Good evening from the Major who writes from a cool and pleasant Worcestershire where the last of the summer slides away rapidly each day. The evenings draw in, the Majors thoughts run to where he might secure the winters wood, perhaps that ugly plum tree without the room to grow from behind the summer-house…. Ah sweet winter with your National Hunt siren call, here she comes.
The Major has negotiated an exit from the company I work for. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago but honestly some of you do not listen. This means that from 1st November I am a free man. No plans exist which means my emotions are an equal mix of one part excitement and one part sheer terror. Mr Hill who has under sufferance followed my weekly advice for all these many years is a business associate and his company have organised a send off at the October meeting in Cheltenham, in fact the first day that grand course offers in the season, 17th October. A restaurant is involved. I was very moved that he did this for me and it goes to show that good will prevails. Thank You.
The good lady has a significant birthday in early October and the Major has arranged a short trip to a small Italian island, north of Sicily. A splendid looking spot, volcanic yet lush vegetation, beautiful seas and quaint fishing villages. The hotel looks a magnificent bolt-hole, 17 bedrooms, all individual and a hostess that has excellent taste and employs a fine chef.
The island is Salina. it is part of the Eolian islands and it is their food and drink festival while we are there. We shall dine in the hotel, I envisage that we shall largely be quiet, lapping up the good air and peacefulness, after all the two heirs to the Majors throne shall be left with Grandparents, c’est magnifique!
The island once hosted a popular romantic Chilean poet who was living in exile from Chile. Pablo Neruda was talking to crowds of hundreds of thousands in 1945 but by 1948, his ideology was abhorred by the governing powers who had put down communist led miners strikes with vigour. Neruda spoke out against this violence, he was as a fulcrum in a network of intellectuals and artists that supported socialist ideals.
He was a slightly schmaltzy poet but since I delivered you verse last week, I felt you might permit me to serve a second dose. Not here, later. When and if you make it, this is like a triathlon you know, I ask you to consider the following line as the most important: I remembered you with my soul clenched
in that sadness of mine that you know. Let that sink in for a few days.
Anyway, in 40s Chile, in fear of these upstarts, the authorities felt the sort of great anxiety, perhaps paranoia, that is driven by greed, by the danger of losing your personal power, the government , darn their frivilous shallow thought, ordered the arrest of our romantic poet. Neruda went into hiding in the port city of Valdivia, a pretty place that was almost bought to complete rubble by the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the 60s. While Neruda was there in 48, he was supported and hidden by friends, living in basements and after many months, slipping his chain and tip toeing over the passes of those great Andean mountains to Argentina and eventually escape to Europe.
As I meander through this story I must tell you something that I feel compelled to share of the Andes. If you were to think of the point furthest from the centre of Earth, you would think of Everest. However, the Andes has it. How, you ask? Well actually I bet you don’t, you don’t care do you… Well I shall tell you, it is to do with the fact that the earth is not a perfect sphere, there is a bulge towards the equator. Feel better, thought so.
Neruda spent time on Salina and there is a beautiful film of a downtrodden simple postman who longs for company (other than his fathers) and is inspired by the poet, Il Postina, if you are interested. I played it to the good lady while telling her it was where we were going for her 40th.
Ah Major, I hear you sigh en masse, we never knew you were such a romantic. Well, yes. You have been coming here long enough to know me as I am. I confess to being somewhat a rogue and certainly I feel that fate has dealt my wife a poor hand. Hence, when the occasion arises, cometh the hour, cometh the man. I consider a good investment, she is the down to earth sort but cares about things, important matters in a way that my cold heart cannot muster.
Anyway, I shall report on the volcanic green beauty, stunning shabby chic hotel and secluded bays of Salina in early October, around Arc / Champions Day time. For now, we have the small matter of our last classic and the biggest Scoop 6 since the chap used his £2 for maggots to win a share of the win pot before not joining the other 3 tickets who won the bonus pot of an eye watering amount, strange that.
To the sports and as I type, I am conscious that I am as cold as the fish on the mongers ice counter. This week, Doncaster has been an appalling and embarrassing stain on my record. I started with consistent ground and a choice of races. There were fine horses and no pressure to rush. Yet, with the touch of true genius, I managed to sweep away these obstacles with impeccable consistency and return 8 picks, unplaced at odds less than 7/1. Read on at your own peril.
Yet losses are not as hurtful as you might expect. Lessons are never for free, well apart from the MOOC courses I have signed up for and would recommend. Generally though, failure is a fantastic teacher – So let us see how we do. To quote a fantastic twitter acquaintance, @onedeswalker, after the drought, the mothership.
