Monthly Archives: October 2009

Halloween

Is, to my mind, a revolting US import designed to get entirely on my nerves and turn the kids into complete monsters seeking their next sugar rush.

Lucky then, that I am going out.

I wanted to get away from baking and birthdays today so I could better concentrate on the main b in life – betting.  Yet again though I am struck down by the curse of Saturday, too many cards and not enough time.  I started looking at them yesterday in the hope of stealing a march on the rest of you, but there is just too much.  Newmarket has some enormous fields with some nice quality and then the jumps have the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and some jumping action at Ascot.  Added to all that, the football fan has ants in his pants because the Arsenal face the old enemy at lunchtime and he will be hideously encumbered with kids for the day.  So I am going to have make this snappy!

The Charlie Hall Chase is an historic sort of race but lately it suffers from being run at Wetherby.  It seems to have had smallish fields over the last few years, so the recent  negative publicity surrounding the ground conditions and fatalities have not necessarily a factor in today’s field of 5 going to post.  Paul Nicholls writes in today’s Post that he would like it moved – not because of the track but because he would like better ground – which more or less amounts to the same thing.  I wonder if he has the BHA’s ear to that extent? 

I can’t tell you anything you can’t work out for yourself in today’s race really.  I would love Ollie Magern to take this following his wins in 2005 & 2007.  Racing is full of cliches but I defy anyone to watch Ollie Magern in his first race of the season and not fully understand the term “spring-heeled”.  When on song (which is in the Charlie Hall Chase for the last 3 years, 2nd last year under a 10lb penalty!) there is no more delightful chaser to watch.  He just makes you feel glad to be alive.  Unfortunately, there is not a lot of this lad and these front-running, early season debuts seem to take their toll, so if you are an Ollie backer catch him now whilst he’s hot.

Others are for Tamarinbleu who also goes well fresh and yet more think Evan Williams’ Deep Purple may be the one with more to come in the field.  Deep Purple is certainly an interesting contender, some think he won’t stay, but race comments suggest he wasn’t stopping over 2 and a half last year.  Personally I think this track and the distance are not going to be ideal for him, we know Evan Williams has a good track record in this race with State of Play, but he was a Hennessy winner and more of a staying type.  Snoopy Loopy is lumping the top-weight and Michael Hourigan sends over Church Island to complete the field.  On reflection, I think it is between Ollie and Tamarinbleu.  See, I can’t tell you anything you don’t already know!

In the John Smith Hurdle I am backing Fair Along (hopefully on song after a prep run in the Ces) and at Newmarket I am taking on the Godolphin hot favourite Prince Siegfried with a filly, Saphira’s Fire, who ran nicely over a touch too far lto and drops back to the optimum 10f this afternoon.  I also like Revered and Shaweel at HQ this afternoon, but I readily acknowledge that the wheels are starting to fall off my flat wagon at the fag-end of the season.

Good luck to those who are playing and please let Arsenal beat Happy Harry’s Halloween Hotspurs…

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Purely for luck you understand

 

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Hundred Acre Wood looks like this…

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Loo with a View

…in case you were wondering!

The actual turning of the number 40 did not go exactly as planned, but I can thoroughly recommend the place where we stayed!

In a Eeyoreish echo the eldest alreadyadiva dragged a found burst balloon on a string round with her and spent the afternoon trying to catch a koi carp or two with it!

Ups: Champagne, roasted chestnuts, apple wine, toasted marshmallows
Downs: Kids with dysentry, launderette, caravan park, various scorchings

Overall, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world x

Eeyore’s Birthday

May or may not be today, which would make him a Scorpio, like me – moody and introspective! Which is why I have retreated to Hundred Acre Wood for a quiet lie down whilst I turn 40 today. So you see, thanks to the wonders of modern online publishing and just to annoy James Murdoch, I am not actually online now -this is one I prepared earlier! In terms of birthday celebrations I was thinking along the lines of a burst balloon and empty jam jar, therein no disappointments, tears or tantrums…

Then when researching the image I wanted for today I came across Eeyore’s Birthday Party Yank-style, an annual festival fundraiser in Austin, Texas. Many of the images were a bit bare and body painted – nice. So I have a changed my plan a bit. Still the Hundred Acre Wood with the family, ditch the balloon, but as today is expected to be extraordinarily warm…

Photos to follow! In the meantime

My woodland retreat

My woodland retreat

Warren Buffett – “The Intelligent Investor”

WWWBD:WhatWouldWarrenBuffettDo?

I just watched a programme about this guy and have picked up some of his golden rules for investment success. As an aside, one of his staff said “he’s uncomfortable with most vegetables”. His daughter said she’d never seen him drink a glass of water. Following his rules has lead to him delivering 20% a year growth every year for decades with successful investments in businesses that include Coca-Cola, American Express and Walt Disney.

Think independently!
I like that one 🙂

Invest don’t speculate.
It’s not a gamble, he looks at the asset itself and its return – that doesn’t include the property price but the potential yield. To quote Buffett the “fundamental earning power of the asset”. Additionally deal in what you are capable of understanding, in something with durability, in management with integrity and talent and remember nothing is worth an infinite price!

