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24th July 2024 11:21 am

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

The Spectacular, The Not Bad and the surely unacceptable

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Let’s get this over with as quickly as possible. Mea Maxima Culpa – I would have had more success at selecting Ascot winners if I’d simply opened the Rand Corporation’s, “A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates“, and pulled stall numbers out at random. (I recommend the book as the hygienic alternative to keeping sheep in the wardrobe, for counting at bedtime).

Sadly I didn’t and instead relied on known form, and the ability of good animals to maintain their upward trajectory and less good animals not to improve beyond all recognition. Neither of those options occurred in the main, and in brief, we were down 62 pts by the close of play on Thursday. Friday produced a too-little-to-late profit of 2.4 pts and then on Saturday the form kicked in and we made almost 40 pts profit. The Derby meeting was also dismal and we were down 45 pts for those three days but…….

In the middle of the Sea of Despond, that little pocket genius Matt Fitzpatrick played and won – on the final putt – one of the most exhilarating golf matches I have ever witnessed. For three nights after Ascot, The US Open had been a gripping tournament, which became a three-way fight for the last five holes on Sunday. Even at the nine-hole stage, there was still a possibility that if any of them faltered, there were players just two strokes behind, ready to pick up the clubhouse pieces in a play-off. Five of our seven selections had made the cut, and that final threesome included Matt Fitzpatrick (first) and Scottie Scheffler (Tied second). So on a 16 pt outlay, we returned 25.4 pts – our 3rd profit of the Majors. As I have mentioned before, I play on the Betfair Exchange and was able to “green out” at the end of Round 3 to make a profit of 115 pts on a 55 pt outlay – so slightly improved odds – but with the option of trading out as I did. Of course, had I let them run, I would’ve made a 9/2 return instead of around 2/1,  but then…. it’s a familiar mantra… aah, but then. I find myself increasingly confused by the maths involved in Cash Out, ROIs and Risk Management science. If only someone had the nous to create and release such a thing onto the wider market.

Finally, as I start to work towards the weekend, I am made aware of two bits of news – one big and one possibly unnoticed but both, surely, unacceptable. Gosden’s sacking of Frankie may well have been the result of owner pressure, or it might have been building up for some time. I have no idea, but I would only remind you, that not everyone drives well all the time. We’ve all seen someone – never us – in the wrong lane at a roundabout and as a result, miss the turn completely. I’m afraid that if Gosden has sacked Francisco, it says more about Gosden’s character and his road manners than it does about Frankie’s and when I win the Euromillions, none of my horses will he see.

The second thing to cause a twitching eye was Thursday’s racecards. (Now I’m sorry but this next bit is heaving with numbers).

Three racecourses, Newmarket, Nottingham and Leicester had seven races each. Newmarket was giving £90k in prize money to a total of 42 horses running in seven C4 (average) races or an average of £2143 per horse or £12,800 per race. At Nottingham, their figures were: £55,500 to 44 horses in seven (average) C5 races for £1261 ph or £7929 per race. Leicester was: £52000 to 50 horses in seven (average) C5 races for £1040 ph or £7429 per race.

This is a tiny midweek example of an industry, where three courses spent £197k on 21 races for just 136 racehorses (less than 6½ horses per race) – and the highest quality race was a C2 7f handicap for £25k with six whole runners. Surely to God, this model is wrong. How much did we get back on the Levy? How much did the courses make from ticket sales? What percentage of the prize money was really sponsorship? Frankly removing 300 races from the calendar is the tip of the iceberg, and as the Titanic passengers discovered, that visible part isn’t the bit that sinks ships.

Talking of sinking without trace, the weekend’s selections are below and the betting bank is again below 1000 pts, but stands on the last weekend before the July Meeting and Goodwood, at 950.53 pts.

1:50 NEWCASTLE (AW) Pertemps Network Hcap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-100) 6f 12 run

TOMMY DE VITO e/w

2:05 NEWMARKET (JULY) Maureen Brittain Memorial Empress Fillies’ Sks (Listed Race) Cl1 (2yo) 6f 11 run

LEZOO won a shade cosily on debut in what looked like a smart performance and the extra furlong will, on breeding, be no problem. This I think is confirmed by the fact that he did his best work at the end of his race, suggesting again that the extra furlong is what he needs. MINNETONKA made a winning 6f debut but my man on the clock says he was slow. Also what mood will Frankie be in? This is his only ride on the card after his effective sacking this week. My advice – give the ride up Frankie, take the kids and Catherine away for a long lakeside Italian holiday and come back in time for Goodwood. If I were looking for a place horse to give mine a fright it would be BELIEVING who was withdrawn down at the start for The Albany. If he loads and breaks OK he is a live contender.

LEZOO 5 pts Win ½pt RFC BELIEVING

2:25 NEWCASTLE (AW) Pertemps Network Chipchase Sks (G3) Cl1 (3yo+) 6f 12 run

GLEN SHIEL has lost his way this year – this might wake him up.

GLEN SHIEL 3 pts e/w

2:40 NEWMARKET (JULY) House Of Cavani Menswear Fred Archer Sks Cl1 (4yo+) 1m4f 5 run

UNIVERSAL ORDER 3 pts Win

2:55 NEWCASTLE (AW) Jenningsbet Northumberland Vase Hcap Cl2 (3yo+) 2m½f 19 run

FAIR STAR 2 pts e/w – CATBIRD SEAT 2 pts e/w – WYNFORD 1½ pts e/w

3:15 NEWMARKET (JULY) House Of Cavani Menswear Criterion Sks (G3) Cl1 (3yo+) 7f 7 run

LANEQASH 3 pts Win – EVER GIVEN 2 pts e/w – 1pt RFC

3:30 NEWCASTLE (AW) Jenningsbet Northumberland Plate Hcap Cl2 (3yo+) 2m½f 20 run

ALRIGHT SUNSHINE ran in The Copper Horse and returned a staying-on-fourth after a hapless run in bad traffic. He’ll enjoy this return to a decent distance. TRIBAL ART raced just off the pace in The Ascot Stakes and as the bell sounded moved alongside the eventual winner Coltrane. As they hit the 2f pole they got into a barging match and were then joined by Willie Mullins’ favourite Bring On the Night. He got swallowed up after that and it became clear ½f out that the tank was empty. This distance will be perfect for him. Andrew Balding’s SPIRIT MIXER meets the trends and had a terrible draw from a stall somewhere in Cornwall for a 2-miler at Chester LTO. No cover, extra distance, it was a nightmare. However, before that, he’d had a hat-trick over 14f+and this is as far as he’s ever raced before. I like the look of ONESMOOTHOPERATOR for Brian Ellison, who tried a Listed race over 14f LTO at York, going down by 4½l into 6th. He has strong AW form lines and a decent draw. RAINBOW DREAMER wouldn’t be out of it, nor would TRUESHAN. Jeepers…..

TRIBAL ART 2 pts e/w – ONESMOOTHOPERATOR 3 pts e/w

3:45 CURRAGH Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (G1) (No Geldings) (3yo) 1m4f 8 run

WESTOVER was 3rd in the Derby behind the impressive Desert Crown under jockey Rob Hornby, who has been jocked off and replaced by Colin Keane. He stays the distance and has very decent form lines, the only query being whether he can concede 3lbs to the fast-improving TUESDAY with Nashwa cementing her form lines when winning the French Derby last Sunday.

WESTOVER 2 pts Win

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