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22nd April 2024 11:08 pm

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

It was the best of times, it was the worst…

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

I suppose with hindsight, we should all be thrilled that we haven’t got another bank holiday out of the weekend. Almost everywhere I looked and as far as the eye could see, there were horizons full of cheering fans, all back-slapping and congratulations. We had days earlier smashed the semi-final Aussie result, with all three spreads coming home for us. Yay,  whoop whoop – Best of Times… +43.75 pts. Sadly we also had some spreads on the 3rd-place play-off on Saturday, where Australia played like a Sunday park juniors side in a Northumbrian shingle field in driving sleet, but with less enthusiasm. We didn’t have a bad day at the Newbury races to make up for the Awful Aussies on Saturday, going +8.63 despite missing some big Ripon open goals.

And then we came to Sunday. I skipped church, I had ten for late lunch, I had chilled the young Beaujolais, Sabrina Ghayour’s ras el hanout roast lamb was slowly oozing unctuousness and my Courgette ribbon salad with mint, walnuts, and Feta was on the money. My bets looked good and then the first spread hosed home as Spain scored in 30 minutes, having sold the time of the first goal ten minutes earlier at 51. Then I decided I could walk on water and had simultaneously acquired the prescience of Nostradamus. BOSH – England didn’t score a first goal in under 73 minutes – BIFF – England didn’t go into extra time – WALLOP – the two teams didn’t kick more than 2.5 goals in a penalty shootout and CRASH and BANG and WALLOP, the shirt numbers added up to a figure that was so low, it was almost moving into the realm of quantum sports spread betting.

I did feel as though we were comprehensively outplayed, but we showed pluck, and determination and never looked like we had given up. The principal problem was that half the Spanish team play every day, every week, day in and day out because they all play for Barcelona. It showed with their instinctive player awareness, putting a ball into spaces that a nano-second later would see the arrival of the teammate. That didn’t happen with us, nor was our visible passing (as opposed to anticipated) anywhere near accurate enough. A good game, but as was shown in the Nigerian match, we are not a physically strong team and we need to be quicker and far more instinctive. Sad scenes. marred by the rather disturbing near-tongue incident foisted on the Spanish Captain who suffered a full, two-hands-on-head snog at the hands of the Spanish football President, who managed to look like a clone of all the other wriggling grubs, who run world football.  Worst of Times on the spreads -29.

Then we had the golf. Doubling the Raceweb Golfing department didn’t really work this week, and my new cohort, Sandy Lane and I could only produce a Tied 5th with Max Homa – albeit that I suspect one could have greened out Betfair on Friday night. Overall the BMW was a disaster made far, far worse by the fact that I swerved Victor Hovland because he has been so consistently bad on Sundays that he has thrown away at least two PGA titles this season. So now I haven’t tipped him, he decides he needs to buck up his ideas, stop playing like a Women’s Aussie footballer and kick on. Hovland made 10 birdies and one bogey for a course-record 61 – including a 7-under-par 28 on the back nine – and a come-from-behind, two-shot victory over Scottie Scheffler (66) and Matt Fitzpatrick (66) at the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields. So the best of times for the swerved Norwegian and the Worst of Times for the Golfing Desk which was -22.3 pts.

Dear God, there must be something we can do right… Oh look, it’s York’s Ebor meeting! What can possibly go wrong


As an aside, you know my views on the increasingly frequent small fields that we are getting in major, international Group races and I really don’t want to be put to sleep by some York-based PR guy telling me “Never mind, there are lots of handicaps.” The reality for the last 25 years is that the average and medians for the field sizes of the three Group races today are: The Acomb Avg 7.8 and the Median is 7. The Voltigeur Avg 7.15, Median 7. The Juddmonte International Avg 7.4, Median 7. In summary, we should have had an average of 22 runners across the three races or 21 taking the median. We have actually got 15. That is, in round figures, a drop of one-third.

Not to worry said a spokesperson at British Horseracing Apathy, all will be well. Soon. Probably.

1:50 Sky Bet And Symphony Group Hcap Cl2 (3yo+) 5½f 20 run (7p Skybet, 6p Bet365, Willhill, Betfair 5p gen)

Looking at the race data on Horserace Base one little anomaly stands out, which is that the last three winners all carried 8-12 and were rated 92/93. ALLIGATOR ALLEY (David O’Meara) ran third at Goodwood behind Lord Riddiford and having been dropped 2lbs,  comes here off 91 just 2lbs shy of his last winning mark. INTRINSIC BOND (Michael Wigham) was 8lb higher at Ascot LTO than when making a successful stable debut from the front over C&D a fortnight earlier, He looked as though there was more in him, with a better tactical approach – and Oisin can do that. He is decent and won The Great St Wilfreds last year. MONDAMMEJ has the potential off a favourable mark, but while MAKANAH and VENTURA EXPRESS have each-way claims, I’m starting to get niggly… MAKANAH doesn’t have the best of draws and VENTURA EXPRESS is up in class and not in an ideal draw. Last year’s winner BERGARAC is out of form but could easily bounce back and is handicapped to be competitive. KORKER and JM JUNGLE are in good form and can go close.

