Boo-hoo for the bookies
Will Hayler blogged live from York on the second day of the Ebor meeting, where The Fugue showed her class to score.
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1635: With Richard Fahey's wise words to transcribe for his runners tomorrow and Friday, I'm going to bring the blog to a halt for the day. Thanks for your company and your messages of support. Mr Linfoot is back in the hot seat tomorrow. Be gentle with him. May the punters finish the day on top again!
1625: Another well-backed winner prevails on a rough day for the bookmakers. (Boo hoo, I hear you cry). Our Obsession gives William Haggas another winner on the day as she holds off Say to win the Galtres Stakes under Frankie Dettori.
1600: Gosden highlights the Arc de Triomphe and the Breeders' Cup Turf as possible targets for the winner, with the Prix Vermeille a possible prep-race, although The Fugue's owners still bear the scars of Dar Re Mi's outrageous disqualification in that race a couple of years ago. As do I, financially speaking. She's a 12/1 chance with Sky Bet for the Arc.
1550: Lest we forget, that was the seventh race in the fillies and mares division of the British Champions Series. But you knew that already right? It says in the racecard that the final leg will be "the eagerly-awaited climax" of the on QIPCO British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes on Champions Day. So that'll be interesting. Let's hope the winner goes there. Lady Lloyd-Webber has just collected a trophy and looks very happy with it all.
1547: Having proven herself in the past a fairly thorough stayer over a mile and a half, you would have been disappointed if The Fugue hadn't won given the way she came travelling to dispute the running two furlongs out. Venus De Milo is far from disgraced in a clear second, but she's no match for the winner, who scorches home by four lengths.
1537: I should have confirmed by now that Tom Queally rides Riposte, with Wild Coco being out. Sorry for not having done so earlier. She's also the best-turned-out filly in the race. I'd certainly rather back her at 5/1 than Venus De Milo at 9/4, although time will no doubt prove me wrong in about five minutes' time. But it's still surely all about The Fugue on the formbook.
1528: The Fugue wins this, doesn't she? I know that no filly can hold her form forever. But she wins this, right? If you believe the excuse proffered for her last run, then she's simply better than these rivals.
1523: In the stand in front of the press room is a small square marked off in whitewash 'For Dr B Moll'. This square has often been a talking point at York, with nobody ever able to explain who Dr Moll was or why he needed a reserved square on the terracing. One journalist, seemingly with slightly too much time on his hands, has just shown me a business card he has knocked up in the name of Doctor Bernhard Moll, complete with pictures of a stethoscope and a bottle of pills, which he intends to use in order to guarantee his viewing spot for the rest of the meeting. An amusing conversational starting point on Ladies' Day, he will be hoping.
1515: Scenes of wild jubilation unfold in the same stand as David O'Meara (talking of talented young trainers) takes the spoils with 25/1 chance Mont Ras, who makes all under apprentice David Bergin. Johnston won't have enjoyed that either, given that he saddled runner-up Windhoek. A massive prize for his syndicate to pick up. Well done them.
1500: Mark Johnston is in the owners' and trainers' stand looking tremendously grumpy about something. He just gave a dodgy look to the wife/partner/lover of another trainer when she laughed too loudly in his ear. It's one of those very young trainers, who's good with the media. I'm losing my grip on this game. Can't remember who anyone is these days.
1452: I'm going to give you one at a massive price here. I don't think this is that competitive a race for the money and I could see Lord Of The Dance running well at very long odds. He loves rattling fast ground like this and has a nice draw in two. Unfortunately, Ryan Clark can't claim his allowance, but that's not enough to put me off as he knows the horse well.
1445: The flip-flop sellers are a lot busier today than they were yesterday - you can't knock the price at three quid either. Sell something people want for a fair price, and you'll shift a few at York - it's the same story with the champagne. People respect value here.
1435: Well you can't say you weren't told. Lucky Kristale defies the statistics and wins going away under Tom Queally despite the fact that they didn't seem to go especially quick in the early stages. Sent off the 5/2 joint-favourite, she beats Queen Catrine (6/1) by a length and a half with Wind Fire (9/2) third. Yes, she's a good'un all right. Well done Tony Elves, well done Ian in Dublin, well done everybody. The stewards call for Brian Meehan, trainer of the other joint-favourite J Wonder, but my suspicion is that that's just about as good as she is.
