What Ho, Ho, Ho. Yes, it’s true, Capt. Grumpy is becoming imbued with the spirit of Christmas, and is increasingly affectionate with small mammals, children, and even government statisticians. Before we go much further let me immediately say to you all, please have
A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS
and I wish you and yours as good a time as it is possible to have. Apparently there is a kindly bone in my body and at Christmas time, I can be caring and considerate – if pushed.
Obviously one must draw the line somewhere. It wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of Grinching after all, and as I write the Awards season is finally almost over. It is to be hoped that most of those tired and sad productions are heading for Tier 16 never, please God, to be seen again. Indeed, in the main, they have been lazy and incompetent examples of work by Couldn’t Giveatoss Ltd. By way of example, SPOTY was a wake-up call to the BBC – surely? They must see that a man who sells crisps and used to kick a football, but for some reason thought a lavatory roll was an amusing alternative, is now past his charm sell-by date? Ms Logan similarly smacked of who-cares-but-thanks-for-the-money; while La Balding was wearing a jacket made by Mort par Beige and looked, poor girl, like someone waiting for a better script to arrive.
La Balding reminded me of the story of Maggie Smith in Ronald Harwood’s play Interpreters – not one of Harwood’s runaway successes. One night during the run, Harwood made the mistake of putting his head round Smith’s door. “Hello Ronnie,” she enquired coldly, “and what are you up to now?” “Struggling with a new play, darling,” Harwood replied. “Aren’t we all?” was Smith’s devastating reply.
There was yet another girl who perhaps I was supposed to know, and who had been chosen because in BBC-land the proportion of women to men is 3-1. (There are also various other ratios at play – see if you can spot them). The SPOTY producers also decided to engage in a series of Woke and Mindful messages designed to prove how BBC people are part of a bigger community and none of “us” are. The result was inevitable and the proof of their cold and joyless pudding, was that the audience’s exodus during the programme, was rapid.
The Lesters Awards show was also on and required Luke Harvey and Jason Weaver to sit on a sofa, winding each other up over their glory-days, reading out the nominees and then Zooming over to the winners. The production values were such, that I seriously thought it was a recording with the guys giving us their own light-touch reprise of what must surely have been the real thing. No, this was the real thing and it was like watching Not-Very-Celebratory Gogglebox. I don’t expect them all to behave like BBC announcers of the 1950s, but at least differentiate it from any other show. It’s important because they are, after all, AWARDS. Send an advanced note to the nominees, tell them to make an effort and not turn up in a pair of Jim Jams – and have something to say prepared. As for the presenters, why not stand as you would have had to do if you’d been presenting it at the Savoy – and producers give them a bigger screen and some glitz. Do some bloody rehearsal. It was all so tired and somehow sad, and people like Hollie Doyle deserve much better – especially from the BBC – whose interest in and support for racing is nil.
Otherwise, all is well with the world. Today is prep day, where I shall make the Turkey stock from the giblets and soffrito, par-boil the spuds, prep the sprouts, make the Chestnut crumble for the sprouts and do the cranberries in Sloe Gin. Then Midnight Mass, Mince Pie, glass of Old Bual and schlaff. Turkey in 09:00 and then kick around until the bubble arrives.
Talking of Greeks bearing gifts, (Bubble & Squeak geddit), here are some tips for the next couple of days.
1:15 KEMPTON Play Ladbrokes 5-A-Side On Football Novices’ Limited Hcap Chs Cl3 (4yo+ 0-140) 2m4½f
Forecast rain is, one suspects, the reason behind the favouritism for ALNADAM, who has never raced on anything other than Soft or Heavy. However, the Clerk of the Course believes he’ll get Good to Soft at worse and that must raise a concern – especially with ALNADAM’s 8lb rise. I think we can ignore the chasing debutantes and those that have met and been well-beaten by the favourite. I like the look of GETAREASON who cocked it up LTO over C&D, when clattering the third-last, which cost him valuable ground and momentum. He briefly came back onto the bridle, but he was playing catch up from that point and was gradually seen off – caught for third in the final stride. He gave every impression of being able to win that and he returns with no penalty for this marginally tougher event. Overnight HOLD THE NOTE has been shaved from 9s to 7s and might well shorten further. He ran in this last year, and had to pull up after a faller almost bought him down. OK He’s 7lbs higher than in that race, but he’s also 5lb lower than his 12½l 3rd in the Listed Festival Handicap on the first day. The ground that day was Soft/Heavy, and his performance was slightly laboured. If it rains and the ground is Soft, I wouldn’t be having him.
