Tag Archives: kingston hill

The Saturday Sermon – The Uber Scoop 6 – the 20/1 St Leger Tip and some other nonsense no doubt

Good evening from the Major who writes from a cool and pleasant Worcestershire where the last of the summer slides away rapidly each day.  The evenings draw in, the Majors thoughts run to where he might secure the winters wood, perhaps that ugly plum tree without the room to grow from behind the summer-house…. Ah sweet winter with your National Hunt siren call, here she comes.

The Major has negotiated an exit from the company I work for.  I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago but honestly some of you do not listen.  This means that from 1st November I am a free man.  No plans exist which means my emotions are an equal mix of one part excitement and one part sheer terror.  Mr Hill who has under sufferance followed my weekly advice for all these many years is a business associate and his company have organised a send off at the October meeting in Cheltenham, in fact the first day that grand course offers in the season, 17th October.  A restaurant is involved.  I was very moved that he did this for me and it goes to show that good will prevails.  Thank You.

The good lady has a significant birthday in early October and the Major has arranged a short trip to a small Italian island, north of Sicily.  A splendid looking spot, volcanic yet lush vegetation, beautiful seas and quaint fishing villages.  The hotel looks a magnificent bolt-hole, 17 bedrooms, all individual and a hostess that has excellent taste and employs a fine chef.

The island is Salina.  it is part of the Eolian islands and it is their food and drink festival while we are there.  We shall dine in the hotel, I envisage that we shall largely be quiet, lapping up the good air and peacefulness, after all the two heirs to the Majors throne shall be left with Grandparents, c’est magnifique!

The island once hosted a popular romantic Chilean poet who was living in exile from Chile.  Pablo Neruda was talking to crowds of hundreds of thousands in 1945 but by 1948, his ideology was abhorred by the governing powers who had put down communist led miners strikes with vigour.  Neruda spoke out against this violence, he was as a fulcrum in a network of intellectuals and artists that supported socialist ideals.

He was a slightly schmaltzy poet but since I delivered you verse last week, I felt you might permit me to serve a second dose.  Not here, later.  When and if you make it, this is like a triathlon you know, I ask you to consider the following line as the most important: I remembered you with my soul clenched
in that sadness of mine that you know.  Let that sink in for a few days.

Anyway, in 40s Chile, in fear of these upstarts, the authorities felt the sort of great anxiety, perhaps paranoia, that is  driven by greed, by the danger of losing your personal power, the government , darn their frivilous shallow thought, ordered the arrest of our romantic poet.   Neruda went into hiding in the port city of Valdivia, a pretty place that was almost bought to complete rubble by the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the 60s.  While Neruda was there in 48, he was supported and hidden by friends, living in basements and after many months, slipping his chain and tip toeing over the passes of those great Andean mountains to Argentina and eventually escape to Europe.

As I meander through this story I must tell you something that I feel compelled to share of the Andes.  If you were to think of the point furthest from the centre of Earth, you would think of Everest.  However, the Andes has it.  How, you ask? Well actually I bet you don’t, you don’t care do you… Well I shall tell you, it is to do with the fact that the earth is not a perfect sphere, there is a bulge towards the equator.  Feel better, thought so.

Neruda spent time on Salina and there is a beautiful film of a downtrodden simple postman who longs for company (other than his fathers) and is inspired by the poet, Il Postina, if you are interested.  I played it to the good lady while telling her it was where we were going for her 40th.

Ah Major, I hear you sigh en masse, we never knew you were such a romantic.  Well, yes.  You have been coming here long enough to know me as I am.  I confess to being somewhat a rogue and certainly I feel that fate has dealt my wife a poor hand.  Hence, when the occasion arises, cometh the hour, cometh the man.  I consider a good investment, she is the down to earth sort but cares about things, important matters in a way that my cold heart cannot muster.

Anyway, I shall report on the volcanic green beauty, stunning shabby chic hotel and secluded bays of Salina in early October, around Arc / Champions Day time.  For now, we have the small matter of our last classic and the biggest Scoop 6 since the chap used his £2 for maggots to win a share of the win pot before not joining the other 3 tickets who won the bonus pot of an eye watering amount, strange that.

