ROAD TURNS IN A VINTAGE DISPLAY TO TAKE HENNESS

26 November 2000

Brough Scott on how a young rider and his partner slogged through Newbury’s mud to claim the prize

WHEN the going gets soft, horse and rider have to dig deep. Few have dug deeper than Jamie Goldstein and King’s Road did to win yesterday’s Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup in conditions not out of place in one of those many cinematic recreations of the Battle of the Somme.

Half an hour before the start, yet another winter downpour was drenching the track and the runners in the pre-Hennessy race were squelching home like routed cavalry. If Red Ark and company were going to have such trouble finishing over 2 ½ miles, what sort of state would the 17 starters for the big event going to be in by the end of 3 ¼ miles, not to mention 21 demanding Newbury fences?

The answer, for most of them, was scarcely able to raise a gallop. The knowledge that this is likely to be so makes the parade of hopefuls beforehand and indeed the early, close-packed stages of the race all the more awesome. Because you know, and they know, that before they are through they will have to face the hurt. If you have got as good a horse as King’s Road’s top-weighted stable-companion Beau to set the pace you have a question and a half.

For a full circuit and more the cavalry thundered faultlessly round. King’s Road and the outsider, Folly Road, accompanying Beau in the van, with the eventual second, Gingembre, close up and only the recent Cheltenham winner, Lady Cricket, seemingly in trouble.

By the time they got to the cross fence, Beau was struggling to keep there, the fancied Ad Hoc became the race’s only faller and King’s Road and Gingembre came on with Red Marauder looking dangerous behind them. Gingembre’s most recent form figures read UBF (unseated rider, brought down and fell) but an intensive schooling session under yesterday’s rider Andrew Thornton at Yogi Breisner’s jumping clinic on Friday had clearly stopped the rot.

“He got a bit close to the third-last,” said Thornton afterwards. “But he was absolutely spot on at the others. Especially at the last because by then King’s Road had the legs of me. But my guy went in and threw himself over and, just for a moment, I thought we might change things.”

Standing down by the fence as the horses heaved over you could see the moment come and go. Ten lengths back, Red Marauder and the Irish-trained Alexander Banquet were slogging out for third with Lady Cricket heroically closing to finally take fourth place behind the Irishman.

But this was the moment for King’s Road to take the big race that he has promised from his early bumper days three seasons ago. This was the chance that 22-year-old Jamie Goldstein had been born to take. Because young Jamie is the son of 48-year-old Ray, one of the most famously battle-scarred jump jockeys of his era.

Over the years Ray notched up some 200 winners but he also took enough falls to deserve a bed of his own in the hospitals of the south. Fearless he may have been in the saddle. Yesterday, he was so fearful as a parent that he could not even bear to watch the race back home in Sussex.

“I walked around once the race got started and actually went out of the room each time they got to the cross fence,” he said. “My wife Sue even went to the launderette to avoid everything. Jamie has always been keen but I sent him up to Peter Scudamore and Nigel Twiston-Davies to see if he could settle into a racing yard. He has done well, and he was sensible at the last yesterday.”

For by then King’s Ride had the race won provided his sometimes-flawed fencing did not let him down. Even now, in his second season chasing, his jumping method is more effective than impressive. “He had landed on his head a bit over the four fences in the straight,” said Jamie, clutching two enormous bottles of the sponsor’s finest. “So I sat still to let him get over the last, but once I grabbed him afterwards I knew I had it won.”

Twiston-Davies said: “When he can jump in his own time he’s very good and he loved the heavy ground.”

King’s Road now goes for the Welsh National. In heavy conditions he will always be a threat to the best. Goldstein goes back to work in the Cotswolds but not before father Ray has driven up to celebrate in the local hostelry charmingly named `The Hollow Bottom’. Nothing hollow about what young Jamie and King’s Road were into yesterday.

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