Boomshalaa and Alphonse Karr are inseparable on my time-handicap for a fascinating five-runner Novice Stakes over six furlongs of Wolverhampton tapeta today but analysing actual time-figures reveals the former represents a ‘professional special’ judged on his four length romp on an all-weather surface five weeks ago; Kempton’s polytrack rides similarly to the unique Dunstall Park, fact!
My decision several years ago to specialise with AWR was made after continued disappointments on turf-flat racetracks and it certainly hit home yet again at the weekend when two naps were beaten on desperately soft ground at Doncaster and Ripon; General Sago was unlucky on Town Moor, would have won with a more enterprising ride but Zoom Tiger was one of many incapable of acting on the ridges of the North Yorkshire course which were filled with mud and water down the straight. Nigh un-raceable and race-times confirmed my worst fears.
Over-watering through decades has resulted in ruined conditions as heavy rains soak in, because the ‘root’ cause goes much deeper; course management/husbandry has been left to inexperienced ‘boys and girls’ with little or no experience despite studying at so-called agricultural colleges.
The old-fashioned trilby-attired clerks of racecourses, who for the most part were farmers, would turn in their graves given the state of our once ‘green and pleasant land!’
A short-priced winner is better than a long-priced loser but the secret of turning a negative to advantage is including an ‘anchor’ with another solid selection and Finistere, one of nine ‘decs’ for Maiden Hurdle over two miles of ‘good’ ground Huntingdon, certainly meets median requirement.
Surfaces for National Hunt racing are not as important as the flat, for obvious reasons, with sheer pace not an acute issue but I’m sceptical about the ground forecast at this popular right-handed Cambridgeshire venue.
Dan Skelton-trained Finistere, rated 123, should be another ‘steering job’ for newly-crowned champion jockey Harry who was mentioned in this column last year as ‘outstanding’ judged on the jumping Racing Research 2019/20 ‘computer champion’ data. We were right but, unfortunately, I didn’t back Harry at a big price to become ‘champ!’
At ‘soft’ Hexham I’m going to chance big-priced outsider Enemy At The Gate each-way in a Novices’ Hurdle over two and a half miles; methinks a ‘plot’ is about to be hatched!
Footnote; plans for a tapeta surface on Southwell racecourse have been passed; fibresand will be dug up in August, thirty-two years after it was laid when all-weather racing was introduced in the United Kingdom.
Selections, Wolverhampton, 3.05 Boomshalaa; Huntingdon, 4.55 Finistere; Hexham, 6.05 Enemy At The Gate (e.w).
Jeffrey Ross, horse-racing correspondent for WMN since 1983 when winning the most prestigious racing journalist award, Sporting Life Naps Table, before winning it a record number of six times collectively in the Racing Post, the current ‘trade’ paper, including 2019