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25th April 2024 4:22 am

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

Maintain justice, for it will not maintain us.

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What a joy – sunny weather, the start of the Ashes series and a solid start to The US Open. Sitting outside, listening to TMS, a glass of recovery juice in my hand after a brace of croissants and some coffee. Not a hint of breeze to move my papers around on the table as I try to decipher my scribblings from a very jolly evening as a guest of Thurloe Thoroughbreds. A charming and delicious village pub supper, in aide of the local school. Hosted by the very knowledgeable Jess Stafford, and with guests Hughie Morrison and Richard Hannon, giving us some views on Royal Ascot, these mainly consisted of sledging Andrew Balding, who was regarded as lucky and getting tubby! Masses of Rose and Ginger Beer Shandies, surrounded by chums young and old, on the most perfect summer’s evening.

This most English of village scenes had only come about because I don’t drive and we do have a dog. So the funeral of an old chum in Cambridgeshire would have been attended by both of us, but for the dog, for whom there was no minder. So The Hon went and paid our respects, and then, we agreed that if she had time and weather and traffic permitting, she would make her way home via the Cotswolds to drop in on another chum’s 65th, whilst I remained in downtown Purdah sans drink, sans supper, sans everything – except the dog. Luckily a racing neighbour called and asked if I fancied going to the Ascot beano if he gave me a lift. It was hard not to bite his arm off down the telephone.

The subject of Boris seemed to occupy a number of conversations with a general mood of what an unutterable so-and-so the man was. Personally, I have been slightly more exercised with the process rather than the outcome., In brief, through its ability to issue financial, social and employment-impacting sentences, the Privileges Committee is a de facto court. It thus requires various layers of Governance through common law and precedent to exercise such power. It is immaterial whether the make-up of such a court is of seven Cricket fans who voted to let women eat ice cream in public or is composed of a majority of Brexit-voting Tories led by a perfectly ordinary Socialist Remainer. I want to see Justice delivered under the rule of Law.

Almost exactly a year ago, in June 2022, Harriet Harman was swapped in for Labour’s Chris Bryant, who had recused rightly and honourably recused himself to avoid “any imputation of unfairness” over previously critical remarks he had made about Johnson. Yet the many Twitter comments, in which Ms Harman had quite clearly delivered a pre-judgement of the Committee’s findings, were never questioned, despite showing explicit prejudice. In the September following, Ms Harman having been made Chair, the PC received an Opinion from Johnson’s barrister, Lord Pannick, who wrote to the committee to express his concerns that due process was not being followed. One of his concerns was that the committee had changed the definition of committing contempt by misleading Parliament. ‘Intentionally misleading’ parliament has a long-established definition in parliament’s own rules, Erskine May, which had also been agreed upon in past parliamentary resolutions. According to the committee, however, the intent is ‘best thought of as an aggravating factor’ rather than a crucial charge component. This made it much easier to convict Johnson of contempt. Pannick also warned that the committee was using a weaker standard of proof – also making it easier to convict. The PC also used secret witnesses, who were not allowed to be examined; he was not allowed legal representation under examination, nor was Boris or his legal advisors allowed access to all the evidence.

It is entirely possible – as has been pointed out by several senior barristers – that Parliament’s own watchdog committee, by abandoning standard procedures and rules of justice, has actually stepped outside the rule of law. The PC did not:

  • apply the existing parliamentary definition of what it is to mislead;
  • apply the principles of justice that evidence must be transparent and that defendants must be able to defend themselves
  • follow the procedures that a court of law would use to ensure an absence of bias.

Boris might be the biggest dissembling arse in the long history of corrupt politicians this country consistently produces while somehow managing to overcome myriad adversities from war to pandemic to occupation by unfriendly neighbours. Indeed it may well be that he has deceived Parliament and lied through his teeth, but to reach that decision via a transparently flawed mechanism is entirely wrong. When critics of this mechanism are threatened with sanctions, some might think that a very English revolution is underway and that the sans-culottes have taken charge.

