Ashforth's Alternative View: No grey areas with this Brittain quartet

By David Ashforth@davidjashforth
Tue 9 Apr 2019

It’s a long way from Warthill, in North Yorkshire, to Lingfield racecourse.

According to Google, which knows everything, it’s 248.5 miles and takes four hours and six minutes, in a car. Obviously, it takes longer in a horsebox. It’s roughly the same on the way back.

So trainer Antony Brittain doesn’t often have runners at Lingfield. He’s only ever had four, one of which, Drakefell, won there last month. On Wednesday, Brittain has another four runners, all carrying his own colours and all ridden by Cam Hardie.

Like a campanologist, Brittain’s maroon and yellow check colours ring a lot of bells. That’s because they were once carried by the horses that Brittain’s father, Mel Brittain, owned.

Brittain senior, who died in 2015, owned Grey Desire, a high class sprinter initially trained by Mick Easterby before Brittain took out a licence and trained the popular grey himself.

Having started life in a seller, Grey Desire went on to win 13 races, some of them big ones, and finished second to Green Desert in the 1986 July Cup.

He had another, rarely mentioned, claim to fame. When speculators were speculating about the true identity of Flockton Grey, a notorious ringer, Grey Desire was put forward as a candidate.

It was a ridiculous suggestion because the race Flockton Grey won by 20 lengths at Leicester on March 29 1982 was for two-year-olds.

Veterinary evidence showed that the winner was actually a three-year-old, subsequently revealed to be Good Hand. At that time, Grey Desire was a two-year-old.

But I digress. Brittain’s team consists of Puchita (2.20), Grey Destiny (2.50), Lucky Lodge (3.55) and the curiously named Beatbybeatbybeat (5.00).

Grey Destiny and Lucky Lodge are prolific winners, particularly at all-weather tracks, but Puchita, a 19-race maiden, is the only one of the quartet to have raced on Lingfield’s Polytrack.

Puchita has little to recommend her and Beatbybeatbybeat is also an unlikely winner. Grey Destiny and Lucky Lodge are stable stalwarts, with 20 wins between them. Both are in good form with Lucky Lodge the one most likely to make the long journey worthwhile.

Meanwhile, at Nottingham, I’m not sure what will win the Barry Hills Further Flight Stakes (3.05), named in honour of the high-class stayer who won 24 times, including five successive victories in the Group 3 Jockey Club Cup between 1991 and 1995.

Although I don’t know which of the four runners will triumph, I do know that Ravenous will finish last, based on the fact that he is 27lb or more “wrong” at the weights with his rivals. Connections will be consoled by collecting £2,144 for fourth place.

Nottingham wasn’t the scene of any of Further Flight’s most notable triumphs but he did win on both his appearances there, whereas the Manners Le Garcon D’Or Handicap Chase at Kelso on Monday honoured the hardy sprinter who famously won 34 times, finally as a 14-year-old in 1972.

Chasing wasn’t really Le Garcon D’Or’s game. Oh, well, never mind.

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