And so to Cheltenham

At least we are truly blessed in having the greatest four days of racing available to man to allow us to move on from England cricket. Too much has already been written and said about this year’s festival but suffice to say that I cannot remember approaching a festival with more anticipatory relish than this week’s offering.

So here, offered more in hope than confidence are bets for the opening day. All are worked on a 1-10 point range. For the purposes of what follows, I am working on a £20 per point strategy. Should you choose to take any note, please also include your own bets within your portfolio. This is a year in which anything could happen.

Supreme Novices
1.25 points win Jollyalan with Sky bet. Skybet will return all stakes if your horse loses.

Arkle
1 point each-way Vibrato Valtat.

Champion Hurdle
If Jollyalan is beaten in the Supreme, place the 1.25 points returned on Faugheen.

Add a further 1.25 points to win for a total stake of 2.5 points.

If Jollyalan wins the Supreme, it’s just a straight 2.5 point win bet on Faugheen.

Mares Hurdle
½ point each-way Glen’s Melody

Farewell England

Notwithstanding an albeit diminishing element of patriotism, what a blessed relief to witness the elimination of England from the ICC Cricket World Cup. For a team allegedly provided with all the requisite tools to produce a quality performance in the competition, the actual delivery was worse than initially imaginable. It will be interesting to hear the explanation by the governing body of cricket in England and Wales as they were the body who reliably informed about the aforementioned tools being fully in place as part of our supposedly strong preparation.

That said, this is the same body that chose to reappoint the previously inept Peter Moores to the position of head coach. Listen to the management psychobabble of Moores and it doesn’t necessitate a startling leap of imagination to see why England have produced a string of witless, insipid, hapless performances leading to their hasty but deserved elimination. Strong words are required from the governors of our sport – but more importantly, so are words of utter honesty.

The art of being Rich

Some people are perceived as born communicators – others less so. And in the modern world the art of communication is more important than ever. For example, the next general election may well be determined by the three-way television debate (four if UKIP get their way) of party leaders rather than the plethora of policies laid down by the respective parties.

And so it is in racing. Punters feel they need to hear from trainers, but there is many a handler who will not feel that anyone is deserving of hearing their views about their various charges. It is generally accepted than National Hunt trainers are far better communicators than their Flat counterparts, both in terms of their willingness to talk and the information they impart.

john-gosden

Of course, there are exceptions with John Gosden the obvious shining example. When Gosden talks about his horses, the politics of the sport or a specific race, you listen. If he ever gives up training, I would put him in charge of the BHA immediately (with apologies to Paul Bittar who is doing a decent job to date). In contrast, Sir Michael Stoute has developed the wondrous knack of being able to talk about his horses for as long as the interviewer wishes without delivering anything of the slightest use to the listener. He has also developed the cute knack of starting to walk away when giving a response, thus signalling that the interview is over.

Owners are a slightly different breed. Some just gush about their horse, some just gush about their trainer and some just gush. Others, notably the big battalions – Coolmore and Godolphin – give interviews only when they want, the former usually leaving the talking to Aidan O’Brien. Some love him when interviewed, some don’t. I do.

What is almost always the case is that owners tell you little or nothing of any value about their horses – they’re too close. Rose-coloured spectacles and all that. So it was quite wonderful to listen to the Sunday Forum on At The Races over the weekend and listen to Matt Chapman’s interview with Rich Ricci, banker turned racehorse owner. Ricci polarises opinion – as you would expect from one who has named one of his horses after his good self – Fatcatinthehat. I like that – it says a lot about the man.

rich_ricci-655_948103c

Presumably the interview was scheduled for 10-15 minutes at most. With most owners that would be a lifetime, but not on this occasion. Ricci spoke for around 25 minutes and it would have been quite easy to devote the whole programme to him.

He was highly articulate, intelligent, open and honest – and you cannot ever ask for more than that whatever the subject under discussion. He clearly adores his horses and has the utmost respect and admiration for Messrs Mullins and Walsh. Let’s hope other owners and trainers can follow his splendid example.

