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

Punchestown Day 3

Capt. Kneesup

Capt. Kneesup

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Unlike other racing columns, this one is totally transparent in keeping its readers abreast of its own follies. Yesterday, and not to put too fine a point on it, finding winners was easy peasy if you simply stuck to Mullins and ignored most previous form. We had one winner in the outstanding Facile Vega and a couple of places, but otherwise, I would have had more luck if I’d caught a train to Ballantrae, built myself a small coracle from driftwood, rowed across to Larne, caught the bus to Belfast and a train to Dublin, and then hired Tom Clancy and his inestimable Naas taxi service to pick me up and whisk me away to Punchestown, pulled out a pin and jabbed it mindlessly into a passing newspaper. It would have been statistically as likely to find winners and cheaper.

In other words, the effort expended was wasted. However, the day was not entirely lost, as I received a rude email that suggested my tips were without Rhyme or Reason. Crikey, I thought, how rude. What does he mean? So I went on a voyage of discovery.

Sometime around 1588/9, HM ordered her Chancellor, Burleigh, to pay Edmund Spencer, author of the (interminable, 12-book, never-finished) Faerie Queen, the sum of £100, as her favourite poet. Burleigh thought this too much to which HM suggested paying Spencer something within “Reason”. Time passed, nothing came and so Spencer passed this quatrain to the Queen when she was on a Progress.

I was promised on a time
to have reason for my rhyme
From that time unto this season
I received nor rhyme nor reason.

She was so delighted with this, that she immediately got her Treasurer to pay Spenser his £100. This would have been around 1590. BUT, William Shakespeare also uses the line about the same time – initially in Comedy of Errors, 1590:

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE:
Was there ever any man thus beaten out of season,
When in the why and the wherefore is neither rhyme nor reason?

and then, because a good line should never be wasted, he used it again in As You Like It, 1600:

ROSALIND: But are you so much in love as your rhymes speak?
ORLANDO: Neither rhyme nor reason can express how much.

BUT this flurry of “who was first” was almost put to bed by John Russell, in The Boke of Nurture, circa 1460:

As for ryme or reson, ye forewryter was not to blame,
For as he founde hit afore hym, so wrote he ye same.

AND in between times Nicolas Udall, in his translation of the first volume of his paraphrase of Erasmus’ Newe Testament, in 1548, wrote:

Seeyng there is nether ryme ne reason in saing ye one eiuill spirite driueth out an other eiuil spirite.

Now for those of you nodding off in the back row, and wandering what the hell this has to do with racing, I shall tell you. Edmund Spencer is sometimes considered England’s greatest poet, because he invented the Spencerian Stanza (look it up… life’s too short), and his inspiration came from his Italian role model Torquato Tasso, probably one of the most feted and widely studied of all European poets. The winner of last year’s Arc bore his misspelt name, Torquator Tasso… which we backed.

Thus, and praying we today snatch victory from endless defeat, here are the tips (or typos as someone rudely suggested) for Day 3 of the greatest racing Festival (unless you count Galway):

15:40 Specialist Joinery Group Hcap Hdl (88-123) 4YO plus, 27 run, 2m 40y

Harry Fry runs GIN COCO for only his second run of 2022. He’s being backed like a badly kept secret, but it is still a big-field handicap and he has top-weight. OK, he won by 14l LTO but still and all, this seems a stiff test. HISNAMEIS MRDEVITT makes his handicap debut for Peter Fahey and his third LTO in his first-time hood suggested he is an improver. It’s always worth keeping an eye on Tony Martin’s Punchestown handicap runners and GOLF MARIN was, I suspect, meant to win LTO, but had all sorts of traffic problems. The fact that he turns up with the same mark as that 13¼l beating, suggests the handicapper thinks so too. He’s a sensible price. HIDE AND SEEK and FIGUREHEAD both appear high on my ratings.

HISNAMEIS MRDEVITT 1½ pts e/w – GOLF MARIN 2½ pts e/w

16:15 Pigsback.com Hcap Chs 4YO plus, 10 run, 2m

I fancy two: EXIT POLL who likes it quick and has some placed Group form here four starts back and who was pulled up in the Grand Annual after some tack issues and; SIL VER KLASS, Tony Martin’s charge who looks right at the weights and on this ground. MT LEINSTER is the obvious threat.

EXIT POLL and SILVER KLASS 5 pts Dutch Win

16:50 Mongey Communications La Touche Cup Cross Country Chs 5YO plus, 16 run, 4m 2f

Why wouldn’t Enda pop in a 15th victory today with SHADY OPERATOR? He’ll love the ground and he’s two from three over The Banks, but he’s also lugging around 12st 7lbs, as is SINGING BANJO who won this last year. NEVERUSHACON was owned by the late David Scott Reid, who always gave the most fabulous Punchestown party, at which the good and the great and the ordinary and a lot of others would come and drink and eat him out of house and home.  I do hope the syndicate that owns him comprises at least some friends and family because I liked him and the horse enormously. He might be good for a place. TOUT EST PERMIS has got decent historic form (winner of the Troytown Chase and a Thurles G2 chase back in 2019) was third in the 3m1f cross country in February. He was beaten by the two Bolger horses and he’s getting a bit of weight back for his 8½l placing, but his price is too skinny for a horse who was far from fluent over these varied obstacles and his jumping left a lot to be desired when he contested the Becher Chase last year. Christian Williams has sent POTTERS CORNER for a look-see, and he too might make the frame. VITAL ISLAND is attempting a rare double in the Ladies Cup and La Touche. 16s seems quite high, so perhaps a small dabble.

TOUT EST PERMIS 3 pts Win – VITAL ISLAND 1½ pts e/w

17:25 Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hdl (G1) 4YO plus, 7 run, Class 1, 2m 7f 130y

KLASSICAL DREAM Won this last year by a country mile, hacking along and stopping for tea with The Taoiseach en route. However, Gordon Elliott has shown that he wasn’t on form at Cheltenham and thus – having lost money on him – I would so like this to be SIRE DU BERLAIS’ race. He was so much more impressive at Aintree, beating Flooring Porter and is simply the wrong price today. PAISLEY PARK is underestimated at one’s peril, but I do think both he and I are headed in the same direction. Besides which – it isn’t a bottomless swamp.

SIRE DU BERLAIS 3 pts e/w

18:00 Conway Piling Hcap Hdl 4YO plus, 26 run, 2m 7f 130y

MAZE RUNNER 1½ pts e/w – MACS CHARM 2 pts e/w

18:35 Barberstown Castle Novice Chs (G 1) 5YO plus, 6 run, Class 1, 2m

HAUTE EN COULEURS 3 pts win

19:10 Close Brothers Irish EBF Mares Hcap Chs 5YO plus, 12 run, 2m 5f 50y

WESTERN ZARA 3 pts Win – FIVEAFTERMIDNIGHT 1½ pts e/w

19:45 JP & M Doyle Celebrating 70 Years In Business (C & G) Bumper, 11 run, 2m 40y

Willie runs JAMES GATE who won his debut here by 8l and ran a blinder in the Champion Bumper for a podium third. He’s only raced on heavy but his pedigree suggests he’ll cope. TAG MAN is the wrong price for his shown speed to date, and MONBEG PARK is being backed.

TAG MAN 1 pt e/w

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