Thursday, May 31, 2007

Epsom Oaks

With further rain having fallen through the week, the going at Epsom is now soft. Fourteen runners go to post for the Oaks, Henry Cecil's Passage Of Time likely to start favourite. I opposed this horse in the Musidora at York and I'm inclined to do so again following her well documented problems with an abscess on her epiglottis. A bullish piece in The Weekender quotes Cecil as expecting both his fillies 'to be in the first three'. With that in mind, I'll be supporting the yard's Light Shift (currently 6/1 with Totesport) and may be tempted into a reverse forecast Light Shift and Passage Of Time. Should either of them oblige, there won't be a dry eye in the house.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Soft ground a distinct possibility for Saturday's Epsom Derby

After weather typical of a British Bank Holiday weekend, the chances are this year's Derby will be run on ground riding on the soft side of good come Saturday. This likelihood will inconvenience a number of the runners, but not the current favourite, Authorized; bookmakers now quote the horse at shades of odds on.

A piece in today's Times looks to quell the rumour that Dettori would announce his retirement on Saturday should Authorized give him his first win in the famous race.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Irish Guineas meeting

The Irish Guineas meeting takes place at the Curragh this weekend. Cockney Rebel is likely to start a short priced favourite in the 2,000 Guineas after his popular victory in the English version at Newmarket three weeks ago.

On Sunday Finsceal Beo will start favourite but looks somewhat vulnerable in the 1,000 Guineas; this will be the filly's third Group 1 race in as many weeks. Provided the rain doesn't arrive, the favourite could be worth opposing with Arch Swing trained by John Oxx. Mark 'The Couch' Winstanley has made a convincing case for this horse in The Weekender; I'll be hoping she does the business.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Dettori's Derby?

The decision some time ago by Godolphin to boycott Coolmore sires probably has a lot to do with Frankie Dettori going through a rather quiet spell at the moment.

All that is likely to change now as Dettori, who has never won the Derby in fourteen attempts, has been booked to ride pre-race favourite Authorized. I don't know why Dettori should be unhappy; I've never had the Derby winner in well over thirty years of trying. Authorized is currently a best priced 5/4 and looks likely to start odds on. With less than ten days to go to the big race, you can rest assured you'll know all about it if he wins.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Aintree card this evening

For the time of year there's a reasonable card at Aintree this evening. Two I'll be keeping an eye on in the 7.15 are the four year old Katies Tuitor and Hilltime. This will be Katies' first run in a handicap and it looks a competitive event. All his racing has been done on right handed tracks; in his last two efforts hurdling has let him down as the field starts to race in earnest.

Hilltime posted a fast time when finishing second in a two mile handicap chase at Southwell recently. Previously this horse had finished fifth of twenty two runners in a listed hurdle race over course and distance when priced at 100/1.

The bumper, held over from the Grand National meeting, contains a few nice looking entries and should give us some pointers for the future.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Street-Porter: 'I could eat a horse.'

Last night, on Gordon Ramsay's 'The F-Word' programme, the shy, retiring, delectable Janet Street-Porter was shown popping over to France, identifying a horse she wanted to eat, and then, back at home, promptly eating it.

Not only did she seem to enjoy eating the beast, which, coincidentally, she'd named Gordon, but she felt moved to set up a stall at the Cheltenham Festival to get punters to try the fare. Gloucestershire police moved her along from the approaches to the racecourse, claiming such action could be interpreted as provocative, but an obliging resident nearby allowed her to present her wares on their driveway. More to the point, punters seemed to like eating horses as much as betting on them. If only I'd eaten half the horses I'd bet on...

On a different note, the York May Festival starts today with the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes, an established Oaks trial, the highlight of the card. Five fillies go to post with Henry Cecil's runner Passage Of Time likely to start odds on favourite. Cecil, in excellent form, has indicated that Passage Of Time, who has to give 3lbs to the field, may be coming into season. That being the case it may pay to take a chance on Michael Stoute's Shorthand whose full sister Short Skirt won this last year.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Record Scoop6 pot shared

The Racing Post and Channel 4 Racing have given plenty of publicity to the record breaking pot up for grabs in today's Scoop6 pool. All you had to do was pick six winners of the six nominated races to gain a share of over £1.5 million.

