RACING is all about heads, necks and hard luck stories.
Just look at Harry Bentley’s yo-yoing afternoon at Newbury on Saturday.
He rode the heavily-backed PROJECTION in a drum-tight Group 3 sprint and oozed confidence as the gelding purred along in third gear at halfway.
Bentley opted to move left in order to launch a challenge, lost momentum after a short row over space with Graham Lee on Mythmaker, and was edged out in a tight finish.
Now Projection isn’t the easiest to win with – he’d come second in a game of solitaire –but this really was one that got away.
Fast-forward 35 minutes and Bentley threaded GINGER NUT through the eye of a needle to win a 25-runner £250,000 Weatherbys Super Sprint.
latest in horse racing
The start of this race is akin to a superstore rush on Black Friday and Bentley had to be at his sharpest to manoeuvre Ginger Nut to the tills first.
The jockey’s mood must have been up-and-down like a fiddlers elbow, but he kept his cool and delivered when the big money was up for grabs.
Talking of which, STRATUM landed a monster punt (5-1 to 11-4) in the red-hot £100,000 2m handicap on this card.
He carries the blue and white silks of Tony `The Lizzard’ Bloom, who is to gambling what Albert Einstein was to theoretical physics.
Make no mistake, Bloom will be a major league owner if he accepts the challenge and his partnership with Willie Mullins might change the face of jump racing.
In the meantime, Stratum is being aimed at the Ebor, while Bloom’s FLAMING SPEAR has Ascot’s valuable Gigaset Handicap (3.00, Saturday) in his sights. He’ll go close granted rain or a solid session of watering.
It’s a fair schlep to Lingfield from Newbury but plenty did the double on Saturday. Those who made the journey saw a couple of smart fillies – ALEXANA and RARE – fight out the finish to a 1m3f novice event.
King-sized Alexana got the better of their dual, which was a fair effort as she looked about as comfortable as Jacob Rees-Mogg queueing at a KFC while tip-toeing around this tight track.
KLASSIQUE (8.10 Windsor) should improve on the yards already brilliant weekend up in trip.
The filly was well backed late (13-8 to 10-11) and closely watched by her owner-breeder Philippa Cooper.
Mrs Cooper gave the distinct impression this success was expected and jockey Tom Marquand certainly looked a happy boy after the race.
Alexana is bred to be a star, has the scope to keep improving and will be operating at a much higher level by the autumn.
She was one of five Saturday winners for William Haggas, who must have chewed a few nails off watching Sea Of Class pinch the Irish Oaks under an ice-cool James Doyle.
Haggas has a couple of big chances at Windsor tonight, namely KLASSIQUE (8.10) and LIFE ON EARTH (7.40).
Klassique caught the eye on her debut and again when rattling home in second at Wolverhampton last time. This slight step-up in trip will help and she’ll be hard to beat.
KLASSIQUE (8.10 Windsor) looked an improving filly last time and will be suited by this slight step up in trip.