If I were a carpenter.
Lockdown in this part of the North of England has for the last couple of days provided me with an insight into how life must have been for that Biblical D.I.Y. expert Noah. Apart from an acknowledged shortage of the necessary livestock the other key element incessant rain has been conspicuous by its presence.
Other than the above there has been a few items of interest which will be played out over the next few weeks and months. The Bryony Frost “bullying” story has attracted the usual suspects, not least the jump racing is cruel brigade, the whole episode has opened a can of worms. It doesn’t look like the weighing room will be able to sort this dispute out in house. Now the mainstream media have scented blood there will be no switching off of any lights being shone on the sport…. a mixture of animal cruelty is racing misogynistic? etc providing plenty of ingredients for a tasty few tabloid angles.
Another bit of dirty linen got an airing with the news from Ireland that trainer Charles Byrnes had been suspended for six months after one of his horses had tested positive for a sedative after being pulled up at Tramore in October 2018. The trainer has appealed so this will go on for a while longer. Once again, the kind of publicity racing can do without.
The loud noise heard at Punchestown last Sunday was the bubble bursting after the big build to the novice chase. The first fence fall…. sounds like Arkwright of Open All Hours…. of the only runner seeming capable of giving Envoi Allen a race, Asterion Forlonge, left the favourite with an easy task. Fils D’oudairies looked dangerous two out but once Jack Kennedy gave Envoi Allen permission the gelding quickened away. Davy Russell will be hoping his injury clears up shortly to get his unbeaten mount back.
Still in Ireland I was surprised to see David Mullins announce his retirement, only 24 Mullins always seemed just a step away from being the next star to emerge from the Irish Jumps scene. He won the 2016 Grand National on Rule the World and did me a big favour when Kemboy won the Savills Chase a couple of years later. A bad fall last season probably didn’t help matters but it looks like Mullins has been trying to get out for some time. Good luck to him in the future.
A couple of interesting meetings coming up on Saturday, Haydock, and Ascot. Haydock survived a Thursday morning inspection but now has another to survive tomorrow to check on the effects of the forecast overnight frost.
Who would be a Clerk of the Course?
Selection – 2:40 – Haydock: Peter Marsh Handicap Chase
The Peter Marsh chase is usually a good event, but I feel this year’s renewal is a little lacking in quality. Top weight Royale Pagaille heads the market, and seems the one unexposed runner, but at the likely odds isn’t really a bet for me. He was impressive last time out at Kempton and is considered classy enough to hold a Gold Cup entry. He could stroll away with the race but carrying 11st 10lbs in heavy ground will be a gruelling test for the seven-year-old. Tom Scudamore gets the mount which might indicate Charlie Deutsch perhaps fancies something more strongly at Ascot. As I said there doesn’t seem to be any other unexposed type in the race, perhaps Sam Brown, so if you are able to bet at north of 5/2, I wouldn’t put you off.
1. Sam Brown
Selection – 3:00 – Ascot: bet365 Handicap Chase
The 2m5f chase at Ascot is also worth a look. Fourteen declared and some decent sorts amongst the entries. Two previous winners in the field Acting Lass (2018) and Domaine de L’Isle (2020). Acting Lass hasn’t shown much since, but last year’s winner might spring a surprise in first time blinkers. His under rated trainer Sean Curran has him back on the same mark of 140 so this could have been a cunning plan. My idea of the winner is Venetia Williams’… Espoir de Guye who is possibly be the reason Charlie …see above …. has stayed down south for the afternoon. This seven year disappointed last time over the track but that was over three miles and previously had been a course and distance winner. The nine-pound rise isn’t excessive so at around 6/1 he looks reasonable value with a saver on Domaine de L’Isle at around 16s if available.
1. Espoir de Guye
2. Domaine de L’Isle
Selection – 3:35 – Ascot: Matchbook Betting Exchange Clarence House Chase
The Clarence House chase is another corker and for me sentiment would have Waiting Patiently win for Ruth Jefferson. He finished with a rare old rattle in the King George but whether the hold up tactics will be as successful on Saturday is doubtful. I am sure the trainer and jockey know far more than me …not difficult …and they may have another set of tactics lined up, we shall see. I am going to chance a few bob on Kim Bailey’s First Flow who will love the ground and still seems to be improving at nine. He has won six of his last eight races and gone up from 140 to 156. At the advertised 14/1 its worth paying to find out if the improvement continues.
1. First Flow
Right back to the joinery.
Enjoy the weekend.
Again, good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.