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

Feast or Famine? It’s not just at Cheltenham.

Capt. Kneesup

Capt. Kneesup

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I wondered this week, at what point the Labour front-bench might overcome their oft-absent scruples and walk out of the chamber en masse in order to join the International Brigade. They might not have been alone. The demeanour of Ben Wallace, (whose preemptive “Here, Let Me Help You” strike on Priti Patel will have weakened her considerably), suggests a growing disquiet at the moral dilemma presented by constantly having to explain exactly why a No-Fly Zone is short-hand for a declaration of war by NATO. In my mind, as I listened to Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s plea to Parliament, it became clear that his every sinew is to get NATO involved. He knows he only gets Ukraine back, if NATO’s members all commit together and say “Thus Far and No Further”, a precedent they have already set and broken historically.

Then, in my mind’s eye, I found myself stuck in a lift with the joint leaders of the Self-Indignantly-Righteous Party, (or SIRs as it should be known), Keir Starmer and Ed Davey. I started to formulate one of those Conditional questionnaires, to keep their opinionated yapping to a minimum- you know the sort of thing if you answered Yes to Question 1, then move to Question 6.

Q1. Do you want to go to war with Russia? If Yes: Are you happy to do it on your own, If No: Will you only commit forces to a war on the condition that every one of the NATO alliance members joins in as well?

Q1a. If Yes there might be a small side-branch you have to answer, (with historical explanations of Germany’s failure to commit money to NATO and Macron’s determination to only use Russian Gas): In your armchair opinion, what are the odds that every NATO member would join in?

Q2. Having gone to war, on our own or with the support of 12 members of the NATO alliance and no USA, do you think we would all fight a conventional (ie non-nuclear) war, or conventional plus tactical (aka battlefield) nuclear weapons? Regardless of the answer go to Q3…

Q3. How quickly do you think one of the parties, fearful of losing ground, would move from tactical to strategic?

Q4. As we’re now sitting in a bunker and slightly crisp at the edges, do you think Israel and Australia should be allowed to sing in The Eurovision Song contest?

It’s tragic and almost certainly true that Ukraine is in for a miserable and desperate time, and that we’re all going to be the poorer, in every sense, for it. But right now we need to start planning our own resilience for the future and to start correcting some fundamental infrastructure issues. We need to start thinking East-West rail links instead of North-South and to start being radical about our energy futures. We need to totally change our planning policies and put aside the hypocrisy of green-washing and environmental tokenism. Why do we still have entire towns flooded? Why aren’t new builds expected to enlarge and contribute to better sewage management? Why are new houses forced into having south-facing roofs for at least 1/3 of their total roof area and to have PV solar panels installed?  Why aren’t new builds automatically delivered with ground-source heating alternatives in the event of there being no solar power? Why are power companies capped to only take back 3.8 Kw of power if more is available? None of this is mind-shatteringly difficult, especially if we start getting a bit more sticky and a little less carroty.

Because ultimately here’s the real rub. Those clattering hooves you hear are three of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to whom we have already given unfettered access across Europe in the last three years. If we don’t start getting a little savvier in our thinking, we could easily be asking Famine to mount up alongside War, Plague and Death, and then my old darlings, none of us are old enough to remember how bad, bad can be.

Talking of horses that cause grief and yet remain statistically consistent, there are certain rules that you should follow next week. They are the same rules I’m sure I tell you every year.  Plus ca change. Some of you will attempt to gainsay me – quite rightly – but I bet I’m more up than down on these by Saturday week.

Since 2003 the following hold true: (AE is the actual v expected ratio. A number higher than 1 is good and less than 1 is poor).

  • LAY German-bred Hurdlers. 125R – 2W – 17P AE 0.28
  • LAY Any horse with an OR smaller than 112. 139R – 0W – 5P AE 0
  • LAY Any horse that ran at Huntingdon LTO 132R – 1W – 16P AE 0.15
    • The figures for CARLISLE – CARTMEL – CORK – DUNDALK – HUNTINGDON – NEWTON ABBOT – PERTH – SEDGEFIELD – STRATFORD – TAUNTON – TOWCESTER combined are 404R – 3W – 47P  AE 0.16
  • LAY Any horse that ran on the Flat or AWT LTO. 108R – oW – 7P AE 0
  • LAY Any horse running in any G1 that is racing less than 15 DSL 111R – 1W – 7P AE 0.33
  • LAY cautiously Any horse in a C1 (Listed or Graded) race aged between 11 and 20. 239R – 4W – 26P AE 0.48
  • LAY cautiously Any horse in a G1 race that wasn’t in the top LTO and in the top 2 the race before. 215R – 4W – 24P – AE 0.49
  • LAY Any horse with more than 33 career races. 131R – 1W – 13P AE 0.15
  • LAY cautiously Any horse in a Handicap Hurdle with a 5lb+ claimer in the plate. 272R – 7W – 32P AE 0.63
  • LAY any G1, G2 or G3 horses in Hurdle or NH Flat races with odds larger than 22/1. 296R – 3W – 18P AE 0.38
  • LAY cautiously Horses that ran in a Handicap LTO that are now racing in a C1 (Graded or Listed) Non-Handicap race 440R – 10W – 46P – AE 0.49
  • LAY Horses running in Handicap Hurdles that ran in a Chase or Bumper LTO. 167R – 1W – 13P AE 0.15
  • BACK Horses that won a Grade 1-3 or a Listed race LTO at Leopardstown 180R – 41W – 49P – (152 races) AE 1.14

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