Good evening from the Major who writes from a damp and cold Worcestershire scene. Bitter cold rain stings the face, wind whistles in rising tones, a blackness lies over the land which is sodden, barren and desolate.
Indoors, the woodburner has been underway for several hours, the air flow restricted but in suffocation, there is no drama, instead the flame just licks gently at the contents, peaceful.
The Major has had another restless week. Sleep comes in patches, unsure of my path through the night, leaping from one hour to another, not fully conscious but unable to make the long haul to the morning.
I have had a remarkably good betting week which grew from a seedling into a mighty redwood. On Wednesday night, Bet365 sent me a free £5 bet – Unlike many of my twitter contemporaries, I am proud of the fact that I have never had an account restricted… no, sadly, bookmakers welcome with open arms, showering me with diaries, free bets and free spins. I am a good customer.
Yet, that £5 free bet, doubled on an in-play Chelsea and West Ham draw (11/4) and an inplay Athletico Madrid win (11/2) scored me a tidy three figure return. Fortunately, this was just the start of a remarkable run. The next day, I scored a trixie win on an impulse and the outrageous slings and arrows of fortune even sought to conspire to get Forest over the line after trailing 2-0 after 50 minutes, to win 4-2. I arrive at the weekend with an account buoyed by such fortunes and ready to invest.
The Major spent some time in London this week. I enjoy time in the capital and have the privilege of doing so at my employers expense on an infrequent basis. I like big cities, the masses, the heave, the sheer scale and breadth of everything you can access. I am the sort that falls in love most days… Each new one is the best and wandering around our nations capital, my heart bounds. The good lady need not know this, else she might balk at the notion of my travels. Fear not too, none of these women, who fleetingly capture my heart, remain for long. No, the Major cannot bear complication and so seek my enjoyment from only the increased beat of my heart.
Here is a question for you…. How many people would have to walk into a room before it is more likely than not that two share a birthday? Don’t google it before you test your mental agility… Clearly you know the answer is low… Else why the purpose of posing the question… How low dare you go? Tweet me if you were surprised… @tdl123
I wish I could travel more. I would like to see the Ethiopian highlands – Green and pleasant, great black rocky outcrops, a freshness of air and starry nights. The Great Rift Valley, tropical conditions but at an altitude to make it passable. A land of coffee and gold. More populous than Britain and with a median age of just 17.
In the 1860’s Britain engaged in a war with the Walla tribes over European hostages taken by Tewodros II. The village of Amba Miriam, previously called Magdala still has the great mortar, Sevastapol, the biggest ever built (German technicians). The history of it is fascinating… We took Indian troops to free the hostages… No doubt they were battle hardened from the Indian mutinies. We had to build a road to get to Magdala, several hundred miles from the coast… Then, summons were issued to release the hostages but instead the numerically superior forces Tewodros met us in battle and were roundly defeated.. The Henry Martini rifle and naval gunners seeing to them, with deadly proficiency.
An Amba is a rocky plateau, on which great defences were built. Tewodros may have fared better if he had settled in for a great siege. Instead, he sent his men to the field, to meet us in battle, surely a judgement error. Once defeat was apparent, he took his own life rather than the humiliation of capture and subjugation. He relented his grip on life, rather ironically, with a pistol that had been gifted to him by Queen Victoria herself. Alpha and Omega.
I am sure you find this fascinating. I know my readership… you come not because I have some magic beans but rather, this is part of your weekly rhythm, your selection of sporting chance will occur when you have read this. Some of my thoughts will pervade your own, shared freely amongst us good friends, you can select which lines of enquiry you find agreeable. Some you will discard, casually throwing aside my own position in favour of your own strong cognition. Either way is good for me. As long as you come in friendship, harmonised with my standards and expectations.
Accept that neither of us are right before the event. Allow the spirit in which thoughts are shared to please you. All I have is this, some opinion. I expect nothing in return either. Should you win, there is no need to offer thanks if I helped (either by my advocacy or your decision to take a successful contrary position). Your decisions are yours alone to make. Neither shall I accept your criticism. Like Buddha, I do not have to accept such gifts… not that you send me any, I cannot recall criticism for poor performance for some time, despite the burgeoning readership… The Major has followers who empathise rather than criticise, welcome…
Let us land the mothership. Find the treble you feel passionate about and weaponise your stakes. It is time for the sports. Daub thy warpaint young warrior, we shall meet them in the passes, stone walls forcing our will and bayonets fixed, each man gritting teeth and praying.
To the racing…
Now I oft select a card and run through it, I enjoy that, it allows me to chance an angle on an entire days racing.
Sadly, the three NH races in the UK are subject to morning inspections and as such, with all meetings in doubt, I elect to jump quickly from race to race, not caring for the usual order of things.
Of course it is a shame that a Grade 1 chase only attracts three runners. The Scilly Isles will surely be won by Oscar Whiskey with the only threat Benvolio probably not up to the same standard.
The veterans chase looks interesting mainly because only a few of them look comfortable in this mudbath. Tatenen, the favourite, has raced on soft (or worse) 11 times and won once. Not that he has a great strike rate, back to top form? Unreliable in my eyes. Fine Parchment has a great track record but I have concerns.
I favour Aachen who is well in on old form and loves it on heavy ground. 5/1 is available generally and this horse is one that will surely come on again (don’t revolt at his age) from his reappearance.
At Wetherby, they might have been trying Shutthefrontdoor on better ground but his heavy and soft ground form suggests he has no problem with these conditions. In fact, I imagine he will improve for them. Ely Brown is the concern, representing the superb Longsden yard. Double that up with Flemeson on the same card – He is a progressive sort who was involved in a hot race last time and this is lesser company. I am also a fan of Ice ‘n’ Easy a Fehily ride, trained by Longsden… The 5lbs he was penalised for the last run might well be extremely light.
At Ffos Las, I am sure they would get a better running of the West Wales National, if they ran it after the national weights came out. Still, to be fair, it is a good show, especially with Welsh National winner Mountainous rocking up.
Without doubt, the best race of the day is the Welsh Champion Hurdle. Whisper has always looked a light horse to me but gets on very well in the mud. Saphir de Rheu is still a World Hurdle player and may well be able to exceed his mark in this. The Major however chances his arm on Alaivan at 7/1 who is entitled to run better than reappearance – County Hurdle form reads well enough in this field and 3/5 on heavy provides confidence.
De La Bech is my pick in their feature chase – Assured of acting in conditions – Load up!
At Fairyhouse, in their 2.30…. Competitive Edge makes a great bet at the right side of evens. Shrapnel might yet come good but his runs have been poor and a watching brief is in place for the Major.
and at the football…
@TJHeezy pointed the absurdity of the 13/10 about Swindon, they are a strong team at home. I would also be a massive buyer of QPR at home to Burnley… evens… Shabash! I thought about Spurs away but feel Hull are strong and Hull are galvanised.
The big double I would urge your investment in is a Wolves (8/13) and Man City (17/20) play. Wolves may have sold a few but they are coming good and will play well. As for Man City, I think they will win the league by ten clear points… This game will signal intent.
I hope yours business is conducted in sober, solemn and patient terms… May your dinner be served on the finest china. Tip well, after all, the bulging pocket suggests you finished at some pace.
The Martin Hill advice… I owe him. Competitive Edge, Shutthefrontdoor and Wolves…. Trixie – The last leg might sting but will pay.
Courage…. roll the dice.