On Thursday Lockdown 2 started. The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker, all remain open and three Huzzahs for them.
That isn’t however the case for all the places in which I have felt safest, most comfortable and welcomed – and which we will all miss dreadfully. Until someone can produce hard facts that show pubs are epicentres of disease and death, I shall continue to believe they are safer than a school, supermarket, factory, cramped office or any form of public transport. Peter Borg-Neal who many of you will have seen on various news channels, posted this simple picture of one of his 27 pubs, The Cherry Tree in Olney. Hilaire Belloc’s words are a grim reminder of one of our possible futures.
With today’s November Handicap at Donny, the Flat season finishes. A season that restarted just 159 days ago. We never even got the Lincoln which was going to be run on March 28th, 10 days after Lockdown 1 began. Since that sunny June morn, we have seen some fabulous races; marvelled at the rise of women across most aspects of the sport; been disappointed that we should have to marvel at the abnormality of that; sadly lost some very decent horses; discovered some really talented brutes that only cost the bloodstock equivalent of sixpence; and wondered how you can spend £1.2m of punters money on a report that states the obvious. (For more information click HERE to read The Guardian’s comments or HERE for Charlie Brooks in The Telegraph). Next year, perhaps racing’s administrators can include in their planning some nod to the laws of unintended consequences, and stop treating people like numptys. We live in an age of transparency and the public, rightly or wrongly, demand access to those things to which they contribute their time, their support or, however remotely, their cash.
Talking of inappropriate access, as the Actress said to the bishop, here are today’s TV tips – in brief.
1:30 DONCASTER Betfair Wentworth Stakes (3yo+) 6f
I am slightly bewildered by BRANDO, who was the overnight favourite after his nose-second in the Champions Day Sprint. That day he got the pace he needed at his favourite track – and didn’t add to his single win in 19 runs. Not with my money thank you. GULLIVER is next best on my Raceform ratings, and he won York’s Coral Sprint off 102 – his highest-ever winning mark aged six. He’s been given another 7lbs and I just don’t see him as progressive. The favourite is top-weight DAKOTA GOLD and he took BRANDO’s scalp at York in The Bengough G3 Stakes . AMARILLO STAR won his Goodwood 6f Handicap having been off for 225 days. He had been working with Onassis at home, who took the Listed race on that card. and ran far in excess of his mark of 87. He’s 10lb higher now, but he’s probably still well-shy of his true mark. His price looks attractive at 14s. Jamie Spencer might be able to coax a decent e/w race out of SON OR REST who was a DH winner of 2018 Ayr Gold Cup.
AMARILLO STAR e/w – SON OF REST e/w
1:50 WINCANTON Richard Barber Memorial Mares’ Handicap Hurdle Cl2 (4yo+) 2m5½f
CILL ANNA from Paul Nicholls looks as though she has some improvement in her as well as an abundance of stamina and I am tempted by her 5/1 price. There is e/w in ONEOFTHESENIGHTS who is highly regarded by Jamie Snowden. She is 4/4 in the UK and her September french race was no disgrace.
CILL ANNA Win – ONEOFHTESENIGHTS e/w
2:05 DONCASTER Betfair Exchange British EBF Gillies Fillies’ Stakes (3yo+) 1m2f
FREYJA is one of those Mark Johnston whizz bangs – hugely progressive and has already got Listed form. She’ll love the ground and will be hard to pass. Now please don’t think me mad, but sometimes we do get it right when we go to the other end of the market – and this is one of those occasions. SALSADA is lightly raced, but when seen she races she does so with confidence and seems easy in herself. She’s still improving and 28/1 is so wrong. She is 18/1 with Bet 365 for six places. GET ON BIG – GET ON EARLY
FREYJA Win – SALSADA e/w
2:25 WINCANTON “Rising Stars” Novices’ Chase G2 (4yo+) 2m4f
Can GRAND SANCY give GA LAW a stone and a beating – don’t pay to find out
2:40 AINTREE williamhill.com Best Odds Guaranteed Hurdle Cl2 (4yo+) 2m4f
CALL ME LORD will be hoping to win this for the same connections as last year’s winner Top Notch. I gather from the yard this has been his early-season target, especially as he goes well fresh. Carpers will point out that he was outclassed in the Champion Hurdle at The Covid Festival, to which I respond that he beat Ballyandy in the International Hurdle last season.
CALL ME LORD Win
3:00 WINCANTON Unibet Elite Hurdle G2 (4yo+) 1m7½f
SCEAU ROYAL won this in 2016 and hes now an 8yo still capable of winning the Welsh Champion Hurdle on his return three weeks ago, after a wind operation. I’m assuming he’ll go for the Tingle Creek, but en route this looks entirely feasible.
SCEAU ROYAL Win
3:15 DONCASTER Betfair November Handicap Cl2 (3yo+) 1m4f
Certainly more complicated to work out than the previous races, DASH OF SPACE must have a chance especially as that old fox David Elsworth trains him. He’s got Tom Marquand again after his second here LTO when beaten by TULIP FIELDS who he is now weighted to beat. With his track record in this, you have to respect Ian Williams and his favourite KINGBROOK. Silvestre De Sousa had been booked for INDIANAPOLIS whose various lines of form suggest he has e/w potential here.
DASH OF SPICE e/w – INDIANAPOLIS e/w
3:35 WINCANTON Badger Beers Silver Trophy Handicap Chase (4yo+ 0-155) 3m1f
PRESENT MAN had failed to finish a race for almost 2 years but he won well LTO at Chepstow, after almost a year off. He won this in 2018 and 2017 but I thought it was a hard race LTO. POTTERMAN and JUST A STING are sensible prices and a wild card in this could be KITTYS LIGHT who benefits from a 5lb claim.
POTTERMAN e/w – JUST A STING e/w – KITTY’S LIGHT e/w