Monthly Archives: July 2014

Thursday – #Galway and #Goodwood Festival Tips – The Major surging back to form…

Good evening from the Major who writes from a summer Worcestershire evening where the vanquished breeze leaves the air breathless.  I find such stillness in the climate to be unsettling.

My morning commute cuts through the agricultural stillness along winding lanes, a dependable peacefulness if at times a little dull.  Not this morning, putting my back to my home village and turning South East towards Strensham, the first large field of what may be a lettuce was being picked by hand.  A full platoon of seasonal workers straggled across the neat rows of green, packing crates strewn across the consistent backdrop.  The most striking thing was the gleeful palate of colour in their dress.  Lurid greens, striking orange a smorgasbord of terrifying conspicuous polyester.  These aliens in the landscape, I meet them from time to time.

A month back, in training for my charity run, I was deep in the maze of lanes past Burlingham which sprawl out but are restrained by the Avon which acts to hold their spreading.  Turning to face a gentle climb, the setting sun was a resplendent deep red, brushing the clouds which hung distant low on the horizon a deep soothing pink.  A magnificent site in nature.  Out of the low gentle glare, I could make figures out on the road ahead of me, maybe young teenagers.  As I approached I saw the cut of their cloth was tracksuits, four or five of them, walking in slouches, all gangly from side to side, full of mischief.  My heart raced a little and I picked up my tempo knowing I would pass them soonest.

As I approached, I saw they were talking and smoking, my misgivings deepened.  They were strung across the narrow lane and had not heard me approaching, despite my low music from my Iphone strapped to my arm, on full show, you can see how my mind was running.  With 20m to go, some of them swung to face me and the closest to me, a brute of a young fellow, his vest revealing powerful arms with striped tattoos drew something from his pocket.  It was a camera.  Just like me, they were admiring the sunset and the four ahead were posing.

I felt no end a fool.  I took the picture for them with their disposable camera, then there were five.  Just young folk, not so much money but the freedom that life gives, work, wages, a fine friendship and a sunset you could drink down like silken nectar.  I was left part jealous, part embarrassed.

The Major bounced back to something closer to form today.  Not brilliant, I would accept with Kingman the only winner of three but at least the radar was winning with the others placing at 13/8, 14/1 and 6/1.  No disgrace.

To the races, the orchestra is tuning up.

Galway and Goodwood Thursday Tips

At Goodwood we have the Richmond and the Goodwood Cup to look forward to and at Galway, it is Galway Hurdle day.

I am going to start in the Richmond where Ivawood is a 1/2 favourite and frankly does not look for stopping.  He has to give a further few pounds to Jungle Cat but it won’t make the slightest bit of difference surely?  His July Stakes run was impressive especially if you watch what he gave away at the start.  That mistake is my only hesitation, on a course with a camber, he cannot afford any monkey business.  Failing accidents, he surely wins and continues the Hannon domination of the Richmond.

That might not sound like fun, I know it looks lazy tipping up an odds on winner but in a strange way it carries more risk.  You shall think far less of me should it fail that if I were so effusive of a 10/1 shot.

Then the Goodwood Cup.  I am not sure all of the runners are going to appreciate the firming ground.

Estimate looks a warm favourite which suggests she has managed to stay off the crack pipe in her preparation for this race!  In all seriousness, I thought she ran with excellent credit in the Gold Cup and aside from the progressive Leading Light, she really showed that she is still top class.

Brown Panther was beaten fair and square that day, partly from having the burden of the Majors confidence on him and while I can forgive his latest French run on account of ground he would have enjoyed, I cannot see him reversing form with Estimate anyway.

I think Estimate is the likeliest winner but I am backing one with a bit more fun baked into the price in Angel Gabrial.  This horse has shown great improvement stepped up to staying distances and having been a bit unlucky in the Chester Cup on a course that will catch any horse out who is not in the perfect spot, he returned at Newcastle to extract his revenge on Suegioo comfortably in a big field that also had the likes of Repeater and Noble Silk.  The former was narrowly beaten by Havana Beat before failing earlier in the week on Goodwood.  Noble Silk placed earlier today and so the form looks solid.

I accept the charge that Chester Cup and Northumberland Plate form does not a Grade 2 stayer make.  Especially in a warm renewal of the Goodwood Cup but I am not put off.  There is some 11s with Bet365.  I would wish it to happen too for the good Doctor K who invests a lot into the sport as well as Rugby League and seems a hell of a chap in general.

