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The Saturday Sermon – Kempton, Newcastle, Fairyhouse and Chepstow, some football…. News that terrorises your soul

Good evening from the Major who writes from a blustery Worcestershire where the gusts cut deep into your torso, cold biting at the innards, sending you scurrying for shelter.    Since I started the post late into the night and recommenced on this fine morning, I can now report on the morning condition of this land, a gentle pastel blue sky with soft white distant cloud, souls awakening, spring is here.

The Major landed some decent bets last week and the form continued on the twitter account (@tdl123 for you modern sorts) where this week, I pointed towards a 22/1 winner and a 9/2 winner on subsequent days.  This combined with a decent weekend just passed, created a liquid position, suitable for funding a small military intervention at Cheltenham in a matter of weeks.

Sadly, foolishly, gluttonously and gloriously, the Major set about the destruction of these new-found resources.  I have a remarkable skill to be able to bet at pace and by the time I found myself anxiously awaiting updates on a game that Lazio were losing one nil at home to Laprasador Zobronogionopovforgorovitopolova or some such thing I had never heard of; well, the die was cast – Ah, the truth one feels after wasting some money.  I cannot describe it, however, it is well documented in my favourite film, The Sting.  Robert Redford, having come across a roll of notes fit to choke a mid-sized donkey, takes a spin out with a floozy and manages to blow an astonishing amount on a crooked roulette table.  With gasps around him and his company in outrage at the sheer stupidity, wastefulness and brashness of the act, he flicks his smart hat forward an inch, puts his hand to his chin and just for one moment, takes a sharp intake of breath.  He had it spot on.

Perhaps the fuzziness in my decision making came from the restless existence I stumble through.  Snatching a handful of hours sleep in each evening, leads to a shaky existence.  In between the pools of slumber, lie monsters.  I tend to listen to the World Service, drifting in and out of the genteel voices that convey such messages of terror.  Ukraine, Syria and this week, like a bucket of cold water, North Korea.  I like to keep the night world seperate from the day, but the edges are blurring, feelings that I have deep in the night are invading into the light and I shall sahre them my friends, unburden myself of their terrible weight.

Defectors and satellite evidence has given a UN panel enough to provide a report of the sheer human horror being played out within their prison camps.  I would urge anyone not of strong disposition to skip the next paragraph or two for, dear readers, I shall flinch not for sharing some of the disgusting human tragedy.  Let me issue fair warning, it is of incredible stomach churning strength.

Crimes against humanity is a phrase in the modern vernacular that is rolled out to convey a general idea that some people have committed some evil act upon another.  To penetrate beyond the words, you need to go beyond the general concept and reach the detail.  We all sit conditioned to mans ability to inflict pain on man, history tells us that it has happened through the millenia.  Dare I suggest, we even feel a tired malaise towards it, this is not acceptance but certainly a sense that we have heard it before.

Let me shake that from you, if you will allow me, again what I write, only reflects the truth but for those who may be offended, it is not my intention to do so dear reader, please skip forwards to the sports.

You can end up in a North Korean camp for any small crime.  Some are there because they owned a bible, some because they rolled a cigarette using paper that had the image of their inglorious leader upon it.  Many are there simply because they are related to people who committed these heinous crimes.  Yes, in North Korea, they arrest three generations of criminals, irrespective of who committed the act on grounds of association.  When you commit a ‘crime‘ you risk your family.

When Dante created his circles of hell, his invention shocked the world and offered dark insight into the human mind.  He could not have replicated the evil that man is truly capable of, those thoughts that lurk deepest in the mind, once in an environment in which they are free to be expressed.  Becoming pregnant is often a death sentence, most babies born in prison camps are still born.  Yet having given birth, being ordered under pain of death to drown your baby in a bucket of water, well.  Would you do it, it is hard to imagine the horror.  What would that leave you with after you had committed such a depraved act.  For those, that like I, might think, I am incapable of it, I would have to die myself rather than do it… Would you?  Practically, the babies fate is sealed anyway, why die yourself?  More than that, unless you have been subject to the condition, how can you even know how you might react.  Who knows his own mind when his very existence is under threat.