1428: I've just seen a man of a similar age to me placing a bet of 20 pounds "on the nose" on Wind Fire on the Tote. This surely means that they have only ever watched racing on television before, for as we all know, nobody ever really says 'on the nose' in real life.
1420: Sky Bet clearly don't agree as they have made her their price boost horse for this race (the crazy fools), which means she's a bigger price with them than anyone else. Click here to find out for yourselves. She looks well in the paddock.
1415: George Margarson is a marvellous man and his enthusiasm for racing and his horses is entirely infectious. I just hope I haven't been swept up in George's love for the game in fancying Lucky Kristale. That said, Tony Elves thinks she's a good thing, I think she's a decent bet, and Ian in Dublin has made the case for her on her form through Rizeena (who hardly let the line down behind No Nay Never on Sunday). People keep mentioning the statistic about horses with penalties struggling in this race, but I've never been much of a stats man.
1408: No offence to Sheikh Juma Dalmook Al Maktoum, as I'm sure he's a smashing chap, but I do prefer it when these silly big sales race prizes (over £150,000 to the winner there) go to smaller owners, who might appreciate the cash a little more. Whoever Sheikh Juma is, it's hard to imagine him doing a wild fist-pump when he hears the news.
1400: Loyal Fahey followers sent Rufford as favourite, but it's another Yorkshireman, William Haggas, who takes the opener with Haikbidiac. My colleague David John flagged that horse up to me a few months ago, but I believe it had fallen out of his notebook list after a couple of disappointments earlier in the season. Poor DJ. While everything else was battling it out on the far side of the course, Liam Jones brings the 9/1 winner home a couple of lengths clear of Thunder Strike (7/1) and Nezar (8/1).
1350: Best of luck with all of your wagers today. It's busy here. Busy and warm.
1345: Excuse the radio silence. I was just a bit busy sorting out badges, racecards and the world's largest placepot perm. Expect the pool to swell by a few thousand pounds shortly. Meanwhile the latest from the press room is that Tommo's come in to cheer everyone up.
1315: The main winner that Mr Fahey seemed concerned with was his Placepot, but he'll be hoping for something better than yesterday where his team struggled to get anywhere close at all. Maybe Rufford can start things up on a good note in the opener. I hope so.
1230: Mark Craven is another man on a winning roll. "Hi Will, I emailed Ben yesterday and thought I should continue the trend, I fancy Reroute, Emirates Queen and Validus along with JP in Paris. I am also going to follow Mr Fallon today and a couple of David O'mearas - fingers crossed and good luck." Ben's back in the hot seat tomorrow Mark, if the luck runs out today. Maybe it only works when you email him? Best of British to you though. Now I will have to take your leave for some time as I go and talk to Richard Fahey about his runners for Friday and Saturday. Be back shortly - hopefully with a winner or two!
1225: Ian in Dublin, along with quite a few others, is a fan of Lucky Kristale, in the Lowther. "IShe beat Rizeena by 2 3/4 lengths on her last outing and surely thats the best form in the race by a long shot?" he writes. "She was pulling away nicely at the end and I think she'll have improved again and defy the 3lb penalty." I think I agree Ian, I think I agree,.
1207: And don't try and make me feel guilty about it. I'm not the only one tucking into a sumptuous lunch who has done no [real] work today. Look at the England cricket team...
1205: Lunchtime. What a glorious game.
