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Unlike Matt Hancock (so far), I have returned

Capt. Kneesup

Capt. Kneesup

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As the great Dame Edna would say at the beginning of a new stage show, “Did you miss me Possums?” I know one reader who did, who was blissfully unaware of the tenser moments of my last month and sent a sharp note demanding a refund and compensation. It was only later he remembered this is an act of charity on my behalf, and a determination on yours, to keep me from hanging around street corners being Woke.

I was going to bore you with how bad a job Virgin Broadband made of installing an FTTP broadband line to the new house in Lambourn. They were useless. I might have mentioned that part of the four known delays we suffered from, was apparently due to West Berkshire Council who require the likes of Virgin and British Gas, to apply for a permit to dig up every 20m of pavement. Each permit takes 4/5 days at their end, and another two/three days at Virgin’s end.  The distance that required examination, was 285m. So when in November, Virgin said December they meant March possibly April. Sometimes one just wonders whether there are better forms of encouragement than simply trying to pay the supplier. In a civilised world – and in this case, I’m including North Korea, China and Afghanistan – unhelpful customer support and poor infrastructure integration would see one’s family receive a demand for the repayment of the firing squad’s costs! I gave up with Virgin in the end and resorted to the old fashioned wire and tin can approach.

Operating my life via a 3G mobile phone has given me plenty of time to watch the news and to keep up with affairs. This, in brief, is what I think I have now seen, remembered and considered.

  • Two grown-ups, who are both capable of earning £10k for five minutes of work, behaved in a way that supports the already bleak views that the general population has of horseracing. If – as is alleged by many and which started the arguments in the first place – Briony Frost rides with a single-minded purpose and scant regard for racing lines, as she seeks the tactical-advantage-at-any-price approach, then her coach (the avuncular Mick Fitzgerald) and some kinder jockeys should have said something far earlier, about her weaving in and out of traffic. If they did, and she told them to naff off, then she should have been reported to the PJA with a request for the Stewards to intervene. Perhaps that’s what we need. Some form of a “Truth & Reconciliation” committee. They could simply demand that the licenced individual meets with them, in-camera and with no kept records there could also be no possible penalties or punishments. Be it a perceived or rumoured drug or drink problem, a bad riding habit, a foul temper, or an over-sexed libido, a quiet semi-official word out of the limelight and off the record, could solve a wide range of issues, that require intervention without book throwing. Briony might have been warned far earlier, that her riding style (if the rumours are right) was a cause for concern. That of course was then. What was despicable, was that no one told Dumb that he was an unfunny bully and to knock it on the head. I would have banned him for speaking like that to a 3lb claimer from South Shields or a 30-year veteran on his last pins. Collectively however this is a wake-up call for the weighing room best not ignored because otherwise, they’ll all need to learn how to be plumbers or HGV drivers pretty damn quickly. There are plenty of people beyond the racecourse, who want to do us all down, and I see no point in helping them.
  • A relentless inability by Boris to grasp that his wife’s advice on almost all issues is a pre-cursor to a PR disaster continues to be one of his (many) weak spots. From decorating ideas (by my cousin’s wife I say rather proudly) to Afghani dog rescues, she forced the PM to select her friend, Allegedly as his TV  spokesperson, despite her underwhelming auditions for the role. They all then dissembled about the 2020 Christmas parties, while the former journalist was caught being clever and unfunny on camera. It turns out that practice doesn’t make perfect, and in Westminster, these days, there is always someone else in the room who hates you enough to make you unemployable for some considerable time… and they will always release the footage.
  • The Pandemic misinformation spree is on at full pace. Yet to gain traction is the possibility that Omicron’s prevalence in SA, is because the country’s immune system has been widely impacted by the high prevalence of AIDS; and that it is also probable that SA has had at least three outbreaks of C19 amongst a largely unvaccinated population and that this, in turn, has delivered an equally rapid level of natural immunity. Plus its summer there at the moment, so everyone is outside. I have no idea if those are facts or true, but I do know that they are more probable than the NHS’ daily figures, which still refuses to manage the UK Cause of Death as anything other than Covid, even if the victim fell under a train, but tested positive last month
  • In the North Shropshire By-Election, Official Monster Raving Loony Party candidate Howling Laud Hope made the entirely reasonable point that the biggest “political” group in the UK at the moment is actually comprised of those people who don’t vote at all. His platform was “Don’t Waste Your Vote”. Genius.
  • Insulate Extinction, or whatever they’re called, are apparently planning more protests. Stop sending them to prison and instead, have them insulate Old People’s Homes with a minimum of 40 hours of Community Service a week for a minimum of two years. Each Contempt gets them a further two years.
  • Finally – and this should concern us all – our innocent punt online or via our mobiles, is due to become part of what will be known as an SCV, a Single Customer View. Essentially if your online behavioural data triggers various algorithms, your SCV details would be shared with  other bookmakers in order for them to “intervene.”  Pornography, Net Stalking, Online Grooming, Cyberbullying, Synchronised masturbating and various other horrific activities on the internet, face nothing of this sort of “intervention” or disapprobation – only Raceweb readers, Bill and Carol, trying to get their two-bob each way on Adayer, suffer the full glare of the Puritan-wing of the Not-A-Party Party.

