I find myself heading to Newmarket on business, and on the instructions of the Plantagenet Herald, I am obliged to leave at such a time and in such a manner as will get us to three very important shops en route that sell things I didn’t know we needed. My day is thus curtailed and with it, the work needed to keep you informed of possible winners. Nonetheless, before my departure, I thought I might give you some final advice before 8:00 pm tonight and the start of the Footy Marathon.
My advice is for you to buy your uninterested partner, if such a thing were possible, two tickets for the footy. The first on the likely winner and the second on the possible runner-up. If you have a Betfair account – why wouldn’t you? – then do it on the exchange. I shall give my thoughts on these two later.
Meanwhile, a note arrives from Mrs Trellis of North Wales, who writes: “Dear Brough, Will the proposed boundary changes make Ascot likely to lower its ticket prices. Also, will you be providing a tipping service for Ascot?”
Well, Mrs Trellis. Here’s the commercial rub. No, Ascot will never lower its prices, which I think will prove a mistake in the medium term. this is because there are three elements to the meeting and they are, Corporate Entertainment, Racegoers in Ordinary and The Royal Enclosure.
This latter contributes more aggravation and less income than you can possibly imagine. Indeed, the multi-tiered restaurant on the bend past the winning post takes more money than the entire Royal Enclosure put together. Inevitably, therefore, there is less need to get it 100% right, and a 110% desire to get as much money as possible from the “area”. Their dilemma however is fundamental. The Royal Enclosure is essential to The Royal Meeting. It is a televised racing festival of enormous quality, and to a certain extent depends on presenting itself as an elite event, known for its sophisticated glamour and its elan. The column inches don’t emanate from the horseracing however but from the racing people and the celebrities that are flown in and the members of The Royal Enclosure. It depends on those people to put on, at huge personal expense, an extraordinary and silly outfit, or to purchase or hire very expensive hats and dresses. They then go into the Royal Enclosure to be gawped at by the cameras. In other words, people pay to go to the Zoo and it turns out that they are in fact the attraction.
Sadly for Royal Ascot, this is the second year when a limited or very small number of people can go and this is the second year that I have been invited to half a dozen Ascot parties at home. “Do come” says Farty Fortescue, who normally has three staffed spaces in the No 1 Car Park. “Very relaxed. A simple collation of cold fillet of Beef, a Thai version of Coronation Chicken, some homemade sausage rolls, radishes from the shoot in Norfolk, pickled shallots that my housekeeper makes and some Romain Lettuce dressed in a simple Anchovy Balsamic dressing. We’ve plenty of Fizz and an especially nice Rose that I bring back every year from Provence. I’m getting racecards from Weatherbys. I’ve just had a 7′ TV screen installed so at least we’ll get a decent view.” “Crikey Farty”, you exclaim, “you’ve really pushed the boat out.” “Not at all”, says Farty, “By the time you’ve done car parks, badges, racecards and the ridiculous amount they charge for very ordinary Champagne, I’m ahead. Of course, I’ll go on one day, but not the usual four. Oh, and do bring a bottle of something that costs £30+ from a decent vintner!” Certainly, you think. As ticket prices go, something decent at £30+, makes even Lingfield on a wet Wednesday look expensive.
And there, gentle reader is the rub. Next year 20% of the Old Guard won’t go. They’ll head to York or Goodwood or even Perth, (probably one of the nicest Summer festivals). They’ll still dress up and they’ll still picnic, but they’ll be watching the story and won’t be part of it. The following year another 10% won’t go. The Ascot Executive won’t panic, they’ll simply become more egalitarian, and The Royal Enclosure will become an annual event for Les Arrivistes. This is social engineering and the law of unintended consequence, writ large. It will only be noticed in four years time when The Royal Enclosure has its third newsworthy bar fight that spills onto the lawns and Laidease are regularly upchucking on the horsewalk. But sadly, by 2026, there will be fewer people interested in going racing at all, as The Millennials come of age.
