Good morning from the Major who writes from a bright and airy Worcestershire which is bristling about its business.
The world has come alive at a time where the Major would rather crawl into a warm dry cave and sleep. Yesterday I was up early, ahead of the poultry and driving to Kent. A heavy day of work and then dinner in good company and a late drive home.
Coming back along the M4 late in the evening, time seemed to space out, my reactions were slowing, dulled, brain signals muffled, eyelids dropping. There was nothing for it but a short nap at Newbury and a coffee. When I awoke, sitting bolt upright in my car, the abandoned far-flung corner of Chieveley Services car park looked damn eerie. The lighting bathed the place in a peachy glow and against the kerb-stone not twenty metres away, the largest Rattus rattus I have ever laid eyes on was examining some item or other. He certainly sensed me because he was soon merrily bouncing away, keeping the kerb-stone tightly to his left. He had a cheery gait and I didn’t feel anything other than good wishes for the fella.
Like Mr Rat, I was soon on my way, feeling much better if not quite refreshed then at least more alert. Those moments, between sleep and awakeness, those are the instances in which you are closest to what it means to be alive. Neural connectors continue firing their signals but somehow you feel able to drift away from that prison and almost observe from a distance.
I have a good friend of mine, an acquaintance from the insurance business attending Bath today and so the blog is focussed on losing his considerable purse. The man is Maltese and has represented them at Rugby, the highlight being a win against the Romanians, there is some useful knowledge for you. Joe is a quiet man but thoroughly decent, one to be relied upon – his quiet disguises a steel, what he says, he will surely do. Joe, good luck to you and I hope to see you soon my friend…
I like Bath racecourse, it is unusual, small, pretty and an ideal place to spend a Saturday in June. Today is not just any weekend, it is their Super Saturday card, the highlight of which seems to be an Irish Jig band…. well.
In order to make money at Bath today, we need to consider the unique factors of the course. Firstly, in suggesting Bath rides differently, you can assume that I prefer some strong course (or comparable course such as Brighton, Goodwood or Epsom) form. Bath is set high and the wind can be a factor, on a bracing day, dress warmly. The course is left-handed, undulating but largely downhill and this presents additional challenges for the runners with some sharp left turns. Being prominent can be important as horses have to swing out to pass leaders as the home run in turns up and to the left.
Daub thy war paint young warriors, draw down some finances, we shall need the silver to pay our way to battle.
2.30 Auction Stakes
The juveniles are out in the opener and given how tough Bath is as a course, as a rule, we should be highly regarding experience as I would expect a lot of green runners and some carnage. Expect some horses to lose their races at the start and some to lose their chances as they slingshot out right with their jockeys struggling to get them to concentrate and bear left.
Danfazi fits a lot of what I am looking for. He is surely going to be unpopular as he is already looking a tad average and has been gelded, poor chap. Yet, he has seen a lot of racecourse action and his last two races do not read badly. He was beaten by a likely looking Dagleish sort at Newcastle and the Redcar race , he was third in is well advertised. Classical Diva who finished just ahead of him there went in yesterday at Mussleburgh.
Scooping runs for the most feared of all juvenile trainers, Richard Hannon. 11/2 is available for this son of Dylan Thomas who has just one run under his belt. While you can never right this team off, I would suggest this horse will be seen to best effect over much longer distances in future.
Captain Ryan can have a case made, as can any of them to be fair given the nature of the race. I am sticking to my guns – I think experience will tell and Danfazi (6/4) has 40% of all of the racing experience this lot have. We shall start with a favourite and I might suggest doubling it with race two….
3.05 Novice Stakes
Sadly the second race looks an incredibly straight forward affair for Lilbourne Lass who is no punters price at 4/11. She won here on debut and the Windsor race she was a little unlucky to win on second start reads well in the context of this too as the winner that day Saayerr is Royal Ascot bound. Nothing in the other four runners appeals.
This is a handicap open to horses rated under 60, so pretty low-grade stuff…
The huge interest in this race is for Highlife Dancer who turns up here for Mick Channon seeking a quick hat-trick – Currently 5/4 I expect this one to be all the rage. The horse is 2 from 4 at Bath and has won at Brighton so the course challenge is clearly one the gelding relishes. Faster ground seems to have bought a remarkable improvement to the horses form and he has every chance if running to expectation.
Acapulco Bay is more of a hurdler these days but is another horse to come here in good form. He has won both on the flat and over hurdles at Uttoxeter in the last few weeks. The horse has won at Bath off a mark of 46 and at Chepstow off 49, he races here off 52. Of interest.
I am going to take a chance on Drummond at 12/1. Given my selection has not won after twelve attempts on the flat, you need a little imagination but tick with me. His best run was at Bath when running for Clive Cox. At that stage of his career, he was running off a mark of 74, and he lost out to a Godolphin horse who, admittedly, has gone on to achieve nothing.
Still, Drummond is not devoid of ability and of the jockeys riding, William Carson is one I would prefer. He knows his way around Bath (last two years 31 rides, 10 places) and I think it gives us an each way squeak.
Only four runners so this should be solvable and 7/4 the field makes it fair.
My strong sense is to be on Hamla at 11/4 and to fill your boots. Mark Johnstone is in decent touch and these are exactly the sorts of handicaps I respect him in. This horse is out of Cape Cross and is surely capable of taking this on turf debut.
I am not sure Just a Pound will see the race home and I think wants a shorter trip. Dali’s Lover is my chief concern but load the cannons and let Hamla pay for the champagne.
4.45 Handicap – 4yo+
This is a damn tricky race and much of the money is understandably heading for Cane Cat who was just beaten at Nottingham last weekend.
Titan Diamond is 25/1 because the ground is against (needs to get a toe in) but some rain would make this one of interest.
Perfect Outlook is a horse I would be very interested in but needs a bit of luck. With this many runners in a Bath contest, a hold up style is a definite hindrance and as such, I reluctantly pass it over.
I am interested in both Llewelyn runners. Mr Udagawa and Stag Hill. The former made some significant improvement on seasonal debut running Spinning Ridge (the old warrior) close. The same William Carson we backed earlier on the card takes a ride on 8/1 Stag Hill and this one is the tentative win bet selection. His last run was in Chepstows mud and that is tough – This better ground is going to be much more suitable.
A wide open handicap again and darn tough. I am selecting from 4 – Valmina, Drawnfromthepast, Triple Dream, Annes Rocket.
I whittle them to three because Valmina probably is best in just slightly softer ground.
Drawnfromthepast is the next reluctant loss on the grounds that this is a seasonal debut and more concerningly for a jockey who has had no winners in the last 30 runners and has a pretty poor course record.
I am going for Annes Rocket at 9/1. The reappearance run might have blown the cobwebs away and with Pat Dobbs up, improvement is a reasonable expectation.
As a footnote, watch the market for Wooden King – Lots of money about at the moment…
If we need help in the last, I am hoping it comes in the shape of Foie Gras at 9/4. The horse showed remarkable improvement last time out at Brighton with the application of some new headgear. It stays on here and might just allow the horse to continue at this new found level.
May your dinner be glorious and in the best possible company. Allow the wine to flow generously as collars loosen and fraught emotion evaporates.
The Martin Hill lucky 15 is Hamla, Foie Gras, Danfazi and Drummond.
Courage and roll those dice.