INTRINSIC BOND 3 pts Win – ALLIGATOR ALLEY 2 pts e/w – BERGERAC – 1 pt e/w 

2:25 Tattersalls Acomb Stakes (G3) Cl1 (2yo) 7f 6 run (2p gen ¼odds)

The Aidan O’Brien-trained EDWARDIAN has the experience and sufficient speed to win this G3 sprint, but needs to break better and might actually be better suited by this faster ground. Since 1996 only Bourbonnais (2002) had previously run in a Pattern race and the maiden or novice win is the more traditional route. That would eliminate BALLYMOUNT BOY who was beaten in The Richmond Stakes by Vandeek who won The Prix Morny on Sunday. The trouble is I suspect this ground may be too fast for him and he needs the word Soft in the going. Charles Hills has won the race twice in the last decade and his COGITATE was an easy 2l winner LTO in a Newbury maiden, winning with plenty in hand – that race has already produced a winner. HOT FUZZ is of interest having won his Salisbury race LTO going away winning by 5½l, that race might well produce some decent types as both Malmood (Hannon) and Mortlake (Beckett) have gone on to win since. LOOSE CANNON needs time but is capable of improvement.

COGITATE 4 pts Win – ½ pt RFC with LOOSE CANNON

3:00 Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes (G2) (Colts & Geldings) Cl1 (3yo) 1m4f 5 run (2p gen ¼odds)

GREGORY heads the market. However, the Queens Vase winner gets a 3lb penalty, which will make life tougher, but then he’s dropping back in trip. CONTINUOUS couldn’t match King of Steel’s acceleration in the King Edward VII, but it could be argued that his cause was not helped by the KoS coming across him. Luckily there isn’t anything in this race to match KoS ability, so the St Leger road should be clear of traffic! But here’s a thing; Irish trainers are 35R – 1W – 13P in the last 18 years. If you then applied that and other trends you actually end up with the Timeform’s top-rated, Charlie Appleby’s CASTLE WAY who won the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket LTO. He had previously won the Listed Newmarket Stakes on the Rowley Mile course in early May, and missed Royal Ascot with a view to the Bahrein Trophy race. Up 3f in trip, he didn’t have his stamina fully tested, striking for home early and holding on well, helped perhaps by Ryan Moore dropping his whip on the favourite. He doesn’t make a huge amount of appeal for the St Leger, but I think this is his for the taking and at a sensible price.

CASTLE WAY 6 pts Win

3:35 Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m2½f 4 run

At the weekend, there were five runners and this looked like a possibly decent race, but now appears to be a straight contest between the multiple Group 1 winning 3yo PADDINGTON and the easy Prince of Wales winner MOSTAHDAF. That means it’s going to be hugely tactical and the result will be decided by which jockey gets it right. Ryan Moore will probably set the pace on PADDINGTON and will know that on this quickening ground, his danger will be the arrival of MOSTAHDAF 150 yards before the line. Too close to call, so just enjoy four horses racing for a million pounds.

No Bet

4:10 Sky Bet Stayers Hcap Cl2 (3yo+) 2m½f 14 run (5p Skybet 4p gen)

Tony Martin has won more at York than any other course so only a dunderhead would ignore the ex-French gelding ZANNDABAD – and indeed no one has so he’s now 6/1 and his form and his jockey booking make him interesting. GREEN TEAM is entered by last year’s winning trainer Ian Williams and he is down to his lowest-ever mark of 82. Gordon Elliot’s 7yo TRONADOR carries 8-10 and I’m of the opinion that Irish staying handicappers are running off beneficial marks. He was third at Goodwood LTO over 4f further and was hanging right in the last furlong, only going down by 1¼l. He’s good for me. A short head separated AZTEC EMPIRE and SOLENT GATEWAY when giving weight to the winner at Newbury LTO and I don’t see the placings being altered. GRAPPA NONINO won at Killarney on the flat (2m 1f) in May and won again at the Curragh (1m 6f) 10 days ago. He arrived very late on the scene and the 5lb penalty looks manageable – especially given my Irish handicap views.

Dutch GRAPPA NONINO and TRONADOR for 7 pts

4:45 IRE Incentive, It Pays To Buy Irish Fillies’ Hcap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-105) 5f 14 run (5p Skybet 4p Gen)

A tricky race where PINAFORE is carrying an extra 6lbs and racing over 5f for the first time. That said, her first-time cheekpieces had the desired effect LTO and the 6lb might not hold her if they are the answer. DESIGNER was 4th in the Lord Riddiford race at Goodwood and if our selection in the first (ALLIGATOR ALLEY) does well then I’d have more confidence in DESIGNER, but for her draw in Stall 14.  Paul Midgley runs VADAMIAH who is having her first run since her wind-op. On the market, she is currently drifting like a friendless barge, but Paul Midgley does have some decent stats with W1 horses in 5f handicaps namely 21R 5W 4P. KIMNGRACE has decent ratings across the spectrum and posted a career-best when comfortably winning a CD handicap (good to soft) last October and matched that level of form when winning a Listed race at Lingfield in February. She’s been below form since, but she did hit form at this time last season. If she went to 14s I’d be interested.  PILLOW TALK won a CD Listed last Spring and finished runner-up in a similar race on her seasonal return at the Dante Meeting in May. The 3-year-old was below par on her next two starts but shaped much better when a ¾ length 3rd of 6 at Pontefract last month. Still on the same mark and she is being backed from 10s to 6s as I type.

VADAMIAH 1½ pts e/w

5:20 Sky Bet Nursery Hcap Cl2 (2yo) 6f 19 run (6p Skybet, Paddypower 5p gen)

ZABRISKIE POINT 4 pts Win – ZIGGYS QUEEN 2½ pts e/w – KEY TO COTAI 1½ pts e/w  

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