Monday, 20 February 2012

Confidence vital for a jockey, a new pundit on the scene, Jo McCain's backside for hire........................................''

I don’t hold with the theory that there are a whole load of races that are ‘crooked’ or that a ‘load of jockeys are at it’. You would, however, be naive to think that every horse is trying in every race. That is obviously not true.

I also don’t believe that a lot of the criticism that gets thrown at jockeys is justified. Most of the rides that are attacked are, in the main, based on pocket talk. A fair number of times it is quite simply a genuine pilot error.

James Reveley is a young man who has gained plenty of plaudits this season. As well as riding for his dad Keith, he is also riding a number for Nick Williams. Yet, presently, he is going through a frustrating spell.

His defeat on short-price favourite Crowning Jewel – taken wide and given too much to do in heavy conditions - on Monday at Carlisle extended his winless run to three weeks and 25 rides, and mirrored a similar ride on Benny Be Good at Huntingdon a couple of weeks back.

Plenty did suggest that it was something more sinister. For me, a jockey out of form is nearly as important to consider as a trainer and Reveley’s apparent lack of confidence seems to be severely affecting his judge of pace.
Pundits in racing generally draw mixed reactions from the viewing and listening public. In other sports, invariably, you can almost guarantee it will be an ex-pro from said sport that will be cast as the expert guest for the night.

And you nod sagely when you hear former top golf pro Ken Brown describe what club Lee Westwood is likely to use to reach the green or John Virgo when he suggests what angle Ronnie O’Sullivan needs to pot a difficult red.

Football hasn’t been so well served. Thankfully, Andy Townsend and David Pleat seemed to have been dropped and the less that Sky use the annoying Jamie Redknapp the better. It's also open to question if Alan Hansen is worth £1.4million to the BBC.

Suddenly, though, from a sea of crap, have emerged two former players who are threatening to take punditry to a new level. Step forward Gary Neville and Roy Keane.

Neville, one of the most annoying oiks to grace a football pitch, is superb. His analysis is precise, honest and, surprisingly, free from pro Manchester United. He has quickly established himself the top Sky pundit

Keane attacks the task like a whale striking for it's next meal. After berating Arsenal for lack of passion and letting down Arsene Wenger after being dumped out of the FA Cup by Sunderland, he then turned his disgust at the antics of Drogba on the touchline before the second half against Birmingham. Describing it as ‘nonsense and for show to the cameras’.

His scowl and voice reminds me so much of Kieren Fallon, as does that frightful stare. ITV still have plenty of dross, not least the most boring presenter on the planet in Adrian Childes, who Keane also has no time for.

Keane, who says exactly what he and others are thinking, is likely to join a long list of former top ex players who can’t make the grade as a manager, but he has the makings as one of the best pundits on the box.

I’m pleased to announce that for the charity race at Cheltenham in aid of Cancer Research I have sponsored the chest of Joanne McCain on behalf of Kieren!!.

Jo, who lost her father Ginger to the horrible disease, is the sister of Donald and is still looking for a sponsor for her backside!!

I’m told, by Jo herself, that her backside will cost considerable more to sponsor than her chest even though it is a lot smaller!!. If interested contact Jo on Twitter @jomccain1

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