Perhaps from my lapse into Dublin slang, you will gather that my world clock has quickly adjusted from Mallorca to Punchestown time and that the Craic is well imbued in these typing bones.
The spirit of Punchestown washed over me on Tuesday when I saw Facile Vega clatter a couple and still win by 7½l, and then watched Energumene get the biggest fright of his life. Watch it – this is a great race, and surely Richie Rich will not be retiring Chacun next year, for sure. A great interview with Willie Mullins.
Now what did I miss whilst I was away? Primarily money. Jumping Jehosophat, how do people go on holiday these days? I can hear the collective tutting of the young and young at heart who all seemed determined to become a significant NHS issue tomorrow by their activities today. They also seem happy to live like students. Camp beds at dawn anyone? Stop telling me about cycling holidays, walking holidays, mountain traverses, hiking, camping… oh please, have I ever struck you as the sort of chap who sits on something about the same size as an Edwardian bone butter-knife? Do you see me stopping at some caff in the high mountains to refresh my water and walk around with my clacking cycling shoes and my lycra bumbag giving me the shape of an endangered narwhal?
No. I am lured by the superking duvet and cooked breakfast, but with a foreign nod to fresh fruit. Proper coffee and a workable wifi that allows me to connect and read. This always costs money, I know – but once upon a pre-pandemic, the average holiday was say £100 pp.pd. A few years later and in the main – and by no means at the top of the market – hotels are clocking £220, and a meal is more than 25% higher than its UK comparative. In brief, my best guess is that Joe Schmo is going to need £180 pppd for a very ordinary holiday. I’m not whining at all, just going Crikey. Lumme even.
Luckily we were rescued on one of our days away by the former owners of Coles in Marlborough – one of the nicest restaurants ever for making a punter feel at home and cared for. They are in the process of doing up a Finca – no, me neither – which is quite beautiful. Jeepers, the work they have put in has been phenomenal, and when they have finished all the plumbing and so on, it will be a palace. I’m mentioning that especially lest those that know them are thinking of planning a stay. Wait.
Anyway, a delicious lunch and some charming neighbours, who later allowed us to drop into their lovely Palmian apartamento to watch the National. Everybody, bar me, backed Lucinda and then made the same comments as the TV pundits about the protestors. This will continue, and every death makes it likelier that a woke Labour Government will allow time for a Private Members Bill to test the water to ban NH racing. What the racing industry should be doing is forgetting its self-importance and helping to form the Federation of Sporting Horse Owners, a global lobbying, marketing and publicity group that every owner of every polo pony racehorse, eventer, Arabian Marathon runner, dressage and showjumper and even the Pony Club and RDA should all belong to. We have to make the case that whilst the loss of a horse is tragic, it is not more than the death of a child from Leukemia, or the devastation caused by drunk driving accidents, nor the loss of life and limb from those protecting us from harm both at home and abroad.
Talking of nonsensical Tory-led Wokeness, Thursday saw the Gambling White Paper introduced, and it is a moment critique. I fear the worst, and it will almost certainly force me to reveal banking details I am not prepared to offer. This will equally and almost certainly lead me to bet off-shore using unlicensed bookmakers. There is a third route which is, of course, to back off racing altogether. It is riddled with so many assumptions and nonsense that it is hard to know where to begin. The first point, of course, is that all addictions are harmful. All of them. But the Government’s solution to this one is to allow private businesses to access your credit records and bank details……… which will automatically be registered on your credit record. Want to borrow money? Extend a mortgage? That’s a Big X-Factor buzzer NO. You’re a gambler!!!! It says so on your credit record. Want it taken off your record? Close your account. We have sleepwalked into a situation where a Government can potentially allow a Chemist who might think you were addicted to a sleeping pill, to tell your children’s school of their concerns. Or your local police or church or – or. Social engineering on this scale, and driven by a single all-consuming government monolith hasn’t been attempted in a democracy for well over……
… well since the NHS-inspired Lock Down.
I pondered this End-Of-Days scenario as we went through the process of being detained, arrested, banged up etc, in Espana. Yes, The Hon was arrested in Mallorca for some allegedly frightening manoeuvre, overtaking at 30mph a man on a putt-putt doing 15mph. She did this in sight of some Guardia Nacional who both looked like they knew exactly who had eaten all the Empanadas. €200 they wanted or they would keep the hire car, and The Hon and I would have to make do as best I could. We settled for €100, and always keen to further our historical Armada/Gib relations, I suggested that this sudden 50% drop was something El Bill had been keeping a bit quiet about. “Wha’djou mean? You theen we are like djor Inglez pleece?” With that ringing judgement, we paid our money, made our excuses and left, as they used to say in The News of The World.
