26 October 2008

It was a look to light up the season. Jamie Spencer looked back at super-impressive Racing Post Trophy winner Crowded House in the Doncaster unsaddling enclosure and said: “Now I have a horse to set me dreaming.”

At last, here was a two-year-old to set the pulses racing. It was a drab old day at Doncaster. It has been a drab old bunch of two-year-olds, last week’s Dewhurst was a three-horse photo finish, a sure sign of ordinariness. To say that the wider outlook was drab would be the understatement of the century. So Crowded House, a powerful, fiery looking chestnut with a Ferrari-style finishing kick was exactly what the day and the sport had wanted.

He had run three races, winning once, but he has excited trainer Brian Meehan from the moment he started cantering in the spring. Yet at Doncaster it had seemed as if the predicted order would be delivered as Royston French on the favourite Jukebox Jury, Royston French swept through on the far side to outgun the challenging Skanky Biscuit..

But as the eye closed on Jukebox Jury, it was suddenly diverted by a skirmish out to the left. A furlong out Spencer could hope no longer for the way to part in front of him and in an extraordinary wrenching manoeuvre he pulled back and round Red Spider and set Crowded House in pursuit of the now distant leaders.

What happened next lies at the very heart of racing’s thrill. Crowded House got the message his pedigree and physical preparation have readied him for. His hooves dug deep into the Yorkshire turf and with a huge rocketing surge he swerved in towards and past Skanky Biscuit and Jukebox Jury and put three full lengths between them before the line.

It was the most thrilling thing we had seen from a two-year-old all season.

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