Good morning from a blistering bright Worcestershire where the blazing star at the centre of our solar system blasts waves of balmy goodness upon the ground that seep into our souls. The Major was up late, took a late constitutional and that explains the tawdry hour for publishing the Saturday Sermon.
Apologies and Dreams
A brace of apologies are required this morning.
Many years ago, a man I worked for rather went over the top with criticism in a work meeting. Afterwards, when the blood was back down, he apologised to me in person. To my surprise, a few weeks later, when the same attendees were gathered round the table, he repeated the apology openly.
Later, I asked him why he felt the need to apologise again, after all, the matter was done with in my mind. He explained something that has stayed with me since, a public mistake , deserves a public apology; whereas, a private mistake may be settled in private. Damned good and damned right.
Therefore, my apology to Mr Graham Sharpe of the good ship William Hill.
Last week Mr Martin Hill (@martinhill4) on Twitter was in the process of some gloriously horrendous after-timing following the late Leeds United goal which secured his 4fold accumulator. I intended berating him fully for it but did not realise that I was replying to the wrong tweet in my timeline. Mr Sharpe received the accusations and was a little perplexed but gentlemanly. Public human error deserves a public human apology.
You can follow Mr Sharpe, @sharpeangle – Recommended for the trivia and insight, he makes the Majors top ten horseracing twitter accounts to follow.
Further apologies are required to all those who follow the Majors racing selections. The last few weeks have been appalling. Bad luck part, mainly poor judgement; time to turn the tide and build a Cheltenham war chest. It says something about how bad the form has been that there is a need to apologise. Yet, I receive little grief from an army of followers who understand that I, the Corinthian tipster is trying in honour.
For those who are newer or feel aggrieved, well the Major never feels the need to apologise if a tip runs badly. You see, I also do not accept your thanks for when one runs well… It is free opinion I offer, genuine honest views. Whereas, it is your money you bet; equally genuinely (in some cases) earned. You owe me no beer for the 33/1 winner and I offer no recompense for the 8/11 loser. Terms and conditions of use, simple. Yet, you are welcome to come and bathe in the unhinged mind of a barely profitable lunatic; dreaming of glory…..
Last night the Major watched Inception. My sort of film; packed with intrigue and twists. It probably is easier watched without a bottle of fine Malbec swashing down but regardless; it was good.
It reminded me of Confucius who once said that he awoke from a dream of being a butterfly and now didn’t know if he was a man who dreamed of being a butterfly or a butterfly now dreaming of being a man.
Dreaming has great resonance with us hardcore gamblers. The vision of what might be; the hope and the renewal; being able to dust oneself down and dream again.
I dream of the festival… The juveniles and novices; the greats; the returning champions; Kauto; Ruby; AP; Henderson v Nicholls v Mullins; the journeyman jockey who gets the shot at the big one; the roar; the guiness; the Irish; the buzz; the morning paper; the walk to and from the course; the lucky heather; the victory; the view of Cleeve Hill; the thundering hooves; the sweating heaving athletic beasts; from the uninitiated wide-eyed newcomer to the seasoned tweed clad member with badges dangling from binoculars; the horses with sheer will; the horses that fail on the hill; the owners and trainers… the dizzying highs and bottomless lows.
How all these elements and many more; all seemingly compliment each other, one strand weaving perfectly into the next, a glorious story. Should I awake and find that my mind created every fine intricacy in an elaborate dream; then I shall have just two options.
The first would be to kill myself because I can no longer hear that roar as the first tapes go up. The second would be to kill the rest of you because your lives would be rendered worthless without being able to comprehend the sheer beauty of the festival. Praise God for his ultimate artistry…. then enjoy; lap up the goodness people and ask few questions.
To the sports……
There is a distinct lack of depth and class in the two main chase races of the day, the Eider and the Racing Plus Chase. This is compensated for with bundles of quality novice action and the debut over obstacles over the Triumph Hurdle joint favourite in Ireland….
1.55 Fairyhouse – Juvenile Hurdle
Minsk has not seen a hurdle in competition yet but is joint favourite for the Triumph hurdle in festival week.
Yet…. the talk of his hurdling ability and the quality of his flat performances show that this is a serious horse. Most taking for the Major was his Cesarewitch (Irish) win which was very taking and in soft conditions.
He has been put away ever since but there is no secret that this is Ireland’s big Triumph hope.
His ability to jump a hurdle and the experience of a race day is all that stands between Minsk and victory. The rest of the field look like good handicappers to the Major and Hughes has taken this Grade 2 twice in the last six years.
4/7 William Hill should not stop you adding this to a few accumulators and getting lumpy if you so feel.
Tip for The Eider at Newcastle
What a shocking renewal of the Eider Chase. a race ideally suited to those, winding up for a tilt at the National. Comply or Die took the race three years ago, on the way to glorious Aintree but this field looks a bit bare on that sort of quality; at first glance.
