Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Saturday Sermon… Juddmonte Royal Lodge, Cambridgeshire… The beginning of the end for the flat

Good evening from the Major who writes from an unparalleled vista of autumnal Worcestershire.  Cool air, the blazing orb sinking cooly into oblivion, slanted by the angle of our heavenly globe, unable to strike us with burning heat, dying gloriously in the sky in a bath of orange and pink.

I was able to admire this vast canvas as I hacked my way around 9 holes just before dusk with good friends.  I am no golfer, I have probably only played a dozen or so times.  There is a lovely feeling upon hearing a clean strike, a tinny ping with a small lasting resonance, all the better in fine company.

The sermon is late, a long week, a late night, the mind wandering and unable to provide the requisite focus.  I have been lost in the late hours all week.

With Steve away, I have been flat sitting his place in Sheffield.  Unable to sleep in the small hours, my heart racing, I needed a release.  The casino.  Alone.  It is 2am, a crisp night, walking alone in Sheffield, a cobweb covering a modern street light.  Coffee, good coffee, bright lights, 10 minutes of fruitless roulette and a long walk home.  There are funny folk in those casinos.  The lost sheep, the hopeful, the hopeless and the money launderers.  My ship has also gotten loose, the anchor dragging across the ocean floor occasionally jolting but not catching something solid to hold onto.

A life in transit.  In Worcestershire the home is being packed up by the good lady.  Furniture no longer needed is being sold and plans are being made for our new home in Clumber Park.  The National Trust have accepted us and soon these sermons will report the climate and conditions from Nottinghamshire.  Perhaps this is the rock, perhaps not.

Last weekend, Japan beat South Africa in one of the greatest sporting moments of the year.  Faced with a simple penalty to draw the game, which would have been a startling result, the Japanese played on to get the try to win the game.  I was on my feet crying SHABASH!!! Absolutely fantastic sport.

The Major is on the cold list.  We need some winners, the mothership signal is feint and distant, hard to detect the signal from the noise.  Bring unto me the sports.

Tonight, we are drinking with friends in the village.  She is Welsh and Number 2 son claims his same heritage on account of being born at Abergavenny hospital.  I am taking him to buy a shirt this afternoon.  He will be guest of honour tonight.

A recommendation.

I have been seeking a new hero for years, since the passing of Sir Clement Freud. There have been candidates, Chris Morris being one, Malala being another.  Joining the shortlist in the longest job application in history is James Randi.  His life dedicated to exposing the fraudsters involved in psychic and faith healing scams.  A man dedicated to reason.  May I recommend 100 minutes of your time be spent here.

To the sports, unleash the large cannon, load in the chain and grape shot, pack the charge and let us drop shot on the enemy with all of our skill.

Newmarket Cambridgeshire Tips

The Royal Lodge does not often produce the star of the following classic season, with the exceptional exception of Frankel, the winners do not always go on.

Only six line up this year and it seems a likely shoot out between Deauville and Foundation.  The pick is easy, Deauville, 11/8.  Very confident that the benefits of O’Brien and Moore outweigh all concerns.  As a footnote, Beast Mode is 28/1 and that seems a bit disrespectful for a Cape Cross colt out of a Dubawi mare who could well leave previous form behind.

then the Cheveley Park.  While O’Brien has a strong record in the Royal Lodge, he has never won this race and 6f looks a bit sharp already for Alice Springs who has already had headgear thrust upon her.  Not for me.  Besharah and Illuminate head the market and their form is tied in.  I prefer the former who I think will prove the better filly.  I am having a long shot in the mix too.  Sunflower should not be 50s (William Hill) – Out of Dutch Art, winner of her sole race and reportedly very good in the early season.  She could set the fractions.  I am definitely having a saver and hoping all eight run.  However, Besharah is the main bet, 3/1.

The Middle Park has a 4/9 shot in Shalaa, unbeaten since debut defeat, including a very god Group 1 in France last time.  I do not know I would want to be punting too heavily on that and fancy two against.  Ajaya who won a very good Gimcrack and Buratino who was very impressive at the end in the Coventry.  Buratino has seen plenty of racing but Johnstone sorts can take it and I fancy the 10/1.

Treve aims to win an historic third Arc this year in what will be a gripping few minutes of my life.  Equally unlikely is Bronze Angels attempt to win a third Cambridgeshire.  He won his first two off 95 and 99 and so 109 with a field of hidden talents makes it a hard task.  Good luck to you Tregoning, I shall cheer you on but another shall be burdened with the Majors money.

My selection in a naturally wide open affair is Halation who can be backed at 28/1.  They have gone for the headgear and I hope it can draw a bit more improvement.  These conditions are optimal and I do like Atzeni.  Watch your place terms.  SkyBet are generously offering 6, Red32, the scoundrels 4!

One at Haydock.  McCreery can defy a stone hike in the weights for a bloodless win last time out.  11/10, stick that in your multiples.

