The bookmakers hadn’t quite the nerve to price up Utility as the overnight favourite for Kempton’s getting-out-stakes on Monday afternoon but they couldn’t help themselves making this six-year-old, a son of Yeats, the second favourite in most lists.
Jonjo O’Neill’s runner is exasperating yet fascinating. WB Yeats wrote his own epitaph: “Cast a cold eye/on life, on death/Horseman, pass by”. What exactly the great man meant by that is subject to debate, but perhaps the last bit could be interpreted as advice regarding Utility.
Some observers will be watching with interest for market moves on this horse who carries the colours of Coolmore’s Magnier/D Smith/M Tabor (which adds to the mystique). Utility did win “very readily” in a National Hunt Flat contest on his racecourse debut 18 months ago (evens favourite). Three runs later he won “readily” again, a novice hurdle at Chepstow (11-4 second favourite).
Since then he has run twice: massively backed into 5-4 favourite at Sandown in December but finishing eighth of 12 runners, and then last time at Ludlow – backed into 4-1 favourite from 7-1 – and finishing 13th of 16. These are the kind of favourites that transport layers to sunnier places.
Utility seems as financially useful to most punters as a gas or electricity bill. Should he be given the cold eye today? Well, you never can tell – and that is a certainty.
Bob’s Boy (5.45) looks a less risky investment in the same race, however. Thomas Greatrex has the mount for his father Warren in this amateur riders’ contest. The four-year-old runs in his first handicap and Kempton should suit Bob’s Boy – he has Flat winning form on a sharp track. But rain-softened ground could hinder his prospects.
Ballymountain Boy (4.05) is another to back on the same card. He was fourth over course and distance in a race that has subsequently proved to be a useful form pointer.
A far more speculative selection is Vocaliser (2.40) at Warwick. He was available at 20-1 and 25-1 overnight, and his latest run justifies him being the field’s rank outsider. This afternoon is his first try at fences, but the hope is that Robin Dickin can get his charge to rediscover the form of a fine Sandown third in December. He probably needs decent going, however. Mango Cap is the danger.
Bath 2.15 Cee Jay 2.50 Sfumato 3.25 Secretfact 4.00 Ghepardo 4.35 Sellingallthetime 5.10 The Quarterjack 5.40 I’Vgotthepower
Beverley 1.55 Noble Manners 2.30 Thrifty 3.05 Stringybark Creek 3.40 Faintly 4.15 Theos Lolly 4.50 Jacbequick 5.25 Mistress Quickly 5.55 Tagur
Kempton 1.45 New Agenda 2.20 Forever Field 2.55 Criq Rock 3.30 Al Alfa 4.05 Ballymountain Boy (nap) 4.40 Minella Rebellion 5.15 Artifice Sivola 5.45 Bob’s Boy
Warwick 1.30 Bedrock 2.05 Pique Rock 2.40 Vocaliser (nb) 3.15 Psychocandy 3.50 Midtech Valentine 4.25 Minella Style 5.00 Blackfire
Windsor 2.00 Dynamic Girl 2.35 Goring 3.10 Cool Team 3.45 Highland Colori 4.20 Cape Banjo 4.55 Sternrubin 5.30 Team Meeting