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His unveiling has angered large swathes of Newcastle fans who don’t want him near their club but Mike Ashley may have found his managerial equivalent in Steve Bruce.
Two men with a rich history of broken promises, seemingly impervious to criticism and who, based on past performance, are extremely unlikely to advance the cause of Newcastle United football club.
Despite the bulk of his playing days coming under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson during the Scot’s 27 year stint at Manchester United, Steve Bruce has struggled to make any one club his home during his managerial career, flitting from club to club in a bid to climb the footballing ladder.
His longest spells came at Birmingham and Hull, who he managed for a collective ten years and 471 games of a 20 year and 904 match career. It is those clubs where he also achieved the bulk of his success in the dugout, achieving four promotions and an FA Cup final. However, it is the failures and early departures that truly punctuate Bruce’s managerial record.
He resigned from his first job, at Sheffield United, after a single season and left his position at Wigan within two months to take over at Crystal Palace, a more attractive role. Ambition got the better of him once again three months later when he decided that Birmingham would be another another upgrade, despite Palace being top of the league at the time.
Bruce managed Sunderland, despite having been brought up as an apparently passionate Newcastle fan, and Aston Villa, despite his ties to Birmingham. His initial role at Sheffield United wasn’t enough to put him off taking his previous position as manager of Sheffield Wednesday in January. He was even allowed to take the first month of that job off as he was on holiday in the Caribbean, watching England play the West Indies.
Their faith in him was poorly repaid though when he resigned earlier this week after managing just 18 over the first six months of a three year contract, before Newcastle swiftly announced him as manager. The announcement has incensed Sheffield Wednesday who subsequently released a statement clarifying their distaste with a compensation package yet to be agreed.
Such behaviour is, naturally, par for the course for Mike Ashley, whose staggering indifference to the tsunami of hatred towards him by the Toon Army faithful has been apparent for some time.
He has mistreated several club legends during his tyrannical reign, including Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer and, new cult hero, Rafa Benitez. One consistency among departing coaches is claims of broken promises regarding transfers as well as intimations that they were made to work with their hands tied behind their backs.
Benitez was widely acknowledged to have worked wonders during his time at St. James Park whilst operating on a shoestring budget. Yet despite the fans clamouring for the Spaniard to be given a new contract and a guarantee over the funds required to improve the team, he was allowed to walk out the door. It has been the final straw for many and, with the season just a matter of weeks away, 12,000 season tickets allegedly remain unsold.
The only winners in this appointment are Steve Bruce himself, walking out on yet another club for a scarcely deserved promotion, and Mike Ashley who appoints a yes man who is also, presumably, a cheaper hire than his infinitely more popular predecessor.
As an outsider with a fondness for Newcastle, it’s tough to know which outcome to root for. Success for Bruce would improve Mike Ashley’s chances of selling the club yet would also vindicate the appointment. On the other hand, it would be undeniably entertaining to see Bruce and Ashley flounder as the club slide into the Championship, though that would also extend Ashley’s stay and prolong the suffering of the fans.
All in all, Ashley and Bruce are a marriage made in heaven, two divisive and unpopular figures who deserve one another. Meanwhile, the Newcastle fans simply deserve better.
Johnny Murtagh is among the trainers delighted to have secured the services of Frankie Dettori during his first ever visit to Killarney this afternoon.
The hugely-popular Italian jockey is enjoying a sensational campaign in Britain, highlighted by his tally of seven winners at Royal Ascot and the recent comeback victory for the dual Arc heroine Enable in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.
He makes the trip across the Irish Sea for four rides on the second day of Killarney’s July Festival, the last of which is aboard the Murtagh-trained Find Nero in the Europe Hotel Handicap.
Dettori and Murtagh have enjoyed many stirring battles in the saddle – and Murtagh is pleased to have Dettori on his side on this occasion.
