It seems pretty rare that I strike it lucky on the article front with my weekly moan invariably a separate issue to the weekend’s racing, but this week we have a double whammy with the Shergar Cup on Saturday at Ascot the weekend highlight – and the bane of every racing scribe’s life at the same time.
In brief, I am getting on a bit and I am stuck in my ways a lot more than the next generations, I like horse racing old style, not these new-fangled team events that are designed to attract newcomers to the sport, which I do not object to at all, but are nightmares to solve or comment on, and seem a novelty too far in my view.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, we have four teams of three jockeys each adding points for their final finishing positions to see who lifts the trophy at the end of the day.
Great Britain and Ireland v Europe v Rest Of The World v The Girls does have a marketing ring to it, and I can certainly see the appeal of watching the best jockeys in the World in action from a spectators perspective, but what a nightmare for the punters.
Jockeys who either do not know the track or have less experience than the “locals”, are put on horses they have never ridden in a race before, and better still, in a handicap as well where the varying weights make it all the more difficult to try and find a winner. Add team tactics which are the big unknown quantity and we have excitement, fun, and unpredictability which all sound very good – until you come to having a bet of course.
If I had my way then betting would be restricted to teams and not horses, but it isn’t and I can already hear the bookmakers rubbing their hands with glee.
I have already written previews for all of the races elsewhere and even received an apology for being given the meeting which tells me I am not the only one, and worse still, as the televised meeting of the day it is the one most will be losing their money on.
For our suggestions this week I am off to Newmarket instead where John Gosden sends Frankie Dettori to ride Pennywhistle in the Group Three Sweet Solera Stakes at 3.45pm and I am easily led enough to take that as a big hint.
The Iffraaj filly won her second start over this course and distance when given a fabulous educational ride by Robert Havlin and if she improves again for that, as expected, she may well be able to add this to her CV though Main Edition is a very dangerous rival.
The rest of the card looks tricky and any further rain will make it a punter minefield, but I do hear good things about the unraced Shambolic, who makes her debut in the opener at 2.00pm over seven furlongs.
A daughter of Shamardal out of a Be My Chief mare, she is related to a very long list of previous winners and bred to notch a few herself. She may well stay middle distances next season but has enough pace in her pedigree to suggest she can take this and with Robert Havlin riding, she has a solid chance if nothing else on a difficult day.
Sean’s Suggestions for Saturday
Shambolic 2.00pm Newmarket
Pennywhistle 3.45pm Newmarket