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.
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.