“It’s great that Frankie is coming over. Everyone is very excited about it,” Murtagh said. “He’s ridden for me a few times, but we haven’t had much luck. If he could ride a winner for me tomorrow, it would be fantastic. We think he’s got a good chance. He (Finding Nero) is an improving horse, so we’ll see. Hopefully we’ll see Frankie doing a flying dismount!”
Dettori’s first ride is aboard the Dermot Weld-trained Time Tunnel, who appears to hold strong claims in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden after finishing second on her latest appearance at Leopardstown.
He teams up with Weld for a second time with course-and-distance winner Mujid in the Sauternes Cup Rated Race, before partnering the Fozzy Stack-trained Lady Wannabe in the feature event of the evening – the 55,000 euro Irish Stallion Farms EBF Cairn Rouge Stakes.
Stack said: “It’s great to have Frankie on board. It’s great for racing that he’s coming over.
“The filly seems in good form. The trip might be a bit on the short side for her, but I hope she’ll run well.”
The 4 rides confirmed for Frankie Dettori tomorrow:
A tricky little race to open the card and all five runners have shown enough to suggest that they can pick up a race of this type in the future. The two with the strongest form so far appear to be Mia Diva and One Bite.
Mia Diva was fifth on debut, with the first and second that day having placed in Listed company. Second time out, Mia Diva travelled well before winning at Catterick and should put up a bold show here.
One Bite was fourth last time out and the first three home have all run well again since. Assuming that was no fluke, he should come on again for that run and be competitive here
Place 6 Selections – Mia Diva, One Bite
Interesting to see the betting for this race but I’ve narrowed it down to four horses and will perm two or three I suspect.
The best value in the race is likely to be Super Florence. She’s run poorly in her last two over 7f but isn’t a 7f horse. What she did show though is blistering early pace and, dropping down to 5f here, she interests me.
The fact that she is drawn high and is a front runner is an angle I like at Hamilton. Sometimes if they come up against the rail, front runners can be difficult to peg back.
The second horse on the shortlist is Classic Pursuit. Bounced back to form last time at Beverley and if he is anywhere near his best, he’ll go close here. Was competitive last summer off marks of 80+, so running off 64 down in grade, he has to be feared.
Arnold and Bronze Beau are both likely to be well-fancied, solid and likely to run well. Arnold is up 3lbs after finishing a close second last time and, for win purposes, this makes him vulnerable. Has never won off a mark this high before.
Bronze Beau is very well-handicapped and has a great course record here. Bounced back to form last time at Yarmouth and given the record it has here, I would be surprised if he doesn’t repeat the run.
Place 6 Selections – Super Florence, Classic Pursuit, Arnold, Bronze Beau
A tricky seven runner handicap although, going through them, all of the older horses have something to prove. Ghalib wants softer ground, Tough Remedy looks like an AW horse, Kalagia may need the run (stable in amazing form, so less of a negative) and Restive is running outside his usual class of race.
This leaves the trio of three-year-olds and I’ll be surprised if one of them can’t place. The slight preference would be for Harvey Dent over Loch Ness Monster, with Kuwait Station my third selection.
Place 6 Selections – Harvey Dent, Loch Ness Monster, Kuwait Station
Two horses jumped off the page in this race and both look to be ahead of the handicapper. Greengage was a bit unfortunate last time to be beaten I thought and was very well backed. She was punted the first time for this stable too and I expect has a bit in hand of her mark.
The fly in the ointment though is Bellepower, as she also looks very well-handicapped today and it will be a bit of a surprise to me if one of the two don’t at least place in this race. If Greengage is a backable price EW, she would be my bet of the meeting.
Place 6 Selections – Greengage, Bellepower
Lever Du Soleil coped with the step up in class last time without breaking sweat and, if in the same form tonight, it’s hard to see him not winning this. At some point though, so many quick races will take its toll and he meets a couple here who are capable of winning off this mark.
