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22nd April 2024 10:18 pm

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

Cunning plans heaped upon cunning plans.

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The torrid arguments about the future of racing continued apace this week. Various pointless assurances about its future have been uttered, and all of them bear an uncanny resemblance to my promising to raise funds for Widows and Orphans by swimming the Atlantic. It might happen – but it is unlikely. We have also had detailed insight into some of these plans, which do not encourage me to find my water wings.

Midweek, we had details of the proposed Savill Plan, which, in essence, restructures racing with a focus on the handicap system. Thus PS would introduce 93 new high-value handicaps paid for by downgrading 250 other handicaps.  There would also be a general restructuring of the Class system; an increase in prize money for the more valuable horses; and more Sunday racing. As usual, and flying in the face of experience, all this would be supported by increased terrestrial TV coverage, which Savill suggested would simply be a question of calling ITV and telling them to pay more money and change their schedule. Hmmm. Having been directly involved in the C4 and ITV negotiations the first time around, when little David Cameron was just a PR person, I can only say it is a little bit more complicated than that.

Then yesterday, the BHA announced that the Board had; “..discussed the proposals for a new, agreed governance structure for the sport. Work will now progress on the detail and completion of new constitutional documents, which must go before the RCA and Thoroughbred Group boards and an RCA EGM before they can be ratified and implemented. Full details of the new governance structure will be published once it has gone through the necessary due process.”

Can we start calling this new “Governance Structure” the BHC or BHZ, the logical next step after BHA and BHB? Probably not –  because that rumbling is the noise made by all the factions digging in, entrenching tools in every hand, as they protect their perceived ownership of Fixture Lists and demand the right to “terminate” any commercial decision with which they disagree. However, a consensus has been reached on what the Chair should be called and whether biscuits are served.

Meanwhile, across La Manche, (is one still allowed to say that now the French have their own rather ruthless de-gendering Flics de la Langue?), France Galop has been deeply embarrassed by their inability to ban Christophe “Elbow” Soumillon, without several lunches, meetings and tasses de the. He will be banned from Oct 14th, but an immediate ban for The Arc meeting was impossible because there s no rule that allows a jockey to be immediately stood down, even if he has put someone through the window of a horsebox. This raises the possibility, in the warped mind of Kneesup, of hiring French Jockeys as assassins with a possible view to unlocking the BHZ deadlock in a less than figurative sense. It wouldn’t be too expensive because they’d all still be riding for a couple of weeks afterwards.

What is so ludicrous is that this nonsense is all being carried out in the full light of the laundromat’s window, with an incredulous public standing outside wondering when the dirty washing will be done – and whether there is anywhere else to go in the meantime.

Talking of racing plans that seem destined to fail from the moment of conception, here are today’s tips.

1:50 NEWMARKET Godolphin Flying Start Zetland Stks (G3) Cl1 (2yo) 1m2f 9 run

GALACTIC JACK won a Goodwood C2 last month, racing up with the pace and relishing the longer distance. AB is in good form at the moment, but I think I might suggest GALACTIC JACK without the favourite FLYING HONOURS to be safe. You’ll be getting around 4/1 on such a bet

GALACTIC JACK 4 pts Win without the favourite FLYING HONOURS

2:05 YORK Coral Rockingham Stks Cl1 (2yo) 6f 9 run

I tend to regard a Johnny Murtagh runner much like an Emmett Mullins entry – if it’s here, he fancies it. Thus, BAY OF PLENTY, which has been backed from 13/2 to 3/1 by people who think like me, makes one sit up straight. Run once Won once – beat a subsequent winner by 4l at Naas; in brief, I’m not looking any further.


2:25 NEWMARKET Emirates Autumn Stks (G3) Cl1 (2yo) 1m 6 run

Charlie Appleby has won this race three of the last five runnings. and runs SILVER KNOT here who ran like a dog on the ground LTO, and is capable of much better. However, I’d be surprised if he can concede 3lbs to HOLLOWAY BOY, who had an impressive debut, beating Pearling Path in the Chesham Stakes. A 2nd in the G2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood and another 2nd in the Tattersalls Stakes is far and away the nest form on display.


2:40 YORK Coral “Beaten-By-A-Length” Free Bet Hcap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-110) 1m2½f 6 run

MARCHING ARMY is progressive and has won his last two starts, including a decent Newbury race where he beat two decent Appleby runners, including a Listed winner. The only question is whether he’ll handle his new rating of 103 – I think he is Pattern Class so yes..


3:00 NEWMARKET Darley Dewhurst Stks (G1) (No Geldings) Cl1 (2yo) 7f 7 run

The Taipan has a share in a runner here, ISAAC SHELBY, which always fills the heart with hope and expectation. Any colt that is good enough to have a Dewhurst entry is pretty damned exciting, and much fun is thus promised for the owners next year, win, lose or draw. He won the G2 Superlative Stakes in July, but hasn’t been seen since. There is a stat that suggests 10/12 had run in the previous 34 days before winning this. However, I took 16/1 for three places on the strength of three gins with himself and a recommendation from the trainer. in the meantime, I advise Frankies ride CHALDEAN, who like many Gosden charges has improved on every outing so far this year. He’ll try to take this from the front and I hope up the far rail which is far quicker ground.

CHALDEAN 3 pts Win

3:15 YORK Coral Sprint Trophy Hcap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-105) 6f 22 run

DUSKY LORD’s Ayr Silver Cup victory and a nice low draw put him straight onto my shortlist. At which point, he immediately became a non-runner. As an alternative MR WAGYU makes the shortlist after his Gold Cup run, and he is consistent – and he has the merit of turning up! I’m also adding BERGERAC and LETHAL NYMPH, who benefit from being pace-setters, and this is a race that, in these conditions is often won by front runners.

(Generally 6p Skybet 7p) MR WAGYU 3 pts e/w – BERGERAC 2 pts e/w – LETHAL NYMPH 1½ pts e/w

3:40 NEWMARKET Club Godolphin Cesarewitch Hcap Cl2 (3yo+) 2m2f 22 run

There is only one horse that meets all the trends: the hat-trick-seeking GIBRALTAR. His trainer Willie Mullins has won 3 of the last 4 renewals, and he gets the ever-improving Saffie Osbourne whipping a useful 3lbs off the stone extra he has gained in the last two runs. I also fancy CALL MY BLUFF  and NOT SO SLEEPY as horses that will stay with the pace and it would be good for Dom FFrench-Davis to have this win on the mantlepiece.

(Generally 6p Skybet 7p) GIBRALTAR 4 pts e/w – NOT SO SLEEPY 2 pts e/w – CALL MY BLUFF 2 pts e/w

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