Good morning from the Major who writes from the grey sodden landscape of a Worcestershire muffled by deep cloud, it suffocates the land, trees gently sway in an undetermined breeze and, do you know, for some reason, I find it comforting.
I feel like I am emerging from a cocoon. Nine and a half hours sleep, only broken once, separate me from a man so alien, I cannot believe he is me.
A week in Sheffield, staying in Steve’s flat (@pieaytollah27). He is such a generous guy, he left me the keys for his modern pad before boarding his plane, to enjoy three weeks in the States with his mates. NFL, baseball, you get the drift, I wouldn’t pay good money for it myself but I am envious.
Steve flat without Steve is a dangerous place for me. There are no temperance factors to my behaviour, no family, no Steve. Steve generally does not drink in the week but he likes to eat and he enjoys good drama. That sets up a reasonable balance for an evening in with me cracking into the booze but the evening neatly framed and bought to a conclusion when Steve pulls up stumps, generally 12-1am. This week, debauchery levels have been of my free choosing.
Hence, I arrive at the weekend in need of that deep slumber.
WARNING: SOME GLOATING MAY WELL FOLLOW, SET YOUR FACE TO A FAINT LOOK OF DISGUST.
I know, I should not stoop so low but…. Pay out day for the Major. At the very start of the contest, while he was fighting to get to 35 MP nominations, I tipped up the 50/1 Corbynator to win the Labour Leadership contest. It is the second time this year that I had winners at godly prices. Arabian Queen (100/1) to dethrone Golden Horn is also on the ledger this year although there was a difference between the two.
Regulars know my schtick. I am free, unencumbered by advertising (except WordPress which I earn bugger all from!), I have no affiliate deals, I offer you my mind in all its whirling madness. I am barely profitable. Over a period of time, when recording bets, I have returned modest profits but it goes too onerous to record everything and anyway, modest profits are not our mission. Who goes to war for that? This is a war too, my friends, daub thy paints and call up your heavy charger, have him brushed down and turned out with impeccable bright sheepskins, bear that razor-sharp lance, the tip gleaming 15 feet above the Earth, we join the enemy in the field in pursuit of our glorious mothership, she is coming.
Anyway, Arabian Queen felt like an overpriced outsider but an outsider she was. I made no argument that she was as good as Golden Horn, she just stuck out as one in the field that might act on dead ground when the others cried enough. I would have been delighted with second and crowed about value until you were sick of me.
Corbyn was different, he felt like the winner to me early on. Twitter folk (all of you I think) know I like politics, it can make me a terrible bore. We live in interesting times which is all we can ask for I guess. The post-election leftist angst online was a powerful force. I recognised a landscape (and yes I am wallowing here in pride) that the other candidates, tarred by history could not see. Even if they did, what could they do?
Labour die-hards were hurt in the post-election. They liked Miliband and thought he was the answer. There was a genuine shock that the electorate had said no.
Human nature is something that any gambler studies. We learn to question our judgements in ways that others often fail to do. We learn the real meaning of Socrates who taught us that to be wise, we have to realise that we understand nothing. We learn to swim against tides, no matter how fast the current of popular opinion and perhaps most of all we revisit our thinking whether proven correct or not, to store lessons from the experience.
When a group of people disagree with an opinion you have, there are three phases of reasoning they will use to make themselves feel OK about the fact that you don’t adopt their view. It starts with… You don’t have all the facts.
This stage is simple enough, engage someone on twitter in a contentious debate and they will soon spout out facts to educate you, hoping you will see the light.
Should those facts wash off you, then we enter phase two. You are a bit stupid, aren’t you. If a presentation of the decision-making landscape the eye of the beholder is not enough to make you come to the same conclusion they did, then well, you cannot be as clever as them can you. This is the cause of a lot of human disagreement.
Should you continue to espouse your different opinion, articulating eloquently an alternate position, then you might, I fear be exposed to stage 3. You evil son of a bitch. Yes, if facts could not sway you, if you are intelligent enough to see what is going on but still do not conform to the right way of thinking, then you simply must have an evil motive, you bastard.
The problem is that the world is more complex than that. Wanting the same outcome is not the same as agreeing on how you get there. It is OK not to agree with someone, this is normal, the opposite is groupthink.
Groupthink is how we ended up with Corbyn. I have an observation about his supporters that leads me to believe that they are firmly within an echo chamber and that the appeal of Jeremy across the electorate will be dampened.
