Two weeks tomorrow the Cheltenham Festival starts and the big race on Day 1 is the Champion Hurdle. There are many multiple winners of this race and Hurricane Fly tries to win the race for the third time (following 2011 and 2013). His main rival may be The New One who (appropriately enough) is having his first attempt at this race. Hurricane Fly has proved almost unbeatable in bog-like conditions in his native Ireland – winning the Irish Champion Hurdle in each of the last four years.
The going looks like it will be on the Irish side of soft for Cheltenham. More on this nearer the time.
The Environment Agency has faced some heavy going recently. It was briefly in a bit of a Pickles.
Applications for the post of Chair of EA have now closed. We don’t know the runners – but we do have some information on the recent form.
Previous winners have been (in descending order including at the end the Chairman of the predecessor body that fulfilled the same statutory flood defence functions – the National Rivers Authority):
- Chris Smith, Lord Smith of Finsbury (life peer), former cabinet minister in the Blair ‘Labour’ Government
- John Harman, Sir John Harman, former leader of Kirklees Council and Labour Party member
John Fellowes, Lord de Ramsey (hereditary peer), Cambridgeshire landowner, former President of the CLA, sat on the Tory benches when in the House of Lords
- Nicholas Edwards, Lord Crickhowell (life peer), former cabinet minister in the Thatcher Government
So the form might suggest a former Tory minister and/or a country landowner.
One of the past practices has been to place the next Chairman on to the Board to gain some experience before being promoted to the top job. So who are the current Board members? They are:
Robert Light (Deputy Chairman)
Dr Clive Elphick
Emma Howard Boyd
Note the preponderance of stallions and colts (we have no reason to believe that they are geldings – although that would be government’s preferred state) even though this race is open to fillies and mares too.
How would you price up the market? Here’s a go – though I am not taking bets on this race.
A non Board-member, male 15/8
Robert Light 9/4
Karen Burrows, Richard Macdonald 11/2
A non Board-member, female, 10/1
Peter Ainsworth, John Varley 12/1
Where is the clever money going, I wonder? Anne McIntosh or Tim Yeo?