Thursday, 11 November 2010

Tricky Harry

Maybe it’s dangerous to think I’ve turned the corner. But three wins from three bets yesterday cannot go unremarked.

Wymott, one of my forty to follow tips, put in a sparkling performance in a novice chase at Bangor. It was a warmish race too. Nice to see a decent line up for a cold Wednesday afternoon outside the Grade 1 tracks. Tarablaze for Philip Hobbs was rated highly over hurdles; Alfie Sherrin, bought out of Paul Nicholls’ yard at the Harry Findlay dispersal, was well thought of; and Silver Kate is an honest front running mare who ran in the Grade 1 staying novice hurdle at the Festival last year. But Wymott, from Donald McCain’s yard, was deeply impressive. He jumped confidently from the front and settled the issue with three furlongs to go, Jason Maguire expertly pushing him out. I was too busy luxuriating in the prospect of the horse turning up in the RSA Chase next March to actually get my arse into gear and avail myself of the fancy prices available in running for that very race. He was 18-1 by the time I’d got on.

Half an hour later the same McCain/Maguire team landed the odds again in the shape of Fiendish Flame. The style was the same bold, front running demolition job, too. “Jumped them ragged, galloped them silly” said commentator, Jim McGrath. Marvellous stuff.

But the strangest winner of the triple header was Harry Tricker at Huntingdon. Medermit, favourite for the Arkle, was making his second appearance over fences. At a forecast 1/5, this was far too short for me. I’ve been a fan of the horse for a couple of years. But his round at Aintree previously was not all that smooth where he clouted a couple. So, casting sentiment aside with steely logic, I opposed the horse on grounds of price and form. He jumped off bloody well, though. Some early leaps were quite beautiful. And then bizarrely, out of nowhere, the horse refused to jump a fence down the back. Very naughty. He pulled himself up in a few yards and ran out. No obvious explanation, nothing seemed to be amiss. 


So with the skinny favourite out of the way, I was counting my money. Harry Tricker was looking pretty confident out in front. At the second last he seemed to overjump – almost took the fence too well – and pitched on landing. He sprawled a bit, but Jamie Moore managed to sit tight and keep on going. This provided the impetus for the pursuing Sergeant Pink. Harry Tricker had lost momentum and the two were now side by side. But Tom Scudamore was having a shocking struggle to keep Sergeant Pink on the straight and narrow. All the way to the last, which Sergeant made a horlicks of, and then up the straight, he was lugging right, straight into mine. I was in the bookies at this point, shouting at the screen. Just before the post, both horses had to snatch up as Sergeant Pink was carrying them off the track. He managed to squeeze home first past the post. I was muttering “Stewards! Stewards! Bing bong!” in a plaintive little voice around the bookies, returned only with blank faces and unseeing eyes both behind the counter and from the punters. Even the studio announcer called the result as if nothing was amiss. I flounced out of the bookies, indignant, but resigned. It was true. When were decisions over the jumps ever reversed by the stewards?

Well, today. That’s the answer. Twenty minutes later, I checked the result on the RP website and Harry has been given the race. Cue a scramble for my jacket, knocking Mrs A out of the way to the cupboard under the stairs, to see if I’d held on to the ticket. I had. That old punter’s never-say-die instinct had saved me.

That’s the first time I’ve ever collected on the jumps courtesy of a stewards’ room decision. Turns out that Sergeant Pink’s saddle was slipping and that the award of the race to Harry was controversial. Not in my eyes, though. Dramatic race all round. Cornelius Lysaght on Twitter said that the jockey reported Medermit getting distracted by some ground staff just before the fence. Hmm. Not so sure. But he’s been pushed out to 16-1 for the Arkle. That’s not a bad price if this was just a blip.

There are a few trainers, jockies and commentators whom I now follow on Twitter. Chris Bealby’s a bit of a laugh. He used to train the horse – Dashing Charm – that I had a tiny share of once. He tweeted the other day “Powder King is an interesting runner in the Junior Bumper at Huntingdon tomorrow, very well bred Darley reject, should handle soft...”. He didn’t. The next day, Bealby tweets “Powder King too free early on and refuses to settle, did run on well in the closing stages, jockey says that he will be ok !” Yeak right. Sounds like some of my pathetic bleating on this blog! To be fair, at least he’s putting them up. He’s saying more than he did when I tried to get some views about my horse all those years ago. “Chaser in the making, probably”, he clichéd. That’s my line in the parade ring when I don’t know what I’m looking at.

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