Notepad on Life

October 6, 2011

We know the deal with flat racing’s transitory heroes, spare us the cant

Filed under: animals,Sport — - @ 5:52 pm
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What a bizarre comment by racehorse owner Khalifa Dasmal in the wake of his colt Dream Ahead’s win in the Qatar Prix de la Foret in Paris last weekend.

“I believe the plan is now to retire him. If he raced next year, he would just be winning the same races he won this year.”

Well of course he would: that’s how sport works; with a series of annual renewals that builds tradition and history. I’m trying to think of a sport that produces a completely different set of challenges every year but I’m afraid I’m struggling.

Imagine if everyone had the same attitude to such humdrum routine as Mr Dasmal. Tiger Woods would have retired a decade ago with one of each Major title to his name and Red Rum would have been booed across the Aintree finishing line in 1977, his audience resentful of the fact that it had seen that particular party piece twice already. As for Sir Alex Ferguson: 12 Premiership titles? The poor bloke must be bored out of his mind.

I think Dream Ahead’s owner is being a little bit cute here, hitting upon a silly euphemism with which to mask the same old, same old where the Sport of Kings’ summer code is concerned.

Top-drawer Flat horses retire because their owners feel they have hit the perfect sweet spot between winning enough races to boost their stud value and not losing enough races to prejudice it. Hence, the reign of too many great Flat stallions lasts about as long as a pint of milk: you bunk up their marketability and then retire them pronto – often in the same season – so that they may embark upon an equally lucrative career making babies.

That’s the real reason Dream Ahead may have galloped in anger for the final time. Having several more cracks at winning “the same races he won this year” could possibly make him a legend. Avoiding defeat, however, definitely makes his owners a fortune.

There’s the rub.

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