The FA Cup Final Saturday Sermon: Tips from York, Chester, Haydock and Newmarket

Good evening from the Major who writes from a glorious Worcestershire with a sky as wide as your imagination all pale blue and pink, solid distant clouds stately and resolute.  The air is refreshing and cool and as I draw the door closed, it feels good to close out the chill.

I do feel awash on the great ocean again this week.  Thoughts swell inside bulging with intensity, the face feels flush like it does during the onset of a cold.

I watched an hour-long program dedicated to infinity and large numbers (apparently the two are not the same).  A google turns out to be an actual number, it is one followed by a hundred zeros.  Let’s look at it for a moment, we can express it easily (it almost fits on the page).


I do not like the beach.  My ancestors were foolish to leave their Northern forests, the sun has an aversion towards me, it makes me ill.  The sea has some redeeming features, the sound is particularly pleasing, though it contains jellyfish, whose design was clearly crafted during one of Gods blinding absinthe hangovers.  The sand though always amazed me as such simple things will at times, become lodged in my mind.  Allow sand to sift through your fingers and fall to the ground, thousands and thousands of granules.

It is a feeling of wonderment, descending into bewilderment to begin to calculate grains of sand.  Just start by looking at the huge number left stuck to your palm.  Then to graduate to considering a handful, or ponder how deep the sand goes and just how many grains might there be on the whole beach.  I might lie there thinking about this on that long stretching French Atlantic coast, rollers crashing in, the breeze high.  I cannot see either end of the beach, it goes on for miles, endless handfuls of incalculable numbers of grains.

Yet this is a single beach. A single beach in a single country in a single continent.  All of those grains, individual; 1,2,3,4……

Each grain of sand is made of silicon and oxygen atoms.  Approximately 7000000000000000000 atoms, per grain.

There are more stars than grains of sand on all Earths beaches.  Billions of stars per galaxy, billions of galaxies.  In the universe we have observed from frail telescopes outside of the pollution hugging our planet, we have seen deeply into space, observing light emitted 13 billion years ago.  Our best current guess, is in the light we have seen, we estimate there are 200000000000000000000000 stars.

In the large and the small, numbers get big, powerfully big.  The zeros look manageable when written down, our decimal system allows them to be conveyed in a small space.  Yet our minds cannot cope with the meaning.  You might be fooled that something with a hundred zeros is somewhere close to the size of a number with fifty zeros.  Maybe it is twice the size?  The mind plays tricks, we forget that each zero is a multiplying factor of 10.

The numbers are incomprehensible both in the small and in the wide universe.

The popular adage of monkeys trying to type the works of Shakespeare.  Being kind, let’s arm the monkeys with typewriters with just the 30 odd keys they need.  Lets assume each key stroke also acts as a fresh start on their work, another great kindness in the calculation.  To get the first letter correctly typed therefore  is 30/1. The chances of getting the first two though, 900/1; quite some forecast if you can land it.  By ten letters it is 590490000000000/1.  That is ten letters.  It would get you to ‘Who’s there’ in the opening of Hamlet.  Two words.

The whole works of Shakespeare?  Nearly a million words.  That would produce a probability so small, it would take up too much room on this blog to express as a number and I would fear we would lose the space dedicated to poor racing tips.  That would be a scandal, if I can do nothing more, I wish to lose you money.  I shall try another way.

The odds of that monkey writing the works of Shakespeare.  It is the equivalent of you winning the lottery.  Not just this week, but next week.  Oh, the week after too, plus another years worth.  Imagine that, a year where you win the lottery every week.  To equate the odds of a monkey randomly typing all Shakespearean works, you would have to win the lottery consecutively for 28,000 years.  That is not as low a calculation as you might think.  The odds of winning the lottery are 1 in 14 million.  Thus winning this week and next is 196000000000000/1.  That is the scale of multiple from one week to two.  Imagine the scale of that multiple over 28,000 years.  That number, is still nothing, lost as a tiny atom in the universe of infinity.

All of this though, atoms in the grain of sand, grains on the beach, the atoms in the earth, the celestial bodies of heaven.  Monkeys typing Shakespeare.  All of these brutish giants, bullying us with their dizzying greatness.  They are all slaves of infinity, insignificant, no matter how big you can go.

Googles to the power of googles to the power of googles, they get you nowhere close.  It is always moving away from you, no matter how many atoms, in however many grains of sand, on however many beaches, on planets innumerable in galaxies of billions of stars, then billions of galaxies.   Perhaps billions of universes for we do not know if there is a finite space.  It is all meaningless.

Even those monkeys, not just one would write Shakespeare, in an infinite space, an infinite number of monkeys would type out Shakespeare.  Every number, no matter how vast lies in the dark cold shadow of infinity.

Such enormity is terrifying.  The personal consequence is clear.  Yet the antidote, in my view is beauty.  Matters of the mind, art and poetry, it is only an antidote not a solution.

Despite what you think, the mothership landing has a much better chance.  My tips today, all of them winning?  About 383 million to one.  We don’t have enough Saturdays.

Tips for Newmarket, Chepstow, Haydock and York.

I am starting with a wide open event at Chester, the 3pm.  It is easier to find reasons that horses will not win than it is to find the lively contenders.  A formula that lends itself to an outsider.

Wilde Inspiration is the obvious candidate.  Well drawn and clearly a progressive sort, what is not to like?  Well he has a bad habit of missing the break and at 7f at Chester that leaves you a lot of work to do.  We might know the beasts chances within seconds.

Seeking greater value is a job that becomes easier.  We need something in the low stalls which narrows the field considerably.

