Rouen 26 April – 25 May 1915

Rouen 26 April – 25 May 1915

Early morning over Rouen, hopeful, high, courageous morning,
And the laughter of adventure and the steepness of the stair,
And the dawn across the river, and the wind across the bridges,
And the empty littered station, and the tired people there.

Can you recall those mornings and the hurry of awakening,
And the long-forgotten wonder if we should miss the way,
And the unfamiliar faces, and the coming of provisions,
And the freshness and the glory of the labour of the day.

Hot noontide over Rouen, and the sun upon the city,
Sun and dust unceasing, and the glare of cloudless skies,
And the voices of the Indians and the endless stream of soldiers,
And the clicking of the tatties, and the buzzing of the flies.

Can you recall those noontides and the reek of steam and coffee,
Heavy-laden nontides with the evening’s peace to win,
And the little piles of Woodbines, and the sticky soda bottles,
And the crushes in the “Parlour”, and the letters coming in?

Quiet night-time over Rouen, and the station full of soldiers,
All the youth and pride of England from the ends of all the earth;
 And the rifles piled together, and the creaking of the sword-belts,
And the faces bent above them, and the gay, heart-breaking mirth.

Can I forget the passagefrom the cool white-bedded Aid Post
Past the long sun-blistered coaches of the khaki Red Cross train
To the truck train full of wounded, and the weariness and laughter
And “Good-bye, and thank you, Sister”, and the empty yards again?

Can you recall the parcels that we made them for the railroad,
Crammed and bulging parcels held together by their string,
And the voices of the sargeants who called the Drafts together,
And the agony and splendour when they stood to save the King?

Can you forget their passing, the cheering and the waving,
The little group of people at the doorway of the shed,
The sudden awful silence when the last train swung to darkness,
And the lonely desolation, and the mocking stars o’erhead?

Can you recall the midnights, and the footsteps of night watchers,
Men who came from darkness and went back to dark again,
And the shadows on the rail-linesand the all inglorious labour,
And the promise of the daylight firing blue the window- pane?

Can you recall the passing through the kitchen door to morning,
Morning very still and solemn braeking slowly on the town,
And the early coastways engines that had met the ships at daybreak,
And the Drafts just out from England, and the day shift coming down?

Can you forget returning slowly, stumbling on the cobbles,
And the white-decked Red Cross barges dropping seawards for the tide,
And the search for English papers, and the blessed cool, of water,
And the peace of half-closed shutters that shut out the world outside?

Can I forget the evenings and the sunsets on the island,
And the tall black ships at anchor far below our balcony,
And the distant call of bugles, and the white wine in the glasses,
And the long line of the street lamps, stretching Eastwards to the sea?

…When the world slips slow to darkness, when the office fire burns lower,
My heart goes out to Rouen, Rouen all the world away;
When other men remember I remember our Adventure
And the trains that go from Rouen at the ending of the day.

May Wedderburn Cannan

Continue reading “Rouen 26 April – 25 May 1915”

Diary: September 30 & October 1 2006

I enjoyed the racing from Newmarket today, especially so as we had a couple of winners from the list to follow.

  

Degas Art took the listed race at 3.35 under a top ride from the in form Kerrin McEvoy.  The horse ran on his own down the inside rail which may have suited him as he got upset in the preliminaries and may have benefited from his splendid isolation.

  

Our other winner was the well backed Rampallion in the handicap that closed the days proceedings.  He had not run for a year so this was a good training performance.  He was also carried wide in the closing stages.

  

Indian Ink won the Middle Park, not bad for a filly that was bought for only 25,000 guineas.  She is by Indian Ridge, a stallion that usually produces progeny that act with give in the ground.  Later on the card, Desert Dew won the maiden and he is also by Indian Ridge.

  

There is no shortage of racing over the weekend and I will begin at Newmarket.

  Olympian Odyssey was 3rd in the 2,000 Guineas and that form has worked out pretty well.  He should therefore go well in the Group 3 Joel Stakes at 2.35.  

The Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes at 3.10 looks a hot race but Peeress will be suited by the ground and has the class to win this. Soviet Song may just not be quite the force of old and mud lover Musicanna could be the main threat.

