Captain Scooby still proving age is no more than a number
Jack Haynes spends a morning with Britain's busiest racehorse, Captain Scooby
Just the 210 starts, 18 wins, 39 placings and £88,544 in earnings. The statistics speak for themselves, but the monetary figure is inconsequential to those at Richard Guest's stable. Captain Scooby is priceless.
Such is the longevity of the 12-year-old he has even outstayed some of his former riders, most notably Amy Ryan. The first outright female champion apprentice, in 2012, enjoyed four wins from eight rides aboard the sprinter, including three in eight days for previous trainer Richard Whitaker before he joined Guest in November 2011.
Ryan, who retired from the saddle in 2015 and is now a pundit on Racing UK, says: “He’s a superstar and I loved riding him. It’s not very often the jockey has been retired for three years and the horse is still going strong!
“He’s all heart, he’s a lovely, old horse. I see him quite a lot at the races now and speak to some of the girls who work at Richard’s and they all say he’s a pet and an old favourite of everyone.”
On a rain-sodden morning at Ingmanthorpe Racing Stables, that view is confirmed by groom Claire Comery, who has worked for Guest for eight years and looked after Captain Scooby throughout.
Comery says: “He’s a legend and really good to look after – he’s good as gold and loves his routine. Even Richard Guest jr, at the age of three, sits on him. He’s a real gem.
“I must have taken him racing over 100 times and after he’s run he’s always the same – he drags me around the stableyard. He locks on to the bit and he’s off. There’s no stopping him.
“He’s part of the furniture. I can’t remember a time when he hasn’t been here.”
MOST PROLIFIC RUNNERS IN BRITAIN
Horse Number of races
Sharp Hat 217
Captain Scooby* 210
Palacegate Touch 207
Jonnie Skull 205
*General Tufto 202
Life has its way of going full circle and former jockey Dean McKeown knows Captain Scooby better than most. He worked at Whitaker's when the old hero was broken in and now occasionally rides him out in the mornings.
McKeown says: "I've been in the game for 40 years and I've only came across one Scooby.
"He's a very clever horse and looks after himself so well. You could have Ryan Moore ride him and he'd do sod all, then you could run him with a 7lb claimer on board the next day and he'd win. He's a one-off.
"He gauges people very quickly and can tell if they can ride or not. He could write a dictionary – he's got the human race sewed up."
To go with Captain Scooby’s remarkable constitution, the veteran handicapper has a fine record running well on back-to-back days, with three victories coming the day after a previous run and a further two triumphs two days after his most recent outing.
However, at Nottingham in November 2014, on a memorable day for Guest, it came at the expense of former stablemate Rylee Mooch.
Guest says: “It’s unbelievable that he’s won that way a few times. I feel a bit loathe to do it to a 12-year-old, but that’s the way he likes it.
“We all thought Rylee Mooch, owned by Mick White and his family, would win this day at Nottingham – he was A1 – and Scooby ran the day before at Redcar and didn’t raise a leg.
“Sure enough, Rylee pinged the gates, went four or five lengths clear and was going to romp home, then who comes and does him near the line? Captain Scooby. None of us had the forecast!”
So what does the future hold for Captain Scooby? The son of Captain Rio, owned by the Captain Scooby Syndicate, is set for a mini-break before coming back in training – and he’s got a new girlfriend for 2018 with a filly by Invincible Spirit to lead up the gallops.
Guest said: “He adores people brushing him, being around him, that’s his life and what he enjoys. He just loves being pampered and doesn't like going out in the field.
“If Scooby comes back from his holiday and isn’t the same, then that would be it. He’s not quite been doing it in his races the last few times, so at the moment you’d be thinking that, other than him having a holiday, we would be coming to the end of his racing career.
“I've thought that about four times before though. He keeps defying retirement. But whatever happens he has a home for life. We wouldn't have it any other way.”
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