The Duke’s Weekend Review

The weekend was full of more twists and turns than I was expecting.

For those at Ascot for Shergar Cup day, there was excitement for fans of Great Britain and Ireland, who emerged victorious on the day, with Fran Berry lifting the Silver Saddle after two wins. However, it was the first winning jockey on the card who I want to focus on.

Jamie Spencer notched up his 2000th British Flat winner with victory on Stake Acclaim in the Shergar Cup Dash.

Now, I must confess upfront that I have long found the jockey’s exaggerated waiting tactics something of a frustration. However, he is undoubtedly a very fine jockey. He has previously made a very solid case that when riding at the back you can see how the race is going to unfold and can take aim appropriately. Like every man talking from his pocket, it’s hard to see the beauty of such tactics when Spencer comes with a late surge on a flying mount, to finish second, a neck or less behind the winner.

Indeed, one of my favourite memories of Spencer’s ability in the saddle was on Deauville in the Belmont Derby Invitational last year, when he rode the horse up with the pace before timing his challenge perfectly and holding on from the front. I’d love to see him do that more often, but fair play to him, he’s joined an elite club and he deserves his place there.

Best wishes on recovery to William Buick after his fall on the ill-fated Permian in the Secretariat Stakes. Condolences too to Mark Johnston, who doesn’t deserve the social media abuse he got afterwards. Trolls pointed fingers about ‘over-racing’ Permian as if that caused his demise. Firstly, there aren’t many who know and care more about horses than Mark Johnston.

Secondly, racing is his business. Horses, especially ones like Permian, are valuable and purely from a business perspective he would not risk him if he thought there was any chance of such an injury. Finally, they are racehorses. The clue is in the name. Maybe the trolls should crawl back to the nasty little hole where they came from?

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