Let’s get the good stuff out of the way shall we? After a diet of fourteen Christmas dinners and far too much to drink, even the grossest type 2 diabetan fancies a break. The traditional Boxing Day bash at Kempton is just the place.
As BanksBentley1 swished it’s way towards Sunbury Cross (why you have darkened windows) I noticed the good people of Sunbury had organised a Christmas treat for those heading to Kempton, by diverting power to the traffic lights at the big roundabout to their Christmas trees. very civil of them. We drove over a couple of electric cars and parked in the Chairman’s bay.
Kempton isn’t a big track. It doesn’t take much to fill. Two small grandstands, one of which needs to be condemned. You can pick which one goes first. Plenty of concessionaires selling chips with curry sauce to the Diabetans and one of the best tracks in the country. Indeed it’s smaller All Weather affair is as good a surface as you’ll find. It’s great JCR resisted digging up the whole thing for Tesco. Sandown just wouldn’t be the same with it’s fancy Grandstand and driving range.
The crowd was noticably lighter, although still a positive turnout for their feature event- I was happy to see. Kempton officials doubtless in the street encouraging people in..
CSP do the parking and gateman duties at the little venue. Not for Kempton the nice old duffers in bowler hats from Ascot. No these were the nightclub bouncer types. ‘I’m VERY famous’ I told one Tony Calvin lookalike between enclosures. ‘I don’t care if you’re Simon Mapletoft’ he growled ‘you’re not coming in ere.’ Fine, I’ll buy a ticket
I doffed my hat to the bookies I knew, resplendent with their fancy light boards. They do their best to add to the Christmas cheer by paying out on a couple of favourites winning the two biggest heats. Well it is Kempton after all. I hoped someone would notice Kempton in amongst the 77 other races helpfully organised for the day – a mere 3.7 minutes apart for each – not quite enough to bet on. Planning for children by children.
Of course I had spent the week griping on Twitter to all in sundry (most who can’t spell by the way – don’t you go to skool?) about the pathetic turnout for the major races. To include one total no hoper entered in the graded hurdle, who couldn’t beat his grandmother home. Gray Wolf River, whose owner reasoned – reasonably, that by entering he was guaranteed a bigger pot than he’d ever bagged before.
Pause for favourite winning- and payouts
This is a kind of farce only the National Hunt could put on. A heat so rich in prize fund, yet poorly attended, a horse, according to his owner akin ‘to a bicycle entering a Grand Prix heat’ could make it pay.
Yes, Yes, I know. Colin Tizzard saved the whole shooting match by making one of the bravest, and yes, noble decisions, in running his two specialist 3 milers against each other. One of whom could potentially have bagged the famous million pound bonus for winning 3 specific championship events. Throwing Fizzlecrack into the mix was a decision based on the sport and not the business. To that end I applaud all the connections involved.
Cue Card strolled by – head in the air as usual..such a ponce
Pause for favourite wins and payouts..
To those who don’t get my point on the poor turnout and avoidance with Graded events in the winter in the 5 months before Cheltenham, I say one thing. If you don’t understand a sport is based on its top stars racing against each other, rather than horses rated far below their level to polite applause, then you don’t understand sport one bit and what it competes with for interest. If you want to see Altior bumble around against trees, pop to Seven Barrows, where the genial Henderson will let you look for free. This is a sport. Not a business. And the main protagonists should square off against each other more than once a year – that’s if we’re lucky.
Imagine if you will, a world where Rich Ricci owned Fizzlecrack and Cue Card. Both would be running at Cork, in a couple of meaningless affairs. What are the chances they’d square off on recent form? Try zero. What are the chances of Divan (the magnificent?) facing Fizzlecrack? Try zero.
So the next time you find me standing alone, crying out for people to do something about the disgraceful state of affairs in the beautiful code- try standing to post yourself and making a damned noise. At least highlight these comments if you agree.
Is there a brilliant Banks solution to the whole 5 month Cheltenham schooling gallop scene? Certainly there is. Like EVERY other sport, attendance should be based on merit and qualification. You can’t go to the FA Cup final until you’ve beaten 8 other teams. You don’t get to play in the US Masters until you’ve won several tournaments. Yet Annie Power can sit in her box for five months and turn up for the Champion Hurdle just because. It isn’t good enough. Sponsors, racegoers, television companies pay to see the best race against each other throughout the season. It falls to Jockey Club here as custodians of Racing and the over arching Cheltenham, to sort the whole damn mess out – to their benefit and their patrons too mind you. It’s for sure the BHA aren’t capable of dealing with the situation. Harman’s still learning what a conflict of interest is.
it’s traditional at kempton for Bookies to pop to the ATM for extra funds. Me, I went to several. I’m experienced you see. My customers know to wager on one side (small queue) and collect on the other side (huge queue). Fizzlecrack jumped two fences in one bound in defeating his opponents. And I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. Will he handle Cheltenham? Well the only fly in his oitment is the tricky fences there. To take off at an open ditch at Prestbury 46 yards before the fence and trail your boots in can be toublesome. Given his performance however I see Cue Card disappearing to the Ryanair to join Djakadam, Divan, Faugheen and Annie Power. All of whom I’m sure hold a spare entry to the mares – just in case..
One strange event in the day however, someone backing My Tent Or Yours to win? What chance has he got, the fellah said. ‘To finish second?’ I asked. He looked puzzled.Clearly a novice.
After day one I sold the Bentley.
Day two rolled around.I popped to the ATM, boarded my electric smug car and headed back to the scene of the crime. I noticed St Johns’ ambulance hanging round the bookie stalls, waiting on heart attacks and Tanya from Channel 4 in the crowd looking miserable, and she hadn’t laid a bet! The death of Channel 4 will be met with mixed reviews. for me it’s equally sad because I witnessed the effort first hand and I know it will be tough for ITV to live up to people’s expectations.
My office called every fifteen seconds to keep me posted on a raft of multiple bets running up on favourites around the country, all running into Native River in the Welsh Grand national. This one for fifteen grand, this one for 26 grand. I groaned every time the phone rang. A punter thrust five pound into my hand after Native River hosed up. ‘That’s for you Son’ he said.
Very sweet of him. Next year I’m going skiing. No matter how expensive the hotel, it couldn’t be more than two days in Sunbury..