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Big Nosed BHA and a possible good thing on the polytrack – whatever next?

It has certainly been a strange old week in the big wide world of horse racing though not every bit of news I can report is good I am sorry to say. Jockey injuries, unusual riding tactics (in case any lawyers are reading), alleged gambles and so on – what a weird world we work in!

Obviously injuries are paramount (get well soon one and all with Martin Harley the latest addition to the list), but I am far more concerned long-term about the alleged gambles, and the BHA intervention, which is a new one on me with possible repercussions.  The full story is available in the racing press so no need to bore you with the details, but my issue is with the BHA for starters. An alleged gamble was apparently taking place on a long list of runners by owner Stephen Arnold which resulted in the BHA (British Horseracing Authority) contacting bookmakers who then ran for cover offering starting price or nothing on the races involved. My issue is not with the rights or wrongs of the gamble (which failed dismally, by the way), but whose side are the BHA on as I feel they ought to be neutral? In my view, and assuming no drugs, false horse passports, sonic ray guns etc, there is nothing illegal about backing your own horses (or others) with whatever stakes you see fit, so why are they siding with the bookmakers so avidly? I agree that if there are deliberate collusions regarding withdrawals or anything else ”fishy” then that IS their job, but a good old-fashioned gamble with nothing illegal reported – I feel they should have simply monitored and left well alone – but out of interest what do you all think?

Equally amusingly (and possibly ringing bells with ambulance chasing lawyers and their ilk), I noticed a major USA website headlining the suspension of jockey Pat Cosgrave as something far more untoward than it was (and I quote “jockey suspended for race fixing”), with a picture of a different and more famous jockey, so expect a touch of legal action there! Once again racing looks stupid (put me and Ron in charge, we would soon fix it), after Pat maneuvered off the rail to let his stablemate go through and on to win. To be fair, it was pretty obvious to anyone with eyes, and he deserves a ban under current rules, but six months deprivation of his livelihood seems a little harsh for something that happens now and then, and I know the majority of jockeys think it is draconian – it will be interesting to see if the BHA are brave enough to NOT reciprocate the ban, or is it only punters they refuse to side with?

William Haggas
William Haggas – could land my main bet on Saturday (well, hopefully).

Looking ahead to the weekend and it’s pretty quiet to be honest – one week until the flat season proper starts on the turf I suppose – but I have found a couple I will be backing myself, though as always, your choice if you decide to follow me or sit back and laugh? The all-weather is akin to kryptonite as far as Ron is concerned but I simply cannot resist a bet on Ertijaal in the 3.15pm at Lingfield. Trained by William Haggas (his wife Maureen is the daughter of a certain Lester Piggott and brilliant company), he is officially rated 98, which, in this level weights Listed contest, makes him an equal to Bow Creek and a pound worse than Richard Hannon’s Expert. Add the fillies who get an allowance of five pounds and he also bettered by Alutiq and equalled by Lilbourne Lass but I am hoping that fails to tell the full story? As with most form, you can exaggerate it or decry it as an inexact science, but I am rather hoping my selection has been seriously underrated if we look at his first outing, a neck second at level weights to National Stakes winner Toormore with the pair seen lengths clear of the rest. The winner is now rated 122 after his further exploits but there is no concrete reason why mine cannot improve just as much (the stable’s horses are rarely tuned up first time out), making 98 an insult, and as mine is also entered in the English and Irish 2000 Guineas, he will hopefully simply outclass them here?

As for the jumps, it isn’t pretty and with so much heavy ground form to rely on, we all need Ron’s ratings more than my lucky pin! I have seriously struggled and ended with nothing more than a fun bet for purely illogical reasons! Nicky Henderson

Nicky Henderson - chances in the opener?
Nicky Henderson – chances in the opener?

had a poor Cheltenham by his own lofty standards and I am pretty sure that Sign Of A Victory will not make up for that, but he does look to have as good a chance as any in the opener at Newbury Saturday, due off at 1.50pm. Wins in Ludlow and Kempton bumpers were followed with a far more impressive victory over hurdles at Doncaster on good ground and if he tries the same tactics today, I rather doubt this lot will see which way he went – Barry Geraghty gets to do the steering!

Selections this week:

Ertijaal 3.15pm Lingfield Saturday

Sign Of A Victory 1.50pm Newbury Saturday

Horses to follow:

Jumps: one addition, see below.

Solar Skyput in a great debut run over hurdles at Kempton in a pretty hot race – should improve and win on decent ground shortly.

***No current entries***

Little Jon – will be a different beast when sent over fences but the Twiston-Davies yard like him a lot and he will be well worth following long term.

***No current entries***

Lily Mars – one run in a bumper was enough to catch my eye and I feel she caught a tartar at Wincanton on her debut when she looked in need of the run. With that experience under her belt she ought to be placed to pick up a race, which should be enough to make us a profit.

***Entered at Taunton Monday 24th March Fontwell Tuesday 5th March**

Rolling Star – a well-regarded young hurdler who won with any amount in hand at Haydock and seems certain to come on again for the run as per the Henderson yard this season

***No current entries***

African Gold – a classy hurdler expected to be even better over fences, he rather let the side down on his chasing debut but is I am assured far better than that – he will win races over fences.

***No entries at present***

Opera Og – hopefully well handicapped off a rating of 117 (when last seen), the seven year old looked all over the winner at Bangor before fading badly to finish third. The lack of a run was clearly his undoing and with that run under his belt he should win next time out provided connections keep their sites lowered to a sensible level.

***No entries at present***

Champagne Fever – on target at home for the Arkle Chase, held in the highest regard and schooling well for Willie Mullins, likely to have Ruby Walsh in the saddle, what more can a punter ask for?

*** No Current entries  ***

Sire De Grugy – Removed – no entries until next season now!

Flat:

Tominator – back in training at the Jonjo O’Neill yard they are very happy with him and he looks a picture – expect a few wins this season with the Chester Cup very much on the agenda.

***No current entries***

Mutakayyef – trained by William Haggas I had a quandary this week – do I or don’t I back the son of Sea The Stars? As with all the stable juveniles he was a shoe in to improve for the run but he is spoken of in glowing terms by gallop watchers in Newmarket. Fact is he ran as expected – slowly away, green as grass, and hampered as well, he will learn plenty from the experience and can be ignored at your peril.

***No current entries***

Freemason – a once raced juvenile owned by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing – Harbinger (a posh syndicate), he cost a whopping 150,000 Guineas so ought to be half decent – word is he is all that and more, so one to stay on the right side of.

***No current entries (unless you include the 2014 Derby!***

Idea – twice raced two year old trained by Sir Michael Stoute and said to be flying on the gallops. Won after a poor run at Windsor when last seen looking as green as grass and very much one to keep on the right side of – originally nominated by a post racing reader!

***No current entries***

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