BOZmail – 4th MAY

I said I'd be in touch if I had anything to say, and a few things occur as we start week eight of the absence from daily UK racing – most crucially that signs are now looking good for a resumption of sorts as early as May 15. The caveat with that, before we get too excited, is that the behind closed doors/social distancing aspect is only part of what will make this new territory and it may well be a while before The Boz feels happy enough that things have returned to old criteria sufficient to fully restart the LIM programme. Field sizes is just one of the factors that may make this very different to old UK racing. We shall see. Expect a degree of caution in the early days of resumption in any case.

If that date does become reality however that will constitute roughly two months absence from the proposed 2020 schedule and the plan would be to forgo the September holiday (unlikely it will have the same discipline changeover detractions normally contained in it as a negative play time anyways) and extend the year end to January 2021 to compensate the missed time in March,April & May. We will have to wait for fixture lists before a plan for the revised shortlist provision can be ascertained.

Two other things to mention whilst I'm on. Firstly those filling in the time watching US and Oz racing might already be aware that both disciplines are heavily influenced by jockey form as much as horse form and that jockey winning runs are a good guide to winners in both these areas – more so than in UK racing. Stick with your classy jockeys in both codes.

Two been winning regularly for the Boz lately in both countries. They are:

Oz: Hugh Bowman & William Pike

US: Ronnie Allen Junior & Daniel Centeno

And finally, thought I'd reproduce the final two pieces from end of last year's fable series written for Betting Insiders. Several of you won't have seen this insight into my more bizarre tipping methods. Tomorrow I will republish the Xmas story that contains another eerie premonition of what we have just been forced to endure!

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

The BOZ is known for his idiosyncratic tipping methods and here shares one of his most private and best kept secrets – that there is importance attached to the name of the horse (or whatever else) that you bet upon! Read on……

OK so I’ve never gone public with this one before. Never afraid to be laughed at as I think I proved with my betting on horses and dogs who take a dump before the off theory (for which I still receive ribbing despite the disclosure of hard evidence over a number of years!) and indeed am used to my ideas and way of thinking being considered ‘absurd’ (as described by a customer still prepared to pay for my tips!).

I put it down to being a poet. Seems a perfectly natural way of thinking to me! I have a brain that tries to think outside the box (and encourages it in others) whilst at same time being someone only ever persuaded on absolute truth by the presentation of hard and indisputable evidence. Everything else comes into the realm of interesting fantasy stroke fiction or inexplicable aspect of the cosmos that mankind as a scientist is yet to understand. But I do not consider myself so conceited to dismiss it just because I can’t prove it wrong. I have after all, been known to be wrong about things despite sometimes giving out vibes to the contrary! Bottom line is that if it’s funny, I’ll follow it even if the joke ends up on me. And yes I know, that means on current evidence I could have put myself up for Prime Minister or President of The United States. Ain’t you the luckier for me having no ambitions in that department!!

It’s not only comedy that attracts me as a poet. I do also have an innate and unshiftable appreciation of semantics and the use of words to create works of art. And so to some extent is my lifelong fascination for football and horse racing explained. I have written before about my practice of delighting – along with my old college poetry tutor and lifelong friend/mentor/ and fellow horse racing nut (currently keeping me in daily touch with poetic runners he spots in the daily racing pages) – in the poetry of the football results being read out – especially the preliminary round of the FA Cup broadcast results stuffed as they are full of brilliantly named teams we’ve never heard of (have them as a ringtone on my mobile phone just as some poetry fans also carry The Shipping Forecast for same reason – uplifting to hear in the way a phone bell is not). In that alone you get my approach to the beauty of poetry. There’s nothing poetic in Arsenal Two Chelsea One simply because Arsenal and Chelsea are so well known as names of football teams that their results have become linguistic cliché. Hackneyed. Make you sick as a parrot Brian. 

