Sunday, 17 March 2013



CH4 Bring us a window into the world of horseracing,
from the outside looking in.



Saturday's musings from a retired racing enthusiast.
David Ashforth at the Derby Awards 6.12.10
David Ashforth:
Twice voted journalist of the year
PICTURE: Dan Abraham


"There was so much going on it was hard to notice everything".

Pic:" Quevenga won the Mares' Hurdle despite
beaten for Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins".

"IN CASE you've forgotten already, or weren't paying particular attention, this is what happened during Cheltenham Festival week dominated by Ireland.
"Chris Huhne wakes up in Wandsworth, realising he won't be able to leave early enough to get to Cheltenham, and is put on suicide watch. Ian Renton wakes up in charge of Cheltenham, studies the track and wonders if he was right to pay £50,000 to have it asphalted.

"He asks the team of 300 to come back with shovels and dig it up again. Ranulph Fiennes thinks about going to Cheltenham but decides he's already lost enough fingers to frostbite, and it wasn't as cold in the Antarctic.

"In car park space E27, Chris and Sue are serving the most fantastic sausages. You can't beat a good sausage. Well you can but it doesn't do it any good. Make my way to the Mandarin at the end of the stand for a sit down and a cup of tea, only to discover, to my horror, the tables and chairs have been taken away and replaced by bird tables, Wish I hadn't stopped taking anti-depressants. Make a note to add it to annual complaints' letter.

"Ruby Walsh rides a perfectly judged race to win the first on Champagne Fever. Ruby Walsh wins the Champion Hurdle on Hurricane Fly even though the 2011 Champion Hurdle winner is clearly beaten. Bookmakers club together and pay Ruby Walsh to go home and give someone else (Mr S. Waley-Cohen) a chance to win the last.

"The first race is confined to amateur riders to prevent another Willie Mullins-Ruby Walsh triumph, Mullins wins with Back in Focus, ridden by Mr PW Mullins. Bookmakers disagree with the general consensus that trainer Willie Mullins is a good egg, tending to consider him an increasingly bad egg, well on his way to being a thoroughly bad egg, ditto Ruby Walsh.

"Bookmakers consider reconsidering the egg situation when Pont Alexandre fails to beat The New One, to the delight of the Twiston - Davieses, and of Sam Harris, et al, betting on the rails.
" Sprinter Sacre looks magnificent before the Champion Chase , performs magnificently during it and, by general consent, is magnificent. Returns to the winner's enclosure to a cheering crowd, whose welcome is drowned out by the now de rigueur thunderous music. Make a note to add to the complaints' letter, also issue a reminder to myself to apply for a gun license. Despite all that is written on the subject, no one, I think, has pointed out that Sprinter Sacre's dam, Fatima111, first appeared in our school production of ALI Baba and the Forty Thieves, in 1960. She was good in that, too, played by Roger Smith. Medinas, also bred in France, wins the Coral Cup for Alan King and Wayne Hutchinson . It's a pity for the injured Robert Thornton but pleasing because Hutchinsonis a very capable jockey. I was please, anyway. Those hoping that one of the other 27 runners would win were less pleased. That's the thing about horseracing. It's arranged so that almost everyone loses, almost all the time. It's amazing that everyone isn't more depressed.

"Never mind, the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle is relatively easy to work out, having only 24 runners. Flaxen Flare wins, at 25-1. Never heard of him. I'm not sure he was running. On the other hand, Briars Hill wins the bumper, trained by the well known WP Mullins, ridden by the well known R Walsh, at a less familiar 25-1 I should have backed that!" You didn't though, did you? That's your trouble.

"The sun comes out. He's probably got his hat on, ready for when it turns colder later. A lot of people have Dynaste as a banker in the Jewson Novices' Chase. A banker; need I say more? Dynaste loses credibility.
"The Pertempts Final, over the years a watchword for handicap trickery. The trouble is, nowadays it's a fine line between being clever and failing to make the cut. There are probably some wonderfully well handicapped non-runners. It might be worth keeping an eye out for them next time, or next year. Sam Winner is popular, but less popular after Holywell wins for Jonjo O'Neill and ... no, not Tony McCoy, but Richie McLernon.

"Time passes as, first past the post, do Cue Card, Solwhit, Carrickboy and Same Difference until, particularly pleasingly, so does Soulard in the hunter chase at Towcester, at 9-1. Well done, Miss Hannah Watson. I don't suppose you noticed that, either.
"Sorry, no room. Personally, I'm hoping that Princeton Plains wins the County Hurdle. 

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