Jabaar and Diodorus are likely to be capable of giving the favourite a race if he runs a little below form compared to previous starts. My personal preference on a Place 6 is to try to get the favourite beaten when only one place is available, so I’ll perm these three.
Place 6 Selections – Lever Du Soleil, Jabaar, Diodorus
It will be a major surprise if New Arrangement or December Sound don’t place here. December Sound has finished runner-up a couple of times to John Gosden horses and needs this run for a handicap mark. I don’t like the jockey booking as it is just their third ever ride and, for that reason, if forced to select one, I would plump for New Arrangement.
He was second on debut, looking very green and the easy winner subsequently ran at Royal Ascot and is rated 88. New Arrangement is sure to on a bundle for that run and assuming he does, he’ll take a fair bit of beating I suspect.
Place 6 Selections – December Sound, New Arrangement
With Leicester widely reported to have agreed a fee with Brighton for the transfer of Lewis Dunk, the logical conclusion is that they’re prepared to allow Harry Maguire to leave for Manchester United.
We’ve looked at the StatsBomb data from the Premier League last season to determine whether these transfers are worth the large sums of money that are rumoured to be changing hands.
Maguire will add steel to United’s back line…
With the Red Devils having conceded more goals last season than in any previous Premier League campaign, it’s no surprise to see them prioritising defensive reinforcements this summer.
Maguire represents a clear upgrade in one of the more fundamental areas of defending, having recovered the ball more than five times per 90 minutes on average last term. This comfortably exceeds the rate that any of United’s regular centre-backs were able to manage.
While Eric Bailly made more than four recoveries per 90 minutes, he was restricted to fewer than 700 minutes of top-flight action last season and it remains to be seen how soon he can return to being a first-team regular after missing the Africa Cup of Nations through injury.
With Chris Smalling having proven around half as prolific a ball-winner, his time at Old Trafford may be coming to an end.
… and also some class on the ball…
Maguire’s large frame and ‘slab-head’ nickname mask a player who is proficient with the ball at his feet. Despite missing seven matches last season, he completed more passes than any defender not at a top-five club and would therefore offer capable distribution from the back.
Even when correcting for time spent on the pitch, the England international found a team-mate with the ball more often than any of the centre-backs currently in United’s ranks.
… but he’ll need to adapt to a different style
Despite Maguire’s obvious promise as an upgrade on both sides of the ball, the numbers also suggest one aspect of his game which he’ll need to work on should he move to Old Trafford.
Statsbomb’s pressure data shows that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer likes his centre-backs to press opponents far more often than Leicester’s, with Maguire doing so approximately three times fewer per 90 minutes than either Bailly or Phil Jones last season.
Would Lewis Dunk be a good replacement for Maguire?
Using the same metrics to compare Lewis Dunk with Maguire does not suggest an obvious fit.
Dunk passed the ball far less – around 17 fewer times per 90 minutes – although the difference in playing style between Leicester and Brighton will play a part here.
While Manchester United only attempted around 9% more passes than the Foxes last season, they in turn passed the ball 27% more often than the Seagulls.
Dunk’s 4.4 ball recoveries and 6.0 pressures per 90 minutes last term are more encouraging, as both are similar to Maguire’s and suggest a good stylistic fit.
His deployment on the left side of central defence at Brighton – the same side that Maguire usually occupies – will also make it easier to incorporate him into the side.
Both players completed over two thirds of their pressing actions on the left side of the pitch, so this is not a habit that Dunk would need to unlearn.
VERDICT: With the highly-rated Aaron Wan-Bissaka already signed, the addition of Harry Maguire to the United back-line would certainly help improve on a dismal defensive record last season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been forced to splash the cash in a bid to reinvigorate the United squad which will be desperate to secure a return to Champions League football.
A top-four finish is well within United’s capabilities this season.
Stan Kroenke has been trending on Twitter again after Arsenal fan groups released a joint statement encouraging their American owner to alter the manner in which he runs the club or get out altogether.