In other words, Ascot needs a rethink, because it lacks the casual cool and nationwide interest of The Melbourne Cup, and it certainly doesn’t have the brashness of The Breeders Cup. No, if you want to see where it is headed, glance at France where both the Deauville August meeting and The Arc gather little passing interest, other than with Les Turfistes taking morning coffee or lunch in Le PMU, and Les Rosbifs en Vacances, or Le Weekenders
Come on Ascot, cement your core in place – which is probably aged between 60 and 75. The older you are, the more likely you are to be able to afford Ascot – but they’re also savvier. So why not offer a 10-year debenture to existing members at the 2018 badge price. Been a member for 25 years then give them a gold metal badge with their name on it. Been in The Royal Enclosure for 40 years – guarantee a badge for life at £350 for five days. Traditions can start at any age, but they’re best started young. If you’re under 25 and you have been a member of The Royal Enclosure for five years get an invite to something, get a voucher for Trumpers or a silk tie, or get a car parking space. Recognise the core customers and the future ones. Make sure there is a Rous Club in every public school. Welcome them to the Course. You have to be innovative and to be seen to be doing something because otherwise, you risk both Ascot’s and horseracing’s Legacy.
Meanwhile Mrs Trellis, in answer to your other question. Yes. I will be sending Day One out on Monday. But please remember peeps, as the week goes by, I might become tired and less coherent because I’ll have been at Farty’s bash! Meanwhile my final Footy bets and some bets for Saturday’s racing:
I have already done my correct score 1-1 doubles, and the odds mean that if only two of the draws at 11/2 each come in, I lose a third of my stake. If I get three draws, I effectively get 6/4 about my stake and at 4 draws I treble my money. My hope is that the draws come early because the cash-out option will become very playable.
As regards the winner, I’m sorry I don’t fancy England. I think the team is too young, they look weak in defence, and you have to remember that the winners of the last eight tournaments conceded fewer than 1 goal per game, with four of them conceding less than a goal every other game. The last eight winning Euros managers had a minimum of 17 years of experience. That stat should rule out Spain, England, Belgium and Holland. This suggests that if the winner normally comes from the top 4 highest ranked national sides, then France and Germany (in the same opening group) must be on a shortlist. Germany has the largest number of players from a single club, with eight of the squad coming from Bayern Munich who won the Champions League in 2019. Portugal, by the by, has more players from Wolves than it does Benfica, Sporting Lisbon or Porto. There is a reason why France is favourite and at around 4/1, using them as a hedge seems the way to go. I think Germany can frighten and I think Croatia and Turkey look quarter-finalists, by which time you should be able to green-up. You can back both Croatia (6/4) and Turkey (12/5) on Betfair to do just that.
All with Betfair’s To win outright market: Total 22 pts
France 10 pts @ 6 – Germany 7 pts @ 10 – Croatia 3 pts @ 48 – Turkey 2 pts @ 70
Be wary this weekend of Soft ground form struggling to repeat itself on the ever-drying ground.
1:05 Sandown 7f
RUN TO FREEDOM Win
2:15 Sandown Park – Coral “Beaten By A Length” Free Bet Scurry Stakes
ATALIS BAY looks a worthy favourite for this with a good draw and strong recent form. FIRST EDITION gets first-time blinkers and a tongue-tie from trainer Clive Cox, and STEEL BULL appears from a high draw but has the benefit of having won the G3 Molecomb at Goodwood last year.
ATALIS BAY 1pt WIN @ 13/8
3:40 York – Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap
A decent field for this Handicap which Tim Eatserby has successfully farmed in recent years with three of the last seven winners. He runs SHOWALONG and this attractive colt has won decent novice races over 5f and 6f on softish ground. His seasonal debut at Thirsk (OR 86) was on GF ground and he was a 3l 4th to Tweet Tweet, and then at Chester LTO (1lb lower), he travelled well within himself and won with something in hand of his ¾l victory. My concern is the ground, but that said he has been backed all day and is in to around 6s. If INTERNATIONALDREAM could find his old mojo, I’d give him a fighting chance.
SHOWALONG Win – INTERNATIONALDREAM e/w