Tag Archives: racy

The Saturday Sermon – York, Mussleburgh and Sandown

Good morning from the Major who writes from a grey close Worcestershire where the suns filtered light gloops down, slowly pooling between the pale white walls, amongst the garages, over the fields and upon the cool dark water.

The Major is pleasantly tired after a busy week of exertions, the coffee has been bubbling up though and it fills the nostrils with the promise of alertness. 

Amongst the heavy travails of the week, the Major has once again sought pleasure.  A business trip to the capital bought me to Lords for the opening test game.  Sat with full exposure to a forceful sun, the straw hat inconveniently still under my stairs, England wobbled, then steadied.  Bell looked fluent but Root took the score away and looked so pleased with his hundred, as he should be with his position under threat from the upstart Buttler.  Lunch had been an Italian, vittels so pleasant that we missed half of the afternoon session. 

Late in the afternoon, the sun had barely cooled but I would find it hard pressed to name a better time and place than Lords for the first test.  The classical sounds, the well attired, the surrounding splendid dusky red apartment blocks, should I ever ‘make it’, you will find me living in St Johns Wood with the good as did my hero, Sir Clement Freud.

Last night was pleasant but in a different manner.  Bristol Zoo on a Friday night.  I can feel that you pause as I type the words but I kid you not, it was the finest of evenings.  A live jazz band on their splendid lawn, so picturesque as the sun sets, the Pimms bar in full flow.  Of all animals, Gorillas have a unique ability to strike me dumb.  The features are so human it leaves me a little stupefied.  At dusk, lions prowled in their enclosure, their gaping jaws opening like hells awakening.  Beautiful jewelled wasps, so pretty up close, flamingos, their plump little bodies held aloft on spindle legs.

This has been a pleasant week.  Perhaps all preempted by the Sermon from last Saturday.  We struck with three winners at 9/1, 11/1 and 3/1 of seven advised selections and so it must remain as a highly succesful week.  We are in form. 

This is the lull before Royal Ascot.  I have not yet examined many of the cards and must confess I hold absolutely no antepost positions at all.  Thinking of my build to Cheltenham, it settles the question of whether I prefer the flat or the NH.  I know it is a crass pointless question and so I shall dwell little on the why, it is personal preference that is all, not a competition.  We are not children here, we left childish things behind.  Should you want a more partisan correspondence, row on to other shores my friend.

The only view I have is that the unfashionable Night of Thunder may represent value in the St James Palace.  When a hot favourite is turned over by a horse that drifted so badly as did Kingman in the Guineas, people feel a bit aggrieved.  Then seemingly redemption came in Ireland with a commanding performance on heavy ground and now they meet again, people feel that he is rightful one, ready for his ordination and then we may treat the Guineas as a simple aberration. 

The Major is less convinced.  The Irish Guineas was in tough ground and it must have taken something from the horse.  Plus, Night of Thunder, drifting badly across the wide Newmarket expanse and this may have disguised a further bit of talent.  Yes, Hughes takes over from Fallon but I see little reason that the less fashionable horse cannot put it up to his seemingly anointed superior. 

We will get to that on Tuesday.  For now, we have a mothership to search for.  So my friends, clean those sheepskin saddle cloths and mount your heavy chargers, with lancepoints glinting blindingly, our enemy shall see us coming in tight formation across the plain, the bugles carrying over the air – Regular British and Indian lancers, the imposing Daffadars with bristling proud beards at the head of their men, crying Shabash!  So few are our number that the enemy may at first mock from their well invested positions but those confident features begin to doubt, oh how they doubt, a furtive glance amongst them as they witness the good order with which we come on, relentlessly, at a pace that tells them what they need to know, we do not think we shall be victorious, we know it.  For as long as we can remember, our military virtue has been the finest in the world.  What was drilled into us at horseguards shall be played out now on some foreign dusty field.  Run, you fools, run.

 ‘Act according to your conscience and defy the consequences’ Sir Hope Grant

To the sports.

Saturday Racing Tips

Of racecourses you could visit for a pleasant day, I find it hard to trump York, it is right up there.  Vigorous Northern air, splendid scenes, a nice course and less riff raff than Doncaster.  Yet I also find it more and more a bit of a specialist track.  A galloping straight that oddly seems to take some getting,

The opening race might be an odd place to start as an amateur ladies race but I like these contests purely through the lens of investment.  Jockey skill is a facet of a race calculation that I believe more important than most.  Never more is this true than in the amateur events where the disparity of ability is at its greatest.

In this race, Brotherton and Walsh have the skill and experience (2 year stats):

Brotherton and Walsh combined: 314 runs, 13.1% wins, 32.5% placed

The Rest Combined: 273 runs, 7.7% wins, 30.4% placed.

