If ever there has been an article that makes adequate social comment on the circle of life AND covered a bit of horse racing to boot then I would like to think this is it with a horrible start to the week but some brilliant news to end with, leaving me unsure of exactly how I ought to feel?
I will try not to bore you to tears but many years ago I was out walking the dogs when I came across an all-weather gallops in the middle of nowhere and saw, for the first time in my life, a string of well groomed racehorses rushing past me like the wind – once seen, never forgotten, and I always wonder what effect that day had on my future career leanings? As you will have guessed, Lady Herries appeared around the corner and although only a few brief words were spoken, the repercussions altered my life and I for one am sad to see the woman, best known for training Celtic Swing, pass away and she will be sorely missed.
On the same day I also learnt of the early passing of Alistair Haggas who you may not know, but who was one of the most influential PR men in the sport for many a year. I would be exaggerating to call him a friend as we only ever met on business but I can say he was always helpful, polite, efficient, and remembered me after years apart – an all round nice guy (and we don’t have enough of those I am sorry to say), who was taken from us at the ridiculous age of 51 – the racing world is seriously a much poorer place without him and I will genuinely miss his company in the years ahead, though I do expect a resurgence in religion if God takes him on as head of PR!
On a lighter and much brighter note, the World continues to turn and as Ron has already mentioned we can all welcome a new member of the Harry Fry family with the birth of Ruby, their first child who weighed in at seven pounds thirteen – congratulations to both Harry and Ciara who will be brought up in the beautiful Dorset Countryside among racehorses – heaven indeed and a good grounding for any youngster.
Looking ahead to the weekend and a couple of cracking cards from both Newcastle and Newbury, though I doubt they are any easier to solve than last week where all I scraped together was a third and a fourth. Starting further North for a change (as a soft southerner I have to be careful not to be seen as bias), and the Fighting Fifth Hurdle due off at 2.05pm. Arctic Fire seems sure to be popular coming over the sea from Ireland for Willie Mullins as will Irving who certain to run a massive race if keeping on his feet (hooves), but I like the seven pounds received by the four year old Aurore D’Estruval, who caught the eye when winning at Wetherby and if he has serious Champion Hurdle ambitions, he needs to win this at these weights.
Meanwhile, it would be rude to ignore Newbury even if I will be the first to admit that the Hennessy Gold Cup is probably best left to Ron with his profiling and ratings so much better than my lucky pin! More Of That ought to be able to keep his unbeaten record in the Long Distance Hurdle at 2.25pm but we would be taking his fitness for granted and with the Jonjo O’Neill team not necessarily at their peak (two winners from their last 24 runners as I write, and three beaten favourites), I cannot be tempted at what is likely to be a silly price. I prefer the chances of Nicky Henderson’s Broxbourne in the opener at 12.20pm, where I am hoping that he can step up in class after hacking up at Fakenham on his hurdling debut. A decent enough sort on the flat for Mark Johnston, he won at Beverley, Lingfield, Wolverhampton, Ascot, Goodwood, and York, achieving a rating of 89 at his peak, though my bests will not be too large – he did win over two miles five on the flat and may be outpaced if not outclassed dropped back to two miles here.
Lastly (yes, I am “spoiling” you with three options this weekend), how about a little on the David Pipe trained Kalifourchon in the 3.25pm at Towcester this afternoon? Well thought of back at home, he was sent off the 5/4 favourite on his Exeter debut but found the mile and five trip on the short side, looking one paced when the others swept past him before the furlong pole, but on heavy going this afternoon and with that race under his belt he seems sure to go close – though small stakes on all bets this weekend please.
Good luck one and all…..
Selections this week:
Aurore D’Estruval 2.05pm Newcastle Saturday
Broxbourne 12.20pm Newbury Saturday
Kalifourchon 3.25pm Towcester Saturday
Horses to follow:
Creepy – well supported on his debut over fences this week at Chepstow when making all and jumping well throughout to score by twenty lengths easing down. Trainer Martin Keighley thinks a lot of him and he will surely add more races to that success this season with the Sun Alliance Chase at Cheltenham presumably his long-term objective. Looked well beaten when unseating Richard Johnson last weekend at Cheltenham but can still win races if kept to a sensible grade.
***No current entries***
Broxbourne – used to be well above average on the flat when trained by Mark Johnston and looked like a machine when winning at lowly Fakenham for Nicky Henderson this week. More of a confidence booster than a real race he is entitled to improve for his first run in over a year and he could be pretty decent over two and a half miles or further over hurdles and seems sure to add to that victory.
***Entered at Newbury Saturday (see above) in the 12.20pm***
Ballyallia Man – Tom George is off to a flyer and this nine year old returned to action with little more than an exercise canter to win at Wincanton by a long looking six lengths. This was his first run for seven months or so and he is entitled to strip a little bit fitter next time out, so as long as the handicapper isn’t too punitive he ought to score next time out as well, after which he may be in the grips and can be removed with profit made!
*** Entered at Newbury Saturday in the 1.20pm***
Hargam – an unlucky runner up on his hurdling debut the three year old was travelling as if it was a matter of how far not if at Cheltenham before fading up the infamous hill. With that run behind him he is surely a shoe in to win next time out and could win a few more if sensibly entered.
***No Current Entries***