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23/4/2004 edition

Darren Beadman
Lonhro's Farewell Race

There are no certainties in horse racing

Last Saturday Lonhro started as $1.25 favourite in the $800,000 Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick. It should have been a triumphant finale to Lonhro's outstanding career. The champion 5YO horse was classes above the other five runners and should have easily won. Instead what happened was - well, that's racing.

Lonhro's jockey, Darren Beadman, will now be remembered as the jockey who messed up Lonhro's last race. The champion 5YO horse has now been retired to stud with 26 wins from 35 starts when it should have been 27.

Lonhro's trainer, John Hawkes, who does not tolerate poor rides by jockeys, was as usual very dignified publicly after the race. You can only imagine at his disappointment.

Here is what happened:

The race before Lonhro's was a 3YO Group 3 event run over the same distance, 2000 metres. Red Terror won in the time of 2.2.33. The last 600 metres in that race was 36.39 seconds.

Yet in Lonhro's race, a Group 1 Weight for Age event, Grand Armee was able to lead unchallenged throughout and win in the time of 2.3.26, nearly a second, or six lengths slower, than Red Terror. Grand Armee also ran the last 600 metres in only 34.11 seconds. Despite winning in a second slower time than 3YO Red Terror, the last 600 metres' sectional was run in 2.28 seconds, or approximately 13 lengths faster time.

It was mathematically impossible for Grand Armee to be caught. By giving Grand Armee a huge lead, Lonhro had to run the last 600 under 33 seconds. That is equivalent to better time than 55 seconds for 1000 metres. No wonder Lonhro had little chance and finished second, beaten six lengths.

The stewards' report into the race mentioned:

"D. Beadman, however, agreed with the Stewards that in retrospect he had erred in not endeavouring to go forward in the back straight when Grand Armee was dictating terms in front and the race was developing into a sprint home. At the conclusion of the enquiry D. Beadman was notified that in the circumstances of today's race his ride had, in the opinion of the Stewards, lacked the initiative expected of a rider of his standing."

Should Lonhro have been backed? If Lonhro had been allowed to run on his merits, and we're certainly not alleging anything untoward here, even at $1.25 Lonhro was value. But unfortunately horses often are not allowed to run on their merits - the great levelers of racing including bad luck and poor rides see to that.

Any assessment of Lonhro's chances had to include the chances of bad luck or a poor ride. That being the case, $1.25 was too short a price to take. $1.50 - yes, but not $1.25.

This edition of Punt to Win:
Darren Beadman and Lonhro's farewell race
Betting favourites in small fields
Money talks - Randwick, Flemington betting tips from the track
Handicapping tips - weight and class
Future winners - unlucky horses
Punt to Win 16/4/2004
Punt to Win index

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