To the sports and as I type, I am conscious that I am as cold as the fish on the mongers ice counter.  This week, Doncaster has been an appalling and embarrassing stain on my record.  I started with consistent ground and a choice of races.  There were fine horses and no pressure to rush.  Yet, with the touch of true genius, I managed to sweep away these obstacles with impeccable consistency and return 8 picks, unplaced at odds less than 7/1.  Read on at your own peril.

Yet losses are not as hurtful as you might expect.  Lessons are never for free, well apart from the MOOC courses I have signed up for and would recommend.  Generally though, failure is a fantastic teacher – So let us see how we do.  To quote a fantastic twitter acquaintance, @onedeswalker, after the drought, the mothership.

Saturday Tips – The St Leger

I have a really simple position with the St Leger.  I do not think Kingston Hill will win and so I hope he runs as it keeps a nice honest market.  You see, there are the ground worries, there are the form worries and then there is the trip.  Will he stay?  It is enough for me to abandon and pray that he takes his chance.

Gosden has such a great record in the St Leger, Masked Marvel, Arctic Cosmos et al… The year Masked Marvel won, he beat Sea Moon and Brown Panther; that one was a fine renewal.

So, this years winner then… I must confess that Kingston Hill stepping up in trip, fills me with hope and fear.  The hope is that, as stated, I am not convinced that he is a stayer.  The fear is that in this thought, I seem to be in conflict with Roger Varian…. quite.  Stay the course though Major, the mothership lands when you swim against the tide and find the seam of truth, richly running through the rock, we turn the drill into it and reap our rewards.

There are proven stayers here, they include Hartnell, the Ascot Queens Vase winner, 2m, he was defeated by Snow Sky in the Great Voltigeur.  They will make sure there is some good pace on.  Both are well fancied but my mind runs to a turn up and I have the perfect candidate.

Alex My Boy  is a Johnstone inmate and we know he can train a stayer.  On blood, he has already won (Dalakhani — Alexandrova (Sadler´s Wells)).  He has acted well and moved off decent paces with a bit of acceleration.  I like the chances and 20/1  is a gift (Paddy Power)

2.20 Chester

I am going long again in the opening race /of the Scoop 6.  I have a fancy that Clockmaker might outrun his generous 18/1.  He finds Chester to his liking, which not all horses do (10 runs, 2 wins, 5 places).  There are two major obstacles; the first is form, he has not run well in half a dozen efforts, including two on the Roodee.  The second concern is Hayley.  A long time and a lot of quality seems to have passed between now and her weaving beautiful win on Dream Ahead in the July Cup.  I want her back and she is capable but I watched her run on Aragosta on Thursday at Wolverhampton.  She had the best horse by a mile but managed to get beat.  I know she is not as well supported as she used to be but her win % is desperate.   Yet, I hold a flame, sensible souls… abandon hope all ye who enter… the rest of you, have a tickle.

5pm Doncaster

I had this chalked up between the Bell and Hannon horses and came down on the side of the latter on account of yard form.  Bell has had just one winner in 25 and I must confess, the Hannon sire, Lawman, is one I watch when his crop improve as my selection, Marshall Jennings has done.  Get involved, I love Kirby around Wolverhampton but son, this is big school.

Thus the Scoop6….

Race 1 : 2:20 Chester – CLOCKMAKER

Race 2 : 2:40 Doncaster – OUT DO 

Race 3 : 3:50 Doncaster – ALEX MY BOY

Race 4 : 4:25 Doncaster – MOUNT LOGAN

Race 5 : 4:40 Leopardstown – DIGEANTA 

Race 6 : 5:00 Doncaster – MARSHALL JENNINGS

Other Considerations and the Football

2.55 Chester, NAP of the day for me is Pinzolo at 11/4, right draw, right horse. Appleby have the strongest form, the horse has been competing and fairing respectably in far better races but has recently won dropped to this grade.  SHABASH, load the cannons.

