REGULARS will know that I have never been a great fan of last Saturday’s Shergar Cup.
However, I have been convinced that there is a place for this team format for a few different reasons. Firstly, Ascot always gets a good crowd for the tournament despite any reservations I might have.
Also the Cup attracts once a year racegoers who enjoy the day out with their families and put the fixture in their diaries for the following annum.
Perhaps some of these ‘once a year’ people will choose to attend another day or two before then, but just as importantly there are a lot of things put on for kids and hopefully they, or indeed their parents, will get hooked by the sport for when they are older.
But this year the Cup scored a spectacular own goal and I have to say that I thought Channel 4 commentator Simon Holt did an amazing job.
Each team had two or three participants in each of the races but the colours of all their respective runners were virtually indistinguishable.
Now I’m not saying that I am the best race reader in the world but I have been going racing long enough to be able to pick out the colours of the horse that I have backed.
That wasn’t the case on Saturday and without Holt’s excellent oratory telling me where my horse was, I admit that I would have been lost.
What was it like for the inexperienced racegoer and I don’t think that this is the way to attract welcome newcomers to our brilliant game.
This week I think that Dermot Weld’s Stuccodor can follow up his recent success at Leopardstown in the same course’s Apprentice Handicap on Thursday evening.
The three-year-old had run an excellent race before that for the master trainer at his beloved Galway where he found just South South West too powerful in a mile handicap.
Stepped up a furlong at the Dublin track, Pat Smullen took the lead inside the final furlong and comfortably held Love Nest when he came to challenge close home.
Weld gave the impression that this was a nice horse in the making and there are definitely more races to be won with him, first here and then later probably back at Ballybrit next year.
York’s Ebor Meeting starts next Wednesday when fabulous Frankel will take pride of place in the Juddmonte International Stakes.
While this horse is obviously a machine and he is very unlikely to get beaten, it was great to hear Aidan O’Brien, who will have a bit of a team on the Knavesmire, say that he might take on Frankel with St Nicholas Abbey.
It’s difficult to know who else St Nich will take on at this stage but you’d have to give him a good each way chance on his form earlier in the campaign.
The son of Montjeu was seriously impressive when winning the top-class Coronation Cup at Epsom by four and a half lengths and he was on the premises when third in the King George last time.
I’m getting into this cricket lark now and despite England dropping their best batsman Kevin Pietersen after texting and online misdemeanours, I think that they can win the third and series determining Test at Lord’s this week against South Africa at current odds of 13-5.
England are almost certain to recall spinner Graeme Swann, who could have made the difference in the recent draw in Leeds, and his presence is vital together with the fact that several South Africans are struggling with full fitness.
There will be plenty of tension in this final match as the winners will head the Test rankings and I think England’s resolve is greater.
Thursday London 10.30 England to beat South Africa
Thursday Leopardstown 7.55 Stuccodor
Wednesday August 22 York 3.40 St Nicholas Abbey (each way)x