The Saturday Sermon – Ayr Gold Cup, Newbury and HQ… plus the football.

Good evening from the Major who writes from an uncomfortable Worcestershire where an aggressive wind furls the flags furiously, trees pushed and shoved with a vicious indiscriminate violence.  The week has been long and the Major has a weariness of muscle and mind.

When in such mood, the darker thoughts that normally are confined to their night-time jail seep through into the day world.  They roam at their own will, spilling into the forefront of my mind, running in enthusiastic abundance.

The Major traveled to London this week.  Several meetings and a day of richness, the sort that rewards the keen eye and the open patient mind.  A session with my personal coach first, now that sounds posh.  I meet with her twice a year and she gives all sorts of hell.  A Persian sort with a soft face but a dark piercing eye that seems to delve right in and rummage in your thoughts with no invitation.  I like her though and while she comes across as having walls as thick as the Krak des Chevaliers, sometimes, when I am my wicked worst, I probe those defences with the best charm I can muster and do you know, she has a frisky laugh and a wicked curl of the lip.  They are all the same in the end.

Being in London is one of the perks of my job that I shall miss.  I left her and made my way to St James Square, glorious space, beautiful buildings and only spoilt by some temporary scaffolding and a relentless throbbing shrill of the alarm at the Cypriot embassy.  I am sure all was well enough.  I had business in one of the grander looking buildings and through a serious door, a Tardis like wonderland.  What was a Georgian building, became modern and spectacular, opening into a courtyard with the three sides reaching upwards five to six floors, a height not evident from the frontage.  The fourth had a simple sounding piece of art, the wall was all white but cut from it and protruding slightly was a section that had been polished further and was undulating and the gap to the smooth wall was greater where the peaks and troughs of the elevated section were steeper.  The impact as intended was as though this piece had been stripped from the wall itself.

That stayed with me for some time.  As I say, when tired, my mind taps into the nether regions readily and it was not long until the riches of our Capital washed those thoughts away and new flotsam arrived on the tide.  Alighting the tube at St Pauls, a vision appeared, one sporting an elegant piece of black fabric that covered curves so delightful that they spoke to me at once, god is alive and he is good.  She was glorious, long and very deliberate delicate flaxen hair fell to a shoulder length layered cut, my heart rose high in my chest and for all of 2o seconds, walking up those stairs, well sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines…..  Such rapture happens frequently to me and I speak to other women about it, they refute my claim of love.

Early evening drinks, cold beers served on long benches in Smiths of Smithfields, the old meat market evident in the furniture and setting.  Ah, it is good to be alive.  Then to dinner with a friend at a place named Lobster and Burger.  The entire philosophy of the place was simplicity and the only dishes they served were advertised in the name.  With the window flung open onto a thriving street of young vibrant souls, all was well in the world.  As Oscar Wilde said, youth is wasted on the young.

The late train back to Birmingham, while waiting for my taxi, I strayed into the casino but an ill wind blew.  You might think that I was well served for my malignant and vexatious thoughts, I retort that fate is a poor mans belief.

To the sports and let us be at the devil of an Ayr Gold Cup.  Shabash, call up the heavy charger and have that sheepskin a dazzling white, we shall charge full on and pick them with our razor-sharp lance points, handling all 12 feet of it at full gallop.

Ayr Saturday Tips

First of all, the Major is in terrible form.  I have not had a good week in three and my own personal returns have run concurrently.  This is not a good advert for what follows but none the less, it is only right that you are well-informed.

I do not normally like Group races for developing 2yo fillies but might make an exception for the 2.05 at Ayr.

I have no doubt that Ainippe is decent.  She was beaten just a week ago in arguably a better race, the Flying Childers and with improvement for the extra stamina test looking to suit, she is a player.  In fact, that form is blatantly the best on offer.  However, I always lose my taste for these young girls once beaten.  Mind you that Flying Childers form is looking damn solid, winners aplenty, while my next paragraph might suggest a winner, have a saver on this favourite and supplement the following in a forecast.  Confused?  I am too.

