Marchand D'Or timing it right for Jubilee joy
THE attraction of brown paper packages tied up with strings has always escaped me, but in a match bet on whether those or French jockeys figured in a list of British punters' favourite things, I know where my money would be.
It's not quite so bad these days, but there was a time when any rider crossing the Channel could be pretty certain of getting plenty of stick if he didn't win. If he did, he still got stick, just not quite so much.
Yours truly is far too young to remember it, of course, but apparently one of the most celebrated cases of Francophobia involved former French champion Freddie Head in the 1972 Derby.
Riding the well-fancied Lyphard, Head and his mount approached Tattenham Corner, which, as the name suggests, is a part of the Epsom course horse and jockey are supposed to go round.
Unfortunately, they went straight on, a manoeuvre that had the home-based scribes sharpening their pens in anticipation of another golden opportunity to indulge in some vitriol. An opportunity they didn't miss.
Head has now joined the training ranks and, in what would be a pleasant about-turn, the hacks could be singing his praises after today's Golden Jubilee Stakes at Ascot in which he saddles Marchand D'Or.
Already a Group 1 winner, the five-year-old made a successful seasonal comeback when winning at Chantilly and given the horse he beat then was Equiano, who won the Kings' Stand earlier in the week, the form is as solid as it gets.
A little rain would aid the selection's cause but after a very dry week, some of that is finally predicted to fall on the royal venue, so Marchand D'Or should have conditions to suit.
The Wokingham is exactly what it says on the tin. A maximum, 28-strong cavalry charge that would need someone with the Wisdom of Solomon to sort out. Far be it from me to blow my own trumpet, but . . .
Fresh from winning five times last season, King's Apostle opened his current campaign with a highly-creditable fifth behind Off The Record at Newmarket, and with the string of William Haggas continuing at the top of their game, he looks a certainty. As much as one can be in a field like this, naturally.
The choice of Luberon in the Duke Of Edinburgh is a little complicated because Mark Johnston's runner isn't guaranteed to make the line-up as he's one of three reserves, but if he does make the line-up, he's good enough to run a big race.
Should the fates conspire against him, the big prize can still head north via Karl Burke's Furmigadelagiusta.
The nap is Kyzer Chief who'll be ridden by Scotsman Neil Brown in the last at Redcar, while the second day of Ayr's meeting can provide Johnston with a double thanks to Underworld and Record Breaker.
Newmarket handler Nick Vaughan also looks set to head home with a couple of winners, Maryolini and Supercast his fancied pair, and having gradually been getting nearer and nearer the winners' enclosure in three runs, another Southern raider, Senatorial, can finally make it into the first spot in the maiden.
Welsh challenger Obe Royal will travel even further to contest his race and those of us who fancy David Evans' gelding will see his recent form figures as consistent.
Those who don't fancy him will view them as proof that he's hard to win with, but what do they know?
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: West