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24th July 2024 1:04 pm

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

Tipping the balance with a big P

These Donors Are AMAZING Thank You

Just in: CJM… Bunter… Ken… Thank you. They join: William S – MEJi – Peter N – Nigel B – Ken C – Mark S – James D – William M – Fiona M – Julian A – Jonathan H – Mrs V.M – Pete BN – Gavin C – Thom S – Sarah C – Mark S – Sam H – James R

I am – like Victor Meldrew – in a state of utter bewilderment. Quite apart from this website showing a profit for the last three weeks, you might also have noticed the subject of paint cropping up occasionally. I thought it had been resolved. Having carefully chosen a colour scheme that, by chance, had a vague connection to the flag of Sierra Leone (Green, White and Blue), and having had it made and delivered, and indeed in green terms, applied, the painter called me with dire news.

The timing of the call was poor, as I was busy explaining my precise haircutting needs to my new and untried Turkish Barber. My poor relationship with this particular group stems from waking up in London with a Grade 2 hangover and feeling the need to straighten up before a client meeting by having a haircut. Hungover and feeling ill, I spent some time trying to communicate my needs to some chap who neither understood nor was interested. Nor, it transpired could he cut hair. This led to my written warnings about becoming involved with the Turkish Barbary. On that occasion, I struggled to explain that I did not know nor care what a Number 3 or 7 was, and I did not want grooves razored into my brow line. Today, my needs were complicated by a poor signal as I simultaneously tried to explain what I did not want to the Barber and what I did want from the Painter.

As an aside, I have no particular affinity with Sierra Leone; I only know the flag’s colours because I had a good mate in London in the late 70s, who was from Sierra Leone and was rumoured to have been in the SAS. He was about 6’5″, very strong, and owned an African restaurant opposite Walter Mariti’s  Pontevecchio. The food was inedible, but the place was fun and had a permanent poker game running in the basement from 2:00 am organised by Moroccans with knives and a tendency to violently overreact to white, middle-class Tory boys talking out of turn. It was hard to win a hand there unless they had a reason to encourage you – aka the arrival of the Trust Fund stipend. I was OK because Quoshie had vouched for me after I hit him for being rude. He might not have noticed that I had hit him, but we were still chums. Another mate once accused the head Moroccan of cheating – which he was – and knives were drawn and quite quickly put away when Quoshie told the Moroccans to behave. Sadly by then, the police had been called, and everyone was removed to chokey until the next day when sobriety and common sense suggested everyone withdrew their complaints, that personal reparations and apologies were made and that following handshakes all around, we repair for drinks and breakfast.

Quoshie and I were stopped at the door by two men in Gannex coats who accused us both somewhat surprisingly of perverting the course of justice! The two gents had been told we both worked for some shadowy organisation and had organised the ending of their pursuit of justice. The whole thing lasted about five minutes and creaked with innuendo, but the whole thing, with hindsight, said far more about Quoshie than me, and it was a bizarre moment. Quoshie disappeared, allegedly after becoming embroiled in local politics back home, and ended up in Australia where he fathered N’Fa Jones, the African Australian hip hop recording artist, Heath Ledger’s bestie, and was known as the frontman for 1200 Techniques. No, me neither. N’Fa also happened to be a National level athlete – but the beat called, and he never competed on the world stage. I don’t know where his dad is. I might try and find out from my Ozzie coz.

Anyway, I digress. The painter called to say that the Blue provided, Plantagenet Blood, was way too blue and was closer to Ice Maiden Snot. Could we resolve this? We could, but only once Abdul The Bulbul Barbere had finished. Well – and I do not say this lightly – the boy was a genius. Fast, sharp, using the pinking shears like Edward Scissorhands and understanding the old-fashioned term and use of the Thinning Scissors. He also hot-towelled my face, pummelled my arms and kneaded my neck, wafted burning fronds around my ears and trimmed my brows. Net result Outstanding. We drove around until we resolved the paint issue, and by mid-afternoon, some semblance of calm had descended once more on Happy Valley.

Fingers crossed for the Eve of Derby Dinner tonight (I have in absentia purchased the required sweep tickets) and for Oaks Day, where I sincerely pray the little beggars don’t get jiggy with their unstable moralising platforms. Talking of pointless finger-pointing, with or without a selecting pin, here are the tips for Oaks Day.

