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24th in line to becoming French

Capt. Kneesup

Capt. Kneesup

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Bobby McAlpine with his mare La Foire and her foal.

We are rapidly approaching a moment in time when it really will be statistically more likely that you will be killed by your toaster than by Covid. Did you know that in May, COVID-19 (and please assume you, mealy-mouthed, statistical apparatchiks, that we precisely understand your deliberate vagueness when using the words “of”, “by”, and “from”), was 24th on the ONS list of things that cause us to die. Flu is higher, pneumonia and of course cancers and dodgy tickers, but C19 was 24th. Not for the year – I am not belittling its impact – merely pointing out that perhaps we no longer need Operation Fear and that our personal liberties could be restored. To put 24th into context, imagine waking one morning to the news that Lady Sarah Chatto, Prince Harry’s Godmother and the Snowdon’s only daughter, is now Queen, as she was 24th in line to the throne when the Sandringham toasters exploded. Luckily none of the mistake-infested quango’s of PHE, NHS, SNAG, SNAFU, WAGE or MEME is in charge of the line of succession, because otherwise, they’d be busy setting up another advisory body to manage the crowds, the Coronation Visitor Data for the 24th in line, or COVID-24 as it would be known.

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Some sad little chap is now much happier because, apart from not being whatever Gay is, but isn’t, he’s also become a plurality of indeterminate English, But that’s not what has really improved his life 10 billion per cent. No, he’s avoided any possible misunderstandings about who his non-binary self might be, by racially transitioning to becoming Korean, via a vast number of surgical procedures. They was a spotty youth when They started and frankly They would have been better seeing a good dermatologist first, but that’s just me, or do I mean You or Us. I have known many unhappy people with bad skin, it’s a bloody awful misery when you’re young, but in my limited knowledge, transitioning to become Kim Jong One, (or I?) is simply a painful waste of his youth and self-hatred. Take a lesson from me young thing. Eat well, love lots, hug more, drink more. Above all avoid drugs that make you think you’re Jesus and amongst those drugs I include in a very ironical sense Facebook and TikTok. To complete his transition (“I am no longer English”) I would happily remove his passport and send him to Seoul with £1000 and tell him to make the best of his new life.

For myself, I have determined that I too am very unhappy being English and so have decided I’d feel better being French. To that end, I am starting a Go Fund Me Page, so that I can start assimilating my new French character, Capitaine Boulevardier Déclin. This will buy me a small property in France, French nationality, a Cave of sensible wines and a small Gentleman’s steamer that I shall keep in Antibes.  The French Government will I feel be sympathetic to my claims and Marine Le Pen appears supportive when she said recently “The French want Less Europe and More France!”. C’est Moi Bebe! I shall be much happier too and if you believe, as so many others do, that we deserve nothing but the best for ourselves at someone else’s cost, then please support my Racial and very Binary Transitioning, by giving generously.

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In racing and betting news, I have been hammered on the spreads, having decided that England could only win if I backed Germany big. Thus the Third Goal minutes, Shirt Numbers, Yellow Cards for the English, Red Cards for the English, Corners for The Germans – I owned them all. Similarly, it was hard to see where Sweden could possibly go wrong. In other words, my failure is England’s success and thus English fans everywhere owe me a large drink. Sadly, the whole week seems to be full of news, I find hard to comprehend. The fatal heart attack of Lil Rockerfella in France aged 10 was very sad news for a horse many of us have come to regard as the epitome of consistency in the Jumps game. The granting of a licence by the Emirates to Mahmood Al Zarooni, might appear to some to be almost a reward after an 8-year ban. 20 horses, a corner of The Sharjah Racing and Equestrian Club and half a dozen owners. “Well done, my son. You kept shtum, you said nothing and like I promised, here’s a little something to keep you going.” While he has not transitioned geographically back to Blighty, he still seems to have an English sense of the ironical, with his come-back quote:

“I have been doing nothing. I was watching racing and reading news about horses. For me, horses are like a drug, if you are away from them all you want is to be with them. Hearing them this morning, watching them work, it’s special. I’m very happy I’m back doing what I like and I’ll give it everything.”

The BHA, as well as the various European authorities, would make a huge mistake if it ever granted him a licence to give his horses “everything” in this country.