Marco Botti runs Patentar who has to lump the weight but on balance has the quality to do so.  I would be interested but the yard is on the cold list having not sent out a winner in the last 30 days from 35 entries, of which just 6 found themselves placed.

All this leaves me with Baddilini a 20/1 shot who I have some hope in.  It was a competitive Newmarket handicap he ran in last time out, from a mark of 100.  He was dropped 5 pounds for finishing 13th at 50/1.  Doesn’t sound too encouraging?  Well there is hope, the race was decent, he came from the wrong side (first four home drawn 6, 3 ,14 ,2) and he finished just 5 lengths off them.

I accept it requires me imagination but 20/1 shots generally do.

While I am in the land of the hopeless souls.  Kashgar should not be 22/1 (Corals) in the 4.10.  He has placed on 3 of his 4 Chester starts, winning twice and it would not surprise me to see a return to his favourite track inspire a change in fortunes.

Tips for York

It is a big wide open card at York, a track, that like Chester, I consider to be a bit of a specialist dish.  I am not sure why it is so.  The big open long straight reminds me of Newbury, it is not often you get a hard luck story unless you have a jockey who thinks it is stylish to stack up a powerful travelling sort behind a couple of tiring nags on the rail, a sin which they should surely bring back corporal punishment for.

I have two 12/1 shots in the opener I am interested in.  Blaine was not suited by Newmarket running a shocker in the same race that Baddilini in early May.  However, his run next time out at York was credible, eighth but less than three lengths away and staying on.  Up an extra furlong, I have to think he has a chance at 12/1.

I also want the outsider of the O’Meara two on my side.  Alejandro is a 12/1 shot that needs to jump well and get on with it but is feasibly in with a shout.  He loves York too and will carry a small saver at 12/1.

Arguably Clever Cookie has gone best on soft ground (winning a Group 3 at Chester beating Tac de Boistron no less) but his good ground form shows some versatility and at 4/1 with Skybet, it is well factored in.  He dead heated in this race last year, he really should have won, but has moved on (and up) since then and 4/1 is a steal.  Bet like a man possessed.


The tips came in two by two….

The opening two year old race has an interesting look now that Recorder has come out.

At 9/1 (Stan James standout), I am minded to back Shalaa in the opening race.  There is little evidence to go on but market vibes were very positive about this horse on debut at Newbury where it started life in a very hot event.  Absolutely nothing went right for Shalaa who broke slovenly and lurched right.  The horse then took a fierce grip and Frankie could do little to preserve any energy.  He was handled kindly once the chance was blown to finish last.  An awful lot needs to have been learned and it is possible.  At 9/1 I cannot ignore it, particularly as it can fit into multiples with all of the other hopeless nags I am throwing in today.

My other interest was Hannons’ entry, Nisser, who can be backed at 10/3 (also Stan James – Remember, no ads, no links, entirely free).  Hannon has a good record in this (he does in pretty much every juvenile race mind!) and it is the lack of any experience that puts me off, even though I might well rue the call later today.

Peacock has to be a confident selection in the second having form nicely tied in with the derby favourite, Golden Horn.  There is everything to like about that and there is some odds against lying around, 11/10.

Finally, Tips from Haydock

The opening race is a competitive affair and I am taking a chance that the ground is sticky and causes a few problems for the fashionable sorts.  Jumeirah Glory might well relish it on what we have seen so far and a place is certainly possible and better might be attainable, making 14/1 with William Hill a ready price.

Lucy Wadham has been quiet but sends out Lady Tiana in the Group 3 Pinnacle Stakes and I am thinking she might outrun 9/1.  Her return in France was acceptable and with the rain in the ground, she has an excellent chance.  Luca Cumani and Kleo might be the danger.

Backing the theme of gluey ground, I am also adding Breton Rock in the 2.35 to my portfolio.  He is better the softer it gets and my main horse against him on form (Aljamaheer) will definitely not like my forecast conditions.  In multiples with the other two, we have an angle of total success or utter failure!

Limato is one to set your watch by in the 3.45pm.  11/10 is still about, a little shorter than the price you could have had last night if I had the energy to finish this in good time.  My apologies.  Anyway, you won’t even think twice about it when it wins easily enough.

FA Cup Final

The general school of thought goes like this.  Arsenal are the better team, they might show up (played well last week) and give Villa a good drubbing.  It doesn’t sound convincing though does it?  Arsenal have a track record of not showing up in games like this and I think we have an excellent case for backing Villa.

I consider it as follows.  For Arsenal, they would like to be challenging for the championship.  Realistically though, they feel mission is accomplished by qualifying for the Champions League and perhaps making the knockout stages without being disgraced.  For some of their players, the stardom they seek is on a bigger stage.

With no offence intended, it is possible that this is the biggest game for a lot of the Aston Villa players.  They know what this means to their club, the fans have made it clear.  Simply put, if you are an Arsenal fan, losing today or winning today will make less difference than it will for Villa.  I believe this will be reflected on the pitch.

That simple fact has me on the following:

Villa to win and Benteke to score: 12/1 and Villa 1-0 (20/1), 2-1 (18/1) and 3-1 (50/1).

To all Villa fans, I sincerely wish you the best of luck.  Yes, I wanted you relegated, for reasons I explained at length.  None of it was a hatred, you cannot hold onto such feelings in life, we float by just the once.  Have a great day if you get to Wembley.

The Martin Hill: Limato, Clever Cookie, Breton Rock and Peacock – Yankee of glory.

I trust your dinner will be in good style but at home, with the family.

Courage, roll the dice.


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