Good evening from the Major who writes from a Nottinghamshire night as clear as creation. Crisp cold air stings the ears. I drove home with the car window down, embracing my favourite season. The land, largely flat, occasionally rolls away,the aftermath of some great impact rippling to the horizon. Yet, it is rare that you cannot see for several miles, these undulations being modest and sweeping. Tonight, great fires dotted the landscape,, sometimes miles in the distance, the flames leaping in slow motion, not so much less dramatic but perhaps less violent than close up.
After a fine week of punting, I drew a fair blank with my picks at Newcastle and Down Royal on Fridays blog. There were occasional brighter moments but overall, the selections ran badly. Alas, form is temporary, mediocre punting is for life.
I must say I was very moved by the awful news coming from Tooting that the injuries that young Freddy Tylicki suffered have proved terribly life changing. The initial reports of jockeys visiting Freddy and speaking to him, the description of ‘comfortable’ all led to a false sense of optimism that after some long spell on the sidelines, he would return to the saddle. It is not uncommon after all. Most of my favourite jockeys have suffered an injury at some point or other that has kept them off the track, broken bones become a badge of honour, part of our enjoyment is understanding the courage and toughness of those that compete.
As a side note to this awful incident, with a pained ankle, Ted Durcan hobbled back from the scene of the accident to the weighing in room because he thought that Crowley and Tylicki had greater needs of the medical professionals. Ted’s ankle later turned out to be broken. A minor detail now but one that serves to remind us that bravado is part of the intoxicating mix.
I raise this not because this incident should pass by as just part of the rough and tumble, no, no. I raise it because the excitement we get, the thrills and spills, has a cost. We lose horses which is bad enough, but then, far worse, infrequently, our jockeys suffer appalling injuries.
Freddy was a champion apprentice and I was hugely impressed with him in that year. He won the championship on the last day, with his rival, Probert, suspended. He thoughtfully gave his trophy to the family of Jamie Kyne, the young apprentice working at Quinns who died in a fire in Malton alongside Jan Wilson, another young jockey. A man still resides in prison for starting that fire, what a world.
Since that auspicious start, Freddy has pulled double-digit win percentages in every year and this year finally got his Group One, travelling to France on Fanshawe’s Speedy Boarding, winning first the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville and following up with a second G1, the Prix de l’Opera on Arc day.
The very best jockeys are richly rewarded. Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori while taking the exact same risks, fly around the world first class and enjoy the trappings of being at the top of their sport globally. Sliding down the scale, you reach the jockeys we rely on to turn up at Hexham, Brighton and Dundalk. I am sure the issue of injury carries a heavier burden amongst those men and women.
Freddy was on the up, it has been cut short in the blink of an eye.
He lies in a hospital bed tonight with no feeling or movement below his waist. I cannot imagine where you start to reconstruct your life from there. Casting aside all of the conscious and sub-conscious ambitions you held. Seeing that the things you previously aspired to, no longer apply. Having to find a new worth, a new path and not becoming lost, panging for your old one. I am not sure I could.
Yet, I must be careful not to apply gto this situation a mawkishness which I always dislike in others. In the end, wallowing in the sentiment is of no practical value. Of course compassion is natural. Like criticism, we sometimes amplify it because we are scared that the victim of circumstance or the perpetrator of some act, could well have been us.
What is more, to assign too much coddling to a fine sportsman is to do Freddy a disservice. If I met him now, of course I would express my strong sympathies. I know myself I’d be scared in his position. Yet, I should not assume how he might react. I can imagine he might see his injury as his new challenge, something to be defeated, no matter what that might mean.
Thankfully, Freddy is in fine hands. As well as the intensive care team, the IJF will be kicking in with their support birth in respect of care and if necessary, financial support too. In that despair and confusion, what saints those folk must be.
I won’t preach that we owe jockeys a moral duty. As a man of liberty, I believe in our agency and such duties cannot be forced. We cannot help but feel that compassion though and we are linked to this mans injuries. We consume the entertainment of the battles that he and his colleagues provide. The same debt we felt for JT McNamara ‘King of the Cross Country’ who succumbed to his injuries this year.
By texting IJF to 70800, you can donate £5 to the Injured Jockey Fund. Even better, by visiting this page, you could set that up as a regular £5 donation, once a month. One bet less.
Anyway, to the sports. Wishing you all good health.
Down Royal JN Wine Tips
A proper card at Down Royal and memories always stir of Kauto who so often used this race as his springing board, it became a pleasurable marker in the year.
