Brendan Duke: Newmarket’s a break from dog days of summer

Minding a dog's not as easy as you'd think.

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My latest dogsitting shift has ended. Unlikely I will ever get the gig again. Almost ended in tears. With a whimper, if you will. On the last morning of my temporary guardianship, we returned from our walk. For some inexplicable reason, I failed to close the front door properly. I say inexplicable, and this isn’t to fully abdicate my responsibility as primary caregiver, but the dog was probably the actual reason.

He’s a willful character, who refuses to respect my authority. Even when I do an Eric Cartman impression. Like Riders Onthe Storm, another animal who has caused me distress, this dog is a keen goer. I usually return from these walks with heavy arms and a frazzled mind. In my distracted state, oversights were probably inevitable.

A police dog carries a tennis ball in his mouth at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 2, 2019, on the second day of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships tennis tournament. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

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Later on, I went out to make dinner. Gotta put some fuel in the engine. I noticed the front door was now open. I also noted that the dog was missing. Putting two and two together, I sprung into action. Well, I say sprung. It’s not so easy to spring. The oven needed to be switched off, keys retrieved etc. This all takes time. Time I didn’t have. I remembered from TV shows that the first 48 hours are crucial in abductions. A quick calculation meant I had approximately seven dog hours to get him back. I jumped on my bike and began to cycle around the neighbourhood.

I didn’t know how long he’d been gone but figured he’d have to stick to his marked territory. A couple of trips around the pissing zones proved fruitless. None of the people I asked had seen a white dog. One clown, after telling me he hadn’t seen a dog that matched the description, called me back to ask what breed he was. Having relayed that information to him, I was told that he hadn’t seen any Golden Retrievers either. Obviously.

Not helping son, not helping.

Mild panic now. Decided to widen the search area. Followed the Luas tracks. Probably wasn’t thinking straight. Thought maybe he’d channelled his inner Littlest Hobo, and would just follow the rails from one adventure to the next. Looped around by Stepaside, and back around towards Leopardstown. Hilly work. On the climbs, I got envious of the Paw Patrol. At least they have motorised transport in which to save the day. No joy.

Back to the estate. Running out of ideas now. Then I saw a white coat gambolling at the top of the green. It was him. Some relief. He was playing with a man and his dog. Turned out my dog had taken shelter in this guy’s house. Being a good egg, he’d given him some water before taking him back out in the hope of bumping into his owner. Such clear thinking. Having dodged a bullet, I feel invincible going into this weekend’s punting.


The racing in Ireland is a touch underwhelming. I will be concentrating on Newmarket’s July Meeting. Friday’s card kicks off with a competitive three-year-old handicap. Dark Vision catches my eye. This horse has underachieved. He gets a drop in grade here though. His form this season has been respectable. The 2000 Guineas was a bit much, but all his other runs have offered hope.

His fourth behind King Of Comedy at Sandown looks a good effort now. His last start at Royal Ascot wasn’t bad, particularly as the draw and ground weren’t ideal. He’s an impressive physical specimen. Perhaps bullying inferior rivals in a handicap will prove the ideal scenario. The step up in trip isn’t obvious on pedigree. He’s shaped like it would suit this season mind. 9/1 looks a fair price.

The Falmouth Stakes (3.35 pm) looks a competitive renewal. The Lanwades Stakes at the Curragh looks the key piece of form. Beshaayir made all that day. I Can Fly and a penalised One Master were in behind. Both those fillies gave the form a boost at Ascot. Both are greatly respected tomorrow.

It’s probable that Beshaayir was flattered by a pace-favouring track that day. The thing is, she looks like getting a similar set-up on Friday. Dettori must be licking his lips. The July Course isn’t a stiff test. Beshaayir faces no obvious competition for the lead. If she gets loose on the front, she’ll take some pegging back. At 10/3 she looks the value play in the race.

The July Cup (4.40 pm) is the highlight of a busy Saturday. Dream Of Dreams (DOD) gets the nod here. Just one more stride would have seen him catch Blue Point in the Diamond Jubilee at Ascot. Ascot is probably the perfect track for DOD. Kachy going lickity-split from the gun was also a help. DOD’s stamina will not be as big an asset on Saturday. He’s looking an improved model this season though. Another big effort is expected here. That will probably prove good enough. I’d have made him favourite. 10/3 is more than fair.

Ship Of Dreams (Wayne Lordan) wins the Navigation Stakes.
Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post 10.10.2018

King’s Command heads the betting for the Superlative Stakes (2.55 pm). He did well to win that day, and the form has been boosted. 7/4 looks short to me all the same. With eight runners, an each-way bet looks the play. Mystery Power overcame greenness to win snugly on debut at Haydock. The second that day set a decent form standard. Richard Hannon doesn’t tend to rev his juveniles up on debut. The quicker ground on Saturday looks another positive. 14/1 looks a dismissive price. It’s enough to tempt me anyway.

Burnt Sugar bids to follow up last year’s win in the Bunbury Cup (3.30 pm). Off just a 3lb higher mark it looks eminently feasible too. He hasn’t shown anything in two runs this term. He did the same last year, before going on to burgle two valuable handicaps in July. It’s probable that his shrewd handler has a similar plan in mind. He seems to love the track and is a proven winner in big field handicaps. 12/1 looks too big. Paddy offering an extra place only sweetens the deal.

*All odds correct at time of posting

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