It seems that when shipyards have finished with the thick steel that plates hulls they send the scrap metal to another factory, the one which manufactures jumps jockeys.
Adrian Maguire is the latest National Hunt rider to suggest that his pain threshold is higher than other folk who earn a living at the racecourse. The Irishman returns to the front at Ascot today just two weeks after fracturing his right arm in a fall from Mulligan at Sandown.
Maguire rode out on Thursday without ill effect and the meeting he will have to pass with the racecourse doctor this morning is considered a formality. That will leave the jockey to ride Circus Star, Storm Alert, L'Opera and, in the big race, the Betterware Cup, Call It a Day.
The Betterware is contested by just six runners, including Unguided Missile, who has been a leading figure in the event for the last two years. In 1995 he sent Richard Dunwoody from the saddle like an infantryman blown out of a trench, but the partnership managed to reunite for an improbable victory. A year ago, Gordon Richards's chaser found only Go Ballistic too good and now reopposes that rival on 12lb better terms for less than two lengths.
There are, however, also marks in the debit column. Both Unguided Missile and Go Ballistic ran pretty dreadfully behind Suny Bay in the Edward Hanmer Chase at Haydock last month, while the former competes here only following anaylsis of blood samples. Richards remains unhappy about the well-being of a sizeable proportion of his Greystoke string.
In fact, there is a real One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest appearance about this contest with several potentially sick or half crazy animals taking each other on. Harwell Lad, the Whitbread Gold Cup winner, falls into the latter category. He might win, but he also might fail to start. It's not worth spending good money predicting which it's going to be.
Callisoe Bay too may be nearer consistency in the dictionary than he is on the racetrack. The gangly gelding, it must be said, seems to have got over his tendency to burst blood vessels this season. On his latest start he beat Challenger Du Luc at Newbury, and that runner-up went on to chase home Senor El Betrutti in the Tripleprint Gold Cup at Cheltenham last Saturday. As he attempts three miles for the first time it therefore seems prudent to give Callisoe Bay (next best 2.20) another chance.
Callisoe Bay's stablemate, the Long Walk Hurdle contender Large Action, is turning out to be a bit of a crackpot too, as a record of two submissions in his last three starts exemplifies. He was trounced in the Bula Hurdle on his reappearance and cannot win on that or any other form he has shown for a while now.
A peculiar runner here is Algan, who is also one of 11 declared for Friday's King George VI Chase, a race he collected in 1994. On a day for the recovering unhinged, PRIDWELL (nap 1.45) is worth an investment. He too looks a reformed character this campaign and the feeling at his Martin Pipe lodging house is that he is as near to a certainty as his powerful yard has disgorged recently.
The other televised contest witnesses the hurdling debut of Trans Siberia, who has not run since finishing runner-up in the 1995 Northumberland Plate. He will struggle to cope with Wahiba Sands (1.10), who made a mess of Zaralaska's huge reputation on his debut. John Dunlop's first winner over hurdles is quoted at 16-1 by Coral for the Champion Hurdle, and needs to win this to continue any dream of emulating the winner here 12 months ago, Make A Stand.Reuse content