Brendan Duke: The name Lisp should be on everyone’s lips this weekend

The Duke has his own ideas on how to deal with equine flu but we'd sooner his selections for a Saturday smash-up of top-class action ...


Racing has returned in the U.K. Hurrah!  As for whether it should ever have gone away in the first place? I’m almost certainly not qualified to comment. However, I’ve 800 words to get through.

Firstly it’s not a topic I naturally engage with. Illness, be it equine or human, is quite tiresome. I was reminded of asking my Granddad how he was. He would always start the answer with a comprehensive list of his current maladies. I always zoned out. I mean really, who actually answers that question honestly? My take on it is also coloured by, dare I say endemic, bias. The most interesting thing, from this fairly disinterested observer’s point of view, was the differing responses by the separate racing authorities.


The BHA went all DEFCON 1. The Irish went all ‘sure it’ll be grand’. As a libertarian I automatically favour the latter response.

These days far too many people want government action if the green bin isn’t returned to the proper place. However, as mentioned before, I do have solidarity with the working man. An excellent way to avoid getting fired is to take health and safety very seriously. Also, if you have put a contingency plan in place to deal with equine biohazards it would be perfectly understandable to want to press the button.

In fairness to the B.H.A, the structures they put in place seemed to work efficiently. The boss can have few complaints. Still, I’m ultimately inclined to think the best response would be to let the trainers work it out for themselves.

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Now we must hope that this break was the pause that refreshes and with a bit of luck, dig out a couple of winners for the weekend.

The Betfair Hurdle was saved. It moves from Newbury to a cracking nine-race card at Ascot on Saturday. Two novices dominate the betting. Getaway Trump and Al Dancer are greatly respected. Lisp, another relatively unexposed horse, looks primed for a big run and is preferred at the prices.

This improving horse has just turned five years old. He probably should have won a big handicap at Ascot in December, undone by being held up in a slowly-run race. His previous second in the Gerry Fielden Hurdle at Newbury to Global Citizen is red-hot form.

An 8 lb rise for two runner up finishes isn’t ideal. He still looks well handicapped to me mind. At 7/1, an each-way tickle is advised. Hopefully Paddy will throw an extra-place bone our way. That would only increase confidence.

The Ascot Chase looks a right good race. Waiting Patiently is favourite to put his King George misfortune to rest. He’s probably just about the right fav. I don’t think Politologue should be nearly twice the price though. Cyrname is making the market here. He was wildly impressive in winning a handicap over course and distance last time. He’s in far deeper waters here, and looks a very short price.

Politologue travelled effortlessly for a long way in the King George. An uncharacteristic blunder and ebbing stamina did for him in the end. His previous form in beating Min and Charbel is arguably the strongest on offer here. Back at his optimum trip, Politologue looks worth a decent bet at anything around 3/1.

Irish fans are in for a treat too. Presenting Percy puts the finishing touches to his Gold Cup prep at Gowran Park on Saturday. It’s a pretty good race, though Bachasson has an alternative engagement so probably won’t line up. That leaves Monalee as the credible threat. Henry De Bromhead will probably fancy his chances of upsetting Percy at this trip. The prices look about right to me though. One to watch.

Finally to the weekly Carefully Selected update. He didn’t take up his engagement at Punchestown last weekend. The hopes of all those with an ante-post docket for the Albert Bartlett (AB) were raised with an entry for the three mile graded hurdle at Clonmel on Thursday. That proved to be yet another fluffing. He wasn’t declared.

I’m developing grave concerns about him running in the AB at this stage. In fact I’m developing real concerns about his whereabouts.

Any readers with information, are advised to contact Bagenalstown Garda station.

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