Back On The Road (Pt 1)

Good morning all,

The first part of my adventures on the road last week are on the main piece today, along with a selection from Haydock where I'll be working in the rain later.

The bad weather seems to have followed me everywhere for the past ten days….read on…..

The week starts with a trip to Sandown’s evening meeting. We’re not expecting any fireworks, but it ought to be steady business and we set off with hope in our hearts. 

The hope doesn’t last long. We drive through a couple of heavy rain periods on the way South and the nearer we get to Sandown, the darker it seems to get. However, no sooner do we arrive at Sandown than the sun comes out, and we can set the kit up and keep dry. That’s always a bonus, nothing worse than setting up and by the time you’ve done it, you’re already wet through. 

With barely a cloud in the sky, I decide to leave the waterproofs in the car, and just take my coat in. This, my friends, is going to prove a big mistake. 

For no sooner do we get betting than, seemingly from nowhere, a huge raincloud comes in from the west. High winds accompany it, and although it lasts no more than five minutes, I’m soaked. Everyone dives for cover under the stands but it’s too late. 

The results of the first two races are almost irrelevant to what happens next, as the rain comes back, but it’s rain the like of which I’ve not seen for a long time. Umbrellas go flying across the ring as the 50mph winds whip up, the rain lashes in, and once again it’s a case of trying to cover everything electrical and get under the stands as quickly as possible. The rain just keeps coming – the golf course in the middle has turned into a lake – and with the inevitable inspection called, the feeling is that it’s game over. It doesn’t take long to confirm our suspicions. 

We pack up and head for the hotel. I can’t wait to get into a hot shower. I desperately try and dry as much as possible – the hairdryer in the room comes in handy for my shoes – but I’m fighting a lost cause. 

Worse is to follow as I turn the laptop on to do some work. The rain has even got into that, despite it being in my bag, which in turn was covered. Out comes the hairdryer again. I finally manage to spark it back into life, but it’s basically unusable at present. 

Next day and the laptop has dried itself off a bit. There are streaks behind the screen but at least I can use it. We go for breakfast at a nearby cafe (Bread and Roses, highly recommended if you’re in the Addlestone area) and pack up for Epsom, our next stop. 

We spend a couple of hours doing some admin in The Rubbing House, the pub that’s on the track, once we get there and a couple of shandies helps the afternoon pass by. Tonight’s meeting brings together a family crowd, most of whom are there for the entertainment afterwards (Pat Sharp, he of the massive blonde mullet from the 80s, is DJing) but to our surprise there are less books than would normally be there. We’re one of only five on the rail, so there’s plenty of business for all. One bloke comes and has £100 ew Berrahri in the second race but not even that can take the gloss off a decent, and indeed fun, evening, and we win well. 

One point I’l make again. In Berrahri’s race, there is a late withdrawal, as Quita is taken out at the start. Making an announcement on such a busy evening is a waste of time – it’s noisy, and a lot of people don’t hear it. As such, you can guarantee there will be three or four people who haven’t picked up money that they are entitled to, having backed a non-runner, and others who having backed the winner, think you are trying to con them out of what they believe are their full winnings, but of course have had a Rule 4 applied. 

Why oh why can the course not use the big screens to make these announcements? In an age of technology I simply don’t buy the courses excuses of “it isn't possible, we’ve got adverts to show between the races” or somesuch nonsense. Get it in words on the screen – explain that if you’ve backed the withdrawal you’ll get your money back, and if you’ve backed the winner you’ll be experiencing a deduction. An easy solution, you’d think, but no, it seems too tricky for tracks to implement. 

After Epsom, we drive down to Goodwood to our hotel, which is no more than two miles from the track. I walk in and one of the first people I see is Ed Chamberlain….

I’ll tell you all about our two days at Goodwood next Friday.

If it's going to rain all day at Haydock, I might as well try and find something tha likes the soft, and Red Derek (8.25) fits the bill very well.

Red Derek took his time to break his duck but he broke it in good style when scoring on soft ground (over 10f) here in May and that form couldn’t have worked out much better, with second home Sharpcliff winning his next two starts easily, and third home Widaad running to a similar level next time. He’s kept his form, bar a below-par run at Chester last time (when hung out wide all the way, best forgiven) and this step up to 12f on soft ground should suit. Not the no-hoper the betting suggests, by any means. 

Today's selection – Red Derek (e/w) 8.25 Haydock

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Good luck with all your bets today,

David

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