If Magners, aka Bulmers, is successful in its bid to avoid paying the sponsorship fees for Cheltenham March 2020, is it possible that I and my fellow travellers in The Sweeping Virgin Public House in Cheltenham, might also have a case for damages? Might we not demand [a] our entrance money back and [b] recompense for the long-term suffering and abuse we have all endured, from people blaming us for causing so much misery in China. Additionally, some people, including several Lambourn trainers, have suffered a horrible and debilitating side-effect, and are now completely incapable of telling the difference between plonk and Chateau Blimeyc’estbon. To be fair, and in the cause of legal transparency, Covid might not have been entirely to blame for that and it might have been a pre-pandemic issue.
However, racegoers reputations lie in tatters having attended Cheltenham, and as readers of this column will know, the meeting also set us back some 68 pts, so clouded was our judgement by disease. It was a wagering train crash of such proportions, that it literally took my breath away. So badly in fact, that I needed oxygen and a soothing hand on the fevered brow, in the JR. So, as I can also prove those figures, and who would gainsay my statement that I often wager £1,000 a point, that tots up to £68k in lost earnings. Add to that my badges and bar bills, (multiplied twice to cover the expenses of Madame as ADC, Driver and Confidante), plus my loss of reputation through being called the Oxfordshire Superspreader… I make that £71,000 for the costs and £350 for the damages to my rep. A cheque from Taunton would be appreciated by return.
Talking of kite flying, here are the tips for Saturday, which one always forgets, is a cracking and top-quality pipe-opener to Glorious Goodwood.
Firstly let me make it clear. The ground will change on Saturday – but how much and when lies with God. So be careful. I have tried to be mindful of that with the selections. Again, I shall post a simplified version of this post on Telegram. To see it on your mobile, simply download Telegram and then go to t.me/raceweb or look up raceweb on Telegram.
1:50 ASCOT Princess Margaret Keeneland Stakes (G3) Cl1 (2yo) 6f
2nd in the G2 Duchess of Cambridge Stakes, DESERT DREAMER was possibly not bought to hand quickly enough by Oisin Murphy after the winner, Sandrine, had already made her move. Before that she was 2nd in the Listed Empress Stakes to SYSTEM, also at Newmarket where, (bar a run in The Queen Mary over the wrong distance), she has always run. She’s been a busy little bee for a two-year-old, and she’ll need to do well here to have a crack at the Cheveley Park. I think I’d want 5s to have a punt on her. Richard Hannon’s SYSTEM, is also vying for favouritism, but again the tissues suggest there may be value elsewhere. ELHADEEYAH is one, having taken three races to prove to James Tate that she needed 6f and decent ground. The moment she got that, bingo! She’s well-regarded back home and has an entry for The Lowther. Karl Burke runs ATTAGIRL who is value at around 12s. She is a big girl and is still growing into herself, but after a debut where she got a little lost in the whole thing, she was well backed and won her maiden by 4l at Haydock, from the front. Providing she and ELHADEEYAH don’t burn each other off, one of them could easily steal this from the front.
EL HADEEYAH e/w – ATTAGIRL e/w
2:05 YORK Sky Bet “Jump Jockeys’ Nunthorpe” Hcap Cl3 (4yo+ 0-90) 5f
Having trained the winner of two of the only three previous runnings of this geegaw, Paul Midegely appears keen to continue enriching his holiday fund, emptied his stable and sent five runners here. Huzzah, but is this really a vital part of the racing calendar? Why not 2m over Hurdles ridden by Vets? Why not 12f ridden by Trainers? It’s so…. what’s the word… Tommo. Honestly, I try to care, but this is just depressing. Incidentally, if you think I’m being unfair to Tommo – he did get paid for this little promo and, I further assume, started the trend for waistcoats and trousers not meeting.
SON AND SANNIE e/w
2:25 ASCOT Porsche Hcap Cl2 (3yo 0-105) 1m ITV
Possibly FANTASTIC FOX who hated the ground LTO and doesn’t yet get further than a mile.
