I'm back home again after my sojourn in France, and it feels a little strange to be honest. Hackney is a strongly contrasting environment from the small village in which I was residing and, whilst it's lovely to be back in Geegeez Towers, I miss the braying donkey, and the stroppy madame in the cafe...
In any case, my return was greeted by a 'close but no cigar' call in the Cesarewitch and, in today's Monday Mish Mash, I've got a run down on the Newmarket racing from Saturday, and a look at what's set to be a running debate: the introduction today of the new whip rules.
It's all about the jocks today, so chocks away!
Firstly, let's look back Â at the weekend's racing from Newmarket, with a view to next year's Classics, but before that, a quick review of the Ces.
I'd made a pretty robust case for a horse called Ermyn Lodge in my Cesarewitch Preview piece at the end of last week. Those who followed me in were rewarded on the place part of the bet, as Ermyn Lodge battled bravely to beat 31 of his 32 rivals and finish second.
But the plaudits go to Frankie Dettori, a man I've lambasted a fair bit on here over the years, largely because he doesn't always give a horse the benefit of all of his considerable talent. Saturday was one of those career defining victories, and bookended the week when he was lucky to win his 500th Group race, with a victory here that he had no right whatsoever to claim.
His mount, Never Can Tell, was drawn in the car park's car park in 36 (which was actually the 33rd stall from the shortest course, due to non-runners, and the widest of all). If you think that makes no difference over two and a quarter miles, the stats disagree. And so does this image.
It took Dettori two and a half furlongs to tack across to the far rail which was favoured and, using bad maths, and even worse Pythagorian theory, I estimate that to be the equivalent of 45 metres extra distance. Or, in horse lengths, about 22 lengths.
What's more remarkable was that, once the field entered the interminable Newmarket home straight, Frankie was alone in deciding to race down the centre of the track.
We (I!) often criticise jockeys for a lack of bravery, especially in terms of choosing a furrow where they perceive the best ground to be, and this was brave bordering on foolhardy in such a big race, and as the only one of 34 riders so to do.
But he's not the best for nothing and, on his day, Dettori is simply unplayable, to use parlance from other sports. This was a master class ride in every sense, and if we who had backed Ermyn Lodge were to be beaten, then we have to concede defeat in the most sporting of contexts. For me, this was probably the ride of the season.
It was simply brilliant. And Frankie knew it. You don't see him do this when he wins Group 1's, so to see him do it in a handicap (albeit a pretty good handicap) told you a lot about how chuffed the micro-Italian was with his efforts and those of his gallant Montjeu filly, Never Can Tell. Have you ever seen Frankie do this before:
Formidable ride, Frankie. Well done mate.
And there was more credit to be distributed in the finishing positions of the Cesarewitch as, aside from our brave Ermyn Lodge, a three year old - Colour Vision - was just outbattled in the closing stages. Granted, Mark Johnston's 20/1 shot was getting a fair whack of weight for age, but this was a great effort nonetheless.
And a further fine effort from the super tough and genuine victim of his own partial success, Mount Athos. Lugging top weight here - as is his penance for fine run in defeat after fine run in defeat - Marwan Koukash's second frame placing (he had the winner as well) deserves a big race success.
So it was a great effort and we got a fine run for our money, but ultimately 9/2 the place is not nearly so good as 9/2 the place and 18/1 for the win (returned 16/1). Onwards and downwards...
The more material races for the future were the juvenile 'trials', and it was an Irish jamboree as both the Middle Park and Dewhurst pots were snatched across the sea to the Emerald Isle. In fact, they also snaffled the Rockfel Stakes to boot!
First, it was Crusade who proved three-quarters of a length and more too good for his rivals in the Middle Park Stakes over six furlongs. It's a race that typically produces a high class sprinter rather than a Classic contender, but that doesn't normally stop the winning owner from trying to stretch the stamina beyond the implications of the form book.
Crusade was having his fourth run and was perhaps a typical winner of the race. In his previous three races, he'd been beaten twice at seven furlongs and won his other effort... over six furlongs. This is the Classic Trial for non-stayers!
In behind they were mostly reasonable to quite good sticks, but nothing in here is going to win a Group 1 next year beyond six furlongs (if at all) I wouldn't have thought.
Onto the more meaningful Dewhurst Stakes, presumably named after 'the master butcher', a proper trial for the 2000 Guineas won by the likes of Frankel last term, and Teofilo, Sir Percy, and Rock of Gibraltar in recent times.
It had also been won by Jim Bolger in three of the previous five years. So quite why his Parish Hall was sent off at 20/1 is beyond me!!! I was playing football at the time and, naturally, hindsight is both a wonderful thing and affords full 20/20 vision.
I do hope that trainer pattern was spotted by some of you as JS Bolger had prevailed here with an 'unfancied' 20/1 shot as recently as 2008 (Intense Focus). He also had the 33/1 third, Glor Na Mara, behind Frankel last year.
OK, so it's obvious looking back. But what about this chap's future prospects?
Well, he won't be winning six furlong races next term, that much is clear. His dad is the aforementioned Dewhurst winner, Teofilo, and his mum calls Montjeu 'daddy', so there's a nice blend of middle distance blood there.
