Happy New Year to you from the Major who writes from his bed having seen the New Year in my usual understated style. 2012 was, 2013 is.
London put up the now obligatory fireworks display that once more was staggering, an eye watering blaze of light and colour. Perhaps too much so, didn’t we use to gasp at these massive pyrotechnic wonders, now it just seems so… I don’t know, been there, done it before. We need something new I feel, a new art of celebration. It does not help that the presenters all fall over themselves to lump plaudits on ‘the show’, they don’t mean it, they are just going through the New Year motions.
I feel an irrepressible and probably entirely unfair hatred to those that line the banks of the Thames supporting this charade. What do they want, a medal? They are there simply to say they were, pointless. Standing for an extended period of time to record some terrible quality smart phone footage which will be replayed to some completely disinterested friends and colleagues at a later date. They can all rot this year as far as I am concerned. I bet each standing shoulder to shoulder is as puritanical as the next. My advice to them is this year, invest some of your life energy into new vices, drink, gambling, drugs, women… I care not which, I think it will do you some good. I bet you won’t return next year.
I prefer the sort that see in each New Year, barely able to stand up through drink. There is an honesty and a valour in that. A good man in Birmingham, Mr Adam Redmond, has been honing the rules to a game he invented called ‘continuous drinking‘ – Should you ever wish a true test of your boozing staying power, I shall put you in touch regarding the rules. I warn you though, you need to be a Grand National sort, no Prix De L’Abbaye types need apply.
Last year, I did post a top ten horse racing moments page from 2011. I will be running a 2012 version and would welcome any thoughts by the usual communication channels – Tweet me, @tdl123 or leave a comment.
On the short list to date: Long Run getting back upsides of Captain Chris, Hello Bud winning aged 14, Millman winning on his last ride, Frankels Juddmonte, Frankels Queen Anne, Black Caviar, Sprinter Sacres Arkle, Kauto being applauded as he was pulled up in the Gold Cup and some others that will come to me as I allow my mind to meander aimlessly through a year of equine sporting memories.
Of course there were sour times too. The loss of Brindisi Breeze in a freak accident at home and then the shocking death of his rider, Campbell Gillies, aged just 21. How frail the securities we hold. I did not know these people, the events are tragic but the distance from them means I won’t defraud you with maudlin sentimentality. Merely, I seek to peel back your certainties and remind you that we float by the once and it can be a short time on the river.
New Years Resolutions:
1. Backing Quevega, Simonsig and Dynaste for their championship races
2. Under no circumstances back a Brian Ellison horse, no matter how tempting
3. Go racing in Ireland twice… Galway Festival and Leopardstown at Christmas
4. Identify and utilise false football trends
5. Choose your novice events wisely, you can pick the yards best hopes but this means being selective
The rest I will think about. Allow your mind to flow like a river but keep your senses sharp, respond like a mirror.
It is 2013, we meet the enemy with slates wiped clean. 2012 finished strongly with a powerful tipping performance over Christmas. Recently, I received thanks for tips, this only happens the rare times I am on top form. I remind you though, thanking me for decisions you made is unnecessary, I accept neither the thanks or criticism for your own staking plan but wish you the best with it.
We are a select readership. We understand victory and defeat and as Kipling said, treat those imposters the same. The Major is marginally profitable, the advice is free and it comes with a fair slice of my unhinged mind.
Courage followers as we stand together at the cusp of 2013, roll those dice, gather your charger, daub thy war paint, cry out as you raise your lance point… we shall pick them off at the gallop, the blood dribbling down the shaft and onto your glove… Shabash.
To the sports.
Exeter Racing Tips
In the opening Novice affair, I like the chances of Big Society. Grouse Lodge, the horse he got to within a length of at Uttoxeter, has since gone in again at Taunton and if my selection had not rapped the top of his hurdles, he might have well taken that race. That is the best form on offer, heavy ground is likely to be an aid (won on soft, placed on heavy) and I expect Paddy to bring him home. Forecast SP 3/1 – Value over 9/4.
There is a very interesting Beginners Chase at Exeter where exciting chase prospect Ambion Wood lines up to represent Victor Dartnall. The race is a no bet scenario for me because while I think the horse has by far the clearest cut chance and is a very generous 6/5 on that basis, the yard have only had three runners since their disastrous outbreak of Equine Herpes that claimed the lives of a small number and effected 25% of their horses in training.
Victor Dartnall has said that Ambion Wood was uneffected but my concern is over how well prepared his runners are given the turmoil the yard has faced. Dartnalls first three runners since being given the OK by the BHA have finished 5/11, 4/13, PU…. watching brief for the Major but good luck to @lukeyboy1325 who I know will be on.
In the 2.40 novice chase, the market suggests it is going to be between Gullinbursti and Hawkes Point. Of the two I am massively more persuaded by the second as I think Gullinbursti needs better ground. Plus Nicholls v Lavelle at Exeter is 32% v 8% and in the last two weeks is 7 from 26 versus 0 from 7.
Hawkes Point is a very good contender but Hi Ho Sheriff cannot be discounted. It is interesting to see this one switched so quickly from novice hurdles to fences. The Chepstow race he won is impossible to read on account of there only being two finishers. That said, he looked decent and proved he acts on heavy.
The persuader for me is that Ruby is over having shunned some decent Tramore rides. Nicholls must know where he stands with Gullinbursti having beaten it already with Rocky Road, in a race won by Harry Topper.
My tip is to back Hawkes Point at 11/10 as well as a reverse forecast with Hi Ho Sheriff.
Tramore Tip – Listed Chase
A tricky affair that looks to rest between Tranquil sea, Roi Du Mee and Blazing Tempo.
Tranquil Sea boasts the best form but has literally just turned eleven and may find younger legs get the better of him in this ground.
Roi Du Mee has been exploiting a very handy hurdles mark and returns to much hotter chase company but is clearly in good spirit.
Tramore is such a tight track and Ordinary Man has a terrific record here. I cannot see him handling the conditions though. Sweet My Lord also has a Tramore win to his name but is probably not good enough.
The tight track I don’t think will be any problem to the Tramore tip which is Blazing Tempo. Mullins has a superb track record and this mare may have looked flat last time out at Cork but was racing over a relative sprint distance for her and this is far more appropriate. The yard have a good record in the race too which only strengthens my view.
Channel 4 suffered a minor dent to their new format which kicks off today. With Cheltenham cancelled, they lost several graded races and have had to settle for four Mussleburgh handicaps.
The Major has had a look and notes the following…
In the 1.05, I like Swift Arrow and think the form here last time with Hazy Tom and Kelioglione back in third is strong. However, even in receipt of 6lbs to Let’s Get Serious, I fancy the latter. My tip is more proven on soft and looks far more progressive having absolutely bolted up last time. An extra half stone looks light since he beat a 4/5 favourite with strong hurdles form (rated 140) – Very strong tip to win… take a serious slice.
The other three look too hard for the Major to get a good read on and so I rely on one Mussleburgh tip alone.
The Martin Hill Lucky 15: Blazing Tempo, Big Society, Hawkes Point and Let’s Get Serious – Champ, I am at the Albion later, will call you.
May your dinner be enjoyed alone as a man should eat from time to time. Cook for yourself, maybe a chilli, good kidney beans, lively chilli, some bread and a wine.
Courage, roll those dice. Happy New Year.