Solihull – much closer than we think

March 4th, 2019 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News Ian Carnaby's Sports News

Until Manchester United’s late winner on Saturday it looked like being a very good week. Of course, you have to keep 60,000 people happy and, as I set off for a walk at 2-2, unable to bear the tension and not wishing to witness the inevitable on the illicit feed everyone seems to access these days, I tasted Southampton’s defeat before it actually happened, which makes things a fraction more bearable. It wasn’t close, as things turned out. 88 minutes or 89 is pretty comfortable, taking into account the extra couple of minutes the referee would have added to the figure on the board.

Sunderland were beating Plymouth 1-0 when I started my walk. With a Sunderland-Portsmouth double (Pompey were beating Bradford City 4-1) it was a harrowing few minutes. I thought I’d make it to the Ring O’ Bells for sudden death on both fronts, Saints and Sunderland, which was misguided as things turned out because BT Sport was building up the teatime game involving, yes, Solihull Motors. A key clash, probably, and at other times I’d have sat down with a pint and come to grips with it with future investments in mind but not on this occasion.

I suppose the gambler, the true gambler, always plays the odds in his mind. My daughter would have rung me if Southampton had held on, so I didn’t need confirmation of the 3-2, but Sunderland was a different matter. 40,000 fanatics urging them on and making things tricky for the Argyle, I thought, so how would the bookies price it up? About 6/1 on Sunderland, I guess, maybe shorter. So I wandered back to the house for the moment that decides one’s mood for the rest of the evening. This would hardly be joyful but in fact Sunderland have scored again for 2-0. It’s for a few hundred, not the couple of thousand of a few years ago (where ‘a few’ is about thirty) but it’s welcome nonetheless. You need quite a bit on at 11/20 and 13/20 but the double paid just over 6/4 and I thought it was value. It’s a pity the youths that the bookmakers want to sign up via their excruciating television advertisements are so hooked on the Premier League. League One was the place to be with the top four winning 5-1 (Pompey) 3-0 (Barnsley) 2-0 (Luton) and 2-0 (Sunderland). They could have put in City and United, as well. I haven’t worked it out but I should think it would have paid for the rest of the season.

Swiss Pride, owned by my good friend Ray Greatorex, won as well. It was a four-runner maiden at Lingfield and I didn’t really see how it could lose, though I thought it would be evens or 10/11, not 7/4, against a filly, Antonia Clara, who had had many, many tries as a two-year-old. She started at 4/5 against a rival which had finished fourth in a rough but very warm nursery at Goodwood and taken a little while to get over it. Anyway, Swiss Pride beat her by five lengths and there won’t be value like it at Cheltenham but Ray wondered about the drift (touched 2/1) and to what extent trainer Richard Hughes’ opinion that Swiss Pride needed another week had influenced things, or indeed how many in the yard endorsed that opinion.

But this is the thing about trainers, as I remember from my time as a part-owner. They can give you chapter and verse on their own horses but their knowledge of the form-book where the opposition is concerned can be worryingly scant. The point is, maybe Swiss Pride DID need another bit of work but that wouldn’t necessarily stop him from beating a filly as moderate and exposed as Olivia Clara. If he were mine I’d run him again quickly while he’s got the taste for it. He’s not one to call the bank on but I was pleased for Ray, who is one of nature’s gents and pumps a fair bit into the sport.

So, a good week apart from Old Trafford and we even won the pub quiz. Who directed the film Tell Me That You Love Me Junie Moon? (Intriguing title, poor picture.) It was Otto Preminger. Did you know, when Otto was on Desert Island Discs he was asked which book he’d take apart from the Bible and the works of Shakespeare. There was a pause and he replied: ‘Vell, zere is zis excellent biography of Otto Preminger!’. But to cap it all, when asked whether he was any sort of handyman, for instance could he build a hut, there was a baffled silence before he said: ‘A hut? A HUT? How could I do that? Have you lost your mind?’

Good man, Otto. And in the weird and wonderful world of Hollywood I expect you shrugged off setbacks pretty quickly, too.

Quicker than I do, anyway. Oh, Saints, Saints, Saints….