The Ricky Hendriks-trained Swansea Mile (7g Dylan Thomas-Hurry Up Helen, by In The Wing) brought a top-level steeplechase success for Dylan Thomas when scoring at Saratoga on Thursday.
The seven-year-old, racing for George Mahoney’s Rosbrian Farm, out ran market leader Modem in the closing couple of furlongs by two lengths to claim the G1 A P Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase, one of America’s most-prestigious jumping events.
Although sent off at big odds, Hendriks felt that Swansea Mile had been unlucky on a couple of recent starts.
“I still can’t believe he didn’t win in Charleston (when beaten less than a length in April),” Hendriks told the Saratoga Special. “He did perfect, the race went perfect and he still didn’t win. We took a shot with him at Middleburg, it poured rain and I think he’s actually better in a little bit firmer ground. Portrade beat him there (and finished fourth on Thursday).”
In-form Michael Mitchell was in the saddle and he had been concerned about the rain ahead of racing.
“I was a little apprehensive with this rain-effected ground, I wasn’t quite sure how he would handle it,” said Mitchell. “I tried to give him a bit of cover, there was plenty of pace on, I was just trying to save it for the stretch and that little bit of turn of foot which he’s shown towards the end. I thought I was going to get stuck in a bit of traffic but I just kept patient and he’s finished it off nicely.
Bred by in Ireland by W Kane, Swansea Mile enjoyed winning spells when trained by Ted Walsh and Dan Skelton. He was bought privately by his current connections at Doncaster’s August Sale last year.
“We bid on the horse, thought we bought the horse, we walked downstairs, we didn’t buy the horse,” Hendriks recalled. “They told us we didn’t meet the reserve, so we bought the horse at a picnic table outside afterward.”