I’m going to keep this brief this week largely because we are awash with sport. We have the US PGA Championship, The Italian GP, the league Play-Offs, The Dante meeting, Indy 500; it is relentless. From this melange, I have to develop the funds to pay for the Royal Ascot badges and two pre-planned barbecue lunches for a dozen or so. I have to get over my relationship with Hannah Waddingham never really blossoming, the fact that the dog’s gundog training certification has been delayed until September – nut removal not having focussed the mind as much as expected – and the fact that we have yet to choose the colour scheme for Lambourn.
On this front, I have fought a stiff rearguard action against a range of colours that would have pleased Pancho Villa, reminding him of his deprived childhood in the adobe villages of Durango, Mexico. I did not see the attraction. Cream is a non-starter, and I will not have Germolene nor Catherine Lidle and Sophie Aldi’s Cold Teabag from their Chalk Slime range. Should you ever be confronted with this issue and sense an impending domestic crisis in which you lose all control under the acronym OOPS – Only One Possible Scenario – do not make the mistake of seeking guidance from YouTube.
Within that strange world of “expert” advice, it is hard to conceive how many Southern Belles have adopted the mantle of Interior Designer. They all look and sound as though Yes’m is the only sound they expect to hear from domestics and clients alike, and they all exude a sort of steely-eyed certitude that suggests you never criticise their iced tea. If they say they quite like Arterial Red, you go run’n fetch the paintbrush! A glance around that milieu, and you sense Trump is a shoo-in.
Talking of uncertain outcomes, delivered with total authority and with no possibility of criticism, here are
The Hon’s my thoughts on the next couple of days’ sport
US PGA CHAMPIONSHIP – Thursday 18th May
(8 places for fifth odds most places. Check with Oddschecker HERE for others)
The second Major of the season sees The PGA on the Donald Ross-designed East Course at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. The 7,134-yard, par-70 layout has hosted two U.S. Amateurs, three U.S. Opens, three previous PGA Championships and the 1995 Ryder Cup. It has narrow fairways and very tough ball-eating rough. It has deep fairway bunkers to trip up the wayward tee-shot and small, undulating greens that require careful thought on the approach. In brief, it is a true, testing and demanding Majors course. The ongoing battle between Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler for the world’s No. 1 ranking will continue here and probably throughout this season. Rory McIlroy has finished outside the top 25 in five of eight events this season. He won the CJ Cup in October but missed the cut at the Players and Masters. Amongst the top contenders, Brooks Koepka has two PGA titles within his four Majors, and he tied for second at Augusta in April. Dustin Johnson has been a PGA runner-up twice and needs it for the third leg of a Career Grand Slam. Reigning Open champion Cameron Smith will join those two among the favourites. Justin Thomas, who won his second PGA last year at Southern Hills, will be on hand to defend and throughout it all, the Brou-ha surrounding the LIV Golf contingent will continue. Who is on the short list?
- PATRICK CANTLAY: Cantlay is overdue for a tour result, and he just might be looking at a breakthrough here. He’s in the top 20 in driving accuracy, GIR and putting. Providing he’s over that awful Augusta Sunday where he still managed to tie 14th, he has the all-round game to feature here. 18/1
- JASON DAY: Finally Jason appears to be getting back into the fitness groove with seven top 10s in 16 events this year. PGA Champ in 2015. 25/1
- TONY FINAU: The 33-year-old has had four tour wins since July 2022. Finau has 11 top-10’s in 14 events, including four in the top 10. He has finished in the top 10 in 10 majors and will win one. He leads the tour in strokes gained approach and is 17th in total driving. 22/1
- TYRRELL HATTON: Hatton is 42 under par over his past three competitions (216 holes), with top-fives in both the Wells Fargo and Byron Nelson and he’s fifth on tour in total strokes gained. 35/1
- SUNGJAE IM: He hasn’t finished lower than 21st in his past seven outings. Only three players have more top-10 finishes than Im’s seven this season, and he was T-16 at the Masters. If the 25-year-old can stay out of trouble and keep his nerves in check, he can win this. 33/1
- XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Strangely, he has never won a major – and he has posted five straight top-10 finishes, including the Match Play and Zurich. He tied for fifth at Augusta and was runner-up at Quail Hollow LTO. It’s only when – not if. 16/1
If you dutch those six on current odds you’re getting about 3/1 your money, Just backing the three longest prices would give you about 9s
ITALIAN GRAND PRIX Practice Friday 19th – Qualifying Saturday 20th – Race Sunday 20th May
This weekend sees the sixth round of the Formula 1 season with the Italian Grand Prix. The season has so far been dominated by Red Bull Racing, with Max Verstappen winning three races and Sergio Pérez winning one. Ferrari has also been competitive, with Charles Leclerc winning the Australian Grand Prix and Carlos Sainz Jr. finishing second in the Bahrain Grand Prix. Verstappen currently leads the Drivers’ Championship with 75 points, followed by Leclerc with 59 points and Pérez with 54. In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull Racing leads with 129 points, followed by Ferrari on 103 points and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport on 77 points. The season has been marked by several rule changes that have led to a more competitive field. The cars are now heavier and slower, but they are also more agile and easier to overtake, making the racing more exciting and unpredictable, leading to several close battles. Several minor controversies have occurred, including a collision between Verstappen and Leclerc in the Bahrain Grand Prix and a technical issue that caused Verstappen to retire from the Australian Grand Prix. The season has also been marked by several close battles, including a thrilling finish to the Bahrain Grand Prix and a last-lap overtake by Verstappen to win the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The 2023 Formula One season is still in its early stages but has already been exciting and unpredictable. Mercedes Formula 1 team continues to plan changes to their car, as the team continues to struggle against Red Bull and Ferrari this season. One of the main changes that Mercedes plans to unveil in Italy is to the side pods of their car, which help channel air around the car. Mercedes has been running with very small “zero” side pods this season, but they plan to increase the side pods’ size and top-line aerodynamics. They are also planning to make some changes to the floor of their car. The floor is the panel that runs along the bottom of the car, and it helps to generate downforce. Mercedes is planning to make the floor more complex to generate more downforce. Add to these significant changes some tweaks to the suspension and other aerodynamic aspects, and the team hopes they can start to be competitive again sooner rather than later – starting in Italy. It would be fair to say that Lewis hopes for a podium if the “new” car goes well.
