Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Saturday Sermon – Beverley Bullet, Goodwood and Cartmel Tips

How to describe the Worcestershire vista? How can I do justice?  PoorlyI think.

I write from a Worcestershire drifting from the summer light, the vibrancy fading, dying.  Such a glorious death too, lavish streaks of red pink light flash across the azure blue, darkening into the abyss.  The cool air speaks of Autumn and of fences to come, be still my beating heart, be still.

Ever since the death of Sir Clement Freud, the position of the Majors hero has remained vacant.  I am not rushing to fill it, I need an exceptional candidate after all, good with the bottle, look of devilment, some fair damn fine skill and a dash of je ne sais qui.  Aye, you have to be choosy in your role models.

She is too fine a person.  Malala.  Yet, my heart aches when I hear that tinkle of a voice, in that lovely sing-song lilt.  Well, it reduces me to fond thoughts, it drives the shadows from my mind and welcomes the tide on which rides the call for me to be a better person.

Malala.  To be shot for being a good school girl and to stand strong for what you believe, education for all.  A Birmingham lass as well, at least by adoption, I am sure her heart is more Swat valley.  Quite the orator. I don’t know what magic is required in crafting words that discharge such charisma to immediately force your change your mind.  Read the opening lines of the Gettysburg address and tell me it is not witchcraft. Malala carries some of that.

Sadly though, she is too proper and too little of my time is spent in such hallowed cleanliness.

If he were alive, Chinese Gordon would be a candidate.  Again, never the finished article, too damn dangerous and a bit too moral for my money but quite the man.  I say too moral, in recuperation in Palestine, he became a devout Christian, I always find them an ultimate bore.

Gordon came to grief in Khartoum.  On the way, he took in all of the triumph and disaster of British Victorian might, projected around the world.  The Crimea, India and his crowning glory, China.  He marched on Peking defeating numerically daunting foe in the field with his french allies, commanded by Montauban.  He marched up to the gates, got the treaty signed, burned the summer palace (under orders from Elgin, grandson of the other destroyer of the arts) and returned victorious.

Khartoum though.  My God, Khartoum.  Put simply and concisely, which is all I have time for, Chinese Gordon was sold out.

At the time, Egypt was a British Protectorate, the French had built the Suez canal, but British engineers laid the railway, all the way to the Red Sea from Alex, far more humanely too.

Sudan and Egypt have often fallen to war and never quite managed a peaceful trust.  Sudan was a major benefactor of the Eastern Slave routes.  As prosperous and almost as numerous as slaves moved over the Middle Passage from the muggy Western African coasts, was the trade in the East.  The Arabs bought slaves out of East Africa and transported them to India, across the Middle East and Turkey.  Considering what we know of the American Slave trade, this side barely gets a mention.  Not that another evil quiets the first.

Sudan was in ruin when the mighty Britannia called a stop to the heinous business.  It fell to war with its Northern neighbour but the unrest was also religious.  Darfur was eventually beset by Mahdist revolutionaries who worshipped their leader Muhammed Ahmad and Chinese Gordon found himself sat upon the bonfire.

Being a fine military mind he turned the residents into a fine defence force.  He organised the guns and in the face of a far superior foe and with London unwilling to reinforce, well… He must have known his fate.

Indeed, he did.  It would have been possible for him to take his relief but he never did.  He could have secured the whole country too had less experienced folk listened to him but pride prevailed.

In the end, Britain called for him to leave but Gordon could not.  Here I depart slightly from my hero, as a coward will in the face of real courage.  He knew to stay would be death but his honour would not allow him to go.  Even his enemy, Ahmad, would have been willing for him to go before he sacked the city.  Probably self-preservation, even the staunchest Mahdist must have realised that to kill one of the white Queens main figureheads was to call upon her vengeance with all of the horrible forces that bought against you.

Gordon stayed and fought.  He died, heroically depicted taking a spear as he defended the steps from his enemy.

