Good evening from the Major who writes from a blustery Worcestershire where the gusts cut deep into your torso, cold biting at the innards, sending you scurrying for shelter. Since I started the post late into the night and recommenced on this fine morning, I can now report on the morning condition of this land, a gentle pastel blue sky with soft white distant cloud, souls awakening, spring is here.
The Major landed some decent bets last week and the form continued on the twitter account (@tdl123 for you modern sorts) where this week, I pointed towards a 22/1 winner and a 9/2 winner on subsequent days. This combined with a decent weekend just passed, created a liquid position, suitable for funding a small military intervention at Cheltenham in a matter of weeks.
Sadly, foolishly, gluttonously and gloriously, the Major set about the destruction of these new-found resources. I have a remarkable skill to be able to bet at pace and by the time I found myself anxiously awaiting updates on a game that Lazio were losing one nil at home to Laprasador Zobronogionopovforgorovitopolova or some such thing I had never heard of; well, the die was cast – Ah, the truth one feels after wasting some money. I cannot describe it, however, it is well documented in my favourite film, The Sting. Robert Redford, having come across a roll of notes fit to choke a mid-sized donkey, takes a spin out with a floozy and manages to blow an astonishing amount on a crooked roulette table. With gasps around him and his company in outrage at the sheer stupidity, wastefulness and brashness of the act, he flicks his smart hat forward an inch, puts his hand to his chin and just for one moment, takes a sharp intake of breath. He had it spot on.
Perhaps the fuzziness in my decision making came from the restless existence I stumble through. Snatching a handful of hours sleep in each evening, leads to a shaky existence. In between the pools of slumber, lie monsters. I tend to listen to the World Service, drifting in and out of the genteel voices that convey such messages of terror. Ukraine, Syria and this week, like a bucket of cold water, North Korea. I like to keep the night world seperate from the day, but the edges are blurring, feelings that I have deep in the night are invading into the light and I shall sahre them my friends, unburden myself of their terrible weight.
Defectors and satellite evidence has given a UN panel enough to provide a report of the sheer human horror being played out within their prison camps. I would urge anyone not of strong disposition to skip the next paragraph or two for, dear readers, I shall flinch not for sharing some of the disgusting human tragedy. Let me issue fair warning, it is of incredible stomach churning strength.
Crimes against humanity is a phrase in the modern vernacular that is rolled out to convey a general idea that some people have committed some evil act upon another. To penetrate beyond the words, you need to go beyond the general concept and reach the detail. We all sit conditioned to mans ability to inflict pain on man, history tells us that it has happened through the millenia. Dare I suggest, we even feel a tired malaise towards it, this is not acceptance but certainly a sense that we have heard it before.
Let me shake that from you, if you will allow me, again what I write, only reflects the truth but for those who may be offended, it is not my intention to do so dear reader, please skip forwards to the sports.
You can end up in a North Korean camp for any small crime. Some are there because they owned a bible, some because they rolled a cigarette using paper that had the image of their inglorious leader upon it. Many are there simply because they are related to people who committed these heinous crimes. Yes, in North Korea, they arrest three generations of criminals, irrespective of who committed the act on grounds of association. When you commit a ‘crime‘ you risk your family.
When Dante created his circles of hell, his invention shocked the world and offered dark insight into the human mind. He could not have replicated the evil that man is truly capable of, those thoughts that lurk deepest in the mind, once in an environment in which they are free to be expressed. Becoming pregnant is often a death sentence, most babies born in prison camps are still born. Yet having given birth, being ordered under pain of death to drown your baby in a bucket of water, well. Would you do it, it is hard to imagine the horror. What would that leave you with after you had committed such a depraved act. For those, that like I, might think, I am incapable of it, I would have to die myself rather than do it… Would you? Practically, the babies fate is sealed anyway, why die yourself? More than that, unless you have been subject to the condition, how can you even know how you might react. Who knows his own mind when his very existence is under threat.
The stories from these camps have been compiled from the reports of the few that have gotten out of them. One a defected prison guard describes how the guards were rewarded for killing the prisoners, the rewards were education.
Teenagers forced to witness the execution of their mothers and brothers. People surviving only on what they might catch, frogs, snakes… To eat a Salamander, you cannot bite it, its sour juice is inedible but you must kill it and then swallow it whole. The prisoners sought out pregnant rats, believing the placenta to offer a rich food source able to provide much needed nutrients to the young of the camps. Others searched through the excrement of animals for undigested nuts.
Death must come as welcome relief. As the head of the panel who compiled the report said, after the German concentration camps, the world wrung its hands and exclaimed that if only we had known. We know about North Korea.
I am sorry for the horror my friends but it lies weary and heavy on my mind, like my head contains an egg yolk, rolling from side to side, resting and pressurising my skull, causing me to shift throughout the night.
I usually dislike any polarised view. The world does not work in black and white. In exceptional circumstances such as these, there is no debate.
The radio brings trouble from other corners too. The people of Ukraine have paid a price but will get their freedom. They get the same in Egypt. In Syria, the displaced still lead a marginal existence.
Be thankful folks, we are the fortunate few. If you have the opportunity, donate something to a worthy cause. It puts into context the woes of our own poor, not that one extreme wrong makes another OK, yet when heavy complaint is received about poverty, benefits cuts and food banks – Context is required. We won the lottery of life.
Anyway, you find it flippant to move to the sports after sharing such dark thoughts. You are right. However, in the washing machine that is the life I lead, writing the Saturday sermon is a fixed point in time on which I can rely – I can lean upon that fixed point in the week with confidence.
To the sports….
