Another Lost Weekend

Last Saturday’s punting was not a complete disaster. But it was pretty grisly viewing. One clear cut winner at pretty skinny odds and a hole in the secret off-shore gambling account is all I have to show for some furrowed brow effort and stubby pencil scribbling.

Sans Frontieres, the one winner, did the job very nicely in the Irish St Leger, though. I enjoyed that. He was given a supremely confident ride by French jockey and avid paintball competitor, Olivier Peslier. I  momentarily thought too confident when Sans Frontieres was out the back turning for home, particularly on slow ground, but the horse found plenty of gears and cruised passed Profound Beauty no more than 100 yards from the post. He beat Laheeb last time out who has come out and won since (despite the burden of my wedge), so the form is holding up well. Honestly, it’s like joining the dots sometimes. Couldn’t be easier. Sans Fronitiere heads to Melbourne now where he will meet the runner up again in the showstopping Melbourne Cup.

Elsewhere, Approve probably showed up best of the losers. He got the 7 furlongs well but bumped into something close to the top drawer in Saamid. The Godolphin horse easily justified his odds-on price with an effortless win and immediately received quotes ranging from 12/1 to 7/1 for the 2000 Guineas next May. But I like Approve well enough for another day. Masamah crucially missed the break in the Portland and ran his race well enough but without ever getting into contention after that.

And that was pretty much it. Nothing looked remotely dangerous from the remaining selections. So no hyper-ventilating; very little swearing at the telly; and no mirthful teenagers sniggering at my equine exhortations….

Sunday meanwhile, was a little more dramatic. It marked the end of a chapter. The end of my love affair with the gorgeous, classy and now it appears, moody, Sariska.

I’ve harped an about her rivalry with Midday before. Sariska’s refusal to start in the Yorkshire Oaks last time was a big plot on her reputation. Nevertheless, trainer Michael Bell was clearly persuaded to give her another chance. “We have nothing to lose”, he said of the dual classic winning filly. So she lined up in Sunday’s Grade 1 Prix Vermailles at Longchamp. Joining these two old foes was the unbeaten French filly Sarafina and soft ground-loving High Heeled. But it was a rerun of the Yorkshire Oaks with Midday winning authoratively and Sariska again planting her sourpuss feet and refusing to start. There’s a great photo in the Racing Post of jockey Jamie Spencer looking like a right turkey in the stalls, blinking tamely back at the camera as the rest of the field tear down the track.

Michael Bell was, under the circumstances, genuinely hilarious when he called time on her career by saying "It is rather annoying as we know we can potentially beat that lot. It's rather like having a Ferrari with no keys." Fantastic. Like a fool, I still love her though. What memories. This undeserving and faintly comical final curtain simply adds a smidgeon of mystique to her reputation. In some ways, the only loser is Midday again. Whilst Sariska refused to race there will always be the smallest trace of tarnish about these victories. I know you can only beat the ones that turn up, but what if Sariska had started….

But it ‘s time to move on from the flat. Yes, just like that. We are entering my favourite time of the year. September is the when I stew over the form book, RP database and my fragile grasp of last season’s events to pick my 40 to follow: a privileged bunch of nags who will spearhead my assault on the new jumps season. I can feel my pulse quicken a fraction just at the very thought of it. This chosen few will be revealed soon…. Nearly as dramatic as Strictly this isn’t it? Bet you can hardly wait.


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