Good morning all from the Major who resides in temporary accommodation deep towards the Welsh borders beyond Worcester. The sky is clear blue, the air breezy and a barbecue is preparing the morning vittels.
Yes my friends, the Major has condescended to a little camping, just the night and I can report that it is dreadful. Not the company you understand, that is marvellous but the experience of evenings under canvas is, in my humble estimation, severely over rated. Since I have been able to afford it, a decent hotel with a wicked looking piece serving the reception and a chef that can prepare an Eggs Benedict; that is for me.
Yet, it is not without compensations. Last night, we stoked a roaring fire and sat late into the night talking. I slept well enough too, open air you see.
The week was broken by business in Manchester. A fine time was had too, including an early evening dinner served in an excellent Italian restaurant. The company was excellent with the exception of one of the party who arrived, in a state fit for the witching hour. He continued to drink, at pace and was generally causing a stir with his language which would have had sailors blushing. What I can tell you about this mans girlfriend is information I should not have in my mind.
I might have been minded to have a word with him but you know, I liked the chap! The more outrageous he got, the more acceptable he became. Once the taboos fell away from the rest of the guests we were left to admire his unique outlook on life. You meet them, unique people.
This morning, I am gazing over a lake where a whole gaggle of hardened tri-athletes are bobbing up and down in the distance, red and white hats, lazy flaling arms like some dumb wounded lumbering beast. Last night, as the moon rose, whitening from it’s dust induced bloody orange low on the horizon; I walked and took the shore of the lake. Out on the cold glinting mirror surface, two white ghostly swans glided silently, majestic bold necks rigid – Quite some contrast. I wonder about the swimmers. Do they really enjoy the sensation, cold water on skin, open air swimming, the camaraderie, the healthiness both physical and mental.
Ah yes, I can construct the case in my mind that they do. Yet, I wonder as I will, whether actually the joy is in telling their colleagues on Monday morning that this is what they enjoy. Do they like it or do they want to like it, so badly, yearning and striving? Such time is wasted, for me, I will have the Eggs Benedict please and show the Ham the Hollandaise.
To the sports, a mothership of a Scoop 6 and a damn decent card of racing at Newbury.
Saturday Racing Tips
The Scoop 6 rolled over once again and a ten million pound pot is up for grabs. Once again the Majors selections fell at the first hurdle but perhaps this is what we have been waiting for…. These are not my recommended tips but they are my genuine Scoop 6 picks. You might wonder, quite rightly, while given a tote based system, I am sharing them with you – Well, I would be happy with a far smaller cut, say a 50th – You see, finding the mothership might present as much as a problem to me as searching for it. Better 50 of us be rewarded gently, than one monstrously. As such, usual ruls apply – Want a share of my Scoop 6? Drop your name in the comments before Leg 1 or retweet my blog.
Leg 1 – Staffhoss – That should kill a few of the competition off – Fanning on, up in trip, leave those last runs behind.
Leg 2 –
Burano – Needs a bit of luck but Jimmy can help him get it – NON RUNNER – Bronze Angel it is
Leg 3 – Aeolus – Obvious form with the Guineas winner
Leg 4 – As much as I would love Tax Free, the grand warrior, I go with Keep it Dark
Leg 5 – Charlton has Buick on Stars Above Me
Leg 6 – Mysterial
The Proper Saturday Advices
Following our whistle stop tour of the Scoop 6, allow me to proffer for your delectation some of the finest cuts of the bookmakers meats. Let’s not revisit that euphemism, it didn’t feel right did it.
The Lockinge – This does not look an above average Lockinge to me, although the presence of Olympic Glory and an American Ballydoyle sort at least raise an intrigue. The firming ground is likely against the Hannon favourite but the yard have made a very good start to their 2014 campaign and that is more than can be said for some of the other runners.
