I don’t think anyone can argue that the jumps season, which closes today, has been at the very least interesting. It was a game of three halves as David Coleman might have said, Political, Sporting Horses and Tales of Racing People. We had endless chatter focussed on the race programme and the abysmal entry levels; on the domination of “The Irish” and the reasons for that domination; on the clamour over equipment; by the professional observations that might have appeared less than helpful to the good of the tribe and finally we got to the Heros, who battled on and in the bravery shone, and reminded us that to get the good bits – we just have to learn to be patient. At Sandown, Brian Hughes will be crowned champion jockey for a third time, while Luca Morgan wins – and I applaud his skills – leading conditional. Paul Nicholls is Champion Trainer for a 14th time, and JP McManus is a 15-times winner of the Leading Owner.
Think back, however, as the day draws to a close, to the magically untarnished moment – one Golden Hour. It was a moment in time that captured the spirit, fellowship, humanity, admiration and mutual love and affection that racing fans share. It will live in the memory like a Dawn Run or an Arkle, it was a moment to be talked about by your great-grandchildren if they’re still allowed such emotions. At 3:30 Constitution Hill simply destroyed the field in his winning of The Champion Hurdle and 40 minutes later the magnificent Mare, Honeysuckle ended her career with a timely and brilliant victory that honoured her Trainer and his family’s bravery during a horrible year of loss. Constitution Hill and Honeysuckle with luck got some future thinking a bit straighter.
By way of preparation for this emote-fest, I had the jolliest of Thursdays, which started off with a donation (!!!) and a charming note from the Good-Manners, (Wiltshire based and entirely unrelated to the Dreadful-Manners near Auchtermuchcty). They were off to the North to take in some weather and merely wanted to thank me for kicking off their 35+ wedding anniversary with one of my rants, which makes them smile. Mi case es su casa, as they say on the MA10 outside Palma when arresting people.
Then great chums came to lunch, largely to discuss The Hon’s arrest, Mallorcan hospitality, fresh fish, the BHA’s decision on H&S grounds to move The Derby and environmental issues such as water-saving through water-sharing. I lost the plot early on, thanks to a jug of Bloody Mary, which my chum suggested could be swapped with most anaesthetics, saving the NHS millions. I topped this up with Vincent Prunier’s 2009 Les Garennes Puligny-Montrachet, which kept the wolf from the door. Prawns cooked in Pernod served with Camargue rice seasoned with wild garlic butter continued the French theme, and a light syllabub which the Hon has perfected, completed the guesting… or so we thought.
As one lot left, another coach party arrived led by our Anglo-German friend, Fricka with her son the 6’4″ Siegfried to tell us that he has got into Essex University to study… German and Politics. I cocked an eyebrow at Siegfried as [a] I never realised the two subjects were separate and [b] I was under the impression, having known him since pre-teens, that he spoke German fluently and was as intelligently conversant with German politics, as Mutti Merkel. Still and all it was an easy call for him to make as Essex was so pleased with his application that they let him in with the equivalent of a wax impression of Florence Nightingale’s teeth, a complete collection of Tony The Tiger Kellogg Character cards, and an A level in Gestalt theory.
Not content with this level of social engagement, The Hon shot off, after supervising the cleaning operation, for a wine tasting at her Gym…. no my neither. For me, all that was left were the form books and devotion to my solitary task whilst I wait for the knock on the door from the Bet247 Financial Police demanding to see my 2012 tax returns lest I win £4/10s/6d without declaring it for NHS taxation purposes.
Talking of surely that’s too implausible for words – try these on for size.
1:05 SANDOWN bet365 Nov.Championship Final Hcap Hdl Cl2 (4yo+) 2m ITV 16 run
Run for just 4 years, the trends are that horses win this carrying weight. When in doubt, a Paul Nicholls favourite seeking a fourth consecutive win with an extra 6lb more than last time seems plausible.
