The Saturday Sermon: Irish 2,000 Guineas Day, Haydock Temple Stakes Day

Good morning from the Major who writes from a Worcestershire enjoying the first taste of summer.  The sun has risen in full song behind Bredon Hill, the air is fizzing with tiny insects, yet to feast and grow, the whole vista of flora and fauna shimmers with energy and following a good night of rest, my own mind has cracked into action like souls awakening.

I watched a BBC4 documentary on black holes.  See what I did there, see how clever and sophisticated I am.  The subject matter might sound dry at first but I assure you, if you are the type to lie awake at night occupied and wondered, then it makes for compulsive viewing.

Black Holes are currently the edge of theoretical science.  Einstein took us some way, predicting their existence and predicting some elements of their behaviour but they are so alien to our senses, that they seem abstract and fanciful.

Black Holes are so massive, that nothing can escape their draw, this includes light.  Thus should we ever lay eyes on one with a telescope (we have not yet), we might expect to see an inky blackness with a halo of light representing the light that was not quite drawn in past the point of no return (event horizon).

As matter is drawn in, theory states that it begins to accelerate beyond the speed of light.  At the heart of the Black Hole this matter is compressed under forces that are as beyond comprehension.  The ‘singularity’ is only known to us in calculation and even then it breaks all conventional rules of physics, including Einstein and his ‘Theory of Relativity’.

The singularity is infinitesimally small but contains huge mass, gravity and space-time.  It is a place where a different science rules apply, quantum physics, a science at odds with relativity, they cannot exist together, a clash of ideologies within the rules that govern how things should operate.  It appears the universe has at least two ‘user guides’.

While we are still yet to have visual evidence of a black hole, we have found evidence that they are there.  By monitoring the trajectory of stars within our own galaxy, we can see that a huge mass of something invisible sits at the heart of our own galaxy.  We can even estimate the mass, a quarter of the total mass of everything int he milky way.

We have observed similar traits in other galaxies, modelling the orbits of stars and seeing that they are gravitationally influenced by something that we cannot see.  In most cases, the missing mass proves to be about a quarter of that of the galaxy.

To those who think that there is little mystery left to your life, I say this.  You are conned by technology, turn off the lights, turn off the buzzing devices, step outside and look at the heavens.

When working in the garden, I enjoy two things above all other jobs.  Using the back-pack sprayer to kill weeds (think Ghostbusters) and having a huge fire.  The weed job is satisfying, when the little seedlings emerge in places where they should not, I dose them with a heavy blast and a week later, see their withered remains.  It always feels so right, restoring the purity of the environment, keeping it clean for the chosen plants, to play god.  Call me cruel if you like, I accept, there is a barbarism at play.

Our universe is so massive, the elements are pure and somehow balanced.  It is we that are the weeds, the ugly outliers, a rarity yes but almost certainly a deformity.

A day too far off to comprehend, the universe will stop expanding and start contracting.  The great pendulum swing.  In time, the contraction will expand in force and speed, eventually, all matter will collapse in on itself and a huge singularity will occur effecting all matter.  Then, another bright explosion, and out it all flings again, renewal.  This story repeats again and again,  in omne tempus.

In the face of such wonders on a cosmic scale of time and space, I can only offer such little meaningless morsels.  The hunt for our elusive mothership.  It is all I have for you.  We might be weeds but there is some time to kill before the sprayer dooms us to the dirt.  Let us spend this time well, let the sun shine, God, let me find some winners.

The Curragh, Goodwood and Various…

Irish 2,000 Guineas Day.

I must start with fair warning.  Following a good year so far, particularly Lincoln Day (which surprised me too), the form has fallen away more sharply than Liverpool and their bid to reclaim a premier European club slot.  That particularly harsh analogy was for @frankelslowbro who I shall come back to in a moment.

Last week, I could not pick my nose.  Theoretical scientists, the Hadron collider, all would be well advised to review my last weeks blog as I was able to stop good horses from even trying, if I had written it, I am sure I would have stopped trains, tides and time itself.

Still, the pendulum has to swing, doesn’t it?  I am not offering you much hope here am I?  I rely on the mercy of the court.  the goodness of the readership amassed over many years.  We accept no riff-raff.  No flash in the pan glory hunters, none with rude manner.  No, we hardy bunch suck in the breath, tilt our hat and move on (see The Sting, loss at the roulette wheel).