Newbury is a good course for a fair race, a long straight, wide enough for all challenges, sweeping and relentless, it rewards class and stamina. Few hard luck stories here. I am assured by my American twitter racing friends that Verrazano will enjoy the firm conditions, he has not raced on them and I am less than convinced. Irrespective of conditions, it is darn hard to relate his Amercian dirt exploits to those Group 1 wins in Europe for Olympic Glory.
I am quite torn between a few facets. O’Brien only fires this one bullet in Britain today, that says something – Did not even bother to fill the horsebox with a second runner. Yet, his yard remain for me, slightly behind their usual standards and I cannot bring myself to bet him. Chopin, some interest. Montiridge is the one that could pick up the pieces if my lump on Olympic Glory fails. With the ground drying, bet with a best odds firm, although a touch of 11/10 is available, I think 11/8 might be the SP.
The Aston Park Stakes greats a high class runner in Mount Athos. Koukash is such a great supporter of British racing and is quite the character, a big supporter of Rugby League and a generous soul in charity and spirit; who might begrudge him a top class performer? Certainly not I and in Mount Athos he has a horse he has gone to war with in Meydan and has snatched a place in the Melbourne Cup. This is a lower grade than he has been campaigned at but I am hesitant that he was targeted for Chester and has been diverted here, perhaps, perhaps not.
Returned to these shores also is Forgotten Voice, when last seen was impressing but clearly he did not take to travel as some of us do not. I like that one and he is certainly a solid dual purpose horse. The form of Brass Ring behind Gospel Choir last time is looking half decent but he would need to improve. Another horse that needs to improve and happens to be the Majors selection is Battalion. Haggas and Moore is a powerful attraction and while the exploits committed to the formbook do not add up to the principals here, Battalion has plenty of potential to improve at 4. Anyway, his form is not to be sniffed at either, his Ripon win was dominant and placed third was subsequent Chester Cup winner Suegioo. Load a cannon at 4/1.
Punchestown stokes the dying embers in the National Hunt grate but they drum up a good Beginners Chase which I fully expect, nay demand that Steps to Freedom wins. I have a soft spot for this Harrington horse after it won a famous victory in the Aintree bumper some years ago on National Day, restoring an ill deserved reputation for the Major as a tipster. By the way, if you are here for the tips, I do worry for you. I am barely profitable, as always, entirely free and most certainly unhinged. Now we have covered that, bet the house on this – He can jump a fence, his form in behind Jezki is perfectly respectable, if not down right outstanding in this company… One for the banker side of your slips, 11/10 indeed, gifts my friends, gifts.
The 4.40 maiden at Newmarket shows Yuften as a warm order but I think plenty of improvement from Kinshasa at 11/2 is entirely reasonable and would urge a bet. Backing a maiden at 4/6 on third attempt at losing the tag is dangerous territory in my view and Kinshasa comes with solid connections, good blood (Pivotal and Sadlers Wells cross) and while needing certainly longer in future, can cause Yuften some trouble, I am sure. Great name for a horse that – Quite a troubled city Kinshasa, plagued by crime and war, baked in the central African heat on the shores of the Congo, birthplace of Benteke, Leroy Lita and Yousef Mulumbu – Ha! Bet I taught you that!
Finally the football. The FA Cup has fallen from a graceful perch of one of the sporting highlights of the year. Audiences falling, less glamour, less reward. Frankly, Fourth spot in the league is a far more important outcome. Still, Hull fans would be in heaven if they won this and Arsenal fans might purge some ill feelings with a first trophy since the invention of colour TV too. My bet? Nil nil half time – 9/4. Put the bet on and do the gardening.
The Martin Hill bet is a yankee on Olympic Glory, Steps to Freedom, Battalion and Kinshasa.
May your dinner be magnificent, the Italian I ate reminded me that it is the finest food in the world. Their treatment of the humble tomato, garlic and pasta foodstuffs is a manifest statement of the genius of man. May you be in the company I enjoyed too – Raven thick hair, pleasantness oozing to charm and a swift hearty laugh.
Courage, roll the dice.