Good morning from the Major who writes from a glorious Worcestershire scene with stunning early morning light splashed across the deep green lawns. A faint sharpness to the temperature betrays that we are at the edge of the seasons. The jumps are coming my friends.
A few nights back, I was driving late at night across the Warwickshire countryside, the last flickering of a blood red sunset was extinguished and the peaceful nature of the empty road was in harmony with the dark sky, peace. It was still warm enough to travel with the window open which is a ready preference to air conditioning to me. If not for the freshness of the air then for, the rush of it over skin at high speeds, testing the resistance, very pleasant, very childlike.
While the road was fast, my mind wandered, as it will, I was able to tune into the radio in the background from time to time and what I heard, I found interesting. The programme was concerned with Serendipity and the presenter seemed to be examining how it is created, it struck a chord.
For what it is worth, I consider your chances of enjoying your life almost entirely dependent on you and bearing no correlation to the random nature of your environment. There are those that believe themselves governed by luck, dark forces or benevolent powerful religious deities. Crackpots aside, I would accept that to a point, fortune is an influential factor in your happiness but not necessarily in the way you might expect.
I believe you create your own luck in one crucial aspect, by seeking it with a healthy outgoing attitude. Finding luck in my view is one part state of mind and one part fortune.
Consider coincidence for one moment. When something seemingly, incredibly unlikely occurs, we could consider this to be an act of a hidden hand. Yet, I would say that it is massively unusual that incredibly unlikely things do not happen all of the time. This is just a statistical view, after all we are involved in hundreds of thousands of interactions each day. Some are personal, others with objects, others with technology. Is it not reasonable that if we are engaged in a thousand activities a day, then once in every three years, a one in a million event will occur? Since you know 500 people, it is likely that you here of a one in a billion occurrence, twice in a decade. In other words, incredibly strange things are surprisingly common.
We don’t believe this to be the case when a coincidence occurs because we only consider the coincidence in the context of that event. If for example, you bought a second hand car and in the boot found an old possession of yours that you had left on a train some years ago, you would consider it a fateful act. Considering the odds of an occurence such as this in isolation it is understandable that you might seek a solution that involves some hidden hand of fate. Yet the solution is more boring in one sense. While you found a possession in the boot, you did not perhaps crash into an old school friend on the way home, or find that the car dealer shared the same name and date of birth with you. In other words, coincidence happens because of the massive number of opportunities it has to occur.
More vital as to whether coincidences will occur in your life is not whether it will happen but your ability to spot them. Your ability to live a life enabling happiness to occur in the twists and turns of lifes path.
I think there are two facets to your ability to spot the swing of fate and fortune around you. Firstly, it is about routine, if you live a clockwork existence, you will not be exposed to as many new experiences and will not have the framework for the serendipitous events that may occur. Secondly, I believe attitude has a role to play. My opinion is that you need to give good fortune your permission.
Last night, returning from a long week of study, I visited my local bookmaker and found him surprisingly busy for a Friday. Not busy enough that he would not offer me a coffee, good man. I got chatting to a very knowledgeable chap next to me about the chances of the Godolphin good thing in the 8.20 at Kempton. The conversation was good and as it went on, I was taken by the good mans deep knowledge and strong views. Turns out he has a string of horses across major trainers both sides of the Irish Sea. He gave me one to follow. Luck finds you my friends it is intrinsic in the materials and events around us. It is happening now, relax and turn yourself in to that beautiful music. I do not know where it might take you as there are billions of outcomes but I urge you to dismiss bad feelings as good events are upon you, if you let them be.
It might not be the best example I can give you but if you live your life in a generous and sharing manner and are open to the possibilities that may present themselves, such things will happen. In each generation of human existence, our lives improve.
Irish Champion Stakes Tip
Without doubt, the sporting highlight of the weekend for me is the Irish Champion Stakes. Being run as a twilight card, it is not until ten to seven this evening but I quite like that format. It has the look of a cracking race. I really hope that the rain has not been too heavy to persuade John Gosden to remove The Fugue who is a key actress on the stage.
Current Irish rain radar
That weather looks key to picking a camp to be in. As you can see from the radar, there are some violently bright colours which look to me to be just to the north of Leopardstown.
If the track goes good to soft or worse is the key question . So the Irish Champion tip is based firstly on how much water they are going to get and then on which horse will cope best with a downpour or the good to firm they advertised overnight.
I am gambling on a good dousing of rain. I think the horse most unlikely to be involved if the ground goes soft is The Fugue. She has only placed once on anything with soft in it and has more often than not, been withdrawn in such conditions.
