A quiet lunch in East Garston, where I see the shoot wagon bringing in hungry souls all sporting long woollen socks and rather bizarrely in one case a pair of Gucci deck shoes. Dinner with friends including my chum Carlisle, in a pub in the Filkins where a log fire blazes. I call him Carlisle after the famous Carlisle Pier in Dún Laoghaire, the departure point of hundreds of thousands of emigrants that left Ireland from 1859. I think I might call all Irish Peers Carlisle to avoid confusion. I digress – and it is late. I am now at that point mentally, when I’m ready for a change. I’ve worn a thick sweater for a week now, the fires have been lit, the radiators radiate from 7:00 pm until 11:00 pm and the electric (is there a gas-fired model?) blanket soothes. The passing of The Arc, this weekend’s Champion’s Day and the impending Breeders Cup all scream Le Fin de Saison. Goodbye straw, hello tweed. Spads – pah, Wellies – Huzzah. Coupled with this annual change in temperature, sport, drinks, food, is the monumental challenge of The Move.
In 2000BC it must have been a relatively simple experience. “Do you want to buy my Cave?” “Yes, if it doesn’t have Dragons in it” “It doesn’t and I want Zelda, two goats and a spear”. “I’ll give you three goats, a spear and Darren.” “He’s a bloke!” “Well yeah – but two of the Goats are Nannies.” “Done”. Pretty simple stuff compared to modern times. Yesterday, Mr Bumble’s Eye of the Needle came firmly home to roost when Sue, Grabbit and Run, Counsel for the Purchasers, demanded to know via a 20-page document, (amongst many things already answered in earlier 30-page documents), whether the party of the third part had recently decided to complain about the fact that the grass on our side was greener than on theirs and did we consider this to be an issue. Sadly I had to tell them that I didn’t know, didn’t care, didn’t want to find out and that it was time for the party of the second part to crap or get off the pot, as my old Poker chums might have said. Then, by way of a PS, SGR added the statement (as opposed to a request), that it would be convenient if we could bring the moving date forward to the end of the month! Whoa, we haven’t even got to the name of the goats yet.
Everywhere I turn I hear the same story. SGR, All lawyers including those for the Timpsons and The Gentry and every form of humanity in between, now spend huge amounts of time ensuring that SGR cannot be sued for a failure of duty – and this added weight of responsibility simply adds to the client’s bill. We now live in a world in which you can be sued for falling apples or inadvertent snaps from doorbell cameras – I kid you not – and lose your case and ALL your money.
Talking of donkeys and of you losing your money, here are a few thoughts on some racing tomorrow and on an ante-post market.
While I was watching the racing last weekend I had my tablet open and heard Aiden saying that Tenebrism was more likely to be rested than to go to Del Mar for the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf despite being a top bet in the ante-post market. Almost immediately afterwards, Wild Beauty, who is also among the favourites for the BCJFT, ran fifth in the Fillies Mile at Newmarket. Surely I thought, she can no longer be considered a proposition for contention. But according to my tablet, the market never moved. That being the case I did a bit of research and have had a small 20/1 bite at CAIRO MEMORIES with Paddy Power. This is a decent horse and we can lay her off on the night when I expect her to be running at around 13/2.
1:25 ASCOT QBC Long Distance Cup (G2) Cl1 (3yo+) 2m
Firstly let me make it clear, I love STRADIVARIUS (4/1) and he has always surprised and delighted me and thousands of global fans with his gutsy, relentless zest for racing. But he is not the force of old and if he were a boxer, I’d be taking his manager for a stiff talking to. I’m always fond of horses that have performed well for us, and BERKSHIRE ROCCO’s 16/1 Leger second last year still stays in the mind. Slightly easier ground and first-time cheekpieces will I hope see an improvement that makes his current price way too big. HAMISH (4/1) is an obvious contender having already beaten Hukum (won the Cumberland lodge in September), and his mark of 111 is probably an underestimate now, but he hasn’t got many miles on the clock and could prove troublesome to TRUESHAN, who might find the ground a little less than perfect – and yes I am clutching at straws. Anthony Mullins sends PRINCESS ZOE (12/1) who was a 7¾l; 5th behind TRUESHAN (15/8 fav) at Longchamps on that dreadful ground in the Cadran. BARON SAMEDI won the Belmont Gold Cup in June on the rain-softened ground over this distance and has an excellent 50% strike rate including over the distance. However, I do like Joseph O’Brien’s other runner MASTER OF REALITY who is entirely the wrong price at 50/1. No, he’s not won above Group 3 but he is consistent, handles any ground, and you can get 4 places with several bookmakers.