Tiger Lily is unexposed and as the youngest in the field could be a fly in the ointment, especially as I think her jockey may prove to be quite decent.  Warlu Way hit the bar in this race last year and has run terribly since but as a consequence goes off 2lbs lower today, interesting.  Yet my chosen pilots are aboard Saptapadi and Pearl Castle.  Of those Saptapadi has been winless for some time but was a bit unlucky at the Derby meeting under Silvestre de Sousa, it could be. 

Yet, I am going to go with Pearl Castle who in Serena Brotherton has the most accomplished guide.  This Montjeu gelding has been over the hurdles of late with no disgrace, finishing 10l down the field in a Grade 1 race in Ireland.  That reads well for a mark of 86 and I suggest a bet with Tiger Lily being feared.  Normally the Major prefers potential over experience but this is York and so 4/1 for my boy…. Have a slice.

I am going to take a bit of a chance that in Chester’s 3.40, Lexi’s Hero is back to full song and ready to go after a short break.  There is no doubt that the horse has some ability, I like McDonald enough in the saddle and while I can see the attraction of Cruisetothelimit, stall 7 over 6f at Chester is tough enough for that one, my jockey can settle my selection from a plum stall 3 and we can steal it off the bend.

I am not usually a fan of sprints but I shall have a pop at the Sandown listed contest which will be attracting a lot of attention today.  The draw is not as essential as Chester but still, it favours lower numbers again.  Strategical is highly interesting having won three races here last year, the cause of the belated reappearance is not certain but Hughes is up for Godolphin and Appleby, seeking his first win for the yard after 2 places from 2 efforts to date.   

In nine runnings of this sprint contest, we have only had one 10/1 winner, it is clearly a race that favours the favourites.  Reroute would fit my profile but I have to confess that as much as I fancy her, Hayley has gone off the boil in my view and I couldn’t back her mounts… for now.

Picking the winner requires me to compromise on either draw or class.  If it is the former, then I like the understated chances of One Chance out of stall 5 who was placed in a Queen Mary, though was a few lengths down.  At 16/1, I shall have a saver to make sure I have this side of the track covered.  Though, my main bet I am staying safe.  I think again the favourites prices will be up on the winners board.  G Force looked every inch the progressive muscular sprinter at York  and if Daniel Tudhope can settle the animal from stall 11.  His York win was not a bolt and blast win and so I am hopeful he can.  Big bet as 5/2 prices in a poor draw but I am struggling to see the winner in 1-6 anyway.

Mussleburgh for @sar6ie

I am a sucker for a request and since Sar6ie is off to Mussleburgh, I thought we might take in a few races on this fine Scottish card.  Firstly, I wish him all the best for the weather, the company, the debauchery, the investments and the vittels – Enjoy it all as we pass by the once and must latch onto to any flotsam we can… Greedily take at the honey my friends.

Firstly, you might want to stay at the bar on the picnic rug for the first race at 1pm, where a 1/2 juvenile heads the field.  You are relying on collateral form to back that with confidence and it does not look that bulletproof to me.  Some of these youngsters can find extra ways to lose you know.  Personally, I would wager a Shekel on Just the Tip who at 10/1 (and a fellow Kodiac charge) seems value to me, Dagleish does well with his juveniles (15% in last two years).

In the 1.30pm, I quite like the chances of Kyllachy Star at 11/1 who has made the trip after a big dissapointment last time.  It is easy to ignore that though when you consider the ground was against him.  Paul Mulrennan can do the business from the saddle and while the strike rate of this horse is not to write home about, there is enough ability to cause this field problems.

You could set your watch by Lysino in the 2pm race so we shall move swiftly on.

I am going to jump to the key race of the day, the 3.35.  The roof will go up if Borderlescott goes in, what a campaigner.  However, the Major is attracted to one at a price.  Racy gave no show whatsoever in the Epsom dash but plenty of horses do not like that camber and in this company, if running to previous, I think we have a live contender at 16/1.  Megan Carberry has been riding well and did well after an horrendous fall earlier in the week to get back on a winner yesterday, that was for Ellison too and I would think this runner gives us a good longer priced chance.

Back at York…..

4/1 about Fencing who often runs to his level without being quite top draw is a decent price in the 3.15 listed contest.  In the 3.50, I am willing to back one at a price… Kickboxer at 25s with  Betvictor is all wrong.  Drawn on the right side, Luke Morris can give us a power-packed thriller!  I also do like Royal Meyzan in the same race who can be backed at 12s with the same firm.

In the football.  The World Cup is underway and while the teams may be doing their best to bring the highest of quality to this festival, the referees are so far, a disgrace.  The Brazilian game was marred by a referee that seemed to have a blueprint for how the game might map out and Mexico will feel highly aggrieved not to have had two legitimate goals and a stand out penalty taken from them.  Even though they went on to win, in a small group, goal difference is essential.

