Crikey! You take a couple of weeks off when things are quiet and then meander back to the grindstone and it’s all kicking off…especially in Russia.
Let’s get the footy out of the way first.
Being old enough to remember the last time (presuming dear reader you are English) we won the trophy, it’s been downhill and disappointments ever since. There have been a few memories though along the way. Playing cricket for British Railways…remember them…at a sunny Gilford Park in 1966 when we beat Argentina in the quarters and news filtered through that their skipper Rattin had been sent off. Watching the final on an old black and white telly in deepest Currock…happy days. 1970: ecstatic as we took a two-goal lead against West Germany then blew it after Sir Alf substituted Sir Robert. The after-match drink in the Peace and Plenty…older readers only…turned from a celebration into a wake quicker than you can say Gerd Mueller. Lots more besides, but before the nurse brings my medication let’s leave the footy behind and hope the lads led by Citizen Kane at least give us something to get excited about. At least we have had a good start…..
Jockeying for position
Let’s go where the participants will never get booked for simulation. James Bowen lost his claim the other week. He’s been a revelation only turning professional last summer and if he can stay injury free he must go close in the Jockey’s championship in the next couple of seasons. Incidentally young James’ success seems to have galvanised older brother Sean who is now back riding to the high standards he set a couple of seasons ago.
News filtered through recently from Ireland that the “new Jack Kennedy” might have emerged from the point to point field. Mr Sean O’Keeffe is the boy he’s only had a handful of rides under rules but claims seven and can do around 9st 5lbs. He looks the type to have on our side for some of these big amateur races on the flat as the summer progresses. Watch out at Galway around the end of July. He’s bound to be put on some dodge pots before then for experience so be selective.
Another of our Irish Jockeys to follow, Rachel Blackmore is going great guns. A double for Henry de Bromhead at Punchestown a couple of weeks ago once again showcased her talent. As we write she is leading the Irish Jump Jockeys Championship by one from Danny Mullins. The Times They Are a Changing as a young Robert Zimmerman would say.
Connor Murtagh yet another young jock we flagged up has also taken off of late. He’s got himself off the cold list and is now reasonably warm if not red hot. Connor has had four winners from his last twenty one rides which at around 19% strike rate augurs well for the coming summer months. I am certain Richard Fahey will get the full value from Murtagh’s five-pound claim. Some of the big sprint handicaps are probably where they will strike.
That’s a quick round up of jockeys to keep an eye on, let’s hope they can look after themselves as well because not only have we had fighting at the track it now seems to be happening in the jockey’s changing room. A well reported incident at Goodwood left Jim Crowley with a split lip. I am assured that David Haye’s retirement has not been hastened to enable him to take up a position as a jockey coach. Although I would love to see Haye fight Franny Norton who is handy in the ring.
Worth the wait
Good to see Baie des Isles pick up a good prize for Ross O’Sullivan at Auteuil two weeks ago. The £88k prize would be a nice consolation for missing out in the Grand National back in April. The mare was well supported back then but was almost carried off the track at Valentines and lost all chance. This was a decent consolation off a lovely low weight and reward for some astute race planning by the trainer.
All eyes were on Chantilly last Sunday when Karl Burke sent Laurens back to France to contest the Prix de Diane. It was a tough ask for the filly to gain her third Group One, but she had been impressive in the Prix St Alary when she fought back to take the prize. P J McDonald reckoned he should have kicked on sooner in that contest, so this time round he made no mistake got a good position early filled her up round the turn and kicked on in the straight. It was a long way home, but Laurens, who looks as though she will stay further, saw off the challengers in the run to the line. More Group Ones await it as an eye opener to see that Laurens sire Siyouni now stands at 75k euros whereas he was available at 7k euro when Laurens was bred.
The Royal meeting got underway with the first Group One of the week, the Queen Anne Stakes. The race produced a great result for lovers of racing history like myself. Accidental Agent coming home at 33/1 for Eve Johnston Houghton. The Johnston Houghtons have been involved in top class horses for years. The likes of Ribocco Ribero Ribofilio Habitat and Ille de Bourbon were all trained by Eve’s later father Fulke in the sixties and seventies. This was a tremendous success for their home bred colt who was bought in at the sales for £8000 gns, another bargain gone begging. The horse was named after Eve’s grandfather John Goldsmith who was an agent in the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during WWII and unlike many of his colleagues lived to tell the tale. A book titled “Blown “by Jamie Reid recalls his life both in peacetime and wartime and is a fascinating read if you can find a copy.
Now for the big question on everybody’s lips for Ascot: who will be in the Royal Procession? Me neither…