Folkestones and Herefords nurture those on a curve to greatness
28 July 2012
2.55 Ascot Zero Money
3.45 York Tax Free
4.00 Newmarket Rex Imperator
I thought it best to write my offerings while watching some elaborate round of It’s A Knockout or perhaps a scene from Lord Of The Rings, or upcoming The Hobbit. Sir Kenneth Branagh has popped up and is there now going to be an episode of Wallander! Then suddenly it’s being transformed into a Catherine Cookson backdrop. We’ve had genius with Her Majesty appearing alongside Daniel Craig, and Rowan Atkinson at his best.
You can tell I started writing this at 9pm. I digress. Like many of you, I’m sure, I’m still in shock after the announcement that Hereford and Folkestone are to cease trading, unless the hard cash materialises, or various facets of Hereford’s business model can be galvanised into profit making. The arguing over the whys and wherefores aren’t going to get the tills ringing or the turnstiles clicking again. There is a lack of any takers willing to roll up their sleeves, approach the relevant parties and make the course operational and profit-making again.
The Folkestones and Herefords of this world give people in the sport the arena in which to strive to better themselves and learn their trade in order to compete at the Cheltenhams and Aintrees. These courses nurture those on a learning curve to greatness and serve as the heartbeat and backbone of racing.
The loss of Folkestone is dreadful as it shaped my childhood, other than early visits to Royal Ascot in 1973, and regular appearances at Epsom; the one I remember most is The Minstrel winning in 1977. It was Folkestone which I would attend most from 1977 onwards. My father had a pitch in the middle of the course. It was well attended and there was a line of about eight bookmakers with a healthy crowd and an operational Tote facility and a bouncy castle, which as a youngster is rather attractive I can tell you.
There has always been a racing community at Folkestone; a niche crowd which tolerated the facilities, which were fine. You went there to enjoy a relaxed family atmosphere, without the airs and graces. The intimate paddock, the quaint grandstand and the quirky intricacies of the course, soon lost to us all, temporarily we are told, we a real experience. Knowing Kent councils, however, and the survival rate of greyhound tracks such as Ramsgate, Maidstone, Canterbury it doesn’t look good. Fingers crossed.
There is good racing today to try and boost the spirits ahead of a fabulous five days next week in Sussex. I won’t be able to see this afternoon’s action live but will review the recordings many times. I found it hard to split Planteur and Side Glance in the York Stakes and my sentimental side would love to see Wigmore Hall win - he loves firm ground. Yet common sense states Planteur.
In the Sky Bet Dash I’ve gone for Tax Free, while at Ascot it is Zero Money and Newmarket, Rex Imperator.
The eight winners of the Sky Bet Dash have all come from the first five in the betting
Seven of the eight winners have been drawn in stall 10 or lower
Waffle has only won once from 24 starts but has finished second on 7 occasions
Four of eight favourites have won York’s 2.05
Saeed Bin Suroor has had five winners from his last ten runners
Sir Mark Prescott has had six winners from his last ten runners
Medicean Man has won three of his eight starts at Ascot including the 2.55 last year
Richard Hughes has had seven winners from his last 21 rides
Six of the last ten favourites have won Newmarket’s 2.15