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27th May 2024 3:35 am

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

Farewell Gentle Coz.

These Donors Are AMAZING Thank You

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

It’s been a lousy week, made far worse today by the unexpected news that the 80-year-old widow of my late Coz was tragically killed yesterday in a freak accident in a pub car park. Do not smile… such things can happen to the Kneesup clan when they least expect it.

I had known her since she married my Coz, a dashing and handsome army pilot. She was from a fine Irish family and, thus, a natural racing fan. Her mother made tin-tacks look blunt; Mum said she knew Lester Piggott and had somehow worked out when George Duffield was “on” a Prescott winner and when he was not. Her daughter, too, had those skills.

She stood about 5′ max in heels, smoked cheroots, drank Whisky and was infinitely kind and patient – especially with her inherited cousin. I had known and stayed with them when he was at Staff College – and again when he returned as the youngest-ever instructor. I stayed with them in Minden in BAOR when he commanded an AAC squadron and was admonished by her for telling the General Commanding’s beautiful wife that I was the advance party for a significant American drilling operation looking for oil in the bed of the River Weser. My darling CiL embellished that story over the years, and much of her version was untrue – but then she never liked the General’s wife.

My Coz-in-law saved my embarrassed bacon at a dinner in 1978 hosted by General Frank Kitson for his new instructing staff at Camberley. It was a very informal dinner (just blazers and ties), and I was only there as I was staying the weekend and patently wasn’t a babysitter. I had met the General in Belfast when my crew and I formed part of his protection detail, but some twenty different ranks and seven years separated us, so I did not bring the subject up. Besides, in my limited experience, whenever bosses say informal and open a bottle or ten, one is under the severest scrutiny. Career paths were being oiled and forged and noted in the General’s balance sheet, and I was thus – for the sake of my Coz – on top behaviour.

Into dinner, where luckily I had my CiL on my left – but behind me was a super-attentive wine waiter who was there to ensure that the aforementioned careers were thoroughly tested! To my horror, the first course was almost everything I might instantly gag on if it hit my mouth. It was a cocotte dish of very smelly mackerel pate with a lattice of anchovies sitting across the top, covered with a fish aspic, on which sat faux caviar and salmon roe. The wine I remember was a 1965 Chassagne-Montrachet, and I had tried a spoonful of pate on some melbas toast, which I washed down with a half-glass of this nectar and was patently in trouble. Even if I could eat the whole lot, I would need to consume three bottles to clear each revolting mouthful’s taste. I dug around the damned thing, made increasingly loud noises to my neighbour about how lovely everything was and put an empty spoon in my mouth and glugged the Burgundy as one would Guinness. As all hope faded, the blessed, sainted Cousin-in-Law said, “Would you like a hand with that?” No sooner had I nodded Yes than she moved her hands like a Traveller working the three-card trick on Epsom Downs on Derby Day, and my cocotte was gone and replaced with hers.

I loved her, her three boys, and my Coz enormously, and I shall miss her tiny Irishness and straightforward kindness. My Coz-in-Law was also a subscriber to Raceweb. I cannot afford to lose any more—please, all of you, be extra vigilant after lunch.

The rain has also taken its toll, with much racing lost this week, including Stratford and Kelso on Saturday. The racing fodder today is unappealing, and I might look at The Curragh, where at least some graded action is involved. That, of course, depends on both it and Uttoxeter passing inspections tomorrow morning. Before I tune the cathode tube to face Ireland, I shall have a good look on the other side of La Manche and watch IL EST FRANCAIS in his prep race for The Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris run in May. The race is the Prix Murat at Auteil, and it is the third and perhaps the biggest of the four designated trial races for the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, aka The Masters. I’d be worried about GRAN DIOSE, who has race fitness on his side but should, in theory, be unable to hold a candle to IEF.

