Good Evening from the Major who writes from a Worcestershire rural scene of cold wintery showers blustering outside the bay windows of my living room.
The Major had a poor day at the first day of the Open meeting at Cheltenham. A very decent second for my 16/1 shot was the sole return from the six races which started with a comprehensive defeat for Fingal Bay…. I was talking up this horse all morning to anyone that would listen and offer my humble apologies to each of you for having the misfortune to listen.
I have had an entire week of being unable to sleep. Poor diet? I don’t know but the thoughts swirling in my mind, occupying the peaceful parts with their noisy clumsiness. Tiredness and defeat. I feel cloaked in the stuff, choking my movement, I yearn to break the shackles.
Continuous sleep deprivation is deeply unsettling yet interesting as equal to uncomfortable. For me the consequence is short of temper, lack of energy and an affinity with dark thoughts.
Our lives are punctuated by the rhythm of sleep. Patterns bring comforting conformity and shape. Security. When you disturb the pattern, you create the opposite; uncertainty. It is as though the individual levers and cogs of the brain, dissolve and form new structures that you are no longer familiar with. A dystopian world in which you become a prisoner, unsure if sleep will return you to normality. The boundaries between the night world and the day world lose their integrity, one seeps into the other. An osmosis that is oozing and unwelcome…. things that belong in your dreams in the night, turn up unexpectantly.
What a tragedy is unfolding again in the middle east. The sight of children injured and dying seems not enough to sober up either side and so the air strikes and the rockets continue. At a distance, war and it’s devastating consequence seem inevitable actions for those with the great responsibility of protecting a nation. To the Major, they seem instead more akin to the playground, the reasoning shallow, the considerations glib. The mood this week is not good.
In the morning, a new day and the promise of redemption. I need some fine sport to lift my gloom. A powerful remedy, a surging performance that raises the pulse.
To the sports….
Cheltenham Paddy Power Gold Cup Day Tips
Far West is an obvious place to start given that Ditcheat have taken this race the last two years with French imports. 6/4 is fair considering the obvious credentials. Both Nicholls and Henderson have hit the ground running this season and the latter is represented by Vasco du Ronceray. What he beat at Hereford adds up to a hill of beans but the manner of the defeat gave intent.
The opening contest is a Triumph Hurdle trial and with little comparative form, I am opting for Far West who at least beat a useful sort in Handazan and at 6/4 rates a good chance to bring home the bacon for Nicholls et al.
In the novice chase at 1.20, Sire Collonges is going to be a hot order representing the top yard and looking a fine prospect at Fontwell and at Cheltenham. Course form is always mprtant at Cheltenham. It is an undulating course with tough fences and a steep downhill section, not every horse gets it.
The Major though is going to tip Sraid Padraig at 8/1. The Tony Martin raider won with any amount in hand at Limerick and it is interesting that he is thrown into this. Tasty.
In the 3m 3f marathon, the Major would tipping up Problema Tic but the Pipe yard seem slightly below par so far this season. I find it hard to fathom Bradley at 5/1 when Ashkazar is at 12/1… The latter had the better of the former last time out and while both are proven on course, Ashkazar is preferred but being out of the Pipe yard again, I go elsewhere. Currently 22/1 with William Hill, I offer you up Chicago Grey my selection has the talent and has dropped to a hugely tempting mark. Johnson gets the rare ride for the Elliot team and he is 1/1 in the saddle for the yard in recent times. Shabash.
Paddy Power Gold Cup Tips
What a superb renewal of the Paddy Power. Hunt Ball, Grand Crus, Walkon… An absolute cracker. The major is tempted by many. Grand Crus is clearly a class act and if he chases to his hurdles mark, is very well in. yet the yard is in short form as already highlighted and I will resist which is a shame as if not for being well, he looked like the RSA winner.
Hunt Ball would be four and a half stone out of the handicap if running this time last year! Has a horse ever improved to the degree he has? The winners enclosure will be lively if Knott gets to celebrate again and I wish them luck.
Walkon looks more a more likely sort but I am slightly distrustful. As a second season chaser though, I fancy he has the profile but he is on the watch list.
In recent years, it has been more the fashion to win the Paddy Power from down the handicap. Roll back a few more years and horses with an eleven stone plus burden were more common. Most of the were trained by Martin Pipe with classics such as Our Vic and twice winner (five years apart) Cyfor Malta.
The latter was the only horse in the last twenty outings to win at the age of 5 which is a major signal to the experience required. This is the only thing putting me off Triolo D’Alene.
There will be plenty of pace on and the one I fancy to take advantage of it is Divers at 20/1 (Stan James) – he will be doing his best work late and that’s good enough for me.
The last two Cheltenham races are not affairs for me.
Three football teams for me – the footy is proving profitable of late…. Birmingham at 17/10 at home is a price. I fancy Southampton to beat QPR at 3/1 and I like Newcasle at 10/11 at home to Swansea, that’s a nice little treble.
May your dinner be fuelled by a successful Trixie and be a mix of beautiful nonsense. The wine must flow, the release valve easing the system pressure. May the day return to the day and the night be confined to the night.
Courage and roll those dice.