The stories from these camps have been compiled from the reports of the few that have gotten out of them.  One a defected prison guard describes how the guards were rewarded for killing the prisoners, the rewards were education.

Teenagers forced to witness the execution of their mothers and brothers.  People surviving only on what they might catch, frogs, snakes… To eat a Salamander, you cannot bite it, its sour juice is inedible but you must kill it and then swallow it whole.  The prisoners sought out pregnant rats, believing the placenta to offer a rich food source able to provide much needed nutrients to the young of the camps.  Others searched through the excrement of animals for undigested nuts.

Death must come as welcome relief.  As the head of the panel who compiled the report said, after the German concentration camps, the world wrung its hands and exclaimed that if only we had known.  We know about North Korea.

I am sorry for the horror my friends but it lies weary and heavy on my mind, like my head contains an egg yolk, rolling from side to side, resting and pressurising my skull, causing me to shift throughout the night.

I usually dislike any polarised view.  The world does not work in black and white.  In exceptional circumstances such as these, there is no debate.

The radio brings trouble from other corners too.  The people of Ukraine have paid a price but will get their freedom.  They get the same in Egypt.  In Syria, the displaced still lead a marginal existence.

Be thankful folks, we are the fortunate few.  If you have the opportunity, donate something to a worthy cause.  It puts into context the woes of our own poor, not that one extreme wrong makes another OK, yet when heavy complaint is received about poverty, benefits cuts and food banks – Context is required.  We won the lottery of life.

Anyway, you find it flippant to move to the sports after sharing such dark thoughts.  You are right.  However, in the washing machine that is the life I lead, writing the Saturday sermon is a fixed point in time on which I can rely – I can lean upon that fixed point in the week with confidence.

To the sports….

Chepstow Tips

Chepstow is heavy and it is raining.  When Chepstow is heavy, their clay cloying soil is like a heavy glue and it takes a special breed of horses to get through it, genuine mud larks.  Those that like it soft will not do, we need the ones that revel in the mud.

In the opener, a tentative stake will be placed on the favourite Monkey Kingdom who is the only horse to have won on heavy ground.  What is more, the form stacks up with a defeat dished out to Mickie, Henry Daly’s smart grey mare.  5/2 is available with Bet365.  Gate Please is a risk especially as he looks the sort to be better of these longer distances and the minimum trip was way too short last time.

In the second, I am giving Big Society another chance.  It seems odd to be cutting some slack to a horse with jumping difficulties at Chepstow, a course I chalk up as being a more difficult chasing test.  Yet, the slow ground might give him that bit more time at the fences and given his love of mud, I think 6/1 is a fair price.

One day Swnymor will come good again and a collective sigh from folk like me will fill the air.  Some shrewdies will crow of their winnings on twitter and the world will move on.  The thing is, he looked such a damn fine novice, would have won a Grade 1 that was picked up by Ruacana with Caid du Berlais in second, after a final flight fall in January 2013 and since then, has looked anything but himself (1 place from 6 starts, mark down to 129 from 143).  When it wins, it will do so without the burden of the Majors stake.  Alder Mairi should be really suited by this test.  Should be able to bowl along relatively untroubled off the front and at Chepstow, that can be dangerous.  Have a juicy slice at 7/2 (Bet365).

In the 3.05, Poole Master looks to have finally got into gear, I knew there was a good performance in him but he does not look the reliable sort to me and now contends with a near stone rise in the weights.  Fago might be focussed by his new headgear but has the burden of top weight which is going to be a hell of a steadier in these conditions.  We have seen how well Venetia horses do in the mud and light weight Last Shot has a chance of being involved but the Major is going to be on Grey Gold who dealt up a beating of the highest quality to Desert Cry (rated 147) who is a McCain inmate.  That day, Grey Gold was reversing previous form and the heavier conditions he encountered may have been a factor.  Load the cannons at 7/2.

That’ll do for me in Wales….

Kempton Tips

I am always a bit cautious about using the word tips, it implies I am a tipster.  If you are new to these parts, you might assume so, I assure you I am not.  I am barely profitable and as you certainly know, certainly unhinged.  I do not charge, ask you to sign up for anything, earn from advertising or make any claim.  I welcome gentle humble sorts and would ask the riff raff to leave after you have finished the drink you have.

