The Saturday Sermon – Punchestown Tips, Sandown Tips – Suarez biting incident.. Football

Good morning from the Major who writes from bed in some discomfort.  On a rare but regular basis, the Major tweaks muscles in the base of my back leaving me a hobbling and complaining wretch.  I am not a good patient.

A week of bans in sport with Al Zarooni picking up a proper disqualification which spells the end of his training career – Good.  Suarez picked up a substantial ban too which had the wallahs of Liverpool wringing their hands and exclaiming the unfairness of it all.

The Major is pleased that a tough stance was taken on this incident.  Liverpool, in their reaction to it, are demonstrating that they learned little from the Suarez / Evra situation.  The Managing Director, the man the entire club takes a lead from in terms of behaviour and culture, suggests that the punishment targets the individual not the crime.  Other cultural leaders of the club show the balance between an organisation who want to protect a valuable asset and those that understand the disrepute he is dragging the club through… again.

Rodgers: Having reviewed the video footage and spoken to Luis, his behavior is unacceptable and I have made him aware of this – Wow, if I bit someone at work, my own company would not take the time to explain that this is ‘unacceptable’, that would be taken as read, I would be punished (fired).

Souness: …the board have to see it that way because they’re risking everything this great football club stands for 

To feel for balance in the argument it is worth considering the alternate arguments which seem to be as follows.

Is Suarez being targeted because of a history and thus, 8 weeks is too harsh a punishment?  Biting is a very dishonourable aspect to sport that disgusts many people.  In his first biting incident, Suarez was banned for 7 weeks.  In Rugby last year, Dylan Hartley took an 8 week ban for biting a finger of an Irish opponent.  Thus, 10 weeks (7 for the incident itself, 3 for violent conduct) seems fair for a second offence.  

If the club and player felt it was unduly harsh, they could appeal and run the risk of it being increased.  Their decision not to, speaks to me some what of the advice they will have received behind the scenes and their real view behind the hyperbole.  It is worth remembering that the panel who set the tariff is independent of the FA.

The Liverpool statement suggests that the tariff is unfair (which I believe to be posturing) because it is not consistent with other punishments.  One of the issues the FA need to address is retrospective action applying to players who are cautioned in a game but later found to have committed a more heinous crime.  This is what happened to Defoe, an equally low act, while unfortunate he did not serve justice it does not mean that we should not deal properly with Suarez who was not cautioned in the game.

Suarez is going to receive the full support of Liverpool.  A player whose record is so chequered, whose reputation so low, receives the full support of the club again.

Sadly the message I receive is: The values of Liverpool < The talent of Suarez – A sorry state of affairs for one of our football institutions.

If I had the time I would explore how the brand damage done by these instances will mean the club play in the long run.   I would highlight the personal values people associate with their sporting support.  Instead, we shall head to the tips…

We scored a reasonable return at Punchestown yesterday.  The fly did the business in the style you would like from a 1/4 winner.  Un Atout battled hard for victory with Pont Alexandre withdrawn.  The instruction to load the cannons on Un De Sceaux paid dividends and overall, it was not a bad day at all.

Punchestown Tips

If you are heading to Punchestown, I hope you have a marvellous time.  @limerickjfk shall be on track and I wish you and your compadres the very best of luck.

The opening Irish Field Chase could go to Shakervilz at 4/1.  He was a runner up in the Cross Country at the Cheltenham festival, that form was well franked this week.  Heavy ground should be no problem to him.  Have a small slice.

In the second, I think you need some medical attention if you back Mikael D’Haguenet.  Clearly there is enough talent to take this, after all he beat subsequent RSA chase winner Lord Windemere this season.  Yet, he throws some horrendous runs in on a regular basis.  Aupcharlie has hardly looked impressive at this end of the season either and so a chance is taken on Grey Gold at 8/1 – I am sure they are not tilting at windmills stepping the Carlisle winner up so far in class.

In the third, On His Own jumped 24 of the national fences before falling at Valentines second time around.  I did not watch the race as per my previous views on it but I understand from racing notes, he was fading at the time.  I think the ground is much more to his liking here (unbeaten on worse than soft) but it is a big ask after his exertions earlier this month.

I think you have to take Wyck Hill‘s last run at Kempton with a pinch of salt given his track record on softer ground.  At 5/1, I suggest a small slice.  Liberty Counsel is also too big at 16/1 and the Irish National winner can run into a place at least so have a small saver.

Tarla looks a shoe-in at 4/6 in the fourth.  One for multiples.  She has good chase form but was very game reverting to the smaller obstacles last time.  Largely Ruby has got the stable calls right this week and so his selection of the horse over Glenns Melody carries significance.

The Champion 4yo Hurdle at 5pm is all the weaker for the absence of the uber-exciting Our Conor.  Of all of the Cheltenham winners, his Triumph success was breathtaking and surely signals a significant career ahead.  Mullins saddles four of the six runners and of them, Diakali is a shade odds on to win.  Although I am a bit nervous at the price, he does look the most likely winner.  Dogora could be an excellent cast off from Closutton for David Casey as I think back on heavy, we might see much more horse.

Gigginstown have seven darts to throw in the 5.35 handicap.  While only a certain amount of work can be done in such races, I am suggesting an investment at 17/2 in Fahamore who has a number of attractive points.  He looks well handicapped having battled out a finish (lost) with Acapulco, when having to give best part of a stone.  Since that foe went in earlier in the week, it has to rate as good form.  Heavy ground holds no problems (6 runs, 3 wins, 2 places) – What’s not to like? He only has 24 others to defeat!

That is it from Punchestown for me, I am not playing in the bumper or the charity race.

Sandown Tip – Celebration Chase

This race more than any marks the end of the National Hunt adventure.  Last year, Sanctuaire blitzed the field.  He looks a horse whose mind has been destroyed by the Aeroplane and I wonder if he will run a big race again – It sort of reminds me of this.  He is favourite here though and has shown enough in the past to justify it… if (and a big if in my mind) he can return to his former self.

Finians Rainbow is a horse the Major likes.  I was really taken by his Champion Chase win last year (people forget so easily), he really fought hard going past the bypassed fence tussling with Sizing Europe.  This season has been a disappointment having never properly recovered from a spell on the sidelines.  Good ground holds no fears.

One who will relish good ground and is overpriced is Tataniano who is six from six on good ground.  That alone is probably not enough to make him a win bet but at 33/1 I would put noone off having a slice in case a return to top form (won off 160) is in order on better ground.

Sod it… Finians Rainbow is the best of these and I am backing Henderson to have worked some magic.  Have a decent slice of the 9/2.

Football – Regular readers will know that Watford are the team I have been classing as the money train for some time and they duly delivered for me last night at Leicester at 3/1.  I am reinvesting those funds in some teams I like.  I think Stoke will be keen to finish strongly and can see off Norwich at home.  Southampton have the guns to beat West Brom who have had a poor end of season.  I also think that Newcastle at 11/5 are a big price to see off Liverpool.  For all of the troubles listed above, I think an unsettled Liverpool performance might be one of the outputs of the whole affair.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Shakervilz, Finians Rainbow, Stoke and Diakali.

I trust your dinner is expensive and held in fine company.  Allow a generous tip and be awake at the wrong side of midnight.  It is good to be alive.

Courage, roll those dice.

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