In the football…. Man City will should win at Spurs, they are a better and stronger team but I would fancy 0-0 at half time.  City often don’t do things in hurry and with no Silva…. You can also back Martial to score any time at 9/10 and that looks like printing money, he is in blinding form.

The Martin Hill: Deauville, Martial and McCreery…. treble of glory.

May your dinner be splendid and wholesome and taken with family.  Break bread and be thankful.

Courage, roll the dice.

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The Saturday Sermon – All about Newbury and Ayr

Good evening from a stunning Worcestershire autumn scene.  The sky tinged pink and in the long distant… The autumnal breeze brings cool air to finish a bright day with a sharpness that speaks of times to come.  Cooler times where the hind quarters of horses brush through compacted birch and steam burst from strained nostril.  Soon, life points towards Cheltenham.

Until then, we have the remnants of the flat season with the Arc, the Breeders and the Champions Day finales to come.  Newbury hold an Arc trial on their Saturday card, I am not sure there is a more poorly named race than that Group 3 which has never produced a winner to go on and even finish in the places at Longchamp.  That said, Eagle Top is no mug, rated only 9lbs below Treve… that’s a long 9lbs in my most humble view.

The Major is worn down after a long week in South Yorkshire.  With @pieaytollah27 (Steve) away to the States for a beer, calories and sports break, I enjoyed the run of his apartment and felt like an intruder.  Still, I left his fridge well stocked with a steak and his favourite beer, do not allow me to deceive with subtle magic, I am not a good guest, nor a good person,  do not think this defines me as a good houseguest.

Sleep has been sparse.  I flit between the waking and the darkness until the edges are blurred.  Waking with my heart racing from thoughts I cannot bring definition to.  Dreams in which my mind is as active as a panther, swirling and noisy, unfathomable depths, a world so alien and so close.  I fear seeing these things in the day life, boundaries breaking down.

I cannot raise more than a poor gallop this Friday so count yourself lucky.  The Sermon shall only serve to remind you to treat one another well and to enjoy what is on the plate before you today.  We have nothing else.

To the sports….

Newbury and Ayr Tips for Saturday

Newbury is soft but set to be dry between now and the start of racing.  Good to soft might be the wisest choice.

I am starting with the Arc trial (1.45pm) which I have not given great service to.  Eagle Top is easily good enough to win this.  Postponed just edged the selection out last time but that is an excellent horse and Eagle Top has plenty in hand on the ratings and in the sense that he is sure to relish the give in the ground.  Get stuck right in.

In the 2.15, Mill Reef, Ribchester looks an interesting runner having performed with real credit in the Gimcrack.  I am not convinced, my brave prediction is that race is the best he will run, brave words.  Maybe it is the switch to Godolphin!  Instead I would back Raucous to improve past him at 11/4.  This is only his fourth start and out of Dream Ahead who might prove to be a very decent value sire yet, I want this one in the mothership haul.

In the 2.50 Duty Free handicap, my selection would be Laurence who has plenty of scope and the excellent Atzeni in the saddle.  Most folk would have felt hard done by as the ledger he won last weekend was chucked out by the stewards, Bondi was reluctant or less capable of going past but since I had backed him heavily I did not complain too loudly.  Laurence can still improve and being out of the handicap by a bag of sugar makes no odds to me, have some.

In the G3 at 3.25, I am going to make a case for the big outsider, Musical Comedy.  The Queens horse has shown plenty of ability before, including being 2 from 2 on the course and has enjoyed cut in the ground.  A bit of a return to form is required but let’s be honest, these sprints are full of characters that have strayed and the prizes are passed around like a children’s party.

To Ayr for the Silver and Gold Cup.  I like these sorts of races when you can get a clear line on the best ground to race on and which side the pace is going to be coming from.  As it is, we have to do with two wide open contests.

Therefore my selections are tentative.

In the Silver Cup I am going for Northgate Lad.  An Ellison saddled and De Sousa ridden three year old, he definitely has two ways of running.  However, in a wide open contest there are reasons to be hopeful, 25/1 readily.

In the Gold Cup, I am a big fan of Jack Dexter but the rain has not been as forthcoming north of the border.  I have a funny feeling that Toofi might be suited by this test.  He definitely needs a bit of time to get going and I would not put you off.  That said, I want a proper northern trainer because they don’t like to see this prize go south.

The one I like is Highland Acclaim.  O’Meara won the race last year and this horse is capable and possibly laid out for pop.  Plenty of other beasts are being bought to the boil as well but Highland for me. 12/1.

In the football, one bet.  Chelsea to beat Arsenal.  The fixtures this week were perfect for Jose.  A weak team at home while your weekend opponents have a right trek to play on a Wednesday night in a tough game which they lose and then to get back for the early Saturday kick off…. away.  Trust me, Chelsea 7/5.

May your dinner be spectacular. Pasta, fresh and cooked with fresh ingredients.

