Even a stopped clock is right, twice a day – Turf Talk: 27 January 2020

Jan 27, 2020

SIGNOR Tesio’s Piece Of Wood.
SIGNOR Tesio’s Piece Of Wood.

LONGINES brought it all back. In declaring three horses the equal 2019 “World’s Best Racehorses” , the elongated battle in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot came instantly to mind.

For a reminder of all that, you may be kind enough to remember or would like to have a look at https:// bit.ly/38DRu1m – the piece was all about a ballerina and racehorses. Or better still, please read on and come back to that if you have time.

CRYSTAL OCEAN and ENABLE were the stars of that show, one of them being joint top Longines ranked for coming second to the other.

That is a bit of an odd situation when you come to think of it. These rankings are of best performances in an individual race. Hypothetically, a horse could run a freak race and win in record time and rating, and run last in seven other races, but be the World’s Best Racehorse.

It’s probably all in the language. Undoubtedly the technicalities of these ratings are sound – it’s not the structure that is right or wrong. It’s the feeling.

Is the wonderful package that is Dina Asher-Smith, history graduate at King’s College, London and World Champion at 200 metres in a time of 21.88 a better or worse runner than Elaine Thompson, Rio Olympic Champion at the same distance? ET’s time (not that ET, this ET) was 21.78.

It takes what it takes to win each race. This writer looks forward to Asher-Smith in Tokyo 2020 in much the same way as he looks forward to the colossal treat of Enable reappearing for the 2020 Turf Season.

But there’s something else about the Longines results.

If you disagree with the method of determining the “World’s Best Racehorse”, you must agree that even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Not that Longines clocks (watches) stop of course…

The point of that phrase is that someone who you think is wrong is not always wrong.

DINA Asher-Smith, 200m Gold, 100m silver.
DINA Asher-Smith, 200m Gold, 100m silver.

I find it very comforting when I hear it said. It originated in the early 18th century and has stayed in use since, including yesterday morning on the Andrew Marr show as used by an excellent female journalist (in the context that however much you disagree with a politician he or she is not going to be 100% wrong) while failing to suppress her delight and anticipation of “getting plastered” on Friday night when the UK departs the EU.

So CRYSTAL OCEAN, ENABLE and WALDGEIST are the World’s Best Racehorses. What distinguishes them?

Is it that Waldgeist was bred by Maine Chance? Well, Gestut Ammerland & Newsells Park. Same chocolate. Brilliant. An Arc Winner!

Is it that Crystal Ocean went to stud as a National Hunt stallion immediately? Yes, really. By Sea the Stars out of a mare by Mark of Esteem, for whose daughters I would crawl across hot coals. But straight to Beeches Stud went he, to join NH royalty such as Flemensfirth and new boy Ocovango whose first runner rocked up over hurdles the other day. If they let him, Crystal Ocean could cover a thousand.

No. What distinguishes them is Signor Federico Tesio, surely the most revered (including in South Africa) of all breeding experts.

One of his most famous quotations is trotted out less regularly these days. It begins “The Thoroughbred exists because its selection has depended, not on experts, technicians or zoologists but on a piece of wood: the Winning Post of the Epsom Derby”.

The link between the Longines best three rated racehorses in the world is that they are all mile and a half (2400 metres) champions.

In terms of impact, however, the beginning of Tesio’s postulation is only part of it. He continued “If you base your criteria on anything else, you will get something else, not the Thoroughbred”.

“Ouch” cries all of Australian bloodstock, breeding to win the Golden Slipper. “Blimey” mutter UK and Irish ‘commercial’ breeders of something that will win yesterday.


So Longines backs up Tesio and is applauded for it. Not as emotionally as those three fabulous horses were applauded on the track and two of them will be again.

Just look at hundreds of thousands in Japan turning out to bid farewell to the Longines joint 3rd rated (joint 5th ranked) LYS GRACIEUX (JPN), a name confusing as to gender in French, but undoubtedly of a daughter of the Sunday Silence horse Heart’s Cry. She won (2000-2400m) the QEII at Kyoto, The Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin, the Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin and flew south to win no less than the Cox’s Plate at Moonee Valley, all Group 1, and many more.

She drew massive crowds when paraded on retirement, not to mention generated a not-so-small fortune in Lys Gracieux souvenir sales.

Enough, perhaps, of these opposites of early sprinty 2 year olds. Let’s have a look at the 2019 horse rated better than Frankel.

In official international handicapping ratings, which are different to the Longines version, PINATUBO in 2019 became the highest rated 2 year old since CELTIC SWING in 1994 at 128.

That son of Damister won an amazing renewal of the Racing Post Trophy for 2 year olds and went on to win the French Derby, cleverly protected from the undulations of Epsom because of his incorrect forelegs by his owner Peter Savill.

Many things distinguished Peter Savill, Chairman of the British Horseracing Board. One was that he went to war with the bookies and was ultimately defeated by the EU Court of Justice turning over rulings by the two highest English courts thus condemning British racing to continued penury for many years, and the other was that he had dozens of horses in training and made all his own racing entries.

Frankel was a 2 year old in 2010 winning all his starts including a Group 1, but not rated as highly in so doing.

Pinatubo, trained by Charlie Appleby for Godolphin, won six out of six at 2 including two Group 1s – the Dewhurst at Newmarket and an incredible performance in the National Stakes at The Curragh.

By Shamardal (Giant’s Causeway/Machiavellian), Pinatubo is out of a mare by Dalakhani, a multiple Group 1 winner up to a mile and a half by – like Mark of Esteem – Darshaan.

(Dalakhani mares = me crawling over more hot coals).

So will Pinatubo train on? Might he stay the Derby distance? The first run at 3 of the best 2 year old for 25 years, only a couple of pounds off Arazi, will be watched by a multitude. – tt.

ENABLE (nearest camera) and Crystal Ocean
lock horns. (Sporting Life),
ENABLE (nearest camera) and Crystal Ocean lock horns. (Sporting Life),
BIG-striding Pinatubo winning the Gr1
National Stakes.
BIG-striding Pinatubo winning the Gr1 National Stakes.
2019 World’s Best Racehorses.
2019 World’s Best Racehorses.