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Lovely Estimate

I break into my Delhi doings to note something rather lovely has happened at Ascot this afternoon. The Queen has won the Gold Cup, the great stamina test of the five day meeting. Not only has she never won this race before today, she is the first reigning monarch to ever win it. It’s not an easy race to win. None of them are at Ascot. And this is the best bit – she won the race with a mare on her seventh start ever. The mare, with little enough experience, running the furthest she’s even been in a race in her life, beats the boys. And wait for this, she didn’t just beat the boys, she rallied to beat the boys, Simenon who came second, by a neck. She rallied. Simenon came fast and furious at her and she came back at him to win. Now that’s something worth writing about.

The name of this mare is Estimate and she is trained by Sir Michael Stoute. The jockey up was Ryan Moore. Now, I have had my differences with Sir Michael Stoute but after hearing him on the radio this morning, on the Radio 4 Today programme, I was ready to bury the hatchet. He spoke in warm terms of both the horse and owner. I felt myself soften to the man (after about ten years!). Estimate’s win seals it. He has done a good job with her, and more importantly, he will have given a great supporter of the game, an old lady, who happens to be the Queen, an absolutely sterling day out. Life isn’t easy when you’re older, the weak need not apply as the saying goes. I am no great monarchist by any means, but you can’t say the Queen hasn’t worked her socks off over her lifetime. I bet there are a thousand things she’d rather not have done, but got on with them. A win in the Gold Cup at Ascot must be a right tonic for her.

I didn’t have a bet and I am saving the replay for later, but in a world of depressing old news, a picture of a happy horse owner with her victorious mare is also a bright spot in my blogworld. The Racing Post has the best picture on the web at the moment, worth a click through for touching horse and owner moment.

Estimate and her owner after winning the Queen’s Vase last year

Black Caviar

I was answering a question from Mr D. Burger at the weekend on the Grand National comments about greatest racehorses, and I mentioned this super-sprinting mare, Black Caviar, to come out of Australia.

Actually, she is yet to come out of Australia, where she is 12 wins from 12 good races, but I hope she travels over here and we get to see her blasting the 5 furlongs of the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

After Saturday’s gruelling 4 and a half miles at Aintree, I think there’s a lot to be said for a spin over the minimum trip before going home again to kick back in your stable.

I tell you, it is not much of an exaggeration to say that when I get back to a real-life flat meeting, I might have to drop to my knees and kiss the turf.

I really hope the blog can host the picture on an ongoing basis. Check out the source at this site which has more fantastic photos, the first being another one of this mare.

Dereliction & Decay

Is never desirable, but both are an intrinsic part of the cycle of life. Sometimes painful and unpleasant to look at, but ultimately strengthening and renewing. I could mention the ultimate decay, I won’t, but in my mind it all fits in.

Grey mare Laddies Poker Two hits the track today after 610 days off the track. That’s not a world cruise, it’s being laid up with a setback. Noseda has brought back a previously derelict animal, Soldier’s Tale to win the Golden Jubilee three years ago. Can he bring back this mare strong enough to win the Wokingham this afternoon? How much more of a training achievement, a measure of patience and endurance in the face of adversity is that?

As for the parallel in football, it is painful to watch the dereliction of a national side, but how patient are we. How willing are we to accept that turning to ash in Cape Town is part of the process and how much do we and the media impede the process. I don’t know, but on the evidence thus far English football will not be much of a phoenix this time around.

Prettier to look at

But more interesting?

Advance Excuse No. 1 (blame the manufacturer)

If things don’t go our way later this evening, or next week, or indeed thereafter let’s blame this:

A bad workman blames his tools?

Fabio says it’s like playing with a *boiled egg. Stevie G says it’s hard to control off the ground. Best hoof it then lads.

Before that excitement we are in Day 4 in Berkshire. Timepiece remains my best result so far, yesterday was a bit of a Royal washout. Today I am commending the chances of a couple of nags, but I don’t know which ones yet…

Watch out for the update.

*I think that’s what he said, he’s a bit of a mumbler.


I had this in my email last night:

Dear Jessica,

Congratulations. Our Money Back Second has clicked which means we’re giving you your money back.

That’s right, your bet lost but you’re not losing out. We just want to be loved and since we can’t turn up on your doorstep with a guitar, a badly written love song and a cheap bottle of sparkling wine we’re refunding your losing stake instead.

