Showing posts from April, 2012

Flat Chance - 20 to follow this summer

Finally turning my mind to the flat. In the week before the first classics of the season, these twenty to follow indicate a belated start, to be honest.  But I'm finally getting down to business after a soggy, partially successful Punchestown. Looking forward to Sandown this afternoon, where Dover's Hill can end my jumps campaign on a high note. A breakdown of the 40TF campaign will follow at some point soon. In the meantime, here a those twenty flat-trackers to see me through to Autumn: Aazif - John Dunlop Encouraging reappearance at Newmarket the other week in a race that wouldn't entirely have suited. Seen as a Cup horse in time and has a "likeable way of galloping" according to my adviser. Bear Behind - Tom Dascombe Sprinter who, as a three year old, looks like he may hold his own against older horses. First past the post in a race later awarded to Hamish McGonagall at Musselburgh. Decent 2nd at Sandown yesterday amongst his own age group. Beggars Ba


It’s all happening. Big stuff too. First up, before I get to the racing, check out the eggs in the bird box! By the power of spy-cam, we’ve been able to nosy-in on a pair of blue tits building their nest outside our bathroom window. Now that the female has laid a clutch of eggs, we can expect hatchlings in a couple of weeks. The responsibility is almost overwhelming. There are dangers everywhere: The magpie loitering on the fence anticipating a scrawny snack. Next door’s otherwise timid cat licking his lips, darting eyes tracking the birds flitting around the box aperture. I’ve ordered a catapult and intend to stand guardian at the back door when push comes to shove. Agincourt, Agincourt, Agincourt! Next, a massive shout out to my mate Bryn who smashed up the London Marathon yesterday, despite a pair of dodgy knees and a craving for late night doners. Times have changed since I staggered round the course 14 years ago. He could be tracked live all the way round via the t

National obsession

After two days of rank punting at Aintree, a post about Grand National bets is ill-advised at best; an exercise in public humiliation at worst. A couple of quotes illustrate my point perfectly: "the extra distance just gives Menorah more fences to clout." He won the Manifesto Novice Chase easing down. "Finians Rainbow, on the evidence of the Victor Chandler Chase, won't stay 2 1/2 miles." He won the Melling Chase with proverbial head in chest. Two distant seconds is the nearest I've got in eight bets. One of those was Burton Port in the Betfred Bowl who had Tony McCoy hard at work with a circuit to go but couldn't get close to 'shock' winner Follow The Plan at 50-1. Massive. But the horse has two-grade 1 wins, one over this trip and was placed in this last year. So how much of a shock? Take out that race and the Cheltenham form has held up remarkably well. Eight winners in the two days at Aintree so far have come from horses placed at the fes

Grand National Meeting - Day 1

Skimming through the cards for the Grand National meeting, I am reminded how tight and sharp the Cheltenham Festival used to be as a three-dayer, before greed made it flabby with conditionals hurdles, second-division Triumphs and mares races. Aintree features eight elite Grade 1 races, four Grade 2s and the National itself, together with a few excellent supporting handicaps shoe-horned into three neat, seven-race cards. Yes, I miss the three-day festival. The intensity has dropped a notch or two since its diluting expansion in 2005. But I’m a realist. The money-making potential was too much to resist. The National meeting can’t match the Festival’s all-pervading significance and strength in depth. But it stands as the clear second-best UK jumps meeting behind those four days at Prestbury Park. Tomorrow is a cracking start: four Grade 1s (some of them competitive, even); a gaggle of Champions and top performers; and all against the backdrop of the tightest Trainers Champions

A force for good

I thought long and hard about whether to write this post in memory of Crispin. It is too easy to bash out trite words and push them into the vastness of cyberspace, hanging the sensibilities. I don’t want to do that. There is a danger of invading the space of a wonderful family and of friends and relatives who knew him better than me. I would hate to do that. Such a post could overflow with sentimentality in a frivolous social media world, alienating those who did not know him. I may have to risk that. Crispin was a man who touched so many lives in such a positive way, mine included. And for that reason I am compelled to offer my own tribute. Crispin and I arrived at the Countryside Agency within a couple of years of each other. He became my colleague, my boss and my friend in quick succession. On my last day in the job, he gave me such an affectionate man-hug in the middle of the open plan that my ribs still ache to think of it… At work, Crispin was a blend of idealistic v