Leopardstown – Free Eagle, John F Kennedy and Australia – They might not be independent bets but as a treble, rest assured, it is what Jesus would do.

In the football, it is rare that I back my own team, especially against ‘quality’ but West Brom are bedding in new players and I have this sense that we might come good with an ex Everton member of staff on the vanguard. 12/5.

Wolves at Blackpool at an evens bet is golden.  I am also a Peterborough advocate 4/6 so stick them in the double.

I am also sticking with Portsmouth, 11/5 at Southend, I hope they are not my Wigan.

The Martin Hill bet: Martin Jennings, Pinzolo, Wolves and Portsmouth.  Yankee straight.

I hope your dinner is a fine cut of meat, served on good china.  The wine gently falling, gurgling in the neck and splashing in the glass.  The company, raven haired, pool like eyes, in which you swim, dreamily forgetting your pretense.  A turn at the corner of the mouth, wholesome smile and chiffon dress, cut to classy and shimmering to thrill.  Christ, the heart races.

Courage friends, roll the dice.

Clenched Soul

We have lost even this twilight.
No one saw us this evening hand in hand
while the blue night dropped on the world.

I have seen from my window
the fiesta of sunset in the distant mountain tops.

Sometimes a piece of sun
burned like a coin in my hand.

I remembered you with my soul clenched
in that sadness of mine that you know.

Where were you then?
Who else was there?
Saying what?
Why will the whole of love come on me suddenly
when I am sad and feel you are far away?

The book fell that always closed at twilight
and my blue sweater rolled like a hurt dog at my feet.

Always, always you recede through the evenings
toward the twilight erasing statues.

The Saturday Sermon – The Majors Lucky 15…. All aboard Sandown, Haydock and Belmont

Good Evening from the Major who writes after a substantial unashamed early evening nap.  A hectic week conducted at pace with the Major ricocheting around the country from the refined bars of the city to a party in the wee hours in glorious Cheltenham to pounding the raw streets of the northern ancient textile town of Bolton, the Major has seen it all.

It is pleasing to returning to Worcestershire, visiting my turf accountant on the way to home.  Parking in the Georgian market town of Pershore, a child of around 12 crossed in front of the car sporting a cap with a cannabis logo emblazoned in a lurid fluorescent green.  Towing a family that might think this an appropriate attire for a child, I catch on the air a line from mother to father as my car door opened, it remarked, in the finest English, on how she might break his expletive neck, direct don’t you think, she sounded like she surely would too.

To stop and look around once a while is an enlightening experience.  Propping the bar in the latest fine addition to Cheltenham’s finer establishments, the 131, I overheard a couple of the young vibrant staff, clearing down the last remnants of the party discussing the details of being young and having fun.  There a line nearly had me choking on my Mint Julep, well thinks I, you won’t hear that on the 7.48 to Paddington.

Shortly afterwards, striding to my hotel across the town centre, my wooden heels, proudly naked of a leather muffling are snapping sharply against grey paving slabs which were still releasing some ambient warmth absorbed from the day.  The harsh cracking  sound, rebounding off the imposing walls of the architecturally exceptional building that houses the council municipal offices.  The late night neon plays wonderfully onto the light regency walls, the ionic pilasters providing a depth in the facade.  On the floor in front of me, a lonely old-fashioned wooden chip fork, cast alone on the sea of concrete.  A sole taxi driver mans the rank, there is a peace and an understanding between the people of the night, a quiet begrudging respect that we are all here, in this never-world, this non-existence, it is about as peaceful and calming a moment as I can recall.

Almost no one shares this scene with me and sometimes these moments I encounter stay with me, as they will.  Somehow this all really makes me think about death.  A connection I have yet to rationalise, rare are the comforts in our uncertain world.

The Saturday Sermon takes a new form today.  I am going to supply you with a lucky 15.  My goal, you ask…. To win…. all four legs, quiet simple.  The Major has been in good form so load your cannons my dear friends, four of the Saturday best tips coming right up.