You don’t have to diversify
-stick with what you know.

The market is there to serve you not instruct you

Be a business owner

Allocate capital efficiently
Take the profits from one business and invest it in another…

Don’t get into debt

Break your own rules
I major in that

Give it away
$31 billion has gone to Bill Gates’ Foundation

So following the Buffett model I will be studying the form, betting only on handicaps, not following the market blindly, keeping in mind this pearl when looking at terrible races “don’t try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, it’s difficult enough to make it out of silk”, re-investing the profits into the next race and giving it all to charity when I croak.

Consumption

No I haven’t got TB! I did make a to-die-for damson tart thing but the stoning didn’t go too well. I managed to poke out four stones with a skewer but the intact damson to waste ratio was about 1:5 and it was too depressing. I googled the problem but what I needed was a cherry stoner. I have never heard of one, let alone seen one – so I took the pragmatic approach and cooked them in all their good potential-for-choking-on-a-stone glory. Truly delicious! Fortunately trying not to crack teeth on a stone was only a minor inconvenience. I did wonder what Michel Roux would have had to say about it though…

Anyway, I woke up this morning with stuff on my mind.

and

except that I think both are wrong.

What made me think of it was the news that some thinktank are proposing that there should be more environmental taxes , basically rising from about 7% (of total taxation I presume) to around 30% in the future. Maybe I am missing something, but would not a more effective solution be to consume a lot less, rather than pay through the nose to consume more? The whole economy seems underpinned on excessive consumption yet technology offers a way to consume with less impact. Take for instance the whole BBC online content argument and the fact that the daily newspapers are struggling to make ends meet. This industry and discussion reminds me of nothing more than old stags (with bits of fur hanging off) clashing antlers somewhere on a wild moor. Do the kids buy papers, I don’t think they do. They are happy to get their “news” online, onphone, onthebus, or wherever they are. Whilst the Press Barons bemoan their lot, the rest of the world are getting on with consuming information without the need for using paper and oil in production and distribution, and like dinosaurs (sorry to mix the animal similes and metaphors) they and their paper-based news need to either evolve (and fast) or become extinct.

I know that this is not a terribly fully-formed thought but it’s mine and I needed to pop it out there before I could “carry on”!

P.S. The Liverpool fan came out of the cupboard under-the-stairs in time to take his place at Anfield yesterday. The vacancy was swiftly filled by the Gooner, who is sobbing like a baby as I type.

They shall remain nameless

They shall remain nameless

Damsons

In an attempt to portray myself as a wholesome mothering type of person, as opposed to a shambolic, scruffy and lately unsuccessful punter, we have been baking.

This week we did banana cake, with pecans instead of walnuts, and lemon and raspberry muffins. The banana cake was nice but the kids refused to eat it unless it was raw in the bowl, or hot. The muffins lasted barely 24 hours.

I have a bag of damsons in the freezer that need some form of processing and they are my half-term culinary project – I expect the defrosting and stoning will take until about Wednesday. When we reach that happy point I have a Nigel Slater spelt flour and ground almond recipe in mind.

I expect we’ll also be carving pumpkins and watching Fantastic Mr Fox (thankfully by Wes Anderson and not the ubiquitous Pixar), so all in all autumn’s not a bad place to be, providing it doesn’t rain too much in East Sussex…

Mr Fox, probably stoning damsons

Mr Fox, probably stoning damsons

The BNP

Are, as far as I can follow, a party that aims to represent the white “underclass” we have succeeded in developing over the last 3 decades. The white underclass interest me from a professional point of view because, leaving aside any political proclivities they think they may have, they are hugely under-represented in the learning community we work with, develop and reach out to. I can say from my own personal experience working in Community Outreach for 3 years there is no tougher nut to crack than the second or third generation of unemployed, living on an estate, white male or female. They are simply not interested. There is a culture of “needs” and “entitlement” that are there to be met by statutory services but the notion that one might think beyond that for self or ones children seems entirely alien.

These people are not bad necessarily, I make no particular judgement, but I do think that the BNP has positioned its rancid little being to perpetuate this notion of what a country owes the “indigenous” population. To me, what is owed to the individual, is a two-way street. Entitlement comes with responsibility, offering one without expecting the other leads to dependence, lack of empowerment and a warped view of the world. It also means you cannot take your place in the community or wider world, rather that you have to stay safe and stick with your own kind in the few places you are familiar with.

No wonder then, that incomers are viewed with suspicion and fear; responses that can then charge down the road of hate and loathing when your perception is that you are entitled and “they” are not. In steps Nick Griffin, and his merry band of racists, to feed your demons and offer half-baked “policy” to make you feel better about your own limited and, to my mind, sorry life.

Evidently the BNP have over a million people minded to vote for them when they can, but there is no future for this party. They are too late, the world has moved on. The race of the British is not identifiable by a cursory glance at someones skin. In short I don’t believe that the BNP are sustainable as a political party. Sure they will probably always be around on the fringes, but in terms of the mainstream political process there are too many of us and too few of them. What it means though is that whilst they exist and whisper into people’s ears, playing on their inadequacies and fears I will never be able to talk to those same people about the alternatives. That’s what I find sad.

