Good morning to all from the Major who writes groggy, still in the bed, all lethargic but comfortable. The cold rain has been falling on Worcestershire smearing the roads into dark shiny slick surfaces over which the sound of tyres kiss.
Overhead conditions are grey and squally, bright pockets where clouds breaks in , not to reveal the calm pale blue sky, no just to uncover a brighter light, through thinner cloud that your eyes cannot take. The sky is moving quickly, the scene unsettled. I wish the sun every luck in burning through and showering us in those glorious waves.
The Major had a Black Saturday last week. With the sole exception of Millwall who scored a 3/1 winner with their away day win at Middlesbrough, the losses stacked up. It is a dangerous time to bet, early in the racing season, yards have their strings in different order, last seasons juveniles have had a winter of growth on them and some have come on incredibly, some not, some classy bred types that did not race at 2 are now ready and are unleashed, you have no comparative form just a sire, a mare and a trainer. Treacherous times, hold on to the flotsam against the tides violent turbulence.
The Major has had a long tough week at work and could not bring myself to natural sleep last night. Instead, I reached for the sleeping pills in the small hours and a chemical rest ensued. I feel better for the result if not a little groggy. If it is cheating, I care little, to us insomniacs, sleep is a precious commodity.
On the edges of slumber, my mind is on an overdrive, visions, ideas, vivid colours, my heart beats quickly; I can report from this far foreign lands where the normal rules do not apply, that dark thoughts hover just below the surface. Surviving the night and coming through to the day, I can leave that world behind and am glad to.
It seems to me that there are only a few things we should be concerned about. Most troubles I see boil down to a fundamental issue. When will I die? The tragedy of humanity is that this question can never begin with the word Will. We are all heading to one place my friends, dust. So what is left for us here, what purpose to be fulfilled, does any of it make a difference? Wealth, Health, Power?
You can make your own mind up but the Major extols two things to aspire to. The first is experiences, get as many of them as you can and bedeck them in mischief and fun.
The second is companionship. Friends, partners, acquaintances – These people travel the same road, all of us towards the dust, walk the road with the best you can and make the journey that more the pleasurable. Be charming. I have no better advice than this, at the end, if your life is merely a futile exercise for which it is for almost all of us, perhaps with the exception of the great artists and thinkers; fear not, futility was part of the package for most of us.
Most terror in the world stems from this visitor who rarely announces his arrival too far in advance, death. A lot of anger can be peeled away from its’ owner until you get down to the bare essence, I do not want to die yet.
I do not wish to be bleak, let us get to the sport, grab yourself a coffee my friends, we have a super-tanker to turn. I have decided to give you all the winners of the Scoop6, if we all get on this lot, we shall have to share it but I don’t mind – That is all part of the Majors philosophy, share the wealth my friends, share the wealth.
Ripon, Sandown, Wolverhampton
Scoop6 bonanza day and the card is spread across Ripon and Sandown. A devilishly difficult one but surely worth a pop and so, for a change the Major thought he would walk you through his selections.
Scoop 6 – Race 1 : 2:05 Sandown
Baradari for the lovely Venetia was a horse that caught my interest but her yard are not in sparkling form and despite my feeling that he will step up well to this distance, overlooked. Dispour has a reasonable mark for handicap debut and he has not been disgraced at the highest level.
The key form for me is the Fred Winter, a race that is spewing out plenty of subsequent winners so Keltus who was hampered that day before rallying to 4th is a serious horse and I am not surprised he heads the market.
Scoop 6 – Race 2 : 2:20 Haydock
The Haydock turf is described as good to firm, a good starting angle which advertises the chances of plenty including Louis the Pious, Big Johnny D, Sir Reginald and Consign.
The Barrons have three runners in the field including Big Johnny D but their yard form is concerning having despatched 21 runners in the last fortnight but just 3 places the spoils.
No the Major is taken by the chances of Sir Reginald. We are sure of a big run with Richard Fahey booking up the Champ, Ryan Moore to do the steering and this horse has the ability to win a contest like this on ground he will be fine with.
