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25th April 2024 4:49 am

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


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A quiet lakeside retreat – in Rwanda

I am ashamed by the POL-Fujitsu scandal.

My shame stems mainly from thinking this is not how we do things in Blighty. I naively believed we – by which I mean our leaders – would not allow that to happen to people for eighteen months, let alone thirteen years. But my other emotion is of impotent rage because, thanks to my Private Eye subscription, I knew something was wrong a few years ago and again assumed others did too and that it would be “dealt with.” Instead, every person with the power and authority to deal with this quickly did nothing but watch and go “tsk”.

This link [HERE] will allow you to download the Private Eye Horizon report “Justice Lost In The Post”, which I urge you to read and weep.

Simultaneously, I have become appalled by the swathes of grandstanding political Yahoos of every hue, daily demanding action – and inevitably, their numbers far outweigh the very short list of MPs who recognised the stink of corruption and connivance that was taking place and tried to do something about it.

The endless disregard of the Lib Dems, Tories, The Home Office, The CPS, and The Justice Ministry to categorically state their best intentions, their desire to see justice done and yet … “we must await the outcome of the Inquiry in order to deliver the most effective…” Why?

They will do anything except their duty, which is primarily to work in the service of the public and to do it with alacrity. Why?

This Horizon Inquiry started relatively recently, in May 2021 – a mere 2½ years ago, and it sits within a long list of such Inquiries, all seemingly designed to support vast swathes of KCs for whom this is big business. That list (and there are, I think, three more pending) shows: (Inquiry – Called By – Presiding – Started)

  • Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry – Scottish Government – Lady Smith – 17/12/2014

  • Undercover Policing Inquiry – Home Office – Sir John Mitting – 12/03/2015

  • Grenfell Tower Inquiry – Office of Prime Minister – Sir Martin Moore-Bick – 15/6/2017

  • Infected Blood Inquiry – Cabinet Office – Sir Brian Langstaff – 03/11/2017

  • Brook House Inquiry – Home Office – Kate Eves – 05/11/2019

  • Sheku Bayoh Inquiry – Scottish Government – Lord Bracadale – 12/11/2019

  • Scottish Hospitals Inquiry – Scottish Government – Lord Brodie – 03/08/2020

  • Muckamore Abbey Hospital Inquiry – Northern Ireland Executive – Tom Kark KC – 08/09/2020

  • UK Covid-19 Inquiry – Office of Prime Minister – Baroness Hallett – 12/05/2021

  • Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry – BEIS – Sir Wyn Williams – 19/05/2021

  • Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry – Scottish Government – Lady Poole – 24/08/2021

  • Dawn Sturgess Inquiry – Home Office – Lord Hughes of Ombersley – 18/11/2021

  • Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry – DHSC – Geraldine Strathdee – 04/02/2022

  • Omagh Bombing Inquiry – Northern Ireland Office – Lord Turnbull – 09/02/2023

  • Independent Inquiry relating to Afghanistan – Ministry of Defence – Charles Haddon-Cave – 22/03/2023

And here’s the rub.

The very malaise being investigated in the Horizon Inquiry and Grenfell and Covid and Infected Blood Inquiries is depicted and enacted every day at every Inquiry. The key problems – replacing cladding, replacing computer programmes, and taking actions to protect the public- were either not done at all or done so slowly that the issues multiplied and then people died. At the Inquiries, the wrong questions are asked, the outcomes are spun out, the obfustications are endless and banal, and we learn nothing – achieve less – and we do it all so badly and uncaringly.

Britain can’t get anything done, and nobody cares. We can’t build a ship on time or on budget, nor a railway, or a plane. We can’t get a GP appointment, find a Tailor, a Soldier, a Sailor, a Doctor, a Train Driver, a solar panel installer, a fruit picker, or a restaurant waiter. We can’t produce, we can’t build,  we can’t develop.

We can, however, take gap years in our thirties, demand work-life balances that require no work, and ride £3k Pelotons in the privacy of our homes because that way, we can stay in the safe cocoon of doing Feck All. We reward failure, we applaud the stupidity attached to celebrity, and we embrace the lowest common denominator. “Yay – finally we are all equal” thanks to some thirty years of the entirely indistinguishable Blair, Cameron, May and Sunak. We care about Gary Lineker’s views but don’t ask if the BBC works well. We support Junior Doctors getting £20ph but don’t question why we need a £150k pa Diversity Manager. People want to have their weekends free – but demand that someone is there to pour their drinks.

It was probably the giant pothole that nearly scuttled the charabanc in the floods, and the comment that we had last encountered roads this bad in the African bush in ’89, and suddenly, I wondered what the Civil Service is like in Rwanda.

