Singing the blues? Never felt more like it

June 13th, 2019 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News Ian Carnaby's Sports News

An excellent run was bound to come to an end and it did so down by the furlong pole at Salisbury on Tuesday. Having made the point in this space ten days ago that horses identified as poor value invariably lose, I probably shouldn’t have backed Singing The Blues in the mile and a half handicap.

Looking at the race in the Victoria and Albert in Netherhampton    nice pub but a bit dark    it seemed to me that Singing The Blues had been busy enough this year but Rod Millman was in pretty good form and at least the horse had had a month off. So, a bet at 3/1 or thereabouts was justified but probably not at 2/1 (15/8 on the off). Three hours later he had a neck to make up passing me and managed that all right but the rallying Loving Your Work came again and short-headed him on the line.

I’m over things straightaway these days because the bets aren’t as big as they used to be. Mind you, denied by an eight-year-old 33/1 shot running from 4lb out of the handicap and without a win to his name in 22 tries since his last success three years ago does give a man pause for thought. I was right about Rod, though, because he won the last, an apprentices’ sprint handicap, with Handytalk. It’s just a pity the 13/2 chance got up to beat my 14/1 selection Princely in the last fifty yards.

I bumped into the latter’s trainer Tony Newcombe just before the off and he said he thought Princely would be placed. He’s won my selling race at Brighton in the past and is a clever old so and so but without the ammunition to make much of a dent these days. Some of you will remember ‘the Barnstaple butcher’ C John Hill, who landed some very clever touches, working in tandem with Newcombe, though they fell out many years ago and there was no healing the breach.

C John and Tony once came close to landing a massive touch in the time-honoured way on a Bank Holiday Monday in 1993. It was a sprint handicap at Warwick and the horses were Goody Four Shoes and Let’s Go Lochy, ridden by Gary Bardwell and Michael Hills respectively. Goody Four Shoes won easily and they made a handy profit at 16/1 but the main thrust of the intended coup involved the forecast and Let’s Go Lochy, 8/1, could manage only seventh in a big field. Tony wasn’t best pleased with Hills, who put up 2lb overweight (8st 5lb) and came wide into the straight; the money was down in various places and it was a good, old-fashioned attempt to take the bookies to the cleaners. Oh well. Incidentally, I thought Princely was given a very competent ride by Jessica Cooley, who will be worth following when she claims against senior riders.

The rain continues to fall and it’s hard to be dogmatic about anything at Royal Ascot at this stage. My guns have been well and truly spiked with Roger Charlton’s Blue Mist highly unlikely to make the cut in the Royal Hunt Cup and it looks like a watching brief over the weekend, as well, though She Can Boogie goes round Chester as if on rails and won’t mind how soft it becomes on Saturday.

Sorry if my Johanna Konta recommendation cost you money last week. As we know, I banished ‘if’ and ‘bad luck’ and all the rest of it many years ago but there is no doubt she should have beaten Marketa Vondrousova in the semi-finals of the French Open. She led 5-3 in both sets and tried an unnecessary drop shot when holding set point in the first. It hit the tape and bounced down on her side. I shook my head and knew the rest. Gamblers do, don’t they?

She has become a little feisty with the press and I understand that because they’ve asked some awkward or naïve question in the past. However, to say she was happy with the way she played and wouldn’t change anything was simply daft. She hated the wind, made 41 unforced errors against a player ten years younger, lost all range and direction in the closing stages and looked badly shaken as Vondrousova cleared away in the tie-break to round things off. Under those circumstances, many players would need a spell in a quiet, darkened room. 

Konta has the ability to win a Grand Slam event but time goes on and it needs to happen soon. This was a major opportunity for her and sustained regret is very much in order.