Thanks and well done Fatcatinthecat – it was a lesson for all involved in our sport. If you haven’t heard it yet, try and do so. It’s very well worth it.

Big Buck’s for Sam – but not for other Nicholls’ pilots

Only two weeks ago I was writing about the talent of Sam Twiston-Davies and lo and behold we are now informed that he will be the jockey aboard Big Buck’s for the remainder of the season – and presumably the next one too if all remains well with the staying hurdle champion.

It’s clearly a wonderful move for Sam who, it is abundantly clear, is being lined up to take over as the number one rider at Ditcheat sometime in the future. However, it’s not at all wonderful for the man who holds the position of stable jockey to the Nicholls juggernaut – irrespective of recent press coverage.

Paul-Nicholls

The mere fact that both Paul Nicholls and Andy Stewart have gone out of their way – by some considerable distance – to explain that the decision not to put Daryl Jacob on Big Buck’s is sufficient evidence in itself to show that there are massive issues at stake. Nicholls, as good a communicator as he is trainer – brilliant in both aspects – has resorted, uncharacteristically, to trying to explain the difference between a retained and stable jockey. Splitting hairs comes to mind. In addition, it appears that he believes Jacob not to be in the right frame of mind to take the ride, stating that his ‘retained’ jockey now believes it to be something of a ‘poisoned chalice’ in the same way that it became precisely so for Sam Thomas, who now struggles to enjoy a ride a day.

I find it hard to believe that there is any jockey in the country who would not wish to partner the best staying hurdler we have seen for a very long time. But, that, we are informed is the situation apropos Daryl Jacob. All of which only begs one question – why?

Horse Racing - The 2012 John Smith's Grand National - Day Three - Aintree Racecourse

The answer may possibly, just possibly, be found in an analysis of what has happened to former Nicholls’ jockeys in the past, because there really does seem to be a definite ‘Nicholls Factor’ when it comes to jockeys, be they stable or retained (there really is something wrong if a trainer has to explain there’s a difference between the two). Moreover the comment of owner Andy Stewart that the decision not to use Daryl Jacob was in no way a reflection on his ability is quite laughable. So what has happened to Ditcheat pilots in the past? Well, here’s just a selection.

JOE TIZZARD – suffered a horrific injury when at Ditcheat and was given little or no chance on his return to action. Now rides almost exclusively for his father with hardly an outside ride to his name (8 winners this term).Probably waiting to take over as trainer in a couple of years when Dad has had enough.

LIAM HEARD – whatever happened to him? Ever since falling when going well on Granite Jack in the Paddy Power some years ago(called in when Ruby was injured and the fall was not his fault), his star descended rapidly at Ditcheat. Still more than capable but hardly gets a ride nowadays and has ridden less than 10 winners in the past three seasons.

SAM THOMAS – How are the mighty fallen. Going a bomb with Venetia before being snapped up by Ditcheat. Suffered it seems an infinite loss of confidence when failing on the likes of Big Buck’s, Kauto Star and Denman. He just isn’t the same any more, sadly looking the palest shadow of former days.

IAN POPHAM – did ok but then departed the scene pretty rapidly but thankfully now doing better with martin Keighley after a bad injury.

RYAN MAHON – gets fair rides here and there but hard to see precisely where his career with Nicholls is going. Being used by the brilliant Harry Fry when the superlative Noel Fehily is unavailable.

HARRY SKELTON – didn’t take at all long for the rides to dry up. Has taken the success of rookie trainer and his brother, Dan, to get his confidence back and is now riding pretty well.

HARRY DERHAM – being brought along far more steadily than the above list, probably because he is a relation of the trainer. Interesting to see what happens when he loses his claim.

Perhaps it’s the above list of woe that made Daryl Jacob allegedly have second thoughts about taking the ride on Big Buck’s. He’s already missed out on Silviniaco Conti in the King George and is likely to do so again in the future. Also, the simple fact remains that he still has a fabulous job at a magnificent yard and if he were to leave than the only way would definitely be down.

