Ashforth’s Angles: Cheering a horse who loves to tantalise
Wahaab, a talented but infrequent winner, has infuriated punters
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Cheering a horse who loves to tantalise By David Ashforth 6:00PM 23 OCT 2016
IN THE days when there was no television in betting shops and Extel supplied the dubious commentaries the favourite invariably got a promising mention and images were conjured up of rapid changes in fortune inside the final furlong. Sometimes at the races I'd stand near the betting shop and compare what I was watching with what I was hearing. You can imagine.
Anyway, I wanted to own a horse and name it after a frequently used expression in those commentaries – Andfinishingfast.
I wonder if it would have escaped the Jockey Club's then less-than-eagle eye? If Cleavage, Soixante Neuf and greater surprises could slip through the net, surely the innocuous Andfinishingfast might have done, too. What fun!
Nowadays the standard of commentaries is incredibly high – you try calling a 20-runner sprint – although I wish some commentators wouldn't feel the need to shout – "Bawler" Bartlett and Mark Johnson are the worst culprits. I expect I'll feel differently if I go deaf and, if they don't ease up, I probably will.
As the Flat turf season chugs to a gentle close, I'd like to hear the commentator call home Charlie Chaplin (Leicester 2.10) even though I expect the horse's feet turn out alarmingly. I'd like to see Quixote (Leicester 3.15) successfully tilt at windmills and Einstein (Redcar 4.30) reveal that he wasn't just good at physics. I'd like to see Wahaab (Redcar 5.30) show that he's not always ungenuine and Ay Up Audrey reward Rhiain Ingram for travelling all the way from Epsom.
It will be impossible for both of them to win as they're in the same race (a dead-heat?) and with the best imagination in the world it's hard to see Ay Up Audrey, 6lb out of the handicap, perform the necessary miracle.
Wahaab, on the other hand, could win if he wanted to. On the whole, he can't see the point and prefers to enjoy tantalising connections by leaving the impression that they are just a tweak away from tempting him into the winner's circle.
Wearing Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's colours, Wahaab was caught by surprise on his juvenile debut at Goodwood and before he knew what was happening found himself leading at the winning post. Sent to Royal Ascot for the Coventry Stakes Wahaab finished mid-field, which was higher up the field than he finished on any of his next 11 appearances.
As Wahaab moved from Richard Hannon to Ken Cunningham-Brown and on to Richard Hughes, his handicap mark slipped from 91 to 57 and the class of race he contested from Group 2 to Class 6. Still he didn't win.
Then, over two years and 18 races after his winning debut, Wahaab found himself in the Ian Carnaby Selling Handicap at Brighton. Having been a beaten favourite on his four previous outings (once joint-favourite), Wahaab, outbrained by Shane Kelly, failed to make it five in a row.
Hughes was rather rude about Wahaab – "He's very ungenuine." There was no bid for the winner but Wahaab has joined Iain Jardine and continues to tantalise. GO ON WAHAAB!