Don’t forget, we offer Money-Back Specials all the time. So if this hasn’t happened to you before, start getting used to it.

Love from Paddy Power xxxx

Ok, I lie. Paddy didn’t send me kisses or love, but he did wish me luck and give me some dough back. The site is a pain, slow and doubly annoying when it crosses over to the really tiresome and inefficient in running mode, but because I can never seem to entirely empty the account by losing the lot I take the view he is lucky and I am stuck with him.

So, today Paddy I’d like to take your best prices about the following horses and if it’s all the same to you if you could fix it for me to have an actual winner I’d be grand.

Strawberrydaiquiri (finally I give up on Spacious when she will probably win)
Cavalryman (or Twice Over or both, can’t decide)
Meow (Neeeow?)

Dick Turpin – please not second for a third time!

Today is the first day of Royal Ascot. I am not predisposed to like it, having been delayed for hours once in a traffic jam, on my way to Camberley. I was not driving, I was about six, but it scarred me for life, gave me a horror of traffic and only a lukewarm enthusiasm for the pomp and circumstance that accompany the best race meeting of the year.

If only they weren’t so picky about their dress rules I might go, but I especially don’t like being told what to wear, and the thought of some awful fag hag from the BBC picking one out as a total plonker is not really my idea of fun. And where there is a forest of ladies hats, there will be a load of inefficient punters underneath them, generally getting in my way whilst they blunder over their bets asking for so and so “either way” as I heard more than once at the Oaks.

I’m all for widening racing audience and of course everyone has to start somewhere, but if they can’t explain the offside rule and the terms of a placepot on the gate people should be gently waved to the nursery enclosure to learn the error of their ways.

Anyway I won’t be going, but I have a staking plan: Lucky 15s all the way for me.

Top of the list is Dick, again. Call me a typical England fan: I live in hope more than expectation

Dick Turpin – surely taken to confirm his superior form over CC. Backstory features Dicks I & II trying to get him to go for the 7f Jersey. Strongly suspect, as in the 2000 Guineas, owner has stood firm and insisted he take his chance over the mile. I hope he is vindicated.
Kingsgate Native – Has the Oz sprinters to overcome but I would be hopeful Stoutey could work the oracle
Paco Boy – Goldikova and Rip VW rate the dangers, but he’s my favourite, it’s that simple.
Metropolitan Man – A Yank, can hit the gates better than our two year olds

Black Bess

Royal Ascot – Golden Jubilee Stakes

The meeting goes out with a bang tomorrow – the 6f Group 1 sprint. In days not so long ago everyone was obsessed with the draw, but since the track’s redevelopment things seem a bit fairer although there were some mutterings about low draws (I think) after the King’s Stand winners have been coming from across the track. Obviously any slight draw bias will be exacerbated in sprint races but apart from at Chester I don’t worry too much.

My old favourite Takeover Target is withdrawn with a temperature. Get well soon matey and I really hope to see you at the July Meeting. That leaves (of the really overseas raiders) Sacred Kingdom (HK), JJ the Jet Plane (SAF) and Cannonball (USA). The papers are all favouring JJ over SK on recent form, but a quick blast at Windsor does not overly convince me I am afraid. SK has been supplemented for the race and if you fancy it strongly it might be advisable to take a price early, there have been whispers that punters in Hong Kong will weigh in and smash the price if they find their local hero available at the current 11/4 (jf along with JJ).

I’ve ridden my luck this week and this sprint looks tricky to me. Kingsgate Native is returning after a failed stud career but having seen him last year, completely wired and over the top at the July Cup, I wonder how Michael Stoute will have fared in getting him settled again for the rigours of racing. I like the horse an awful lot but he’s been messed around, no question and how long it takes to get over that I wouldn’t like to say. Luca Cumani has an unknown quantity with a funny name running too, all of which I will observe with interest (after the fact because I will in all likelihood be out).

The other overseas raider Cannonball was doing all his best work in the final furlong of the King’s Stand and I have no doubt he is a better 6f horse than a 5. His American jockey Velaquez has left the building allowing the most able Olivier Peslier to take the ride. Peslier has an excellent record in this country and I would be surprised if they couldn’t at least take a place.