None of them have any doubts about their man. Not one. None that I can see anyway.
Think about that and it is odd but consistent with the self-fulfilling process I described above that allows one to keep your self-confidence intact despite others disagreeing with you. Knowing that disagreement does not make the other person more stupid or evil is a key step to being able to divorce the link between disagreeing and having your confidence knocked.
That confidence for young Labour supporters was badly knocked post-election. Polls had led them to believe they were heading for victory. I believed it too and had invested an unwise amount (biggest loss of the year) on a Labour minority government. I could not fathom why the market was not massively odds on for that result and had gone through the gears from 4/1 all the way in to 6/4. Ouch. Polls and twitter do not equal crosses in boxes.
Out of this shock comes the need to rally to a point, something that can reaffirm that you were not wrong, the people who voted for the conservatives were.
Corbyn supporters are unshakable. Their rallies are like cult events. No criticism is allowed of their leader, who personifies their thoughts. His style, his rebellious nature, he stands against those evil bastards. The opportunity to back such a candidate with unshakeable support was just what a community of people hurt by their election defeat needed.
I hate to say it, but I think it will end in tears. A group so certain that they are right and so certain that those that disagree are evil will egg each other on. A single spark can ignite the tinder box that is a march into a riot. Maybe I am being dramatic but I think social unrest by a minority is the end game. Corbyn has himself advocated breaking the law in a just cause, I do not disagree that at times it is needed, whether those times are these is at best questionable.
You might think I am wishing him ill, not at all. I don’t wish ill on anyone. Interesting times.
50/1 though eh…. Gamblers curse, I just wish I had more on!
To the sports.
St Leger Day Tips
The last classic of the season and I find myself moaning that it is the only G1 on the card. In fact, it is the only G1 of the week at Doncaster, something should be done about that.
I like the St Leger, we have plenty of evidence to review to find our winner, you normally have a failsafe trainer to default to (Gosden but not this year) and the race can throw up some odd results and drama (Encke, possibly high beating Camelot denying a triple crown).
What are we in for this year?
Well. Only three of the runners have attempted within 400m of the distance but none of them have run as far. Those three are Bondi Beach, Simple Verse and Fields of Athenry. We have to watch the ground, officially good at the moment, Doncaster will have had a fair dousing from the Atlantic before racing.
Bondi Beach, a late developer, was beaten last time out in the Grand Voltigeur by Storm the Stars who reopposses here. I, for one, was surprised that Storm the Stars kept that race. I must confess to not knowing the rules racing inside and out but he carried Bondi Beach across the course and I cannot believe it did not effect the result.
Will Storm the Stars improve for the step up in trip? Sea The Stars progeny have a record of 14 wins from 60 runs at distances of the Leger and above, being from a Sadlers Wells mare, you would think it is OK.
What is interesting about this years Leger is that there are lots of horses that might want to set the pace. Storm the Stars, Fields of Athenry, Medrano and Vengeur Masque might all be bustled up for a lead and so I don’t think we will want for pace.
The last of those is interesting, progressing nicely in France, this is a tilt at a much bigger contest, Vengeur is one of the unknowns but it would surprise me if it were good enough.
No, I shall focus on the obvious. In a true contest I have to get on Bondi Beach at 9/4. I am doing so with some gusto as well. The Voltigeur is a fine trial for this race, I am in the camp that Bondi would have taken Storm the Stars down and so I am going to bet without restraint. I like these late sorts, they are well prepared. Load the cannons.
The Weber Park Stakes is an interesting contest. There are more questions than answers having read the card and I am minded to look for a bit of value.
Ivawood is a class act but we have not quite seen that class of late and I am wondering if his best days are behind him. Limato has looked a really nice horse at times but 7f (especially if a bit of rain gets in) might be too much. I have doubts about Safety Check in the conditions too, although he is more considered.
My selection has a question too. Lightning Moon (10/1) looked a really good one last year, doing very well in softer ground for a Sharmadal. He emptied over 6f down the Knavesmire in his only run this season, when going off as favourite. Yet, I can forgive that. It was too bad to be true and on very good ground on a specialists track, I am happy to strike a line. The absence of four months also suggests that form was not the reason for his York shocker, have a slice. Lot’s of rain and Breton Rock comes right into it, i am tempted with a 16/1 saver now.