The 3.40 Lillie Langtry named after the Victorian beauty is a good-looking contest.  For the love of god, my siren horse and full-blown over the cliff with a noose attached horse Talent lines up, god help me.

Regulars know the story, how last year (similar to the feeling this June with Taghrooda) I felt right after Talents’ incredibly visually impressive Oaks win that Talent would be an Arc horse too.  Sadly, we have not seen the same flashing legs flailing form.  Yet there is hope in this race.  A camber, just like Epsom…… STTOOOOOOP, get behind me Satan, Talent, we are over.

Missunited was a bit of a gamble when she won at the Galway festival and she is a very worthy favourite in the Majors view.  She met Talent in the St Leger and lost out, in fact I thought Talent was a bit unlucky not to be closer to the subsequent Gold Cup winner  hitting trouble as she was unfurling her best effort…. oh god, not again.

Right I need a word with myself.  Do not back Talent.

OK.  Let’s try again.  Leading Light turned out to be high-class winning the Gold Cup and Missunited showed very well in that race too an effort boosted by the fact that she did the hard work off the front end.  The fact that the Ascot ground was firm too puts her chances in better light again.  I like her a lot.

Yet, I am playing a wildcard.  Stella Bellisima is entirely unexposed.  She has a rating of 82, hardly group stuff but that is off a single race where her inexperience was on full show, although she overcame it and did it comfortably enough at the end.  That form has been franked by the second Gwafa who hacked up in a four runner ordinary maiden by 19l next time out, still looked good mind.  Stella is a half-brother to Duncan, remember that fella?  She is out of Sea the Stars and we know what a season he is having as a sire.  Should my Italian hold out, I think you will find that Beautiful Star – Appropriately named, è vero.  Gosden does not throw darts, he thinks she is good enough.

To Galway.

There is a bet I am very sweet on here and that is Pink Hat in the 4.15 Novice Hurdle.  Mullins is already enjoying a decent return and the prospects of a least a double tomorrow are heightened by Alelchi Inois racing in the 2.20, I would back that one but I have blown any favours you might grant me on long odds on chances already.

Pink Hat though needs to be backed with vigorous intent before the early 3/1 price dries up.  She has won twice recently and looked better for the extra distance, I do not think the challenging track will present a problem either.  If she is in contention at the last, hold your hats as she has a Kauto like tendency to save her worst leap for the end.  She likes a thrill that girl and the Major is always swayed by that sort!

4.55pm and the Galway Hurdle.  Well well.  A plethora of runners, the race that the aforementioned Missunited won last year and a race that has few reliable trend angles that my eyes can spot.  In the last few years, outsiders and favourites have won, top weights and feather weights, though five and six are the favoured ages.

Missunited was the second winner in the race on the trot for the Michael Winters yard, he has no entry.  I am not going with those at the top of the market.  McCoy has picked a horse obviously aimed at the race, Tony Martin has already been weaving his spell but this one is not for me.  Yes it could go off a lot shorter but I don’t know – I do not read enough on the credit side of the ledger.

I go down, sliding down the card, slide slide slide all the way to 14/1 shot Purple Bay.  Ferguson aims three at the race and this one has to lumber a fair bit of weight on account of the skills already on show.  Yet almost a stone increase for the last win was reasonable as it was dismissive and the young jockey Shortall, with his cropped sides and mop of dark hair atop to match his youthful confidence looks a pilot with a future.

Your dinner should be a damn fine curry, let them roll out the best dishes they have, in company, allow them to be shared as curry should be.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Wednesday Galway and Goodwood Festival Tips…. Short post, out of form… Pray for the Major

Good evening from the Major who writes from a slightly cooler Worcestershire with a pleasant grey and purple sky hangs serenely.

The Major has had a disaster.  At Galway I could not find an angle.  At Goodwood, I was hopeless.  Can I offer you hope that I can resolve these calculation errors?  Well, not exactly.  I shall factor in the Johnson factor more, that felt obvious for Goodwood.

