It’s another cool morning with rain forecast for the weekend. I think it will stay dry most of the day and it looks as if Cheltenham will get away without a drop of rain this year. We are a bit short on the ground this morning in the yard, and it is all hands to the pump once again. It didn’t help when a load of hay arrived at 8.30, so a couple of lads were summoned from the stud. It was all off and stored away in double quick time, so thanks to everybody. Team work is always the best way. We have been cantering close to home once again and all has gone well. I must say the horses are eating really well, which is always a good sign and I have thoroughly enjoyed feeding them this last month or so. However, at times, especially when I have got other things to do, like coverings and foaling, it has got a bit tiring. In fact I don’t know how Angie and I are still walking about this week as Angie has done all the work with the foal that needed a foster mother and fed it every hour since Sunday. The new foster mother arrived yesterday, a piebald mare, and they have bonded very well. I will get some pictures of them over the weekend.
Our runners didn’t run too badly once again last night, two seconds and a sixth. Bracken Brae, I think I ran her back a bit too quickly, but she still ran a very sound race. I will give her a short break now, get her freshened up and may even give her a run over hurdles on better ground. Hold Firm I definitely ran back too quickly. I could still run him off his old mark following his wins even though he had been reassessed and gone up the handicap quite a bit and with his last win being an apprentice race, he didn’t carry a penalty.
He still ran reasonably well though, to be beaten only two and a half lengths and the race was certainly not run to suit him. Gee Sixty Six finished a good second and looks like all the family in that he needs a mile and half plus, on a good galloping track. I was very pleased with how he settled and he looks like an exciting prospect for the turf season ahead.
We have one runner today at Lingfield in the 2.25 with Indian Red having his third run. I think it will be very similar to last night’s maiden in that there is one or two in here that are quite good and we will just have to see what happens. He has given a bit of trouble at the stalls before, but is much better since having a course with Yarmi here at Newmarket. I just hope for a good run. He is another great big horse with tons of scope and we have got something to look forward to. It was good to see a horse sired by Sir Percy winning this week at the Festival as this horse has the size and shape to progress along those lines.
It’s the last day of the Festival and it’s great to see class come to the fore both in training, riding and the tipping competition. “You can never keep a good man down” is the saying, but “this sport can tame lions” is another so I won’t be crowing too much just yet. Our in house bookmaker, Ian, who did work for a bookmaker for 12 years, is very good at settling up by hand and will publish full results on Monday. Our tips for today are below.
1.30 Soldier In Action 2.10 Diego Du Charmil 2.50 Wholestone 3.30 Djakadam 4.10 On The Fringe 4.50 Battleford 5.30 Le Prezien
1.30 Master Blueyes 2.10 Vosne Romanee 2.50 Death Duty 3.30 Outlander 4.10 Sweet As A Nut 4.50 Dadsintrouble 5.30 Theinval
Rebecca’s tip of the day
Rebecca has chosen IRISH CAVALIER in the 3.30, The Gold Cup. Her stake is £5 each way.
Phil on Friday
This sounds like heresy, but Sir Peter O’Sullevan’s standing as the best racing commentator of them all is under threat.
When Sir Peter died in 2015 one obituary said he had “raised the quality of commentating on horse races to a new and unparalleled level of excellence”. During his 49 years behind the microphone he was awarded the OBE, the CBE, and, in the year he retired, he received his knighthood.
How can anyone compete with that?
Well, the latest breed of commentators probably can, in my opinion (humble though it is, coming from someone who wouldn’t have a clue where to start).
Consider Richard Hoiles’ performance at Cheltenham this week. He is nothing short of brilliant. In fact the whole ITV team is doing an outstanding job – in particular Ed Chamberlin, Alice Plunkett and Matt Chapman, who has easily surpassed John McCririck in their own particular, peculiar field. Add in the great A. P. McCoy and Mick Fitzgerald, who are able to communicate with us lesser mortals on our own level, a good helping of humour, and you have a huge success on your hands. Well done ITV, I say. Superb!
I am old enough to recall the days of Raymond Glendenning who commentated for BBC radio on just about any sport going. It was all radio in those days - television had been invented (I’m not that old, but we couldn’t afford a set) and as well as horse racing he covered football, notably the cup finals between 1946 and 1963, the Olympics, boxing, greyhound racing, even show jumping. That’s versatility for you.
On the evening before a big race he would hand-paint on to a piece of card the colours to be carried by every horse so he could be sure he was calling the right one. Richard Hoiles probably doesn’t do that – how he copes I simply don’t know.
Inevitably, over the years there have been some almighty broadcasting slip-ups, none more so than when Mirabel Topham, who owned Aintree, engaged in a copyright dispute with the BBC and decided to appoint her own team of untrained commentators. It was an unmitigated disaster. Among other mistakes, and between long periods of silence, they had the eventual winner, Teal, falling at the first fence.
There had been much wrangling between Mrs. Topham and the BBC well before the event, and a few days ahead of that infamous broadcast, when the matter was still unresolved, it was raised in the House of Commons. The Assistant Postmaster General was asked about the cost of “installing, testing and preparing lines and apparatus” in anticipation of a BBC request should the corporation win the argument. “The preliminary work at Aintree in preparation for a broadcast is about £12, which will be paid by the BBC”, was the reply. No wonder it all went wrong for the amateurs. They probably didn’t even have that level of expensive technological luxury.