Good morning from the Major who writes from a cold Worcestershire rural scene where Jack Frost has bitten hard overnight. Winter is the guest that has overstayed their welcome.
Next Sunday the Major runs the Paris marathon. It is my second marathon after running the Berlin event in September of last year.
My final preparation run for Paris was in Hyde Park last Sunday. An organised event with 1,000 participants all gathered together at the bandstand at 9.30am. For the Major this meant a 5.20 alarm call and stood at the start line in sub-zero temperatures with a ferocious wind chill… The most pleasant moment was as the runners huddled in the starting pen. I know my Attenborough, I selfishly headed to the middle.
The Hyde Park facilities lacked showers. After the 20 miles I just could not get warm and I set off for home to get showered ( a three hour journey) but on the way a combination of the cold, the strange vinegary smell and aching muscles persuaded me to stop and shower at Bicester services.
Now the sign on the shower door is not encouraging… ‘PLEASE DO NOT DEFECATE IN THESE SHOWERS, USE THE TOILETS PROVIDED’. It begs the question why would anyone do that? Even though the showers were clean, that image remains with me. That my friends, is branding at its worst.
I used to work solely in a marketing and worked for a man who placed great emphasis on stylish production. At first I was only sceptical, not about his eye for it, rather that it was all a bit pointless. I was in the camp of those that believe that as humans we act as independent entities and that styling messages was more fluff that substance.
Over time, my views have become more extreme to the opposite, you could say that the philistine converted. I saw this Italian beer advert on a couple of London billboards, I missed the TV campaign last year but this image stayed with me for all of the right reasons… Stuart would be proud.
Set thy mind young warriors, Cheltenham is behind us and the landscape is changing. Our theatre of war is moving to places we have not visited in a long time, flat tracks.
Saturday Racing Tips – The Lincoln
The Lincoln is a race that I would normally have given a wide berth to. Early in the season, a handicap, delayed for bad weather – There are lots of factors against us and given it is 7/1 the field, it is a hard enough puzzle already.
Yet, soft ground gives us a chance. Conditions on the flat have an even greater impact than those on national hunt horses in the Majors view and soft is pretty extreme for these animals. We are looking for those who can handle it, in my red line criteria. Middle to high draws are favourable. After that, horse and jockey ability, trainer form and all of the usual factors we use to convince ourselves we have solved a puzzle!
Then we watch the race and should we win, we shall convince ourselves that this calculation was worth it, that we pursued the glory of intellect, analysing information bought us these riches. Rather than luck. Is it worth it? Well, I am carrying on, my results are barely profitable but even that is a victory.
Memory Cloth, Swiftly Done, Chosen Character, Majestic Myles, Chapter Seven, Global Village, Justonefortheroad and Jacks Revenge are the horses that make this smaller list.
Majestic Myles is a Richard Fahey horse, he won the race last year with Brae Hill (who would have been of much interest racing off the same mark but for the ground factor), Majestic carries top weight, has to overcome a half year absence and looks stable second string. yet at 50/1 I would not put you off a small slice.
Probably of more interest is Fahey’s other runner, Justonefortheroad. He is a general 10/1 shot, goes well fresh and in the mud and is probably well set for this. His race in the Spring Mile was very good and he did the best of his side that day.
Memory Cloth is of serious interest to the Major. I often struggle to get the Ellison stable right but this horse is proven on the surface and has been playing around badly at the all weather game. Now back in more suitable conditions, it looks like a pop at this race has been the plan all along… 22/1 is a big old price. The only temperance is the draw, stall 4 is not ideal.
Chosen Character is interesting, the last run suggests that the handicap mark is still workable. Natasha Eaton has a 10% strike rate in the last two years which is acceptable and she has a very strong record with this yard too. Stall 13 is a good draw… 40/1 with BetVictor – Very good.
It is these last two that interest me the most. Have a pop at both and a £1 reverse forecast. After all, we can only dream but if the Major has the 1-2 here, you would want to be on!! If you just want the one, go with Chosen Character.
Cork – Listed Stakes 3.10pm
This is a decent little contest and £26k is up for grabs.
Srucahan is a progressive horse in the race who is the one who has demonstrated a liking for these extreme conditions too (heavy). Inxile is a danger as he should be OK in the mud and the trainer has a good record when raiding Ireland.
David O’Meara has sent Switcher across and that is an advert in itself, I am a bit concerned about heavy conditions but otherwise, it looks good.
Cape of Approval gets the nod, progressive and fine in conditions, we get the services of Wayne Lordan, a jockey I like – 13/2 is a reasonable price.
Haydock Racing Tips
The Major is not going to write about the Grand National this year. I am just not interested in it. It sends out all of the wrong vibes about our sport, is the most unsafe race we have and why we want that in the shop window, I do not know.
The opening race on the Haydock card is over three and three quarter miles. King Fontaine would be a danger to all if returning to anything like form but that has not looked on the cards.
Jurisdiction looks mildly progressive at these staying distances but is anything from certain to have his own way at the front of affairs. Under more pressure, his jumping will come under scrutiny, still interesting.
Handy Andy is of course of massive interest. I am less worried about the Newbury shape of his best form than I might be and an 8lb rise is perfectly reasonable for his last win. This race was not his first choice but he is clearly ready to go. My worry is the ground, he is starting to look better for cut and a return to good to soft (1 win / 8 starts) might not be ideal.
Sod it, I am taking a chance on King Fontaine at 10/1.
The Saturday Hotpots
I also think Kandari at 2/1 will pick up the 5pm at Haydock. Jupiter Rex at 4/6 looks a shoe in again at Newton Abbot (2.45).
Dubai World Cup
3.05 Shea Shea NAP
6.05 Royal Delta
I prefer Wigan to Norwich and evens is a big old price. Everton are 7/10 to beat Stoke at home and that looks generous. Cardiff are 5/4 to win at the Posh… have a slice.
May your dinner be glorious and bountiful and in good company too. Courage, roll those dice.
The Martin Hill Lucky 15: Cardiff, Shea Shea, Cape of Approval and Kandari