Finally at Donnie, Igidor looks the one to me to get his head in front in the 4.20. It is another horse whose last run needs forgiving but I am happy to do so and get Mr De Sousa in the saddle who is enjoying a tremendous season. 7/2 is available about my tip who is drifting but as they say, the horse does not know the price.
Irish Champions Day Tips
Right… Let’s fly through the best card of the day and give you the winners! I love the format, now three years old I think, of the Irish Champions Day card. During the afternoon and early evening sport, you can dive in and out, bravo, riches indeed!
Backing O’Brien runners on their naming strategy might be the fast road to the poorhouse but I am foolishly jumping aboard on Coolmore at 8/11 in the opener. Beautifully bred and traditionally green for the yard on debut (given easy time), normal improvement and well… you know the drill.
O’Brien has kept his high standards up after a tardy start to the season and I am happy to back the yard through the autumn.
For this reason, while Sanus per Aquam has proven form and is a worthy favourite in the Juvenile Stakes, I would rather get on either True Solitaire or Johannes Vermeer at 13/2 (6/1 generally). The former is sure to be a good one too and I can feel a small reverse forecast coming on!
I am jumping the handicap and diving into the Enterprise Stakes. John F Kennedy was once the Derby favourite and an impeccably bred blue blood who did what was expected as a juvenile. Clearly things have been amiss and who knows what to expect now. He would be a danger to all if being back to his best but that is a big if.
There are so many doubts about the favourite too. Will Fascinating Rock stay? Is it an autumn horse? Is the form behind Al Kazeem solid? Too many for me.
Answered has the look of a good yardstick. Damning faint praise.
I am back to John F Kennedy. He has the scope to be better than this lot and so my bet is 13/2 that he is back to somewhere close to best.
The weather in the ground has disrupted again the enticing clash we want between Golden Horn and Gleneagles. Well, it is likely to! Gleneagles is out to 6/1 and an unlikely runner. Golden Horn, the class horse lost the unbeaten tag to my 100/1 heroine as advertised in the preamble, with conditions being a factor.
Free Eagle is another superb animal but surely a summer horse, I think he joins the illustrious list of classy sorts in the line up that will hate a good downpour.
I can see one that will be fun to bet and could possibly be an answer. Cirrus Des Aigles is over and at 10/1 is one of the only horses I feel will love to see the rain clouds.
Legatissimo is is 11/8 obvious answer in the Matron Stakes and I am a bit torn. You see, while that form is exciting, so is that of Amazing Maria who defied expectations at Ascot and then went on to frank it in the Falmouth and in France.
Over the top of that, I am not sure either will enjoy soft ground, if we get that much cut.
Christ. You need me to pick one? Alright, I will be you might feel foolish.
Iveagh Gardens has no claim to be as good as these but has beaten Found and has done the best work in the slop. If it gets biblical, 25/1 will disappear quickly. Should you tune in later and the sun is shining on genuine good ground at Leopardstown, shoot me. Otherwise, get involved!
OnenightIdreamed has a similar claim in the Boomerang Stakes and can be backed at 16/1 with 8 runners. The problem is that the field might cut up a bit if it does hammer down, which is what he needs to run well, a catch 22 you see.
I think Custom Cut, a horse I like, has a chance at 4/1 and is likely to set the fractions if he breaks well from a good draw. That might just set the scene up for my pick, Sir Isaac Newton also a 4/1 chance. The ground is an unknown (assuming softish) but he is a Galileo and so should cope.
In the last, my advice is simple. Take the race card and stare it hard for 30 minutes, drumming your fists on the table either side of it and chanting ‘humuna humana humana hoe humana humana humana hoe’ over and over. If you can, perform this in a circle with 6 other naked people. Then, in a small clay vessel, burn the card mixed in with the dried leaves of an Ash tree and any bills or parking tickets you have. Stir the ashes into a nice tasty beef broth, including some powerful hallucinogens. Eat the broth and sleep.
The winner of the 7.20 will appear to you in your dreams, likely taking the form of Noel Edmonds building a castle of dreams from used newspapers, he will give you the answer. I got Seanie but I am sure that is more in honour of my favourite twitter tipster (he doesn’t call himself that, none of the good ones do!) @spinitg
In the football…. Swansea to win at Watford, 7/4. I also like Stoke to win at Arsenal, 10/1.
I hope your dinner is taken in fine company. Damn gorgeous folk with wit to burn.
The Martin Hill: Bondi Beach, Isidor and Johannes Vermeer; trixie of death.
Courage, roll the dice.