The Saturday Sermon – Hennessy Gold Cup 25/1 Newbury Tip

Good morning from the Major who writes from a bright Worcestershire scene where the top of the grass has been licked by frost and dark curled brown leaves clutter the paths.

At the start of the week, my locale flooded, rivers burst their banks, unable to contain the violent fast strains of rainwater collected in supply chains unimaginable upriver. It was one of those exciting scenarios that gifts the realisation that in such a modern age, we can still be held at the will of whatever the Atlantic or Artic decides to spit at us.

Many folk like myself enjoy such excitement, it is invigorating. It rattles the soul a little, throws up new angles and offers new reflections. After all, isn’t that the best we can hope for in life. For some, their reaction to drama is to complain….. come the Majors revolution, these will be the first to go against the wall. They will be in fine company – Piers Morgan, Anne Robinson and anyone associated with Radio 5 non sports output. I shall despatch them personally with my own pistol. Not enjoying the spectacles given freely to you is an offence to god.

This week, the Major was back at University studying Operations Management (does the supply chain comment make more sense now?). I am working in a small team of fellow students, thrown together by the course, purely chance encounter. Since a man like me has most sorts of debauchery bubbling just inches from the surface, it was not long until they sniffed me out as one who likes a gamble, was good with the bottle and game for mischief.

Since they have been introduced to the Major, I thought it fair to introduce them.

Pierre the investment banker thoroughly good sort with a raucous laugh. Nataliya who was straight as an arrow at first but with her growing confidence, comes a glint in her eye. Oliver, thoroughly clever sort, direct thinking – says exactly what he thinks. Tom whose employment at Rolls Royce is matched by a suitably plummy tone and Richard a man whose wide eyed reactions to new thoughts would make him a good poker opponent.

They are good sorts and I intend to improve them immensely by immersing them in a gluttony of dubious moral indulgences. You cannot pay for that sort of education. They can thank me later.

I wanted to mention why I like large cities and something about perceived wisdoms from a gambling perspective but instead we shall head to the sports, saving those thoughts for another time. Daub thy war paint young warrior and call up your light horse. We shall attack the high ground which our enemy has taken with breathtaking speed, scattering him before us and capturing his cannons.

To the sports….

The long distance hurdle puts Big Bucks back out and he is currently 1/10. I agree with the price, he has time to do a crossword and win this surely! Not a tipping race.

Tips for the Hennessy

I do love Newbury for jump racing. It is a fair course with demanding enough obstacles but what I like most is the long straight that seems designed to create dramatic stories. It is a shame Timmy Murphy is injured as he knows more than most how a hold up ride around Newbury bears fruit.

When I look at the Hennessy trends, it strikes me that you have two sorts of winners. Underestimated 6-8 year olds who show tremendous improvement to exploit lenient marks and seasoned top class jumpers like Denman and Trabolgan, happy to win shouldering a burden.

Could Tidal Bay fit the latter pattern? He has certainly reinvigorated the memories of youth, he strains at the bit now reminiscent of his juvenile days when surging on the bend to go clear and stay on up the hill to become an Arkle horse. Not today for the Major though, I always thought he was a bit hit and miss and never quite the finished article. Could be wrong.

Last years surprise winner Carruthers is off the same mark bar a pound And could be a threat held up. Is a repeat on the cards? Just doesn’t seem the sort for the Major.

Teaforthree is a interesting runner for Rebecca Curtis who never fails to make the Majors heart flutter. This animal will go prominent which puts me off but not as much as the core focus for this Cheltenham winner being the Welsh National in the Christmas holiday.

There seems a slight cloud over the Henderson outfit at the moment, many are running well and the strike rate holds up but in the mix are a number of disappointing efforts. This and the ground concerns (now all clear) mean that no one is buying into Bobs Worth. Interesting given that he was an impressive RSA winner to First Lieutenant and will be fit first time up (won last seasons debut). He might be inexperienced but he is likely the only likely Gold Cup contender in the field.

Remember, it makes good sense to swim against the tide sometimes as a gambler. 11/2 Bet365 looks massive especially as there are 5 places available.

The final horse I want to mention is the Hennessy tip…. DIAMOND HARRY. Already a Hennessy winner, my selection has seemingly lost the plot entirely. Following Diamond has been an expensive endeavour for the Major who was convinced he would beat up the Wincanton Badger Ales field last time out.

It is too early though to give up, he is a classy sort and the result of his recent derisory efforts is that he is now a stone below the mark from which he won the Hennessy (over Denman let’s not forget although a substantial weighted difference!). Load the cannons and raise a glass to resurrection and redemption.

The winner of the Badger Ales, The Package is the Pricewise horse although I don’t if Tom Scudamore replacing the injured Timmy Murphy is a significant blow to the horses chances. Have a saver on Bobs Worth near the off, his price is getting silly.

12.50 Newbury

Having said that of Henderson, stick Ma Filleule (God-daughter) in your multiples, exciting French import and I’m not sure the Uttoxeter form offered up in opposition amounts to much.

2.20 Newcastle – The Fighting Fifth

I love this race ever since the apple of my national hunt eye, Punjabi, took this on the way to Champion Hurdle glory….. Ahhhh blissful memories.

Today’s meeting only just got the go ahead and the heavy conditions have cut the field to four. It looks a penalty kick for Cinders and Ashes who is proven in conditions. So is Trifolium who also likes cut and so that’s my forecast. Countrywide Flame will surely be found out in the mud.

1.20 Fairyhouse

Final horses and thoughts from me on the Saturday Sermon….. Protarasfor the Noel Meade yard at Fairyhouse is a tip. This horse looks like it has some scope and at only 5, seems on a very workable mark. In good hands and 12/1 is generous.

I have to point out that Davy Russell skips a good Hennessy ride on First Lieutenant to take a promising book of rides at Fairyhouse. That looked an advert in itself and I’m going to tip a lucky 15 on Bright New Dawn 8/1, Midnight Game 10/3 (Simenon out), Bog Warrior (a horse I love, a real galloper) 11/10 and throw in Bristol City 8/5.

On the football fields, I am not convinced Villas scrappy 1-0 victory over Reading is a turning point and ‘Arry will have QPR wound up in front of the home fans, 11/10 must bet. I like Watford who are odds on but should win and. Finally 8/5 Bristol City who are in the relegation zone but can beat a confused and demoralised Wolves.

May your dinner be paid for by Diamond Harry at 25/1 and consist of steak, wine and fine accompaniments. I hope the company is generous in nature and as the haze of brandy settles on your mind, relax, these are good times.

Courage and roll the dice.

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