So, my top three for the Golden Jubilee are 1) Sacred Kingdom 2) JJ the Jet Plane 3) Cannonball or 3) 2) vice versa! I don’t know to be honest… Definitely favour SK above the others though.

Without sight of them it would be hard to back Kingsgate Native, but as a course and distance winner I might play at ew odds. Then Ialysos, Bushranger and Strike the Deal are of interest. It’s one of those days when you need to be there to check them out!

Oh and not to forgot Young Mick, who goes at 5.00 in the King Edward Stakes, dangerously well handicapped if operating anywhere near the top of his game. It seems like only yesterday he hosed in at 33/1 in the same race 🙂

I am going to my first polo match tomorrow with the family – unfortunately it is in Newmarket and the temptation to pull into the July course for the afternoon meeting with two nice maiden races is going to be very strong…

Sacred Kingdom - looks a bit of a bull, interesting angle, note the sweat under the saddlecloth

Sacred Kingdom - looks a bit of a bull, interesting angle, note the sweat under the saddlecloth

Royal Ascot – Coronation Stakes – take three Guineas winners…

For some this is the race of the week. Take three classic winners (3 yos prone to rapid improvement at this time of the year remember!) from England, Ireland and France, over the mile in Royal Berkshire this afternoon and the winner will surely deserve to be promoted from mere Guineas Princess and crowned Queen of Europe.
That analogy doesn’t quite work if say, Rainbow View or another not in the Guineas triumvirate prevail, but let’s not worry about minor details!

I am fascinated to see who takes this. It is pretty difficult to call frankly, especially once again in a paper-based exercise. I am going to look at them in the paddock (on’t telly) and see what takes me then. My morning line thoughts are this. I favour the French filly Elusive Wave and Ghanaati over the Irish Again and between those two I think Ghanaati looks to have a bit more raw speed in the pedigree which may prove decisive. The Racing Post has tipped up John Oxx’s Baliyana who has been supplemented for this but I just don’t agree.

Gun to head I will stick with the Giants Causeway girl Ghanaati, but my enthusiasm is somewhat tempered by the ever-present danger from Elusive Wave and the cribbers out to crab the 1000 Guineas.

Ghanaati my 33/1 Guineas Winner :-)

Ghanaati my 33/1 Guineas Winner 🙂

Elusive Wave - not sure theres much between the two...

Elusive Wave - not sure there's much between the two...

Yeats Day @ Ascot and a little grubby call to “Post ya bets!”

I am going to have a rest today from Ascot.  Of course it is all about the Gold Cup and Yeats’s attempt to lift an historic fourth victory over the mammoth 2 and half mile trip.  We all know the stories about his life and times and that of Geordieland who, having been called all manner of things canine in the past, has recently overcome his apparent hesitancy in overtaking the last rival in the home stretch – perhaps he thought he was playing football…  Then we have Patkai, the new pretender to the throne, but when all is said and done, none of them can match Yeats’s record over the trip and with less miles on the clock than some of his 8yo rivals I can’t see why he shouldn’t return to his imperious best this afternoon.

The market for the colour of the Queen’s hat has been formed around green @ 6/4, probably in a nod to the Irish writer’s bid.  Can we rely on her Maj to deliver at such short odds or will she turn herself over and turn up in a blue one?  Do I care?  Not much.  Except that, apart from the GC, it looks one of the easier puzzles on offer this afternoon.  I am not a great one for big handicaps so I wish all of you playing those today the best of luck in running and the draw!  On the matter of betting I read a joke this week that asked:

“Do the Royal Family bet at Ascot?”

“Only on the colour of the Queen’s hat and they claim that back on expenses…”

Tonight we have the inaugural meeting of Ffos Las, the new Welsh racecourse, sold out in advance!  I am sure it will last longer than the ill-fated Great Leighs, having borrowed only £4 million for the whole endeavour from the Levy Board over 7 years interest-free, to build the main stand.  Good luck in the first to AP McCoy on Ffos Las Diamond (owned by the gent who owns the track) and then again to AP on the heavy-topped Danehill Willy who started life as a sprinter(ish) winning at the July Meeting a few years ago and now making his debut over fences for the Welsh trainer Evan Williams.  The Welsh training contigent are well represented tonight and you cannot help but hope that the likes of Williams, Alison Thorpe and Peter Bowen have a cracking night.  There is also an Irish raider worth looking out for from Michael Hourigan’s yard – Turf War in the 6.50.