The BHA is going through the motions in a Whip Consultation which is largely pre-determined. Sadly, and in order to appear even-handed, they will provide LACS, PETA and the RSPCA with air-time to declare that the whip is wrong, but that so is jump-racing and racing for 2yos and racing for money. I suspect the BHA knows exactly what it is going to do, and my bet is the whip will be carried, may not be used for encouragement, and can only be used for the purposes of correcting an unplanned path on safety grounds.

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Finally, I was sad to see that Bobby McAlpine had passed away last week, aged 89. He hadn’t been well in the last couple of years, and I shall always remember him as a very amusing, charming and witty man, who spoke his mind regardless of propriety. We knew his daughter and Angela, and I used to see him racing a great deal. He would often ask me for tips, and for about three years I was high in his estimation, having given him a few winners including a 16/1 and a 20/1 tip for Royal Ascot week. (Like all gamblers, Bobby could forget a loss as quickly as the next man). He would also ask one of my best friends, Dorian, his opinion, which was about as useful as asking me about Triathlons or Oysters, so I had no competition to speak of.

Dorian once called me to ask whether I fancied an afternoon’s racing at Newbury with a spot of lunch, as he had been asked to a box and told to bring a chum. I imagined this was a corporate fest, where the boss had been let down at the last minute. In fact, we walked into the box and there was Robert Sangster, Barry Hills, Bobby McAlpine, (who was always known as Mr Bobby), Charles Benson and I think Wally Pyrah and Victor Chandler. We drank, chatted, the boys had some bets, the bookies left and we had some lunch. What an absolutely cracking day’s racing, and all-in-all the complete lesson in life and how to enjoy it. Robert was not well, but being brave, and Barry, Charles and Bobby were patently keen to give him the jolliest of lunches. Wicked stories of times abroad; many “Do you remember when…” tales; many of them to do with very pretty girls, some of whom were very famous. Dorian and I on our very best days, could only ever operate at half-power compared to these Titans of the Turf and now only Barry remains. Stay well, Mr Hills.

RIP Bobby McAlpine

Mr Bobby would probably not have approved of these tips, especially with rain forecast for some and not for others. I am calling both courses as riding Good, as both of them will get some showers to prevent any more drying out.

1:50 SANDOWN Coral Charge (G3) (aka The Sprint Stakes) Cl1 (3yo+) 5f

Two from The Kings Stand Stakes are in this Sprint, ARECIBO who was a 1¾l second to Oxted, and STONE OF DESTINY 4¼l 8th. The race was a scrappy affair with the leaders going off too fast, and the race developed on the stands side, with lots of hard-luck stories as they fell back. ARECIBO was pretty well tail-end Charlie until 2f out and then made his move behind the winner from around mid-field. As I have said before, STONE OF DESTINY needs luck, which he didn’t get at Epsom in the Dash, and he didn’t help his cause by being slowly away. He made up some ground and I believe there is a race in him yet. He’s too big a price for this – but he’s also 13lbs shy of his last winning mark! Quinny keeps pushing KEEP BUSY into this sort of race and frankly, there is nothing to suggest that she’s anything better than Listed Class. She’s consistent, but no value in this. My biggest fear is LAZULI who is three G3 from four and who also won the Listed Scurry here last June all on Good or faster ground. A sporting bet might be HAPPY ROMANCE who ran pretty well on the far side in The Commonwealth Cup. (The appeal, which was lost this week, for reinstatement of the original placings, was apparently not helped by the appellants’ attitude with the Stewards, which was described as being “…beyond robust”!)

LAZULI Win – HAPPY ROMANCE e/w

2:05 HAYDOCK bet365 Hcap Cl2 (3yo) 1m6f

I was expecting to see Andrew Balding leave his Classic Lord in here, but instead, he’s contesting this interesting race with first-time handicapper AURIFEROUS with Hayley Turner in the plate. This is his first stab at 14f, and his LTO second behind Franklet at Salisbury suggests he could be a contender. He’s the wrong price. TASHKHAN caught the eye in the King George V at Ascot, and was only 4¼l behind the winner Surefire. Claimer Harry Russell has taken a handy 5lbs off and any morning showers will help. CONTACT picked up 8lbs for his 5½l win at Pontefract over 12f, which I suspect won’t anchor him. He was heavily backed and was the only 3yo in the race, suggesting more to come. Richard Hannon runs SIR RUMI who was 6th LTO in the Golden Gates Handicap at Ascot having run into traffic. He has an e/w shout depending on the place concessions on offer. Mark Johnston runs HARLEM SOUL who was another whose race LTO suggested more to come over further. Hmmm…

