Tag Archive for: Sir Busker

Sir Busker could make Superior comeback at Haydock

The ever-popular Sir Busker could return to action in the Superior Mile at Haydock in early September.

Trained by William Knight in Newmarket, the gelding is an admirable campaigner who reached new heights this time last year when winning the York Stakes and then running a massive race at the same track to come home third in the Juddmonte International.

He then went to ply his trade in the Middle East as spring approached this term, but an eye infection turned a brief stay into a longer one as he required surgery to save his vision.

The procedure was a success and he returned to work earlier in the campaign, just missing out on his aim of returning to the Ebor meeting again to contest the Strensall Stakes.

An alternative target has been pencilled into his diary by owner Kennet Valley Syndicates, however, with the Group Three Superior Mile on the agenda for the seven-year-old.

Sir Busker after victory in the Silver Royal Hunt Cup
Sir Busker after victory in the Silver Royal Hunt Cup (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Sam Hoskins, racing manager to the group, said: “He’s great, he had a bad eye infection out in Dubai and that’s why we haven’t seen him this summer.

“He nearly got to the Strensall at York last week, but he just blew up in a piece of work a week before and William Knight just said he didn’t want to rush him to get there.

“He is nearly ready to go, he could run in the Superior Mile which is the Group Three at Haydock on Sprint Cup Day – September 9.

“I’m sure he’d probably come on for the run a bit, but it’ll be great to see him back on the course.

“He owes us absolutely nothing, we’ll have to see how we get on this autumn, but he’s been showing his usual zest for life. Hopefully he can run a nice race there and we can start to make plans for the future.”

Sir Busker on comeback trail after eye operation

Sir Busker is on the mend with a York return pencilled in after his right eye was saved by veterinary staff at the Dubai Equine Hospital.

The highly-popular gelding is trained by William Knight and owned by Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds and gave connections a day to remember when winning the Group Two York Stakes last season.

He was then a gallant third at 100-1 in the Juddmonte International, before starting out with a second-placed run in the Tandridge Stakes early this year and then flying out to the Middle East.

Ninth in the Neom Turf Cup at Riyadh and 10th in the Dubai Turf at Meydan, the bay then suffered from an eye injury that required him to stay put in Dubai and undergo an operation.

The procedure – which took flesh from his haunches and grafted it onto his eye – was a success and prevented the eye from being removed and from his vision being completely lost on the right side.

Sir Busker has since returned home and has been eased back into work by Knight, who is hopeful he can be back for the Ebor meeting on the Knavesmire in August.

“We’ve just had to take it steady with him, but I would love to try and have him back for the York August meeting – maybe something like the Strensall Stakes,” he said.

“That’s what I’m thinking about, we’re not going to rush him to get there but we hope he gets there in his own time.

“It’s been a long road back but we’ve managed to save the eye and he’s got vision in there, it’s nice to have him back and have him in work.”

Knight feels a return to the routine of training has done Sir Busker the world of good, and by the time he takes to the track again his wounded eye should bear very few signs of the operation.

Sir Busker after winning the Silver Royal Hunt Cup in 2020
Sir Busker after winning the Silver Royal Hunt Cup in 2020 (Edward Whitaker/PA)

“He was quiet for a good period of time when he got back, not his usual self, but he’s just started to perk up in the past couple of weeks,” he said.

“By getting him back into work we’ve got the whole system moving again and that’s what has done him good, rather than just going on the walker and being led out, when that happens they start to lose a lot of condition. Now he’s back in work and I think he’s done very well for it.”

Of the healing process of the eye, he added: “It’s a bit pink but by the time it gets to racing I would hope it will have gone, aesthetically it doesn’t look great but actually it is offering the eye protection in a way.

“It’s quite bizarre, the whole thing, but it is an amazing procedure.

“The first thing was saving his eye and then making sure he’s still got vision in it, which he definitely has though the percentage is hard to gauge until the skin graft properly disappears.

“Then we can get a proper look, but if you wave your hand on that side he blinks, so there’s definitely some vision there.”

Sir Busker team opt for Turf goal at Saudi Cup fixture

William Knight is hoping to sharpen Sir Busker’s stall speed ahead of his run in the Neom Turf Cup in Saudi Arabia.

The seven-year-old holds an entry in the Riyadh Group Three run over an extended 10 furlongs on February 25.

The decision to run the gelding in the contest took some reaching, however, with Knight and connections also considering the Saudi Cup itself for a massive prize fund of over £7million to the winner.

Ultimately the surface was the deciding factor as the Saudi Cup is run on dirt, a surface Sir Busker has not encountered before.

“We have talked long and hard about this, which one to go for? I promise you it has changed daily!” said Knight.

