WORLD OF SPORT - General speculations, musings and perhaps a rant

Most recent idiotic product watch – coffee bags. The ad asks why we never had them before. Easy answer, people like to choose their own measure and strength of coffee, and the ingredients do not leave an inedible vegetable detritus in the cup. This product deserves to fail badly. Still, the current theme of television advertising is to have the most aspirational items promoted by the most insufferable pseudo-real people imaginable. There are far too many guilty parties to even name names here. The answer is: Boycott everything to teach them a lesson


Turns out that selling funded horse fixtures to enable greyhound racing to be introducded using borrowed money is not a viable financial plan. Who would have imagined that. We would like to think that it will be a lesson to the media about blindly following the PR puff, but that is probably wishful thinking.


There is nothing like British racing fixtures for exposing the total lack of common sense that a human being can descend to. Last Friday Ffos Las and Chepstow had simultaneous evening meetings. They are not geographical near neighbours but as the only two courses in South Wales they are neighbours of a sort. On Tuesday night it got worse, with the two meetings being Southwell and Nottingham. And on Thursday, the abandoned Worcester evening meeting has been allowed to go to Ffos Las, a course whose evening jumps meetings regular miss out swathes of obstacles due to the sun, stiffing punters all over the country who have no idea if they are betting on a jumps race or glorified bumper. By all means move it, but anywhere other than Ffos Las.  


Reported in the Racing Post and elsewhere, this research which had one possible accurate conclusion (punters underestimate women riders - which is a generalisation that was not investigated) but it came to just the conclusion that fits the agenda of the organisation that commissioned it, and operated on an absurdly small sample - the 2019 Cheltenham Festival - when it already knew the results and could spin them to fit the conclusions already made. These are the hallmarks of research not to be trusted.


We all know Sky has made it's best drama with just a bit of fantasy and off-beat approach in otherwise well grounded situations, but an ad in which a horde of cyclists stop at a city cnetre red light is just implausible beyond belief. Also, another ad represents cycle training at home. The participants are people who appear to respond to having bland platitudes barked at them by an AI set up with a voice like dragging fingernails down a blackboard. They are probably destined to spend their lives being led like sheep and believing blatant satire and fake news on social media to be true.


Microsoft AI Television Ads. They begin with a shouty man not giving time or sound to any dissenting voices. Then an ever so earnest Antipodean woman comes on talking abut feeding the world. But the reality is that any truly competent AI, applying principles of efficiency based assessment, will decide the best way to feed the world will be to kill off half of the human race.

Emma Thompson. After jetting in to jump on the climate change protest bandwagon says something along the lines of “If I had the choice, I would use a more efficient type of plane.” She has earned her Order Of The Dismal Luvviedom, 1st Class.

Michael Jackson. Radio stations suddenly start boycotting playing his music etc. It must have been off of their radar, all those accusations of paedophilia when he was still alive.

Dan Skelton: Omens were that in a quiet news week the Racing Post was building up to waste far too much time covering his race to 200 winners, so he at least has the common decency to win six races in two days and save us from disproportionate media frenzy.

Ukrainian Election. When the previous president came into office the British media were jubilant that he was so popular whilst being pro-EU and anti-Putin. Time for a rethink on that one?


Clearly for this race there was no conspiracy to annoy the commentator at all. None. At. All.


Beware any bookmaker with a name consisting of numbers. 666, 888 and 188 have fallen by the wayside....


Look back to the report for Worcester on 31/7/18. If that is not tipping Croco Bay for the Grand Annual, what is?


In the Tuesday edition of the Racing Post a reader submitted the opinion that Clan Des Obeaux does not act at Cheltenham, therefore does not merit Gold Cup interest. The record is four races, beaten about a length in a Grade 2 novice hurdle, sixth in the 2016 Triumph Hurdle, beaten half a length in a Grade2 novice chase (only four ran) and three lengths runner-up in a Grade 3 handicap chase carrying top weight. None of these races were beyond 2m 5f. Therefore anyone who has snapped up fancy prices in advance do not need to be losing sleep yet.


Firstly a vested interest in this comment - Pete's Choice was due to run at Sandown on Friday Feb 14th but cannot as his last flu jab was six months and one week ago, and overnight the BHA introduced the six months rule. However, the number chosen is totally arbitrary as half a year (as if the flu virus is ticking off days on a tiny nano-calendar). And when you think about it, six months as a time frame is of different lengths depending on when in a year it is being measured from. Given the number of horses innoculated every August before hard training kicks in, would it not be better to have chosen a fixed term, such as 200 days?


After the absurd fine on Henry Oliver it was god to see racing united in condemnation of the utter idiocy of the rule and the stewarding. However, if you were to accept the rule is valid (Sid & Doris Bonkers of Neasden) then in what way did he "force" the horse to race? Waving your arms to remind the horse that you wish it to be somewhere else other than where it currently is does not come even close to constituting enforcing something.


