The Saturday Sermon – Hay (don’t ask) Haydock, York and Chester

Good morning from the Major who writes from Hay where the light mist off the Wye is wispy, shrouding the horizon but offering little likely defence against even the feeblest of early summer suns, should this grey sky break.

The drive to deep Herefordshire was wonderful, winding A roads through undulating country, dominated by my personal colour of choice, Racing Green. The land is resplendent in it, a calm deep coolness.

I am in Hay for the festival and you might ask why I didn’t publish last night when surely this is a significant impediment, you might well ask and it have precious little to offer in my answer.

Yet surely attendance at Hay for the literary festival signals some great intellectual pursuit is at hand? Is it a philosopher of great acclaim with discerning sagacity or some Nobel laureate? Well no, not quite. Julia Donaldson, author of a body of work which possibly (or possibly not) asks the greatest question of all ‘what am I here for?’ And who could ask more of a great mind than that? Take her seminal piece The Gruffalo, disguised in a childens tale, a deep monologue of the inequality of the distribution of wealth, Marxism, brutal Capitalism – clashing ideologies played out by a mouse, a fox, snake and owl. The repayment for siring children is such.

The festival is a busy tented industrious and self conscious mess. The folk are bedecked in striking colours, summery dresses, a length of limb that tells a of good nutrition and breeding, Wellies that are making statements more than they are repelling the heavy ground – their wearers ache to embrace diversity but everyone here looks the same to me. Aspirational grasping, their associations to environmental issues, recycling bins and green energy, picnic baskets brimming with organic vittels, hoping it all somehow runs off into them, by osmosis they seek in this place a healthy glowing meaning to life…. yet the car park is full of high powered cars and these tourists will clear out back to their suburban lives and the whiff in my nostrils will clear. The hypocrisy is thick, tight jeans against well tended middle aged thighs, blues undone enough to glean interest, a care free look so painstakingly built. Ah, perhaps my mood but it sticks in my throat.

Something about it takes me back to earlier in the week when a business trip to Brighton (Hotel Du Vin) gave me just a few moments to take in the town. Something prickles me when I see a cafe advertising ‘goodness over profits’ for the sake of profit. Is it that I am cynical or is this faux attitude this bourgeois world as distasteful to others as I.

As a man who often lives a pretense, I know more than most that to deceive your audience, the protagonist works hardest of all to convince, in the first instance, himself of the deception. Forgive them, they know not what they do.

With this, let us venture into the sports and attempt once more at the glorious mothership.

Saturday Racing Tips

You will forgive the brevity of my sermon this morning. Circumstances and surroundings dictate.

The listed race at York looks a great chance for the Peter Niven runner, Clever Cookie to score under Graham Lee. He is a Grade 2 hurdle winner and won’t mind conditions here. As time has developed I consider York more to be quite a test and I trust in the Cookie to deliver 4/1.

I am always a bit dubious when arguments are made for reversing form and one is presented to us in the Group 3 fillies race at Haydock where Cubanitas upper hand over Astonishing is being called into question. Now I do prefer Hughes to Crowley, though no slur is intended on the latter man and Stoute can be relied upon to work his magic on Astonishing but I dodge both for a pop at Sultanina who made a late start to racing due to poor legs but kept going to win on debut. That form is someway off group form but surely we can expect a Gosden horse to go on again? Plus Buick had the pick of this and a decent stablemate – 10/1 is a gift.

In Haydocks 2.40 – Garswood holds a key piece of form with his French travelling group placing behind star Gordon Lord Byron. I might well (as often proven) be wildly amiss of the mark but I feel that might be his crowning achievement and I readily prefer the Varian runner, Eton Forever at 9/2 and drifting. My selection has proven fitness, winning a return in a listed Leicester race and this is a logical next step in his career.

If I have done Messrs Fahey, Armstrong and Cheveley Park a disservice in discounting Garswood, then let it be corrected when Parbold takes to the track in the 3.50. I expected a much shorter price after the stable hit the winners on Friday – Normally I am a bit more reserved about unlucky types that have run with credit but no rosettes. Yet I feel compelled to treat the form on merit in this case and not a lot else jumps off the page in a winnable race.

Dare I back a horse outside of trap 5 at Chester on their tight 6f circuit? Well a case can be made for Milly’s Gift in the 2.30 race who has the assistance of Kirby from stall 7. I think we have one on the improve and I find fault with either the credentials of man or beast in the favoured boxes so why not at 5/1!

Then finally, tonight is the greyhound derby. I have some tickets on Mind the Net and would dearly love to collect. If this lot go well, I shall make the investment lumpier as would a fool.

I trust your dinner is taken in fine surroundings, company and in good fettle. Tip well and give that girl your charming best.

The Martin Hill bet is a Sultanina, Eton Forever and Clever Coolie each way Trixie.

Courage, roll the dice.

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