Monday, June 24, 2019

This and that

We're off to Brighton tomorrow with Roy for a race which he has won twice in the past (in 2016 and '18).  I hope that he'll run well but I won't be building up my hopes.  He'll be our first runner since Das Kapital ran at Bath two Saturdays ago (ie nine days ago).  That was a very pleasant trip, nearly all of which I enjoyed.  The bits which I didn't enjoy were (a) Das Kapital's race, (b) the several short periods of extremely heavy rain, and (c) a couple of terrifying seconds on the drive home during which an idiot walking his dog along the side of the dual carriageway between St Albans and Hatfield allowed two of his dogs (who were on long leads) to run out onto the road in front of me.  Thank God I missed them by inches.  Running over a dog would have finished me off completely.

Das Kapital's race was a non-event.  The deluges of rain had been falling through the week, but the ground at Bath had been so very firm that even by the Saturday it was still a sound surface, which I was pleased about - except that the heavy showers during the day meant that the surface on the bend turned out to be slippery.  Das Kapital was one of, I think, four horses to slip on the bend.  (Thank God none of them fell, but understandably none was placed).  This was the first race, and it turned out to be the only race run on the round course that afternoon.

The second and third races were on the sprint course, and then there was a stewards' inspection of the round course (well, of the home bend, around four furlongs from home) after John Egan (who rode Das Kapital), Adam Kirby, Poppy Bridgewater and (I think) Trevor Whelan had reported that their mounts had slipped.  There have to be at least two trainers and two jockeys with the stewards when they inspect, so Marcus Tregoning and I joined them, along with John Egan, Adam Kirby, Pat Dobbs, Liam Keniry and Charlie Bishop. There wasn't a lot to see apart from one two-foot-long skid-mark (and overall, it is important to say, the track was in superb condition) but the testimony of the jockeys made it a no-brainer to cancel the two remaining races on the round course, but still run the two remaining sprints.

So that was Bath, a long and tiring day and an unsuccessful one, but an enjoyable one too.  I didn't go to Ascot but did chair a Royal Ascot preview in the Racing Centre on the Sunday evening prior to the meeting.  Chairing these things is a doddle because one isn't required to give any tips, whereas the panellists ought really to do a bit of home-work.  Our panellists (ie Charlie Fellowes who went on to train a winner there, George Scott, John O'Donoghue who is an assistant with Roger Varian who ended up training a treble, and Stevie Donohoe) did very well, tipping quite a few winners.  (In fact, Lord Glitters, 14/1 winner of the opening race, was strongly tipped by someone, although I can't remember whom).

Joe Jennings Bookmakers were kind enough to give charity bets.  The record of charity bets at these things had previously been woeful.  There have been Cheltenham Preview Nights last year and this (and I'm ashamed to say that I was on the panel both times) and a grand total of zero charity bets were successful.  I'm told that one of last year's Royal Ascot panellists (Luca) napped a 4/6 winner, with the other charity bets yielded nothing.  This year, though, was outstanding.  John O'Donoghue opted for the Roger Varian trained Wokingham winner Cape Byron (7/2) each-way.  Charlie napped Stradivarius (even money) in the Gold Cup.  George napped each-way Simon Crisford's bafflingly-named A'Ali who broke his maiden at 5/1 in the Norfolk Stakes.  Stevie Donohoe went each-way on his intended mount in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes Desert Wind, who didn't run.  And I (unsure whether I actually had a charity bet) napped Arizona (15/8) in the Coventry.  Easy when you're not actually having a bet, isn't it?!

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