The Inside Rail

The end is near. Two weekends, four meets left in the 2018 season.

Doc Cebu was the hero last week, winning the International Gold Cup in his typical facile style. The 8-year-old won his fourth timber race in a row and eighth since making his debut last spring. He’s lost twice. That’s all. This time, jockey Haddon Frost allowed the son of Hard Spun to lope on or near the lead, long hold, steady gallop, before brushing off Le Chevalier for another simplistic stroll for steeplechasing’s John Muir.

Doc Cebu came back with his timber bandages around his pasterns. Jack Fisher and his team have put on thousands and thousands of timber bandages, they don’t slide often. I guess, just when they’re hit hard. Fisher took out his run down cutter in the winner’s circle and sliced off the two bandages, er, socks before photographers clicked the winner’s circle shot.

Some horse.

“He doesn’t care,” Fisher said. “He just doesn’t care.”

And that is what you need in the timber sphere.

In September, at Shawan Downs, Doc Cebu rolled to dominant win. That time, the timber bandages stayed on his shins while blood poured from his stifles.

“Sometimes when he meets one short, you can feel him he’s caught it on the way over, but I guess that’s timber because you don’t want to be jumping up and down too much. I just need to find a way to get him to do that better,” Frost said. “He’s in the ring, he does plenty, I’m picking holes in it, if he didn’t like it he wouldn’t do it because he’s not a thick horse. He’s a fun horse. He’s very versatile, he can make the running or do something else. I wouldn’t like to ride against him.”

No, you wouldn’t like to ride against him.

At Shawan Downs, Darren Nagle led on Top Man Michael, dueled across the backside and ultimately succumbed. At Genesee Valley two weeks later, four jockeys followed Frost and Doc Cebu, they followed and finished following. At the International Gold Cup, Jack Doyle and Le Chevalier sat closer and it cost them second money.

“He doesn’t care,” Fisher said. “He just doesn’t care.”

As for this weekend. Off to Callaway, then Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. Five runners spread out over three places. Finish strong.