Sir Busker at Royal Ascot
Sir Busker at Royal Ascot (Edward Whitaker/PA)

“I’ve spoken to a couple of the jockeys about the dirt out there and taken advice from a few people. It’s a really hard one because it is such an amazing opportunity to run for that sort of money in the Saudi Cup.

“I just feel now that the trip will really suit him. We know he goes well on the turf, just looking at the entries for both races, I think we have a better chance of being in the first three in the Neom than we would on the dirt.”

A factor in the decision to stick to turf was Sir Busker’s slow exits from the stalls in recent starts, a habit Knight is aiming to improve but one that would leave him facing significant kickback were he to lose lengths at the start of a race run on dirt.

The trainer said: “He has been slowly away and though we are doing stalls work with him, if he does face the kickback on the dirt, he’ll have never really encountered that. As much as the money is very, very tempting, I think we’ve sided with the turf.

“We need to address it, I purposely hadn’t over the winter because I just thought it was something he had got into at the end of the season.

Sir Busker winning at Royal Ascot
Sir Busker (second from right) winning at Royal Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“His last couple of runs he was just slightly slowly away. I’m glad we ran him at Lingfield the other day, we just needed to blow the cobwebs out but you wouldn’t want that to happen at the meeting in the three weeks time.

“We’re going to address it this week – we’ve got (stalls specialist) Craig Witheford booked on Thursday to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Sir Busker finished second in the Listed Tandridge Stakes on Saturday, where he was partnered by Ryan Moore as horse and jockey got acquainted before heading to Saudi Arabia.

“Ryan will ride Sir Busker. Ben Curtis has done very well on him but we didn’t know if he was going to be back and riding fit in time for him, he’s out for a long time with a shoulder injury,” Knight explained.

“This is why Ryan rode him at Lingfield the other day, to get a feel of him because he’s never ridden him before and with a view to riding him in the Neom.”

Sir Busker’s trainer William Knight at Royal Ascot
Sir Busker’s trainer William Knight at Royal Ascot (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Sir Busker signed off last term with two runs Knight regards as career highlights, a victory in the Group Two York Stakes and a third place in the Group One Juddmonte at the same track.

Those performances are proof that he is only improving with age and Knight is hopeful that theme can continue into this season as he provides owners Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds with an experience many can only dream of.

“Having looked at the entries and what is going to run, he has got as good a chance as any of them,” he said.

“The owners have all got one 16th in him each and they know how lucky they are, they know that this is the horse of a lifetime.

“Everyone’s on a journey and it’s great. Some of the owners have had a bit of bad luck with other horses over the last few years and this has reignited it and that’s so important for everyone.

“He’s given everyone so much enjoyment and hopefully he can continue that through the season.”

Sir Busker handed Neom Turf Cup target

The Kennett Valley Thoroughbreds Syndicate will hope Sir Busker can put his name in lights when he runs in the Neom Turf Cup on Saudi Cup night.

A brave third behind the brilliant Baaeed in the Juddmonte International at York, the William Knight-trained seven-year-old has had a break since that run in August.

A model of consistency, he has notched six victories from 38 starts and finished runner-up on another nine occasions, earning in excess of £560,000 in prize-money.

Though he had been predominantly campaigned over a mile, he proved a real money-spinner when upped in trip last term and belied his 100-1 odds when chasing home Baaeed and Mishriff at York.

Syndicate manager Sam Hoskins said: “He’s good. After the Juddmonte he went for a break, unlike last year when he stayed on and ran on Champions day.

“As a result, he’s much further forward this year and he is going to run at Lingfield in a new Listed race – the Tandridge Stakes, over a mile on February 4.

“That suits him quite well, because there are no penalties, he doesn’t have to carry a Group Two penalty in that.

“Then the plan is to go out to Saudi Arabia and run in the Group Three Neom Turf Cup over a mile and two (furlongs) and then, if we get invited, the plan will be to then run in the Group One Dubai Turf in which he was fifth last year.”

Sir Busker ran eight times last season with his sole success coming in the Group Two York Stakes in July. That race will again be targeted once his passport has been put in the drawer.

Hoskins added: “After that Group Two win and a third in Juddmonte International, anything from now on is just a bonus.

“That said, he is only seven and hasn’t had that much racing. William Knight is really good with those older horses

“I don’t really know the UK plan, but I would think the mile and two (furlong) route will be explored, with possibly the Brigadier Gerard (Sandown) or something being a starting point.

“Part one is the foreign affairs, but after that, the plan is to definitely go back to the York Stakes, if fit and well. We will try and win that race we won last year and then go to the Juddmonte again, although obviously we will be running for place money.

“All the other horses go off to stud and he’s still there. He is the perfect syndicate horse and we are lucky to have him.

“He’s has been a good cash machine, but he does come first and and he will race until he is retired and we will give him a good retirement one day. Hopefully he’ll have a couple more years with him yet, though.”