Is it me or does everything cost so much money these days?  The Major has a retaining wall that is failing in the grounds.  It is timber and was clearly never tanalised that well.  It was in place before we bought the place and looked pretty new – It extends for forty odd metres holding back the land of our garden which falls towards our house.  Now, with water eating away at the timber, some of the holding stanchions have faltered and a good downfall of rain might see the land slip.  Cost: A fortune.

The good lady put her car in for a service.  £300.  The dentist (£110 himself) advised me to buy a new toothbrush £60.  The good lady has designs on a whole plethora of activities for her fortieth birthday.  A family meal £500, a New York trip £1,000.

This is not the time to hit the cold streak.  Alas, back to the well and focus.

Galway and Goodwood Tips.

The duel on the downs is not a betting race but Kingman wins.  He was so good in Ireland and is showing that he was a tad unlucky to be racing on the wrong side of the heath for the English Guineas.  I think he will show his talent and then be aimed at Champions Day.

In the 3.40pm I am opting for Tupi Hughsie agrees with me which could be significant as he could have been on Dr No who put up a good show in the Coventry.  That race I suspect is going to turn out as a much better piece of form than a traditional Coventry (I am looking forward very much to seeing the Wow Factor again).  So you see my logic… 6/1 in spots.

The expensive Shahah to repay some of that price tag in the maiden.

At Galway….. the big one is the Plate at 5.30pm.  Now I have a big big soft spot for the Galway Plate runner Alderwood – That he has not been seen since is unfortunate because while it might have protected a mark and even accepting his yards ability, it is hard to substitute race fitness in these sorts of contests.  Plus, the typical profile is less exposed.

Which leads me to….. Burn and Turn – Right profile, Robbie Power for Harrington, good form, improver, 14/1 what is not to like?

That is all I am giving you for Wednesday – I am hoping for a couple of winners and some sort of positive balance in my account.  As things stand, dinner is toast.

Courage, roll the dice.

Tuesday – Goodwood and Galway Festivals….

Good evening from the Major who writes from a very warm Worcestershire night where the air hangs thick but not unpleasantly and even though the moon throws just an inky crepuscular light through a sullen opaque sky, I am able to wander the garden at peace with the bare light pale on the deep green grass.

I did not cover Galway on Monday and you should be happy as I only had one winner, the first of many for Weld this week in Timiyan but that was the beginning and the end of the entries on the positive side of the ledger.  Must try harder.

Now I don’t want anyone thinking that absconding for Monday which just had a Galway card but rolling up for Tuesday and the start of Goodwood signals my own preferences.  No, no my friends.  It is true that I genuinely love the Goodwood festival, it is a magnificent course, wonderful backdrop and small enough to feel, I don’t know, well homely.  Yes it has a sense of modesty, even in the elaborate at Goodwood feels in-elaborate.  Perhaps it is because we have the pomp of Ascot fresh in our minds – It is a welcome change and allows us to focus on the racing.

However, as I was saying, my lack of Monday post should not be interpreted as a turned up nose towards Galway. Their festival just gets better and better. The top yards are unleashing genuine top juveniles in the maidens, the place looks so damn fun and like Goodwood not so full of itself. Bravo, it’s on the list!!

It is a school night and with the Major required on parade at first light, I shall keep this brief.

Goodwood and Galway – The Majors Tuesday Tips.

Regulars will know that I consider Goodwood to be a specialist track, I like those that have been shown to act upon it, or similar courses for which I would count Bath, Brighton and Epsom.  The tricky nature of the course comes in three waves.  Firstly, it is undulating, there is a steep climb up the back straight and a good drop down towards Tattenham Corner.  That is the second challenge, a sharp left hander as the race is reaching the business end can throw a few off giving their best.  Finally, the straight – It has a camber which many horses struggle with, particularly those that might be less genuine and those that are unbalanced generally.

The opener at Goodwood has a horse I want to back in Viewpoint.  Hughes has selected Sea Shanty over Viewpoint but the latter has a decent chance anyway (would not put you off at Sea Shanty at 8/1 either) and so despite the Jockey selection and the promise of  Sea Shanty who has a 4th in the Royal Hunt to his name, I want to play Viewpoint who won this last year and is one of only two horses with a Goodwood win to his name.  Plus Cam Hardie would love to get a Goodwood win and score a point over Hughesie – I am sure he is not vindictive but he is talented, young and clearly full of confidence.

