Fillies oblige doing their Duty

This entry was posted on Monday, May 17th, 2010

On Sunday 2nd May, 1,000 guineas day, I had the treat of watching top class racing at Newmarket on TV.  Pleasure for me usually means attending a race meeting on a sunny day, with a picnic lunch, a beer and a bet to cover the expenses – but I haven’t been able to go for a while.

I last made it to Newmarket for the July 1981 meeting as part of Bill Marshall’s party; on my previous visit to headquarters in 1970 I had a great day and saw the great Nijinsky win. I’d bought half a share in a filly with Bill who agreed to show me how to pick winners, something he was normally good at. I got into owning half of Miss Stolen, when my wife, pregnant with our first child had been moved by a story on TV about Bill Marshall flying back from South Africa in his own plane to join in the war with the RAF, and she thought that he had appealed for new owners.

Responding to her call, and thinking I’d be in on a good source for savvy gambles, we visited his yard the following Sunday, and cut the deal. I did not know then that she would end up as expensive pet food, having raced once at an Edinburgh evening meeting (unseen by me), and that It would cost me nearly £1,000 trying Bill’s tips. I usually back my judgement (successfully, I might add, as my wife and I are useful readers of form), and had many a fun day coming back from the races with full pockets.

So, back to the 1,000 guineas. My wife had reminded me of the racing on the telly and I switched on just in time to see Strawberry Daiquiri parading; the mare looked so outstanding, that having no intention to bet, I ended up phoning Ladbrokes for a touch at 11/8 and Strawberry went on to oblige. The Guineas followed – wide open at least in the betting – and I decided on Criquette Head’s filly – Special Duty, and got 9/2 in a fairly open race.

I didn’t really enjoy the race as the runners split and I could not judge the group that was ahead. Evidently, it was the stand side and Duty was pipped by Henry Cecil’s filly going past the post at 66/1. I was left really feeling stupid not to have backed a Cecil filly, in a classic, at 66/1! When the stewards enquiry was announced, I thought little of my chances, having been impressed as to how the Cecil filly, when falling behind jerked back into the lead. It was not until we were shown the head-on footage that we could see the Cecil filly gradually swerving to carry Special Duty halfway across the field. The stewards reversed the placings after a long enquiry, during which, the French filly’s trainer had thought her charge would get the race if it had been run in France. Just like old times, I came out ahead, and called it a day. I find it best to always quit when ahead.

Yesterday, Special Duty ran again in France, and won her second Classic, again after another disqualification – surely a record that will not be easily broken.

2010 1,000 guineas

Special Duty winning in the stewards room, brought back memories of another great filly with a similar name that I backed for the 1970 1,000 Guineas with Lester Piggot on board. Humble Duty won the 1970 guineas in great style by 7 easy lengths, hardly extended as she flew towards the winning line.

1970 1,000 gunieas

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