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24th July 2024 1:20 pm

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

Don’t take your Cocker out at Newbury

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Just in: CJM… Bunter… Ken… Thank you. They join: 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

So modern am I that I have my newspapers delivered to my electronic tablet. The tablet allows me to simultaneously play Radio 4, catch up with the latest emails telling me that Mrs Ojukwe Djlabba has left me $4m in Nigerian government bonds and signal when the next colour sample or delivery of tiny pots of paint is due to arrive. This morning, however, the peaceful idyll was shattered by a story in the Torygraph re Killer Cockers!

Our Cocker is called Rocky, who was named thus, because there was a tiny hint of the Ru Paul about him as a five-week-old pup and we thought the name might strengthen him. He is a brown Cocker – apart from two white toes and a prematurely grey beard. The article tells me that research has found that certain combinations of single colour and gender are prone to aggression, and to avoid confusion and to ensure that the Torygraph’s Science Reporter, Joe Pinkstone, remained as accurate as the science he reports on, started by outlining that the opposite of a single colour is “… a combination of two or three different colours… ”

Apparently, aggression levels recorded among golden cockers were 12.08 % – higher than the aggression level of a rottweiler (7.46 %). Cocker spaniels of one colour were more likely to be aggressive. Some 7 per cent of all single-coloured cockers were aggressive compared with 3.7 per cent of mixed colourations. Among solid-coloured cockers, the prevalence of aggression was 12.1 % in goldens, 6.5 % in red cockers, 6.3 % in black dogs and 4.3 % in those of liver colouration. So, in summary, about 35% of 7% of all Solid coloured Cockers can go bonkers. Does that mean the other two-thirds are, regardless of colour, AOK?  Does it mean that only 7% of all Cockers get cross, and the other 93% think life’s pretty sweet?

On top of that – and perhaps I’m being stupid, but what colour is Liver? As regular readers will know, I am immersed in the world of colours at the moment. I’ve flicked through the 822 colour charts, samples, and bits of paper stuck to the walls and cannot find the word Liver anywhere. Perhaps Farrow and Ball thought it too San Lorenzo 1980s: “Maisey Carbuncle-Carotid has done the whole of her Notting Hill dining room in Calves Liver, but has cleverly left the original mouldings in situ, choosing merely to highlight them in Crispy Pancetta Chalk Wash. Her floorboards are redolent of the original pine and have been stained with Crostini di Alio e pepperoncino.“.

Do they mean Brown? Rocky is Brown, and he is a male – but he’s been cut. Thank the Lord he is not allowed upstairs because this article suggested that he could turn into Satan’s Hell Hound, displaying something called Cocker Rage, and just as you were about to step into your trews. The brilliant scientist in this managed to talk in the past tense about guard dogs which was confusing. “It’s not that cocker spaniels are more aggressive than every other breed,” he said. “There were breeds that are deliberately bred as guard dogs, German shepherds and rottweilers, for example, which show much greater aggression than even the golden cockers. But the point is, they’re not marketed as this really cute, friendly, family pet that can sleep in the bed with your children. They’re a different type of dog for a different type of owner.”

In this statement, the great scientist also manages to confuse himself. According to his own figures, the Golden Cocker is much more aggressive than a Rottweiler! (12.08% compared to 7.46%). and then he suggests that there is an entire PR company and several ad agencies all marketing cocker spaniels to share one’s bed. Is he quite bonkers? With its dodgy gums, anal sac issues, ability to shed hair at the rate of two tons a minute and, unless managed 247, very sharp little claws – quite apart from the neediest temperament God stuck on anything other than a leech – nobody in their right mind would have one in bed with them.

Rocky is looking at me now… he knows I’m writing about him.,, damned brown dog. Damned expensive brown dog. I might take him to Newbury and see if I can sell him in the car park to someone who wants a guide dog. Damned auto-correct… guard dog.

Talking of a constant drain on one’s financial resources – though not so much this week – here are Saturdays TV racing tips as well as The Preakness

1:50 NEWBURY BetVictor Carnarvon Stakes Cl1 (3yo) 6f 7 run

Favourites don’t do well in this, (three in the last 10 years). Despite his last winning race being a handicap LTO, the victory bought SHAQUILLE’s tally to 4 from 5, with his one defeat being in the Acomb Stakes to 2000 Guineas winner Chaldean. He looks like an improver. I fear AESOPS FABLES more than the odds on favourite.

SHAQUILLE 2 pts e/w – unless his price comes in, then go 3 pts win only

2:05 NEWMARKET Aspall Cyder 1728 Hcap Cl4 (3yo 0-85) 1m 11 run

William Haggas runs GOOD GRACIOUS in this, and she was last seen back in October on Tapeta in a 0-75. She held off a sustained challenge from the runner-up, and that race has produced five individual winners from the seven she beat that day. I think she is much better than the bare form suggests.


2:25 NEWBURY The Aston Park Stakes (G3) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m4f 7 run

The trends suggest YIBIR – he’s favourite, he’ll like the ground, and he’s 9lb clear on ratings. He’s won the BC Turf and from 16 starts he has finished outside the first three only three times. But is he ready to rumble? He normally takes a couple of races to get into himself – and while this is a drop in class, the risk/reward ratio feels out of whack. I might take a chance on the relatively unexposed HASKOY, who, with only three career runs,, could easily be top-class.

