Ashforth's Alternative View: A flawed winner-finding system but I like it

By David Ashforth@davidjashforth
Wed 13 Mar 2019

When it comes to analysing races there are, I admit, some flaws in my approach. While devoted to an objective, unsentimental examination of the evidence, I am prone to being led astray by the attractions of a subjective, sentimental disregard of the evidence.

Take, for instance, the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (2.10) on Thursday, a race which used to involve trying to work out which horse had been “not off” most effectively during the previous 12 months. Nowadays that would be rewarded by failing to get into the race at all.

As I look down the long, impenetrable, patently insoluble card, my eye alights on Noel Fehily.

 I want to warn Frost that things get worse with age but have thought better of it
I want to warn Frost that things get worse with age but have thought better of it

I know that’s he a nice guy so, semi-consciously, give a favourable mental mention to his mount, Black Mischief. J J Slevin rides well, even if he’s only got half a name, so that’s Thermistocles on the list.

Further down is Rachael Blackmore. She’s a terrific jockey, admirable in every way.

Admittedly, I don’t know whether she devotes her spare time to attacking old ladies and stealing their handbags but I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt. So it would be heart-warming to see Cuneo win.

Then there’s Bryony Frost, also admirable, with a ready smile. I want to warn her that things get worse when you’re older but have thought better of it. So that’s a tick for Oh Land Abloom.

Moving on, there’s David Pipe and Tom Scudamore. Years ago (most things seem to be years ago) I spent many educational mornings at Nicholashayne with Martin Pipe, working on his weekly column for The Sporting Life.

Scudamore will always have a place in my heart, partly because he seems a nice bloke and partly because of the Cartmel meeting on July 21 2014 when, riding Run Forest Run in a hurdle race, he began by jumping a fence. As I hadn’t backed Run Forest Run, I thought it was funny. So Champers On Ice gets a friendly nod.

Other favourable nods are awarded to Ian Williams and First Assignment (my friend Dr Misha Voikhansky and his racing mad son Alec ride out for Williams), Stuart Edmunds and Theclockisticking (Edmunds was assistant to Renee Robeson when she trained Cetti’s Warbler who, as I tend to recall in most columns, I backed when she won at 100-1 at Towcester on December 15 2003), Philip Hobbs and Wait For Me (Hobbs is always friendly) and Jonjo O’Neill and Aspen Colorado (ditto and I always think that, one day, Jonjo’s going to tell me to put my house on something, even though I haven’t got a house).

So if any of those win, I’ll be pleased. It may not be a sound system but I like it.

If you favour a more rational approach and you’ve got a house then it might be worth sticking it on Lord Yeats, doubtless at a very short price, in the opening novices’ hurdle at Hexham (1.55). Even half an upper floor would be worth winning.

Good luck.

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