Showing posts from 2010

Round Robin

Some of the most unexpected tingles of pleasure at this festive time are provided by those touching family round-up missives that occasionally drop out of Christmas cards. You know the ones: photocopied bits of A4 offering saccharine sweet glimpses into the cosy world of friends we don’t see (for some reason) very often. I love those scanned photos of grinning children on ski slopes; chuckle along with middle class ho-ho-ho-ing about busy lives; and gently scold myself at reminders to those who’ve forgotten that the family has moved (but not to worry because mail is still being forwarded from the old address). Sometimes, there’s barely a hint of self-satisfied smugness dripping from the pages, which might otherwise dampen my (clearly anticipated) eagerness to devour the updates. I was worried that facebooking might have dealt the traditional round robin fatal blow. Obviously not. So I now see that this blog provides a perfect platform to spread some Atkinson love at a time when ou

Radio Silence

White out. Blizzard Berkhamsted. I swear we get more snow here than can be justified for a soft, southern, home counties location. Bulbourne Valley seems to act like a beacon for the white stuff: fat, snow-laden clouds homing in on my house with unerring accuracy. Is it just me that takes the weather personally? Last year about this time I was chiselling packed snow off the pavement and road out the front. The subzero temperatures had spot welded solid sheets of ice onto the freezing ground in a near permanent seal. I distinctly remember hacking away laboriously with a shovel, trying to clear enough space for the kitchen fitter to arrive. We had a half finished new kitchen in the week before Christmas and the weather was threatening to keep it that way until after the big day. Not a pleasant prospect. This year the snows have arrived bang on cue. Another white Christmas in prospect. It’s beautiful out there. So not much horse racing reportage with which to crackle the airwaves


Train wreck. Disaster zone. Highway to Hell. Car crash. Calamity. Carnage. A selection of juicy hyperbolic terms often used inappropriately to amplify mundane incidents and inflate banality with exaggerated importance. Which is exactly the way I intend to report the sheer and unadulterated devastation that is my 40 to follow project. Approaching the end of November I am languishing on –25.3 points. My worst ever start to the season.  Bruv is over the horizon with some long shot, high profile winners and even Dad is kicking up a dust cloud for me to choke on. Don’t believe the guff that the non-believers dish out about storm-in-teacup, only-a-game, escapist-nonsense. Because this does matter. I am weeping. It’s desperate stuff. I could claim near misses, but I’m kidding myself. The veneer of bad luck - three place finishes last Saturday and another today - is a mere fig leaf decomposing under a ruthless analysis: they were all completely stuffed by the winners. Thursday was a new low

Slo Mo

So I’m three weeks into this moustache-growing extravaganza known as Movember.   It’s all for charidee mate. But I can’t say it’s too much fun. As with many charitable enterprises it is humiliation that unlocks the donations. Some fund raising activities are based on achievement: marathons, climbs and swims all spring to mind; others are about rewards: auctions, competitions, raffles are the standard fodder of garden parties and school fetes up and down the country; and then others are simply about making a prat of oneself in return for support. I guess Children In Need and Movember both fall into the latter category. Funny that I should be attracted to this one. Here's  My Movember donation page I nearly joined in last year. But not quite.   A couple of mates were doing the mo thing and I said I’d go for it. Then I lost my nerve. I landed a project interview early doors in November with clients I’d never met before. I bottled it! I couldn’t face up to dishing out my usual high

The Thick Of It

It’s all go now. Not just the punting. Everything. I looked at the wall calendar this morning (in these electronic, virtual times I am strangely reassured that synching and sharing our household appointments is still physically delivered with thick indelible ink). It is filled with school fairs, concerts, landmark birthday parties, Christmas parties and assorted social engagements. I’m not moaning. These will all be top notch events (with the possible exception of the girls’ violin concert for the old folks. I don’t know who to feel most sorry for. Bless ‘em). But there goes Christmas. We’re kicking off tonight with my bruv-in-law’s 50 th . It’s a surprise. (I don’t think he reads this…..) My sis-in law is home especially for this, from Tenerife where she’s lived and worked for 20 years. That’s the surprise. This should be a good laugh. But before we leave for revelries in Old Stratford, I have Day 2 of Cheltenham’s Open Meeting to savour. This is how we know we are in the thick o