  

And so to the 36 runner Cambridgeshire.  There is plenty of interest for the Russellform followers as there are a number of runners from the list.  Cesare, Hinterland, Rahaani, Blythe Knight, My Paris, Pinpoint and Kamanda Laugh. Cesare is a doubtful starter so I will leave him out of the equation.  A case can be made for all of these for one reason or another.  Rohaani showed much improved form to win at York last time out and could be well handicapped.  He might need faster ground though so I will pass him by.  Kamanda Laugh is something of a course specialist but his recent form would be a worry. Blythe Knight is at his best on soft ground and is well drawn so he can’t be ruled out, especially as he ran well last time out.  My Paris was 3rd in this last season but like Kamanda Laugh has not been at his best this season.  Hinterland and Pinpoint are both lightly raced and have good form this season.  Of the two Hinterland has the better draw and I will burden him with my selection.

  

In the 4.55 our runners are Minority Report, Easy Air and Kenmore.  Of the 3 Kenmore is the most likely to have the ground conditions in his favour.

  

Whispering Death (5.30) has won twice for our list this season and is ridden by Kerrin McEvoy who can seemingly do no wrong.  I think that the trip might be on the short side for Whispering Death and in addition his best form has been on fast ground.

  

Up at Redcar Asturias is my each way fancy in the opener at 1.45.  He was noted making late headway on his debut when 5th of 10 at Kempton.

  

Course and distance winner Rio Riva looks to hold a sound chance in the 2.20 where capable 5 lbs claimer Jamie Moriaty has been booked to ride.

  

In the 2.50 Hoh Mike has the form in the book and is also well drawn.

  

Goodricke would be good enough in the listed race at 3.25 if back to his best.  Prince of Light has each way claims.  It will also be interesting to see how New Seeker goes for his new trainer, although conditions seem unlikely to be in his favour.

  In the Kempton 2.10 my selection is the course and distance winner Monzante.  In the 3.15 Intrepid Jack has possibilities.  He well handicapped and has won on the all weather.  Trip may just be on the short side.  

Our list horse Scottish Pancake is my hopeful selection in the 4.25.  He was well backed last time out on his seasonal reappearance but had no chance when the jockey’s saddle slipped.

  

Our list representative in the 5.00 is Exmoor who won earlier in the season at 8/1 but has done little since.

  

The Godolphin horses are running well at present and Echo of Light can add to their recent tally in the 3.25 at Longchamp.

  

On Sunday one of our list horses Benbaun, is in Japan at Nakayama where he will contest the Group 1 Sprinters Stakes.

  

The highlight at Tipperary on Sunday is the return to action of star hurdler Harchibald while also at Tipperary Cuan Na Grai seeks to extend his unbeaten run in the 4.55.

  

Reverence and Moss Vale represent our list to follow in the 2.15 at Longchamp.  If the ground is riding soft I would fancy Reverence to complete his 5th win of the season.

  

The Group 1 at 2.50 features Alexandrova and Nannina, with preference for the Irish filly.  I don’t have any strong views on the Arc.  Shirocco to beat Hurricane Run perhaps.

  

Have a good weekend.

 

Continue reading “Diary: September 30 & October 1 2006”

Diary: September 29 2006

The main meeting tomorrow is again at Newmarket where things get under way with the Somerville Tattersall Stakes, a Group 3 at 1.30.  Like most of the card this race looks very tricky.  I thought Manchurian looked impressive when winning at Wolverhampton, and whilst this represents a big step up he could be value at around 9/1 with Jamie Spencer on board.

  

The 2.00 has gone to the favourite 3 times out of the last 10 years but the last 2 years the winners have been 12/1 and 40/1.  It might be worth looking for some value and I thought about Indian Ink, Silca Chiave and Vital Statistics.  Silca Chiave looks an improver and might be worth a small each way.  At around 20/1 Vital Statistics has place claims at least.

  

The 30 runner 2.35 will take some solving.  Espartano (12/1) and Mount Hermon (25/1) would be tentative each way suggestions.