Meanwhile in Manchester, the chartered plane remains on standby to fly the #glazersout banner over Old Trafford at the first sign of a dodgy run of form, as has been their customary manner of protesting in recent seasons.
But do fans of these two wealthy, successful clubs really have much cause to complain in comparison to truly mismanaged football clubs?
Ranking the transfer outlay of the ‘big 6’ over the last three seasons sees Manchester City and Chelsea leading the way, having spent £548 million and £534 million respectively. Manchester United are next on £419m, Liverpool fourth on £392m, Arsenal fifth on £308m and Tottenham last on £182m.
However when you factor in money recouped through outgoing transfers, the net spend table tells a slightly different story. Manchester City (£394m) still lead the way by a distance but Manchester United (£311m) move up into second place ahead of Chelsea (£236m). Arsenal (£160m) are in fourth place, surprisingly, ahead of European Champions Liverpool (£138m) with Tottenham (£41m) again last.
United are the early pacesetters in the transfer market this summer as well, having already splashed out £72m on Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James with Harry Maguire set to be unveiled as the most expensive defender in history imminently.
Arsenal are definitely in the market as well, though so far their ambition has seemingly outstripped their budget. Failed bids for Wilfried Zaha, Kieran Tierney and Malcom suggests that they are attempting to shop in Harrods with a Poundland budget. Still, you have to admire that optimism.
However, that both clubs sit in the top four for overall transfer expenditure over the past three seasons yet have been comprehensively outperformed on the pitch by the fifth and sixth highest spending sides, Tottenham and Liverpool, tells its own story. The problem isn’t that the clubs aren’t spending money, it’s that the money is being spent poorly.
It also casts doubt over the lazily repeated accusations of supporters that both clubs are just ‘run like businesses’, with fans of the the perennially thrifty Tottenham far more entitled to to state that particular truth. That Spurs have repeatedly finished in the top four whilst also reaching a Champions League final whilst barely spending a penny in comparison to their wealthier rivals demonstrates just how much of a trick Manchester United may have missed in failing to lure Mauricio Pochettino to the club at the end of last season.
Though Daniel Levy is infamously nervous about loosening Tottenham’s purse strings, if you drive for five hours up the M1 you will find another club who are run with an even greater emphasis on profitability over supporter happiness. A club who are increasingly become Tottenham-lite; all of the thriftiness but with none of the fun. I’m talking, of course, about Newcastle.
How the Newcastle fans must raise an eyebrow every time they hear supporters of their one-time title rivals, Manchester United, complaining about their lot considering what they have had to endure. Since infamously finishing second twice in the late nineties, Newcastle have dwindled as a club, suffering two relegations to the Championship in the middle of a string of bottom half Premier League finishes.
Meanwhile, in the same period of time, Manchester United have won nine league titles, three FA Cups, four league cups, two Champions Leagues and the Europa League.
The ever-suffering Toon Army have one of the largest and most passionate fan bases in the country, yet have been forced to watch their club refuse to invest anything like the sort of money that could take them back to the top under the cruel stewardship of the tyrannical Mike Ashley.
Amazingly, the arrival of Miguel Almiron in January for £20m made him Newcastle’s record signing, breaking a record stretching back to 2005 when they purchased Michael Owen for £16m. In the same period of time, Manchester United have spent over £16m on 30 separate occasions. Even Arsenal have broken that particular barrier 13 times and that’s during a period in which they were notoriously financially cautious whilst paying off their new stadium.
In a sense it’s a self-defeating argument. Whilst the Geordies might smirk at the complaining of Arsenal and United fans, supporters of clubs such as Coventry or Notts County might look up enviously at the plight of a ‘struggling’ Premier League team such as the Newcastle. Effectively, there is always somebody likely to be worse off and naturally, whether you support Barnet or Barcelona, you’ll never stop football fans moaning. However it does appear that, in the bigger picture, things aren’t as bleak at Arsenal or Manchester United at they might seem.
