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25th April 2024 5:35 am

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

Up the Amazon, without a cooker.

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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

All in all a pretty good week, certainly in terms of my sitting for a few moments of respite on The Moral High Ground. This week’s MHG is the Amazon Basin which, it turns out, has a large plughole at the bottom, through which the Dunfermline workers hurl perfectly good bits of kit.

As their bizarre (from a shareholders’ perspective) behaviour was exposed by ITV, Amazon was also holding their Prime sale. For the three of you unfamiliar with this word, Amazon has a service layer known as Prime, which you pay for and which then offers you more services that you can pay for. There are benefits like free deliveries, and the opportunity to watch Jeremy Clarkson doing some farming, as well as some excellent French Flics films. Every six months or so, they hold a Prime sale, where members can buy products such as Amazon’s Echo dot, (very good speakers that can talk to you if you call them all Alexa), and a vacuum cleaner called a Shark. There are other things to buy, but I had determined that I would give my father-in-law an Echo Dot, so that he could simply call out for music to suit his mood, and would only have to remember to keep his opinions on the liberality of Genghis Khan to himself, or at least not tell Alexa.

Simultaneously, my eye was taken by an Electric Pressure Cooker that boasted seven other functions and which had been discounted by 44%. Yes folks, for fifty squidlets, I could take a piece of beef that the dog wouldn’t touch and reduce it to a delicious, melt in the mouth delicacy that Raymond Blanc would envy. Also, apparently, this thing could make Yogurt! Imagine, curries with their own Coriander and Yogurt sauce stepping into the blazing light of my dinner party candles, in under twenty minutes. What elegance, what style, what could possibly go wrong? I had in my mind, just arranged many, many brownie points from both wife, her papa and an array of grateful chums who would be the recipients of my new “cheap-cuts-made-delicious” cuisine.

This ordering took place on my mobile, outside the house of friends who had invited Madame and I to supper. I remained in the car to finalise this mega-deal and my new culinary future and then went in full of the news of my good fortune. I’m bound to say that The Brigadier’s wife was less enthusiastic than might have been expected, as she pointed out the dangers of pressure cookers. The Hostess then recounted a tale of scalding steam, near-death experiences, holes in the ceiling from safety valves, and walls permanently painted in thirty-two shades of Cow and Tomato. The Brigadier joined in and started talking about turning them into IEDs. The entire conversation and my mood started heading South and worse, I started to worry. Delicious dins, excellent company and I had almost forgotten about it, when La Plantagenet asked on the way home, “What was that you were talking about when you arrived? Some new cooking kit? And where do you suppose it is going to go?”, …and so on and so forth.

As I drifted off to sleep I had almost decided to give Father-in-Law the IED, and keeping the Alexa boom-box for the wife’s bathroom, with a long electrical cable to keep it charged. Suffice it to say, ITV’s excellent and scrupulous news team had discovered the truth and that Amazon were Very Bad People. I waited for Greta to tell me what to do next, but in the end, I thought I’d just check when I might expect the culinary paint-sprayer and discovered I would have to wait two weeks. Perhaps they were trying to dig one up from the rubbish tip. Who knows? Anyway, with a very heavy heart, I cancelled my 7 in 1 Electrical Pressure Cooker and told them their deliveries took too long and besides I was VERY VERY CROSS about their dumping kit and what about the planet? The Echo Dot doesn’t arrive until this December, so I can give it as a Christmas present, and besides it was very cheap.

Huzzah. Highly Moral Cheers all round. Talking of dubious, here are the weekend’s tips.

1:45 NEWCASTLE (AW) Best Odds Guaranteed Hcap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-100) 6f


2:05 NEWMARKET Maureen Brittain Memorial Empress Fillies’ Stakes (Listed) Cl1 (2yo) 6f

I’ve gone for experience, but I fear expectation!


2:20 NEWCASTLE (AW) William Hill Chipchase Stakes (G3) Cl1 (3yo+) 6f

KHUZAAM had only raced on AWT, but transferred to the Turf for the Bet365 Mile at Sandown LTO. He led the other three runners for 6½f,  who then swept past and turned the last furlong into an embarrassing procession. Given the winner was Queen Anne winner Palace Pier, I suppose it wasn’t a disgraceful performance, but I suspect it was either [1] he doesn’t like the turf; [2] 8f is too far or [3] he needs a bigger crowd.  Well, they’ve certainly covered the bases by putting him in here and the fact is he is decent. So decent in fact, that on a variety of AWT tracks, he has never been out of the first two. VENTURA REBEL is finally back to Group 3 level having been unplaced in The Diamond Jubilee Stakes, although it was not by any means a poor performance. (Draw and ground played a part). Fahey sent him over to The Curragh last September to take the G3 Renaissance Stakes, a much-needed reversal of the normal direction of current Irish-Anglo prize money movements. He looks a decent price.


2:40 NEWMARKET Close Brothers Fred Archer Stakes (Listed) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m4f


2:55 NEWCASTLE (AW) William Hill Pick Your Places Northumberland Vase Hcap Cl2 (3yo+) 2m½f

BLOW YOUR HORN has raced twice on Turf and hated it both times. His breeding suggests he’ll get the extra two furlongs and he is consistent at Newcastle. RAYMOND will get the trip and doesn’t mind AWT and has course form. He’s a sensible price at 12s or bigger – but back him now as I see him going off at 9s or 10s. ZEEBAND has been on my radar since last October when he got barged off his line when making what looked like a winning move at York over 14f. This is his first time on Tapeta and it will depend on how deep they harrow the course, as his best form to date has been on GS or Soft. Previous winner COSMELLI must also have a chance given Euchen Glen’s recent performances. Some oldies still have a lot left in them!

