General

(Last updated 29th October 2007).

2007.

Breeders Cup (27th Oct) was a joke, with waterlogged surface. This meeting would not have been allowed to take place in UK/Ireland. 

Not very impressed with quality of this year's Arc. Dylan Thomas only beat two moderate placed horses. Peeping Fawn is best horse this season, over that distance.

2005.
Good to see Ouija Board win impressively at Newmarket on Saturday (24th). Attraction also seems to be running better. Another of my favourite horses Millenary has also hit form.

Reviewing the Football season. Newcastle were very disappointing and need major "clear-out" (starting from Chairman level). Does not seem right they have sold one of their more reliable players, Aaron Hughes for a paltry (in football terms) £1m. .
Unless major shake-up, I see relegation next season. Sunderland  won a poor Division 1, but I doubt whether much money will be found to strengthen team. Middlesbrough should do ok next season. Hartlepool, unlucky in play-off, can go one better next season (they may play Newcastle in two seasons time). Welcome back Carlisle to Division 3, who will have good opposition from Darlington. The newly promoted Premiership clubs should be guaranteed 4pts next season (guess who from ?). Pleased Liverpool won European Champions League Cup, but Arsenal were lucky in FA Cup.

Summing up the end of the National Hunt season. Thought standard of Scottish National was poor. Should be at least a week after Grand National. I would also have liked the TV commentator to have read through all the finishers, rather than first four (eg: where was Gold Cup runner-up, who was moving through quite strongly at the finish ?). Gengies was very impressive in Scottish Champion Hurdle. Well Chief was the undoubted star of the Sandown meeting, but Rooster Booster (who does not stay over 2.5M) returned to some good form. Watched Punchestown meeting on ATR, but was upset by the "favoured" coverage of some "duff" English meetings.
However, the Irish meeting (apart from the odd "star"), does not compere with Cheltenham or Aintree. Was sure that Moscow Flier had won his race, or at the worst, dead-heated. Pity the coverage does not show finish close-ups. Harchibald, I am sure would have won here (and perhaps at Cheltenham), if the rider had taken race "by scruff of neck" before final Hurdle, instead of waiting. He did this when impressively winning at Newcastle and Kempton. Kicking King was untroubled in winning. I thought Grey Abbey or Beef or Salmon, might have opposed him. Asian Maze, I horse I am not familier with, looked very impressive in winning 2.5M Hurdle.

Congratulations to Hedgehunter for winning today's Grand National. Also to the next four horses Royal Auclair, Simply Gifted,
It Takes Time, and Forest Gunner. Felt very sorry for Clan Royal, who looked to be controlling the race, before being baulked by the loose horses. Some good supporting races. Thought Inglis Drever was unlucky in main Hurdle after being forced to make the pace. Impressive performances from Grey Abbey (+ Crystal D'Arnay), Moscow Flyer, Like-A-Butterfly, Ashley Brook and  Faasel. Thought Topham Trophy was disappointung re  the standard of  the leading runners. What has happened to Silver Birch ?

Disappointed with standard of Bank Holiday racing on ATR (including Irish Grand National). I think they tried to cover too many meetings.

Reviewing a good Cheltenham festival: Excellent performances by Hardy Eustance, Moscow Flyer and Kicking King. Also to local horses, particularly Inglis Drever and a not fully fit Grey Abbey, who ran with credit in the Gold Cup. Also good runs from Harchibald, Well Chief and Take the Stand (+ Mr Rembrandt, who I have been critical about). Upsetting news about the death of Farmer Jack. I quite fancied him for the latter event. Penzance did well to win Triumph Hurdle. Poor quality I thought, in Arkle Trophy, this time. Pity that ATR did not cover non-Ch4 races, cannot pick up Racing UK.