Olly Murphy is excited to be training Champagnesuperover, a horse named in the wake of England’s thrilling Cricket World Cup final success over New Zealand.
It was reserved for the unraced four-year-old son of Jeremy on the British Horseracing Authority website by part-owner Max McNeill’s racing manager Iain Turner as England put their name in the trophy in the most dramatic fashion at Lord’s.
Murphy only knew about the plan on Sunday evening.
“He’s by a good sire in Jeremy and he’ll start in a bumper in the autumn and we’ll make a plan after that,” he said.
“He’s up at my place. He’s trotting away. He looks well and has done well for a summer at grass. I’m sure he’s a horse that is going to win plenty of races and he’s certainly got a bit of weight in his shoulders already.
“I watched the end of the match. I love my sport and he’s owned by some really good blokes in Max McNeill and the Bryceland brothers, Paddy and Scott.
“I’ve been lucky for both owners and I’m sure we’ll get plenty of craic out of it, win lose or draw.
“This horse was recommended by Sean. He hasn’t run yet. He did everything nicely last year and the lads bought him. Hopefully they will have a lot of fun with him.”
Japan won the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris on Sunday – delivering a second consecutive success in the race for Aidan O’Brien.
The 1-2 favourite took claimed the prize by half a length to follow up subsequent St Leger hero Kew Gardens’ victory in the same ParisLongchamp Group One last year, was also completing an outstanding weekend for Ballydoyle – after Ten Sovereigns’ July Cup win at Newmarket on Saturday.
Japan, winner of the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, bided his time in third under Ryan Moore behind pace-making stablemate Western Australia before going to the front more than a furlong out and holding on from home hope Slalom.
O’Brien reflected on a race which appeared to go very much according to plan for the Galileo colt, who was striking at the top level for the first time following his two previous Group Two wins.
He said: “We were very happy. It wasn’t a strong pace, but Ryan was prepared for that – so he got in a handy position.
“He’s a horse who never wins by very far – but at Ascot he won by a bit further because the pace was very strong, the field came back to him and he was left in front.”
Japan may well be back at ParisLongchamp to challenge for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October – and O’Brien is already mapping out his interim route, which will first include discussions with his Coolmore owners.
Syndicate Captain and racing guru TFA has delivered his verdict over the shrewdest picks in the Best Dividend Guaranteed Place 6 at York on Friday. He has been waiting all season to back Thomas Cranmer under the right conditions, that he finds at this meeting, and he makes him his headline pick.
This race surely revolves around Spartan Fighter and whether he can repeat the form he showed last time when he beat the subsequent Windsor Castle stakes winner A’ali, the pair finishing miles clear of third. A slight question mark about the ground but, even so, hard to see him not running well.
Auckland Lodge surprised me last time when she overturned the short priced favourite Asmund at Carlisle. Assuming that was no fluke, she might be able to give the favourite a run for his money here.
Place 6 Selections – Spartan Fighter, Auckland Lodge
The value bet in this race, and the one I’m most likely to back assuming it is overlooked in the betting, is Dance King. He returned to form last time although, unless you watched the race closely, you’d never spot it. He travelled into the race well but got no luck in-running.
The handicapper has dropped him another 2lbs and a mark of 81 is definitely within range for this one. He has plenty of decent form at this course over the years from much higher marks and is too well handicapped to ignore today.
Speed Company has a similar profile whereby he is very exposed but it is difficult to argue he is well-handicapped off a mark of 89. However, he has looked a bit more like his old self this season and, if you go back two years, he was competitive off 10lb higher marks.
Last time out, he finished a nose behind Oasis Fantasy at Windsor and I can’t split the pair here. Oasis Fantasy has form from a higher mark too and should be competitive.