What he bizarrely did was compare Andy Murray to AP McCoy. A tennis player who had years of underachievement and mental frailty that he managed, late in his career, to convert into about three excellent years, leaving a legacy in his sport that is decent enough but hardly legendary amongst the history of participation. Versus a jump jockey who led the world for twenty years, broke every record in the book, usually by a country mile and epitomised
unrelenting mental resilience. It is a bit like comparing The Proclaimers to Rush

2018 UK-Jumping Awards

Same rules as ever - no actual prize but infinite prestige


THAHAB IFRAJ   made the forecast return to form at 66/1 soon after going on the site list and he is completely forgiven for doing it in totally the wrong sort of race


LEIGHTON ASPELL   based on the usual rotation


IAIN JARDINE   no month in 2018 ended up with the yard winless and the final score was 26/155, which is the sort of reliability that makes punters' lives simpler. There were 28 seconds as well.


THE BEANO PARTNERSHIP   having got involved with Burgess Dream in late 2017, one of the clumsiest oafs in the south-east, if not the country, they were rewarded for optimism with three chase wins this year, including one at two and a half miles, which looked an absurd idea when the horse was needing heavy ground and all of 2m 7f in hurdles


MARKET RASEN   only lost out last year by the size and quality of a cottage pie, so it is given the award this year by way of consolation


SAMCRO   started his career by being significantly overhyped for run of the mill wins, then proved himself in proper fashion with Grade 1 successes in the first part of 2018. The year closed with what looks like a complete loss of interest. He is an individual ploughing his own furrow, and good luck to him.

RACING POST 15/12/18

The paper has been rather unimaginative of late, billing incessant interviews with Frankie Dettori or Bryony Frost as unmissable reading when they are exactly the opposite. But the do get it spot on sometimes, and Kevin Pullein's observation on Dec 15th on why understanding probability is an essential life skill, but why human beings have become bad at it, is spot on.


A couple of weeks ago the Racing Post was reporting on research that sight bars on obstacles needed to change colour from orange to yellow so that horses saw them better. Today the blame for the fallers at Haydock is being put on fences lacking an inviting belly. That is, as per the past rsearch, something that the horses can not see any way. Might it help if the Irish pointers were not often presented with fences that they can basically walk through and get into bad jumping habits?


The women of Nottingham are being intimidated from wearing the underwear that they would prefer and the Racing Post has changed the font on the logo. The world will surely look back on the week ending 25th November 2018 and see that it was saved in that timeframe. UK-Jumping is so delighted with this new world order that we headed off to France to ensure smooth progress. Due to a navigation error, we were not on the front line at Les Champs-Elysees with les gilets jaunes, but ended up six hundred miles away watching USA Perpignan blow a chance to beat Castres. But in spirit...


Undeniably the suggestion of a minimum over round percentage for racing is going to be a negative for punters, but by how much? If it means a point or two per race, and you are looking at the less fancied runners, it may not impact you at all. The other thing to think of is that horse racing has been the best value for punters in terms of inbuilt margins for bookies for a long time now, but it does not seem to have brought all that many people into betting on horses that would not have done so anyway.


When the product development division found their new creation being named "nut butter" was there really not a sufficient outbreak of childish giggling to make the people think that this name is not going to work.


One of the more appealing of the post Desert Orchid Gold Cup winners has lived to the ripe old age of 30. Well done to him. But it was very disturbing to find out from the reporting that his owner Dido Harding, having presided over Talk Talk's era of woeful service provision, miserable support and multiple data hacks is now head of NHS Improvement. It does indeed seem that the NHS is doomed.


The star of this was the Irish pointer who sold for £330,000. In the reporting on the sale, the previous owner, who works for Gordon Elliott, noted that the trainer had been of great assistance in sourcing the horse in the first place. From there, he could hardly have been oblivious to what was going on with the horse, and yet at the sales, the winning bid was from agent Mags O'Toole, on behalf of... Gordon Elliott. How very strange, and it is not too cynical to wonder if some fiscal chicanery regarding fees or commissions was going on.


A few years ago there were a couple of very high profile trainers who would never run their horse when top weight in handicaps at 12 stone. This was not an objective view because what they wanted was to have the best horses, but other people's horses to be rated higher. Realising that this was all in the human mind, rather than the equine one, the powers that be lowered the minimum weight to 11 stone 12 pounds. This went on for quite a time, long after the original bleats had passed. Recently, a rule was changed so that horses rated no more than a couple of pounds above the maximum mark for the race (e.g. up to 117 in a 0-115) could run in those races with a bit of extra weight. And guess what? Loads of trainers have been happy to run with up to 12 stone 5 pounds, and the horses involved win races. What was the fuss all about?


Another idea that I have shameless ripped off from the Racing Post, but to save the suspense, they will be delivered in one hit, not as a series.

i) When the voices in your head give you a tip, back it. They are desperate to win your trust for when they need your help setting fire to something.

ii) The smaller the field, the lesser the big off-course bookies profit margin. Therefore, their love of all-weather racing is not for love of their customers.

iii) Never fear backing a market drifter, but check that it has four legs and head (preferably not all tied together) first, just in case.

iv) Any premonitions of racing results picked up in cheese dreams have a 75% chance of being true.

v) Despite what certain media people may lead you to believe, no jockey rides every single race all season to the 100% maximum of his talents, it is simply not possible to be infallible in any sport.

vi) If an acquaintance asks for a tip as a one-off on a special occasion, it will win. From this moment onwards it is not possible to tip them another winner, even if you both live to be 200.
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