s all about price, as with the always-contentious Betting Levy which Sports Minister Tracey Crouch has recommended should be based at ten per cent of gross profits from both retail and online bookmakers in the Levy replacement scheme to be implemented by April 1.

The Sports Minister, born in Ashford, Kent, and an old girl of Folkestone School for Girls and the University of Hull, might sometimes rue the fact that her local course, Folkestone, also under the ARC banner, remains frustratingly closed. Could she not intervene?

The chat is mostly about televising of racing in these early days of 2017. The much-heralded hand-over of terrestrial free broadcasting of racing from Channel Four to ITV has brought varying degrees of approval, presumably on the grounds of previously-held opinions on the broadcasters that have found their way onto the “new” team.

I did switch over during Saturday’s racing from Sandown a couple of times, but remain more attuned to Racing UK. The one thing I found grating was the repeated screaming of Luke Harvey that Finian’s Oscar was “a champion” after his 32 Red Tolworth Novice Hurdle win, when runner-up Capitaine was brought to a complete standstill by a mistake at a crucial part of the race. The fact Capitaine recovered to take second, five lengths behind the admittedly easy winner, up the run-in makes Luke’s insistence somewhat questionable.

Harvey has history. On Attheraces he portrays himself basically as a buffoon. His tipping skills are negligible as is the blatantly off-the-cuff manner in which he has historically arrived at them on his two-man show with Jason Weaver. To his new audience, though, he is presented as an expert. Time will tell. One of the many critiques of the new team I’ve seen reckoned that, in their initial broadcast, four people seemed to be talking at the same time. That’s Luke.

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It was with some surprise that I discovered that what goes for terrestrial television may not be what it seems. One pensioner – she must be old, she’s my age! – down in Cornwall is in an area which cannot receive ITV4, on which subsidiary channel most if not all the new team’s output will be restricted until the Cheltenham Festival.

Even though ITV4 is on Freeview, it is unavailable in certain outposts of the country, including where that particular pensioner lives. She’s a big fan of racing. If there’s a Ladbrokes anywhere near, she can go there today and listen to the commentaries, but she won’t see too much! <Or she could get the internet or use her phone, Ed>

It appears ITV is unlikely to get any better in recognising Jack Quinlan’s talents in the saddle than the other broadcasting outlets. After he rode an exemplary race to win on the Amy Murphy-trained Mercian Prince, coming late and strong up the final hill in a competitive handicap chase, trainer and her father Paul, the owner-breeder, along with the horse, got all the plaudits. Naturally he didn’t get a mention at all in the Racing Post the following day – what’s new?

We’ve had no action with the Raymond Tooth horses since well before Christmas, but the home-bred juveniles are now all but one – hang on a bit longer Mick Channon, he’s been gelded – with their intended trainers.

It was planned to have a runner at Wolverhampton on Friday, but Mick Quinn decided against running Circuit – hope he enjoyed Liverpool’s gallant draw with Plymouth yesterday. In the event, it was slightly irritating in that Camaradorie, the horse which finished third at 100-1 and should have won the race with any luck in running, was a place behind Circuit when Ray’s filly made her debut at Chelmsford.

Mick has one of the two-year-olds, a daughter of Mayson and the Dubawi mare Grass Green, but he was especially happy to take renewed charge of six-times-placed Stanhope, who returned from Shropshire having dropped two stones, but has rather more than that to shed after his grass-gorging break. The trainer and owner will be disappointed if he doesn’t get that first win on the board pretty soon.






Monday Musings: Murphy’s Law Alright for Jack

Is it better to be a small fish in a big pond or the only fish swimming around a puddle? Few are better qualified to make that judgment than Jack Quinlan, possibly the only remaining authentic jump jockey in the surprisingly underused National Hunt location of Newmarket, writes Tony Stafford.

Home for thousands of choicely-bred and often highly-priced Flat racers, all but a handful of horses are kept to that discipline. The occasional jumper has the chance to use the excellent facilities of the Links, close to the centre of town where they are more than likely to share the parking areas with golfers, often jockeys, at the local club.

