Good evening from the Major who writes from Birmingham where rain, tinged with its Siberian bleak origin, splatters down onto darkened streets, diffusing the neon lights and making good shelter the more welcome.
The Major is visiting the parents for Easter and shall return to Worcestershire with the morning light. I took the opportunity to take a couple of beers with my brother too, possibly the easiest person to spend time with that this Earth can offer. We journeyed into Walsall to take in a few frames of snooker, I struggled to land many decent blows as my superior safety, a dubious claim, was not good enough to prevent his superior shot quality.
The club, I knew as a child as Masters had been renamed Midlands Snooker Academy. This might sound grand but do not be fooled, the interior decor would be exactly as you would expect, dingy, dark, ceiling with random holes and water stains, poor lighting, the evidence of one or two disputes written into the fixtures and fittings; you know the sort of places. Yet, the grandiose name is done justice in the quality of the new equipment. Eight brand new championship tables have been installed with a view to making the club a hotbed of snooker talent in the future. Pro’s are starting to show up too, earlier in the day, Mark Ford rocked up and gave some of the juniors some coaching. He plays Judd Trump this week, keep your eyes peeled. Good luck to the club too, ambition is a magnificent thing.
The snooker club was dry, perhaps in keeping with its new philosophy. So, with the witching hour upon us, we fell into the cold desolate Walsall town centre to see what fayre was on offer. Now, I shall not purport that one thin slice of a place should reveal everything there is to be known. No. Yet, your faithful correspondent can only report that Walsall at night is a representation of civilisation breaking down at the edges.
Police cars park across the streets where three nightclubs host bawdy revellers. Probably sensible to close the road given the hazardous nature with which the establishments spill their guts onto street. Yet, a heavier police presence is noticeable on the drag too and passing the clubs, with their cheap alcohol promotions, music that deadens the brain cells and dubious looking inhabitants thick with gold jewellery, it was only the determination that runs through the family line that kept us plodding on, in search of more favourable grounds in which to have a quiet beer.
We came across a generic town centre chain pub; could be a Lloyds or a Weatherspoons, I couldn’t care, neither could the staff and the quality of the beer served told of pipes screaming for a good clean. The walls carried pictures of various famous denizens of Walsall; actors from Eastenders and Coronation Street; BBC presenters and comedians; Noddy Holder and a guy from a heavy metal band whose name now, in the small hours escapes me; I think it was Judas Priest, I literally cannot raise the energy to look. All of this, reminded of a sense from a time long gone; I remember crab fishing as a child, pulling in the various lines laden with bait, only to find the smallest of returns.
I am most likely being unkind. Walsall is a place that holds fond childhood memories, the market, the smells, the marble shop on the hill.
To the sports:
Easter Monday Racing
The Major is on a black run. Dark times. I recognise that mentioning this is probably not going to endear the following advice to you but it is only fair that I acknowledge the performance of my recent advice within the public record.
It is not only that Saturdays Sermon tips failed to perform, all of my extracurricular bets, also fell apart at the seams. With Tottenham 3-1 up in an open ended game, 15 minutes to spare and Fulham with the ball on the penalty spot, well, I was on my way to collect my +4.5 bet. That failure about sums things up.
Still, Easter Monday is a rich day of racing and maybe we can find something to put together in some sort of combination?
Plumpton is not normally a winning track for me and in present condition I should probably steer well clear. However, I am taken by the record of Alan King at the track and he has a few nice runners.
Although no prices are up for the opener, I suspect Mystery Drama will be very short change but it goes in my multiples on account of some excellent listed form and a taste for good ground.
I am going to stick with him on the implausible looking No Substitute who can be backed at 6/1 for the second race on the card. This horse has taken no racing but is in good ownership and it is telling that they have persevered.
The third and we have a hat-trick of King bets with Hollow Penny – The Exeter race last time was better than this and given the horse has been laid out for these better conditions, I am a buyer at 5/2.
Probably the best card of the many, is Fairyhouse, which contains a 12/1 the field Irish Grand National head scratcher. Only once in the last ten years has the race been won by a horse shorter than 10/1 and the winners have returned 50/1 once and 33/1 four times… That tells you everything you need to know. The race has also had only one winner carrying more than eleven stone since the millennium. You are as well off with a pin and I shall not pretend to shed much light beyond what I have already and suggest with extreme caution that Saoirse Dun might just give us some fun for 25/1.
The biggest bet of the day for me will be on the Fairyhouse card (2.45) as I am hugely interested in the chances of Clarcam, 11/4. Regulars know that Noel Fehily is a jockey I consider to be at the top of his trade and he makes an effort to get over to ride for Gordon Elliot, which is a debut. This horse ran respectably until crashing out of the Fred Winter and followed that up with an excellent second by under 2 lengths to Guitar Pete in the Aintree juvenile event, form enough and an expert ride, load up.
Feeling weary and, as you can readily tell, defeated; I shall leave Easter Monday to the rest of you with the energy to read all of those races. I shall retire a poorer man in pocket but much richer with the sights that Walsall has given me.
Courage, roll the dice.