Monthly Archives: June 2016

The Saturday Sermon – Irish Derby.. 66/1 Northumberland Plate Poke… Oh and that thing, the Brexit thing

Good evening from the Major who writes from a glorious Derbyshire, under a vast sky of ambitious clouds now stained red in the dying embers of the day…. and what a day.

On a national level we have all shared a momentous event.  I do tweet about politics, as is my way.  From time to time I deign to bore you with some views, sometimes leading to an investment (Highs: Corbyn Labour Leader 50/1, Lows: lumping on Labour minority at the last general election, ouch).

Our referendum has delivered a stunning moment of change in British politics.  Personally I voted for it.  It was not an easy decision but as a libertarian, valuing democracy and believing in a more global Britain, it was my judgement.  I shall not discredit your intelligence by trying to persuade you differently.

Both campaigns were distasteful.  The Farage poster and some of the Jo Cox rhetoric drew the veil on our ugly nature.  Speculation was presented as fact.  Exaggeration extended to the thinest edge of credibility.  The gloves were off, it happens in the democratic process from time to time.

The reaction today to a Brexit is of horror to many of those who voted remain. Dramatic posts talk of the old selling out the young and how one might seek a new life in Scotland or Europe.  I am sure time will cool the mood and sober the rages.  I have said it before and I will say it again, when faced with a different view, first the protagonist will try to prove their view with facts, if that fails they assume you are not as bright as them, ultimately they decry you as some evil bastard.  Seek first to understand my friends, then to be understood.

For my money, while the decision to leave is huge, I am not sure we will leave, or if we do, we might well keep many of the trappings that people fear we will lose.  Not that the democratic wishes of a referendum (not binding by the way) will be ignored.  Yet, the issue is that all we voted on whether we want to remain in the EU.  We got an answer, no, not a resounding no, rather a wispy flaky no, split into two deafening camps.  On one side, the unrepresented working class masses in our working towns coupled with the older generations.  Agin, the young and the metropolitan.

The issue I see is two-fold – We had a thin leave vote and we did not endorse an alternative.  We were not backing a party and a manifesto and as such, how can someone claim the right to implement one?  My own vote was for a Brexit light, the implementation of a free trade deal within Europe (with all the inherent threats), ideally with more migration controls (which might be hard to attain) but certainly with restorative sovereignty.  I want us to raise our eyes from a protectionist EU and represent ourselves while continuing to embrace our near neighbours.  We can do that, in my view and we do not need to become politically subservient.

Plus, what do you expect from someone whose personal motto is Courage, roll the dice!  A little chaos is fun.    

I am sure some folk were voting leave for very different things, perhaps they envisaged being towed another hundred miles into the Atlantic and to fire up the deportation wagons.  Neither I, nor they, voted for a post referendum team or manifesto.  There were two boxes on the form, one said leave the EU, we both crossed it.

This is even more pertinent with the fact that we are going to get a prime minister we have not voted for either.  I see no other option acceptable to the British public than a general election.  Then all deals can be put back on the table, one from a hastily glued together Tory party, one from a hastily glued together Labour party.  I am not holding our much hope of high quality stuff!

May you live in interesting times.  Oh, I did not expect Leave to win.  The 1/10 about Remain pre the first call, was about how I would have priced it too.  As they say, scenes.

Anyway, all of this coincides with our moving house.  Yes, it finally happened.  We have lovingly packed our nic nacs and the men have loaded them and taken them away.  All I need now is a house to move to.  My current temporary abode is another friends house, in Derbyshire.  I am searching the glorious peak district and the flats of North Nottingham and Lincolnshire for a suitable home.  I shall let you know.  Time is of the essence.

At last though, a more regular rhythm to life.  Things have been tiring.  At night, dusk I find myself driving home to Worcestershire and my mind is as active as a panther.  I cannot fathom why, I feel edgy and alert, my skin is hot and prickly,  my thoughts race ahead,  awash in a surge of chemicals.   These daydreams are dark, veering from terrifying to just depressing.  I need a regular routine to anchor myself in, to eat better, more time, my family, less exhaustion, less service stations, less fast food, less 3am bedtimes, less wine.  Did I say that? Less wine?

It also means I have spent my last night for the forseeable with the impeccable hospitality of @pieayatollah27.  Ah, I had enjoyed his company.  I might write a book on the things we discussed, it would be pretty top shelf stuff as it reached depths of outrageous creativity and what more can want than that.  He pinned a Remain poster to my door on the last night I was there.