The Saturday Sermon Lucky 15 Tips

Leg 1: The Lancashire Oaks – Haydock, 2.55pm

Group Two action for the girls up north and the apple of my eye turns up, Talent.  Regular readers will know of love affair with this girl.  In my heart I chalked her up as the Arc winner after watching her fight vigorously, burning early energy in her Oaks, before Hughsie got her settled and straightening off Tattenham to use her gigantic stride to powerful effect down the outside in the straight.

A highly unlucky second in the Leger denied her a second classic – although I am probably tinted in my view, as even if she had enjoyed clear passage, at the key time, she may never have gotten to subsequent Gold Cup winner Leading Light, although you must confess, that form looks good now doesn’t it.  Yet, after her latest flop, I promised not to do this again…. Here I am.  Conflicted.

See, I can draw you in to my dark world.  The vortex swirling around, the madness of it all.  Is this tipping, or is it affection stirred by emotion… rational analysis or wishful, heartfelt urging.  I maintain Bog Warrior has been the most ill-used best staying hurdler of his generation, head in chest, bowling along all ungainly gangly action and perpetual momentum building.

Loyalty is not necessarily a quality I admire.  It leads to blind poor quality judgement.  Yet my loyalty is based in affection and in what my eyes have seen.  She was one of the better horses of last years crop.

Haydock is due to see rain as I type but the sun shall be out at 1pm, according the accurate short-term forecasts of our meteorological friends. I am guessing that the ground will be genuine good ground benefiting from just a tiny bit of give.

Hmmmmmm.  The Italian import, Charity Line, is hard to get a read on.  Italian Group Ones are not a reliable form line but she is consistent and has to be respected now racing for the excellent Botti yard.

Lustrous could be considered.  Her listed win looks OK and she confirmed promise when a closing runner-up in G2 company at the Royal meeting.  Three year olds get a very handy pull and their record is patchy so she would have to be a bit better I think.

Gosden, who has won two of the last three renewals, has two unexposed runners in Pomology and Sultanina – Both lightly raced, both hard to assess.  Narrowly I like Pomology of the two but Sultanina has the benefit of recent race experience.  I prefer Lee to Havlin in the saddle as well and so a narrow nod of the two to Pomology at 8/1 with BetVictor.

Pomology, Seal of Approval or Talent? You do what you want, but I will never forgive myself if Talent wins and does not carry my ticket.  Go on girl, flash that tail all you like just give us a bit of that long action in full stretch, expertly bringing the blade to take a cut on the forte before running your enemy through the torso.

Leg 2: The Coral Distaff – Sandown, 3.15pm

Preceding the Eclipse, the listed fillies race is a small runner field that has an interesting clash.

Essentially, the obvious candidate is Queen Catrine who was desperately unlucky not to record a win at Royal Ascot in the Sandringham, just failing to get up after being badly hampered.  A reproduction of that and she is the obvious candidate.  However, The Major is concerned that she may well not reproduce her best as she has proven inconsistent to date.  What is more, this race is likely to be an entirely different proposition, her sort is best served by a true gallop and who is to say she will get it here.  That said, I respect the fact that Moore takes over and he is the best jockey we have.

The Major though is going to add Belle D’or for the Gosden yard.  Hugely unexposed, my tip has done far less than the market favourite but is in fine hands.  Her breeding might not look so familiar being out of Medaglia D’Oro who might have not yet scored a British Group winner but has produced such fine athletes as Rachel Alexandra and Marketing Mix, true stars over the pond.  7/2 and being backed, join the queue quickly.

Leg 3: The Coral Eclipse – Sandown, 3.50pm

This is one of my favourite races of the flat season.  The first serious opportunity for the new upstarts, fresh from their classic exertions, to be measured against those classy more experienced elders.  Always a debate about the quality of the generation we have just witnessed, perceptions; not just of these participants but by nature, by connectivity of form lines, the current classic crop will either be endorsed or tarnished.  Make no mistake, this is a judgement on Kingman, on Australia, it is a team game today.

In the blue corner today we have the Derby runner-up Kingston Hill and the Guineas winner Night of Thunder.  In the red corner, super-mare The Fugue spots them 8lbs, good girl.  Trading Leather is a big price for an Irish Derby winner but then he has not seemingly found that form again yet.