Reviewing Xmas racing, the Limerick fences must be quite difficult. There seemed to be a lot of fallers in the races I saw. In the King George, it would have been a travesty of justice if Kicking King had fallen at last as he was a deserved winner. Good return from Kingscliff and Azertyuiop, did not quite stay the trip. Exciting race in Xmas Hurdle, with Harchibald just beating long-time leader Rooster Booster. However, both horses would be unwise to use similar tactics in Champion Hurdle. Disappointed my favourite jumper, Moscow Flyer did not run at Leopardstown. Good race in Welsh Grand National, with Silver Birch and Strong Promise looking impressive. For once, the best horses occupied the leading places. Beef or Salmon won a good tactical race against Best Mate. Not sure if it will be the same result at Cheltenham. Where are Strong Flow, Rhinestone Cowboy and Iris's Gift at present ?

Congratulations to Ouija Board for impressive run in "Arc" and Attraction for her victory at Newmarket (2nd Oct). These are my two stars from the Flat season, and I am pleased to say, they will be in training next year.

Not surprised at sacking of "Sir Bobby". Not sure about Souness, but there needs to be drastic changes at coaching level.

Not a good week (22nd Aug). Apart from Paula's performance in Olympic Marathon, Newcastle United also had a bad week (apart from directors). The sale of Woodgate was upsetting to say the least. The whole situation reminds me of the bad old days of the Seymour, Westwood, McKeag era.

Saw Attractive win at (Royal) Ascot (18th Jun). She was very impressive and just missed track record. I think a lot of Mark Johnson horses are successful, because they are prepared to make/go with the pace, and therefore do not get into "traffic" problems.

Congratulations to Northern Light (Derby), Ouija Board (Oaks) and Warssan (Coronation Cup), on their victories on 4th/5th June. The French Derby (6th June) threw no real stars. Would have thought as race was being shown live on BBC2 (not listed in RT or digital screen), some newspapers could have put race card/starting time, to help viewers to video the event, which was thrown among Show Jumping and Tennis.

Reviewing end of football season. Arsenal were easily the best team in Premiership, and would probably have won Champions League Cup, if they had not underrated Chelsea in Quarter Final. Manchester United won an FA Cup Final, which seemed a bit lack lustre. Congratulations to Middlesbrough who won "League" Cup, but as usual had poor end of season. Newcastle are nowhere strong enough (see previous notes) and will not improve if the board come up with the usual excuse, of no money being available. Pity that Marseilles goalkeeper did not get sent off against Newcastle. Sorry I have seen two articles in paper, saying that Jenus was a good buy, but I know of no-one who rates him. Sunderland and Hartlepool (who exceeded all expectations), would not have been good enough in a higher division. Felt sorry for York and especially Carlisle, who improved a lot, in second half of season. No comment on Darlington.

Sorry to see "end of season" Punchestown meeting (27th - 30th April), was not shown (apart from RTE, which I cannot pick up). Good to see wins by Moscow Flier, Beef or Salmon and Limestone Cowboy (who defeated Iris's Gift), the latter victory gaining very little press coverage.
Hardy Eustace defeated Rooster Booster again in Irish Champion Hurdle, with no mention at all in local paper. Very sad about the death of Persian Punch, and it would probably have been more upsetting if actual race, was televised. Good performance by Attraction in 1000 Guineas (2nd May).

Disappointed with results (apart from Cenkos), of National Hunt races, at Sandown Park (23rd/24th April). The previous form of winners was on the whole, poor. The standard of entry in old "Whitbread Gold Cup" Steeplechase, was worse than it has ever been. The standard of Steeplechasing (as in middle distance Mens' athletics) has dropped rapidly in last 5 years.

Although definitely not a rugby fan, congratulations to Newcastle Falcons, for their victory over Sale, in the Cup Final (17th Apl).

Congratulations to Grey Abbey for his impressive "gun to tape" victory in the Scottish Grand National (17th Apl). Grant D'Estruval was very unlucky, especially only 5days after Fairyhouse (even 2nd would have been good performance). Why was Scottish Champion Hurdle (won by Copeland) not shown live ?  Mr McGoldrick, who won the day before, was unlucky when falling, while leading in his race.

Again disappointed that none of the terrestial channels, showed fit to broadcast live (or a recording on day) of Irish Grand National (12th Apl), won by Grant D'Estruval (Ben Harding).
What has happened to Welsh Champion Hurdle ?

