Friday, November 29, 2019

Only Connect, sequences and the Ladbrokes Trophy 2019

In a desperate attempt to escape the periphrastic persiflage of the nation's politicians, on Monday evening I rang for my butler - Beeves, who has a nasty habit of slipping up on the discount parquet flooring, tends to come into his own in the winter - and I asked him to turn on the black and white TV set in the corner of the room so I could watch a bit of Only Connect.

For those who have never seen this programme, the BBC describes it as 'a quiz show in which connections must be made between apparently unconnected things'. Generally speaking, my general overall performance in this quiz could be rated no better than marginally better than that of the tips put up on this blog, but let's not waste too much time debating that moot point.

As with all quiz shows, there are rounds - what's a quiz show without rounds?

The second round entitled 'Sequences' allows a team up to three clues to establish a particular sequence; team members are required to correctly identify the fourth element in the sequence to score.

Monday night's transmission contained the following teaser:

Clue 1: Heavy

Clue 2: Soft

At this particular juncture, two clues in, while the TV team entered into a protracted session of whispering, conferring and scratching of heads, mindful of previous lamentable performances and hoping to bag a juicy-looking three points, I started to get a bit excited, shouting "The answer is 'Good!' 'Good!' It's 'Good!'"

The logic being, of course, the third clue, when revealed, would be good to soft and the fourth good, the sequence being the descriptions clerks-of the-course use to describe the going at racecourses.

The TV team weren't convinced and after further deliberation asked presenter Victoria Coren Mitchell for the next clue; Ms Coren Mitchell duly obliged:

Clue 3: Good

What?! The third clue is good? Surely there has been some kind of mistake?

Except, of course, there hadn't. Crestfallen, I turned to (a smirking) Mrs Tips and told her the fourth element would now be 'Firm'. but it was all too late. Desperate.

I'm considering contacting Ms Coren Mitchell, never slow to come forward and let viewers know about her poker-playing prowess, to point out the above sequence isn't actually a sequence at all. What about soft, good-to-soft in places or good-to-soft, soft in places or good-to-soft, good in places or good, good-to-soft in places etc etc?

Or how about Leicester's going report where the hurdles course can be good, good-to-soft in places, soft in places on the home straight while the chase track at the same meeting is good-to-firm, good-to -soft on the Flat course crossings?

Furthermore, I'm informed the show's question editor, British quizzer Mr Jack Waley-Cohen, is the cousin of Cheltenham Gold Cup winning jockey (and owner of a gazillion dental practices) Mr Sam Waley-Cohen. Jack - what are you playing at?

Of course, it matters not a jot. The editor's decision is final.

"Beeves, pour me two fingers' worth of our very best Hennessy cognac!" was a cry I used to utter repeatedly as I studied form on the eve of the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup. Ladbrokes took over sponsorship in 2017 and ever since I've remained sober as a judge studying for Newbury's winter showpiece.

The trouble is the tips I selected when I was half cut fared a damned sight better than the those picked when I exercised restraint.

In 2017 Label Des Obeaux was the first one beaten after jumping the first while in 2018 American missed the break ten lengths, raced a full circuit ten lengths behind the penultimate horse before eventually going twenty lengths behind the penultimate horse and then being pulled up.

It's beginning to look suspiciously like one of Ms Coren Mitchell's sequences. Twenty four face the starter tomorrow (3.00) - ample opportunity to build on the disappointments of the past two years. The going is described as good to soft, soft in places.

Last year's race saw Sizing Tennessee beat Elegant Escape ten lengths with Dingo Dollar third, Beware The Bear foruth and West Approach fifth but only twelve went to post. This year's renewal looks fiercely competitive.

Tom Segal has neatly summed up the conundrum in the Weekender - do we side with a younger horse who could be Gold Cup class or an exposed handicapper? The better value appears to be with the handicappers.

At the time of writing they bet 8/1 the field. Aidan Coleman lands a plum ride on Ok Corral with Barry Geraghty due to ride Buveur D'Air in the Fighting Fifth; plans may change if Newcastle doesn't pass its 8.00 am track inspection.

Ok Corral looks desperately short on experience (just three runs over fences) - last time out Nicky Henderson's charge was pulled up in the four miler at Cheltenham although it would be unfair to judge him solely on that effort.

The Willie Mullins trained Total Recall pipped Whisper on the line in 2017 (Paul Townend up) after winning the Munster National. Cabaret Queen comes here with a very similar profile but has been raised from a mark of 126 (in Ireland) to 146.

Colin Tizzard has a strong hand with four runners.

West Approach is likely to benefit from a Robbie Power hold-up ride and to my mind looks the yard's best chance. I like Elegant Escape who carries top weight but he is routinely shoddy at the obstacles; connections have decided to try the blinkers

Mister Malarky was a highly creditable fourth in the RSA at Cheltenham in March but his no-show at Ascot four weeks ago (beaten 83 lengths by Vinndication) is off-putting - I see connections have chosen to fit cheekpieces for the first time. Ten-year-old Robinsfirth appears talented but fragile with just eight chases starts to his name.

