Good evening from the Major who writes from a cooling Worcestershire where infectious drizzle cold rain seeps under everything and car tyres peel of the road, ineffectively trying to fight the gloom with poor lanterns, the anonymous encased in tin cans, all going somewhere, anywhere, along slick dark roads.
John is showing signs of recovery. I should have had more faith in the blighter. Belligerent and relentless. If I can leave the hospital with him at some distant point, I intend to post you a picture from Ladbrokes at Stone Cross. It will be some occasion.
Given time for reflection, I felt a touch uncomfortable about posting about him last night. I was tired, it was late. It always is late in my world.
To the nub of my unsettled thought… It just didn’t seem right, perhaps I do not like others to share such things, I was bought up to believe it a bit rude to do so. John is not a close relative but I remember him well as a child and one I sat by in intensive care. I was not writing for the sake of shock or effect. No, I was just tired and reeling myself from the sensual onslaught of the environment.
I did not seek comfort or sympathy, pray believe that. We all have these moments and advertising your own for sympathy is poor fayre. No. I was only commenting on my own experience. Forgive me this one indiscretion.
The brink of life, on such an edge, your greatest regrets and highest achievements reach their zenith.
With shorter than usual preamble, let us get to it. On parade men, sheepskins gleaming, Highland Laddie playing that jaunty tune.
To the Saturday Racing. I shall not only promise more 16/1 winners, I shall guarantee them. Every single racing tip below will absolutely win*. Stand on me.
Tip 1 – The Aperitif: A Sniper Shot at Cork
The first day of flat racing at Cork and there are some interesting maidens, a nice listed race and I shall brush aside those attractions (which I will enjoy) for a crack at the ‘collections of barking hounds’ running in the seven furlong handicap at 3.55pm. You might wonder why I would be drawn to such a sort when there are alternative more glamorous and beauteous companions. It is a point, I often ponder when I consider the good lady.
Well in this case, it is the ground. I think the outcome is likely more predictable as we are still running on national hunt ground. Of the entrants, not many have proven form in the mud and of the few that do, just a few appeal, but their draw is strong at the prices.
Jackemil can be backed at 12/1 with PaddyPower this evening and I would suggest a decent slice. The horse has been seen to decent effect off marks 20lbs higher than this and while that foretells of some dogged displays since, the ground is possibly a key.
I am having a saver in the race and it is another whose mark has tumbled and would be a shoe in if putting his best foot forward. That is Cash or Casualty, a general 14/1 shot. He also has proven form in the slop and his sire, footstepsinthesand, is turning out the filth-larks.
The Appetiser: Newton Abbot
The 3pm Memorial Chase is a solvable race. I backed Grey Gold to upset Sire de Grugy at Chepstow last time out. I was thinking the burdensome unwieldy weight and Chepstow ground and undulations and a poor comeback run from serious injury would do for Sire de Grugy but he left my face smeared with my eggs benedict breakfast as he sauntered all over them. Grey Gold chased him home. I still like the Lee animal who has been performing consistently well (yard in form too), he has been raced with confidence and not disgraced himself. Yet, not disgracing yourself will never win you the fair maiden.
You have been here before, you know me, I love a progressive sort. Potential beats proven in many of my assessments, I am trying to correct it. It is the reason that Tangerine Trees and Bordeslescott passed me by on Good Fridays Musselburgh card.
I shall hopefully make the first step in my corrections here. I have to avoid Going Concern. Yes, he has beaten subsequent winners, yes he likes a tight track but no, I do not think the is in this class. I like him though.
If I were looking at the race a year ago, I would have gone for Brick Red who is a decent sort and Venetia, well…. Venetia. Yet, she has not hit the heights this season and one of the stable mainstays, well I just cannot see it.
I go to the champion trainer and Ulck du Lin – The horse has been lightly campaigned and in a winanble affair, I’d have a decent piece.
The Main Course: Tips from the Saturday Haydock Card
The 2.35pm Red Mills Handicap Hurdle Final is a head scratcher. Kipling wrote that if you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however implausible is the truth. That is often how I approach my races.
The ones that remain puzzles wrapped in enigmas, sealed in string theory and viewed through a hazy fog; those races come in two traditional formats. Some races are so poor, every horse is quickly eliminated as a winner, I call it the ‘pass the parcel’ conundrum.
Some races, like this one, drip with potential winners. It is hard to rule many out. Hence, despite the fact I like my selection, I will tread carefully as there are plenty of viable alternates.
Upswing is one, he has had a bad season really but showed some sign of life at Carlisle last time out. To be fair, I have pretty much pulled up stumps backing Jackdaws horses this year though.
He was beaten at Carlisle by Gold Futures who has been a relentless improver of late. Off a break, he came back to win that race in some eye catching style, being given plenty to do and as it happens, Brian Harding is one of my favourite jockeys. A touch under-rated perhaps because he keeps most company on the Northern tracks, he has poise and power and rarely gets beaten on account of his decisions. Gold Futures has a further 2lbs to give to Upswing on these revised terms but the manner of beating suggests this is cheap to me.
Make Me a Fortune, an aptly name beast is the last of the shortlist. An inexperienced jockey puts me off but there is lots to like in the improving profile and the bare form reads well.
No, I am backing the obvious but don’t feel cheated, I am right to do so. Southfield Vic represents the champion trainer and the upcoming jockey, Sean Bowen. Nicholls has kept up the gallop all season and even now, is sending out winners through the week and at the big weekend meetings too. The horse has the profile of one that could feature as a stable star and so the rise in weights for the last facile win does not concern me at all. I would always want one like this on my side. 8/1 is the stand-out with Ladbrooks. I bet it has an engine.
The 3.45 Chase is a decent affair too, also wide open and I like the joint favourite Future Gilded who can be backed at 7/1. Jamie Snowden knows what he is doing and he might have a decent prospect in this one. After two poor chase efforts in heavy ground over the minimum trip, he was looking less than impressive. Wherever, all that was left behind last time when on moving to the moderate soft condition and given an extra half mile to be effective, he walked over the field. Now, he gets an extra two furlongs and I think will thrive for it.
We have dodged the consommé, the oysters, any amuse or an intermezzo. You are dining at mine.
The Cheese: Saturday Kempton Tip
The Queen has a runner at Kempton and I cannot see it being beaten on known form. Stepping up an extra furlong will be good and Hughsie has started in professional style this season. Master of Irony was the danger and has formally filed in the non-runner column. 8/11, Peacock.
Coffee and Petit Four: The Football
A Reading and Bolton double.
The Martin Hill: A Nicholls Double; Ulck du Lin and Southfield Vic, a double of death…. no each way, that is for the feeble minded.
Courage, roll the dice.
* Guarantees and promises all lies