As the weekend looms, it’s difficult to know how to divide one’s time. The TV alone will be providing: The Singapore Grand Prix (Sunday 1:00 pm), Saturday and Sunday at Longchamp, the decider in Pakistan between them and us in the T20 (Sunday after the Arc), all the racing as shown below, and finally the Manchester derby (Sunday 2:00 pm). Then His Majesty is having a pop at winning his first Pattern victory in The Oakman Inn Rous Stakes (first at Ascot on Saturday), which one feels obliged to watch and support – but then family duty calls.
Saturday then is the Aged Aunt’s 94th birthday to which the clans are bidden. I was originally heading to Ascot on my relentless quest for ennoblement, but the Black Spot was sent by Cousin Tricky, and as we all know, that call cannot be ignored. As an aside, from “home” to the AA is some 35 miles or 70 minutes, given the vagaries of the 303. With The Hon. distantly attending upon HM, and not being a driver myself, I needed a taxi and received quotes of between £140 and £240 from various taxi companies. In the end I have found some young person who will collect me in his death trap, whisk me away to Warmington-on-Sea, Wait and Return in return for much less. As I suspect he is collecting dosh for his gap year, I might give him my 70-minute lecture, warning him of the many perils that can be foisted on a young man’s nethers when the unwary sally forth without a guide into the lands of the Thugees. On the other hand I might save that chat for another time, lest I return from lunch and find him departed, and with the train drivers on strike, it could be ransom notes to get back.
On Sunday, I shall be taking part in the London Marathon – in that I shall watch the start of the Worthys at around 9:00 am, while drinking a delicious Cafetiere of fresh coffee and eating a couple of warmed Croissants with butter and Apricot compote. A dozen fresh strawberries with some yoghurt and rough cane sugar, and my mental health will be in tip-top condition because I will have been Kind. This will have manifested itself by remotely supporting the very charitable, (but quite irritating), Loonies, dressed up like Chickens who have escaped from a second-rate Gay Pride Festival in Bootle on a wet Wednesday in February. Lunch with friends to watch the Arc. What can possibly go wrong?
So it’s off to Warmington, and very jolly it will be too. Inevitably I shall make some ghastly rick, but there has to be one wicked nephew, whose wool will always be darker than grey. That role is mine to play in life’s rich pageant. The solution to all these events, of course, is truly simple – don’t drink. But then one needs a straightening sherbert just to take the stress out of the answers when being interrogated about one’s work, contribution to charity, and views on refugees The Clans, I should add, now consist of large numbers of millennials, so please God, we stay away from politics and religion – there’s a contradiction in terms for you. More sherbert is needed lest I hear another one explain that their generation isn’t at fault, that they never started a war, and we have stolen their future, at which point with the umpteenth straightener, I shall become, at best, volubly impatient. This probably stems from my entirely personal concerns regarding the growing likelihood of my having a bloody cold winter in the rebuilt Chateau D’If, thanks to Russian-sponsored attacks on the European offshore energy infrastructure.
What was not widely reported before the four Nordstream underwater sabotage attacks was that on Sept. 26, the Norwegian Petroleum Safety Administration warned of potential ”deliberate attacks” after energy companies reported multiple cases of unidentified drones flying near offshore oil and gas installations. A few hours later, the first “deniable” gas leak from a sabotaged section of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline off the coast of the Danish island of Bornholm was discovered. The following day, the Swedish Maritime Administration announced it also detected two gas leaks on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline nearby. The Nord Stream incidents occurred the same day that Poland and Norway were inaugurating the Baltic Pipe pipeline system, which carries natural gas from Norway to Poland, traverses through the Baltic Sea and goes through some international waters beyond the 12 nautical mile limit. Due to its proximity to Russia in the Baltic Sea and Poland’s very pro-Ukrainian stance, the Baltic Pipe may be the piece of infrastructure that Russia is most likely to attack if it begins more aggressively targeting Europe’s energy sector. Surely not, I hear you say. You’re probably right – Russia would likely avoid any actions that could be construed as a physical attack on a NATO member’s sovereign territory to prevent triggering a broader NATO-Russia conflict. But this will be a lot harder to determine when so much critical infrastructure (not just energy but telecommunications as well) lies outside the 12 nautical mile extent from the coast defined as territorial waters. Whichever organisation was behind the Nord Stream sabotage – let’s not call them leaks; it makes it sound like an accident – they were very precise regarding where the pipelines were breached. The two attacks on Nord Stream 1 occurred in Denmark’s exclusive economic zone but just before the pipeline entered Danish territorial waters, while Nord Stream 2 does not go through Denmark’s territorial waters at all. More attacks to come, but the Baltic Pipe would be the next target in my book. Brrr.
