The Saturday Sermon – Tips for Scottish Champion Hurdle from Musselburgh plus Naas

Good evening from Fuerteventura where despite sunset being two hours ago, a blustery cool violence disrupts a seemingly permanent base layer of glorious warmth. Good for the soul.

The Major has indeed retired to nearer the equator for respite from the satanic ice which has gripped my own Britain. That said, winter is my favourite season, less insects, no sunburn and the best sport.

It is the first time in the Canaries and while many may find the landscape dramatic and impressive, for me it is a little bleak. Much black volcanic rock, cactus and scrubland. Being so close to the Sahara, the dusty arid condition pervades.

It is not a condition that passes to the local demeanour. An economy dependent on tourism is boosted by the locals aptitude to it. They love the children and although not masters of the exquisite service you might expect in a top notch London club, they approach visitors with smiles as warm as the clime and a vigour and appetite to ensuring you enjoy their hospitality.

The Majors February form has not been good, a poor start and we are in catch up mode. Frozen ground has played havoc with the national hunt fixture list.

Let the Major be clear in praising the relevant bodies for getting the terrific Newbury card moved to next Friday. It was already a monster card but then it inherited the Scilly, a grade 1 novice event to give it a further quality boost. It now looks top class and it would have been a shame to lose it.

Most pleasing is the fact that the sponsors (Betfair) and the course are offering free entry and Channel 4 are covering the card too. Well done all round. The Major has a vague possibly vain hope of making it… We shall see what is possible, any King George members fancy it?

While the Majors form is not strong, losing is part of learning and nowhere else but in gambling is that more pronounced. Nowhere else with the exception of nature.

Spiders. One of natures great wonders. The material they produce from simple glands is stronger than steel by a factor of 20 and several times tougher than Kevlar. Imagine the uses. One of natures great materials that we are yet to synthetically reproduce to harness those wondrous qualities.

The Adanson House Jumper is a curious looking arachnid. Four jet black eyes protrude from his head, no doubt sensitive enough to light for the hunter to work in the dark. Hararius adansoni preys by jumping. To do this it has to judge distance expertly and it achieves this in an unusual way. It’s retinas have several light sensitive layers. On the second deepest layer, the image is blurred, as the spider moves towards its victim, the image on this layer blurs further and it is this error and the contrast to the crystal clear image formed on the layer below that allows the spider to judge distance.

Such a lesson in nature for us gamblers….. Error, loss and that sharp intake of breathe, it allows us to judge better the mystical swirling vortex that is the ether in which we hunt. It is the contrast to focus on not the loss.

To the sports…..

1.15 Naas

Betfair is the only open market. I would get stuck into any odds against on Midnight Oil who looks a top prospect. Gigginstown have a fair few rich prospects coming through the ranks.

While Ruby gets the ride on Tony Martins well regarded Wingtips, I just fancy that Mullins who is having the finest of seasons has a hot one here.

Strong advice to back Midnight Oil at the present 13/8.

3.10 Musselburgh – Scottish Champion Hurdle

In name a champion hurdle, in reality a class 3 handicap. Still plenty of quality in the line up and given the drought of national hunt racing of late, it is good that like the thirsty man, the schedule will give us drink a little at a time….

The Ellison runner Ultimate gets the Majors nod at 5/1. Take that price now as I fancy it going off at 3/1 favourite. I think the horse could be better than the rest and the price offers plenty of scope.

The one that catches the eye at a bigger price is De Boitron who earned a mark of 150 after running a place at last years festival. That has tumbled since and now off 137, perhaps Ferdy Murphy can eek a decent run out of the animal. 14/1 is a super price, very close to being the Majors selection but the margins though this suggest it is second best value.

The selection remains Ultimate.

To the football

Fulham at 21/20, Sunderland at 11/4 and Middlesbrough at 9/4 but be warned my stats, which are always available in the menu will show my inability to make football profitable – I shall blunder stumbling onwards until I learn how to use the blurry images I see on my retina and contrast them better with reality!

May your dinner be an appropriate Tapas, beautiful fish, tasty morsels and company to set the pulse racing, a Spanish dark haired temptress with a wicked curl of the lip that lets you know where her mind is at.

Courage and roll those dice.

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