Let us start with the Irish 2,000 Guineas, the feature race of the day.

Gleneagles proved himself king of the crop at Newmarket with a pretty robust performance.  He easily came clear when asked and I might be purring more for the performance if I were not so much in doubt about the overall quality of this particular classic crop.  At 2/5, there is not much fun in backing him but he should win as there is no obvious challenger.

Yet, with three places to be paid, it might be more fun to consider who chases him home.  Horse like Gleneagles have such good cruising temperaments that those of lesser ability that compete can finish much worse than their own ability dictates.  Burning themselves out, they finish down the field, broken-hearted.

This scenario allows horses ridden for places to pick them off late on.  It is my working theory for offering you Tombelaine as a rare each way gambit at 16/1 and quarter odds with Bet365.  (never any links, never any affiliate deals; the Major is free and unhinged for your punting delectation).

Weld is in good spirit with a 30% strike rate, we get Smullen on top and Ivawood is the challenger who could well fall away.  Below the top two on the card, Tombelaine is the clear form pick for me and could well come on for his defeat of Endless Drama last time out, which was a seasonal debut.

On the undercard, the 2.45 is a cracking Group 2 sprint.  Sole Power has his army of supporters and is fresh from his Meydan exploits where he picked up a Group 1 thus now carries more weight than his rivals.  It might not stop him, like his stablemate, Slade Power, he looks a sprinter of the highest order.

It is an odd thing to say, but there is going to be plenty of pace on with many who like to break and blaze.  It might suit Gordon Lord Byron but I suspect he needs the rain to come and I am on the side of the ground staying decent.  If right, I can use the same argument to dismiss Maarek.

I hate betting against Dermot Weld but while I can see the quality of Mustajeeb, I am concerned that out-and-out sprinting might not be his game.  Sometimes when a horse is just short of quality at the top mile to mile and a half races, connections try something new.  It is hard to tell with some whether it is an afterthought or the long term plan.  Either way the new scenery is inevitably a drop in class (see the St Leger as a prime example) and that is how I feel about Mustajeeb.

These hardened sprinters will muscle him out.

That leaves me, full circle, where I started.  Sole Power, 4/1, ominously, considering the ownership, with Paddy Power.

For the indignity of having a two-bit racing fan dismiss his sprinting favourite, I shall restore some balance in favour of Mr Weld by suggesting you put a decent wedge down on Brooch.  She has been winning readily and looks a top class filly in the making.  She has a Pretty Polly entry and I am sure she will take this well before moving onto less calm waters.

Haydock Tips

Temple Stakes Day, a little bit of give in the ground, the sun shining, it will be fun to be at Haydock.

Let’s get the big race nailed first.

Hot Streak did well to win this last year as a three year old.  In this, he was the first of his age group since Fleeting Spirit in 2008.  He faded as the season went on and a dry warm day at Haydock is unlikely to be to his suiting.

I am sticking with an old friend, G Force.  Early last season, he looked like a top flight sprinter in the making.  I was very surprised it took him until the back-end of the season to collect his first G1 prize and remain convinced that more top prizes are awaiting.

The top sprinters do seem to share the spoils of the season well.  The strike is rotated from one top race to the next, a consequence of their nature.  Watching these hulking muscular brutes, you can see a difference between them and the sleeker more refined milers.  Too close and a bite or kick is inevitable, they are the 100m sprinters on the circuit.  G Force for me.

Now, set your faces to stunned, I have a 50/1 unconsidered outsider for you.

It runs in the 2pm at Haydock, Il de Re.  Winning the Chester Cup in 2012 seems an eternity away and his career path currently shows that point as the zenith (having won the Northumberland Plate in the same season).

He was running for Donald McCain back then and was tilted at the Champions Day long distance cup.  His mark was 105.  Since then, the fall from grace has been consistent.  No place has been achieved in ten runs since his Northumberland Plate.

Il de Re started this season with another substandard effort at Nottingham, fading when asked for an effort, he was 50/1 that day.

I am not providing much evidence for a revival am I?  Nor can I.  It interests me that they keep persisting, especially at a decent level.  His mark has fallen to 87 now and as a nine-year old, vast improvement is unlikely.  Keep it sensible but 50/1?  I am a sucker for the long-lost hopes.

