Breeze-up hopefuls out to make most of their one big shot
Mark Scully reflects on a day full of the promise of what could be
Eminem starred in '8 Mile', a film that examined an aspiring rapper's attempt to launch a successful music career. In an alternate universe where horses are able to produce art, perhaps they would commission their own version called '2 Furlongs'.
In 'Lose Yourself', from the soundtrack to the 2002 film, Eminem sings: "You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow." The young horses out here strutting their stuff over the closing stages of Doncaster's course could surely relate to that sentiment, if only they could understand our language.
The urgency of those lyrics match perfectly with the feeling here. A day before going through the Goffs UK sales ring, these young horses momentarily have the stage to themselves, the perfect opportunity to showcase their talent over what feels a desperately fleeting two furlongs.
This short, sharp burst represents the culmination of months of painstaking work for all associated with each horse and those standing close enough to the course can hear, from time to time, the desperate urgings of the riders. They are willing their mounts to give that little bit more, to stretch those well honed legs as far as they can and, ultimately, to run that extra bit faster.
Speed is far from eveything, though. The prospective buyers are watching each horse in their own way. Some are keeping time, looking for the likely early runners capable of burning up the track, while others have an eye on varying factors that could give a clue as to the type of athlete each prospect could go on to become.
Whatever the method, the inescapable feeling is that, somewhere among this bunch, an as-yet-unknown Royal Ascot winner is just waiting to be found.
Ironically, this Doncaster morning is less Royal Ascot and more mid-winter National Hunt meeting. In fact, as they gather in the cold mist by the three furlong pole prior to breezing, the horses could be forgiven for thinking they are about to be asked to jump the nearby fence and set out on a circuit or two.
One by one, they step forward and build up speed into the two-furlong marker, where an individual drops a bright orange flag to signify the start of the breeze. Thank goodness she is here because the flag is about all we can see for the first hour or so, until the mist clears. Ideal conditions these are not but it is the fault of none other than the weather gods, so on we press, watching lot after lot after lot shoot by.
The sun eventually breaks through as they continue to fly by. They have had their one shot - did they seize everything they ever wanted? Did they capture it, or did they let it slip?
We watch this space with tremendous intrigue.
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