Milton Harris a man for all seasons
Not content with focusing on his best ever season in UK Jump racing, Milton Harris has been foraging abroad for winners at arguably Europe's most glamourous fixture - St Moritz.
Remember the scene in For Your Eyes Only when Bond escapes with Bibi across the lake? This is the very same lake that doubles up as a skating rink, hockey pitch and for three days each February, a racecourse. The White Turf is perhaps the most extraordinary race meeting in the world, and certainly among the most spectacular.
Racing on snow creates a spectacular scene, with plenty of kickback forcing the riders and sometimes horses to wear masks. The 2000m circular track has a long spur for sprint and long distance races. 50cm of snow covers the ice on the lake, which stretches to a thickness of up to twice that depth. Below that is 40m of freezing alpine water.
Mordred, a six year old son of Camelot, hasn't turned heads much in his UK career, first with Richard Hannon, then Paul Webber, but Harris cannot be faulted for his performance on 3 consecutive February Sundays in Switzerland. On the opening day at the start of the month, he won a CH20,000 conditions race over a shortened distance of 800m; shortened because warmer temperatures had exposed the ice on part of the course. That's a problem no British Clerk of the Course has to face.
A larger field turned out the following week for the longer distance 9f Longines Grosser Preis St Moritz, another conditions event where Mordred was treated favourably. He ran on to take the lead close home.
Twelve faced the starter in the grand finale, the £80,000 Grosser Preis von St Moritz, a Group II on Sunday last, but the dream couldn't last. Mordred ran on into second place without truly troubling the leader, Furioso, but picked up over £15,000 for his troubles. As ski-ing holidays go, this one was a rare self-financing one.
The the winner on Sunday, Furioso is trained in Spain by Arizkorreta Elosegui, and ridden by Vaclav Janacec, 5 times Champion Jockey in the Czech Republic, 7 times in Spain. It doesn't get much more international than this.