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Do Stewards care about punters, Sussex Stakes good thing, and how much is old age worth for Mac?

Big MacWhen the opportunity arises to stir up the proverbial hornets nest who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth, and this week we have the age discrimination case of a certain John McCririck, the marmite of racing broadcasters – you either love him or you hate him with absolutely no middle ground to speak of. Personally, as you can imagine I have run in to John in my work on a zillion occasions at most racecourses in the British Isles and away from the camera, I have found him personable and polite – though he does take his on screen persona with him when asking questions, as the more controversial the better, seems to be his family motto!

As for his case against Channel 4 and Co regarding age discrimination, I can see his point but surely if a television show decide to revamp the format, or change presenters that is their entitlement? Put another way, I  do not agree with change for change’s sake – but I do see the need for it now and then and although I am one of the few willing and even happy to laud him for his fights on behalf of punters over the years (who are. were are and always will be conveniently ignored everywhere else), I cannot really side with him here based on the few facts available to the public. Interestingly, the one thing that keeps cropping up on the forums is John’s alleged (?) sexist attitudes over the years and his possible hypocrisy here in trying to use discrimination laws in his favour, but for those commenting along the lines of “we don’t need his betting ring comments – we just need Pricewise”, well I suggest they check their bank statements!

Richard HughesLooking back at last week we really ought to glance at the classics at the very least and ask ourselves what did we learn for future reference? Starting with the Oaks, Richard Hughes was at his masterful best to get Talent to the front where it mattered, but credit goes to Ralph Beckett who appears to be taking over from Sir Michael Stoute as our eminent trainer of fillies. First and second in a Classic is ridiculous (unless your name is O’Brien I suppose), and I suspect we could have got pretty rich taking the empties back from his Hampshire yard over the weekend, after any well deserve d celebrations. Not enough has been made in the press as far as I am concerned for as relatively small yard to land a one-two blow in such a prestigious race and only time will tell if this again increases the quality (or quantity) of horses in the yard?

As for the Derby, I thought it was a whole lot rougher than the commentary let on and I was amazed no enquiries were called before the result was official. The Stewards did have a goo look (and plenty of work) later which included the glaringly obvious fact that Ruler Of The World had interfered with Ocavango (my selection, so talking through my wallet), ruining any chance he had of making a place, yet as it did not improve the winners placing, nothing is done – so one rule for them and another for us punters yet again (anyone got any ideas what we could do about punters and bets being ignored in official findings?). As for the jolly, Simon Crisford said that Dawn Approach had lost the race within a stride of the stalls opening, which may be poetic licence but he certainly ran no sort of a race. Pulling hard as if he had been stung by a wasp (maybe he had?), any chance he had of getting home over a mile and a half had gone after a couple of furlongs, though interestingly they have shelved any plans for another attempt at the trip which suggests they never really thought he would stay? As a punter, I see that as good news with a bigger price likely for the Sussex Stakes with short term memory loss a well known gambler trait which can only help those of us who remember how he ripped apart a decent looking 2000 Guineas field in a very favourable time.

Looking ahead, and Afortunado has been sat on my horses to follow list for months now and is still yet to see a racecourse! An entry at Leicester last week was scrapped and I will try to give Conrad Allen (his trainer) a call or e-mail later in the week to see if I can find out if all is well.

As for this weekend coming, well we are in that little lull ahead of Royal Ascot (my Press Badge has arrived by the way), with precious little too exciting taking place with the possible exception of Haydock Saturday. As I write Sir Henry Cecil is still unsure whether to let the classy Wild Coco give a penalty away against a decent looking field in the Pinnacle Stakes, but she does look more than good enough to see these off, if fully tuned up of course. Clearly difficult to train, she only had the two runs last season when winning at Goodwood and Doncaster but she seems better with a little juice in the ground, so more rain would certainly be an added bonus.  Later on the same card, I really do hope we get to see Eton Forever in the John O Gaunt Stakes as he is my idea of the likely winner. Roger Varian is having an OK season (not as good as I hoped to be honest), but this six year old deserves to step up and take a Group Three contest with the form of his recent Listed win over course and distance boosted by the easy Epsom win of runner up Gregorian – fingers crossed for a massive run at the very least!

Horses to follow:

Cape Arrow – a once raced two year old trained by Paul Cole and held in very high regard at the stable (declared Newmarket Saturday and Windsor Monday)

Afortunado – unraced three year old trained by Conrad Allen, entered Leicester 3rd June.

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