I know how I, my jockey’s and Ron have being feeling of late with all the meetings lost to the weather. Re-arrange the words crazy and stir and you’ll find out! I know it hasn’t being great for all of you members either, as it has halted any serious punting.
As I’ve mentioned previously the Southwell closure has been a nightmare for the Northern trainers, so I was very interested to read a recent interview with leading Northern owner Reg Bond. He outlined the possibilities regards bulding an all-weather track on some land that is currently up for sale at a guide price of £550,000. The land is currently up for offer so if Reg was to have things in place for a new track he would probably have to move fast. Apparently this is something he first looked at a decade ago and while it is in no doubt an all-weather track (are we still ok to call it that?), it is much needed in the North. Potential backer’s would look at the ill fated Great Leighs I’m sure and wonder why the track there didn’t last long. Great Leighs was described by by John Gosden as one of the best all-weather tracks in the world, so with the track being given the thumbs up by such illustrious names in the sport you can only put it down to poor management that the course ceased racing.
It does make you wonder had the Great Leighs project being located in the North, whether we would still be seeing racing there. What with Lingfield and Kempton already in the London area, maybe Great Leighs was just a case of being one too many? I know that their had been trials held over the course last year, so maybe racing will be held there again in the future. However, in this day and age, when we have seen Folkestone and Hereford close, you really wouldn’t risk any of your hard earned on it.
Again this week we have seen the now common case of jockey’s being hauled in the stewards room for not trying hard enough. Adam Carter was deemed to have not made sufficient effort aboard the Tim Easterby trained Faffa at Wolverhampton and, having seen the race and also seen the uproar on the various racing forums, it also looked bad to many more than myself. Whilst he has received a ten day ban, his trainer escapes Scot free even though he rode to instructions. I am not the biggest fan of the exchanges but the one positive of them is that Betfair can identify the layers and report it to the BHA.
Adam is an apprentice so after his travel costs and valet fees he will have ridden there at a loss. Having held a license since 2005 and now in his ninth year he will hardly be making a living from his riding, so the ten day ban may only cost him a handful of rides. Adam by his own admission was guilty, (albeit he offered some excuses) but if riding to the trainer’s instructions the question has to be asked, why hasn’t the trainer received any punishment? Before Christmas, Oliver Sherwood and Leighton Aspell were both found guilty of the same offence with Furrows at Hereford. Sherwood was fined £3000, Aspell banned for 14 days and the horse suspended from running for 40 days. It was the horses debut over fences, he had a history of leg problems and having suffered a nasty fall early on in his career the main thing was for him to get round unscathed and boost his confidence. He ran on into fourth place at odds of 20-1, but when you consider Faffa drifted from 7-4 out to 7-2 in a four horse race you have to ask where the consistency is, for if there is any cheating going on it would look more evident with Faffa.
As Barry Hills once said “if you take away all the skulduggery it will be boring” and while we all enjoy reading about how a coup was landed or the such like, at the same time we all want consistency with officials in what ever sport we follow or play.
Talking of landing a gamble, I for one was saddened by Barney Curley recently announcing his retirement from training. Right from the famous Yellow Sam gamble at Bellewstown in 1975, to his last winner Me Fein at Fakenham in November, his career as a professional gambler, owner – trainer and hard working charity worker has always been colourful and far from boring.
As a punter you could never follow him 100% of the time as he was as cunning as a fox, but when he landed a gamble it always brought a smile to my face, as you just knew he’d pulled a stroke and a victory over the dreaded enemy. I have his autobiography which is nicely titled “Giving A Little Back” and I’m sure that since it was published there has being plenty more for Barney to write about, which would definitely be enough to produce volume two.
A true racing legend in my opinion, I would wish him a happy retirement but he has only retired from training so he can throw all his effort towards the remarkable charity work he does for DAFA (Direct Aid For Africa). He may have a reputation but Barney has done so much for the sport in his many campaigns against the powers that be and his tireless work for DAFA even now at the age of 72…a truly amazing man.
From the few horses we had to follow, DUNN’O landed the each way money on his last run when finishing third at 16-1 but he looks like he is a shadow of his former self and If following I would only go in small in similar selling/claiming races. WOOLFALL SOVEREIGN on the other hand continues in great form and, as predicted, he’s done well in the valuable sprints on the all-weather having won twice and finishing second, beaten a head and amassing over £20,000 in the process. He remains one to stay on the right side of between now and the start of the turf, then off a lower turf mark I’m sure George Margarson will place him to good effect.
Looking ahead to the weekend we have four meetings with Lingfield & Wolverhampton providing the action on Friday and Saturday.
On Friday at Lingfield, WINDFORPOWER goes in the 1.00pm race and, whilst he has shown signs of quirkiness, he’s also shown consistency in the grade. He’s four pounds wrong with Bill Turner’s runner but with fitness assured I would look at Ron Harris’s charge as the likely winner.
In the 1.30pm race Nathan Alison rides JOHNNY SPLASH. The pair have clicked since joining forces and having ran above his mark earlier this week in a claimer when wrong at the weight, he can go well here.
Up at Wolverhampton, LE TOREADOR goes again in the 6.30pm race. I advised him as a bet last time out and he was heavily punted. He got beat a nose in the shadow of the post. That day he was giving Drawnfromthepast weight and here they re-oppose with Le Toreador six pounds better off. The inexperienced claimer is a slight negative but his claim helps swing the weights in the pairs favour and he should be there or thereabouts come the end.
On Saturday one to watch in the betting and exchanges at Lingfield in the 4.15pm race is the Willie Musson trained HURRICANE HYMNBOOK. Having watched his last two races he’s been held up at the back and seems to have been let go when the race was over. Watch the market for positives as this has things in its favour and is handicapped to win if Saturday is the day.
Also at Lingfield, a horse I put up as one to follow goes in the 2.00pm, the James Bethell trained RICH AGAIN. This won on handicap debut over CD off 60 and has only been raised three pound so, he’s unexposed and hopefully has more to come.
In the 3.10pm race the Marco Botti trained BE PERFECT looks to hold strong claims, he last ran in a listed race over CD, only beaten by half a length when cornering really wide into the straight, which surely cost him the race. He re-opposes some of those that finished behind on better terms as this is a handicap and he looks to have a great chance of gaining compensation.
It has being quiet of late but Kirsty has a good book of rides at Wolverhampton on Saturday with SUBTLE DIFFERENCE looking to be her best chance in the 5.30pm race, albeit the other three should all go well at decent prices.
Here’s to a good weekend, whatever your doing. Also, to those of you heading for Wolverhampton on Monday to watch Hiddon Coin and Rosies Lady run, I hope you have a great day and get the chance to visit that winner’s enclosure yet again.