Some good racing at Aintree this year (1st - 3rd Apl). Moscow Flyer, Iris's Gift and Well Chief all were impressive, as was Forest Gunner in "Foxhunters". Rhinestone Cowboy was not a surprise to me, winning main Hurdle. I am convinced that Rooster Booster and Intersky Falcon, do not stay 2.5M+. Amberleigh House, Clan Royal and Lord Atterbury, all ran well in Grand National, especially the latter, who is only 8. Graham Lee always rides a good race, and seems to have a good record at this venue.

After watching Cheltenham festival (on Ch4 and ATR), I thought meeting lacked quality this year. Congratulations to Best Mate, Hardy Eustace and Azertyuiop for winning main races. However, the placed horses in Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle winner, are not horses I would put my money on, for future victories. Moscow Flyer's fall made it an easy victory for the winner in "Queen Mother", but Flagship Uberalles again ran well. Again good race in Stayer's Hurdle, with Iris's Gift, an impressive winner. Judging on result and previous form, Mr Cool would have probably been a danger, if he had not fallen. Rhinestone Cowboy, ran well to get third in Handicap, and on even weights would have won. However, not sure why he ran this race ? Must have completely missed Intersky Falcon's second place race, at Wincanton.

Impressive performance by Best Mate, at Leopardstown. Not so impressive was Rhinestone Cowboy. Horses to watch could be Control Man and Barthwick Annie, both winners at Newbury (29th Dec).

Good race in Welsh Grand National, with Bindaree just edging out Sir Rembrandt. Moscow
Flier was also impressive at Leopardstown.

Very impressed with Intersky Falcon at Kempton. Also pleased to see Edreden Bleu win King George Steeplechase. It was dominated (apart from First Gold), by 2M/2.5M chasers.

Was disappointed to say the least, that when I watched video of two Aintree Steeplechases (22nd/23rd Nov), around Grand National fences, that recording ended before race finished. The races must have started (way) after the official starting time.

Saw Persian Punch win at Doncaster today (11th Sept). He has been impressive this season, but cannot recall his previous run when he was fourth. The papers did not seem to publish details of this outing. High Chapparal proved in the Irish Champion Stakes, that the standard of 3-year-olds, was better in 2002.

Re Newcastle United: See earlier comments. They have only bought Lee Bowyer and Bobby thinks he has strong enough squad.

Saw some noisy Irishmen getting off at Monument Metro station (30th May). Some were wearing Newcastle United attire. Surely they got off about a dozen stops too early.

Good to see Hawk Wing look so impressive on his seasonal reaapearance at Newbury, today (17th May).

Reviewing the football season, I wish a new team would win the Premiership. Newcastle did well to finish third, but instead of getting carried away, their form over the last seven games was relegation. They also had the poorest ratio of goals scored, against chances created. "The grand old man", still seems to want defenders, though. There must be something up, when Sunderland win the reserve league. Suggests to me that many of the second team, should have been given their chance, in the Premiership. Gives more credability to the fact that Bob Murray prefers them to play in the Nationwide League. Middlesbrough as usual flattered to deceive and their final match result against Bolton, was the day's biggest banker. Sorry to see Arsenal win a very poor Cup Final. Peter Reed is the right manager for Leeds, if they do not want to spend money, but I hardly think the fans will be pleased. Hartlepool had two good results at end of season, and deserved to go up after just missing out in 2001 and 2002. However, I am not confident of their chances in Division 2.

Ad Hoc was impressive in repeating his 2001 victory in the (used to be Whitbread) Gold Cup (26th April) at the Sandown finale of the National Hunt season. Deano's Beano ran one race too many, though it is a pity Newcastle's February 4M Chase was cancelled, as he was going to run in that. Santanay was impressive in big Hurdle event. Surprised that Easter Monday racing (including Irish Grand National) was not televised on C4. The big Irish race produced a close finish, but there were no "stars" running. The same was the case with the Scottish Grand National. Why did Intersky Falcon or Limestone Cowboy (or Lad), not run in either the big Aintree or the Scottish Champion Hurdle ? Was there a Welsh Champion Hurdle, this season ?

