Good morning from the Major who writes from a light grey Worcestershire scene where all things are kissed with the cold rain and the hazy distant Bredon Hill is barely visible from the Majors bed, shrouded in an opaque blanket.
The Major skipped lessons on Friday – My apologies if you arrived in these parts seeking some sort of guidance on how to play your Goodwood and Galway hand, if you are sensible, doing not as I say. To be truthful, I was in London on the previous day at the good business of my employer.
That involved a very distinguished lunch with a knight of the realm at Roux, Parliament Square. I can report that like all fine restaurants, the service was impeccable, the food tremendous and the entire episode drowning in pretension. Montrechat, marvelous; Guinea Fowl, rich, gamey and delicious; the lamb and goats cheese, very good. The room, pristine and unexciting. Should you spend £200 to entertain good company there, no, not for me.
The afternoon took me to meetings in the city and then I met an old chum for drinks at the close of play. We started in St Pauls and meandered south across Blackfriars and finished in two spots that shall stay with me. the first a pub, the Ring, appropriate as it is an old boxing ring and the decor and theme carries. As an expert on the subject, I know a good pub when I see it, recommended. Then next door, a Polish Vodka bar and restaurant – one vodka became many and I felt for the chap as he went about his way, homewards to a wife and two children, myself wondering what reception he might receive in his wayward state.
This goes someway to explaining why you did not get a Friday post. Returning from London on the late train from Paddington, even if the wifi coverage functioned, my skills of deduction (limited as they are) certainly were not.
This particular chap studied (I am refusing to use the word read) history at Cambridge. I thought I might delve into that learning for some rich material to regale my Saturday Sermon followers with. Under a heavy ethanol influence he made the compelling case of the medieval emperor, Charlemagne, the devout Catholic whose rise to power was, he argued a modern lesson in the powerful nature of storytelling.
Born in modern-day Belgium or Germany, nobody is sure, Charlemagne enjoyed the benefits of education, being a latin speaker. His leadership was robust, indeed, he loved a scrap, the Saxons, the Moors, the Danes, the Slavs – That is essentially some Group 1 form when it comes to 8th century battles, particularly bringing the Saxons to heel and enforcing Christianity, thus, Charlie secured his place as one of the great military strategists. He united the Germanic people and became so powerful that in the end, he was the dominant European power.
The most interesting part of this rich history was his coronation as Emporer of the Roman Empire. Pope Leo III had his own issues, largely that people wanted him blinded and it was Charlemagne who he turned to. Charlemagne might have been a foreigner to Rome but he was at least a devout Christian and he had spent his cash on the church too. Yet, becoming Emporer was something bound to upset many folk and so the act was conducted with his apparent ignorance. While kneeling at mass, the Pope placed the crown upon his head and there, it was done.
This allowed Charlemagne to accept with reluctance the position, he had not sought it you see. As my friend extolled, the pen is mightier than the sword.
Now my friends, enough of this ancient time, we must concentrate on our battles at hand. Accidental coronation or not, we must fight our way onto the throne with our enemy slain before us, their satchels split and spilled upon the flags. Courage, roll the dice.
The opener is the sort of race that goes to an older, experienced sort, trained by an astute second tier trainer. I do not wish for that to sound harsh but there are the yards whose business it is to win the distinguished Group 1s for their owners in the Arabian Peninsular, then there are the accomplished yards who can ready a sort for the Bunbury Cup.
On the shortlist… Barnet Fair for Dandy Nicholls who has the assistance of young Cam Hardie who is proving an excellent pilot. Nicholls has won the race in the past and I think this horse could be exactly the sort to go well. What puts me off is the lack of Goodwood (or similar) experience. Stepping Out is the most obvious candidate that suits my profile. I am really impressed with Kingscote in the saddle this year, he is riding very well and this horse is improving. It is a mighty step up and this is very different from the challenges he has faced to date but from this yard, considered.
I am sliding down the card though to firstly Slip Sliding Away who is a course specialist and if he had shown some glimmers of form earlier in the festival (ran and disappointed on Tuesday) then I might be more interested.
However, there is a horse I am going to tip at a big price. One that lurks down where the duck eggs besmirch the form. Pandar can be backed at 40/1 with Betvictor (28s generally) – I like the fact he has won here before and a year ago, he was finishing in a heap with Regal Parade in class 2 races. He has always found listed company a bit hot but as a consequence, his mark has come down from 107 in his prime (just 18m ago) to 83 which he races off today. I am not suggesting he was ever a 107 rated beast but he might be able to do something here and Milton Bradley has booked the services of Fallon, something the present trainer has not done often, although I accept Robert Cowell had booked Fallon for the horse when at the last yard. Have a slice.