Nevertheless you wouldn’t bet against Sam Twiston- Davies being number one with Nick Scholfield maintaining the no 2 slot in the not too distant future. Would you?

Festive clues in abundance – maybe!

The Christmas and New Year period provided a series of fascinating contests that look to have provided some useful clues to the Cheltenham Festival four days, not to mention the remainder of the NH season. We only have a certain amount of space so let’s take a look at five things that we learnt in the last couple of weeks.

  1. Hurricane Fly remains the one to beat in the Champion Hurdle. That doesn’t mean that he will win a third crown but it does mean that he sets the standard for his prime challengers to attain. There seems no obvious reason why either Our Conor or Jezki should reverse Ryanair Hurdle form, especially with Mr Mullins telling us all that there’s still more to work on with the holder of the title. The New One and My Tent Or Yours produced a stirring battle at Kempton and both are likely to be better suited to the demands of Prestbury Park in March. Both should have more to offer and, at this stage, appeal as the main challengers to the champion. Moreover, for the ‘Fly’ not to be outright favourite at this stage seems rather strange too.
  2. Silviniaco Conti boasts outstanding Gold Cup claims. He was the only one to trouble Betfair Chase winner, Cue Card, at Kempton during the majority of the 3m trip in the King George and still produced the requisite stamina and resilience to reel in the Tizzard charge and win decisively. He was, as we know, travelling perfectly well when uncharacteristically capsizing in last year’s Gold Cup and must be a prime candidate under the superb Noel Fehily. He rates an excellent each-way option at present. But…
  3. Bobs Worth is back. Nicky Henderson has had a number of unpleasant reverses this season so far and still trails Paul Nicholls in the trainer’s championship, something that practically all racing pundits would not have foreseen pre-season. However, his reigning champion delivered a typically tough and powerful effort to win the Lexus Chase going away and reignite his championship credentials.
    nicky henderson & binocular www.lambourn.info
  4. With his love of Cheltenham there for all to see, Bobs Worth deserves to start favourite come the special day and it will take an exceptional effort for him to be toppled if he’s on his A game for Barry Geraghty.
  5. Champagne Fever is not the second coming – well not at the moment. He may well put his Leopardstown disappointment behind him – either before the Arkle or in the ‘big one’ itself – but at present he is far from the Arkle certainly which many believed him to be. As yet he is not a Simonsig either or, of course, a Sprinter Sacre. His defeat behind Defy Logic throws the Arkle wide open and nothing makes definitive appeal at present.
  6. Annie Power. Oh, how good is she. Well, actually we don’t know but everything she does oozes championship style. Don’t worry about where she will be aimed for the rest of the season, although that particular topic will probably occupy far more media space than it should. Suffice to say that it is not a dilemma that her master trainer faces – it is simply a situation that a) he will resolve in his normal calm, unflustered manner and b) is one that every other trainer on both sides of the Irish Sea wishes they had.

om06bestmate_v01

www.oxfordmail.co.uk

Finally, and sadly. Heartfelt sympathy and every best wish to Henrietta Knight and the family of friends of Terry Biddlecombe who died over the weekend. Cavalier, swashbuckler, dashing – these will be the words associated with a man who rode horses and lived life in his own inimitable fashion. His association with Henrietta was as wonderful as it was initially unlikely and he will be sorely missed.

Sam is the man

The impressively burgeoning career of Sam Twiston-Davies took another notable step forward at Cheltenham over the weekend following a high-profile Saturday double courtesy of Double Ross and The New One.

Some may point to Sam enjoying the benefits of parental influence with his father regularly finding his way into the top dozen or so trainers in the championship table. However, such a relationship also comes with a heavy burden – especially if things go awry at times. Thankfully that has yet to happen in this particular father-son operation and is unlikely to do so as Twiston-Davies junior does nothing but improve at a rapidly impressive rate.

