Good evening from the Major who writes from my cold Worcestershire pile. Today in meteorological terms the calendar turned to Spring but this season awakens like a slow lumbering animal whose limbs have lain stiff and frozen for some time, creaking now into life, the ice and frost cracking as new movement arrives.
I wish for you all that you live an interesting life. According to psalms, we are all here for our four score and ten, 90 years in new money, although for most of us that is pushing it. In the UK you are likely to finish ten years light of that allocation, in some sub Saharan Africa countries where one in three adults are HIV positive, that number can be under 50. That is an average.
Swaziland by some distance sports the lowest life expectancy. More than half of all adults in their 20s are HIV positive. Subsistence farming and marijuana are the key economic planks.
Interesting? It won’t stop me telling you more. Afghanistan is the only country in the lowest twenty life expectancies outside of Africa. You have to scoot 40/50 countries up to find the next which is Haiti. At the top end, it is who you would expect, Japan, Macau and small rich European countries.
The range is startling. Yet you cannot measure your life merely in longevity, ask those in long-term incarceration. Other elements are in play. We pursue wealth because it buys things we seek pleasure from. It helps to have the resources but the attitude is more important. You can be rich and allow the precious resource to be frittered. Your use of time.
Use your time today with some intensity. Variety is no substitute. If you are to travel around the world, before you pay for the experience, make sure you are capable of absorbing and engaging in an environment first.
The man I used as a role model for living was Sir Clement Freud. Politician, chef, bon viveur, jockey, owner and a man capable of drawing much from that around him. The post has remained open since his death although Strange Rumblings is doing his best to find me a replacement.
Next weekend is Imperial Cup and then we are at Cheltenham. Let us foray across the enemy line, skirmishing in tight formation. Smash and grab, cut, thrust and run. To the sports…
When I saw the Doncaster card this morning, I had to get a dictionary to remind myself of what the word firm meant in the going description! Saturdays ground is described as good.
The Doncaster opener should go to Themilanhorse but I don’t like backing runners in three runner affairs. The second listed novice is more interesting even if it is only to watch Ma Filleule breeze up against a field that are simply not as good. 1/3 does not put me off.
Toubab is also a favourite I fancy – He looks like a sort who will really appreciate the return to faster conditions judged on his form with Sprinter Sacre that has been eclipsed by poorer runs on softer ground.
The staying chase is a minefield. Join Together is the likely favourite and has a tremendous progressive profile. Now the national weights are out, he is one of a few we can expect to see coming to the boil. Yet I am not convinced that he will like the top of the ground. Corkage is an interesting runner, particularly given the jockeys clear preference for him over the shorter priced stablemate Night in Milan, Corkage won’t mind the ground either. Court by Surprise and Quentin Collonges are also eye catchers, the former beat the latter who might be better suited in these conditions.
Calgary Bay is the class horse amongst them and that with the coupling of AP McCoy gives me the confidence for a win bet at 8/1.
In the staying handicap hurdle, Aaim to Prosper will be trying to pay out on some of the hype. The dual Cesarewitch winner has only managed placings in hurdles to date although they have been at a decent standard.
Carruthers is going to try to blast it from the front but I am not sure these conditions will suit. I prefer instead the chances of both Barafundle at 9/1 and Eagle Rock at 12/1. The former has been consistent and not badly treated by the handicapper. The latter Eagle Rock to me looks like he might have bags of improvement to come. 12/1 tasty.
The Kelso hurdle is a grade 2 affair and while Eduard has some good form and Brick Red is stepping up after impressing in handicaps. I also interested in 9/2 shot Only Orsenfoolies who has really stepped up as a hurdler and is proven in the soft conditions, I am not sure he beat too much last time but he dug deep.
Eduard is the obvious choice, he boasts the most clear likelihood of talent and I suggest a big investment at 5/4.
A second favourite Harry Topper is backed to make pay his decision to miss Cheltenham in the 4.15. I was a backer of Bold Sir Brian on the day he fell at Cheltenham. They had the screens up that day and you feared the worst but thank god, he got up once he had his wind back. Who knows what that experience has left on him and I just hope he has a safe round at Kelso.
The only Navan horse I am interested in is Wise Oscar who reverts to this code on a terrifyingly good mark and 11/8 is tasty.
In the football I am backing Hull to beat Blues at home and also taking a slice of Sunderland and Swansea.
The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Wise Oscar, Harry Topper, Eduard and Eagle Rock.
I hope your dinner is tasty and home cooked. Sleep well.
Courage and roll those dice.