Ashforth’s Angles: novel idea to soften blow of a narrow loss

Dead-heats are becoming more unusual

PICTURE: RaceTech Novel idea to soften the blow of a narrow defeat
By David Ashforth 5:30PM 1 FEB 2017

SOMETHING extraordinary happened at Southwell on Tuesday. Aye Aye Charlie and The Last Day dead-heated for first place.

In the (good in this case) old days, dead-heats were not unusual. Nowadays judges examine photo finishes with the world's most powerful microscope and compare the thickness of the cells making up the relevant hairs on the horses' nostrils.

It's only a matter of time before a nose is replaced by a hair as the shortest official winning distance. Judges won't be satisfied until they've caused a suicide in every betting shop in Britain.

If I was Britain's dictator (sadly, I'm not) I'd order the BHA to introduce a new rule. The rule would read: "In the event of the winning distance in any race being a nose, for betting purposes the result shall be treated as a dead-heat".

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Bookmakers would be obliged to conform or face an addition to the rule, reading: "Where a horse dead-heats for first place win bets will be settled as if each horse was the sole winner".

In the meantime, one of Towcester's increasingly rare horserace meetings takes place on Thursday. I love Towcester, even if it has often appeared to be run by the Mad Hatter. Hopefully now that it's gone to the dogs its finances will look up.

I'm looking forward to going and in this quarter particular attention will be focussed on horses trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies under the watchful eye of their former trainer Jim Old and ridden by Mark Grant. I refer to Count Meribel (1.35) and Pink Gin (2.45).

That meanie Nicky Henderson is running Top Ville Ben (€70,000, unbeaten in point-to-point, bumper and novice hurdle) against Count Meribel (3,500 gns, beaten in three bumpers and two novice hurdles).

If he's got any sense of decency Henderson will declare Top Ville Ben a non-runner, in which case Count Meribel, who has been running respectably, has a decent chance of winning. That, of course, is if he copes with the heavy going. He may not.

Drinks on Gin?

The going isn't going to be a problem for Pink Gin in the stayers' hurdle. There are two ways of looking at Pink Gin's prospects. Viewed positively, he won well at Exeter last month with the third horse 17 lengths adrift. That was his second race back from a break and he might progress again. Although Mr Nasty, the handicapper, has put him up 10lb to a mark of 107, Pink Gin was once rated 121.

The pessimist could counter that the Exeter race was very weak, that Thursday's field is a bit stronger and that Pink Gin, now a nine-year-old, was arguably flattered by a rating of 121 gained three years ago. I hope that helps.

Later on, Winston Churchill is resurrected (Towcester 3.55), which is particularly appropriate because Sir Antony Browne also runs (Wincanton 1.25). I hope it's a spelling mistake and should be Sir Anthony Montague-Browne, Churchill's private secretary, revealed last year to be the father of Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.

I doubt if he'll be at Wincanton.

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