Indeed, to imbue their relationship with the requisite professionalism, Sam revealed last year that he does not now refer to the trainer as Father or Dad. He calls him Nigel. It’s all part of the necessary psychology as evinced a few decades ago when Brian Clough always referred to his son Nigel when the pair were together at Nottingham Forest as “our centre forward” or “our number nine.”

In previous seasons, STD has always given the impression that he is a bold and fearless talent who gave horses a cracking ride, often from the front, in line with how many stable inmates are ridden. The boldness and fearlessness remain but this season has witnessed a significant change. It is as if STD realised that his skills needed further honing and refinement – and that’s precisely what we are witnessing – the growth of talent into fully-fledged excellence.

The rides on Double Ross and The New One were evidence of a more refined jockey at work, especially when tracking the pace and then attacking at the right moment on Double Ross. Thereafter, the drive up the Cheltenham hill was potent and rhythmical as a major pot was added to the family CV.

The ride on The New One was a different commodity altogether but the fact that STD’s first response when having a microphone annoyingly thrust at him by Alice Plunkett on Channel 4 within seconds of finishing was to say that he got it wrong shows an ever-increasing degree of maturity and understanding of his craft.

The jury has hitherto remained out on The New One and remains so after Saturday’s success in the eyes of many an accomplished race-reader. Similar comments can be ascribed to My Tent Or Yours after his comeback success in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle so the proposed clash betwixt the pair over Christmas at Kempton is not only a mouth-watering prospect in itself but one which should go some way to clarifying the respective merits of two leading pretenders to the Hurricane Fly crown.

With Paul Nicholls also voicing his approval of Sam Twiston-Davies as a leading light of the new generation of young jockey talent – and trusting him with the ride, amongst significant others, on the mercurial Tidal Bay when the pair thrillingly landed a last-gasp victory in the Charlie Hall Chase in November – there seems no doubt whatsoever that this young man’s star will grow ever brighter.

Father Nigel has already stated that he would not stand in his son’s way should a “big job” be placed upon the table – a prospect that is likely to be filed in the “sooner rather than later” category at the current rate of progress. He would certainly receive my vote to become champion NH jockey should a certain Irishman ever decide to stop in his march towards 5,000 winners.

A day at the races – Geordie style

Something a little different this week as I spent my first day’s racing at Newcastle on Saturday having travelled to watch the Fighting Fifth Hurdle. So here are my reflections on a day out with the lovable Geordie tribes.

newcastle www.drawbias.com

First impressions – our group of four had booked the Members Enclosure and I was mightily impressed with the rather grand entrance to said enclosure – classy indeed. The cost was £25 for the day and £17 in Tatts. As usual there were discounts if you book online – we paid £22. However, once inside there’s little to really distinguish the two enclosures and you pay the extra simply to be opposite (more or less) the finishing line. There was also a special offer for all racegoers – 70p off a pint in any bar up to one hour before the first race!

Viewing – Good and bad. Good because there’s plenty of room even on a day such as the Fighting Fifth and the screen is well placed to help racegoers out. The negative is that you are a long way from the horses, especially on the chase track, although that does offer a greater sense of perspective on the run-in.

The track – a left-handed oval of about 1m6f and a fairer track you could not wish to see. No surprise that the likes of Nicky Henderson, Alan King and Jeremy Scott ventured far from home with high-class types. Galloping chasing sorts are ideally suited with 11 fences to be jumped on each circuit so there are rarely excuses to be made for beaten horses here. The fences take a fair amount of jumping but there’s plenty of space for all runners. The more I watched the more I realised that you really do need a strong travelling, sound jumping type around these fences.

mccoywww.worldinsport.com

Atmosphere – I expected it to be ultra-boisterous – but it wasn’t. Well behaved but with a lovely north-eastern warmth and buzz about the place. The presence of Tony McCoy helped too with racegoers seemingly genuinely thrilled that the multiple champion had foregone the delights of Hennessy day at Newbury to visit their neck of the woods. Both winners partnered by 4000+ man were warmly received.