Monday Musings: Pocket Talk!

We were looking for performances of championship quality at York last week and Ghaiyyath, Love and Battaash certainly provided them, writes Tony Stafford. Battaash maybe didn’t need to be quite at his best to win a second Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes, benefiting from unexpectedly disappointing runs from Art Power and A’Ali as well as the absence of the Wesley Ward two-year-old Golden Pal. But he overcame difficult ground conditions and had to catch a flying filly in Que Amoro to land the odds.

Love was also an odds-on shot in the Yorkshire Oaks, and she made it three majestic Group 1s in the year following 1,000 Guineas and Oaks supremacy with another flawless performance, galloping five and a bit lengths clear of 33-1 shot Alpinista.

Aidan O’Brien and winning rider Ryan Moore did nothing to dissuade us that Love’s rightful objective and a highly winnable one would be the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in which she would form the third major protagonist along with Enable, wisely pulled out of a pre-emptive clash with her last week in favour of the September Stakes, and Ghaiyyath.

Much was made after the Yorkshire Oaks of the three-year-old fillies’ big advantage in the Arc against their elders and contemporary colts. They need to be good, though, and no female of that age contested last year’s race. Two did the year before, the sadly ill-fated Sea of Class just failed to catch Enable when her 7lb weight pull (10lb from older males) was almost enough. Magical, back at her best trip when a three-length second to the impressive Ghaiyyath in the Juddmonte last week, was tenth in that second Arc victory by Enable.

I think Love will win the Arc, and the way she coped with the rain-affected ground last week was probably the final piece in the puzzle.

I want to gloss over the rest of the big-race action at York to concentrate on three if-only moments, one from the Knavesmire, two of which certainly deserved to have a different result.

Peter Charalambous is an owner-trainer based in Newmarket who breeds most of his own horses but rarely has more than ten in training at any one time, many now running in the partnership name of pcracing.com. Over the years he has been particularly successful on the July Course at Newmarket where Trulee Scrumptious has been a standing dish, winning seven times on that track, usually at the Friday Newmarket Nights meetings, so greatly missed by regulars this year.

Before Trulee Scrumptious, Peter did even better with the higher-class mare Boonga Roogeta, who over five seasons won 11 of her 46 starts, at one time achieving an official rating of 96.

Now she is one of his most valued broodmares but when her 2018 foal by Equiano hit the track on the Rowley Mile this month, there was little hint of expectation in the overnight betting market. Called Apollo One, the colt, who went unsold through Book 3 of Tattersalls yearling sales last October at 3,500gns, opened at 33-1, drifting to 40’s before the Charalambous insiders caused him to drop to 22-1 at the off.

Difficult to load, he was slightly slowly away but Martin Harley allowed him to lead and despite setting only a modest pace, he was soon clear. Eased some way before the finish, he won pulling up by four lengths from the Richard Hannon-trained Keep Right On.

That was only a maiden auction race and he was receiving 3lb from the runner-up in a field of 11, so when he turned out for yesterday’s Solario Stakes, Group 3, at Sandown he was again an under-valued contender. Charalambous might be excused for thinking the horse was disrespected just as he, pointing to his Greek Cypriot heritage as a possible underlying reason, has often felt shunned and excluded by the Newmarket establishment.

In the race, faced by the highly-regarded Hannon colt Etonian, Apollo One, and this time the complete outsider of the field at 28-1, he was again was the subject of late support. He ran accordingly. Fast away under Luke Morris, he led until inside the final furlong where Etonian finally got to him and it was only in the closing strides that second-favourite King Vega got up to deny him second place by half a length.

The Racing TV team certainly gave Apollo One more than a passing complimentary mention and I’d love to see him win a Group race to give this enthusiastic and talented professional’s many years of hard graft some financial reward to go with the already secured black type recognition. Certainly Boonga Roogeta’s subsequent foals will get more attention at future yearling sales. It was nice, too, to see Julie Wood’s colours, after a quiet time, coming to the fore again with Etonian.

Like most of her horses in a much-reduced string compared with a decade ago, Etonian was bought as a foal, in his case at Goffs in Ireland for €14,000. Re-submitted in Tattersalls Book 4 the following year, fortunately he was led out unsold at 10,000Gns. A son of Olympic Glory, originally owned by Mrs Wood, but then bought by Qatar’s Sheikh Johann at the time when he was becoming briefly a major player, he won three of his four races in her colours. His first run for new connections was a victory in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on Arc day, so it would be a nice piece of symmetry if, as planned, Etonian takes in that same race this October.

I’ve been following the William Knight-trained Sir Busker all season, delighting in his wins, at Newcastle before lockdown when beating subsequent Royal Hunt Cup winner Dark Vision and then again in the consolation Hunt Cup. Since then he’s probably been the unluckiest handicapper in training, first throwing away a winning chance by hanging violently left in the last furlong of the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket before recovering to chase home Motakhayyel.

