The Racing Paper - - Opinion - ROBERT COOPER

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”

PIC­TURE: PA Pho­tos

An­swer to puzzle? Rais­ing Sand

Good chance: An­drew Bald­ing

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