King’s Odyssey best first time up

November 10th, 2018 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

It’s been a quiet week on the punting and other fronts but this Saturday will be busier, with some good racing followed by the annual school reunion/Remembrance dinner in Southampton. I act as MC on these occasions and you will appreciate that the numbers are dropping year by year now. Soon it will be like chatting to good friends over a pleasant meal, as opposed to an official function with speeches, the minute’s silence, etc.

I’ve spoken about famous old boys often enough in the past – Ken Russell, Benny Hill, Martin Chivers, Dr Horace King and various other luminaries. It’s not really the done thing to talk about disgraced politician John Stonehouse, though I’ve written about him in the Racing Post. You may remember he faked a suicide by leaving a pile of clothes on the shore of the Florida coast, presumably expecting people to think he’d drowned somewhere between there and Cuba. (Pretty silly, really, because the sharks would have got him first.) As I wrote in the Post, if you’re going to disappear, Paraguay is the place to go. No one cares in Paraguay, where they’ve seen some pretty interesting characters find a remote haven.

I don’t want to sound trite about it because I love the school, but John was unlucky in one respect. Ending up in Australia, he might have been left alone but for bearing a faint resemblance to the disappeared Lord Lucan. Thus the Aussie constabulary became interested in ‘the quiet, mysterious Englishman’, thinking they might have one of the stories of the century on their hands. The dream died when John had to drop his pants so they could check whether he had a tattoo or distinguishing mark high up on his thigh. Lucky Lucan did, John didn’t and that was the end of it. He was sent back to England and served a five-year term for fraud.

As I say, we don’t talk about it. Benny, also long gone, remains popular, however. His hit Ernie The Fastest Milkman in the West, listing various Eastleigh locations where Benny delivered milk after leaving school, or being asked to leave, rings many local bells. He was a very clever man and various comics – Bob Monkhouse, Dick Emery and Frankie Howerd among them – acknowledged their debt to him in the matter of highly original material. He shouldn’t have moved from the BBC to ITV because the smuttier material, which the commercial channel encouraged, is what he’s remembered for now. He was far more gifted than that; mind you, his mum sat next to mine at the bingo, so I suppose I’m not wholly unbiased.

It was good to see Jim Old’s Count Meribel winning at Carlisle on Sunday. This was one of the horses Jim took with him when he joined Nigel Twiston-Davies and his training of it has been typically thorough and effective. Count Meribel had never jumped a fence in public but likes Carlisle and won a novices’ handicap chase under top weight – remarkable.

I think Black Corton would probably have beaten Definitly Red at Wetherby but for the bad mistake at the third but this is one of the reasons I don’t bet heavily on steeplechases. The price, 5/4, was poor, even in a four runner-field, given that Definitly Red was rated officially 11lb superior.

Punters haven’t much chance when a reliable cove like Philip Hobbs wins with ‘the other one’. Ecu De La Noverie and Mr David Maxwell landed a Newbury novices’ hurdle at 33/1 with stable-companion Garrettstown and Dickie Johnson unplaced at 7/2. There’s nothing untoward in it and presumably they had never worked together but there is no way you can find winners like this.

I quite like the third, Bold Plan, and with Evan Williams’ horses in form I hope King’s Odyssey can go close in the handicap chase at Aintree on Saturday. He kept on finishing third last term and had plenty of Cheltenham experience, so I just hope he can adjust to a flat track and the Mildmay fences. He needs to win first time up or he will become expensive to follow.

The wind and rain could have quite an effect so it’s a day for being careful. However, I assume Nicky Henderson will have We Have A Dream ready for the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton, while Laugh A Minute’s second at Deauville looks significant in the Wentworth at Doncaster as another Flat season winds down. I’d like Eric Alston’s Maid In India to finish about seventh in this and go for the valuable Listed fillies’ sprint at Bath when it all starts up again. Tempus fugit.