1 October 2000
Brough Scott on a remarkable training performance that sealed victory in the Cambridgeshire
There are doubles, special doubles and then there is the double trainer Peter Harris pulled off when Katy Nowaitee won the 35-runner Tote Cambridgeshire at Newmarket.
Earlier in the week, Harris’s company, Bourne Leisure, raised its usual low profile with a £700 million deal taking in such as Rank holdings, Butlins, Oasis and Warners. Harris is quiet to the point of secretive about his business success but neither he nor his enthusiastic group of owners had hidden their hopes that Katy Nowaitee had a great chance despite not having run since March.
That last run, victory in the 23-strong Spring Mile at Doncaster, reminded them that the four-year-old was capable of winning after a long lay-off and that a big field would be no disadvantage. Assorted ailments ranging from a throat infection to a ricked back had kept her off the track but the way she had been working recently had been almost dangerously encouraging.
“You should have seen her last week,” said Galway-born Frank Coen afterwards, one of the successful if strangely spelt 12-part syndicate called the Stable Maites. “She did a gallop that would take your breath away. Some of us had been on at 25-1. I got on again at 16-1 and we would have taken a fair bit of money. What’s more, I have been telling all my customers [Coen is landlord of The Phoenix and Firkin at Barnet] for at least a fortnight. I won’t need to worry about going back.”
Of course it all looks so easy in hindsight but outsiders would not have shared Coen’s confidence when the stalls opened and Katy Nowaitee turned out to be stranded with just four rivals over on the far rails, while the remaining 31 runners all tacked over to the other side of the track.
She had been drawn 34 of 35 and jockey John Reid had been adamant beforehand that he should keep to his own lane. “The connections supported me,” he said, “but beforehand I could not get many of the other jockeys to commit themselves. Yet when I got down to the start and looked up the course, [The Cambridgeshire is nine furlongs dead straight], I could see how much I would be giving away if I tacked over to the other side. I thought she had a good chance, so why sacrifice five lengths.”
Reid’s uncomplicated approach then led to one of the least complicated Cambridgeshires for many years. The largest field of the season, and the biggest anywhere in the world, up the Rowley Mile usually leads to all sorts of hard-luck stories. While Bomb Alaska led Katy Nowaitee and the other three pioneers on the far side, Brilliant Red headed the main pack until they got to the final quarter-mile, when joint favourite Nooshman swept through to lead with Katy Nowaitee matching him on the far side.
Earlier assumptions of a near-side bias where soon dispelled when the filly was seen to be at an advantage. With nothing else challenging Nooshman – the other joint-favourite Bound For Pleasure was in trouble quite early – it was just a question of whether we had got the angles wrong about the two widely separated leaders. We had not, Katy Nowatee had one and three quarter lengths over Nooshman at the line, Pinchincha was third and Man O’Mystery fourth.
Reid was to repeat his far-side theory successfully on Caustic Wit two races later but Peter Harris hopes for an even bigger follow-up. Today at Longchamp, Primo Valentino goes for the Prix de l’Abbaye. It would be the biggest winner yet.
Meanwhile over in Paris the Aga Khan and trainer John Oxx had the perfect lead-up to today’s Arc de Triomphe challenge with Sinndar when Mouramara, ridden by Gerald Mosse, won the Group 2 Prix Royallieu for fillies at Longchamp. Godolphin have had a quiet season in Britain but Slickly, ridden by Frankie Dettori, maintained their good record in France this year with victory in the Prix Dollar.