Kempton has a few nice Graded races today and we get a good look at Irving, one of Ditcheats best festival hopes.  Nicholls has been waiting to unleash the horse once the deep ground has passed and today he gets proper chasing ground at Kempton – Shabash.  Nicholls has done well at this meeting in recent years, it is a nice interval from Cheltenham and some of his will be right on the boil now.

In the first Grade 2, the juvenile hurdle, Nicholls rocks up with a double barrel shotgun – He has an excellent record in the race and is represented by Solar Impulse and Alcala both in the same ownership, both having won this season already.  Jockey bookings suggest the former is the one to rely on but the Major is skipping both for a shot with the favourite Activial.  Tentative selection only as so many improvers are lurking but Fehily + Fry = Monies!  31 from 88 in the last two years and 6 from 15 on track.  Activial had good french form, has a triumph entry and was probably on ground too firm when beaten by Calipto who looks the business too….

Fox Appeal is the choice of many over this longer trip but I think Balder Succes will still out perform him.  His jumping is sound and accurate and I think that there is nothing to fear in these longer trips for him.

The lump on Irving.  5/4 is insane.  I am convinced, load the large artillery my good people.  Yes, First Mohican is good but this Irving is definitely the bet, especially if the rain stays away.

Fehily and Nicholls team up with Bury Parade at 9/2 in the Grade 3 handicap chase and I will have a small interest.  The horse brings good form into the race and this team are unstoppable.

Newcastle Eider Day

I have grave concerns about the Eider being run on heavy ground.  Nobody wants to see exhausted horses stumbling over the line, it is unedifying and not what the sport is about.  From 16 runners, I think just 5 will finish.  Not a race in which the Major wishes to bet.

Edmund Kean should take the small field opener – A few of his opponents boast the same like of mud as he does but none has the form he has.  It is the only thing I want to back at Newcastle.


It is an obvious pick but Adriana Des Mottes in the opener looks a good thing to me.  11/10 is available but it is taking that Ruby selects this rather than the other Mullins horse who looks equally well equipped, Abbysial.  Adriana trounced the Punchestown opposition and looks a very nice prospect. A Mullins 1-2 can be backed as well.

This might not be much fun for you to read, a little obvious I know, but I am suggesting a massive Mullins day at Fairyhouse – A little like Nicholls, his string will be boiling up to Cheltenham now and I am following up the opener with multiples involving Beluckyagain 8/13 (2.00), Wicklow Gold 4/1 (2.35), On His Own 7/4 (3.10), Kalmann 3/1 (3.45)

Disappointed in me… find yourself a tipster!

In the football… Arsenal 4/11 and Manchester United 8/11 are easy starting points.  Derby 4/5 and Reading 23/20 get us more interesting and Wolves at Brentford 9/5, adds the spice.  I think my own team Albion might get the highly valuable three points at home to Fulham too 5/6.

May your dinner be in a fine seafood restaurant where the scallops are served seared and tender, fine crisp white wine flows, a clarity of thought exists and the most wondrous company is enjoyed.  Drink freely and remember your fortunes.

The Martin Hill bet involves Irving, Adriana Des Mottes, Edmund Kean, Grey Gold and Reading.  I suggest they are set up in trebles (10 bets), fourfolds (5 bets) and an accumulator, just in case the mothership wants to dock.

Courage friends, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Punchestown Tips, Sandown Tips – Suarez biting incident.. Football

Good morning from the Major who writes from bed in some discomfort.  On a rare but regular basis, the Major tweaks muscles in the base of my back leaving me a hobbling and complaining wretch.  I am not a good patient.

A week of bans in sport with Al Zarooni picking up a proper disqualification which spells the end of his training career – Good.  Suarez picked up a substantial ban too which had the wallahs of Liverpool wringing their hands and exclaiming the unfairness of it all.

The Major is pleased that a tough stance was taken on this incident.  Liverpool, in their reaction to it, are demonstrating that they learned little from the Suarez / Evra situation.  The Managing Director, the man the entire club takes a lead from in terms of behaviour and culture, suggests that the punishment targets the individual not the crime.  Other cultural leaders of the club show the balance between an organisation who want to protect a valuable asset and those that understand the disrepute he is dragging the club through… again.

