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Follow The Duke

Morning all,

Brighton's three-day Summer Festival gets underway this afternoon with a seven-race card. Not so long ago this was a decent meeting. Sadly, no more. The prize money on offer is dreadful and it's now brim full of Class 6 handicaps with not one of its 21 races being above Class 4.

I used to enjoy having a bet at this quirky track, but I rarely do because of the quality or racing on offer. That might change over the three days depending on whether the field sizes hold up.

On Saturday many racing fans will take a welcome break from the sport. Why? Because it’s Shergar Cup Day at Ascot.

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I watched last year’s event and got involved in it punting wise because there were some decent betting opportunities to be had.  Not because of the team aspect which is alien to me and most horse racing fans.

The one positive of the Shergar cup is that it’s over in a day, and it takes place on a Saturday in a middle of a quiet period between Goodwood and York. It’s a once-a-year novelty event that I can live with.

In today’s column.  I have an eyecatcher from each day of last week’s Qatar Goodwood Festival. Plus, there’s a selection from Kempton at the end of the main piece.

Racing League

It’s just one more sleep until the start of the Racing League. I sense the excitement that is starting to build among racing fans at seeing Jason Watson and Tom Marquand representing Team Ireland. I suppose they must have an Irish grandparent.

On Course Profits free Horse Racing magazine

The Racing League remains nonsense created by the marketing guys but unlike the Shergar Cup there are six rounds of it.

Whilst the league is in operation for the next six weeks or so it’s going to have further detrimental effect on field sizes. There’s a limited number of horses inhabiting the Class 2/3 handicap pool, A congested fixture list has been having a negative impact on cards for several years. Does it really need intensifying? Only if you have a vested interest in the concept. Credit where credits due to the organisers they have dumped the brand-based team concept. Mind you the failure to attract the big brands forced that change

Go Team North

Brands are out. Welcome to the regional team format. Now on the face of it that seems more interesting. However, whilst I get Team Yorkshire. I’m not sure about the clearly manufactured Team North.  

Now you would expect Yorkshire based trainer Richard Fahey to be in the Yorkshire team. Wouldn’t you?  Nope, he’s in Team North. The North team also includes those well-known parts of the ‘North’: Lincolnshire and Leicestershire. I suspect they were short of a map at Racing League Towers when they set up the names and boundaries.

Unlike the organisers of the Shergar Cup who don’t take themselves too seriously anymore. The bods at the Racing league still clearly do, as do those with their sticky fingers in the promotion pie. They still see their project as a ‘gateway into the sport” for people who find the present format not dynamic enough for their taste.  

Let’s say they do manage get some new fans through the door. Will they suddenly find racing’s more traditional format more to their taste? No of course they won’t because the reasons they didn’t get involved in the sport before, i.e., its lack of dynamism will still exist.

Just show I’m not boring old fuddy duddy. I do have my own novelty idea. I accept it’s not as dynamic and exciting as the late and unlamented ‘City Racing’ concept but it’s a more natural one.

Sand racing

No, I don’t mean all-weather racing. I mean racing on real sand, on a beach. We have racing on the beach in Ireland at Laytown once a year and there’s racing on the beach in France, Spain, and Germany during the summer. Yet Britain which is blessed with some ideal beaches for it doesn’t have anything like that.

Now if you wanted to attract a new family audience what better than a couple of meetings in July & August on the beach. Imagine racing taking place beneath a spectacular sunset. Where anyone can attend free of charge and where there would be opportunities to have a bet. No team hats. No merchandise, no dancing girls. Just good old fashioned horse racing. What’s not to like?

Goodwood Festival: Notebook Horses

I’m hoping and expecting that some of the one I have listed will be running at the upcoming York Ebor Festival.


Lord Protector – Ralph Beckett

Came into the race on the back of a win at Sandown. Did best of those who came from off the pace in a race where it paid to be ridden handily. He also had to wait for gap 3f so in the circumstances his 3 ¼ lengths 5th of 18 to Forest Falcon can be marked up. A stronger gallop and a flatter track suits him better as would slightly easier ground, has won on soft in the past. He can win again in the coming weeks.


Titan Rock – John Quinn

Couldn’t be described as unlucky but he ran well from the widest draw (19) of all in the 7f handicap to finish a 4 ¾ lengths 5th of 18 to Lyndon B. This was a back to form effort by the 4-year-old after a disappointing run at Haydock. He’s well suited to good or quicker ground and is now just 1lb higher than when winning at Ayr last September.  Effective over 7f but a return to a mile could well suit. He could well be aimed at Ayr’s Western Meeting again but might well win before then.


