RIP Kit Hesketh-Harvey, an amusing, talented and thoughtful man.
Thank heavens that the Welsh Woke Police have got hold of the Delilah issue and rapped it firmly on the head. Thanks to them, we can rest assured that no one will ever sing that song again – live on TV. However in the Six Nations Woke Cup the Welsh RFU are miles behind Twickenham HQ, who almost managed to ban Swing Low, two years ago. Then, apparently, two people had taken huge exception to the terraces ringing out with “…Coming for to carry me home” accompanied as it often was, with signing for the hard of hearing. This was because its roots – can I even say that word now? – are vested in the cotton fields of old Alabammy, and according to various very worthy groups, white people can’t sing (nor dance) spiritual music for fear of cultural misappropriation. So no more Delilah and in the deafening silence from the terraces, we now have the time to examine the rest of our song culture.
Should we ban any song that references violence towards women? If yes, then we have to lose The Marriage of Figaro (the Count is determined to exercise his Droit de Seignerial rights); Tosca involves an attempted rape when the Chief of Police threatens to kill Tosca’s lover unless she submits to have sex with him; Porgy and Bess where Bess is raped after leaving the church picnic by her ex. And then there’s the “I’d rather you were dead than with another” themes in Carmen, Pagliacci, and Wozzeck – all of which come to pass. In fact, I would guess some 90% of Operas have plots where their female heroines, from Aida to Lulu, have a grisly fate. They stab themselves, throw themselves on funeral pyres, go mad and die. And it’s not just opera. What about all those charming bands we grew up with? Who can forget Harry Nilsson’s sweet song Cuddly Toy, a hit for The Monkees, about the proposed rape of a teen? The Beatles? You’re kidding me… Getting Better? Run for Your Life?
It takes one no time at all on the Interweb, to find lists – as in reams – of songs at whose core is either the subject of violence against women or the outcome of abusive relationships or the tragedies that unfold because of violence or abuse. So where do we start? Do we ban all music with lyrics that depict violence? I’m taking a stab in the dark here, but wouldn’t that include almost the entire catalogue of Anti-Vietnam war music? What about political songs that focus on government violence? National Anthems? What about music written for the Castrati such as Scalzi, Ferri, Farinelli, Senesino and Pacchierotti? Does all Opera Seria have to go – and with it a chunk of Handel, Mozart, and on and an and on and Ariston?. We haven’t even touched on the theatre – The Taming of The Shrew, Titus Andronicus, The Duchess of Malfi, Liaisons Dangereuses? Without any effort, one can think of literally hundreds of cultural icons that have the ability to cause offence.
We stand idly by at our peril because every time we allow the destruction of heritage, art and culture by staying quiet or failing to write a letter, or saying out loud “This is nonsense”; the law of unintended consequences will become apparent. And not in your kids’ lifetime… in ours.
Meanwhile, because The Jockey Club doesn’t do culture, but apparently does do woke, it has taken the marketing department a huge length of time to come up with this absolutely brilliant scheme. Ticket Sales are down, so The Jockey Club has scrapped all their racecourse dress codes to make racing more ‘accessible and inclusive’.
Hooray, said Oli Bell, Huzzah said Charlie Brooks, both of whom might be considered by some as a pair of Bollinger Bolsheviks, but in Charlie’s case, it is simply that he does not want to wear a tie in his box at Cheltenham!
This all started because a security guy said “no entrance” to some girls in £200 trainers. It kicked off on social media, and everyone said racing is too posh for its own good. It might of course simply be that the various “Premier Racecourses” have created a “posh” impression that going racing is expensive. I am looking forward to an entirely egalitarian, inclusive and accessible meal in the Cheltenham Festival’s Chez Roux restaurant at £1005 per head – how the hell did someone decide a £5 note on the end made it look more accessible? Regardless of what I shall be wearing, my Ascot badge this year – should I go – will be £575. Add the Hon. Plantagenet – lest I be accused of abusive behaviour – add Club badges (£400) – Add lunch for the week of 3 picnics, 1 box and 1 hosting lunch will be £1000 – add cars, petrol and parking. How much change from £3,000 if you ignore waistcoats etc?
Of course, there are other ways to do it, but I could also have chums around, à la lockdown, and watch it on a big brand-new telly which I bought from my savings. Cheltenham is £105, £77 in Tatts. Goodwood is a fright – but at least it rarely rains! For the majority of racing fans and more importantly racegoers reading this, racing has become bloody expensive and if we only go one festival day less – that represents a downturn for the course of between 20 and 25%. The real issue surely, is that for years we have been very busy making racing inclusive, rather than aspirational. Anybody can own a racehorse – anyone can be a member of The Royal Enclosure – all it takes is money or a change in rules. By the same token and on the same financial basis, anyone can eat in a Michelin-starred restaurant, but then what Gordon and Georgio and Angela don’t do is serve egg and chips, to make it more inclusive.
Frankly dear old things, what I wear when I’m spending £2-3000 for a week’s entertainment isn’t really the point. Racing’s priorities shouldn’t be the colour of my shoes, but getting to grips with the sport’s many issues. A defined closure on the whip issue; seeking an undertaking from the Government that it will leave betting on horseraces alone and focus on dreadful slot machines and instant prizes; that the NH and Flat pattern issues are resolved; that we look at the entire breeding and racing cycle in terms of over-production of poor horses; we should examine the bloodstock market’s relationship with the Point to Point world, (here Charlie Brooks could play a useful role), and we need to revisit the rules of racing with regard to their impact on punters e.g Horses failing to start when under orders. Finally we should look at the entire issue of jockey weights, and their impact on their physical and mental well-being.