GETAREASON e/w – HOLD THE NOTE e/w – Do the pair with the favourite in RFCs
1:50 KEMPTON Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chs (In Memory Of Nigel Clark) (G1) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m
Dan Skelton’s SHAN BLUE looks a very tough nut to crack here. She won by 16l at Wetherby beating a winner since. (SNOW LEOPARDESS who is the current favourite for the Rowland Meyrick in the next televised race.) Her Chasing debut, saw her win by 14l. My only concern is that he fails a stat held by the last 14 winners, that they all raced in a Class 3 or better LTO. If I applied all the stats I’d have to give KALOOKI an e/w shout, in the hope that his sometimes erratic jumping style has been improved. He is, by any, measure the wrong price at anything over 10/1 for 3 places.
SHAN BLUE win – KALOOKI e/w
2:05 WETHERBY William Hill Rowland Meyrick Hcap Chs (G3) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m
Just caught on the line LTO, THE DUTCHMAN is up four pounds for that, but connections have added cheekpieces and combined with the ground, his fondness for the track and lack of miles on the clock, 9/1 with Bet365 looks very sexy indeed. Also at around 9s is the Kim Bailey trained WANDRIN STAR who is having his 2nd run after a wind-op and his mark of 141 suggests he is better than most. looks likely to give a good account of himself. His mark of 141 marks him down as a fair chaser and he is only 6lbs shy of his last winning mark. Today will be his 2nd run after a wind operation. His odds of 9/1 look generous.
THE DUTCHMAN e/w at anything better than 15/2 – WANDRIN STAR e/w anything better than 8s.
2:25 KEMPTON Ladbrokes Christmas Hdl (G1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m
It’s a simple statement, but surely true, that EPATANTE is the best 2m hurdler in the UK. She’s won 7 of her 8 races to date, 4 of them Grade 1s. The Champion Hurdle winner last season, put in a dazzling display LTO in the Fighting Fifth. OK, her life was made easier by what looked like the Agincourt field behind her. However, even those not involved in the carnage were simply thrashed in no more than a dozen strides, as she engaged one of the many gears. She won this race last year, and looks impossible to oppose, BUT the risk reward ratio is wrong for me, because there might be a reason she doesn’t finish. She’s effectively 4/1 on and a loose horse, a scream from the stands as an axe murderer runs amok having self-administered his vaccination bought on line from the Wuhan Bat Company, or any of another million possibilities, might upset the apple cart. Instead, I shall watch and admire and might for sport put BALLYANDY in for 2nd place in a SFC.
EPATANTE Win – BALLYANDY 2nd 2pt SFC
3:00 KEMPTON Ladbrokes King George VI Chs (G1) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m
Paul Nicholls runs both CYRNAME and CLAN DES OBEAUX and inevitably they head the market. He also adds FRODON and REAL STEEL, in case he leaves some prize monies lying around. The current favourite is CLAN DES OBEAUX at around 2/1 with CYRNAME drifting to 11/4. The latter is rated 5lb superior to CLAN DES OBEAUX, however splitting the pair is the supplemented SANTINI. Henderson’s charge is probably best not judged on his return LTO in the Many Clouds at Aintree, where so many fences were dolled off because of the low-sun. In other words it was no test. He had bypassed the Betfair Chase and had had a racecourse gallop at Newbury, but all in all he still hasn’t been tested – and this race too is an afterthought, having not been entered for it in the first place. LOSTINTRANSLATION was pulled up in this last year and as a result underwent a wind-op, meaning that he turned up fresh as a daisy in The Gold Cup, coming a very acceptable 1¾l 3rd. The yard is not in the finest form, but he has fabulous figures on G/S ground of 2231213, five of which were G1 or G2 races and 7/1 might turn out to be value.