Alfie Spinner no spent force at 13

December 8th, 2018 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

This has been a week of identifying short-priced favourites which still represented value if we acted soon enough. On Monday, the day of the Horserace Writers’ Lunch, Royal Claret had a clear chance in the mares’ three-mile handicap hurdle at Plumpton, while on Friday Gonnabegood battled on well to land another staying handicap hurdle at Exeter.

Not to labour the point, but Royal Claret was 2/1 on the morning tissue, ending up at 4/5 (there was a non-runner) and Gonnabegood obliged at 7/4 after being quoted at 7/2 earlier in the day. The lesson, of course, is to be up and about early, trying to secure the best price possible. I don’t think for a minute that any firm would have let you have two grand to one about Royal Claret but at that stage they’re still seeing which way punters want to go, so you might have been able to get a hundred pounds to fifty. I don’t think she represented value at 4/5 but I watched on someone’s phone and superior staying power saw her pass three rivals in the closing stages and gallop on to win easily in the end.

I wrote about Kayf Charmer, a 33/1 winner at Exeter, a week ago. She went in while I was in hospital but I don’t regard it as a miss because you can’t go around tipping horses for illogical reasons    in this case the recent form figures 020, which invariably attracted my mother. Anyway, although the form is moderate, it was franked on Friday when the runner-up Gonnabegood, beaten a short head, kept on with great gameness to land the spoils. I suspect he will be best left alone next time because he had a very hard race. 7/4 was worryingly short but the game has changed and you’d have found much better odds earlier on, especially with Dickie Johnson’s mount looking as if it would start favourite.

I am reliably informed that John Francome as auctioneer was quite brilliant at the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Awards Lunch (as he was last year), while Michael Parkinson may be starting to feel the onset of anno domini.

Francome is a loss to televised racing because his irreverent style appeals to many. He is simply very funny but best employed as a contributor, not as a presenter on interviewer. As someone running an auction, with a stream of affectionate insults and jokes which are rude without being vulgar, he is practically a genius.

Not a million miles behind is Luke Harvey, who put in a much longer stint at the HWPA lunch and ran things with a light touch. Luke has no illusions about his ability as a jockey but he is a natural broadcaster who has probably flirted with disaster now and again, only to emerge as a gifted and likeable host. The problem, of course, is that there is not enough for him to do on ITV Racing but he is an important member of the team.

On the subject of the awards themselves, I acknowledge Alastair Down’s beautifully-crafted pieces but, on this occasion, I thought Peter Thomas should have claimed the prize. Peter has been producing excellent Sunday columns for a long time now and I do just wonder (though I don’t know for sure) whether the name A Down on the voting slip is enough in itself for a lot of people. I feel sure Thomas will win at least once, maybe next year.

I went through the competitive handicap hurdle at Sandown on Saturday for the Weekend Card and came to the conclusion that Nicky Henderson’s Call Me Lord had a pretty fair chance, even with top weight. Neither he nor stable- companion Brain Power lines up, which means another stablemate, Apple’s Shakira, will concede weight all round. She was disappointing at both Cheltenham and Aintree last spring and is not for me but you have to bow to the champion trainer’s judgement and maybe she will banish the memory of those below-par efforts. This is only a handicap, after all.

David Pipe has been quiet but at Chepstow Ramses de Theilee may step up on a fair fifth in the Badger Ales at Wincanton. He contests the three-miler which will be a trial for the Coral Welsh National and, with the Aintree card having left the contest looking ordinary, he would need to win well to get his career back on track. He won a novices’ chase here a year ago and can be forgiven later setbacks when needing a wind operation.

The danger may be the veteran Alfie Spinner, who is 13 but was second last year and also ran extremely well in the Welsh and Midlands Nationals. Kerry Lee has not hit form yet but Alfie Spinner is a reliable sort and may not be found lacking first time up. I favour Pipe’s horse but it’s not a race for hefty wagers.