The weather is about as surprising as Thames Water defaulting by doing the equivalent of an ostrich, albeit that almost all the sand in which to bury one’s head was all used ages ago in bags to keep the shite out of dwellings. For years now, Thames Water has known about the problems in Lambourn, which primarily required new jackets for the sewers and replacement and expanded filtration systems in the sewage sub-stations. The Chairman has a cracking swimming pool at his £4m house, but he has done nothing about our water for years. Everyone knows about it, and we also understand that every valley and tributary between Hungerford, Marlborough and Swindon has been polluted. But like a Tory MP on Tinder, Thames Water confesses, apologises, and keeps doing the same thing. At least Sir Julian Tubby-Honeytrap has stopped sending the photos.

Talking of trying to stop the nonsense, you will recall that I closed my Sporting Index account after some twenty years because some little twerp wanted to know whether I could afford jam for tea – despite the account being a deposit account and in credit. I spoke with someone well connected with the company, who told me Spreadex had dumped some 30% of the accounts for various spurious reasons after the merger. Still, the news that the OFT is investigating suggests Spreadex dumping unproductive punters to counter the monopoly concerns – unlikely as we now only have one UK spread betting company licence.

On the Golf front, it’s time to look for savers. The best stat I picked up this week was that the winner of The Texas Open has always come from the top five of Friday’s closing scorecard. I have interpreted that as a small saver on both Tommy and Rory.

There isn’t much to hold my attention today, but you could try these for the sport.

2:05 – Virgin Bet Daily Price Boosts Snowdrop Fillies’ Stakes C1 – 1m

CHOISYA won a C2 over C&D LTO in November, was another improver last season and ended her 2023 campaign with a victory in a Class 2 handicap over C&D in November. She is 2lb shy of her last winning mark and meets all the trends.

CHOISYA 3 pts Win

2:40 – Virgin Bet Every Saturday Money Back Rosebery Handicap (C2) – 1m 3f

OLD HARROVIAN was thought good enough to run in the Aston Park Stakes, the Newbury G3 LTO, and he ran like a dog. He had previously won twice on the AW and gets a first-time tongue tie. On the little form we have, he appears to go well fresh. The Gosdens have INTINSO, who is 2/3 on the Wolves AW winning LTO. She got 8lbs, which has seemingly not worried the market. CHILLINGHAM isn’t the speediest animal, but he has real potential. I think he needs further. VALSAD got his mojo back at Southwell over 12f LTO – 27 days ago. The 5lbs might be a bit toppy, but 20/1 is a tempting price with five places on offer. LAAFI is inconsistent – but his trainer has won this before, and there is something of the plot about him. It might not be this time, but I am easily tempted by 25/1

VALSAD 2 pts e/w – LAAFI 2 pts e/w

3:15 – Virgin Bet Queen’s Prize Handicap (C2) – 2m

CIRCUIT BREAKER was 12/1 at the beginning of the week and is now the 11/4 Fav. He won a C&D handicap last September when Ralph Beckett had him and is now with Jonjo O’Neill. He went through the ring for £260k – one assumes for a hurdling career. However, the jockey plans were made early, 89 looks like a perfectly feasible mark, so why not? Basically, the value has gone is the reason why not! AQWAAM, on the other hand, looks like there is a bit of e/w value, and his 4lb added burden for winning the All-Weather Vase Marathon Handicap at Lingfield 8 days ago looks manageable.

AQWAAM 3 pts e/w

4:55 – Virgin Bet Fives Handicap (C3) – 6f

I was interested in this because of KNEBWORTH’s entry who retains Ethan Jones, claiming 7lbs after his intelligent win at Donny LTO. However, having gone through the card, I like the look of INTERVENTION and hope to get 9s on him.

INTERVENTION 2 pts e/w

2:55 Curragh – Tote.ie Alleged Stakes (G3) – 1m 2f

WHITE BIRCH, lest we forget, was runner-up in the Dante Stakes and third in the Derby.  He’s five pounds clear of his nearest rival and should win on this ground – albeit he’s a bit short for a race with the whiff of trappy! Equally on this ground, I quite fancy Noel Meade’s HELVIC DREAM  who will arrive with a rattle from just off the pace.

HELVIC DREAM 2 pts e/w

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