1:50 YORK Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Jorvik Hcap Cl2 (4yo+) 1m4f 17 run
Favourites do well in this; over the last ten years their record is 113131211. William Haggas also has a 100% strike rate in this race. His favourite LA YAKEL who won a couple of races last season, including a handicap at Ascot two starts back before following up with a 4th, when favourite, in The Old Rowley Cup Handicap at HQ. That race has produced four winners and several big jumps in ratings. THUNDERING was behind him that day and went close over C&D last season and hated the ground LTO at Ripon. I’m expecting improvement – but not enough to play a part. Alan King has had three places from four runners and he runs French import SELWAN is 25s and he has been seen at Longchamps in a disappointing G2 and winning a Deauville handicap in October. He’s obviously gone wrong or fallen out of love with the game and he’s a very dark horse. DARK JEDI also has some e/w appeal.
LA YAKEL 4 pts Win – SELWAN 2 pts e/w -DARK EDI 1 pt e/w
2:05 NEWTON ABBOT Racing Welfare Mental Health Awareness Week Hcap Hurdle Cl4 (4yo+ 0-120) 2m2½f 8 run
MONJULES looks nailed on for this. He’s 3 from 5 for Hary Fry now, although I do fear POLYPHONIC who has form with the selection.
MONJULES 4 pts win
2:25 YORK Churchill Tyres Hcap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-105) 6f 22 run
Another Haggas runner could provide a double in the shape of KHANJAR, who was much fancied for the Ayr Gold Cup last year when favourite off a mark of 100. Pear-shaped might describe the rest of the season, so a mark today of 98 looks interesting. He runs well after a break and won first time out last season. I’m also going to have a pop at LETHAL LEVI, who I have been waiting for, and SILVER SAMURAI with William Buick in the plate. Both meet the trends and are sensible prices.
KHANJAR 3 pts Win – LETHAL LEVI 2 pts e/w – SILVER SAMURAI 1½ pts e/w
3:00 YORK 1895 Duke Of York Clipper Stakes (G2) Cl1 (3yo+) 6f 11 run
AZURE BLUE for Michael Dods has been eye-catchingly progressive, landing a 5f Listed LTO on the Rowley Mile. It’s going to be tough for last year’s winner HIGHFIELD PRINCESS who is vying for favouritism with CREATIVE FORCE from Charlie Appleby’s yard. She comes here with a Group 1 penalty and despite her sex allowance still has to give weight all around. The raider from Oz, THE ASTROLOGIST gets the guiding hand of Ryan Moore who will have seen his backside in the Al Quoz sprint at Meydan in March when Ryn rode the 4th. With no penalty, he looks fair at 11/2. Charlie Hill runs KHAADEM who was 4th in last year’s Nunthorpe and has since then run backwards. His form is really poor and there is no merit in him, ad yet two people have mentioned him. At 50/1 and longer, I’m going to have ½pt e/w on him – because I don’t want an earful of Cider. (You’ll have to look it up if you don’t understand).
THE ASTROLOGIST 4 pts Win – AZURE BLUE 2 pts e/w – KHAADEM ½ pt e/w
3:35 YORK Tattersalls Musidora Stakes (G3) (Fillies) Cl1 (3yo) 1m2½f 8 run
This is a proper Rumsfeld race. There are Known Unknowns but there are also plenty of Unknown Unknowns. John Gosden has a strong record in the Musidora, and ordinarily, SOUL SISTER would have been a strong selection – but for her run in the Fred Darling LTO where – according to Gosden/Frankie – she hated the ground. Other than that, she ticks all the rest f the trends. AOB originally had five entries for this and has decided, possibly significantly, to rely solely on LAMBADA. She ran green in April at Gowran, but had the hang of it by the finish.
SOUL SISTER 2 pts e/w – LAMBADA 3 pts Win
4:10 YORK Conundrum HR Consulting Hcap Cl3 (3yo 0-95) 7f 14 run
ONIGHT 2 pts e/w – ZU RUN 2 pts e/w