Place 6 Selections – Dance King, Speed Company, Oasis Fantasy
This is about as difficult a race for a Place 6 as you can get; a 17 runner Group 3 with three places. The highest rated is 103 and the lowest rated is 88. I’d be lying if I said I’d be confident of getting past this race with just a couple of picks. It should increase the Place 6 dividend, so you need to perm a fair few. I’ve suggested four but could have gone with more.
Shades of Blue is the obvious starting point as the highest-rated in the field after winning a listed race at Maisons-Laffitte last time. She was previously second in a listed race over course and distance and probably has just about the strongest form on offer in this race.
Foxtrot Lady doesn’t have the sexiest profile in the race but she has a touch of class on her day as well as plenty of decent handicap form from decent marks. She will probably need a career best to win this today but it would be no surprise to see her run well.
Perfection was seventh in the Wokingham last time off a mark of 101 and a repeat of that run would see her finish top six here I suspect. My concern with her is that she ran a shocker on her the previous run and she’s not the most consistent of fillies but makes the shortlist.
Last but not least, Archer’s Dream is unbeaten so far and, although it was a very weak listed race that she dead-heated at Salisbury, she clearly has more potential than most of this field. Although she’s not a value pick in my eyes, she’s a likely placer in a tough race, so makes the shortlist.
Place 6 Selections – Shades Of Blue, Foxtrot Lady, Perfection, Archer’s Dream
I’ve spent a long time on this race as there is a horse running who I’ve been waiting to back all season under the right conditions and I think this race has been the plan for a while. I could write 5,000 words explaining why but I’ll no doubt discuss it on Twitter in depth.
The horse in question is likely to open up as one of the outsiders here but I really fancy him. Thomas Cranmer is his name and, at first glance, you would be excused for seeing him as a very regressive five-year-old who has dropped from a mark of 92 in September last year to a mark of 73 today.
It is a 19b drop in 8 runs which suggests that Thomas Cranmer no longer has the ability he had last season. In reality, the horse hasn’t had ideal conditions to show his true worth but he gets them here. He needs firm ground and 10f and will have those conditions here.
Thomas Cranmer was second in the race last year off a mark of 87 and carrying 10 stone 5lbs and has clearly been aimed at it again this year. On that run he was beaten a nose but was six lengths clear of third place. Runs off a mark of 73 today, a full stone lower in the weights, and Thomas Cranmer has to be a bet assuming the odds compilers miss him.
The race has another that I backed recently who is probably ahead of the handicapper too. Mr Coco Bean takes a step up in class today but the way he has been travelling through his races suggests that he is better than his mark and is a clear danger to Thomas.
I thought First Dance was handicapped well enough to run well here although she has been disappointing so far this season. Another one who is also well handicapped is Armandihan and she can also take a hand in the finish today if she bounces back to form after a poor run last time.
Place 6 Selections – Thomas Cranmer, Mr Coco Bean, First Dance, Armandihan
A tricky little nursery although, on a few form lines, I think Iva Go is potentially on an ok mark here. She was just behind Keep Busy last time, who has won since. Additionally she was just in front of Baileys In Bloom who has since finished second to Mrs Bouquet, who runs here under a penalty.
Her one poor run was at Redcar when 6/5 favourite but the horse who won the race was Liberty Beach who is 100+ rated now and, in hindsight, Iva Go had no chance. I do think she is probably a decent bet here.
Mrs Bouquet is obviously a danger. She has just won one of these races and even a 6lbs penalty may not stop her.
Dylan De Vega also makes the shortlist despite disappointing at Royal Ascot. He looked a decent prospect on the previous run and, on a form line through Azteca, he is handicapped closely with Iva Go.
Place 6 Selections – Iva Go, Mrs Bouquet, Dylan De Vega
A tricky sprint handicap to finish the Place 6. The form from a similar race at Ayr on the 22nd June is going to be the key form line here as the first four from that race compete against one another again and a few have run well again since, so the form looks solid.