KILLALOAN 3 pts win
1:40 SANDOWN bet365 Celebration Chs (G1) Cl1 (5yo+) 1m7½f ITV 5 run
Talking of hat tricks I have this between the QMC 3rd and 4th. GREANETEEN has won this last couple of years and on the ground, I think he has a better chance than EDITEUR DU GITE. I don’t fancy JONBON who didn’t have much of a race in The Maghull LTO
GREANETEEN 4 pts Win
2:15 SANDOWN bet365 Gold Cup Hcap Chs Cl1 (5yo+) 3m4½f ITV 18 run
REVELS HILL arrives here with a decent chance. The lightly-raced eight-year-old meets many of the trends and had a cracking end to his season last year at Taunton, so he obviously keeps his form, and he has been placed each time this year. I also fancy ANNSAM who is also a trends horse and you might consider suggest dutching the pair, but you might prefer a safer option with 6 places of e/w. I have had strong whispers for both MUSICAL SLAVE and ANNUAL INVICTUS and suggest you keep an eye on the market and the paddock.
REVELS HILL 3 pts e/w – ANNSAM 2 pts e/w
2:50 SANDOWN bet365 Oaksey Chs (G2) (For The Menorah Challenge Trophy) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m6½f ITV4 7 run
ELDORADO ALLEN 3 pts e/w
3:05 LEICESTER Madri Excepcional King Richard III Cup Hcap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-105) 1m ITV4 8 run
AL MUBHIR looks a progressive type and was fifth [of 22] in the Lincoln LTO on Heavy. Buick’s booking looks a large signal as well.
AL MUBHIR 5 pts Win
3:25 SANDOWN bet365 Josh Gifford Nov.’ Hcap Chs Cl2 (5yo+) 2m4f ITV4 9 run
CAP DU MATHAN – MUMBO JUMBO Dutch the pair for 6 pts
3:45 HAYDOCK Join Racing TV Now Hcap Cl2 (4yo+) 7f ITV4 12 run
BOARDMAN got into traffic problems in the Lincoln, and he won this last year off an 8lb lower mark. I fancy him – but not as much as MONTASSIB runs for William Haggas and only beat 3 home in the Lincoln. But as he carried some of our money, I was watching as he dwelt in the stalls, hung right and was given a tender finish after that. He ran the winner to within 2 lengths in both the Buckingham Palace Stakes and the Bunbury Cup, (fifth and fourth respectively). More to the point, Haggas record in this race to date is 3R – 2W – 1P.
MONTASSIB 3 pts e/w – 1 pt RFC BOARDMAN
3:10 PUNCHESTOWN Colm Quinn BMW Hcap Chs (5yo+ 0-145) 3m7f RTE1 16 run
HISTORY OF FASHION 4 pts Win
3:50 PUNCHESTOWN Coolmore N.H. Sires Mogul Irish EBF Mares Champion Hdl (G1) (4yo+) 2m3f RTE1 7 run
QUEENS BROOK 3 pts Win
4:25 Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe Hcap Chs (GB) (5yo+ 0-150) 3m RTE1 14 run
FLEGMATICK 4 pts e/w
5:00 PUNCHESTOWN Ballymore Champion Four Year Old Hdl (G1) (4yo) 2m RTE1 8 run
LOSSIEMOUTH 2 pts to beat GALA MARCEAU
5:30 PUNCHESTOWN Fitzwilliam Sports Hcap Hdl (GB) (4yo+) 2m3f RTE1 21 run
SEDDON is the main danger but the selection has halved in price overnight and I quite fancied him at midnight…
STARZOV 2 pts e/w
6:05 PUNCHESTOWN Lawlors Hotel Naas (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race (4-7yo) 2m RTV 19 run
AH REMY MARTIN 1½ pts e/w
6:40 PUNCHESTOWN Have The Conversation – Say Yes To Organ Donation Punchestown Charity Race (4yo+) 1m7f RTV 25 run
Jess Harrington whispers… she has four and won will win
HELL BENT 3 pts win