I think Beacon will win the second and while I am not recommending a bet, I do think Fast Act at 16/1 is a big old price.  I think that Tiggy Wiggy form might prove even better than first impressions.

Gregorian has to give a bit of weight away but is in the form of his life and Toormore has not really gone on from the high level of juvenile promise he showed… Yet I am happy to side with Toormore on the grounds that he has the course win I signposted as important.  7/4 is the general price.

There is some Northumberland Plate and John Smiths Cup experience on offer in the 3.40 and I am siding with the former line and taking Continuum at 12/1 (Bet Victor, 10/1 generally).

To Galway.

Tony Martin, Dermot Weld, Patrick Mullins and a dash of Ballydoyle.  That is about the sum of my strategy at Galway generally.  The guess is which one to play in each race!  Today they took four of the seven races.

Having said that, despite two of these having representation in the first, I am playing Rich Coast for Noel Meade who has Geraghty booked.  The tip has an excellent flat record having won in decent company when trained by Murtagh, who by the way is going to become an important trainer in the Majors eyes.  Anyway, this one can give us a great chance at 7/2.

I’ve not a lot to go on in selecting Chinese Light in the 6.05pm but suffice to say that this is a race that Weld has dominated, often with unraced horses and so this one, a rather nicely bred Dalakhani crossed with a Sadlers Wells dam can see us right at 13/8.

Calibrate and Defining Year are being smashed up for the Weld team in the 6.40pm and I could easily make a case for either.  Yet, I am tempted into backing the Ellison runner Baraweez – Ellison loves these sorts of races and of the two he runes, this one looks the more likely having done nothing but improve since arriving in the yard from France.

In the 7.10, I am backing Hidden Universe with a confidence that his recent record should not afford.  Yet he is exactly the type that Weld brings here and seemingly waves a magic wand over.  6/1.

That is it from the Major for Tuesday.  Courage, roll the dice and come up with your own dinner ideas.

The Saturday Sermon – The King George – The Majors Lucky 15… Courage, roll the dice

Good evening from a muggy suffocating Worcester scene where a sliding grey sky in the distance and the sheer heat of the moment speak quietly of the violence to come.

Tonight I have entertained at dinner my second son, Matthew, 6.  The boy loves his racing, always pointing at JPs colours and saying ‘Dad, that’s Tony McCoy’ no matter who the pilot.  We ate at one of those buffet style places, you know the sort of joint, generous on choice, sparse on quality.  Still, he entertained me with tales of his exploits, young shaver that one.

The Major has had another of his high-octane weeks, travel, pressure, heat and many a night spent late into the evening with the soothing aid of sleep inducing wine – I am not sure it helps but I enjoy it.  The pressure in the evenings in the latent heat builds in my head, in the morning, the head dulled by the previous nights chemicals, the pressure has condensed and feels like a yoke that rolls around in my skull as I turn restlessly from side to side aching for peace which never comes.  I do wonder whether my preference for National Hunt is purely based on it being at the civil end of our annual climate.

The Major had been in scintillating form.  I had forgotten what losses felt like, then came along last weekend and the pendulum swung again, not in my favour.  Luck does seem to come in runs, yet I am conscious as I type it that my regular readers will be thinking that this is most un-major-like.  Quite right, luck is irrelevant and the idea that runs exist as some sort of fatalism is as you well know, nonsense.

Yet I do believe in runs.  Stick with me.  You see, I have noticed in my own pattern of staking that there are times when I am following an angle of profitability.  You might spot a draw advantage, a ground condition or some trainer form that has not been widely advertised to date.  By pursuing a consistent line of logic, you build your own confidence and the cycle works.

On the counter, losses building up without an understanding of why your judgement is awry is a good time to stop.  Typically that form can continue as you don’t know what is wrong to fix it.  As frustration over performance builds, your ability to analyse the issue or to make rational bets dissipates.  When on a losing run, the last 30% of my bank is typically wasted in an emotionally driven speed betting session.  You sober up, the balance reads zero and if you are like me, you learned little.

Some of my pet hates… Folk who place an accumulator and then look to lay it off when the early legs land.  What is wrong with you?  Laying a position costs money, why bet an accumulator if you would not be prepared to stake your winnings from those early legs as a straight win bet on the latter legs?

Folk who see the world in black and white.  I hate the partisan the most.  Twitter politics is possibly the blindest commentary you might ever witness.