If a classic horse wins, it is normally a damn good horse.  The three that have made the achievement in the last dozen years have been Sea the Stars, Hawk Wing and perhaps the exception, Oratorio.  Can we suppose that quality exists here?

I think it is fair to expect Kingston Hill to come out unless a sudden shower eases conditions.  Now the forecast shows plenty of rain to fall so as I write in the wee hours, it is a hard judgement to make, I am going to assume that we have him as a live contender on good to soft.

Night of Thunder ran a cracker in the Guineas when straying across the track but still holding Kingman and Australia, form stamped by god since.  The strict authenticity of the superiority it showed over those two blue bloods has been dismantled.  What we are left with is a clearly highly talented horse that is not quite as good as either Australia or Kingman as the St James Palace showed us.  This is not just a step up in trip but also a searching test.  He looks the sort to me that might show better yet in these middle distances.

The Major needs an angle of attack and this is it.  I love the Fugue, she is a remarkable and lovable horse but I cannot pretend that giving weight to this good-looking crop of classic juniors will be easy.  With the threat of rain easing conditions, I am going to take now a price on that she might get beat.  This is a hard call because her last run was superb putting Arc winner Treve away and showing us that exhilarating burst of athleticism we know she has.  The thing is, fillies tend not to do so well in this.  The younger ones are not as forward as the colts and the older ones may not be getting enough weight advantage.  All in all… and this pains me, we could get her beat on anything remotely tacky.

It is a tough track, knowing that I am risking my hand on the weather forecast, I am opting for Kingston Hill.  The risks I am taking are priced into his 9/2, clipped in by the ‘shrewdies’ who gobbled up the 5/1 back at the respectable hours.  I do like the way he chased Australia home and given that one, in my view, could be a real star and a live Arc contender, maybe a length and a quarter defeat will prove to be plenty good enough in this.  Put your bet down and speak to whichever deity you regularly commune with for as much rain as he can spare over Surrey.

Leg 4:Belmont Derby – Belmont Park, USA 9.34pm

Get yourself ready for a twitter storm as British raider for the magnificent Jamie Osbourne yard, the superbly and knowingly named Toast of New York attempts to follow his Meydan exploits with another globetrotting success.

What factors are in play.  Well, the horse is going to run on Lasix for the first time and that could be a significant issue.  Not all British horses have been known to adjust to the drug which is banned in the UK racing industry.  His UAE victory on tapeta was an unbelievable achievement and he has captured the hearts of racing fans. Perhaps it is his modest $60k cost, perhaps his white socks and streaky white blaze face, something about him is exciting and captivating.

I saw Toast at the excellent open day at Lambourn – A popular attraction, we all swarmed around him and the stable glowed with the outpouring of love.  What chances?

The Belmont Derby Invitational is a big deal, it has a $1.25m purse and perhaps the biggest challenge for Toast in his career to date as he is going to be on Lasix and is also returning to turf for the first time since his racing debut at Leicester when he flopped in a class 4.  If you follow his career, he went down in grade to Kempton and hit second spot before starting his winning runs.  At Wolverhampton in a class 5, he quickened away as he liked and then returning there he repeated the dose in another class 5.

Excellent performances but some way from a Meydan Derby horse you might think.  The market was unsure how to treat the form and his win was returned at 11/1, a tidy price for the niche army of fans the horse was building up.  There is no doubt now, that the Belmont race offers Toast and Osbourne and Spencer (aboard for three of his five wins) a chance to consolidate that success, a chance to change any lingering perception that he has been lucky.

Dance with Fate is no slouch having won the Blue Grass which is a synthetic surface Group 1.  I think that is a good 10/1 alternative.

Once again we are in the position of assessing value versus desired outcome.  Dance with Fate would be my pick but I cannot imagine how I would feel if Toast of New York went in and was unbacked as the glorious last leg of our Lucky 15.

I trust your dinner arrangements are taken late as you wanted to see the mothership land.  Perhaps a straight forward curry in boisterous company, racy conversations at high volume accompanying full throttled frivolity. That’s the medicine.

