Saturday, 16 March 2019

Bejabez Ramblings - Female Jockey to win the Grand National?

When I was a youngster back in the day my dad, God bless his soul, would always encourage me to get back up again after a fall. I seem to be doing this quite a lot lately. Here’s many an old quote from Dad that makes me smile and come to mind when at the races. None more so than: “They get now’t for second!” as I am tearing up my ticket up after “Weighed In! Weighed in!” broadcast over the tannoy. 

My father passed away at the turn of the millennium, just two months before his Great Grandchild was born. A girl that he had always wished for, all boys up till then. This little girl would have been spoilt rotten he’d always had plans for the great event, a pony and riding lessons being top of his list. My Dad would have loved this year Cheltenham, especially seeing the female jockeys partaking. 

Headlines as in the TDN Europe on Friday: “CHELTENHAM THURSDAY: The Sport of Queens” 

I couldn’t have been happier with the Frodon winning, as the jockey Bryony Frost (first female jockey to win a Grade 1 at Cheltenham) is in my select jockeys to follow list.

Her quote to the nation was inspiring and refreshing:

“[When he was headed] most horses would have accepted defeat but not Frodon. He said no, and I said no, and for that minute, those few strides, it could have gone the other way, but he grabbed hold of me and said ‘no kid, we keep going, that hill’s still there, there’s still one more to jump and we’re still in it, the line isn’t here yet’. And with his ears flat back on his neck, he wanted it more than anyone.” 

The race after was also a tear jerker, in a nice way, for me, what a special win was Paisley Park for his owner Andrew Gemmell trained by Emma Lavelle. It’s like the Grand National we’re always enthralled not only with the race but also the little stories behind the winner and connections. The ‘Sun Racing Stayer’s Hurdle’ had its own story, Paisley Park nearly lost his life to colic two years ago but, returned to full health, and has remained unbeaten in five starts. Andrew is one of the greatest advertisements for racing, how he enjoys not only racing but all sports across the world. Not allowing being blind from birth stop him thoroughly enjoying himself. His excitement was infectious. 

Then just as we thought it could n’t get any better along comes Siruh Du Lac in the 4:10 ridden by Lizzie Kelly the third woman to ride a winner this week. The first female jockey winner this week at Cheltenham was Rachael Blackmore winning the Listed Race ‘Close Brothers Novices Handicap Chase’ by 16L on board ‘A Plus Tard’ on the first day Lizzie was the first female jockey to ride a Grade 1 winner over fences with Tea For Two.

Well, what an exciting time we live. Things can only get better and I’m now looking forward to the Grand National. Will we be having a female Jockey winner? I hope so and then perhaps we can start thinking about dropping the female bit and call them what they are ‘JOCKEYS’. Although I am reminded that the first race on the Uttoxeter card today Saturday 16th March is the ‘Abacus Decorators Lady Riders’ Handicap Hurdle (Female Professional Jockeys/Amateur Riders’ Race’. Nine go to post with Woulduadamandeveit currently favourite (time of writing).

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Bejabez Ramblings - There’s life beyond Cheltenham

Your Guide to the Cheltenham Festival (Day 1)
Over the last ten years, I’ve suffered, if that’s the right phrase, with high blood pressure. I go to the doctors for a check up knowing full well that the doc’s going take my readings, gasp and tell me I’ve got to do something about it. During each visit, I’m told that I have a 25% of a stroke or heart attack. Being a bit of an optimist, you have to be to follow the horses, one year I was feeling a little devilish and just said: “ That’s good then doc!” she looked at me and looking puzzled saying: “I’ve just told you to have a 25% chance of a Heart Attack in the next five years!” “yes I know, does that mean I have a 75% chance of not having one” I sniggered, she was not amused.

This made me think about my 2yo spreadsheet going on my records.

In 2018 there were 1413 races and 25% (348) of them were won by the top five trainers: Mark Johnston, Richard Hannon, A P O’Brien,  Richard Fahey and Archie Watson  (who was a surprise as he had 52 winners against 15 in 2017).

The top ten Trainers had 38% (531).

The top twenty Trainers had 54% (761).

My spreadsheet listed a total of 228 trainers.

