The Shergar Cup is not for everybody, but you had to be a curmudgeon of the highest order to have not found the final race at Ascot on Saturday of interest.
Joao Moreira, the Brazilian jockey who has lit up Sunday mornings on Racing UK from Hong Kong, was going all out, while Hayley Turner was doing all she could to at least keep in touch. Both were vying for the top jockey award, and in terms of sheer sport those final few furlongs were worth going to Ascot for, doubly so if you liked the line-up for the after party.
What is also interesting each year for a journalist is that you hear about all different aspects of racing from the participants, who have their various points of view and opinions brought from all over the globe.
Moreira would not rule out riding in Britain if the right offer came up, for instance, and if he does not pass his Japanese exam his excursion to ride in the Land of the Rising Sun will be short-lived.
Andrasch Starke, the German jockey who incidentally smashed my mobile telephone with his gesticulations, was visibly annoyed that he had received a two-day whip ban when guiding Genetics to what was a perfectly-timed win in the Challenge.
Most interesting of all, however, was Per-Anders Graberg, the pint-sized Swedish jockey, who painted a dismal picture of the reduction in the use of the whip in Scandinavia.
Last year Tom Kerr in the Racing Post wrote an opinion piece about why it was time the whip should go that opened up divisions within the sport, but Graberg made a strong case for at least keeping it in some capacity.
“In Norway you're not even allowed to carry it with you,” he revealed. “So that's a danger for us jockeys. I had a horse that ran straight through the outside rail, I couldn't turn, I had nothing to try to turn it with, it kept running straight through.
“That's ridiculous. For the safety of the sport, for the jockeys, for the horses, you need it, for safety. Sometimes you don't get the connection with the horse. You have to get it to understand that you're in charge.”
The permitted number of uses of the whip with hands off the reins is seven times for Flat races in Britain, and use down the shoulder in a backhand position is also permitted and even encouraged.
Not so in Sweden, where Graberg believes it will be phased out in the next decade. Where he rides, at Bro Park outside Stockholm, jockeys are only permitted to use their whip three times, and down the shoulder counts as one. Get banned, and you have to remain clean for 90 days.
“When I started riding, it was 10 (times),” the 44-year-old said. “Then it went down to seven, then five, then three. They're taking a little bit away all the time.”
Will they take it away altogether?
“I think in five, 10 years, yeah, I do think they will. Unfortunately.”
At the very least, the Shergar Cup gives food for thought. With Tony Calvin away on holiday it has fallen to me to pick the tips, so here they are.
I both tipped and backed Not So Sleepy at big prices at Glorious Goodwood last time but it is fair to say both horse and rider had a tough time of it.
Hughie Morrison’s gelding missed the break a little and then Adam Kirby found all the Goodwood trouble he could for the final two furlongs. Watch the video above - the light clue colours at the rear on the inside.
Not So Sleepy barely came off the bridle, however, and only finished five lengths adrift of impressive winner Alfarris.
He ran one of the best races of his career when third to Restorer at Chester in May, and this is a horse who once raced off a handicap mark off 107. He is now running off 95, and having won off 98 in the past he is weighted to go close.
The going is good to firm, good in places, which means he would prefer it softer but at the prices he is worth another go under Graham Lee, who was on board at the Roodee.
In all likelihood Stormin Tom is going to give it a really good go from the front under Rachel Richardson but I do like the chances of Dominating edging Mark Johnston closer to Richard Hannon’s record haul of wins.
Johnston stands on the cusp of surpassing Hannon’s record of 4,193 winners, and Domainating certainly has it in him to win this 1m6f event.
Two of his best three runs have come over this distance, so it was no surprise to see him run out of petrol behind the punishing gallop set by the admirable Lil Rockerfeller at Glorious Goodwood last time. He was badly hampered, also.
His best run this season was when he was just edged out by Stone The Crows, and is now better off at the weights to the tune of 4lb. Watch the video above - there was little between them at Carlise. This is a horse who has won off a mark as high as 91, so off 87 he will have a squeak.
Mutadaffeq would be a significant danger.
Three Saints Bay should be favourite in my book so the 100-30 on offer when the prices went up at around 6pm on Sunday were worth snaffling and the 11-4 available does not look the worst price.
I think there is every chance that Daniel Tudhope will take this small field race by the scruff of the neck and make all – I’m not sure Aquarium is a natural from the front, and at worst the selection will trade at a shorter price in-running. Ripon is a good course for front-runners, also.
His eight-length Beverley win has already worked out – runner-up Proud Archi has won a decent 0-90 handicap since, and favourite Restive Spirit did not seem to have any concrete excuses when fifth at Goodwood last time.
Geoffrey Riddle's Monday best bets:
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