The Saturday Sermon on Hennessy Day – My 33/1 pick…

Good evening from the Major who writes from a mild fine Bassetlaw where the salmons and purples of the dying day have faded to the irresistible depth of night’s solitude, we gaze to the universe, unimpeded by our nuclear fireball which drowns out the beauty during the noise of the day.

I feel dirty, a film of ugly consumerism clings to me, you see I bought a TV on Black Friday.  I caught a case of TV envy seeing my fathers new Sony and bleating like a sheep I walked into our nations electrical retailer Curry’s to spend a few hundred more than intended.  I kept my screen budget well but was tempted into picking up a sound bar which now means that my teeth rattle at critical dramatic cinematic moments.  These ultra HD screens are impressive and offer such detail that the Major will still have excellent definition of my horse, despite it labouring away 70 lengths down the field.

I had just a few hours sleep last night and today has been written off.  I knew late in the evening I was in trouble, I had the urge for solitude, a sense always amplified by the application of good alcohol.  My thoughts were lost in amongst the schmaltz and dazzle of the NFL Thanksgiving schedule and before I knew it I was fighting sleep in the first half of the late game, knowingly well beyond the event horizon, no point paddling any more, you may as well let go and let yourself fall through it all.

Our politics feel desperately stupid once again.  I watched the most mind numbing bland and intellectually barren Question Time.  The simplicity with which arguments are made, conjecture assumed as fact, opposing sentiment assumed as evil intent and such little grace and humility.  Ah, let’s not talk politics, it will do little to raise the stench of filth I carry around already after buying a Black Friday TV.

My favourite film is The Sting.  If you have not seen it, you must.  I always feel it was influential in my gambling career.  There is a scene in which a young naive Robert Redford loses a newly found fortune in a single hand of crooked roulette.  His friend spinning the wheel urged him not to place the bet knowing the wheel was bent but couldn’t say as much under the beady eye of the muscle.  As Robert Redford sees the ball drop in an unprofitable slot, he sucks it up, clicks his mouth and just let’s it go.  I have always held the ambition of facing defeat with the same sanguine passivity, there is a wonderful detachment to him in the moment, as he tips his hat down to cover his eyes a little.

Last week, I scored a hat-trick.

I have little else to offer this week.  Let’s get to business.  To the sports.

Hennessy Day and the Fighting Fifth

The Hennessy brings such memories doesn’t it, old smouldering memories suddenly flicker into life again, a sudden violence of flame and all in the moment we return to Denman whose second Hennessy carrying a jockey, two sacks of coal and towing a caravan; yet braving it out, showing all his class, gosh, was that not his finest performance?

The Carruthers Hennessy was as equally uplifting, that horse deserved a big one.  So did Many Clouds.  The Hennessy is a lovely race.  A staple in our diet.  That Denman performance…. I know I am wallowing but Christ, the sheer bravery and exertion of brilliance.  Foot perfect, relentless power, eyeballing rivals who wilted away like smoke in the breeze…. Denman was a force of nature.

The Fighting Fifth carries memories as well.  Punjabi – What a glorious season that was, the £1m bonus available for the Fighting Fifth, the Christmas Hurdle and the Champion Hurdle.  A fall at Kempton meant it was unclaimed but 22/1 in the Champion Hurdle was a price I was on and to be fair, I’d be claiming bits of 40s+ all season.  After-timing is a terrible crime, guilty M’lud.  Actually, not guilty at all, I bleated about Punjabi to anyone that would listen.

Let’s start with the Hennessy, I feel I can solve it this year.  It is officially good to soft but I think that we want to be on the good ground horses.

Regal Encore is not the worst 40/1 runner I have ever seen.  There is an awful lot you need to get past and with those problems in clear view, it makes it harder backing it off a career high mark but I am always reminded of the early promise of this one who had JP reaching for a very large cheque.  Not for me in the end but one I shall feel bitter about if it runs a place or worse without my money on.

Jonjo is in a list of illustrious trainers that I never quite get right.  A current 7% strike rate does not inspire confidence but this is the sort of yard that might well defy that and Holywell will enjoy the ground.

The one I am settling on does require a leap of faith but I think it is justified.  Triolo D’Alene is in good training hands and won the race in 2013 of a similar mark.  Performances have obviously jumped around since.  Yet, many of the poor shows (not all but c’mon look at the price!) have been explained by conditions, Triolo needs good ground.  A touch of class and a hefty price.  33/1.

It will be a great 20-25 minutes in racing.  The Fighting Fifth is an interesting if not stellar renewal.  The most interesting runner has to be 11-year-old Hidden Cyclone.  How might he be considered?  Well he did beat Apples Jade who’s bubble was burst again subsequently.  Soft ground and a handler that is shrewd… Well well 25/1.

Irving has a fighting fifth to his name but I am never convinced by that one.

No, I shall advertise the chances of Sceau Royal who can be backed at 9/4.  Daryl Jabob is not everyone’s cup of tea but I have always found him an honest tryer even if he lacks a touch of the pizzazz.

Finally – Again because I am tired.  I think Dusty Legend in the Newbury opener.  13/8 and I’d back this one any day.  Funnily enough, I don’t fancy the evens favourite, La Bague Au Roi.  The one I would fancy in a forecast is Copper Kay.

So tired.

Courage, roll the dice.

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