I know it’s a big week ahead. You only have to look at the leading racing web sites: Racing Post, Irish Racing, At The Races & The Sporting Life and others to realise all eyes will be on Cheltenham - Tuesday 12th to Friday 15th March. 


However, during the week there are other meetings:

Tuesday: Southwell (aw), Wolverhampton (aw), Sedgefield 

Wednesday: Huntingdon, Lingfield (aw), Kempton (aw),

Thursday:  Market Rasen, Hexham, Southwell (aw)

Friday: Fakenham, Lingfield (aw), Chelmsford (aw)

It's that 75% of meetings where I will be looking for my winners 


I believe it may be easier to find winners than at Cheltenham (I have very disappointing returns at the big meetings).

There’s been a lot said lately about ARC, the prize money and trainers/jockeys boycotting meetings. It's gone a bit too far for my liking, especially as you read about the bullying etc. The owners should have the last say as to where and when their horse's race. 



I’m glad to see the Arc courses above are putting alternate races on to Cheltenham. 

I wonder how many, what are so-called small trainers, have runners and capitalise on prize money whilst all the big guns are elsewhere. However, I do look for the odd horse from the big stables attending. I’ll be concentrating on Sedgefield, Market Rasen, Huntingdon and Fakenham which nicely gives me one meeting a day if I want to make a bet. Also, making it a bit easier on the studying. 

I shall be leaving the All-Weather as a backup.

What will I be doing Tuesday to Friday? 

Watching Cheltenham of course! 

Then Saturday, I have the Midlands Grand National to savour at my local track Uttoxeter, where I have been a member for years.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Bejabez Ramblings - My Cheltenham

It’s that time of year again, everyone has their opinion on the outcome of each race. I find it very difficult to find winners at the big meetings, probably because each Trainer/Jockey/Owner are chasing as many winners as they can. Which makes it very competitive. I’m not saying they don’t try all the time, well it is ‘Cheltenham after all’ We, the lads and lasses of our local, have a little competition. Easy rules, just pick as many winners as you can, and take the sp for each, the one with the highest sp total at the end of day four is the winner. 

As we know there are 28 races in total so not an easy task. In the group, there are several who just choose a cloth number all through the meeting. You may not agree with this method, however, the chap who had the good fortune to choose No.5 picking up the prize. On this occasion, I did quite well to end up joint second, but disappointed that pure luck beat me. That’s the game though, you pays your money and takes your chance. 

This year, as I don’t tend to bet at the major fixtures, I’m going to have a little competition on my own, for each race:- I’m going to choose a horse based on my interpretation of the form (haha you serious) I might bet on it! I’m going choose one horse that just jumps out at me (pin-picker) funny name etc. I’m going to choose a cloth number (well you never know) very disappointed if this wins.

I’ve put the first 10 cloth numbers in a hat and chose one, so it looks like I’m having No.4 for every race. I know some of you will be thinking about how will we know what your selections are apart from number 4. 

I’ve created a spreadsheet and will supply as required.

This is purely for fun and please note I don’t give or sell tips. Also if you are like me and believe in luck or more to the point bad luck I apologise for listing your selections. 

A gambling rule I’ve always stuck to (that makes no sense) is. After I have written my selection down and walking to the betting window, I hear anyone mention my horse I throw the slip away and don’t have a bet. You may laugh but this little foible has saved me plenty, its as though someone is looking out for me. 

I like to think it’s my Uncle Bill.



Monday, 4 March 2019

Bejabez Ramblings: Join us at the Races

Thank you, Eric, for forwarding a poem written by your wife, Mrs C. Arnold. 

