Ashforth’s Angles: Flight not so fancy but still well loved

Jamaican Flight - P.Flynn. Sandown Park 8/3/2002

Jamaican Flight, winning over hurdles, was a multiple winner in his career

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)  

ONE name stands out. It’s in the 3.45 at Pontefract, one of those familiar Pontefract marathons, but it’s not one of the 11 runners but the horse whose achievements they are trying to emulate that catches the eye – Jamaican Flight.

The Jamaican Flight Handicap honours a horse that, judged by the cold unsentimental standards of ratings, was ordinary. He never won a Flat race off a rating higher than 74 and when, as a ten-year-old, he won the 2003 Pontefract Cup and the biggest prize of his life – £8,190 – Jamaican Flight was rated just 49.

What Jamaican Flight showed was that racing brings joys and stirs passions away from the sport’s heady heights, for he was a horse with a following. It was partly the horse and partly his trainer, Sue Lamyman, and owner, her husband Peter.

Jamaican Flight joined them after winning a small maiden race for John Hills. Switched to hurdles, as a four-year-old the Lamyman’s new acquisition first unseated his rider then ran out. Yet by the end of the year he had won five hurdle races, invariably leading all the way.

That was one of the reasons for his popularity. Bonny and enthusiastic, the front running Jamaican Flight gave it his best. Between 1995 and 2007 he ran a staggering 183 times, winning eight races over hurdles, seven of them at Market Rasen, and 12 times on the Flat, including four Pontefract marathons. Jimmy Quinn was his regular rider.

It matters more to small trainers and the Lamymans’ stable was a small one, in Lincolnshire. They only once had ten winners in a season and never won a big race, although the races they won were big to them. As well as Jamaican Flight there was Victory Quest, who also joined the Lamymans after winning for John Hills. Between 2003 and 2010 Victory Quest won another 13 races, all at Southwell.

I met Sue and Peter once, in a stable staff canteen. They struck me as lovely people and when Sue was dying of cancer in 2010, a disease from which Peter had died the previous year, their staff helped care for her. I wonder who will be presenting the trophy today and who will receive it.

The race is full of Pontefract marathon regulars, including the first three home last year – Suprise Vendor, Tuscan Gold and Madam Lilibet.

Between them those three plus Riptide have won seven marathons at Pontefract and have probably been aimed at this race, which is Round 1 of the Pontefract Stayers’ Championship. Even so, the two most interesting runners are the Irish-trained Little Stampy, who recently completed a hat-trick at Wolverhampton, and Almost Gemini.

Little Stampy faces a novel test which she may or may not appreciate while Almost Gemini has not run on the Flat since 2013 and has never run at Pontefract.

Nevertheless, Kenneth Slack’s seven-year-old has promising credentials. He has improved over hurdles to reach a mark of 117 and used to run well off marks in the 60s over two miles on the Flat.

 

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