This lad is one of my favourite horses in training. He built up an outstanding record in his famous purple patch in 2006. He kicked off 2006 by coming 9th of 13 over 9f at Wolverhampton, then on the 23rd January (3 days later) in a visor, replacing the blinkers, he was dropped in grade into a maiden claimer and hosed up over the same 9f. This first victory came in his 14th race and the Racing Post race analysis noted this saying for this reason and a rise in class he could be “opposed” next time.
Next time, came sooner than he might have expected. Young Mick visited Lingfield and prevailed by a short head over 10f. Then a further 3 days later he went back to Wolverhampton and won again. So for a bit of a previous no-hoper he was doing well, three wins in a less than a week (23rd, 25th and 28th January). He slipped back a bit in February, racing twice and finishing second twice. Then came March, he raced three times and won thrice, including at the first meeting @ Kempton on the new polytrack surface. I was there that day and was happy to back this reformed character. It proved to be a memorable day, as it was also Dubai World Cup day and Electrocutionist was able to win there from an improbable draw. By April Young Mick, my all-weather idol, had a handicap mark that had gone up like a rocket and with only two placed runs this month, an unplaced effort in May, and another unplaced, at his now beloved Kempton, at the start of June it looked like he may have soared a little too high in the weights.
Mid-June, Royal Ascot. Along came Young Mick. A bit of an all-weather specialist, a bit of a hero to some of us who pay attention to the beach racing all year round. Unconsidered by the toffs he was one of 18 runners in the Duke of Edinburgh Heritage Handicap, late in the day on Saturday. He won by a head from the 4/1 Luca Cumani favourite, Glistening, at 28/1 and I can tell you that I had happily taken 33s earlier that day. I didn’t ever see that race – one of life’s regrets…
After that career high-point, dubbed a “rags to riches” story in the Racing Post, he went on to win 3 more times in 2006. The undoubted highlight for me being the final win at Ascot of the year, the Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot in September. Here, he re-opposed Glistening, this time on level terms (in the DoE Handicap Young Mick had had a big pull at the weights) and once again prevailed, leading home Munsef (a proven Group animal) and Glistening, who was to head off to the Melbourne Cup.
I watched that race and it, his tenth victory, and fourth on the trot and Ascot (possibly usurping Kempton in his affections) gave me so much enjoyment. He was sent off 7/2 (no 28/1 for him now) so it was not about winnings, it was purely about the pleasure Young Mick had provided throughout 2006. That was his defining season. Winning a Group 3 race was fantastic but it screwed up his handicap mark for the following seasons.
We did not actually see him at all for a whole year – he made his seasonal reappearance in the same Group 3, finishing last. He then ran on throughout 07/08 without a win. Some said that he was “gone at the game”, that his season of 2006 where he had raced 18 times had bottomed him out, they had gone to the well too often was the accusation. Not true in my view. Basically George Margarson, his trainer, had given him a good rest after the 2006 season reasoning presumably he had earned it. The problem is that Young Mick is a good doer – a horse that can just look at haynet to put on weight. This may, in part, explain why he took 14 races before arsing himself to win! So in his off-season he just got plain fat which then caused some foot problems, hence the year off. Combined with being high in the weights and aged 5 and 6 in 2008 there was little or no improvement to come to offset the weight that he had accrued whilst running out of his skin at Ascot. It is said, by those who know him best, that he is at least 10lb better round Ascot so his efforts in the high summer of 2008 where he was grabbing second places behind good horses were better than some credited him with.
With the year off the track he actually took 2 years to post another victory, which eventually came on the 27th October @ Leicester in a conditions race. He spent the winter in Dubai and it was great to see the old boy (now 7) poke his nose in front by half a length in February this year at Nad-al-Sheba. We haven’t seen him now since June so I am looking forward to this afternoon @ 3.30.
Today will be his 57th start. His stats are 12 wins, 8 seconds, 5 thirds. His record after time off is not spectacular, as I have said he does rather too well on the oats for that, but it will be great to have him back on his favourite course, running 10lb better than elsewhere. I don’t suppose he can win, with 19 going to post, but he has a handy partner and I will be taking an each way price, crossing my fingers and going out.