Monthly Archives: October 2015

Guest Saturday Blog: @frankelslobro

I have to admit following in the footsteps of the Major is not an easy task. Continue down his well trodden paths and I’m simply a clone. Deviate too much and I risk frustrating a loyal following. Basically I have turned into David Moyes. Not a pleasant thought nor one to linger on. Particularly given his success rate. I haven’t followed his career in Spain but vaguely remember reading he was at a make or break point with Sociedad despite a good start. He must sometimes wonder whether it’s was the right call to leave Everton- sometimes it’s really is better the devil you know.
I write this sat on a balcony in sunny Portugal. An 11 o’clock strawberry daiquiri has passed me by and a lunch consisting of all sorts of salads and meats. The term all inclusive often makes me laugh when I come to places such as these. Watching people who clearly would normally have a chicken and stuffing sandwich for lunch stuff two tonnes of meat, fish and pasta down their neck along with a bottle of wine citing ‘ getting my money’s worth’ troubles me although I am not sure why. Each to their own I guess. Suffice to say I could easily have a nap right now but my two year old is trying to dose and I fear my weapon grade snoring would awaken her. 
If you have never been to Portugal I thoroughly recommend it for two reasons. The food is divine. The part we are staying in (the name escapes me) is right on the beach and fishing is the local way of life. All sorts of fresh fish are banded around like the cheap chicken and chip shops we have back home. Swordfish in a ragu style sauce, John Dory fillets fried and crispy, salty prawns with a chilli dressing, razor clams in a simple garlic dressing, red fish stew. If you love fresh fish and fresh food this place would be your Mecca. Ironically, and rather sadly, the longest queue is still for the chips and chicken nuggets. We live in odd times.
Secondly the locals attitudes towards children. If you have a young family and are considering your first trip abroad look no further. Children are sacred here and I haven’t met a local who hasn’t stopped to talk or ruffle my young ones hair. At first I found it hard not to be over protective or suspicious. However, once you learn to let go and understand the culture towards children you can’t help but not want to embrace it. A good example would be when we went to the beach this morning and a lady randomly had a chat to my daughter. 10 minutes later the lady came bounding up the sand with loads of shells she had collected and passed them to my daughter. Would that happen in England? She would more likely come at me to tell my daughter to keep it down or to stop punching her head rest on her seat. The horror we see played out in our media on a daily basis blinds us at times. People are on the whole good.
I digress and need to move onto the sport. Before I do so I would urge all you loyal followers to take on the mantle and help the Major through this time of disillusionment. Knowing the Major I am not sure he could live with himself if the sermon was left unpublished for a week. We all need our anchors in life and this one is his. Join together band of brothers- if in doubt ask yourself would he help you? 
Football.
I am going to turn this round as my lean is always more towards football punting. I will peruse the race cards as well but football is often an area I have more success in given the amount I read and watch. To mix it up we have two different bets. A handicap trixie and an accy2baccy. Any handicap trixie must start North of the border in Dunfermline. These boys are knocking it in for fun and whilst hit prone to a bad day they are worth a punt at 8/5 for -1. Add in the Robins of Cheltenham who have been in magnificent form and in Gary Johnson have a manager who has been there and seen that- another -1 handicap against Eastleigh at a lovely 11/5. Lastly Koemans boys are starting to look tasty to me again. Pelle has found his shooting boots and looks the force he was at the start of last season. A handicap of -1 sees you 2/1. Have the lots in a trixie and thank me later.
The accy2baccy is a lovely 48/1 monster. Starting in the north west we have Man U to win away to Everton. This will be a tasty affair and LVG will have the boys up for this. If you a feeling flush back a red card- I can see Rooneys frustration boiling over here. Add in a win for Liverpool against Spurs. I can’t guarantee this isn’t my heart talking. Feel free to swap out with your own beloved. Palace at evens is silly money. Drink it in. The mighty Gills have had a cracking start and with Dack up top they have goals. Lastly AFC Wimbledon at home. All to win. Stick a fiver on and put your feet up.