The Lucky 15 tips also represent the components of the Martin Hill bet.  We are all in this together.

Courage friends, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Derby Day Epsom and Kentucky Tips… Oaks notes… and a 66/1 shot!

Good morning and a belated start from the Major who writes from the bed having slept a solid 9 hours, a highly unusual but welcome occurrence.  Worcestershire looks hazy and bright as I gaze out across the Avon basin towards Bredon Hill and the Victorian Folly which just 2 miles off is barely visible through the shimmering fuzz.  It is set to thicken, an unshakeable suppressing sky.

The Major returned from Epsom last night, a weary man after a six hour round car trip.  I was entertained regally at the course and in turn was also entertaining and so on good behaviour.  The returns from the Sermon covering the Oaks card were entirely acceptable.  Taghrooda was on my side, more of her in a moment, Thistle Bird repeated her 2013 exploits and the favourite That is the Spirit held on from a flashing Parbold.

Taghrooda was exceptional and I have made no little haste in adding an Arc ante post ticket against her name.  Those late season 3yo filly allowances are heaven-sent.  Her win also signalled the growing prowess of Sea the Stars at stud – Good work old bean.  Let’s see if the daughter can emulate the father at Longchamp.  He may now benefit from even better broadmares as a consequence of having a classic winner in his first crop and with Frankels progeny coming to the scene in the coming years and Galileo, hopefully with a decent 5-10 years of production left, there could be some tremendous ding dongs from the bloodstock world in the coming seasons.

I shall now file for your benefit, my own review of the Oaks day experience.  Epsom I found predictable.  The day itself was glorious and I was hoisted aloft in the Duchess Stand in a box half a furlong from the finish line.  The company was excellent, the colleague I entertained was only at her second ever race meeting and was dressed immaculately in a plain but classy mustard dress and black fascinator, one of these fashionable sorts you see and very easy to pass time with.  Between the second and third on the card, after the wood-pigeon salad starter and medallion of beef were dispatched, we meandered down to the front of house to experience the Epsom crowd.

This was an experience we could have done without and one that I doubt will endear racing to her reserved sensibilities.  The packed stand was awash with shiny suits and short hem lines, cigarettes,  stray plastic cups of lager, some spilt over the light concrete viewing steps which provided inappropriate bedding for those emotional sorts who sprawled their limbs across it uncontrollably, ‘trendy’ facial hair, oh god the horrors.

Some of the female attire was eye-popping.  More than once, a fine dress from the rear, revealed itself to be anything but as the wearer turned to face me.  What may be a fine silken length with a look of class, can swiftly become a monstrosity, missing several important patches of fabric through which great bulges of flesh protrude.  I am no prude, oh no.  Let them party – Yet, the dress that leaves appetising curves unflaunted leaves them for dead.

As soon as French Navy had reduced the value of my ticket of Graphic from £100 to nothing, we promptly left.  I resisted the urge to rush back through the several layers of security and into the sanctuary of the box and instead we retreated to the rear of the stand to examine the horses saddling up for the fourth.  Suprisingly, even though the first horses were already parading, we were able to gain a seat at the ringside of the parade ring.

For some time it was like being at Chepstow on a pleasant Wednesday evening.  The parade ring was much quieter, the resplendent blue of the race-makers huddled together and in much more relaxed mind, I gave my companion a description of the goings on.  More folk did cluster up as Abseil, Henry the Aviator and Tigers Tale (who I report was running his race in the parade) were saddled up.  Epsom is a course of two sides… Stay away from the one where civilisation is breaking down in front of you and a perfectly good day can be had.

Back upstairs where a full afternoon tea was being laid out for our delectation, I could see from the balcony, the folk who we had stood next to were engaged in some Queensbury Rules, although their interpretation seemed a little off to my naked eye.  A more mature sort was at the centre of this,  perhaps 50, he had lost his jacket and possibly his discretion and was exchanging shoves with the group of twenty something Essex sorts.  The spectacle.

