The week has positively flown by, disappearing almost as quickly as the beating heart of my spread-betting account. In the middle of it all, I caught some filthy chest infection which has left me gasping for air – but that might also be due to witnessing some of the soccer being played.
I smashed all previous records early on in the competition by selling the time of the third England – Iran match goal and buying the shirt numbers for the match. Having doubled my balance, and based on some critical, deeply scientific research, my best guess was that this would be a goal feast for all the first matches for each team. When I say research, I think it was something Gary Neville said, and when I say scientific, it might have been something that Gabby Logan repeated, but my instincts were obviously on fire, and I was not to be moved. Yes, there were some disappointments… the next five matches included buying German goals and selling Japan and some heavy financial support for my Argentinian game theories. On the plus side, there were some dig-outs with Spain and Portugal, whose profits were smartly handed back with Wales’ appalling performance against Iran.
I have discovered in the last 24 hours several reasons why Wales hasn’t impacted the World Cup for the last five hundred years, or whatever it is, and I think we all saw what they were on Friday. They are incapable of keeping control of the ball for longer than five passes, unable, unlike their rugby-playing cousins, to cope with a hefty barge and the entire team has the break-away speed of Michael Portillo walking down a train corridor looking for his couchette. I was so upset by the BBC commentary and for my Welsh friends’ dashed hopes that I watched the last fifteen minutes on S4C. The depth of the principality’s despair was far stronger in their native language, and they were still nil-nil at that moment. Watching that Welsh game in Welsh did not help – I simply felt as if I had drunk a pint of sad juice and then washed it down with a Despair Spritzer !
Here are Saturday’s thoughts regarding over-hyped game plans and the likelihood of dashed hopes.
1:20 NEWBURY Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Hcap Chs Cl2 (4yo+ 0-145) 2m6½f 13 run
The stats suggest you’re looking for an Irish or French-bred aged 7-8 yo, rated 134 or less and carrying less than 11st 7lbs. That horse would be KILLER KANE who will strip fitter for his recent Exeter run. KAPCORSE has been backed to 9/2 from an early 12s largely because he won this race in 2018 and 2021. CAP DU NORD is now rated 130 and is within 3lbs of his last winning mark. He has also won this race, in 2020, off a mark of 123. I have been waiting for Christian Williams to start firing and there have been some signs that his season is getting underway and CDN was a notable third behind Frodon from a mark of 132 in the Badger Beer Handicap Chase at Wincanton on the ground which was probably quicker than ideal. His greatest danger could once again be stable mate KITTY’S LIGHT who gave him a hard race when CDN won the G3 Hurdle on Boxing Day at Kempton.
KILLER KANE 3 pts e/w
1:35 NEWCASTLE Betfair Daily Rewards Novices’ Limited Hcap Chs Cl3 (4yo+ 0-135) 2m7½f 5 run
LORD ROCCO was an excellent second on his return at Ayr last time out. He’ll strip sharper for that run and has won at Newcastle previously.
LORD ROCCO 2 pts Win
1:55 NEWBURY Coral Racing Club Hcap Hdl Cl2 (4yo+ 0-150) 2m4½f 12 run
Another Williams horse – but Evan this time and his charge CURRENT MOOD. She was entered for The Greatwood, but was drawn because of the ground. She has decent graded hurdle form and doesn’t look badly treated off 127. PEKING ROSE skipped Haydock last week, having made a winning seasonal debut at Aintree last month when beating A Different Kind off 129. He’s only been given a 3lb rise for a nail-biting and tough finish and looks as though he has more to offer. Dutch the pair for 7 points.
CURRENT MOOD – PEKING ROSE Dutch 7 pts
2:10 NEWCASTLE Betfair Fighting Fifth Hdl (G1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m 5 run
After all the fuss of will-he-won’t-he-can-he-must-he last week, CONSTITUTION HILL better win this by 200 lengths stopping en route to have tea with The Queen Consort and write a book. He’s too short
2:30 NEWBURY Coral Bet Bundles Intermediate Hcap Hdl (Reg’ As The Gerry Feilden) (Premier Hcap) (GBB) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m½f 8 run
The trends don’t really help to narrow the field down much. FIRST STREET has impressive form but carries a huge weight. However, he looked like a proper horse last year in his first full season of training. He can kick on this year and looks good to go on his first start having won easily on his seasonal debut last season. Stable has won this six times, with 5 of those coming with horses having their first run after a break of 200 days or more. Nicky Richards rarely travels down to Newbury and his PARIS ENCORE must have a chance here as he ran well to win at Wetherby LTO and more is expected today.
FIRST STREET 4 pts Win – PARIS ENCORE 2 pts e/w
3:05 NEWBURY Coral Gold Cup Hcap Chs (Premier Hcap) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m2f 16 run
The trends suggest THREEUNDERTHRUFIVE and CORACH RAMBLER. However, I also have a strong liking for GERICAULT ROQUE, who was 2nd to CORACH R. in the Ultima at Chelty. Before that, he had constantly been surprising with a string of quality 2nds that suggested age and experience would bring further encouragement. Sadly of course, he has also been hoiked up the scales and is now rated 139 without a winning mark. My hope is probably attached to the oft-improving wind-op, which he has had, and he looks e/w value. LE MILOS would not be a surprise as The Skelton clan are capable of scooping everything on a Saturday – including Strictly.
LE MILOS 3 pts Win – GERICAULT ROQUE 2 pts e/w
3:25 NEWCASTLE Betfair Exchange Rehearsal Hcap Chs (Premier Hcap) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m7½f 9 run
L’HOMME PRESSE comes in with fantastic form in the book from last season. Goes well fresh… beaten better opposition than this. If he’s fit and well, he should be winning this going away from this pack. DINGO DOLLAR was third in this last year off a 1lb lower mark. His Veteran Chase victory should not put you off an e/w interest.
L’HOMME PRESSE 5 pts Win – DINGO DOLLAR 2 pts e/w
3:40 NEWBURY Coral Get Closer To The Action Hcap Chs (For The Jim Joel Memorial Trophy) Cl2 (4yo+ 0-150) 2m½f 8 run
COURTLAND 2 pts e/w