Racing

With limited reception it’s difficult to really do the cards justice. However during some a brief respite today we managed to see the Ascot card. I write this having no perception of the weather so forgive me any obvious indiscretions. I write this from my gambling heart- often a better place than my scientific head
The 1245 is where we begin our journey and I can’t see past Wicklow Brave. At 10/1 he is worth the place money but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the flash of that Moore smile (!) on the winners podium. He’s been out of the place money once in his last 5 starts. That’s good enough for me.
1320. This is horrible. All the signs from the gods of gambling say Muhaarar. Class trainer. class jockey. But I can never look past Jack Dexter. Put simply I love that horse. He owes me nothing but I feel I owe him my silver. Come on the Dexter!
1355. Tapestry and Journey. Put them in a reverse forecast and count your winnings when they roll in. 
1430. Take paper. Tear into 5 pieces. Write sollow on one. Glen Eagles on another. Integral on the third. Top notch tonto and Elm Park round off the famous five. Put into a hat. Go for a really long walk and take in some fresh air. Return to hat. Burn it. Wait until 5 minutes before the race and see where the money has gone. Back it. Lose. Who knows on this one lets be honest… Truth of the matter the top two in the market are class but Elm Park looked over priced today at 8/1.
305. I am a sucker for a french raider. Vandamos gets my ticket although racing history would get a saver on it as well.
345. Jesus I picked the wrong card. This is worse than those Chinese puzzles you always get for Christmas. You know the ones. Your Gran gets you them thinking you are clever and 12 hours later you are desperately trying to wrestle your fingers out of something that feels like it should be used to trap bears. 3 catch the eye. Gm Hopkins would be no surprise. Balty boys a la Ellison feels like it has some legs. For an outside Farlow for me at 25/1 looks a touch generous. On reflection the Ellison runner gets the vote.
Sorry it couldn’t be more people but it’s pitch black and I’m sat on a balcony in silence with my beloved staring at me. I have to sign off with a heavy heart and hope the above tips brings you some glory. Whoever takes over next week good luck and God speed. To all those others- let’s see if we can get #bringbackthemajor trending off the back of this tomorrow. I can see why he wanted a rest!

The Saturday Sermon: And now, the end is near… Tips from Newmarket and York

Good evening from the Major who writes from a grey Worcestershire where the pooled light drains slowly from the heavens and a calmness comes to the land.  It is eerily normal, as though the normalcy hides a malevolence, I hope it remains out there, in the night world.

The fire is lit, coal and hard woods quietly strain with their great heat, desperate and thirsty for the air that would burn them quickly,how they might rejoice if I opened the vents.  A cool Indian beer in a tumbler, gentle light, pressure releasing from the system, breathe.  I hope I sleep.

For several weeks now, as Friday evening came, a poor pang has replaced the old rush I would feel at the prospect of writing the sermon.  The emotions I used to feel as thoughts poured often incoherently onto the screen have dried up.

I am to retire from writing the sermon.  I am not sure if the intention is permanent or temporary, I shall slink away and consider this.

I started writing the Saturday Sermon 6 years ago.  My intention at the start was to record all of my bets and seek improvement and understanding.  I dropped recording the bets because it was too onerous.  I had another spell of recording them and across both, a moderate profit ensued.

It became an anchor in my week.  I loved writing it and I loved the people reading it.  All good folk.  It became an institution, a modest one admittedly, but yes, my own institution.

I never failed to do what it took to write it.  I remember once lying in a shocking French motel, the back end of awful, gypsies camped around my car, the room so hot and myself drinking the only poor bottle of wine the French have ever made.  We were on our way to camping in the Loire.  I remember that night, I tipped Margot Did with Hayley Turner aboard.  It was a very short post.  The next day we moved on to the campsite and I remember my phone constantly buzzing as we were checking in.  At one point, the good lady said, what is going on?  I hadn’t looked at it or considered it, I just replied pat… Well, I think the sermon had a 33/1 winner!

Bless her, she stopped complaining about my religious attitude to publishing about four years ago.  She never reads it, thank God.  She doesn’t even like racing.  What terrible injustice of the heavens lumbered her with me I do not know.

We have our moments of glory.  Like diamonds in the rock, they are less frequent and more valuable as a result.  They are my treasures.  Margot Did, The 100/1 winner (Arabian Queen) this year, the two 16/1s in a day…

This last few weeks particularly, the pace at which I have been able to type has slowed.  Things that were lucid in my mind, that I had the luxury of time to ponder are now clogged and caked in the mire of life.  It is my business and the changes my family are going through.

My list of things to do is long.  Each of them represents commercial opportunity.  I enjoy it, the entrepreneurial flair but the stakes are high and anxiety flows in my blood.  It seems that the sermon is to be sacrificed on the altar of commerce.  I am sorry for this.   It seems a poor rationale.  For a long time, writing has served as a good distraction.

Thank you for reading.  It has been at times nonsense.  At times, a military sermon, at times the poor state of my mental health, always the Worcestershire weather report and reminders of the common lessons.  That life is fleeting, that you should believe in no god and that you should enjoy food, good company and the reckless abandon of a gamble.  Shabash, courage, roll the dice and seek thy mothership.

