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UK Racing looks at the races of interest this weekend

Something a little different to start with this week, and as I am off on my annual pilgrimage to Durban South Africa next month, what better time for jockey Richard Fourie to break the record for most winning rides in a season as he crashed through the 335 barrier last Saturday, breaking the 23 year record held by Anthony Delpech, the first person to congratulate Richard after he rode Double Grand Slam to an easy if odds-on victory. 

To put the numbers into some kind of perspective is not easy, but William Buick was our champion jockey last year – with 135 winners. As we race pretty much every day over here he could not have had any more options than our riders have to be on board a winner, and rest assured – it is a highly competitive jockey scene over there as well, making the tally all the more remarkable. 

Better still, the season there does not end until the 31st July, meaning a record many thought would never be broken is likely to be smashed with plenty more winners to come, and a million rand for Richard in the bank thanks to a generous bonus from Hollywood Bets.   

Meanwhile, as I was putting together my list of things to talk about, in comes the news that Julie Harrington has resigned as CEO of the BHA. I have had a few meetings with Julie and found her knowledgeable and personable to deal with – but I was also quite aware that she had bigger fish to fry than some punter group seemingly causing mischief. 

So, what do we all think of her tenure as head of racing’s Ivory Towers – good or bad. I suspect that when she took the job on she could not have been fully aware of racing’s in-fighting, the (sometimes impossible) task of juggling the needs of horsemen, racecourses, owners, bookmakers, and the betting public, who regularly pull in opposite directions. 

The lack of the powers needed to make the right decisions for the sport would have driven me insane a long time ago to be fair, and the Gambling Act Review must have taken up far more time and thought that anyone would have realised early doors, I know that feeling all too well.  To me, and it is a personal opinion, the legacy she leaves behind is the willingness to upset the status quo. 

We do not have to agree that Premier race days, or evening all-weather meetings on a Sunday, or early starts were a good thing – but we do need to applaud the willingness to try something new, and not just leave racing to disappear down the metaphorical toilet. Under Julie’s watch the HBF (https://ukhbf.org) were not invited to the top table as often as we would have liked, but we were consulted on more than one occasion, and with racings finances threatened by affordability checks, I would like to think we now have a voice that may even be listened to. 

With Julie staying in her role until December 31st to allow time for a new leader to be both selected and a sensible handover period, I was interested to see the early betting for her replacement with four co-favourites (8/1) as I write. Sky Racing’s Josh Apiafi is one of the quartet and would certainly be happy to shake up the establishment with a host of new ideas, but I cannot see him getting the job (yet) for exactly that reason, Matthew Imi was head of At The Races for almost 20 years and is another on the shortlist according to the bookmakers as is (shock horror) Matt Hancock, who left parliament last month and is an avid racing fan, but will his face be red rag to a bull for a (likely) Labour government to deal with, I suspect so and therefore not an ideal candidate. 

Nevin Truesdale, who recently resigned as head of The Jockey Club, seems a far likelier candidate and if I was having a bet (I’m not), it would be on him, but do mot be surprised if its someone we have never heard of when the decision is finally made, though my phone is always on 24/7 should they decide to give me a call!  

Next up, did any of you have a quid or two on Clay Shoveler ahead of the 3.20pm at Goodwood on Sunday and if so have you stopped spitting feathers yet? In brief, the two-year-old was backed down to favouritism but bolted before the start and quite frankly, should not have been allowed to run (in my opinion). 

The vet did not feel the need to have a look and (surprise surprise), he ran a stinker to finish seventh of eight in this lowly seller. I do not have a strong opinion myself as its part and parcel of racing to me, but I would be interested in your thoughts – should he either have been taken out (with the horrendous Rule 4 deductions for anyone who backed the winner), or allowed to run with those backing the jolly not getting a proper run for their money? 

Something to bring a smile next (well, maybe) and I wonder how long it will be before British racing wakes up and copies the antics of our Irish cousins. Ballinrobe racecourse have an offer on – 35 Euros gets you entry, a 5 Euro Tote voucher and a two course meal in the self-service restaurant. Compare that to our racing and the average cost of well over £20 just to get in and we are clearly lagging behind. Having said that I did have a look at Lingfield (as an example) and they do a deal for £22 mid-week that includes a pie and a pint and a racecard – not quite the same – but if you have seen that advertised anywhere you are one up on me.
  