Grab your coat and binoculars 
We’re off to the races today 
It isn’t warm, we might have rain 
But we’ll have fun anyway 
There is no such thing as bad weather 
Just a case of wrong clothes 
So be prepared for anything 
Just in case it snows

We’ll get there nice and early 
Buy a race-card on the way in
Get a coffee, find a seat 
Let the studying begin! 
It’s always good to read the ‘form’ 
And make a note or two 
Of horses that might stand a chance 
Of coming good for you 

A walk up to the parade ring next 
To see them walking round 
It sometimes helps your judgement 
Before you place your pound 

Back down to the bookies 
All waiting for your money 
I haven’t really got a clue 
I just pick a name that’s funny 
The odds are changing all the time 
Depending on the betting 
But when your slip is printed 
It tells you what your getting 

We’ll find a spot to watch the race 
There are screens to see as well 
The atmosphere is usually good 
We’re all waiting for the bell 
The flag is raised and then they’re off 
All racing at their best
But soon the leaders go in front 
And leave behind the rest 

Mine’s in the lead, but not by much 
He’s trying to hang on 
He’s jumping well and gathers pace 
Yes, ‘Terry the Fish’ has won the race 

Back to the bookie who sold the slip 
I never bet a lot 
Put a flutter on my next tip 
And count up what I’ve got 

Ladies Night and Ladies Day 
Are favourites of mine 
I forget about the racing 
As the fashions fill my time 
I gawp at all the dresses 
And marvel at the headgear 
Some must have cost a fortune 
But it's only once a year 

I hope I’ve whet your appetite 
For a day out at the races 
It doesn’t have to cost a lot 
So come join the happy faces 

 C Arnold 3/3/2019

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Bejabez Ramblings - Systems or Tips

Horse racing systems or tips
Sorry for the title of this little ramble folks, its just I have provocative questions to ask. “Provocative” may suggest sexual connotations to some, however, I want it to stimulate our thoughts. Oh dear, I’m at it again another sexual connotation. Give me a moment to clear my thoughts. I think I’m Ok now, where was I, Oh yes I was going to talk about Systems and Tips. If you don’t mind I’ll start with;- 

Systems

There are more systems than enough how or which one do you choose to use. When asked what is the best system to use for winner finding on horse racing. My reply is “the Best one has, and will never, be seen!” Honestly, would you find a system ‘that works’ then go and tell someone even for money? You know it would soon be broadcast everywhere. 

I worked with a chap who people confided in on other matters, because of his inability to keep a secret he was known as “Radio Dave” Also the more punters and layers knew about this, Midas system, there would be no value anywhere. So far in my fight off between systems and tips, systems have been on the canvas in the first round. Can it make a comeback, Looks exhausted with these opening blows. 

In earlier rambles I’ve mentioned Uncle Bill, well he had a system simple but he did quite well out of it. (I don’t understand how there’s no logic to it) He would use the Daily Mirror, look at the form in the race card and choose the horses with place form in the last three outings e.g 032 finished unplaced, third, second. He would list these and check if any of them was listed second in the betting in the probable SP. If he found one ‘Bet On’ otherwise no bet look another day.

As they say “simples” 

You know as well as me form 032 tell you nothing about the quality, how many runners it was up against, distance, going, and over the jumps any that fell at the last fence. 

Quite a few systems use the form in them. No! systems were not able to get up after this last blow, technical knockout! 

NOTE: Do not let me put you off looking and trying new systems you know what Del Boy says “ This time next year we’ll be millionaires. Rodney” 

Tipsters

Looking favourite to win this competition after round one, however not all plain sailing, Oh that’s another sport, anyway let's get back to Tipsters. 

They are everywhere, all the racing pages have their experts ready to give you advice on why this should do well and win. They also provide their Nap and nb selection. Nap (derived from the card game Napoleon) indicates this is the tipster’s most confident selection of the day. nb = “Next best” and indicates another selection that the tipster rates highly. Newspaper tipster is on a hiding to nothing really as they have to choose one horse for each race, we all know they aren’t going achieve that. 

In days gone by mention the name tipster and it conjures up an image of a man in a raincoat wearing trilby binoculars around his neck, standing outside the racecourse entrance with little brown envelopes. Today is a very different picture with the internet just type in “Tipsters” and see the outcome. When I did this the first site listed was OLBG (online betting guide) worth a look just to see just how many tipsters there are. 

The Racing Post has a tips table (looking at Naps) listing their Naps Table and also a Press challenge listing all the daily papers Naps. 

I am not a tipster and would advise anyone thinking of using one fully check it out, there are some very unsavoury people out there. 

Well in the final round I declare Tipsters over Systems the winner. 

This is has been somewhat an awkward topic I have chosen to write since this is a sister website to others that offer tips on horse racing!

