Good evening one and all, welcome to my attempt at The Sermon. I feel somewhat humbled and honoured to have been chosen by The Major to guest as this weeks service provider.
By way of introduction I am Roger currently of Langley, Slough who some of you may know as @Roge1409 or Roger from Ascot – among a number of racecourses at which I have worked I include on my CV 38 years at Her Majesty’s Racecourse – or Zippy (Long story!)
I met The Major via the social media medium of Twitter following his excellent Sermon and feel we are firm friends even though we have never met face to face or “pressed the flesh” as they say in the States. The modern World means that the majority of us now regularly correspond with persons around the globe via these methods.
I am sure we all wish Tim well not least from his recent bout of tonsillitis – Fishermans Friends taste grotty but do help ! Or a brandy or two!
It has been a mighty week in the terms of news with respect to events in France, Mali and Kenya I will not dwell on those here – suffice to say my heart goes out to any victims of atrocities around the World. May those with the power to influence such happenings act swiftly and with courage and considerable thought to ease the pains of those who are suffering.
Aged as I am now 56 years I am old enough to remember when talent show voting involved sending a post card or sealed envelope via the Royal Mail in order to register a vote for Bernie Flint, Tom O’Connor or whoever – these days of course votes can be telephoned in at an expensive premium rate per minute or texted to a similarly high priced cost. Depending on your preferred channel it is either X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing – my Partner Caz has a preference for Strictly – that fills our screens on a Saturday evening. Following this we are treated to various F and G list celebrities eating various and every part imaginable parts of marsupials! That’s the way we roll now in 2015!!
One definite plus of our changing World is that we can now watch on our HD TV’s every major football, rugby, golf, grand priz or horse race from around the World. The days of getting up in the middle of the night to listen to Cassius Clay as he was then boxing on the radio are distant and gone. Having worked voluntarily in radio for 22 years I still love this medium as I do an actual book and newspaper rather than the electronic alternatives.
I do try to go with advances in technology – the mobile phone and tablet I own probably contain far more capabilities to do thing rather than the few functions I have managed to master! I can text, tweet and make a telephone call – that is sufficient for me. I am also sure that I speak for the majority of those reading these ramblings that a feeling almost akin to public nudity overcomes you if you happen to step outside the house without your mobile – something I quite happily did for thirty years of my life!
November is quite probably my least favourite month – the darkness of the weather and the ever earlier Christmas advertising campaigns I find a little tiresome. In each of these adverts we see perfect families having a perfect time with money no object and all the trimmings! Many people have a far from perfect time at Christmas – spare a thought for them when we get nearer the Festive season.
November also is the month that many of us discover that our radiators need bleeding, anti- freeze needs to be topped up and the boiler needs repairing. On the plus side we rediscover the pleasure of soup! A crusty roll and a warm bowl of tomato soup – definitely one of my favourites to warm up a cold Roge! For those of us slightly more rotund it is also a time when we can once again hide our lack of conditioning under big sweaters and overcoats with another promise that we will do something to get fitter and leaner in the new year and spring!
One thing November does bring for any horse racing enthusiast is the reappearance of several old favourite horses and they often return greeted like long lost loved ones when spotted. Sprinter Sacre was one such example the emotion associated with his reappearance was magical to those of us who love racing.
One thing that does irk me regarding the Winter game is the often last minute abandonment of jump racing meetings – the study having been done the 12-1 secured and a perfect opportunity for your selection gets scuppered by 2 degrees of frost!! This happens all too regularly and with all the money that bookmakers make from the sport one wonders why more is not done to cover courses etc. Hopefully for this weekend the mercury will stay sufficiently high that there will be no such problems at Haydock, Huntingdon and my beloved Ascot.
To The Sport……………….
For my first selection I will make a start at Lingfield on the all weather with the William Haggis trained OLYMPIC RUNNER in the 12.15. Pat Cosgrave has been booked to do the steering and although it will be favourite (first early prices indicate 9/4 – 5/2 range) this should go well and hopefully start us off in good style.
Jump racing is all too frequently blighted by races with just 3,4 or 5 runners – largely due to the presence of a “superstar” – Saturdays 2:05 contest the Stella Artois Chase is one such event. Vautour one of Willie Mullins many many stars is in as 4/11 favourite – as with many of these shorties they either hose up and win by half the track or just need their first run with bigger spoils later in the season to aim at. My hunch is PTIT ZIG who has had a run and is for the Saturday Specialist trainer Paul Nicholls yard might give him a race – despite being twelve pounds at least behind on the ratings. 9/2 means we are almost having a bet to nothing if each way playing is your bag.
The Handicap Chase at Ascot at 3:15 sees two I fancy – Henry Oliver (Dresden) is a less fashionable trainer and Venettia Williams (Cold March) handicap chasers in November always merit a second look. It is a very open race – on this occasion given the projected 8/1 I will side with DRESDEN.
Haydock offers a good card but having watched the Friday racing winners there really will earn their corn.
The 1.50 race has just six runners and the enigmatic IRVING represents Paul Nicholls – currently forecast at 6/4 if he remains odds against a fair sized bet would seem in order.
Best race for a bet appears to be 2.25 Handicap Hurdle. TEA FOR TWO under Lizzie Kelly fairly slushed up in heavy ground in the Lanzorote Hurdle at Sandown. The horse has not hit those heights since but Saturday represents a real chance to get back on track 6/1 looks tasty with a small saver on Nicholls ALCALA 16/1 especially if all 16 did miraculously stand their ground.
CUE CARD takes on Silvianco Conti in what could well be the race of the day. Cue Card was tremendously impressive with conditions and weights in his favour last time but Conti on his day is a beast. A small exacta or forecast may be the option – if I flip the coin I will just go Cue Card at 11/4. Dynaste of David Pipe’s waits in the wings to further complicate this puzzle. A race to watch and savour.
Finally one each at Huntingdon and one at Gowran Park, Ireland. At Huntingdon I’ll takethe in form Gary Moore to provide a winner Flute Bowl for Hayley Moore in the ladies Handicap Hurdle and 1.35 Gowran have an interest in SUPERSUNDAE from the Henry De BRomhead yard.
NAP – TEA FOR TWO
SHORT ONE – OLYMPIC RUNNER
BEST E/W – DRESDEN
HAVE A PATENT ON OLYMPIC RUNNER – DERSDEN AND TEA FOR TWO.
In the FOOTBALL my club Chelsea are still searching for last seasons Champion winning form – much to the delight of Caz who supports Liverpool – it has not been unnoticed by her that my team are struggling!!
Betting wise the five teams I would back this week are CRYSTAL PALACE who will surely have too much for Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland, SOUTHAMPTON who can play Stoke City off the park at St Mary’s. In the Championship both BIRMINGHAM CITYat home to Charlton Athletic and READING should overcome Bolton. Finally in Scotland AYR UNITED are likely to have too much for Airdrie. BACK THOSE FIVES IN TREBLES AND A 5 FOLD.