Russkies misbehaving and False Flag operations lead me neatly to my recommendation of the week re telly-watching. I have just finished the excellent Capture on BBC Catch up, and unusually and rather thrillingly, the ending was a surprise. This was followed closely by a rewatch of the BBC’s 1982 Smiley’s People. One can only gasp at the contrast between broadcast standards then and now. Where else can you see Michael Lonsdale, Michael Gough, Alan Rickman (aged about 25), Ingrid Pitt, Dudley Sutton, Eileen Atkins, Alec Guinness, Michael Byrne, Bernard Hepton, Bill Paterson, Barry Foster gathered together? The answer isn’t Heaven – some of them still live – but the sheer quality of on-screen talent, matched by superb script writing and high production values from location to sound to cinematography, added to the overall impression that the BBC was unquestionably deserving of the Licence Fee. We shall not see that quality again, I fear.
Talking of a worrying absence of quality, here are the tips for the weekend.
1:31 NEWMARKET British EBF Premier Fillies’ Handicap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-105) 1m2f ITV
Pulled like a train LTO and will need to settle p but has a really pleasing attitude.
I’LL BE THERE 3 pts e/w
1:51 ASCOT Oakman Inns Rous Stakes Cl1 (3yo+) 5f ITV
Last year`s winner TIS MARVELLOUS is looking to retain his crown and trainer Clive Cox hasn’t changed his prep one iota this year, but he’s a year older and looked “old” at Newbury LTO when 7th in a G3. The King – or rather the racing press – is waiting for his first winner, his first Pattern Winner, his first Classic Winner. I know owners who are waiting for their trainer to call them, let alone have a winner. Sadly he won’t do it with KING’S LYNN who carries the maximum 7lb Group penalty (no horse carrying that has won in the last ten years), and I wonder if he isn’t being aimed at Champions Day. With no weight-for-age allowances, I don’t see a 3yo winning this (not happened since 2014). So while TIS MARVELLOUS could and should win this, I’m going to take a punt on Ed Walker’s CAME FROM THE DARK who has had wind surgery and had decent form last year. With Skybet offering 5 places and having seen his price contract from 20/1 at decs to 8/1 and shortening, this looks like a good e/w shout.
CAME FROM THE DARK 3 pts e/w [5p]
2:06 NEWMARKET £150,000 Tattersalls October Auction Stakes Cl2 (2yo) 6f ITV
Beat Ramazan LTO who went on to be 3rd of 19 in the Goffs Million. That looks strong form.
PRAIRIE FALCON 3 pts e/w
2:25 ASCOT Peroni Nastro Azzurro Cumberland Lodge Stakes (G3) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m4f ITV
HAMISH 3 pts Win
2:42 NEWMARKET Royal Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes (G1) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m ITV
SAFFRON BEACH won this last year and loves Newmarket while appearing to have improved away from home.