Until a couple of years ago Neil King’s team was the best equipped to win jumps prizes and Trevor Whelan took the lion’s share of his boss’s mounts. Now they are plying their trade in Wiltshire at a yard close to namesake but un-related Alan King at Barbury Castle.

Unsurprisingly, when Whelan was in town, he and Jack often found themselves in demand for schooling horses, but as son of former HQ trainer Noel, Jack’s lucky break came when John Ferguson began overseeing the training of some of the Godolphin overflow stayers over jumps up the road at Cowlinge in a property once owned by the Mintons.

At first it seemed to outsiders that Fergie would probably be playing at it, a sop by his employer Sheikh Mohammed to Ferguson’s original wish to be a trainer. He, like Simon Crisford, started out as a young assistant, in his case to Sir Michael Stoute until switching to his long-term role with the boys in blue.

Firstly as an amateur and then as a conditional, Jack got onto the Ferguson team riding nine winners in 2010-11 and a career best 27 the following year. But then, ironically he was a sufferer from the success of the Bloomfields project – the Godolphin jumpers run in that corporate entity – as increasingly the top jockeys were employed as the stakes rose.

Initially Denis O’Regan, then Tony McCoy and latterly Aidan Coleman got pretty much all the rides, but even those relative riches for HQ riders ebbed away early this year when John Ferguson reverted to a more central role as Godolphin’s supremo, closing down the jumping operation.

Many of the horses were either sold or transferred to Godolphin’s Flat-race handlers, so even the odd winner that Quinlan still got had disappeared by the start of this season. He’d collected 10, then 19, 16 and 18 in subsequent seasons but often must have thought he should have listened to the suggestions of many friends that maybe he should re-locate outside Newmarket.

The snag for young Master Quinlan – he’s still in his mid-20’s - is that he comes from a close-knit family, with two sisters and a younger brother all steeped in the business. Noel still retains his old contacts and does some trading and preparing horses while his mother Jo spent many years taking the kids to various shows around East Anglia and beyond and training the family’s point-to-pointers.

In mid-summer, Jack’s hopes revolved around some largely unexpected opportunities for Robin Dickin and that West Midlands trainer has supplied Jack three winners from 15 rides, usually when stable jockey Charlie Poste is otherwise engaged. But that, apart from his riding the dribs and drabs of jumpers from around 20 Flat-race operators in the town, seemed to be that. And then along came Amy.

Amy Murphy, that is, daughter of owner Paul, who had plenty of success with among others Charlie Longsdon. His mare Kalane once ran third to Annie Power at the Punchestown Festival but now is probably team leader for Ms Murphy at the stable she occupies in Michael Wigham’s Hamilton stables in the Hamilton Road.

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That accident of location – Noel in also based there – meant Jack would be an obvious choice for picking up schooling duties in what is beginning to look like becoming a bit of a powerhouse.

Amy can’t be too slow. As recently as November 3 she went along to Tattersalls Ireland Ascot sale and for the princely sum of £3,500 came away with a dual winning five-year-old out of Gordon Elliott’s burgeoning yard.

I’d be surprised if Gordon’s even noticed he’s no longer there. A couple of weeks earlier he’d taken two runners to a four-horse claiming hurdle at Stratford and came away with a 1-2. The runner-up Tajseer was the better fancied and was claimed afterwards by an owner of Phil York’s for £5,000. The winner, maybe because nobody could get anywhere near to pronounce his name, was left alone after a two and a quarter length success under Gordon’s much-respected amateur, Lisa O’Neill.

Lisa was the highly-proficient rider of Wrath of Titans, the ill-fated Kerry National winner in the autumn from six Elliott runners. On the same day that Shan Dun na NGall won the claimer at Stratford, she was also successful on the heavily-backed Presenting Julio, owned and trained by Liam Lennon. Her only other UK ride this season brought an unlucky unseated from a David Pipe horse at Cheltenham’s Open meeting.

The Stratford victory encouraged the jumping handicappers to give Shan, you know the rest, a rating of 117. The Racing Post analysis suggested 110, his mark before race, would be testing enough, but Amy did not waste too much time in deciding his future.

