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24th July 2024 12:23 pm

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

The circus comes to town.

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This week’s diary found me pinning a badge saying “I like Milk from Cows” on a small Ukrainian child.

As you might imagine, my historical engagement with young children has been plagued by the conflict between my upbringing and the modern social mores. Young Vlad’s rudimentary English and his impeccable good manners prevented him from saying, “Well, where the bleeding hell did you think Milk came from?” which might well have been said by an English child familiar with the ways of English Law. That, in turn, may have led to my gently cuffing the errant youth and saying curtly: “Goats? Sheep? Llamas?” At that point, and without my newfound awareness of child relations, I might have been carted off for three years of hard labour for child re-education.

None of this happened, and the legal system breathed a sigh of relief. The kids were sweet, and if they weren’t to start with, they were by the time they had scoffed the best part of what looked like three hundredweight of meringues, scones and brownies. The afternoon was awash with kind people giving yet more time to help others. In this case, Ukrainian families, the result of Putin’s Folie de Grandeur, who had been invited to have an afternoon of relaxed fun and some tea on the Marlborough Downs with trees to climb and zip wires to hurl one towards wild swimming pools and barns with sheep and donkeys and chickens and treehouses and the stuff of childhood dreams. The only difference from home was the absence of cordite, the sound of explosions, and a surfeit of the kindness of strangers. It was good, and it was a lovely generous day.

Nell Gifford and Nancy Trotter Landry by Gem Hall 2018

Simultaneously Giffords circus moved into town and was immediately sold out. This is a pity, as regular readers will know I have always had a small piece of chipped heart reserved for Nancy Trotter Landry. Sadly I fear she has moved on – I can see nothing on their web page to say she is there, which will only reduce the risk of stroke amongst the Men of Marlborough. Sexy, funny, bright, talented and still younger than most drinking claret, I shall just have to carry the torch for another year. The death of Nell Gifford was a tragedy, but I got the impression her passing had woken accountants who in turn had caused some internal angst; I hope the team wasn’t so badly affected that Nancy felt she had to move on. I shall have to loiter by the booking office waiting for pandemic returns and see if I can spy her – creating an unpleasant and sinister image of a fading international boulevardier turned even more aged stage-door Johny.

The arrival of the Circus also means that everything else in Marlborough appears sous le cosh. Back from a hectic day doing clienty things, we stopped in the town at about 5:30 pm, feeling thirsty and unlunched. We spied a new Tapas bar, La Bolbina, which we had known in Faringdon, a jolly and fun place with a good atmosphere and some decent grub. Its success was despite the fact that the premises had been an old Paedophiles drinking den (I kid you not). Then they shut and I had heard moved to Cheltenham. Marlborough is thus their second, or maybe the other one burned down… I cannot tell you because I had been dumped in the street by an over-officious git. I have been thrown out of bars quicker and with even less charm, but I can’t remember when. A very curt, “Have you booked, No? then we have nothing tonight” seemed strong. Perhaps he had decided that I looked like the type of punter who’d get tanked up on cooking sherry and then wander off to the circus to cry out the name of Ms Landry, thus frightening children and circus animals alike – let alone Herself.

The Hon and I ended up in Rick Stein’s, or rather outside, drinking Sauvignon and eating some sort of Tapas of Haloumi and Padrone Peppers. Delicious, apart from the Haloumi and refreshingly expensive, and served by young B, who I intend to write to Stein and tell him she must be promoted immediately. (B not The Hon). If he doesn’t, I shall send B a note and suggest she runs away and joins the circus, thus giving next season’s Giffords some purpose. As no Kneesup aide de memoir can pass without mentioning some small gripe – can anyone remember the last time they had a Pimientos de Padron that was hot? The whole purpose of the dish was the Russian Roulette of exploding gob and watering eyes, as El Fuerte was discovered. Sadly mechanical production of the peppers in constantly similar growing conditions means that the chances of finding the quirky “hot One” are so diminished that it is as rare as a Kneesup winner!