The course views are excellent.  The fun fair I think is tacky but the lines of open top buses add a certain something.  The place does not look big enough to house the big crowds but that Hill can hold a lot.  The course itself is also more undulating than it looks on TV.  I did not realise that 1m 4f was the full extend of the course and it is indeed a unique test.

In summary, I would not put you off, just know what you are getting yourself into.

Now today, it is Derby Day and we share it with the Kentucky version too…  How do we shape up… Drinks – At Kentucky, it is the Mint Julep – Bourbon, mint and sugar, iced… At Epsom, lager and champagne.  Infield / the Hill – At Kentuck, drunkenness and debauchery, at Epsom, snap. I’d call it a score draw but their 6 Group One races compares to our two and despite our greater history, they have the edge, particularly as they have a potential star story emerging.

Will California Chrome complete the Triple Crown, well my view on that will follow but make no doubt about it, it is a tough challenge.  Plenty have gone before and failed to complete after their first two successes.  Big Brown springs to mind.

To the sports.

Epsom and Kentucky Derby Tips.

I am going to look through the Epsom card.  I am glad I am late to post today because the weather has certainly come to play a lead acting role.  The heavens have opened over Epsom and a deluge is currently working the going from Good to who knows what.

I am treating it as soft.  If I am right, then coupled with the course form that is a big aide, we have two distinct angles into the runners to follow.  This might bode well, very well indeed.  Sharpen your lancepoint and have the groom bring up your heavy charger.

The racing kicks off at 1.35 with a decent handicap.  There is going to be plenty of pace about as many of these like to get on with it.   I want a closer, a soft ground sort and ideally one that handles Epsom (or Goodwood, Brighton or Bath as proxy courses) .  I have three of clear interest for my criteria all of whom have won on the Sussex downs… Black Shadow rather grinded out his last win and needs to progress but it is possible and the rain will be fine… considered.  Double Bluff has to bounce back a bit from an all-weather Derby trial but could resume last years promise –  The tip though is What About Carlo, we have to forgive his last run at Haydock but a mark of 94 is well within reach and I fancy it.  You would also share more in the joy of a Jimmy Fortune victory and who would begrudge the man that?

Baitha Alga won a good-looking Chester maiden recently and is being backed consistently here which is an advert in itself.  Yet, the Major is taken by the only soft ground winner in the field, Ballymore Castle, another Chester winner whose form has been firmly franked.  Easy to back 11/4 out to 4/1 but with Moore riding for Fahey (24%), it could happen.  Red Icon has to be reckoned with too on the same formline.  Yet, Hannon had riches galore to throw at this and Baitha Alga is their sole bullet.  His Chester win did look good…. 5/2 in a single place (Stan James), 9/4 a few more, 2/1 generally.

The Coronation Cup – What a fantastic renewal with Cirrus Des Aigles, fresh from lowering the colours of upstart Treve in Paris, journeys across the channel to give us a look at his talents.  He loves the soft ground so no problem there.  He is also admirably tough and entirely classy.  Good luck to connections – Who knows if his progeny would have excelled, since he had his virtues removed to concentrate his mind on the racing, we shall never know.

Warning – The Major is about to make a case born from the heart more than the head.

Yet, today, CDA will be beaten, by my girl, Talent.  Read yesterdays post to get a feel for how I love this girl.  I wish she had run in the Arc last year herself but instead she was confined to a spot of bad luck and a place in the Leger.  She too likes the ground, she also knows the place.  8/1 is a steal and I will be lumped in.

Back to the sprints.  The 3.15 is a trappy looking race to figure out.  the sprinters are so damn precocious, it is hard to know which way to go.  10/1 the field sums it up.

Caspian Prince is a likely player as his win over course and distance looked good.  This is tougher but he has laid a market and has won on good to soft and being from Dylan Thomas, I would not be alarmed by the likely softer conditions.  Even Stevens is likely to blast from his stall and call the tune, I think he will be caught though.  Elusivity I like but has a wider draw than ideal and I settle with Caspian Prince at 11/1 in a place (Sportingbet) and 10/1 generally.

