- Lifestyle & Sports
- 20 Sep 02
The bandwagon rolls on, as Foul Play yet again picks the winner of one of the major races on the calendar. This time it was The Irish Oaks at the Curragh, and the horse in question was the mysteriously-named Wymes Bight, partnered by the less mysteriously named Pat Eddery.
The bandwagon rolls on, as Foul Play yet again picks the winner of one of the major races on the calendar.
This time it was The Irish Oaks at the Curragh, and the horse in question was the mysteriously-named Wymes Bight, partnered by the less mysteriously named Pat Eddery.
The French filly powered home at the pleasing, if not extravagant odds of 9/2, leaving her more fancied stablemate, Intrepidity, languishing in fourth place with a great deal of supposedly informed money disappearing up her nostrils.
My Oaks triumph was just another in a straight line of big-race wins for the Foul Play stable, an impressive sequence embracing Cheltenham Gold Cups, Epsom Derbies, and other such glittering prizes of the track, in which all the horses are running on their merits, thus bringing the best out of those who are connected to the scientific purity of punting.
Being modest, I would have to admit that in lesser races, the Foul Play performance is often something less than adequate, and something more than a pain in the arse. Clearly, many run-of-the-mill contests are undeserving of my patronage.
As regards the Classic races, I am tempted to inform Foul Play readers in advance of my intentions - except that the subsequent stampede to the S.P. offices would inevitably send the odds tumbling to the basement.
I am quite happy to declare my winning selections in retrospect, and I am sure that everyone is delighted to be a part of the celebrations in some way, however small.
I made a personal appearance at The Curragh to see Wymers Bight carry the day, and was reminded once more of the staggering diversity of people who are infected by the racing virus, some of them literally staggering.
There really is no other form of sport which attracts such a startling array of homo sapiens into its clutches.
Horny-handed sons of the soil mingle with upper-class twits. Ostentatious wealth comes into direct contact with palpable penury. There are people who look like they have stepped out of the pages of Vogue jostling for position at the Tote with individuals who make the late Les Dawson look like Bryan Ferry circa . . . "Country Life".
It is like the theme park of flawed humanity, all of them reduced for a few hours to teasing out the meaning of life from the pages of the Form Book.
One thing that unites all the participants in this extraordinary pageant is an almost total ignorance of horses.
The percentage of people at the Curragh last Saturday who have actually sat on a horse in any context other than an amusement arcade is negligible.
It does not prevent them from advancing the most elaborate theories as to the merits of said horses, or the moral stature of those who prepare them for their racecourse appearances.
Certainly, the average punter knows a lot about horses in a historical or anecdotal sense, but would be hard-pressed to distinguish a fetlock from a forelock.
At a football match, a large percentage of the attendance will have actually participated in a version of the game which is under scrutiny, and thus can claim a small level of authority for the bullshit which they enunciate.
This is not the case with racing, and yet there are few sports which engender such intense and apparently knowledgeable speculation. This, indeed, may be the attraction of the thing. It is a constant battle against impressive odds of ignorance and gullibility.
It may also explain the remarkable success rate of punters who have perhaps one bet a year, based on a preference for the colour orange or the jockey's jacket.
Only the truly ignorant are free of doubt, whereas the partially ignorant, which is to say the majority of the betting community, are forever caught between the pincers jaws of having a little knowledge, but not enough to make a confident judgement.
Foul Play, of course, is exempt from all these musings, being in constant contact with higher forces of intuition and synchronicity. I see it as being less a matter of speculation than of prophecy.
WHILE I am unwilling to divulge these prophecies in advance for fear of angering the gods of the Turf, I am hereby prepared to offer my predictions, vis-a-vis the British Open Golf Championship.
Call me Mr Reckless, but I will not confidently state that an Irish player will not, repeat not, win the title this year.
I will go further than that, and state categorically that it is my view that a golfer from the Far East, or indeed any part of the Orient will not, repeat not, win the tournament either.
We've narrowed it down now to America, Europe, Africa and the Antipodes, which I know is going out on a limb, but hell, that's the kind of guy I am.
I think that the American Payne Stewart and the Britisher Nick Faldo will almost certainly make the cut after the second round, unless, perchance, they are playing rather badly.
The Spaniard Jose-Maria Olazabal will probably cover his expenses too, though by how much, I am loath to divulge at this point in time.
The Aussie Greg Norman will hit one or two long balls during the week, I'll warrant, but then he's a hefty guy.
Eventually, though, I am looking to Africa for this year's winner, and am hereby giving a confident vote to Nick Price, late of Zimbabwe. Put everything you have on Price. Or not as the case may be.
There you have conviction dripping from every syllable. As always.
- Lifestyle & Sports
- 11 Jan 18