I’VE been beaten by some funny things on the racecourse but being turned over by chafer grubs was a first!
These diabolical little grass-munchers – imagine the rascal that exited John Hurt’s chest in Alien and you’re close to the mark – burst forth and knocked a hole in southern racing this week.
Epsom and Salisbury both had meetings abandoned due to chafer grub infestation and, unless Rentokill discover a knockout potion, the card at Epsom on 30 September could go west as well.
Luckily there were no sand-flies lurking in the Polytrack at Kempton Park and we had a properly competitive card there on Wednesday evening.
Crack apprentices Nicola Currie and Jason Watson produced horses fast and late to win here and both continue to impress.
Watson looked as effective as a Junior Disprin when riding his first winner just 16 months ago, but he has improved ridiculously quickly and is a massive plus now.
He is learning his craft with the Balding family – how many top kids have passed through their hands – and is probably the best claimer we’ve seen since Oisin Murphy started to rock n’ roll.
Layers turn nauseous at the whiff of a fancied Michael Wigham runner – Wiggy’s punts are secretive, well-orchestrated and unerringly accurate – and they were lucky to escape unscathed when Executive Force (8-1 to 2-1) finished a luckless third in the 7f handicap here.
This gelding was Group class for William Haggas as a youngster and it would be fair to say connections fancied him strongly – ‘he’s a certainty’ was their assessment – in this moderate event.
Unfortunately for them the early pace was a dawdle and jockey Josephine Gordon gave the horse a ride that was straight out of Dumb And Dumber.
Executive Force finished strongly into third and the smell of burnt fingers lingered long into the night.
The 1m4f fillies novice event on this card was a fair heat – plenty of premier league owners and trainers turned up for the gig – and third placed Loved So Much is one for the notebook.
She was bet at each-way prices (8-1 to 9-2), travelled like a bird and wasn’t knocked about when lack of experience began to tell.
LAH TI DAR (3.35 Doncaster) quickened impressively at York last time and might have too much finishing pace for this field.
None of us would mind being a dollar behind Lord Lloyd-Webber and the old maestro must be immune to nerves after all those West End and Broadway opening nights.
Still, I bet his pulse does a military two-step at the thought of his homebred pair Too Darn Hot and Lah Ti Dar going for gold at Doncaster this afternoon.
Both are out of the crack mare Dar Re Mi and possess the sort of gear change that would leave Jeremy Clarkson gasping.
That burst of pace set Lah Ti Dar aside from some decent fillies at York last time and can help her beat the boys in the William Hill St Leger (3.35).
Frankie Dettori was adamant she should come here rather than run in France and the great man doesn’t make too many mistakes when there’s big money up for grabs.