Good evening from the most delightful Worcestershire (late note, things got too much, retired to bed). Warm air, breezing at ground level, streaming in the higher echelons, the clouds momentum flung off the Atlantic at dizzying speeds, a coolness brushing the cheek that speaks not just of the loss of the sun but unsettled fronts, the greying swirly mass, full of menacing shadow.
I was celebrating tonight. The farmer and the farmer’s wife sauntered around and we barbecued slowly pork, chicken, sausage, beef and ribs. The children played themselves out, the light went, the soft lamp at the top of the garden lit us in dim pools, quite decadent, underneath the summer house canopy, in damn good company, just us, terribly well in ourselves and the bats flying their tremendous erratic courses.
The celebration? Ah, yes, the celebration.
Regular readers might know that I have been working in the garden for these past eight months, lacking a proper job to keep me from the inevitable mischief. While such travails of DIY have been interesting, this week, I completed a deal to buy a business, most exciting times.
I rarely talk about myself, I know it is rude. Yet, it is pertinent for me to share with you in this significant week.
The business is an insurance broker that deals mainly with charities. It is an area I know well. It is small enough that I can buy it and a good enough base that I am excited about it. This is it, although the website is yet unchanged and scheduled for an overhaul: Ladbrook. It is not much, it will be more.
We need to move to the Peaks / Sheffield. I am lucky to have an adventurous family that share my own personal motto. It has been a stressful time but one that I feel no regrets for.
My last job was a full on executive piece… all the trimmings. I executed my responsibilities well enough but being a glutton, gorged at the rich feast and towards the end felt tired. The last company was great, the people excellent, plentiful characters, we had success, I reminisce with warm nostalgia.
Now though, I wanted something that only belonged to me and my team and no master. Is this greedy, I don’t feel like it is, more it is about sharing in something that is yours. I am sure that business owners reading (and there must be plenty in the Majors fine audience) know the note I am trying to strike.
I also feel an apology is due. In recent months,the standard of converse here has dropped. I have not been able to see through the cloud of whirling thoughts to reach into new territory. I still feel unable now. At least you understand why… There is a lot going on.
I have no idea how this story ends. I just know that I don’t want mediocrity, neither the mundane. I don’t want to tick over, I want to exist.
I met the new team this week. One, sharp-eyed sort had done her homework on me (good on her) and unsure how to raise it mentioned that she read something about horse racing. Ha! She has my measure.
Never has the Major’s motto been so apt.
Saturday Racing Tips
Not a great week last week. One good winner and not much else. I can feel the gods are with me, moving in the air about me, urging us on to the mothership.
It is Eclipse day and the small field is a travesty. This is the Eclipse the great moment where the leading middle distance classic crop get to take on the elders and settle some arguments amongst racing pundits.
Just one three year old makes the line up, the 2/5 favourite Golden Horn. What is not to like, it was my tip for the Derby (unfortunately not at the earlier fancier prices) and since Jack Hobbs has since won the Irish Derby, the form is set in stone.
I cannot offer any insight into the race because while the Grey Gatsby is a fine horse, who was a little unlucky in his Ascot race last time out, I am unsure as to whether that exertion took more from him. See, I cannot even get to backing a good forecast. No bet, let’s move on.
In the 2pm, I am going to suggest backing Son of Africa at a generous 10/1. James Doyle has been riding Henry Candy’s good ones and there might be more to come from this one. He looked like sprinting was the game when winning at 5f at the first time of asking and that trainer / jockey combination has been smoking. On this last point, I always urge you to consider the connectivity between the fact (7 wins from 13 runs last two years) from the reason. Is it a normal outlier and therefore of little use or is it indicative of future chance? Time will tell but I always think that it must give the jockey every confidence and that in itself is a positive mark on the ledger for Son of Africa. Great name for a horse too. Out of Equiano that great sprinting beast who was demolishing simple Spanish fields.
I really like Basem in the 2.35 Coral Challenge. It is a favourite and the race sponsors are standout best price at 9/2. He is a full brother to Farhh who was a quality beast and he is shaping the same way. His record of getting his nose in front is fine, his trainer is coming back to some form and critically, he has enjoyed a win on similar rattling ground.
The Coral Distaff at 3.10 is a nice shaped market for us to find a tasty winner. Jellicle Ball has her fans but I am not one. She has only ever won her debut on the sand at Kempton and no matter what the form lines, I don’t like the filly sorts that struggle to get their head in front.
Black Cherry looks extremely progressive. Hannon did not start the season in the best form and she was hardly prominent when an eleven length tenth in a class 4 Newmarket race on seasonal debut. That form was forgotten in two subsequent runs, the last of which was highly impressive and now rated 99, it was the time to move into listed company.
She is out of Mount Nelson, probably the best value for money sire about. He stands for under £10k but he was out of champion miler Rock of Gibraltar, won a G1 himself and in his early seasons with less than the cream of the mares to cover, has produced the likes of Berkshire and Volume, decent sorts.
I am a little torn. I can make a strong case for Black Cherry but I also think 12/1 for Blond Me is a gift. She looks progressive too, winning readily last time from a John Gosden trained sort.
In the end, Blond Me might be progressive but Black Cherry boasts more on the positive side of the ledger. 5/2 is the price but she is drifting.
The Lancashire Oaks up at Haydock is also a nice market for a bet. Miss Marjurie is seeking a third win on the bounce but with a bit of storm weather in the ground, I am not sure she will be best suited. This is also a step up in class to Group 2 level and she has been battling out her wins (admirable in itself I suppose).
That said about the ground, surely with the sun bearing down, it will be good?
I am minded to give Queen of Ice a go at 6/1. She does not want it soft but has performed with some cut. She is nicely bred and hopefully will leave the seasons debut run behind. She was very green looking that day and hopefully it has tuned her up for a more business-like performance.
The Old Newton Cup is a darn hard puzzle to solve but I shall throw a dart in the mix.
Brian Ellison is a yard I can rarely bring myself to bet on but Apterix has a chance at 10/1. His amateur rider got him there last time up and maybe this was the idea. After all, he is bottom weight, just sneaking in. McDonald is taking over too in the saddle.
May your dinner be splendid and fun. Top up the claret, tip well.
The Martin Hill: An Asterix and Basem double.
Courage, roll the dice.