Vee Sight – Ralph Beckett

Had looked a big improver when winning at Sandown (1m) on his previous start. He was well fancied to follow up in the opening 1m 2f handicap. He didn’t seem to handle the Goodwood undulations. In the circumstances he did as well as could be expected in finishing a 5 ¼ lengths 4th of 13 to Warren Point. There was no problem with step up to 1m 2f and when he gets to race on a flatter track, he can return to winning ways.


Blue For You – David O’Meara

Blue For You got no sort of run in the straight. Once he was in the clear it was too late, finishing a 3 ¼ length 2nd of 18 to stablemate Orbaan in Golden Mile Handicap at Goodwood. He’s now finished runner-up on his last three start. He might be a bit tricky. However, he appeals as one who can pop up in a handicap like Friday’s when he gets more luck in the run. He’s performed well twice at York and the valuable Clipper Logistics Handicap at the Ebor Festival seems a likely target for 4-year-old  


Stone Of Destiny – Andrew Balding

Probably the unluckiest horse of the whole meeting. Granted he’s not one to ever take a short price about (2-38 on turf). He had run poorly in the cheekpieces in a 5f handicap earlier on Tuesday. The headgear was dispensed with for Saturday’s Stewards Cup consolation race. The 7-year-old got no sot of run between the final two furlongs and the gaps also closed again for him close to home before he eventually finished a 1 ½ length 4th of 12. Granted his losing run goes back to the 2020 Portland Handicap at Doncaster’s St Leger Festival but he’s now 9lb below that mark and even lower than 1 months ago.

Wednesday Racing

I actually have a few fancies today.


3:40 – Brighton Mile Challenge Handicap

Despite the good to firm ground prevailing at Brighton thirteen stand their ground for the Brighton feature. Six of the 13 are previous course winners with the De Vegas Kid (5 wins from 15 runs), Zulu Girl (3 wins from 5 runs) and Granary Queen (2 wins from 5 runs).

De Vegas Kid and Zulu Girl are past winners of the race. The first named won it in 2019 and took advantage of a declining handicap mark to win over C&D in May. Zulu Girl won this race 12 months ago, from 2lb lower and won over C&D in May from 1lb lower. Both horses are forces to be reckoned with around here on quick ground. Of the pair I just prefer the claims of top-weight Zulu Girl.

Granary Queen gained her second win at Brighton in June. Both those successes have come over 7f as did her latest win at Leicester 14-days ago. Her Leicester success was a career best effort and although she doesn’t find as much in a finish as you would like she was well in control and is just 3lb higher here. Stall 11 isn’t brilliant, but she would still be my tentative pick.


I'm off to Pontefract this afternoon and here's a couple i like.

4:50 – I went for Soul Seeker in the jump jockey’s Nunthorpe at York last time. He finished down the down field that day but wasn’t well drawn so I can forgive him that run. Not particularly well drawn here either in stall 8 but he won over C&D last April and followed up with two wins in July. Not been at that level of form so far this season and the tongue tie is replaced by the first time cheekpieces. He’s too well handicapped to ignore being 10lb below his last winning mark.

5:20 – The Michael Dods yard hit form last week and I like one of his two runners here. Clarets Glory won over C&D last September and his three best RPR’s have been achieved here. He was back to form last time when a 1 ¾ length 2nd of 5 to one of today’s rivals Commandment over C&D. Gets 3lb from that one today which strictly shouldn’t be enough to reverse placings but given the trainers form he must have a chance of doing so.


8:20 – Duke of Verona seemed suited by the step up to 1m 6f when returning to winning ways at Salisbury last time. He’s only been raised 1lb for his Salisbury success. I think there’s more to come from him returned to the all-weather (2 wins from 4 runs). Ryan Moore is an interesting jockey booking and he’s today’s nap despite the drop back to 1m 4f here.

Good luck with your Wednesday bets.


8 thoughts on “Follow The Duke”

    1. Its a great idea Larry but I doubt it will catch on. I mean horse racing has only been going for nearly 250 years. It’s a simple concept horses & jockeys race each other from point A to B. The fastest horse wins and oh and you can bet on the outcome.

      The sport has an unhealthy obsession with seeking out a new audience that goes from fad to fad. At the same time ignoring the people who actually like it. Gimmicky events are introduced by those with no real understanding of the real appeals of the game. I suspect its the only sport that does it.

      Those who run the sport need to concentrate on the strengths of its own traditional format which requires no major tampering with.

  1. Team TRAINING CENTRES like Middleham, Lambourn, Newmarket, struggling now to think perhaps Cheshire, South Wales, some in Lancashire, Cotswold middle posh England,

    I am sure there’s a few more to add including The Scottish Borders (aka The North)

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