Before I tell you about my week, I apologise for the number of links I have included. They are there because I think they’re important and I hope you’ll click and read them. Most of it is considerably more illuminating than my own scribbles.
I had lunch this week with my old chum, the former Time-Life photojournalist, Peter Jordan. (Look him up HERE to see some of his globally-recognised work.)
We chatted about this and that, of technology and chums and wars and spies and wine. He told me of the $4k whizzy camera that he just bought for a Seychelles trip. It does everything – except react at the speed of a photojournalist’s brain. On an old-fashioned analogue kit, he could play the piano on the camera’s lens and case, changing this, adjusting that, all while remaining on the subject. Now he has to find a table, sit down, and press button A twice, while simultaneously turning dial Z to setting 24cp on the tiny screen. Meanwhile, the impala he was shooting, has grown up, mated, given birth, been eaten by lions, and the fawns it bred have been darted, moved to Botswana and the story has gone. Inevitably he has moved back to the camera on his mobile – and the results he showed me are astonishing.
His life story makes any tale by Tom Clancy or Rider Haggard look dull, but age and common sense make wise men of us all – except it transpires for a large number of his contemporaries. Like Henry V’s fellow warriors, they heard the blast of war, imitated the action of the tiger, lent their eyes a terrible aspect, (or at the very least a really decent Nikon F4) and have set off for Ukraine.
Not one or two of them – but a global migration of 70-year-old journalists and photographers – as the online magazine Air Mail revealed (the story link is HERE)- and most of them with no assignment. One exception is an old mate of Peter’s, Patrick Chauvel, who at the age of 74 still manages to look like a slightly ravenous Harvey Keitel, and who got the Paris-Match Ukraine gig. In editorial decision-making, no-brainer terms, that’s the equivalent of Bruce Springsteen calling Glastonbury and saying “I’m going to be there anyway, would you like me to do a set?”
Did Peter want to be there at all? He gave me the jaundiced eye at lunch by way of answer. But it’s quite hard I suspect to give up being one of the people responsible for presenting the worst sort of barbarism – in the often vain and unspoken hope that by confronting people with the awful truth, they can’t deny it. “We didn’t know that war could be like that.” Well now we all do… again, and its futility and cruelty are self-evident in the hundreds of images, many taken by people who, God-like, have seen it all before and for over 50 years. The courage of those fighting to prevent the theft of their culture, heritage, land and very being is also self-evident. Perhaps the photo-journalist is simply there to record the tally, rather than the moral dichotomy. In any event, it is not a job I could do without fear of losing my soul.
Meanwhile, Charlie Mann has launched the first part of the industry’s Racing To Help Ukraine campaign, by arranging and fund-raising for a convoy of horseboxes to go out with aid to the refugee centres in Poland on April 10th. They are additionally taking out veterinary supplies and some 400 equestrian chips, which will be managed by vet James Main and which will allow horses in the future to be transported away from harm. The funding vehicle, which we started after the Boxing Day Tsunami, is simply a method, supported by Weatherbys Bank, which allows the racing industry to pull together and as a result to be able to do a little more. All the details are at racingtohelpukraine.uk. In April we will be starting the 1% Club again and I’m hoping for other news on fundraising activities associated with Goodwood and Royal Ascot soon.
Meanwhile, another reminder that backing Kneesup’s racing tips, present you with no moral dichotomies, such as “should I give all my winnings away to charity?”
1:15 AYR Scotty Brand Hcap Chs Cl1 (5yo+) 2m½f 10 run
I can’t let a double-figure Gordon Elliott horse walk by when I think he’s got the ground he’s been waiting for….
DUBAI DAYS 2½pts Win – COACH CARTER 1pt e/w
1:35 NEWBURY Play Pick 6 At BetVictor Novices’ Hcap Hdl Cl2 (4yo+) 2m3f 10 run
ICONE D’AUBRELLE gets 1st-time cheeks which might help his concentration. His is well thought of at home, but his LTO fall was pretty horrid so this is quite a speculative punt. PUNCTUATION is probably still ahead of the handicapper.