Talking of the beginning of Le Terreur, please remember that next week, my days get shorter by one hour for every bottle of Rose consumed, so please do not expect anything but the briefest insights come Thursday or Friday! Saturday’s racing tips and some perhaps useful big-priced insights from Mssrs Hannon and Morrison follow:

ASCOT PREVIEW with JESS STAFFORD, RICHARD HANNON Jnr and HUGHIE MORRISON

  • RH suggested that MODERN GAMES has a tendency to go to sleep. CHINDIT has a chance.
  • St James Palace: General consensus that CICEROS GIFT could win this. PADDINGTON was favoured over CHALDEAN. ROYAL SCOTSMAN would improve and RH thought he was e/w value.
  • Coventry: RIVER TIBER is spoken of as if he was the 2nd coming of Pegasus. RH says CAMDEN COLT has to be ridden as if you’ve stolen it. The price is way too big.
  • The PoW: It will be a tactical race, probably won by ADAYAR
  • Ribblesdale: RH MAMAN JOON, wrong price.
  • Britannia: HM would prefer some rain for ROYAL CAPE
  • Commonwealth Cup: General fear of SHAQUILLE. SHOULDVEBEENARING too big at 20s
  • Rumour that Shadwell’s AL ASIFAH might bypass Ribblesdale and be supplemented for the Hardwicke.
  • QEII: Wide Open and varying opinions. RH supported ART POWER and KINROSS, while HM was strong on AL SUHAIL
  • Wokingham: MUMS TIPPLE for RH
  • Overall HM fancied HIGHFIELD PRINCESS in the Kings Stand and MAGICAL SPIRIT in the Wokingham. Jess Stafford fancied GOSHEN in the Ascot Stakes and ELITE STATUS in The Norfolk

2:00 YORK Queen Mother’s Cup Hcap (For Female Amateur Jockeys) Cl3 (3yo+ 0-90) 1m4f 15 run

YORKSHIRE LADY, Michael & David Easterby’s five-year-old hasn’t got her regular pilot, Joanna Mason, who is out of action with an injury. She had something of a pipe-opener here LTO, over 10f, travelling wide, and made smooth progress to get within 5l of the winner in a packed finish (Came 7th).

YORKSHIRE LADY 3 pts e/w

2:15 SANDOWN Aspall Cyder 1728 Hcap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-100) 1m 13 run

I was going to suggest ZU RUN, who also had an entry for the 7f event at 4:00 – but the more I look at it, the more I think this isn’t his distance and he’s a 7f horse, possibly even an extended 6f. He ran poorly LTO, but that said the stable word was that he was value off his mark of 89 and the 1lb less coupled with the suggestion that he just needed the race, might make the 11/1 look sexy. All the 3yos also benefit from the 10lb weight allowance as well. BORDORGAN has Willam Buick on board and maybe that’s a play.

BODORGAN 3 pts Win – ZU RUN 1½ pts e/w – ½RFC

2:35 YORK Sky Bet Hcap Cl3 (3yo+ 0-95) 7f 13 run

You can’t ignore Linda Perrett at the moment so you have to have JUDGEMENT CALL on your shortlist and SCOTTISH SUMMIT has course and distance place form, will handle the ground and is within 4 lbs of his last winning weight.

JUDGEMENT CALL 1½ pt e/w – SCOTTISH SUMMIT 3 pts e/w

2:50 SANDOWN Molson Coors Scurry Stks Cl1 (3yo) 5f 9 run

PERDIKA 4 pts Win

3:05 YORK Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Grand Cup Stks Cl1 (4yo+) 1m6f 7 run

ROBERTO ESCOBARR won this two years ago and won a G3 LTO at Sandown. Tough call, but looks interesting at around 9/2. Keep an eye on the price. If it contracts lump on.

ROBERTO ESCOBARR 3 pts Win

3:20 CHESTER Edinburgh Gin Seaside Hcap Cl2 (3yo) 7½f 12 run

TAFREEJ 4 pts Win

3:40 YORK Oakmere Homes Supporting Macmillan Sprint Hcap Cl2 (3yo 0-105) 6f 22 run

Karl Burke runs MISS JUNGLE CAT, who I have backed before, but in my mind, he is best seen over 7f.  CATCH THE PADDY won a nursery over C&D  and was considered good enough to have a crack at the Gimcrack. He looks e/w value

CATCH THE PADDY 3 pts e/w

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