I suppose one might describe this past week as better than expected. In cellar terms, not a filthy glugging week, but more a robust cru bourgeois week. A bit of tennis, a drinks party, a soupcon of American cousins, some musical theatre, a brace of jolly (and free) dinners, and a visit from my travelling raven-haired lady hairdresser. The latter always gives me the impression that she would be happy to devote some time to reforming my character and to nursing me back to rude health. Warren Buffet once suggested that Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing. On reflection, it is best I do nothing.
But I digress. Friday’s trade paper was screaming that everything I have been warning of, with regard to the imposition of affordability checks, has now begun. According to Joe “I-can’t-go-to-dinners-with-no-girls” Saumarez Smith, (See: Derby Dinners passim), the Gambling Commission is going ahead and implementing various restrictions in advance of the publication next week of the Government’s White Paper. One assumes their activity is based on some foresight and inter-departmental assurance that it will all be forced through. Sadly these restrictions appear to be far more draconian than had been earlier assumed. More importantly – and it needs to be legally tested and damned quickly – Lawyers are saying that the industry regulator does not have a mandate nor the legal authority to demand such things. Those demands include forcing operators to “assess affordability” for customers based on average income levels and then imposing thresholds on the operators that can only trigger further intrusive checks such as demanding payslips, P60s, tax returns or bank statements. This is a grotesque infringement on our personal liberties and I for one will not tolerate it.
That might quite possibly mean the end of any involvement I have in horseracing. – because I have to consider the bigger picture. I am not a rich man, nor still young. I do not want to discover that my pension is affected, my health services are “managed”, or my credit score is downgraded because I had a Lucky Fifteen at the Ascot meeting. Do you think I jest? These are proposals that have been discussed, in order to manage my “illness”. If I walk away from the course, then imagine how many others will stop going, stop punting, and stop loving racehorses. And all of this is because some self-righteous politician thinks he/she/it has a moral superiority that entitles them to manage and control our lives and to legally enforce what is best for us.
There is a new and ugly puritanism afoot, which has Orwellian theory as the cement of its foundations, and it grows stronger every day. You can see it in the Gambling Commission’s intrusive demands and in the ludicrous pub curfews, we seemed to tolerate during the lockdown. You can see it in the virtue-signalling spite and sanctimonious vitriol across all social platforms, and in recent US Supreme Court rulings regarding Abortion laws. It sits behind the proposed challenges to and reversal of contraception and gay marriage laws in the US and it will arrive here, in a variety of guises.
“Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.”
ISAAC ASIMOV: (1920 – 1992)
Talking of uneducated, unimaginative and unthinking, here are the tips for the sporting challenges this weekend.
Going: Sandown Good (Good To Firm In Places) – Haydock G/S
1:50 SANDOWN Coral Charge (G3) (aka The Sprint Stakes) Cl1 (3yo+) 5f 8 run
MITBAAHY is going for a hattrick here for trainer Roger Varian. He walked away with The Scurry here last month following a similar performance at Hamilton in May. He is 5lbs better off with RAASEL and will like the ground. EQUILATERAL stayed on to take 5th in The Kings Stand and looks as though he might play a hand in the major sprints this summer. He might have a go at this before heading to Goodwood for The King George Stakes. NYMPHADORA is taking a major step-up and the jockey booking looks significant for this progressive type.
MITBAAHY 4 pts Win – With NYMPADORA & EQUILATERAL in two 1 pt RFC and a ½ pt Trifecta
2:05 HAYDOCK bet365 Hcap Cl2 (3yo) 1m6f 15 run
SEA KING has been hiked 9lbs after his last performance, and under normal circumstances, I’d be all over it like a rash – however, Sir Mark’s squad does not appear to be firing on all eight at the moment and since April he has only fielded 34 runners with 21 of them failing to trouble the placings. I’d wait until we know the issue. Her Majesty’s DUTY BOUND doesn’t have many miles on the clock and won well LTO at Sandown. The pace was slightly muddling and it turned into a 2f sprint, which appeared to catch the horse out, but who finally got going in the last furlong. There is a mass of improvement and unseen abilities to be found here so don’t go mad. I have picked one that might have both and has a decent 5lbs off his back.
