There have been moments in one’s life, as one limps away from the smouldering wreck, that you think, “Well, that could have been worse.”
Perhaps it was after one had made the incorrect decision to have the Steak Tartare in Le Grand Café de la Poste, a charming and iconic watering hole in the heart of Gueliz, Marrakesh. It might have been when you’ve sprinkled chilli pepper flakes over your pizza, forgotten that important fact in your attempt to seduce the luscious Lavinia Lettuce-Leverhume – and then absent-mindedly popped to the Gents. Note to younger readers – it is already too late at that point.
At such moments I take refuge in Dick Van Dyke’s iconic song “Ow’ it’s a jowly horlyday wiv Mary”, a song we know he sang half-cut, and having had a single voice lesson and several drinking sessions with his Cork-born voice coach, who had never been to England. It could have been worse, one thinks. He might have believed it was good!
Sadly this appears to be the current state of play within the BHA and the RCA over the new Master Plan, which La Harrington is selling as sound. I warned about this six weeks ago, (HERE), and now like an untreated rose thorn in the finger, it has festered, and sepsis is en route.
In brief, The BHA proposes restricting the number of races on Saturday afternoons to a select few “premier” meetings. This would mean that many smaller racecourses would lose their Saturday afternoon fixtures, significantly impacting them financially. Unsurprisingly, the smaller racecourses are vehemently opposed to the BHA’s proposals, and they are threatening legal action if they are not dropped. They argue that the proposals would damage the sport at the grassroots level and would make it more difficult for people to get involved in racing. The BHA argues that the proposals are necessary to improve the racing quality and make it more attractive to bettors. They further suggest that the current system is too cluttered and makes it difficult for people to find the best races to watch – for which read bet.
Under the deal done in June 2004 (the BHB Press Release and associated papers can be found HERE), some 85% of all fixtures, in the main, remained in the hands of the racecourses. Bizarrely, the agreement was reached after the OFT had investigated the BHB’s rules on fixtures and found that they were anti-competitive. The agreement required the BHB to make several changes to its rules, including reducing the number of fixtures on Saturday afternoons and spreading fixtures more evenly throughout the week.
The independent racecourses are further concerned that the proposals would lead to job losses and a decline in attendance. The BHA claims the proposals would create a more attractive product for bettors and ultimately benefit the sport. For the 21 smaller tracks that will be impacted, there is a view that those fixtures are now “in play” and they will, one assumes, threaten to race when they choose and not when the BHA tells them. Like the LIV in golf, schism beckons. I do not think I am overstating the situation when I say this could be the beginning of the end for The BHA, the Levy Board and the sport as we know it.
1:50 YORK Clipper EBF Marygate Fillies’ Stakes Cl1 (2yo) 5f 10 run
Dom Ffrench-David Queen Mary hope PERSIAN DREAMER was 3l clear of DOROTHY LARENCE on debut at Newmarket LTO and they might well turn into decent types, but at the current price, I’ll be backing BEENHAM, who is fast, tough and probably capable of further. GOT TO LOVE A GREY also looked progressive on debut.
BEENHAM 3 pts e/w
2:05 NEWBURY Unibet Hcap Cl3 (4yo+ 0-88) 1m2f 20 run
TIME INTERVAL caught the eye when returning from a 289-day break and just getting touched off on the line by MUSTAZEED here in April. He then went one better LTO at Goodwood, and he has only picked up 3lbs. However, my pen is hovering over WIND YOUR NECK IN who looked to be back to his best at Bath LTO, which was over a mile. Don’t worry about the extra 2f – he won a valuable nursery at Newmarket over the distance when he was a kid, and as he’s only picked up a pound and at double-digit odds – he looks playable.
WIND YOUR NECK IN 2 pts e/w
2:25 YORK Oaks Farm Stables Fillies’ Stakes Cl1 (3yo) 1m 9 run
All this week, we have seen some real value-for-money bets, with top jockeys bringing home plenty of understated double-figure horses. I think there is another one here with ORCHID BLOOM, ridden by Tom Marquand for William Haggas. Based on her debut race, I had her down for an Ascot novice, but she was a non-runner, and the race was won by the Gosdens’ QUEEN FOR YOU, who may well turn out to be pattern class. I also quite like the look of Andrew Balding’s CLOCHETTE in this, who won an AScot Novice last July. Four from that race have gone on to win. I still think the value is with my selection and do the forecast, perhaps.
ORCHID BLOOM 3 pts e/w – CLOCHETTE 1½ pts e/w – ½ pt CFC all three.
3:00 YORK Knights Solicitors Hcap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-100) 1m2½f 13 run
William Haggas has another possible winner in this with ARAMAIC. He was decent almost two years ago, making an eye-catching handicap debut over course and distance. He then went off favourite in the DDF Hcap at Newbury, coming in a slightly dismal 4th. Gelded, since I’m not sure I’d be in too much of a rush – let the market be your guide. SPIRIT DANCER got on well with the Knavesmire and was 4th in the John Smiths last year.
SPIRIT DANCER 2pts e/w
3:35 YORK Boodles Yorkshire Cup Stakes (G2) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m6f 7 run
QUICKTHORN took the Henry II, the Lonsdale Cup and a G2 at Longchamp last year and was last seen in Dubai on the World Cup card. HM is concerned about the impact of that journey on his charge, but QUICKTHORN is apparently showing plenty at home, so they are warily confident. Do not be tempted to back him antepost for The Ascot Gold Cup – HM told me he isn’t going there. SISKANY meets the main trends and is open to further improvement in the Stayers category.
SISKANY 3 pts Win
4:10 YORK Darley Novice Stakes Cl2 (3yo+) 1m ITV4 5 run