Good evening from the Major writing enveloped in the cool evening air of Worcestershire where high clouds pass over at speed and closer to the earth, the air scurries around, droplets of dirty water thrown in the gusts.
The Major writes from a peaceful home, the endeavours of Dundalk and Wolverhampton playing out jovially in the background, a cool beer is at my side, it is good to be alive.
The week was another in which the Major slept in snatches, stop-start nights, with consciousness existing in short fraudulent periods. When drifting from the real, into the darkness, there comes sharply focussed dreams, involving vast cavernous places, dimly lit and full of danger. I have no idea what these portend, in many of them I am climbing, sometimes with other people, often in silence. The vividness fools me into thinking it is authentic life, as Zhuangzi, I dreamed I was a butterfly and now I am uncertain whether I have awoken or am a butterfly dreaming I am a man.
I know of folk who seem entirely normal, thoroughly so, every move precise, each action measured. You know the sort, living lives that exist in childs books, Ikea or Channel 4 property documentaries. I am never sure whether it is a veneer covering a seething ocean underneath, or indeed whether such a state of utter normality is abnormal in itself, it is hard to tell.
I prefer the former thought, I think such folk are terrified of letting it slip and slide, lest the mask fall further. Yet I would say this, as Freud pointed out, the ego, our survival tool fashions what we see, it fashions it in our own image – We perceive everything as we wish and what terrifies me is that an uneven keel might be so unusual. We are not masters in our own house, please let it be so.
Oscar Wilde described the condition well during his time spent in Reading Jail. He was serving time for indecency, unkind and unfair times you would agree. While a resident, Wilde penned some of his darkest works and they are well worth your time. In describing the abuses he caused to himself which ended with his spell incarcerated, he used the line, I ceased to be lord over myself, I was no longer the captain of my soul.
This was a line he borrowed and inverted from the oft quoted poem Invictus by Henley, of which the final stanza…
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul
To be in charge of our future or to be washed about on the tide. I might want us all to be touched by madness but in the case of ascertaining destiny? Well, I am for the former, read Frankl Mans Search for Meaning – He more than most men knows how to find purpose in the deepest recesses of existence.
I embrace my beating heart when I awake from my active sleep, I can’t describe the dreams themselves as pleasurable, they do serve to remind me though that I am alive. In the night, I may not be master of the house, come the day, I retain captaincy of my soul, for now. The night world and the day world remain separate.
To the sports.
It is not the best day of racing we are going to witness. While I might throw a few thoughts in regarding the Lingfield listed races, I am going to have a closer examination of affairs at Newbury.
The card is to be run on good ground and we must seek out the fair spring horses that prance across the surface!
In the opener, it looks a penalty kick for Signs of a Victory who think will go off at 8/13. I quite liked the chance of Shes Late who will go well on the ground but oddly, jockey booking (McCoy on Matripajo) suggests the other Jonjo horse . All this is irrelevant – Henderson had three bullets at Newbury on Friday and hit the bullseye each time.
I like two at bigger prices in the 2.20. Grandads Horse ran respectably at Cheltenham until belting a fence and letting his chances slip. He has a good strike rate on the ground and in general – 11/1 is OK. The other I like is Pepite Rose – She is unusual in the Venetia yard, being a horse that favours decent surfaces. Her last two runs may not be sparkling but she gets her surface here and with plenty of others not guaranteed to act, she is worth a squeak at 12s.
The third race is a wide open listed mares limited hurdle. As such, we have some decent sorts turning up. There are a lot of progressive sorts in the field – Fairytale Theatre looks one that will come in for support, being a Nicholls horse and showing great improvement – Her last two wins coming on heavy temper my enthusiasm. Down Ace will like the ground and a line through her effort in the Mares hurdle at Cheltenham which was a huge step up in class and you can see her chances.
Free Thinking goes in the Long Run colours and given my advertisement for Hendersons form, she has to be considered. To amplify that, his record in this specific race is impressive too having won it with Polly Peachum, Line Freedom, Ryde Back and Karello Bay in the last ten years. Considered.
Yet the Major settles on an unfashionable runner up in Joanne One who is going to love the ground and since I don’t trust the form of jumpers bumpers in relation to proper hurdling, I see her as a danger. Yet, I cannot help but be taken by Massannie at 16/1 (14s generally) for the Pipe team. She has not been the same since a heavy fall but Pipe persists and a return to form puts her right back in this. She won thrice from three on good to firm, so let the sun shine.
Having had entries for the race in the name of his stable, Alan King has withdrawn them all… odd. It is darn hard to find a winner in this, Bucks Bond makes up his own mind but is a threat if going for it. It is dangerous opting for a front runner in such a big field but despite having an instinct that he might set the race up, I am going to back Highland Retreat with a small fun stake as I have always admired him and on a going galloping day, he is good. Newbury from the front just might suit him and he may have a number of these at it turning to home.
I love Newbury.. Its straight is as fair as they come, long, flat, tough jumps – The best horse wins.
Aldopicgros looks the best choice in the 4.05 – He won’t mind the ground and up half a stone for the defeat of a very progressive rival should be fine.
That is it for Newbury.
The Lingfield races are not my area of specialism – In the big one, the Winter Derby, Vodkata looks interesting making the trip from France. Rebellious Guest loves the all weather, Grandeur boasts solid claims but has a hell of a draw – I am going to throw a dart at the popular former Johnstone horse Windhoek (13/2) – He has some tapeta form and there is no reason to think the surface will be an inconvenience. De Sousa is a jockey I like and 13/2 is available with Hills – Have a slice.
Vicky De L’Oasis is a penalty kick 4/5 shot at Gowran. Her form is easily the best and I see no obvious reason to oppose.
In the football Newcastle are 17/20 to beat Crystal Palace and that should go in. Man City -2 at evens is in too – I think they are coming back to the boil. I’d have Derby to beat Forest at 23/20. The add a dash of Wigan at just the right side of evens…
The Martin Hill bet is Windhoek, Aldopicgros, Vicky De L’Oasis and Wigan in a Yankee, straight.
May your dinner be excellent, with a fine accomplice, her raven hair flowing down onto bare shoulder – Tip well, it is good to be alive.
Courage, roll the dice.