Good evening from the Major who writes from bed, tonight alone, the warm air that held Worcestershire tightly has been disrupted by newer fresher air. The scene is turbulent as these two competing forces skirmish across the sky, flashes of battle, the roar of conflict.
The good lady has left for Birmingham for the evening, my two boys sensing my lack of true paternal control have sought some ruin, getting amok among the house. At first it seemed that they were not to be quieted but like all things, decay came to their once seemingly perpetual energy, at last, peace fell.
Peace is a precious commodity for the Major, such is the nature of my work and home, that seldom is there time to spare and nothing to think of, all is vigour, rush and noise.
As I lie here now, listening to the wind and rain rising again in the country air, the window flung open, one can appreciate the tremendous value of peace. It is akin to being free….. freedom is choice, I choose to listen to the fat rain, thrown down in a childish tantrum. The good lady finds the occasional passing traffic a reason for the fenetre to always be ferme. Yet in these moments alone, well the kiss of tyre on wet tarmac is a pleasurable a sound that I could wish for, a sound that denotes my free will. In such small things is my happiness grounded.
Doing things that please you is a common theme in these parts. We float on the breeze just the once. Latch on to whatever meaningful pleasure you can my friend, you have my explicit permission.
This year, I received a piece of advice from a respected fellow gentleman gambler that struck me at first as an odd suggestion but it stuck with me as sometimes these things do and I dwelt upon it, which improved it. He suggested that unless you are one of these snooty professional gambling sorts (if you came here for highly reliable tips by the way, you have made a grievous turn) then you can do worse than simply waging on outcomes that please you. If there is a football game on, back the team you would like to win. If a horse runs and you like it, or the trainer, or silks, or jockey, or name… you get the idea. Wage on your desire.
This may seem simple but it is unusual. Most gamblers I know select the most likely outcome they can imagine with the caveat that the outcome gives them a return that will excite them. Fools. Such men will happily bet a horse to win but even if they think an odds on horse is an utter certainty, they refuse to wage because the rewards of success are too slender for them.
The slightly more sophisticated approach, that more seasoned and considered sorts preach concerns value selection. Us ‘value’ advocates consider ourselves more refined than the other ‘hoi polloi’, we certainly accept defeat more readily, seeking to learn it’s precious lessons. Indeed ‘value seekers’ regard themselves as superior,a wonderful feeling I can tell you. It is not the likeliest outcome we seek but the greatest difference in our favour between likely outcome and bookmakers price. This can have you backing all sorts of weird and wonderful outcomes, solely because you feel them ‘over-priced’. I once was explaining this to a man who asked me for a tip. I gave him a 20/1 horse and just before the off, he asked whether I thought it could really win. I said it was unlikely, I thought the correct price for the horse to be 8/1, thus unlikely to win anyway. He seemed perturbed. The tip came last.
What about this advice then, to back outcomes you simply desire? Well, I have to say, it bears examination well. Consider with me a moment. Permit yourself to forget our continuous crusade, our strain against the dark enemy who prices his markets in such wickedly deceptive ways and would have us twisting and writhing in our own doubts. Imagine instead that each sporting wager was determined by your preferred outcome. It may not be sophisticated but it would make winning somewhat more pleasurable, n’est pas? Pleasures enhanced, simplicity, no need for calculation.
Anyway, I wish I was at Goodwood tomorrow. Regular gentleman @iamnotluke is reading this on a train, travelling across our green and gold land, hurtling towards those Sussex Downs – Train travel can be the most pleasing. I hope that his train carries good coffee, I hope the Racing Post is spread on the table, that the company is excellent, that the choices made, the freedoms expressed, whether resulting in bounty or defeat are appreciated for the wonderment they bring.
We float by on this breeze just once and I pity those that never savour the moment, the anticipation building towards a great sporting event, that childish tremor inside, the moment where all dreams of tremendous successes and beautiful equine explosive displays and beautiful people, the colour, the muscle, the definition and the ambiguity. Like strands flung far out, weaving their stories, it comes back together in the end, for all of us. In that you can trust, it is one of your only certainties.
Goodwood is one of our sports finest days and know this, racing is the finest of all sports, to all in attendance today, enjoy – It is good to be alive in England on such a day. To the sports.
I love Goodwood – It is such a stunning course and while the racing is top class, the atmosphere mingles smartness, down to earth anti-snobbery and damn fun in fine measure. I also think that Goodwood is a specialist track. It has quite a camber and not every horse will act upon it.
It is Nassau day at Goodwood and Hannon and Hughes will unleash Sky Lantern, she seemed desperately unlucky not to master Elusive Kate at Newmarket. Carried across the track by the winner, who has previous when it comes to a leftwards drift. We will come to the Nassau.
