Good morning from the Major who writes to you from a Worcestershire scene bathed in Springs awakening. A glorious chorus of blazing light from an azure blue sky with a freshening cool breeze and the land comes to life.
Transition – We are moving from one state to another. The National Hunt season is in it’s death throes, Punchestown is around the corner but it is the leaving party, a celebration of what has gone.
In contrast, bright new two year olds, representatives of the top yards, hundreds of years of breeding excellence are launching their bids for stardom on flat tracks up and down the land. Expensive reputations go pop, greenness is rife but in amongst it, lurks the next generation urging forwards relentlessly, for now oblivious to their relative impending end, a mortality we all share.
Spring is here, the most dishonest of seasons.
The Major was bought up in a conservative household, both in politic and conduct. Not that I entirely agree with either as a way of life but it perhaps explains my detestation of over reaction. It is an emotive response which I guard this merry band of warriors against. Lend me your ear and do not dare skip to the tips – Why would you do that anyway, it is not as if great valuable treasures await you there, merely disappointment and soul searching questions, such as why do I return here each week…
As a gambler, selection is the art form. Information is presented to us as it is to our enemy who prices future events on it. We take a view and seek weakness in the enemies calculations. This requires judgement. Judgement requires the ability to differentiate the important from the not, to put aside noise and tune in to the signal.
Over reaction and partisan opinion is a curse of the modern world. When presented with a situation, the expectation is that you instantaneously believe one thing or another. You either love Thatcher or despise her, those in the middle are drowned out. Those at the edges seize on facts and present them in loud cacophony as though the more inciteful the language, the truer the belief. The fallacy is that there is a common sense, a greater truth.
Let us not talk politics at breakfast though, nothing could be more impolite. Yet let me ask you to self reflect on how able you are to flex your mind. Being able to do so will make you a better gambler, you will discard the untrue and the less useful more quickly if you consider the disease of over-reaction.
Take any major publicly debated event with popular opposing views. Think of those people expressing the most extreme views on that spectrum. When the pressure is upon you to have your own view and express it to others, how often and able do you say…
I have not made up my mind yet – Indecision is portrayed as a weakness by those incapable of critical thought. Au Contraire, allowing yourself time to consider and weigh your opinion, particularly in situations where a strong perceived common sense answer exists, is a strength. Reserving your judgement while all around you show a complete inability to do so, is a virtue.
Inability to change your mind – Sticking rigidly to a belief is linked to the last point by the disease of blind conviction. Feel comfortable with the words… I used to think this but I now think I was wrong.
Ask yourself why you believe a view to be true… Beliefs are entirely personal, they belong to you alone. Beliefs are constructed from two ingredients and understanding them can help your critical thought. Facts and Stories.
Facts are (as far as science can take us) evidence based and in themselves have no opinion. Story plays a more central role in constructing a belief. You can draw your story externally but more crucially internally. Thus you can change your belief about a given set of facts just by telling yourself a different story. This is a founding principle of establishing a sporting viewpoint for a bet. We can all see the Premier League table, we all would draw different beliefs on what happens next, the only difference between the table and the outcome is the story we have told ourselves.
The vitriol of others is their own issue…. When you disagree with someone of partisan mind, they tend to go through a number of phases – Seek to recognise them and it helps you be comfortable in your position against them. Firstly they think you do not have as much information as they do, so they will seek to share new facts or show the old facts through a new prism (Think of all of the Thatcher stats put out this week). Then they believe you are incapable of understanding the data as they do, that you are stupid.
Should you demonstrate equal mental agility but just prefer a different story, the third and final stage of their reaction to you is disgust. They think you are evil. They think you know what they know, are able to see the truth but choose to say something else out of a dishonest malevolence. This is not your problem, do not hand over the keys to your decision making process to idiotic tendentious idiocy.
To the sports…
The Scottish National – Ayr
An incredible turnaround in the weather has seen Ayr go from barely raceable midweek to perfect spring ground today. The Scottish National is on along with a few other decent races so….
First of all, the Scottish Champion Hurdle at 2.40…
This is a nice race, the field is open which reflects the limited handicap coupled with the fact that not many of these are soft ground specialists meaning they should all cope. That boils up a nice race and I am opting for Une Artiste, 9/1 Hills.
This girl is a favourite of mine and although in decent company here, I think there are good reasons to have faith. She is getting a stone from the top weight Grumeti (who must have a chance of his own with his Countrywide Flame form looking better as time elapses!) which is helpful. She will love conditions and I think the large field in the Mares Hurdle may have been the undoing of her last time. There will be far less hustle and bustle to this and I hope she can acquit herself with honour.
I have an early line through Sametegal who although one for the future after the Triumph, this race usually goes to one more experienced.
The Scottish National
Twenty six runners and 9/1 the field make the Scottish National a bloody challenge to tip.
I like Big Occasion a lot, his big field stats bode well alongside his staying credentials (Midlands National winner last time out) – I am sure he is capable off this mark but his jumping troubles me a little.
I much prefer having a horse on side below the 11-6 cliff that appears in the weights.. This rules out Auroras Encore, Lion Na Bearnai, Silver By Nature, Our Mick, Always Right and Rival D’Estruval. The last is favourite and you can see why, if there is to be a trend buster, I think he is the likely one especially with Timmy Murphy up who is the best staying chase jockey (won this twice in last three years aboard Merigo)
One that ticks all the boxes though and has a superb jockey up top is Monsieur Cadou – At 14/1 (Bet365, Ladbrokes) he is the Majors Scottish National tip.
Tap Night looks to hold every chance in the 2.05 Vulmidas Cup – Have a lumpy one.
Frankels brother Noble Mission has an excellent chance to pick up a decent prize in the Group 3 at 1.50pm. Model Pupil is the main opposition and I think he needs another half mile to be seen to his best.
The Spring Cup is a riddle locked in an enigma and my dart has landed on Memory Cloth at a whopping 40/1. I was with this horse last week for the big handicap and he let me down but I cannot help but stay on this track now that an eye catching jockey booking has been made. Queally does not normally ride for Ellison and since I rate him a lot, I am having an investment.
I cannot believe Cardiff are almost 2/1 to win at Burnley. It is a time of year where prices for better teams become over inflated on the angle that they have less to play for… Have a slice of the Bluebirds!
Southampton have played themselves out of relegation trouble it seems but Swansea are a team that I always want on my side and 7/5 for a home win is generous. Sunderland might be hitting a hot streak and 12/5 is another price to be on for a home win against Everton.
QPR do not strike me as a team that will play better for the pressure being released. I expect Stoke to win so 13/5 is another juicy price. I also think Norwich is a big win price at 4/5.
The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Cardiff, Monsieur Cadou, Une Artiste and Tap Night
May your dinner be marvellous flanked with beautiful people of great company. Courage and roll those dice.