Ones to watch – I enjoyed the round of jumping provided by Green Flag in the opener – an interesting mixture of careful but fluent. Lucinda Russell has brought him along with considerable intelligence and he seems sure to have more to offer as a steeplechaser. Oscar Rock had his bubble burst by the finishing thrust of Ballyalton and Mr McCoy in the decent novice hurdle but the pair were well clear of the remainder and both should be kept on the right side.

Vintage Star only just succumbed in a prolonged battle with the older and far more experienced Hey Big Spender(nice to see him on the score sheet again) in a pulsating Rehearsal Chase finish but Sue Smith’s charge is progressing well and will be a useful piece of ammunition if honing and refining his jumping skills a little more. It was a splendid effort by a relatively inexperienced chaser all the same. Baile Anrai (3rd) is another to keep an eye on for the impressive Skelton team from his current handicap mark.

Aintree Raceswww.news.coral.co.uk

Obviously the star of the show was My Tent Or Yours. It’s easy to fall in love with horses and he’s top of my list at present. His victory was comfortable and expected and we are likely to learn far more when he turns up at Kempton over Christmas. To stop myself getting carried away about him, I’ll leave my comments at that, other than to say it was a fine effort by the improving Cockney Sparrow to fill the runner-up spot and the shrewd John Quinn should be able to find an opportunity for his charge to go one better next time.

A week in focus

Too much going on in our wonderfully strange sport this week to devote appropriate space to everything but let’s try to fit in as much as possible – although I have still yet to cool down after watching the New Zealand Rugby Union and Rugby League teams produce heart-stopping , ‘impossible’ last-second comebacks over the weekend. Astonishing .

So here goes:

  1. Farewell in the best possible sense to Richard Hannon who decided with no particular sense of fanfare (typical of the man) that at 68 enough was enough and the time had come to hand over the reins to Hannon junior. Plenty, quite rightly, has already been written in tribute to a superlative 44-year training career but my own plaudit is simply that here is a straightforward, honest-as-the-day-is-long guy who built up a wonderful empire without, until very recent times, having any support from big-name and big money owners. An exceptional achievement. Hopefully the handover to his son will be undertaken in the same seamless fashion that hallmarked Andrew Balding and Charles Hills assuming control of high-quality yards from high-quality fathers.
    Richard-Hannon_2335934 www.racinghome.co.uk
    www.racinghome.co.uk
    Nevertheless it will seem all too strange to embark upon the 2014 Flat racing campaign without Richard Hannon and the late Sir Henry Cecil at the helm of their respective yards. Time moves on.

  2. Having reflected upon the excellent three days of the Cheltenham Open meeting, I am not convinced that we saw any future stars on show. I happily await being proved wrong. My personal highlight was to see Richie McLernon, talented and underrated, steal the show with a typically canny ride to land the ‘big one’ on Johns Spirit. It remains so surprising he does not attract more outside rides.
  3. The Betfair Chase was a fabulous affair and I couldn’t have been more wrong about the outcome believing Cue Card to be a non-stayer in such company at the extended three-mile trip. However, great to see a family concern land such a magnificent renewal but a word of consolation to Nicky Henderson.
    nicky henderson & binocular www.lambourn.info
    www.lambourn.info
    I hate seeing champions being heavily beaten in any sport so spare a thought for the champion trainer who saw not one but two Gold Cup winners fail to make the frame. Hopefully, both will be back in winning fettle anon. The King George suddenly becomes a fabulous race in prospect with the first two surely taking one another on again.
  4. A comment please from the Horsemen’s Group – and the sooner the better. They have been rightly vocal about prize-money levels and what needs to be done about them so let’s have an explanation of owners shunning the major prizes on offer at Ascot on Saturday when the top races attracted 2 and 4 runners respectively. They can’t have it all ways. Don’t moan about a situation and then go awfully mute on the dreadful Ascot turnout.
  5. Talking of which, step forward Karen McLintock. What a clever lady. All the way down from the north to take on Zarkandar and The Super Annie with her no-hoper. Travelled nicely for over half the race, had a nice blow and came home in his own time. The reward – over £11,000 – the equivalent of winning two or three handicap hurdles and / or chases in the north. I imagine Nicky Henderson was pretty pleased to see old favourite French Opera have a nice school round the Royal racecourse too behind Al Ferof and pick up ten grand plus.
  6. One plea to the media. Can we possibly not ask every trainer that wins with a juvenile/novice hurdler if they will be going to Cheltenham in March – nor novice chasers for that matter? The NH season is an exciting affair and not everything needs to relate to Prestbury Park in the early spring. The Betfair Chase proved that so let’s enjoy the racing – week on week – for what it is.
  7. Hennessy Gold Cup next week – seems to be on everyone’s list of favourite races. Great race in prospect again but the Fighting Fifth Hurdle clash between My Tent Or Yours and Melodic Rendezvous could be worth going a long way to see – so that’s what I’ll be doing.
  8. Enjoy your racing – both in England and Ireland. You simply will not see better jump racing anywhere else in the world

