Good Evening from the Major who writes from a changeable Worcestershire where a pleasant spring air hung in the evening as we left for dinner but by return had descended to a suppressing cold slippery mugginess.
Odd to be out to dinner on a Monday night? Well it is none of your business but I shall accommodate your inquiry. The good lady was a victim of a full-on road rage event yesterday. Shockingly, while she had our two boys in the car too no less. Assuage thy concern, all are unharmed and while the cad was aggressive, to the point of banging on the car window, that was the extent of the disturbance.
She was reporting the incident today at the police station at 4pm, so I sent her a message at 5pm suggesting… ‘If I were to take you to dinner tonight, where should I book?’. I would invite you to use this from time to time, works the charm.
And so…. To dinner, The Fleet on the River Severn, lovely spot. All was well with their faggots, a little uncouth in my menu selection? Well I couldn’t care, you can take the boy from the Black Country and all that. The boys played on their crazy golf, the sun set and I stood outside content, beer in hand (Thunderbolt, not what you think), a few midges were present but not so many as to upset the mood. Plus, a view over the expansive green flood plain to the droning M5 motorway a full interrupted half mile away. You may think this punctuated the mood but for the Majors dark wayward mind, I like a constant noise to keep me anchored, I am the sort to sleep with the radio on.
Later in the evening, I drive to Pershore, the Georgian facades look grand at last light. The window down to catch the cool evening air, like nectar after the earlier rain, a pungent whiff of the spring onions being drawn from the field. Marvellous.
The peace is stuttering. Two pieces of news drew sharp. A teacher stabbed to death in front of her class, a dog tied to a tree, doused and burned alive. I do not raise these things for sensationalism or to upset your disposition, just that the barbarous nature of it, unfathomable, it must be a madness, the first was committed by a child, it bares little thought.
All of these things, prey in the edges of my mind. Such a world we occupy, yet there is cause for hope for statistically these things are noise. Yes, you might think it hard to reckon the tally as I do but the positive ledger of life, even the midges, out scores the credit side with comfort.
With such recompense, let us set the mind to the Punchestown festival.
Even some of the keener National Hunt fans have failed to raise Punchestown with me in recent weeks. I have no idea why….. the quality is exceptional, if a little elongated. Perhaps, burnt fingers from backing many a Cheltenham good thing that has gone awry in years gone by, perhaps the weariness of the season, perhaps buying the Bet365 Gold Cup as the last significant act of the season as seemingly advertised by some commentators. Whatever the reason, do not succumb. This is a quality festival and we shall draw long on the goblet. I love the early evening nature of it, coming from the office, one can swing by your turf accountant and seek the results of the day while chancing your remaining bank on the lucky last.
We have some rules. Class can tell yet… Look for horses laid out for it. Mullins is important. Good ground animals too. Ideally less than six races season to date. To the business end of the sermon.
Tuesday Punchestown Tips
The festival opens with a low key race. The thing with Punchestown is that the quality is a little more thinly distributed but this is splitting hairs, it remains excellent.
In the Hunter Chases, jockey booking is absolutely crucial. Some of these jocks have ridden less than ten competitive races in the last two years, some have over 150. Seven have not ridden a winner. I am not going to mess about, the best jockeys are, in the Majors order; Nina Carberry……………….. Derek O’Connor. To be honest, Nina is the only game in town. She is on an Enda Bolger horse, Be Positive, and it is 10/3 favourite but it is the only bet for me.
Faugheen 8/11 – He is one of those that is borderline overcooked but this is a horse that I was very taken with, I cannot wait to see him chasing but for now the first Grade 1 of Punchestown will do. The drop to two miles is no concern. Invest; it is as though the Bank has ordered up a touch more quantitative easing.
The 4.55 is a bit of a mystery and I am avoiding the top seeds as we damn well need value. Of the top three in the market, I prefer the Charlie Swan runner City Slicker but alas I have set my guns on more distant targets. The one I have settled on is Dermot Welds Diplomat at 16/1 generally (BetVictor 20/1*). He has had a spin on the flat to be fit, the yard is in fine fettle and Robbie Power is a capable and rare (perhaps first) booking for the yard.
*For newcomers, the Major has no arrangements with any bookmaker, I advertise not, there is no membership. Just unhinged, barely profitable thoughts.
The Punchestown Champion Chase lacks our new star who chose Sandown on Saturday and to be fair, this is pretty poor Grade 1 fayre. That said, it has to be won, and so… Sizing Europe would bring the house down but he is in the veteran stage and not for me. Ballynagour is of a lot of interest after bouncing back in the Byrne Group Plate, Somersby has his fans, aye but not here. I was against Module earlier in the campaign and had my fingers burned. His third in the Cheltenham version was superb and at 7, he has a right to improve. Ah, I hear you exclaim, pour quoi n’est pas Somersby! Well I retort, it is just a visual thing, I suspect that this less challenging track will suit my pick a lot more, 5/1.
The bumper at 6.05 has been won by Willie Mullins three times in the last ten and so a tentative nod at 7/1 for Very Much So.
The the staying Novice Chase, it is all quality. Ballycasey is probably suited by this slightly easier race than the RSA where he did not quite see things out. That said, the RSA is a notoriously hard race and perhaps this is one to be avoided, especially as he had an extra run where he fell when distinguishing himself with some credit. Morning Assembly ran a place in the RSA too and there is little wrong with his chances as I think the decent ground will be fine. Djakadam is taking his fourth run of the campaign and gets a very handy 9lb age allowance and the services of Ruby. I am bit concerned about the ground but think a decent run is expected.
You could put a pin in the lucky last and mine has landed on Disputed. Find your own pin!
I trust your own dinner will be served in the best company and savoured because your soul is dripping in goodness drawn from a day of benevolence and winners, what more can I hope for you than that.
Courage friends, roll the dice.