For racing, for the country and for Champion Hurdle hope Goshen, it looks as if healthier days are ahead. But for Cyrname, pulled up again at Ascot, the good times are now for the memory bank.
In the same Ascot Chase two years ago Cyrname put up one of the most dazzling displays ever seen on the track only capped on his return that November with an unforgettable dual that lowered the colours of Altior. They have both won since but neither horse has looked the same again and after being pulled up last time in the King George VI at Kempton this looks close to curtains for Cyrname.
The trainer Paul Nicholls is the best in the business at getting great horses back into the game but even he might need to concede this time. For although Cyrname, equipped with cheek pieces for the first time, was keen enough going to the start but even in the early exchanges he never had the near tearaway brilliance of his glory days and was soon in trouble when Dashel Drasher put it to him in the final mile.
Having regretted Cyrname’s default, let’s hail the never-say-die toughness of Dashel Drasher and his jockey Matt Griffiths who slugged gallantly on up the Ascot hill to land a first grade-one success for both horse and rider. Having broken Cyrname, Dashel Drasher was then head- to-head with Bennys King and an inspired Harry Skelton who was bidding for his fourth winner of the afternoon. But Bennys King’s jumping failed him and it was Cyrname’s talented but fallible stablemate, Master Tommytucker, who closed around the final bend.
Dashel Drasher had the advantage, but in heavy ground Ascot is a desperate place with a tired horse under you. At the second last he was still three lengths clear, but at the final fence he was cocking his ears and losing momentum as he scrambled over, and as he rolled wearily left and Master Tommytucker switched across, it looked as if the prize would be snatched away. But Exmoor’s pride would not weaken. Trainer Jeremy Scott runs a splendid family operation near Dulverton and his wife Camilla bred Dashel Drasher who was winning for the ninth time, his third in a row, and he hasn’t finished yet.
Neither it seems has Goshen. Last year’s outstanding young hurdler who had famously unshipped Jamie Moore when clear in the Triumph at Cheltenham, had looked finished when diagnosed with a fibrillating heart on his return to hurdling in December. For Moore, the prospects looked equally dire. Having broken his back in a desperate fall at Fontwell in August, his much-truncated 20th season had yielded just 12 winners before another fall on a hot favourite on Thursday.
But fortune sometimes repays its victims. In the race before Goshen’s Kingwell Hurdle victory at Wincanton, Moore rolled back the years and fairly hurled a reluctant looking Dentley De Mee over the last fence and up the run-in to show that whatever else Goshen lacked it would not be help from the saddle.
In the event not much was needed as Goshen got his game back with a vengeance. The front running Navajo Pass led him until the home turn, but this was the Goshen of last season, all unrelenting gallop with pursuers trailing in his wake. Hot favourite, Song For Someone, battled on to be a distant second but it was Goshen who was cut to 10-1 for the Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham redemption for him and Moore.
Just because there may not be that many more of them, the better days for Moore promise the most precious times ahead.