Rodgers: Having reviewed the video footage and spoken to Luis, his behavior is unacceptable and I have made him aware of this – Wow, if I bit someone at work, my own company would not take the time to explain that this is ‘unacceptable’, that would be taken as read, I would be punished (fired).

Souness: …the board have to see it that way because they’re risking everything this great football club stands for 

To feel for balance in the argument it is worth considering the alternate arguments which seem to be as follows.

Is Suarez being targeted because of a history and thus, 8 weeks is too harsh a punishment?  Biting is a very dishonourable aspect to sport that disgusts many people.  In his first biting incident, Suarez was banned for 7 weeks.  In Rugby last year, Dylan Hartley took an 8 week ban for biting a finger of an Irish opponent.  Thus, 10 weeks (7 for the incident itself, 3 for violent conduct) seems fair for a second offence.  

If the club and player felt it was unduly harsh, they could appeal and run the risk of it being increased.  Their decision not to, speaks to me some what of the advice they will have received behind the scenes and their real view behind the hyperbole.  It is worth remembering that the panel who set the tariff is independent of the FA.

The Liverpool statement suggests that the tariff is unfair (which I believe to be posturing) because it is not consistent with other punishments.  One of the issues the FA need to address is retrospective action applying to players who are cautioned in a game but later found to have committed a more heinous crime.  This is what happened to Defoe, an equally low act, while unfortunate he did not serve justice it does not mean that we should not deal properly with Suarez who was not cautioned in the game.

Suarez is going to receive the full support of Liverpool.  A player whose record is so chequered, whose reputation so low, receives the full support of the club again.

Sadly the message I receive is: The values of Liverpool < The talent of Suarez – A sorry state of affairs for one of our football institutions.

If I had the time I would explore how the brand damage done by these instances will mean the club play in the long run.   I would highlight the personal values people associate with their sporting support.  Instead, we shall head to the tips…

We scored a reasonable return at Punchestown yesterday.  The fly did the business in the style you would like from a 1/4 winner.  Un Atout battled hard for victory with Pont Alexandre withdrawn.  The instruction to load the cannons on Un De Sceaux paid dividends and overall, it was not a bad day at all.

Punchestown Tips

If you are heading to Punchestown, I hope you have a marvellous time.  @limerickjfk shall be on track and I wish you and your compadres the very best of luck.

The opening Irish Field Chase could go to Shakervilz at 4/1.  He was a runner up in the Cross Country at the Cheltenham festival, that form was well franked this week.  Heavy ground should be no problem to him.  Have a small slice.

In the second, I think you need some medical attention if you back Mikael D’Haguenet.  Clearly there is enough talent to take this, after all he beat subsequent RSA chase winner Lord Windemere this season.  Yet, he throws some horrendous runs in on a regular basis.  Aupcharlie has hardly looked impressive at this end of the season either and so a chance is taken on Grey Gold at 8/1 – I am sure they are not tilting at windmills stepping the Carlisle winner up so far in class.

In the third, On His Own jumped 24 of the national fences before falling at Valentines second time around.  I did not watch the race as per my previous views on it but I understand from racing notes, he was fading at the time.  I think the ground is much more to his liking here (unbeaten on worse than soft) but it is a big ask after his exertions earlier this month.

I think you have to take Wyck Hill‘s last run at Kempton with a pinch of salt given his track record on softer ground.  At 5/1, I suggest a small slice.  Liberty Counsel is also too big at 16/1 and the Irish National winner can run into a place at least so have a small saver.

Tarla looks a shoe-in at 4/6 in the fourth.  One for multiples.  She has good chase form but was very game reverting to the smaller obstacles last time.  Largely Ruby has got the stable calls right this week and so his selection of the horse over Glenns Melody carries significance.

The Champion 4yo Hurdle at 5pm is all the weaker for the absence of the uber-exciting Our Conor.  Of all of the Cheltenham winners, his Triumph success was breathtaking and surely signals a significant career ahead.  Mullins saddles four of the six runners and of them, Diakali is a shade odds on to win.  Although I am a bit nervous at the price, he does look the most likely winner.  Dogora could be an excellent cast off from Closutton for David Casey as I think back on heavy, we might see much more horse.

