Good morning from fine Defford where the Major welcomes you warmly into his Saturday Service.
It has been many weeks since I last updated the results. My apologies for the tardiness but raising the effort is difficult when you know the last few weeks have been utterly barren. The Major has not had a good Saturday in a long time and we are in desperate need of a decent day.
Never forget the Majors motto though, relentless positivity. We will try again and we will find ourselves a tasty set of tips to boost those accounts back into the green
Never give in. Churchill had that right. The master of oratory once raised the men of Thermopylae as a standard in one of his great speeches and surely those brave Spartans fighting in their impenetrable square would make the right reading to set our minds for a days battle with our old enemy.
No, the Major evokes a different spirit. Given the parlous state of the account right now, it seems more apt to think back to the sinking of HMS Birkenhead, 1852.
Named after her yard, the Birkenhead was a transport iron frigate used to ferry troops to our war in South Africa, the Kaffir War, more commonly known now as the Xhosa War.
HAving left Portsmouth, HMS Birkenhead collected Irish troops before docking at Cape Town. A short hop around the treacherous waters of the cape to the destination Algoa Bay was the doomed final leg.
In pitch black, HMS Birkenhead struck rock and foundered leaving 643 souls on a sinking piece of wreckage. 100 men are thought to have drowned in their beds as water poured in through the fissure in the bulkhead.
On deck, the survivors had to deal in quandary, there were only enough lifeboats for maybe a third of the people. Step forward Captain Seton, who was given command not of the vessel but of the military personnel.
There were women and children of the officers being transported and realising the carnage that could ensue, Captain Seton called on high discipline on board a 2,000 lump of wood and metal, fast sinking into the cool Southern Ocean and into the shark occupied, hideous depths.
This is where the phrase ‘women and children’ was coined. Survivors recall the utter discipline of our armed men as they stood silently to attention while the last of the lifeboats was launched, knowing fully what this meant but not one man breaking rank.
The ship foundered 2 miles from shore and some men managed to swim. Most were taken by shark and some died trying to land on the rocky South Africa shoreline. Just shy of 200 survived, most in the lifeboats. Afterwards, our great rouser of youth, Kipling wrote a wonderful line….
But to stand an’ be still to the Birken’ead drill is a damn tough bullet to chew
The Prussian military so impressed by the account of discipline ordered it be read and postered at every barracks in the land. You see, British military discipline is famed the world over. Where else bar Balaclava has such strong evidence of our conviction been given to Johnny Foreigner, which brings to mind the response to the famous charge of the lights from a Frenchman ‘C’est magnifique, mais c’est ne pas guerre’.
The Major calls on this discipline today. Bet like men, with calm mind and steady hand. Losses in recent times do not shake our unfounded belief in the 16/1 price mistakenly put up by our enemy. His time cometh, and that right soon.
To the sports…..
The Darley July Cup – Newmarket
This is the best sprint in Europe and at 3.35 we have a cracking field. The real key to this is what the weather does. The BBC says cloudy and dry and I am going to put my faith in Auntie.
This puts in favour Delegator and Bated Breath while Monsieur Chevalier*, Dream Ahead and Regal Parade are negatives.
Of the two I think will go well, Delegator makes the most appeal. While he was a quality miler and was a little unlucky in his classic year, the recent drop to sprinting class has reawakened him and his best season could well be this one.
What I really like about Delegator is the gears. This years Derby showed that at Group One level, having the gears is the crucial element between top class and very good. Watch his York reappearance over a sprint distance and Delegator moves smoothly away when asked. Todays race will be off equally a strong pace and so I expect Frankie to get him settled off the pace and at the crunch moment, let’s see what he can do.
He does not look that popular in the market and 5/1 is available. Dream Ahead is my selection if the ground gets more moisture. While the Middle Park form looks a little exaggerated, let us not forget that he was joint champion juvenile with Frankel. This could be just his thing in receipt of handy weight from Delegator. Unbeaten at 6f, a right danger if the rain comes.
*Monsieur Chevalier is also one that will drift as unfancied on anything without soft in the title. I am less sure that proper good will be a hindrance. MC was a sterling 50/1 placed bet for the Major at Royal Ascot and you might wonder why I do not press up on him at 9/1. Well, I do think that Royal Ascot form is as good as anything this set of horses has produced this season, arguably the best. Society Rock looked a superb horse and MC was best of the rest. My concerns more lie in that I am unsure he will race twice the same in any consecutive outings – He looks unreliable to me but has the ability and 10/1 prices that in.
Overall I am looking at Delegator 5/1 with Hills. Incidentally, the Racing Post app are out to get Delegator so if you fancy another in the Darley July Cup, bet on their app with William Hill and you get your money back if Delegator wins… nice.
3.15 John Smiths Cup York
This was a conundrum of a race but a few things stood out.
I was really taken by the manner of Beachfires win at Royal Ascot, this might not be the track to attempt such back to front tactics again but with a clear run, I would be very interested in 9/1.
Modun had excuses at rain-soaked Ascot and he could put the record straight today. Pricewise clearly thinks a lot of Pekan Star who with the Majors favourite Neil Callan aboard is now 10/3 favourite after trading earlier at 5/1.
At a big price, I think Kay Gee Bee could be interesting.
Overall though, I am settling on 9/1 Beachfire, I hope he gets a cleanish run for young star William Buick and he is certain to be finishing well.
I am going to back an outsider to in Tepmokea. The reappearance run has to be questioned a little for value but that factor and a wide draw, which is not necessarily a hindrance any more, I think create a false price at 20/1. Lee Topliss takes off 5lbs and gives the Major a strong sense of value.
In other races, 8.55 Salisbury, interesting to see Michael Hills make the trip for just one ride on Rougette. 12/1 is available.
In the States – The Man o War stakes, Belmont Park can go to Gio Ponti – Closely matched with the O’Brien traveller Capo Blanco, I fancy the globe-trotting Gio Ponti to prove his worth. 9/4 is too good to resist in a race he took last year.
In other sports…
Javeen Mendis look completely over-priced at 8/1 to be Sri Lankas top wicket taker, have a slice of that – The slow pitch should suit…
We have not beaten the French women for decades so why we think we will start now I am not sure, 5/4 France to beat England is a must bet.
You could double that with 2/7 German ladies to beat Japan, that pays close to 2/1.
Tonight may you dine on fresh fish, bake yourself a simple fish pie, simply acquire some nice steaks of cod, smoked haddock as well as some mussels and maybe prawn. Cook in a little cream and white wine before putting in the base of a nice ceramic pot, topping with mash and finishing off. Invite a simple sort who will delight in home cooking, she need not be too well-heeled, watch a simple film and let nature take his course. She may well be encouraged to the gallop when your money clip falls from your breast pocket. Tell her the Major had his lucky 15 come in, and you were there. If you are lucky enough to retire up the flight of stairs in company, remember Captain Seton and those steely minded chaps on the Birkenhead, ‘women and children first’
Courage men and roll those dice.