His statue used to stand in Trafalgar Square under Nelsons gaze, between the fountains.  Quite an apt spot for a man whose essence was the British Imperial.  Exporting his own version of fairness, christianity, commerce and civilisation.  I do not pretend these adventures were without ill as we gaze back from our lofty heights.  Yet, he was willing to die for it, he felt justice so strongly.

My admiration is as strong for the heroism as the foolishness.  On that note, we enter the fray of the weekends betting.

To the sports

Tips for Cartmel, Goodwood and Beverley.

I must confess that Cartmel is high on the list of race courses unvisited.  The sizzle of BBQ meats in the car park, in the foothills of the magnificent lake district, the setting is spectacular, even if I cannot report as an eye-witness.  The lakes; Surely God exists to paint such greens and blues.

Anyway, I was asked to review the Cartmel card and being a sucker for a request, here it is.  I would want to look at trainer form at such a course, noting the good to soft ground and beside that, have an eye for those good Northern jockeys.

Yes, to hell with the big Saturday races (not that big this week), we are in for Cartmel. @gregor31 asked for it.

Not many that Henderson sell go on to better but Killiecrankie left under a cloud and is now swimming in quite waters.  The yard have won with two of their runners here but none of the other four placed giving me to think that it is statistically irrelevant.  That said Henry Brooke is their go to jockey 9 places from 14 runs.

Killiecrankie is a tremendous each way bet but Scrafton is the winner at 5/4.  Skinny, yes but a recent winner and Brian Hughes in the saddle.

Bougietopieces is the Elliott runner in the second and with a strong record at the track, I am interested.  It is a young racer but the signs are not promising, even dropped into this grade.  Could be a day our for connections.

No, my money rests on Izsbushka.  Having the best jockey in the race is a bonus, Mr Hughes again, as balanced as Ruby but less of the flourish.  The horse does not have the pace for the flat anymore but Cartmel and jumping will suit.  They rarely finish in a heap here and ours might be doing the best he can muster at the end.  7/1, thank you.

3.15… 40/1.  40s, that is some price.  The 3.15 is a poor poor race.  I can make arguments for them but none are convincing.  That leaves me with an itch to bet Mystified who is too old to improve but might not have to play a part.  Granted, I need the top two to fail but they may well do and my old champion has conditions to suit.

I can’t make it through the Cartmel card.  So my last bet is 4.25 and Solway Legend.  It is another Hughes ride (he will bring us winners my friends).  Exposed as the rest on the Cartmel card but not disgracing himself at all.

The Beverley Bullet

Maarek is the class act in the race. This is definitely a step down in class for the Group 1 winner who loves to get his toe in the mud.  There is the problem.  He has never won anything without soft or heavy in the description and there lies the problem.  He needs rain, lots of rain.

I like two three year olds in the race.  Northgate Lad and Diktar Del Mar are both with a good chance, yet not as good as the ‘class-dropping’ Line of Reason’ who I reckon is worth a right tasty punt!

Goodwood – The Celebration

Kodi Bear has won two of the last three, one a G2.  Yet it is hardly a bullet proof 4/6 shot and I want one at a bigger price.

Cable Bay is my pick at 6/1.  One could describe the horse as a fine juvenile that never quite got that high again.  Some of that is true and while I accept the limitations, in the face of a dodgy odds-on shot, I will happily get amongst the ne’er do wells in the cheap seats.

I am too tired to cover the football or cricket or tiddlewinks.

I shall say this.  May your dinner be taken in the best company.  You know that sort, whose style is geek.  Ponytails and ginger, wide-eyed, almost innocent but damn knowing and rendering you fluttered.  Their mouths widen in smile with an innocence I wish I had.  My heart longs that I might be worthy.

The Martin Hill: Mystified and Solway Legend… e/w double

Courage, roll the dice

The Saturday Sermon on York Ebor day – Tips across the card

Good morning from the Major who writes refreshed after a deep slumber to find pleasant light pooling on Worcestershire washed along by a warm breeze that speaks of the Earth being baked later today.