Saturday Tips – The St Leger
I have a really simple position with the St Leger. I do not think Kingston Hill will win and so I hope he runs as it keeps a nice honest market. You see, there are the ground worries, there are the form worries and then there is the trip. Will he stay? It is enough for me to abandon and pray that he takes his chance.
Gosden has such a great record in the St Leger, Masked Marvel, Arctic Cosmos et al… The year Masked Marvel won, he beat Sea Moon and Brown Panther; that one was a fine renewal.
So, this years winner then… I must confess that Kingston Hill stepping up in trip, fills me with hope and fear. The hope is that, as stated, I am not convinced that he is a stayer. The fear is that in this thought, I seem to be in conflict with Roger Varian…. quite. Stay the course though Major, the mothership lands when you swim against the tide and find the seam of truth, richly running through the rock, we turn the drill into it and reap our rewards.
There are proven stayers here, they include Hartnell, the Ascot Queens Vase winner, 2m, he was defeated by Snow Sky in the Great Voltigeur. They will make sure there is some good pace on. Both are well fancied but my mind runs to a turn up and I have the perfect candidate.
Alex My Boy is a Johnstone inmate and we know he can train a stayer. On blood, he has already won (Dalakhani — Alexandrova (Sadler´s Wells)). He has acted well and moved off decent paces with a bit of acceleration. I like the chances and 20/1 is a gift (Paddy Power)
I am going long again in the opening race /of the Scoop 6. I have a fancy that Clockmaker might outrun his generous 18/1. He finds Chester to his liking, which not all horses do (10 runs, 2 wins, 5 places). There are two major obstacles; the first is form, he has not run well in half a dozen efforts, including two on the Roodee. The second concern is Hayley. A long time and a lot of quality seems to have passed between now and her weaving beautiful win on Dream Ahead in the July Cup. I want her back and she is capable but I watched her run on Aragosta on Thursday at Wolverhampton. She had the best horse by a mile but managed to get beat. I know she is not as well supported as she used to be but her win % is desperate. Yet, I hold a flame, sensible souls… abandon hope all ye who enter… the rest of you, have a tickle.
I had this chalked up between the Bell and Hannon horses and came down on the side of the latter on account of yard form. Bell has had just one winner in 25 and I must confess, the Hannon sire, Lawman, is one I watch when his crop improve as my selection, Marshall Jennings has done. Get involved, I love Kirby around Wolverhampton but son, this is big school.
Thus the Scoop6….
Race 1 : 2:20 Chester – CLOCKMAKER
Race 2 : 2:40 Doncaster – OUT DO
Race 3 : 3:50 Doncaster – ALEX MY BOY
Race 4 : 4:25 Doncaster – MOUNT LOGAN
Race 5 : 4:40 Leopardstown – DIGEANTA
Race 6 : 5:00 Doncaster – MARSHALL JENNINGS
Other Considerations and the Football
2.55 Chester, NAP of the day for me is Pinzolo at 11/4, right draw, right horse. Appleby have the strongest form, the horse has been competing and fairing respectably in far better races but has recently won dropped to this grade. SHABASH, load the cannons.
Leopardstown – Free Eagle, John F Kennedy and Australia – They might not be independent bets but as a treble, rest assured, it is what Jesus would do.
In the football, it is rare that I back my own team, especially against ‘quality’ but West Brom are bedding in new players and I have this sense that we might come good with an ex Everton member of staff on the vanguard. 12/5.
Wolves at Blackpool at an evens bet is golden. I am also a Peterborough advocate 4/6 so stick them in the double.
I am also sticking with Portsmouth, 11/5 at Southend, I hope they are not my Wigan.
The Martin Hill bet: Martin Jennings, Pinzolo, Wolves and Portsmouth. Yankee straight.
I hope your dinner is a fine cut of meat, served on good china. The wine gently falling, gurgling in the neck and splashing in the glass. The company, raven haired, pool like eyes, in which you swim, dreamily forgetting your pretense. A turn at the corner of the mouth, wholesome smile and chiffon dress, cut to classy and shimmering to thrill. Christ, the heart races.
Courage friends, roll the dice.
We have lost even this twilight.
No one saw us this evening hand in hand
while the blue night dropped on the world.
I have seen from my window
the fiesta of sunset in the distant mountain tops.
Sometimes a piece of sun
burned like a coin in my hand.
I remembered you with my soul clenched
in that sadness of mine that you know.
Where were you then?
Who else was there?
Why will the whole of love come on me suddenly
when I am sad and feel you are far away?
The book fell that always closed at twilight
and my blue sweater rolled like a hurt dog at my feet.
Always, always you recede through the evenings
toward the twilight erasing statues.