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Bejabez Ramblings - 2019 First Season Sires (Karakontie)

Karakontie First Season Sire (2019)
With Cheltenham approaching, a week of high interest followed by The Midlands Grand National (Uttoxeter). Why on earth would you write about 2yo sires? It’s a good question and I can see bewilderment on your faces. However, as my main interest is the 2yo season I have to prepare in advance. 

Now I’m getting on a bit, I find if I don’t note it or write it down, what was I saying, oh yes I forget things easily. That’s why I use all means of reminders. 

Most racing web sites offer a tracking system, we all have a different approach when it comes to list and remember our noted horses etc. I use several trackers each one specific to my needs. Choosing to use different sites to track horses, sires, trainers or jockeys, each email will not contain a long list that you have to plough through to find your next bet. I’m rambling again, now you know why I call it Bejabez Ramblings. Let's get to what I was going to let you in on, my list of:- 

First Season Sires for 2019 (26 at Present) 

Stallion (Sire: Sire Line)

Altruistic (Galileo: Sadler’s Wells) 
Anjaal (Bahamian Bounty: Cadeaux Genereux) 
Brazen Beau (I Am Invincible: Invincible Spirit) 
Cable Bay (Invincible Spirit: Green Desert) 
Cappella Sansevero (Showcasing: Oasis Dream) 
Due Diligence (War Front: Danzig) 
Fountain Of Youth (Oasis Dream: Green Desert) 
Free Eagle (High Chaparral: Sadler’s Wells) 
French Navy (Shamardal: Giant’s Causeway) 
Fulbright (Exceed And Excel: Danehill)
GlenEagles (Galileo: Sadler’s Wells) 
Golden Horn (Cape Cross: Green Desert) 
Gutaifan (Dark Angel: Acclamation) 
Hot Streak (Iffraaj: Zafonic) 
Intrinsic (Oasis dream: Green Desert) 
Ivawood (Zebedee: Invincible Spirit) 
Karakontie (pictured) (Berstein: Storm Cat) 
Kingston Hill (Mastercraftsman: Danehill Dancer) 
Lucky Speed (Silvano: Lomitas) 
Make Believe (Makfi: Dubawi) 
Muhaarar (Oasis Dream: Green Desert) 
Night Of Thunder (Dubawi: Dubai Millennium) 
Outstrip (Exceed And Excel: Danehill) 
Pether’s Moon (Dylan Thomas: Danehill) 
Sea Moon (Beat Hollow: Sadler’s Wells) 
Telescope (Galileo: Sadler’s Wells) 

Of the above list, I will follow some more closely than others. 

One first season sire progeny I am particularly looking forward to seeing on a racecourse and having influence are Karakonties

Others of initial interest are Gleneagles, Gutaifan, Night Of Thunder and Muhaarar It will be also interesting how many Due Diligence progeny A P O’Brien decides to have if at all any.

Please note: Although these are my thoughts this early they can change, that’s what’s so good about the unknown, every day you find or realise something new.



Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Bejabez Ramblings - Form

Having a chat with my granddaughter, Olivia, the other day when her phone bleeped. She had received a text message from one of her friends. I asked her who and what was so important to interrupt our conversation (phones are so ignorant they just bleep and people immediately answer them, in a normal conversation when a third person wants to interrupt they would say ‘Excuse me’).

Anyway back to our interruption ‘Liv’ (she hates it when I call her Liv) said: “oh just a friend telling me something, you probably not be able to read it, granddad.” 

Why not? I asked. 

Okay, she texted: “jk m8 cu l8r” then Olivia laughed. “See what I mean?” 

I said, oh why, she said: “Just kidding mate, see you later.” 

The look on her face was a picture. 

''Didn’t expect you to be able to read it, granddad.''

I’ve been reading form results in the weekly returns since the 1980s

I then read a race return for her. The race and horses are not important. The two horses dead-heated in second place:


Race return: 

 ''dht (1) s.i.s: towards rr:rdn o’r 2f out:r.o.wl up inner fnf:jst hld (2) led:hng lft o’r 1f out: kpt on u.p fnl f : hdd and jnd for 2nd last strds.'' 

