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27th May 2024 4:13 am

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

Is this beginning of The Beguine or is it the end of the Irish jig?

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

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s the last day of the proper NH season, and before we all start the huffing and puffing again in October, I thought I should seek counselling from Madame Arcati, whose reputation for accurate soothsaying can only be matched by her fees. I asked her to relieve some of my concerns for the future of our sport, by divining if she could, what might happen in the intervening few months.

We held hands around a table in a darkened room for a rather embarrassing 30 minutes when she suddenly sat bolt upright and shouted, “No!” several times. Then she slumped in her chair, and her only other word was “Changes.”

When she came to and had sipped some revitalizing Mint Tea with Bison Grass, which I refused as it smelled strongly of the farmyard, I asked her what had transpired. She told me she had quite clearly seen a big table around which sat some earnest people, staring at screenshots, graphs, and PowerPoint slides and talking simultaneously. Biscuits were served several times, and then they went for lunch and then came back before going home fifteen minutes later at three-thirty. She said this group was known as the Blithe Committee and was famed within the BHA for its two-word judgements on all things racing and the very measured pace at which those decisions were reached.

I stared at her with horror. Two-word judgements? Was Madame Arcati’s vision of No Changes what the next five months had in store for us? Would the Cheltenham Festival still be based on a long series of non-competitive trials until come the big day, the Irish would arrive with battalions of well-sourced, competitively honed novices who anyone with a relative in Kilkenny knew was a Grade 1 winner in all but name? Would the National continue to make changes to fences rather than conditions?

I was relaying this tale to my old friend Algernon Habitat-Scatter-Cushion (the Goodwood HS-Cs not the Cornish lot), but Algy wasn’t listening and just kept moaning about that “Damned impudent Rascal” Mullins, stealing our racing and then our titles. He made it sound like Skelton, Nicholls and Henderson had also had their winning percentages sent to Allied Irish rather than Wetherbys.

I had to point out that before Ballydoyle, Coolmore, and Aiden O’Brien, a chap called Vincent O’Brien had started training in 1944. That year, he did the Irish Cambridgeshire/Irish Cesarewitch double with Drybob (dead heat) and Good Days. He was Britain’s NH Champion Trainer two years in succession (’52-’54) just after he moved to Ballydoyle in 1951. Initially, he trained NH horses at Churchtown; he won the Grand National thrice with three different horses – Early Mist in 1953, Royal Tan in 1954, and Quare Times in 1955. He trained one of the greatest ever steeplechasers, Cottage Rake, who won The Gold Cup three times in succession (1948–1950). Vincent returned in 1953 to win it for a fourth time with Knock Hard. He won the Champion Hurdle three years in succession with Hatton’s Grace (1949–1951). Irish domination is nothing new – what is new is that we have inadvertently created an entry system, race programme, and set of conditions that favour one team more than the other. Over the next five months, “No Changes” from the top will be unacceptable.

Talking of making no changes to a broken system, we still managed to produce a profit last week— and even Madame Arcati didn’t see that happening!

1:50 SANDOWN bet365 Novices’ Championship Final Hcap Hurdle Cl2 (4yo+) 2m 20 run

MASAI MARA 3 pts e/w – STEEL ALLY 2 pts e/w 

2:05 LEICESTER Madri Excepcional King Richard III Cup Hcap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-105) 1m 9 run


2:25 SANDOWN bet365 Oaksey Chase (G2) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m6½f 7 run


2:45 HAYDOCK Hcap Cl2 (4yo+) 7f 9 run

RAINBOW FIRE 2 pts e/w 

3:00 SANDOWN bet365 Celebration Chase (G1) Cl1 (5yo+) 1m7½f 7 run

A cracking race with JONBON vs EL FABIOLO and not at Cheltenham! The former is 3/3 at Sandown, beaten EDWARDSTONE twice this season, beaten the Ryanair winner Protektorat and Conflated at Aintree. EL FABIOLO beat JONBON in the Arkle. A great race – but for interest only I shall have a couple of quid e/w on NUBE NEGRA who has been waiting for the Good ground and could well outrun his odds.

NUBE NEGRA 2 pts e/w

3:35 SANDOWN bet365 Gold Cup Hcap Chase Cl1 (5yo+) 3m4½f 20 run

Last year’s winner KITTY’S LIGHT is back and 5lb higher. How much did Aintree’s 5th take out of him – at 9/2, I don’t want to pay to find out. (Note to Ed Chamberlin – please don’t say, “There won’t be a dry eye in the house if…” We get it – now move on). I seem to remember backing CERTAINLY RED for this at 10s last year, in which case his Sandown form figures of 1-7-3-2 (seventh in this race last year) suggest that from a 7lb lower mark, he is too big a price.

CERTAINLY RED 2½ pts e/w – SLIPWAY 2 pts e/w


1:30 Leicester GRISELDA 2 pts e/w

1:45 Navan CAMILLE PISSARRO 5 pts Win

16:10 Sandown – I  was surprised to see IMPAIRE ET PASSE in the Select, after a battling Aintree Hurdle earlier in the month. This is a little bit further and the Sandown hill might result in LANGER DAN overturning the Aintree result against IeP, the odds-on favourite.

4:45 Sandown NICKLE BACK 5 pts Win

5:20 Sandown EMAILANDY 4 pts e/w

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David Cameron
25 days ago

1:50 SANDOWN MASAI MARA 3 pts e/w RR NR =0 – STEEL ALLY 2 pts e/w 3rd 7/1
= 0.8 Tot: +0.8
2:05 LEICESTER THUNDER ROAR 3 pt e/w 3rd 7/2 = -0.9 Tot: -0.1
2:25 SANDOWN THE REAL WHACKER 7 pts Win 5th 5/2 = -7 Tot: -7.1
2:45 HAYDOCK RAINBOW FIRE 2 pts e/w 3rd 5/1 =0 Tot: -7.1
3:00 SANDOWN NUBE NEGRA 2 pts e/w 5th 40/1 -4 Tot: -11.1
3:35 SANDOWN CERTAINLY RED 2½ pts e/w 4th 22/1 +8.50 – SLIPWAY 2 pts e/w 14th 22/1 -4 = +4.5 Tot: -6.6
1:30 Leicester GRISELDA 2 pts e/w 4th 6/1 -4 Tot: -10.6
1:45 Navan CAMILLE PISSARRO 5 pts Win Won 10/11 +4.55 Tot: -6.05
4:45 Sandown NICKLE BACK 5 pts Win pu 11/4 -5 Tot: -11.05
5:20 Sandown EMAILANDY 4 pts e/w 9th 11/2 -8 Tot: -19.05

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