The Saturday Sermon on ‘Talents’ St Leger Day

Good Evening from the Major who writes from a heavy grey Worcestershire where a hissing and thudding signals the rains violent persistence.

The Major carries a heavy head full of cold, dulling the senses and slowing the reactions.  Fear not, for some this might result in sluggish thought but for me, deep down here between the moments, a clarity emerges.

Last week was a catastrophe of misfortune.  Each and every piece of advice faltered.  The sort of day where beyond financial ruin, not even a solitary winner can lift the soul, taking the edge away, I prayed but was not answered for just a small token.  Nothing, darkness, the empty void.

I was at Doncaster this week on business.  I had not been before and shall file a brief report for your examination.  I was in the Lincoln restaurant and the atmosphere was lively.  The hosts were generous and my immediate company a mixture of sorts embellishing all facets of life’s rich tapestry.  The sights were part glorious, part terrifying.  There were police dogs sniffing for drugs, barrel chested men drinking furiously, throaty voices shouting and smiling northern faces.

The course is not my favourite, a significant part is shrouded from view but the straight is long and fair.  The racing was wallet emptying, I should have been with The Lark who won like you would want an Oaks placed horse to canter away but bet foolishly.  I watched the Park Hill from an old stand that looked so empty, I assumed it was owners and trainers, it was not, the denizens of Doncaster, concern themselves greatly with their frivolity and those of us cut from the racing cloth are free to access the parade ring where plentiful prime seats tell of the crowds other intentions.

The Lark was impressive but I was on Seal of Approval who crashed to the floor in an horrendous moment leaving Hayley Turner momentarily and terrifyingly lifeless.  As the winner thundered past the post, my eyes were two furlongs back up the course waiting for Hayley to move.  The screens went up and it was not until twenty minutes later that the racecourse kindly informed patrons that Hayley was conscious and on her way to Hospital.  Get well soon.

Doncaster would not be my choice of course in the north.  York is finer, better views, more pleasant and slightly less like a stag do.  I hold no quibble with the fayre on offer at Donnie.  Leaving though, amidst the heavy police presence, amidst the tatoo’d heroes seeking more pleasure while their cups already overfloweth, amidst the stumbling happy, the doleful few, I saw the sight that shall stick with me.

Envision three ladies, two props holding up a dazed hooker who can barely support her own weight.  The three of them swaying and stumbling, as though competing in a slow motion three-legged race.  Not an unusual sight and but for the medical atrocity that had befallen the inebriated middle stump of our trio.

Some images shock the sense so that you might recoil again when they revisit you later.  Horror that peels away the calm surface we portray, the shield defences are momentarily lowered, scenes that awaken the senses.

I think the technical term is sharted.  I was informed of this term by a colleague I was escorting.  She is a fine soul, impeccable in turn out and manner.  I don’t imagine it is a word she uses often.

To the sports…

Doncaster – St Leger Card

Let us start with the St Leger and my appeal for you all to join me in a major investment in Talent.  You may remember that I was with Talent in the Oaks when she recorded a shock 20/1 win.  How she won that day still baffles me a bit, despite me tipping her up on the morning.  Coming down the hill, she was headstrong and spent plenty of energy fighting for her head.  Turning at Tattenham corner though, she came back to herself, I still thought her goose was cooked but as she went through the gears, she absolutely left the field for dead.  The Oaks form has been dragged through the mud but with the Lark winning so well in the Park Hill on Thursday, it removes much doubt from my mind.

Her last run in Ireland was too bad to be true and connections think the lively ground may have had a role to play.  No such problems exist on Leger day, plenty of rain has fallen.  My girl will love the softened ground and Doncaster suits a horse coming last from the back on the stands side, which is exactly where I envisage her run.

Since Galileo Rock is likely to run in Ireland on Sunday, the spirited opposition is going to come from Excess Knowledge who runs for Gosden.  On breeding, I think the ground will be against his runner but the yard has an excellent Leger record and so the lack of book form is no concern.

Foundry is unexposed but his second to Telescope looks a little more ordinary now we see the extent of the limitations for that hype horse.  Stablemate Leading Light is my main concern.  He has been laid out for this race and has already demonstrated a stamina appetite.

The Champagne Stakes opens the card at 2.05.  Hannon and Bin Suroor have shared the spoils in the last 4 years and Hannon took the last two.  He bids for a hat trick with 7/2 Anjaal, who was a very tasty winner at Newmarket last time out.

At 7/2 I think Gregorian is also a bet in the Park Stakes at 3.15.  The softened conditions can help him reverse form with Aljamaheer.  Gregorian was a winner on the Oaks car so it could bear a good omen if he were to take this.

The Curragh – The Blandford

On Thursday, Hot Snap was due to race at Doncaster but was removed from the race and now pops up at the Curragh in the Group 2 Blandford.  I liked the chances at Doncaster and I like the chances here too, especially as the Cecil yard have made the effort to cross the Irish Sea.

I hope their efforts are rewarded and 7/4 is the best you can get.

Chester Listed Race – 2.55

The patchy form of Allied Power might be a little off-putting but I see enough merit in the horse to not give out all hope.  Yet, my ready preference is for Tac de Boistron who has won in much better company – 7/2 is a must bet.  This is a little unusual for me as I am flouting one of my golden rules which is to only back horses at Chester with course form.  Still, the usual rules have served me little use in the last few weeks!

The Football

I would always treat the return from an international break as an opportunity for teams to reverse their form, whether they entered the break on a high or low, the loss of momentum gives an opportunity for confidence to ebb or flow.

As such, a bet I fancy that will not be too popular is for Newcastle to win at Aston Villa.  Now I quite like the Villa who look a threat this year and they have started the campaign looking a half decent unit.  Yet, the team is workmanlike and at 14/5, I am following an instinct.

More obvious is the claim of Chelsea at Everton.  This is a banker surely!  11/8 seems massive for an accomplished team against an Everton side that might struggle even with young players like Berkley breaking through.

Sheffield United travel to Carlisle and will take to the pitch without the burden of my money on them for the first time this season.  You know what will happen.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Talent, Tac de Boistron, Gregorian and Hot Snap.

May your dinner be a sensational onslaught of the senses taken in good company and as you settle the bill from a wallet bulging with the days excesses, remember just how good it is to be alive.  Courage and roll those dice.

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