I have met many friends writing this blog.  So many of you.  We have exchanged notes on twitter.  You have mocked me, laughed with me, celebrated and commiserated.  I have enjoyed the journey all the more for meeting such interesting fellow travellers on the road.

I have always written for free.  Any adverts on the site benefit WordPress, not me.  No adverts, no affiliations.  My advice was unhinged but impartial.  I never sought thanks for anything that went well.  My argument was simple, I shall not accept the criticism for what you choose to do with your bank, neither can I take the credit.  Read, digest, act or do not act.  We all have our own agency.

Yet, when I ran two marathons for charity and advertised for donations on the blog or when charities which support my niece, who suffers with life long care needs, needed support, many of you dipped your hands into your wallets. People I have never met.  Some gave modestly, some with a ferocious generousity, more  than I could have reasonably expected.  Do you know, it stuck with me, as these things will.  The faceless readership filled with such decency.  Well, we have always ejected the riff raff and I knew you were a classy lot but still…. I think of it still.

Some of you I did meet.  Strange encounters on racecourses we both happened to be frequenting.  Awkward introductions, people taking my measure, utter strangers bar a love for racing and recklessness.

I can no longer afford the recklessness.  Something has to give.  Even though my season, the national hunt season here, the tingling in the loins for this mischief has dissipated.  So, what now?

I am not sure it is goodbye to the sermon at all.  It might be.  I am inviting guest bloggers to write pieces for the next few weeks.  Fancy a go, help yourself.  You have entire editorial control, let me know.  I already have a volunteer for next week; @frankelslowbro.

One last time.  To the sports, don thy armour and daub thy face with war paint. Our enemy shall see the determination in our eyes and shall shake.

Summon the mothership friends.  To the sports, raise your lances and cry Shabash!

Tips from Newmarket and York.

Newmarket first.  The Autumn Stakes at 2.35pm feels like my sort of race.

Hugo Palmer is in sizzling form and Gifted Master sauntered up in a sales race last time up, showing some engine.  This is big boys league though.

I do like Beacon Rock, he might have won the Beresford but had a hard run, certainly he wasn’t disgraced and this is probably a drop in class which oddly doesn’t sit well with me.  The other I like is Clear Cut, an Acclamation colt by a Galileo mare running for Jim Bolger at 10/1.

I have to pick one and I go for Clear Cut.  I have to confess it is hard to overlook Beacon Rock who has the form but I like the breeding of mine and Bolger doesn’t bring them over for the air, he can compete, he will compete and tens is tidy.

Then the Dewhurst.  Emotionless and Air Force Blue go head to head in what is a very exciting renewal.  It looks like a shoot out and while Emotionless has been marginally more visually impressive to me (and carries valuable course form), Air Force Blue though is a top class O’Brien inmate who’s getting the ground he wants and has the experience, the blood and the improvement to take this.

I also want a go at the Zetland.  I think Taskeen has a shot at a tasty 14/1.   I am not sure soft ground at Sandown was ideal and he seems to win in spite of it rather than because of it.  However, you cannot keep Gosden and Dettori down at the moment and Cartago a son of Dansili is on a hat trick.  He has earned a pop at listed company winning two handicaps in good style and 6/1.

At York, I want the winner of the Rockingham.

Gracious John has been a revelation now allowed to run as he wants and his course win is also a significant factor in me jumping aboard at 3/1.  If the ground remains soft, he won’t be inconvenienced and that is a plus too.

I want the ground to remain with some cut for my 3.25pm tip, Aetna.  Available at 14/1 I really like this horse and have followed it for some time.  The horse has had a break since three summer runs on unsuitably good ground and now arrives here after a break.  He loves to run after freshening up in the field and despite being rated 102, I think he can cope.  Get stuck right in and thank me later.  Aetna travels like a dream too so a win will look visually glorious and in the end, who needs more than that?

May your dinner be splendid.  If I were on death row, I think my last meal would be a fine fillet steak.  Very little to accompany it, perhaps a good pinot noir, maybe a dash of good french mustard.  Dine in the finest company.  I cannot describe her, or do her justice.  You know me well enough after all these years, I fall in love readily and each new one is the best.

The Martin Hill: Aetna, Clear Cut, Cartago – Powerful trixie.

I hope to write again but for now, family and commerce shall confine.  When and if I return, I hope to be refreshed.  I’m not going anywhere either, I’m still @tdl123.  One last time?

Courage friends, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon: Tips from Ascot, Newmarket and Redcar

Good morning from the Major who writes from another stunning Worcestershire vista, one of the last I shall write this post from.  A palette of pinks, orange and blue at dusk last evening, far too glorious for my poor skill to give justice to.  There is such  lightness in the air, the lack of clouds leads me to stock up the logs, October is here and we can light the woodburner.