  

Aiden O’Brien sends Brave Tin Soldier over to contest the 3.10.  He has a fair bit to find to win this but he win nicely enough in listed company at The Curragh last time.  Dutch Art though has rock solid form and will take the beating.

  

There are 4 runners in the 3.45 from our list to follow.  Degas Art was fourth in 1m4f Royal Ascot Group 2 in June and he would have a shout if reproducing that form.  Fire and Rain found the St Leger too far for him last time out and the trip here will be more suitable.  Into the Dark is a keen sort and probably not one to absolutely rely on.  He has a strange set of form, figures, four straight wins followed by 5 times a beaten favourite.  He would be a danger at his best but the percentages call is probably the consistent Khyber Kim.  Lightly race, progressive and acts on any going.

  

The 4.20 looks an interesting maiden.  Al Tharib ran with promise at Leicester when 3rd on his debut and is respected, while Murbek was another to run well on his debut when 2nd at Sandown.  There is little to choose between these two.  Desert Dew and the unraced Ardmaddy are others to note.

  

In the 4.55 Kirk Michael has the best form of those with a previous run.

  

I am hoping that our list horse Rampallion can take the 5.30.  He won his only start nearly a year ago but has had problems since.  The stable are quite capable of getting a horse ready after a long absence.

  

The consistent Castano would be my fancy at Lingfield in the 1.50 but he is not well drawn.

  

The nursery at 2.55 looks open.  Suhayl Star was 2nd at Chester last time and gets the vote.

 

Continue reading “Diary: September 29 2006”

Diary: September 28 2006

Barry Hills has his horses in fair form at the moment and is quite capable of getting a two year old ready first time up.  His Tasleem is related to a number of winners and could be the answer to the 2.20 at Newmarket.

  

Staying with Barry Hills, his 3 year old Giganticus has been one of the less successful of our horses to follow.  He has been off the course for 76 days since running last of 14 so is not one I can give a particularly strong write up on in the 2.55.

  

It does seem to be Barry Hills day here tonight.  His 2 year old Palamoun is well bred and should come on for his run when last of 7 on his debut. He goes in the 3.30 where I will also be keeping tabs on Mark Johnston’s Hurricane Thomas, a brother to the smart St Andrews.

  

As a horse to follow Classic Punch has more than done his job by winning at 25/1 earlier in the season.  This half brother to Persian Punch has not really looked like repeating the dose in his subsequent runs.  He runs in the 4.05 where I see that 3 of the newspaper tipsters go for him.

  That is about it for tonight.

Continue reading “Diary: September 28 2006”

Diary: September 27 2006

I am short of time tonight so this will be a short update.

  

Tredegar, half brother to Eisteddfod, has changed stables since his debut run when he was 5th at Haydock.  He should have come on for that and I would expect a decent effort from him in the 2.20 at Lingfield. The newcomer Water Mill is related to several winners and looks interesting.

  

In the 2.50 Adabi is a well related individual and comes from the stable that won this race in 2004.

  

Mark Johnston unleashes Provost for his debut in the 3.10 at Newcastle.  This one has been the subject of some promising reports

  

In the 2.30 at Salisbury Coeur De Lionne looks the one top beat.

  

El Dececy looks the form horse in the 3.00 while Composing looks a likely newcomer.  He is from the same family as Yeats.

  

Furnace is dropped in class in the 3.30 and can get back to winning ways.

  

Resignation has been a bit unlucky of late and should not be far away in the 4.30.

  

There are only 2 runners from our list to follow in action and they both go in the 5.00.  Greek Renaissance looked to be well ahead of the handicapper when storming clear to win at Goodwood last time out. Our other runner is Sant Elana who beat Greek Renaissance when they met in July.  I will go with Greek Renaissance for my selection though.

 

Continue reading “Diary: September 27 2006”

Diary: September 26 2006

Bygone Days and Fonthill road fought out the finish in the conditions sprint at Hamilton with the Godolphin horse just getting the better of the argument.  The other winner for our list to follow was Harrison’s Flyer.  His win, at 6/1, came in his 13th run of the season so at least he has recouped some losses.

  

The other runner from our list was Cool Customer who was second at Hamilton, only beaten a neck.

  

We have just two runners from our list in action tomorrow.

