Well I do like to start with a bit of waffle, as you do, and I was lucky enough to head off to Wetherby on Wednesday afternoon for their first meeting of the new jumps season.
The sun was shining, I was in the good company, and all in all I can recommend the track for the views of both the racing itself and the parade ring, both expansive), the cost of a racecard, £2.50 seems acceptable, the friendliness of the majority of the staff, and the price of the food, though sadly the owners and trainers fail to agree with me and we did have some ridiculously small fields to watch.
One loser and one winner later I left the track and I was very unpleasantly surprised to find no taxi rank, and just one of eleven local companies bother to answer the phone with a three hour delay to get a cab to my hotel – how do they cope on a major race day when the crowd would be in their thousands.
On to the weekend and I will admit to being anti Champions Day when it was first suggested, though it has grown on me over the years.
Four Group Ones will always attract the better horses though being in October the risk is the ground will be on the softer side so whether the winners are true Champions is open to some debate. This season we do have the usual list of top class contenders and just for a change I am going to try to go thought the card barring the handicap that ends proceedings, so here we go!
1.25pm Stradivarius – THE top stayer bar none and impossible to oppose, rubbish price though and not as impressive as expected last time out.
2.00pm Harry Angel – possibly the best sprinter in training when things go his way. No guarantees that will happen and a back to form Limato is a big danger but today could be his day.
2.40pm Lah Ti Dar – Every chance she will be the second John Gosden winner on the card and with a lot more to offer both this season and hopefully next. Lightly raced and sure to be an absolute picture in the paddock.
3.15pm Laurens – She has had a long hard season but she represents just about the best of the three-year-old fillies form and with Roaring Lion dropping back to a mile she may well win her fifth Group One of the season.
3.50pm Cracksman – he hasn’t been at his best this season but they finally add blinkers and if they bring him back to even 80% of his best then he wins this pulling a cart. Odds on though and I really don’t like the price.
OK well that’s my thoughts out the way, but at the early prices my only bets will be on Harry Angel and Laurens, the others may well win but they are not my version of value by any stretch of my vivid imagination.
Harry Angel 2.00pm Ascot Saturday
Laurens 3.15pm Ascot Saturday
Champions Day at Ascot, picture Liesl King