Brendan Duke: My swag bag can snag some winning nags

Brendan's been cleaned out by Naas, but a new addition to his wardrobe will help him collect his winnings should they come at Chester this week...


A series of unfortunate investments have left me in a perilous financial position. The welcome to Naas sign states that it’s ‘a nice little place to shop’. I managed to ship a fair bit of cash there yesterday but can’t confirm or deny whether that statement is true. The on-course bookies took my money with a smile so I suppose they were on message.

I did make one investment last week which promises to bear a rich dividend.

During the course of my week I usually make a trip to town for work. This involves carrying a few bits and pieces which I throw in a shopping bag. One man about town of my acquaintance was not a fan of this. He explained that the ‘no fixed abode’ look was neither in nor incoming.

His solution was a man bag. The more I mulled this notion over the more obvious the appeal. With summer on the way and pocket space likely to be at a premium the likelihood of needing a bag more than once a week goes up. I canvassed the opinion of a WhatsApp group. has the latest odds for all your horse racing bets

‘What would a man bag cost these days’ I asked.

‘Your dignity’ came the prompt reply.

The guy who sent this has previous for crimes against fashion so I was undeterred. I bought the bag which arrived last week and the early signs are this could be a game changer. For 40 odd years I’ve wandered the earth, well west Dublin mostly, like a cork in a stream, at the mercy of minor inconveniences and setbacks which have taken on greater significance than appropriate.

I just wasn’t prepared.

Now, with this faux leather beauty as my shield, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune can be effortlessly swatted away.

Unseasonably warm weather you say? Well, I’ll just unzip the front pouch. It contains a hat, factor 50 and some lip balm. Important for any of us in the battle against the sun’s rays but crucial if like me you’re in the media game and your face is your fortune.

Speaking of which, I’m, of course, a writer now. Notions, ideas, inspiration could strike at any time. How am I expected to remember this stuff you ask. No need. I’ll just unzip another pouch containing my notebook and pen.

CHESTER, ENGLAND – MAY 12: Dougie Costello riding Sound Advice (yellow) win The Crabbieâs Earl Grosvenor Handicap Stakes at Chester Racecourse on May 12, 2017 in Chester, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

A keen racegoers I often find myself a martyr to my feet after a day at the track. If I decide to go directly from the track to a night out, how can I put some pep back in my step? By employing the old butler’s trick of putting on a fresh pair of socks of course. They can be found in the front pouch of my bag. Various electrical bric a brac, headphones chargers etc, completes the package.

The bag made it’s Irish debut when I swaggered into Naas yesterday equipped for any eventuality. Reaction was mostly positive and I’m happy to put another friend’s request for the lend of a tampon down to bants. Also he’s getting married soon and I’ve come up with a good idea for the wedding gift.

We still need to find winners though.

Man cannot live by bag swag alone. Chester stages its annual May jamboree this week. It looks competitive but a couple of horses appeal. The Cheshire Oaks at 14.25 doesn’t look a vintage renewal but as ever there are some unexposed sorts in there.

One of these is Award Winning. She has only had two runs but looks a handy, professional sort who should handle the track. Granted it was only a Wetherby maiden she won last time but she was impressive and particularly strong at the line as befits her stamina laden pedigree. This step up in trip will help. She’s related to a couple of very smart typestoo. It wouldn’t surprise me were she to show herself as cut from the same cloth and 7/1 is a fair price to find out.

The Chester Cup – 15.35 on Friday – is the highlight of the meeting. It’s tricky and we don’t know the draw yet. Have a look when the declarations are made on Wednesday. If Dubawi Fifty can secure a berth in stall 10 or lower I think he has a great chance.

Relatively unexposed after 12 runs, he’s made up into a smart handicapper. Though beaten at odds on last time, he went close in a race that worked out well. Also, I’m not sure that race was run to suit. He gets a jockey upgrade in Silvestre De Sousa and the extra couple of furlongs should help too. He can take a handy position so shouldn’t be massively inconvenienced if things turn tactical. Odds of around 10/1 appeal if he can avoid a car park draw.

Finally to Lingfield on Saturday. Aidan O’Brien has outlined his plans for the classic trials this week. The Derrinstown at Leopardstown on Sunday will see a rerun of the Ballysax stakes staged a few weeks ago over course and distance. Hopefully with a different outcome for us Pentagon fans.

Kew Garden is the Ballydoyle chosen one for Lingfield. There are a couple of promising sorts, Corelli and Department Of War, likely to line up against him. However Kew Gardens sets a clear standard on form. He should come on plenty for his comeback run over an inadequate trip at Newmarket. I think he should be favourite for Saturday and the 6/1 offered by Paddy seems very generous.

    *All odds Correct at time of posting
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