A World Cup treble of glory for you: Columbia (10/11), Uruguay (4/9) and HT 0-0, England v Italy (5/4).  That can pay for dinner.

The Martin Hill bet is a Pearl Castle, Lexi’s Hero and G Force trixie.

I trust that dinner is taken in good spirits.  Maybe the rib digging wedge is tempered by the stakes you placed today, after all, Ascot is upon us and we do not want to go early.  Yet, the company you are in is excellent, she the flaxen-haired easy-going sort, good with the bottle, good for a laugh, a curl of the lip and twinkle of the eye, a curve, a freckle; enough for your to drown in the glorious little detail. 

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – The Ascot Shergar Cup Card, Newmarket and Haydock – Telescope and Simple Good Fun

Good morning from the Major who writes from a Worcestershire scene of early morning beauty.  The sky is a fine profusion of god’s elegant palette.  The palest blue melts gently into formless agreeable white clouds made peachy by the pale weak lemon sun yet to impress it’s forceful splendour upon us.

The Major is up early as in need of a productive day to fulfil numerous and important obligations.  The mind is whirring away with a thousand matters at hand to be seen to.  For reasons I am unable to fathom, I can feel the force of intent, my body galvanised behind the task, seeping out a chemical balance that had me up with the sun, eyes narrow and full of intent.

To be able to control one’s own mind wholly – What power.  How much are we slaves to our own emotion?  The Major is of the camp that believes the answer to be ‘as much as you want to be’ but it would be rude to get started on that puritanical tract now, you do not need such preaching at this hour on a Saturday.  Relax in this company stranger.

Instead consider the question of happiness?  Are you in control of that at least?  What makes you content?  Is it important to be happy?  I shall summarise for your delectable taste, some of the findings of the studies on happiness….

Modern wisdom seeks happiness at the heart of everything but what is it that truly makes you happy?  Science suggests a number of factors.  You would guess the first, I am at pains to write it, for fear of sounding mawkish, but it is seeking deep loving relationships.  That makes some sense but for the Major, I have always felt comfortable in my own skin and not felt the deep need of company.  I must admit to wishing I had more friends, or more time with friends but have come to accept with contentment that I alone am OK.

Some studies suggest more important that relationships is having a clear picture of life’s meaning.  Well make your own because whatever you fabricate is your invention and only has personal value.  The Major has a simple understanding of life’s meaning.  Have fun, we float by the once – This is well trodden land for the Major – Regulars know that I believe of all wastage on earth, the greatest is of the joys of today that pass you by while you were busy.

For true happiness you also need to think you are good-looking, yet it is less important that it be true.   So spend some time with beautiful people, that will perk you up, so to speak.  In this, I suggest you exert vigorous discipline.  The good lady often accuses me of only liking her best looking friends…  I, for one, do not defend the position, after all, why would that not be true?

Eat out more – The Major has been urging you to do this every Saturday for these many years.  People who eat out are happier souls and this I heartily agree with, if combined with the latter point regarding beautiful company, it is a heady mix.

The most powerful stimulant of a happy life I have yet to mention though.  It is activity.  Yes, the happiest people are the most active.  This, I can understand.  If you take pleasure from a roll of the dice, roll them more often.  Is this not in tune once more with the Major’s weekly urgings.  Do I not ask of you to roll those dice each week?

In this, I have started to understand my own meaning.  I am here as one small ingredient in your happiness recipe.  I am here on each Saturday urging you all to do those things to make you happy.  Roll the dice, eat well in fine company and seek pleasure in the small.

Today, we go to the well again in search of the mothership.  Our search thus far has not been fruitless but we know out there is the ‘life-changer’.  The Saturday where the stars align and the momentous result lifts us up.  What I fear is the aftermath of that day, for searching for it has meaning n’est pas? Losing that meaning is as equal as the spoils we gain from finding it.

Yet, we shall not tackle that fear until the mothership has landed.  So daub thy war paint once more young lancer, straighten that fine blue tunic with gold braid and raise that lance so it’s point glitters in the morning light.  We shall go forwards with great victory in mind.  Think of Hannibal who with fewer men, enveloped the deep Roman lines at Cannae, defeating their flanking cavalry and circling in behind the heavy infantry to complete the rout.

To battle friends.

The Ascot Shergar Cup Card.

For many horseracing purists,  know that the Shergar Cup is a bit of a tasteless distraction.  Competing teams of jockeys change the emphasis from horse to rider, the razzamatazz seems shallower and cheap.

Well bah humbug to you, it is good fun, simple.  While the card is compromised of a variety of handicaps and jockeys whose skills may be untested at Ascot on horses that are unfamiliar to them, we shall regardless have a pop at the key races.