At 8 o'clock this morning there were 5,989,950 possible winning combinations. Taking into account non-runners and withdrawals, that number had shrunk quite considerably to 2,270,268 (9x28x7x13x9x11) by the time the races were run.

In the event 11 winners collect just under £154,000 each, with considerably less accompanying coverage because, as we all know, a single £1million plus winner is a bookmaker's publicity dream. The eleven winners have the chance to go for a share of the £1 million plus bonus pot next week.

Just for the record, I try to avoid this type of bet; I find it difficult enough to select one winner, never mind six.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Yet another Grand National

The Sheep Grand National takes place every May Bank Holiday Monday on Hoo Farm outside Telford, Shropshire, with this year's winner confirmed as Ginger Nut ridden by Roger Ram.

The sheep have jockeys on their backs and jump a number of fences over a course that is just over a furlong.

No footage from this year's renewal to hand, but I did come across a clip from the 2003 running of the race on the BBC website at

Lines about bookmakers fleecing punters, sheep making good jumpers, the betting being 7/2 baaah one, Richard Ewes riding a poor race, runners being penned in a the start, bookmakers pulling the wool over punters' eyes, the big race sheepstakes etc. are forbidden.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Wrexham's great escape

Wrexham managed to escape relegation yesterday, sending Boston down in the process by beating them 3-1, although it was far fom plain sailing. 1-0 down at half-time, Wrexham were staring disaster in the face but the three second half goals, two in the last four minutes, changed the picture completely.

The BBC's report and pictures capture the occasion well.

I managed to catch live radio coverage in Coventry on BBC Radio Wales. What a truamatic season! I wouldn't want to go through a final day like that again in a hurry; in the end it was just a huge sense of a relief. Let's hope the club can progress from here.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Newmarket 2000 Guineas meeting

The first classic of the 2007 flat season, the 2000 Guineas, takes place at Newmarket tomorrow. Let me issue the obligatory health warning here - I don't follow the flat particularly closely. Around this time of year I promise myself that I'm going to concentrate on the summer jumping programme but, invariably, I don't.

Yesterday the Guineas ante post favourite Teofilo was withdrawn after suffering a training setback. According to The Racing Post his defection has netted bookmakers between £1 million and £2.5 million. Paddy Power, to their credit, have agreed to refund losing ante post bets.

The race still has the look of a bookmakers' benefit with twenty four expected to go to post. Michael Stoute's Adagio is the new favourite but favourites have a poor record in this event over the years. US Ranger, supplemented at a cost of £25,000 earlier in the week, has been backed with bucketloads of money, while Diamond Tycoon won a Newbury maiden in a very fast time. Major Cadeaux won The Greenham in impressive fashion.

My selection is Paul Cole's Strategic Prince; his third behind Teofilo in last season's Dewhurst on unsuitably soft ground looks solid form. The starting price is likely to be around 8/1; for those looking for something slightly bigger, trainer John Best has a positive word for his 100/1 outsider Hurricane Spirit on the yard's blog at

The race is due off at 3.25.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

D-Day at Wrexham

At present I'm distracted by Wrexham's plight at the bottom of League Two. On Saturday they need a win or a draw at home to Boston United to ensure league football next season. Boston are next to bottom of the league and need to win to survive. If Wrexham lose, they will need to rely on Notts County winning at Macclesfield.

I know it's sad but last night I worked out the various permutations (discounting goal difference scenarios), as a kind of displacement activity.

Wrexham win, Macclesfield win - Boston relegated.
Wrexham win, Macclesfield draw - Boston relegated.
Wrexham win, Macclesfield lose - Boston relegated.
Wrexham draw, Macclesfield win - Boston relegated.
Wrexham draw, Macclesfield draw - Boston relegated.
Wrexham draw, Macclesfield lose - Boston relegated.
Wrexham lose, Macclesfield win - Wrexham relegated.
Wrexham lose, Macclesfield draw - Wrexham relegated.
Wrexham lose, Macclesfield lose - Macclesfield relegated.

Earlier in the week Wrexham were 5/1 to go down; now I see they're priced at just 3/1. My fear is that if Boston score first, Wrexham will struggle as, during this nightmare of a season, the goals have been difficult to come by. Saturday afternooon I shall be watching the match - on teletext. Fingers crossed...