The Saturday Sermon: The Golden Horn question. #Ascot et al

Good morning from the Major who writes from a Worcestershire ‘coming to’ from a god fearing session.  Yesterday, heavy grey skies swirled and eddied over the land, continual precipitation flung from the North Atlantic, so dense it seemed it might never end

Falling asleep the gentle pitter patter was pleasant, waking to a blue sky and cloud broken sun, more so.

The Major has found sleeping at the weekend is coming much more readily since I started working again.  Partly the travel to Sheffield, carrying the requisite accoutrement for clothing, bathing et al.  This existence is tiring.  Having to remember, needing to improvise when you do not.  Some folk are well organised, I do not count myself in their ranks.

What a mess the Labour party have found themselves in.  My 50/1 stakes on Corbyn (it is not after timing if you urged people to get on board) is now tradeable at 3/1.

The reaction from the Labour party has been to launch the great and good of the party out to demean his candidacy.  Sadly, Blair, Kendall and many others are missing the point.  The supporters of Corbyn are more interested in having a leader that represents their views rather than someone who will win an election.  They are foolish to do so in my view but that in itself would only alienate them further.  Supporting Corbyn is like buying a branded expensive watch, you do so not for the utility but for how it makes you look to others and subsequently how it makes you feel.

I say this not to judge, it is something we all do, yet we do not like to admit it.  I once created a complex spreadsheet to inform me which company car was the most utilitarian to acquire.  When my algorithm spat out an answer, I had to revisit the calculation to ensure it gave me a Mercedes.

I see Corbyn largely as a failure of a weak Conservative argument for many years.  Some commentators think that their line on Labour profligacy prior to 2010 was effective, I do not think it was.  The issue dates back to 2010 when the Conservatives were elected in coalition.  At the time they did not stand on that ticket.  They were obsessed with trying to shed their own cloak of being ‘nasty’ and thus an argument that we were overspending, that the state was too large was simply not going to play to their tune.

As a result, subsequent austerity policy was argued on the hoof.  Remember them saying that it was not until they were in power that they could see how bad things were.  What rot.  They knew, Labour knew and what was needed was some pre-election honesty.  The Conservatives did not trust the electorate with that honesty and what we face today, I believe grew from that bad seed.

The economic argument that larger states spending more will grow the private sector, is nonsense.  This is a personal belief but a strong one.  Yes, there are people wishing to persuade that this is true who will highlight correlations in history.  The same correlations exist the other way too though.

If this is duplicitous, the Labour reaction to history has been equally so.  None could blame Labour for the worldwide economic downturn on 2007.  That they were running an unnecessary deficit at the time was an error but the magnitude of difference it would have made to the decisions we had to subsequently make, well it is marginal.

Yet, this simple truth froze them.  With Conservatives egging on their case that our predicament, the need to cut spending, was all connected to a perceived profligacy, Labour dithered over an effective response.  Asked outright at the Leaders debate, Miliband clearly stated that no, he did not think Labour had spent too much; the crowd booed.  This denial hit a bad note, it looked like he cold not admit a fault, no matter how small.  I think folk saw it as either deliberately untruthful or badly naive.  He let himself be boxed into that position over a deficit that at the time was not the most significant part.  I would be more concerned with the hundreds of billions of pounds that government committed to spending on PFI for a measly £65bn of assets, now that was criminal.  If you wish to pin a tag to the Labour party of believing in a money tree, then PFI not the deficit is the smoking gun.

Corbyn has no problem denying the case of over-spending.  Unlike me, he believes that it was not the case.  A man of principle, I will give him his due.  Yet, he is also the most unelectable leader of the opposition I have ever seen.  This might not matter to his legions of supporters.  I understand why they are so fed up at the mealy-mouthed weak offering served up on all political fronts.  If you do not trust the electorate to deal with a dose of reality, this is the natural end position.  Politicians desperate not to do anything that might offend the masses.  This is Corbyns chief benefit.  He speaks clearly and honestly.

Anyway, he bags me a sizeable sum should he become elected, so go on Jez, give it to them.  I could never vote for him, for a start, while casual dress has pervaded most parts of civic life, I am not prepared to accept his sports jacket and open shirt in colours that would shame a nursing home, no Sir.

