Why should a seven-year-old boy “click” with a pony, as he put it himself, and think he could make it in such a sphere anyway?
Some stories, you shouldn’t turn your back on.
Having seen Jacob’s fortunes change in recent months, trainer Robert Alner decided it was time for a shake-up in his yard. He took Andrew Thornton, the senior jockey at his English set-up, off The Listener for the prestigious Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on Friday last. One man’s loss was Jacob’s gain but it didn’t stop there. Not only did he line up in the race aboard the 7-1 chance, but he took an early lead, and just kept going. By the finish he had left the much more illustrious home combination of Beef Or Salmon and War Of Attrition battling to fill out the places.
Afterwards Alner reflected, “It’s funny how things work. I thought Beef Or Salmon was a good thing and I certainly didn’t expect to beat him in his own back yard. I can’t believe the way he did it but this horse is obviously very good.” If he sounded surprised, all Jacob could muster was, “He’s got a lot of criticism but sometimes he finds the job too easy and falls asleep – a bit like Kauto Star.”
The win saw the seven-year-old’s odds for the Gold Cup cut from 33-1 to 10-1 but to imagine another fairytale at Cheltenham is pushing it. Firstly there was the soft Leopardstown ground that suited The Listener, ground that’s unlikely at the English venue in March. And then there’s the aforementioned Kauto Star.
A horse that has been the talk of the racing world thanks to some sensational wins, Kauto Star was at it again at Kempton, winning the King George VI Chase last week. Having nearly tumbled at the fourth-last and ultimate fences, Ruby Walsh kept him on his feet and having already won the Betfair Chase and the King George, a Gold Cup win will see him land a