Robin Oakley

The turf: Update on winners

After a lifetime reporting politics, I am as well accustomed to spin as a washing machine. But a rich new example reaches me from the US. Researching her family tree, a Californian discovered that she shared a great-great-uncle, Remus Reid, with a US senator. Unfortunately, the great-great-uncle was a regularly convicted horse thief and train robber whose only remaining photograph was the one showing him on the gallows platform before he was hanged. She wrote to the Senator seeking any information he had on their shared relative. An aide replied that Reid had been a famous cowboy whose business empire grew to include ‘equestrian assets’ and ‘intimate dealings with the Montana railroad’ and who had devoted years to ‘government service’. It concluded, ‘In 1889 Remus passed away during an important civic function when the platform on which he was standing collapsed.’

No spin, therefore, on the current fortunes of this season’s Twelve to Follow. We have had one spectacular success. After three races, Fingal Bay remains unbeaten and is still my banker for the Cheltenham Festival. Sadly, others, too, spotted his potential: the starting prices for his three victories were 4–5, 4–5 and 1–4, which hasn’t exactly made our fortunes. Peddler’s Cross, too, has won and Jump City is coming on, finishing second before a fall last time. But none of the others has yet made the winner’s enclosure, partly because three — Rebel Rebellion, Musawarma and Awaywiththegreys  — haven’t yet made it to the racecourse. In the jumping game just getting them to the track is an achievement.  

To give us more sport, then, I am withdrawing those three from our team and I am also taking out Big Knickers, whose trainer reported a breathing problem after his last outing.

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