Congratulations to Monty's Pass on his Grand National victory, and Supreme Glory for a good run in second place. Felt sorry for Gunner Welburn (4th), who deserved a place for his front running tactics. Pleased to see Behrajan (10th) get round safely. He was weighted out of it, but struggled from a mile out. Rooster Booster did not quite last the extra distance in the main Hurdle event. Native Upmanship looked classy, but sorry to hear Coolnagora had to be destroyed after falling at last Hurdle on the opening day (non-televised race). Disappointed that Stayer's Hurdle won by Iris's Gift, was not televised either. Barton and Turgednev should be retired after their performances. How can two classy horses go backwards so much ?

I am sure two pictures of Alan Shearer in today's Journal (17th March), looked very much like Robson Green !

Another Cheltenham festival over. Some good races, the best probably the Stayers Hurdle, and congratulations to the first four horses Baracouda, Iris's Gift, Limestone Lad and Classified (in this case the best four). Not altogether sure that results at Cheltenham are always the most relable, due to nature of course. The Champion Hurdle was spoilt at the start, with both riders and that miserable starter to blame. Bad tactics by Intersky Falcon (he has a strong finish), who should have been placed, but would never have beaten the brilliant Rooster Booster. Moscow Flier deserved to win his race, as the two challengers who fell, were not class horses. Gios (4th) would have been a major challenger but his jumping was "safety first". Best Mate was also brilliant in Gold Cup. Good run also by Behrajan (5th), who seemed to lose concentration three fences out, but recovered in the last two furlongs. Will See More Business (8th) now be retired ? Coolnagorna also lost race through front running tactics, but did not deserve to be disqualified (why anyway?).

Andy Gilchrist is the main problem in fireman's dispute. He should resign.

After the sacking of Howard Wilkinson (10th March), it seems that Bob Murray, will accept no responsability for Sunderland's poor form. If he will not spend any money, then they deserve nothing but Division 1 football (or lower). Cannot believe he got award for Services to Sport ! Hartlepool need to regain some form to stay on top of Division 3. Will review Newcastle at end of season.

I am sure when watching Cheltenham racing on 31st December, I saw Peter Barlow and Shelley in crowd. Could it be "Corrie" was filming there ?

Enjoyed Christmas racing, though going spoilt Welsh Grand National, and some good races were due on Wetherby's cancelled second day. Best Mate and Marlborough were impressive, but real star was Coolnagorna at Newbury. Intersky Falcon and Limestone Lad, were also oustanding. Why is See More Business not in Gold Cup betting ?

Good to see Behrajan gain win in big pre-Christmas Steeplechase, at Ascot. However, I disagree with commentators, I think the first winner of this event was Ashley House, not Arkle (I don't think Ascot was a National Hunt venue, then). Thought bad tactics were employed by jockey, in defeat of Baracouda.

Enjoyed "Breeders Cup" meeting. Thought it was bad tactics by Rock of Gibralter. Pleased for High Chapperal, and glad that he, along with a currently off-form Hawk Wing, will be racing next year.

Might be propaganda but the current "Corrie" story, relating to Ken Barlow, is the main reason, why it is diffcult recruiting teachers. However, the government will not admit this.

Saw list of "100 Sporting Legends". Surprised with some inclusions, and the fact that Steve Cram is not listed.

No comment on appointment of Howard Wilkinson by Sunderland. However, the ex-Stoke manager might be ok.

Probably a good thing that Peter Reed has left Sunderland, though I understand his "side-kicks" were the main problem. I suggest they look very closely (mentioning no names), before appointing new manager. Newcastle are not good at present. They are not up to Champions League status, as shown in difficult group (see earlier summary).

High Chapparal lost "Arc" due to long absence from racecourse. Notice first two horses, had recently won trial races on course. Like listening to Jim ("Swinley Bottom" + "A mighty leap") McGrath.

Have been impressed with High Chapparal and other Irish-trained horses this season. As far as Flat Racing is concerned, the Irish horses are a class above ours.