PUNCTUATION 3 pts Win – ICONE D’AUBRELLE 1pt e/w
1:50 AYR CPMS Novices’ Champion Hcap Chs Cl2 (5yo+) 3m 8 run
SOUNDS RUSSIAN has really taken to chasing and ran like a stag when getting a hat-trick up LTO at Kelso in February. My biggest fear is the ground and at 3s, I think the price is too skinny. IK BRUNEL can be had at 10 and 12s and on the surface that looks like value, but I think the dodgy answer – and I’m tempted to swerve this one – is LORD ACCORD who missed the Festival because of the ground. He was third LTO at Donny on unsuitable ground and the first and second have come out since and won. 7/1 would be a working man’s price and I shall give him an e/w tonk.
LORD ACCORD 2½pts e/w
2:10 NEWBURY Download The BetVictor App Cond’ Jockeys’ Veterans’ Hcap Chs Cl2 (10yo+) 2m7½f 10 run
INDY FIVE 2pts e/w
2:25 AYR Coral Scottish Champion Hdl (A Limited Hcap) (G2) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m 9 run
SOCIALIST AGENDA is too big, even with a 12lb rise – which I don’t think will anchor him much – for his Scottish County Hurdle win LTO. He bolted up, having travelled comfortably within himself throughout. 1st time cheekpieces will help him to settle and allow a little perhaps to be kept in reserve. ANNA BURINA’s third in that race was also a decent run.
SOCIALIST AGENDA 2pts e/w
2:45 NEWBURY British EBF BetVictor racingtohelpukraine.uk “NH” Mares’ Novices’ Hdl (G2) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m4½f 16 run
Stuart Edmunds is in a fine vein of form at the moment and in the last 14 days has had 3 winners from 9 runners. This included a 28/1 winner at Ascot last weekend… MARSH WREN was quite possibly racing too quickly in Listed company, but more importantly, this is a drop back in trip. It’s a stiff task, but the trainer is firing on all eight.
MARSH WREN 1pt e/w 25/1 for 5 places with Bet365
3:00 AYR Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Novices’ Chs (G2) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m4½f 5 run
A message to every single one of the ten (TEN!!!!) Shrewsbury and Telford chief executives: Which bit of your moral compass was so skewed that you thought it was OK to take the money, raise a family, live in the lap of luxury on magnificent taxpayer-funded salaries and simply not consider at any time that there was a moment to
DO YOUR JOB
No Bet, because there is no horse running called BENEATH CONTEMPT
3:35 AYR Coral Scottish Grand National Hcap Chs (G3) Cl1 (5yo+) 4m 24 run
After Coole Cody and Cloudy Glen and Dans le Vent, I started considering a rule for Saturday handicaps based on the results during the official NH season, namely to have a look at any runner from any trainer called Williams. There are ten of them on my database and between them, they have produced 200 bets in 138 races and delivered 26 winners 29 places, a profit of £22.18 to a £1 stake. Yes, you would lose money… very, very, slowly. You can slow that down even further by only backing anyone called Williams in any Saturday handicap if you avoid races with prize money of less than £8k to the winner. It gets sexy at £14k to the winner and if we applied that to this race – we would have (in racecard order) KITTY’S LIGHT (6/1) – WIN MY WINGS (15/2) – PRIME VENTURE (80/1) – ONE MORE FLEURIE (18/1)
Getting sensible for a moment, I had three in my notebook THE WOLF (14/1) who I thought was Ultima bound and swerved it for this. He ran a good 2nd in the Edinburgh National back in February and Olly Murphy looks to be in decent form. The second was FANTASTIKAS (16/1) who I fancied for Corach Rambler’s Ultima but who messed up the 15th and never got back into it. The third name I had – again from the Ultima was ONE MORE FLEURIE. He won the 3m novice handicap here last year, and he’s only 4lb higher than he was last year.
This almost certainly means one of the favourites wins – that the Crazy Saturday Williams System works and that all statistics are lies.
THE WOLF 1½pts e/w – ONE MORE FLEURIE 1 pt e/w