  

At Goodwood Stronghold has a definite chance in the 3.40 and connections seem quite hopeful.  He won a listed race earlier in the season and goes for his first success at Group 3 level here.  Quito must always be respected but he has had a busy season and in addition this undulating track is probably not ideal for him.

  

Our other runner is Seabow in the 3.35 at Nottingham.  The Godolphin colt has been off the track for a year since making a promising debut in a Newmarket maiden.  The stable are in form and I am hopeful.

  

There are a couple of 2 year old races that interest me.  In the 2.00 at Goodwood Spiderback, a half brother to Ruby Rocket has each way claims.  He posted his best effort to date when 3rd in a nursery last time and the form of that race has worked out quite well.

  

In the 4.30 at Nottingham newcomer Beautiful Dancer is a half sister to numerous winners and looks one to keep an eye on.

  

Bye for now

 

Continue reading “Diary: September 26 2006”

Diary: September 25 2006

The star performance of the weekend was clearly George Washington who silenced his critics in the QU II Stakes. Whether he will cope with the stress of a journey across the Atlantic for the Breeders Cup may be open to question.  However, on the evidence of yesterday’s success he must rank with the better milers we have seen in recent times. Supaseus was the other winner from our list to follow on Saturday. The way he won suggests that there may be more success to be had with him before the end of the current campaign. 

“Thommo” gave a favourable mention to our old friend Sierra Vista on the Morning Line yesterday and the mare duly won at 16/1.  She was probably pickable as she had slipped back to a reasonable handicap mark.   Sierra Vista made pretty well all and pulled clear in the closing stages.  It was a good race for the Russellform old boys as the veteran Smokin’ Beau was 3rd, River Falcon a fast finishing 4th and Cape Royal 6th.  The race was called the Lester Piggott start to finish handicap so it was fitting that Sierra Vista made all.

 

This was the mare’s 9th career win and 6 of those have been at 11/1 or better.

 If I hadn’t been semi comatose on Saturday evening I would have given Just Dust a write up.  He hung on gamely in the nursery at Ascot and avoided being swallowed up by some fast finishers to land the prize at 25/1.  That was his 5th win from 12 starts and his shortest winning price has been 5/1.  When you consider that the first of those wins was in a seller at Catterick he has done pretty well.  Claimer Marc Halford has ridden him to his last 4 victories.  Incidentally, the dam won 3 times as a juvenile. 

OK, let’s have a look at the 3 meetings on Monday.

  

In the Bath 3.20 Fever, a colt by Dr Fong, should appreciate the trip and could be the one to benefit should the hot favourite fail to produce the goods.

  

Harrison’s Flyer may not have been one of my better choices for the list to follow.  The trouble is that he just runs too often, so if he does fail to win he doesn’t do a lot for the stats.  He has already run 12 times this season and turns out again in the 5.00 at Brighton.  Will it be lucky 13?  Well he is a course and distance winner, but he has been running off a similar mark for a while without winning.

  

The Hamilton 2.40 looks an interesting sprint.  It could be between Elite Racing Club’s Eisteddfod, Bygone Days from our list to follow and the Ayr Gold Cup winner Fonthill Road.  All 3 handle give in the ground.

  In the 3.40 Swiss Act looks the one to beat but is likely to be a short price.  Ed Dunlop’s Cool Customer has been admirably consistent for our list to follow and can notch his fourth win of the season in the 4.40.

Continue reading “Diary: September 25 2006”

September 24 2006

I am suffering from a touch of the “virus” tonight so excuse the short bulletin.

  

Ascot 2.45 Glistening has been really unlucky in some big handicaps but has a fair bit to find now he takes his chance in Group 3 company.

  

3.15 Peppertree Lane has already won 4 times this season and could well make it 5 here.  More rain would help.  Consular is the other runner from our list.

  

3.50 Presto Shinko represents the list to follow and has a decent chance.

  

George Washington and Superseus won for the list to follow today and I was also pleased to see our old friend Sierra Vista once again pop up at a big price.

  Petara Bay, mentioned in last nights preview was also a winner.

