Plans fly out window as Royal Flush goes back to old racing style
It was a case of the best-laid plans of men going wrong but with happy results as talented four-year-old Royal Flush put himself back on track winning the Southwell Handicap (1,200m).
The gelding hadn't raced since he led and was beaten at odds-on in November making the rise to Class Two, but connections had put plenty of time and effort since then into teaching Royal Flush to relax off the pace at the trials.
If that was the plan, then it all went wrong when the race turned up without much speed, and jockey Jeff Lloyd wound up back with plan A and the lead.
'I must say I was a bit surprised how little speed there was in the race,' said owner Mike Smith after the matter ended with Royal Flush hanging tough in the final 100m to fight off Yummy Spirits.
'We had been trying to teach the horse to sit back off the pace but, fortunately, we did have a draw that gave Jeff some options and he was able to change direction when the pace was slow.'
The win was the fourth in eight starts for the son of Acclamation, and Smith said he was particularly pleased with how strong Royal Flush was when tackled by Yummy Spirits.
'The last 100m was pretty scary, the way he's dug in, and it looked to me like he had some left, so he might get further than the short sprints,' he said.
Lloyd, who had opened the programme by winning on Royal Flush's stablemate, Gallant Hussar, said the exercise in getting Royal Flush to relax had not been in vain, even though he led yesterday anyway.
'I think it has been good for the horse,' he said. 'But I did make the point to Mike that the horse has a serious weapon in his high cruising speed and that it's more a case of teaching him to use that the right way than in trying to switch him off altogether.
'Had I taken hold and gone back today, he would have had a lot of horses in front of him and probably found trouble in a slowly-run race.'