Racing Tip of the Day
George Primarolo loves a day at the races and thinks Norse Star can give punters something to smile about at Salisbury.
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NORSE STAR - 4.20 SALISBURY
I've never been one for clubs. As Groucho Marx famously said, "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member", though people are (still) arguing about the veracity of that particular comment. The idea of an organisation that forces people to socialise doesn't really sit well with me.
I was a member of the Tufty Club as a child and, while I've no doubt it taught me some very important road safety lessons, I didn't really make any great friends there. I'm also a member of a golf club but that's only to actually play the game (badly). The idea of actually attending one of their functions fills me with dread.
Not that I'm a curmudgeon though. If I lived anywhere near there, I'd love to be a member of the Bibury Club. For the uninitated, the Bibury Club is, in fact, the oldest racing club in the world. It was first established in 1681, and originally staged its race meetings at the long forgotten racecourses of Bibury and Stockbridge. The Bibury Club first transferred its patronage to Salisbury racecourse in 1899 where it has remained ever since.
The Club founded the Ashbrittle Stud Bibury Cup and, while the sponsors added their support later, it is one of the oldest races to be run at the Wiltshire, having been first run there at the turn of the 20th century.
And it's one that their members love to win. Ian Balding is a director of the racecourse and his son, Andrew, has won the race twice in the past 10 years. Jeff Smith is another director at Salisbury and it is his homebred Norse Star that is of interest in the race this afternoon.
The three-year-old is a half-brother to Gold Medallist (winner of the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket) and out of Smith's decent racemare Spot Prize, who was fourth in the Oaks behind Balanchine. Norse Star's sire, Norse Dancer, was a standing dish in most Group One races between eight and 10 furlongs in 2003 and 2004 and he won the Group Three Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury before going on to finish second behind Sulamani in the Juddmonte International and Azamour in the Irish Champion Stakes.
This should give you some idea of just how special it would be to his owner if he were to win today.
Not that he's without his form claims too. He broke his maiden in fine style at Nottingham before finding all sorts of trouble in running last time out at Sandown over 1m6f.
He was beaten in a Windsor maiden earlier on in the season but the winner that day turned out to be Anipa, who landed the Cheshire Oaks on her next start.
This is a tough race and the likes of Hymenaios, who was a fine third at the Investec Derby meeting, and the improving Kinshasa won't make life easy. However, Norse Star is still improving and it was interesting to hear the comments of Pat Dobbs, who rode him to victory at Nottingham and stated that he was 'still a big baby and would improve with racing'.
There's clearly more to come from Norse Star and, with Ryan Moore booked, a big run can be expected. I couldn't quite believe he was so big when I saw the prices this morning - anything at double figures would be a great each-way bet.
Groucho Marx used to present 'You Bet Your Life' over in America. I'm not suggesting you do that but Norse Star is certainly worth a couple of quid.