Work for some this week will have been, very literally, all hands to the pump. Ascot’s CEO will have been hard at work organising his grass-mopping team, or whatever one needs to do to save a race day. He was concerned two weeks ago – but I suspect is feeling easier in the mind now. My own work this week has also centred on the weather, as I and others tried to unravel Government fog dressed as fact – The Tiers of a Clown as someone put it. As I write, we appear to be discussing shutting the border between Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland – at the request of the Irish Government! The epicentre of the Six Counties second outbreak is around their border towns. So the government at Stormont (a word one can barely use without a wry smile), shuts down all the pubs and restaurants – at which point Billy pops across the border to Eire! I do wonder whether Common Sense has left the station, onboard the Nobody Cares Express.
Trying to understand the Cesarewitch last weekend was, by way of pastime, relatively easy – and I would love to say that Raceweb bounded away from the field to win easily. The reality is that, (thank the Lord), we shuffled off the ice grip of failure and fell free, with only a slight chafing around the nethers. On Friday we were 12 pts down, but the following day picked up Gulliver at 20/1 and two other winners, plus a brace of places at 10/1 and 20/1, all mounting to a 21pt profit for the day, and +9 pts for the whole meeting. Quite hard work, but in these troubled times, I have to keep reminding myself that in some Counting Houses, Raceweb’s ROI % for the year, would be earning me a seven-figure sum, much feting and even the odd free lunch. Perhaps even an evening with a glass of 1914 Armagnac, a Partagas and Angelina …..
“…And so I am become a knight of the Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows!”
Not much else to report… an old chum ticked me off for being less welcoming than usual, on his return from an Italian break in the late summer heat of Puglia, where he had eaten like a King and drunk like a Robert Parker acolyte. My social failure was I had failed to invite him for supper immediately on his return, and to cock an ear to his tales of Italian deprivation. I explained I simply wanted some assurance he was neither dead nor indeed dying and that whilst quarantine was too strong a word, nevertheless that was the situation. This is apparently poor form and I should, as he stepped from the plane covered in the spittle of a dozen refugees from the IRPEF (Italian personal taxation system), hug and be pleased to see him. I didn’t and I won’t, because one of our own has just got something foul and we are awaiting news. This is of course, socially, a moot point. Historically, Lady Kneesup has welcomed all and sundry, the door always open, wine rack almost full, possibly a cold partridge or a slice of Mrs Gargery’s pie available in the larder… but these days we are slightly more circumspect. Sadly the relentless, false, illiterate faux-science and the mismanaged statistical horseshit have worn us down. I know what I am hearing is total tosh being spun for political purposes on all sides, but I can no longer rise above it. Sadly I fear by Christmas we will be ready to shoot the Zombies from Liverpool and the drooling Glaswegian Jakies desperate for a slug of Electric Soup as they tunnel under the Tier 6 Wall.
Talking of total, illiterate tosh, here are the Raceweb selections for Champions Day.
1:20 ASCOT Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup (G2) (3yo+) 2m
The Strad is just too short, and it’s the end of the season and it’s been a long year, (if only for me), and STRADIVARIUS has been beaten twice in this race, and won it once, in the last 3 years. But most of all my memory is of his poor showing in a poor Arc LTO. That leaves us looking for value elsewhere and the starting point has to be – surely – horses that are KNOWN to handle the soft, rather than thinking/hoping that they might do. Surely if the trainer thought they’d handle the ground, they’d have run them on it before today? They haven’t been short of opportunities to date so why do it now? That I think deals neatly with Dermot Weld’s dual G1 winner SEARCH FOR A SONG and SPANISH MISSION, and I am unconvinced that MORANDO, who loves a bog, will get the distance. Surely MAX VEGA and DAWN PATROL are too young at 3, which leaves us with a brace of possibilities FUJAIRA PRINCE and TRUESHAN. I suggest backing both e/w and additionally dutching the pair for a split point to give us a fillip if either wins. Add STRADIVARIUS for a ½pt CFC.
FUJAIRA PRINCE e/w – TRUESHAN e/w – Dutch the pair win only – Add STRADIVARIUS to the pair for a ½pt CFC
1:55 ASCOT Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes (G1) (3yo+) 6f
Silvestre De Sousa won this last year and must have a decent chance again with ART POWER for the Tim Easterby stable. He has given his connections a huge amount of pleasure this season, but I simply struggle to see him as a G1 horse. He was 4th LTO and on today’s ratings, he is still maybe two lengths shy of beating a number of G1 winners appearing here. DREAM OF DREAMS and GLEN SHIEL who beat ART POWER into 4th place in the Haydock’s Sprint Cup just shy of three lengths are included in that list. However, there is one figure which has really caught my eye and that is OXTED’s first run since taking the Darley July Cup – and more importantly – since Roger Teal gave his gelding a wind-op. This has apparently been revelatory and the suggestion is that Pegasus has been reborn!
