Ashforth’s Angles: Hoping Tennessee Bird spreads wings
Tennessee Bird has not soared too many times during his career
PICTURE: RP GRAPHICS Hoping Tennessee Bird decides to spread wings
By David Ashforth 5:56PM 30 NOV 2016
TENNESSEE BIRD cannot be ranked among the great refusers of modern racing – the infuriating Vodkatini, the eccentric Knockroe, the maddening Mad Moose, all of them blessed with considerable ability when they chose to display it.
Tennessee Bird shares their capacity for refusing to race without, sadly, their ability.
Never mind, having refused to start on his latest two outings, at Sedgefield and Uttoxeter, it will be fascinating to see whether or not Tennessee Bird consents to take part in a handicap hurdle at Market Rasen (3.00).
Ryan Day will approach the challenge buoyed by the knowledge that on the only previous occasion when he rode Tennessee Bird, over a year ago, he finished second. That may or may not be taken into account by Tennessee Bird.
Tennessee Bird was bred by Jill Wiltschinsky, best known in Doncaster for owning the celebrated Electro Music store in Copley Road.
The horse's career started off unpropitiously and ominously when running out in a bumper race at Market Rasen. As there are no obstacles in bumper races it requires special skill to run out.
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Tennessee Bird made a beeline for the chase course.
He did not jump any fences then and has not jumped any since. Nothing daunted, The Queens Head Racing Club have proved to be the most loyal and persevering of owners and Mike Sowersby the most resolute of trainers – I toast them!
After two years and 20 unsuccessful appearances, Tennessee Bird was equipped with blinkers. It was not a success; Tennessee Bird refused to race. The experiment with blinkers was discontinued.
Patience was rewarded on Tennessee Bird's 36th outing, at Uttoxeter in June 2015, when he won a handicap hurdle off a mark of 75.
The Racing Post remarked, rather unkindly if understandably, that "Given his profile he's hardly a candidate to follow up."
Not immediately, perhaps, but four races later Tennessee Bird had them toasting success again in the Queens Head when winning at Southwell.
Not every race since has been disastrous but it is fair to say that if Tennessee Bird refuses to race again he risks being denied the opportunity to do so again.
It is probably best not to tell him that – there's no point encouraging him – but the eight-year-old now seems reluctant to conform to the conventional notion that when a herd of horses start running, they all run. Tennessee Bird is a nonconformist.
For the sake of Ryan Day, The Queens Head Racing Club, Mike Sowersby, and a brave but somewhat disillusioned band of punters, let's hope that Tennessee Bird consents to fly.
Elsewhere, it will be surprising if Moscato, an honest and able stayer on the Flat, refuses to race at Leicester (1.05).
Ballyhill, his Ludlow conqueror, has since run respectably in a Listed hurdle at Haydock and, taking my cue from The Queens Head Racing Club, I refuse to desert Moscato, who is going to beat London Prize and the motley remainder and, by about 1.15, will no longer be a maiden hurdler.
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