Simcock’s Dream coming true
Even Lindbergh needed someone to build him a plane. Spare a thought, then, for David Simcock, whose landmark success at Deauville on Sunday was overshadowed by the young jockey who steered his flying machine, Dream Ahead, in the Prix Morny.
Only the previous day William Buick had won the Arlington Million in Chicago, and now he had completed a transatlantic Group One double within 16 hours.
Here, unmistakably, was a momentous breakthrough in one of the British Turf's most promising careers. And it was a pretty big day for Buick, as well.
Neither, as it happens, would be the type for ostentatious celebration. “The only thing we worried about was that William might have had too much champagne on the plane,” Simcock joked yesterday. “But no, that is most definitely not his style.”
Simcock, in turn, returned to Newmarket, had some beans on toast and went to bed. He shared the flight home with Luca Cumani, his former employer. Cumani, full of congratulations, confessed that he had thought his protege too hasty in fast-tracking Dream Ahead straight from a maiden to Group One level. Simcock himself had become nervously inclined to the same view as the race approached.
“As the week went on, so the doubts grew, whether we were doing the right thing,” he said. “So when it was all over I just felt relief, not elation.”
Now 37, Simcock has been quietly drawing attention to his talents since starting out with just 10 horses six years ago. Last season, for instance, he nurtured Darley Sun from an initial rating of 69 to winning the Cesarewitch by five lengths off 94.
What he needed next was an elite horse, and that would not be easy in the middle tier of the bloodstock market. But that was just where Dream Ahead himself emerged, entering Simcock's care with a £36,000 tag from the Doncaster Breeze-Ups.
Last month he won a Nottingham maiden by nine lengths on his debut. It was a jaw-dropping performance, but Simcock none the less put his judgement boldly on the line in going for the Morny. Any young trainer can win a weak maiden and get a rush of blood. Only one with a mature grasp of the equine ability spectrum would be vindicated in this way.
“That's for others to say,” Simcock shrugged.
“But, of course, there was huge satisfaction. If he had finished fourth or fifth it would possibly have looked slightly dumb,” he added.
“The plan had been the Acomb at York, but Khalifa Dasmal (the owner) was in Deauville, and told us it was raining out there. He's extremely sporting, and if the horse hadn't fired, I know he would have taken it very well.”
That Simcock knows what he is doing was perhaps even more transparent in the success of his very first runner as a licensed trainer, in the Will You Marry Me Stakes at Lingfield on Valentine's Day 2004. He produced a ring and proposed to Jennie on the spot. His professional consummation has taken only a little longer.