Mr Scaramanga was not alone in failing to get the better of James Bond, but Mr Scaramanga the racehorse has defeated all comers twice in his three runs for Robert Moss and Dale Brennan, most recently when annexing one of Qatar’s biggest prizes during its Emir’s Sword festival.
The Simon Dow-trained three-year-old landed the £200,000 Al Biddah Mile at Al Rayyan racecourse in Doha, and for Moss it was a change of luck in the Middle East after the injury to previous flagbearer Hombre Rojo at Meydan last year.
Even Mr Scaramanga’s appearance in Qatar was fortuitous, as Moss explains.
“We took him to Newcastle for a Meydan qualifier – he under performed and came last of four,” he says. “But then Adrian Beaumont [of the International Racing Bureau] rang to saythe Qatar is were looking a bit short for the Al Biddah Mile and were we interested.
“Everything was free – the horse went for free, we were flown business class – and none of us expected anything; we were hoping for fifth at best, which was $10,000.”
Mr Scaramanga did much better than fifth to plunder the first prize of £115,000, going some way to easing memories of Hombre Rojo’s misfortune, when he did himself a major mischief in the Al Bastakiya in Dubai last March – it has still not been decided whetherhe will be able to run again.
Moss adds: “I don’t think Qatar is trying to emulate Dubai. They have their own culture and it’s a very beautiful country. It was a new experience to celebrate the win with bottled water but we actually felt better for it!”
A fine wine, or at least a Peroni, might bemore the order of the day should Mr Scaramanga head to Rome to contest the Italian 2,000 Guineas, while closer to home Moss hopes to have some Royal Ascot involvement this summer, having “got a bit carried away” in the wake of his first yearling, Presumido, winning a few races for the Dow stable.
“I kept buying and breeding horses andcurrently have 16,” reveals Moss.
Explaining his entry to ownership, he says: “I bought a tenth of a racehorse that didn’treally perform. Then I bought my mare from Juddmonte, Vezere. She didn’t do too well, so I then bought a yearling [Presumido], who was off for 18 months as he injured his stifle in his box. It was something of a slow start!”
Moss is motoring now and as well as having a football team-worth of his own, he shares Mr Scaramanga and three others with Brennan. Sparkalot, a promising fourth on debut atLingfield in March, is owned with Brennan and Harry Redknapp, the ex-football manager whom he met on a golf day.
Moss attributes much of his enjoyment to Epsom-based Dow, saying: “He’s a great trainer, not only personable but honest, and so hardworking. He lives and breathes horses and puts so much care into it. I trust him implicitly, which is very important.”
Mr Scaramanga is the current star while Hombre Rojo continues his recovery; Moss thinks it will be a few moremonths yet before a decision is made over whether the four-year-old, who rattled up a Lingfield hat-trick and came third in the UAE 2,000 Guineas before injury struck, can return or not. There are also some unraced youngsters, Corredordel Viento, Corazon Espinado and El Borracho, to look forward to.
Moss, who speaks Spanish and gives his horses Spanish names, isn’t overly keen on racing juveniles, preferring to let them mature.
Asked for his magical moments to date, Moss replies: “Obviously the local Group 2 win in Doha, but every moment is magical. We have a good strike-rate and must have the best crop of horses in Epsom.
“We’re aiming for Royal Ascot and some lovely turf races this year. However they perform, I’m confident our investment in the sport will continue unabated…or until the money runs out!”
Moss, an electrical wholesaler based in Dartford – his pal Brennan is an electrical contractor – admits he would not have the stomach for owning jumpers, with injuries his biggest fear, and while he confesses to liking having winners on the track, he sounds happy just being around his horses at Dow’s Clear Height stable of a Sunday morning.
“Owning horses is rather contagious,” says Moss. “They’re beautiful animals, easy to fall in love with, powerful but fragile.”
Here’s hoping Moss’s string can stay in one piece, especially Mr Scaramanga, his very own horse with the golden fun.