Friday, April 06, 2018

Sweet dreams

Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
I travel the world
And the seven seas
Everybody's looking for something

         Annie Lennox / Dave Stewart

It's that time of year, a week before the Grand National, and everybody's dreaming.

Trainers peddling dreams, bookmakers selling them and punters buying; there's that old acquaintance of an old friend of yours who claims he can still dream winners when he wants (and, when pressed, gives the simple riposte 'When I want, not when you want!') while Bryony Frost has her first ride in the big race on Milansbar and is one of the forty riders dreaming of coming home in front:

"In my dreams I can see him doing it, and even when I'm not dreaming I still think he has a real live chance."

Here's a dream I had last night.

I'm taking part in a team-based quiz event at an unidentified English stately home.

The main entrance is situated on the first floor and is approached from the front lawns by two semi-circular stone staircases; the black paint on the railings is flaking. I notice the floor above the entrance is completely dominated by an imposing bay window covered by net curtain.

The quizmaster is housed in an enclosed office just inside the entrance which acts as the main reception point. Players communicate with the quizmaster through a small window, similar in size to booking-office ticket windows that are still commonplace at heritage railway stations.

A single bonus point is the reward for the correct answer to the following question.

On April 18 [no year provided] Falco Dawn beat [unidentified opponent] in a handicap hurdle at Fakenham. During the post-race interview, what other name did connections use to refer to their winner?

We retreat to the lawns to confer at some length. Nobody on the team knows, we're guessing but we eventually agree a reply and I climb the stone staircase to deliver the answer to the quizmaster. As I approach the window I see he is busy writing at his desk. He stops, looks up at me but doesn't utter a word.

Conscious he will only accept my first answer, I speak clearly, deliberately.

"Our answer is 'All Fall Down'."

With the authoritative air of a quizmaster who happens to know all the answers, this quizmaster stands, walks away from his desk, pauses momentarily before turning back towards me and saying:

"It's 'Heustophon'."

Don't bother. I've checked. There are no horses currently in training with a name that remotely resembles anything uttered in that dream. That's dreaming for you.

Here's a tip for those of you who still dream on.

Ten are declared for tomorrow's Liz Adam Memorial Chase at Kelso (3.00) where the official going is heavy.

Yala Enki beat Seldom Inn seven lengths in last year's renewal with Baywing three and threequarter lengths further behind in fourth. This year Yala Enki starts off a mark six pounds higher (152), Baywing four pounds higher (taking into account Ryan Day's reduced claim allowance) while Seldom Inn is six pounds lower (139).

Seldom Inn has certainly fallen to an attractive-looking mark but his jumping has been indifferent this season and the blinkers fitted for the first time on his penultimate start, to date, don't really appear to have had the desired effect.

Baywing was impressive in the Eider at Newcastle seven weeks ago, coming home some 55 lengths ahead of Smooth Stepper in sixth. Previously however Smooth Stepper had beaten Baywing at the same track by seven and a quarter lengths over a trip of two miles seven and a half.

On the balance of form to date Smooth Stepper wouldn't be guaranteed to see out this trip on heavy ground; if he does, at the weights he finishes ahead of Nicky Richards' charge.

Wild West Wind and Lake View Lad are two more runners with question marks about their ability to stay the trip. Sent on to win his race three out at Haydock the last time, Wild West Wind stopped very quickly indeed; Tom George has only had the one winner since February - Summerville Boy in the Supreme on the first day at the Festival.

Lake View Lad has won over further but has been racing over distances of two and a half miles recently.

Chic Name is the one to beat on Racing post ratings. He comes to this relatively fresh and his sixth behind Tiger Roll in the cross country race at Cheltenham reads well. 10-4 looks a snip weight and James Bowen claims a further three; of those near the head of the market he makes most appeal.

The two at the bottom of the handicap are of interest. Harry The Viking may be thirteen but he isn't readily dismissed; Rachel McDonald takes off seven and certainly knows how to win having ridden Full Jack to victory in the Edinburgh National Handicap Chase at Musselburgh in February.

Smooth Stepper's stablemate Blakemount was kept busy last season before finishing sixth in the Scottish National at Ayr. Connections clearly decided to give their charge a well-earned rest as he made his seasonal debut just nine days ago at Wetherby.

Blakemount ran well for a long way that day and could be expected to come on for the run but, of course, it was nine days ago and he could 'bounce'. On initial inspection jockey bookings suggest Smooth Stepper has the better chance but I note Danny Cook hasn't ridden at lower than 10-5 in the past twelve months.

bet365 bet 10/1 Smooth Stepper, 12/1 Blakemount and pay a quarter the odds three places.

Smooth Stepper is the each-way selection.

Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention. I have this dream - of Beeves winning next week's National at odds of 100/1...


Anonymous said...

Perhaps Samstown has been dreaming of this race since he pulled up with an injured tendon in the Scottish Grand National 1,085 days ago. His win in the Peter Marsh Chase off 3lbs higher coupled with him ticking all the boxes for course, distance and going has ensued my system’s output pops him at the very top of the list.

His form figures after a break of 50 days+ read 3,1,7,4,2,1. He’s had a wind op, it is interesting that connections have persevered with him and at odds of 40/1 I looked closely but on balance, with the yard subject to a coughing bug, I’ll just watch with interest.

165,YALA ENKI(FR),12.76,8
165,CHIC NAME(FR),11.92,8.4
163,SELDOM INN(GB),9.85,10.5
161,HARRY THE VIKING(GB),5.34,19
160,SMOOTH STEPPER(GB),4.91,21
159,LAKE VIEW LAD(IRE),4.06,25
158,WILD WEST WIND(IRE),2.91,36

Good luck


GeeDee said...

Thanks again for providing your ratings, TW.

Reamonnt said...

Well done I was on so happy days and sweet dreams!

Anonymous said...

Another smashing selection, well done.


GeeDee said...

Living the dream...

I have to report that as off-time approached my confidence had waned significantly as Smooth Stepper took a rather long walk in the market.

Sent off at 16/1 the selection raced prominently with Samstown (40/1), stablemate Blakemount (12/1) and Yala Enki (7/2f) while Baywing (11/2) crept into contention on the final circuit. I thought the game was up five out as Danny Cook appeared to be going backwards but once driven the horse responded in spades and took over the running again three from home. Baywing emerged as the main threat but a blunder at the penultimate flight effectively put paid to his chance of winning. Smooth Stepper stayed on strongly to the line; Ryan Day dropped his stick before the final fence where once again Baywing was not fluent. The winning distance was eight lengths.

A word too for third horse Lake View Lad (9/1) who was only two and half lengths further adrift and would have been closer but for a shuddering error at the third last. Any doubts about his ability to see out this sort of trip have certainly been put to bed now.

Interesting too to hear trainer Richard Hobson describe Chic Name as a 'nervous' sort of horse and imply the gelding might not appreciate travelling long distances.