I am reminded of the 1854 Northcote Trevelyan Report, which initiated the development of the apolitical UK civil service, recruiting and promoting on merit rather than as a result of patronage. This line still resonates today:

“Admission into the Civil Service is indeed eagerly sought after, but it is for the unambitious and the indolent or incapable that it is chiefly desired”.

Talking of incapable and desperate to avoid potholes as well as being eagerly sought after, here are my views on the Saturday racing.

1:10 WETHERBY William Hill Towton  Chs (G2) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m3½f ITV4 5 run
There are no trends here, as this was a 3m contest. If the ground has the word Good in it, I’d give Olly Murphy’s CHASING FIRE a chance,  but if the ground remains as is and doesn’t dry out, then I’d fancy TRELAWNE to give COLONEL HARRY a fright.
1:30 KEMPTON New Bet-In-Race With Coral Hcap Chs Cl2 (5yo+ 0-145) 3m ITV4 7 run
CHIANTI CLASSICO makes his handicap debut, and he can win this, based on his debut chase at the beginning of the season at Chepstow. However, Kim is going through a lean patch at the moment. FLEGMATIK looks certain of a podium finish, given his liking for the track and his decent 2nd in a tougher C&D race last Feb. Given his LTO appearance at Ludlow, I also respect the chances of LATITUDE.
1:49 WARWICK Pertemps Network Hcap Hdl Cl2 (5yo+) 3m1f ITV4 8 run
THE BIG BREAKAWAY needs to show his fans that he still has some interest in the game after turning his form line into alphabetti soup. He is decent, and this may get his head straight. If THIRD WIND is fit, you’d have to remember his 2022 victory in this before taking the final at Cheltenham – and from the same mark. KYNTARA has to manage a 6lb rise – but his performances for his new stable (2/2) suggest that might not be too tricky. MARTHA BRAE is also higher (5lbs) but she has the heart of a lioness and will stay all day.
MARTHA BRAE 4 pts e/w
2:07 KEMPTON Coral Silviniaco Conti Chs (G2) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m4½f ITV4 5 run
EDWARDSTONE returns to this distance, and I suspect this is a finger in the water to see if the Ryanair temperature is right. BANBRIDGE is being backed thanks to the drying ground, and PIC D’ORHY is no forlorn hope. NOTLONGTILLMAY makes his graded debut, gets weight all round, and will appreciate the ground. He does not have much to find. JANIDIL is not without hope on his day. Luke Littler would chuck an arrow – but inevitably, I’d miss the board!
2:24 WARWICK Trustatrader Hampton  Chs (G2) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m ITV4 5 run
GREY DAWNING and APPLE AWAY would be my selections, and the latter gets weight from her rivals and so gets the nudge.
APPLE AWAY 6pts Win – 2 pts SFC to beta GREY DAWNING
2:42 KEMPTON Coral Lanzarote Hcap Hdl Cl2 (4yo+) 2m5f ITV4 19 run
NEMEAN LION has previously won the Welsh Champion Hurdle and ran well in The Greatwood Hurdle LTO, coming 5th. That race had some depth to it, with 3rd, 4th and 6th all winning the next time out. The 2nd, Lookaway, also ran well in the Challow. SONIGINO reappears here, but NEMEAN LION now has a 6lb pull at the weights for a ½l defeat. In my mind, however, NL could have won, but for a sloppy jump two out, I think he’s probably closer to 9lbs in hand. IMPOSE TOI is an obvious threat, and going up in the distance might result in more improvement, while UP FOR PAROL is 3 lbs lower than when 3rd in this last year. I do wonder about WONDERWALL, who has historically had something of the plot about him. Gary Moore has got three in this, and he is one whose horses need watching as he works hard at getting his season back on track.
NEMEAN LION 4 pts Win – WONDERWALL 2 pts e/w
3:00 WARWICK Wigley Group Classic Hcap Chs Cl1 (5yo+) 3m5f ITV4 14 run
VOLCANO’s Warwick record is outstanding, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not tipped in the Post. He’s normally seen in lower company, three from 4 C&D starts – his only defeat last year in this race when he came 5th, 16l behind the winner and from 10lbs out of the handicap – tells me all I need to know. He’s out of the handicap again – but this time it’s only 2lbs, and I think he’s well over-priced.
VOLCANO 3 pts e/w
3:35 WARWICK Unibet Veterans’ Hcap Chs Cl2 (10yo+) 3m ITV4 17 run
A dodgy double – 1½ pts e/w WONDERWALL and VOLCANO

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