The Major has accepted an offer of purchase on this Worcestershire home from where I have written to you so often.  The time has come to move and soon, within weeks; a month or so; you will have to adapt to receiving your Saturday meteorological reports as they will concern the rolling green lands of North Nottinghamshire or South Yorkshire.  The times are changing.

I had a 100/1 winner on Wednesday.  I managed to complicate my staking strategy in the rush I was in that I did not exactly land a mothership when surely I should have done.  Still, 100/1; that does not happen often.  Stick with me another 6 years, it will come again!

As if the farce could not descend further, the Labour party took it’s awful democratic process of electing a new leader to new depths this week.  So flagrant is the unfairness of banning new members on such wooly grounds without due recourse (before the leadership vote) that one has to wonder whether some of it is a deliberate ploy to get the whole thing called off.

Somebody asked me if I was a Tory on twitter this week.  Now, I have always considered it rude to ask someone of their voting record but I guess one’s attitudes and behaviours might signal a political persuasion.

My own is more complex than party politics. I have voted for a full range of people in the past.  Sometimes it is based on me supporting a local MP and the value of their community work trumping any preference in my interests at a national party level.  After all, your MP is you chosen representative, choose well.

There are two things that I believe mankind would be better served by understanding better.  The first is to de-program our minds from believing in certainties.  The second is a true understanding of probability.

In considering the first, political persuasion is a an excellent case in point.  In asking whether I was a Tory, a person had a clear idea of what that meant and was trying to match me to whatever it was for them.  If I replied yes, then I accept the pigeon-hole perception of all the baggage that comes with it.  Life is never so simple.  You cannot equate politics and sport.

For my sins I am a supporter (with a small s as I struggle to garner much fire for the sport) of West Brom.  I once sat in the Birmingham City end to see them beat West Brom many years ago.  Andy Johnson was superb for Blues, murdering us on the right flank although oddly, his teammates seemed reluctant to play him into the game much.  Sat in that stand, I learned the strength of a partisan spirit. Fouls I saw were called as dives, all logic was lost through a perverted tinted view of events.  Unable to show my own feeling on events, I was forced to consider more whether that was a penalty or whether that foul deserved a booking.  If you want to learn how unfair your mind is, sit silently with your foe, feigning friendship.

No one political party could possibly capture the range of views I hold.  I wish others would stop pretending in the certainty that it could.  I know twitter is an awful place for politics but there are so many certain people there that I wish would stop, draw breath and ask themselves.  Should I give my undying support to a party no matter what it does.  If they did, fewer occurrences of policy disaster would occur.  Less Iraq wars and less Poll Tax riots… Complexity exists, stop seeing the world in black and white.  Most decisions are made on a spectrum.

It is true that there are some ‘benefit scroungers’ though the term is unpleasant, no doubt there are those engaged in fraud and some downright lazy folk.  It is true that there are very vulnerable people who need more support.  Where you stand on welfare reform does not mean you dismiss both of these truths.  You simply make a decision on where you stand on the spectrum, perhaps based on how prevalent either problem is.  Because you think austerity should be tempered and more money given to the sick or unemployed and sanctions relaxed, this does not mean you think that people have no responsibility for themselves.  To support a benefit cap does not mean you wish for people to suffer either.  Decisions and life is far more complex.

The next time you find yourself vehemently opposed to someones position on any question of politics, morality, sport…. Deprogram from the defensive and ask how they arrived at their standpoint, get under the skin of the intellectual calculation they made.  They probably have good reason, as do you.  You do not need to adopt their thoughts once you understand them but many good things may occur.  You may question your own position from a more informed standpoint and either moderate or fortify it.  You might achieve the same for the other person too.

As Socrates said and I shall probably misquote horribly.  I am the wisest because I know one thing and that is that I know nothing.

