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24th April 2024 10:30 am

“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries."

Cancel Cheltenham – we’re all going to Bicester Village to buy a hat.

These Donors Are AMAZING Thank You

William S – MEJi – Peter N – Nigel B – Ken C – Mark S – James D – William M – Fiona M – Julian A – Jonathan H – Mrs V.M – Pete BN – Gavin C – Thom S – Sarah C – Mark S – Sam H – James R
Carruthers thought M’bungi was taking Hands-Free Shopping and the whole Ascot hat thing too far.

It has been a busy week, which I have covered elsewhere, and albeit I have slightly recovered from a week full of shocks and Valentine’s needs and planning, I am still reeling from Ascot’s appointment of a style guru who will explain to me how to put on a top hat.

Meanwhile, the Ascot PR team has taken over Bicester Village – that epicentre of Chinese Culture – and invited all the Royal Enclosure Members to “experience Royal Ascot styling” on…

… the first day of Cheltenham!

The Hon is doubtless reassured that: “Bicester Village’s expert personal shopping team will guide you through their curation of occasion looks for the summer season over Champagne refreshments.” and that “A selection of millinery from British Hat Guild members will also be available for you to try on with the milliners on-hand to give their tips and tricks for choosing the right shape and style for you.” But best of all – they’re offering “Hands-free shopping” to lighten the load with reserved parking for the day. Firstly, I have been to Bicester Village, and the car park – whatever they say – will require you to drive to a parking spot that is nearer Stratford than the front gate, and then you’ll walk across 900m of tarmac to the entrance. If it is raining, it will be ghastly. And what is hands-free shopping? No, I don’t have a clue either. Porters will perhaps trail around carrying Madame’s acquisitions – how very Colonial. Or perhaps your chauffeur remains in the car, and the running string of Coolies go from shop to car-park with much shouting. Like Honkers and Shankers in the 1920s. Space is very limited, so they’re only inviting everyone and a guest, and it’s so packed you don’t need to let them know until 8th March.

Was it like this in The Russian Revolution? Carefully explaining without giving offence that you carried a book so that you could read it rather than having some short-term lavatorial plan for it. I suspect it is equally thus in the shadow of this invitation… Thank you. How kind. My wife has been going to Ascot for over 40 years and was only saying the other day how lucky she felt to be still able to remember how to dress herself properly. Just by the by, and only to save you postage on a similar exercise, neither my wife’s Father, both Grandfathers nor, I feel sure most of her Great Grandfathers had ever received negative comments from The Monarch when they were in The Royal Box, about their inappropriate clothing. But then, I would guess that Their Majesties wouldn’t be so rude as to tell a member of The Royal Enclosure how to dress.

Such is the dearth of runners today; I have also added a couple of non-terrestrial TV races where we might have some sport.

1:15 ASCOT Ascot Shop Novices’ Hdl Cl2 (5yo+) 2m3½f SKY 11 run

PHANTOMOFTHEPOINTS has finished 2nd twice since moving to Pipey but his LTO hurdling debut smacked of a decent performance, and the rest has produced some decent winners since. The favourite is deserving, but I think this one has real potential and is much better value.


1:50 ASCOT Sodexo Live! Reynoldstown Novices’ Chs (G2) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m ITV 5 run

Historically, this is not a race for favourites. Stepping around the likely favourite, then (APPLE AWAY), we can only go for BRAVE KINGDOM, who despite a long time off through injury, has managed 2/2 so far this season. He looked above competent LTO. Equally KILBEG KING gave a good showing against IL EST FRANCAISE LTO in the Kauto Star and picked up 7lbs, That might be enough to anchor.


2:05 WINCANTON Jennings Bet Kingwell Hdl (G2) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m7f ITV 5 run


2:25 ASCOT Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards Hcap Hdl Cl2 (4yo+) 2m3½f ITV 16 run

TEDDY BLUE has been getting podiums in some decent races (2nd Adonis; 3rd Gerry Fielden; 3rd Betfair Hurdle; 2nd Swinton); surely his time will come soon. He keeps the CPs from LTO and is wearing a first-time tongue tie, so I think Gary is serious. I hope, for Gary’s sake, after what must have been an emotional week for the family, make for a decent ending to the week. IRISH HILL was considered to be a possible Grade winner but seems to have gone backwards. However, he arrives here with a 3lb lower mark than when he won this race last year, and he has an extra 5 lbs, thanks to Freddie Gingell. He frightens me and my selection. I am thinking about why I shouldn’t invest in SOARING GLORY, whose track figures are 2131. 18/1… hmm. He is priced between 11 and 18 – so someone knows something.