Kings Fete is widely backed for the Jaguar Handicap at 2.40 but I see little confident reason I can offer for why he would reverse form with Second Step, a 15/2 shot (again BetVictor stand out*) – The Cumani runner a son of Dalakhani is now rated 92 and looks an improver which is a shame for the owner as he has been gelded. That said, perhaps with his equipment in full working order, his mind was less focused on his job – Some of us are born easily distracted.
*please note that the Major has no affiliation, places no advertisements or obligations on your companionship. I am always barely profitable, hugely unhinged and entirely free. Address any complaints to the devil and keep any praise and gifts for yourself – It is your judgement as to how you use my thoughts and any liabilities and rewards are yours and yours alone.
Two years ago, Gosden won the 3.15 with The Fugue and last year he retained the race with Winsili, thus, you might think Sultanina might be a hot ticket this morning but instead, she is a gentle drifter out to 5s. I quite like her, I thought her Lancaster Oaks effort was excellent although I am not sure her run there behind stablemate Pomology suggested a drop of 2f was the wide move.
I am torn. The sensible thing to do is back Narniyn who is a French raider from the stable of Royer-Dupre. He doesn’t send them without a chance and the form reads well in the context of this race with Narniyn achieving a 4th in a G1 in the Grand Prix Saint Cloud only a head down to Noble Mission who is resurgent, decent and a reliable yardstick.
The less sensible angle is to be looking at the less fancied three year olds. They have a decent record in the race but it does not at first glance look the best crop, yet there is one I like and I am going to stick my neck out and back Amazing Maria at 9s with Ladbrokes. Now, she was a total flop in the Oaks and many do flop at Epsom being like Goodwood a challenging track. Yet, she has won twice at Goodwood and very very well indeed. I would accept that she beat poorer animals but the style in both, particularly the second race a Group 3, which she dictated and won as she liked was decent. In the last two years we have seen two frighteningly good stallions arrive on the scene in Sea the Stars and New Approach – Both of whom look capable of producing many years of first rate thoroughbreds but her sire, Mastercraftsmen, is also producing well and with a line through her Epsom reappearance and a drop of 2f, back at her favoured course, who knows, the Major does.
Then the Stewards Cup, 3.50… There is a touch of 5s about Muthmir but all the fun prices have gone. He is still the one I want to be on, you can read about his York run anywhere so I shall not regurgitate the obvious, let’s move on.
The two races for two year olds follow and I am looking at some obvious answers. Secret Brief at 4/1 and crashing could well be one of Johnstones better juveniles and so I am on. Then in the 5pm, I think the downhill nature of the course will help When Will It End a 13/8 shot for the Hannon team and we know what riches they have in these races.
I am not bothering with the last race. The Japanese have a point of etiquette at dinner that if your guest has finished the food, they might still be hungry.
The better festival days are earlier in the week but luck to all attending Galway – May your evening be forgotten in a drunken haze.
It is a day of shorties and could well be one for the bookies to forget. I cannot bring myself to bet in the opener as I dislike odds on favourites in novice hurdles, especially on tracks like Galway. That might tempt me into an outsider but I cannot see any sensible horse to oppose with. Barring accidents (entirely possible hence no bet) the favourite should win. Confusing enough position?
I will put (both prices BetVictor again):
Spyrt, 11/10 – (will improve surely from Listowel)
Call Vinnie, 5/4 – (tad unlucky earlier in the week)
into a powerful double that shall keep my Galway interest sensible.
Newmarket, 2.55pm. The dogs are barking wild for Enlace who has been backed all the way down from the sensible prices to a stinging 6/4, no thankee sir.
This is a nursery and I want one that has been campaigned with that in mind. I think I have the answer too…. Who might prepare a horse for such a maiden? A good yard, let’s say someone like the Faheys. Plus what about the sponsor, Cheveley Park Stud, would they not want to advertise their credentials in their own race? That is why, I am backing Lacing at 16/1 – The daughter of Equiano has not shown the form yet but might improve now entering a nursery. Watch yous slips there… lacing, enlace, easy mistakes to be made!
I trust that your dinner is made the better for the presence of a solid roll of notes digging into your ribs. The company comfortable and the pretension at zero.
The Martin Hill bet, has some aggression about it. Pandar, Muthmir and Lacing – Trixie.
Courage friends, roll the dice.