Supreme Treve rescues the week

If ever we needed a superlative performance in Europe’s greatest flat race, it was Sunday October 6, 2013.

Thankfully we were treated to a masterclass from a French filly and her massively talented handler in Treve and the quite splendid Criquette Head. Considering that this year’s renewal of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was promoted as arguably the best for many a moon, it was rather disconcerting to be in a position to know the winner with a couple of furlongs still to travel.

6223312896_5eafd39bda_z www.flickr.com

However, it is wonderful to be simply stunned by a performance now and again and bask in the glow of the extra-special. The media will hopefully focus on the magnificence of the filly rather than reflecting upon the injury to her original pilot – one Frankie Dettori.

Jockey Frankie Dettori - des-1479001www.dailyrecord.co.uk

Put simply, Dettori has endured an annus horribilis as The Queen magnificently put it in a truly memorable Christmas message (following the death of Princess Diana). A 6-month drugs ban was followed by a paucity of winners (who would ever have predicted a final total of fewer than 20 for the Italian in 2013? Certainly not the man himself) before the freakish fall which prevented Dettori from rescuing his season – and year – in one fell swoop.

It is said that only through loss, suffering and defeat do we really understand the essence of success and pure delight. So the return of Dettori to the saddle is a fascinating prospect – and is guaranteed to be one story that will run and run throughout 2014

The reason the sport required a stellar Arc performance can be found in one word- McCririck. Along with the aforementioned Dettori, these two members of our sport – so we are regularly told – are our only celebrities. They transcend our sport. Heaven help us.

John-McCririck-court_3013933www.sportinglife.com

 It has been astonishing to read over the years that we need to promote Big Mac for that sole reason –he is a genuine celebrity. Does that mean he does our sport proud? Do people watch his ludicrous misbehaviours on a sequence of inane reality shows and emerge with the opinion that they should become interested in the sport that this man represents? The cult of celebrity itself has become increasingly odious and my presumption is that the precise opposite would be the case

I have only spoken to McCririck once. Here is what was said;

Me: Hello Mr McCricrick. Would you be kind enough to sign my son’s autograph book, please?

JM: NO. I don’t do autographs. I am a loathsome, horrible creature. Go away.

Me: Thank you.

That is what you get from our leading personality. Not to mention boorish, sexist, classist and inexcusably rude rants. How often does he brand the sport – and certain bookmakers – as disgraceful – whilst being perfectly happy to take any money on offer from the likes of Ladbrokes to advertise their product?

One point to make at this stage – Big Mac was quite superb down in the betting jungle when fully focussed on his job. His research was excellent and in many ways he was light years superior to his successor. But he is a sadly misguided man and it is to be hoped that he will lose his case for unfair dismissal at the court case that has smeared our national media this week.

