By the time I left Marlborough today, I was convinced that scientists from the Pavlov Institute had, under the orders of Perfidious Putin, invented a nerve agent that slowly removes all common sense in the general population over a period of time. This inevitably leads to mass hysteria and the breakdown of all law and order. Until this morning’s trip with The Hon Plantagenet and The Cocker, who both go to the cricket grounds for training, (don’t ask), I had assumed all was well. Haircut, Breakfast, Waitrose, a simple set of instructions nailed to my forehead by the ever-thoughtful Memsahib… what could possibly go wrong?
So Haircut first, and I could only find one that was open. When did every barber’s shop suddenly become a Turkish Barber, each occupied by at least seven young men, none older than 30, and each shop with just three chairs and thus a Barber to Customer ratio in excess of 2-1? I saw one in Pimlico London, and it seemed identical to the one in Marlborough. But here’s the thing – no one seems to understand the concept of “…off the ears” and “…just a good thinning…” Even scissors have become a mystery to these poor souls infected by Putinesca. They shear. I explained several times that I did not want to be given a Peaky Blinders, or a Number 3, 4 or 5. I wanted a gentleman’s haircut I said. In the end, I opened my phone and pointed to a picture of a reasonable cut – which turned out to be on top of Prince Andrew’s head. I was not trying to be difficult, but I got a distinct impression that I had overstepped some traditional line in the Confrerie of Turkish Barbers, where instructing the barber is considered bad karma – who knows? Maybe in Izmir, you take what you are given. I was given what they wanted and gave them £12. Why not advertise that you just do four haircuts, which will be done in the same skilful manner as displayed by Australian shearers. Still, as some wise bird once said, there are only six weeks between a bad and a good haircut.
Then onto breakfast. I prefer Polly’s Tearooms for my brekker – the eggs and the bangers are top-notch. They obviously have a new boss, who has been organising. He had given one of the girls a badge which said Team Leader. The girl was blonde, pretty and about 6′. Polly’s is about 500 sq ft and I might be exaggerating. No one ever needed a badge, less than Amazonia, because she could have been picked out in a crowd in Wembley Stadium. Brekker came and I then asked for English Mustard. That duly arrived by which time I noticed there was no salt or pepper. Why I enquired was the S&P hidden away. Because it gets stolen otherwise, she said! With the greatest will in the world, there are only two sorts of citizens in Marlborough. Young Marlburians from College and The Silvered Set (or Wrinklies as we might be rudely called). The former would not be seen dead in Pollys except to buy their exceptional Meringues and Sugar Mice, and the Wrinklies don’t do seasoning in my experience. Meanwhile, as I pondered this, she turned up with the sugar for the tea, with a tiny hint of harrumph. I thought about asking for another slice of toast and then asking for Marmalade. How much would it cost to keep her by my side for the next hour running little errands, I pondered. The Prince Andrew haircut had patently gone to my head.
Off to Waitrose. I asked, out of curiosity, why a one-litre bottle of Pellegrino sparkling water cost a pound and why six, wrapped in single-use plastic – cost £6.50? “Perhaps we’re getting rid of them.” I was tempted to ask this fountain of knowledge, what news she had of Badoit. If like me, you treat your body as a Temple and only drink Badoit or San Pellegrino water for the high mineral content and tiny gaseuse, you will be aware that either Brexit or Covid has ended all UK availability of Badoit. Are they in revolt, (a bas Les Anglais), or have they all been suffering from long-covid?
I finished the shopping and had to walk the entire length of the shop in order to pay at the self-scanner till, and then started the long march back. I stopped to ask the Self-Scan Team Leader – she didn’t have a badge, I simply assumed – why they didn’t put some self-scan tills at the other end, as it would save Marlborough’s old and infirm from having to make such an effort to pay. “Oh if we did that, I’d have to be running backwards and forwards looking after two sections, it would tire me out.” “Well it was just a thought,” I said “I’ll carry on serving myself, packing and paying and then walking back to save you the trouble.”
Back at the Training Centre, a dog had apparently escaped and was chasing a jogger as he ran past the group. Just stand still, he was asked, and the dog will stop. Inevitably the Putinesca victim carried on running, as did the dog, as did the owner, as eventually did the trainer.
A sudden ghastly thought occurred – maybe it’s just me who has been infected!
Talking of diseased ramblings, here are the tips for Day 2 of Chester. It has been raining there and the going at 8:00 am was Soft, but the forecast is for drying weather.
1:30 CHESTER ICM Stellar Sports Hcap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-105) 5f 10 run
NIGHT ON EARTH was my first choice in this until I saw the ground. He ran into the decent Twilight Calls LTO at Newmarket coming third by 1½l. That winner went on to the G3 Palace House Stakes – where he went down by 1½l. My back of the envelope calculation says that suggests Twilight Calls is about 10lb shy of Group class – but more than capable of winning this if he handles the going. At 11/2 he’s worth an e/w chance
NIGHT ON EARTH 2 pts e/w
1:50 WORCESTER FBC Manby Bowdler Hcap Chase Cl4 (5yo+ 0-110) 2m4f 9 run
GETMEGOLD is only 3lbs higher than his Exter winning mark last January, and better gound and Harry Cobden give him a fighting chance.
GETMEGOLD 3 pts win
2:05 CHESTER Deepbridge Hcap Cl2 (3yo 0-100) 7½f 9 run
KOY KOY 4 pts win
2:40 CHESTER Homeserve Dee Stakes Colts & Geldings) Cl1 (3yo) 1m2½f 6 run
It is hard to put a line through any of these and with AO’B 10 year race record reading 6W – 1P – 13R you’d have to think that STAR OF INDIA is a worthy favourite. I suspect he found the Craven a bit short and this looks easier in depth-terms. The bookies are giving nothing away in this, and I might have suggested MR MCCANN as a potential danger, but at found 11/4, you’re banking on him being given an early lead and not losing it. On ground terms, price and Timeform rating, I do fancy CRESTA, who has some decent 2yo form, running to RPR 100+ in Group company (2nd in The Horris Hill on Soft). He failed to settle in the Fielden which was slowly run and he was behind 6l behind 2000 Gns 4th Eydon.
STAR OF INDIA 1pt RFC with CRESTA – CRESTA 2 pts e/w
3:10 CHESTER tote.co.uk Proud To Support Chester Racecourse Ormonde Stakes (G3) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m5½f 10 run
In the last 24 runs of this race, the winner was first or second in the market on 22 occasions. That makes it between ALBAFLORA and HAMISH. Neither of them has any worthwhile form on the ground, although ALBAFLORA tends to win at the beginning of the season. However I think there is some value lurking here and it might be with THUNDEROUS who has beaten ALBAFLORA a couple of races ago and was gelded after Royal Ascot last summer. He returned in the John Porter and Soumillon didn’t give him a hard time once he was headed in that behind Max Vega. If Franny Norton takes an early lead, and there is no obvious pace, I can see him being a real contender.
THUNDEROUS 2 pts e/w
3:40 CHESTER Boodles Raindance Hcap Cl3 (4yo+ 0-90) 1m2½f 14 run
GROUP ONE POWER 1½pts e/w