Alan was always a big fan of the “old” Hereford, and me, too. I remember being the only journalist working there when The Duke rode his last winner on Lord Vestey’s smashing old chaser What A Buck.
David (Nicholson) was combining riding with training at the time, but he was ready to quit the saddle and wanted to go out on a winner, so when What A Buck duly obliged at Hereford he dismounted and, pulling me aside, said “you have got yourself a story – that’s my last ride”.
Attempts by the clerk of the scales to persuade The Duke to honour his final two commitments that day fell on deaf ears, and Hereford was always one of his favourite tracks, so it would be fitting if his former assistant could kick-start the re-opening after a four-year absence by saddling The Tourard Man to defy topweight in the staying handicap chase.
The Tourard Man was a smart hurdler and, though he did not initially seem in love with the switch to fences, he has looked very professional second time around, winning novices at Southwell and Worcester and, despite being up to a mark of 137 for his return to handicaps, he goes there is good nick, so fingers crossed he can do the business.
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s three runners on the Flat, Alan said:”There is excellent prize money at both Newmarket and York. We run two in the big mile and a half handicap at HQ, Cosmeapolitan and Sir Valentine. Cosmeapolitan is up another 2lb for an excellent second at Haydock last time, but he just got tired close home over the mile and six so the drop back in trip – he had bolted up over this distance at Newbury – should suit him.
“Sir Valentine is stepping into handicap company for the first time. He broke his maiden at Kempton and the second has won since, and his previous second at Ffos Las also received a form boost when the third won subsequently.
“Finally, up at York we run Master Blueyes in the £50,000 mile and six (furlongs) handicap. He ran a smashing race to finish fourth at York’s Ebor meeting, and the winner, Wall of Fire, went on to follow-up off a 12lb higher mark at Doncaster last month, so, fresh from a seven week break, we hope our fellow will again be competitive.”