Rude folk.  No need at all.  Manners cost nothing – Should you lack them, please leave now, your sort is not welcome here.  The Majors followers hold the door, give up the seat, offer compassion and generosity and always make her tea in the morning.

Those late nights have had me watching some good drama.  I feel a certain middle class pride in extolling the virtues of The Honourable Woman, slightly less in promoting Utopia.  The latter appeals to my dark nature, the uber violence and detachment resonate in our age.

Both programmes have characters with whom I have fallen in love.  I must confess that this is a regular occurrence for the Major.  I would say at least three times a week, my heart is stolen and each new one is the best.  If I were to line up these beautiful souls, you might struggle to find a pattern.  No, there is no formula for me, perhaps the curl of a lip, the slender angle of a shoulder, the gentle shape of a calf or the harmonious sing song quality of an uncouth accent – I cannot explain how such things work, I am merely the victim of an unstable heart which will flutter, seemingly at any combination of striking features.  A female friend once said to me, it really is not love, je ne suis pas d’accord.

Enough of my rakishness, if the good lady strays this way, she will spit out her coffee and confiscate the key to the Tantalus.  If you do not own one of these, I suggest you invest todays winnings in one.

Our road, like that for Wellington is long.  The odds are overwhelming.  Do you know he had just 25,000 British troops, complemented with 50,000 foreigners to fight a Napoleonic force of a third of a million.  When it was all done, after the horrors of Waterloo where 50,000 lost their lives, Wellington prayed that he had seen his last action.  He had bought down an empire – This is our aim too.  We shall bring our enemy down, like his expeditionary force, we shall fight many long indecisive days, our losses shall pile up but our resolve will see us through.  The mothership awaits at the end of the journey.  Courage friends, roll the dice.

To the sports.

Saturday Racing – The Lucky 15.

I have reverted to a format of picking my favourite 4 tips for a lucky 15.  This is also therefore the Martin Hill bet – we are in this together.

2.05pm Ascot – Fillies Group 3

Two classy looking fillies go head to head here and it is easy to concentrate on just Muraaqaba and Osaila who are available either side of 2/1.

Osaila ran well in a Group 3, the Albany, on her second start and took that form into a Doncaster Novice Stakes race and won convincingly going away when asked the question.

In the blue corner, we have Muraaqaba who won her debut maiden very well indeed at HQ.  The form in behind has been mediocre but with improvement almost guaranteed, she could not have started her career any better.

My decision is to play Osaila at 9/4.  She has more experience, the Hannon yard is in better form than the Johnstone team and her last win looked better than the Muraaqaba race as she beat previous winners.

2.55pm York – The York Stakes

A nice day of racing at York, one of our finest courses.  The York Stakes is a Group 2 middle distance contest and there are a few interesting runners to focus on.

Windhoek caught my eye when winning on last years Guineas undercard at Newmarket.  He has not exactly gone on from there but has always had a touch of class and his last run was arguably his best when moving clear at his leisure in a listed middle distance race at Sandown.

Secret Gesture was second in the Oaks behind Talent, that form looked very good at the time but Talent has been my cliff horse and I have finally accepted defeat, she is not pegasus.  A bit like Windhoek, Secret Gesture has run a little bit mixed but dropped to a listed race for the girls, she came good last time.  Her allowances here as a 4yo are not that generous mind but if she is back to improving then, she is a player.

Long John is a fascinating runner starting a new career in Britain.  I am not sure he is a stayer but… hmmm….. Danadana will love the ground but lacks the class in my view.  Sharestan would be much shorter with a decent downpour but 12/1 seems generous.

In the end, Windhoek and Secret Gesture have played their hands in the top grade and been found wanting.  I am looking for something and Long John gives me that option, he has G1 winning form in the Southern hemisphere and has picked up a UAE 1,000 Guineas.  I thought his first run in Britain was perfectly acceptable in the Summer Mile.  He stayed on to place and this extra 500 yards might be just the ticket.

3.50pm Ascot – The King George

Only three classic generation beasts have won this race in the last twenty years and none of them were fillies.  Alamshar was a bit of a fly in the ointment, Nathaniel was a well deserved winner after being the bridesmaid to Frankel so many times and Galileo, well that was Galileo.

