How went your day at the bio-secure experiment that was Ascot’s Day 4? I hear you ask.
Well, my dears, there was horrendous traffic thanks to a collapsed road which cut off the M4 J14. The road closure resulted in our late arrival at a very delicious breakfast at The Royal Foresters, a highly recommended pub, on The London Road leading up to the racecourse. The pub seems to have become an unofficial Owners and Trainers bar within a semi-private room at the back. The Royal Foresters has seen various “names” there this week, often until late! With hindsight, I should have stayed there, in the warm. The wine would have been cheaper, the food better, the service friendlier, and the racing better informed.
The rain en route had been torrential, and it simply got worse over breakfast. An inspection at 12:45 dragged on and on, and I should have noted Oisin Murphy’s apparent sang-froid at the amount of water that was on track – witness the photo above. (A double and an unfair disqualification).
Then, in yet another torrential rainstorm, we arrived on course and handed over various bits of paper, while people in macs and brollies required you to use two hands to pull out all the documents and IDs and tickets and mobile phones. The rain started to ease and then drizzled throughout the rest of the day.
I wandered around for 20 minutes or so, was told I couldn’t go upstairs because I hadn’t bought a special ticket, which I assume will become the norm. I eventually found somewhere to sit – sadly, it was on Misery Terrace overlooking HM’s swimming pool and horse walk. I sat on one of three dozen broken teak chairs that lacked any structural integrity and where the calf muscles took almost all of one’s weight. The chairs might have been purchased at a Flotsam and Jetsom sale after the sinking of the Lusitania. I was also sitting under an umbrella, which lacked sufficient tensile strength to do its job. Instead, the rain gathered into a small pool in a dent on the top, which would then, like a soggy version of Russian Roulette, pour the contents directly to the back of one’s neck – or not!
I bought some wine, which was only £40 for a £9 bottle of Supermarket wine, so about £4.50 wholesale, and then watched the world swim by. Meanwhile, great friends of mine stayed in The Iron Stand box, where the comfy chairs provided a level of dryness and support the rest of us could only dream about. Another chum, a semi-retired bookmaker, told me later what a marvellous time he’d had in The RARC – and how delicious lunch had been. Fearful of losing my broken chair and my wet-table, and my raceing notes, I did not watch the racing on the other side of the stand. Instead, I watched on a screen that I could see through the trees, which was fine. Again, with hindsight, I should have lost my racing notes and used the magical raindrop to make my informed selections.
Later still, I bumped into young Lochinvar, the son of a friend whose mother must have been a fan of Walter Scott. Your column always makes me smile, he said, except when it doesn’t. Lochinvar has a brain the size of a planet which he exercises in the world of insurance or risk-management or somesuch, so just in case I was misunderstanding his vaguely patronising approbation, I let him continue his (long) explanation of everything wrong with this column. Sometimes you can be a bit down, he said, and then you take us down as well. Plus, he went on, do not tell us any more about your diet. Can we also have fewer complaints about the racing authorities who are simply trying to do their best? In brief, he seemed to be suggesting that I be relentlessly jolly, hugely supportive of every moron with a rubber stamp and to eat more bacon sarnies.
He was accompanied throughout all this by a pretty blonde girl, who was fit enough not to feel the cold and looked quite chirpy in the fading light. In fact, all the girls in our party looked in good form, so I took it that it was only me that was cold, wet and getting poorer every 40 minutes or so while being scolded for making some Snowflake feel “a bit Down”. The most demeaning thing about this vocalised letter of complaint was that at no point did he say, “…and by the by “Well Done” for only being some 30 pts down after two years of tipping, which must a record of consistency that betters the results of most paid hacks!” I shall send him a copy of “100 Diet recipes for people who think everything is OK in horseracing.”
Young People. Pah. They can’t even complain properly!
Talking of being Down – here are some tips for today!
Horses that have been placed on Soft or Heavy Ground are marked THUS*
Those that have won are noted THUS***
2.30: Chesham Stakes Listed, 7f, 2yo, ITV/Sky
SHORTLIST: GREAT MAX – WITHERING – POINT LONSDALE – NEW SCIENCE – RADIO CAROLINE*** – MASKELA***
SELECTIONS: MASKELA Win – RADIO CAROLINE e/w
3.05: Jersey Stakes Group 3, 7f, 3yo, ITV/Sky
SHORTLIST: MUTASAABEQ*** – BELLOSA – LIGHT REFRAIN*** – NAVAL CROWN* – FUNDAMENTAL* – SPYCATCHER*
SELECTIONS: NAVAL CROWN – MUTASAABEQ Dutch Win – LIGHT REFRAIN e/w
3.40: Hardwicke Stakes Group 2, 1m4f, 4yo+, ITV/Sky
SHORTLIST: WONDERFUL TONIGHT*** – ALBAFORA*** – HUKUM*** – BROOME*** – DEJA***
SELECTIONS: WONDERFUL TONIGHT Win – ALBAFLORA e/w
4.20: Diamond Jubilee Stakes Group 1, 6f, 4yo+, ITV/Sky
SHORTLIST: GLEN SHIEL*** – DREAM OF DREAMS*** – HAPPY POWER*** – SUMMERGHAND* – SONAIYLA***
SELECTIONS: SONAIYLA e/w – HAPPY POWER e/w – SUMMERGHAND e/w
5.00: Wokingham Stakes Heritage Handicap, 6f, 3yo+, ITV4/Sky
SHORTLIST: AIR RAID*** – GULLIVER*** – PENDLETON*** – KINGS LYNN* – ABERAMA GOLD*** – ROHAAN*** – PUNCHBOWL FLYER***
SELECTIONS: PUNCHBOWL FLYER e/w – ABERAMA GOLD e/w – GULLIVER ew/
5.35: Golden Gates Stakes Handicap, 1m2f, 3yo, ITV4/Sky
SHORTLIST: SEASETT*** – KING FRANKEL* – VISUALISATION*** – IRISH LEGEND***
SELECTIONS: SEASETT Win – IRISH LEGEND e/w
6.10: Queen Alexandra Stakes 2m6f, 4yo+, ITV4/Sky
SHORTLIST: STAGHORN*** – STRATUM*** – MORANDO*** – THE GRAND VISIR* – CALLING THE WIND*
SELECTIONS: MORANDO Win – CALLING THE WIND e/w