Reviewing the World Cup: Not a great fan of either Brazil or Germany and would have prefered to see some other team win. England proved themselves as good as any other, but lacked penetration up front. They might have won with a full strength team. Where was Fowler, the most likely player to score ?

Reviewing the football season: Good performance by Newcastle (apart from usual no points at Southampton). However, they are not good enough for Champions League and would be better off in UEFA Cup. Sunderland were lucky in that Ipswich had a bad run-in. They were the worst team in the last three months and at present, I see no hope for them next season. Middlesbrough also had a bad last month. Pleased that Hartlepool reached the play-offs (they were unlucky to be knocked out by Cheltenham), as they were bottom of the table until November. Glad that Manchester Utd lost the title, but would rather a non-London team had replaced them. Liverpool need Houlier as they had a bad spell when he was in hospital. The Cup Final in between the last two games was bad programming, with the last week's matches + results gaining a much less profile than normal.

Again disappointed with end-of-season Sandown meeting, as horses with poorest form (though not the outsiders), won the two main races. A lack-lustre display from "Landing Light" in Irish Champion Hurdle. Where is Behrajan ?

Disappointed that big 2M Chase at Ayr (Turgeonev was second), was not televised. Thought Behrajan might have ran Scottish Grand National. The loose horse and last fence omission could have affected result ?

Had trip on the new Metro extension to South Hylton. Most of the stations did not look to be completed, and there was a lot of rubble lying round. It seemed a very long way from Pelaw to Fellgate, certainly the furthest distance between any two stations on the system.

Congratulations to "Bindaree" and "What's Up Boys" in providing an exciting finish to the Grand National. The runner-up did not quite get the trip. Some class horses up front for a change. Good performance from "Celabate" (6th), who I think was a top-class 2 Miler, in recent years. Looking at other races in the Aintree meeting. Good run by "Florida Pearl", who looked more impressive, than when winning at Kempton. "See More Business", perhaps should be retired. "Turgeonev" was very unlucky when falling (more like losing balance), two fences out, and would have been at worst, second. Very pleased that "Barton" was back to winning form, but why did the BBC choose not to broadcast race ?

Good performance by "The Bunny Boiler" to win Irish Grand National (April 1st). This was only 16 days after winning Midlands Grand National, in very heavy going, and was more recent than Cheltenham. This puts performances of other class horses to shame. Very disappointed that Welsh Champion Hurdle was not televised again, although highlights of earlier races were shown.

Was a bit disappointed with Cheltenham Racing Festival, as I do not think the standard, is what it used to be. Sad to see Istabraq pulled up also. As usual the Northern horses disappointed. Barton lost interest, when he made a bad blunder four fences out. Turgednev (7th), ran ok in Queen Mother Chase and he was within 15 lengths of winner. Landing Light lost any chance of a place (at best), in Champion Hurdle, when badly hampered at the second last flight. Surprised that the "experts" did not spotlight this. Behrajan was cruising, before an error about six fences from home in the Gold Cup, knocked the stuffing out of him. Excellent run from See More Business, who did not impress me at Wincanton recently. Best Mate showed the form the "experts" predicted but I had seen none of, until today. Is Blowing Wind, after his victory here, on course for Grand National ?

Good to see that Tim Easterby has two good Steeplechasers at present. I believe Barton is good enough to win Gold Cup (though he is prone to the odd jumping error), if not this year, then next.

I was a bit disappointed with overall standard of Xmas Racing (What there was of it). Florida Pearl defeated nobody in King George Chase (apart from French Gold who has lost his form). The best performance came from winner of Wetherby 3M Chase. However, he was defeated in Hennessey Gold Cup, by horse that was only fourth in Welsh National.

We were joint winners of Pub Quiz on 16th Dec (the last for 2001). The team was Reg Checkley, John Moore and myself. We might have won outright, but I thought Frank Lampard (in Picture round), was Ian Kelsey (Emmerdale and Casualty). Also we played Joker on wrong round. For good measure, we also won Jackpot. The question was, "When did Billboard start publishing weekly charts ?". It has been asked before, and their answer is 1936. However, I think it is 1940, according to my book, the first number one being, "I'll Never Smile Again", by Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra. Brian, the regular quizmaster, has had an accident (not sure what), and was in Hospital for two days. He is recovering now.

