What a week for sport! Very much a case of the good, the bad and the ugly. Perhaps we should begin in reverse order: headlines dominated by Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney’s shambolic efforts to net himself a move across town or a new deal, Liverpool fans being hunted in Naples, Gazza’s latest misdemeanours, a thrilling round of Champions League games, and the building excitment of two days racing at Aintree plus cracking cards at Donny for the Racing Post Trophy and Newbury for the Horris Hill and St Simon.
With such anger being vented towards Rooney until his about turn it is perhaps worth pointing out that he may have had a very good point buried within his misguided sense of whining self importance and efforts to negotiate big money deal/escape – that his present club no longer have the financial muscle or ambition to compete with their rivals due entirely to the Glazer family’s cancerous occupation of Old Trafford.
If supposedly clued up United fans cannot finally grasp that paying the parasitic Glazers to bleed their beloved club dry is a feat roughly akin to forking out for a ticket to see their wife or girlfriend being gang raped then somebody should pick them up and shake them.
Maybe the penny will finally drop for the morons who cheerily attend Old Trafford boosting the Glazer coffers by sporting a lovely polyester replica shirt, all the while displaying their supposed contempt for the owners by proudly wearing a green and gold scarf to complete their natty look. A more handsome contradiction is hard to imagine!
Still, expect Old Trafford’s toothless green and gold campaign to be replaced by some more direct anti-Glazer vitriol even now Rooney has agreed a new five year deal.
Perhaps Sir Alex Ferguson looked so deflated in his notorious press conference earlier in the week due to the realisation that even he might struggle to re-build and work another miracle under his current financial constraints, especially with an ageing squad and the listless Michael Carrick still considered an option in the middle of the park.
That football is dead as we know it or at least on life support is only further accentuated by his supposed choice of new club had he left United: Manchester City, the nouveau riche arrivistes plying their trade sagging under the weight of Sheikh Mansour’s wealth, a team who 12 years ago drew a crowd of 3,008 for a midweek game when across town their hated neighbours were playing Bayern Munich in front of a slightly bigger crowd.
Nowadays, in a process fairly similar to prostitution, how City fans can derive heartfelt joy from watching a bunch of mercenaries corralled together via a highest-bidder tag is beyond me.
I should point out that I’ve nothing against City, from an entertainment point of view the league would be a poorer place without them, Adam Johnson is a player worthy of a Sky Sports subscription when he’s on his game, but these comments are more an indictment of the sorry state of top level football…..that English football’s one prime example of fiscal virility can be exploited and milked by predatory owners, while perennial under achievers can suddenly can suddenly begin throwing their new found financial might around as if there’s a closing down ‘everything must go’ type situation occurring is ghastly.
A more anti-sport situation is hard to imagine, but perhaps our national game is in danger of emulating the abhorrent cash cow which was the conception of cricket’s Indian Premier League, a grotesque self serving monster that benefits only the chosen few within its bloated bubble.
Still, where’s my inflatable banana when I need it? Wayne’s staying put and the whole episode should add some spice to the forthcoming Manchester derby at Eastlands on November 10th anyway!!
Happily racing rumbles on with its own internal squabbles to deal with, none of which will detract from what could be a thrilling weekend of sport, not least at Doncaster where the Racing Post Trophy takes centre stage (live on C4) at 2.55pm on Saturday.
Ten go to post for the end of season juvenile stamina test, and in my eyes the one to be on is easy to back favourite Casamento for Michael Halford and Frankie Dettori.
Supplemented for the race there’s so much to like about his chances: not least that four of the last six winners of the RP Trophy had previously won over a mile, hey presto this son of Shamardal is the only one in the field who has, and that came in no less than the Group 2 Beresford Stakes (won by Sea The Stars and St Nicholas Abbey!!) at the Curragh four weeks ago.
It gets better too, favourites have a brilliant record in the race, with a 50% strike rate stretching back 20 years, and he goes on basically any ground.
Dettori has had another great season and can cap it here with a big domestic prize.
Of the opposition I’m none too keen on the second favourtie Dunboyne Express, so much is being made of how he beat Dewhurst placed horses Roderic O’Connor and Glor Na Mara earlier in the year, but that was on their debuts.
Everything else has to improve on what’s been seen so far, though most firms shortened Master Of Hounds yesterday when Johnny Murtagh chose him over Seville (though Seville is generally still level with his stablemate or shorter in the betting).
All have stamina to prove though, with the exception of our selection, and a win bet at 11/4 with any of Stan James & Blue Square is the advice.
Looking ahead one for the notebook could be Nicky Richards’ stylish novice chaser Premier Sagas when he steps up in trip this winter. I was at Carlisle on Thursday and saw the strapping French bred six year old make a very good chasing debut, finishing third to Divers over two miles having jumped well throughout – he’ll be carrying my cash when he’s tried over further.
Elsewhere, dip in to the Melbourne Cup antepost market for a few quid each way on Holberg as Godolphin plan their assault on the big Australian prize – word is confidence is high as the Halling four year old heads a British challenge alongside Manighar and Profound Beauty. Most firms are currently 16/1.
On Friday afternoon Red Roar is well fancied to make it a hat trick of wins as she takes on Paul Cole’s Doc Hay in a 0-70 handicap at Ayr.
She has the beating of her chief market rival on a strict line through Bushwhacker (who she beat at Beverley in August), and importantly is still improving. She can rattle up another win under Franny Norton this afternoon.
Snap up a slice of the 11/4 available with any of Victor Chandler, Stan James or Sportingbet.
At Doncaster Baby Strange looks to hold a leading chance in the 0-105 handicap over six furlongs at 3.55pm.
Twice a winner over course and distance this season this fella takes his racing really well and has the assistance of five pound claimer Dale Swift to ease the burden. He can make the frame at 12/1 with Boylesports.
This weekend’s best bets:
3.30 Ayr (Friday) – Poppyscotland Small Things Big Difference Handicap – 3 Red Roar (win) @ 11/4 (Victor Chandler, Stan James or Sportingbet)
3.55 Doncaster (Friday) – Sovereign Health Care Handicap – 12 Baby Strange (each way) @ 12/1 (Boylesports)
2.55 Doncaster (Saturday) – Racing Post Trophy – 1 Casamento (win) @ 11/4 (Stan James & Blue Square)
Melbourne Cup antepost – Holberg (each way) @ 16/1 (general, including Bet365 and Paddy Power)
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