Saturday, 5 June 2021

The Kenilworth Chess Club Derby - the Race and the Result

There's late drama at the start of the KCC Derby, as Randy Paul unfortunately lives up to his name by trying to get too friendly with superstar filly Allez France. A bucket of cold water having failed to cool his ardour, the remaining 30 runners are loaded in the stalls and ..... they're off and running in the first (and last) KCC Derby, over one and a half furlongs.

Its immediately apparent that over half the field are no-hopers and shouldn't really have been allowed in the race. Straight to the back go Mighty Morris (Will), Jude (guess who?!), Payne Relief (Steve), Chorister Choir (Solomon) and Noah's Dream (Noah), while Teacher, ridden by Andy Ward, is unable even to keep up with this motley crew. Also unable to go the pace of the leaders are Sabbatical (Andrew P), Baruch Abba (Andy B), Lithuanian (Algis) and Hot Rod (Rod!)

Reaching the top of the hill, with a mile to go, the pressure is now telling on Solicitor (Chris), Ambling (John), In the Pink (Josh) and The Stuart Line (Stuart). These are good horses, but this is the Derby, and they are simply not up to this class.

The pace quickens again as the leaders head down towards Tattenham Corner, and this immediately sees Cape Vincent (Vincent!), Mighty Matt (Matt!!) and Ed de Gas (Ed!!!) begin to toil. As the field rounds the bend into the home straight, Correspondent (Mike), Glorious Artist (Bernard C) Restless Carl (Carl!) and the last of the youngsters, Billy the Kid (Billy!!), are now struggling, and soon Graff (Ben) and Winker Watson (Roy) throw in the towel. They are both 6 furlong sprinters and, fine horses both, their lack of stamina has found them out.

So now, as we head inside the 2 furlong marker, the cream has risen to the top and just a magnificent seven superstar horses remain in contention. First to crack and fall back are the specialist milers Mark of Esteem (me!) and Tap on Wood (Phil), both 2,000 Guineas' winners, leaving five horses spread across the track. Bernardini (Bernard R), is just off the pace, though - well, we can't have an American horse winning, even if he is a winner of the Preakness and multiple Group 1 races - leaving four horses to fight it out in the final furlong.

Allez France (Lionel), winner of the 1974 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe ......

..... is going head to head with King's Theatre (Tony), second in both the Epsom and Irish Derbies in 1994

......... but then right on the line there are late thrusts from The Flying Dutchman (Bruce) and Dr Devious (Nick) and as they flash past the post a photo finish is called. Hurriedly the judge (me) consults the video evidence, where he is able to confirm that Dr Devious won the 1992 Epsom Derby, but regrettably no such proof exists for The Flying Dutchman's 1849 victory. And so, controversially, the judge goes against one of the greatest horses of the 19th century in favour of one of the more modest Derby winners of the 20th - but crucially, seeing is believing!

Final Result

1 Dr Devious - Nick Mottram
2 The Flying Dutchman - Bruce Holland
3 Allez France - Lionel Riou-Durand
4 King's Theatre - Tony King
5 Bernardini - Bernard Rogers
6 Mark of Esteem - Mark Page

An unpleasant post script to the race was the disqualification of Chorister Choir when a shocking case of fraud - presumably perpetrated by Solomon - came to light after the race. Instead of the hapless Hayes, the horse had been ridden by Walter Swinburn, the three time Derby winning jockey, who just happened to be nicknamed "The Choirboy". But even this wretched subterfuge could not help the very slow Chorister Choir from finishing 29th. Shame on you, Solomon!

And I hope that those of you who had a flutter on the alternative/"real" Derby found the winner, Adayar, at 16/1.