What’s it all mean granddad? It was my turn to laugh!

There has never been so much form available to us punters as today. The racing papers/websites are full of it, almost to the point of being too much. 

Then there’s my favourite - video results. If you really want to find those winners you just have to put the time in. 

One of my great interests are the 2yo races. I mentioned earlier I started reading the weekly returns, in 1986. I started logging all 2yo runners. I used the index card method and using a shoe box to hold the cards and index dividers. 

At the end of the season, I had 3 shoe boxes full of returns with the form (as above) for each runner, listing: Horses Name, Trainer, Meeting (course), Date and of course the Form. I did this for two seasons, too time consuming, and then started listing the same on a spreadsheet but not the form. I just made a comment instead. It has changed over the years as I have been more selective in what I’m looking for to give me an edge. I still list all the 2yo’s winners and use the results in my spreadsheet to track Sires, Trainers and Jockeys (see examples). 

I shall be writing more on my interpretation of form reading in the future and explaining in more detail. See the charts, below.


Jockey Chart




2YO Race Winners


Trainer Chart



Saturday, 23 February 2019

Bejabez Ramblings - Winners

A little boy asks his dad: “How do you find a winner?” 

Dad replies: “Ask your mother.” 

Although the above is my attempt at humour, it is also a fact my wife is more likely to find big priced winners than me. So why isn’t she writing the blog then, I hear you ask, the simple answer is she’s not been asked.

As we all know the name of the game is to get winners, there are several ways to try to achieve this. Being in the know or close to a stable/trainer etc. You can purchase tips. You can follow a system. I have a system I change it every day. Allow me a little indulgence as I tell a true tale. I mentioned my uncle Bill in an earlier blog.

In my late teens and just old enough to place my own bets I had a little bit of luck and won a few quid. I was over the moon and was beaming from ear to ear when I walked into the front room at home. My mother asked me why I was so happy, of course, I couldn’t wait to tell someone of my good fortune. After which my mother gave me the look, you all know what I mean by “mothers look!” then said: “Oh our Eric you’re not going like my brother Bill gambling your money away” it was at this point she just said. I can give you a system as good as any you may see or buy. Well, I was all ears. 

There are just a few rules: 

1. leading course trainer 

2. leading course jockey 

3. has the horse run: 3.1 over the same distance, 3.2. on the going, 3.3. been placed in last 3 outings...

Well, she just went on on with the different proviso.

I was taking it all in and thought this sounds good. 

When my mother grinned, winked then said: “Don’t put your money on unless the fourth letter in the name is a T” That about sums up my trust in systems. 

In my mind, there are two types of gamblers: 

One who uses high stakes and can afford to (probably professional). Two, then gamblers like me who uses small stakes. 

This brings me to something I was told way back in the days when I knew less than now, 33% of races at each meeting are won by favourites. Some courses this can be as high as 40%. If you can determine which races might be won by the favourite it will help you find the chance of a big priced E/W in the other 67%. Easier said than done. As a low stake player, I look at the races where non favourites have a chance. 

At the beginning of this little ramble, I mentioned my wife and her uncanny methods for winner finding. She would tell you herself its all in the ‘name’. It’s surprising how many friends going to the races for the first time ask me for a winner. You know how difficult it is, so I just tell them to go along have a good time, don’t go mad, and only have a small bet on each race. 

I also tell them I can almost guarantee they will have a winner. It’s surprising how many people do well when they don’t know much about racing. It’s only when you put all the calculations in that it all goes pear-shaped.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Bejabez Ramblings: First Blog

There’s a familiar football chant “who are ya?!” well I’m Eric and over the next weeks, months and hopefully longer I shall be contributing to this and other blogs run by Jason who runs a number of websites High-Class Equine, Horse Trainer Directory and Eric Winner as you can see there is already someone called Eric (Winner). I, therefore, propose to use a Pseudonym Bejabez.

“Now that’s a strange name, where did it come from?” I hear you say. 

Many years ago in my local rag, there was a cartoon strip and the character was called Jabez. It was during this time I was looking for a pen-name. I knew I couldn’t use that but I did like it so I said to myself I’ll Be Jabez and that was that! I started signing off with Bejabez.

