Tag Archives: Berkshire

The Saturday Sermon – A top draw Greenham, Ayr Champion Hurdle (I hate calling it that) and Grand National

Good evening from the Major who writes from a virile Worcestershire scene where an abundance of colour is framed by a pleasant mid evening light; golden crops of rape, deep green grasses and dark brown earth, festering with pungent manures which gloop onto the roads trailing behind the great field workhorses coughing out their fumes and building a small tail of traffic.

The Major writes tired and failing, beer in hand and the abyss of sleep calling.  Yet, the Sermon, my weekly mistress, or perhaps more accurately master, calls me to her once more.  Penance comes once we are written and I click the blue button just inches away… publish.

The Masters is playing out in the background.  The Major posted a guest piece mid-week and the three runners are not currently dominating the leaderboard… Alas.  Nevermind, The Major also asked twitter for their fancied bets and twitter responded, my Masters stable now includes virtually half the field and since I do not think I have a golfer in the top ten, I am thinking of contacting the Guinness Book of Records.  Incredible performance, if only I had been pressing pink, not blue.

Augusta looks sensational, it always does.  I am no golfing fan but I enjoy tuning in to see the glorious grounds, stunning flora and those white bunkers glaring at you in the brightness.  The birdsong and the shade of the trees dancing across perfect greens with dark curves of water.  Although these things have been arranged by man, they are seemingly close to heaven in their composition.  It is how they wrote of the Old Summer Palace, man-made elements arranged in such a way that the beauty is breath-taking, an undeniable set of complimentary factors, it is almost impossible to fathom why one texture or colour plays so nicely against the next, it just works, some genius beyond my capability compiled it and I, your mere correspondent can only admire it.

From such perfection we slide, I watched Panorama regarding Marine A who has been convicted of murder.  I was amazed at the number of people who were willing to defend his actions.  Yes he was under extreme duress and I have every empathy for that but we cannot let the barbarism of our ancestors guide our moral judgements.  I know many of you may disagree, seemingly there is widespread support, we are partisan, he is one of ours, shooting in cold blood is never right.

I do dislike preaching, so I apologise.  Perhaps it is better if we take in the sports.  Whatever our views of the world, we are united in facing our filthy enemy whose mind so devious works to deceive and disorient.  See clearly my friends, hold a steady lance, close up ranks and despite being outnumbered, stick that chin out and let them see the straightness of our backs and certainty of posture, a certainty that speaks of victory.  Courage, roll the dice.

Newbury

With no patience before the gorging commences, I jump straight to the main dish of the Newbury card.  The Greenham has been, at times, a disappointing Guineas trial.  I am not sure why we do not get some better sorts competing most years, perhaps it is the more modern trend of taking your blue blood straight to Newmarket? Notwithstanding Frankel won the race, there are few true global stars that have emerged from the winners enclosure.  Hence it remains a Group 3.  Maybe the tide is turning though because Olympic Glory, last years winner was certainly no slouch.

Moreover, this year is a very decent looking renewal, Kingman has every chance of being a top class animal, he certainly looked so in the Solario.  He is not the only classy sort lining up as we also have the Chesham and Royal Lodge winner, Berkshire; the Gimcrack and Middle Park winner, Astaire and a host of other decent sorts.

While Kingham may prove the best of these eventually, I am taking Night of Thunder against him at 7/2 (Hills or Paddy Power) – Hannon chooses this one to follow up last seasons win with Olympic Glory (a different Hannon admittedly!) and he was a ready winner of a listed contest when last seen.  I particularly like his breeding being our of that very rich vein of Dubawi and Galileo crosses…

In the 1.50, the other Group 3 on the cards, Frankels full brother Noble Mission is joint favourite and a horse that will not carry the Majors money.  He will be able to cope if there is more cut than expected underfoot but looks vulnerable for a win and it is a winner we want… all repeat after me.. WINNERS WINNERS WINNERS WINNERS… alright, on my own.

Cubanita gave a good beating to Noble Mission and that was useful course form.  I like that at Newbury for its sweeping wide straight suits a real galloping sort.  Of interest.  Astonishing has something to prove on form for me and so by process of thorough and absolute analysis, I give you Mutashaded.  He was only a few lengths down to Hillstar at Ascot and this looks a mighty easier race.

Ayr – The Scottish Champion Hurdle

The renewal of the Greenham is above par and the same can be said of the Scots Champion Hurdle at Ayr.  Being a limited handicap, it is littered with decent winners down the years but again, few that you would argue reached the top of the tree.

This year, at one stage, the entries looked as good as the proper Champion Hurdle… Don’t be offended you Ayr lovers, proper means level weights, a fight between the best!  Anyway, the race had attracted entries from Hurricane Fly, My Tent or Yours, The New One and Pegasus, ridden by Jesus.  Sadly, Flaxen Flare and My Tent or Yours stand their ground but we have to make do with that.

The last five winners of the race won with marks of 141, 143, 144, 130 and 139 and so it is some achievement for Ayr to get the classy My Tent or Yours who runs off 168.  His presence and lofty mark have meant that only Flaxen Flare and Court Minstrel get to race at their proper weights.  Look I am surprised that My Tent or Yours is evens so lump on – I think it is a cunning plan from our new Canadian bank master to allot some extra QE amongst us ordinary folk (you not I my friends).  Flaxen Flares form in the County is the next best on offer but this is a classy classy horse and he deserves this day with the sun on his back.  Bet with conviction and courage, we do not think it, we know it.