MASTER OF REALITY (4 places at 50/1 with William Hill) e/w – BERKSHIRE ROCCO (4 places at 16/1 with William Hill). The two with TRUESHAN and HAMISH in a ¼pt CFC
2:00 ASCOT QBC Sprint Stakes (G1) Cl1 (3yo+) 6f
As the Jockey’s Championship reaches its climax, we’re all going to be keeping an eye out on the progress of the two contenders. William Buick must have a chance with CREATIVE FORCE who was 2nd favourite for Haydock’s Sprint Cup when he almost fell over as the gates opened – going right down on his nose. Given that start, he actually ran a good race and was the second favourite for a reason. 13/2 with Paddy Power for five places is generous. ART POWER is a deserving favourite and if the six QBC sprint races to date count as a set of trends, then Art Power meets them all. THUNDER MOON must surely be here to help increase his forthcoming stud value, which suggests a better than fifth is expected. On his best form, he’d have a chance and 25/1 seems generous. the ground shouldn’t be an issue and his Head second in the G1 Prix Jean Prat in July at Deauville displayed his liking for cut. ROHAAN and DRAGON SYMBOL both benefit from ability and top jockey bookings, but I’m taking a punt on a long shot for place value.
THUNDER MOON e/w (28/1 for 5 places generally)
2:35 ASCOT QBC Fillies & Mares Stakes (G1) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m4f
Surely this is a straight punch-up between SNOWFALL and ALBAFLORA, the Yorkshire Oaks 1-2? But you would then be assuming that the Arc race on that bottomless ground against boys didn’t take it out of SNOWFALL and that the 3lbs difference won’t matter and that she looked brilliant over C&D earlier in the year.
3:10 ASCOT Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Sponsored By Qipco) (G1) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m
As above – there are several reasons why PALACE PIER might not hose this. His only defeat to date came in this race last year when he was odds-on. BAEED is the talking horse amongst people in white coats with slide rules and brains the size of planets. On a line through this, they say, and then perhaps that, they mutter, there might be 1lb – possibly 2lbs in it, but they can’t be certain because BAEED might be improving but then PALACE PIER is the “best miler I have ever sat on” according to his pilot. No, I don’t know either… so instead I’d either swerve the entire race, if you can’t see past those two, dutch the pair, which might be sensible, or perhaps back Charlie Appleby’s MASTER OF THE SEAS e/w who is a model of consistency and gets 4lbs from the market leaders, and who was a head-second in the 2000 Gns. Seven horses have won the double of the 2000 Gns and the QEII and his last run was a battle with Oisin Murphy who effectively took MOTS’ racing line LTO.
MASTER OF THE SEAS e/w (4 places with Sky at 15/2)
3:50 ASCOT Qipco Champion Stakes (G1) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m2f
IS ADAYER over the Arc? If not will he be capable of repeating his 1¾l beating of MISHRIFF here in the KG&QE Stakes here two back? ADDEYBB won this last year, but has the ground gone against him?
DUBAI HONOUR has been supplemented for this race in the past seven days, and Haggas would not be ignoring an 11lb deficit unless there was a very sound reason. I fancied SEALIWAY a little for the Arc and should have backed him for six places because he travelled well and ran a blinder. The drop in trip will help. I could go on making arguments for most of the rest, but I won’t, because when all is said and done I really think it’s too close to call. Why not just have a glass of wine and watch a cracking race, with some very good horses running in it, for the sheer pleasure of seeing a great race. Just a thought.
4:30 ASCOT Balmoral Handicap (Sponsored By Qipco) Cl2 (3yo+) 1m
It’s a rather interesting end-of-season 20 runner cavalry charge and therefore not one in which I want to be backing 5/2 favourites however well in they might be – and I suspect he is probably still 4lbs ahead of the handicapper after his facile handicap debut win for which he gets 6lbs. His stablemate is KING LEONIDAS who is also too short. If I applied the general profile of the last seven winners to the card I’d be able to cut out at least two-thirds leaving myself with the favourite, NUGGET the third favourite and four others (Nos 10 – 11 – 16 – 17 – 18 – 20). One of those is MARIE’S DIAMOND who was 3rd in the Queen Anne last year, ran well in the Cambridgeshire, and is an attractive price. He also makes a stat that suggests 1-10 would be the best draw (as does NUGGET). Away from the trends, I have a soft spot for David O’Meara’s runners in handicaps and ESCOBAR won this two years ago. His stablemate RHOSCOLYN wouldn’t surprise me either. I suspect I have named the winner above – but maybe not below!
NUGGET Win – MARIES DIAMOND e/w
PS I would be personally thrilled if Sir Busker won for his wonderfully enthusiastic Kennet Valley Syndicate