The Racing Post Trophy – the final cut

with apologies if you stumbled upon the half-cocked version I meant to save to drafts earlier!

It’s this Saturday at Doncaster and is the race for 2yos that affects the ante-post Derby market having produced Authorized and Motivator in previous years.

This year the buzz is about St Nicholas Abbey, Elusive Pimpernel and Co-ordinated Cut and I suppose I should also mention Al Zir. I must confess I’ve not seen this quartet in the flesh but I am not overly persuaded on paper by any of their chances. This may be because I made my mind up last week who I was backing! I didn’t want to do a “I want that one” post though, so in the name of impartial research (impartial is my word of the week) I had a RP Trophy summit with an RP journo for the inside track…

We discussed the Ballydoyle St Nicholas; might be undone by a fast pace if it is not riding too soft.
Co-ordinated Cut; lacking in experience and unless quite special not what we think of as a winner.
Elusive Pimpernel; I said we should ignore the jockey’s comments about not swapping his horse blah, blah. Al Zir; I actually prefer the chances of the second string Buzzword.

So then we cut to the chase and discussed our joint favourite, available at 14/1 at the moment. Which was lovely in one way because someone agrees with you and is bad in another – it means you may both have fallen under the same spell. This is a common spell that afflicts punters, the one cast by bad fairies, which hoodwinks you into blindly backing losers until all that is left in your pocket is some lint. I don’t think this is the case with Shakespearean though. We saw him at the July meeting (I backed him there and got a third I think behind Silver Grecian, which my co-conspirator tipped and backed!) and agreed he was a grand galloping sort who took a while to get going and wanted a bit further than the 7f on offer that afternoon. He then went on and won over a stiff 7 at Sandown before winning a brave race at the Curragh over 8 by a short head.

So I can worry that that victory in a very valuable sales race has taken it out of him and I can worry that the ground going too soft will not suit. Or I can think positive and consider that his experience of big races, apparent mental fortitude and impressive physique will stand him in good stead over the straight mile. Although these horses are still 2yos we are essentially, unlike at the beginning of the season, looking for that horse most like a 3yo now in body and spirit.

Of course it is impossible to say exactly without seeing them all on the day, fortunately my man on the inside can do just that from the paddock, so I can test the theory. Soft ground could undo my lad, but at this stage 14/1 is a nice each way bet.

A wildcard if the ground comes up soft or worse would be Brian Meehan’s Dancing David, but I can’t articulate why, so maybe ignore me! I expect you do anyway 🙂

Joe Fanning & Shakespearean last time out - he looks bloody knackered though...

Joe Fanning & Shakespearean last time out - he looks bloody knackered though...

He had a hard race didn’t he…

Truth be told, I am a little worried about that, but I won’t be backing anything else.

I am heartily grateful

that I can observe most sporting action in a BBC-type “impartial” manner, for if I cared too much about all of the delights offered I would have long since died of a cardiac arrest.

If I was an Arsenal supporter then I would have been gnashing my teeth last night and if I was a Liverpool fan by now I would be locked in the cupboard under the stairs refusing to come out until they had a) managed to win a game b) sacked Senor Jellybean Benitez.

What the Man Utd fans make of their manager’s latest hissy fit at the press, who knows. To me he most definitely belongs in the pantomime of Cinderella, certainly as Griselda – an ugly sister. His sibling could be – well anyone from the Prem really.

Then there’s Jenson. He drove an elegant and dashing sort of race in Brazil, particularly given the dismal qualifying session. It was great that we have a another British F1 Champion. Great for about 24 hours until he arrived back here and went to Bluewater. Bluewater! That’s not what champions are meant to do is it? Pop into John Lewis for some pillow cases. Come on Jenson you can do better than that!

So to conclude, the makemeadiva panto cast looks like this so far:-

Cinders

Cinders

The Fairy Godmother

The Fairy Godmother

Griselda

Griselda

Anastasia

Anastasia

If I were going for the Disney version I would still be looking for the evil cat, Buttons, Prince Charming and some mice…

Maps

I like a map. I can’t be doing with some computerised woman telling me which way to go in my own car. No thanks, I’ll stick with a map, some pig-headed perserverance and the sure knowledge that if a map says it exists then it does, no matter how long it takes me to find it.

One of my sisters will tell the tale of “catching” me reading the A-Z of London at bedtime. I wouldn’t say I was reading it as such but I was certainly looking at its pages. This was years ago, but if push had ever come to shove I reckon I could have taken the Knowledge.

Now the Other End of the Sofa has accused me similarly. This time of reading a map on Google. Why? he wanted to know.

Because, I said, maps are always the same. Things don’t move on maps. I can look at one and remind myself of where places are, or I can look at one and find out where places I haven’t been yet are. They stay the same, they don’t mess me about and they are never boring.

I didn’t also say it’s either look at a map of East Sussex or watch the television, and frankly in a head-to-head between Keith Allen scrubbing the floor and a bit of Ordnance Survey there’s no contest.

Here be dragons

Here be dragons