Now for the Scottish Grand National.  10/1 the field says is all…. Last year Godsmejudge was the first horse in over a decade to lump round a weight of over eleven stone.  It is also a race that unlike the British equivalent, is won more often by seven and eight year old chasers, most likely on account of the less gruelling contest.

Again though, Tidal Bay is doing to this race what My Tent or Yours has done to the other showpiece.  18 of his 29 opponents are racing off an artificially high weight because of him taking his place.

I am going out on a limb and suggesting 33/1 shot Nuts and Bolts who is ridden by Lucy Alexander and fits the profile I like.  The horse has proven most effective on this sort of ground and may outrun the price, as could possibly so many others.  Merry King will win a race like this one day and I will kick the dog at having left it unbacked.  Before you get mad, I do not have a dog, OK; it will have to be a child.  Lie Forrit would be incredibly popular as a winner and the other horse that may just outrun a massive price is McMurrough.  God alone knows… stick a pin in, or find a proper tipster, you’ll be richer in pocket but less so in spirit.

At Navan, Answered can give us a 9/4 winner… match fitness persuades me over the eye-catching Ebasani.

and the football…

I am worried that Everton will run out of steam and so am hesitant about the 4/5 even though they are playing out of their skin… What the hell, put it in.  Derby to beat Huddersfield 8/11… glorious.  Wolves at Crewe 6/4, Luton at home to Braintree 11/20… They are the bankers.  The spice is Swansea who might outplay 4/1 against a weary legged Chelsea.

The Martin Hill bet is Answered, My Tent or Yours, Mutashaded in a power trixie.

I trust that you can take care of your own dinner plans but wish for you, the most delightful of company over a fine medallion of excellent beef, perhaps a cut from Highland Cattle reared with love in the Welsh hills.  Good wine, good company, a freedom, relaxation, restfulness; a healthy tip to reflect your contentment with proceedings and a knowing glint in your partners eye that tells you as to where her mind runs.  All these things, I wish for you.

Courage friends, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon…. Newmarket, Chester and Market Rasen…

Good evening from the Major who writes from the settee, restless and unsettled.

This may be the shortest Saturday Sermon in some time for various reasons. Mainly though it is time of which I am short. This weekend, I must repay a debt and spend a day with my two boys so I was committed to publishing before midnight. Having being under siege with a head cold for two weeks, my downtime plans first involve sleep.

I am so tired. It has been hectic at work and while I won’t dwell on the detail it has been an unsettling time of late. Coming home tonight, I left the motorway to beat a cross country path after a bad accident had closed a lane. The words are quickly passed over on a traffic report. Closer to home another road was closed following a head on collision. I am so tired, it comes over me like waves each threatening to dislodge my sea anchor and sweep me away, thrown in a tumult, spinning out of control.

There is so much to do. I have a lawn that needs cutting, runs that need to be set upon, decorating, business to tend to, purchases outstanding, lots of things that remain unread. These things pile up, each compresses the last like layers of coal and over time, the pressure squeezes out any enjoyment or contentment, nothing is pleasing, confused I slump and lunge from each item outstanding to the next, all purpose gone, acting not on impulse anymore but out of some strange conviction that salvation lies in ticking items off. How foolish. I am so tired. Sleep will come soon.

Newmarket Tips

Rumours abound that Betfred will go 16/1 the field for the Cambridgeshire in the morning. It is not a race I normally enjoy, 35 runners. I will get to my thoughts on that shortly…

The Royal Lodge opens the card and it looks a fair match up from Chesham winner Berkshire and 4th Somewhat. The latter has had more experience since and shown improved form and with match fitness assured I am on at 2/1.

It was a bit of a turn up yesterday when Charles Hill won the Falmouth but I think he has an excellent chance of another big prize with Kiyoshi in the 2.35. Truth be told though, I think Joyeuse has a solid claim too as is still improving and 6/1 is a fine price.

The Sun Chariot is a cracker with the rematch between Sky Lantern and Elusive Kate. These two have history and it is a hotly awaited showdown. I am all for Sky Lantern at 7/4 who I thought would easily have beaten Elusive Kate if not for the carry in the Falmouth. That is some form too as we are talking about a star European filly.

In the Cambridgeshire, my instinct is to go with Educate but having been let down so often, I have settled on two bets on Tha’ir and Forgive both of whom are 25/1 shots. I think both have been laid out for this and both have capable pilots…. It’s fun but not a race I’ve committed serious thought to.

At Chester, in the 3.05, I am struggling to split Zain Eagle and Gabrials Kaka both of whom have excellent chances. The former benefits from my favourite non retained jockey, Neil Callan and the latter has the crucial course form. On balance I am siding with Gabrials Kaka at 6/1.

At Market Rasen the Summer Plate is another open contest but I am opting for 10/1 shot Grandads Horse. My pick comes with Noel Fehily aboard and looks an improver over fences.

In the football, I have strong fancies for Arsenal away at Swansea (7/5) and Spurs (7/4) who I think will beat Chelsea. I also think Birmingham could win at Reading (10/3)

For Martin, I suggest a Sky Lantern, Grandads Horse and Spurs trixie.

The rest of you, I wish you a fine dinner in the best of company. Courage and roll those dice.