Sunday, March 07, 2010

Weekend observations

Big Fella Thanks shot to the top of the Grand National ante-post market following his impressive win at Newbury yesterday; this evening most firms go 10/1 for next month's showpiece but both Stan James and Paddy Power quote 8/1.

Staying with yesterday's meet at Newbury, Tony McCoy and Paddy Brennan fought out the finish to the Veterans' Chase, McCoy taking the spoils on 9/1 shot Eric's Charm; last week the same two jocks were involved in a tight finish to the Racing Post Chase, Brennan coming out on top in that duel aboard Razor Royale. I really thought Brennan had this one in the bag as his mount Knowhere jumped the last marginally better than his rival and looked to take it up on the run to the line. However, after a couple of slaps with the stick, the horse veered out left and then had to be brought back right to avoid the running rail as the line approached; this manoeuvre resulted in the horse losing both momentum and vital ground while McCoy steered the straight course to victory. I was left with the feeling Brennan had been mugged on this occasion...

These days trying to purchase a copy of Raceform Update's Cheltenham Festival Guide from a local newsagent is as difficult as backing a 10/1 winner. I went to pay for mine yesterday and the guy behind the counter commented, 'They've all been after that this morning!' I'm not surprised - his was the only shop in Coventry city centre I could find selling the publication. As I started reading, the first stat to strike me may concern those who think Dunguib is banker material for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle - in the last decade 23 seven-year-olds have tried to win the race but only one has been successful - Captain Cee Bee in 2008. Following on from that, Captain Cee Bee, now a nine-year-old, is 7/2 favourite for the Arkle with most firms - only two horses from that age bracket have won that race since the war.

Two racing programmes to note in the coming week...
Thursday BBC4 21:00 Storyville - Race Horses.
This film follows three horses from Paul Nolan's Wexford stable over a racing year. David Charter (The Times) describes the programme as 'horse heaven'.
Friday Radio4 11:00 Racing Ahead.
Chris Ledgard looks at the problems facing the racing industry as the TV market shrinks and bookmakers look to exploit other avenues.

Betfred have been quick to pick up on last week's story of the unfortunate punter who ate his winning lottery ticket when he realised Ryanair staff couldn't pay him 10,000 euros mid-flight. Spotted in a Fred Done shop window - Goat eats winning football ticket but Fred pays up without a bleat!

The backdrop to this Saturday's Morning Line looked like something you'd come across in a residential care home for the elderly. In that vein, Lesley Graham had something of a 'senior moment' when she referred to that well known jockey Ruby McCoy. Apparently his friend and weighing room colleague Tony Walsh was none too pleased when he heard of Graham's gaffe.

Finally, this is what happens when sports stars stop playing sport and start singing instead... The Cheltenham Charity song is released tomorrow, money raised going to four racing charities. If Petula Clark isn't really your kind of thing and you prefer something a little more raunchy, then take a peek at Rafael Nadal's performance with Shakira in Gypsy. No sign of any trouble with the knees there, Mr Nadal...

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