I’d go for Liz.  Best of a bad bunch.  Andy sways in the wind and Cooper looks like a female Ed Balls and the public does not deserve that.  Corbyn fans, I am sure you are spitting right now about her being another Tory, just like me right?  I get it, don’t shout, it is early, relax, we can all have our views.  She is a little easier on the eye at least and if the political fare we are to be served in forthcoming years is to remain sloppy and lukewarm, well, at least let it be done by better looking people.

As for my own politics?  I’d be a liberal democrat if they were liberal.  I have voted both blue and red before.  I find it hard to associate with any particular party, so there.  I don’t have one, though my tendency towards liberalism in its truest sense leans me more towards a small c conservatism.  Anyway, you don’t have to support a team to find the game interesting.

Don’t be offended if you disagree, I know I could be wrong, as long as do not consider yourself an authority on the truth either, then we can be content in each others company.  Put the politics away and let’s get to the sports.

Ascot King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes: Golden Horn.

What to make of Ascot.  The King George and QE Stakes is a fine old race but an odd one on the calendar.  The supporting cast for this Group one is pretty shallow, a Group 3 being the best the rest of the card has to offer.  Three year olds still get 10lbs which at this stage of the season is generous and in Golden Horn we have a potential star of his generation.  Will he run?  Will he get the ground?

Connections were concerned about his stamina prior to the Derby.  I must confess, I did not share that concern and he counts as one of my successful Derby tips.  Now on soft Ascot ground, with that stiff finish, they must be in a proper quandary.  Connections have been associated with the sponsorship of the race for three decades, to have a potential winner must be hard to walk away from, yet if they think he won’t act on the ground, on a stiff track, well, surely they had better scratch him and start thinking about the tactics required to master Treve instead?

Will he go on the ground?  Hard to be sure.  Being out of Cape Cross, you would think better ground is his forte, his action to the eye would suggest that to me too but you don’t know until they try.

A further interesting question is, will the ground actually be soft?  Yes, it rained constantly yesterday and the reports on track were pretty poor.  Remember though, Ascot is to my mind, the fastest draining piece of earth in this land.  The raining is done and the sun is due to bake the turf all morning.  I would not be surprised if it is not verging on good to soft by the off.

Some enterprising bookmaker will go evens at the off.  Take it.  Golden Horn is the class act.  I think that the soft ground will have evaporated much by the time the gates open and I predict an SP of 2/5.

If the questions about Golden Horn leave us scratching our heads, the same must apply to the 2.05, juvenile fillies race.  There is not a proven soft ground runner in the field which makes the market highly intriguing.

The Haggas horse looks a shoe-in on form but I am not at all sure that cut in the ground is desired.  The one I think might benefit is Great Page at 8/1 with Hills and Ladbrokes.  Being out of Roderick O Connor who won a Criterium in the French mud in his juvenile career, well, we have a chance.

Both Speculative Bid and Heavens Guest make lots of appeal in the 3.15.  Their prices both reflect this but they both looked booked for big runs.  Speculative Bid and Jamie Spender is a great match and they are proving a formidable team, it is perfectly possible that the winning and improving is not yet done.  Heavens Guest (like Speculative Bid) is very happy with a bit of give underfoot and will be primed for the day.  On jockey bookings, I prefer Speculative Bid who can be backed at 8/1 but suggest a saver on Heavens Guest.

Tips from York

The Sky Bet York Stakes goes off at 2.55 and Custom Cut will carry the cash of his army of fans.  This looks very winnable too.  Tha’ir rates a danger and if he can eek out a bit more improvement, he might be a player.  I am tempted with Bragging though who certainly needs to bounce back, yet this is a Stoute horse and he knows how.  9/1 and drifting is not much of an advert and I fear I might regret abandoning Custom Cut.

I struggled to get a horse in the Dash.  Shore Step made the thinking frame as did old boy Tangerine Trees.  God alone knows I’ve lost enough money on Hoof It during his barren spell and leaving him be today will almost certainly spark a monstrously unexpected revival.  No, Shore Step it is.  16/1 with Stan James with four places paid.

Outside of racing, I would back Quintana at 11/10 (if you can stomach a Betway account) or evens (Skybet) to win the stage of the Tour de France.  I am no expert but this is the last chance in the alps to take time out of Froome and Sky looked tired yesterday while Quintana looked a machine.

The Martin Hill: Shore Step and Speculative Bid double.  A quiet week.

May your dinner be fresh pasta, coupled with some of those delicious Italian flavours, fine white wines and glorious company, all full raven hair and wild dark eyes.

Courage, roll the dice.

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