Category Archives: Punting

“They went to sea in a Sieve, they did…”

I used to enjoy a bit of Edward Lear as a kid and I had a nice illustrated version of his The Jumblies poem, which was one of my favourites (close-run thing with the Quangle Wangle that one).

Lear specialised in nonsense verse but as this first verse popped into my head this morning, I thought: well it’s not really nonsense at all, is it?

The Jumblies – Edward Lear

They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a winter’s morn, on a stormy day,
In a Sieve they went to sea!
And when the Sieve turned round and round,
And every one cried, `You’ll all be drowned!’
They called aloud, `Our Sieve ain’t big,
But we don’t care a button! we don’t care a fig!
In a sieve we’ll go to sea!’
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

*fires up the makemeadiva Sieve (note proper Noun) and goes to work*

Backronyms (or bacronyms)

These have been around formally since the 1980s and the definition is the re-interpretation of a word as an acronym, or the re-interpretation of word that is already an acronym (sometimes for humorous purposes).

An example of the first meaning would be Ford as in motor car, named after Mr Ford. The backronym might be Fix Or Repair Daily.

An example of the second would be FIAT which is an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, the backronym is more amusingly:
Fix It Again Tony.

I’d like to make up a few of my own, starting with Condem and moving onto NAP…

The A-Farce: One Punch

That’s what Audley Harrison threw for (by my approximation) £1.5 million in Manchester last night. His disinterest in actual boxing was eventually punished comprehensively in the third with a barrage of blows from Haye. I have also read somewhere that Harrison managed two jabs. I could not be sure if that’s the case without watching it again, but I am not interested in putting myself through that – once was enough. It was, without qualification, the worst fight I have ever seen. To all intents and purposes, Harrison did nothing. Oh, he did hold his gloves up a bit, in marked contrast to the victor who maintained an open stance.

Harrison simply did not show up. He insisted afterwards that there was a gameplan (to take it to the deep ends of the rounds) and that he didn’t get a chance to implement it. He also insisted that he “survived the count” and that maybe the ref had stopped it too soon. Audley, Fraudley, Audrey: that is pure bull.

Yet I wondered this, as we watched the broken man after embarrassing himself like a pussy: is Audley having a bubble? This is a man brought up in Harlesden, the meanest of streets. This is a man whose brother was a drug addict who died young. This man is more than the sum of the parts he brought to the bout. With no training at all, a kid hanging tough from the Stonebridge Estate could do a better job than the one Harrison came up with.

Haye said Harrison didn’t look him in the eye when they entered the ring. I suggest Audley was not even there. How about this? Harrison engaged with the hype, playing the game for the payday with no intention of seriously opening up and landing a blow. It’s not throwing a fight, it’s refusing to fight. You can’t be mentally broken if you don’t engage in the ring can you? The media this morning is full of Harrison’s humiliation, but what if he’s trained for that. Could you do that? Or did he really believe his own hype? Whatever, he’ll be back on the plane home to California with a lifetime’s earnings for some people and, in a delicious irony, perhaps the last laugh is on us.

Last Knockings?

Is what we are down to for the flat season that was 2010. Over the years, fans of flat racing have been frankly goaded by some of the die-hards in the jumps fraternity about the damp squib that our season sometimes goes out with. Not this year. We may not have had the midsummer excitement of a Sea the Stars, but we have had Workforce, we have had Goldikova and Paco Boy (who go again tonight in Kentucky) and the drama of Special Duty who liked to collect her races from the stewards’ room, but today the flat season is definitely going out with a bit of a *firework or two.

Today there is the final leg of Champion Jockey battle: Hanagan -v- Hughes, the latter being in arrears by two when they go under orders on Town Moor at 12.15 today and then, when the blood on the carpet has barely started to dry over that, we have the Breeders’ Cup tonight with the promise of Zenyatta and the possibility of Workforce completing an unique treble.

You can keep Cleeve Hill, this stuff is properly epic, if you have the imagination to appreciate it…

Zenyatta at the Breeders' Cup in Santa Anita 2008

*Firework (Katy Perry). First line “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag…” This gets the award for the world’s most execrable opening lyric. Trash it.

Gamblers Anonymous

I’ve been thinking about our Chancellor. Imagining him as this great gambler that the opposition suggest he is. He doesn’t fit though. I can’t see him round the paddock. I can’t see him chucking a few quid on a favourite as the money pours in for it as they go down. I can’t see him siding with an outsider at a huge price in the manner of the great speculators. I’ve looked at the dog track too. Is George hanging around with a big pie and bag of money? No, I look hard, he’s just not there. If he does fit a gambling profile it would only be one of those who do the football sheets the bookies print up for a Saturday. Playing the long game, looking at everything in the round. Waiting for a whole afternoon to see where you stand. That’s pretty bloodless (but probably smart) stuff to me. Our George is no gambler.