So here goes Bejabez first blog. 

Brief Life history and interests in horse racing. 

For this introduction, I don’t see any reason to go back to my childhood and bore you and me. However, I would like to mention my Uncle Bill who I point the finger at for introducing me to Horse Racing in my teens. Later in life it was whilst working in a repair shop, surrounded by what I can only describe as gamblers, that I came across my first Nap competition. You know the format pick a nap a day pay a small fee and at the end of each month, the winner takes the money. If there are quite a few in the competition they may pay 2nd and 3rd. It was during the first Nap comp I made myself look a right plonker,''You know what I mean Del Boy.''

It was during the races at Ascot and one of the group told me the nap today was for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, well I just said to him does that mean we got pick two today!

It just goes to show how little I knew. 

So it began, or as Sherlock Holmes would say “The games afoot”, my long apprenticeship started and continues. I don’t think you ever stop learning at this game, as your always looking for the next big thing (win). 

Over the past five years, I have been more interested in the pedigree as a means to find clues to race outcomes. I shall be writing more on this topic nearer to the start of the flat season and in particular the new 2yo races. 

I was told many years ago to win at horse racing you don’t have to beat the bookies, you just have to beat all the other players. In other words, find an edge before someone else to get the best price. See a trend spot a new up and coming Jockey or Trainer. I look at First Season Sires (FSS). There’s a lot of speculation from the mainstream papers. Just to give you food for thought in 2017 everyone was talking about Frankel's progeny I decided to keep note of Nathanie (pictured)l both out of Galileo. 

In 2017 Frankel 2yo progeny wins were 19 and Nathaniel 6. In 2018 Frankel 2yo progeny wins were 10 and Nathaniel 11. I don’t know what happened in 2017! However, 2018 was what I would have expected. 

Well, the journey has begun and I must take a pit stop and recharge my little grey cells (Hercule Poirot) more to come.

I would like to thank Eric A. for taking the time to write this blog. Great story and looking forward to more. [Jason]

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

The First Woman to Ride a Grand National Winner?

The First Woman to Ride a Grand National Winner?
You don't need me to tell you that the Grand National is almost here. Listen hard and you can hear the name Red Rum whispered with joyful praise. That emotive music score from composer Carl Davis. I really should watch the film Champions detailing the heartfelt story of man and horse: Bob Champion and Aldaniti who proved victorious in 1981. 

The Grand National has so many stories. I mean, most of the fences are named after horses who got lucky (Foinavon) or unfortunate jockeys (Captain Becher) who hid in a ditch after his horse fell. This race is built on stories. 

Who could forget Jenny Pitman the first woman to train a National winner in 1983 when Corbiere stormed home. She won again in 1995 with Royal Athlete at 40/1. 

At some point, it has all happened. 

We know one thing that has never happened but it could do if lady luck has anything to do with the result on 14th April. 

Could we see the first woman to ride a Grand National winner?

If the betting is anything to be believed, this year could be the closest we come to a story which many would consider on a par with the three victories of Red Rum.

Baie Des Iles - the flashy grey mare - has been heavily backed in the betting - slashed to 16/1. Katie Walsh is primed for the biggest race of her life at 5:15 Aintree, Saturday 14th April

Walsh came close to winning in 2012 but this time she could make history. 

Few people remember that it took the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act to make it possible for female jockeys to take part. 

The first female jockey to take part being Charlotte Brew in 1977, riding 200/1 outsider Barony Fort. The duo didn't complete the course after her mounted refused to jump the 26th fence. In fact, it took until 1982 for Geraldine Rees to complete the course in 8th riding Cheers a 66/1 shot. Other notable achievements include Carrie Ford finishing fifth in 2005 on 8/1 second favourite Forest Gunner. 

Katy Walsh has come the closest to winning when third on second-favourite Seabass in 2012.   

Baie Des Iles is trained by Ross O'Sullivan. The seven-year-old grey mare most recently finished third when contesting a race at Punchestown (Ireland) on heavy going. Katie Walsh rode the horse as she has on its last eight runs. Support came for this horse after being priced 50/1 last week.     