My pick is Spirit of Xian a Hannon horse that has Fran Berry in the saddle, there is a lot to like about that combination.  This will be the first Richard Hannon Jnr ride at Ayr and while the statistics are more fortuitous than revealing, Berry has had 1 ride for Hannon and won.  Is that why I like the horse? Well no.  It is an admirable campaigner and that experience is a useful attribute in an affair like this.  Highly tried from these quarters also suggests that some talent lies within.  The trips overseas have not been too bad, G3 4l defeat… a subsequent soft ground trouncing, I don’t know, I just feel there is a big race in her and all the stars are aligned.  10/1, tasty.

I cannot recall my Silver Cup and Gold Cup tips with great joy and these handicaps are an enigma anyway.  I may have already warned you that I am on the cold list and it would seem that these races are unlikely the ones that pull me thorough.  Alas, such poor news, it is my duty to impart. However, even the blind squirrel finds the odd nut and the broken Clock is correct twice in the day.

So… Where to look, which Rock to peek under. Christ, a man can get lost in draw analysis and speed.  The Silver Cup has one obvious angle for me.  It often goes to a northern trainer.  That sounds unusual, and thin, granted, but it does.  Maybe this is a race that the Fahey, Dods, Barron, Easterby et al clan target; they have been responsible for 4 of the last 5 winners.  Maybe it is a race which is less important in Newmarket and Lambourn. Maybe.

Three year olds and Nine year olds have taken this race, top weights and bottom weights.  I am struggling to find another angle, this is best guess.

Colin Keane is a fine Irish jockey and Mezzotint is one of many horses that might come good.  Some of the early form reads well, I cannot claim too much credit should it triumph so tread lightly.

The Ayr Gold Cup 

I must declare an interest that Jack Dexter is a warrior I have long followed.  Remember that glorious season where many of the good sprint handicaps were run on soft ground – I saw him at Ascot late in that season, I took my father, who turned 70 recently, grand.

There has not been a single price winner of the race in the last 15 years but then, there have not been many single price runners!

Surely my boy Jack will be undone by the good conditions, to the point where you wonder if he will turn up.  This is such a tasty sprint handicap, again, the mind wonders and wanders, how might we find the winner.  Well, on form, Fahey is a good start but Nicholls that bull necked monster has sought a harvest here too.

Being a test of the better handicappers, the weight range is tighter. I have the winner.

Watchable showed much better form last time and being lightly raced but campaigned well, you have to think that more is possible.  Some would treat the yards reluctance to declare as worries over his readiness, I treat it as a straight concern for whether they are going in too quickly and burying a handicap mark that might yet allow them a shot at a big prize.  We are at the stage of the season where you cannot wait, 12/1 BetVictor.

Newbury Tips

The 1.50 Arc Trial will be the weakest Arc trial in Europe, in fact, it has nothing to do with the Arc and the name should be changed.

Hillstar has the talent but hmmmmmm…. Not exactly the most reliable.  If you are to find an opponent to an unreliable sort then you need to be certain of one of two things, either your unreliable sort will reliably misfires or you found an alternate.  My starting point here is that I think Hillstar is a rule unto himself.

Tasaday is getting some good weight considering her York exploits she was in good company that day and acquitted herself well.  Yorkshire Oaks form is bankable but it worries me that she is an ‘almost’ horse.  Whilst in France she looked top class, finishing 5l down in third to Treve in a G1 before the Arc winner either won the Arc or subsequently lost her form… Fabre is nobodys fool and the idea that this horse is now better than when he sold her, I cannot take it – Conflicted.

I end up by the default position Sherlock preached to bet Glorious Protector at 4/1 with Paddy Power – Improving, friends, have a slice.

Newmarket Tips

I have one bet and it is a Johnson and Fanning assisted shot in the 3.40 Tatts £100k race.  Secret Brief will not let us down.

The Football

Arsenal are not yet good enough to beat Villa at home.  The Villains have started with intent and a draw at 11/4 is decent.  0-0.

I have a feeling that this might be the last day for Pardew and so Hull at 11/4 are to be backed.

Man United will go on from their slaughter of awful QPR and 7/10 is a price.

Derby is a 4/5 gift to beat Cardiff as are Wolves to beat Bolton (11/8)

The Martin Hill bet is …. Derby, Man United and Glorious Protector in a confident treble.


I say somewhere noisy. brick walls lit by careful lighting, a deliberate place but plesant enough.  I hope your company is as beautiful as your spirit.  Tip well friends.

Courage, roll the dice.

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