Long term followers of mine known I love little Smad Place. So I was especially pleased to see him win the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury with plenty to spare, writes Vernon Grant.
True, my ante-post bet at a double figure price (advised to members weeks ago) played a large part in my pleasure, but I would have been delighted to see him win regardless.
I was kicking myself that, come the day of the race, I did not make Smad Place my win bet. That was purely because of the price on offer – which was half what I got ante-post. I should have stayed loyal to the beautiful, diminutive Alan King trained winner.
It was a bittersweet victory for the wonderful people who work at his stable. It’s less than a fortnight since groom John Goggin, who often rode Smad Place at home, died in a road accident.
Alan King fought back the tears as he said after the race: “It has been a tough week for the yard and this means a lot. I’m thrilled for everyone.”
I am, as members know, a huge fan of Alan King as a trainer and of stable jockey Wayne Hutchinson. The jockey gave Smad Place what King called “a ballsy ride.”
Hutchinson, beaming from ear to ear, said: “He set out on the second circuit with his ears pricked and I was able to fill him up all the way down the back straight. He was fantastic… relentless. I had full confidence in the horse to just let him go and do it.”
Smad Place may well now take his place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup next March.
I hope to see you there little fella!