Losing sequences no bar to ultimate satisfaction

September 23rd, 2019 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

I suppose we’ve all been in the game too long and love it too much to take all that much satisfaction from leaving certain races alone. On the other hand, it’s quite a while since I attempted to unravel the Ayr Gold, Silver and whatever Cups. With the winners starting at 20/1, 12/1 and 28/1 over the past few days, most people will agree that it was best to sit back and learn. Or maybe just to sit back.

To deal briefly with Golden Apollo, winner of the Silver Cup, Tim Easterby’s five-year-old had raced 21 times since last tasting success and finished sixth of 8 (at 5/2 favourite) only eight days before the Ayr consolation race. Quite a consolation, I think we can all see that.

But it was the big one, in which Angel Alexander at 28/1 beat Growl, also 28/1, which I found truly fascinating. In fact, although he was trying six furlongs for only the third time (unsuccessful the first twice) and looked a Chester specialist to boot, Angel Alexander was overpriced on some of his efforts and, as a three-year-old, had more scope for improvement than some of these old sweats. But Growl, racing on the opposite and favoured wing, very nearly obliged.

When he won the consolation race on Great St Wilfrid day at Ripon, Growl was ending a 26-run losing sequence. 26! Before you make a comment, think hard about that. He then finished sixth of 11 behind stable-companion Powerallied at Chester (Angel Alexander third) where he was never involved at 7/2, the winner starting at 20/1. So the rise of 6lb had effectively scuppered him, or so we thought, until he all but lasted home off the same mark, 95, in one of the most valuable sprint handicaps of the entire campaign.

I make these points because they seem to go unmentioned elsewhere. As I say, a short perusal (a short perusal, rather more than a glance, which was easily enough before the Bronze version) soon persuaded me that there was no need to be involved. I think the last time I played quite heavily was in 1984, when Able Albert, trained by Tim’s father, Peter, came fast and late to deny Jeremy Tree’s Alakh on the other side.

Growl has run five times at Chester without winning but, then again, Dr Marwan Koukash is no doubt happy to see the old boy in action now and again and it does the handicap mark no harm. That the Easterbys and Richard Fahey are clever goes without saying; but, as my head starts hurting, I belatedly realise they’re too clever FOR ME.

Thank goodness it’s too late to start making lists of things I don’t understand. Sitting quietly at St Mary’s on Friday evening I couldn’t quite fathom why we’d play a purely right-sided full-back like Cedric Soares at left-back against Bournemouth and leave the former England international Ryan Bertrand on the bench. Ralph H changed it around at half-time and it’s just a pity we were two-nil down by then. Then they close off the A34 and I have to go all the way round Basingstoke, a fine town far removed from the humble village of my youth, in order to hit the M4 and get back to Bristol by 1.30am.

And a man comes on the radio (with some useless information, supposed to fire my imagination, go on, you’ll work out the title in a minute, here’s a clue his initials are MJ) and says that for one of the teams the following day it’s ‘a big ask’. What was wrong with ‘a tall order’? It’s rather more elegant than the truly ugly and vaguely indecent ‘ big ask’. Why did this have to change?

I think I may be losing it. No I’m not. All season I’ve been waiting for Malcolm Saunders to hit form and in goes Secretfact at Bath, knocking out a growing financial worry with a single blow. An echo of the old days, I’m bound to admit, though I seem to recall the only thing nearly knocked out was me.