So far today, I have been in discussion with the head of global communications for one of the top crypto-currencies, a company that leads the way in making the concept retail-friendly; I have had a meeting with one of the top comedians on the current club circuit regarding his forthcoming Valentine Tour; had coffee with an old employee and friend; and then – satisfied I had done my bit for commerce – watched elements of the opening ceremony of the Who-Knew Winter Olympics.
I hope you watched it, even if you were working from home doing zip, or useful, as The Civil Service call it. To my mind, it was a guinea a minute, because the sheer worthiness of all global events makes it so. My random thoughts were:
- Crikey that was lucky that all those girls carrying the snowflakes in front of the national flags, were flawless and stunningly beautiful, even with a facemask, and were not, we were reassured, professional dancers but students from the local poly who happened to be available. The selection process must have been extraordinarily ad hoc. “No Doris dear, it said 34-22-34, you’re a size 16 Double FF” “No Maisy, you’re 5 cms shy and besides even with a mask I can see your teeth”.
- The Chinese National Anthem seems terribly long. Played at a Grand Prix for example, you might imagine that most of the pit crews would already be on the plane to the next race by the time it was over. This is the only time that I have ever thanked the Lord that Lewis Hamilton is not Chinese.
- The Brits looked to be wearing black suits at first – but then underneath you suddenly realised they were all wearing Union Flag woollen polo neck sweaters – hopefully, all hand-knitted by Tom Daley. I wanted one.
- The Nigerians had sent a team of one, as had the Ghanaians, but they were either locked up with Covid or scratched because of Covid. Really dreadful luck – but still Bob’s cousin got to carry the flag and his mate waved to the crowd, so not all was lost.
- That well-known epicentre of winter sports, Saudi Arabia, sent a team of two but had eight or nine in the procession. The same phenomenon happened with several countries, where patently the Physio’s mum had got a ticket, plus she had a freebie uniform, team accommodation and three square a day and on that basis, might as well be in the procession.
- Coat of the day went to an extraordinarily elegant Kazakhstan skater. Madame had ordered two before they had been ushered around the ice-rink. I lusted after his hat, whose milliner would have struggled to keep a straight face when saying, “No animals were harmed in the making of this hat”.
- The Finns wore Grey, but in a certain light almost disappeared. They understand snow, ice and being determined. A Russian might wisely think twice about trying to rewrite history – they looked camouflaged and mean.
- The size of the Cauldron or Olympic Flame was apparently supposed to represent an attempt to cut down carbon emissions etc etc blah blah, rather than what it appeared. Someone at the final design stage had patently not got the fourth and fifth pages on the email. “Then we just stick the torch into a holder? Are you sure?” “Yup that’s what it says.” The result was exactly that. The torch was slotted into a hole and then lifted up to the clouds. If they’d asked Rishi he’s have given them a rebate to help them out.
Overall however the CGI effects were stunning, and as you might expect, the fireworks were extraordinary. I have personally never seen any fireworks explode en masse over an arena and then stay exploding for at least five seconds of intense white sparkling light, never diminishing in its intensity. They weren’t being added to from the ground – it was as though they were being replenished in the air. Somehow the whole event seemed smaller and more compact – it wasn’t, but it was neatly done, and their constant messaging of “Better Together” “Always Together” “Stronger Together” reminded me of something sinister from The Ministry of Truth. That said, please God, it will go off without the constant political rancour of recent Olympics, sports events and modern life. It would be nice to have a break from the current mire.
Talking of not a chance and are you dreaming, here are Saturday’s Racing Tips including some thoughts on The DRF. If I find time I might do a quicky on Sunday for Day 2.
Very occasionally, Paddy Power’s marketing people make me laugh – not a lot, but once in a blue moon, I might even smile. Thus the 2:45 race title amused me.
We took a 20pt spanking last week and the bank stands at £1015.32 making our max stake should be 20.31pts – which is impossible with so many races to cover. This is why I have engaged the treble at the end.
