A game of two halves was never more apt, dear reader, than Southgate County 4th XI's cup tie against opposition two divisions above us (and top of that division to boot).
Having started in honest fashion, working hard against a more stylish and competent line up, County used their pacey front man on the counter-attack to great effect. Drawing the opposition onto us (more accurately, their superior ability meant they attacked us at will!), County were able to repel all raids and nick two goals on the break for a 2-0 half time lead.
Deserved as it was for effort, it was somewhat fortuitous in terms of the overall balance of play. Alas, the endeavour and discipline of those first 45 minutes were awol in the second period and, against a much better side, we were made to pay heavily. Sparing you (and me) the details, we lost 6-2 and will now 'concentrate on the league'... To add insult to injury, I got the team kit to wash!
So yours truly is a little achey breaky today, after the futile exertions of a sunny Saturday soaked in soccer.
Enough off this off topic verbiage, and to the races...
Anyone who saw Crack Away Jack yesterday will have been impressed by the way he traveled in the race. He did likewise in the Fred Winter at the Festival back in March, but I still just wonder whether he actually finds that much when asked to quicken. I'm sure he will win more races this year, but as a Champion Hurdle contender, I'd still rather be on Sizing Europe and Katchit (both of whom broke my heart in the Champion in March - see the Nag3 posts at the time for the details).
I would normally say that 5yo's (as Jack will be come March) cannot win the Champion, but of course Katchit laid that stat to rest last season. It's certainly arguable that Katchit is exceptional, which he is, and Jack hasn't come close to matching Katchit's exploits... yet.
I can't really see much else getting into the Champion picture, and I make Sizing and Katchit the two to be on again this term. You heard it here first... if you haven't already heard it somewhere else!
To today's racing, which is a triumph of quantity over quality in the main (in the mane?). No matter, for every race has a winner, and for every winner, we get paid.
In the 2.45 at Bath, a 5f sprint nursery with 13 runners (three NR's), the draw bias can be hard to predict. High numbers with a finishing kick do pretty well in decent fields like this, and that description applies to the topweight Go Go Green. In what is clearly an open race, I will be having a small each way tickle on this one. (As my regular reader knows, I also like topweights in nurseries).
Over at Goodwood, high is the place over 7f and a mile. So in the 2.35 event, another nursery, I should probably be going with the well drawn Perfect Citizen, who carries the greatest burden here. But I will reluctantly pass this one over in favour of Tom Dascombe's Campbelltown Trader.
He's had the obligatory three runs in maidens to qualify for a handicap mark, and should run well. Comments about the form of the stable are a little unfounded I feel, given that of the last five runners to start at 10/1 or shorter, four of them have been in the first quartet home, beating an average of seven rivals apiece.
16/1 in a place looks generous for the Trader, and I expect a bold bid.
Finally, in the near insoluble (unsolvable?) 3.45 contest, I'll take two well drawn lesser lights from big stables against the field. John Gosden continues in brilliant form and his Capucci could go win this afternoon if settling better.
As a saver, I'll chuck in John Dunlop's Mountain Pride. This one can front run, as he did when winning at Sandown earlier this season. I certainly hope that's the approach taken today: front runners have a great record at the track. Again, 16/1 is available and this looks generous for a horse of his profile.
Over in the Czech Republic, they race at Pardubice today for the world famous Velka Pardubicka (pronounced, I think, Par-du-bits-car). Charlie Mann and Ferdy Murphy have long records of sending runners over but, as yet, I don't believe they've had any success.
A 7yo local horse called Sixteen won the race last year, and the same horse is the most likely winner this year. I'm not even sure if you can get a bet on this event but if they show it on the box anywhere, be sure to take a look at it!
Lastly for today, let's catch up with The Legacy and Fancy Fillies system trials.
The Legacy has been pretty quiet so far, with just one runner - and a 2/1 winner to boot - qualifying.
Fancy Fillies meanwhile, has nominated four horses to oppose, with the first three getting beaten. Yesterday, however, Laureldean Melody redressed some of the imbalance by winning at 11/8.
So three out of four for Fancy Fillies.
Today, Fancy Fillies has Miss Sophisticat in the 2.10 Bath to oppose (lay).
Legacy System also has one runner, and puts up Alexandros in the 5.05 at Bath to back.
That's it for today,