Winning swansong on cards for an ‘old warrior’

TWO-TIME Yorkshire horse of the year Borderlescott is to get the chance to end his rags-to-riches career on a winning note.

MAGIC MOMENT: Robin Bastimans Borderlescott, ridden by Neil Callan, wins a thrilling Group One Nunthorpe Stakes at York in 2009, a year after winning it for the first time. Picture: York Racecourse.

Now 12, the dual winner of the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes is set to be retired at the end of the current campaign.

Yet, after Robin Bastiman’s horse of a lifetime was outpaced by sprinting’s young guns in last weekend’s 32Red Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood when the veteran was 18th to the highly progressive Intrinsic, the Wetherby trainer is lowering his sights for the rest of the season.

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Provided the rain clouds relent and the ground remains on the quick side, Borderlescott will seek a 15th career win at Doncaster on Saturday, August 16 before returning to York for the Ebor festival and a handicap race rather than the Nunthorpe, one of Europe’s top sprints.

The old warrior, a horse of modest pedigree compared to the regal bluebloods that he competed against, has already been retired once – at the end of the 2012 season – but Borderlescott was then returned to competitive action because he had become so sullen grazing in his paddock.

“I don’t think he will run next year, but I would like him to go out on a winning note,” Bastiman told The Yorkshire Post. “He still wants to race, but he’s 12 now and had 78 races. He’s more than capable of winning another race but we need to lower our sights.

“He had a will to win and had gears – true Group One horses always have gears and the ability to put races to bed. His age is a big handicap in the big races; the youngsters are just a bit quick for him. All being well, he goes to Doncaster on Saturday week for a 0-95 race and then to York for the handicap rather than the Nunthorpe – the Group Ones aren’t an option any longer.”

Borderlescott came to prominence when winning the 2006 Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood – he has now raced at the Sussex track’s premier meeting for eight of the last nine years (2011 being the exception).

He then won the 2008 Nunthorpe – a first win at the highest level for horse and trainer – when flooding forced the five-furlong dash to be switched from York to Newmarket.

The horse’s finest hour came 12 months later when he won a thrilling Nunthorpe, this time on the Knavesmire, as Borderlescott – ridden by Neil Callan – overhauled Kevin Ryan’s Benbaun to win by a neck in one of York’s great races.

The horse loves to be behind a fast pace and have a target to chase down in the final strides. “The turbo kicked in and he went there easy with hands and heels,” said Callan in the winner’s enclosure.

Borderlescott’s last victory was the 2012 Betfred Beverley Bullet under an inspired Freddie Tylicki, although the horse was unlucky to be edged out by David O’Meara’s Smoothtalkinrascal at Musselburgh on Easter Saturday in a race named after the champion.

Bastiman currently has 15 horses in training and accepts that he’s never likely to have another top class sprinter. He is also sceptical about the sport’s finances, saying trainers with modest horses are having to travel longer distances to seaside tracks just to get a run. The financial returns, he says, are meagre.

“The bigger trainers are getting bigger and the smaller trainers smaller,” said Bastiman.

The Queen’s Estimate will bid to get her season back on track in the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Lonsdale Cup at York.

Her Majesty’s mare, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, brought the house down at Royal Ascot last summer when becoming the first Gold Cup winner in history to be owned by a reigning monarch.

Estimate went close to successfully defending her crown going down by a neck to Aidan O’Brien’s 2013 Ladbrokes St Leger winner Leading Light.

The five-year-old, whose subsequent positive test for the banned substance morphine has been put down to a contaminated feed supply, finished a lacklustre eighth in last week’s Goodwood Cup, prompting talk of retirement.

This has been refuted by the Queen’s racing and bloodstock advisor, John Warren.

“All is well and the plan is to go for the Lonsdale Cup at York,” said Warren.