My point in raising this is that it is mighty mighty bold for connections to thrust Taghrooda into this race when a much easier option was the Irish Oaks a week previous.  This result will tell them if they have an Arc contender and for the sake of my 20/1 antepost tickets placed in the moments after the Oaks, I hope they are proven right.

Yet, winning the Arc as a three year old filly is easier than a King George.  Sound like an odd piece of thinking?  Well I just think at the height of summer with the fillies still developing, the weight allowances are far less generous.  Yet, the best 3yo fillies, like Treve last year have a great record when receiving lumps of weight in October in Paris.

The race is further complicated by the fact that the ground has been a bit changeable.  Stormy showers over Ascot on Friday caused the ground to go good to soft.  I assure you dear readers that unless more rain comes, it will go off as good at worst.  Ascot is one of the best draining tracks I know.

Telescope won the Hardwicke in some style.  As he blasted clear, I was reminded of the fine animal Harbinger who gave me a jaw dropping moment in the same race.  A definite contender.

Regulars know my feelings for Taghrooda, the time of the Oaks compares fairly well to the Derby, she would have been better with more to aim at and she could be the very best but I am making a leap to say she is.  What I saw at Epsom was enough for me to place my Arc bet.  This is a big ask.

Telescope and Taghrooda seem to be the two obvious candidates but of the rest, one must pause on Magician.  His Irish Guineas win last year was then followed up by a Breeders Turf win and chasing The Fugue home in her ideal conditions last time was nothing to be ashamed of.

This race is typically won by a colt near the head of the market and four years old.  Telescope it looks obvious and it might well be.  Yet, my heart tells me that Taghrooda is special.  Corals have 3/1, get invested and get used to the name.

5.05pm Newmarket 

When a Luca Cumani horse starts to show improvement, it is best to keep it on your side.  Such is the case with Lawman who won a Windsor handicap very well last time and that form is looking stronger now.  Ogbourne Downs who was fifth at Windsor, although fairly close up, went on to score in the week in another class 4.

2/1 is available right now but I suspect it won’t be anything like it nearer the time.  Get stuck right in.

May your dinner be taken in good spirits having landed the lucky 15 and asked the good lady where she would like to dine.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – The Curragh (Irish Oaks Tip), Newmarket, Newbury and a festival of Twitter NAPS

Good morning from the Major who writes from the kitchen of his parents home in suburban Birmingham.  The sky a monotone grey oozes a wetness down, not quite rain but a dampness that clings in the clammy heat.

I wish to start the sermon with an offer of thanks to all of you kind followers who donated to my British 10k fundraising effort for the charity Footsteps, which has supported my gorgeous niece Izzy, who has lifelong care needs.  The charity published my account of the day and you can still donate if you have a few shekels to spare.  However, for those that already supported me, I wish to extend a heartfelt gratitude – A small donation equates to a disproportionate amount of goodwill.

After the run, I spent some time in the National Gallery – It was a little unkind to subject the visitors to my bedraggled presence with a sweat soaked T Shirt which carried the faint sour smell of ammonia.  I sat at the foot of Seurats impressive ‘Bathers at Asniere’.  In the scene, a young boy up to his waist in the Seine, whistles through a weed, a factory foreman relaxes on the bank and in the distance, smock stacks of the new factories signalling a change in the times.

The style is nice, he would create a marvelous depth in colour from the use of dots, dabbing paint onto the canvas.  That style was not too evident in this particular piece I could really only the application of this style in one hat.

Writing at my parents house is difficult.  Peace is not a commodity on offer here.  Two dogs, my elder sister and I came with two young boys in the baggage train.  It is hard to concentrate.  In fact, peace in general is a hard thing to come across these days.  Earlier in the week, a business associate was telling me how on the early trains into the city from Kent, the passengers sit in silence and do not seek each others eyes for discussion.  We were at luncheon and another present suggested that this was a poor reflection on the values of our modern society and that she would prefer conversation and companionship.

There are not many places I can find true quietness.  Ask yourself, where was the last time you could think, uninterrupted?  It is a hugely undervalued commodity.  Free from the noisemakers, the fools and their lights, dancing merrily away, passing time and saying the same things over and over in a  continuous babble.  A cacophony of nonsense.  Now, I do not mind being in amongst it.  Cities are my favourite landscape, urban sprawls of 24 hour activities, the light and the dark.  No, it is not that I dislike life and it’s interactions, I do not want to live as a hermit, rather I just want some solace from time to time.  An isolated island of spectacular tranquility where the needle hovers just above zero and nobody wants for anything.

