Marco Ghiani concluded a magnificent 2021 when Blue Flame became his 100th winner at Newcastle last Tuesday and I’ve constantly praised the ever-smiling 22-year-old Italian who has the world at his feet and must surely be a future champion jockey, possibly next year!
With respect I’ve seen all the ‘home growns’ in the past fifty years, Pat Eddery and Walter Swinburn immediately spring to mind along with Oisin Murphy and the ever-burgeoning Tom Marquand but Ghiani is a real ‘class act’ group one performer who really sets the pulse racing as he, like the diminutive Hollie ‘Centurion’ Doyle, winds up thoroughbreds with stirring finishes to thrill racegoers, and millions watching the English racing scene throughout the world.
It really has been quite a year for Marco, in addition to the aforementioned feat, he became a ‘Dad’ during mid-summer and took his partner and son to Brighton for an outing, smiling, as always.
Ghiani, like fellow Italian Frankie Dettori, is strong-willed and five years ago came over to England, enrolled with the Newmarket riding school and was guided 100% by Michael Hills who rode two-thousand winners and was particularly stylish in a career as stable jockey to father Barry.
I’ve long placed tremendous emphasis on jockeyship and so often have ‘happened’ across youngsters, obviously outstanding; I’m not forgetting Hayley Turner who also changed the whole landscape and championed the cause of females when completing a century on the last day of a dramatic year on a never-to-be-forgotten night at Wolverhampton.
Murphy, recently troubled with ‘mental health’ issues and temporarily retired, and William Buick, have a vice-like grip on the championship, with Hollie’s fiance, Marquand, but Marco will be in colossal demand next year and could indeed topple them all. What an engaging thought, how exciting, just wish the BHA would throw open the title and make it an all-the-year-round process.
In stark contrast is National Hunt racing and today there are two meetings at ‘heavy’ Haydock and Taunton where Ahorsewithnoname, trained by in-form Nicky Henderson, attempts to lower the colours of serial winner Rainyday Woman in a compelling nine-runner listed Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle over two miles of a ‘good to soft’ surface which should be absolutely perfect for a smashing seven-race card.
Ahorsewithnoname, rated 124, has the measure of the field but Rainyday Woman (123) continues to impress with all-the-way tactics achieving time-handicap marks which improve each time; a tremendous race is in prospect with more than ‘twelve grand’ to the winner.
Earlier David Pipe-trained Mr Tambourine Man looks booked for one of three places, at a good price, in the fourteen-runner Novices’ Hurdle over two and a half miles and what beats recent course and distance short-head second, Obsidian Knight, will win the Novices Stakes over nine furlongs of Wolverhampton tapeta.
Selections, Taunton, 1.15 Mr Tambourine Man (e.w); 2.25 Ahorsewithnoname (e.w); Wolverhampton, 4.30 Obsidian Knight (e.w).
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