Good morning from the Major who writes from his bed gazing our across the green Worcestershire rural scene towards Bredon Hill with a low but bright cloud hugging the Earth. Cool air, thoroughly underwhelming conditions leading to a malaise in my mind which I shall share with you to lift the burden somewhat. Come take a seat.
The Major is planning on spending some time in the garden this weekend. By tea time, I will be engaged in the gardening activity of men from time immemorial…. burning. I intent to build a fire so considerable that several military intelligence organisations record it as a global event.
I have borrowed my fathers pressure washer and its usage is a thoroughly addictive activity. Endlessly cleaning, my mind spirals as I do it, realising the futility, it leaves me hollow. It is why I both love and despise gardening. It is a pleasant enough activity with a payoff when enjoying the fruits of labour, relaxing in glorious green serenity on a fine day. Yet it also touches the inevitability of life, death. Killing weeds, trying to keep plants alive, the steady decay of things. This weekend I am hoping to treat some wood to prolong its life. Not to save it, simply to prolong, to keep stumbling on. We are all on the same cycle, our clocks are ticking, we too are in steady decay as is everything you can see. Nothing is permanent.
Sport offers me salvation. I would struggle to do justice to the feeling I get watching a top class equine athlete changing gears after a subtle and simple nudge of the reins, or a jockey well-balanced on a powerfully travelling horse. The thrill transcends our terminable existence, just for the moment. Such things surround us in life and your only hope is to absorb them and be temporarily distracted from your own irreparable decline.
To the sports.
Tips for Newbury – The Lockinge
To me this looks a below average standard for the Lockinge. The favourite is Declaration of War a Ballydoyle raider who won his Leopardstown reappearance. O’Brien has a poor record in the Lockinge, having won the race just once in the last fifteen years with the magnificent Hawk Wing ten years ago. I think yard reputation has carried Declaration of Independence into favouritism and 5/2 is a bit short for me.
One trend I am mindful of is age. Of the last eighteen winners, seventeen were four or five and just one runner was aged six. Following this line, I reluctantly put a line through Cityscape. The global traveller boasts damn fine form and can be ready first time up but at aged seven, does not boast the profile I am after. I am a little reluctant because Cityscape has chased Frankel home a few times and as Roosevelt said, it is better to have dared even if chequered by failure.
Beauty Parlour is the horse I would like to be selecting. On French form, I think it is a serious challenger but I am fearful that the firming ground will be against.
The forecast is for dry weather but a small risk of rain around midday. With the ground good to firm, this is a factor to be reckoned in our calculation. It leads me to my selection.
My horse comes from the yard that has won the race two times in the last three years. The horse has a record on good to firm of raced 4, placed in all, won 3 of them. My horse has had a reappearance run already, and won it. It represents a yard with a current 19% strike rate. The jockey has a 22% strike rate in the last two years, the best of all competing jockeys. I am talking about Trumpet Major.
He has been dismissed by many and I can’t blame them – He is definitely a sort that has two ways of running. Yet he is in excellent hands. If anyone can cajole the best from a reluctant sort, it is Mr Hannon.
Not the best Lockinge and I am on the Trumpet Major to bring us some joy.
In the 3.15 I am willing to stick with Hillstar at 5/4. On reappearance there was plenty of support for the horse who took silver prize – In the context of todays opposition, that was still pretty good form and so I am in again.
At Newmarket, there are a series of impenetrable races which I haven’t the inclination to work through. Instead, I am having a punt on Dundonnell. Connections made clear that he needed the reappearance run last month and so third can be forgiven. Nothing in the field boasts his juvenile credentials and 2/1 is plenty of encouragement for me. Tha’ir also looks an obvious pick in the following 4.05 contest, again, he might not be perfect but he has an entry in the big one at Epsom so clearly has been well thought of at some point – Plus again, the two year old form is best in field… another 2/1 shot.
The second leg of the US Triple Crown runs tonight at 11.20 but sadly it appears not to be on At The Races. Hopefully I will find a feed later but I am watching it to see Orb strut his stuff.
This one is potentially a triple crown winner and remains unbeaten in a 5 race career. The talent was proved in the Kentucky and I don’t think rain will be any hindrance. Get stuck right in.
Last day of the season and I have just one bet but it is going to be a sizeable investment. I really think Villa, 13/5, are entirely the wrong price to win at Wigan. OK, they are missing Benteke but they have other dangers and from a preparation point of view, surely Wigan are cooked. They looked weary at Arsenal and after receiving a tanking and being relegated, I am confident that the upper hand lies with Villa who would want to put a big gap between them and relegation to prove it was never a real risk.
The Martin Hill lucky 15 is Villa, Hillstar, Dundonnell and Orb – Not as much Napalm as you like but confident picks.
I wish you the finest of dinners in the best company. Courage and roll those dice.