Showing posts from June, 2011

Holland Park Boogie

Aah, the Great British Outdoor Gig season. Currently in the fullest of swings. And with it come the customary agonies of weather watching. I was sat in front of the gogglebox, watching Pendulum put in an epic set at Glasto yesterday, under a searing afternoon sun. It took a leap of imagination to picture our sodden Jools Holland concert less than 48 hours earlier. We’d been looking forward to the gig for a while. (And, like buses, my mate Keith had offered me tickets to The Killers/Kaiser Chiefs in Hyde Park the same night. Normally, I’d have bitten his hand off.) But even as the four of us were packing up the car with picnics, blankets and folding chairs, the sky began to drip. By the time we were skirting Tring, the wipers were on full speed.   The BBC radar hinted heavily (a deep blue-grey mass obliterating the British Isles and heading slowly east) that this rain was set in for the evening. I wasn’t sure how the girls mood would hold up under a prolonged downpour. Driving thro

Throwing in the towel

OK, I know when I’m beaten.   In the wise words of Rainbow: I surrender, I surrender I’m giving up the role of pretender I surrender I remember, seems like a lifetime Can’t believe it’s a matter of days Five days of Royal Ascot to be precise. 30 races, 3 winners, big loss. Maybe I should have a little rest from these kind of frontal assaults. Instead, these mugpunting pages could be dedicated to something more wholesome. Tales from my allotment, steam train spotting or a Good Kebab Guide, maybe. Something satisfying, rewarding and achievable…


Image Battered. Pummelled. Ragged. This is a tough week. Three winners from 24 races is too bad to be true. Nathaniel was a bright spot in a wet scene yesterday. The only one.   Two of the selections actually finished last! Immortal Verse was brilliant in the Coronation Stakes. Blistering turn of foot. “I declare that this filly is the best I’ve ever had”, said trainer Robert Collet through his lovely interpreter, as well as slapping down interviewer, Rishi Persad for suggesting   she had “a temperament”. The horse not the interpreter. Last day of this marathon meeting today. Racegoers will be pleased to note that the course management have decided to lift footwear restrictions in the Royal Enclosure because of the wet conditions. So strappy Jimmy Choos out and 16-eyelet Doc Martens in, no doubt. Fantastic card though. Several highlights. Inevitably, I feel obliged to lift my head from the canvas, squint through bloodied eyes and come out fighting one las

Head in the sand

It’s not going well. Winners that came from high draws on Tuesday and Wednesday yesterday bolted down the middle of the track after the rain came. I was still backing the high numbers. Duncan patently didn’t stay in the Gold Cup. It cost me my placepot. 5/6 on a £200+ dividend. Credit to Aiden O’Brien and team though. Fame and Glory was a class winner, given a patient ride by a grateful Jamie Spencer. O’Brien dispatched one of his most animated interviews to the BBC ever. “Sure, listen now Richie, he’s all about class, if ye understand? Listen, he’s all class and when you have an animal like that, listen, the class is the ting, Richie.” My banker, Alkimos was beaten into 2 nd by a horse that loved the soft even more than he did. That’s as near as I got. I should really take the hint. But I can’t. Today’s selections, then, in bloody minded ignorance of the writing on the wall: 2.30 Albany Stakes               Switcher 3.05 King Edward VII            Nathaniel 3.45 Coronation

Whipping up a storm

The bookies have a had right royal hoot at Ascot today. Enough bankers went west across the card to fill a large Barclays staff convention in Bristol. SPs for the six race winners were 11-1, 11-1, 17-2, 12-1, 12-1, 8-1. What chance does a poor punter have? Bookies with grins like they had fish kettles in their gobs could be spotted stuffing fat rolls of notes into bulging satchels with every defeated favourite. Five of ‘em beaten into 2 nd , including the memorable chinning of red hot Prince of Wales fancy So You Think. That race provided a thrilling finish. Best of the meeting so far. Frankie Dettori in irresistible form, galvanised sufficient momentum from Rewilding to collar Coolmore’s newly acquired Aussie sensation close to the line. Connections were simply ecstatic. Sheikh Mohammad, august ruler of Dubai, was captured on the telly at least an hour later, punching the air and executing a shimmy that any dancing Dad would be proud of. Frankie’s ride ignited the already simmeri

What's a pound worth?

