Wednesday, June 28, 2006

John Terry on form ahead of Saturday's game

Following a light training session in Baden Baden this morning, John Terry ran a creditable third in the one and half mile Goadsby Bilbury Handicap Cup at Salisbury this afternoon.

A little slow at the start, he warmed to his task and finished strongly. At the end fans gave him an affectionate round of applause. Asked for a comment, his travelling head lad said, 'He'll get better with time.'

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

England & Sven - two schools of thought

It seems there are two schools of thought on England's performances in the World Cup to date.

The first school is of the opinion that the team has reached the quarter final stage of the competition without playing well. Nonetheless the opposition has been beaten; if a team can reach this stage without playing well, it augurs well for the future. Proponents of this view affirm there's a big game in this England team and we're going to see it in the next match.

The second school of thought also acknowledges that the team has not played well. The prevailing view is that the team has been performing way below expectations and when the stiffer opposition comes along the side's inherent weaknesses will be fully exposed.

Quoting from today's Times, "If Luiz Felipe Scolari beats Sven-Göran Eriksson for the third time, perhaps he will get to keep him. It is a prospect that seems probable on form and history..."

If you subscribe to this second viewpoint then 11/4 Portugal to beat England in 90 minutes with both Victor Chandler and Betdirect looks very good value indeed.

Friday, June 23, 2006

World Cup fans better behaved than Ascot punters

The Sun leads today with the story that more drunken punters have been arrested during the first three days at Royal Ascot than England football fans following their team in Germany.

HRH The Queen will not be amused.

Rumours that Prince Philip was found drunk in charge of a horse and cart are wide of the mark.

Ascot this year seems to have centred around opinions on the new stand, Jodie Kidd peering over Willie Carson's top hat to front the BBC's fashion coverage and popped-up punters taking a pop at one another.

Whatever happened to the racing?

More to the point, does anyone know when's the next meeting at Newton Abbot?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Ascot Gold Cup

Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot today with the main feature being the Ascot Gold Cup.

An open looking renewal with Sir Michael Stoute's Distinction having an obvious form chance and likely to start favourite.

In The Weekender Mark Winstanley is very bullish about Reefscape's chances but I'm siding with Sergeant Cecil from Rob Millman's small Devon yard. The horse has been trained with this race in mind; 9/2 is generally available and looks decent value.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Topical longshot at Ascot

The first day of Royal Ascot and some old jumping friends are running in the 2m 4f Ascot Stakes at 4.55pm, including Full House, Admiral, Football Crazy and Tikram.

With 29 runners in the field, it's obviously a bit of a lottery but, given we're in the midst of the World Cup, Football Crazy looks a fun each way bet at 50/1. Trained by Peter Bowen whose yard is in good form, Football Crazy is better known as a 3m hurdler who handles fast ground well.

Paddy Power offer 50/1 and are also paying on the fifth place.

The horse will certainly stay - the question is will he stay fast enough.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Buying money when England play

The best money I've made on the World Cup so far was in Liverpool on Thursday evening when England were playing Trinidad & Tobago.

I walked into a bar which offered the following deal - all beers £1.50 until the first England goal.

After 70 minutes I asked the barmaid what would happen if it was 0-0 - would I be allowed to camp over until the Sweden game.

Two of us in a round - that's £3 a round; it was literally like buying money.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Full House

Full House runs in the Tony Bethell Memorial Handicap (7.15) at Pontefract this evening.

Better known as a chaser, his recent return to the flat at Sandown was a nice preparation for this race. He will certainly appreciate the extra distance here, the stiff track and quicker ground. To temper that I note the trainer hasn't had a winner in more than 30 days.

The Chamberlain Addiscott Partnership own this horse. These names can be seen over the door of The Exmouth Arms public house which is situated just around the corner from Euston station in London. If I have to wait for a train at Euston, I like to pop in for a pint of Guinness or two; Carl Llewellyn's silks from his National victory on Earth Summit are on the wall.

Nine runners in this evening's race and the 3/1 available generally looks a fair price.

Prescott scores with Confidential Lady

Well, bless my old boots, Prescott scored with that Confidential Lady (see item below).