Another week has passed.  Time rolls on, we lumber forwards like a great demented blind beast.  I fall from one boozy occasion to the next.

Thanking Steve for the hospitality over many weeks, I entertained him to a good lunch in Manchester and a visit to Old Trafford for Champions League night.  We got very well oiled, promptly refreshing the Hendricks and tonic that accompanied the Italian and sinking more G&Ts up in the prawn cocktail levels of Old Trafford.  Good company and in the end what else is life for, than a partner to travel down this swirling river.

From there to an awards dinner on Thursday night at Cheltenham racecourse.  Awards dinners are frightfully boring if you have not experienced such an evening first hand.  The compere battles to keep good order, the place lacks soul and the two ingredients required to turn this into something memorable are humorous and attractive company and booze, ideally both in plentiful supply.  I scored well on both.  I drank my own body weight in moderate yet expensive wine and my old friend Jenny helped host the table, a magnificent woman with a generous soul and sharp eye.

Then to Friday and surely rest.  No, not quite.  Friends over, fire lit, board games, curry, drinking.  I write knowingly in need of some lifestyle changes, temporary or permanent.

Without much exercise of the physical variety, my body is shot to pieces.  The life of a bon viveur has taken me to the top end of the weight spectrum.  I am about to reach for the answer, the Majors insanity diet.  Not recommended by your doctor but effective.

If you want to lose weight quickly (and trust me it makes you feel good to lose the excess at pace, both from a sense of achievement and from your health), I can personally vouch for the following.

Every day, wake and start drinking water.  Do not eat breakfast, you cannot afford it on insanity diet.  Push through until lunch, keep yourself busy both to burn calories and to keep your mind off any hunger.  At lunch, eat either a bowl of soup (I will allow you a single dry piece of bread but no spread which doubles the calorific intake of the slice) or a bowl of cereal with semi skimmed milk.  Go back to work.  At dinner, repeat.  Go to sleep.

Weight yourself every morning, this is important to keep you motivated.  You will be losing between 1-2 pounds per day.  That is 450-900g per day, quite impressive.  Within days, cloths will feel better to wear.  A stone will come off in about 10 days.  Faster if you manage to get some light exercise in although never try and substitute extra exercise to compensate for more food.  My diet works because you are getting to under 700 calories a day.

You will feel great once you are beyond day two, I promise.  The first two days require some mental strength, you need to shock yourself into getting started.  After two days, the evidence of daily weight loss and the ease with you which you are sleeping and the surprise of people around you at how little you are eating and drinking will keep you rolling.

Stop at your fighting weight.

I am thinking of copyrighting the work.  I am not a dietary expert, I am not well placed to advise you on how bad the diet might be for your health.  I have my views, the loss of a stone or two in under a month is a bit sudden but obesity is a terrible source of illness – I shall file my report next week for your reading.

To the sports.

Newmarket, Redcar and Ascot Tips

I like the look of the Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot for a betting race.  Three year olds do OK in the race and against a field of good yardsticks, I like the unexposed Star Storm who is a son of Sea the Stars.  He took a little while to get going but has won in very eye-catching style the last twice and is due this pop at better horses.  9/2.  Hillstar is the one I will be watching for.

The Challenge Cup is the Channel 4 feature race of the day, which is odd given the high cash stakes races over at Newmarket.  I like Outback Traveller who looked last time that he was returning to some sort of form.  However, I am going to bet Mr Win at 10/1 who has looked mighty progressive and gets hs favoured ground again.

In the fillies trophy at Newmarket, O’Brien sends over a short priced favourite, the 1/2 shot and I am pushed to see the value given the form is good (4th in a Cheveley) but hardly bullet proof.  At this time of a juvenile filly season, results can be unusual.  I want an each way prospect and I like Engage.  She won her debut race and I am confident will come forwards from that form considerably.  8/1, have a decent slice.

In the boys version, I am interested in East Indies but it is an odd preparation to win a 10f race on the all-weather before such a valuable sales race.  Zhui Feng gets my vote.  Well bred, going the right way and has been here before, all advantages.  Azteni up top settles it. 6/1.

At 3pm at Redcar, I wanta  slice of Haley Bop at 14/1.  A Redcar win is in the locker and she is a Johnstone sort, tough and plenty of improvement to come.

The Martin Hill: Star Storm, Haley Bop and Zhui Feng – A fine trixie of death.

May your dinner be fresh and healthy.  It will be my last substantial meal for some time.

Courage, roll the dice.