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 ver

Mug Painting

My mate Pete – he of the damning verdict on my waning rock n roll credibility - is turning into a bit of a barometer for my fortunes. In a comment about this blog down the pub recently he said, “Yeah, I saw your link. ‘Mug painting’, I thought ‘Why’s ole Dave writing about painting some crockery?’ I mused. Funny, never had you down as the artistic type. Then I wondered if it was a sort of DIY self-help group.” Straight as a dye. Dry as a bone. “Oh, mug punting ….yeah, horse racing…” Sometimes I don’t know how much leeway to swing by these blindies. Ever had your plonker pulled? It might as well be mug painting. Or punting by numbers. This has been a pretty poor start to the jumps season. The project, that is, the forty beasts of burden selected to carry my colours this season, is looking badly planned, poorly managed and lacking in vision. In short, I seem to have picked all the wrong horses. October’s return is pitiful. -8.29 to a 1 point stake. From 13 outings there have been 5


I’m looking for a boost. The punting action has been pretty miserable since the last update. I got Cheltenham and Newmarket all wrong on Saturday. Indeed my only result was tipped up by Bacchy commenting on the ‘seasoning’ post here. “By the way, La Vecchia Scuola for the Cesarewitch”, he said. “Thank me later”. The horse came late with a screaming finish. A rattle and hum on the outside of the pack. It was close. But he couldn’t go by long time leader, Aaim To Prosper. Agonising. Half a length in it. But at 40/1, the outcome was some (frankly, welcome) place wedge and a nod of deep respect to Bacchy for a glorious shout. How much more glorious might it have been, though? Don’t go there. Lots to interest us over the jumps today. Cracking card at Aintree. The venerable Monet’s Garden, a distinguished 12 year old, plies his trade in the Old Roan Chase. An event he has made his own. He loves this track: Ruby Walsh once said that he gets lost outside Liverpool. And he’s always gone very


The changing of the seasons is in full swing. I can tell this for two reasons: firstly, the racing action holds as much interest over the obstacles as it does on the level; and secondly I have a streaming cold. From a punting point of view, I love this time of year. The flat season has still to squeeze out some more sweet groups 1s and big handicaps like the last pips from a plump satsuma. For instance, the Newmarket meeting this coming Saturday features the Cesarewich and the Champion Stakes. Both classic races and two of my faves. And the jumps game is starting to whet the appetite, too. Next Saturday also marks the Autumn debut of racing at national hunt’s HQ and all round Mecca, Cheltenham. So for a few delicious weeks we have a sit down buffet of jumping hors d’oeuvres presaging a long season of nourishing action, jostling for space with the last pieces of the flat game’s prime fillet main course. Only being chock full of cold, I can’t really taste any of this. So I’ll park t

Arundel Masters IV

Fantastic stuff yesterday afternoon, listening to the Ryder Cup denouement on Radio 5 Live. They are calling it Monty’s finest hour. But what a year for nerves-of-steel G-Mac. The US Open, Welsh Open and now the winning hole in Ryder Cup. Not a bad hat-trick. Loved it. I wasn’t alone. I gather another 28 million others tuned in to events at Celtic Manor. Johnny Inverdale was the ring-master, whipping up the atmosphere and encouraging his audience to skive off work a bit longer. That’s what you get for a Monday finish. He was also responsible for classic piece of radio journalism early in the day. John was queuing up for a bacon butty and indulging in a bit of open mic vox pops. “Hello Sir, can I ask you how you managed to get here today? Have you come far? Do you have an understanding boss? inquired our intrepid reporter. “I’m a marshall here actually”, came the straight faced reply. We can only hope for John that he wasn’t wearing his da-glo high-viz jacket with ‘MARSHALL’ stamped

40 to follow

Every year I pick 40 sturdy steeds to bear the burden of punting wedge through the winter months. It’s previously been a successful project and I’ve turned a profit every year bar one since 2002. Some years are better than others. Last season was a bit marginal. For the last two years, my Dad, my brother and I have pitted our 40 to follow lists against each other. 1point stake per run, win only. Dad’s cleaned up both years. The competition runs from 1 st October to 31 st April. Here is this season’s stable: 1.             Alfie Spinner             Nick Williams Decent prospect for good quality 2 ½ m novice chases. Best form on soft. Good hurdle campaign with progressive profile. Represents up and coming trainer. 2.             Alasi                            Paul Webber Another with a progressive profile, although not too many wins in the book. This mare could go novice chasing up to 3 miles. 3.             Babysitter                  Nigel Twiston Davies Classy on best form,