Perhaps this is one of the greatest lessons gambling teaches.  The thing with sports though, is that there is a defined outcome.  A horse will win the race.  A team will win the game, or a draw.

In the face of calculating an opinion on an unknown outcome, in the face of an absolute truth being revealed, our ability to deprogram is vital.  To start with a clean slate, to be able to question those things we convince ourselves to be true.  To understand those with an opposed view and to reason internally about the merits of factors.  To do so without undue influence, without unfair prejudice.  This heightened state, it is almost unattainable but it would make us all better gamblers.

As for my politics, well.  I believe in a smaller state.  I always thought Reagan hit the nail on the head exclaiming that the most terrifying words in the world were…. I am from the government and I am here to help!  

We all want the same things, broadly speaking.  We might just disagree on how to deliver them.  If you fail to see this, then your partisan blinkers will lead you through an intellectually unrewarding life.

To the sports, a clean mind and a mothership to land…. Shabash!

York Tips

The Strensall Stakes.  Four defectors this morning leave ten to go to post.

This Group 3 attracts three year old entries but they do not normally fair so well. We are usually looking for an experienced campaigner and outright shocks are not unheard of.  Several 25/1 nags and a 100/1 rag have trotted up in the past ten years.

I like Top Notch Tonto, those blazing white socks and flashing face are a joy to watch and the horse has some fair ability.  Yet, I believe he was better suited by the stickier ground earlier in the week and may struggle to reel some of these in on ground that surely will be genuine good.

Mondialiste may blaze along and it is a concern for the field that he may be left out there unflustered.

I am chancing Mahsoob, especially since Totesport and Bettered are currently 7/1 about him while others are 5/1.  He looked a smashing sort until last time out at Newcastle and while we have to find an excuse for that performance, I think I can forgive a single bad run.  He was very green looking that day and faded the end.  Dropped in trip, settled well, he has a great chance.  I rate Convey the biggest danger.

2.35 – The Melrose Stakes Handicap.  8/1 the field and the madness begins.  I want two.

Outspoken for O’Brien has the burden of top weight but is entirely unexposed and out of Galileo, could be a group horse, 10/1 I will have it in.  The other is Wonder Laish who won his last race, a maiden at Lingfield admittedly, by half the straight, 8/1.

The Gimcrack often gets the favourite beaten but not by an outsider.  This information does not seem that relevant really, other than, a good horse wins and so concentrate on the top of the market.  Haggas has won several times and Ajaya has filed good form in the UK and France.

King of Rooks has done well in defeat.  I never like those words, you can keep digging for excuses but we need winners if we are going to land this mothership.  Sod it, I love it when Wesley Ward brings his monster juveniles over, they always look like they have been on steroids!  Finnegan is on the drift at 4/1 but it does not put me off.  Have a slice that the American bullies our frail sorts out of it.

The big one, the Ebor.  I cannot recall ever winning this but endeavour is never lacking in the sermon my friends.

My criteria.  5 years old plus.  Trained by a shrewdie.

My selection: Clondaw Warrior – 6/1

Mullins had a winner yesterday with Max Dynamite, he does so well sending his string flat racing and while it looks obvious, I am not put off by that.  Clondaw has been superb this season, winning at Ascot and Galway. He is ground adaptable too.  Quick Jack is a worthy second favourite and I will consider a saver on that too.

In the 4.20, we have an odds on favourite in Ornate.  After fading badly at Windsor on debut, he left it all behind winning a Ripon race than now looks mighty good.  Of the 4 horses behind him, only one is yet to win.  There are some obvious credentials and these conditions are perfect.

Rousseau would do well in this company to go post to post.  You feel his job today is to set it up.  Riflescope is more experienced and carries an extra burden on account of his listed win.  He is good but exposed. It has to be Ornate.  Paddy are still evens.

The last two handicaps….

4.55 Pacify 8/1

5.25 Foreign Diplomat 14/1

The Martin Hill: Mahsoob and Clondaw in a power double.

