Because I have a perverse streak in me, I keep a copy of The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli, close by. It is in essence, (and this is a matter of perspective), a constant reminder of what the powerful might/should/could/would need to do to gain and retain power. In theory, Machiavelli’s followers should therefore be able to read the signs of the abuse of that power. I know that doesn’t appear to have been the case on the USA’s Capitol Hill recently, but that’s America for you.
His centuries-old observation that “Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.” might seem apposite to The Duke of Montecito, and indeed seems a direct reflection of his Mindfulness series, co-produced by Winifred Atwell or Oprah Winfrey or whoever, on the WGAS channel. But Niccolo also points out in The Prince that “If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.” Sadly, this is what Harry thinks he has achieved over the last 12-18 months – but then Harry’s naivety is beyond belief – and there is more than one Prince on the stage. No, no, there will come a time when Henry Charles Albert David will find that he and The Showgirl will not have the protection of Dad The King and the vengeance of King the Brother will end all further discussion. He can do no more damage except to repeat himself and even the threat of the follow-up book by The Showgirl, entitled perhaps, “Untitled – How I was robbed of my Throne”, won’t impact much further. Harry will simply make himself much like his late unlamented great uncle Edward 8X, A figure of pity and scorn sidling alongside a despised wife – who is abrasive and rude and tiresome and much like the also unlamented Mrs Simpson. Indeed, Harry’s failure to see what his actions will lead to, suggests he remains a stranger to Machiavelli’s instructions… “Men will not look at things as they really are, but as they wish them to be—and are thus ruined.”
The jockeys this week managed to sort themselves and their physiological inabilities out… is that the word? The inability to use the whip in the backhand position hindered by a long-term broken collarbone or wrist injury had already seen Tom Scudamore backtracking a couple of weeks ago, under pressure from Oli Bell. This on/off, less/more situation is, I am beginning to think, creating something of a rod for our own sport’s back. In essence, the entire whip issue is like one of those old Daily Mirror “Are you a secret Tory?” fun quizzes. Do you like Jam on your scones first or second Yes/No? Do you pronounce Scones like The Rolling? Yes/No. Each time you answered, you went off down a different path until you were either Genghis Khan or Uncle Jo Stalin. With the Whip, question, one solution might well be to allow them to be carried for steerage only and not for the encouragement of the horse and not at all in the last ½ furlong. I am no expert but we need to be decisive and then fight for it. Perhaps it is as Truman Capote suggested: “When God hands you a gift, he also hands you a whip; and the whip is intended for self-flagellation solely”.
This small snippet caught my attention this week, namely, the scientifically proven fact that the higher a man’s IQ, the more likely he is to bet on horse racing, according to new research from academics at the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Liverpool. In a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making found that men with higher numerical IQs were more likely to engage in skill-based gambling, such as horse racing, choose more complex betting products and spend more money. The study involved more than 15,000 Finnish men who had completed an IQ test as part of their compulsory military service when joining the Finnish Defence Forces. This was cross-referenced with extensive records of the men’s online gambling behaviour and data on their socioeconomic status, income and education from Statistics Finland. The data did not include women as only men in Finland are required by law to complete military service and take an IQ test. Commenting on the findings, Professor David Forrest from the University of Liverpool Management School said: “Our research found a strong correlation between men with a high IQ and those who take part in skilled gambling, such as betting on horse racing. It is important to note that our findings can’t necessarily be generalised to chance-based gambling, such as gaming machines. However, there is very little previous research on the association between intelligence and skills-based gambling and so finding such a strong link is significant.” Associate Professor Jani Saastamoinen of the University of Eastern Finland said: “Betting could be compared to solving crossword puzzles.”
Simultaneously this much much larger snippet also caught my attention.
In a bid to better understand how the problem is leading to crime, ten police forces in the UK are now routinely screening suspects for signs of gambling addiction – as is already the case for drug and alcohol addiction. As reported by The Guardian, an additional seven forces also plan to implement the practice this year. As quantified by Public Health England in a report published in September 2021, one of the multitudes of harms caused by gambling in the UK is an estimated £163 million in costs to the government due to criminal activity related to addiction. When looking at direct costs to the government, however, the negative mental and physical health effects of gambling by far outweigh the costs related to crime. When accounting for the intangible costs felt across the country, the total invoice for society comes to an annual sum of £961 million. Factoring in the effects on employment and education as well as financial costs (related chiefly to homelessness), the total cost of harms associated with gambling is £1.3 billion every year.
