Ebor memories: A Wonderful day for Cumani

Luca Cumani with Mount Athos (right), who is as short as 7-1 for the Cup

Luca Cumani: convinced his filly had lost the 1998 Juddmonte 

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)  

Racing greats share their favourite memories from York’s Ebor festival. This year’s meeting begins on Wednesday

Luca Cumani
One So Wonderful,
1998 International
It’s very difficult to choose a favourite memory – the three Juddmontes I won with Commanche Run, One So Wonderful and Falbrav were all special. It’s unfair to pick one!

Each and every one of them was great. Probably the one that was the most exciting, though, was One So Wonderful in 1998, because from where I was standing I didn’t think she had won. It was a three-way photo-finish with Faithful Son and Chester House. I was standing past the post and I didn’t think she had got up, I thought we had finished second, and then when the result was announced it was jubilation.

The late Egon Winefeld, her owner, was an optimist so he thought she had won – I’m a pessimist so I thought we had been beaten until the announcement. One So Wonderful was a very good filly and it was a truly wonderful day.

David Elsworth
In The Groove,
1990 Juddmonte International
I’m an old man suffering from senile dementia but I do remember the good days and the day she won the International was one of them.

She’d already won the Irish Guineas, but she’d been disappointing in the Oaks under Cash Asmussen, finishing fourth behind Salsabil, and it was a bit of a mystery why. She underperformed, and it wasn’t Cash’s fault, but it was very disappointing, especially as she won over course and distance in the Coronation Cup the following year.

She was never beaten at York, though. She’d won the Convivial Maiden at two and the Musidora at three, so we knew she liked the track, and despite the defeat at Epsom we went there pretty confident. She looked like a three-mile chaser, was built like a brick s***house and had a head on her like a JCB, but she needed to be strong that afternoon.

Steve Cauthen was on board and he got on well with her, but I remember she went to Phoenix Park as a two-year-old for the Park Stakes as evens favourite and Steve was worried the Irish jockeys would carve him up, so he thought he’d jump off and make it, and he got caught. We found out that if you held on to her she had a great turn of foot, which she showed coming from off the pace at York to beat a very good field, including the Eclipse winner Elmaamul.

We had Dead Certain in the same year and she wasn’t bad either, but I’d say In The Groove was the best filly I ever had and that was a big day for her.


Jack Berry: the toast of York after giving out the winning Ebor tip

  PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)  

Jack Berry
By Thunder!,
1954 Ebor
When I was a young apprentice with Charlie Hall people used to ask us who we thought was going to win the Ebor every day in the weeks before the race. There was another apprentice at the time, Wally Swinburn, Walter’s dad, who was riding a little horse called By Thunder! and I remember telling everyone that asked ‘I can’t see this horse getting beat’.

He was in the Leger, he must be a good horse, and he only had 6st 12lb with your man’s claim off – he had a right little weight. Anyway, he won the Ebor on bottomless ground by 12 lengths. Loads of wagon drivers who took coke to some power station used to pass by us every day, they loved a bet those wagon drivers, and they were giving me sweets and cigarettes for weeks after. By Thunder! went on to be third in the St Leger. That was one of my favourite memories. I would have loved to have trained an Ebor winner but we never had that type of horse.

Saeed Bin Suroor
2001 Juddmonte International
We have had lots of very good days over the last 20 years, but for me Sakhee stands out because it was a very good race that year and he won the race so easily, by seven lengths.

He’s one of my favourite horses, one of the best Godolphin have had, a beautiful horse who was very easy to train. In the mornings on the gallops he really showed his class and it was the same on the racecourse. It was his second run for us and I was very positive about his prospects beforehand because he had been working very well, I knew he had a great chance.

He had to beat horses such as Grandera and Medicean, but when he came to lead three furlongs out it was really exciting because I could see he was going to win, and then he quickened clear and went right away from them. After that he won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and was just beaten at the Breeders’ Cup, but it was only when he won that York race so easily that we could all see how good he was going to be. It was a very good day indeed.


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