Ashforth’s Angles: Flat jockeys take to the sky

Tom Queally will be one of the Flat jockeys in action over jumps at Lingfield

PICTURE: Martin Lynch ( Ashforth's Angles: Flat jockeys take to the sky By David Ashforth 2:57PM 7 NOV 2016

MOST jump jockeys are so fat that it would be impossible for them to ride on the Flat without the RSPCA getting involved. The very idea summons up thoughts of the wonderful Reverend Sydney Smith’s comment when told that an acquaintance was about to marry a lady carrying overweight.

"Going to marry her? Impossible! You mean a part of her; he could not marry her all himself. I once was rash enough to try walking round her before breakfast, but only got half way and gave it up exhausted."

Yet when jump jockeys make themselves small enough to switch codes, they often do very well, witness the success of Jim Crowley, Graham Lee and P J McDonald, among others. The same rarely happens in reverse, possibly because successful Flat jockeys have noticed that in National Hunt racing the fences are bigger and the prize money smaller.

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So Tuesday’s Lingfield Park Flat Jockeys Handicap Hurdle (2.30) is a rarity to be cherished, especially by jump jockeys eager to point out the riders’ appalling shortcomings.

If experience under NH Rules proves decisive, former jump jockeys Timmy Murphy and Dougie Costello, riding Jelly Monger and Hi Tide respectively, will be favoured. On the other hand, not only is Hi Tide a 12-year-old and 6lb out of the handicap but he’s trained by John Jenkins.

Nothing against Jenkins except that his name acts as an unwelcome reminder of an unhappy day at Ascot. It was November 21 1969 and Jenkins, then claiming 7lb, was riding Pinehurst Park. I’d backed him at 8-1 and was therefore pleased when he won the Valley Gardens Handicap Hurdle by a comfortable three lengths, at 13-2.

Unfortunately for Jenkins, trainer Alan Oughton, owner Mr Youngman, Pinehurst Park (not that he cared) and me, none of whom had done anything wrong, we didn’t receive the fruits of our success.

Alec Marsh, the senior Jockey Club starter, (I know you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead but. . .) sent the runners on their way at 3.32pm when the official race time was 3.35pm. The race was declared void. I know it’s 47 years ago but just because it’s 77 years since the start of the Second World War doesn’t mean we forgive Hitler, does it?

Anyway, Tom Queally won last year’s race on Solstice Star for Martin Keighley and now rides the same stable’s Bobble Emerald. That was Queally’s one and only ride under NH Rules so far and the other riders – Danny Brock, Stevie Donohoe, Adam Kirby and Kieran O’Neill – are making their jumping debuts.

Of course, they may all spend their spare time hunting, showjumping, schooling and generally qualifying themselves to take Lingfield’s hurdles in their stride. It will probably end in a battle between Queally and Donohue. If you’re thinking of backing Donohoe’s mount, Guards Chapel, you should bear in mind the risk of disqualification. There’ll be so much lead in the saddle that Donohue will need to be at his strongest to carry it back to weigh in.

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