The last two days have seen me hitting the bar in betting terms.  I’ve made a profit, but I’ve missed the big payouts.  On Day 1 I had Paco Boy, Scenic Blast, Judgethemoment (because of the early money) and Delegator!  Delegator’s neck second cost me about £150 in the Unlucky 15.  Then yesterday I did this:

Brut, Vision D'etat, Moneycantbuymelove, Ouqba

Brut, Vision D'etat, Moneycantbuymelove, Ouqba

One winner, on the wrong slip - Spacious

One winner, on the wrong slip - Spacious

Sorry the quality is not so clear. I think I’ve earned a rest! Back tomorrow…

Royal Ascot – Day 2 – one for Stoute?

I can’t get too heavily involved tomorrow as I am working but I will first review today quickly, for my own records.  Clearly I was right to not trust Gladiatorus.  I was sorry to see Alexandros sweat up between the back legs down at the start although he looked in amazing condition.  He did not give his running at all and I expect he is due a break.  I would expect and hope to see him back not before the QE11 Stakes in the autumn.  On the other hand I was more than happy to see Paco Boy’s win.  It was quite emotional and all with Richard Hughes sticking  up for his lad agin the stamina doubters.  You have to say though, given that he drifted right in the closing stages, that he would want no further!

Scenic Blast was excellent and Fleeting Spirit ran into a right one on the day.  Willie Carson said Scenic had too much white on his face for a thoroughbred but Willie, we don’t care when they run like that (I like it personally as it adds character in a sea of bay)!  Being from a Sadlers Wells line you have to think that there is a way of training sprinters down under that has been perfected!  Canford Cliffs who ran away with Coventry is now as short as 8/1 for the Guineas – don’t take that price!  If he wins the Guineas I’d be very surprised indeed.  No doubt he is as his rider reports “a freak” but a 2yo freak doesn’t always win the Guineas.  He’s also by Tagula who to my knowledge is not in the habit of producing classic winners.

So tomorrow…  Well it’s a head scratcher for me.  We’ve a couple of horses up who the blog has already been keen on before, namely Spacious in the Windsor Forest and Ouqba in the Jersey.  Getting  my fingers a bit burnt on Delegator today has left me a bit wary of repeat backing in the case of previous disappointment, although in fairness the little lad ran his heart out.  Spacious is a bit of a funny one – I saw her at the Guineas last year and was convinced she wanted 10f but she she only placed 4th in her one attempt at that trip.  I still would like to see her again over 10f and reluctantly I will have to leave her alone over the mile tomorrow, despite the fact that with her being turned out again so quickly after Epsom we can take her wellbeing as read.  This will have to be a no bet race for me.  Lush Lashes will head the market but with Stoute’s Heaven Sent and Fabre’s Proviso also in the running I am going to have to put my hands up and say I don’t know.

The opening race the Jersey Stakes is like a horse carousel – Richard Hills has got off his Guineas horse Ouqba to ride the likely fav Infiraad, both trained by his dad Barry so we’d have to think he knows what he’s doing.  Dettori has hopped off Donativum, who won the Breeders Cup Juvenile last year, to hop back on Ashram, who he got off in the Guineas.  Are you with me still?  Richard Hughes is back on Instalment for Hannon and HRH The Queen – Pat Dobbs scored a gritty success on this one first time out this season over 6f.  He failed to cut any ice over 7f last year, but I am prepared to pay to find out if he will now improve over the extra furlong now he has had some bits cut off…

I do wonder if Dickie has got it wrong with Ouqba and I may have to back it anyway.

In the Prince of Wales’s Tartan Bearer is taken to justify market confidence.  Personally I would rather take a chance on Vision d’Etat but I don’t have a real strong feeling either way.

What I can suggest is a humble claiming race at Hamilton over 5f at 4.10!  David Barker’s Brut has been slipping down the handicap to a feasible mark and back at his favoured Scottish track with the downhill start he can slip the pack with Tony Hamilton and just hang on for victory 🙂

Brut @ Hamilton (with cheekpieces) courtesy of David Barker Racing

Brut @ Hamilton (with cheekpieces) courtesy of David Barker Racing