Forgive the political observations.  It always seems rude to write about this side of my interests.  The boil is lanced and in no way do I intend to influence your own opinion.  We all have our agency and that is something only you can relinquish.

Two sermons in two weeks?  Is this a comeback?  Don’t call it a come back, I was never gone.

I do not know if this is a pattern re-emerging from the fog.  I am not pressuring myself for that.

To the sports, leave behind the chaos.

Northumberland Plate Day Tips

Let’s start with the Northumberland Plate.

Seven of the 20 runners have won over the distance and this can be a good factor.  Few times are Northumberland Plates run at a crawl, an honest lick and you need that targeted horse, the one laid out and with a furlong in hand.

The issue here is that the race has been switched to the new Newcastle surface.  I definitely want one that has polytrack form.

I have reviewed the evidence and make my case for Sunblazer at a generous 66/1 with Paddy Power.  The outsider in a field of 20, hear me out.

Sunblazer has put in two appalling runs latest, one at Ascot was in a race in which you might expect to be outclassed, the other I am ready to concede I have little excuse for.  I’m not his publicist you know, I’m just trying to argue 66/1 is wrong.  What else have I got?  Kim Bailey has a decent record at Newcastle with a modest amount of runners.  Sun blazer does not mind the all-weather, in fact he is a bit of an all weather journeyman, making 17 appearances in total on the surface, he has won an impressive 6 of them and been placed in a further 4.

He has also won 3 of his 6 races at two miles and up, giving us a horse that we know stays and we know acts on the ground.

Nakeeta is a more sensible option but I am in a ‘full on’ roll the dice mood.

Earlier on the same card is the Group 3 Chipchase Stakes.  Chookie Royale, the all-weather veteran has an unfortunate habit of being a tardy starter which is a shame for a horse who is capable of winning off the front.

My horse has to be Buratino at 4/1.  He has always stuck in my mind from his juvenile campaign.  He has not hit the heights yet this year but seems to be coming back to form.  He has some experience (winning) on the surface and with his best foot forward, I see this race as his.  Go large.

Tips for The Curragh – The Irish Derby

The horse I want in the Irish Derby is Moonlight Magic at 16/1 (William Hill).  I must confess that I fancied him at Epsom where he disappointed greatly but his smart trainer is not going to be throwing him in here if he is out of his league.  He won a Derrinstown well and Epsom… well it is Epsom, horrible slopes and cambers and he looked awkward, easily forgiven.

That is it, three tips for glory.  May that mothership come in for us soon.

May your dinner be taken in peace.  Folk will disagree with you, enjoy and embrace it.  Be polite.  No riff raff welcome in these parts.

Courage, roll the dice.

Surprise Saturday Sermon – Royal Ascot Saturday 2016

Good morning from the Major who still writes (but not for long) from a Worcestershire scene that this morning is bathed in pollen, grey brightness and muffled sound, a deadened world.

Forgive me, I did not advertise this.  Two friends are heading to Royal Ascot, both asked me for tips, fools that they are.  Joe, a fine-looking fellow, used to play Rugby for Malta, he has turned many an eye with that strong lilting Welsh tone.  Ian too, fireman in my village, fine eye for fun, generous spirit.  Best of luck to you both.

Since I am going to read the cards, I thought I might pen them down and see if anyone out there would still come and read a sermon.  I feel like my writing has gone to the wilderness, I am wandering the Kazhak Steppe in deep winter, hard snow compacted the ground, terrifying silence and wolves lurking.

My updates.  Yes, I am still writing from Worcestershire but, God Willing, this will change in a couple of weeks and the distance between my business and my home will be greatly reduced.  I have not followed the seasons racing very closely.  The business (Ladbrook) has had me busy.  Nothing to do with the bookmakers my good followers, no no, we are a charity insurance brokers.

There are many times I feel like I might reach for the keyboard.  Mornings where the night has not fully ebbed away and unknowns lurk in the corners.  Things I see, the numerous times per day I have fallen in love since I last wrote, politics, though I always felt bad writing about the latter.

So many things I would like to say.

We are used to ageing celebrities being unveiled as hideous paedophiles, their public mask having been kept intact, some not making justice.  I have become quite impervious to it.  Yet, punching through the emotional numbness, breaking the detachment and apathy, came the news that my former hero Sir Clement Freud has joined that list of shame.  I revile him the most because unlike Saville, Harris, Clifford, Glitter or Travis; I liked him.

Rot in hell, the lot of them, Clement, your place is reserved too.