Paget Rangers Six Timperley Bigshorts Three however has all the romance and beauty of life encapsulated therein. Partly because of the originality of the language to our cliche saturated ears and partly because of the importance of names. Arsenal and Chelsea ARE important in that second respect. Before I go any further, I would like to draw your attention to three indisputable facts that does help establish the importance of names in life in general before going on to espousing my theories as to how I use them in my tipping practice. And again, not so conceited as for one moment suggesting that you should necessarily include them in yours. FYI only. I do use them however and my tipping scores are my evidence to their effectiveness. And so I’m not just writing this as an entertainment or comedy piece. There is hopefully stuff therein to give food for thought.

Three indisputable facts regarding the importance of names:

1/  Weatherbys do not let you choose any old name for your horse when you register it to race under Rules. This is different to the treatment of human beings who can register themselves or their children with any name they choose. Which is why Moon Unit Zappa is the name of Frank’s eldest son. And Dick Head is an actual citizen of the UK! So of course is Mike Hunt. Despite the semantics, those names are not censored in human beings but are not allowed for racehorses. Weatherbys have a stated policy of and I quote: ‘ only allowing names that according to Rule 1.1 9.2 are not in poor taste and according to Rule 1.1 9.4 are not likely to cause offence.

That’s on top of a whole bunch of other rules including no more than 18 characters and no calling your horse Frankel in the hope of getting people to bet on it!

Furthermore, when you send your name in to be registered for its racing name,

you are required to submit six suggestions that are acceptable to you as the owner in descending order of preference. Weatherbys then choose the one that they are happiest with (given that that will be your first choice so long as it doesn’t breach any of the many rules only some of which have been quoted here and also so long as the Weatherby’s committee like it!).

Names are very.very important to the BHA and their agent Weatherbys and to be fair to them, they tend not to disapprove of a name simply because it is funny. That is to their credit. I’ll be coming back to that point later.

2/ Naming things is actually a branch of science all of its own entitled nomenclature.

When we discover something new in the scientific world or indeed invent something new – a product,a philosophy, a new flavour of ice cream – we are required to name it for the purpose of discussion and to avoid confusing it with something else. It enhances communication and the transference of opinions and ideas and so leads to progress and greater knowledge say the scientists. Human beings instinctively name things and those names tend to stick and develop immense importance to us. Imagine if Donald Trump was not called so but instead was Bert Brown. Would the world be poised as it is now if Bert Brown thought he was in charge? Big question! I don’t expect an answer to that but you take my point. It is important that his name is Donald Trump just as it is important that Cliff Richard’s name is not Harry Webb! Our name defines us.  

In science as in racehorses, the tendency is to give things two names. A common or nickname for general usage and an often Latin name for academic purpose as we do with newly discovered plants and species and previously unobserved planets and objects in space. Racehorses have a racing name but are often known by nicknames at home. Common enough in humans too with writer’s nom de plumes and show business stars’ performing names. Which is the name that matters? That depends on who you are asking that question of. Cue number three.

3/ As a novelist, it is paramount. And I mean absolutely paramount that the character you invent is given the right name. Charles Dickens used to have huge long lists of possibles for his characters before he settled on the right name. Martin Chuzzlewit was Tippletwit,Fizzlewit,Dippystick and Musslebrich (lists numbering literally hundreds were found in Dickens’ papers after his death) before he became that moniker now enshrined in our literary canon. David Copperfield likewise. And Bilbo Baggins of Tolkein fame.

How could they be named anything else? Unthinkable. I am privileged to call the poet and impresario Henry Normal a personal friend and always remember the day he was suffering a slight crisis of identity and came to a workshop I organised in Salford Photography Gallery and asked the assembled masses to call him by his real name as he was a bit fed up of the stage name that he had adopted. People were in hysterics thinking he was joking (which he was not)  “ Don’t be daft, you’re Henry Normal, however could you be anything else? “ and that from people who didn’t know the real him at all. He has been Henry Normal ever since. It matters. Even to me. I know his real name but I was on the side of the outraged at being asked to call him something else. 