OXTED e/w if 8 or longer.
2:30 ASCOT Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (G1) (3yo+) 1m4f
The ground has come good for EVEN SO who ran a very decent race when winning the Irish Oaks in July and less so when 6th in the Prix Vermeille. She got wound up that day and the pace was, much like The Arc, ideal for snails and one-legged ducks. She is decent, and is a sensible price. She might have headed back to Longchamp two weeks ago, but this possiby looked easier. The danger might come from ANTONIA DE VEGA, if she is right. Ralph B will have done all he can, but she is not the easisest horse to maintain in peak condition and I suspect is prone to leg niggles.
EVEN SO Win
3:05 ASCOT Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G1) (Sponsored By Qipco) (British Champions Mile) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m
Loathe though I am to suggest it, I am struggling to find something to beat PALACE PIER. He started in June off OR98 in a Newcastle handicap and then took a brace of G1s and the Jacques La Marois LTO without looking remotely incapable. I had rather hoped he would go to the BC Mile, but this will do I suppose. Nonetheless there must be some place money to be had – surely? Francis-Henry Graffard bring over last year’s runner-up, the very decent French horse THE REVENANT who is 9 from 12 including three G2s. His favourite jockey is also here to max up the opportunity of taking this, on his preferred going. But can he win? The note from Sam Hoskins to the owners, suggests this is a fishing trip with the possibility of having their expenses and a large glass of sherbert paid for by SIR BUSKER who got no run in The Cambridgeshire LTO, which was entirely down to the low draw. CENTURY DREAM beat SIR BUSKER in the Celebration Mile at Goodwood, but again it was a weak race where traffic problems prevented a number of alternative results and CENTURY DREAM is not good enough.If there is a possible fly in the ointment it might be CIRCUS MAXIMUS who is Aidan O’B’s C&D Queen Anne winner, who also picked up a brace of other G1s. He was disappointing at Longchamp., but to be honest I didn’t think that was Ryan’s best ride LTO as I think I suggested eleswhere, CIRCUS MAXIMUS did too much at the beginning without leaving anything for the end.
PALACE PIER Win – THE REVENANT SFC and betting w/o – CIRCUS MAXIMUS e/w full exotic cover the three.
3:40 ASCOT Qipco Champion Stakes (British Champions Middle Distance) (G1) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m2f
You could make a case for all at the head of the market, but SKALLETTI was a revelation when winning the Prix Dollar for the second time at Longchamp LTO. He was in trouble throughout, twice blocked badly, but never looked anything other than cool, unflustered, in charge and capable. It was almost as though he was laughing at them, a bravura performance in the manner of old Errol Flynn movie hero. It was breathtaking. MISHRIFF would be the one I fear most.
4:15 ASCOT Balmoral Handicap (Sponsored By Qipco) Cl2 (3yo+) 1m
I had three for this and then read some more, and made it four. The latter addition was largely on the say so of Marcus Armytage, and is RAISING SAND who will love the ground and is ridden by Saffie Osborne, daughter of Jamie. The Lambourn rumour mill, has always loved The Osbornes and I was “reliably” told at dinner that Saffie had broken a foot, finger, heel or similar while eventing on Tuesday. RAISING SAND regardless is decent and didn’t run badly in The Hunt Cup and will benefit from Saffie’s 7lb allowance, although she might be carrying 2 stone in plaster casts. The race has only been run six times, but it has not produced any 3yo winners from 20 runners. In Government statistical terms, that would be enough to require expending £20bn on advisors, here I simply suggest we stick to 4 and 5 yos. Given that David O’Meara has in the last four years (from six) had 2w – 2p – 10r it might pay to have a look at HORTZADAR. Jamie “Late at The Line” Spencer takes the ride and he’s got a great idea of what will be needed to take this. KING OTTOKAR is my third on the short list. He loves the Soft, he likes Ascot, Charlie Fellowes is 5/19 in the last fortnight, and if there is a weak spot, its probably his draw. Take a price ASAP. He’s 8/1 at the moment. He’ll go off 6s. Finally ALTERNATIVE FACT made my shortlist on the strength of Frankie’s booking. He’s been 2nd and 3rd in his two runs with Frankie, who is obviously booked for the big occassion. He was 2nd behind Sir Busker, in The Silver Cup, and SB’s run (anything better than 7th outstanding), will be a clue to this.
KING OTTOKAR win – RAISING SAND e/w – ALTERNATIVE FACT & HOTZADAR in a ¼pt CFC.