Continue reading “September 24 2006”

Review of the all weather season 2005/6

 

With all weather racing growing in both quantity and quality I decided to include it in my daily racing diary during the 2005/2006 season. 

  

I didn’t publish a list to follow but I did have a rough list in my mind, made up of horses that I had followed on the flat together with a few all weather specialists.

  

Celtic Mill was my first successful tip when winning a decent 5 furlong handicap at Southwell in mid November at 7/2.  David Barker’s sprinter  had first come to my attention with his exploits on the all weather when he won 3 times at Wolverhampton in the winter of 2002.  He has been in the news for one reason or another since those days.  He recorded the biggest win of his career in May 2005 when winning the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Sandown but a few weeks later suffered an horrific fall at the same track.  He survived that and remains in good heart having won twice on turf since winning at Southwell.

  

The theory of following Sir Mark Prescott 3 year old “improvers” has served me so well in the past that I decided to stick with it on the sand.  Amorist had been placed a couple of times on the turf and had shown enough promise to be of interest for an all weather campaign. He went on to win 3 of his 6 starts, the first two at Southwell and the last at Lingfield, all ridden by Jamie Mackay.  His wins came at surprisingly generous odds as well, at 11/4, 13/8 and 11/2.  He has since moved to Howard Johnson’s yard with a career over hurdles in prospect.  He certainly looks the type to do well in that sphere.

  

Horses stick in your memory for a variety of reasons. Oldenway was my first winning bet in the 2003 flat season and when he turned up on the all weather I  decided to follow his progress. Richard Fahey kept Oldenway on the go, running 8 times including appearances at all 3 tracks.  Although he only won once, it was at 7/1, and he was also placed several times.  His win came in a 14 furlong handicap and he has since won a couple of times on the turf.

  

If Oldenway stuck in my memory as a “landmark” winner, Local Poet is a horse I recall as one of my more spectacular losers!   I had backed him at 25/1 in October 2003 in the Redcar two year old trophy and just switched on the TV in time to see him emerging from the fog to pull clear of his 22 rivals.  My celebrations were cut short though as he was mugged on the line by a horse called Peak to Creek.  In those days he was trained by Brian McMahon but by 2005 he had moved up to Scotland to Ian Semple’s stable.  I had forgotten all about the horse until I read an interview with Semple referring to Local Poet as being “ridiculously well handicapped” so I decided to follow him. He proved an excellent choice winning 3 handicaps at odds of 7/1, 7/2 and 11/4.

  

Border Music was one of my big hopes as he had already shown that he was something of an all weather specialist, winning 3 times on the sand between August and October.  Border Music has a touch of class as he showed when winning easily at Wolverhampton in a conditions race in March.  He won again after the end of the winter season on the new track at Kempton – he certainly loves an artificial surface.

  

Dr Fong won 5 races during his career including the St James’s Stakes and now stands at stud.  Not surprisingly some of his progeny have names associated with thongs!  Dr Thong is trained by Paul Cole and was on my list to follow for the turf a year or two back.  He won at 8/1 in a mile handicap at Lingfield on his debut on the all weather under Jimmy Fortune and won again at Southwell in September ’06 so is obviously a horse to consider on the sand.

  

Gentleman’s Deal was on my list to follow for the 2005 flat season when he was trained by Ed Dunlop but never actually ran. This chap is regally bred, and is out of classic winning filly Sleepytime.  By the start of the all weather campaign he had moved to Mick Easterby’s yard and having shown considerable promise as a juvenile looked one to follow.  He didn’t disappoint making his debut for his new stable on New Years Day at Southwell where he took a £20k handicap. He followed up at Wolverhampton a fortnight later landing another valuable handicap.

  

Kevin Ryan’s Bridgewater Boys had previously shown a liking for Wolverhampton and had slipped to an interesting mark.  He duly won twice at Dunstall Park in 9 furlong handicaps.  He only won by a neck and a short head but they all count and the starting prices were 11/2 and 4/1 so he proved a good horse to follow.

  

Gilded Cove lost his right eye in his younger days and can lose his bearings in races where he doesn’t have an outside draw but he is still a sprinter to be reckoned with on his day.  He does particularly well at Wolverhampton and won there in November and March.

