My darling wife Gai was beside herself with joy after John Singleton’s colt Kiss And Make Up won last weekend’s Todman Slipper Trial.
Apart from proving himself to be a strong Golden Slipper chance, it is wonderful closure for racing’s most public spat – a proper bookend.
Gai was grateful for John’s Saturday night text: “Gai, I feel as good as I ever have in racing. All because you put silliness aside. Tell Rob I’ll even kiss him.”
The More Joyous affair unfolded three years ago, being played out on the public stage by the stewards to unprecedented media attention. Gai was cleared of any wrongdoing and the stewards, no doubt realising the absurdity of it all, gave Singo’s fine to charity.
Most thought that would be the end of any relationship but Singo’s best friend, Gerry Harvey, told me: “Give it two or three years. They’ll be back together.”
Things started to thaw a little a year later when they were both in the business lounge at the airport. Singo broke the silence and joked to Gai: “Well, I’ve really destroyed you. All you have won in the last year is the Melbourne Cup and the Golden Slipper. On the other hand, I’ve won that Wyong maiden. So there!” Gai just smiled.
Gai admired Kiss And Make Up at the yearling sales when he was consigned by Strawberry Hill, owned by Singo. She decided that 2½ years was long enough and it was time to smoke the peace pipe.
She spotted John in a tent with his back to her. Gai, who has a theatrical side, poked him in the back with her shooting stick (a walking stick that folds out to become a seat) and proposed that if she bought the colt, Singo should retain half. He was delighted to agree. Gai had one condition: she demanded naming rights, notwithstanding that she had never personally named a yearling before.
After securing the colt, she decided to name him Kiss And Make Up. Singo’s bloodstock manager Duncan Grimley complained: “That’s not a name for a potential stallion!”
If he wins the Slipper, the name will be perfect and the horse will surely command a big price as a stud prospect.
Let’s hope this daring colt will be a good example to all of us of the benefits of putting our differences aside.
The Slipper has always been Kiss And Make Up’s target. Of the Sydney horses I assess, he is entitled to be a clear favourite. He has great time and sectionals, a good turn of foot, has done work into the breeze and is poised to improve further. And the Todman is the best preparation into the Slipper, as Gai proved with Pierro and Vancouver.
Even so, on exposed form and on my figures, Melbourne colts Extreme Choice and Flying Artie are superior.
But as form professor Dominic Beirne explains: “It is rare for Melbourne Slipper hopefuls to reproduce their Melbourne numbers first start in Sydney. Both Sepoy and Miss Finland were defeated at their first Sydney start before going on to win the Slipper.”
But in this case things are a little different. Extreme Choice had his first start in Sydney, running fast time in winning. However, it may also be hard to get the soufflé to rise twice – Blue Diamond and Golden Slipper.
My two-year-old handicap rating is:
Extreme Choice 127
Flying Artie 120
Kiss And Make Up 118
Gai’s not going anywhere
Contrary to the rumours, it is a sure bet that Gai will be giving her all and training winners for two or even three decades to come. She loves it too much!
Lack of logic
Apprentice Winona Costin, 21, was recently ejected from the course at Rosehill because she could not prove she was 18 or over. I know the NSW licensing laws are very strict, but where is the common sense in all this?
I wish we had the charming security guards they have at Saratoga in the US. They are retired gentlemen and their badges read “Peace Officers”. Everyone likes them and they still get the job done. A big contrast.
The Sydney Morning Herald: March 6th 2016