O’Brien is claiming that Declaration of War is a better horse on good going but the stats seem to suggest he is less bothered by soft than his trainer thinks. He has won in heavy and soft and in fact has never put a bad run in under those conditions. There are times where I wonder if such statements are based on the trainers preference than the horses. If you have a top horse, you might be reluctant to want to consider it versatile. Like a utility footballer, the suggestion is jack of all trades, master of none. For one, I am convinced that Declaration of War will love the conditions.
Kingsbarns did his winning in the slop too and while O’Brien has stuck with Declaration of War, the belated return of Kingsbarns could be quite a story. Off the track for so long, it is hard to interpret the signal of him being bought back in at this level. I do have a view though.
Coolmore may have an embarrassment of riches but they like to tell good stories with their top horses. If they felt that Kingsbarns was not ready, I am sure they would have found him an easier entry point. As such, that does not concern me. His inexperience does, he has only raced twice, even if one of those victories was a very good Racing Post Trophy in which Trading Leather could not lay a glove on him.
Joseph O’Brien has voted for Declaration of War. What does he know.
Then we have Al Kazeem, one of the heroes of the flat season. When this horse retires, I am sure my enduring memory will be of the day he truly popped Camelots bubble. He has been brilliant this season. I do not think that it was the ground that got the better of him at York (when defeated by Declaration of War and Trading Leather), I think it was York itself. York is definitely a specialist track.
I could dance and dance in this race but this is my confirmed position. Forget reason. I want the excitement of a Kingsbarns bet in my life. I really like Seamie Heffernan and this horse was favourite for classics before his setbacks. He will love the ground. My view is cemented by the opinion that both the main protagonists to my tip, Al Kazeem and Declaration of War are highly tried this season (13 runs between them). My boy might well lack experience but he gets a generous weight allowance and is fresh. At this stage of the season, that might be the key factor.
Lots of horses get turned over at this end of the year and post race, the trainer will be telling us that they are to be put away. I can imagine that being the case with at least one from Al Kazeem and Declaration of War. The Fugue, if she runs, will hate conditions and Trading Leather, needs further. Kingsbarns may well lack experience but I want that edge in my life and at 7/1 with Stan James makes a great bet. Watch your each way selections because without the Fugue we are reduced to 7 runners. Pray for rain.
The rest of Leopardstown…
Free Eagle may be 1/2 but is a reliable bet for multiples in the juvenile race. Already favourite for the Derby, this looks an exciting sort.
The Matron Stakes is the poorest Group 1 race I have seen in some time and this is underlined by the market who go 4/1 the field. Kenhope probably has the best form in the book but I am never a fan of horses with good placings hoping to translate that well to a win at the top-level. This race might not take much winning at all and I am interested in three. Caponata, will not mind forecast softer conditions, while not electric, she has ability. Lily’s Angel could easily run into a place although even I am wary of advertising her win potential, it just strikes me that 20/1 is wrong.
However, my tip for the Matron is the only truly progressive horse in the line up, Fiesolana. She has improved massively on some OK French form and is being aimed at a race on Arc weekend. She has placed on heavy in the past so bad weather might be OK and at 8/1 with Ladbrokes, I am a buyer.
Haydock Saturday Tips
Haydock boasts an excellent card starring the Sprint Cup. There has been a fair amount of weather related change here too.
The favourite has been a star of the season, Lethal Force surprised a fair few at Ascot but upheld that form well and looks the real deal. However, clearly the trainer feels he likes better ground and the slight toe in conditions surely give others a squeak here. I am slightly cautious of this view as like Declaration of War, Lethal Force has a good record on good to soft and I have seen nothing to suggest he might suffer if it is truly deep.
More than most race types, sprints I find rotate form more frequently. These highly strung racehorses can have off days more easily than their relaxed middle distance counterparts and I am always reluctant to be on at a short price.
I am less keen on Gordon Lord Byron but you cannot rule out any sprint horse with Johnny Murtagh up.
You know what, I am sticking with Lethal Force.… That drift might be the making of us.
It seems the Haydock card has me backing favourites…. In the 2.40, Monitridge at evens looks a fine bet as Tawhid needs more than a 4lb swing to get back at him and these conditions will suit my tip. Sir Mark Prescott delayed the start to his season but has been sensational and Pallastor at 10/3 is all the rage in the Old Borough Cup, I am in. I also find it hard to doubt that Musical Talent 5/4 is a bad bet on handicap debut for the Queen and Hannon.
My only football tip is to give Sheffield United their opportunity in the last chance saloon. 2/1 away to Rotherham. They might have recorded some poor results but I remain convinced there is a good team there who play nicely and will come good.
The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Montiridge, Lethal Force, Fiesolona, Kingsbarns
I trust your dinner to be taken in the finest company. Eat heartily, drink well and remember… Courage, roll those dice.