  

Gem Bien is no world beater but paid his way with a 12/1 win at Wolverhampton in December while Wahoo Sam was another that I followed that won at a big price, winning at 20/1 in a 7 furlong handicap at Wolverhampton.

  

Lincolnneurocruiser, trained by Norma McCauley had dropped to a reasonable mark and scored his first handicap win at Wolverhampton in January at 13/2.

  

Wessex had notched up a hat trick of wins in the previous all weather season and looked a horse to follow again.  He didn’t disappoint, again scoring 3 times in sprint handicaps.  He is at home on both all weather surfaces and is quite versatile as to trip.

  

Sands Crooner started the all weather season a maiden but showed he had ability when coming 6th in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. 

  

After a couple of failures at Southwell where his trainer reckoned the horse didn’t like the kick back he won a weak maiden at Wolverhampton despite getting a smack across the face from a rival jockey’s whip.  He went on to win a couple of Lingfield handicaps.

  

Another prolific winner was Prettilini, who also started the season as a maiden.   Prettilini only broke her duck at the 12th attempt in a weak maiden at Wolverhampton.  She went on to surprise her detractors by picking up 3 small handicaps.

  I will finish this review with the star of the horses that I followed during the season, Sri Diamond. Ridden by Keiren Fallon he won a valuable handicap at Lincoln at 10/1 from Wild Savannah in November, and went on to defy a career high mark when winning a similar race at the same track in February. His finest hour though was when winning the Winter Derby under an excellent ride from champion jockey Jamie Spencer at odds of 8/1.  

 

Continue reading “Review of the all weather season 2005/6”

Diary: September 23 2006

We has some success this afternoon with Queen’s Best winning for the list and Burning Insence coming 2nd at 10/1.  There were also wins for two year olds Indian Ink and Fantasy Parkes, both in impressive style.

  

The main action tomorrow is again at Ascot where the showpiece is the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at 4.20.  This race probably revolves around George Washington.  If back to his best he will take all the beating.  Court Masterpiece won the Sussex Stakes and will get the ground he likes.  Nannina looked the part when winning the Coronation Stakes earlier in the season and could pull a surprise if at her best.  Proclamation has only run once this season and that was a rather lacklustre effort.  Back again after a break with something to prove.  Nannina might prove the each way value.  She won on this day last season for people who follow that sort of theory.

  

There are 4 from the list in the 2.00, My Paris, Arminius, Easy Air and Superseus.  This is a very tricky race in which Easy Air would seem to have the best chance of our 4.  This race has gone to outsiders many times in the past including a couple of 33/1 winners in the last 10 years. I can’t say I have any strong views.

  

In the 3.10 English Ballet is preferred to Treat, the winner of a Nottingham maiden.

  

We have 4 runners in the 3.45, Minority Report, Intrepid Jack, Fullandby and Trafalgar Square.  All 4 look a little high in the weights.  If I had to narrow it down I would go each way on Minority Report as I am not sure of Fullandby acting on the ground.

  

Whispering Death represents the list to follow in the 5.25.  He has paid his way with two wins at 5/2 and 7/1 so he has justified his place on the list. He acts on the ground, stays and the stable won the race last time it was run.

  

Zomerlust ran a cracker to finish 2nd in the Ayr Silver Cup.  I am tempted to go for him in the Chester 3.20 on the strength of that performance but he may not be at home on the firm ground.

  

Safqa has been remarkably consistent but has only actually won once so far.  She should again run her race in the 3.55.  Each way chance.

  

Zowington and Kenmore are our runners in the 2.55 at Haydock.  Kenmore was making up ground hand over hoof last time out when 2nd to the fast starting Cape Royal.  He can win this as long as the ground is not too firm.

  

Petara Bay is well related and cost a lot of money but only beat one home on his debut.  He looks to redeem himself in the 4.40.

  

Kerriemuir Lass finally got off the mark at Bath last time out after a series of placed efforts. She is not all that well off at the weights in the 5.15 but having got her head in front she may be able to score again.

  

I will be back on Saturday evening to preview Sunday’s racing.

 

Continue reading “Diary: September 23 2006”