FANTASTIC FOX Win
2:40 YORK Sky Bet Dash Hcap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-105) 6f
Fiddling around with the stats cuts my field down about half-a-dozen, and the standout is MUSCIKA. Yes, MONDEMMEJ is also on the list, but he’s 12lbs shy of his last winning mark and a relatively short-price. He’ll probably make the frame, with his good draw, suitable ground and trends profile, so it could be argued he’s a free win bet at 11/2, but I think not. MUSCIKA has the option of moving to the best ground and pace from his middle draw, and indeed to set the pace. MANIGORDO will probably be near the front of the low-draw horses and it is possible they’ll split into two groups. If that happens, then I’d like a low-draw horse and would give a squeak to GULLIVER, who was fifth in the Wokingham just 1¾l behind Rohan and, like MUSCIKA, he runs wells at Ascot. The ground, if it changes to having some cut, won’t bother him.
MUSCIKA e/w – GULLIVER e/w
3:00 ASCOT Moet & Chandon International Stakes Cl2 (3yo+) 7f
MOTAKHAYYEL was impressive in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket and picked up an extra 9lbs as a result. However, the International’s conditions mean he only carries 3lbs of his penalty…. BUT, he won the Bunbury Cup also in 2020 and was raised to today’s mark of 112. However, he then ran in a Salisbury G3 where he ran like a tired dog. So does all this justify a price around 5/1? I think he’s way too skinny in this 20+runner cavalry charge. However, the Bunbury Cup might have a clue with Jamie Osborne’s CLIFFS OF CAPRI who was a 5½l 7th and was the best of the far-side group by some way. An excellent Ascot record over 7f on Good ground or faster (1152) and a high draw, suggests the 20/1 currently available won’t last long. The 2nd mentioned there incidentally was in this race last year, where he raced from 2lbs higher. DANCE FEVER, from the inestimable KVT partnerships, also runs and was noted when winning a Leicester 0-95 LTO. He was a lot sharper than his comeback in the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and hasn’t got many miles on the clock for whatever reason. Gelded in the winter, his further improvement this season on the fast ground that he needs, makes him backable here, despite the extra 3lbs. Finally, I am concerned by Jamie’s other entry RAISING SAND, ridden by his talented daughter Saffie. Osborne is a canny placer of well-handicapped horses and if the ground rides G/S S after the suggested thunderstorms, I suspect he’s an insurance policy – or even The One. You can get 5, 6 and 7 places in the market – hunt around.
CLIFFS OF CAPRI e/w – DANCE FEVER e/w – RAISING SAND e/w – 12 x ¼pt CFC with MOTAKHAYYEL
3:15 YORK Sky Bet York Stakes (G2) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m2½f
This will be an enormously tactical race, with MOHAAFETH just one of five high-quality runners, that include ARMOURY and the other Haggas runner, MONTATHAM. Four seasonal, four wins and still just three, he appears to have a 5lb advantage over top-rated ARMOURY. He was scratched from the Derby late, and his first run in Group company was the Hampton Court Stakes which he took by 1¾l. He did however drift rather alarmingly to the far rail when he came under pressure and earned Jim Crowley a six-day ban in the process. I’m not sure that had much to do with Crowley’s explanation that he got there far too soon, but he certainly seemed to start thinking “Why?” once in front. Still and all that 5lbs is the reason he has a real chance, and I suspect that he will arrive late, following waiting tactics with ARMOURY. The second to blink wins.
3:35 ASCOT King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes (G1) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m4f
How many times has the Derby winner run in the KGQES in the same year of victory in the last decade? Once. Who was the horse to do the double? Galileo. Thus it is a rare treat to see ADAYER here and his form has received the welcome boost of Hurricane Lane’s victory in The Irish Derby. But as I was quick to point out at the time Hurricane Lane raced awkwardly in The Derby because he’d lost his two front shoes. I personally think he would have – could have – won The Derby. He did, however, go on from the Curragh to take the Grand Prix de Paris in sizzling style. That is very hot form indeed and gives Irish Derby second LONE EAGLE a very real possibility of lifting this prestigious race. At 11/2, you’re getting decent odds. The winner of The Prince of Wales, LOVE, is favourite and it seems possible that some forecast rain might make LOVE’s task a little bit more difficult.
LONE EAGLE Win – ½pt RFC with ADAYER and again with WONDERFUL TONIGHT