Four weeks to the day since his purchase at Ascot, old Dunny was sent to Chelmsford for a 13 furlong Flat-race handicap, from what now looks a gift mark of 48, almost 70lb less than his jumps figure – so probably 25lb too little. Starting 16-1 and ridden by Lemos de Souza, a Brazilian like namesake of former champ Sylvestre, he bolted in.

The official reaction was to adjust him 4lb to 52, and last Saturday he made it two out of two for Amy, her partner Lemos (and owner Mr Melo) by running away from his opposition over two miles at Newcastle.

If it was a red-letter day for the couple, they couldn’t keep JQ out of it, as three hours previously at Doncaster, he’d steered Kalane to a 17-length win over the Doncaster fences – her first chase success and Jack’s second win for the trainer after ex-French Mercian Prince’s easy victory at Southwell in late November.

After a couple of months with a licence, Amy Murphy has already reached five wins, two from seven on the level and three from 14 in her main sphere of operation. I’ve never met the trainer or her father, but a good friend bumped into them at the stable recently and says there’s plenty to come from some classy, unexposed horses. Clearly this looks like a project that could come to fruition probably sooner than even Amy and her two “boys”, Lemos and Jack, could have believed possible. Maybe Newmarket’s jumping pond is going to get a little bigger!

Sunday Supplement: Jack’s 100 (not out)

Sunday supplement

Slipper Satin, one of Jack's 100 winners, was for

Slipper Satin, one of Jack's 100 winners, was for

A couple of weeks ago, upon hearing that John Ferguson’s career as a jumps trainer was soon to be curtailed, I happened to be looking at some of the associated stats concerning his rapid rise in the role.

By mid-season, Fergie had already got to 70, but like a football manager that announces retirement at some point in the future, he has seemingly become becalmed, although that must be in equal measure because of the impossibly heavy going of recent weeks.

In the early days, Godolphin’s newly-rebranded supremo was content to employ the locally-based claimer Jack Quinlan, eligible to ride in all the bumpers and to take weight off the novice hurdlers. Many of the latter group were former middle- to high-class Flat Darley inhabitants of Mark Johnston, Andre Fabre, John Oxx or Godolphin.

Some would come to novice hurdling with historic Flat ratings of up to even 120-plus and it was amusing to read Racing Post previews on their debuts regularly saying that Ferguson “has a good record with horses of this type”. As Geoff Boycott says of some Test bowling: “My mother could have played that roobish with a stick of rhubarb”. I bet a few trainers, starved of success and access to decent stock, might well have a variation of that concept.

But if the idea was that horses struggling in Group class flat races would have a further use, it was a grand one and as it proved, prescient. Just how the suggestion that many of the present intake would revert to Flat careers with Charlie Appleby will work is more questionable.

Certain high-profile trainers have been canvassed whether they would be prepared to take sections of the about-to-be disbanded team with the caveat that Ferguson’s younger son Alex, a 7lb claiming amateur, would be taken along to ride them. Alex has four wins from 24 rides, all for Bloomfields this season, and is clearly taking this early stage of the career seriously, having also gone through the point-to-point preparation route.

While elder brother James is more frequently seen representing Godolphin on the tracks of the country, saving his father’s energies for more pressing duties in the ever-growing organisation, the younger sibling can expect a busy time in the saddle.

As to trainers who might be happy to participate in the young man’s development, I can think of a few who would be prepared to let Sir Alex Ferguson ride them, just to get animals of anything like the Bloomfields quality in their care!

Of course the name Jack Quinlan is never far from the issue where John Ferguson winners are concerned. Only present incumbent Aidan Coleman with 59 wins and former stable jockey Denis O’Regan (57) exceed Quinlan’s 40, and it was as a result of that latest appraisal of Fergie’s five meteoric seasons living out his early ambition as a trainer, that I realised Jack was on 99 wins.

I called him and found him to be totally unaware of the fact. In grey-haired (or, rather, no-haired) mentor mode, I advised him: “Make sure when you get the next one you tell the press and the TV crowd.”

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That winner came at Huntingdon, his local jumps track, on Friday and after he guided Sir Note to a stylish, all-the-way win first time over fences in the Novices’ Handicap Chase, Jack sought out the press corps.

