A slightly ethereal conversation this morning with Madame, who posed the question: “Is it possible, that we might both have died from Covid, and that we have simply gone on as Ghosts in another dimension – unaware of our real state.”
Furrowed in brow, I asked her if she was having a total meltdown. Of course, one should never ask those sorts of questions because, as wily barristers have always taught their pupils, do not ask unless you know the answer. Often, indeed, the respondent will pretend everything is hunky-dory or take offence at the impertinence. In this case, Madame established her bona fides pretty quickly, by punching me unplayfully in the head, and told me not to be so bloody rude. Thus we settled down to the Marmite and home-made Preserved Lemon marmalade, (in hindsight, a recipe that probably needed more thought and most of the sharp edges removing) and discussed her concept.
In a way she was right. If you haven’t seen anyone for ages, then it is quite hard to prove your existence. As she said, “No wonder the dog keeps whining for more food – it hasn’t been fed since we died!” In the end, we agreed that the loss of £26.42p from the Bet365 account was pretty well in line with normal life and that an article I had written on the unstoppable approach of the Biometric ID Card in the next 24 months, suggested I was involved, probably unwisely, in helping the nation to move forward. Rather sweetly – for several nanoseconds – the conversation moved on to her thoughts on whether we were in heaven or hell. She opined that it could be Heaven and gave me one of her Lovey-Dovey looks, which like Richmal Crompton’s William, I have firm views on.
As an aside, and by no means in a Cavalier manner, I have always rather regarded membership of The Catholic Church, as being similar to one of the Life Memberships, one accumulated to some of the more exotic London’s hotspots in the 70s and 80s, and few of which saw the 90s. I am comfortable with my membership and assume that, provided it hasn’t closed its doors, that there was a seat at the Bar St Pierre. But into my mind, as the conversation and Preserved Lemon Marmalade flowed, came the unbidden concept of the other less attractive bars that KCMG (Kindly Call Me God) runs. So the response to the cooing suggestion that this could be Heaven was probably not best served by reminding her of the Catholic obsession with Purgatory. Again with hindsight, I should have kept that to myself, so I left my English Breakfast before the second punch arrived.
You might recall last week, my postbag contained a letter from Mrs Trellis of North Wales. This confused many of you, so I sent him some of the letters Mrs Trellis had written to the finest radio show ever written, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue. Mrs. Trellis’ creator Iain Pattinson sadly died from leukaemia, the day after Mrs T’s letter to Raceweb. He had written for the show since 1993, and among his many creations was Samantha, who kept the score for Humphrey Lyttleton and who was constantly off on some quest for the Chairman. As with all things Beeb, the stupid bureaucrats tried to kill off the 3m listeners they did have for the one feminist who no longer listened because of Samantha, who faced the possibility of being in every sense “No-platformed”. She survived because, as Humph declared: “She is a lady, who has scored on more desks than she can remember.”
These are a few moments from Samantha and Iain’s life together:
- Samantha has just started keeping bees and already has three dozen or so. She says she’s got an expert handler coming round to give a demonstration. He’ll carefully take out her 38 bees… and soon have them flying around his head
- Samantha is a qualified croupier and often works at an exclusive Soho club where gamblers pay top money to play roulette all day and poker all night.
- Samantha has to nip out now as she’s off to the pictures with a couple of gentlemen friends who are horror movie enthusiasts. Samantha says she enjoys nothing better than sitting in the back row and being given the willies for 90 minutes.
- Samantha is off on a dinner date with a gentleman friend from Moscow who’s brought over a variety of caviars and an array of vodka-based aperitifs. She says he’s going to offer her delicious food in his hotel room and then liquor out on the balcony.
- Samantha tells me she’s off with a team of local paramedics this evening. They’re so excited at the thought, they just can’t wait for her to arrive so they can get their ambulance and stretcher out for the night.
- Samantha has to nip out now with her new gentleman friend. Apparently, they’ve been working on the restoration of an old chest of drawers. Samantha is in charge of polishing, while he scrapes the varnish and wax off next to her
- Samantha tells me she has to nip out now as she’s been invited to an exclusive club to meet a group of aristocrats. She’s very excited to see where all the big knobs hang out. She says at such a posh function she and the other girls will probably end up trying to speak with plums in their mouths.
- Samantha is off to sample some beers and whiskies at the Radio 2 party. She says she expects to enjoy having a pint and a stiff Johnny Walker chaser.
- Samantha is off on a tour of the Lake District with a naturist gentleman friend who wants to strip off at Keswick and Cockermouth.
I count seeing “Humph” in the Chair at Reading for a live recording, as one of the high points of my cultural life, alongside seeing Sir Malcolm “Flash Harry” Sargent walk on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in 1967 for his final Last Night; and George Thoroughgood live at Hammersmith Palais. Less culturally important, but I still care to remember, that today sees the final rounds of The Prada Cup. I wish Sir Ben Ainslie and all involved the very best of British. Samantha told me that she was thinking of taking the sport up, but realised that she would need to be much fitter if she was going to get involved in helping six big men to grind away.
