Just one more day of potentially impactful racing at the home of NH racing, for which I have just two tips.
The purists amongst you will point out the May Hunters meeting, but in reality, that is a posh Point to Point, but with more expensive drink. I used to go to that meeting primarily because I had access to the Channel 4 hospitality box – and in May 2000, I invited my chum Dorian Manville-Hales to join me there for a summer’s evening of fun, easy punting.
Dorian informed me rather grandly that, luckily, he was in a syndicated horse which was entered in a Class H (I didn’t even know there was such a thing) at that same meeting. It was called Northern Bluff and was trained by Charlie Deutsch’s dad. Johny and I was thus blessed, he told me, because graciously, Dorian would OK it for me to join them in the parade ring. Knowing JD, who can make narcolepsy look like St Vitus dance, I did not hold out much hope but kept my counsel as, by now, Dorian had invited his mother and various others to join him in his box.
The day came, the evening was jolly, and the time came for saddling. I could sense some nervousness, so I wisely held back and went into the parade ring by way of the changing room, joining one of the Stewards to watch proceedings from the side. It became apparent as we looked on that [a] no jockey had appeared and [b] no horse had appeared, and [c] Dorian looked like a hay box with a thunder flash locked inside. Not untypically for a Hunter Chase meeting, the jockey had fallen off in the previous and not been picked up, having set off up the course after his horse. Johny had forgotten some tack in the car a ¼ mile away, and nothing could be done about Dorian.
Having pointed out to the Steward that they couldn’t start the race anyway as there was still a horse and a jockey out on the course somewhere, I slipped away back to the box. By the time I got back to the box, all parties had been reunited, and it was time for a punt.
I backed a horse called Shafi, who had the highest RPR in the race, was trained by Steve Flook, who I rate as a trainer of Hunter Chasers, and was a sensible price of 8/1. To be honest, I went large e/w on The Tote and then – and only because there is a God and he has a sense of humour – stuck in Dorian’s Northern Bluff at 25/1 and backed that e/w and in a reverse forecast.
I watched the race with Dorian’s mother and agreed that we would stay schtum whatever the outcome. God said, “Let the be light”, and there was, with Northern Bluff coming in some 12 lengths behind in second place. The forecast paid £796, and the win paid £7; the places £2 and £9.10. Dorian was thrilled. JD was thrilled. The syndicate members were thrilled. Their horse had won over £850 at Cheltenham, and there was quite a lot of chat about how to judge horses in the sales ring and being able to choose a jockey because of their tactical abilities etc. Sometimes things are best left unsaid.
The inestimable Captain Mark Smyly, who has run The Lambourn Open Day since Noah left the Ark badly parked, sent me a note saying that if he saw any readers at The Lambourn Open Day on Friday, he would of course stand them a bottle of the very finest. The sun is set to shine all day on The Peter O’Sullevan Lambourn Open Day at Lambourn on Good Friday, and all the yards will be open in the morning. In the afternoon, there will be masses of fun events, including camel racing and a Show Jumping competition which will feature AP McCoy against the last two amateurs to win the Grand National, Marcus Armytage and Sam Waley-Cohen as well as Jamie Osbourne and Nico de Boinville who will be making up the also-rans! Additionally, the crews that took part in the Aid Convoy to Ukraine will be there, answering questions and generally looking understandably knackered. The Lambourn Valley Housing Trust, Thames Valley Air Ambulance and other worthy local charities will benefit from the monies raised on the day. Tickets cost £15 for the whole day and £10 for the afternoon with entry free for under-12s. It is extraordinarily kid-friendly, but bring a pram for toddlers if the steam runs out.
No need to look up the tips on site –
4:25 Cheltenham THE GLANCING QUEEN 5pts win
5:00 Cheltenham MULLENBERG £4 pts win
2 pts win double
Have a very Happy Easter.