‘Olympic’ all set to conquer and take gold!

Olympic Conqueror looks a solid betting proposition for the seven-runner Novices’ Hurdle over two miles of ‘good’ Ludlow this afternoon but plenty of focus will be on his only serious time-handicap rival, Byzantine Empire, a somewhat controversial ‘eye-catcher’ last time out.

Following two useful efforts Olympic Conqueror made no mistake around Fakenham when achieving a career-best mark in March (last day of Cheltenham!) when ‘blinkered’ for the first time under regular partner Charlie Hammond; they came up short at Huntingdon three weeks later since when Dr Richard Newlands’ charge has been ‘spelled’ in readiness for a ‘summer-jumping’ campaign.

What beats penalised Olympic Conqueror will win and Byzantine Empire, by virtue of a ‘built-up’ figure off a low-weight should be in contention on the strength of a thirteen lengths fifth to Lord Baddesley at Newbury seven weeks ago; one or two scribes reckoned it was a questionable ride but there’s no way veteran jockey Paddy Brennan would infringe racing rules. It looked alright to my eye!

Stewards are not fools, they have no reason to ‘have a jockey in’ unless convinced there has been a misdemeanour which was the case last month on Lingfield  polytrack where John Gosden-trained Stowell, a 16/1 chance, picked up dramatically and failed narrowly by a only a head to beat long odds-on Frankie Dettori-ridden stable companion Polling Day; another two strides and Rav Havlin’s mount would have prevailed. Officials took a dim view!

Havlin was given twenty-one days suspension, significantly he didn’t appeal and Stowell, an odds-on favourite, romped home from two useful types at Ascot, last Friday!

Stowell was an eye-catcher and it seems ridiculous to think Gosden’s stable representative mentioned he was ‘satisfied with the ride’ at the Surrey venue; however what else could he say?

I’m aware of cheating and trainers/jockeys who sail close to the wind but such experience is all part and parcel of my nous, gained after being involved with the ‘Sport Of Kings’ for several decades during which time I’ve often turned negatives into positives.

There was a time long ago when I asked a Northern trainer if he’d like me to place a wager on his runner at Southwell only to be told, ‘I wouldn’t back it with your money’ somewhat curtly.

Undaunted I had a sizeable bet at 20/1 and when said trainer walked into the betting ring his charge was about 7/1!

He was fuming, moreso after it won comfortably, and made a point of coming over and saying ‘you give me a wide berth in future!’

Sometimes you just can’t win!    

Selections, Plumpton, 1.35 Zuba; Ludlow, 1.20 Olympic Conqueror; 4.30 Rapid Flight.

 Jeffrey Ross, horse-racing correspondent for WMN since 1983 when winning the most prestigious racing journalist award, Sporting Life Naps Table, before winning it a record number of six times collectively in the Racing Post, the current ‘trade’ paper, including 2019