As a saver, also near the bottom of the weight, I suggest an interest in Seamour who can be backed at 8/1.  He was tuned up with a run at York where he stayed on really nicely over what might be an inadequate trip.  I never get Ellison right but stable ignored, I would really fancy this.

Goodwood Tips

I always look for a bit of course form at Goodwood if you can get it.  Failing that, performances at similar tracks (winding, weaving, undulating and full of camber).  You need a well-balanced athlete with a good mind and so those that have won at Epsom, Bath or Brighton are to be considered.

The 1.45 opening contest gives us exactly the sort of field I think there is value in.  Remote has been missing for two years.  He was winning at Royal Ascot in a stellar season that had him marked as an exiting one.

This listed contest would be well within his reach if he retained that ability but will Master Gosden have the beast fully tuned up?  Entries suggest not.  He has a Prince of Wales entry and you must think that this is the main target.  Throw in the huge break and that he has never faced conditions like these… (Raced at Pontefract, Newbury, Ascot and Doncaster) and I have to find an opponent.

It is not a hard search.  Grandeur positively loves Goodwood.  He has won four of his five starts here and comes assured of match fitness, this being his third run of the campaign.  Fifth in a Group 3 last time might not mark that recent form as exceptional but there were caveats.  He finished just two lengths down from French Navy and did not enjoy clean passage.  Load up the large cannon.  3/1 available.

The market is not speaking favourably of King to Be in the 2.55, having drifted now to a bankable 6/1.  I like the horse, he lost his maiden here in nice style and although he hardly looks thrown in on his mark, his course form and young, highly capable claimer are both a big help.


I said I would return to @frankelslowbro.  My god I wish I did not have to but I feel compelled.

I know the man well and can speak favourably of his character.  One part worrier, one part mischief but thoroughly decent.  He is still feeling his way through his gambling habits, trying to find that heady mix of profits (or at least minimised losses) and enjoyment.

To this end, he sent me a 50/1 tip for the ‘who killed Lucy Beale’ market a week before the reveal, he had some inside knowledge and was quite excited.  It was Charlie Cotton.  I don’t watch Eastenders anymore, have not for years, breaking the bad habit but tuned in as I must confess I had followed someone on twitter a whole year earlier with another wildly wrong estimation of events.  Anyway, Charlie broke badly, laboured early on, was easily outpaced and pulled up lame.

Never deterred, Dave as he is better known has returned with a cracking text this morning… ‘I’ve sent you some Eurovision tips feel free to add to the blog. Long night…..’

Intrigued, I opened my email.  I reproduce verbatim for your appraisal.

For 3 hours last night I spent sometime assessing angles…

1. Contrary to popular belief as popular as block voting is the running order of songs. The songs at the later end have won more times than those that come early voter forgot fullness being the likely cause.No one has ever won occupying the number 2 role (occupied by France this year). More concerning is current favs , Sweden, are at 10 of 27 songs. It makes the 6/4 being offered slightly vulnerable. Second favs Russia are 25th and highly fancied Italy are last. 7/1 for these two to make up the top 2 feels value.

2) Nordic countries have a strong history in this competition and looking at the forums people clearly like the Swedish entry. A large bet at 6/4 wouldn’t be a bad punt but given those odds I think there is more value to be had in an each way punt. Azerbaijan have been consistently strong over the last 4/5 years. They have won once and have placed well as a rule of thumb. 50/1 why not. 

3) Best Balkan country. Serbia at 2/1 is a standout bet. Competition is not fierce from behind the old iron curtain and Serbia have past performances on their side.

4) to finish last. UK are priced at 5/2 which given the apathy towards us from our euro cousins is understandable. However this is a bookies bet designed to take those shekels from a casual punter. Germany/France are good candidates but again odds are not in our favour. A case can be made for Poland however let’s go long odds. Cyprus at 16/1 stand out to me. Unlikely to have any allies and not being mentioned at all in the forums. I also wonder how much voting habits will play a part? Could we see a back lash against Australia’s entry?!! 66/1 on them finishing last feels like value…

Do with this as you please.

The Martin Hill is a straight trixie on Grandeur, Sole Power and Brooch.

May your dinner be in good company.  Just the two of you, her dark hair falling in carefully crafted curls.  Blazing dark small eyes, the singularities of the soul from which the gravitational pull is irresistible.

Courage, roll the dice.


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