RAYMOND e/w – COSMELLI e/w both with ZEEBAND in 2 x ½pt RFC

3:15 NEWMARKET Close Brothers Criterion Stakes (G3) Cl1 (3yo+) 7f 16 runners

Disregard MUM’S TIPPLE LTO where he was patently below par. On the previous form, his price is crazy. It’s also hard to ignore THE LIR JET and APOLLO ONE’s 3yo weight allowance, with an additional benefit to all concerned from KINROSS’ penalty. On the assumption that Oisin Murphy knows his job, I am bewildered as to why connections ignored his advice the first time he rode the horse, to keep him to a sound surface. His run at Ascot was anything but, and more importantly, was just eight days ago. Anyway, the LIR JET is here and all in all, has a decent chance at a podium. APOLLO ONE is a C&D winner and again one should ignore the ground conditions LTO and he too has a podium chance – but has at least had a few weeks break.


3:30 NEWCASTLE (AW) William Hill Northumberland Plate Hcap Cl2 (3yo+) 2m½f

The trouble with Selection By Trends is that the operator – me – has to decide which trends to choose from a list that is always diminishing in terms of certainty. Thus I can say 18/19 of the last winners did “x”, but should I also consider 15/19 did “y”? I only mention this because the race is run on Tapeta, probably my least favourite racing surface, and they have only been doing so for the last six years, which must impact. So bearing that in mind, the trends narrow it down to AUSTRALIS, TRUESHAN and DUBIOUS AFFAIR. On a more liberal interpretation, I added RESHOUN, RAJINSKY and ALRIGHT SUNSHINE.  The favourite (TRUESHAN) has an OR of 118 and carries 9st 13lbs if you take his claimer’s allowance into account. That is a huge weight, and in trend terms, the highest-rated horse to win a handicap in the last 21 years was Ocean Tempest in 2014 at Chester off 115. On the plus side, TRUESHAN won the Qipco Long Distance on Champions Day, but I think he’s an Autumn turf horse with a preference for a bit of cut in the going. DUBIOUS AFFAIR got knocked about in the last on Ascot’s Day One but ran an absolute blinder to come a neck second. Sadly I think it was our own selection that day that did the knocking, and in search of recompense, I fancy DA will like the ground more than TRUESHAN and is, in any event, a better price, given he was thought good enough for the aforementioned Champions Day race on bottomless ground.


3:45 CURRAGH Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (G1) (3yo) 1m4f

Both HIGH DEFINITION and MOJO STAR fail for me on the trends, and besides, I’ve been waiting for the reappearance of HURRICANE LANE since his last appearance in The Derby where, despite losing his two front shoes in racing, he managed to finish third. You can get at the time of writing 11/2 in a few places and I suspect he’ll be 9/2 on the day. To me that makes him near-free money to a win with an each-way bet. You’d be a fool to discount Mac SWINEY, but I think he’s had a tough old season and I’d be happier backing him in the auction, perhaps around champions day. Frankie on board LONE EAGLE is interesting – his last run at Goodwood showed he has the stamina and his breeding says he is capable.



2:00 CURRAGH Airlie Stud Stakes (G2) (Fillies) (2yo) 6f


3:05 CURRAGH Paddy Power Rockingham Hcap (3yo+) 5f

The Sponsors haven’t gone overboard with generous place terms here and the market is evenly divided between ¼ odds for 4 places and 1/5 odds for 5 places. As I mentioned elsewhere, it ais always good to see the Brits having a pop at Irish prize money and this is a race, where we have won five of the last nine runnings. David Barron sends ZARZYNI with Sam Ewing in the plate claiming a useful 5lbs. Originally costing £¼m, he was sold by The Aga Khan, for £60k moving from M Halford to David Barron. Albeit a 2¼l fourth to Lope y Fernandez in a G3 here two years ago, he did not progress and is turning into a decent handicapper. He ran well at Musselburgh LTO, despite traffic. He has a decent chance.


3:40 CURRAGH Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes (G1) (Fillies & Mares) (3yo+) 1m2f

This must surely be the last chance for SANTA BARBARA to meet AOB’s expectations. She ran and won her maiden on the strength of raw power, and despite running green and with an awkward head carriage. Her seasonal debut saw her in the Qipco 1000 Gns where she was 4th – again flattering to deceive and still looking unfinished. She didn’t like being put under pressure and was then sent to The Oaks, where it was hard to describe which bits went right. All in all, she is the epitome of the Triumph of Expectation Over Experience, made worse by her being favourite. Ignore her and the race becomes wide-open – remembering that no horse in the last 24 runnings has finished at odds greater than 12/1. That leaves us with a shortlist of three and in my view, the best of those is CAYENNE PEPPER. She made her seasonal debut in this race last season, finishing second to Magical and going on to be 2nd in the Irish Oaks and winning a G2 where she held THUNDERING NIGHTS to a 5½l third on Good ground. She is race fit, gets the ground she needs and is a sensible price around 4s.


4:10 CURRAGH Comer Group International Curragh Cup (G2) (3yo+) 1m6f


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