Thursday’s best bets, by Chris Cook
‘Uproar’ is not, I think, too strong a word for what I’ve seen on Racing Twitter on the question of future coverage of Irish racing over the last 12 hours. It came in response to a very strongly worded column by Richard Forristal, the Racing Post’s editor in Ireland, who has the gravest fears about what coverage will look like from January, when Irish racing moves wholesale from At The Races to Racing UK.
Forristal is worried that RUK will not be able to give satisfactory coverage to the quantity of racing for which it will have the rights. He points in particular to New Year’s Day, when RUK has Cheltenham, three other British cards AND two Irish cards, subject to confirmation when the Irish fixture list is eventually published.
Pointing out that 37 British tracks are shareholders in the company that owns RUK, Forristal predicts the Irish action will lose out whenever there’s a clash. He foresees Irish racing being online only for much of the time, treated “like a bastard child and its scarlet mother condemned to the laundries as in days of old”.
Seeking to pour oil on these troubled waters, RUK’s parent company has put out a statement suggesting it values this chance to “showcase the stories” of the Flat and jump-racing seasons, with so much quality British and Irish racing on its schedule. “Racing UK, SIS and Horse Racing Ireland have been working closely over the summer to ensure minimum congestion and clashes on race fixtures and times,” the statement says.
“The channel will devote more on-air coverage, dedicated Irish features, previews and analysis shows to ensure it receives the prominence it merits. Viewers will also enjoy Irish racing at a far reduced latency [meaning delay from live] with less advertising than they’re used to.” Further new elements are promised for later in the year.
There’s racing at Chelmsford today but that’s evidently not far enough for Newmarket’s William Haggas, who has a runner at Tipperary tonight as well as Flamenco (4.45) in the last at Carlisle. Interestingly, Haggas has a 26% strike-rate at Carlisle (11/43), so it’s not like he uses it as a kind of Siberia for horses who have failed him elsewhere.
Flamenco is descended from a half-sister to Ramruma, an Oaks winner, who also counts Yorkshire among her progeny, so there’s some staying genes in her mix. This filly has shown little in maidens and novices but could do a lot better in a handicap from a reasonable mark, with this extra furlong and softer ground reducing the need for pace (which she does not have). I fancy her at 9-4.
Earlier, Dream Poet (3.40) is fairly priced at 7-2, as a progressive juvenile from Jedd O’Keeffe’s yard taking his first step into a handicap after landing a novice race at Beverley. Soft ground is also new for him but I think it’ll help.
At Fontwell, it could be a good day for the resurgent Neil Mulholland, who provided this column with a winner in Shantou Village yesterday. The claims of 5-4 shot Magical Thomas (4.35) do not take much seeing but Vexillum (7.35) is more adventurously priced at 11-2.
This one has had wind surgery since he last ran over hurdles in the spring and the yard is faring better just now. He hasn’t won for years but has only had three chances over hurdles in that time and is worth a shot in a weak contest.