Chepstow is heavy and it is raining. When Chepstow is heavy, their clay cloying soil is like a heavy glue and it takes a special breed of horses to get through it, genuine mud larks. Those that like it soft will not do, we need the ones that revel in the mud.
In the opener, a tentative stake will be placed on the favourite Monkey Kingdom who is the only horse to have won on heavy ground. What is more, the form stacks up with a defeat dished out to Mickie, Henry Daly’s smart grey mare. 5/2 is available with Bet365. Gate Please is a risk especially as he looks the sort to be better of these longer distances and the minimum trip was way too short last time.
In the second, I am giving Big Society another chance. It seems odd to be cutting some slack to a horse with jumping difficulties at Chepstow, a course I chalk up as being a more difficult chasing test. Yet, the slow ground might give him that bit more time at the fences and given his love of mud, I think 6/1 is a fair price.
One day Swnymor will come good again and a collective sigh from folk like me will fill the air. Some shrewdies will crow of their winnings on twitter and the world will move on. The thing is, he looked such a damn fine novice, would have won a Grade 1 that was picked up by Ruacana with Caid du Berlais in second, after a final flight fall in January 2013 and since then, has looked anything but himself (1 place from 6 starts, mark down to 129 from 143). When it wins, it will do so without the burden of the Majors stake. Alder Mairi should be really suited by this test. Should be able to bowl along relatively untroubled off the front and at Chepstow, that can be dangerous. Have a juicy slice at 7/2 (Bet365).
In the 3.05, Poole Master looks to have finally got into gear, I knew there was a good performance in him but he does not look the reliable sort to me and now contends with a near stone rise in the weights. Fago might be focussed by his new headgear but has the burden of top weight which is going to be a hell of a steadier in these conditions. We have seen how well Venetia horses do in the mud and light weight Last Shot has a chance of being involved but the Major is going to be on Grey Gold who dealt up a beating of the highest quality to Desert Cry (rated 147) who is a McCain inmate. That day, Grey Gold was reversing previous form and the heavier conditions he encountered may have been a factor. Load the cannons at 7/2.
That’ll do for me in Wales….
I am always a bit cautious about using the word tips, it implies I am a tipster. If you are new to these parts, you might assume so, I assure you I am not. I am barely profitable and as you certainly know, certainly unhinged. I do not charge, ask you to sign up for anything, earn from advertising or make any claim. I welcome gentle humble sorts and would ask the riff raff to leave after you have finished the drink you have.
Kempton has a few nice Graded races today and we get a good look at Irving, one of Ditcheats best festival hopes. Nicholls has been waiting to unleash the horse once the deep ground has passed and today he gets proper chasing ground at Kempton – Shabash. Nicholls has done well at this meeting in recent years, it is a nice interval from Cheltenham and some of his will be right on the boil now.
In the first Grade 2, the juvenile hurdle, Nicholls rocks up with a double barrel shotgun – He has an excellent record in the race and is represented by Solar Impulse and Alcala both in the same ownership, both having won this season already. Jockey bookings suggest the former is the one to rely on but the Major is skipping both for a shot with the favourite Activial. Tentative selection only as so many improvers are lurking but Fehily + Fry = Monies! 31 from 88 in the last two years and 6 from 15 on track. Activial had good french form, has a triumph entry and was probably on ground too firm when beaten by Calipto who looks the business too….
Fox Appeal is the choice of many over this longer trip but I think Balder Succes will still out perform him. His jumping is sound and accurate and I think that there is nothing to fear in these longer trips for him.
The lump on Irving. 5/4 is insane. I am convinced, load the large artillery my good people. Yes, First Mohican is good but this Irving is definitely the bet, especially if the rain stays away.
Fehily and Nicholls team up with Bury Parade at 9/2 in the Grade 3 handicap chase and I will have a small interest. The horse brings good form into the race and this team are unstoppable.
Newcastle Eider Day
I have grave concerns about the Eider being run on heavy ground. Nobody wants to see exhausted horses stumbling over the line, it is unedifying and not what the sport is about. From 16 runners, I think just 5 will finish. Not a race in which the Major wishes to bet.
Edmund Kean should take the small field opener – A few of his opponents boast the same like of mud as he does but none has the form he has. It is the only thing I want to back at Newcastle.
It is an obvious pick but Adriana Des Mottes in the opener looks a good thing to me. 11/10 is available but it is taking that Ruby selects this rather than the other Mullins horse who looks equally well equipped, Abbysial. Adriana trounced the Punchestown opposition and looks a very nice prospect. A Mullins 1-2 can be backed as well.
This might not be much fun for you to read, a little obvious I know, but I am suggesting a massive Mullins day at Fairyhouse – A little like Nicholls, his string will be boiling up to Cheltenham now and I am following up the opener with multiples involving Beluckyagain 8/13 (2.00), Wicklow Gold 4/1 (2.35), On His Own 7/4 (3.10), Kalmann 3/1 (3.45)
Disappointed in me… find yourself a tipster!
In the football… Arsenal 4/11 and Manchester United 8/11 are easy starting points. Derby 4/5 and Reading 23/20 get us more interesting and Wolves at Brentford 9/5, adds the spice. I think my own team Albion might get the highly valuable three points at home to Fulham too 5/6.
May your dinner be in a fine seafood restaurant where the scallops are served seared and tender, fine crisp white wine flows, a clarity of thought exists and the most wondrous company is enjoyed. Drink freely and remember your fortunes.
The Martin Hill bet involves Irving, Adriana Des Mottes, Edmund Kean, Grey Gold and Reading. I suggest they are set up in trebles (10 bets), fourfolds (5 bets) and an accumulator, just in case the mothership wants to dock.
Courage friends, roll the dice.