CARIBEAN BOY BRINGS ME SUNSHINE
Ben Morgan gets a much-needed lift late on in the month
As Ede’iffs Elton got chinned on the line at Wincanton on Boxing Day I knew it wasn’t going to be the Christmas I had hoped for. Robert Walford’s charge (£10 e/w at 13/2) looked the winner in every part of the race apart from the last five yards where he idled and allowed a rival to pass with the finishing post just a stride away.
If this wasn’t agonising enough I then had to sit and watch Gavin Sheehan make a huge mid race move on Saint Calvados (£10 e/w at 33/) in the King George which almost certainly blew his chance. Clearly tanking down the back, Sheehan allowed him to cart his way to the front which is only allowed if the horse then goes on to win by ten lengths. As it turned out, Saint Calvados ran out of gas before two out and just about walked into third.
The tacky ground at Huntingdon then put paid to my bumper fancy, Supreme Gift (£20 win at 9/2) as the impressive Gentleman At Arms sluiced through the ground to record an all the way success. Two seconds, a third and a non runner from four bets summed up a frustrating Boxing Day. Who was the non-runner I hear you ask? Hydroplane. Won next time out at 25/1. Unbacked of course.
My luck didn’t turn in the days following although I didn’t engage in battle all that much. Saint Dalina (£15 e/w at 20/1) was a strong fancy in the 3 mile handicap hurdle on Welsh National Day. Charlie Longsdon’s mare loves soft ground and looked to have been trained for this race. She had a progressive profile going into the race and I thought she would certainly shake up the market leaders. As it turned out she got pulled up down the back straight after having never gone a yard.
A quiet week or two ensued as nothing really jumped off the page at me. I fancied my chances at Sandown on the first weekend in January. Farinet (£20 at 13/8) was an obvious contender for the in form Venetia Williams stable and he duly obliged which just about covered my stake on Hermes Boy in the last. Jane Williams’ horse looked to have outstanding claims after winning a strong Exeter handicap and looked the typical ‘Jane Williams soft ground improver’ which we have become all too familiar with in recent seasons. Unfortunately he couldn’t back up his Exeter win as the rank outsider, Hydroplane, came to take the spoils much to my disgust. Having never looked happy on soft ground I couldn't understand why connections were running him on a boggy Sandown surface but clearly they had faith that the new flippers they had fitted him with would work the oracle.
The indifferent run continued onto Ludlow the following Monday. I was pretty sweet on a Demachine, One For You and Bridge North trixie and couldn’t have more than one of them beat. All three were short enough and I felt a trixie was the best way to go.
The dreaded first fence up the straight at Ludlow has claimed plenty of my money over the years and it took £40 more this day. Demachine anchored out the back, got put off by a filthy jump by the horse in front which led to Richard Patrick clinging on for dear life, knowing full well he was on a certainty. Eventually he hit the floor which was closely followed by my jaw.
With everything now resting on One For You and Bridge North, the last thing I wanted was for One For You