Later he confirmed he’d seen “the French guy who does the racing on Racing UK” – Claude Charlet to you – and also managed to tell the Racing Post man while he was interviewing winning trainer James Eustace that he’d made the milestone.

That said, he added:  “Not that it’ll do much good, the Post never mentions me”, and rarely do the Racing UK lot, Jack if you’d really like to know. None of the: “O’Regan sitting like a statue” <on a 1-4 shot no doubt!>, or “Johnson with yet another brilliant winner”, as he guides one more hot favourite past the jamstick, for Jack.

Confident this time, that there’d at least be a secondary headline in the Talk of the Tracks feature on Huntingdon, bearing in mind this was not a late race that the Canary Wharf mob would have excluded as the writer wanted to beat the Friday night A1/A14 traffic, I looked carefully yesterday.

Yes, the Nicky Henderson winner and Cheltenham candidate Buveur D’Air rightly got top billing and Charlie Longsdon’s drought-ending win came second. Contrary to normal practice, the reporter stayed to watch a Harry Fry bumper win in the finale amid the gathering gloom, while a Colin Tizzard/ Tom Scudamore win was used to preview Thistlecrack’s Cheltenham win yesterday.

Not a sign of Jack or even the emerging development of James Eustace into a bit of a trainer for all seasons.  No reference in the 20 column inches at all, and it was left to a trainer’s quote at the bottom of the actual race report 82 pages further on before the jockey got a mention, even though the race commentary on track gave him several acknowledgments on the way round.

The Analysis gave all the credit to the horse saying “…hadn’t run in a while but he jumped like a pro on this chasing debut, soon opening up an advantage and never relenting.” At the bottom, in tiny print type under QUOTES, it was left to the trainer who generously said: “All credit to Jack Quinlan. Sir Note can be a bit keen if you try to hold him up, so we just let him make it. I thought he gave him a great ride”.

That would be the frequent type of private comment of the trainers of the 60 non-Ferguson winners he’s collected, 16 of them this season from just 103 rides. Only nine of the 54 individual horses he’s partnered this term emanate from outside his local area and friends of mine have long since said he needs to spread his sphere of activity further from his home base.

A connection has been established on a small scale with Robin Dickin, for whom he’s had a few mounts and rides work fairly regularly. Jack hopes that when the trainer’s horses have light weights to carry – he can do the minimum – he could be asked to deputise for stable jockey Charlie Poste, who prefers to operate at a few pounds heavier.

Still in his early 20’s, can Jack make it? Maybe, but as Fergie winds down, Jack still goes in there twice a week and will do so until the bitter end. “Just because I no longer ride the horses in races, no one can say I’m a quitter!”, he says. That’s the attitude that could get him higher up the scale - eventually.

Sunday Supplement: Jack on his way back?

Sunday supplement

By Tony Stafford

Morning! Sorry, do I look a little bleary-eyed? No? Good, it’s just that we were involved in an all-night Reggae party that wound up around an hour ago at 5 a.m. I’d reset the alarm for eight but thought better of it and came into the office.

The trouble with Reggae is that after a while it gets a little samey. They’d gone to such a lot of trouble, too, erecting a marquee – Mrs S saw it going up the day before – over the postage-stamp garden and employing a DJ.

That ensured that the songs would go back-to-back without any gap and everyone could dance non-stop if they wanted for hour after hour.

Did we dance, you ask? Can’t speak for her ladyship, but I am happy to confess to an occasional trigger movement as I shuffled from side to side. As I implied, the gardens around here are small – we have one that backs on to theirs – and it was sure to be crowded at the party’s high-point, probably around three.

So the organisers very kindly allowed us to stay in the relative roominess of our own premises, but pushed up the volume high enough so that we could enjoy every minute in bed without the inconvenience of a crush over there.

No sleep, then, and even the normal pre-waking framing of the route of these weekly words were denied me as the racket kept on relentlessly.

I know that my father would have been on the phone to the police, or more likely putting on his outdoor clothes to knock on the door and demand they desist with a heart-felt: “Don’t you know there are people trying to sleep here?”