After the event, Prescott was quoted as saying 'It's a relief after 37 years of trying.'

I'm getting a little confused here. Who are we talking about, John Prescott or Sir Mark?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Prescott fancies Confidential Lady

The headline writers can have some fun at a certain politician's expense as Sir Mark Prescott runs Confidential Lady in the Prix de Diane Hermes at Chantilly on Sunday.

BBC Sport has already come up with 'Prescott hopeful of Lady chances'.

I prefer 'Prescott fancies Confidential Lady'.

If the filly does the business, I predict 'Prescott joy with Confidential Lady'.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Small bet advised

With a lot of the media attention focused on the World Cup at present, it's important we don't let any decent racing propositions pass us by. One I'll be keeping an eye out for next time he runs is Buster's Boy.

He's not the biggest of animals but he's tough and consistent.

Last time out in a handicap hurdle at Sedgefield he lost valuable ground at the start and could never get into the race. (See picture.)

The jockey commented 'They went off like scalded cats and he couldn't go with them. I think he'll be better suited by some cut in the ground and a slower pace.'

After the race the trainer told us he thought the horse was still a big baby. 'The plan had been to go novice chasing with him but that has been put on hold for the moment. In the long term we think he's a typical National type.'

A small each way bet is advised next time he runs.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The World Cup and The Sportsman

Just four days to go before the big kick off.

The new paper The Sportsman will be hoping for a good World Cup; daily sales are currently below 20,000 with 40,000 established as the break even figure.

I've bought the paper on a couple of occasions. I'd have to say I haven't seen another single customer buy a copy; it's not available in a lot of newsagents.

Priced at £1 I think it's fair value but others disagree. Many commentators think the paper will be out of business by the end of the year.

Come on guys - if your circulation figures need increasing, why not offer the punters a free bet on the football?

Derby debrief

As dramatic a Derby as I can remember, with a neck covering the first four finishers.

At various points in the final furlong I thought Dylan Thomas, Dragon Dancer, Hala Bek and then Sir Percy might win. You would have to say that the gaps came at the right time for Sir Percy who squeezed home by a short head.

Hala Bek looked unlucky as a violent jink right in the shadow of the post almost certainly cost him the race. Jockey Philip Robinson put it down to the horse's immaturity.

Dragon Dancer was within a whisker of becoming the first maiden to win the Derby in over 100 years. As Daryll Holland said - he'd look a good thing in a maiden now.

The events surrounding Horatio Nelson's run are necessarily tinged with sadness. Allowed to take his chance after extensive examination by connections at the start, the horse broke down badly three furlongs out when called upon for his effort. He was destroyed later. Fallon was clearly affected as he gave up his final ride at the meeting, a sad footnote to the most dramtaic of Derbies.

Friday, June 02, 2006

One adult return to Wrexham

Last weekend I went back to Wrexham for the first time in ages. Destination: The Racecourse Ground - to check out for the first time a brick my brother and I had purchased when The Pryce Griffiths stand was under construction.

It's been a traumatic time for the club over the past 18 months but hopefully now there's a sound foundation on which to build.

It's all a world away from the Premiership with players earning over £100,000 a week, or from the World Cup which kicks off in seven days.

Maybe one day in my lifetime Wales will get to the finals; I'm not holding my breath though.

Derby Day

It's Derby Day tomorrow.

I've followed racing for over 25 years and I've never managed to pick the Derby winner. With 18 runners this time around I don't think I'm about to break the habit of a lifetime.

Still, the likes of John Rickman and Lord Oaksey carried on regardless; if it's good enough for Lord Oaksey, that'll do me.

Generally, over the years, the market has been a reasonable guide in this race, so my two against the field are the favourite Visindar and Horatio Nelson (with the added bonus of Kieran Fallon on board).

Whatever happens, we won't have Sue Barker taking us through the preliminaries this year; let's be grateful for small mercies.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Oaks update

Last month I highlighted the chance of Speciosa

Currently the best price is 11/2 with Paddy Power. Jockey Micky Fenton has been particularly bullish, saying she's the one they have to beat.

The market doesn't see it that way. Personally I think the drying ground is a major concern.

Best each way longshot - Prowess @ 66/1.