1200: On the subject of the Ebor, Wayne F brings us a positive bulletin for a horse about whom I am very sweet myself - Genzy. He ran another really big trial at Newbury behind Royal Empire on Saturday. He runs almost the same race as Red Cadeaux from the two-furlong pole, finishing the same distance behind him as he had been when first asked to make his challenge. Anyway, enough of my opinion. Wayne writes: "Just noticed the Ebor decs are in and wanted to give Genzy a mention. He's officially 8lb well in following his Group 3 Newbury third last weekend and has been crying out for this step up in trip lately. He was often failing to see out his races earlier in the year when prominently ridden but the switch to patient tactics has brought about recent improvement. He arguably should have beaten Bishop Roko off this mark at Ascot in July but was denied a clear run and stayed on all too late to finish a head second. He couldn't have done much better than finish fourth at Newbury last time due to the framing of the weights. Any chance you could turn on the sprinklers on your way out of the course on Friday....if the sting is taken out of the ground then he could be one for each-way punters at a price (as big as 33/1 before the market was suspended this morning)." No 33s anymore Wayne, but plenty of 25s still available, including with Sky Bet who stand alone in offering five places for each-way punters on the race .
1142: You've got to hand it to Nick Luck. He throws himself into the draw for the Ebor like he's broadcasting on General Election night. If the bomb had been launched and was on its way, I think I'd want him in charge for the last 10 minutes.
1140: Still no sign of any rain and, as a conseuquence, Wentworth is now out of the big handicap at 3.05, joining Sam Sharp, Brae Hill and Pacific Heights.
1130: Hadley Fox wasn't hanging out at the Real Ale bar with me yesterday by the sounds of things, but drinking instead at the winners' saloon. Well done, sir. "Present on the knavesmire yesterday and had a fantastic day with four out of six winners, Bogart and Broxbourne for a change agonisingly getting up for me instead of the usually getting pipped. Telescope was mighty impressive for me and was just slightly idling and not extending in front due to Moore going slightly early in my eyes but nevertheless cant wait to see him at Doncaster - surely the Arc is too greedy and unrealistic! Todays shouts to keep the form hot are - Thunder Strike, J wonder, Anderigo (e/w), Riposte, Our Obsession, Shesastar.....what's your one for the day Will if you just had one??? Can't wait to be back Saturday after yesterday, let's hope I can continue the form in the office Thurs and Fri till then." One bet today, Hadley? I could see Windhoek bouncing back to form at some stage.
1125: Steve from Swansea is keeping it simple with these six selections. "Rufford, J Wonder, Hot Bed, Venus De Milo, Songbird, Nurpur." Best of luck, sir. I know that Mr Fahey feels that Rufford is a better horse than he was able to show last time at Pontefract. But it's a mightily competitive contest for the opener.
1115: After a hasty trip in the morning to Peacock's where I bought my two-year-old a shirt and a tie which was so long the not-on-display bit ended up going down his shirt and hanging out of the bottom of his trouser leg, I entered him in the 'best dressed child' competition at this meeting 12 months ago in the hope of nicking the £50 in high street vouchers for the winner. Unfortunately I hadn't banked upon the two-dozen or so other mums and dads who had tried much harder than I had and had their kids dressed up like supermodels. We sulked at the back and ate ice creams. Anyway, all the fashion nonsense is back this year - indeed according to the announcer just now 'the fashion stakes is the big race'. Oh yes.
1110: On the subject of each-way terms, I wasn't surprised to see nearly all of the on-course bookmakers paying only one-fifth the odds on the four places in the 17-runner two-mile handicap won by Broxbourne (all credit to 'Racing Raymond' for being the only one of a dozen or so at the far end of the stands offering one-quarter), but I was outraged by the Bridlington-based outfit offering one-fifth the odds for the three places in the closing race - a 14-runner nursery where they opened betting at 6-1 the field. Bookmakers may try to justify wanting to swerve paying the full standard terms on 17-runner handicaps where their place book will end up over-broke, but to tinker with the terms on a 14-runner nursery is nothing short of self-defeating daylight robbery.
1105: Don't forget that Sky Bet are paying four places for each-way punters in the opening contest and will be offering a price boost per race on a selected horse.
1100: John C is feeling good. "I am feeling a little more confident after a nice win yesterday following a long losing run," he says. "Have backed Hot Bed in 3:05. Good trainer and R Moore up a bonus. I fear Wentworth but he can be taken on because of Mr Hannons awful record at York. Also backed Venus De Milo in the 3:40. The race is very competitive but hopeful of a good run for AOB."