Only three grey horses have won the Grand National. 
  • The Lamb (1868, 1871)
  • Nicolause Silver (1961)
  • Neptune Collenges (2012) 


Monday, 4 February 2019

Staying at the Nelson Hotel for a night at Great Yarmouth's Grosvenor Casino

Nelson Hotel Great Yarmouth
It's never long before we visit Great Yarmouth on the Norfolk coast.  

A lot of people, including residents, question why go to ''Yarmouth'' for a holiday or weekend break. However, we have a long history of visiting this coastal town. It is a place our dad used to go horse racing, while, as children, we stayed at the Haven holiday park at Caister-on-sea. Such lovely times. 

We visit every September for the Eastern Festival, which sees sparkling racecourse action over three days. A merry pilgrimage of family and friends which remembers those who are no longer here but always in our hearts. 

Next week, I'm off to West Palm Beach, Florida to see my beloved Marlene. I wanted to visit Great Yarmouth before leaving as we haven't visited the town since September. We have stayed at a good few hotels. The best, if not most expensive, being the Andover House. The Embassy Hotel has been a regular haunt. Last night, the Nelson Hotel took centre stage. A family room, for the three of us, cost just £65, including breakfast. A great deal. The room had a view overlooking the seafront and the Grosvenor Casino, almost opposite the Wellington Pier. 

We arrived at the hotel around 9:30pm after taking the train to Great Yarmouth, changing at Norwich. A taxi from the station to the hotel giving the driver a tip (to bring us luck). 

A hundred-metre walk from the hotel to the casino at around 10pm. A decent meal in the listed building. Always exceptional service although the food can be a bit hit and miss.

Thereafter, we went downstairs to the gaming room. Sometimes we play three-card poker (not very often as the rake is high) so we favour roulette. The tables were busy so we played on the machines. I had never played on them before. In some respects, I wasn't keen as it seems a very private way to play and low key compared to the often hectic table with chips aplenty and chat from winners and losers.

Anyway, I played on the minimum £1 bet. I started with £20 and that was all I ever needed to cash because once again I got lucky. I always follow hot numbers which have come up a few times and thirty-three caught my eye. I routinely place a single bet and corner. Within five spins, the single and corner had come up and I had £50 or so in credit. A few more spins it comes up again and I am well in profit. I ended the night winning £80. I left with my two brothers at 2am. Tony won £230, while Gareth lost £40. 

All in all, it was a great evening. A brisk walk back to the train station after a full English breakfast at the hotel. 

Returning home a couple of hours later. 

Feeling tired but an evening to remember and we'll be back soon. 

Friday, 25 January 2019

Cheltenham Flashback: What Were The 2018 Festival Highlights?

Buveur d’Air seizes the Champion Hurdle
The Cheltenham Festival is the most important meeting in the National Hunt calendar and it always serves up a number of thrilling races. Punters across the land are eagerly counting down to the 2019 event and they are busy studying the form guides in anticipation. It is also worth having a look back at last year’s Cheltenham Festival to highlight some of the most memorable moments and analyse the key trends. Here are the top five moments of last year’s meeting:

Buveur d’Air seizes the Champion Hurdle 


Nicky Henderson’s Buveur d’Air went off as the odds-on favourite to win the Champion Hurdle after romping to victory the previous year. Punters backed him to the hilt as he went into the contest on the back on a nine-race winning streak, and he duly delivered. He started off strong and looked to be coasting to victory, but stablemate Melon made things interesting with a phenomenal late surge. Nearing the end of the race, Melon edged in front and punters’ hearts were in their mouths. Yet Buveur d’Air summoned up heroic reserves of strength to claw back the deficit, inch by inch over heavy ground, and claim victory by a neck, sparking scenes of joy in the crowd. Buveur D’Air extended his winning run to 11 when he landed the Fighting Fifth in early December, but the run ended when he finished second to Verdana Blue in the Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day.

Samcro delivers for the punters 

Another heavily backed odds-on favourite was Samcro, a budding superstar from the Gordon Elliott stable. He went all the way in to 8/11 to win the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, the opening race on Ladies’ Day, after being hailed as the Messiah of Irish racing. Owner Michael O’Leary, of Ryanair fame, said he was “s******g bricks” before the race, but he need not have worried. Samcro made a promising move on the outside as they approached the third last flight and displayed a brilliant turn of pace to take a four-length lead going into the final hurdle. Black Op made things interesting by giving chase, but Samcro ended up winning by two-and-three-quarter lengths.

