International Thoroughbred Racing Editor & Handicapper: Geir W. Stabell 1992 - 2020
NO ROYAL ASCOT TRIP
Dubai, UAE: No sooner had the racing world become used to the plan that California Chrome (photo Reed Palmer) will be heading to England and prepare for a run at Royal Ascot, comes the sensational news that the Kentucky Derby winner has been sold.
He will not be shipped to England - but be rested in Dubai and return to Art Sherman.
"He will remain in Dubai and not race at Royal Ascot", reads a statement from the new owners' racing adviser, and continues; "This deal may appear to have been done rather swiftly, but the new owners have had their eyes on 'Chrome' for some time and his appearance in Dubai offered us a perfect opportunity to negotiate a sale. These things are always done best face to face, with all involved parties present ".
Who the new owners are has not been divulged at this stage but it appears to be a high profile, international partnership.
"California Chrome will not go to Royal Ascot, as the principal of the syndicate taking charge of this excellent colt feels that races like the Queen Anne and Prince Of Wales's would not suit the horse. Beating a bunch of Listed class three-year-olds on the lawn at Del Mar cannot in any way be compared Group One action at the Royal meeting in England. Our view is that it is crucial to do right by the horse, and the two races he will be aiming for are the Breeders' Cup Classic and next year's Dubai World Cup. Though turf racing, at some point, has not been ruled out. One should never rule anything out in this game. It would, however, need to be on a turning, flat track.
A mile race at Sha Tin in December has been discussed, as a stepping stone to Dubai, where, all being well, he will race twice next year".
"History shows that it can set a horse back to do the US - Dubai - US trek for a big race, and the reason may be that these horses have shipped back too soon, rather than given time to recover while still in Dubai, then make the journey. California Chrome will be taken care of by one of the top handlers here for a month or so, then travel back home and rejoin trainer Art Sherman at Los Alamitos. He knows the horse best and it makes perfect sense to keep that winning formula intact. It will be entirely up to Sherman where or when California Chrome makes his next start.
"His run on Saturday was another truly exceptional performance by what we believe is the world's best thoroughbred. He ran hard all the way and never grudged when Prince Bishop came from off the pace. The winner is also fantastic, but he is a gelding, and the race set up perfectly for him. Perhaps it was his (Prince Bishop's) lucky day. We would love to take him on again" - hopefully already at the Breeders' Cup".
"We are absolutely delighted to have secured California Chrome. His owners turned down $6 million twelve months ago and he did not come cheap. An offer too good to turn down, which includes a race performance related bonus package and a number of nominations, was accepted on Monday night."
"That he was beaten in the World Cup actually made it easier to close the deal - and avoid losing him to England. Time was ticking, but we made it. "
Stud plans are also believed to already be in progress and California Chrome will most likely start off as a stallion in Australia in 2016 - hopefully after having had another crack at the Dubai World Cup.
"A detailed statement will be issued within a week's time", concludes this press release - signalling yet another fascinating twist in California Chrome's career.
Though we can only speculate what players are involved in this high profile sale, it was interesting to hear rumours that the deal was signed after closing hours at the fashionable Turkish restaurant Nisan'ın ilk in Dubai on Monday.
Newmarket, the HQ of horseracing,
has been in the centre of a rather bizarre story this week.
Police have been called out to deal with a group offering 'diving coaching and lessons' on the Newmarket Heath in the evenings.
"We were alerted to this activity by dog walkers", Newmarket Police Station explains, "as people were seen throwing themselves to the ground, while filming their stunts with mobile phones. Of course, there is nothing illegal in this, and there was no case to answer really. Alcohol or drugs were not involved. "
The 'coaches' use whistles, which tend to confuse dogs out for a walk.
The police are now working on a scheme with the Newmarket Heath Committee, headed by Sir Mark Prescott, to find a way to stop these 'coaching lessons' as their participants are said to have called them.
Rumour has it that these are young football players trying to become convincing 'divers' and thus more attractive to football managers and their talent scouts, while some observers believe this activity on the heath may be a part of an organised insurance / accident claims scam.
One problem the police are facing is that the divers sometimes throw themselves across the border between Suffolk and Cambridge, making any prosecutions legally almost impossible, as it's hard to define what may or may not have been illegal; throwing yourself off the ground or actually landing on the ground. It could take months for legal experts to decide where, if at all, an offence was committed. Anti social behaviour regulations are not thought likely to be of any assistance. Rulings on self harm may be the answer, though intent would be hard to prove.
One senior constable has been particularly frustrated, explaining; "suddenly, the boy was on my patch, then suddenly he wasn't on my patch. Even if he was breaking the law I could not make an arrest. All I could do was make a call to Cambridge. And you know, these sort of blokes often tend to just run away."
APRIL FOOL'S DAY