The Dentist calls, and I must be away at O-Crack, so there is no time for chats. The day was a disappointment not because they were rubbish selections but because they were there or thereabouts. The first broke slowly and stayed slow; in the second, the selection was third, but I had mentioned the winner. In the third race, I picked the wrong Ryan horse and got a consolation forecast; then a second on a horse that had been backed consistently since last night; then a bunched fourth in a group that was still 2½l clear of the remainder; then a second and finally an 18/1 third. I hate days like that; I’d rather be dead in the sand than be saved by some upturned thumb.
I know I sound a bit grumpy, but I happened to see the Public Accounts Committee having a chat today with Susan Acland-Hood, the Permanent Secretary at the DoE and Jane Cunliffe, the COO of the Operations and Infrastructure Group at DoE, the pair in charge of RAAC. It was a catalogue of disingenuity, evasion and, in some cases, only noticeable when Ministers were mentioned, obfustication on a grand scale. The mantra was: we’ve been on top of this. There have been one or two examples of our having chucked vast quantities of cash down the drain, but it is insignificant in the grand scheme.
This is a tiny example: Read it and weep:
Q189 Chair: Talking about schools changing hands, on this Committee we have looked at the free schools programme, among other things. We concluded that there was a vast escalation in prices on some public sites to meet the target of 500 free schools. Were those free school sites surveyed for RAAC and asbestos before being purchased?
Jane Cunliffe: Obviously the majority of free school sites are surveyed. I think there were some where surveys were difficult to do before the site was purchased, but I do not have all the detail.
Q190 Chair: Sorry, but if you bought a house, you would have to have a survey to do it. Was it because the taxpayer was paying for it with cash that it did not need a survey?
Jane Cunliffe: I can write with details. I think it is a very small number of sites where because of the particulars of the site—
Q191 Chair: It is easy to say in hindsight, but it was pretty obvious at the time that very large sums were spent. I am trying to verify one of the sites that we bought for apparently £33 million that is now worth maybe £20 million, but when I verify it I shall send you the details, Ms Acland-Hood. These are vast sums of money spent on sites that were sometimes not actually turned into free schools, and some of which have closed or been taken over by other bodies. That amount of money was much less than was spent on capital funding for schools that are in difficulty. Do you think the balance was maybe a bit wrong—building new schools while other schools were falling apart? Many of them were in areas where there are now surplus places.
I want to make all Civil Service pensions loss-linked. For every percentage point of provable financial cock-up, your pension is diminished by the same amount. Lose 1% of your total annual budget on not taking care of the public’s money, and your pension is down by 1% – given your pay post-strike – a not inconsiderable amount.
Talking of recovering from financially unsound investments, stupid decisions and with little real accountability…
1:15 Coopers Marquees EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stks Cl2 (2yo) 7f SKY 11 run
MORNING LIGHT’s trainer Ralph Beckett has booked Ryan Moore for the ride, and whilst Beckett is 8 winners from 32 runners +12.33 with his juveniles at Doncaster in the past 5 years, LASTING LOVE, trained by Andrew Balding, might handle the ground better as she’s a daughter of Lope De Vega.
LASTING LOVE 2 pts e/w
1:50 Betfred Flying Scotsman Stks Cl1 (2yo) 7f ITV4 10 run
BATTLE CRY 2 pts e/w
2:25 Carlsberg Danish Pilsner Flying Childers Stks (G2) Cl1 (2yo) 5f ITV4 12 run
KYLIAN had won a Sandown Listed race in July before finishing a 1½l 3rd to BIG EVS in the Molecomb. He was a disappointing 9/4 favourite for the Gimcrack Stakes at York LTO but might have found his Goodwood effort had taken more out of him than had been expected. He’ll do for me given the likely strong pace on this drying ground. I am interested in MALC, who is dropping back to what should be his best distance.
KYLIAN 4 pts win – MALC 2 pts e/w
3:00 Betfred Doncaster Cup Stks (G2) Cl1 (3yo+) 2m2f ITV4 5 run
In brief, it is plausible that TRUESHAN is broken, that the 3lb benefit he has over COLTRANE will make no difference, and that SWEET WILLIAM needs to be 13/2 before being of interest; I’ll row in with…
COLTRANE 5 pts Win
3:35 Betfred Mallard Hcap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-105) 1m6½f ITV4 8 run
I have it between THE GOAT and BAGUE D’OR
THE GOAT 3 pts Win
4:10 British EBF Ruby Anniversary Premier Fillies’ Hcap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-100) 1m4f SKY 6 run
THERE’S THE DOOR 2 pts Win
4:45 Doncaster Groundworks Reinforcements Hcap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-105) 6½f SKY 12 run
LETHAL LEVI 2 pts e/w – LETHAL NYMPH 1 pts e/w
5:20 Hippo Clean Edge Masking Tape Confined Nursery Hcap Cl4 (2yo 0-85) 6f SKY 10 run
RED ZONE HERO 2 pts Win