SAFFRON BEACH 5 pts win
3:00 ASCOT John Guest Racing Bengough Stakes (G3) Cl1 (3yo+) 6f ITV
EHRAZ 2 PTS e/w – GALE FORCE MAYA 2 pts e/w
3:21 REDCAR William Hill Two Year Old Trophy Cl1 (2yo) 6f ITV
I marked HOLGUIN at Donny last month. I thought he looked to have more to come. Daryll Holland has been putting in some big price podium visitors ( 40/1 P – 50/1 P – 20/1 W – 6/1 W from 5 runners)
HOLGUIN 3 pts e/w – PRIMROSE RIDGE 1½ pts e/w
3:36 ASCOT Peroni Nastro Azzurro Challenge Cup Hcap Cl2 (3yo+) 7f
ASJAD 2 pts e/w – SAFE VOYAGE 3 pts Win
12:23 Qatar Prix Chaudenay (G2) (3yo) (3yo) 1m7f
LA MEHANA 4 pts Win
1:33 Qatar Prix de Royallieu (G1) (3yo+ Fillies & Mares) (3yo+) 1m6f
VERRY ELEEGANT – SEA LA ROSA 7 pts Dutch the pair
3:25 Qatar Prix du Cadran (G1) (4yo+) (4yo+) 2m4f
SKAZINO 2 pts e/w – PRINCESS ZOE 2 pts e/w – both with KYPRIOS in 4 x ½ pt RFC
4:00 Qatar Prix Dollar (G2) (3yo+) (3yo+) 1m2f
ADDEYEBB 4 pts Win – HURRICANE DREAM 1 pt e/w – BOTANIK 1½ pt e/w 6x½ pt RFC
4:35 Qatar Prix Daniel Wildenstein (G2) (3yo+) (3yo+) 1m
THE REVENANT (Won it twice before at 4 and 5 yo) 3 pts Win – RAADOBARG ½ pt e/w – RESHABAR ½ pt e/w
1:15 Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Grand Criterium) (G1) (2yo Colts & Fillies) (2yo) 7f ITV
1:50 Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac – Criterium des Pouliches (G1) (2yo Fillies) (2yo) 1m ITV
BLUE ROSE CEN 3 pts e/w
3:05 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) (3yo+ No Geldings) (3yo+) 1m4f ITV
I would have told you TORQUATOR TASSO three weeks ago, but the value has all gone now and besides his stall is somewhere on the peripherique. ALPINISTA would give me so much pleasure because it was his German form last year that put us on the right track for TT. Plus i am an admirer of La Rausing and Prescott is a legend without whom large numbers of sporting people would have had rather dull lives. Still and all – no value left there either. MENDOCINO has frightened both the above and he could be place material. If the Japanese are going to surprise us – just think back to Nick Luck’s look of incredulity at last year’s BC – TITLEHOLDER might be the on. He has terrific G1 form and the only issue is the ground over which there must be a question mark. ONESTO also catches my eye, strong form, ground OK.
MENDOCINO 2 pts e/w – ONESTO 3 pts e/w
3:50 Prix de l’Opera Longines (G1) (3yo+ Fillies & Mares) (3yo+) 1m2f SKY
ROSACEA has proven form on the ground, was a decent third in Diane from a draw somewhere in the Scilly isles, and is much better than her last run. TREVAUNANCE being supplemented suggests Moyglare are expecting the triumph of Expectations over Experience.
ROSACEA 2 pts e/w – TREVAUNANCE 2 pts e/w
You could do the forecasts with Nashwa and Le Parisienne
4:25 Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp Longines (G1) (2yo+) (Sprint Course) (Turf) (2yo+) 5f SKY
A CASE OF YOU is back for a second victory and I can’t quite understand why she is 12/1. It is too big. We know that THE PLATINUM QUEEN will manage the ground and as a 2 yr old is getting 19lbs from her nearest rivals. AGIATO would not be a surprise.
A CASE OF YOU 2 pts e/w
5:00 Qatar Prix de la Foret Presente par Education Above All (G1) (3yo+) (3yo+) 7f SKY
ENTSCHEIDEN might surprise a few people here, other than his trainer who makes a habit of taking big international races with his entries. 3rd in this last year to Space Blue at 45/1. This year he is currently 25/1 and I still think there’s some value in there. KINROSS looks capable of making this a hat-trick from his last three – but is way too short for me, besides which he has to give TENEBRISM 6lbs. She could easily take this.
TENEBRISM 4 pts win – ENTSCHEIDEN 2 pts e/w