Sunday, January 03, 2010

Guest blogger - ex-boss goes to Chepstow's Welsh National meet

A couple of weeks ago an unusual thing happened. My former boss, apparently enjoying a blissful retirement now (although I only learned of that a couple of weeks ago) contacted me straight out of the blue, asking for a view on the Welsh National at Chepstow as he happened to be going to that meeting over the Christmas break. Immediately I was presented with a dilemma - should I go for 'payback' and deliberately tip Mr. N a couple of duff horses (Dream Alliance looked to have plenty going for it - form figs of PUPP, off the track for 18 months and then second place in a Class 3 handicap hurdle seven weeks previously) or should I do the honourable thing, put in the homework and then watch the selections run in the manner I thought the duff ones would. After considerable deliberation I took the latter option and, at the same time, secured Mr. N's agreement that he would write a report on his day at the Chepstow races.

For the record, I've edited the original in places, leaving in just one or two disparaging remarks about the blog, just to give the piece that air of authenticity.

Here's the report...

I have been anticipating for several months now the brother’s invitation to go to the Welsh Grand National meeting at Chepstow less than two National trips from his home in South Wales, so it was good to hear that racing was actually on just seconds after we shelled out our cash to join the large and enthusiastic crowd. Armed with a good commentary on the likely National field from PG Tips, and a good check on the rest of the runners that morning, hopes were high for a good day.

As the only regular, if now lapsed, punter in the group comprising one sister one daughter and the one and only Mrs N I dutifully explained how to read form, what C and D meant, the significance of the going and that the usual suspects such as AP McCoy and P Nicholls were unlikely to go away empty-handed. Against my better judgement I was persuaded to join in the spirit of the day and bet on the first race which I had studiously ignored as it was a six horse beginners race. Swiftly spotting the value I opted for Starburst Diamond and, repaying my faith, he was in just the right position coming to the turn but forgot about the impending jump. There were only two fallers at the entire meeting - I had picked one of them. Now I know why in the past I stuck to the Flat. My horses need all the help they can get; putting obstacles in the way doesn’t help. To add insult to injury the sister backed the winner, Mark the Book, based on the sensible reasoning that she has a friend called Mark!

Full result:,12658,350833,00.html

Form and Experience 0 Random Selections 1

Much better field for the second race which I had studied and concluded that Buck the Legend was as good a chance as any and at a reasonable price. Daughter meanwhile opted for Magic Sky persuaded not so much by the tempting odds and promising form but because the jockey’s name was the same as one of her best friends. She soon learned that form and experience are better guides than the jockey’s name as Magic Sky trailed the field for most of the race whilst Buck the Legend was handily placed throughout. In the long and punishing finishing straight I was just explaining to the daughter that Mr Tips had suggested that the course was too tough for any horse to come from behind to win, as Magic Sky found a sprinter's turn of foot and ran away with the race. A veteran of two Royal Ascots including one where she actually watched some racing, this was her first winner and a nice lucrative one at that.

Full result:,12658,350834,00.html

Form and Experience 0 Random Selections 2

The brother (whom we whisper quietly is a banker) was enjoying his role of taking all of our money and investing it on our behalf in a range of sure fire winners offering enticing returns so it was no surprise that on the next race we all lost our investment whilst he backed an 8-1 winner Money Order not because it was a crafty JP McManus raider but because it had money in the name!

Full result:,12658,350835,00.html

Form and Experience 0 Random Selections 3

In the big race I referred to Mr Tips’s commentary and followed his advice looking for a good e/w bet and opted for one of his list of potentials, Kornati Kid, but also slipped a little bet on Silver by Nature based on my own research. The Kid was prominent for a long time raising hope and tracked Silver by Nature for most of the time. By the turn for the straight the Kid was shot but Silver by Nature had moved up to dispute the lead and had plenty in hand looking nailed on to repay my faith. All the grey had to do was clear the last which of course it hit, lost momentum and the race. A large family loss all round.

Full result:,12658,347307,00.html

Sang Bleu looked a Nicholls/McCoy certainty in the next race but the odds prohibitive so I intended to pass until I was told I had to have a go so I went with the favourite on the nose, where else? The wife meanwhile, unable to bet her preferred tip the non runner Hector’s House (don’t ask), switched at the last minute to Me Voici which of course beat mine in a driving finish after McCoy had somehow managed to hit the last hurdle probably burdened with my expectations.

Full result:,12658,350836,00.html

Form and Experience 0 Random Selections 4

Astonishingly, or inevitably depending on who you are, exactly the same thing happened in the next race. The wife, getting the hang of it now, beat me to the McCoy mount so I looked for value lower down the pecking order and opted for Volador which had good form and had raced here before. It proved my only drag of the day at 9-2 and my third 2nd place whilst Mrs N cleaned up again with Be There in Five.

Full result:,12658,350837,00.html

Form and Experience 0 Random Selections 5

And finally to put the tin hat on it the brother showing just how banking works put a few bob of his previous winnings on Crannagmore Boy which romped home for his second win of the day. Mine is still running I think. Why did he pick this one? Because it was running in gold, the colour that Wolves play in and his mate supports Wolves!!! From now on I am choosing horses by the colour of the jockeys socks - I can’t do much worse.

Full result:,12658,350838,00.html

Final Score
Form and Experience 0 Random Selections 6

Despite this and the bitter cold, a brilliant day out at a very nice friendly course which even offered decent real ale. There was a fine tribute to the Welsh Guards who turned out to loud applause and Land Of My Fathers was sung beautifully by Sara Kempe before the big race. Shame about the losses. So what’s running tomorrow….

Footnote - I'm thinking of offering Mrs N a month's trial -PG.

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