One of the many things I love about this sport is the never ending merry-go-round of stories that tickle my fancy and sit there almost crying out for me to at least make some kind of comment to my loyal readers, wherever they are. This week I feel the need to start with the smell of cordite from the recently discharged gun as someone near the top of the Dubai Racing tree (no names no prison sentences) has managed to spectacularly shoot themselves in the foot, and big time. As you will have read elsewhere, despite trumpeting the very existence to tapeta as an all-weather surface, it wasn’t in for many years before being ripped out and replaced with dirt, mainly to placate the Americans and ensure a true international contingent. Fact is history still means an awful lot in this game and despite the prize money making the Dubai World Cup the richest race in the World by some way, it is yet to take a place in our hearts or attract the caliber of horses that they are clearly looking for. Imagine the surprise (or is the word horror) on the committee’s faces when the early declaration figures came back this week only to find that less Americans were bothering (numerically), and far fewer South Africans as well, while the Europeans in general have cocked a snook at the meeting with just the 23 meeting entries, down from 38 the year before, so is the expensive experiment a failure? That is a tougher one to answer than it seems at first glance as both California Chrome and Bayern are entered, so the best horses may yet be on their way, though I won’t be in attendance as I have a wedding to attend (some friends I have?).
Meanwhile and as proof that I am up to date with all the racing news, it was good or at least interesting to see that Newbury are planning a £20,000 veterans race over hurdles, the first of its kind and garnering the sort of attention I suspect they had planned. Whether the description is entirely accurate with eight year olds the youngest allowed to compete is a different question, while the 0-130 ratings band is also the cause of much argument, but I do applaud the BHA for at least trying something new and with an eleven race series worth £400,000, it seems sure to be well supported by trainers and owners alike.
Well about now its my turn to come up with a couple of horses I think will win over the weekend, though to be fair, I am still sulking about last week when a fifth and a faller were all I could cobble together, which is hardly the standard I have tried to set myself. Like the idiot I am those listening to the podcast will have herd my thoughts on just about every race from Ffos Las and Sandown lol so its off to Ireland for me this weekend with one “good thing” (famous last words), and one each way option that could finish stone cold last – or hack up pulling a cart! In timescale order my outsider of interest has to be the Tom Taaffe trained Gold Bullet who is forecast at 8/1 as I write which looks superb value. Ruby Walsh has been booked to ride which is always a serious positive and it may yet be worth totally ignoring his last run when 42 lengths tenth at Limerick on what was his first run in close to fourteen months. Sent off a 9/1 shot that day I am positive that he needed the run but if he strips fit this afternoon what of his chances then? Fact is he won his only previous chase to pick up a rating of 140 (139 this afternoon), but at the age of seven has room for perhaps the most improvement in the field and at the price, how can I possibly resist? For a more likely winner (honesty is always the best policy in my book), odds against about the Willie Mullins trained Morning Run looks worth taking if the tissue “guessers” have it right of course? Unbeaten after three bumpers and two races over hurdles, there is no reason why second favourite Carrigmoorna Rock should reverse Down Royal form at the same weights and with more improvement likely I am pretty confident we are on then winner, with stable mate Lyrical Theatre a possibility for forecast backers if you like that sort of thing?
Good luck one and all…..
Selections this week:
Gold Bullet 12.50pm Fairyhouse Saturday
Morning Run 1.55pm Fairyhouse 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***
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***
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!
*** 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.
***Entered at Musselburgh 1st February and Huntingdon 5th February then on to the Cheltenham Festival***
Happy Valentine – a beautiful looking daughter of Silvano out of a National Assembly mare, connections have bravely thrown away a year or so on quarantine and travel to see how she gets on here in Europe. She looked a class act back at home and also showed plenty of promise on her European debut at Kempton but should be better suited to the turf long term and may well be one of the top female sprinters by season’s end.
***No current entries***