Cat Stevens is of course now Yusuf islam. You’d think that might disprove my theory and that names can be changed if the reason and grounds are strong enough.Perhaps that is true. But hands up Cat Stevens fans who have consigned that name to the dustbin? To a large extent, he is both and mainly Yusuf now (the Islam was dropped for his perorming credits) because he insists. And he is still alive.And we respect his rights and his reasons. The composer of Matthew & Son however will always be recorded in the history books as Cat Stevens I would suggest. I cite Charles Dickens as my evidence. He took great pains to ensure the right name for his characters and that genius is recognised by the history books. It applies to real people too. You can change your name up to a point whilst you are still evolving as a character. There comes a point however beyond which it is not possible. At best, Cat Stevens and Yusuf Islam are two different people. If history demands we record just one name, which one do you think it will choose? 

The reason for that is the reason why a right name is a right name I think. And that is because it has only positive connotations.No negatives. These may vary depending on who you are asking the question of but they are critically important I argue and can cite myself as the example here. Which is where I come at last, by circuitous route as ever, to why I use names in my tipping methods.

To start the illustration of this, and believe me it is everywhere in my work, I draw your attention to a recent three runner horse race at Ffos Las that I tipped in.

The runners were as follows:

MIDNIGHT FOLIE

MOUNTAIN OF ANGELS

PRETTYLITTLETHING

My question to you in order to see if your brain works like mine is to grade the above three names in terms of positive or negative attributes. In simple terms that is which name do you like most and which name do you like least (although not all positives and negatives are about simple like and dislike of course). But humour me, list the above three horses in order of most positive or favourite – down to most negative or least favourite.

If for some reason you have listed Midnight Folie as anything other than least favourite or most negative then either I am barking up completely the wrong tree or you don’t have a poetic bone in your body!

To my aesthetics, both Mountain of Angels and Prettylittlething have attraction as names and that’s without knowing the horses or whether these are in any way right names in the way I argued above. It is an easy example because Midnight Folie is just BLURGH!  If for some reason other than cussedness or sheer desire to expose me as some kind of nut (and of course you could be right!) you did choose Midnight Folie as your most positive or favourite then I am almost certainly certifiable if you are not! Midnight Folie as a name for a horse is totally pants. And Totally Pants by the way is not a name Weatherbys would accept. 

If you are the person who named Midnight Folie (and this is because your French is better than mine perhaps but I would argue that examples of Franglais rarely attract either English speakers or French speakers. Midnight Madness may be considerably less pants as a name in my book) and it was your first choice of the list of six submitted you are probably now going to say that that is not why he lost the above race because he had won all his races in the previous eight and there were several horses in those eight where the names of horses who finished behind Midnight Folie had better names than him!

You jump the gun! Yes, I did tip against Midnight Folie who was a 1/4 on chance and was beaten by Prettylittlething who returned at 16/1 so it was a successful bit of tipping by me but I didn’t go against Midnight Folie simply because his name struck me as pants. You may remember that I started this article by saying I tend to follow

only truths that are backed up by hard evidence. Having a Blurgh name is not hard evidence of defeat per se obviously. I am not trying to convince you here that you should do as my grandmother used to do (bless her) and only back horses with names that have your recently deceased husband’s name contained in them because that is sure to guarantee that they will win. We all do something like that at some point but it ain’t clever!!  