Scoop 6 – Race 3 : 2:50 Ripon
Trainer form has put me off Body and Soul because the Easterby operation have thrown 50 darts out in the last two weeks and returned just two winners. That, coupled with the fact that this horse has been seen to needing his first run, it has to be a no. I think he is the best in the field mind and he has some interesting entries later in the year.
For the purpose of a winner today, I am opting for Hopes and Dreams – This horse has had plenty of issues and will surely be the last to be loaded into the stalls. If she can bounce out from her low draw, she might just be able to call the whole race at her tune. There are plenty of others that would like to dictate and that is a concern but in a field of quandary and question, we get a proven horse, in a good draw, ground versatile and Graham Lee to steer.
Race 4 : 3:25 Haydock
The Lincoln is a key form race in weighing up these runners but I am ignoring it and throwing in a wild one. If you want to win the Scoop6, you want to be a sole winner so at some point, you have to roll your dice! The horse I think stands a chance at 16/1 is Seamus Durack’s The Rectifier. Seamus is a small yard but progressing nicely and this horse has the look of potential improver having won 3 of his last 4. Better company and a further 5lb mark are considerations but I think we can do
Race 5 : 3:30 Ripon
Gordon Elliot has bought Bayan over for this and that has to be significant. This dual purpose horse has some ability and I think is an excellent bet for the fifth leg.
Race 6 : 3:50 Sandown
Can you imagine if we made it here! The most likely outcome is that we fall at the first race, particularly as I am not doubling up anywhere! If the Major wins the Scoop6, it will be with a single £2 sniper shot!
If there was one man I would trust to bring home our mothership, it is top jumps man, Noel Fehily who takes the ride on Paul Nicholls’ Bury Parade. I think the extra distance will just keep improving the horse.
Courage and roll those dice.
It is fair to say that in offering the weekends best bets, the Major might not have gone to the Scoop6 races. So here are a handful of the other runners I fancy on a typically busy Saturday.
I can find no earthly reason why Sire de Grugy will get beaten in the Celebration Chase (3.15). He has had a magnificent season culminating in his emphatic Champion Chase win and there is nothing here that should trouble him. 1/3 is a bit short but I am not pricing against the other horse, I am pricing against… Is he over the top? Could he have a significant jumping error? I will have him in some multiples anyway.
Everyone would not begrudge Hunt Ball a win in the previous Oaksey Chase (2.15) – There are few horses whose careers have been so badly managed as this one but he is now back in good hands and has started to show his old enthusiasm, a fourth in the Ryanair followed by running in the grand national, who knows what he has left, not for me.
No, I prefer either Menorah who has given Hunt Ball a beating before or Rolling Aces who might just yet win a race of this nature. Of the two, Menorah – Load a small cannon.
The Football…… Fulham will beat Hull in my view and 13/10 is a gift from the gods – They have won 2 of their last 3 in their fight against relegation with the loss being to Spurs. Home advantage too…. Massive bet.
Millwall are turning into a money train for the Major and while I cannot have them quite to win away (14/5) at QPR, I feel backing a draw is a sensible choice, 23/10. Millwall have appointed well and are tough to break down from a tactical and mental perspective.
I think Wolves will still have their minds on the job for a trip to Coventry who could also do with a couple of points to ensure they are not involved in a relegation fight on the last day. 11/10 is the price and the reason I see them as still motivated is that this win will take them 102 points, a record tally for League 1. A further win in their final game and they will have 105 points, the joint second highest tally in any league campaign. Chasing such records, creating that bit of heritage, it should be enough to keep the players focussed.
I trust your dinner is of the highest quality, finely cut medallion of beef, pink with a dark jus, a puree of parsnip and all of the trappings of luxury of which you are owed. The company is exceptional, pleasant, not rushed, conversation not chat, a flaxen-haired, open-eyed sort. Eat well and enjoy – This is one of the finest things you can do.
Courage and roll the dice.