IT has been a tough week for all of us.
But racing has a happy habit of squeezing a bit of sunshine from the gloom.
Just look at Nicky Henderson. He had a grin wider than an open ditch after receiving an OBE at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.
And Robert Havlin got a standing ovation when he notched up his 1,000th winner at leafy Lingfield the other day.
Rocket Robert wouldn’t be every punters cup of Darjeeling. But he’s the nicest fella in the world and a tremendous judge to boot.
Whatever the Billy Bunters think he’s been second string at John Gosden’s yard since bell bottoms were fashionable. And big John doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
Frankie Dettori makes Robert look like a greenhorn though. The great man is 50 this year and still riding like a demon.
He put up a virtuoso performance on front-running Cemhaan at Kempton Park on Wednesday and is still nearly unstoppable once he’s got the bit between his teeth.
Mind you, Frankie did manage to get beaten on well-bet Star Of Bengal (5-2 to 11-10). But there were mitigating circumstances.
When a well-known face asked him what he thought of the horse, Frankie gave a succinct one-word answer, “chicken.”
Our `in-running’ punting pals walk a wobbly old tightrope and hit the deck again when Light Lily went 1-100 before being caught at Southwell on Thursday.
More than £16,000 went west. That sort of dough takes a lot of clawing back.
By the way, there’s a whisper that the world of in-running betting is getting ready for a shake-up.
Apparently Racing TV have been doing an experiment and their pictures will almost match the speed of racecourses’ `live-feed’ from the start of April.
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That means the in-running crew will be able to play from home rather than paying upward of £200 per day for a seat in front of a screen at the track.
The word is plenty of them reckon it’s a no-brainer and will be voting with their feet.
Talking of punters, a couple of regulars were caught discussing the prospect of racing being postponed if there’s a ban on large gatherings of people.
“Well,” one of the pair reasoned, “unless Boris puts the number in single figures we’ve always got the all weather at Kempton.”
Funnily enough Aidan O’Brien had his first runner at Kempton when well fancied New World Tapestry (4-1 to 11-4) was turned over there the other night.
His participation attracted a few classy looking owners including Paul Smith, son of Coolmore bigwig Derrick.
Now Paul didn’t stand on ceremony and was spotted getting stuck in with a wooden fork at the fish and chip stand.
His full-time report to Aidan must have been, `horse moderate, haddock lovely.’
DANGEROUS ENDS can get his head in front at Chelmsford (8.00). He’s been involved in more photos than Meghan Markle and kicked too soon when touched off last time.
We are only days away from Cheltenham and the latest whisper is that Newtide will go close in the marathon National Hunt Chase on Tuesday.
He’s been bet from 25-1 to 10s, is working like a metronome and Kim Bailey’s camp are predicting a bold show.
Meanwhile, my old mate Ken Pitterson has seen more trials than Rumpole and tells me nothing has impressed him quite like Irish ace Appreciate It.
Canny Ken reckons this fella has got more muscles than Billingsgate fish market and is a banker in the bumper.
There’s plenty of money up for grabs at Wolverhampton today and Ryan Moore should grab a slice on URBAN ICON in the Wulfruna Stakes (2.45).
He knocked heads with some hard nuts last season and has a lovely draw if Ryan can ping the lids.
Over at Chelmsford, MILDENBERGER will be hard to catch in the Fast Track Qualifier (7.30).
He bossed a small field at Lingfield last time and is still unexposed in marathons.
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