I seem to spend a fair amount of time these days, accidentally drifting in and out of parallel universes. In this multiplicity of locations, 16 hours can pass in a flash, and yet the pace of time can vary from scene to scene.
In the “Selling The House” universe, it was about 9 am, when we discovered, as I should reasonably expect in the current WGAS pandemic, that Lawyer C had gone on holiday, failed to employ a locum and was thus unable to undertake the “Exchange” until her return. Buyer A then believed we were playing silly whatsits, while Agent B acting for Seller D and who is employing Lawyer C assured us that all was well. The fact that he is still showing people around is just a misunderstanding on behalf of the neighbour!
Between 10 am and 1 pm, I went to London, checking into the always excellent Dolphin Square apartments, whose history has occupied many red tops over the years. I shared a flat there in the 1970s and I can only say that there was a great deal of activity from the very many visitors, to other parts of the building. (Nobody ever lived in one of the “bad” parts of Dolphin Square). These days, some of it is apartotel and often 30-40% cheaper than a moderate hotel in the Casbah. Indeed you get more real estate than a single man ever needs on a night in town – and always clean and tidy. I use it to save embarrassment and froideur because I only stay with friends when I can guarantee [a] my return [b] the time of my return and [c] the condition of the return.
Anyway, having checked in and used my compass and a map to find the bathroom, I shuffled over to The West End and went to Fitzdares for a sherbert, met the Landlord and then a wine merchant and his French associate, who had never had a Scotch Egg before, and slightly overcome with all this knowledge and having watched a trio of nags perform inadequately, retired for an afternoon of relaxing, while in the prone unsupported position. Refreshed I was then told that my host for a dinner at The Garrick was running late and I should meet him for drinks at The Turf, where he was staying. I sat for an hour waiting for him, drinking Sherry and then white wine and chatting to an Anglo-Monagasque who was dining at White’s, but was taking wine at Boodles first. In this Universe, some people collect Clubs and it is a strange place where time is generally rooted somewhere between 1790 and 1970. Compared to the Monegasque I was an absolute novice, but I was in my second Club of the day and off to dine in a third – so who was I to point?
The Garrick, to which I have never been was a delight. The event was one of three dinners held every year by a small private dining club comprising distinguished Oenophiles, bonne viveurs and amusing people. The Garrick served tremendous food, and the Burgundy was excellent as one might have expected. However, the real treat was yet to come as the Chairman had bought, as a gift for the guests, a brace of Yquem 2003 and I am blessed to have now drunk that wine three times in my life. I can remember each event, each conversation, each moment of those glasses – a space where time does stop, so rare is the moment. Sadly, about an hour after that elegant and distinguished mouthful, the dark wormhole opened again and we were hurtled through to the slightly less sophisticated world of Kneesup en Barouche.
Madison (see raceweb passim) and I failed to find a taxi, but persuaded a delightful and thankfully strong Indian gentleman to take us in his rickshaw, back to The Turf for a nightcap. If you have not seen these Rickshaws in late-night London, they are very brightly lit and often play very loud music. We hailed one, and we two portly, black-tied gents negotiated a suitable fee and were then driven around Trafalgar Square, down Pall Mall and past many faces who seemed to be waving. A photograph was taken of this man’s extraordinary heroism and he seemed pleased with our tip. Only later did I consider that we had both paid him.
It mattered not, my host was back “home” safe and I was but a nightcap and a taxi from my own bed. Then the final portal opened and in this Universe, possibly heralding the end of days, no one has any commonsense. I found myself drinking Grappa, a drink which has done me nothing but harm and which I only visit when I am confident that Control and I are close friends, if not bed-fellows. It is in fact the exact antithesis of the true situation. The rest of my night need not be reflected upon. For all the comfort offered by the Square, I might as well have been on a park bench. The following day I skipped lunch in the multiverse and caught the early train back to safety and a world I know that runs relatively quietly.
Peter Pan’s problem was time “I suppose it’s like the ticking crocodile. Time is chasing after all of us.” Nights like that remind me, that one day I shall have to start growing up, or my Liver will fall out. Talking of Chasing, here are some thoughts on today.
1:20 WETHERBY bet365 Hcap Chs Cl3 (4yo+ 0-125) 2m3½f
If memory serves me right PALIXANDRE used to be at Nicky’s and gets a measly 10-01 despite having won in September, beating Colin Tizzard’s SIZING AT MIDNIGHT by 3½l on that occasion. There was something amiss with him LTO and he dropped his hands once he knew he was beaten, so ignore the distance he lost by. He was 16s and 18s overnight and is now a falling 12s. He looks value – but is a character. CORRAN CROSS is my idea of the horse most likely to be an issue, and he looks to be on the up.
CORRAN CROSS Win – PALIXANDRE e/w at 12s
1:35 ASCOT Ascot Underwriting Chs (A Novices’ Limited Hcap)Cl3 (4yo+) 2m3f
LORD BADDESLEY’s chasing debut was not covered in glory, but it wasn’t horrid, given he was 5lbs wrong and not considered likely to win by the market. He looked as though he needed the run and he’s wearing a hood today. I think the race will be too short for SIZEABLE SAM and SAM BARTON, who are all making their chase debuts today and one of these three will probably;y provide the winner. That said a wise person would watch for the future.
