Good Evening from the Major who writes from a dark precipitous Worcestershire where dirty squalls and cold drizzle comes down not cleansing but contaminating the soul was well as the Earth. The gauge has dropped to well within single figures and I write, dead tired and after some day.
An elderly and semi distant relative has been in hospital. He fell some weeks ago but as a culmination of a general deterioration in his mental and physical wellbeing.
There is not a substantial family network around him and my mother had been filling in with care, visiting weekly and helping out where possible. This week, to show some support, I visited him in Rowley Regis and the whole episode left me down.
In a room, six old men, most listless, watery eyes glazed and distant, you could peer into their souls and find that none was at home. There lay John, but not for long, to the angst of the nurses, he would leap from his bed, complaining of his restless legs and march around the ward. His body was ravaged, his skin grey, limbs like spindles barely looking like they could support him.
John is a bit of a local celebrity in West Bromwich being somewhat the eccentric. He garnered some fame, folk called him Joe for reasons I do not know. He has always stood out, he would march tens of miles per day in boots and with trousers tucked into socks. He would talk to anyone and was a regular at the Stone Cross Ladbrokes who would make him tea and let him place his 10p bets. In this love, John and I had obvious common ground.
John has many issues which we I shall not remark on. Four years ago, he suffered terrible burns that almost finished him. Pulled from his burning house, the fireman thought he was gone, yet the flame still flickered. He received first class care at what I would suggest is the worlds finest burns unit at the super Queen Elizabeth in Birmingham. Several weeks in intensive care and a recovery was made. I visited him several times and heard him extol his views on Fallon being the best jockey he had ever seen, John was the sort of man who did not think such things, he knew them.
I bought him a framed picture of one of his favourites, Youmzain, to adorn his new council flat. Life went on.
Tonight, I visited him, with distant relatives of mine, in critical care at Sandwell General, West Bromwich. The hospital I was born in. Disparate buildings, not designed but organic.
John lies there on the edge of life, machines aiding his breath. Sedated, mainly because when conscious, he tries to remove any medical apparatus. The template of Johns mind is robust enough to repel the serious chest infection flooding both lungs and not allowing enough carbon dioxide to exit his blood.
I tell you this because as you know, my sermon is interested in truth. I fear the outcome may not be good for John and at this stage I cannot distill the magnitude of it down to words on a blog. What can you do
Returning home, number two son awoke and was sick. A trail of it from his bedroom, through the Majors own sanctum and into the en suite. A trail of expelled stomach contents of an interesting consistency. Liquid but with morsels of partly digested food, unidentifiable. Marvellous. He is now soothed, wrapped in towels and sat next to me as I catch up on the days political output as a backdrop to penning a Good Friday sermon.
I’ll let you know about John. I have hope but am not hopeful.
Good Friday Racing – Lingfield All Weather Final Tips
I will admit to being a bit of a snob about the sand and dirt. If I met a random stranger and they revealed they were an owner, my eyes would widen. If their beast turned out to be an all-weather regular, I would admit that their star would fall a little. This is discreditable to me, I know.
However, the all-weather season finale has provided structure for the season and while I am not yet a convert, I can see the direction of travel. More tracks are applying for polytrack or tapeta additions or conversions and with the worlds richest race being an all-weather affair, who am I to turn my nose?
The Major arrives in scintillating form. Last weekend, we landed subsequent 16/1 runners, including the winner of the Lincoln. Unheard of scenes. Two horses away from a mothership. I had to settle for a pot that might secure a very refined long weekend in a good European city, with enough change for fine dining.
I am not going to go overboard, we have a long weekend of sport ahead and I will probably provide two more sermons, the traditional Saturday version and one for Monday and Irish National day.
Let’s start with some all-weather action and jump into the opener at Lingfield in which I can make a case for History Book who represents last years trainer and jockey combination. I can full excuse a run against the boys last time and maybe there is more to come. Yet this would require quite a leap forward in form and I am not sure the Ravens Pass mare has it.
I like both the Cape Cross sorts and am mostly attracted to Lamar on the grounds of the assistance of Moore. This Tate horse has looked progressive this year, she only went down by a nostril hair last time and has to be considered, especially as the master has sent out 5 winners from 8 runner . I also might regret not taking the hint about the Prescott Horse Don’t Be, who had a Lincoln entry but came here instead… interesting.
In the end though, I am going for a 16/1 punt on Maiden Approach. She has won her last two and out of New Approach has the pedigree. Fahey did the business for me last weekend and he has the ammunition for some more damage over Easter.
With all of the money Godolphin have invested, this might be one of their target days of the UK season. Even though it is a well-funded card, that has to rate as an underperformance. The boys in blue are cleaning up on the all-weather, if not really shaping the classics markets and they might have the winner of the sprint in Pretend. This gelding has won three from four over 6 furlongs, apart from looking tricky at times, talent should see him through. 11/8. In the last 30 days, half of Charlie Appleby’s 30 runners have won! Now that is some form.
My other bet is in the 4.15pm three year old sprint. Primrose Valley has a useful allowance for being a filly and got up in the end to pip Harry Hurricane, a George Baker sort who I think might reverse that form. My two reasons for this are that the draw has helped and that Ryan Moore takes over and that has to be worth a length or two. 7/1.
Just one Tip At Musselburgh
Another decent card but just one bet from it as my eyes are wearying and Number Two at my side, while still being sick at regular intervals is starting to show signs that the madness might soon end and bed beckon.
It is the 2.25 and I tell you what I see.
Bayan is an interesting raider for Gordon Elliot, who has had a stellar season. He has a solid record and the trainers record with a handful of runners at the course is eye-catching.
Keys once gave me a very memorable days finale at Cheltenham when getting up to beat Cinders and Ashes. I was counting the money as he came up the inside cruising with his foe well off the bridle but his jockey starting to panic as pushing the buttons, he did not have a greater gear or refused to use it to pass with ease to win. It was a bob of the heads and a photo. The photo was soon called in his favour but then the inevitable ding-dong. They had got pretty close on the run in and with the winning distance so fine, could he lose it in the stewards room? A lengthy wait which I warned my fellow intrepid gamblers, is more likely to go against us it drags on. Before finally, the announcement, he kept the race and a moderately disappointing punting day swung in our favour. Memories, racing has all of life emotions. He won’t win, way too quirky.
My stake will be carried by 8/1 shot Aramist who is good in the early season, loves ground with a bit of bounce and posted a good effort last time out.
May your dinner be relaxing, at home and with good family around you. Pass the potato, pour the wine. We float by just the once, grab onto whatever floats by you on the river friends.
Courage, roll the dice.