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.


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