May your dinner be glorious, taken at great state and in fine company.  One of those nice Italian restaurants where the waiters scuttle to be a service (finest waiters in the world) and the crisp wines and fresh pasta give you great pleasure.

Courage, roll the dice.


York Wednesday Tips…. Go on then!

I’ve seen one too many tweet saying it is nigh on impossible to win money at York today and so I am going to have a pop.

Good to soft?  Are you having a laugh?  Surely it is deeper than that? Well I am treating it as proper slow ground and looking for performers and pedigrees to match.

These are my 6.  No frills, no time.  Working for a living these days.  Saturday Sermons will still contain a lecture as you have come to expect.  By the way, I saw that some cheeky tipping site has started a Sunday Sermon service.  The absolute bare-faced flagrant plagiarising thieves.  They will hear from my lawyer.  Well they won’t.  They say it is a form of flattery, I doubt they even thought of me.

Here we go.  York Tips:

1.55 Dutch Masterpiece 11/1

2.30 Recorder 5/1

3.05 Tashaar (just over Bondi Beach) 9/2

Juddmonte 3.40 – Who will run is the best question.  Being out of Cape Cross, Golden Horn, the horse of the year might struggle on genuine soft.  That is how I think the ground will play and so I cannot bet him.  Problem is the entire field are unproven on soft ground and we don’t know if either thee top two will line up.  If all 8 did, I’d be sorely tempted to play Arabian Queen at 100/1 each way.  OK, there is best part of two stone to be made up but at least she gets a weight allowance and has won on soft.  Otherwise, no bet.

4.20 Treasure The Ridge e/w 28/1

4.55 Shawaahid 11/1

Right, some of us have work to do.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Tips from Ripon and Newbury, Geoffrey Freer, Great St Wilfrid et al.

Good evening from the Major from a cool brooding Worcestershire where a sky of a thousand greys mixes in angry swirls and offers little hope.  Having slumbered mid way through the job, I awaken to a fresher more pleasing morning, natures fury subsides.

The Major is tired and so this will be brief, or not, depending on how the writing gremlins get to work on me as I type.  A big week, we accepted an offer on the very building I write from.  The land I have loved, the shades of the land, the rolling landscape, the glorious greens of a summer morning, crisp clear skies having swept the rain clouds from them, the ground fertile and splendid, stretching away across and to Bredon Hill.  I have felt quite intimate with it, getting used to the ebb and flow of the seasons played out on the fields before my window.

Ah, I shall miss Worcestershire and I shall miss this house.  In summer it is pleasant and cool.  In winter, it is a delight.  To slip the bar home, securing the home and then to light the burner leaving its door open, the flagrant inefficiency repaid by the crackle and pop of the wood.

Aye, this is a difficult place to leave.  Still, I am sure Yorkshire has its own entries on the positive side of the ledger, some of which I have seen already.

I shall file for your delectation, my early report on Sheffield as a city.  I have been staying with Steve, a generous chap of brutish scale.  If his face wasn’t so warm, he’d be a terror to look at, ambling and length of limb, carrying weight with a hint of Welsh menace.  The man is smart and I have enjoyed discussing politics with him and he knows his food which is a fine quality in someone hosting you.  If you suggest a local convenient curry house, he will reply with a firm no, a non-negotiable tone that has you driving across town to an alternate, yet the effort is always rewarded with a fine meal.  That sort of knowledge requires effort and attention.

Sheffield is a lovely place.  Very green, very undulating and most friendly.  The greenness comes from a clearly long-standing municipal tradition to building public spaces which are vast and frequent, well-kept and well used.

The undulation is impressive.  Meandering across the city in my car at dusk, I wind along ridges turning suddenly to seeing attractive urban vistas spread before me like a toy town, all twinkling and spectacular.  The architecture while not dramatic is diverse and often imaginative.

