Good Evening from the Major who writes from a very humid Worcestershire scene where the gentlest of cool breezes brings welcome relief. There is a dirty haze itching away at my clammy skin and my other comfort is a cold beer. Such a delight on the tongue.
Now Wednesday at Ascot came and went and once more the Major was at the payout counter. We scored another two winners advised at 4s and 8s. Anthem Alexander and Muteela delivered and both were well backed… I am starting to believe my own hype.
However, I backed Treve like I had Thursdays Racing Post in hand and advised anyone foolish enough to listen, to do the very same. Oh dear, drop in trip, good ground? Heavy race against Cirrus Des Aigles…. I don’t want to think about it.
Look, I want you to come, I want you to win but I cannot pretend that I have any of the magic beans. No no dear friends, all I have is endeavour, attritional losses and hope – That is all your Churchillian correspondent can offer.
I am tired and I have other work to do so you will excuse me getting down to work. Forgive me for lacking the usual verbosity, a slice of history or a touch of philosophy would normally be on offer but the guage is dropping and wavering close to the red line.
I need to do need some sleep. That is not always straight forward for a mind like my own. Wandering lost in the loneliness of night, the good lady asleep beside me, I like to drift through ‘Sailing By’ and end up empathising and projecting myself into the lives of fisherman in some vast barren desolate oceanic monotony…. Utsire, Dogger or Trafalgar, the gale and storm force winds the moving systems….. losing their identity. In that moment, my own thoughts are calmed and the fear that sits beneath, the one we all share, it is at peace in my momentarily serene self… we are all going to die but for a moment, it is OK.
Morbid, maybe. It is the tragedy of human existence but while there is moonlight, love and romance, we shall blunder on like some thoughtless wounded animal. To Ascot and to the mothership…. I have no idea whether landing my mothership will bring me satisfaction, pleasure or peace. I doubt it, it won’t be enough in all likelihood. Then again, I do not know what trinket or experience can, so I guess I will have to settle for chasing it, how empty we feel when the game is no longer afoot; I fear the morthership as much as I yearn for it. Perhaps that is where the pleasure lies… The pursuit, the thrill, the game, adventure my friends, adventure. To Royal Ascot.
Thursday Ascot Tips
The Norfolk opens the card and I would not be anyones friend by suggesting it could go to The Great War. I expected him to rock up in the Coventry on Tuesday and while the Ballydoyle trooper that did go turned out to be short of the required class, I think they have a contender here. He has not been under pressure in either of his wins to date.
However, it was 2001 when O’Brien last won a Norfolk Stakes and the price of the Great War is no fun for anyone. As an alternate, I present the American raider, To Be Determined. Wesley Ward has done well with his previous raiders and he is 1 from 2 this week, after Hootenanny absolutely scooted up on Tuesday. Now I found it telling, that in the aftermath of that victory, Ward suggested he greater chances yet to run this week (confidence you see)…. since todays runner, Spanish Pipedream, was not quite as good, I am thinking that his Elusive Quality filly might offer some great value at 8/1 (Coral and a few places, 7/1 generally). He won the Norfolk last year with a Scat Daddy colt, No Nay Never and despite the poor record for fillies in the race, I am suggesting a turn up.
Then it is the Hampton Court, or whatever they call it these days! I have been a fan of Cannock Chase who has been performing very well indeed. I used to cycle and walk on Cannock Chase and having lived close to Litchfield (well Rugeley if I am entirely honest) I would drive late across those darkened woods and see the huge bright eyes of the deer watching me from the forest, haunting, especially with the engine off and glorious silence heightening your senses.
Anyway, let us leave that scene and figure out who wins… Well there is one I like in this, Barley Mow. It is a Hannon / Hughes combo and I really like the way this horse has progressed. I think his last run on soft ground at Epsom was not a set of conditions he would handle and as such am happy to draw a thick line through it. Prior to that he had half this rabble behind him at HQ and is one of the runners here who will enjoy the firm conditions. 13/2, have a slice.
Then the Ribblesdale and I like the look of the filly Bracelet who ran a disappointing race in the Guineas but has been a progressive filly before that. She is a mighty price for that one stain on her record at 12/1, take your chances.
Leading Light is the hot property for the Gold Cup and the Leger winner has plenty of positives on his ledger including a very good strike rate of 6 from 8. Yet, borderline evens is not much value given the quality of the opposition and I want to be with something else. Last years winner Estimate would be a popular repeat for Her Majesty and there are positive yard noises being made.
Brown Panther has always been a decent sort but this season has really come into his own with two performances of high order at Chester and Sandown. He has never been out of the first three when the ground is firm and he is a leading contender. I am also a growing admirer of Richard Kingscote in the saddle too. Respected, possible.
Simenon is a horse I have followed on his global adventures but to the detriment of my wealth, he could come good and I would be most displeased, Mullins has his runners well tuned… Tac de Boistron is a fine animal but everything points to him needing to get his toe in and he will not get that here.
At some point, you have to push your chips in and I have to think the market has things about right. Leading Light is unexposed and a Leger winner and Brown Panther looks in the form of his life. Both are unbeaten on the ground. On price and on slightly superior trainer form and with a jockey I have signalled my liking for… Brown Panther – 8/1 in a place.
The schedule of Royal Ascot leaves us with two conundrums to solve at the end of the card. If you have not made your money yet, you are in trouble!
The Brittania is a real enigma, wrapped in a puzzle and then rammed down your throat! Idea looks one of the real unexposed sorts and after his easy win at Kempton it is hard to assess the merit of the form versus the near stone rise he has to shoulder. Not for me, I am never sure about transferring the Kempton form, I shall leave that where it is!
Ger Lyons does not bring that many over to Ascot and so I have to think that Third Dimension is good value for his last win at Limerick. 16/1 is generally available about the gelding and drawn 31, I hope he can break, get prominent and get us another big price winner.
Then the lucky last, which helped us enormously today. Many are of interest… Fire Fighting who would not have liked the Doncaster conditions he got bogged down in. I do like Windshear a lot but given I have overlooked Cannock Chase earlier, I would be reneging on my line of thought to switch formlines now. Clearly earlier results might dictate a change of position…
No, I am going to signal a great day for Team Dascombe and suggest Art of War can go well at a tasty 18/1 – He was dogged in victory rather than spectacular over 9f previously and it suggests two things. One, his attitude is not in question and secondly, this step up is likely a good move. Good luck to Manor House.
Courage, roll the dice.