Matt Chapman voices his opinion over the new sponsors of the Epsom Hill area of the racecourse that is filled with punters trying to catch a glimpse of the Derby every year
WITH Derby trials in our face on the Roodee, news broke of Poundland Hill at Epsom.
Some of you will wonder what the hell I’m talking about and check whether April 1 has returned with vengeance.
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But yes, in a somewhat surprising announcement, Epsom racecourse, home of the world’s only true Derby, the only Derby that actually matters and the Derby that is embraced by Her Majesty the Queen, revealed Poundland was adding its name to the hill area of the famous Epsom Downs.
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On the one hand this could be good news. It might promote what should be a dancing, barbecuing-type party space for those who want to embrace a great occasion in a free and casual way.
But on the other we are talking Poundland.
Now I have nothing against Poundland. And like many of you reading this — if not all — I’m perfectly happy to admit I’ve bought stuff there.
There’s no snobbery in this column, trust me. I’m just like most of you lot!
However, it’s the Derby, and I can’t help but think Prada Hill, Cartier Hill, Ralph Lauren Hill, Tiffany and Co Hill or Burberry Hill would fit the bill for the hill a little better.
Just think how many more people would turn up if a nice little Prada goody bag was handed out as you haul your rugs out the boot?
On social media it’s got people thinking about the future of racing sponsorship.
People have wondered how long it will be until we get the Queen Anne Summers Stakes at Royal Ascot, the DFS Chair Sale Now On fence at Aintree. You could also throw in the Roses Chocolates Hill at Doncaster.
Altior’s in my thoughts…
IT might seem crazy to write anything about jump racing right now, but I’ve been thinking about Altior, the brilliant two-mile top chaser from the last season.
Watching him in the Arkle and Celebration Chase it seemed he was doing his best work in the final furlong. If he was a normal horse a step up in trip would seem likely.
However, any chance of that happening is slim. Even a tilt at the King George at Christmas, a race in which many classy two-milers have tried their luck over three miles, is not really in the offing.
Trainer Nicky Henderson told me: “One always has to be flexible, and with Sprinter Sacre we were willing to go two and a half miles.
“But Altior tanks away in his races and while he finishes strongly he has so much tactical speed.
“He went cruising past Special Tiara because he has speed.
“My gut feeling is he will stay at two miles. The King George might be realistic.
“I tried that with Remittance Man, who we probably didn’t ride as conservatively as we should as he looked like he was going to doddle in turning into the straight but then didn’t get home.
“You would have to ‘waggon’ Altior a bit to get three miles as he does put his head down and tank. He would be hard to ride over three miles so I can’t see it happening.”
It’s all a bit of fun, but for those who still think a little bit of class in life remains one of society’s strong values, it’s hard to see how Poundland brings anything other than a cheap profile.
And there’s nothing cheap about Derby horses.
You have to wonder what Sir Winston would think if Churchill, the racehorse named after Britain’s two-time Prime Minister during most of World War II and Nobel Prize-winning hero, flies past Poundland Hill.
This is Churchill the multiple Group 1 hero and 2,000 Guineas winner by the King of stallions Galileo.
IT has been a busy week at Chester on ITV and I’m off to Ascot today before York next week.
Chester and York are places I’ve never broadcast from before.
It has been an amazing experience.
As it happens, I suspect Churchill won’t be in the Derby field come June 3, although we may have to wait for the Dante at York on Thursday for a challenger to emerge with truly strong claims for the Investec-sponsored Classic.
As far as the Oaks is concerned, I fully expect Rhododendron to take all the beating after her luckless run in the 1,000 Guineas.
She looks a strong favourite and if you happen to be watching from the Hill, she’s one to stick your pound on.