5 places everywhere and 6 with Sky.

TEDDY BLUE 4 pts e/w – SOARING GLORY 2 pts e/w

2:40 HAYDOCK Virgin Bet Rendlesham Hdl (G2) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m½f ITV 6 run

WAKOOL won this last year – but he has looked a bit patchy of late, and this has the feel of a tougher race. MARTHA BRAE can’t win. SOUNDS RUSSIAN looks as though this is a sighter for a spring campaign, and I might notebook him when he’s back chasing. I think BUTCH is over-hyped, even ordinary, which leaves me with BOTOX HAS or RED RISK. They have met before, and there is now an 8lb turnaround, which is, in reality, 3 lbs for a length beating in favour of RED RISK. That’s probably enough, but I think RED RISK is a bit flaky, and unless Bryony shows him some positivity, I think he might remain flaky. BOTOX HAS has reverted to cheekpieces, replacing the visor he wore at Chelty in The Cleeve Hurdle. I think Gary is on the up.

BOTOX HAS 4 pts win

3:00 ASCOT Injured Jockeys Fund Ambassadors Programme Swinley Hcap Chs Cl1 (5yo+) 3m ITV 10 run

I heard someone mention TORN AND FRAYED the other day, but they might have been discussing my physical condition behind my back! Apparently, he now has the right weight – maybe they were talking about me after all. When I’m going through the form, I am looking at the horses first, so this next selection smacks of some kind of stalking behaviour because yes… I fancy another Gary Moore runner in the shape of two-time C&D winner LARRY. A recent victory at Plumpton has given him another 2lbs and whilst he might be capable of winning this on 2021 form, he still looks value for money at 16s.

TORN AND FRAYED 4 pts e/w – LARRY 2 pts e/w

3:15 HAYDOCK Virgin Bet Grand National Trial Hcap Chs Cl1 (5yo+) 3m4½f ITV 11 run

My memory says we had a bit of CHAMBARD in The Becher after Christmas when he won doing handstands and stopping for Tea at Liverpool FC before going on by 13l. That was his first victory since taking the 2022 Kim Muir, and we were all hoping for continued success in The Welsh Grand National. Sadly, he had a terrible slip on the landing side, at the first on the back straight, and after that, his momentum was gone, and I suspect some discomfort was being felt. Time off, and I think we’ll see a confident ride from him with his regular jockey and 5lb claimer, Lucy Turner. He is the absolute rag, so we’ll have the smallest of nibbles for 4 places generally. IRON BRIDGE, incidentally, is the trend horse, and all his form lines say he has a great chance, but I fancy FAMOUS BRIDGE, from Nicky Richard stable, in the same colours. He never wins by much, so he hasn’t really been spanked by the handicapper, going up just 11lbs for four wins from eight starts including his two Course wins.

FAMOUS BRIDGE  3 pts win – CHAMBARD 1½pts e/w

3:36 ASCOT Betfair Ascot Chs (G1) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m5f ITV 4 run

I can’t be having L’HOMME PRESSE, who I think finds this a bit short, and his 2¼l victory LTO was with a 4lb advantage over Protektorat. I think PIC D’ORHY will win this, but I would really rather keep my powder dry.


4:10 ASCOT Ascot Racecourse Supports Box4Kids Hcap Hdl Cl3 (4yo+ 0-125) 2m7½f SKY 15 run

4 places generally 5 with Skybet

RARE CLOUDS won LTO at Wincanton by 6l and frankly there was something just a shade cosy about that victory. I think he is an improver, and I don’t think the handicapper has the measure.

RARE CLOUDS 4 pts e/w

4:45 ASCOT British EBF Mares’ Bumper Cl2 (4-6yo) 1m7½f SKY 11 run


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