Good evening from the Major who started this Sermon late, tired and wine flown. I have been bawling at the TV, thundering my support for the Ladies Hockey team who were second best but dug in and ended triumphant in a dramatic penalty shootout. Bravo!
How they sang the anthem too, belting it out in unison as though they were upstairs on the late bus home and someone tuned up to Bohemian Rhapsody. Raucous, full of fun, joy and soaking up every moment. All strength to them.
What an Olympics for Team GB. We have every chance of finishing second in the medals table. I know that result is the mix of one part talent, on apart passion and four parts, serious injections of cash but all the same. Gad, makes you proud to be a Britain.
I had a conversation with my brother over a curry and we were debating which athlete you’d most like to win if you could wave a magic wand. His choice was Mo, my brother was a competent runner himself, achieving a bronze at England schools in Stoke at 14. He knows how much it hurts. My own pain threshold is high but I prefer my punishment to be a test of endurance rather than short acute bursts, I am not that brave.
My own choice was our nations sweetheart, Jess. Ah, that girl has the winning smile and now we all gaze on her as a contented mother, she seems so perfect. No, such a thing does not exist, I can only imagine that the tag is a burden for her too. Still, like many, I have fallen in love with her, that wide eye, those cat like movements oozing in grace. Yet, Jess should not take too much pride basking in my own attention. After all, regular readers will know, I fall in love quickly and often; each new one holds my eye and lingers in my mind burning brightly but always eclipsed by the next in line.
One controversy I wish to throw my oar in. Caster. She is expected to win on Sunday night and may well threaten the world record.
I do feel for her. It took some time for me to come to this view. At first, I wrestled with the issue, she has hyperandrogenism, a condition that has led to her producing naturally high levels of testosterone. Of this, there is no doubt. She produces more than three times as much testosterone as do 99% of female athletes. This is hardly her fault though.
There is also no doubt (in my mind), that in her case, the testosterone makes a huge difference too. When the orders came to manage the level of testosterone with drugs, her form tailed off. Now challenged by an Indian sprinter, she is free to come off the drugs and her times have improved as a consequence.
Having dwelt on the matter, I will be cheering her on come Sunday. I cannot but feel that there is a touch of squeamish about some folks objection to her advantage. There are hundreds of other rare genetic conditions that give other athletes significant advantages and we celebrate their achievements – What is the difference here?
What is more, she is an athlete and never deserved her condition becoming an issue of global debate.
This sense in me is something I feel as somewhat of a sea change. I was sat on the London bound train this week and a young boisterous sort in the seta behind me spent most of the journey kneeing my seat, engaging in a loud conversation with friends on his phone and generally carrying an ‘all that matters is me’ attitude.
As we approached Kings Cross, the inspector came through and she asked for tickets. Having presented mine, I was left to earwig on his feigned ignorance as he tried to wriggle out of his situation. Yes, one part of me was happy that this ruffian had his just deserts. I imagined myself defending the ticket inspector in case of a row, looking him in the eye and stating the case that no-one else in the carriage assumed they could travel for free.
I am not sure whether this is sanctimony, or some sort of conditioning from childhood from a suburban and Christian home. Either way, I feel it slipping as an anchor in my life.
The inspector said she would shortly return. As soon as she left the carriage, my neighbour hot footed it across the carriage and through the far door. He had 10 minutes to find the safety of a toilet or put enough distance between himself and his huntress that Kings Cross would save him.
Do you know what, as he slipped from view I found myself rooting for him. He didn’t mean any harm. My old stuck up rigid feeling are still there but I just don’t feel they are as structurally sound as before.
Live and let live. To the sports.
Racing – York Gimcrack Card
I think there is some value in the Gimcrack this year. Blue Point is not a winner for me. For a start, York is a bit of a specialist course and I am just not sold visually on his second here last time. Other than that, Charlie Appleby is a trainer I’d trust with a Wolverhampton Class 4 handicapper dropping in grade, awful praise indeed.
Kevin Ryan has a good record in the race which attracted me towards Dream of dreams but my issue is that the trainer has only won with 1 of his last 50 runners, 14/1 is fair but I’m minded against.
The rain in York is due to start at daybreak and continue through breakfast until brunch. Whether this in addition to tonight’s precipitation is enough to make inroads into the ground, well, it is a question.
I am going to suppose, perhaps a little against the tide, that indeed, the ground gets a bit of give. On that basis, I am wanting to put Ardad up at 14/1 (Hills) for a small win bet because I think it could win. A line through the last race and we have the profile of a horse, with a trainer and jockey that warrant far greater respect than those lofty odds.
However, I am not that convinced there will be enough rain. Even if there is, it was an alarmingly bad display from Ardad last time and I am going to opt with a classy, hugely exciting sort in Mubtasim at 9/2 with Paddypower. Haggas has a decent record in the race and the way in which the beast won his Haydock race last time up, showing equal measures of potential and inexperience, well. Load up.
In the 2.15pm at York (Strensall Stakes), I am going to back Scottish who has the traditional hit and miss Godolphin feel about him. Yet, other rivals have serious doubts too. If the ground stays harder, then Tulles and Custom Cut will struggle. I am not sure about the favourite, the Queens horse, Diploma, who has won a listed race from Fireglow (went on to frank the form) – My concern would be the sharper trip and a sure-fire decent pace. In the end, Scottish, for me, has the form in the book and if hitting the right note, 4/1 could be a gift,
My last horse to catch the eye is at Chester in the 2.40. Rosabelle looks incredibly unfashionable. At 14s and possibly on the drift, I doubt there will be many populist tipsters adding this to their list! Yet, Rosabelle is the only runner in the field to have a course win, at Chester, that is significant. I want her on side in some multiples but my winner will be Partitia at 2/1 – This looks like a Stoute sort, rolled out quickly for another win. All aboard!
I fancy Leicester to beat Arsenal at a smidgen shy of 2/1 – A lot of personal statements to be made in that match.
I wouldn’t trust any of this much – I am barely in form.
May your dinner though be cloaked in the satisfaction of a humongous unholy wedge of purple notes which prevent you from closing your wallet. May your company be glorious, bathe in it for we are not for this place for very long.
Courage, roll the dice.