A beautiful summers evening greetings to you from Worcestershire where the Major relaxes easily into stride for another sermon in which we will try again for the mothership.
I must apologise, I missed a Friday Royal Ascot run through, sheer exhaustion after a day of travel. Plus, stress.
On Thursday, I spent the day in the City of London, to lunch for business, drinks at St Pauls late on for pleasure. More drinks on the train, a nightcap back at home and a restless night and come this morning, I could not raise the gallop required to get the sermon out.
Anyway, a restful day and I feel at ease now to let slip the wandering thoughts of my mind.
The stress from the meeting in the week is an odd thing. You might think it was a problematic meeting, it was not. You might wonder if the stakes were high, not really. In fact, it went well, I got on very well with the chap and he even insisted on picking up the tab.
I find, coming free from a situation with no wounds inflicted brings its own pressures. I know why, but I dare not share, that one is too close to the bone and since I have been writing the sermon for just six years, we don’t know each other quite well enough, yet.
I have long been looking for a new spiritual leader in life. The role has been vacant since the passing of Sir Clement Freud who was such a spectacular mixture of the best of life vices and virtues. He had such an incredible history and achieved so much in various fields, seemingly unconnected, save that in everything he did, he did to the full.
One of the leading candidates today came to my mind as an email from her charity foundation arrived announcing that the trailer for a film based on her life to date was out.
Malala. Words are poor currency to give her the credit I wish. Such an incredible orator for all her lack of years. Her voice has that beautiful tinkling sing-song quality with the wobbling pitch you find across the Indian sub-continent and her laughter is punchy, it shocks you.
Anyone who stood up against such evil men as the Taliban for the rights of girls to be educated, deserves enormous respect. That she suffered at such a young age, an attempt on her life for this stand is an absurd and disgusting misalignment of humanity.
Yet, without it, I would never have heard of her. Have a look at some of her speeches on Youtube, I cannot adequately portray her wisdom, her maturity and a trait I particularly admire, her capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. A fine Noble Peace Prize winner. You net about £6m with that, aye, that don’t mention the money much do they, although I think Malala shared the prize.
She will never be my number one. She lacks the requisite darkness, though she has ample mischief, of that I can tell. I will though see the film on opening night and raise a toast to Birmingham’s finest, for I have adopted her for our city since she received her critical care at Europe’s best hospital (the QE) and continued her education at Edgbaston Girls School. She is a Brummie alright.
This week saw the 200 year anniversary of Waterloo. I followed an account relaying the action on twitter hour by hour. It was all I could do to resist chipping in throughout the day to cry encouragement to the Iron Dukes forces and their Prussian allies. Napoleon was a fearful commander, incisive, intelligent and adaptive. Yet, the Duke was undefeated in Major actions and has the edge for me. His bundle and go work through Spain in the Peninsular Wars was a great feat requiring courage and skill as a leader.
Anyway, he will surface in a further sermon, no doubt. So will Malala.
Saturday Royal Ascot Tips
The Chesham kicks us off, seven straight furlongs for the juveniles. The ground will race fast again. At this stage of the season, the colts have the edge on the fillies, even allowing for the weight. Just one filly took one of the last ten renewals.
That exception was Maybe, an O’Brien filly who went on to complete an unbeaten five race juvenile season before disappointing a bit in her classic year. Given the name of the O’Brien horse is Ballydoyle, plenty will have seen this naming as significant. Surely that is a name that could have given to anything, ergo, she must be special.
I do not truck with such talk. Maybe she is. Yet, if they wanted the name immortalised, surely they would have looked for a colt with much higher potential for future breeding profile.
I am looking for a colt. Palawan is of interest at a whopping 25/1. Hannon and Hughes had great days at Ascot today and he won’t throw anything into the Chesham. It is likely that the form of the debut race (fifth when favourite) will be irrelevant and I would not put you off.
However, the presence of the favourite, allows a healthy price to form around my tip, Tonkinese. His debut race looks all the better now following the grand effort of Air Force Blue earlier in the week, he followed that up with a solid victory taking his maiden, keeping up a good gallop. The ground is a slight concern so I will keep it small and have a saver on Palawan.
John Gosden has a fine recent record in the Wolferton and he saddles the unbeaten favourite, Mahsoob. There is a lot to like, he is fine on the ground, has been winning from the back which often masks more ability and has Group 1 entries. He gets 9lbs more to shoulder and that has me considering other options though I wonder if I am wise to do so. After all, Mahsoob had an entry for the Hardwicke which was an almighty leap to consider.
He has the blood for it, being a Dansili colt out of a Montjeu mare. Mahsoob for me, 15/8 generally. I shall pray for safe passage for Hanagan up the Ascot straight.
Then the Hardwicke. All horses contesting the race are officially rated within 5lbs of each other but the idea that they are somewhat equal is hard to swallow.
Five of the last ten renewals went to Stoute. The most memorable had to be Harbinger who later suffered a terrible injury before he had chance to exercise my own theory that he was an Arc winner. Telescope won last year, in the same Highclere colours and at 5/4, you might call me unimaginative but the mothership will land only when we combine the obvious and the brave.
The the Diamond Jubilee, three years ago, do you remember Black Caviar almost losing her unbeaten run when the jockey dropped his hands? My god.
The one I want on my side is Due Diligence. O’Brien has advertised the health of his inmates in fine style this week and I am relying on that continuing into Saturday. The horse ran second last year, carrying my money as a burden. It has the credentials and these sprinters always improve into their fourth year. 6/1 for a win purpose, interesting that William Hill are offering four places at 11/2.
It is 10/1 the field in the Wokingham, the usual state of affairs. Crafty Northern trainers have usually got some beast tucked up on a handicap mark much too light Tatlisu is a standout example because he represents last years winning trainer, Fahey and has Moore booked, a man who has broken Ascot records this week. 10/1 is perfectly acceptable, I would not dissuade you.
My tip for the Wokingham though is a horse who was thoroughly impressive at Goodwood last season, Intrinsic. He can be bought at 14/1 and with Hughes bagging a double on Friday, he will have a pilot bursting with confidence. My confidence in the tip is tempered slightly by the interrupted preparation which lacked a race, yet his Goodwood performance was worth a lot more than the 5lbs he was raised (to 100).
The lucky last, The Queen Alexandra. Mullins has plundered the race twice in three years with Simenon and Pique Sous. Wicklow Brave is 5/4. Another shortie Major!! Shame on you. Well, what can I say, that Mothership will come in…. it will.
May your dinner be taken in the best company, glamour, beauty, great food, better wine; tip well and let it flow.
The Martin Hill bet: Mahsoob, Telescope and Wicklow Brave…. Trixie of powerfulness.
Courage, roll the dice.