1:05 LEOP’ Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors “50,000 Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff” Nov Hdl (G1) (5yo+) 2m6f 8 run
MINELLA CROONER has some decent form lines to his name. Only 3½l behind the unbeaten Journey With Me he still beat the odds-on favourite Kilcruit and Paul Townend and looked as though the extra two furlongs will require no additional effort. He was 5/1 on Friday morning and is closing 7/2 now. HOLLOW GAMES is the current market leader and lost his unbeaten record LTO when contesting a G1 – which is not his level. GRAND JURY gets Rachael Blackmore and his win and 2nd so far this term demand respect. ERIC BLOODAXE won a decent G2 novice at Limerick by 7l from the well-considered Freedom to Dream, but I suspect his form points to him needing further. I suspect WHATDEAWANT won’t turn up – be wary.
MINELLA CROONER 1 pt Win
1:15 SANDOWN Virgin Bet Hcap Chs Cl2 (5yo+) 1m7½f 8 run
HATCHER has always seemed to be a summer animal, but he’s been a good servant and I suspect this is all about keeping him tuned up for a summer campaign. Back him the race after next. The taking horse is GUNSIGHT RIDGE who looks progressive, and who came up against L’Homme Presse (who runs later on this card) the time before last. His LTO victory defied a 3lb rise and overall, his chasing form has seen him rise over a stone on RPR. I just wonder if the price is a bit skinny. FRERO BANBOU is a mudlark and you could make a case for Paul Nicholls’ TAMAROC DU MATHAN as he is within 1lb of his last winning mark and has had a wind-op since being pulled up in The Old Roan. Paul Nicholls also has DOLOS who might have been laid ut for this according to one source, but if that is the case, then I need bigger than 6/1 to find out. RIKOBOY could also be a player at a best-priced 7/1 as I write – this is just such a tight market.
For betting purposes, it’s a swerve, but on an advisory basis, I’d back GUNSIGHT RIDGE for small stakes OR as I have done below, add him to a TREBLE
1:35 LEOP’ Racing TV ’12 Euros Per Month This Weekend Only’ Spring Juvenile Hdl (G1) (4yo) 2m 9 run
Rich Ricci’s VAUBAN has picked up a Capital P for his rating which is however 7pts below FIL D’OR. VAUBAN met Pied Piper on debut who has since bolted up at Cheltenham in the Triumph Hurdle G2 trial. FIL D’OR also has decent form with a G3 and G2 to his name and a 16l spanking of a Listed winner Sea Sessions. On the day have a look at SIX FEET APART who looks as though he is still growing and won’t win this – but could become something. Just make a diary note about both him and ICARE ALLEN, who I would happily back e/w at 17/2.
VAUBAN 1 pt Win
1:50 SANDOWN Virgin Bet Contenders Hdl Cl1 (4yo+) 2m 5 run
GUARD YOUR DREAMS must surely be held by SONG FOR SOMEONE, although the handicapper says he has a 4lb pull. The only one I have no real questions over is GOSHEN. See if you can find someone to give you 3s now.
GOSHEN 2 pts Win
2:05 MUSSELBURGH bet365 Auld Yin Conditional Jockeys’ Veterans’ Hcap Chs (Veterans’ Chs Series Qualifier) Cl3 (10yo+ 0-130) 2m6f 8 run
Lucinda Russell has stuck CPs on BOYS ON TOUR when what he actually needs is a 1200cc engine. The top 3 in the market are all old hands and offer no value. Best of that can be found possibly with PSYCHEDELIC ROCK who at better than 17/2 makes e/w sense, now he is carrying 7lb less than his old winning mark. I would not be surprised to see VALADOM make the forecast.