The last two renewals have been on heavy ground. With whip rules being changed again, the Major is pleased that we do not get the same today. The image of only two or three finishers crossing the line on their last legs while being whipped would not do the sport any favours. I, for one, wonder if the Eider should ever be run on heavy ground. Today though, it is good to soft.
This race has a strong trend towards a horse who has already won at a marathon distance. I also want a quality jockey on the team and a horse that is OK with good to soft. This for me is more important than potential mark in these conditions.
Eyre Square ticks a lot of boxes and the previous Kelso form over this marathon distance is OK, even if a bit workmanlike.
Portrait King is an obvious candidate, seemingly on the improve and who knows if the handicapper has caught up yet. What bothers me about the favourite though is his youth and inexperience. He would be the youngest Eider winner since 1998…. on the watch list but no surprise to see a bold show. He would be an obvious Eider tip but I just cannot get past his gae and lack of runs over fences.
Mister Marker looks held and although 16/1 Douglas Julian looks like he will appreciate the step up in distance, this might be quite an ask to take this. That said, I think he will adapt well and for those who like a bigger price, if you can look beyond his lack of marathon experience, this rates a decent outsider.
Plenty of older sorts have taken this race and Negus de Beaumont; aged 11; at 7/1 is a contender. Lucy Alexander, record-breaking female jumps jockey, is a superb jockey in a race like this, taking 5lbs off with her claim. Only 1 place or win though from 7 runs on good to soft, tells a story.
It seems there is no horse that meets all of the Major’s criteria and so a compromise must be made. Eyre Square is the tip, his ground and distance credentials are intact; he may have had to battle for his Kelso win and now is up in weight but he should be involved and 7/1 Betfred or Bet365 gives you a shot.
Kempton – Racing Plus Chase
Punchestown Grade 1 winner, Planet of Sound will really appreciate the good ground on offer at Kempton but so will many of these.
The Major though notes the success of 7/8 year olds in this race and is looking in this age bracket for the tip.
Hectors Choice comes right into it on my reckoning with improvement seen in each handicap run and clearly the horse likes top of the ground conditions. Stable form and the step up in grade are negatives.
Michel Le Bon is included in the assessment as although 9, he has been lightly raced. He also seems the choice of the Nicholls yard on jockey booking. Going all the way back to a Grade 2 chase debut at Newbury, the horse has very smart form. Also he is in great hands to be nursed back to winning ways and any suggestion that the Ditcheat team had a problem with coughing in the stable was squashed by yesterdays treble. Of clear interest at 5/1 and the Majors Racing Plus Chase tip.
2.00 Kempton – Juvenile Hurdle
I fancy getting the favourite Sadlers Risk beaten in this as I thought he raced very keenly on debut and I am uncertain if that will suit today. What is for sure is that some bubbles from Une Artiste, Sadlers Risk, Baby Mix and Dildar will be burst.
Nicholls and Henderson are settling down to an almighty battle this season and it is worth noting that they take this trial very seriously with the pair of them being represented by the last 5 winners.
The two I am most interested in therefore are Dildar (4/1) and Une Artiste (7/1) both prices with William Hill who are best price on the top four in the market.
If it were not for the better ground, I would have no hesitation in putting up 7/1 Une Artiste but it is a fine balance. Dildar has flat form with Pour Moi which is widely touted.
A fine balance indeed but I still come down on the side of tipping Une Artiste who as I type is on the drift. There is no reason to suggest she will not get on with the good conditions, the stallion record is two raced and both placed with one winner…. She may not have encountered it but 7/1 builds in plenty of scope to allow for the question of whether she handles it.
I thought Grumeti was awarded the race a little unfairly at Cheltenham last time out when Pearl Swan was adjudged to have interfered. That said, I thought Grumeti was brave and only caught for toe, in a rematch, I would stick with the Henderson hurdler who was left up front on the hill and struggled to switch gears again.
There is nothing in this race to scare me and so 1/2 is another session of buying money in the Majors eyes.
To the sports with balls….
Tottenham look tremendous value at 19/10 (Hills again) to see off Arsenal at the Emirates. You would expect Arsenal to come out fighting since their dreadful sojourn in Italy but rather than fight back, the Major feels capitulation is on the cards. Something is wrong in the camp….
I also like the Hills price on QPR to beat Fulham at 7/4. As much as I am not a Hughes fan, home advantage against poor travellers Fulham gives us opportunity.
Victor goes 16/5 on Bristol Rovers chances at Rotherham and I am happy to have that in.
Finally 8/13 (general) about Blues to beat Forest at home seems generous too, given the formers run of form.
May your dinner be a mexican feast where you will use your hands to eat. Allow yourself the company of one of those common sorts who will get stuck in right beside you. As the juices run from the Fajita, no great importance on manners will be imparted, then relax, drink and remember… have fun, we only go by the once.
Courage, roll those dice.