Elymas finished two and a half lengths ahead of Westmorian when they placed sixth and eighth respectively in the six furlongs race won by Maybe Even Never at Thirsk last month; today my preference is the former in an intriguing fourteen-runner Novice Stakes over six furlongs of Newcastle tapeta, best and fairest racecourse on this planet!
Drawn one (of 16!), so often a ‘coffin box’ for newcomers, Elymas, an unconsidered 33/1 shot, sure enough darted left as stalls opened and was immediately on the back foot and ‘out of it’ but, remarkably, quickly recovered; throughout the last three furlongs this Jedd O’Keeffe-trained Mondialiste colt ‘tanked’ through down the far side and stayed on strongly to be beaten only two and a half lengths in a ‘dash’ which has already proved to be solid time-handicap form. The winner, despite missing the break last Monday, dead-heated dramatically at Ripon and should have won easily.
There is a plus, Connor Beasley, one of the very best jockeys on the Northern circuit and a regular in Dubai during winter months, replaces somewhat inexperienced Jack Garrity on Elymas.
On the Gosforth Park course there is no draw bias whatsoever and it’s a matter of indifference Elymas is drawn four places from Westmorian, a Holy Roman Emperor gelding which is bound to be ‘on the premises’ and definitely worth an each-way saver at inflated odds; Grant Tuer’s charge apparently ran way above expectations.
Surely both will be trying; I’m mentioning this fact because it’s tiresome, and extremely frustrating, to watch so much cheating of the two-year-old handicap system which requires juveniles to race three times for a nursery mark qualification. A couple of glaring cases this week have left me vexed and somewhat angry even though I knew what was happening!.
A long time ago, during a memorable conversation, the late Timeform boss, Phil Bull, scoffed at the idea of such cheating, ‘why be concerned about something you might only come across !% of the time?’ he said to Alex Bird, who raised the subject as we sipped champagne from a crate of ‘Moet’ in the boot of his Rolls Royce at Newmarket. Bull had it all to himself in the 1950’s onwards, before starting stalls and electrical timing!
For what it’s worth a first-up winner would/could be given a mark in the old days, the current rule was brought in to ensure fair play, ironically; three runs are indeed a license to cheat and you will never read such vitriol in any other racing column, fact.
This columnist cares about readers/punters having entered the game for betting purposes before getting on rung of a long journalistic ladder through hard work and perseverance, clocking with a stop-watch and race-reading for various publications. I watch every race on big-screen TV in silence (on mute!) and replay them subsequently.
Stick to the selections rigidly and don’t concern yourselves with aforementioned politics, I’m still ‘on the case!’
Selections, Ascot, 1.20 Chorus Girl (e.w); Newcastle, 4.20 Elymas (e.w); Kempton, 6.45 Altraif.
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