We start in the 2.40 RAC handicap. This is very strong handicap and it would not be surprising to see some of these sorts competing at a higher level before the autumn closes.
Sir Michael Stoute has had a few winners in the last few years and he is represented by the Queens horse Bold Sniper. When it comes to potential improvers, he is high on the list as he bears a St Leger entry… interesting. He looked a little unlucky at Ascot to me as his draw did not help and considering that, he performed well. Royal Signaller appeals at 14/1 as one that is overpriced but I am happy with the 11/2 about my selection (Stan James / 888).
The Nassau looks a cracker and it seems to revolve around Sky Lantern. She was a powerful winner of the Guineas and was unlucky against the older Elusive Kate at HQ. She has also won here before, which is a huge plus too. Perhaps the big question is whether she will step up well.
The same question applies to Just the Judge who is also asked to race over a further distance for the first time, having finished in the places behind Sky Lantern twice. Connections could have put Secret Gesture into this but opted for another crack at Sky Lantern with Just the Judge – Will she exert a Toronado style revenge?
Just Pretending is the O’Brien main threat and is seeking to improve on classic places too. Ambivalent has won a G1 in Ireland when doing it from the front in the Pretty Polly. I imagine that style will make her vulnerable here.
Two very interesting runners are Hot Snap and Sajjhaa. The former was the big let down in the Guineas. She beat Sky Lantern as a juvenile and surely the 1,000 guineas was not her running, yet it worries me that she has been off for this time. Sajjhaa is an international sort that has won at the highest level in Dubai and run well in Hong Kong. Suroor suggests she will be better for the run and conceding a chunk of weight here would be hard.
For all of these intriguing sorts, the Nassau normally goes to a fancied sort. The biggest winner in the last 15 years was an incredible 11/2. As such, I suggest Integral as a valid alternate to Sky Lantern. My selection gave such a blistering display at Sandown in a listed contest that you had to take notice. As Moore v Hughes hots up, I shall be on the former here.
In the Stewards Cup, I could get immersed in terrible detail but instead I am going to gamble that Hoof It has been campaigned with this in mind. The horse is 16/1 (Bet Victor / Stan James) which could look huge if so. He is only a pound higher than his last victory in this and although he looked bob average in the listed debut this year, it is noteworthy that he carries two G1 entries later in the season. The race has a history of quality – Some winners of this have lumped the big weight, let us hope Hoof It can do the same. Heavens Guest is just one of a host of dangers.
Mezel did well to win up north combatting inexperience and may be a much better prospect here. That is my last selection at 4/1 in the 5pm, that is my last Goodwood selection but a strong one – That form was well advertised by the second, Free Code who went on to win at Thirsk next time… plenty of scope for Mezel.
I am going to have a pop at Iniesta in the opener which looks both an obvious and ill-informed choice. I care not. Princess Aloof looks similarly well placed to win the second.
Stuccodor last lost a year ago in the Galway festival of 2012! Since then he has won 5 times and has risen 30lbs in the handicap as a result! Now you might worry that such a rise might put pay to his chances back in hotter company but there are two reasons to stay aboard. Firstly, the horse loves the slop and not all of these will. Secondly, his last victim has since won three times, hardly suggesting the handicapper has caught up!
Three favourites I hear you cry! Well look, I think they are the best value.
Now, something from the other shelf, the winner of the Ladbroke Hurdle. Two appeal and I am having a slice of both. Security Breach is only a 4 year old and has taken some backing but did get off the mark at Gowran last time and has won on heavy too. If Landero did not have such concerns over the ground, I would have been investing. He was pulled from a race earlier in the week when the ground went soft and it is much worse now. This leaves me with my Mullins runner, a 9/1 chance with Paddy Power.
The football season has kicked off but I shall watch for now. Sheff Utd looked mighty impressive tonight although lack a finisher. They may be my new money train, watch this space.
May your dinner be held in the most upliftingly beautiful company. Courage, roll those dice.
The Martin Hill Lucky 15: All Goodwood Mezel, Integral, Hoof It, Bold Sniper
Thanks to all who submitted their tips – If you are not part of the conversation on Twitter… get involved!
@h103efa 3.05 Thirsk Blockade
@onedeswalker 3.15 Goodwood Just The Judge
@Spinitg 2:35 Galway Princess Aloof
@Lukeyboy1325 3:30 Newmarket Urban Dance
@IamNotLuke 2.30 Goodwood Bold Sniper
@cafcbrad 3.10 Galway Stuccodor
@mytentoryour 4.30 Newton Abbot Union Saint
@danieldrazek 3.45 Galway Landero