What’s a pound worth? On the first day of Royal Ascot today, Goldikova’s jockey Olivier Peslier was overweight by two of ‘em. Only one of which was declared before the much anticipated Queen Anne Stakes began. So he picked up a £650 fine for the extra, extra weight (explained by him changing into heavier riding boots). But what was the true cost of his misdemeanour? Aboard the wonderful Goldikova, he was beaten barely a length into 2 nd by Canford Cliffs. Does that distance represent a couple of lengths’ worth?   Not far off over a mile, I’ll wager. The mare ran a cracking race and was beaten by a bull of a horse at the top of his game in a tactical, cat and mouse battle. A compelling race delivering the scripted finish. In truth, this is mischievous side-story. Canford looked to have more in his locker, but it might have been closer if Goldikova had been steered by a more streamlined jockey.     I hadn’t realised in Monday’s preview that Cape Blanco would be ridden as a pacemaker

Wet blanket

Royal Ascot. Where the fashion pantomime and society mash up all but swamps the finest five days of flat racing in the land. Insufferably posh debs, nobs and freeloaders in rented finery crammed into the Royal Enclosure, jostling for vacuous attention with 27,000 other mates of Her Maj. The rest of the stands rammed with tacky bling and tattoo encrusted imitators, hell-bent on early oblivion courtesy of crap, expensive champagne. Or a refined symbol of what Britain does best. A chance to show off and glow at an occasion given dignity by the daily attendance of The Queen. As a punter, and having been to Royal Ascot only once before, I know which camp I am in. On the other hand, racing is absolutely dependent on such showpieces. These stunning races would be watched from half-empty stands were it not for the toff-inspired glamour and gaudiness that underpins the event. (But they might at least recognise what they were looking at…) Sorry. I’ll put my wet blanket away and focus on the

Popular Classics

Epsom’s classic meeting delivered the goods again. Friday’s Oaks threw the spotlight onto Johnny Murtagh for an exquisite ride of perfectly judged pace from the front in a slowly run race. Johnny, gifted an uncontested lead, cranked up the gas on Dancing Rain round Tattenham Corner and hit top gear by the two furlong pole. She found more for him close home too, making the rest of the field look like mugs. Top jocks in Johnny’s wake woke up too late and began flapping like herring gulls behind a hydrofoil, sending out increasingly desperate distress signals as their hold up tactics sank in the backwash. My tip, Havant, was among them. Bumped too and reportedly not liking the firmish ground, she’s got something to prove now. The Derby was an even better spectacle. The story about Carlton House’s participation was shunted aside for one about an injunction received by Keiron Fallon preventing him from taking the mount on Recital because of a previous agreement to ride Native Khan. A Hig

Carlton in da house

It’s Derby Festival eve and about time I gave some proper attention to the pick of the races. The build up to Saturday’s Derby is dominated by the drift and tighten of ante-post favourite Carlton House in the markets. Sir Michael Stoute’s charge was discovered to have ‘slight filling in the near-fore limb’ after light work on Sunday evening. I think, on stripping away the mealy-mouthed pseudo-veterinary   opinion, that this means a swollen shin. This story still has mileage and the markets have more turmoil ahead. Although declared today, the appearance of the Queen’s charge in the season’s showpiece will hinge on any reaction later today to a canter early this morning. We’ll know tonight. Or possibly tomorrow morning. Or maybe later than that….. A few more dramatic twists and turns yet. All the ingredients of a good story. Headline writers craving a first Derby winner for the Queen and for it to happen in Royal Wedding year will be poised by their netbooks. The colt’s credentia