Noble Threewitt honoured
Longevity would seem wasted on many people, but that was never the case with Noble Threewitt, a man who proved that you don't have to train great horses to be a great horseman.
His name, so splendid in itself, was little known on this side of the Atlantic, but meant a good deal to one of our leading trainers.
John Gosden, enjoying perhaps the hottest streak of his own, far more illustrious career, yesterday took a moment to treasure what was surely the longest in Turf history. Threewitt's death, at 99, comes just three years after his retirement. He saddled his first winner in 1932, as the youngest trainer in North America; his last, in 2006. In between, there were over 2,000 others, but few were terribly distinguished.
He did once win nine consecutive races at the old Tanforan racetrack in California. And he did train Correlation, who started favourite for each leg of the 1954 Triple Crown, beaten only in a photo for the Preakness Stakes.
But what made Threewitt as cherished as anyone inducted into the Hall Of Fame was instead the generosity of spirit that animated his every dealing with man and horse alike.
Measured against the life and times of Threewitt, Gosden is certainly not going to get carried away by his astonishing recent form, embracing a sequence of 18 winners in nine days, including the St Leger with Arctic Cosmos. “It has been a good run,” he acknowledged. “But I had been quiet fairly deliberately, during July and August, because I had a lot of two-year-olds that wanted seven furlongs or a mile, and middle distances next year, and had to wait for the ground for a lot of them. But we had them teed up, once we got a bit of rain, because you have to be careful — if you leave them until October you'll find the races thinning out.”
Among those contributing to this spree, Gosden admitted that he has “a couple in mind” for his hat-trick quest in the Breeders' Cup Turf Juvenile, but they must run again in the meantime to earn their passage.
Mikel Delzangles is already viewing the Mile at Churchill Downs as his priority for Makfi, an intriguing admission as he prepares for his latest showdown with Canford Cliffs in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday. “The Breeders' Cup is his main objective, I have to say, rather than this week,” the Frenchman said. At the same time, he emphasised that the 2,000 Guineas winner, found to be ill after disappointing on his previous visit to Ascot, “is pleasing me as much now as he has done all year, definitely.”
Aidan O'Brien confirmed yesterday that Cape Blanco had been left in the race essentially as a precaution, and remains more likely to join Fame And Glory in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Sunday week. The principal Ballydoyle hope, among half a dozen acceptors, is Rip Van Winkle. Totesport offer even money about Canford Cliffs, with Makfi 9-4 and Rip Van Winkle 7-2.