Dad, of course they know, but like phones which are grafted onto hands nowadays, people walking over crossings with the lights green for drivers while wearing headphones and stepping straight out oblivious, while others walk along the street eating hot food, often with a fork, it’s how it is today. And I hate it all. Insensitivity to others’ comfort is king. As for the police, the last time this crowd had a similar celebration – they belted out Happy Birthday at 3 a.m. – we tried the police and spoke to someone I think somewhere near Heathrow, who suggested talking to the Council. That helped, can you imagine?

Now I remember what I was thinking to talk about. Some jockeys can ride a few winners and get non-stop coverage. They win on a fancied horse and the media can attribute to them almost magical powers. Others hardly credit a mention. That’s been the case with Jack Quinlan ever since he stopped getting the bulk of the John Ferguson rides when Sheikh Mohammed turned the trickle of high-grade Flat performers into his yard near Newmarket into a flood.

In Fergie’s first season at Cowlinge he sent out 24 winners from 78 runners. Jack, then a claimer, rode 20 of them from 58 rides and added seven more, usually from other trainers from the area including his uncle Mick who trained in conjunction with Jack’s father Noel.

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Sadly Mick died soon after, Noel taking over the licence, but during early 2015 he packed up too. It would have been a double blow for someone less durable than Jack, especially with the Ferguson opportunities dwindling.

In Ferguson’s second season, which brought 23 wins, Quinlan rode only six of them from 31 rides, being largely supplanted by Denis O’Regan with 16 from 82. O’Regan’s quiet style attracted not just the attention of the Bloomfields trainer but also large numbers within the media, headed by Stuart Machin, who usually could be heard saying something of the order of: “another master-class from O’Regan” as he came late and fast to win.

It was towards the end of the previous campaign that Jack got the most unexpected and as history was to show probably unhelpful comment from none other than John Francome. Mr McCririck’s “greatest jockey” was still in his Channel Four role for the 2012 Festival and after Simonsig’s novice hurdle win was secured when Cotton Mill swerved and ran out at the last under O’Regan, Francome was asked what he would do with Cotton Mill next time. “Put Jack Quinlan back on,” he replied.

He was indeed back on the gelding once the following season when Cotton Mill beat all bar the well-handicapped My Tent or Yours in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, but such gems were rare indeed. The following season it was nine from 40 compared to 38 from 161 for O’Regan as the team reached 50 successes for the first time.

As Ferguson maximised the benefits of increased support from graduates of such as Godolphin, Mark Johnston, Andre Fabre and John Oxx’s yards, his confidence persuaded him to call on Tony McCoy in ever-increasing regularity as O’Regan was abruptly jettisoned. This time it was 56 wins, but it took 71 individual horses, many of them Pattern-class on the Flat, to get there. McCoy in his final season had 26 wins from 86, Jack five from 29.

For much of the first part of the present season, Ferguson was pressing Paul Nicholls at the top of the charts and leading the way in number of winners. Again there’s been an increase in wins, 68 already from a similar number of horses as last term, although the end of season tally must surely exceed 71. For the record that winning total and greatly increased prize money has come at a handsome 33% strike-rate.

There’s no question it’s a stable going places and with an almost limitless potential supply of staying horses it could even fulfil Sheikh Mohammed’s naturally secondary priority and win a trainer’s championship one day for his main bloodstock advisor. He may not have bothered much about jumping previously, but we should remember that Kribensis and Michael Stoute won the Champion Hurdle for him many years ago.

As for Jack he’s been on just three Ferguson runners, all unsuccessful, as Aidan Coleman has become the latest incumbent, and one that looks set to last, maybe. Coming up fast on the rails though are Sam Twiston-Davies, five from 12, and Fergie’s son Alex (not Sir), who has four from 21 and has the family motivation to do even better.

Jack Quinlan had two rides at Doncaster on Friday and they both won, the first for one-time Newmarket handler Neil King, the other for HQ’s doyen, the wonderful James Eustace. With 12 wins from 81 rides, Jack is ticking over nicely, and anyone who saw the stylish way he presented the pair at the jumps and his power in a finish, it is still possible that he might come to a few more trainers’ notice, even if the pundits continue not to see past their favoured ones.


Trainer Stats: 1st March 2012

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