Sunday, 11 June 2017

Answer Time

Well, I can't say that I have been overwhelmed by responses to the little brain teaser I posed just before I disappeared on holiday (see previous post), but as I write this stuff entirely for my own amusement, I'm not too bovvered.

I tried to play fair with everyone in the way I worded the puzzle, and the biggest clue should have been the way I only mentioned surnames. If I had listed Alexander Alekhine; Jose Raul Capablanca and so on, all the way down to Natalia Zhukova, then I would have been guilty of deliberately misleading you. Because my list did not include 9 chess players. Come on - how could it, when I guaranteed that Zhukova was the top rated? Above Alekhine and Capablanca?? No way, Jose (Raul)!

And those ratings!? Petrosian 67? Smyslov 82?? They were probably higher than that at the age of 5. But the ratings were a big clue. As for anyone remotely interested in sport, they might well have brought to mind something very different to chess.

My list was in fact made up of 9 race horses, 8 of whom ran on the Flat, plus one who only ever competed in National Hunt racing.  The average race horse is probably rated around 60 on the Flat, so that all bar Staunton were actually quite good. Of the various horses I have owned a small part of, just four have ever got a rating of over 80, but none have got to 90 (yet!).

And most definitely none have got to 115, which is the current rating of the 5 year old mare Zhukova, who is a quite outstanding racehorse. Zhukova is trained in Ireland by the great Dermot Weld (winner of 2 Melbourne Cups and the 2016 Epsom Derby for starters), and on her most recent start she won the Grade 1 Man O' War Stakes at Belmont Park in New York by five lengths (pictured below).

Zhukova first; the rest nowhere!
This took her record to 7 wins in 10 starts and prize money of over £360,000. It also means that if she never runs another race, she would still command a massive sales price (minimum £0.5 million, I would guess) as a prospective brood mare. Zhukova is a daughter of the champion Australian sire Fastnet Rock, who just happens to be the sire of one of my horses, Plymouth Sound, but unfortunately that is where any similarities end!

Apologies if you feel cheated or tricked, but many congratulations if you actually worked it out - that's what chess players do after all!

You can keep an eye open for Zhukova's next run, which is likely to be on July 2 at The Curragh, in the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes. I'm sure we'll all be watching with interest.

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