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

The Aga Can’t.

Capt. Kneesup

Capt. Kneesup

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For a brief and glorious moment, I truly thought I was home free. Arriving back last night to Camp Tamarkan, the temperature was slightly north of melted engine block territory but I brushed it aside knowing that I had less than a week to go before The Aga was switched off and removed.

The financial blow this will inflict on Vlad the Impaler cannot be overstated, and indeed the banking system in the UK might well sense some easing in the National Debt. No longer will the entire output of Russian Gas be bypassed through our Aga and into the atmosphere. I accept that I will lose the ability to take a piece of oven liner, slap it onto the top of the Mary Berry equivalent of Chernobyl and cook four rashers, an egg, two Portobellos and a tomato, without the need to get a pan dirty or the use of oil. But apparently, and according to wrist gizmo, this will be a good thing. A chilled banana and some Special K beckons instead until……

Until the wretched, bloody, AgasRUs cancelled the collection next week. They called my mobile while I was with the Osteopath and foolishly I took it and froze in rictus shock, anguish and disbelief – causing further expensive damage to the fine-tuned muscular-skeletal frame that houses and supports the Kneesup temple. Backcracker was thrilled. He can now educate his children at Eton instead of Stowe.

Some of you will have moments where you remember key life-changing moments and where you were when you heard the news. Kennedy’s assassination came when watching television with our Aussie Nannie who made Arnie Schwarzenegger look a little understated. She burst into tears and looked quite girly very briefly. Princess Diana’s death was after The Lambourn Ball at Nicky Henderson’s, and we had a houseful of people who were terribly drunk We had to drink ourselves back to sobriety until about five and then went back into PR mode. At midday, we were back at Nicky’s for The Seven Barrows lunch where we had two minutes of silence.

I’m not putting those two moments on a par with the news that the Aga was remaining. Today’s call was much, much worse. I went back to the furnace and spent the rest of the day watching Frankie having a truly miserable day as well.

Talking of truly miserable and much worse compared to the past – here are Friday’s Ascot selections.

PS: Do not expect much change for Saturday. I am lunching with Doolin and several of his mates – I can hear the train crash from here!

FRIDAY JUNE 17th

ALBANY STAKES – Group 2, 6f, 2yo fillies

The trends reduce the field to 5 from 11, which is pretty small for this Ascot pipe-opener. In racecard order they are BELIEVING – CATHY COME HOME – FULLY WET – LAND OF SUMMER – QUEEN OLLY. If Frankie has had a good night’s sleep and is over what effectively looked like a case of the yips,  I’d fancy his chances on FULLY WET. BELIEVING was 4¾l behind MAWJ, the favourite for this race, in a Newmarket 6f novice and then nine days later came out again at Wolverhampton where she went off the hot odds-on order of the day. However, rearing when the stalls opened, she gave away 10l and did well to win. She ran appallingly, hanging left when she hit the front, but she was probably 10lbs superior to anything there. She is a crazy price! CATHY COME HOME may well find this already too short a distance, but is entitled to take her chance; QUEEN OLLY won her York debut by 3½l and looks a decent type.

BELIEVING 2 pts e/w (5 places with PaddyPower) – FULLY WET 2 pts e/w

COMMONWEALTH CUP – Group 1, 6f, 3yo colts and fillies

This is probably one of the best races of the week and important on a number of fronts. It has rapidly established itself as the leading sprint race in breeding terms; it is considered so important that it has been described as the fifth classic of the season; the competition and form is strong and to date every running has produced at least one winner of a G1 all-age sprint. Probably the best trail is Haydock’s Sandy Lane, and my short list and the market align pretty weel with that race. My suggestion is WINGS OF WAR, who won the Mill Reef last year, was 3rd in The Sandy Lane, Clive Cox has had seven runners in the Commonwealth Cup and had a winner and a place from that total. The other to take my eye is TWILIGHT JET who hosed up in the G3 Lacken Stakes at Naas and was slashed at the time from 50s to 14s.

WINGS OF WAR 3 pts e/w – TWILIGHT JET 2 pts e/w (6 places with Skybet)

DUKE OF EDINBURGH STAKES – Handicap, 1m4f, 3yo+

CONTACT 4 pts e/w – STAY WELL 2 pts e/w

CORONATION STAKES – Group 1, 1m, 3yo fillies

INSPIRAL 5 pts win – MANGOUSTINE 3 pts e/w

SANDRINGHAM STAKES – Handicap, 1m, 3yo fillies

Dutch the three of them to 5 pts. At current odds you’ll get around 6/4. FRESH HOPE – HEREDIA – CRENELLE

KING EDWARD VII STAKES – Group 2, 1m4f, 3yo colts and geldings

CHANGINGOFTHE GUARD 4 pts win – To beat  DARK MOON RISING 2 pts – To beat GRAND ALLIANCE 1 Pt

PALACE OF HOLYROODHOUSE STAKES – Handicap, 5f, 3yo

Dutch the pair for 4 pts to get approx 3/1 about your stake. KORKER – LADIES CHURCH

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