A day at the races
While the international superstars of the turf were doing battle at Ascot I was at Nottingham where the midlands track staged some rather more moderate competition. Still, there were 6 trappy looking contests on the card and top jockeys such as Seb Sanders and Alan Monro in attendance. Channel 4 presenter Graham Goode was calling them home and looking the picture of sartorial whatever in a maroon blazer.
I had gone to Nottingham with the firm intention of backing River Tarrant in the first. She had been 5th in a Newmarket maiden last month and seemed to have more improvement in her than some of the others. When I saw them in the paddock though she looked less impressive than some of her rivals and I decided to take a watching brief. As it turned out River Tarrant made no show and the race went to a 25/1 shot having her first run. Oh well a loser avoided is as good as a winner!
A sprint handicap followed. Now, I had given this race a fair bit of study. Namu had won an apprentice handicap only 2 days before and of course did not pick up a penalty as a result. I figured she would be a popular choice but she is a small nippy sort and her last two wins had come on tracks that played to her strengths. The straight 6 at Nottingham would not suit her as well and I felt that River Kirov, who had run well against older horses on his previous outing, was the one to be on. When I ventured down into the betting jungle I found that I wasn’t the only one to fancy the Peter Chapple-Hyam runner who was being offered at 5/4. In a competitive race I wasn’t convinced that 5/4 represented value so once again I kept my money in my pocket. As it turned out River Kirov won by a short head at 11/8. The third race on the card was a poor seller won by a horse called Ming Vase who prevailed despite veering wildly across the track in the last 100 yards. In the ensuing auction she failed to attract any bids at 3,000 gns. I had to tell my wife not to blow her nose during the auction or we would be travelling home with a racehorse! I had been waiting for the 4th race as this featured Safqa (pictured below) from my list to follow in a mile handicap. The pundits had not been over impressed with Safqa’s win at York last time but I fancied him for this. He was likely to make the running and it was going to be a case of whether or not he could repel the inevitable challengers.
I felt that the others for the short list were Airbuss, North Walk and Storm on the Run, but my money went on Safqa. I was standing about 150 yards form the winning post as they came past Safqa was in the lead but Robert Havlin began to get a real tune out of Airbuss (pictured below) and Mick Channon’s horse got up close home. North Walk filled third place.
The fifth race on the card was a 10 furlong maiden that looked a two horse race between Early Evening and Majestic Halo who had by far the best form. Shahmina was the only other possibility, a well bred newcomer from John Gosden’s yard. Shahmina looked well in the paddock and won the best turned out but I decided to go for Early Evening, partly because his trainer Henry Candy was present. Early Evening made all and I never really had an anxious moment. Majestic Halo was second and Shahmina 4th.
The picture below shows Early Evening (yellow and brown) getting the better of Majestic Halo (white cap).
(above, Early Evening)
(above, Majectic Halo)
And so to the last race on the card, a 15 runner handicap where I didn’t really have any strong views. Royal Indulgence had caught my eye earlier in the season when beating one of my “list” horses, Confide. Others I considered were Panic Stations which Hayley Turner had flown in from York to ride and Balearic Star who had travelled up from Devon and was blinkered first time. In the end I decided not to bet which was just as well as the favourite Blue Empire won quite easily. Hayley Turner plugged on for second on Panic Stations and Royal Indulgence was third.
(above, Panic Stations)
The picture below shows Blue Empire winning the last with Hayley Turner in the orange silks on Panic Stations.
A small profit and an enjoyable afternoon.
The list to follow
Recent weeks have been frustrating with a lot of placed horses and the main successes coming from short priced Sir Mark Prescott 3 year olds.
On Friday though Fullandby ended a poor run winning at Newmarket at 6/1 under Nicky Mackay, while Saturday was more like it with 4 winners. Hurricane Run took the big one at Ascot but I got just as much satisfaction from Grigorovitch (3/1) and Whispering Death (7/1). Grigorovitch needs things to drop right fir him but managed to get up right on the line at Newcastle while Whispering Death lived up to his name by stealthily creeping into the race at York. He tends to idle in front and I thought Liam Jones kept him going well after he had probably hit the front a bit early.
Imperial Gain gave us a fourth winner for the day in the evening at Lingfield.
I had hopes for Ice Planet in the sprint at York but he was “gunned down” by a lister from last season Wyatt Earp.
Another list horses from last season, Hartshead won the Beeswing handicap at Newcastle, a race he had been second in last season. In 2005 he was mugged on the line by the fast finishing Uhoomagoo. “Uhoo” continues to go well and put in a typical late flourish yesterday to finish 2nd in the 7 furlong heritage handicap at Ascot.
It was back to the frustrating near things on Sunday with Kerriemuir Lass and Mutawaffer finishing 2nd and Kamanda Laugh 3rd.
There are no runners from our list to follow although there should be plenty later in the week.
Talking of old favourites before, Further Outlook, now a 12 year old goes for a 4 timer in the 3.15 at Southwell, a race won by Harrison’s Flyer last season. Further Outlook was maybe a little lucky when landing his 13th career win at Folkestone last time but can’t be ruled out at Southwell. Main danger could come from Danehill Stroller who seeks to end a 23 run losing sequence. This just could be his day, he is ridiculously well handicapped on his best form, acts on fast ground, has Seb Sanders in the plate and his stable are flying.
In the nursery at 4.15 Silca Soprano has an each way chance. She ran better than her finishing position suggests last time when she slipped slightly going round a bend.
Old Romil Star has won 8 times at Southwell, is in good form and is my each way suggestion in the 4.45.
Barry Hills has his horses in fair form at the moment. He sends The Illies to Windsor for the maiden at 6.00. I have an interest in this race with Tredegar from the Elite Racing Club making his racecourse debut. He is a half brother to the very useful Eisteddfod and also to the useful Brecon Beacon.
Silver Hotspur has the best form in the 7.00, a race won last year by Balthazar’s Gift.
Continue reading “Diary: July 31 2006 UPDATED”