So other than the tiny memorial nudge in the direction of the tanned look of a Greek God I had some 50 years ago, truly, not much has changed. It was just nice to be away, to drink and eat differently, to see people out of context, to see how others are living, and to learn the forgotten art of being nice again. Insh’allah, but it won’t last. There’s a bit of TV racing – none of which tragically involves Punchestown – but which does underscore the plight of another unsupported London racecourse, although I do have a couple of fancies at Punchestown.
Still and all it’s grand to see you as we finish one season and start another – and I leave you with this tribute to Irish racing.
1:30 PERTH Lengthen The Odds At BetVictor Hcap Hdl Cl3 (4yo+ 0-125) 2m ITV4 8 run
GINGER MAIL might have won LTO but for a silly mistake at the last fence.
GINGER MAIL 4 pts Win
1:50 SANDOWN bet365 Esher Cup Hcap Cl2 (3yo 0-100) 1m ITV4 5 run
I’m going to try and be clever here. I think one more will come out of this, which will impact the market. Had there been eight runners, I’d have gone with Jack Channon’s METAL MERCHANT, who has some form and is well-regarded at home. LOCAL DYNASTY should win it, so the Betting Without market offers a decent e/w alternative in a possibly collapsing market. 11/2 with William Hill.
METAL MERCHANT 5pts betting w/o LOCAL DYNASTY 11/2 Will Hill
2:05 PERTH BetVictor Highland National Hcap Chs (For The Julian Llewellen Palmer Memorial Trophy) Cl3 (5yo+ 0-130) 3m6½f ITV4 14 run
DESTINY IS ALL has a decent chance here and has good handicap form, decent efforts in the headgear and stamina aplenty. The Hon particularly fancies this one and at around 8s and 4 places up for grabs – why not. CONCETTO worries me as he keeps his mark from last time but is getting his best distance and on a track he should enjoy. He went for the hat trick at Ludlow LTO, but it was a course he seemed to dislike. He has bags of improvement left – but I’m not falling out over this with The Hon.
DESTINY IS ALL – CONCETTO Dutch the pair for 7 points total
2:25 SANDOWN bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes (G3) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m2f ITV4 4 run
ADAYER is 9lb in hand of these and should take care of ANMAAT without too much aggravation.
ADAYER 3 pts SFC to beat ANMAAT
3:00 SANDOWN bet365 Mile (G2) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m ITV4 7 run
I do fancy MIGRATION for this after his Lincoln performance under a big weight. The ground won’t be an issue, and he’s too big a price.
MIGRATION 3 pts e/w
3:15 PERTH Edith Bowman At Perth Ladies Day Nov. Limited Hcap Chs Cl3 (5yo+ 0-125) 3m 8 run – NOT ON TV
EVERYDAY CHAMPAGNE is a sexy price for a horse who, despite running over a distance too short LTO, still managed to find a real effort for an shd-second at Carlisle. 4lb higher and with first-time cheeks 10/1 is way too big.
EVERYDAY CHAMPAGNE 3 pts e/w
3:35 SANDOWN bet365 Classic Trial (G3) Cl1 (3yo) 1m2f ITV4 5 run
I think CIRCLE OF FIRE is too big a price, given his significant improvement between debut and victory, separated by just a month. Plus, HM surely deserves good luck after his youngest boy’s behaviour.
CIRCLE OF FIRE 2 pts e/w
4:15 EMS Copiers Nov. Hcap Chs (GA) (5yo+) 2m5f 15 run
Fact: Willie Mullins has won the last four renewals of this; three of those had top-weight and were clearly in a better class. A glance at the card tells you that WPM has worked this and enters ADAMANTLY CHOSEN – AUTHORIZED ART – KILCRUIT, who all have the highest rating. The race is a drop in class for all of them – they have all been mixing it up with decent horses in G1 company. Rain is forecast, and I think that ADMANATLY CHOSEN might beat KILCRUIT. Tempted by the forecast
5:25 Paddy Power Champion Hdl (G1) (4yo+) 2m 6 run
A few who wonder about STATE MAN’s run in the Champion Hurdle remain. Not many, but a few. If he’d been given a tap? If he’d been closer? Might he… could he. Well as they say in some parts and with all gentleness – aarrgh feck off. Paul Townend knew he couldn’t catch him and reasoned that he might as well settle for a kind second and give the triple-Grade A winner a decent race another day. That is today,
STATE MAN 7 pts Win
6:00 Alanna Homes Champion Nov. Hdl (G1) (4yo+) 2m3½f 6 run
With CHAMP KIELY and IMPAIR ET PASSE in this, I am certain this is a forecast in the making. CK (despite our initials, neither of us will aspire to the other’s abilities!) ran a horrible third in the Ballymore, hanging right pretty well the whole time – a nightmare for Danny. Left-handed might well make a difference. I don’t think that will allow him to beat IMPAIR AT PASSE who was so impressive at Cheltenham.
IMPAIR ET PASSE to beat CHAMP KIELY 5 pts SFC