Isn’t this lockdown thingy a wonderful way to learn about yourself. So far I have learned that a day without horse racing is a day wasted and one that seems to go on for ever, that I drink less not more when there are no pubs open to socialise in, and that my knowledge of racing around the world is woefully lacking when it comes to picking the winners barring the very best at the international meetings, and preferably where there is a British contingent in action.
Therefore, until “our” racing returns on June 1st, as things stand, I will focus more on racing stories that I have picked up on via social media or elsewhere followed by a couple of throw away tips – I call them that because quite frankly they probably should be discarded rather than taken too seriously.
So, with unlimited doom and gloom in the air, our TV news needs a health warning, I was delighted to be contacted by Graham Arnold representing 4Racing v Covid-19, who are working away at raising funds for stable staff both in the UK and Ireland, in conjunction with Racing Welfare.
Namedinlockdown is a brilliantly titled horse they are selling shares in for anyone who has ignored my tips and has money left over – for those who back my selections they also have a raffle I have just entered with the chance to win a share instead. Monthly outgoings seem sensible and she will go in to training in Ireland with Katy Brown and one with Rebecca Menzies to follow, and it’s all for a very good cause.
I have done my bit to help in the hope that one or two of you might take an active interest (or just donate via the justgiving page), or at least have a look (pretty please) https://www.facebook.com/groups/905156079910239/.
Meanwhile the rest of the racing world have yo-yoed from the good to the bad with French racing the highlight of my day, until the legs were pulled from underneath all the Paris tracks as the government back tracked thanks to changes in the covid situation, I assume. I cannot honestly say it made a huge difference to me, but it did reinforce my fear that if we rush back too soon, we could also see the plug pulled before the season has really got under way.
If that doesn’t happen, then the BHA have put on a monster start to the season with meetings aplenty from the onset, though I do wonder why they have Newcastle up first when current statistics suggest the south is possibly the safer option. Personally, I am not as convinced as others that jamming all the major black type races into a shorter time span really works with reduced gaps between races suggesting some will be shadows of yesteryear and sadly that history will treat some with disdain for that very reason.
That is the only negative I can see for now other than the lack of crowds and atmosphere of course, and it is also the best that can be done in once in a lifetime circumstances, and I genuinely wish them every success even if I will still worry about racehorse fitness levels before I open my wallet.
As we all know by now these little sojourns would not be the same without a couple of horses or more racing over the weekend though I swear some of you back them – and the majority realise I have been the dreaded kiss of death to whatever chances they may have had pre-race.
In America on Saturday evening all eyes will be on the Godolphin owned Maxfield as the son of Street Sense returns to the track for his first start since romping home by over five lengths at Keeneland in the Grade One Claiborne Breeders Futurity over a mile plus. His fitness does have to be taken on trust, but this is a drop in class and with the likes of Pneumatic and Mystic Guide having a bit to find on the clock as well as the book, he ought to prove good enough to sail home alone assuming he has trained on, of course.
In Hong Kong on Sunday sensible betting opportunities are few and far between though Exultant ought to be able to send favourite backers home happy after the Group One Standard Chartered Champions& Chater Cup over the mile and a half at Sha Tin. He is their best staying sort by some margin at present and will need a real off day to not bring home the £551,000 winners’ purse for trainer Tony Cruz, though we will not get rich by backing him I am afraid at those odds.
One other horse to mention this weekend and I am less convinced than the bookmakers by the stamina of Japanese Oaks favourite Daring Tact and will have a small bet against her via Des Ailes with Damian Lane in the saddle. The favourite is unbeaten and did win the 1000 Guineas running on late, but her running style screamed speed to me and at odds on I would rather lose a couple of quid on my suggestion, though I will add the jolly to a short priced treble - just in case!
Maxfield 10.44pm Churchill Downs Saturday
Des Ailes 7.40am Tokyo Sunday
Exultant 9.05am Sha Tin Sunday
Maxfield, Exultant, and Daring Tact in the 7.40am Tokyo Sunday.