Good evening from the Major who writes from another splendid Worcestershire evening, requiring the windows raised to draw in the evening air. The paling sky, a peaceful waning blue wisps lightly on the senses, kissing you with a magical nature that you cannot describe. Why that colour blends so well into the deep greens of the land, I cannot say but then I am merely your poor correspondent.
How did we fare on the opening day? Well, not too bad, not too bad at all. The card started with a shocker mind. The Beast from the East, Able Friend, in which I had placed my confidence, ran his race before he entered the stalls. Slathered in sweat, he was a worked up fellow and unsurprisingly, popped the question at three furlongs, there was no response and, as I am sure his Hong Kong fandom will attest, followers breathed a sigh of relief as he was given an easy time of it once the race was gone, well done Joao Moreira.
Air Force Blue, advised at a fancy price was beaten into second, fair and square by Buratino who was a real take out of the day for me, there was plenty left and I think that is a horse to watch.
Nobody had the sprint winner in which my Australian pick was never a feature. Gleneagles was an easy winner of the St James Palace, easily coming away, that was an easy pick.
Clondaw Warrior, advised at 8/1, bought success to the day, Shabash! Then Areen, advised at 16/1 came within a whisker of making a memorable day, closing to within a short head and being ahead a stride further. Strike that last remark from the record, we take the good and the bad in equal measure here.
I watched all this unfold in the pub. To earn such privilege, I put my back to some meaningful garden activity and by 1.30 was in the cold shower. Having sought and received permission, I wandered to a local hostelry where I was able to relax, content in my own company.
The garden work involved stripping out old rotting wooden garden timbers. This was heavy labour, but it came with compensations. My straw hat kept the sun comfortably off, allowing the breeze through. I was disturbing long peaceful nature, millipedes, slow worms, beetles, woodlice, slugs, spiders, ants and many other of evolutions creations. At first, my skin crawled at the thought and the touch but soon the feeling passed and I was bulling away like a good ‘un.
Then, all of a sudden I had company. A Robin, so cheerful I liked him straight away, landed by me and proceed to eye me, not warily, just checking. When I did not react, he continued to pick his way through the delights I was unearthing. He stayed with me throughout the morning, coming within a few feet of me, to enjoy his fill, never fearing my presence and I enjoying his.
As I walked down to the pub, I say a green finch dead on the path, nothing unusual in a rural scene. His eye was open, his was rigid on his side.
All we are frightened of is the end, it lies beneath every misbegotten action we take.
That finch enters the cycle. The first to get at his carcass will be the bacteria, they will be the first to decay yours too. You see, the bacteria have an unconquerable advantage, they do not need to find your carcass, they are already on it, and in it. When you die, they will multiply quickly.
Molds including yeast come next. Fungal growth on meat adds colour, often fluffy branching growth spreads across the carcass.
These two normal beat the insects who follow. Flies lay eggs, maggots devour, beetles are tuned to the smelly advertisement and in the end, there is little left.
Bones, they decay more slowly but they decay all the same.
This is all we have to come and so we should concentrate on living lives we find fulfilling. I shall not tell you to live each day like your last, that would be terrifying. Yet I shall urge you to immerse yourself in each experience.
We float by this once, grab onto whatever luck brings you on the tide. Lick up the honey stranger, ask no questions.
To the sport.
Wednesday Royal Ascot Tips
One of the races of the week kicks off Tuesday at Ascot, the Queen Anne, it was not a vintage edition but it delivered a worthy winner in Solow who gained a hat trick of group one wins. The grey horse doesn’t quite look the part to me but who cares for that when he runs with such gusto. He stayed on well but was unspectacular. He can be beat. It must also be a bit disheartening to connections that he is gelded. Do I sound sore? I do not mean to, I like the way his ears went back and he knuckled down to see them off, it was worthy, worthy, I used that word twice.
Anyway, Wednesday kicks off with the Jersey, 7 furlongs and the market has decided it is Ivawood versus the rest.
The ground is set for rattling. It was quick today and after the sun-baked turf has enjoyed a warm night, it will be knee-knocking firm tomorrow. Ivawood will not mind.
He was third in the Guineas which although not a spectacular affair (bar Gleneagles who is enjoying things) absolutely entitles him to favouritism, even giving the weight. He has always looked speedy and you would think that encourages me over the 7f trip but I feel he can be beat and we should try.
The most interesting horse in the race has to be Sir Isaac Newton who makes for a great win bet at 11/1. You have to feel he is a hit or miss type and so there is little point in each way! I know there are some folk out there nursing the burns on their fingers still but it would be such a shock for him to come good, even at this stage.
The Major though is going to offer a different tip. Frankie is due one and I like Hathal who is available at 12/1 with PaddyPower. His debut runner-up spot was excellent, considering Haggas normally brings them on strongly from debut. and Hathal did very well chasing home Consort who was match fit and had race course experience. It really would be no surprise to see this horse take a Group 3.
The Queen Mary is an open renewal but it often is and there is no shock to see some of the outsiders fare well. Judging the sprinters is hard enough, throw in the filly element it gets harder, make them juveniles and there is a lot of guesswork involved.
Kurland is an interesting entry as she had an option for the Albany but has stepped up to this tougher task. Noteworthy. Besharah was attractive to me, especially as I have one Haggas nag on my slip already but she is not too generously priced, if you fancy it, go for it at 11/2.
Mine though is 12/1 Ward raider Bruised Orange at 12/1. Acapulco is the favoured Wesley Ward horse judging the jockey bookings but that might not be that telling. Yet, Bruised Orange has a win under her belt at Keeneland and when the Frankie bomb goes off, I want in.
Integral is a well supported evens favourite of the Duke of Cambridge. I am happy to oppose with Rizeena though who was beaten by Integral in the Falmouth on unsuitable sloppy ground. Rizeena loves Ascot having won on all three track visits, since the course is not for all, it is noteworthy. Like Integral, she will not mind the faster ground either. While she flopped on her Newmarket seasonal debut, this will have been the target and at 8/1 with Bet365 (3 places, quarter odds… The Major has no links, no affiliations), I suggest an investment.
The Prince of Wales was going to be one of my bets of the week as I am a big Free Eagle fan (see the banner!). His task is easier given the unfortunate withdrawal of California Chrome with an innocuous foot injury from which he would have recovered in a week…. damnation.
The Grey Gatsby loves his racing and will be fit and ready to go after misfiring twice this year. Something about him though, I cannot nail it, yet in this race, I feel he will find one too good.
Western Hymn is another whose very worthy credentials just fall short of the spark I seek. His strike rate is good though and he handles the ground.
I am sure they wanted to get a run into Free Eagle and I am slightly worried about the ground for him. I feel edgy.
I am going to chance Ectot at 11/2 who was a splendid prospect coming into the Arc where he flopped. Yet, prior to that he was winning good races and some with a flourish. This is certainly his trip and while a prep run would have been nice, he goes fresh and earns my vote.
I have my pin ready for the Royal Hunt Cup!
It has landed on Spark Plug a 14/1 shot. I like Jimmy Fortune who gives an honest and experienced if not flashy account from the saddle. The horse has leapt forwards this season, doing particularly well in the long Newbury straight last time out when demonstrating a decent turn of foot. Have a go.
I am staying obvious and safe with Always Smile in the last race of the day the Sandringham. 11/4. Progressive and Godolphin do well in these sorts of Ascot races.
Courage, roll the dice.