Why? Simply because he really believes that he deserves the job because he is good at it – irrespective of frequently appalling on-screen behaviour. There is more to presenting than mere knowledge and it is rather sad that McCririck has failed to come to terms with the 21st century and still, like certain other C4 presenters before him, steadfastly refuses to move with the times. His dismissal was not handled well. But that does not make it wrong.

Maybe he should take a leaf from the book of Alistair Down. However Channel Four could choose to dispense with the services of the most articulate presenter and reporter of our sport continues to astonish. As for Down himself, his reaction was one of acceptance and, more especially, dignity.

A virtue very much lacking in the subject of the majority of the preceding paragraphs.

A week lit up by the ‘Lantern’

So much to cover in an interesting week so let’s revert to the seven things we learnt this week idea:

  1. Rizeena and Kiyoshi may have been extremely impressive when landing their respective Royal Ascot contests but are by no means going to end the season as the dominant fillies. The former, however, has been campaigned with splendid aggression by the evergreen Clive Brittain and remains a Classic contender whereas Kiyoshi appears to have plenty to learn temperamentally before aspiring to such heights.
  2. The French unveiled a couple of fine prospects in Miss France (why do I simply not back everything that Andre Fabre raids Newmarket with) and the bargain basement buy that is Vorda who was never in danger of defeat in landing the Cheveley Park for the previously under the radar Sogorb yard. Olivier Peslier’s bullishness was there for all to hear pre-race and she seems sure to progress further irrespective of which distance she’s asked to tackle.

    Peslier-3-webwww.ownerbreeder.co.uk

  3. ‘Sky Lantern lights up Newmarket in Sun Chariot’ was the headline writer’s classic cliché but there was no denying the magnificence of the performance as the Hannon filly claimed deserved retribution for the ludicrous Falmouth Stakes defeat when only beaten a neck despite being carried half the length of Suffolk in the closing couple of furlongs by Elusive Kate. A third Group 1 victory following her 1000 Guineas triumph and a stunning Coronation Stakes success confirms Sky Lantern as by far the leading filly of the 2013 Classic generation. How wonderful that she is to be kept in training next season.
  4. The Sunday meeting at the Curragh was a fine affair all round as the opening trio of races were worthy of considerable analysis. Dermot Weld landed the maiden for the third successive year with the unraced Tested for Prince Khalid Abdullah and should be noted for any future engagements. John Oxx produced My Titania to land the first Group success for Sea The Stars’ progeny and there can be no one in racing that did not cheer that result after such a low-key season for this class trainer. Let’s hope that there are more to come, especially after the decision of the Aga Khan to no longer support the yard with yearlings. Shining Emerald has demolished the opposition the last twice and the way he put Guerre to the sword was dynamic. He’d be rated far higher if trained at a more fashionable establishment and his next appearance is eagerly awaited.

    85677www.racingpost.com

  5. Mike Marshall’s move to Ismail Mohammed creates endless questions about the future of his new and former employees. What is in no doubt is the tremendous strike rate of the Mohammed yard who proved that they are far more than a small-track operation when landing the Cambridgeshire with Educate under the remarkable Mr Murtagh yesterday. This is a yard going only one way and the arrival of Marshall is a significant coup

    Lady-Jane-Cecil-1_2961755www1.skysports.com

  6. Today’s article in The Sunday Times on Lady Cecil explains much about her reasons for continuing the Warren Place story. One can only presume that both Prince Khalid and the Niarchos Family will maintain support of the yard and there can be few that will not hope that the Group 1 flag will proudly fly once again in the future.
  7. And finally….. Last week I wrote about my week at Yarmouth races but omitted one particular occurrence. A friend of mine landed the 1-2-3 in a competitive handicap and – astonishingly – had landed the Trifecta. The SPs were 20-1, 12-1 and 9-1. He was in a state of high excitement as the Tricast came out at over £2400 for the £1 stake. And the Trifecta? It paid just over £400. A difference of over £1800 to a £1 stake. I wonder if the new Tote owner, Mr Done(Betfred) had any comment to make – or probably he was too busy laughing all the way to the bank.