Anybody fancy a trip down memory lane? I thought not, but off we go ignoring the shouts of protest from all sides.
Yesterday…all my troubles
Once upon a time in a land called England, the Derby used to be run on the first Wednesday in June.
The race used to receive excellent press coverage and was even shown on the Beeb. So far so good, not so good however if you were working at race time. No mobiles to watch the event, no pictures in the bookies, couldn’t afford a portable telly so that was out. I remember listening on a transistor radio…whaat?!…to Mill Reef romping home in 1971. Fascinating, you may mumble, but having to hang out of the office window to get a signal added a little to the excitement.
How much is that telly in the window?
The years moved on and so did the office, but technology stood still – at least in the frozen north. This brought a spate of watching the infrequent televised races by the following method.
- Lunchtime get a bet on at one of Carlisle’s finest.
- Mid afternoon decide a client or bank visit in the town centre was necessary.
- Race round town to the Radio Rentals shop and peer through the window to see if any of their tellies had the race on. Must have been a tad frightening for the staff to have this loon with his nose pressed against the window but needs must. If race being shown then so far so good.
- Next problem: trying to identify your selection as all the runners looked the same colour as the sun reflected off the screen.
- Watch race, calculate profit/loss then sprint back to office…happy days.
This routine kept me going for all the major meetings which were then mid-week…Chester, York, Epsom, Ascot, Goodwood, York Ebor Meeting. The only variation on this theme was when the Radio Rentals staff decided they’d had enough of the goon at the window and changed channels. This caused a swift transfer of allegiance followed by a Usain Bolt like sprint to Curry’s around the corner in the hope that they were doing the decent thing.
If you need to know the monthly rental price of a TV or washing machine in the mid-seventies don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Enough of the past; what about this year’s race?
Twelve declared – five trained by Aidan O’Brien. Some trainers, even at the very top-level, struggle to have five Derby runners in a lifetime’s training, this guy manages the feat in one running. It’s a wonder the Monopolies Commission haven’t started an investigation. “It’s against the law”…Paul Simon…”Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”…more nostalgia.
Since the 2000gns, the market has centred on Saxon Warrior which, as you will have realised by now, is the only Group One winner in the field, so he’s the winner. It’s hard to fault this lad, who ticks most of the boxes.
Top breeding, top trainer, top jockey, maybe no guarantee on stamina, but just a slight doubt, dodgy draw in stall one. He is obviously the standout bet, but at the current odds where’s the craic? “A winner’s a winner” the shrewd people will tell you, but I would rather be backing at north of fours when the pension is on the line.
My idea of a horse to give us a run at a decent price is William Haggas’ Young Rascal – this year’s Chester Vase winner. This son of Intello has won over the trip unlike all his opponents and, with Cadeaux Genereux in the dam’s pedigree, will relish the forecast soft ground. He is owned by Bernard Kantor whose company sponsors the whole shebang which leads me to think he wont just be having a trot round the back. The horse, not the boss man, I hasten to add.
Meanwhile James Doyle and Mr Haggas are proving a decent combination, hopefully this weekend continues their good work.
Plenty of top handicaps to ponder over the weekend. You do wonder if there are sufficient top-class handicappers to do the races justice but that’s another argument. The state of the ground at Epsom will make winner-finding difficult, but it’s such a unique track that course form should always be a major factor when making your choice.
Cold as Ice
A few months ago, I mentioned the promising apprentice Connor Murtagh. I reckoned that his boss – Richard Fahey – had been keen to keep Murtagh’s valuable claim for the flat season and had advised him not to ride too much during the winter. I spotted on the Racing Post’s Cold Jockeys list this week that young Connor has now gone 66 days and 49 rides without a winner. You want shrewd analysis this is the place to be.
After the Goldrush
Talking of promising apprentices…here we go again…in the early nineties, I used to follow a 5lb claimer name of Brett Doyle. At least we had live pictures in the Bookies by then, what joy. Still had to nip out to watch a race though.
I remember backing young Brett to win the Ayr Gold Cup on Sarcita of David Elsworth’s back in 1991. The filly trotted up at 14/1, I was so impressed I lumped most of the winnings on her to follow up at Ascot seven days later. The mighty Steve Cauthen had the ride and going off 9/2 fav Sarcita led into the final furlong when, you’ve guessed it, something appeared from the clouds and beat her a neck.
Why is he boring us with this? You may well ask, but I noticed that the no-longer-young Brett Doyle managed a winner at Nottingham this week. He has been plying his trade in Hong Kong of late, but it was good to see him back and still riding well. “Memories” as Elaine Paige reminded us…
Champion the Wonderhorse
Sorry to end on a sad note this week, but 31stMay 1970 was the day that the famous Arkle was put down at the all too early age of 13. For jumping fans of that era, like myself, there will never be another like “himself”.
Enjoy the Derby…it was better on a Wednesday though!