What did happen here though is that I was drawn to looking at this race out of the hundreds I sift every day looking for the ones with false favourites in. I was drawn to it because the favourite had a pants name and the other two were good names. I would have given it only cursory glance otherwise and not discovered deeply buried within the form a good reason why the 1/4 shot might get beaten by either of the other two and particularly by the longshot. It was just a maybe but at those odds, it is those maybes I seek with so little risk involved in laying the fav and so much to gain from backing the outsider. As my daily readers will testify I didn’t actually recommend backing the outsider (nobody is perfect and the lesson learned is partly why I am writing this article. I also need to be persuaded it ain’t co-incidence!) but I did make everybody cash by advising laying the fav. And it is part of my tipping process. I have to make decisions for or against all the time. I have a myriad of criteria. Horses with good or terrible names always catch my eye. I often start with that and then continue on into detailed study. I soon dismiss a brilliantly named horse whose form is rubbish but I’ll always check. Look at the names of my winners (and more pertinently my losers) over the past however many years you care to name. Its there.It is just part of my way but I defy anyone to say there’s no significance in it.

Try the following three runner race that took place a few days later at Southwell (23/7/19). The runners were:

KINGS RYDE

LE MUSEE

READY AND ABLE

Rate them in order of most positive and attractive and then go check the result. If you think like me, you just picked another winner and opposed another pants named horse!

Just co-incidence in the above examples (as is the presence of French in both I now realise) if it was isolated but in collecting other conscious and proofed examples for this article (because often of course I will be doing that process subconsciously as part of my filter and no doubt missing winners all over the place on the way. Because I play just one race a day and scan hundreds of races to arrive at my chosen one, I do by definition miss hundreds of winners every day!), I also did a paddock watch at Uttoxeter for customers last Friday (26/7/19) which included the concluding bumper race in which I had been asked to put the favourites under the microscope for fitness positives and negatives.My report was that favourite Flos looked less fit than required (I dare not mention to this customer that I thought he also had a less than inspiring name!) and that the market fancy – Bellatrix LeStrange – a decent name but in the Chelsea and Arsenal cliched football team name bracket – was also carrying a smidgeon of condition and could be reasonably confidently opposed. The other horse in the top three of the betting looked fit as a flea and came from the Anthony Honeyball stable which was boasting 100% on the horses in running form table that I also use routinely in my horse and form assessments. That is what I quoted and that is the horse that won pulling a cart beating Bellatrix Le Strange by seven lengths. I’m not going to tell you its name. You gotta go look at the name of the winner of the last race at Uttoxeter on the above date and see whether you still think I’m barking!

At the same time, I would remind you of a few closing shots. The Sky Sports Racing presenter ( I initially wrote the Attheraces presenter forgetting they had changed their name. Boy if that don’t prove my argument that names matter!) – Alex Hammond recently said that the horse causing the delay to the upcoming race was aptly named as it refused to canter down to the start. She giggled as she said its name was Ambling! My ears pricked and I watched the horse fulfil its name and amble to the start. I backed it each way on a whim. I know how these things matter! Okay, told you I wasn’t perfect. It didn’t win. Came second at 9/1 and I never back each way! Would have won if it hadn’t ambled through the last ten yards of the race! Bottom line, I follow it if it gets a laugh! If it makes Alex Hammond laugh, I’m interested!

And finally, just consider a few of the names of the great racehorses and see how many of them are pants!

Just a few off the top of my head.

RED RUM – apart from the alliteration and the appeal of the alcoholic drink, also an anagram of MURDER and actually that word in reverse. What other racehorse in history more consistently murdered the opposition he faced in the toughest race of them all. A horse with the right name.

ENABLE – our current queen. Would she have won as many had she been named disable? You can’t get a more positive name than ENABLE.

BEST MATE – Who else would you nominate to win Three Gold Cups?

DESERT ORCHID – beauty in the barren wastelands. What’s not to like?

Other poetic examples that occur with less obvious but nevertheless poetic and positive connotation:

MILL REEF

SEA PIGEON

SPRINTER SACRE

Make your own lists of all time favourites and see how many have names like Midnight Folie! Of course there will always be a Shergar every now and then but his negatives came not on the race track perhaps. And I personally do not see much in Frankel as a name. Not pants though and that perhaps is what matters most. That

and that the horse (or football team or whatever) has the right name. 

It is personal to an extent but I’m pretty sure it does matter!

© Gary Boswell 2019

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