Altior doubles up for Henderson 

A star-studded field assembled to battle it out for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the leading minimum-distance chase in the National Hunt calendar. Min and Politologue were given a strong chance of securing victory, while question marks lingered over the favourite, Altior, due to his injury problems. He had won 11 races in a row before the Cheltenham Festival, including the Novices’ Chase in 2017, but some feared he could not keep up with the likes of Min and the returning Douvan. Yet Altior made a mockery of such projections by powering to a magnificent win. He was behind the leaders at the home turn, but Nico de Boinville pulled him away from congestion for a challenge and he crossed the final fence neck-and-neck with Min, before storming out of sight to win by a comfortable margin. Earlier this month he extended his winning run to 17 races when he landed the Clarence House Chase at odds of 1/10 and he will be a popular selection among punters at leading sites like Sporting Index at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, where he will attempt to match the record of 18 wins set by Big Bucks. 

Penhill climbs to the top

St Patrick’s Thursday fittingly turned into a day of Irish dominance at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival and it will live long in Willie Mullins’ memory. Penhill was given little chance in the Stayers’ Hurdle after a 323-day layoff, but he shook off any rustiness to score by two lengths from the heavily backed Supasundae. It was a second successful Cheltenham Festival for Samcro, who won the Albert Bartlett the previous year. Penhill displayed great fitness to outstay the field and his trainer, Mullins, was typically humble in accepting praise. Later that day, Laurina handed him a record-breaking 63rd winner at the Festival by romping to victory in the Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle. “It’s unbelievable,” said Mullins. “When you start training you hope for one winner here. This isn’t something we ever dreamt of because we thought we couldn’t do that with a base in Ireland.”

Native River grabs gold 


The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the biggest jumps race of the year and it always attracts a sensational field. The 2018 renewal was no different as Might Bite, Native River, Definitely Red and Road To Respect were among the superstars lining up to battle for fame and fortune. There were 15 runners in total and every one of them was given a chance of success by various pundits in the build-up, but it ultimately developed into a thrilling duel between the favourite, Might Bite, and the second favourite, Native River. The latter stormed into the lead but Might Bite refused to let his rival out of his sight, and they fought tooth and nail for supremacy over 22 fences and three and a quarter miles. On the run to the home turn, Might Bite finally drew up alongside him, and everyone expected the favourite to go on a seize glory. After all, frontrunners had crumbled all week in tough conditions on the demanding home straight. But Native River is made of sterner stuff and he somehow found extra reserves, rallied and surged clear, eventually vanquishing Might Bite by four and a half lengths. 

Native River is the second favourite in the ante-post betting for this year’s Gold Cup, behind Presenting Percy, while King George victor Clan Des Obeaux is also in the mix along with Road To Respect, Al Boum Photo and Thistlecrack, with Might Bite considered an outsider this time around.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Why Did Sir Mark Prescott Stop Smoking Cigars?

Sir Mark Prescott with Cuban cigar
Famous people who smoke cigars?

I don't suppose they come any more well known than Sir Winston Churchill. He started smoking cigars around 1895, in his early 20s. This was the time he garrisoned in Havana, Cuba. He was there to observe and write about the conflict for the Daily Graphic newspaper. 

As it happened, Sir Winston enjoyed a variety of cigars. He was said to smoke 10 cigars a day. Approximately 250,000 in a lifetime! 

However, he was fond of large maduro cigars. Strangely, he was observed never to smoke more than halfway down.  

So what about another Sir... 

Sir Mark Prescott. 

He is actually a Baronet, which he inherited from his father. Educated at Harrow. He gained his trainers licence in 1970. Heath House Stables, in Newmarket, is a hugely respected trainer. Major winners include: The Nunthorpe Stakes: Marsha (2017), Pivotal (1996). 

Prescott's interests include: Hare coursing, cock fighting and bull fighting. 

And cigars...

Personally, I don't know why he gave up smoking. I guess it was health issues. 

   

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A Smoking Woman