LORD BADDESLEY e/w The three in a ¼pt CFC
1:55 WETHERBY bet365 Mares’ Hdl Cl1 (4yo+) 2m
When I started looking at this, ZAMBELLA was 7/1 – an attractive price and value. She is now 5s and being backed. She will almost certainly go off at 9/2 or possibly 4s. She is a decent hurdler and with good form and became a good C1 chaser last winter. Since then she has started blundering falling at Cheltenham and making a hash of the last at Perth and getting run out of it. The money always has to come out of someone else’s price and I also quite fancied Paul Nicholls’ MIRANDA for this, as she would prefer this improving GS ground far more than the bog she ran in LTO. The solution is to dutch the pair of them, which at current prices would give you better than 5/4.
ZAMBELLA – MIRANDA dutch win
2:10 ASCOT Bateaux London Hcap Hdl Cl1 (4yo+) 1m7½f
The Betfair Hurdle winner SOARING GLORY is being backed this AM, but that’s because he goes well when fresh, (winning first time out the last two seasons and all four times when he has had a break of more than 50 days. Jonjo’s going well so far this year and he has an able deputy in Tom Scudamore for his boy who has come a cropper. AJERO might be a problem IF he shows the class he was promising to produce last season. BOOTHILL’s racing plans seem to be all over the place. He was down for the fences at Uttoxeter and Huntingdon and I am not convinced that this race was Harry Fry’s original intention. I would be concerned at his lack of experience – on the other hand, he is on the face of it, potentially a 150+ horse. He is fast, he’ll get a decent pace from GLOBAL CITIZEN and HIGHWAY ONE O TWO and is possibly the Horse Most Likey To…. but possibly needs more time.
SOARING GLORY Win
2:30 WETHERBY bet365 Hdl (G2) (Registered As The West Yorkshire Hdl) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m
I promise you that age isn’t the issue, but I just don’t think PAISLEY PARK has the sparkle anymore, or at least not enough to win this. There are a lot of contenders for the Stayers Hurdle crown and I can’t have the old boy. I also suspect THOMAS DARBY who I like and admire, will find this ground just too fast for him. I could make a case for SLATE HOUSE based on his racing stats, but I do think that bringing MASTER TOMMYTUCKER back to hurdling, is a good thing. If the right horse turns up, he’ll win this. All he has to do is pick his feet up!
MASTER TOMMYTUCKER e/w
2:45 ASCOT Byrne GHcap Chs Cl1 (4yo+ 0-150) 2m1f
I know what you’re thinking – Venetia William GS ground, Kneesup you are crazy! But she doesn’t chuck money on entries around and she has only ever had four in this race. (Pepite Rose -third, 2012, Drumshambo – won, 2013, Cold March -won, 2015, and Ibleo – second, 2020). FRERE BANBOU is her selection and her French purchase needed a wind-op to start shining which he did with a sparkling victory at Sandown in a handicap chase from OR 124. He beat Go Long by 9l and The Flying Sofa a further 8l back in third. He got almost a stone for that, and went on to be 4th at Aintree’s Red Rum Chase, beaten 9l by EDITEUR DU GITE and a little less by SULLY D’OC AA.. He is 10lb better off with the winner of that and 13lbs better with the second.
FRERE BANBOU Win
2:50 DOWN ROYAL Ladbrokes Champion Chs (G1) (5yo+) 3m
This is the first “Big Gun” race of the year and on paper, Gold Cup winner MINELLA INDO is head and shoulders clear of these. Add to that his proven ability to win on his seasonal debut, and frankly, I’m surprised he is not a shade of odds-on. You’d fancy DELTA WORK on faster ground perhaps, albeit that he hasn’t troubled the podium in the last two years he’s contested this race. The same could be said of GALVIN who has put together an impressive list of victories, none of them at this level or on Soft ground, however. FRODON could steal this from the front – in fact, I think that’s what his race plan will be, but I’m afraid my selection will simply pounce and snatch it from him.
MINELLA INDO Win
3:05 WETHERBY bet365 Charlie Hall Chs (G2) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m
If CYRNAME’s second wind-op has worked and all is well, then he wins. End of. If he doesn’t then CLONDAW CASTLE or SHAN BLUE wins. I cannot make this market work for me, because the prices are all pretty well spot on. I suppose we might get evens about backing the two forecasts, but I’d get that backing the favourite. We could dutch the other two, but that’s two losing bets if CYRNAME wins.
Best watched. If you must bet it’s one of the three mentioned.
3:20 ASCOT Bateaux London Gold Cup Hcap Chs (G3) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m
I’ve heard a couple of people mention NTDs CHECKITOUT, who I think the yard now knows needs a break between races. This is a race with far more depth than he’s used to and if he has shown promise at home then we should see it here, among several graded winners. REGAL ENCORE and REAL STEEL have merit, especially the former. He might be old but he has 4 wins and 5 places from 11 runs over C&D and won this last year and was second to VINNDICATION in 2019. FTO isn’t a problem – in fact his first two seasonal runs are often profitable and he’s a sensible price. My Venetia Williams admiration extends to her charge DIDERO VALLIS in this, whose form suggests he has something up his sleeve when it comes to his current mark.
REGAL ENCORE e/w – CHECKITOUT e/w – DIDERO VALLIS e/w
3:40 WETHERBY bet365 Hcap Hdl Cl3 (3yo+ 0-130) 2m3½f
OUR SURPRISE e/w – ANOTHER THEATRE e/w