Good evening from the Major who rises from a cold Worcestershire with me too tired to raise my eyes to the heavens to check the cover.
I spent yesterday at my university library, marvellous place. I realised some time ago that solitude suits me. I feel at home walking into that place, walls dripping in knowledge, quietude, reverence and even amongst people, a reclusiveness I find hard to source elsewhere. Occasionally that peace is ruptured by some group or other and a rare thing, I feel angry. Disruption to the sanctuary you see.
I think it is a response to having two boys aged 6 and 7. Everything a competition, squabbling an art form. They know what I crave, I have made it a mantra with them, peace and quiet. In an astonishingly shockingly bad parenting compromise, they understand that they can pretty do much what they want on my watch as long as it does not puncture the bubble.
The good lady resents this attitude somewhat. If I were being charitable to myself, I would argue that I am teaching them an individuality and an independence. I would like to think that. The truth, something I am never afraid to gaze it, is that I am selfish.
New Years Day was not the start 2015 I imagined! I had glorious visions of the mothership greeting the year like souls awakening. Instead, I picked a succession of runners each seemingly with slightly more ability to disappoint than the last. Still.
Let us get into business. Overall, Christmas was a pretty good period for me. While today is not the finest day of racing in the calendar, there are some nice races and what we need if we are to light up the signals for the mothership is solvable puzzles above all else.
The Tolworth and other Sundown Tips
I do dislike using the word tips on here, it implies a relationship between us that regulars know does not exist. Should you be new, I shall outline it briefly. I am not really a tipster. I know more about racing than the average Joe granted. I write-up my views, throw in a few stats or trends I find interesting and add a story that glues it together. What I write is what I bet.
You are free to do with this information as you choose. As the last time of checking both you and I have entirely free agency. You can choose to think I have found the rich seam and you can choose to sensibly dismiss much of my calculation as unsound. Either way, the choices you make on the back of this, they are yours to bear the consequence from.
I am not admonishing myself of guilt when I mis-fire which is regular. No. I lose money too but you have to find accord, I will not accept your criticism for choices you make, no matter how enthusiastic my selection and how poor the performance.
Equally, the bargain works the other way too. Should I help you strike gold with a rich seam of thought, then the credit for your success, is yours alone. Agency, bloody wonderful.
So in the interest of full disclosure to enable you to decide what to do with what you read, I try to disclose recent form. I have also at times kept a full record of bets and outcomes. I did this twice, you can find it in the menu and recorded over 600 advices. They made a profit of 15%. That is pretty good, yet it is very hit and miss. The Major, remains entirely free, slightly unhinged and barely profitable.
Anyway I regret two things about my tone. Firstly it sounds condescending, a touch of patronising underlying in the tone. Secondly it sounds colder than I intend. For indeed, I am truly grateful for all who choose to make the Sermon part of their weekend ritual. These past five years it has been part of mine, a regular anchor in the week around which the storm rages.
It has been a busy Christmas period with top quality racing but 4 runners in a Grade 1 hurdle, the only one on the Saturday cards, is a poor show. Three of them have a chance and L’Ami Serge leads the field at 1/2.
Henderson was very glowing about his french import in his stable tour. The horse has raced twice this season, firstly, at Newbury, defeating Kilcooley, a good-looking Longsden inmate who went on to smash a class 2 field a Haydock, stepped up a further half mile. L’Ami Serge went on to show that was no fluke when he won at his leisure a three runner event which became two, with the only other finisher, Killutagh Vic someway behind.
Last year, Henderson had the one two in the race and the owner Simon Munir has had an absolute belter of a season with his new recruits, highly exciting times for them. My favourite Munir horse is Une Artiste, not for ability but for a massive winner at Cheltenham! Anyway, I cannot see beyond the 1/2 L’Ami Serge as Jollys Cracked It, despite looking nice, on all known form is not as good. My selection has shown he can do it in small tactical races, uncomplicated.
Feel cheated? What can I do? Compensate by finding a big price one I like? No, no my friends, I have to disengage from what you want to read, if this mothership is to land.
As such, I am also going to back the favourite in the second race, Aurora D’Estruval. This Quinn runner looks to have this field in check after her latest exploits, running second to Irving in the Fighting Fifth. Her record in the mud is excellent and the champion jockey booking just adds to the positive ledger. Only evens. With Mischievous Millie trying to come back from a big lay off, my prediction for the forecast would be Run Ructions Run who will be doing the best work at the end and is another that loves the slop.
I have mentioned the mud a couple of times. The going, currently soft (hurdles, good to soft on the chase), might well deteriorate as it is currently raining as I understand.
In the 1.50pm, we see Williams Wishes prominent in the market. I remember him being touted as a Champion Chase outsider a few years ago after winning this very race. He was a bold front running jumper at the time that people found hard to peg back. He has been exposed a bit more since then and now ten, he does not hold the profile of the likely winner for me.
Dance Floor King has been in sparkling form but the handicapper has reacted and he is out of the handicap so disadvantaged further.
Brick Red is a likeable sort and fits the category of Venetia Saturday runners that you kick yourself for not backing. That said, he was well mastered by he slightly unreliable Mr Mole last time at Exeter and I do not think a small reverse of the weights will swing it. It happened to be the latter debut for the season and Brick Red had already had his warm up. My concern and hope for those who are trying to get the form reversed is that Brick Red might prefer the hustle and bustle of Sandown and those railway fences can sort them out you know. Still 3/1 for my boy, take that.
Three races, three favourites. I can see you shaking your head over your Eggs Benedict.
The 3pm from Sandown is an interesting looking hurdle. What strikes me about the race is that there are a number that are going to want to go on forwards early on and I would be surprised if the race was won by a prominent racer. Rather I think it will be set up for a closer.
On that note, Balgarry, the Pipe runner who looked to me a well handicapped dark horse last time, is of interest. He fluffed his comeback lines and I would be interested in going in again if it were not the case that he will be amongst the chief throat cutters.
Instead, the Major rests his hopes on young sensation Sean Bowen and his Ditcheat trained, french import, Bouvreull. Writing the blog tardy and late has given me the opportunity of seeing the market confidence for the horse which is now only available at a best price 5/1 but not for too long. He is getting a stone and a half from the likes of Amore Alato and as the rain pours, every pound weighs heavier on the back of the favourite.
In the last, I am hoping for a Paul Nicholls quick fire double, Unioniste who I would back at the 7/2 generally available. Oddly he is 6/1 with Ladbrokes. Very odd. Surely palpable error as there is no indication that it is a special offer.
Anyway, the horse looks set for a good run in softish ground, was far from disgraced in the Hennessy and last year was a top Grade One prospect for Ditcheat. I have not yet given up hope.
There is a cracking card at Wincanton and I wish I had the energy. If in doubt, just back Nicholls.
Instead, I am FA Cup focussed to finish off the advice and I generally look for Premier League teams playing Championship or League One opposition where the market suggests that the more senior team might not play a full team. In these circumstances I find it advantageous to back the Premier side as invariably they play a better team and anyway, their reserves can be as good.
QPR to beat Sheffield United fits the bill, 3/4 is available. Villa (struggling to score) to beat Blackpool (free fall) is probably something I will regret at 4/9 but surely Blackpool are poor enough to follow script here? Sunderland to beat Leeds 6/10, that is in too.
The Martin Hill bet is Unioniste, Mr Mole and QPR in a powerful treble of glory.
May your dinner be taken in the best company. Ah, one of those lively ones whose eyes race and in the excitement, good comportment, momentarily lost. To the devil with manners, when it is this much fun. Drink well, tip well.
Courage, roll the dice.