The height of the waters is of serious flood concern in our part of Oxfordshire, and I have tried to stiffen my resolve, lest we repeat the ghastliness of 2007. This was easy to do having looked at the pictures of the great and the good inspecting the course at Ascot today. I didn’t have sound, but there appeared to be hundreds of yard of tweed, on some slow, slightly wavering walk. This herd, on their migratory search for better ground, I watched with the sound down, but I could imagine a great deal of waffle-waffle-piffle-piffle-crikeybob-lummycharlie-never-not-maybe-lawks. The scene was positively Edwardian and yet it’s 2020 as near as damn it. I remember a company called Turftrax was heavily involved some years ago in creating the perfect going-stick and creating various other bits of going measurement. Maybe I’m missing something, but you would think someone had invented some sort of towable rubber-tyred cart on which sat a piece of battery-powered, electromagnetic GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar). GPR pulses can penetrate through shallow freshwater and into bottom sediments, providing detailed information about sediment stratigraphy, obstructions, and depth to bedrock. Or what is sometimes called the Going. You might even think that this piece of kit could turn up with the TV crews or starting stalls or whoever else has to turn up at the various courses – thus obviating the need for each course to have such a piece of kit. Now I wonder whether anyone has ever invented such a thing – and if they have whether the racecourses thought this might speed up the inspection process? Tricky one.
Tricky is also the word we can apply to today’s now-on racing
1:50 ASCOT Plymouth Gin Handicap Chase Cl2 (4yo+ 0-145) 2m3f
FIRST FLOW races over 2f further than his LTO impressive 20l win at Hereford, after picking up an RPR of 150 on only his 2nd chase at Ascot. He has bags of potential and looked as though he had plenty left in the tank after 2m. MY WAY is worth an e/w shout with first-time cheekpieces and he looked as though he should have won in October. GOT AWAY is a workable weight and price
2:25 ASCOT Marsh Hurdle (Registered As The Long Walk Hurdle) (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m½f
PAISLEY PARK and TOBEFAIR are now non-runners and I suggest in what is now a wide-open affair PAPAGANA who began her new season as she left the last, with another improved, wide-margin victory in Listed company. She is reportedly considered too valuable to be risked over fences and will retire to stud after her seasonal targets of either the Pertemps or Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
2:40 HAYDOCK Betway Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase Cl2 (4yo+ 0-145) 3m1½f
THE HOLLOW GINGE‘s three career wins to date, and two seconds have all come on ground soft or worse, and on a Left-handed track over 24f+. He’s also top on my trends.
3:00 ASCOT Dave Dawes Silver Cup Handicap Chase (Listed Race) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m
YALLTARI has decent novice chase form and was a decent third in the Reynoldstown Chase over CD way back in February. The ground will suit and the yard s firing on all eight. I had a small punt on MISTER MALLARKEY in the Hennessy and for a brief moment thought I might be striking long-price form again. He was clearly enjoying himself and the new cheekpieces made a difference. He’s 20lb above his last winning handicap mark. I was going to stick KILDISART in the mix, but I wonder whether he’s enjoying the game at the moment. GIVE ME A COPPER is a couple of points wrong and is backable at 8s.
3:15 HAYDOCK Betway Heed Your Hunch Handicap Hurdle Cl2 (3yo+) 2m3f
CAPTAIN MOIRETTE clattered fences LTO which cost him the race. However he caught the eye as he finished well, and as he won’t mind the ground and is on a decent mark, I rate him with POETIC HYTHM for a forecast.
3:35 ASCOT Betfair Exchange Trophy (A Handicap Hurdle) (Grade 3) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m7½f
SIR VALENTINE has been consistent in his novice races this season, won’t mind the ground, has a fair mark for his handicapping debut. It is however a tough old race and the winner will probably come from QUOI DE NEUF or MONSIEUR LECOQ who I struggle to separate. I might head down the exotic avenue.