TASHKHAN Win – AURIFEROUS e/w

2:25 SANDOWN Coral Challenge (Hcap) Cl2 (3yo+) 1m

Sixth in the Dante PYTHAGORAS is dropped back to 8f by Richard Fahey. The winner of course was Hurricane Lamp who we know might have done better in The Derby if he’d kept his shoes on and did win The Irish Derby to prove the point. That isn’t the worst form, leaving me to ponder if this is Richard Fahey being clever – and God knows he is – or whether this is the Triumph of Expectation over Experience. He gets a 3lb age allowance (9lbs)  which puts him about level with ACCIDENTAL AGENT and MARIES DIAMOND, but he looks exposed. The latter will certainly be making the pace, possibly with MAYDANNY, but their high draw is not ideal. I worry about the chances of either ACQUITTED or ESCOBAR.  The former is quite tight on the handicap, but I like his draw and providing James Doyle kicks on, he might have enough. ESCOBAR has been second in this race twice before and providing there is some moisture left in the ground, I think 12s looks toppy. Another very trick race.

PYTHAGORAS Win – MARIES DIAMOND e/w

2:40 HAYDOCK bet365 Lancashire Oaks (G2) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m4f

No Brainer. Favourite.

ALPINISTA Win

3:00 SANDOWN Coral Distaff Cl1 (3yo) 1m

STATEMENT is the recognised hot-shot in this race, but I just wonder if she might not be a bit of Lay. She’s currently 2s, based on her 5½l third in Princess Elizabeth at Epsom, where she lost a shoe. Before that, she was a 7/1 shot for the Guineas coming a 6¼l eighth and also impressed watchers in the Fred Darling. Her reality is that she has not yet won a C1 race, but has had lots of excuses. One alternative might be AURIA at around 8s, who returns to a trip she can manage. She has some decent lines of form through Creative Flair, and Oisin in the plate will do. Hopes were high for SENITA who may have a head problem, as in “I hate bloody racing”. But she was considered good enough for the Musidora in May, and yes she ran like a dog, but she still should be afforded some respect. You can get 4 places with Paddy Power and Betfair at 25s. Get on Big – Get on Early as a great man once said.

AURIA Win – SENITA e/w 25/1 5 places with Betfair and PP

3:15 HAYDOCK bet365 Old Newton Cup Hcap Cl2 (4yo+) 1m4f

My old friend Henry Ponsonby runs one of his many syndicate horses here SCARLET DRAGON, the 2020 winner of The Duke of Edinburgh and who, anchored by the handicapper, was a gallant 6th this year. He still needs to lose some weight, (don’t we all), but he meets many of the old gang again today with AADDEEY (5th) – ALOUNAK (7th) – WIN O’CLOCK (9th) – ZABEEL CHAMPION (3rd). Any three of those could be placed in the first five, but I’m going to suggest that if SCARLET DRAGON can be held up until 250 yds and then given his head, he might just get a place at a decent price. You can get 25/1 for five places again with Betfair and Paddy Power and that’s where I’ve gone.

SCARLET DRAGON e/w 25/1 5 places with Betfair and PP

3:35 SANDOWN Coral-Eclipse (G1) (BCS) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m2f

The ideal profile of the winner is a horse aged under 8yo, with Group race-winning experience, a top 4 finish LTO and a rating if there is one of 118+With no horse aged over 8 ever winning The Eclipse and 12/12 having won a Group Race, we strip it down and with 6 or over has ever won the Eclipse
• All of the last 12 winners had already won a Group race (8/12 a Group 1)
• 11 of the last 12 winners finished Top 4 last time out
• 11 of the last 12 winners were rated 118+

On Wednesday that just left two and they were ST MARKS BASILICA and ARMOURY. Even without the trends, I think I would have headed down that road. By Friday, Armoury was out which left the winner as far as I was concerned.

ST MARK’S BASILICA Win

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