The Martin Hill: An Eagle Top and Chelsea double….. That is the winners version.  Throw in Musical Comedy for new levels of madness.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon: Leopardstown Irish Champions Day and Doncaster St Leger Day 2015

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.

The Saturday Sermon… Headaches, Ascot and Haydock

Good morning from the Major who writes full of hangover from the grey dampening scenes of a Worcestershire landscape that has the civility to be calm to my raging senses.

I am starting to think that this drinking game is a young mans sport.  I supped beer with the finest company, good friends, we dined for curry which is a tremendously social cuisine and I was to bed before 1am the worse for 6 pints.

In my day, I would have shrugged that off without missing a beat but in these straining years, the weight is heavy in my head, rolling around like a giant marble.  Still I do my best work drunk or hungover so bring on the mothership.

Last weekend I asked my mother to go to the Arc with me.  An autumn day in Paris, I was thinking a night or two at a decent hotel and some good food.  She didn’t say no but the response was lukewarm.  Something amiss there, a son has some work to do for an ill I do not yet understand.

The new website for my business went live.  I am quite happy with it since a friend built it for free.  I shall pay him back with kindness and respect, nothing of any tangible value though.

The main news of the week of course has been the shocking new images about an old problem.  Economic migrants and refugees continue to risk all to reach Europe and claim asylum.  Not one person can not have been moved by that image.  Myself, I wanted to see it, which I knew was voyeuristic in part, I did see it and was quite stuck on it.

I know that children have been drowning in the seas for years in their families desperate bid to reach a new life.  It took an almost artistic picture of a perfectly shaped yet lifeless poor soul though to break through a defence fortified by years of bad news promoted by a media most interested in the death count.

As always though, the decision about what to do is a devilish and complex one.  What I cannot fathom is the desire of a family to leave Turkey where they are under no immediate threat on inflatable dinghy craft.  They know they are risking their lives.  I don’t know what drives that madness but it is clearly a powerful force and I cannot judge.

I must be the only person though to think that the Government were already doing a good job on the problem though.  Sometimes, when something horrific happens, our tendency is to lash out at any player on the stage.

Confusing the willingness to accept refugees who have made it to Europe with the death of a child in the sea is to simplify.  Even if we were accepting more migrants / refugees from within Europe, the child would have died.  Arguably more would have because we have created incentive to make the hazardous trip.

We have spent almost a billion pounds at the camps in Lebanon and Jordan where cities of people fleeing a warren need shelter and water.  Should we have taken more folk directly from those camps, yes.  Yet the long term solution is to bring the war in Syria to an end and allow rebuilding to take place.  It seems Russia is taking the best lead on that.  Life is complex.

On that note, on a short sermon, we dash to the sports.

Haydock and Ascot Tips

I am going to start with the main race of the day, the Bettered Sprint.  7/1 the field tells you the nature of this years renewal and many top sprinters are represented who have lost recent form.

Three interest me, I want one at a price, a fallen angel ready to be resurrected.

Tiggy Wiggy was a sensational speedball until injury and she has not been the same since.  If she manages to get back to best, her cruising speed might have them at it.

G Force is an old favourite and last years winner.  Again, it seemed to crown a career but who knows if he can get there again.  At his price, I don’t want to find out.

No, my selection is the rank outsider, Due Diligence, 33/1.  He was second in a fine Diamond Jubilee and although that was the end of his strong form, I am still hopeful he might pop up in one of these races.  After all, the top G1 sprinters rarely hold their form, it is like a merry-go-round.

Talking about needing to recover form, Ivawood should be streets ahead of the opposition based on his placed efforts in two classics this year.  Let’s Go mullered a bob average field before being awful in listed company at Pontefract.  That latter form just cannot be right and so he remains unexposed.

Sovereign Debt is a solid alternate too.  His form is very decent, winning a couple of listed events and he arrives with possibly the least question marks over him.

So… proven class that has fallen somewhat.  A potential star with a single bad blot or an animal that won’t be troubling the G1 records but is sure to run a race?

If in doubt, pick your best jockey.  I like James Doyle, Let’s Go it is 10/1.

At Ascot, I have looked at the Appletiser Handicap, 3.25pm.

A cracking handicap in which you are trying to read the finest form as plenty come to the race in good shape.

Hard to argue with Dartmouth who has done exceptionally well in his last two races.  A further stone hike in the weights provides the only question, will that catch up to his potential?

The one I am going to oppose with is She is no Lady at 10/1 (Paddy Power).  We get Jamie Spencer and this one has to bear another 4lbs for a victory over what could be a decent one, Rhythmical, at Newmarket.

That is it.  Short, I know.  If you feel like you have been short-changed, well, let you wish for more.

I am sorry, it is all my state can manage.

The Martin Hill: Stick the three in an each way trixie.

May your dinner be simple and to follow lots of paracetamol.

Courage, roll the dice.