I was made to think of this when, in between meetings, I stalked into St Michael’s Church on Cornhill this week.  Quite a beautiful building but you would expect that since it is a Wren and boasts a tower which is a Hawksmoor.  Inside, the vaulted arched ceiling is familiar instantly, any time you would have gazed upwards in a church you would see a similar shape, yet there is a lovely feature here which is that high in the walls are cut several large porthole shaped windows cascading light downwards.  All was well in the world for just a few moments and what more could you ask of a building than that?

Anyway, we must don our battle garments for war, painting our faces in gaudy colours, terrible streaks to strike a stupor and fear into our enemy.  Courage my friends.

Saturday Racing Tips – The Curragh 5.45pm – The Oaks

Shortly after the Oaks I placed an antepost bet on Taghrooda to win the Arc at 20/1 and I am glad to hold the ticket.  She was due to take an engagement in the Irish Oaks today but has been diverted instead to next weeks King George which is boiling up into a fantastic race.  Should she win that, with her reasonable 3yo filly allowance, then my Arc dreams will be alive and kicking.  I took the ‘rerouting’ as a positive sign, connections think she can take on the best.  Her Oaks time was about 1.4s slower than the Derby and I think she could have done more with more pace to aim at, she did win by a good 3 to 4 lengths.

Anyway, we have to concentrate on what is left in the Irish Oaks.  I backed Bracelet at Royal Ascot when she won the Ribblesdale but that form does not normally translate back to the Irish Oaks too well.  Still, she seemed to me to be the O’Brien best chance but the wider evidence suggests I am badly mistaken and that Tapestry (on jockey bookings) and Marvellous (on the market pricing) are the more likely anointed ones…. hmmmm.

O’Brien has not won the race for the last five years but prior to that had recorded a hat-trick in it.  You have to go back to 2003 to find a winner at a bigger price than 5/1 too!

On all of this evidence, I have to come back to the favourite, the second in the Oaks, Tarfasha – It is not revolutionary but maybe landing my mothership will not be.  I take Volume as the chief danger but you must take some heed of the antepost position I have that may be influencing my thinking.  In my mind, today is the day when the Oaks form and my Arc dreams get rubber stamped.

Wetherbys Super Sprint – Newbury – 3.50

I am running a slightly different format today, I am offering up the Martin Hill trixie on my three hot fancies but then am allowing the good denizens of twitter to shower you with their weekend NAPs.  More of that in a moment.  However, it is worth mentioning because my tip for the Super Sprint is another obvious candidate that has been well advertised by the stable.

Tiggy Wiggy represents the Hannon team and is a general 4/1 shot for the Channel 4 feature race of the day.  Hughes speaks highly saying she is the ‘best filly we have aimed at the race’ and she did run a cracker most recently at Ascot when drawn to lose she came home with a rattling run to just lose out to Anthem Alexandra.  It looked a decent race and a reproduction of the standard of that run should see her go mighty close.  Hannon would prefer a splash of water on the track but I am not sure it will inconvenience her massively if Newbury does not get any of the forecast showers.

Will Al Kazeem Bounce Back?

One of my favourite horses of all time was my 1,000 Guineas hero, George Washington.  That horse had such an attitude, do you remember how he refused to go into the winners enclosure and once how he refused to pass the stands at Ascot.  I hope my memory serves, I think it was Ascot and I think it was Kinane in the saddle, with Fallon having been stripped of his Ballydoyle duties.

At the end of 2006, Gorgeous George was retired to stud and with his sire, Danehill, being a decent ‘sire of sires’ I awaited the prodigy with anticipated glory ahead.  They say that flat horses give less story because their careers are shorter.  Well not all of them are and even the ones that do trundle off to a field to meander about before partnering 150 mates a season (oh it is a tough life), well they give us plenty of story when we see their offspring come to track.  Who has not been enjoying spying up the Sea the Stars runners? (Taghrooda and Sea the Moon give him two live Arc shots!) Who cannot imagine the big splash when Frankels’ first chosen ones set foot on racecourse turf for the first time?  Will those apples fall far from their magnificent tree?