PSYCHEDELIC ROCK ½ pt e/w
2:10 LEOP’ Irish Arkle Novice Chs (G1) (5yo+) 2m1f 6 run
This is a great Arkle trial and BLUE LORD heads the market. My question here is whether he has had his mettle tested yet and I would contend not. Chasing has settled some of his jumping errors, but his fall at Cheltenham in the Supreme Novice was a question of pressure. He also has to give a huge amount of weight away to some unknown rivals – less so obviously to the other two Mullins runners, SAINT SAM and HAUT EN COULEUR. The former gets Rachel B, but his hurdling career was hardly stratospheric, with a rating of 143 and no Graded wins. RIVIERE D’ETEL, who has some solid form, ran Ferny Hollow to within two lengths LTO, albeit getting 9lbs. She still gets 7lbs from most – and she is decent. But against all these unknowns? HAUT EN COULEURS is the other Mullins runner. Everything about him seems to me to suggest he should be top 2 in the betting. He was very quick off his fences, he was fast and he was accurate and apart from a slight inclination to go left (no bad thing at Cheltenham) he was sharp and decent. They made him a best-priced 14/1 for the Arkle afterwards and he is now 8s.
HAUT EN COULEURS 1 pt Win
2:20 SANDOWN Virgin Bet Scilly Isles Nov.’ Chs (G1) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m4f 5 run
L’HOMME PRESSE is simply too good and if Paul Nicholls’ PIC D’ORHY is suffering from the same problem that have been behind Paul’s downturn in results, then he won’t win, and the others I don’t think have the ability – both have beaten GLADIATEUR ALLEN.
2:30 WETHERBY William Hill Towton Nov.’ Chs (G2) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m 4 run
AHOY SENIOR carries a 5lbs penalty for his victory in the G2 John Francome Nov.Chs at Newbury and Lucinda has been trying to get the right race for him for some time. This will be a real test, because the next best horse, or possibly the best, is SAINT PALAIS to whom he concedes 11lb and who is now rated just 7lbs behind. This will be a cracker of a race and is possibly even a career decider for AHOY SENIOR in terms of his Cheltenham plans. I think he’ll prefer the ground, I think he’s better on a left-handed galloping track, and he’s still not been fully tested or discovered. Lucinda’s partner one P Scudamore believes he is a Gold Cup horse. If there is any weakness upfront, the late arrival of NOBLE YEATS 200 yds from home would not be a surprise. The favourite is no price; Harry Bannister’s ride in no pushover and Emmet Mullins is no fool.
2:40 MUSSELBURGH bet365 Scottish County Hcap Hdl Cl2 (4yo+ 0-145) 1m7½f 8 run
A very tight little race tidy race at Musselburgh over the minimum trip, with HIGHLY PRIZED from Emma Lavelle heading the weights and 9lbs shy of his last winning mark. He opened at 5s last night and has been drifting like a barge to around 8/1. WILD MAX was a first fence faller in the Betfair Hurdle about this time last year and since then has run poorly. That makes him the wrong price in my book, which I suspect at 5s, is a combination of Paul Nicholls’ 17/42 strike rate here over the last five years and his having won the race twice in the last four years. John McConnell often brings a few over for this meeting and has PEARL OF THE WEST (1st time CPs) and ANNA BUNINA who was unimpressive in a G2 last week at Donny. She is still 9lbs worse than her last winning mark. The favourite however is Donald McCain’s FIVEANDTWENTY, who won the Scottish Triumph Hurdle on this card last year, and she is a Musselburgh specialist with a record of 4W 5R and a 50% strike rate over the distance.
