Mick Goss
My grandchildren will tell you I’m “old” but next to the subject of this note, I’m still in the kindergarden. By my reckoning, Des Scott will be 90 next birthday. He was a junior at Durban High School in 1940, my father’s last year, which calls for some respect. Des earned that a long time ago though, through his dexterity as a businessman and in our game, as an exemplary owner of racehorses. This weekend, he achieved a new milestone as the breeder of an English Group One winner, Rivet, who catapulted himself into contention for the juvenile colts’ championship with a knock-out blow in the season-ending Racing Post Trophy (Gr.1).
— Mick Goss / Summerhill CEO

While from a South African perspective, that has to be the scoop of the week, a single performance in Australia grabbed the international headlines, and nobody captured it more aptly than Chris McGrath. The more inspiring the champion, the more prosaic our response seems to be. It is almost as though a horse like Winx (Street Cry), by absolving us of any hesitation in proclaiming her greatness, blows away all the other habits of circumspection we have learned from lesser performers. As a result, we reliably lapse into the same, inane paradox: elevating the horse before our eyes above the fading spectres of champions past, while hardly ever bothering to examine his or her full capacity against those Thoroughbreds that are actually still alive. You can't have it both ways. You can't downgrade every champion since Sea-Bird or Seabiscuit simply by doing the same thing, to more or less the same horses, time after time. You have to go looking for trouble; to see if you can find out where your limits might lie. That's why, for instance, everyone thought infinitely more of another wonder-mare by the same sire when she suffered her one and only defeat on her final start. Had Zenyatta (Street Cry) ducked the males in the GI Breeders' Cup Classic, and carried on reiterating her supremacy among her own sex, we would never have known the dramatic scope of her response to adversity. In the case of Winx, happily, we again have a trainer who brings a due sense of humility to the privilege (and, lest we forget, the pressures) of supervising a living icon; while also evincing a wholesome interest in pushing boundaries.

As the splash made by Winx rippled across the racing world, there was a smaller but concentric impact for the Australian Turf in the success of Rivet (Fastnet Rock) in the final G1 of the British campaign. Another to have clicked through a Galileo mare, Rivet's Racing Post Trophy consolidates a growing portfolio of European success for his sire. William Haggas has treated Rivet like a very good prospect throughout, and you suspect that he will continue to cement together the colt's raw building blocks - as implicit in his buoyant action and fine looks - as they go along. Certainly nobody will treat this as too literal a compliment to the form of the Dewhurst, where Rivet resented early restraint and drifted right across the Dip.

Feature image: Rivet - Racing Post Trophy / Sky News (p)

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