Following my thoughts on Altcar yesterday, Capt. S, whose work in the Intelligence Services is, in some countries, the stuff of legend, sends me a note. He reminds me that when his duties permitted he too could be found in The Nominator’s Car Park at Altcar. He remembered hearing two cockneys outside the gentlemen’s lavatory: “Isn’t this bloody grand! Just them toffs and us, and none of those effing in-betweeners”
As he said …proper days…..!
Talking of days, we have a marvellous spectacle today, with ten races on TV. This is entirely down to the blinding work of the various Clerks and ground staff and they are to be congratulated.
However – you knew it was coming – how many more days we’ll have in racing terms is looking increasingly questionable. If The Premier League are seriously calling for a shut-down of footy, we cannot be far behind. Even without a crowd, I would hazard that Chepstow today will have at least 500 people there and somebody very clever will tell you that with an R factor of x, that means z infections per 100000 blah blah. The gamble is only whether we can get sufficient numbers vaccinated by say Royal Ascot, or even the Guineas, to allow racing to resume. This scenario, don’t forget, is set against a background of The Levy Board having no reserves past April 1st. Make no mistake. In the small microcosm of the world of racing, a Tsunami is forming just over the horizon, the work of not just pandemic, but social attitudes, government interventions, and post-covid financial constraints. We cannot now look at simply the next two years – we need a plan for the next century.
Talking of things that require more thinking, here are today’s racing tips.
1:10 KEMPTON Ladbrokes Where The Nation Plays Hcap Chs Cl3 (5yo+ 0-140) 2m4½f
With Espoir de Romay no longer running, last year’s winner ERICK LE ROUGE must have a chance. A TOI PHIL will I hope cope with his lay off and has been backed.
ERICK LE ROUGE Win – A TOI PHIL e/w
1:25 CHEPSTOW Coral Finale Juvenile Hdl (G1) Cl1 (4yo) 2m
Already price up at 14/1 for The Triumph, and proven in today’s heavy conditions, he has won both his races doing handsprings and stopping for tea with some people en route. It’s thus very difficult to see past
1:45 KEMPTON Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Hcap Chs Cl2 (5yo+ 0-150) 3m
COO STAR SIVOLA Win – GUITAR PETE e/w
2:05 WINCANTON Paddy Power Dipper Novices’ Chs (G2) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m4f
Normally run at Cheltenham and a disappointing turnout. Obviously, PROTEKTORAT wins, but a 3 horse race with an odds-on favourite is trouble with a capital T.
2:20 KEMPTON Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hdl (G2) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m5f
It’s hard to see past Paul Nicholls charge here, especially as he isn’t meeting Paisley Park and Thyme Hill.
McFABULOUS Win – ON THE BLIND SIDE e/w and reverse forecast
2:35 WINCANTON MansionBet’s Bet 10 Get 20 Hcap Chs Cl2 (5yo+ 0-150) 2m4f
Arguments against many of these, and I’m taking a chance with SLATE HOUSE, who gets top weight, but is returning to the scene of his triumph this time last year in The Kauto Star here. He was 6th in the RSA and PU in the Paddy Power, but has had another wind-op since. He is simply too big a price to let slip by.
SLATE HOUSE e/w
2:55 KEMPTON Ladbrokes Silviniaco Conti Chs (G2) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m4½f
IMPERIAL AURA offers no value as favourite, and I’m not convinced by his Ascot win LTO, a race which the others lost rather than he won. Instead in this four-runner bonne-bouche, I suggest RIDERS ONTHE STORM who is much better value in my eyes. Won the G1 Ascot Chase last Feb, and came down three from home in The Ryanair when still setting out his stall, the following month. Importantly, his best work has always been done on a right handed track.
RIDERS ONTHE STORM Win
3:10 CHEPSTOW Coral Welsh Grand National Hcap Chs (G3) (Run In Memory Of Kim Gingell) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m6½f
Firstly, in case you were unaware, Kim was Colin Tizzard’s daughter and was a widely respected horsewoman in her own right. He has won two of the last four runnings, and he has CHRISTMAS IN APRIL, who is a proven stayer, has three victories on testing ground over a vsriety of distances. His 8yo will keep plugging away all day – but the Tizzards form is not blinding at the moment. The favourite is SECRET REPRIEVE whose principal merit is an absence of weight, which in these conditions is a huge bonus. Better yet he is 8lb well in after his 4lb penalty but 7/2 is very cramped and he is not the most fluent of jumpers. BOBO MAC has a 50% place strike rate from his 30 races to date, and was a 15l 3rd to SECRET REPRIEVE LTO and while he gets 4lbs less, he has 7f further which might well make all the difference. Lucinda Russell’s BIG RIVER is a 10-year-old who has six Kelso wins to his name, four of them on proper Kelso Heavy ground. On the trends, I do fancy THE TWO AMIGOS, who was fifth in this last year. and has some good weight advantages against many of these from pervious meetings. Finally I also fancy CLOUDY GLEN for whom track and trip seem ideal. The winner is mentioned above!
CHRISTMAS IN APRIL Win – BIG RIVER e/w – THE TWO AMIGOS e/w – CLOUDY GLEN e/w.
The winner with the other three in 3 x 1/2pt RFC
3:30 KEMPTON Ladbrokes Lanzarote Hcap Hdl Cl1 (4yo+) 2m5f
DHOWIN is in my notebook and at 16s might be worth a punt, in what as usual is a very competitive race. AMOUR DE NUIT has e/w appeal afte two solid recent runs and is up only 2lbs for a close second at Newbury LTO. Kevin Brogan’s 7lbs will make a heap of difference, and the likely decent pace on a flat track will all help. I also like the look of SHANG TANG, who looks lke an improver and I;m overlooking that 1st fence fall two weeks ago.
DHOWIN e/w – AMOUR DE NUIT e/w – SHANG TANG e/w
3:45 WINCANTON MansionBet Faller Insurance Hcap Chs Cl3 (5yo+ 0-130) 1m7½f