Anyway, that’s enough thinking about him. What I was going to say was: one of the upsides of never sticking at anything for more than five minutes before now is that I have managed to work in most job sectors: voluntary, now snazzily titled The Third Sector, the private and now the public. On the way, I have managed to pick up at least three pension policies (one of which I have lost, but after yesterday I’m not going there) and I wonder if what I am saying is that with experience of working for charities, investment banks and education (whilst also having a whirl in retail, administration and dog-walking) can I see all sides of the Spending Review? Certainly I have no final salary pension to cloud my vision and when I do the maths of half a million public sector jobs to go against many more to potentially be created in the private sector I wonder if it is all as bad as I feel it might be.

I hate to admit it, but there is undoubtedly waste somewhere in the state. It’s just I’ve never seen it or delivered it. My neighbour over the road works in the Youth Service. The next-door neighbour has left a trade to teach the trade, in my own house we work in education and social housing. None of us are larging it. When I worked in the investment banks it was hard work, it was long hours, but the fiscal rewards were considerable and when you left the office you could switch off. The work I do now cannot be left at the door, although you have to try. I can honestly say that the hardest work I have ever done has been in the public sector. Everything is target driven, quantified, quality assured, value-added. I cannot just point to all the students that always pass their qualifications as evidence of achievement, I have to measure their onward progression, their destinations, the signposting and support along the way. This isn’t peculiar to me, it is expected. Demanded. Bring the outside in say OFSTED, knowing full well this is the way to make learning stick but also aware it takes a lot more planning than a few worksheets, and don’t just do it – prove to us you do it. Evidence you’re doing it. Track you’re doing it and then measure your success and retention against targets (87% if anyone’s interested). All this in your hourly teaching rate. Oh yes. My colleagues and I are nothing if not value for money.

I’m not moaning (much). I like my job. I like it when people move on to jobs they thought would never be for them because we worked with them at some point in their journey. I like working with people who say they can’t do something and then find, actually, they can. Education can play part of the endless transformations people can have in their lives; it’s a bit addictive.

But I’m still thinking of becoming an entrepreneur. In the wake of these cuts, there will be job losses and if you stay in adult education what’s the point in walking with people down a road to a dead-end? Perhaps it won’t be that bad, perhaps the increase in funding for apprenticeships will help create jobs. I don’t know. What I do know is that the creativity and development skills you need to deliver against the skills for life curriculum for individual learners are exactly what you would need to create businesses and employ people. The advantage being the only boss of you is your profit and loss sheet. Maybe in the shorter term of predicted higher unemployment that’s what society needs. To survive the capitalist way (albeit with the pitiful 0.1% levy on banks’ balance sheets) maybe I’ll have to pretend to be one for a while.

Winston maybe, and probably a Dave

“Banged Out”

I started this other post about what I have to do in a week, partly because I thought it might help me to objectively assess if I was doing too much as my mother might put it. I have a work colleague who terms it being banged out which I think is as about as descriptive as it gets. Anyway, before I had even got off the subject of work, or onto the topics of motherhood, studying, exercising, dog-walking or blogging I felt tired. And a bit bored. The secret perhaps to keeping all those plates spinning on high poles in the circus of life is to never try and count them.

One plate that has definitely fallen off and smashed is the punting one. There is a time in every flat season when the horses go over the top, the ground goes and the results become ridiculously unpredictable (for me anyway). It is about this point, if you have any sense, you switch the jumps racing and start backing everything that Nigel Twiston-Davies trains until the end of November. Perhaps I have no sense, but a Saturday with no fixed plans (apart from lesson plans to write and assignments to start and a family to feed and interact with) just calls to me for a few last hoorahs before Champions Day next weekend.

Then when I start seriously thinking that Mick Channon’s Montaff might be a lively outsider at 50/1 in the heritage handicap at Ascot I realise that I myself have gone over the top mentally. The idea I had was that Johnny Murtagh is staying to ride this one when he could go home to Ireland after the preceding race, ergo there must be a good reason for this. I know this plan is flawed because last weekend he stayed ’til the last to ride a Fanshawe beast, Horse Chestnut, at HQ. This idea combined with the conkers in my handbag convinced me it was a done deal, although I also managed to cover the stake with a win bet on a Hamdan second-string that was second. The Horse Chestnut was nowhere. Never mind, the theory’s still a sound one and I’ll give it another whirl later. The other reason I can’t leave it alone is that Montaff has never run over 12f on the ground and I think both are perfect for him. Additionally, he’s had a break of 74 days. Channon rarely gives his horses a break, so either Montaff has been hopping around on three legs in the interim, in which case I am surprised Murtagh is bothering to ride, or they have been freshening him up. Coming into the same race off a 72 day break is the filly Tinaar who I was quite taken with in May. I’ll be giving her a second look too.

