Good evening from the Major who writes dead tired from a Worcestershire scene of warm stink under an ugly grey orange sky. The air is bound to me, suppressing freedoms, my shoulders tight; God, grant it so that I might sleep some.
My burden on life’s road is light. Compared to the horrors that unfold all over the world each day. I have no cause for complaint and am happy to carry my lot. Of late, it has been tiring. With a fair wind, this time next week, I shall tell of things that right now I am unable to impart.
What horrors. A man decapitated in France, his bloody head written on and hung from the fence. At what point in your insanity do the barbarous acts in themselves sober the perpatrator up? How strong the madness that prevails through such savagery and still leaves you thinking you were doing the right thing?
In Tunisia, holidaymakers, defenceless, gunned down. At peace in the blazing North African sun, white sandy beaches and lapping shore, beach furniture and cold drinks on hand, the holiday novel. From this to brutality with no adjustment, instant horror. The suddenness.
A man can die but once; we owe God a death.
Organised religion. I was forced into church as a boy and I cannot say I was the worse for it. I liked a lot of Christian teachings, particularly those of forgiveness which can often be mistaken for weakness. Yet, being of independent mind, there were two significant thoughts which thwarted me being a ‘convert’.
Firstly, none of it adds up. You are asked to accept with faith things which make no sense, are unproven and frankly it goes against my very being. I believe their could be a God. As a man of science, perhaps a higher power is a good a way as to describe what is beyond the universe, or what time and space existed before the big bang; to suggest his son had a rare culinary logistical cuisine to feed a large crowd with a few fish and bit of bread seems odd at best.
Secondly, it was the uniformity of it. Thinking of issues in a binary way. I dislike all religions for this. So rarely are questions of importance so simple. Yet, difference is not encouraged within a religion, the rules are there to create social cohesion.
In Syria, the Islamic State slaughtered 160 in retribution for their previous defiance in conjunction with the Kurds. The blindness of their cause, their souls irretrievable.
I have no answers, yet I know this. The news in our faces is horrifying and God, I wish no such fortune on anyone. Yet, the nature of news allows us to over think it. There are 65 million people in this country, bad things will happen many times. You cannot react, neither govern, the whole by what seems reasonable to you.
It is why I am perfectly ambivalent towards Burkhas and Fox Hunting. In either case, the subject is so far from my world, it is irrelevant. Some advocates who feel strongly on either issue might exclaim profanity as though not having a view and ‘living to let live’ is in itself wrong. What do I feel about Fox Hunting? Not a lot. I have never done it and know not enough of the environmental impacts to make a strong argument. I do think the Master of the Hunt et al look faintly ridiculous in their haughty outfits but if it makes them happy.
Similarly the Burkha. I cannot tell you whether it is empowering for some women and repressive for others. Yet, as long as it is worn by choice, then I believe, as a Britain proud of our liberal heritage (accepting it took some passages of decided non liberal times to get there), passionately believe that you, I, anyone; should be able to wear whatever they damn well please, comic, tragic or beautiful.
Anyway, I must get to the sports. Our mothership is an elusive craft but she will come.
Saturday Racing Tips – The Curragh
It is Irish Derby day and the Curragh has a decent undercard too. I am going to be picky as I wish to move to the other courses.
Gordon Lord Byron plays an important role in the 3.35pm at The Curragh. He keeps the price on my tip honest. I like GLB, he has won spring of high order but he surely needs more give. I often think that horses with a reference for softer ground are even more dependent in their more mature years.
Tested represents Weld who was not having the best of the last few weeks until he rocked up with some decent performers on Friday, including Eshera who stepped up well. Tested has good form in the book and was entitled to the seasonal debut run, which was decent anyway. The Selkirk filly is being dropped back in trip and breeding suggest it is OK and good ground is also ideal. There is 2/1 about (Paddy, Ladbrokes)
Last year, Hannon bought across Kool Kompany, the strong travelling winner of the Railway Stakes and the market suggests a repeat prescription could be on the cards with Log Out Island. As you see, I agree. While his last Ascot run was highly respected, it is the debut beating of a field including Buratino which catches the eye the most. Evens…… One for the multiples.
