From his base at Pegasus Stables in Newmarket, James Fanshawe hopes to be flying high once more on Champions Day. Fanshawe’s yard has punched above its weight with three wins at the fixture since it was created in 2011 and hopes are high The Tin Man can make it four in the Sprint on Saturday.
“We may be a bit slow off the mark at the beginning of the season,” Fanshawe said, “but we’re very grateful for this meeting when we’ve got something good enough.”
Punters certainly believe The Tin Man is good enough, as the six-year-old is clear favourite at 3-1, half the odds of the next in the betting, Librisa Breeze.
Some concern has been expressed recently about the rise of “super trainers” in Britain and that seems to be justified by this Champions Day, in which John Gosden has favourites for three of the biggest prizes. Fanshawe is the only other British trainer with a favourite in one of the Group races, a kind of tribute to his happy knack of getting his horses to peak at this end of the season.
Choosing his words carefully, Fanshawe said: “I’ve got a reputation for … I’m probably going to shoot myself in the foot now … for letting the horses come along slowly and suddenly you get something that improves quickly and then this is a great target to aim for. It doesn’t always do your profile much good. People are always looking for precocity. I have horses that come to themselves a bit later.”
The Tin Man appears to like Ascot, having won this race in 2016 and also the Diamond Jubilee at last year’s Royal meeting. His fifth place in last year’s Sprint was thought to be the result of an unsuitably soft surface but he torpedoed that theory with a game success on heavy going in Haydock’s Sprint Cup last month.
“My wife and I were arguing as we were driving among the cones on the M6 as to whether we should be running or not,” Fanshawe said, “because all his best form had been on quicker ground. But he’s got a lot of soft-ground genes.
“He’s come out the Haydock race in good shape. He worked nicely on Saturday in his last piece of work. He’s never one who tells you a great deal but he just seems really fresh and well. In the sprints, though, you have to have a bit of luck.”