I want to take on Bel Ami de Sivola in the 1.25 who I cannot justify an odds on figure, though Meade has started the season pretty well. My pick is a British raider. Ian Williams has sent the box over for London Prize. My pick has won on good and good to firm ground and gets the conditions here. Being a previous inmate of John Ferguson, you know exactly the sort you are getting. It is a tasty maiden hurdle.
Straight to the 2.35, the JN Wine Champion Chase. Regular readers will know that Don Poli is one of my favourites. I think he has been mishandled at times and the run he was given in the Gold Cup was not the finest use of him, he still managed to place though. Yes he is one paced, but that is the point of the staying division! Those that plug on when others have cried enough. Anyway, 5/1 is no as insane as some of those that cry ‘BOAT!’ would have you believe. Yes, even 3m looks sharp but… Don Poli is just 7, hard to reconcile I know, what is more, DP loves better ground and is the most certain horse in the line up to get it.
Valseur Lido is no mug but on first appearance for de Bromhead but gets the line from me because of the ground, this is one that I am sure needs winter to soften the earth. de Bromheads other runner, Sadlers Wells is not to be dismissed at a generous 12/1 either. At the bigger prices I also like Monksland as an each way punt. Fitness is a boost and if you are not sniffy about the form of his placed efforts, he is entitled to run to a place. That is half the field I like when you count the obvious chances of Conti!
For the winner, I have to focus between the romance of Don Poli and the practicality of Silviniaco Conti. After all, with 7 runners, this is no longer an each way race. I am playing Don Poli at 5/1 and you can chuckle at my foolishness later. You knew I would, didn’t you.
The Titanic Belfast Chase! 3.05pm. What a name for a race.
Le Mercurey seemed to go off the boil last season, even though he beat a disappointing Bristol de Mai at Aintree, his RSA run was not what was on the script. Nicholls has won this race so many times and with horses that were never quite destined for the top. Remember Kauto Stone or Cristal Bonus or The Nightingale?
I don’t know.
Ground has played a big influence in my picks at Down Royal and quite right too. It is a big factor and the results today may not be reflected in the heavy conditions we are yet to get to. It is the first time we have had good ground for this meeting in ten years and I am noting the conditions strongly.
Sub Lieutenant goes on the ground, represents a yard in form and has already shown us he is in fine fettle. 11/4, he carries the Majors’ penalty.
Wincanton – Elite Hurdle Tip
Over the Irish Sea, the most valuable race of the day is the Elite hurdle at Wincanton.
Sceau Royal is favourite and quite right too after a visually very impressive opening to his campaign at Cheltenham. Leoncavallo was quite fancied that day too but he was dismissed by the Alan King runner who put some late season flops (yard was in a slump) well behind him to storm home. I have to say that 6/4 from Coral is an absolute steal. If there are some of you out there who some here for the racing advice and feel that you want 16/1 and 33/1 tips, well it is not that sort of missive.
Each week, thoughts spill out and I do not see this as a tipping service, more as a journal of madness that one day doctors and criminal historians might dwell over. I cannot help how I feel. The computations of my mind are laid out honestly for you.
Is is profitable? Well, yes, but mildly. Each time I have recorded (it is onerous and not my style), I have made modest 10% profits over time. This will not make you rich.
Breeders Cup Tips
NINE GROUP 1 RACES!!
Say what you will but the Breeders Cup has the edge for me of all the great world meetings. It is a proper international affair and produces some incredible drama.
I love seeing the European raiders head over and yes, doesn’t it feel good when one of ours pokes the eye of an over-hyped Yankee Lasix addict!
In the Filly and Mare turf race, I am betting that they go off at some eye watering clip and the Stoute trained, Queens horse, Queens Trust, can benefit from being towed in with her high cruising speed coming to the fore. That would be some story itself in a race that threatens to overflow with emotion. We are lucky to still have the favourite in the market, Lady Eli, with us after she suffered a life threatening illness. To come back to the highest level is an incredible tale and there might be a tear shed if she comes home. My preferred story is that of the Queen winning at Santa Anita though. The trainer does target this race and Queens Trust is exactly the sort to benefit from a bit of the crazy juice.
My next bet on a raider will be Limato in the Breeders Cup Mile. As long as the horse can adapt to Lasix and a left hand track (I am putting myself off a bit), I am confident in the ability. I love Limato, such a stylish sort and 7/2 (Bet365) should be bought with a reckless abandon.
I will be up at half past midnight to watch California Chrome. Sheep like I will bet and follow that one all the way to glory! Could be a rousing finish in the witching hour to a splendid card.
Courage friends, roll the dice.