FIVEANDTWENTY 1 pt Win
2:45 LEOP’ Paddy Power “I’d Love A Can But Pints Are Cheaper” Hcap Hdl (GB) (4yo+ 0-150) 3m 24 run
The biggest field of the day thank God, with a load of possible winners. PANDA BOY is favourite on the strength of his 3¼l win LTO over C&D. FUTURUM REGEM was 3rd that day, beaten 4¼l and getting 2lbs. Unless my maths is way off, I think he’s 4lbs in hand. TOP MOON looks ordinary and I suspect might not like the ground. COBBLER’S WAY was switched to chasing at Punchestown in December where he finished three counties back. He’s returned to hurdling having been startled back to attention, and it is worth remembering he was a 14/1 shot for the Albert Bartlett last March when he pulled up after a very rough race. This is a much, much easier challenge and his Leopardstown form includes beating Longhouse Poet LTO over the course, who has since won the Thyestes at Gowran Park. DUNBOYNE was running as well as any LTO over C&D in December but clattered the 2nd last and then was badly hampered by a horse unseating. Despite losing momentum and being checked and impeded at least twice more, he was still pushing to get to the line. I wonder whether this is an attempt to pick up a big enough mark to guarantee him entry to The Pertemps for which he is qualified but by no means guaranteed a slot.
DUNBOYNE 1 pt Win – COBBLERS WAY ½
pt e/w – FUTURUM REGEM ½ pt e/w
2:55 SANDOWN Virgin Bet Heroes Hcap Hdl (G3) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m7½f 18 run
There are a lot here with a chance – so given the hour, I shall simply say what I fancy. GREEN BOOK looked to be going as well as any when 9/2 JF in The Lanzarote LTO, when being bought down by a faller. The longer trip will be no issue. THE BRIMMING WATER’s form includes
beating the odds-on Skelton nag Unexpected Party who has since gone on to win at Ascot. Yes, it was a sloppy jumping mistake that gave THE BRIMMING WATER the race, but that is factored into what I consider a generous price. There is a lot of focus on REE OKKA , but Harry Fry also runs IF THE CAP FITS who is a proper horse. He wears first-time blinkers today and is worth a small e/w punt.
GREEN BOOK 1½ pts Win – THE BRIMMING WATER ½ pt e/w – IF THE CAP FITS ¼pt e/w
Please Note: there are 7 places with Skybet and 6 with Paddy Power, Betfred and WHill
3:15 LEOP’ Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup (G1) (5yo+) 3m½f 8 run
A cracking race – but where’s the value? So it turns out on the trends that 9yo’s have won 5 of the last 8 renewals of this which fits DELTA WORK. Gordo is putting on 1st time cheepieces, having removed the usual hood LTO. After that race, Gordo said no more headgear ever.He behaved like that once before in a G1 Chase and that was when Outlander won The Down Royal Champion Chase in 2017. Otherwise, I think KEMBOY could win this.
DELTA WORK 1pt e/w (4 places with Skybet)
3:30 SANDOWN Virgin Bet Masters Hcap Chs Cl2 (5yo+) 3m 8 run
DEISE ABA loves this track, (form figures 3R 2W 1P) – the place being a nose-second to Highland Hunter in December’s London National. The Welsh National was too far for him LTO but he is now only 2lbs over that second place here in December, he has solid form credentials and is a working man’s e/w bet.
DEISE ABA 1 pt e/w
3:45 MUSSELBURGH bet365 Edinburgh National Hcap Chs Cl2 (5yo+ 0-150) 3m7½f 7 run
MIGHTY THUNDER won this last year before taking the Scottish National. Tom Scudamore partners and he has just 4lbs more to carry which won’t stop him.
MIGHTY THUNDER 1 Win
3:50 LEOP’ Paddy Power “I’m Never Going Back To The Office” Hcap Chs (GB) (5yo+ 0-150) 2m1f 9 run
A WAVE OF THE SEA ½ pt e/w
4:25 LEOP’ Goffs Future Stars (C & G) I.N.H. Flat Race (G2) (4-7yo) 2m RTV 7 run
1 pt TREBLE
- 1:15 SAND. GUNSIGHT RIDGE
- 2:20 SAND. L’HOMME PRESSE
- 4:25 LEOP. FACILE VEGA
Total Stake 21 pts