Showing posts from November, 2013

Hennessy Gold Cup Chase

Ah, the Hennessy. Newbury shorn of its Summer frivolities and stripped back ready for a gritty staying handicap on, no doubt, a biting, gloomy Saturday afternoon.   A classy handicap at that. Eight previous winners have also claimed the Cheltenham Gold Cup, including the current Champ, Bobs Worth off top weight last year. The provenance of the event, carrying racing’s longest continuous sponsorship, is pretty special. Arkle’s remarkable back-to-back victories in the 60’s were achieved under a specially devised handicapping system that had him weltered with 12st 6lb. Denman achieved what was almost a comparable modern day double under a mere 11st 12lb in 2007 and 2009. The latter was an exhilarating, freewheeling performance of bold jumping and relentless galloping in which he gave away 13lb more to his rivals than in 2007. Denman loved the broad, expansive furlongs of Newbury. The next year, The Tank almost repeated his Hennessy tricks when raised a further 8lb. He tired t

Racing England

I was put on the trail of Patrick R Chalmers’ curiosity, Racing England when stumbling across a reproduction of the front cover in one of those nostalgia heavy, romanticised visions of Britain that the National Trust do so lavishly. Flicking distractedly through its pages in the gift shop of the Rothschild’s neo-Renaissance pile at Waddeson Manor, I stopped immediately at Brian Cook’s block coloured representation of Ascot Gold Cup Day from the early 20 th century. It was a thing of simple beauty. Brian Caldwell Cook, was born in the leafy lanes of Gerrards Cross in 1910. He created the lithograph that would become the cover to Racing England in 1937 and the book was eventually published in 1939 by Batsfords, the old-established London publishing company of which his Mother was a member. Cook would go on to produce many covers for the company in this series, with titles such as Hunting England , Farming England and Villages of England . Tracking down copies of the book on

Unchained Melody

Winning the quiz night at my daughter’s school in 2012 was a bit unexpected. ‘Men Only - Xmas Edition’, we called ourselves. In deference not only to a top quality, top-shelf publication of our misspent youths, but in recognition of the fact that our wives had formed their own team and quite evidently saw no role for gentlemen amongst their ranks. So we milked the moment of victory. I saw a couple of the defeated wives team in Waitrose the next morning and made sure to gloat insufferably. A bit like punting the horses, it’s hard to know when the chance might come round again. Walking up the road the next day, Andy from our team wound down the window as he passed me and shouted “Men Only! We showed ‘em!” Quite how we scraped enough points together on that intoxicating night to finish top of the 30-odd team pile, I will never know.   Brains and knowledge, of course. But some inspired guesstimating and gut feelings clearly came to our rescue. Where did the correct date for the co


Despite the inestimable number of column inches rightly tapped out in praise of eighteen-time jump jockey on riding his 4,000 th winner yesterday, I couldn't let the moment pass without a small tribute to AP McCoy from mugpunting. I'm old enough to remember when he was known simply as Tony McCoy. So we go back a way. Alongside all the deserved plaudits about drive, determination, will to win, tenacity, mental strength, indestructible body, etc etc, we should not overlook the impact he has had on tactics and race riding. An elastic continuum of murky practices sadly continues to straddle racing. It has dodgy runs to protect handicap marks at one end and stretches mercilessly through to blatant doping and surgical maltreatment of horses at the other. Punters, I’ll wager, have never had any doubt, from day one of McCoy’s career, at any gaff track or aboard any outside rag, that he was ever doing anything other than riding to win. Time after time he has conjoured victory from

Hot streak

Is it me or is it hot in here? I've never had such a good start to the 40 to follow project  and it's setting off some febrile palpitations. A self-effacing sort would let the moments pass with calm reflection on a job well done. That's not happening here. I'm rocking some solid self-congratularoy vibes. The first 25 bets have yielded 13 winners at a strike rate of 52% and a profit of +28.6 to a level £1 stake. Included within that lot is a run of six straight winners that began with Pine Creek at 11-2 on Saturday and ended with Annacotty at 8-1 this afternoon. Harry Topper (5-1) was the classy highlight in the Charlie Hall on Saturday and Le Reve (10-1) the comedy moment after Smad Place ejected Choc Thornton at the last fence with the race in his pocket won on Sunday. Annacotty, plenty to like last season over hurdles, has jumped like a dog twice this Autumn already. Today, stepped up to 3 miles and allowed to run handily, he jumped with assurance. A different h

Herr Nurman

It is with a bitter-sweet sense of regret and yet deep respect that Mug Punting marks the recent passing of Kadir Nurman in Berlin, aged 80. Kadir, a Turkish immigrant to Germany, was a pioneer in popularising the doner kebab. The idea of grilling huge lumps of meat on a rotating skewer was not new but, so the BBC reports,   “Nurman had the idea of selling the sliced meat and salad sandwiched between flatbread so that it could be eaten on the move.” Genius, of course. Nurman apparently set up a stall in the German capital back in 1972 so that late night Berliner revelers might partake of “something to offset the effects of large quantities of beer.” The number of kebabhauses in Berlin now tops a 1,000. Those Germans eh? Whodathunkit? The explosion of taste derived from juicy, loosely lamb-related product, carved generously from a thick rotating skewer of the stuff, combined with pitta, salad and piquant chili sauce is now an indespensible modern day classic. Nurman's ach