Thursday, August 31, 2006

A cautionary tale

Mike Atherton's new book 'Luck be a lady tonight: gambling - a story of triumph and disaster' is due to be published early in September.

The Guardian recently published the extract below which generated a fair deal of discussion in our staffroom and should serve as a cautionary tale to us all.,,1857974,00.html

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

David Nicholson dies aged 67

Twice champion trainer David Nicholson died suddenly over the weekend aged 67.

Tributes have been made by many in racing to 'The Duke', a man who influenced a number of top jockeys' careers.

A larger than life character, he'll be missed by many in the sport. The link to BBC's report is at:

Friday, August 25, 2006

Jacob's Cracker

5lb claimer D. Jacob is booked to ride Cream Cracker in the 3.15 at Newton Abbot tomorrow and they can prove a winning combination provided the rain doesn't spoil the party.

The 8 year old mare is officially rated 123, 9lbs higher than the less experienced Barton Flower, yet both horses are set to carry the same weight under the conditions of the race.

Of the other runners, Sakenos' debut over fences at Fontwell just two days ago was less than impressive while Arresting won nicely enough at Perth.

Cream Cracker looks more experienced than her rivals but wouldn't want the ground too soft; she rates a value bet at 9/4, the tissue price quoted on the Sporting Life website today.

Incidentally, I'm surprised to see Is It Me declared for the 6.20 at Market Rasen, given connections rate the colt a potential Triumph hurdle candidate. I expect the horse to win, but at long odds on he's not a betting proposition.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Under Orders

I'm not the biggest Dick Francis fan. I've read a few; after a while they tend to 'merge' into one another.

His new title, Under Orders, is to be published in early September and will be his first book for over six years following the death of his wife.

Details below if you're a fan...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Is It Me?

Is It Me is certainly one of the better novice hurdlers to have been seen out so far this summer, if not the best.

Not overly big, the horse has taken to jumping like the proverbial duck to water. Early on trainer Paul Blockley commented that he wouldn't want to see the horse lumbered with too many penalties.

Today the Racing Post reports that the owner has refused two offers of £80,000 and then £100,000 for the horse from an anonymous Irish businessman.

The long term plan is the Triumph hurdle in Cheltenham next March. It's early days yet but it is clear the owner feels he has a horse to go to war with. In the interim, the aim is a race at Cheltenham's October meeting.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Sportsman's revamp

On Saturday I purchased the revamped edition of The Sportsman.

From a racing perspective big improvements have been made, although I had to try four retail outlets before I could find a copy. In addition the cards for both Bangor and Market Rasen didn't contain insight notes for individual runners which is disappointing for a specialist newspaper.

To ensure its long term survival the paper needs to concetrate on the horse racing product, improve distribution and maintain its pricing differential with the Racing Post.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Saturday selections

Bangor On Dee 2.20
The favourite has won this race five times in the last ten years. The winner has come from the first three in the betting in each of the last ten runnings. Looking at tissue prices, the Racing Post and the Sporting Life quote Silver Jaro at around 7/2. The horse has form on soft ground in France and rates a value bet at that price.

Bangor On Dee 3.20
I had On The Outside as the selection provided the ground was no worse than good. Given the amount of rain that's fallen here over the last two hours, the going is likely be soft. That being the case, a chance is taken with Lucinda Russell's Catch The Perk in a race where there are a number of question marks over most of the other runners. The stable is in form, the horse will handle the ground, stay the distance and the course will suit his prominent running style.

Future reading

Following on from my recent LibraryThing explorations, I came across a couple of interesting titles which are not yet published.

Kieren Fallon: the biography by Andrew Longmore
Alan Lee had a snippet in his Times Diary a couple of months back which talked about publication this September but looking at the synopsis on Amazon it appears that date has been put back to May 2007 so the result of the forthcoming trial can be included.

Riding with the devil: my autobiography by Timmy Murphy
Publication date: November 2006.

Mark Johnston: the authorised biography by Nick Townsend
Publication date: October 2006.

The art of bookmaking by Malcolm Boyle
Available from the end of August 2006.

In racing the anticipation is half the fun; a few ideas for Christmas presents there.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

For sale: one daily newspaper, nearly new

The Times reported yesterday that administrators for The Sportsman were going to place an advertisement in The Sunday Times under the heading 'Business For Sale' in an attempt to find a buyer for the paper.

One of the administrators was quoted as 'confident' a buyer would be found within the next two weeks.

I would suggest that if the business is being advertised in this manner then it's more in desperation than confidence and it is unlikely a buyer will be found.

As the paper starts to sack employees, there are a couple of rumours doing the rounds - one that it will relaunch as a freesheet and one that a revised business plan will concentrate on horse racing.

Watch this space.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The gentle art of race reading

I have nothing but the utmost admiration for professionals such as Channel 4's 'languid' Simon Holt who describe the cut and thrust of horse racing live as it happens.

My race reading is somewhat different.

I've been using LibraryThing to create a catalgoue of some racing related books I've read over the years.

Sad, I know, but take the trouble to check it out:

Monday, August 14, 2006

Five Live tip September Moon

September Moon runs in the 2.45 at Southwell today. In a five runner race, the mare represents decent value for money at 5/1 with Totalbet but there's no denying she has her own ideas about the game.

In her last race she lost touch on the second circuit only to fight back to be going best of all with two to jump but then ran out.

I daresay breeder Queen Elizabeth would not have been impressed. Equally unimpressive is the writeup for the BBC's Five Live tip which describes September Moon as a gelding. A case of mistaken identity perhaps?

Friday, August 04, 2006

McCoy's broken wrist

Quoting John McCririck on the back cover of McCoy's autobiography: 'The man is a colossus, we have never seen his like before'.

For once McCririck is right.

When McCoy broke his wrist in a heavy fall at Galway earlier this week, Richard Johnson will know that this particular misfortune presents him with an opportunity.

McCoy will be back by October as the core National Hunt season gets into swing.

In the meantime, Johnson can build up a lead in the champion jockey title race. Make no mistake, in any other era Johnson will have already achieved his goal of becoming champion jockey.

I don't currently have any prices but I suggest a wager on Johnson to achieve his lifetime's ambition this season.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Glorious Goodwood

Goodwood has been described as a garden party with racing tacked on.

The irony is that after 50 years, this year will be the BBC's last year of coverage.