Then the big one (if CDA and Talent have not already put on the real show), the Derby.

Australia was being backed like defeat was out of the question after the 2,000 Guineas and I could see why.  He was my tip in that race and I was very impressed with his run, arguably having the toughest passage leading down the near side and finishing in a pile with the winner and second.  Kingman has done the Guineas form wonders and on breeding this is always likely to be a better trip for Australia.  Yet, the yard have sent up the distress flares over the softening ground and given it is raining cats and dogs, you will understand the drift to 2/1.  Plus, there is this nagging doubt that O’Brien is having a duller year (by his own extraordinary standards)

Kingston Hill is the answer for people who seek a soft ground alternate and I am surprised his 8/1 has not contracted further this morning… He is not for me though.  No, I am taking the value about Western Hymn who is well proven on soft ground and would provide John Gosden with an Oaks Derby double.  I am impressed enough with the listed races to my tips name and that they came on soft is a bonus.  Buick is a fine young pilot (Sheema Classic, Arlington Million, St Leger, Prix Morny and a Middle Park to his name) – A Derby will happen one day and I think he has a great chance here.  On the negative side of the ledger, this horse has a bad tendency to carry a poor head.  This concerns me a little as Epsom is hardly the place for that with thousands of drunkards egging you on and an uneven underfoot home straight, yet this is surely factored in to 16/1?  I am in.  Pace off a slow surface, Derby winners have a turn of foot… Yes my friends, I am feeling good about this.

Dangers lurk in every corner including Fascinating Rock and Ebanoran as well as the Godolphin owned True Story… No, Western Hymn… has a chance.

Now I have a 66/1 sniff (Bet365 80s with Betway) which I think we should tickle up.  Rossetti goes in the second last and has the ground and course form which is important.  Yes 5lbs out of the handicap is a problem, as is the hanging ( a trait that may scupper us with Western Hymn too) but I just think this price is entirely wrong.  If you are opposed to throwing money at a 66/1 rag then Passaka Boy would be my 9/1 alternate.

In the lucky last Bondesire is a very tentative selection.

The Kentucky Derby

It is well worth staying up to see whether California Chrome can be the first horse since Affirmed to win a triple crown.  The roster he would join is a splendid who’s who of American racing including War Admiral, Seattle Slew and my personal favourite, Secretariat.  If you want to see equine brilliance personified, watch Secretariat in the Belmont and just listen to the crowd and the commentary.  ‘Secretariat is moving like some tremendous machine‘ ‘Secretariat is all alone, Secretariat is all alone on the straight!’.

The thing is that winning a Triple Crown is an incredible feat.  Many have come to this stage looking string and then failed to cling it, Big Brown being the most recent and memorable example that springs to mind.  That has been one of eleven horses that have taken their Preakness and Derby victories and fell at the Belmont hurdle.

Can CC do it?  Well yes!  He has done everything asked of him and not being found wanting.  You need some luck though… He has been touted as a real rags to riches story but I struggle to buy that entirely.  His grand-sire was Seattle Slew himself and there is not that much amiss in his breeding!  Yes, he is not the bluest of bloods but he has hardly from the common stock either.

Do you know, the entire card is a dream of G1s spilling out gloriously.  I wish I had the time to share the riches of my mind with you on all of it but the day beckons, it has gone midday and I am later than planned to post.

Alas, a view has to be proffered on the big one.   I thought Ride on Curlin a bit unlucky and with a clear run he might get closer to the protagonist but instead I opt for a real upset.  Samraat is 28/1 and has finished prominently in  several big races and with a bit of luck can be up there again.  He is not a fashionable sort wither but is a bloody hard worker in the stretch and 28/1 with Bet365 is overpriced.

The Martin Hill bet last week returned two wins and a place in our each way trixie at 10/1, 5/1 and 9/2.  The 9/2 placed so it was a good win and almost a tremendous one.  This week the bet is the same and the selections are Talent, Baitha Alga and Western Hymn.

I trust your dinner is to your delight and I would suggest you take it at home, delivered, hot and steamy like the company.

Courage, roll the dice.