Lastly, I would like to congratulate all the clairvoyants out there, possibly including Mystic Meg, after 125/1 shot Perfect Part won the first race on TV last Saturday.  Naturally, we were on the second (see last week’s article), but 123 people remained in the ITV7 so hats off to them – I can only hope they also had a small single bet as well at that price! I doubt we hear from them again (surely they also had the winning lottery numbers), but I remain in a state of shock, how on earth did that many people find the unraced winner of a competitive Listed contest.  

Fancy listening to our podcast – the link is here where I discuss the above with Ron Robinson of Post Racing fame
   
Saturday Racing 

Sandown 2.40pm

There is a chance that early favourite Adaay In Devon will be rushed off her feet over five furlongs on this quicker going, and although sure to be running on well at the death, the value may lie elsewhere. Flora Of Bermuda is best in at these weights on official ratings but may prefer a bit more give in the ground to give her all, and I am willing to have an each way punt on Nighteyes at a double figure price (hopefully). 

David O’Meara stepped a handicapper up to win for us in Listed class earlier in the week (Lava Stream 14/1 last Sunday), and although the daughter of Night of Thunder only won a Class Four handicap at Haydock last week, she did so with ease, and that was on a similar surface, and I am pretty hopeful that she will improve even further.     

York 3.00pm 

A disappointing six-runner field for close to £40,000 to the winner and some black type for this Listed contest, but we can only deal with whatever they put in front of us. Real Dream in the only distance winner in the field making him one to note for Sir Michael Stoute, but he was ridden by Ryan Moore when second on his return but he switches to  the William Haggas trained Klondike here, and wonder if that is a bit of a hint. 

A lightly raced son of Galileo with just the five starts to his name, he returned from a wind operation with a fourth at York when running on late over a mile and a half, suggesting the step up in trip here may be just what the doctor ordered. As I am a firm believer that second start after wind surgery is a good time to catch them, today could be his day and as he is part owned by some of the Coolmore boys and Ryan rides, I am hoping they are expecting big things. 

Chester 3.20pm

Just the five previous runnings of this so no real point in using statistics to try and prove anything, though we do know that we have not seen a winner priced longer than 15/2 – so far – and only the one winning favourite. Five runnings, five different trainers and five different jockeys does not help either, but with only the one horse a winner last time out he will do for me. 

Jack Channon has made a good start to his training career without garnering the column inches he deserves, and in Burdett he has a potential improver. The gelding could be called the winner a long way out at York last month, racing out the back before being produced for an easy two length victory, though the handicapper has reacted badly and put him up 6lb. That was also a Class Four and this is a Class Two so he will need to find more to get competitive, but he gets to carry a lowly eight stone eight this afternoon which is not an issue for jockey Ray Dawson, and although drawn high in the 14 box, that should not be an excuse even at Chester over this trip for a hold up horse.  

York 3.35pm

Thirteen runnings in the last 15 years, and a chance to have a dig though the statistics as we try to hunt down the winner. It is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but 10 of the 13 came home in the first five on their previous outing, 12 were priced at 20/1 or shorter (at the off), all 13 were rated 85 or higher, and 102 or lower, 10 of the 13 were drawn 14 or lower, and all 13 raced in the last 60 days. 

Add those together and we now have a shortlist of six, not a bad starting point considering we started with 17! Of those remaining, Richard Fahey has won this race (with Mr Lupton in 2016) and has had four others place, suggesting his trio could go close, but with Oisin Orr on board Tropical Island (who does not fit the numbers) I will have a small each way bet on Ziggy’s Condor. 

Very lightly raced with only four starts including a debut win at Pontefract, he returned over a furlong further here when mugged on the line for a short-head defeat, and if he has the cruising speed to keep up early doors, he can burst to the front close home under Joe Leavy, who is good value for his 5lb claim which may make all the difference.

Sean’s Suggestion:

Once again my bet for the weekend does not run on Saturday but at Chantilly on Sunday in the French Oaks. Tamfana ran an absolute blinder for David Menuisier when fourth in our 1000 Guineas, only beaten a length at the line after meeting trouble in running. Many, including myself, felt she was an unlucky loser that day, and with her breeding suggesting she will been happier stepped up in trip, if she gets the rub of the green this afternoon she may be able to bring the 588,000 Euros back over the channel to her Pulborough stable.
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