The friendliness of the folk though is the finest quality.  Shopkeepers are delighted to see you, people in low paid employment thank you for your custom, they smile back. The people are all practical and forthright, eye contact. Generally they are a fine lot and I feel quite at ease and welcome.  That plus a vibrant student community whose youth feels alien to me as I hurtle towards forty.

New pastures.  Remember the Majors words, we float by just the once, take hold of whatever comes on the tide friends.

To the sports.

Newbury and Ripon

Not the finest week of racing and I am keeping this brief as I need rest.

I am going to start with the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury, a group two for that awkward 7f sort who is better than sprinting but never a middle distant animal.  On soft ground too, I think I can find the winner.  Seemingly, we have to concentrate on Breton Rock and Here Comes When who boast great form in their books and both will love the softer ground.  Yes, I can see the benefit but I think the market is primed for a bigger priced horse.

I like a big outsider too; That is the Spirit can be backed at 22/1 and is one of 6 horses I would say will get by in conditions, he was considered.  Yet, I forsake him for a 25/1 shot (in a single place, Betfair) in Coulsty but 20/1 generally.  Hannon had a great day on Friday and seems to be hitting a rhythm.  The horse has won in good company on soft ground and was hardly disgraced last time at the top table.  I think these conditions are perfect and a place is the least of my hopes.

The listed race at Newbury gives me my bet of the day.  Palawan has decent form but being out of Mount Nelson and never been run on soft before, I’d be concerned about conditions.  I love it when I can get at the favourite.  Mark Johnstone has an excellent record in this race and saddles Dessertoflife who I’d back with all your liquid worth at 4/1 (Betfred – Remember the Major is entirely free, no adverts, no links, no affiliations.  I do this for the love and the sick twisted masochistic pain).  The horse is bred to win in the mud and has done so already, she can progress further and we have the best jockey in the race, always an advantage in a small field.

Newbury 2.35pm is the Geoffrey Freer.  It also has suffered some defections and I want to be on the side of Pallasator at 9/2.  No trainer on earth hits winning streaks quite like Sir Mark Prescott and when his string are in form, it pays to be on side.  Of his last 20 runners, 10 have won and while Newbury is not a common hunting ground for the yard, it only whets my appetite further.  Have another healthy slice, don’t you dare go near the each way button, what are you, timid and weak?

20 horses over 6 furlongs at Ripon, the best rated 104, the worst 91.  The Great St Wilfrid, Ripon,  3.30, is a nice race to finish on.  I know, only four races again but I am tired enough and if you want more, well, let you wish for it.

A lot is rightly made of O’Mearas recent record in the St Wilfrid, winning three of the last four runnings.  He throws one dart, Eccleston and has Tudhope on board, a rider I respect.  Lot’s to like at 9/1.  He will be breaking alongside the major season improver, Poyle Vinnie and they might have to use a bit of energy to grab that favoured far rail.  The top weight might not be done yet, his Stewards Cup run was probably better than the bare result, considered, both of them.

The favourite, Don’t Touch has plenty going for it too.  Unbeaten, he arrives in this contest for only his fourth start.  He has shown an aptitude for softer ground and being out of Dutch Art, these conditions should be fine.  His Dam is out of Falbrav, a horse that always makes me smile when I see it in the bloodline since it was John’s (House fire a few years ago, died earlier this year) favourite.

I am backing both Eccleston and Don’t Touch and let’s hope the race is won over on that rail.  Wins and a small reverse forecast for fun.

To the football.

I was impressed with West Ham at 13/10 last weekend and I want them at 13/10 at home to beat Leicester whose goal rush came against a poor Sunderland.  Everton don’t look the same team and I would want Southampton at 19/20 and finally, Stoke are the ideal long shot team to win at Spurs, organised, strong and they can worry them out of the contest, 9/2.

The Martin Hill: Double, Dessertoflife and West Ham.

May your dinner be taken at the table of a good friend, a stock of good wines that leave no fear that the place will run dry.  Drink, be happy, eat fully and laugh.  We go by just the once, choose good company.

