Well, the grotty weather put paid to the Lincoln last week so it’s very much a case of a super Saturday with the flat finally kicking off even if a little belatedly with some good racing on the turf at Doncaster and Musselburgh, a decent card down on the all-weather at Kempton and then the small matter of the Dubai World Cup meeting over in Meydan. (I don’t think they’ll be worried about getting any snow over there!)
I have to say that I was very surprised that Channel Four covered that meeting from Southwell but at the same time it was nice to see some of the lesser lights of the sport get some terrestrial coverage. Attheraces also gave plenty of coverage as regards interviews with owners, trainers and jockeys too, which was also a nice change. When watching the races I for one like to see the horses in the paddock and where as last Saturday it was the only meeting (so I’m guessing they did so many interviews to help fill the programme), it is something that they should do more of. More time should be focused on the racecourse instead of been in the studio.
Fair play to the BHA for having the sense and rescheduling the Lincoln meeting due to last week’s poor forecast, it has also given some horses the chance to run in the main event at Town Moor instead of running in the Spring Mile consolation race as some of the horses took options elsewhere. However, I will be sticking with my original selections for Doncaster.
It’s a case of take two with the Lincoln meeting and as mentioned last week, Charlie Hills and William Carson team up with CAPTAIN BERTIE in the feature race. This gelded son of Captain Rio made his reappearance last year at the same meeting, albeit in the Spring Mile, where he ran a good fourth having suffered an unlucky run. He then teamed up with William Carson for the first time and they combined to win the Spring Cup at Newbury, on soft ground. Having won that off a mark of 85, he is now here off 94. The soft ground will be a positive though and the gelding did run a great second off 93 in the Bunbury Cup in heavy ground at Newmarket, that over 7 furlongs and the step back up to a mile is in his favour (he has shortened in the betting over the course of the past week and is now clear favourite). One of the horses in behind that day was the Kevin Ryan inmate CAPTAIN RAMIUS. There was half a length between them that day and “Bertie” was getting 7 pounds from “Ramius”. However, Kevin Ryan went on to pick the Ayr Gold Cup off a mark of 100 and a conditions race with Captain Ramius after that run, at Newmarket and he runs in the Cammidge Trophy on Saturday off a mark of 106, which could make Captain Bertie still well handicapped. Captain Ramius has been in Dubai over the winter and will relish the underfoot conditions better than most, so he is worth considering here.
Down at Kempton YEEOOW goes in the 4.35 race for the Elaine Burke team. This gelded son of Holy Roman Emperor has shown a real liking for the course having won twice and beaten a short head in only three starts here. He is well drawn in stall two and should get a nice pace to come off.
Good luck to you all with Hiddon Coin up at Musselburgh, his race fitness is a big plus and hopefully he will run with credit. As Ron has already mentioned, GREELEYS LOVE should figure prominently for Mark Johnston. Johnston had six entered initially and I had spoke with one of his secretary’s regarding Jamie Mackay as they needed a lightweight for those at the bottom of the handicap. When they declared there was a mad flurry of activity with the jockey bookings and they pulled out their runner at the top of the weights so Joe Fanning could take the ride due to the weights going up three pounds so that tells a story.
Talking of Musselburgh and to coin Max Bygraves famous phrase, “I’m gonna tell you a story” from a few years ago. Back in 1998 I had a day at Ripon races and I gave a lift to Iona Wands who I had worked with at Dandy Nicholls. She told me that she fancied her chances on a former Nicholls inmate called Lunch Party at Musselburgh the following day. I had also been given the nod for Mick Easterby’s Hasta La Vista at the same meeting so it all looked good for making a few quid. As mentioned a few weeks ago, the landlord from my local had an account with our local independant bookie so Brian, my dad and I backed the pair in cross bets and a double. We had maybe £100 cross and a £100 double between us and when Brian rang the bookie, he asked about the horses as it was quite a sizeable bet for him to ring in. Brian was honest and told him that we had indeed had word for the horses. Well both horses duly obliged, both at 7-2 and we got the bet up, when Brian went to the shop to get weighed in he was greeted with a warm welcome and a big smile from the normally grumpy old swine behind the counter. The bookie explained that as he had told him that we had word for them that he had laid the bet off and had himself a £200 cross and double which netted him over £4000 which he thanked Brian for and told him that it was his holiday paid for! That night we had a few drinks as we all got paid out and we were astonished to hear that our friendly bookie paid out with a smile on his face which believe me, was very unlike him!
The following weekend, both horses were declared to run at Catterick and both had obvious chances as Lunch Party had won with plenty in hand and was only put up five pound, whilst Hasta La Vista had only risen by three. So the three of us got stuck into the pair of them again, as was the case when they first won the bookie asked if we had heard something for them this time and he was honest and said that we hadn’t but we fancied them ourselves and obviously owed us nothing. I had seen on teletext that Hasta La Vista was 5-2 and Lunch Party was trading at 5-1 so when we got to the pub, Brian rang up and placed me a £20 cross and £20 double and asked for the prices, to which I was astounded to hear that I was on at 5-2 and 11-4 on Lunch Party. So I proceeded to have the same bet again on at the starting price. A few of the locals were in so we encouraged them to jump on our bandwagon in hope that we could beat the bookie!
Lunch Party was up first and Iona waved her magic wand with an all the way win to get things off to the perfect start at a juicy 5-1! Mick Easterby’s runner was in the 4.40 race and his very good Australian jockey Terry Lucas was doing the steering. Well we were oblivious to what was going on up the road at Catterick Bridge as we could only wait on the teletext result coming through. When it did come through it was definitely a case of Hasta La Vista baby! Lucas had led from the moment the stalls opened till they passed the post at a price of 9-4. We all won a nice few quid and Brian even let us have another pint before he kicked us out.
On the Monday, Brian went to sort his account with our friendly bookie to find him in his usual not so friendly mode. He was moaning a bucketful, he stood the bet this time and ended up paying us all of his holiday fund! Happy day’s indeed!
The bookie sold up a few years ago and I still see him from time to time in my local alehouse, the last time I saw him there was some racing on the TV and someone asked him if he missed having the shop….well I can’t tell you exactly what he said but I got the impression he was glad to be out of bookmaking!
If your heading to Musselburgh, I hope you have a great day out but what ever your doing have a great weekend.