Gigginstown have seven darts to throw in the 5.35 handicap.  While only a certain amount of work can be done in such races, I am suggesting an investment at 17/2 in Fahamore who has a number of attractive points.  He looks well handicapped having battled out a finish (lost) with Acapulco, when having to give best part of a stone.  Since that foe went in earlier in the week, it has to rate as good form.  Heavy ground holds no problems (6 runs, 3 wins, 2 places) – What’s not to like? He only has 24 others to defeat!

That is it from Punchestown for me, I am not playing in the bumper or the charity race.

Sandown Tip – Celebration Chase

This race more than any marks the end of the National Hunt adventure.  Last year, Sanctuaire blitzed the field.  He looks a horse whose mind has been destroyed by the Aeroplane and I wonder if he will run a big race again – It sort of reminds me of this.  He is favourite here though and has shown enough in the past to justify it… if (and a big if in my mind) he can return to his former self.

Finians Rainbow is a horse the Major likes.  I was really taken by his Champion Chase win last year (people forget so easily), he really fought hard going past the bypassed fence tussling with Sizing Europe.  This season has been a disappointment having never properly recovered from a spell on the sidelines.  Good ground holds no fears.

One who will relish good ground and is overpriced is Tataniano who is six from six on good ground.  That alone is probably not enough to make him a win bet but at 33/1 I would put noone off having a slice in case a return to top form (won off 160) is in order on better ground.

Sod it… Finians Rainbow is the best of these and I am backing Henderson to have worked some magic.  Have a decent slice of the 9/2.

Football – Regular readers will know that Watford are the team I have been classing as the money train for some time and they duly delivered for me last night at Leicester at 3/1.  I am reinvesting those funds in some teams I like.  I think Stoke will be keen to finish strongly and can see off Norwich at home.  Southampton have the guns to beat West Brom who have had a poor end of season.  I also think that Newcastle at 11/5 are a big price to see off Liverpool.  For all of the troubles listed above, I think an unsettled Liverpool performance might be one of the outputs of the whole affair.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Shakervilz, Finians Rainbow, Stoke and Diakali.

I trust your dinner is expensive and held in fine company.  Allow a generous tip and be awake at the wrong side of midnight.  It is good to be alive.

Courage, roll those dice.

New Years Day Sports Tips 2011

The Racecourse from Cleeve Hill

Oscar Whisky - The one whose star is one the rise

Cheltenham today for the major and he sees it as follows (again apologies for the lack of detail not my normal style but be assured of consideration).

Cheltenham 12.20 – on his own – jhj can have a hurdler well
schooled and anything above tens is good for the major but looks
like 16s available – it’s a novice so dont get too stuck in

12.55 -race of the day will be won by Oscar whisky who unlike the others
is a star on the rise – for those who like a punt Barisan is a
great ew shout if anything like 33s as if the ground is the sticky
sort he could be beset to org back from his usual front running

1.30 absurdly 3m 2 might be on the sharp side for maljimar
who although lightly campaigned showed he has enough of the old
spark – officier de reserve rates the main danger.

2.00 can you ignore sway who gets in at the bottom of the weights with the
services of ap and a current 8/1 price – have a big ew slice!!

2.35 Caroles legacy is consistent but unconvincing – not keen on many at
the head of the Market so a chance is taken with picamus who has an
eye catching jockey booking

3.10 serious rain would mean a bet on den of iniquity who is an interesting horse – junior seems to have learned how to win and this pipe horse with a useful 5pm claim is a tasty 12/1 shot ew

3.45 the bumper has attracted a couple of flat trainers – Keys with the assistance of paddy Brennan at 4/1 is taken as the likely sort

Oxford are taken to beat Southend at 11/10. Something looked amiss at Stoke midweek so everyone to win at 23/10 is stand out – West Ham should beat Wolves at home and are 11/8 – back goals in that game too 2/1 for four or more.

May your 2011 bets be blessed and may you strike at the enemies dark heart until he crumbles meekly begging for clemency – tell him the major sent you.

Watch out for the majors new year resolutions including the top ante post bets of 2011.