At Goodwood he was possibly the pick of all the many “stuck on the rails in handcuffs” victims, but at York this week came the unkindest cut of all. Dropped out by Oisin Murphy in the ultra-competitive 17-runner Clipper Logistics Handicap, he was easily spotted, moving along serenely up the inside under the champion jockey.

Then approaching the bend into the straight with nothing apparently to hinder his course, Murphy suddenly was confronted by a vision in light blue, the 50-1 shot Red Bond, on whom John Egan effected a wholly-unnecessary, highly-illegal and totally-damaging abrupt left turn onto the rails right in Sir Busker’s path.

Instead of turning for home in midfield, he now had five more horses than would have been the case to re-pass once he was able to re-engage forward movement. In the straight, with the whole field coming up the middle, Sir Busker, who, as he showed in the Bunbury Cup tends to go left, drifted across to the far rails with absolutely no cover. He had maybe five lengths to make up from less than two furlongs out only failing by a neck with once again a Hamdan horse, this time Montatham, denying him victory.

Rated only 92 at the start of the season, he was running off 15lb higher at York and in finishing second in a race where the first four home in that big field were the quartet at the top of the betting, should mean that his handicapping days are almost over. Knight though has long felt that the Cambridgeshire, over nine furlongs at his new home course Newmarket, is the ideal race while acknowledging he’ll need another personal best with the probability of another small rise in his mark to win that for all that it’s ideal in terms of getting cover and room to make your move. Then of course there’s the three-year-olds to worry about.

There was another instance of an unlucky loser at Cartmel yesterday on a day where massive prices, a week on from the 300-1 winner in Ireland, were once again commonplace, not just in Ireland, but also in England and France.

Ben Haslam was the star of the show at Cartmel, winning with a 66-1 chance, Black Kraken, in the opener and book-ending the card with 22-1 shot Ever So Much. The latter, an 11-year-old in the J P McManus colours was winning for the 13th time in his career, off a mark of 92. As the Haslam double came out at a massive 1,540-1, it is doubtful whether J P had too much on it! And, if he did, he’s very likely cursing his other Haslam runner, Demi Sang, finishing second at 9/1, narrowly foiling a 15,400 treble!

For much of the closing stages it appeared that his veteran would have to be content with second place as the 40-1 shot Artic Quest, having his first run for 13 months and stable debut for Micky Hammond, looked the certain winner three hurdles from home.

Unlike Ever So Much, Artic Quest had never managed to finish in the first three in any of his previous 16 races in Ireland, under Rules or in points. He achieved a solitary fourth place and that was the only time he got within hailing distance in any race.

In his last Irish outing, on July 6 last year, he ran in a three-mile hurdle, by which time the official Irish handicapper had given him an initial mark of 87. In a field of five at Bellewstown he started 100-1 and finished last, 47 lengths behind the winner and 20 lengths adrift of the fourth horse.

Three days later, Ever So Much, already a 12-time winner, ran his last race over hurdles before yesterday and was well beaten running off 99. In the interim he won one of five chases. In his wisdom, the handicapper dropped him 7lb to 92 for yesterday’s return to hurdles. The same official saw fit to rate Artic Quest, whose deficits in his 13 previous runs were (in bumpers) 25 lengths, pulled up and 19.5; then, over hurdles, 38 lengths, 9.5, PU, PU, 3.5, 55, PU, 116, 40 and 47. No wonder he rated him 7lb HIGHER than his Irish counterpart had done, so that yesterday he was GIVING weight to a prolific winner!

I spoke to Micky Hammond before the race and he said that while his form in Ireland was poor, Artic Quest had been working well, although the early-morning 25-1 had become double that before some small correction into his 40-1 SP.

Just like Sir Busker, ill-luck was to step in. At the sixth flight, as Becky Smith was just allowing the eight-year-old to move closer to the leaders, one of the front runners fell immediately in front of him, interrupting his progress. He recovered and, remarkably, was cantering all over the three leaders, with the rest already well beaten off jumping two out.

I can hardly call Micky at four a.m. to check if his horse, dismounted by Becky immediately on passing the line, had finished lame as I feared he may have done, but the way he weakened markedly while the winner plodded on halfway up the long run-in would tend to suggest he might have.

You guessed it. Sir Busker, Apollo One and Artic Quest, I was on them all. As I said, if only!

On a day when there was a 48-1 Group 1 winner in France for James Fanshawe, his third Prix Jean Romanet in six years; those two big prices at Cartmel and winners at 20-1, 22-1, 50-1 and 22-1 at Naas, why couldn’t I be allowed a 40-1 winner of my own?

- TS