As Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un continue to massage their egos in a display of peacocking that the residents of your local zoo would be proud of, the possibility that we are heading for nuclear war and the world changing as we know it grows closer and closer each day.
Is it really going to happen though? Will Trump or Un press the big red button, or is this just posturing for posturing’s sake? Only time will tell, but you sense that North Korea have been itching to go to war with the Western world for a number of years, while Trump….well, who knows what he’s capable of.Add in to the mix Vladimir Putin and China piping up with their opinions, and the situation is probably more combustible than most of us care to imagine.
So, we might as well enjoy each day like it’s our last! The return of the Premier League football season tomorrow will please armchair supporters and punters alike, and if you are intending to have a flutter then good luck one and all.
To act as a nice warm-up for the 3pm kick offs, there is a stacked card of horse racing from both Ascot and Newmarket tomorrow, and all of the action will be televised live on ITV4 – a channel most of us have these days lurking in the dark recesses of Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media packages.
So, that’s four live races before the football has even kicked off….let’s take a look:
Shergar Cup Dash (Ascot, 1:05pm)
The going at Ascot is expected to be on the softer side unless we have a blast of almighty sunshine (Donald and Kim: don’t get firing those rockets vertically upwards, lads), and if it does Mirza’s price of 6/1 might look like folly come the end of this race.
The experienced campaigner has been around the block and back, but remarkably has shown some of his best form this year. A fifth in the Scottish Sprint Cup Handicap was notable for finishing a length behind Kimberella and just half a length behind Caspian Prince – both of whom have won well this term, while last time out at Sandown he was second only to the lively Battaash at a price of 25/1.
That’s a decent upswing, and his connections will be excited about a return to handicap class after a jaunt overseas for a large part of 2016.
There’s certainly a case to be made for swerving Lexington Abbey, the 4/1 favourite. He’s a decent campaigner but has never run off a handicap mark of 100 or more, let alone won off it, and in his last outing on soft ground finished 17 of 25 in the Ayr Silver Cup Handicap.
Shergar Cup Stayers (Ascot, 1:40pm)
The second race of Shergar Cup day at Ascot is this 1m 7f behemoth, which will test the stamina of all involved if the ground is yielding to the touch.
Graceland and Swashbuckle will duke it out for supremacy with the bookmakers at around 11/4, and it is the former that holds most appeal. The French horse won at Ascot over this distance back in May – defeating Swashbuckle by some four lengths.
So far 2017 has been the best year in this mare’s career to date, and in 24 starts she has finished inside the places on 17 occasions. A win last time out for Swashbuckle, meanwhile, will push his weight up.
BBAG Premier Yearling Sales Maiden Fillies’ Stakes (Newmarket, 2:00pm)
This is a maiden start for these two-year-old fillies, and so there is an element of the unknown about all of those who feature. But two who leap out from the racecard are Admired and Peace Trail.
Admired is trained by Sir Michael Stoute, a skilful handler who has an excellent record at Newmarket. This filly is bred from Oasis Dream and Dalakhani, so there’s good pedigree there too. Around 40% of Stoute’s last 38 entries have placed, and that’s a handy hint of form.
Mind you, as far as trainer form goes you won’t find many better than Charlie Appleby in the past fortnight or so. He’s delivered seven winners from 28 entries at a success rate of 25%, and of those 28 a nice round 10 have placed.
His fancy here is Peace Trail, bred from the outstanding Rock of Gibraltar, who won the 2000 Guineas and Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.
Royal British Legion Nursery (Newmarket, 2:35pm)
Our final race prior to the start of the football coupon is this Class 3 affair from Newmarket; a straight shootout between four entries.
Dragons Tail was outgunned at Chester last time out running off a mark of 93, and while he will be top weight here at 92 he looks the premier performer in the field.
Gold Town was favourite in his last start at Newmarket, but failed to adjust to the 9-9 weight from a mark of 91 and could only muster a finish of third by four lengths to Tangled. Going off at the same mark here will surely not suit.
Mutanaaseq has won on his last two starts and impressed in both, and carrying at least six pounds less will be a significant advantage should the ground firm up tomorrow.
Fleeting Freedom didn’t show well on the soft ground of Thirsk last time out, finishing more than a length adrift of 33/1 jolly Crown Vallary in third. A mark of 77 is indicative of her chances.