Not very happy that Breeders Cup, was not shown on the regular channels. If it was repeated anywhere, it was not advertised. Still think that Galileo is best horse this year, and I am disappointed that he is now being retired.

Pay-per-View Sky TV is advertising Bolton v Newcastle Premiership game on December 23rd. Sorry but I am sure Newcastle are away to Bolton today (Oct 13th). They play Leeds away on December 22nd.

Was impressed with Sakhes in winning Arc. Did not see his win at York. Very disappointed though, that Galileo did not run.

Liked Julie Buckfield a lot as Natalie in Grange Hill (she was only in Hollyoaks a short time). I would have liked to have seen her at the Theatre Royal, in a Play, but I am sorry, I am not prepared to see her as Peter Pan, in a "modern" pantomine, among a lot of kids, on their School Holidays.

Re recent cases of murderers being released, or having lethal injectios. Sorry but I have no sympathy for them, and anyone that defends/supports them, are condoning the crime, and are almost as guilty.

I certainly don't think Newcastle, on last season's form, deserve to get into the European Qualifying Competition. How Freddie Shephard can criticise those who agree with this remark, is beyond me. Only the thicker fans, (about 40%), would think they are worthy of a place.

Thought the Ascot Gold Cup was a good race, but was surprised that winner, was only 18th out of 20, in its previous race. It was only 6 - 1 as well. The trouble is if they perform like that once, they can perform like that again. I was also surprised that the third placed horse, in the opening race of the meeting, was 100 -1, when it had finished first and second in its only two runs. I hope the bookies lost out on that.

Noticed the article on Tyneside Metro. I do not think the regularity of the service is any worse than it used to be. The trains are definitely not as tidy. The problem is that when (a big when), the vandals are caught, they do not get the punishment they deserve. Throwing missiles at trains, amounts to attempted murder in some cases. Troublemakers cannot be punished like they used to, which is one reason, there is a struggle to recruit teachers.

Disappointed tha the two big Hunter Chases at Stratford, which used to end the National Hunt season, were not televised this year. They are certainly better than Flat Racing from Windsor.

Reviewing Football season, I think Newcastle United, will struggle next year, unless they inject some new blood. Robson's buys, apart from Gallacher, have been poor, and the foreign players are a financial burden. Perhaps it is time for Robson, to move upstairs. Sunderland's trouble is that no matter how good the player is, if they fall out with Reid, they will not play. He also tries to keep the spending to a shoestring budget. Unless the managerial problem is resolved, Middlesbrough will go down next year. I also think that Manchester United, might not win the Premiership, next season. Though no fan of Liverpool, I am pleased they won three Cups. On seeing (by accident as it overran), last part of European Cup Final, I thought Valencia's fourth penalty went in.

I am still waiting for another horse to win 1000/2000 Guineas, Derby/Oaks, Irish Derby/Oaks, St Leger, Coronation Cup, Eclipse Stakes, King George, Champion Stakes and Arc in two seasons.

Reviewing National Hunt season, I would like to see North East trained horses, do well. However, although Mary Reveley trains many winners, her horses always fail when it really matters. I saw a horse (cannot remember the name), that looked a certain winner of the Queen Mother Chase, but has had two poor runs (one very unheralded at Huntingdon), since.

Disappointed with results of end-of-season National Hunt meetings. Istabraq and First Gold were by far the best horses, in their respective races, but both fell. Barton seems to have lost his turn-of-foot.

Do not like drivers who hog the outside lane all the time, even though they are not always in the right lane. Also drivers (usually of delivery vans), who go far too fast in built up areas, but get "left standing", on duel carriageways/motorways.
 
 

Thought Grand National was a bit disappointing. I think Beau would have won, had he been remounted, but would suggest third placed Blowing Wind, could be a good bet for 2002.

Don't like Liverpool or Arsenal, but I am really glad Spurs, my most unfavourite team, got knocked out in FA Cup Semi Final.

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