The opener is a race that revolves around Nine Realms.  Last year, he won a decent looking Leicester maiden that has produced subsequent winners, some of whom are rated in the 90’s.  Clearly he was fancied on seasonal debut where he was backed before being help up and then making no impression when asked for his effort.  That was his first attempt at racing at York and I would be comfortable putting a line through that form and giving another chance to this one.  Of serious interest at 4/1.

The Major though is suggesting Roserrow as a 15/2 shot – This selection looked entirely trustworthy and progressive until his last run too where he was used up too quickly in an effort to get prominent.  You could argue he faces the same problem here today but I am backing his jockey to play his hand well and put us in the race neatly.  Andrew Balding has won this race several times before which is a plus and the jockey is a skilled and experienced as you like.  Gary Stevens is an American who came out of retirement this year to ride again, if you are worried about whether he still has it… He won the Preakness on 16/1 shock Orb  – Think ‘American’ Johnny Murtagh.

In the staying race, I want a proven stayer and non stands out more than Broxbourne whose record at 2m+ is 4 runs, 3 wins and 1 place.  If they go quick, this girl will be doing her best work in the last two furlongs.

Yet, the Major is sticking with red-hot trainer Sir Mark Prescott and his Ffos Las winner Mutual Regard who is available at 11/2 with Coral and 9/2 generally.  The appeal here is in both the trainer form and the nature of the last win.  A small field at Ffos Las might not be the most reliable of yardsticks to count on a  horses worth but there seems merit in the run.  The second Estyaaq went back to Ffos Las to simply destroy the field in his next race.  I would accept that it represented a drop in grade but it was still eye-catching and considering that Mutual Regard has a 5 from 11 strike rate, I am willing to bet, there could be more to come.  Mark Johnstone has an obvious danger in Broxbourne.

We jump from staying into sprint company for the class 2 dash.  With these sort of highly strung racehorses, it is difficult to judge which are to be at the peak of their game and for me, this is the hardest race to take a firm view in.  As such, I like the chance to 20/1 shot, first reserve Swan Song who is in the race after the defections of Prohit and Stone of Folca.  You need improvement from this girl who was behind Steps and Ahtoug but she does keep getting better.  Yet the key form to me is the 4th of Racy in the Stewards Cup.  This is not a horse that has shown superstar tendencies but that form is very solid and he has only been in the hands of Brian Ellison for this stage of his career – 7/2 is available.

The 2.40 is a middle distance contest that Mark Johnston seems to own having sent half of the field down on a northern raid.  Yet the favourite is Charlie Applebys Chesterfield – The yard is in tremendous form and there is a lot to like in the progressive sort.    There is still some 3/1 available and I would gobble it down like the glutton you are.

Mark Johnston is well represented in the following race too and if Star Lahib continues recent form, then I would expect to see it involved at the business end.  She ran very well over 12f when getting up late to win the Old Newton Cup and had some solid handicapping sorts in behind.  Dropped two furlongs next time out, it looked too sharp – She ran with credit and was running on when many had cried enough but it simply looks like 10f was too quick.  Thus today’s 12f with a stiff finish should be ideal.  I may well regret not backing Star Lahib but I am tempted away by Beaufort Twelve who is available at 13/2 in a few places and was a very capable looking younger horse that seems not to have quite fulfilled the promise.  He ran earlier in the week at Pontefract with credit and runs off the same mark, I hold a candle.

Finally the 3.50 – In the lucky last I am with Tom Dascombe and Barracuda Boy at 8/1 (Ladbrokes / Betfred).  We need to find form but when we do, the line with Body and Soul shows it is meaningful.  Have a large slice, I think this is the day.

Haydock and Newmarket.

I know purist racing fans will be analysing these cards with much more vigour than the shallow fun being had at Ascot – Well, I do not blame you.

Patrons of Haydock are rewarded today at 2.55 with the second appearance of the highly fascinating Telescope who is 4/6 to win.  Let us remember a few points about this one… He was the most expensive yearling, he was favourite for the derby, he was injured and missed the lot and then hacked up in a Leicester maiden by as far as you like.  There is no reason to think he is anything other than a class above this lot and more interesting is the 16/1 about him for the Arc.

Haydock also host a listed fillies contest and I am interested in Expressly and Zurigha.  I settle on the latter at 7/1 for the value of Levey in the saddle who I readily prefer to Barzalona.

At Newmarket, I am going to take my chances with 4/1 Conduct who runs in the 3pm contest.  She is the most lightly raced 6 year old you might find having run only three times in her injury beset career. Yet she is in good hands in the Haggas camp and was well fancied for the Ebor last year before being withdrawn.  Anything like decent fitness and I think she is a danger to all.

The Martin Hill lucky 15 is Conduct, Zurigha, Chesterfield and Mutual Regard… Load a cannon young man.

That is it from the Major – May your dinner be taken out with fine beautiful company, may the tip swell the waiters pocket, a mere slice of the days excess.

Courage, roll those dice.