I think given the fact that the third and fourth have franked the form, even adjusting for the weights today, it’s hard to split all four again. I’ll take the easy option and suggest all of them for my shortlist.
Looking through the rest of the field, I’ll actually be surprised if a couple of these don’t place and the Tricast could be worth a shot with these four I suspect.
Place 6 Selections – Lathom, Jabbarockie, Excessable, Canford Bay
Connections of last year’s Coventry Stakes hero Calyx remain confident that he will be back in action before the end of the season.
The son of Kingman made a winning return in the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot in May, but was ruled out of the Royal meeting after sustaining a pastern injury during the first defeat of his career in
Haydock’s Sandy Lane Stakes.
Plans remain fluid for the John Gosden-trained three-year-old – who still holds an entry in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood – but a comeback later in the year is expected.
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, said: “There are no real new updates on Calyx, but he is fine and is with John Gosden.
“He won’t be out until the autumn at the earliest.
“We very much hope to have him back on track before the end of the season, though.”
A step up in class will be on the agenda, meanwhile, for Ralph Beckett’s Britannia Stakes winner Biometric after a decision was made not run him in the Listed Edmondson Hall Solicitors Sir Henry Cecil Stakes at Newmarket.
Grimthorpe added: “Biometric is fine – he just needs a bit more time to get over Ascot.
“He had quite a tough race at Ascot, and Ralph thought it was better to give him more time.
“He has a number of options, and we will look at Listed and Group Three races for him.”
An incredible story unfolded in the £20,000 Win 6 at Kempton Park on Wednesday, as a €4 ticket returned €9,236.85 for one of our players.
The ticket got off to an ideal start when the player’s opening selection, Soar Above, took the lead within the final furlong to land the 17:15 in fine style.
In the 17:45 the 11/4 favourite, Fortune and Glory, showed a sensational turn of pace when coasting lackadaisically in fourth place to suddenly become the clear leader in a matter of strides as they neared home, ultimately winning comfortably.
With two legs on the board it was the turn on Motawaj, the 9/4 favourite, in the third race who, despite being held up early on, was able to fight his way through to claim another victory.
Things were going well and improved further in the 18:45 when Edaraat landed a fourth straight winning leg for the player. It certainly wasn’t straight sailing as the gelding overcame a sluggish start to impose himself on the field in the closing stages. Having been held up, he needed to take a wide line to overtake the pack before suddenly veering wildly left with a furlong to go. It looked as though his race was run but Jim Crowley managed to straighten him up and, with plenty of gas still in his tank, he managed to nick a victory.
With the business end of the ticket looming, only 22 units remained in the pool and the player was counting on the 11/4 second favourite, Hot Touch, to see them through to the deciding leg. Fortune was definitely smiling on them as, once again, their selection overcame being held up in the early stages before running on to nab a narrow victory, this time by three-quarters of a length.
With just one leg standing between the player and glory, they found themselves in an enviable position. A tricky looking 13 runner handicap was still to come but the player had chosen this leg as the first in which they would opt to make multiple selections.
Five wins were already in the bag and they had four chances to make it a perfect six; Encryption (7/1), Atomic Jack (5/2f), Blazon (4/1) and Cacophonous (11/2).
The favourite, Atomic Jack, led until three furlongs out before tailing off to finish sixth and Cacophonous did little better finishing one place worse in seventh.
Blazon was held up badly and, despite late progress, could finish no higher than fifth so it was all on Encryption and, despite being similarly impeded, he had more luck escaping the blockade. Encryption hadn’t looked like threatening for much of the race but, with a quarter of a mile remaining, made a play for the lead which was aided by a beautiful run up the inside.
He took the lead and, despite fighting off late competition from Le Torrent and Gavlar, was able to hold on to win by a head. The perfect six had come in!
The player’s initial €4 stake had been converted into €9,236.85, which was a 2,309x increase! Congratulations from everyone at Colossus on an incredible win.