Good evening friends.
Let me start by wishing all of you the compliments of the season.
As a lifelong Chelsea FC supporter it has been a strange week! It was agreed by any of us that witnessed the appalling no show of our team at Leicester on Monday evening last that something had to give. Take nothing away from Claudio Ranieri and his team who played to the very maximum of their abilities to secure a deserved win. How ironic that the man whi took Chelsea to second place before Mourinho replaced The Tinker Man at CFC.
The board in their infinite wisdom have once again decided that the Manager that I regard as The Special One – one of our own has once again reached the end of the road. This time it seems there will be no remarriage! Guus Hudinnk will inherit a different team this time around – no Cech who is now supplying a more stable goalkeeping option at Arsenal, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Ashley Cole – John Terry is coming toward the autumn of his playing days now as well. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. Believe absolutely nobody who says “Too good to be relegated!”
On a personal note it has been a week when we remembered my late Dad Don who gave me so much before being taken aged just 67 on 17 Dec 1992. 23 have passed but I still hear Dads wisdom everyday. His two greatest pieces of advice and wisdom were these. Firstly spend as much as you can afford on a comfy bed and good shoes – because if you are not in one you are in the other! Sound words Dad.
Dad’s second piece of wisdom was his explanation as to why there was no long hair in the fifties. Dad mused that the old barbers shops were the main place young men could purchase French Letters (contraceptives) was the barbers. They were sold in packets of three – and when brushing your shoulders of the cropped trimmings of hair the barber would quietly enquire “Something for the weekend Sir?” – however since there were only three “opportunities” in each packet should a young man require more than three he had to have his haircut twice!!
Also on a personal note my brother Dennis achieved 65 years old on Tuesday last – he is without doubt my mentor and guide but also a very best friend and Worlds greatest brother keeping a guiding eye on this younger errant – nearly 9 years his minor! He is also hosting our Christmas this year. The table will creek under the weight of the spread and much merriment and memories will be shared. Hope you will all be similarly able to enjoy a peaceful day with your loved one – or if she is not there the wife!I guess I should finish with my favourite Christmas Joke – PRE POLITICAL CORRECTNESS!
3 guys on a building site – the Foreman says “When we get back on Monday bring something festive to make the site look more Christmas like.”
Monday arrives and the English chap brings in lots of coloured lights to string along the scaffold poles.
The Scots lad arrives with a huge box of tinsel, baubles and hanging Santa’s.
Paddy arrives seemingly empty handed.
“Pat” they asked “What did you bring for the site for Christmas?”
With that Pat puts his hand deep into hid donkey jacket pocket and produces a pair of tights!!
“Pat – what have a pair of tights got to do with Christmas?” ask the others almost as one.
Big Pat replies “THESE ARE CAROLS!”
I know get on with the sport!!
As a welcome distraction to pushing around your local Tesco, Asda, Morrisons or Argos and spending half the day attempting and failing to find a parking space only to then enjoy youngsters throwing a hissy fit in the aisles –we have the pleasant distraction of Ascot, Haydock, Lingfield et al to concentrate on.
If any of you read my previous efforts covering for Tim (not in a racing sense!) you may recall I will be working again at Ascot in the Event Control Room on the CCTV. I have worked at a number of racecourses but principally Ascot for some 38 years. This should not be taken as any more than a little knowledge of the unique undulations of the Berkshire track. I sadly have no inside information to pass your way regards my selections! I lived in Course Road, Ascot some 25 plus years and grew up playing football, cricket and all sorts on the inside of the racecourse so I have an idea how steep the finish is on a push bike though not on horseback!
Christmas presents won’t pay for themselves but I hope to at least win us all enough to buy the wrapping paper – even if it is 10 rolls a £1 from the Pound Shop!!
Let’s aim high!! Ascot 1:50 I will start with a 20/1 outsider BIG CASINO trained by Nigel Twiston Davies and ridden by Wayne Hutchinson. Fridays results showed that long shots do oblige at this time of the national hunt season and this 9 year old still has a good race in him having slipped down the handicap. Each way value if that is your bag.
In the following race 2:25 Long Walk 3mile Hurdle we can expect to see some of the pretenders to the World Hurdle crown competing. THISTLECRACK ridden by the suspension reprieved Tom Scudamore is an exciting 7 year old but around 2/1 short enough in such a competitive heat. It will be a watching brief for me here.
At 3:00 The Sodexho Silver Cup has 14 going to post. A large field and Pendra for Charlie Longsdon ridden by Barry Gerraghty are the 6/1 favourite a course and distance winner too gives him a strong chance of being involved at the business end of the race. For my selection I am looking to FINGAL BAY for Champion elect Richard Johnson and the modest but hugely successful Philip Hobbs yard still available at 8/1 in places tonight. Maybe even a cheeky forecast!
The final race at 3:35 at Ascot a large field of 21 go to post and many of the trainers are double handed – I could have sat for several hours chewing through the form for this race and not got anywhere near the winner. I have taken instinct again and based puyrely on what my own “mince pies” saw on his last run it’s Hobbs/Johnson again for me with STERNRUBIN if we can get 12/1 each way is definitely the way to play – either with a bookmaker offering 5 places or a money back if 2nd place offer.
Up at Haydock the 2:40 Tommy Whittle Rehearsal Chase gives CLOUDY TOO another opportunity to exploit a low handicap mark. I again will trust what I saw last time he ran and back forecasted 4/1 favourite SPOOKYDOOKY rather oddly named but Johnjo O’Neill is brilliant with young chasers and Joshua Moore is underrated in the saddle. If you have the opportunity to see his run at Newbury last time out you will see why he left an impression on this scribes memory to back him next time he runs.
Brian Ellison can get us in the pay out queue in the 3:15 with OSCAR BLUE under Paddy Brennans steering. 6/1 would be nice.
Finally one for the Sand Fans at Lingfield it has to be GRENDISAR for Botti/Kirby in the Listed 2:20 race.
May I wish you well – and that all horses/jockeys come home safely.
My football advices for tomorrow are any 4 and all 5 from
NEWCASTLE/ TOTTENHAM/ STOKE / QPR and HULL
Festive cheer to one and all
ROGER HAWKES (@roge1409)