I am at peace with the world. Friday night is a beautiful thing; the working week is behind us and the promise of sporting greatness and fun filled activity is before us. I have shared a relaxing bottle of Shiraz with my better half, I am now supping on a refreshing craft beer to aid my cogitation and there’s a bottle of Glenfiddich awaiting me as my post-Sermon reward.
Manchester has been beautiful; a crisp, clear day, watery blue sky and bright sunshine. A day to feel alive and appreciate it.
It seems very strange to be poaching The Major’s platform. It has been interesting & entertaining to read the guest pieces but we are all hoping Tim has a change of heart and returns to his public musings. One of the many beauties of the sermon was the recurring voice; charting the highs & lows of his week, the female heads that grabbed his attention, the business deals, the tips! And now I am reduced to checking the Worcestershire weather via other sources than the good Major.
However, I do sympathise with Tim. For a few months I blogged a weekly tipping column at the now defunct, and not missed, Communitips website. I had a few days of fame after tipping Solemia the week before the Arc at 66-1; I like to remind people of this though fail to mention the following 7 weeks of tips without a winner. But the relentless handcuff of having Friday nights tied to the blog took their toll and I did begin to resent it.
The Major has earned his sabbatical and he may yet return refreshed. I think a Kempton, Boxing Day special may be in order. All quality programmes have a Christmas special, what about it Major?
One of the reasons I like Twitter is it enables me to interact with people who share my passions. My friends are neither horse-racing fans nor Nottingham Forest fans (poor deluded souls). Twitter gives me an opportunity to share these passions and feel part of the fraternity.
I am also naturally introverted; I like people but can find social interaction draining. Twitter enables me to link to a wider audience without the need for small-talk, eye contact or disinteresting (uninteresting?) discourse. While one of Twitter’s plusses is its anonymity, I must tell of the day I very nearly met The Major.
We had texted each other earlier in the day & must have been within metres of each other, holding phones above our heads in the throng to reveal our positions, in the Guinness village at Cheltenham; licking our Silvinaico Conti wounds. Alas, fate did not bring us together; perhaps it will be this March after the greatest Gold Cup ever.
One of Twitter’s other attributes is the diversity of opinion. I am pretty much left leaning on many issues but appreciate being able to understand alternative views. As I have this platform I feel obliged to make two points.
The relentless austerity drive of the government whatever its economic intentions and basis has fundamentally effected some of the most vulnerable in society. I work with young people with learning disabilities and mental health issues; their access to support, education and employment has been seriously diminished by the cuts and this both saddens and angers me.
Secondly the level of political debate regarding whether we should bomb ISIS in Syria was somewhat disappointing. Everyone seemed to have taken a position before the debate which seemed to miss the point. Whether it was Cameron’s accusation of ‘terrorist sympathisers’ to the opposition leaders who dared to oppose him, the gleeful response to the yes vote or the heinous threats to those who dared to vote yes; no-one came out with much credit. It is a serious and contentious decision to go to war and undoubtedly kill innocent bystanders; that is a not a reason to not do it but the complications and ambiguities should be acknowledged and treated soberly.
Apologies dear reader, I am prone to ranting, you do not want your Friday drink or Saturday breakfast besmirched by such ramblings. We are conjoined by our love of horses and to the sports we shall turn.
Despite the complaints that Cheltenham is the be all in National Hunt racing the pre-New Year crackers of the Betfair, Hennessey, Tingle Creek and King George stand perfectly in their own right. The roll of owner is phenomenal in tomorrow’s Tingle Creek: Moscow Flyer, Flagship Uberallas, Kauto Star, Sizing Europe and Sprinter Sacre are all names to conjure with and set the pulse racing.
The last two winners despite claims of it being sub-standard went on to win the Champion Chase. Clearly the feature is poorer without the presence of the rejuvenated Sprinter Sacre and the machine that is Un De Sceaux. However our chances of finding a winner at a price have been increased by their absence.
I loved the ante-post market because Simonsig was a red herring. I can be smug having taken 6-1 earlier in the week on Special Tiara. Vibrato Valtat is very solid and consistent but if he wasn’t trained by Mr Nicholls he wouldn’t be so short. Special Tiara is still the value punt. Last season he had 2 valuable wins against the sadly missed Balder Succes & Sprinter Sacre, sandwiched with a decent 3rd in the Champion Chase. Having had a pipe opener last month I’m gambling on him returning to last season’s high class form. 7/2 still merits a hefty wager
The Becher Chase looks a belter and will be a tremendous spectacle. I have an Achilles heel of backing staying chasers who are high in the weights. I am aware that it is not the most fruitful of systems but I can’t get away from Saint Are who is a model of consistency and has a liking for the Liverpool fences. There is always the danger he will find one too good but 10-1 looks a price worth playing at. For brave souls chuck in Goonyella for the forecast. We will not land the mothership without taking a chance!
I have a liking for Willow’s Saviour in a cracking novice chase at Sandown. He rattled of a decent 3 timer over hurdles at the end of last season, including the valuable Ladbroke; having won his first chase this season he is open to plenty of improvement. Trained by the admirable Nick Skelton 4-1 looks reasonable. Bristol De Mai is a clear threat.
For my last horse I am going to prove what a manacle my Achilles heel is by betting on Rocky Creek in the Grand Sefton. He does have top weight but also is the classiest horse in the race and run well behind Don Cossack first time out. He is very in and out but his Kempton win last February in similar conditions marks him out as the best horse in the race. I will chance he has a going day at 6-1.
I like to keep my football tips simple so a double on Watford and Birmingham who are both at home and both odds against should win back any horse racing losses!
Lastly if you have a fantasy football team Daniel Sturridge looks a shoe-in as captain against relegation certainties Newcastle. Both him and Klopp inspired Liverpool are in fire.
As the Major would say…..Courage, roll the dice. Good luck all.