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13th April 2024 10:12 am

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

The Archers, The Camorra and North Korea

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This last week I found myself moved by various snippets of writing that gave me unexpected pleasure. Among those was a small segment of The Archers in which the subject of miscarriage and stillbirth was discussed. Normally in the Archers, such matters can, and often do,  sound like patronising public service broadcasts for Zombie Aliens. This however was actually a good piece of sympathetic writing that was well acted and which seemed to capture the unimaginable emotional distress and emptiness that the affected parents must feel at such times.

By way of contrast, I also watched some episodes of Gomorrah on Sky. If you have never watched the five series tale of the Camorra, Naples answer to Sicily’s Mafia, you have missed a treat. Gomorrah makes the Godfather look like CBeebies. In this episode, two of the incredibly believable members of the Savostana clan, are on a high-rise landing overlooking the “Blocks” of Scampia, discussing in very clipped and very fast napulitano, how the streets could possibly believe that an old crime boss had been resurrected after having apparently been shot, The man has now been nicknamed “l’Immortale” (The Immortal) on the streets. How, the soldier asks his capo, could anyone believe such a thing? His reply was:

“When lies make love with fear, they become the voice of the people, and the voice of the people is the voice of God”

For a Camorra capo that’s pretty deep stuff, and what a lovely piece of writing for an Italian TV crime show.

Friday’s gem was the Telegraph’s obituary (HERE) of Colonel Tony Aylmer, Irish Guards, who sounded like a very splendid man and like so many Irish Guards, was imbued with great charm and character.
The obit was precise, concise and witty, especially his 1960 jaunt with the Pipes and Drums of 1IG to Rio for the Carnival. His Brazilian jaunt reminded me of the Scots Greys (sorry Royal Scots Dragoon Guards) short unofficial tour of Las Vegas, while “Amazing Grace” was enjoying No1 UK success. A certain officer had suggested to The CO, that the boys were exhausted after their UK promotional tour, which featured many formal and well-policed events, but not much fun. They needed, suggested the OIC, a bit of robust activity to get their heads back into military mode. Good idea said the CO and approved the Pipes and Drums heading off for a mountain-climbing expedition to The Sierra Nevada, less than 180 miles from Las Vegas. It happened that Olly Reed, a great drinking friend of the OIC, happened to be around at the time – quel surprise – and it did not take long for a couple of private gigs to be arranged. The boys were grateful for their additional pay and also paid their respects to the many dancers and showgirls who found them too alluring for words.

Sometimes you can read something that is just so awe-inspiring that the word fabulous in its most literal sense seems insufficient. In the ever-trusted Rondong-Rep-Kp North Korea’s daily news for the independent-minded Korean, I was gratified to read of the “Ground-breaking Ceremony for Construction of 10,000 flats in Hwasong Area” and that “Respected Comrade Kim Jong Un Makes Meaningful Speech at Ceremony“.

The understated report told us that: “…The housing construction projects undertaken by our Party one after another serve as a striking demonstration of the people-first principle and the power of strenuous execution of its Central Committee that subordinates and orients everything to bringing earlier a new world of a prosperous power where the people enjoy the highest dignity and the best happiness. The venue for the ceremony was overflowing with the enthusiasm of the soldier-builders and civilian-builders determined to translate the long-cherished desire of our Party into a brilliant reality …”

Writing like that is rarely seen in the UK. Similarly, Chairman Kneesup has the long-cherished desire to translate our betting bank into a prosperous power, and as he often overflows with enthusiasm, he as always remains keen to see a brilliant reality and accelerated development of things. The Chairman’s orders suggestions are below.


The betting bank remains in profit – by just 2.75 pts, so our 2% maximum total stake is still sitting around the 20 pt mark. Last weekend was poor, and not helped by Paul Nicholls remaining au maison de chien. Meanwhile please remember that while I might tip a horse – I will only be counting the suggested bets for banking purposes.

The morning has been overtaken by the so-nearly-let’s-leave-it-the-girls-tomorrow curling, so briefness prevails.

1:50 ASCOT Bateaux London Reynoldstown Nov. Chs (G2) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m 6 runners

CORACH RAMBLER best bet, but fails on trends. I note ANNUAL INVICTUS is in first-time cheekpieces. JAI FROID’s collateral form makes him a danger. Do not back anything bigger than 17/2.


2:05 HAYDOCK William Hill Rendlesham Hdl (G2) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m½f 6 runners


2:25 ASCOT Swinley Chs Cl1 (5yo+) 3m 10 runners

FORTESCUE is 3W 1P 5R from going right-handed, comes from a yard with a solid strike rate at the moment, won’t mind the ground and is an improver. FIDDLERONTHEROOF has Grand National aspirations. If he wins this you his current 25/1 for the GN will disappear. Perhaps back him e/w for the GN. Both REGAL ENCORE and SOJOURN have had recent wind operations and the former is down 6lbs. This might well be his last public performance at his age. LARRY has no weight and will love the ground and has a decent 3lb claimer on board.

FORTESCUE 1pt e/w – LARRY 1pt e/w

2:40 HAYDOCK William Hill Grand National Trial Handicap Chs (G3) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m4½f 11 runners

On paper and ratings, you’d have to pick SECRET REPRIEVE but I’d want him at 6s or 7s as an old Skinner might say. (Look it up). No, I want some value and I suspect that comes from either SAM BROWN or KALOOKI. The former is around 6s and will handle the ground – although the distance is a concern. Philip Hobbs’ KALOOKI runs in and out of form and his LTO run in the Peter March wasn’t helped by 1st time Cheeks. If he’s in form his price is way too big.

KALOOKI 1pt e/w

3:00 ASCOT Dingley’s Promise Handicap Hdl Cl2 (4yo+) 2m3½f 13 runners

BALLYBEGG may well set the pace here and his 10lb amateur more than compensates for the 6lbs penalty he got for his LTO win, the blinkers made the difference that day. GOODRISK AT ALL is sort of interest, but there is recalcitrance in his manner to make me wary – despite his Timeform Capital P – which might well stand for planter. STRAW FAN JACK and SHANTOU EXPRESS are both getting new headgear, but I fear too late. However and in a race where I might well have mentioned the winner already, I did hear the smallest of whispers for PICCADILLY LILLY and in a tight race, will risk a small e/w interest.


3:20 WINCANTON Wincanton Matchbook Betting Exchange Kingwell Hdl (G2) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m7f 4 runners

GOSHEN should hose this. Instead, I shall have 6/1 with Skybet in the w/o GOSHEN market. I realise not everyone can do this, so otherwise, it is


3:38 ASCOT Betfair Ascot Chs (G1) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m5f 8 runners

It’s between the top 4 in the market and FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES is top-rated pretty well everywhere. DASHEL DRASHER would be my next fear and MISTER FISHER would be my third place. However, the market is simply too tight and I’d rather watch it.


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