Newmarket: McMahon’s rail trouble
Though Ed McMahon could saddle his first Group One winner at Newmarket on Friday, he may face a more momentous challenge when he gets home to Lichfield that evening.
Win, lose or draw in the Shadwell Middle Park Stakes, McMahon will head straight to a public meeting against a proposed high-speed railway — scheduled to slash through the heart of his gallops.
The black humour is not lost on McMahon that the colt who could consummate five seasons as a trainer in his own right — and many more as assistant to his father Bryan — should bear the name of a railway station.
Temple Meads has shown express speed to win three of his four starts, notably the Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury earlier this month. The horse is stabled in buildings that lay derelict before the McMahons arrived in 1994. Here was a harvest to raise the stakes for Friday's meeting, to be attended by two local MPs.
“I just hope we can get them to put their foot down, regardless of pressure from down south,” McMahon said yesterday.
“They were elected to represent their constituents' wishes. Admittedly we would be greatly affected, here, but there are thousands of other households along the line.
“The only people who would benefit are in the radius of the cities — there are only four stops on the line — and it could blight the whole of middle England. If I felt it was for the good of the country, I would hold my hand up, but I feel it's a waste of public money.”
No such charge could ever be levelled at the McMahons, father or son, in their spending on behalf of patrons at the yearling sales. Bryan still works closely with John Fretwell, who owns a dozen of the 42 horses in the stable — including Temple Meads, bought for just 16,000 guineas.
Fretwell runs a candidly commercial operation, but is yet to be offered a profit he can't refuse for this colt. McMahon applies the same forbearance to developing horses as in finding them. For instance, he has resisted the temptation to fast-track Astrophysical Jet to the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp on Sunday.