1055: Good morning to JP in Paris who writes: "Hi Will, I hope you arrived on location with enough time to spare for a fruitful training session last night, my selections today have more of an each way angle, with the hope of a surprise winner amongst them...in the first, I have sided with Dutch Breeze and Foxy Clarets, which I think are overpriced, Reroute in the next, Validus (keep putting on sand on the track please) and Pacific Heights, following my Deauville Dec of War inspiration, Emirates Queen in the Oaks, and Cushion in the penultimate, I will see if I need a lucky last...best of luck to all." Validus is an interesting one JP. Nothing travelled better to the two-furlong pole in the John Smith's Cup, but he folded alarmingly quickly from that point. Might something have been wrong that day? It will need to have been as he's 2lb higher in the weights now!
1050: To my shame, I have just located a stack of relatively small bets placed on today's Johnnie Walker golf placed in the early hours while under the influence. Heaven knows why I was so sure that John Parry would be the first-round leader. At two-over through six holes, it appears I wasn't in inspired form.
1035: On the punting front yesterday was a good day as I somehow managed to steal a modest share of the substantial Placepot dividend caused in the main by Al Kazeem and Toronado both finishing out of the frame in the International. As yet I haven't had a bet today. No, really. No - really! But the very shrewd agent of jockey Tom Queally, my old pal Tony Elves, told me yesterday that he and his client both confidently expect Lucky Kristale to win the Lowther today.
1030: It's just an hour to the least exciting live draw ceremony of the year - the draw for the Ebor Handicap on Saturday. Given that the draw that conveys only a minimal and hard-to-determine advantage in any case, it hardly seems worth puffing up but who am I tell such a successful racecourse how to run their show? Anyway, Nick is the host again this year, and he seems to be relishing the task in hand. He will be joined by - according to him - "a man who once won a stage of the Tour de France". Good stuff.
1020: Just had a conversation with Nick Luck and Emma Spencer about Peppa Pig. Nick's daughter is moving on to Charlie and Lola, apparently. Kids, eh?
1010: I haven't seen the official crowd figure, but it seemed busy yesterday - perhaps the International was riding a little on the surf caused by Frankel 12 months earlier. But they'd run out of racecards as I arrived 15 minutes before the opening race, which always suggests an unexpected surge of interest, and they'd also run out of spicy chicken pasties at the cornish pasty stall, forcing me to go for two cornish rather than my usual preferred one-of-each combo. Disappointing. Meanwhile rumour reaches me that some of Sheikh Joann's entourage brought their own food supplies from a well-known American fast-food joint and took their burgers up to the box. They properly needed some cheering up after the way their horse ran in the big race. Disappointing.
1005: I was unashamedly on a day off yesterday, enjoying a soothing beverage or two with the lads - not the same group of 'the lads' who own a string of multi-million-pound racehorses in Ireland and who like to get together to discuss future plans for them with Aidan O'Brien. After an enjoyable hour in the Theakston's Real Ale bar behind the Knavesmire stand, I knew I might have had one too many when the rendition of Fisherman's Blues by the skiffle band nearby reduced me to tears as my mind briefly wandered to the lure of a life on the high seas. At that point, I switched to orange juice and lemonade and re-focussed on the important task in hand of picking winners.
0955: A posse of fine men have been down the course already this morning, throwing a sandy mixture into the holes left by yesterday's hoofprints. As they turned for home in the International yesterday, they were kicking up so much sand it looked as if they were racing through a puddle at one stage, but nobody seemed to be complaining about it.
0950: The course has had 3mm of water applied to it overnight and that's not a big surprise. The jockeys all felt that the course was riding properly on the fast side yesterday and one even mentioned 'hard' in his assessment. It's been dry overnight and the cloud has broken this morning to reveal more beautiful blue skies. But it isn't that warm yet and there's no wind to speak of, so hopefully things won't dry out much more today. However Wild Coco is out of the Yorkshire Oaks, as I feared she might be. Hopefully there will be other days for her later this season when the weather turns a little more traditionally British.
0945: Good morning from the Knavesmire and the second day of York's Ebor meeting. We had thrills, spills, flops and drops on day one. Can we expect more of the same today? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.