Talking of proving the existence of Purgatory, here are my thoughts on Saturday’s racing:
1:50 ASCOT Bateaux London Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase (G2) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m
The ground has seriously cut back the entries from the five-day stage. FULL BACK remains in, and I did think about tipping him, but I just think this is too tough for him on all known form to date. If I could get 5s I’d have a pop. I think KALOOOKI is well-weighted, but I’m not convinced he can jump under pressure, nor judging by his last race that he favours right-handed courses. I could make a case for SEVARANO based on various ratings and his ability to date, but I need some convincing he’ll get this distance. At 7/2 I’m not interested in finding out. REMASTERED has been poorly-marked by the handicapper and is the lowest-rated horse in this race. If they let him get and stay in the front, he might have the ability to stay there, in what might become a straightforward slog in the mud. I have a sneaking regard for HURRICANE HARVEY in this and we do at least know he’ll get the distance. I think he’s the one with fewest questions and potentially most improvement.
REMASTERED Win – HURRICANE HARVEY e/w – ¼ pt RFC
2:05 HAYDOCK William Hill Rendlesham Hurdle (G2) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m½f
Both EMITOM and LISNAGAR OSCAR arrive here for the first race since having had a wind-op. The former won this last year and has frankly disappointed Chasing. Back hurdling, and solid Festival form, (4th Stayers) he has a chance. The Stayers’ was won by LISNAGAR OSCAR since when he has looked like a horse in need of some sort reclamation. The wind-op might do the job and the price around 7s is of more interest than EMITOM. NTD has popped BALLYOPTIC in here rather than his other entry in the Swinley Chase. Regardless of whether this was a cunning plan or the yard team pressed the wrong mouse button, I simply don’t see this as a reawakening of his former greatness. DONNAS DIAMON won this in 2018, was 2nd last year and first-time cheekpieces might produce another surprise. I don’t think ITCHY FEET will manage this slog, and I think he needs shorter, ON THE BLIND SIDE has every chance, but is too short – unless it goes bottomless, which will suit him more on current form, than many of the others. The one that I feel is the best value, is MAIN FACT, who flopped LTO, but who I think will bounce back at around 13/2.
MAIN FACT e/w
2:25 ASCOT “My Oddsboost” On Betfair Swinley Hcap Chase Cl1 (5yo+) 3m
I think JP could win this. JERRYSBACK had been off for some time but came back here last month to finish a decent 3rd behind Dashel Drasher in a C2 Handicap, and the extra couple of furlongs and the ground will all suit. Trained by Philp Hobbs, he does not have a lot of competitive miles on the clock and he and REGAL ENCORE who have met before might well end up in a tussle which will do neither of them any good. I think the latter is capable of springing a surprise, but not on my wallet. I could make a case for CAPTAIN CHAOS, who reverted to blinkers again LTO which seemed to sharpen up his act. With a refocused mind and if he is allowed to command from the front, he could be a tasty winning price. The other than interest me is Venetia Williams YALLTARI who has run well here over the distance and is now 2lbs lower than his last winning mark. I should like to see him close up to Captain Chaos and the two of them to tackle whatever tries to get past.
CAPTAIN CHAOS e/w – YALLTARI e/w
2:40 HAYDOCK William Hill Grand National Trial Hcap Chs (G3) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m4½f
This should be a cracking race and there are plenty of trends to confuse the player. My interpretation of the trends leaves me with THE TWO AMIGOS and NOTACHANCE. Given that the favourite has only obliged twice in the last ten years I might skip the latter, who make no mistake has a very good chance. THE TWO AMIGOS was 4th in this last year and he was only beaten 3l in the Welsh National by Secret Reprieve who was very well handicapped. Have a look at him today when he’s jumping. He really does seem to be smiling with pleasure at just being allowed to have a race over fences. If I have a fear it is RAMSES DE TEILLEE making a comeback. He ran like a three-legged dog in The Becher and The Welsh National and is capable of so much more. He’s only 3lb higher today than when he beat Yala Enki at the Festival, and I am assuming he doesn’t need a 2nd wind-op.
THE TWO AMIGOS e/w
3:00 ASCOT Betfair Cheltenham Free Bet Pot Builder Hcap Hurdle Cl2 (4yo+) 2m3½f
This looks complicated – it isn’t. ARRIVEDERCI meets all the key trends and has some decent races including a second to a very decent Henderson runner LTO.
3:18 WINCANTON Betway Kingwell Hurdle (G2) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m7½f
Forget GOSHEN who has suddenly started looking unlucky and needs to be 9/2 to be of interest. The favourite SONG FOR SOMEONE shouldn’t be beatable given how much he improved last season. In December at Cheltenham, he gave Silver Streak a nose beating – with that one going on to take The Christmas Hurdle by 7 lengths from Epatante. Great stamina and doesn’t waste time in the air.
SONG FOR SOMEONE Win
3:35 ASCOT Betfair Ascot Chase (G1) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m5f
CYRNAME should win this on trends but as usual, he arrives here with something of a shadow over him. He fell in this when 4/11 fav, pulled up in King George and in between won The Charlie Hall. His stable companion MASTER TOMMY TUCKER has done nothing but improve all season and given the uncertainties and his innate abilities – witness his 12l Kempton victory at Kempton LTO he could take this. DASHEL DRASHER interest me with his front-running style and his good C&D form.Lets dutch the two for 4pts
MASTER TOMMYTUCKER – DASHEL DRASHER dutched to win for 4pts