Good morning from the Major who writes refreshed from a transitional Birmingham, great bright light slammed out by herculean clouds of billowing white and dark grey structure.
Time has a way of slipping. Yesterday was the 1st July, a year since I took up the running of my business. We have finally sold our home and have even found a new one which we hope to move into in the next two weeks. It all seems so momentous but my darkest fears are that none of it is.
A colleague at work has a friend, she lost her baby, at 39 weeks. It does not really bear much thought, I am not sure how anyone would cope with such an intolerable burden.
All of it, the sheer worthlessness of it all. We are but motes of dust, made meaningless by the scale of both the near infinite and the minute. Washing in an unfathomable sea of time, fleetingly here and then gone. I lie at wake into the night wondering if it is all so beautiful or terrifying.
I steered clear of Facebook after the EU vote. I pulled that curtain back, saw the bawdy spirit of drunken blinded minds wallowing in shallow pools, keeping their own company and reinforcing their righteousness of opinion. I decided to let those good people roll along, just as they like.
So little humility. As I say often, folk do not like alternate options, it serves only to disabuse them of a certainty they falsely hold. They wish to know, to be right. Firstly then, they might try to convince with ‘fact’, then they tell themselves that the protagonist is thick and finally settle on evil. Such is the case now. Worst of all is the pretence that it all matters. I think that is why the certainty of righteousness means so much to these people, they are afraid of their own destiny, the only and real certainty we all have is that our hearts will stop beating, the oxygen will be starved from our organs and our sentience will fade. The universe will not even notice.
A year ago, Kauto Star died. I am not sentimental in the sense of his death but I enjoy reminiscing about his exploits. Above all King Georges and above the returning Gold Cup was the first season he won the Blue Riband. All records are there to be broken, all feats to be bettered. Yet it seems incalculable to me that a horse might win the Tingle Creek and the Gold Cup in a single season. My analogy remains, it is like Usain Bolt winning Olympic gold in the mile. That horse made me smile and he it is still true today.
I was asked to be best man this week. That is a first for me and I must confess to a degree of pride about it. In two crucial aspects of the duties, I know I will perform well. The stag do will not be one of these weekend affairs to a European capital to stagger around drunk, English and rude. No, no; I think York races or maybe Newbury where we might stagger around, drunk, broke and English.
In the second aspect, the speech, I anticipate an even greater contribution to the nuptials. I think a lengthy disquisition on the breeding lines of Northern Dancer or perhaps the Peninsular Wars.
To be honest, I am quite surprised as well as being delighted. Generally I dislike weddings, no matter how close to me the bride and groom. They are generally showy, misguided and not at all fun. Enjoyment in its truest sense requires the lowering of social inhibitors, not their raising.
The cycle continues, the game rolls on. Our river is relentless, never slowing. Hold on to whatever you can my friends.
I only have the most simple of advice. Care most for your own satisfaction. Yes, I am selfish. I can afford to be and so can you, we are all still here.
Anyway, to the sports. Three weeks on the trot. I am not sure yet that I expect a fourth. Here is a question, if I were dead, would I wish to be alive for just one more week, to write one more sermon, one more Eclipse or one more Lincoln, one more Lexus Chase or Hennessy?
To the sports. Forgive my melancholy, we are still here and we must sharpen up and get on parade. Lance points glinting against a blue sky, tunics pristine and sabres sheathed.
Last week, I gave three tips. They were fair prices but this does not excuse their finishing positions. We did not trouble the placings. Maybe my instincts are dulled.
Still my account is swelled from last nights football. Goodness how fine were Wales. I loved their performance. It was brave and confident. At 2-1 up, there were moments of deep retreat and I was fearful but then what a header from Vokes, Courtois caught flat-footed by the impudence. I bellowed a victory cry that had nothing to do with my in-play 14/1.
Ah Major, I hear the grumbles, such after-timing. Well yes. Forgive me though, it has been a barren run and if I appear to be gloating, allow it to be in the context of my own sagas. This victory was pyrrhic in nature, friends.
Let us cover the Coral Eclipse. Falbrav, Hawk Wing, Sea the Stars; some fair stars have shone brightly at Sandown.
The ground yesterday was soft, no mistake. Times were slower than good to soft and today, I would expect tacky ground, maybe not truly giving but all the same, I would want a hardened soul.
The Gurkha looked good in France and Galileo Gold was a worthy superior last time at Ascot. Being a Galileo, The Gurkha should go fine in conditions and the trip is arguably a plus too, a worthy favourite from the top yard, ticks many boxes.
Time Test too is a darn fine horse. The victory of Western Hymn (good yard stick) shows that he has come back well as a four year old. His best performance has been on good to firm ground but Dubawi types are fine generally in this ground.
Then there is the drifting and unfashionable My Dream Boat. He is out of Lord Shanakill who is a definite producer of soft ground types, the more rain the better I suspect. There is nothing wrong with the form with Found and the price reflects less fancy Group 1 connections, trainer and jockey. Could well be underestimated.
In the end, I have come down on the side of the favourite The Gurkha. Suppress that yawn at the back please. We can still get 5/4 and his best might be good enough and I suspect we haven’t seen it yet. Plus, he gets a couple of lumps of weight from his four year old opponents. This is what makes the Eclipse a great race, generational clashes. Just how close is The Gurkha to the exports of Time Test? Close enough is my call.
2pm – The Coral Charge. Summer sprints are a treacherous being forum. Hulking sprinters like body builders, the suddenness of the racing results in a merry-go-round of form. The Coral Charge is solvable because we have two distinctive facets to the race. We want a soft ground specialist and we want a low to medium draw.
I really like Janes Memory at 14/1 thinking that this filly might have the scope to go on again and she has won both starts with soft in the description. I would not put you off an each way investment. The favourite Brando has enough going especially on a pleasing show in the Wokingham.
I want more in the price though and so am minded to back 12/1 shot Willietheconqueror. Also at home on good to soft, I think Wille Muir’s runner will be OK here. I thought he was a little unlucky last time up and in decent form, from a good draw, there is plenty to attract me to a double figure price.
I am not playing in the big handicaps. No thank you Sir. I need to find a footing in the gentler currents first.
3.10pm – The Distaff. Snow Moon has a Nassau entry and Gosden won this race with Belle D’or. I remember that day because it was the one where Gosden at the same time also had a one-two in the Lancashire Oaks at bang on the same time. Sultaina I think was second to Pomology and if I could be bothered to Google it, I would confirm.
Snow Moon looked a bit keen last time and so maybe the drop back is a sensible choice but I am not convinced. Blue blood she might be, top yard and jockey, yes. However, the price speaks of proven form I have not yet seen.
Andrew Balding won this last year with a 10/1 shot in Blond Me. He races the Queen’s Make Fast who could easily have more to come but not for me.
I am going to take a chance on Owen Burrows, a trainer with 6 wins from 36 runs in his maiden season. He has won with his last three and Raaqy could be an improver. Very lightly raced, a Dubawi filly did OK at Ascot last time and surely can come on again. 8/1 will do for me.
2.15 Haydock – Lancashire Oaks. Soft ground up at Haydock too and three have defected from the Group 2 race. I mentioned that John Gosden day but he has been pretty prolific in this race and Furia Cruzada has to have the most interesting profile in the race. A South American runner, she performed well at Royal Ascot and a repeat of the form would see her do well.
Anyway, those are my four for today.
May your dinner be taken in grand state. You might look the part with that sharp collar, even cuffs and manners for the best of polite society. Yet, below, you are thinking as I am too, what is this all about.
We go round the ride just the once people. Grab on to whatever you like.
Courage, roll the dice.