Sandown eclipsed, July meeting jettisoned…….can Goodwood make me feel glorious again?

Crystal Ocean, one of the leading fancies for this Saturday's big race, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, at Ascot.
Crystal Ocean, one of the leading fancies for this Saturday's big race, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, at Ascot.

A nasty, debilitating bout of acute sinusitis has all that’s been coming home for me this hot, sporting summer.

While the England football team have been somehow plotting a path to the World Cup semi-finals and the likes of ROARING LION, ALPHA CENTAURI, US NAVY FLAG and SEA OF CLASS have been strutting their stuff on the racing stage, I have been laid low by an illness so unpleasant I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

In fact, I wouldn’t even wish the feverish headaches, wheeziness, breathlessness, dizziness, raging cough, excruciating sore throat and an overwhelming feeling of fatigue on Matt Chapman or The Racing Blogger.

It all started the day after Royal Ascot, when England hit Panama for six. Briefly, I scraped myself off the sick bed to crawl down to Sandown for the Coral-Eclipse and then rush into London to catch England’s quarter-final against Sweden.

Schoolboy error. I was soon on my knees again and, for the first time in more than 20 years, I had to miss every day of Newmarket’s enchanting July meeting.

I’m still not right. Antibiotics didn’t work. A course of steroids, mixed with antihistamines, is now my GP Dr Gallapatty’s medication of choice, but I am swallowing Sinutabs like Smarties, and the house reeks of Olbas Oil.

The doc says my condition might have morphed into rhinosinusitis or chronic rhinitis, whatever they are, or even “something more serious”, whatever that might be. Blood tests and a chest X-ray are booked in for later this week when I am dreading a diagnosis that will rule me out of King George weekend at Ascot and Glorious Goodwood. At the time of writing, I fear I may even miss the Ebor!

Sidelined and off track, which at least gives me something in common with Derby winner MASAR, I have had to catch up with all my racing on TV and, whisper it gently in case the ‘Racing Post’ is listening, not just terrestrial TV. This, of course, exposes you relentlessly to the multitude of presenters, pundits and commentators, many of whom, I soon discovered, are most definitely not the antidote to acute sinusitis.

Details of my findings are winging their way to the British Medical Association, but why is it that some of them cannot string together coherent sentences when reviewing a race? Why do so many say the same phrases time after time? Why do so many fail to find out the correct pronunciation of horses’ names, especially those names of a French bent? Why do so many refer to a horse as ‘it’, instead of ‘he’ or she’? Why do so many of the guys dress so ludicrously? Why are horses ‘individuals’ and not ‘horses’? Why do horses ‘go forward’, rather than ‘lead’?

Trivial stuff, I know. And of course, it’s a matter of personal taste. One viewer’s acceptable or even revered pundit is another viewer’s clown. But I remain convinced that, in 50 per cent of cases, the job could be done with more polish.

Racing UK seems to be steering down the road of involving more former jockeys. George Baker has been an admirable breath of fresh air, offering the kind of interesting insight that educates and the kind of original opinion that provokes. Amy Ryan, on the other hand, is not my cup of tea at all. Robotically reeling off, parrot-fashion, notes on form she has made the night before is a turn-off, especially given her automated delivery. And I swear she has said ‘like you said’ or ‘like I said’ more times over the past month than I have blown my nose. I’m sure Amy means well, but don’t they get any guidance or advice from RUK bosses?

You can tell I’m ill, can’t you? The way I’m moaning like a seasoned curmudgeon. And here’s more. Where has this theory come from that this year’s 3yos are rubbish? Please tell me the ages of brilliant Eclipse winner Roaring Lion, of extraordinarily tough July Cup winner US Navy Flag, of the miler of the season Alpha Centauri, of the next wonderfilly following in Enable’s footsteps, Irish Oaks heroine Sea Of Class.

Where also did the kerfuffle that marred Eclipse Day come from about allegedly over-lengthy stewards’ enquiries? Sponsorship by bodies such as Coral does not give them the right to interfere with the correct and proper running of the sport, just as advertising in newspapers or on websites by companies does not give them the right to influence editorial policy. And the suggestion that jockeys should no longer be interviewed at enquiries is hardly conducive to the serving of justice. Can you imagine the uproar if criminal court cases were adjudicated without hearing from the accused and witnesses?

I could go on. For example, I haven’t even started on the hot weather. The Met Office is warning us to stay out of the sun and yet, at Ascot this weekend, blokes will be expected to rock up in a jacket and tie. Whatever happened to health and safety?

That’s enough. Before I get overheated myself, I must rest. It’s time for my Prednisolone and my antihistamines, and I need to go for a lie down.

I reckon the only cure for my never-ending malaise is a return to the track as soon as possible. Only top-class renewals of the King George, the Sussex Stakes and the Nassau Stakes, coupled with finding the winner of the Stewards’ Cup, can release my stuffed-up head and revive my ailing spirits.

Bet you’ve not thought of that one, Dr Gallapatty.