In the next five years at this rate, we are going to lose our ability to have a punt, a pint and a pie at the pub, because of the “Intangible costs” of all these unprovable reports, driven by the self-righteous cant of the new Puritans. However, it is perhaps worth noting that the £1.3 bn of supposed total costs to society of gambling addiction, is actually less than the annual NHS legal bill defending itself against negligence claims and certainly less than the payments they have to make annually to settle those claims.
Talking of implausible outcomes from scant research and with only one side of the story available for scrutiny, here are Prince Harry’s racing selections for today.
1:15 SANDOWN Read Nicky Henderson’s Unibet Blog Hcap Chs Cl3 (5yo+ 0-130) 2m4f 8 run
The top three in the betting seem entirely correct with my preference being for PEEJAYBEE, whose erratic jumping will have been the subject of re-education. SOPRAN THOR might surprise and a lively outsider is HIGH UP IN THE AIR who is back up in trip, has Sandown form and is two from his last four. Only back him if there are 8 runners.
PEEJAYBEE 2 pts win – HIGH UP IN THE AIR 1 pt e/w
1:30 WINCANTON Virgin Bet Hcap Chs Cl2 (5yo+ 0-150) 2m4f 6 run
MESSIRE DES OBEAUX has been off for over a year and his price reflects that. If he is anywhere near race fitness this should be a 10l victory. ELIXIR DE NUTZ has decent form but looks a bit short. MAGIC SAINT wouldn’t be a surprise. Down in class, on a decent mark and a good 7lb claimer to help, Wincanton form R1W1.
MESSIRE DES OBEAUX 2 pts win and ½pt RFC with ELIXIR DE NUTZ
1:50 SANDOWN Unibet Horserace Betting Operator Of The Year Hcap Chs Cl2 (5yo+ 0-145) 1m7½f 7 run
FRERO BANBOU 5 pts win
2:05 WINCANTON Virgin Bet Fives Hcap Chs Cl3 (5yo+ 0-125) 1m7½f 7 run
The market constriction at the top is a sign of its perplexity. I have it between DESQUE DE L’ISLE (looking for a hat trick, 4/5 on Soft and dropping in class) – NATIVE ROBIN (In the last 5 times that he has raced here, he has had 4 wins and a second place; all with soft in the going) – ANOTHER CRICK (won it last year)
DESQUE DE L’ISLE 4 pts win
2:25 SANDOWN Unibet Tolworth Novices’ Hdl (G1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m 8 run
AUTHORISED SPEED is the top-rated obvious choice, but there are others who look like they might offer some value. Chief among these for me is NEMEAN LION who was 2nd in a 15f heavy ground G2 for Andre Fabre in France when owned by Godolphin. He has shown real ability as a hurdler in his two hurdle races so far. TAHMURAS is capable of more and looks well in and L’ASTROBOY too could be anything. I might attempt a treble of these four.
NEMEAN LION 2 pts e/w
3:00 SANDOWN Unibet Veterans’ Hcap Chs Cl2 (10yo+) 3m 18 run
(2022 Veterans’ Chs Series Final)
SNOW LEOPARDESS’ trainer Charlie Longsdon has a decent record in this race and my memory says we backed her for the GN last April where she pulled up. Did the same LTO at Aintree again, but this is easier and she’ll like the rain. CHIRICO VALLIS is down to at least make the frame, having finished 3rd LTO ahead of INDY FIVE and CV has won on today’s mark in this class and over the distance. CHAMBARD is, on paper, the stable 2nd string, but he was very reliable last season over these distances, and you can ignore his run LTO after a long break. He and the pilot have a decent relationship. BALLYANDY and PRIME VENTURE also make the shortlist.
SNOW LEOPARDESS 3 pts Win – CHAMBARD 2 pts e/w
3:15 WINCANTON Virgin Bet Hcap Hdl Cl3 (4yo+ 0-140) 2m5½f 4 run
CHIANTI CLASSICO can’t be beaten surely. LONGSHANKS for a forecast
3:35 SANDOWN Unibet New And Improved Bet Builder Hcap Hdl Cl2 (4yo+ 0-145) 2m 11 run
Can’t split ICEO – HARDY DU SEUIL. Dutch the pair for 7 pts to get approx 11/4 about your money
ICEO – HARDY DU SEUIL Dutch Win 7 pts