Magazine article The Spectator

Count on Me

Magazine article The Spectator

Count on Me

Article excerpt

The turf

Count on me

Robin Oakley

When Nasa first sent astronauts into space, the story goes, they discovered that ballpoint pens would not work in zero gravity. So they spent millions over a decade developing a pen that would write in zero gravity, upside down, under water and even on glass. The Russians, faced by the same problem, issued their astronauts with pencils.

There is something to be said for simplicity in racehorse selection, too. Sometimes in the past I have spent hours with the form book to irritatingly little avail. This year, having whittled down the possibles for my Ten To Follow to 20 or so, I left the rest to instinct in selecting Russian Rhythm, Airwave, Midsummer, Alamshar, Kalaman, Where or When, Sulamani, Double Obsession and Dubaian Gift. So far they have done us proud. Between them they have contested 24 races, many at the highest level, and the current score is nine victories, five seconds, one third, three fourths and just six unplaced runs. Ten pounds invested on each at level stakes would have brought you a return of L420 for the L240 outlay. Even Mrs Oakley is mildly impressed, despite the bundle of losing tickets she found in my pocket after Eclipse Day at Sandown. It really is time they put litter bins on stations again.

This year's Ten, of course, had a bonus when Russian Rhythm's poor form on the gallops resulted in her starting at 12-1 for her victory in the 1,000 Guineas. The 4-7 when she won the Coronation Stakes took us back to the bookmakers' miserly reality. But I had determined to list her despite those home gallops reports because she simply oozed star quality when I watched her as a two-year-old. So did Airwave, who has shown her consistency by winning the Temple Stakes at 5-2, running second to the exceptional Choisir at Ascot and then making the frame again behind him when the two were beaten by Oasis Dream in the July Cup. Stick with her. She is a genuinely fast filly who will have things go her way one day and at least last time she came out of the stalls on terms with the others.

Henry Cecil's Midsummer, second in the Lingfield Oaks Trial, has yet to win. She looks to need further than the 1m 1f she tackled when fourth last time out at Goodwood. Alamshar, who had earlier won the Irish Derby Trial at Leopardstown and run third in the Epsom event won the Irish Derby at 4-1 and Kalaman, who won the Pacemaker Heron Stakes at Kempton in his prep race, was perhaps the unluckiest loser at Royal Ascot. He was caught in a scrummage two furlongs out in a very rough St James's Palace Stakes and by the time Johnny Murtagh had extricated him the winner Zafeen was too far gone to catch, valiantly though he tried. …

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