Talking of caring for your mental well-being, stop here if you don’t want to read the tips!
1:10 SANDOWN Virgin Bet Novices’ Hcap Hdl Cl3 (4yo+ 0-125) 2m4f 6 run
HOT ROD LINCOLN should run well in these conditions, but I don’t think will beat TWINJETS
TWINJETS to beat HOT ROD LINCOLN 2 pts CSF
1:28 MUSSELBURGH bet365 Frodon Novices’ Limited Hcap Chs Cl3 (5yo+) 2m4½f 6 run
Paul Nicholls has got fabulous figures here – a favourite course at this time of the year for deciding his Cheltenham entries. 11 runners have gone o from here – but only one has won. Overall however in the last five years he has R30 – W11 – P7 for this meeting. At 100/30 HALO DES OBEAUX looks playable
HALO DES OBEAUX 3 pts win
1:45 SANDOWN Virgin Bet Dolos Hcap Chs Cl2 (5yo+) 1m7½f 8 run
I do get nervous about this type of race-naming. It would lovely for all the connections if DOLOS could win this for a fourth time, (not forgetting he has also come 2nd twice before). Sadly this looks stronger than last year and he’s carrying 3lbs more. FRERE BANBOU needs heavier ground I would have thought, which leaves me thinking about RED ROOKIE who obviously needed the run LTO and was last seen before that, falling in The Arkle. He has won around here over hurdles and he won’t mind the ground. ECLAIR D’AINAY showed some promise again LTO after almost a year off for a wind-op. He’ll be sharper for that run
RED ROOKIE 3 pts Win – ECLAIR D’AINAY 1pt 2 pts e/w ¼ pt RFC
2:03 MUSSELBURGH bet365 Edinburgh National Hcap Chs Cl2 (5yo+ 0-150) 3m7½f 13 run
The above makes Paul Nicholls’ TRUCKERS LODGE look backable, plus he’s got the very talented Freddie Gingell taking 7lbs. CAPTAIN CATTISTOCK won this race last year from a 7lb lower mark, but my ee is taken by Sandy Thompson’s entries and especially DOYEN BREED who looks as though he’s a potential Aintree horse of the future. He’s been dropped 5lbs for his last chase, (faller Ayr last April). He had a pipe-opener hurdle race LTO sans Cheekpieces and they’re back on here. He’s also had a wind-op and this is his first Chase since that op. They’re both about 7/1, so I’d dutch the two, giving you approximately 3/1 about your money
TRUCKERS LODGE – DOYEN BREED 7 pts Dutch Win
2:20 SANDOWN Virgin Bet Scilly Isles Novices’ Chs (G1) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m4f 5 run
GERRI COLOMBE is 2-2 over fences and his easy victory in Limerick’s Faugheen novice chase LTO showed him to be yet another potential champion Elliott has at home. He did seem to idle in the front briefly and clattered the last which shook him awake . To date I don’t think he’s met anything in the same class as himself.
GERRI COLOMBE 5 pts Win
2:40 WETHERBY William Hill Towton Novices’ Chs (G2) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m 4 run
Don’t touch this race. Four runners and I can make a case for three.
2:55 SANDOWN Virgin Bet Heroes Hcap Hdl Cl1 (4yo+) 2m7½f 15 run
WILDE ABOUT OSCAR had a decent 3rd at Sandown over Christmas and then Pulled Up at Cheltenham LTO having lost a shoe. Has won off this mark in a Listed novice and has 10lbs in hand of his last handicap win. Why not? JET OF MAGIC’s recent runs suggest Nicholls hasn’t got to the bottom of this one and 7/1 as a write seems good value.
JET OF MAGIC 3 pts e/w – WILDE ABOUT OSCAR 1½ pts e/w
3:05 LEOPARDSTOWN Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup (G1) (5yo+) 3m 7 run
This is probably going to be a procession for GALOPIN DES CHAMPS. There is a stat that suggests the top-rated doesn’t win, and do you really want me to find and suggest a second?
3:16 MUSSELBURGH bet365 Scottish County Hcap Hdl Cl2 (4yo+ 0-145) 1m7½f 10 run
GRIVETANA 4 pts win – COLLINGHAM 2 pts e/w
3:30 SANDOWN Virgin Bet Masters Hcap Chs Cl2 (5yo+) 3m 14 run
The trends narrow it down to three: LASKALIN – BANGERS AND CASH – MOVETHECHAINS. I could also make a case for Paul Nicholls’ BROKEN HALO, who has exactly the same profile as his previous three winners of this race, and off 132, he’s 5lb better off than his last winning mark. I initially fancied EMPIRE STEEL who is being aimed at The Grand National by Sandy Thomson so I suspect will be hoping to simply keep his mark. MOVETHECHAINS is probably best seen at Lingfield where he is 4/4and I suspect he was originally trained for the Winter Millions weekend and the Surrey National Handicap Chase. A poor seasonal debut in The Welsh National but he has a very workable mark. BANGERS AND CASH I think is still improving, will handle the ground and likes going right handed. CASTLE ROBIN has the ability for sure and his price looks overly generous, given his overall form and ignoring his Pulled-Up at Cheltenham LTO. LASKALIN was 3rd in The Mandarin at Newbury, but his jumping was a tad sketchy and I’d like to see him jump better.
BANGERS AND CASH 3 pts win – ½ pt RFC with CASTLE ROBIN and MOVE THE CHAINS