MY GUILTY BET HELPED WIN PENALTY SHOOTOUT
Sweltering heat and top-notch sport are a potent blend. All good coaches recommend keeping your eye on the ball, and I’ve followed the advice to the letter, at the expense of not watching as much racing as usual.
Balls have been hitting the back of the net in Russia and smacked down the tramlines at Wimbledon, but on Wednesday I chose a visit to Chelmsford Cricket Ground to see the Essex Eagles take on the Sussex Sharks in the T20 Blast.
I had encouraged three friends that a T20 game would be far more exciting than any penalty shoot out, and more dangerous too, as we’d be ducking and swerving sixes throughout the night, followed by probable cardiac arrest with nail-biting finish.
My argument of cricket being far more exciting than football would be rubber-stamped. Talk about damp squibs, this was the ultimate. The Eagles were annihilated, almost without a whimper. It was still a good night out, but ten lengths short of being a memorable one.
I’m back on the long and winding road to Essex for the eight-race card at Chelmsford City this afternoon. I suspect punter pressure will ensure the England v Sweden quarter-final will be beaming brightly on the big screen. There was a World Cup blackout this week at Wimbledon and quite right too; if I had paid good money (and more) for a day at the tennis the last straw would be a chorus of Three Lions from footie fans on Murray Mount or whatever it’s been baptised this year – Edmund Elevation? Racing however is more of a stop/start sport with a race every 30 minutes, so screening a game is somehow far less intrusive.
By the way, I’ve found the secret of England winning a penalty shootout. Before the Colombia game, I made perhaps my shrewdest investment of the year by backing Colombia at 12/1 to win on penalties. If the plan had backfired, at least I would have backed a 12/1 winner!
I suppose I should have ‘cashed out’ but in my dithering fervour, I was hell-bent on victory not profit. I’ll employ the same insurance scheme today.
Modern technology means you can be accompanied by any world or sporting event. I’ve yet to try, but I am certain you could watch the England v Sweden match, from the summit of Ben Nevis.
Even in the theatre there’s no escape from a penalty shootout. I was amused and enraged in equal proportions to read about the woman who was attending Titanic: The Musical in Nottingham, and during the lifeboat scene, was heard to hiss ‘YESSSS’ as Eric Dier sealed it for England.
Thanks to the World Cup, today’s chief meetings at Sandown and Haydock make an early start. By 2.15 we’ll know the result of the latest renewal of the Coral-Eclipse featuring three of the first four horses in the Derby. It should be one heck of a race. MASAR [2.10 SANDOWN] leads ROARING LION 3-0 and I expect Godolphin’s Epsom hero to come out on top again.
This is probably ROARING LION’s optimum trip – he was impressive in the Dante – but as we’ve already witnessed MASAR also possesses a striking change of gear. Aidan O’Brien’s decision to run SAXON WARRIOR just seven days after he finished third in the Irish Derby, is remarkable.
Aidan’s not afraid to run his horses, and ‘Ryan and The Lads’ obviously feel that this shorter trip will see the 2000 Guineas winner return to his best. I’m not so sure; I was underwhelmed by both his English and Irish Derby runs and to turn the Epsom form round with MASAR and ROARING LION is a tough task.
The most puzzling race on the Sandown card is the valuable mile handicap. I backed ESCOBAR in Ascot’s Royal Hunt Cup but I don’t think he showed the same level of form that saw him win his previous race at Haydock. He’s definitely a major player, in which case RAISING SAND [12.55 SANDOWN] must be too, as he finished 2¼ lengths ahead of ESCOBAR at Ascot and that was only his second race of the season.
Trained by Jamie Osborne and ridden today by Adam Kirby, RAISING SAND runs in the colours of Nick Bradley Racing and is part-owned by ATR’s form guru Hugh Taylor. Hugh leaves no stone unturned and he is such a consummate professional that he never tips a horse he owns, however I’ll be logging on to our website to read between the lines.
He might say ‘don’t touch RAISING SAND with a bargepole’ but I think that’s unlikely. He should go well.
Once a Sir Mark Prescott horse starts winning, the trend often continues. Despite a hefty rise of 10 pounds, RUDE AWAKENING [12.35 HAYDOCK] may take some pegging back in Haydock’s opener. He scorched in by six lengths last time at Doncaster, and the handicapper wasn’t the only person impressed. It’s a very hot race, but so it should be with the winner scooping over £62,000.
I fancy the chances of Andrew Balding’s filly HORSEPLAY [1.10 HAYDOCK] in the Group Two Lancashire Oaks. She ran respectably at the highest level last season, and kicked off her three year-old campaign with a very solid effort behind Coronet at York in May.
The Nursery [twoyear-old handicaps] season started at Haydock yesterday and Richard Spencer’s ALFIE SOLOMONS [2.05 CHELMSFORD] caught my eye. He was never seen with a chance in the Coventry at Ascot, but his two previous runs look most respectable. Well drawn in stall 5 and receiving 7 pounds from top weight SUNSPRITE, he should go close.
“I’ve yet to try, but I am certain you could watch the England v Sweden match, from the summit of Ben Nevis”
Answer to puzzle? Raising Sand
Good chance: Andrew Balding