Much as I love this sport and appreciate fully how lucky I am to do this for a living, I am also a journalist and feel duty bound to say a word for my French colleagues at Charlie Hebdo who were more talented and funnier than I could ever dream of being – and lost their lives for being so – R.I.P. my friends, we can but hope that this World learns a valuable lesson from your unnecessary sacrifice.
Back to the day job now, and I love ex jockey and now trainer David Bridgwater who told it how he saw it this week – and will be hauled over the coals by the BHA for doing so. As we are a family outfit I won’t repeat his actual words but suffice to say he implied (jocularly) that the Ludlow Stewards had been drinking (the word rhymes with “hissed”), and that as the old school chaps they are, they were probably the same ones in attendance as when he quit the saddle 20 years ago – sadly the BHA don’t have a similar sense of humour. Bottom line is they suspended a sixteen year old for 21 days for human error (even the die hard conspiracy theorists would struggle to think otherwise), and although we all agree with a ban of some kind, the word draconian certainly springs to mind and I hope they see common sense at the end of the day.
Next on my list this week is a reply to one of our members/followers regarding my lack of coverage to date of the Dubai Carnival – sorry, but that seems likely to continue until World Cup day in March at the earliest. Fact is, they have replaced the old tapeta track with dirt which is new to both horses and jockeys, the kick back is horrendous (don’t take my word for it – ask the jockeys, I have), and it is basically a whole new ball game – add that to the questionable fitness of some of the competitors whose targets are on World Cup night and hopefully you will understand why I am wary for the moment at least- unless I hear anything from inside the yards of course.
Looking ahead and I am not as impressed as some with the line ups this Saturday afternoon – but then Warwick has always been an unlucky track for me from 25 years or so ago, and as a superstitious punter that worries me to this day. That said, nothing leaps off the page for me at Kempton so I have limited options, and one from Wetherby will do for me when Mr Grey will carry a small bet for me in the two and a half mile handicap hurdle at 2.50pm. Although I agreed with Ron about the chances of Harry Hunt during out Podcast closer inspection has me leaning towards this novice who does look pretty well weighted on a line through Go Odee Go. Although using a solitary horse as a form line is, admittedly, very risky, Go Odee Go was beaten over thirteen lengths at level weights by my selection when rated 115, which according to my limited maths skills would see Mr Grey rated about the 128 mark, yet he gets in here off of a pretty generous 121. Add the fact that he was idling in front and perhaps value for a bigger winning margin, and his limited experience of just the three races over hurdles also suggests there is room for more improvement over the races ahead.
For a second bet and just to annoy Ron (we are friends really), I will tip my first and possibly last runner at Chelmsford City on Sunday. Where you may well ask – well, it used to be known as Great Leighs but has now been reopened with a new name, new owners – and the same standard of horses! Ron likes the look of Tryster in the first and he could well be right, but I will be all over John Gosden’s Zamoura who looks rock solid to take the maiden at 1.20pm. As a daughter of Azamour she was always bred to need this mile and a quarter, yet ran a blinder first time out at Lingfield when only beaten a short head over a mile and as she was sent off a 33/1 shot for her powerful Newmarket yard, it seems safe to assume she needed the run. This race looks a little tougher to be fair with multiple bridesmaid Pin Up in opposition plus others of course, but if she improves as expected, she ought to land our Sunday bet this weekend and leave us all in profit once again.
Good luck one and all…..
***Breaking news – I have just been invited to the yards of Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls, and Nigel Twiston-Davies pre Cheltenham so watch this space for all the news and gossip late February!***
Selections this week:
Mr Grey 2.50pm Wetherby Saturday
Zamoura 1.20pm Chelmsford City Sunday
Horses to follow:
Camlann – only sixth on his bumper debut at Cheltenham on New Years Day, the son of Cape Cross was very well supported in the market before being sent off the 7/2 favourite. Racing well enough in behind the leaders he failed to quicken up when asked before finishing sixth but it would be fair to say Barry Geraghty threw everything but the kitchen sink at the four year old, all be it to no avail. He must be better than that and could well need the two miles (one of those silly mile and three quarter bumpers here), and ought to win a bumper or two before going hurdling, possibly in lower class at a less fashionable venue?
***No current entries***
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.
***Runs in a handicap for the first time over fences in the 2.15pm at Wetherby Saturday, fingers crossed***
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.
*** No current entries until the Cheltenham Festival***
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!
*** Pulled up last week and testing my patience but if I remove him he is almost bound to win and at a price? No Current Entries***
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 until the Cheltenham Festival***