Courage and roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon… Shergar Cup Day

Good evening from the Major who writes from a Worcestershire falling to slumber under a spacious sky.  The air has been clogged, dirty and close through the passage of the day but as the sun fell, the air changed and a cleaner breeze came through.

Meeting a friend for drinks, I was introduced to a quirky little bar at the end of Gloucestershire airports runway.  We sat and watched various small aircraft saunter in and out, to a lovely backdrop and the cooling air was pleasant.

Another week in Sheffield, the Major is drop dead tired.  I do like that city though, full of mischief.  As I fall to the weekend, you will forgive that I lack the appetite for a full sermon.  What with the business , Ladbrook, ironic I know, taking a full toll on my energy, I can only get to run through the Ascot card.

I do like Shergar Cup day.  I know it splices opinion but let’s be fair, it is not billed as top class racing, it is billed as fun.  It is.  I like the novel format and I must say, with no little surprise I add, that it has given me some decent days.  I say surprise because with some great unknown quantities, it is not a day to be taking your punting too seriously.  Still, to Ascot, to Shergar Cup day.

More than just financial though, do you recall the sheer vibrancy that the Canadian jockey, Emma Jayne Wilson who radiated enthusiasm in a way so far removed from the professional cold response from some of the European top jocks.

Ascot Shergar Cup Day Tips

I have to be on Double Up in the starter, the dash.  The horse has a fine record sprinting and won’t mind the firm ground one little bit.  Varian is in lovely touch and 11/4 is an honest enough price, even in a sprinting handicap as I fully expect the horse to be seen in the late summer group sprints.  The others I considered were….Midlander but he has an engagement in the last race too which I suspect he will go to.  My final challenger for the dreaded bold type was rank outsider Lightscameraaction, on whom I will have a 33/1 saver.  He had some earlier promising form and while he has put in a couple of shockers, maybe gelding and a break will get his mind back on the job.

In the second, the Montjeu bred Hassle is market leader but try as I might, I don’t think Hayley has looked anything like close the dedicated jockey she was back in the day she was winning Group 1s on Dream Ahead.  No, my money will rest on Castilo Del Diablo at 7/1, He has an unusual profile as his all-weather exploits might give you the impression he is a good to soft horse at best.  I think he is versatile and this trip on good to firm will be fine.  He is a hold up sort and has looked ungenuine when asked to lead so let’s hope that Graham Lee can deliver him to perfection.

I do like Innocent Touch in the 2.05pm but his honest efforts have him a tad exposed, yet Smullen is one of the jocks I would really trust here.  Xinbama has improved but probably needs to step up again to take this.  It is possible but Charlie Hills is not in the best touch and is no Ascot specialist either.  No Thank you sir.  Elbereth for me, Graham Lee again and I though his penultimate win from out of the handicap was a fine performance.  Subsequently, his Old Newton Cup run was on the surface a bit disappointing but that was an odd run race and progress can resume.  Healthy slice at 11/2.

In the 2.40, Halation with the aid of Jamie Spencer might put a good foot forward but it is not one to have maximum faith in. I am going to roll the dice a bit on Red Avenger at 12/1.  Ed Dunlop could be in better form but the horse has some capability and while not certain to run his race, the price gives ample compensation.

For the third time I am tipping a Graham Lee ridden beast in the 3.15pm, where I think Mark Johstone’s Polarisation, may take all the beating.  He has been running well and was unlucky at Goodwood, I feel certain he will be doing his best work at the end and would be shocked not to him place in a race where not that much else stands out.  13/2 in a spot.

I said I liked Midlander and I shall stick to my thoughts.  5/1.

If you close your eyes and strain your ears to the wind, you might hear the engines of the mothership.  I saw Martin Hill in the week, he politely reminded me that I am trying to win him money!

The Martin Hill: Elbereth and Polarisation double.

May your dinner be taken in fine state, dripping in the most beautiful people that good money and a fine sense of humour might attract.

Courage, roll the dice.