I think the best chance of the day belongs to Doc Hay in the 5f maiden at Wolverhampton. He’s being turned out quickly after running 6th over 6f at Windsor on Monday and Jamie Spencer is in the plate. He’s an expensive individual, the horse not Mr Spencer, and at 7/2 now it would seem a fair supposition that connections are expecting better this evening.

Finally there are the bumpers, maidens for the NH horses. I’ve looked at them all, the most interesting to me being the one at Hexham where there are various contenders with a chance. I suspect our winner will come from River Dragon, Lady Counsellor or one of the two sons of Old Vic: Cool Vic and Dunowen Point, but picking one might be difficult.

Finally at Bangor in the bumper I am going to take a chance in opposing a Jonjo/McCoy hotpot with a McCain horse Jessie Gwendoline. She’ll be carrying just over a stone less than the fav and might be a bit of value. Who knows? What I do know is that I am going to have to either walk down to the bookies with the dog later, or put some money back into my “lucky” online bookmaker Paddy Power because I have been embracing being wrong so very much lately.


This blog is now sponsored by:

When things aren’t going well I always find it useful to change the subject. So, whilst I may actually spend some time over soggy form in the week – I won’t be mentioning it. But I don’t want to change the subject on a completely bum note. We had some good races this weekend and it’s been fun, if not entirely financially rewarding.

I managed to take some pictures yesterday, one of my good winner Fury, so before I start blogging about, ooh I don’t know, X Factor or Strictly I will just post these up and get some “closure” on a big weekend of racing.

The roan/dun pony Fury, who was a facile winner

Sharp suits, tight fists and a Strawberry Daiquiri

My pin up: Seta not Kieren

She didn't win, but I still love her

Watching the Derby-winning former jockey watching them go down (minding the kids too)

My sponsor

The silver lining to Arc weekend


And now I’m going to read my Sunday paper. I may be a while.

Miracle Bobby turns Arc tipster

Here’s Bobby the Canary checking out the runners in today’s big race.

And he makes his choice

It’s a head-to-head here Miracle Bobby says Bekhabad. Makemeadiva says she’s not sure…

@Suffolk for the Cambridgeshire

I like this shot. I like to watch from the head-on stand, but whilst you can see the runners come into the dip from there, this photo gives a better sense of the camber they are dealing with. No wonder so many become unbalanced going into it.

I’ve had a look at the declarations, but with massive fields in the first two races and the ground going soft yesterday I couldn’t possibly pick anything out from those at the moment. I might be tempted by William Haggas’ Fury in the second if the paddock inspection offers some hope. In the Sun Chariot I would like to see Seta hack up, but she will only run if the ground is suitable according to Cumani. If she doesn’t run I will be back to banging my head on the Spacious door.

Big Saturday handicaps give me a rash. I managed to find the Cambridgeshire winner last year, Supaseus, in the paddock. A repeat performance is highly unlikely. I may have a closer look at the Irish raider Pires and Elliptical. Really I just want some fresh air and a day out…

Pavlovian Responses

This conditioning abounds in the animals in our house. Apparently, the cat starts tapping on the duvet after the first weekday alarm goes off about 5.30 am – the eerie light illuminating her fat tabby face. “Come on! Time to get up and feed me” she commands “I heard the alarm.”

When my alarm goes off about an hour later the dog starts what can only described as light shoving with claws, which reaches an urgency of whining and licking your face if you don’t jump out of bed forthwith. You would be forgiven for thinking he was desperate to go out and relieve himself, but I think he is more after the digestive biscuit.

Once we are out of bed the fish join in. What people in the room? Shoal attractively at the front of the tank in anticipation of fish flakes.

I also know of a house mouse down the road that is trained to a bell on the back door. If it hears the bell, it knows the door has been opened, and legs it back in. Now that’s clever.

So the weekend, where there are no bleeping alarms, throws the pets into confusion.
Am I on my second sleep? Is she ever going to vacate my pillow? Where is my biscuit? Their general restlessness and pacing and prodding gets you up anyway.

Pavlovian responses are not just confined to the animals round here either. Mine is: it’s Saturday so I’d better lose some money. At Ayr the Gold Cup that features 20+ runners over 6 furlongs, where being drawn high helped yesterday, the going changed overnight and at least half of them are trained by forked tongue Dandy Nicholls, has my response wavering though. So no Ayr for me; I’ll lose it in Berkshire instead on The Paddyman in the Mill Reef. Or maybe I’ll bundle it all up and throw in Hawkeyethenoo to make it a proper Saturday experience. I’m salivating already.

Rudi in Ireland - daggers @ the poodle