One selection one winner last week (11/4, not brilliant but a winner is a winner), and we will see a bit later if I can do a little more of the same – the fun is in trying, but the real satisfaction is when you get it right (however rarely).
This week I am on the side of the poor old jockeys, often the butt of jokes and criticism from us punters (and sadly I do include myself in that when I talk from the wallet), but in reality, normal day to day folks like you and I trying to make a living out of a pretty difficult and dangerous job.
This week started with Pat Cosgrave escaping a ban for testing positive for alcohol but in reality, he was barely above the drink drive limit and I suspect a victim of over exuberance the night before. Hands up which one of us hasn’t driven to work after a party the night before knowing full well they must be pretty close – we have all done it and most of us don’t like our work to totally rule our (social) lives (don’t even dream of telling the family I said that), and although a drunk on a racehorse at 30mph is not what we want, some semblance of realism needs to be included in calculations.
Talking of jockeys (did you like the way I did that), what a nightmare for my old pal Martin Dwyer. A true football loving scouser (and fellow Evertonian), I have know him a while now and just cannot believe the punishment the Indian racing authorities are trying to impose on one of the most likeable riders in the sport. After appealing his original ban they have INCREASED it to eight months for failing to ride to instructions (allegedly), though I have seen the replay a dozen times and although it was not his finest hour, there is no way it deserves more than a few days at most. Trust me, Martin is one of the sports nice guys (and can tell a few very funny stories, I can tell you), and although I do feel splitting from agent Gareth Owen was a backward step (have a look at his seasonal returns for evidence), I can but hope our racing authorities buck the trend and refuse to uphold this nonsense?
Lastly for jockeys, am I the only one shocked and amazed to hear that Frankie Dettori has been booked to ride Shea Shea for the legendary Mike De Kock? Admittedly Soumillon is suspended, so a new jockey needed to be found for the Nunthorpe, but I do not see them as a match made in heaven at all (and I am no Frankie slater, unlike some these days), and may well consider laying them on the day depending on opponents and price of course.
Looking ahead (at last, some would say), and what exactly do we have to look forward to this coming weekend I wonder? Newbury is the answer to that question (though I bet Ron shouted “Ripon”!), with the Hungerford Stakes my idea of a mouthwatering clash. I hate to simply tip a favourite for the fun of it, but I can’t wait to see just how good Soft Falling Rain is over the months ahead as the son of National Assembly puts his unbeaten record on the line for Mike De Kock and Paul Hanagan. I know Mike) not well to be fair), and he thinks a heck of a lot of this four year old who has been brought along steadily since his winning debut at Turfontein (South Africa) in a five furlong maiden. All distances seem to come alike to him (won when running on well over a mile last time out), and you can be sure they will be keen to keep his hundred percent record as long as possible, though if they want him to obtain high rank in the breeding market, he will need to move in to Group One company at some time.
For Ron’s sake (and I do like a bit of competition), I will look at the Great St Wilfred Handicap from Ripon Saturday and due off at 3.30pm. Assuming the predicted fast ground we want to be drawn high (bet Ron disagrees?), and as that information is not available, feel free to ignore whatever I say if the draw goes against us. At 16/1 I am sorely temped by the David Simcock trained Brazen who won with a bit in hand when making the running at Leicester last time out and if he get in here a four pound penalty may not stop him at a track that really does suit front runners. However, as I write he is the 39th horse declared so may not even get in, leaving me scrapping for a horse with a better than even chance of running? Lucky Beggar will do for my second option, as I cannot see Charlie Hills wasting the diesel sending this three-year-old son of Verglas up here for nothing. He is another who likes to front run (therein lies a problem), but possibly shot clear a little early last tine before tying up in front, and if they can hold on to him a little longer he does have a turn of foot from off the front end that could yet be too much for these rivals?
Selections this week:
Soft Falling Rain to win, 3.15pm Newbury Saturday
Horses to follow:
Cape Arrow – a twice raced two year old trained by Paul Cole and held in very high regard at the stable and I am now told should be far better as a three year old (entered at Sandown Friday).
Afortunado – unraced three year old trained by Conrad Allen.
Taayel – a nice lightly raced sort trained in Newmarket by John Gosden – should be Group class, will improve for his reappearance, and well worth adding to your little black book.