VALSAD 2 pts e/w
2:25 SANDOWN Coral Challenge (Hcap) Cl2 (3yo+) 1m 11 run
SINJAARI is a 10f horse not an 8f horse. Yes, he was 5th in The Hunt Cup and Yes he best of the High Draws – but he didn’t have the pace because the distance was and is too short. TAHITIAN PRINCE is slowly dropping down the weights, but not quickly enough for my liking. OUZO seems too big a price given his improved running under new trainer Jamie Osbourne. I know it didn’t look like it LTO out, but he was badly drawn and hated his headgear.
OUZO 2pts e/w
2:40 HAYDOCK bet365 Lancashire Oaks (G2) (Fillies & Mares) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m4f 7 run
ESHAADA 4pts Win
3:00 SANDOWN Coral Distaff (Fillies) Cl1 (3yo) 1m 8 run
QUEEN AMINATU represents solid form and is massively over-priced. I’m assuming something will come out to the benefit of each-way bookmakers, but I still think she could beat HEREDIA.
QUEEN AMINATU 3 pts e/w
3:15 HAYDOCK bet365 Old Newton Cup Hcap Cl2 (4yo+) 1m4f 17 run
SECRET SHADOW had a barging match LTO and did well to get through the traffic. Hayley Turner is in the plate, and with a slice of luck she could take this at a big price.
SECRET SHADOW 2 pts e/w
3:35 SANDOWN Coral-Eclipse (G1) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m2f 6 run
Can someone please explain to me how a 10f race became 9f and 209 yds? If a furlong is 220 yards then surely the distance run should be 2200 yards not 2189? This is not peculiar to this year, it appears to be the distance. I hate untidiness like that. Anyway, this is between the Aga Khan’s improving VADENI who needs a strong pace and cut, and IF has improved further, could be very difficult to beat. Both he and NATIVE TRAIL get the 10lb age allowance and I have it between them. I’m going for the Brit.
NATIVE TRAIL 5pts Win
BRITISH GRAND PRIX
My man on the pit wall tells me that after two practice sessions yesterday, the Mercedes computer system was predicting an all-Ferrari front-row. Qualifying will be interesting at 3:00pm, not least because it might be raining and it might be as windy as yesterday, which made handling tricky, but in the wet could make an enormous difference. That all said, I think Le Clerc will be on the front row, but I can’t say he’s going to be the fastest with any degree of confidence. Mercedes have also turned up with a pile of upgrades, which have in the main won Lewis Hamilton’s approval. Sadly eight of the other nine teams have done the same! Mercedes believe their upgrades put them on a par with Ferrari – the reality is probably that Mercedes are still ½ a second a lap slower – which is the equivalent of 3 days in the real world. Alpine has definitely been improving this season and they have bought an interesting package that it is hoped will improve performance and thus increase investment and sponsorship focus on the team. These include:
- The floor body for both cars is new for Silverstone. It has revised underside shape edges which I thought was noticeably different to its previous design. and will certainly provide more suction over a large area of the floor. It also will help improve flow to the rear of the car.
- The engine cover has a slightly higher exit with airflow design changes that will improve the flow to the beam wing (which sits beneath the main wing at rear-tyre level)
- Alpine has revised the front suspension push rod shape – again improving airflow, both at that point and further down the car.
All of this makes Esteban Ocon look quite sexy for a 6th place finish at 7/2. He was 6th in Montreal (7th on pole), and had a top 6 in Saudi earlier in the season. He has good Silverstone stats, finishing in the points on all four appearances to date (8th – 2017, 7th – 2018, 6th – 2020, 9th – 2021)
ESTEBAN OCON: 4 pts Top 6 Finish @ 7/2