HASKOY 3 pts Win – to beat YIBIR 2 pts – and KEMARI 1 pt

2:40 NEWMARKET Aspall Suffolk Draught Cyder Hcap Cl2 (3yo 0-105) 6f 11 run

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS looks as though he’s been specifically aimed at this. 2nd over C&D LTO, will appreciate the ground drying out, and his trainer has a good LSP with his Rowley Mile 3yo in the last five years.


3:00 NEWBURY BetVictor London Gold Cup Heritage Hcap Cl2 (3yo) 1m2f 16 run

EXOPLANET was 2nd here on his seasonal reappearance in the Darley Novices, although he couldn’t get near Military Order, who has just won his Derby trial. He likes the track, having won here last September. BERTINELLI was only narrowly beaten at Cork LTO. I quite like the look at the prices of FORCA TIMAO and MR MISTOFFELEES.

EXOPLANET and BERTINELLI dutch for 7 pts. FORCA TIMAO – MR MISTOFFELEES 1½ pts e/w each – 12 x ¼ pt CFC

 3:15 NEWMARKET Aspall Premier Cru Hcap Cl3 (3yo 0-90) 7f 13 run

POWERDRESS has been backed like a favourite in a two-horse race and the opponent is blind and three-legged. Richard Hannon has reset the aspirations and expectations, and this 1000 Guineas hopeful (and last) and in this race has plenty of appeal. The problem is – that everyone else thinks so as well and she is going to go off at around 3/1 in a tricky 13-runner handicap.  STRIKING STAR is the favourite and best of the Godolphin pair, and his form is rock solid – but he has only raced on soft ground. CHANGING COLOURS has top claimer Harry Davies, which would suggest some thought has gone into this by Charlie’s professional handicapper. He’s only won a novice to date, but he appeared in some pretty hot company on his seasonal and handicap debut, beaten by Yacowlef, who won next time out and Shouldvebeenaring, who won a Listed race next time out. GOLDEN PASSPORT has been gelded since a poor run at Kempton and meets BERKSHIRE PHANTOM again, who has beaten him, but does not seem to enjoy Turf racing. JUMBEAU wouldn’t be a total surprise. WALL GAME has a bustling betting market surrounding him, and he has been improving in his short career. I’m sticking him in because I can see no reason not to!

POWERDRESS 4 pts Win – WALL GAME 2 pts e/w

3:35 NEWBURY Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes (G1) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m 13 run

In the cancelled, then run at HQ, Sandown Mile, MUTASAABEQ carried a 3lb G2 penalty and still handed out a 3l beating to the 2000 Guineas 2nd Native Trail (OR119). He also saw off LIGHT INFANTRY (OR120) and CHECKANDCHALLENGE, 4th, who also turns up. He’d prefer the ground to have a little cut in it, so he would appreciate some showers between now and then. MY PROSPERO will likely campaign over 1¼m, with the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot looking his likely target, so I’m not sure this is his race. I realise I’m being a little dismissive about possibly the best form holder in the race, with MY PROSPERO’s third in the Champion Stakes last year, with whiskers between him and some of the best in the biz… and it would give Haggas back-to-back Lockinges… and he won first time out last year… and he’s 5/1. And there’s my point slightly. For all the reasons I’ve stated, he should be the favourite and the fact he doesn’t make me shy of backing him. MODERN GAMES’ form isn’t as strong, and I think he’s a horse best seen to advantage in the USA.  There is value with Richard Hannon’s CHINDIT who isn’t G1 level – but does like a nice straight track. He was third in 2022, 5l off Baaeed, and he’s won the Greenham Stakes here in 2021, so we know he likes the track. He’s beaten MUTASAABEQ in Ascot’s G2 Summer Mile and while he is 8lbs shy of the field here, the price differential is silly. The drying ground will suit, and he is a totally honest chap.

MUTASAABEQ 4 pts Win – CHINDIT 2 pts e/w




16:10 NEWBURY 0-105 1m

There have been whispers for KINGDOM COME, who was withdrawn at Ascot last weekend because of the ground, and Clive Cox has been looking for a suitable opportunity to continue his rise through the ranks. He had two entries today – and he’s ended up here. He is the favourite, and he will be amongst my accas. SONNY LISTON and OUTBREAK both need some small support.

KINGDOM COME 4 pts Win – SONNY LISTON 1½ pts e/w – OUTBREAK 2 pts e/w. – ½pt CFC the three.


12:01 PIMLICO DIRT Preakness Stakes (G1) (3yo) (Dirt) (3yo) 1m1½f SKY 8 run

Shug McGaughey trains PERFORM, and his connections paid a $150,000 supplemental entry free to run in this race because he was not originally nominated to the Triple Crown. The decision was based on his victory in the Federico Tesio Stakes, which he won by a head despite falling out of the gate and running into traffic problems. An alternate play is to Lay the odds-on favourite MAGE who is being asked to win this after the shortest break any horse has attempted between Derby and Preakness.

PERFORM 3 pts e/wLay MAGE for 10 pts



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