I'm not a fan of On The Blind Side but I have seen some bits and pieces for the Nicky Henderson trained Brave Eagle; he'd be worth a second look at 40/1.

Yala Enki's third behind Elegant Escape in last year's Welsh National reads well and he finished just three lengths behind the same horse in the Gold Cup. After wind surgery in the summer, he has moved to Paul Nicholls' yard - once again the Welsh National is the main target.

I'm sure Mick Fitzgerald described Daklondike as a 'brute' before the start of the Eider last February; that day Daklondike decided he wasn't going to play and refused to race.

A talented individual on his day, he's certainly not one to trust implicitly but he ran a decent enough race over hurdles here at the beginning of the month (no visor) at odds of 40/1. A previous course and distance winner, his best form appears to come around this time of year.

I'm just hoping connections have managed to keep Daklondike sweet; sponsors Ladbrokes offer 28/1 and pay one fifth the odds six places.

Daklondike is the risky each-way suggestion to break the sequence...


Anonymous said...

Clue 1: Saturday
Clue 2: Ladbrokes Trophy Chase Handicap
Clue 3: Good to Soft (Soft)
Clue 4: Venetia Williams

My system has flagged up the chance of Commodore in the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase and I manged to get an early 40/1 5plcs 1/5 odds though the sponsors 33/1 6plcs still looks attractive. He probably needs to find another 5 to 6lbs to get involved here but he is lightly raced and runs off a nice light weight. The grey ran in couple of chases in France before joining Venetia, underwhelming as a hurdler but looks to have found his feet with the switch back to the bigger obstacles and upped in trip. Ran a pleasing seasonal debut last time out when he was still in the mix before slipping on landing at the last and was allowed to come home in his own time after that. He’ll need to be a 140+ horse to go close in this and that is not certain but at the odds I’m happy to take a chance.

Daklondike made the short-list, he’s had a nice prep race for this, but was eventually overlooked. The system priced him up at 28/1 so his odds look fair rather than generous and that race completion ratio you note was too big a concern.

Having spent yesterday afternoon watching the 1st day of the meeting and seeing all my selections finish well down the field I feel suitably qualified to offer a few more thoughts on the days racing.

Newcastle has passed its inspection and Buveur D’Air looks likely to take the Fighting Fifth Hurdle for a 3rd time but the race for 2nd place looks more open. Silver Streak [SS] may not want the ground this soft, Lady Buttons [LB] is a 9yo, has cheek pieces on for the 1st time and is better over fences and Nelson River looks outclassed. The 5yo Cornerstone Lad [CL] has a bit to find with SS and LB but will thrive in these conditions, is open to further improvement, 25/1 looks high and CL is worth a speculative EW play.

I could not see an edge in the Rehearsal Chase.

In the Intermediate Hurdle the Henderson trio may all need the race, Elvis Mail would be a welcome winner for the North and the Alexander’s but at the odds I’m taking a chance on another family firm in the hope that the Skelton’s Antunes can push on again from his impressive seasonal debut and take this at odds of 9/1.

I was tempted by No Comment [14/1] in the last but the drop back to two miles worried me out of striking a bet

Best of luck!


GeeDee said...

That looks a plausible sequence to me, TW, even though it's unlikely get past Jack Waley-Cohen. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Missing Vowels Round

Cornerstone Lad: n nxpctd Srprs
Antunes: Plld p
Commodore: Lst T Fnsh


GeeDee said...

Picking up the Missing Vowels Round theme started in the previous comment...

Daklondike: Rlctnt t strt. Bhnd, rmndrs, nvr trvllng. Fnshd lvnth btn twnty fv lngths.

Funny, somehow it doesn't seem quite as bad with all the vowels removed.

De Rasher Counter (12/1) and Ben Jones rode into the history books. It's a long way up the Newbury home straight and the five pound claimer appeared to have committed his charge early enough four out. The pair weren't for catching though as Emma Lavelle's inmate held The Conditional (20/1) one and a half lengths with the fast-finishing Elegant Escape (15/2) third and Beware The Bear (25/1) fourth.

Congratulations to TW who advised a speculative each-way punt on Cornerstone Lad (16/1) in the Fighting Fifth. With no-one keen to make the running, Henry Brooke used his initiative and quickly poached an eight length lead. That lead was markedly reduced approaching two out but Buveur D'Air (2/13f) flattened the flight and lost a deal of momentum. The pair duelled after the last but Cornestone Lad kept finding on the heavy ground and held the dual Champion Hurdle winner a short head.

Geraghty dismounted immediately after crossing the line and the horse was found to have a splinter of wood in his off fore after that mistake at the penultimate flight. Connections will assess the extent of the injury in the coming days.