Last week was most certainly not my finest hour with the stats I worked so hard to provide for the Welsh National left blowing in the wind as once again racing makes fools of all of us, though in this case mainly me but nothing new there.
This week’s news saw Matt Chapman kicked off Dancing On Ice which is a real shame as I really hoped he would forge a new career elsewhere. But then I am one who thinks his antics and those of predecessor John McCririck cheapen the sport I love in search of being young and trendy.
I am all in favour of attracting the next generation to the track but I want them there because they fall in love with the sport of horse racing and although business decrees pop concerts and craft fairs are the way forward. I see those as short-term fixes and we would be far better simply showing them what it is that we all love or has the human race really changed that much in the last thirty years.
Looking ahead to the weekend and we have, weather permitting, five meetings in the United Kingdom and one from Ireland and I have hunted high and low in what will no doubt prove a vain attempt at making up for last week’s embarrassment.
I am so useless in England at the moment that I will start off at Punchestown in what could well be the race of the day at 1.00pm when Willie Mullins has three of the seven runners, Gordon Elliott another three – and Patrick Kelly the other one.
With five of the seven a winner last time out it should be a cracker of a novice chase. but I was very much taken with the way The Storyteller won at Fairyhouse over even further. With Davy Russell in the saddle I have managed to convince myself he is the Elliott first string, rightly or wrongly.
If I am right, and it happens now and then, it might be worth adding the same stable’s Mengli Khan to our betting slips despite the five-year-old running out when looking for his fourth win of the season at Leopardstown in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at the end of December.
Hopefully that was just a one off and you can be sure his trainer will have worked on his issues and he may even run in a special bit this afternoon to keep him on the straight and narrow. We can look back to his earlier form when winning the Grade One Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse with any amount in hand. That run marks him down as top class and he would be odds on barring his recent mishap, and that for me makes him a spot of value this Saturday afternoon.
Finally, congratulations to Nicky Henderson who gets married (some would say “at last”) to Sophie Waddilove on Saturday afternoon. Nicky has always given help and advice over the years and I genuinely wish him and Sophie the best for the future.
The Storyteller 1.00pm Punchestown Saturday
Mengli Khan 2.10pm Punchestown Saturday