It looks as though he needs at least seven even now, and he might turn out to be a Classic contender next season, without having the pace to win a Guineas or necessarily the stamina to win a Derby. Saying that, he'd probably have a Â better chance in the Irish version of the latter race than the Epsom one.
He's unlikely to feature on my ticket for either unless showing considerable progression in the Spring prep races (possible).
Nothing in behind is especially worthy of mention, with the runner-up - favourite, Power - looking all over a sprinter (might win the July Cup next year, you heard it here first!).
The third home, Most Improved, lived up to his name and looking at his pedigree (by Lawman out of a Linamix mare), he might have a nice future. This was only his third run, and there ought to be a fair bit more to come next season. He's a name to remember.
After the Cesarewitch came the Â Group 2 Rockfel Stakes for juvenile fillies over seven furlongs. Not too many top notchers emerged victorious here, though 1000 Guineas winners Speciosa and Finsceal Beo, the latter for that man Bolger, were two, and Music Show wasn't bad either.
Wading was much the best here, coming home two lengths clear of a good yardstick in Pimpernel. Wading was second of 20 on debut and, since then, has won back to back races. She looks a stayer, by Montjeu out of Cherry Hinton (a daughter of 'super-dam' Urban Sea, mummy to Galileo and Sea The Stars as well as this lass).
While 10/1 is hardly generous for the 1000 Guineas, it is at least reasonable as she was clearly the pick here, and it's hard to find too many standout candidates for the race elsewhere. She looks certain to progress, this being only her third run, and being a Ballydoyle runner, she won't want for good care.
The 12/1 for the Oaks with Paddy Power is, again, hardly supreme value, but there are lots of reasons to believe she'll a) go to Epsom, and b) go to Epsom with a chance. I've had a cheeky each way on her with PP, and the link below will enable you to do likewise, should you so wish. 🙂
Lastly, the Group 3 Autumn Stakes may not have too many future champions in its midst, but the fourth placed horse was superbly aptly named. He was, of course, Jim Bolger's Whip Rule!
So, what else is new? Well, the whip rules are! This afternoon's flat meetings at Salisbury, Windsor and Yarmouth (another triumph for race planning with all three in the South!) promise to be frustrating for both pilots and punters alike, as some horses finish placed when they would have won if the race was run yesterday.
Yes, jockeys are required to exercise discretion and be able to count at least up to seven (sorry, that's a bit harsh, even for me!). Some will err on the side of caution. Others will fall foul of the beaks (or, more specifically, the rules), but one thing above all others is certain.
Punters this afternoon will be cursing a combination of the jockeys, the new rules, and the authorities, as wagers which would have won a week ago are lost today.
I have to say that the tardy and somewhat hollow protestations of Kevin Darley, chief executive of the Professional Jockey's Association, do not reflect well on him. It is to be assumed that PJA were given ample opportunity to contribute to the discussions, both in terms of the actual rules and - more materially - the implementation of them.
The fact that Darley is now retrospectively trying to seek a 'bedding in period' smacks of unprofessionalism and a hint of oversight, I'm afraid. I loved the man as a jockey - always excellent value - but something has clearly been missed here, and jocks and punters will be paying this afternoon and for a few weeks to come.
What are your thoughts on the new whip rules? Perhaps you'll be the first to leave a comment cursing a loss as a result of an overturned result or a weaker than expected finish due to the new rules.
My own thoughts on how punters should interpret the rules were outlined in my new monthly report, the Bisogno Bulletin, which costs a whopping Â£3.82 and can still be acquired here. As well as that, there's also a bunch of hot trainers in October, some insight into what I'm up to at the moment (in terms of current projects, which will be hitting the streets in upcoming weeks and months), and... I'm doing a special 'Bisogno Bulletin readers only' preview for the excellent Champions Day meeting this Saturday at Ascot.
Phew! And all for just Â£3.82. "What cracking value", I think I heard Eric in Tadcaster, mutter... 😉
Anyway, the feedback's been good and you can get all that lovely goodness for less than four quid (it's actually $5.99, hence the daft sterling amount).
Oh yes, the link. Seriously, I do believe that punters should be making this minor change to their betting in light of the new rules, and it may not be quite as obvious as it should be.
Sign up for the Bisogno Bulletin here.
And finally, as that man MacDonald, T, used to say, it looks very much like Bet2Win will sell out today. John's been blessed with an excellent run of results (11 winners from his first 16 runners!), which whilst above the normal average of 42% strike rate, is still not unheard of.
Clearly, as the results settle down, there will be losers as well (duh!), but if you've been pondering this, it's last chance saloon. In fact, it might be closed already by the time you read this (not false scarcity - John emailed me last night saying he was going to contact his own 'pending' list and that would be it, so I don't have any 'official' latitude to mention this...)
So, if it's still there, here's your last chance for now at least to get in on Bet2Win.
That's all for today - I'll be back later in the week no doubt, with another unmissableÂ posting on the always fascinatingÂ virtual platform that is geegeez.co.uk...!Â 😉
Until then, have a great week.