Going racing in October? A small wager, perhaps?

August 10th, 2020 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

It’s been a miserable year for just about everyone and we can’t let minor personal setbacks outweigh the desperately sad losses suffered by many.

I adjusted to televised racing behind closed doors quite quickly, though it would have been a major fillip to see Glorious Goodwood going ahead with a crowd of 5,000 on Stewards’ Cup day. I’m close enough to the people there to know they were very annoyed by the late call made by the government, though Adam Waterworth and his colleagues remained calm. It cost in the region of £100,000 to set everything up  –  strawberries dominated the headlines but there was plenty of ‘wastage’ elsewhere as well  –  and the feeling of anti-climax was almost tangible.

This is not a political column and, although I happen to think the man in charge is wholly unsuited to the role of PM, it’s important to have everyone pulling together. Yet some of the rules and guidelines are very hard to understand. On the one hand we have warnings that the virus is still very much with us and extreme caution should be exercised, yet on the other there is no objection to people flocking to Bournemouth beach in such numbers that the sand is hardly visible. This is the very opposite of social distancing. Would it be allowed if one of the most popular resorts in the country happened to be close to Preston?

It’s hard to find any two people agreeing on when the public will be allowed into major sports events. The government’s (ie Johnson’s) desire to get schools fully up and running early in September carries with it just the hint of a threat. In his newspaper article last weekend, the closure of pubs and other leisure outlets was mentioned in the event of a ‘spike’ in cases. But if that were to happen (heaven forbid), schools would become vulnerable again, wouldn’t they?

One of the problems with Johnson, apart from believing that any promise he makes will soon be forgotten, is that he cannot argue logically. This is quite a failing in someone who dearly wants to be acknowledged as a kind of hero or saviour. He might care to note that heroes and saviours tend to use the pronoun ‘I’ rather more sparingly than he does. Also, of course, they don’t stamp their feet and take their ball home when things look like going wrong. What a pity it is that people have such short memories and are so unutterably biased.

If there is no ‘spike’ my guess is that he will push his luck and we’ll be going to the races and football sometime in October or November. If that happens, he will take every ounce of credit going and a shoal of mistakes will be wiped out at a stroke. Such is life.

There were severe restrictions in place, even if Goodwood  had gone ahead, and I soon realised I’d need a personal favour from Adam Waterworth or the now-retired Rod Fabricius. I wasn’t prepared to bother them at such a time and ended up watching on television, like everyone else as things turned out.

Summerghand’s victory in the Stewards’ Cup was a fine performance and underlined the fact that some horses are simply happier in top handicaps, even with a huge weight, than minor Group contests. He’d been beaten on the nod in the Wokingham (having finished fifth and fourth in the two big sprint handicaps last year) but could manage only sixth in the Group 3 Hackwood at Newbury before his success the other day.

I’m not sure why Jim Goldie ran Call Me Ginger in the consolation race because it’s hard to think of a more unsuitable course. Call Me Ginger finished a good second at Hamilton the time before and I have not given up on him but he must have a stiff, galloping track. At least he’ll be a working man’s price next time, as old Bill Wightman used to say.

Two other minor points. Hollie Doyle is quite something, as anyone who has watched Extra Elusive over the past couple of years will confirm. When I saw him at Goodwood last spring, he was sluggish out of the stalls and nearly pulled Jason Watson’s arms out afterwards. Allowed to surge past most of the opposition, he lasted a surprisingly long time in front and there was clearly plenty of ability there. Maybe he took a shine to Doyle, because he agreed to race kindly in front at her chosen pace at Haydock and, once that happened, he became one of the great ‘in running’ bets since that option became available. Much too late for an old geezer like me, needless to say.

The old geezer is also worried about his selling race at Brighton. There will be no fixtures there this year and I don’t know if the course can stand the financial implications of that. Insurance, perhaps? Anyway, the 25th running of the Ian Carnaby Selling Handicap cannot take place for at least 13 months.

Three stents, an upgraded pacemaker and a new hip. A man is bound to wonder. Still, on we go. At least Southampton have improved more than any other team since the Premier League began and I take heart from that, even if other considerations at this troubled time are a good deal more important.


Ian Carnaby is a weekly contributor to The Weekend Card.

Ian’s new book will be available to order from September on this website.

Ian’s first book Not Minding That It Hurts is available to order here.