If it wasn’t for John McCririck, I wouldn’t be doing what I do for Racing TV and I am hugely thankful to Mac, whose death was announced on Friday. I get reminded at least once every shift I do in the betting “jungle” that I will never be as good as he was and I acknowledge it in full, every time it is pointed out.
John McCririck made the betting ring his own and made the TV audience feel as though they were in the ring doing battle rather being sat at home in an armchair.
The betting ring is not what it was and nowadays even some racecourse bookmakers talk of 'managed decline'. However that decline would have been much much steeper if it wasn’t for McCririck breathing life into the Saturday afternoons of racing fans.
He has been sadly missed on course for some time already and now he won’t be back, but I really hope his passing makes everyone think about how important he was to racing on television and how important the betting ring and the characters who operate there are to this game.
Everyone who gets any sort of pay cheque from horse racing should probably acknowledge they owe a little bit of it to McCririck, who, more than anyone, reminded people that this was a sport worth getting involved in.
He was thoroughly controversial with his opinions, but racing has now lost the person who could say just about anything and it would get media coverage. He will live an awful long time in the memory, be hugely missed and cannot possibly be replaced or replicated.
It is a hugely busy on Saturday, but hopefully we can get most races off as close to possible to scheduled time, which will help things. I have begun to use the Racingtv.com tracker because there are so many races these days, it is almost impossible to keep on top of things. A few of my 'notebook horses' are running on Saturday.
This horse has a string of coconuts extending quite impressively but I believe he showed enough at Hamilton last time over six furlongs to suggest that he is poised to strike. He is a pure five-furlong horse and has never made the frame in several goes over six, and demonstrated that he still has plenty of speed last time before fading to be next to last at the line.
Requinto Dawn has been to Beverley twice only in the past, winning once (only to be disqualified) and getting done by the narrowest of margins on the other occasion so the course clearly suits well.
He has been tried in much higher-rated races than this (indeed he was in a 0-95 when just beaten here) and could well be thrown in today. Sean Davis rides, as he did at Hamilton, and he will no doubt have had some input into the horse dropping him back to five furlongs. I expect a good run.
Many of the biggest races this Saturday I have largely put in the 'too difficult' category with this year’s renewal of the Old Newton Cup very nearly joining them, given that just about all of the big horses are drawn in double-figures, which gives the race a rather odd shape.
However, I am going to chance a few quid each-way on Indianapolis who has run slightly better than his finishing position suggests on both of his last two runs and is slightly better off with several rivals today, as well as being nicely drawn in stall two.
At York behind First Eleven he stayed on steadily but too late in the day, and then over a furlong further at Ayr he hit the front two furlongs out but didn’t seem to get home. If Barry McHugh times his run well today I think he could definitely reward each-way support at a fair price.
It always looked likely that Archie Watson might be able to eke some improvement out of this five-year-old, but she runs here off a mark of 60, a rating from which Luna Magic has scored before, so the 5lb penalty she carries for success on her first start for the stable ought looks unlikely to trouble her.
Already proven as effective on turf as on the All-weather, this switch of surface from Wolverhampton's Tapeta also offers no fears, and the manner of her victory then certainly suggested she would have no problem defying the penalty.
Even the extra furlong she tackles here should, if anything, suit even more as she has had no problem with this trip and further in the past.
I have mentioned before how impressed I have been with Phillip Makin’s start to life as a trainer and this sprinter is another poised to score. She went into my tracker after staying on at a big price three starts ago and I was absolutely convinced she would win next time.
Clearly I wasn’t alone as she was backed off the boards at Nottingham and ended up favourite but the run proved a blow-out. She didn’t get the best of runs there, but also possibly bounced on her second start of the campaign, because she showed much better form next time when once again ending up wide of the field on her own and staying on to be only narrowly beaten.
Carlise looks like a track that will suit her well and with a few prominent racers in the field she should have pace to aim at. Ben Curtis rides, which is a huge plus.