What an outrage the shooting of the gorilla in the States caused.  I must say I did not follow the case that closely but was struck by the antagonism towards the parents.  They might not win Guardians of the Year but anyone who has had to look after a young child will testify to those times where one moment of your guard dropping slightly is enough.  Parenting is an exhausting never-ending business.  A zoo that is not equipped to keep a child from a Gorilla, that is where the fault lies in my view but I am only a person.

It is the indignation, the emotional outpouring I find most interesting.  Why rage against these parents?  They have been through a terrible ordeal themselves.  Watching your child thrown around like a rag doll, what thoughts must have run through your mind.

Yet the onslaught about how they could let it happen begins.  For my money, the righteous shouters are fearful.  There but for the grace of God go we.  I think this prevailing sentiment which hovers just below our conscious thought, that we could have done that, drives a defensive reaction to condemn the play actors in the drama.  Just a theory.  Spend a bit of time on twitter trying to discuss something topical rationally and see what you think.

Anyway.  To the tips.  Draw your sabres men, let the tips glint menacingly in the sunlight.  Those Russians are charging down on us, thundering down but we shall hold the thin line.

“In the long run, we all die. What would be the point of living? Why do anything when it all ends the same way?” Know who said that? Winnie the Pooh.

Royal Ascot Saturday Tips

The rain the has turned Ascot gluey all week seems to have relented and the forecast remains dry.  Good to soft is the official going, although dead yesterday, Ascot drains quickly and it could be spot on ground later.  I am playing the card by class, trainer form and jockey bookings.

2.30pm The Jersey – What a joy to see Frankel producing superb racing stock.  Who said only National Hunt produces legacy stories?  It is a Frankel offspring I want on my side and of the choices, I go with Cunco who won his maiden going away.  9/2 is the best you can get at the time of writing.  Palussierre surely thinks he has a hand to play bringing Aiming for Rio to Ascot and 14/1, well I wouldn’t put you off, after all his Deauville exploits were enough for Godolphin to get the cheque book out.  Cuzco for me though, just watch his jockey try to pull him up at Newbury, he wanted to go again, beastly.

3.05pm Wolverton Handicap – John Gosden has won three of the last five runners which draws my eye to 28/1 shot Maverick Wave, not much form to shout about, a Chester run hinted at some form but that doesn’t always transfer well to Ascot.  He is also giving weight to all comers and typically the winner is an improver from down the card.  If I have my hats right, Maverick Wave is 4th choice for Godolphin and my pick Oceanographer is second pick.  He can be backed at 10/1 and I like his chances.  He looked a very good horse last year winning from behind in style and if we assume he needed to blow the dust off on reappearance, I see no reason why he cannot put a better hoof forward here.

3.40pm The Hardwicke – I cannot write about this race without sparing a thought for Harbinger, the poor ill-fated devil.  Remember his Hardwicke? I do, I was there and it was one of those wow moments that my beloved sports can deliver.  Have a look yourself. Anyway, I thought Exosphere looked the business when beating the superb Simple Verse and I am happy to roll with the chances of the favourite at 9/4 (Totesport, 2/1 generally).

4.20pm Diamond Jubilee – I love this global sprint races, a devil to pick a winner from but always a good show.  I am torn between Magical Memory and Undrafted.  The former has been in the form of his life this year and Dettori has decided he cannot get off him.  Not even for the US raider who won the race last year, Undrafted, who is my pick at 8/1. Bless Mr Ward for bringing such a strong team to Royal Ascot, I hope he is rewarded again today.

5.00pm Wokingham – If you have not had a winner by 5pm, Ascot is a terrible place to play catch up.  It is 8/1 the field in the Wokingham, we need a touch of fortune.  My tentative selection is Absolutely So who has clearly been a fancied horse at times.  He has had his set backs and now is available at 28/1 but if things click again, he might well outrun that.

5.35pm Queen Alexandra – A clash between flat and national hunt yards is always interesting and Mr Mullins has won twice in recent years with his Irish raiders.  Clondaw Warrior therefore makes a lot of appeal on this basis alone.  Mark Johnstone, we know, trains them tough and so Oriental Fox, seeking to retain his crown, will put up the resistance.  My money in the lucky last will be on Amour de Nuit, 9/1 in a few places,  who is progressive and may have more to give.

May your dinner be splendid, bathed in riches from the days exploits.  The company top-notch, all roaring drunk and full of gaudy behaviour.

Courage, roll the dice.