George was a disappointment in the bedroom.  His racecourse armoury was impressive, a turn of foot that few could live with and the sort of quirky personality to win friends.  Yet his bullets at stud were ineffective so it was back to racing for him.

How I wish it had not been, I would pray, if it did any good, for this story to be rewritten for not only did Gorgeous George not fire on his return, it was to be terribly ill-fated.  He ran a further five times, placing a couple but winning nothing.  I remember O’Brien saying he had a bloody hard job on because when he returned from stud it was like the horse had a fifth leg!  He has to get him focused on racing again – It happens to all of the top athletes, ask Tiger.

George was to be lost to us in the States, at Monmouth in a Breeders Cup Classic that was run in awful slop.  Curlin won but George broke down on the bend, breaking a leg and being put to sleep.  I cried.

What shall the next chapter be for Al Kazeem?  I have little faith after Gorgeous, that the strategy of returning with animals and trying to get them fired up again is a wise move.  That said, the horses could not be more different.  Al Kazeem runs with intent and concentration, a reliable sort who looks damn honest, George was anything but.

Make up your own mind.  No bet.

The Summer Plate – Market Rasen – 3.30pm

Good on Channel 4 for covering the Summer Plate.  It is a highlight of the summer jumps campaign.

8 of the last 12 running shave been won by Pipe (Snr or Jnr) or Peter Bowen so that seems a logical place to start!  After that, there are not too many trends to read that would apply and so I am simply after a good summer horse with a capable pilot.

Grandads Horse fits my criteria with the exception of yard so I will be kicking myself if Noel Fehily, my favourite jumps jockey steers him home!

Guess Again for Pipe and Tom Scudamore has the look of one to back.  He has won twice off the front and been raised a stone for it – I think his style of running may be adapted today.  If you knew you had a decent Summer Plate horse and were running it in a lesser contest, you might want it out front to see the fences but knowingly run it with cover in the big race.  Maybe I am wrong – If so, he will struggle with plenty of horses that want to be on the front end here.

The main contender is Book’em Danno – The Bowen runner, partnered by Moore and an absolute old hand at Market Rasen.  He is on a decent mark and is a fighter, sitting back off a break neck pace he could pick up the pieces.  The challenge is that he would not want rain.

On balance, Book’em Danno 8/1 but I would advise a saver at 12s on Guess Again and would advise a small each way reverse forecast as I think the Jonjo McCoy thing will get beat.

That is it from the Majors mind today.  A simple trixie for the Martin Hill bet on all selections.  This leaves us room for the legions of twitter to share their NAPs.  Thank you for the contributions, I shall update with outcomes at the end of the day.

This is an experiment in the wisdom of crowds!

Twitter Handle, Course, Time, Horse

@dereksessford Ripon 3.10 LILAC LACE

@mp_white11  Newbury 3.50 TIGGY WIGGY

@keeyjayOV Newbury 3.50 TIGGY WIGGY

@kevthepunter Newbury 3.50 BONDS GIRL

@adamwebb121 Newbury 3.15 THAT IS THE SPIRIT

@AASherratt Newbury 2.05 ENRAPTURED

@Frankelslowbro The Currragh 5.10 DICK WHITTINGTON

@legalwiggy Market Rasen 2.55 STEPHEN HERO

@bozi1988 Market Rasen 2.55 ROLLING MAUL

@chrisjdavey30 Ripon 3.45 DESERT SNOW

@twoyearoldtips Haydock 6.25 RISE ON LOTUS

@douzpwa Lingfield 8.15 ELEGANT ORPHELIA

@yourmaitred Ripon 2.35 KHAWAATER

@fernando_RFC2 The Curragh 4.40 EASTERN RULES

@aubenbloom Newmarket 5.20CHATEZ

@georghino1987 Newbury 2.40 AL KAZEEM

I suggest you all follow each other on twitter as I can vouch for most of you!
Since you went to the effort of sending me your nap, I am going to build some sort of multiple out of them.  Surely the wisdom of crowds, the pooling of knowledge cannot fail us?  Apart from the 3.50 at Newbury or the 2.35 at Market Rasen where the crowd does not agree!

I trust that your dinner is taken on board.  After all, when the mothership lands there is little time left after grabbing the passport, dashing for Heathrow and by inquiry finding when they might get you to St Lucia.

Courage friends, roll the dice.