Talking of which……

1:30 BEVERLEY Joe Rowntree Memorial Hcap Cl4 (4yo+ 0-80) 7½f 11 run

Looking at the LTO run of MAJESTIC at ponty, it is noticeable he was eased right down, still winning by 5l. This mark – 82 – is probably wrong by 10 minimum. IT JUST TAKES TIME for the forecast.


1:50 GOODWOOD WillHill Prestige Fillies’ Stks (G3) Cl1 (2yo) 7f 9 run

FAIRY CROSS seems the obvious selection. My only concern is her LTO Listed performance – which while clear of the rest of the field she couldn’t get on terms with the winner. This is a benefit of the doubt selection.


2:05 BEVERLEY WillHill Silver Cup Hcap Cl2 (3yo 0-105) 1m2f 6 run

Wide open. WAIT TO EXCEL certainly appears to have sufficient class to take this for his hat-trick – but I just wonder about  FORGIVABLE, who has now found his distance. Had he been given a different ride and delayed his run, he might well have won LTO. POST IMPRESSIONIST has looked out of love with the game the last twice.


2:25 GOODWOOD WillHill Hcap Cl2 (3yo+) 7f 11 run

ABLE KANE gets decent 5lb claimer Callum Hutchinson whioch puts him within a 1lb of his runaway win at Ffos Las. He looked on song LTO at Newbury for this sort of race, and the moisture in the ground will have helped. I am concerned by ORBAAN who hacked up in the Golden Mile here in July, followed up at Ascot and then ran a decent race at Ascot over 7f. His fourth in the Clipper Logistics was off a hindered run and he has a good draw in stall one. He and RHOSCOLYN have met before.

ABLE KANE 2 pts e/w (5 places with Sky)

2:40 BEVERLEY WillHill Beverley Bullet Sprint Stks (Listed Race) Cl1 (3yo+) 5f 13 run

TIS MARVELLOUS won this impressively last year, but hasn’t looked brilliant so far this year – but his Group 1 aspirations in the Kings Stand may well have been too high a target. This might be more his level. KORKER is a threat if he has been taught how to break from the stalls. He tends to loiter thus eradicating any advantage his decent draw might give him.

TIS MARVELLOUS – KORKER Dutch Win for 5 pts

3:00 GOODWOOD WillHill March Stks (In Memory Of John Dunlop) (G3) Cl1 (3yo) 1m6f 4 run

HOO YA MAL was 2nd in The Derby and was then sold for £1,2m with the aim of heading to The Melbourne Cup. He was 3rd in the Gordon Stakes on this course – and this looks much easier.

HOO YA MAL 5 pts Win

3:15 NEWMARKET (JULY) Jenningsbet Hopeful Stks (Listed Race) Cl1 (3yo+) 6f 10 run

This is effectively a drop down in class for Charlie Fellowes’ VADREAM and her performance here is aimed at determining which of the Autumn targets to go for.

VADREAM 3 pts e/w

3:35 GOODWOOD WillHill Celebration Mile Stks (G2) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m 5 run

MUTASAABEQ is decent, won’t mind some cut, and this looks much easier than his last three runs.

MUTASAABEQ in doubles with MAJESTIC – FAIRY CROSS – HOO YA MAL 3 x 2pts and a 1 pt Fourfold


Also don’t forget that The Belgian Grand Prix takes place, with every likelihood of another Max Verstappen win. This time last year – and I say this with no sense of irony – the race was two laps long, both under a safety car, thanks to the torrential rain. This time I am assured it will be different. We can be relatively certain about Max because Ferrari has not shown any signs of common, or even race, -sense these last few GPs, with Leclerc not helping his own cause, but the Ferrari pit wall apparently working for some other team. Mercedes continue to improve, but not fast enough and the only value might be with Alpine and Ocon and Alonso. Back them both for a Top 6 finish by ditching the pair for 7 points at 9/2 and 11/10, giving us 1/2 about our money. They might even both finish Top 6!


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