By the by… I am almost convinced that I have heard the ghastly BBC Socialist Republican and Media Correspondent, Amol Nitrate, using the word “Disopprobrium.” What can one say?

Talking of unbelievable, here are my suggestions for the racing.

1:50 ASCOT Howden Hcap Chs Cl2 (4yo+ 0-150) 2m3f 11 run

On the trends, I’d have KNIGHT IN DUBAI, PALMERS HILL and DIEGO DU CHARMIL. I think the winner is from those three and as Paul Nicholls targets this race, I’d have a pop at DIEGO DU CHARMIL e/w

DIEGO DU CHARMIL e/w 

2:05 HAYDOCK Virgin Bet Hcap Hdl Cl2 (3yo+ 0-145) 2m3f 9 run

Oliver Sherwood sends LITTLE AWKWARD to Haydock to make his handicap debut. He won his maiden hurdle debut last year on similar ground and was only 1½l down to Alan King’s Valleres, who has now gone chasing. He’s had a decent break, had wind surgery and his trainer has been patient for a reason. On his handicap debut, I think he might well be better than his 127 rating.

LITTLE AWKWARD e/w

2:25 ASCOT Howden Long Walk Hdl (G1) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m½f 9 run

It could be reasonably argued that the Staying Hurdlers class is wide open this year and we have a chance to see some possible future Champions climbing the ladder. PAISLEY PARK is wearing a tongue-tie for the first time and as I have written before, PP is not the same force as he once was. In fact, the last time he won was this race in 2020, beating THYME HILL by a neck. This is a classy race as always, and Newbury’s Long Distance Hurdle has often proved a useful guide. This year’s winner was THOMAS DARBY and my only concern was that I felt he lacked determination. Timeform was harsher, saying he was no battler, but the fact is that the Newbury race unfolded entirely to his benefit. This will be tougher. BUZZ has elected to buzz off, but CHAMP appears and must have a chance. However, I think RONALD PUMP looks a very reasonable price and he has been runner-up twice now to the very decent 165 rated Honeysuckle. In other words, this is wide open. If eight runners stay in the race, then I might have a little e/w punt on LISNAGAR OSCAR, but otherwise, I’ll go with THYME HILL and stick him in with CHAMP for a speculative combi-trifecta

THYME HILL WinLISNAGAR OSCAR (if 8 runners) e/w

2:40 HAYDOCK Virgin Bet Tommy Whittle Hcap Chs Cl2 (4yo+ 0-145) 3m1½f 16 run

I like the look of FUJI FLIGHT here, who has dropped to 124 since February’s 135. Scratch another 7lbs for Lucy Turner and if weight was an issue before it surely can’t be today. He kept on well at Lingfield LTO and looked as though the extra distance might help. This is his second race since a wind-op and his fourth in the charge of Venetia. I am enthused by his profile.

FUJI FLIGHT e/w

3:00 ASCOT Howden Silver Cup Hcap Chs Cl1 (4yo+) 3m 13 run

I’ve convinced myself that there is no point looking past the top four in the handicap, whose mark represents that of the last dozen or so winners. Of those CARIBEAN BOY last ran in a Cl1 handicap and his trainer Hendo has won two of the last four renewals of the race.

CARIBEAN BOY 1/2pt EW

3:35 ASCOT Betfair Exchange (Hcap) Trophy (G3) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m7½f 14 run

NO ORDINARY JOE is the Henderson-trained favourite with Nico de B in the plate, bidding to reverse the Greatwood result with WEST CORK although frankly, he needs a stiff talking to and told to settle down – he was very keen at Newbury and while he has very few racing miles on the clock overboiling might become a problem. The latter is probably the one with the most potential of the first four in the betting – SAMARRIVE has a big task with 11lbs more to carry in what is surely a competitive race. At 11s as I write, LUTTRELL LAD looks 2-3 points wrong and holds e/w attractions off 135 – but he needs to be a bit more fluent at his hurdles. GARRY CLERMONT should have won LTO, but for his habit of jumping left, which he did once too often at the last at Ascot, and gave the race away. He has talent. LLANDINABO LAD was given a 1lb back by the handicapper for his promising Bangor seasonal debut. against Hunters Call who then ran a blinder in the International coming a 1l 3rd. This is his second start since a wind-op and I rather think that this one might get Tom back on track

LLANDINABO LAD e/w

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