Ashforth’s Angles: Quantity and quality with Desert Strike

The evergreen Desert Strike races again at Kempton on Wednesday

  PICTURE: MARK CRANHAM  

ONE of racing’s greatest workhorses and one of the sport’s specialist trainers are on show at Kempton when Conor Dore runs Desert Strike in the apprentice race (6.10).

Desert Strike, now a ten-year-old, is an amazing horse. He must be extremely sound because he has been heavily raced all his life. As a five-year-old he ran an extraordinary 43 times and followed up by running 32 times the next year. Five times in his career he has raced five times in a month. It all adds up to a grand total, so far, of 178 outings and 25 wins, 23 of them on all-weather tracks. Desert Strike, I salute you.

The stalwart has been with Dore since the Lincolnshire based trainer claimed him for £6,000 after finishing third in a selling race at Warwick in August 2012. Then a six-year-old, he had already run 95 times and won 11 races but Dore is adept at claiming horses with a lot of miles on their equine clocks and, by careful placing, winning more races with them.

Desert Strike has won 14 times for Dore and, along the way, endeared himself to Hayley Turner, who won eight times on him. They have all been small races – Desert Strike’s 25 wins have netted only £66,817 in win prize money – but owners like winners and Desert Strike is a winner.

The art of claiming horses

In the past, buying horses out of selling and claiming races was widely considered improper and provoked a lot of ill-feeling. Nowadays it is less frowned on which is lucky for Dore, for whom claiming horses has been a major part of his strategy.

In December 2014 Dore claimed Arctic Lynx, then a seven-year-old, for £6,000. By mid-April 2015 Arctic Lynx had won four more races.

In January 2015 Dore claimed City Of Angkor Wat for the same sum. He was a five-year-old with a record of one win from 14 tries. Four days later he won again and has since won another five times, the latest at Wolverhampton on Monday.

In March 2015 Dore claimed Yul Finegold, then a four-year-old, again for £6,000. Yul Finegold had won once, a selling race, from 21 attempts. A week later he won again and has now won six times for Dore.

In November he pushed the proverbial boat out and claimed the five-year-old Fleckerl, then rated 78, for £14,000. This year Fleckerl has won three times, earning almost £17,000 and had his handicap mark raised to 90.

In February Dore claimed Tatting for £7,000. Tatting was a seven-year-old who had won nine times from 61 runs. He has already won twice more.

Tatting, Arctic Lynx, City Of Angkor Wat and Yul Finegold are owned by members of the Marsh family, the trainer’s biggest patrons. Dore’s owners don’t get to win big races – the biggest prize since the former Irish jockey started training in 2002 came two years later when Magic Glade won a £14,000 handicap at Musselburgh – but they do get to win.

Talking of which, I expect St Michel will win at Bath (7.30).

 

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