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A very happy birthday to Rebecca Marriott

Friday, 16 March 2018

"If you hold a four-leaf shamrock in your left hand at dawn on St. Patrick's Day you get what you want very much but haven't wished for."

Patricia Lynch.


It’s a calm, still morning with the temperature hovering around 8 – 10 degrees. This isn’t expected to last though as the wind is due to change direction, increase considerably and come direct from Moscow, with snow and ice over the weekend. It is only March though and it is what normally happens at this time of year. We were galloping on the Cambridge Road this morning, or supposed to be at least, but we got held up a bit by a string that was only cantering. That is against the rules, but people try and break them at every opportunity. Our work went ahead but not as smoothly as I would have liked. All the other horses have cantered well though and with a new addition to the riding out team, and another one starting Monday, we are beginning to get geared up for the season. I just hope everybody can stay together and we can have some consistency for the next six months or so.


We have no runners over the weekend but one or two early next week. I am just hoping for a dry spell and we can start galloping on the turf as the first fixtures are not too far away. Once again though there will be no big fanfare to the start of the season. The Lincoln handicap, which everybody looked forward to and talked about all winter, has now turned into just another glorified handicap. This is very disappointing and you need a very highly rated horse to even get into it. It is not until the Craven Meeting and afterwards that the turf season really starts to come into its own, and then you have the Derby and Royal Ascot. There has never been a proper fixture list and the racecourses just do what they please around the big festivals. I can never understand this and it just seems a big muddle.

Velvet Vision

Velvet Voice

Cheltenham comes to its climax today with the Gold Cup. It has been another great week, especially for the Irish who are well ahead in the ratio against the British. Only Nicky Henderson of our bigger trainers has kept the flag flying. Our tipping competition has got closer by the day, and let’s hope it goes down to the last result which will make it exciting. I must mention Rebecca Marriott whose birthday it is today. We wish her a very happy birthday from everybody here at Frankland Lodge and Dullingham Park. Her selection is Outlander in the Gold Cup. The standings so far are MHT minus £99.30 and Richard minus £83.34. Our selections for today are below.


1.30  Stormy Ireland    2.10  Whiskey Sour    2.50  Beyond The Law    3.30  Road To Respect    4.10  Foxrock    4.50  Diese Des Dieffes    5.30  Dolos


1.30  Redicean    2.10  Sandsend    2.50  Chef des Obeaux    3.30  Road To Respect    4.10  Young Hurricane    4.50  Carter McKay    5.30  Theinval


Phil on Friday

An intriguing, if disturbing, headline appeared in my daily paper last week and briefly diverted attention from Cheltenham. It read: ‘Wales offer North an early escape from Northampton’.

Now Northampton is my home town – not the prettiest in the kingdom, I admit – but still my home for half a century and I like it there. Why would anyone be so desperate for an early escape from it? Had some catastrophe befallen the old place? No. The story concerned an innocent enough sporting affair about a rugby player called North who wanted to leave Northampton Saints and was being given a chance to move back to his homeland.

On the subject of headlines, delving back through my old racing ‘library’ I was shocked to find this Daily Mail revelation: ‘Racing ends this week’. Any casual reader might have imagined Armageddon had arrived. In a way it had - the date was 1915.

‘Vast sums lost on the Derby’ had been a 1908 Daily Express headline, and the Telegraph later astonished its readers with: ‘The Turf. Surprise results’.  Nothing new there, then.

The Daily Sketch made a gallant but flawed effort to get its priorities right in 1913 with this: ‘HISTORY’S MOST WONDERFUL DERBY … First horse disqualified ... Suffragette nearly killed by the King’s colt’. Emily Davison died four days later.

The Sketch must have horrified the nation in 1925 when it revealed there were ‘Unescorted women among the bookmakers’. Tut tut! Years later the Sporting Life told us: ‘Girls can ride against the pros in 1975’. That’s progress.

I remember in my early days in journalism the front page sub-editor on my paper, frustrated and anxious when there was no decent story in sight and only a short time to go to deadline, mocked up an emergency  page with the main heading, ‘Day of no news happens at last’. Thankfully something did crop up, but I think he might have been on the verge of dropping to the level of an earlier drama reported in the Daily Express: ‘One of the Queen’s racing pigeons has gone missing’.

Cheltenham is, of course, providing plenty of material, tragic and triumphant, for the papers this week. My all-time favourite headline, though, had nothing to do with racing. It was in the Telegraph a few years back: ‘One-armed drunken driver was on mobile phone.’

How can you beat that?

*Back Page Racing by George Plumtre was the source of some of the early headlines quoted. They were before even my time!