Tip for the Irish Derby
Jack Hobbs is a lovely horse. I would fancy it to win a Champion Hurdle not that there is a risk of it! He is a big sort, travels freely and with menace and while his Sandown handicap win had a seemingly awesome turn of foot, I think in G1 company, the reality is, he needs pace.
Some felt when Golden Horn beat him in round one that it might be reversed in the Derby. I did not and for once was right, the Derby win was at least as dominant.
While Jack Hobbs lost nothing in running second, I do dislike those sorts that start to fin a losing habit. It is enough for me to find the next best.
O’Brien is the port of call for those seeking an alternative. After all, he saddles half the field and has won the race in all but one of the last nine runnings. What form! He was denied in Trading Leathers year when the 4/5 favourite, Ruler of the World, Epsom (proper, Irishmen I am ribbing you) Derby winner ran pale.
Giavanni Canaletto is my tip at a backable 10/1. Not each way, go win. He is beautifully bred and has struggled to show his true form, I have faith that it is there to be found.
Saturday Chester Tips
I have never been to the Roodee. Shocking really, I have an old friend up there, , one of those laugh a minute Indian girls with impeccable manners, tremendous company.
Anyway, one of the best men on Twitter @onedeswalker is heading to course and Mick, you deserve a cracking day out, all said. So, follow these tips, lose your money, drink two bottles of Champagne and languish in sublime snagging enjoyment of loss.
We all know Chester favours a speedy sort from a low draw, especially in these conditions.
The 2.30pm is interesting in that stalls 1 and 3 are occupied by hold up types in Vimy Ridge (well worth a read; magnificent military action of the Canadians taking higher ground against well dug in Germans, WW1) and Long Awaited. It might cause some carnage on the inside and will either afford easy leads to the market leaders Blythe Spirit and Captain Dunne. On the former, I would prefer more give underfoot, on the latter, he looks use to place but can be beaten.
My winner is the Tom Dascombe trained Seve, available at 11/2. A speed demon, the minimum trip suits and while Stall 6 is normally a big issue, he will burst forward and if, on his left, all carnage breaks loose, well. We will be will compensated for that draw, 11/2, confident bet.
The 3.40pm is a conundrum. The handicapper has assessed Sinfonietta to a mark of 95 but it is a messy affair rating some of the regional French nonsense. Can I back it? With a supposed 20lbs in hand?
The question morphs into whether you can find a decent alternate. Sinfonietta is at an unusual fast track, tight bends and has to overcome a wide draw. Is there anything to be found to challenge?
Warofindependence. If you spent best part of half a million (US) on a racehorse, you might expect that it’s debut would not be as a three year old, at Chester, gelded and at an outsiders 14/1. Impeccable US blue blood, War Front the sire out of a Smart Strike mare, how the mighty have fallen. There is nothing to go on but I might thrust a few shekels down for pity’s sake.
I am playing Doctor Bong who did nothing wrong on debut and is well drawn, 7/1.
Finally, in the last (5.25pm), I propose a confident tip in Our Gabrial. Last time out was something of a recovery for a horse that has won at Chester and in the hands of connections whose sole goal is to win here, well 11/2.
Sniper Shot Tip – Newcastle
The Northumberland Plate. I had a winner with Seamour last time out and since Ellison is filling his boots at this festival again, I am sticking with this one at 11/1 (Paddy Power 5 places). It has a bad draw and given the course stayers win last time was done from a prominent position, it might be a concern. Not for me.
Another single tip visit. I think Johnstone is coming to form and in the 2.50pm he has Lidos Lady a prominent racer who is excellent value at 13/2. A Danehill Dancer filly out of a Sadlers Wells mare, the blood lines are good and the debut win, typically for one of these quarters was from the front. The yard is rocking, she has won already and is a fine sort. Get stuck in.
May your dinner be taken with close friends who have seen you for what you are and are friends all the same. Italian food, all good tomato, rich and cream sauces, good cuts of meat in generous servings. A good Barolo.
The Martin Hill: A trixie; Seve, Tested and Our Gabrial.
Courage, roll the dice.