2:00 EPSOM British EBF 40th Anniversary Woodcote Stakes Cl2 (2yo) 6f 12 run

A Maiden does not win the Woodcote, and it helps to have shown some form, so a top-2 finish LTO looks like a sensible proposition. That leaves me with five. Mark Johnston has won this five times, and Charlie still has his Dad’s experience to fall back on.  YORKSHIRE TERRIER has won twice on AWT, sandwiching a debut turf run in an HQ novice that has shown strength. At around 11/1 at the moment and with four places generally available, I’d bite Victor Chandler or Bet365’s hand off!


2:35 EPSOM Racehorse Lotto Handicap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-105) 1m½f 13 run

As I think I mentioned before, I am always attracted to David O’Meara handicappers down South, and he has two in this. RHOSCOLYN won the 7f Festival Handicap in 2021, the last on the card here, a race that stablemate ORBAAN was 3rd in last year. Both appear here, and RHOSCOLYN looked as if he was coming into form at Ascot last time, although I wonder whether he is stronger over 7f. There are several interpretations of the stats, and I have ended up with RHOSCOLYN, REVICH and HODLER.  The latter likes the track, and although this is a career-high mark, his race at Chester LTO has seen the 2nd and 4th win since. I thought I might rely on known course form – but they have all won here, leaving me with the sharp pin of fate…. I am still worried about ORBAAN

RHOSCOLYN 3 pts Win – HODLER 1½ pts e/w 

3:10 EPSOM Dahlbury Coronation Cup (G1) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m4f 5 run

As you will know from previous selections, I have a penchant for overseas raiders who have been overlooked- especially from Germany. TUNNES looked very good last year, is a German G1 winner, has a high RPR and OR and has been backed in the last 8 hours from 16s to 8s. The only worry is the ground – which doesn’t have a Soft word in it. That aside he is very good. As I don’t fancy Frankie’s ride despite allowances all around, I am interested in the 2021 Irish Derby winner HURRICANE LANE who went on to win the G1 Grand Prix de Paris and then the St Leger on his subsequent two runs that season before coming 3rd in the Arc. Something was out od sync in 2022 and his two runs were disappointments but his victory in the G2 Jockey Club Stakes LTO suggested his head was back on straight. Dutch the pair for 7 pts.


3:45 EPSOM Betfred Handicap Cl2 (4yo+) 1m2f 11 run

The market has this about right and I can’t really see anything that looks badly out of place. SAVVY VICTORY looks like a horse on the up and Ryan Moore is back in the plate after his LTO 2nd and he also steered him to 5th in last year’s Cambridgeshire. The race with the form line seems to be York’s Knights Solicitors Handicap over the same distance give or take a couple of yards. MARHABA CHAMP won what Raceform described as a solid race with sound pace and time. MAJESTIC was 4th in that race and the two of them are now pretty well level on weights with MAJESTIC priced to overturn his 1¾l beating on the winner’s 2 lbs weight rise.


4:30 EPSOM Betfred Oaks (G1) (Fillies) Cl1 (3yo) 1m4f 11 run

There is only one horse in The Oaks with Capital P in Timeform and that is Richard Hannon’s MAMAN JOON. There isn’t much to say about her  – she’s only been seen the once! She cost 400,000gns and is a half-sister to good middle-distance winners Candleford and Atty Perse. She ran well on her Newbury debut in April and she’s owned by AMO racing, so they’re patently not running her for the badges. She must be showing something at home… surely. Anyway, I have backed her for 5 places at 30/1 with Bet365, and I’ll have a small saver on Betfair and trade her in running. Otherwise, I suppose we should look to AOB and Gosden, who effectively own this race between them – the last time someone other than them won it was ten years ago and Ralph Beckett’s Talent. SAVETHELASTDANCE’s run in The Cheshire Oaks was memorable for her 22l beating on a soft ground of a bunch of decent but not the highest-class individuals – and in an abysmal time. RUNNING LION and Musidora winner SOUL SISTER  are the principal Gosden chances and the latter is rated within one pound of SAVETHELASTDANCE. Her Musidora victory gave her an RPR of 115 – matching Musidora winner The Fugue in 2012 – a figure that has not been bettered since – and Dettori said afterwards: “…she quickened twice… she clocked a good time at York and I was pleasantly surprised.”



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