Good evening from the Major who writes from the bed. The good lady is alongside (fear not, a significant bolster, giant if you will, separates us), she is reading her book and biding her time before most likely snapping and letting me know that the tippety tap production of the Saturday Sermon is effecting her harmony.
The weather in Worcestershire is grey and mild, infuriatingly boring. The wind is rising though and on it is the promise of significant morning rain. The brook over the road from the Majors country seat is full of recent downpours, it is creeping remorselessly up my neighbour’s garden, devouring higher ground.
What a fantastic day of racing, we have been spoiled with the offerings this week. The Lexus Chase had an enthralling climax with unbelievably brave Tidal Bay sticking his neck through the crowd to take glory on his only ever foreign excursion.
You can only speculate what this horse might have achieved if he had been with Nicholls his whole career. He seemingly has the keys to him and a brave Hennessy performance preceded this heroic Lexus win. The Major had written him off, well he is turning twelve. Gold Cup horse… no, not for me.
In fact, I have been swimming against the tide for some time on the subject of the Gold Cup. My views are simple. Long Run underperformed significantly last year in one of the weakest renewals ever. Take that out, he has won a Gold Cup aged 6 (rare and in doing so broke the track record), has won two King Georges (regaining it this year) and for me is the classiest staying chaser there is on the scene.
I have given my views already on the jockey situation but overall, I am a buyer of Long Run for the Gold Cup at 7/1 and the Lexus further convinced me.
Sir Des Champs has done little wrong but perhaps is not the world beater we might have imagined. Flemenstar is a non stayer and drops to the Champion Chase. Peter Casey thinks Sprinter Sacre will be quaking in his boots, I don’t think Flemenstar will get him off the bridle. Tidal Bay is not a Gold Cup horse aged 12, no way. Bobs Worth is the real danger as I do rate that one highly but he has not achieved as much as Long Run.
While we are on ante post betting, have a bit of Major Malarkey at 25/1 for the Welsh National. It will be good for you, you can thank me later.
A very good friend asked me how I make money from writing the Major’s blog and was quite surprised to hear that I don’t. I have never (and can never foresee a time when I might) promoted services to my followers. For a start, it is not my style, I enjoy writing this too much and prefer the honest relationship we have. I offer you this for free, you can despise me when you have lost your money. I don’t want the integrity of your hatred lost in a confusion over whether I was just wrong and cost you money or whether I was being evil and tried to trick you into backing a loser. One I regularly am guilty of, the other I am not capable of.
I do not know you but you might have gleaned somewhat of my own mind, over time. You might think me a little unhinged, you might enjoy it, you might be informed, you might be here through chance, a first time, or you might be here through reluctant familiarity, like returning to a poor soap opera as a matter of habit.
In providing my racing tips, I profess not expertise but an enthusiastic and positive amateur approach. What is more, I believe any claimed expertise in my field is fallacy. It is partly why I stick to my mantra of courage and roll the dice.
By the way, I stole that, or at least I borrowed heavily to get to it. If anyone can tell me (comment or tweet @tdl123) where from and get it right then I will be impressed…. Answers next Saturday.
Roll the dice, the courage to take chances… but as a horseracing fan and amateur tipster, is it not my job to remove chance, to be certain? Is it not therefore an admission of shame to say that chance plays the master role?
Put simply, there is too much information to be certain of anything in life. We can access such enormous amounts of data not just in racing but in all walks of life and it has a profound impact on how we view the world.
Using information wisely is a profitable business is all walks of life. Yet there is little information, if any, to which I can claim exclusive access.
I have a rating engine I use which although using someone elses software platform is essentially my own. This is not unique though and the source information for the engine is common.
My point is this, our views are so often based on things that everyone else can access too. There is so much of this information too, I can access the strike rate of Sir Des Champs sire on left-handed tracks, if I want to, if I think it merit worthy.
The idiotic, select elements of this ‘sea of data’ that fit their pre-existing argument. If you like Sir Des Champs, you might be minded to convince yourself that an extra half mile will see him beat Flemenstar. If you like Flemenstar, you might select his unbeaten record to decide that he will be superior on the day. This is dangerous, if you do not realise you are doing it. It is easy to corrupt yourself into false confidence.
All I am saying is that there is enough data to pretty much argue anything. It is the human condition that we believe we can control enough of what lies around us to predict the future, we are desperate to do this and you can see it in people all of the time. If you even start to critically analyse what people say, just scratching the surface of their belief systems, you find it full of weakness, yet some convey their belief with such authority.
How frustrating that is, to meet the man born believing , in fact, knowing himself to be right. These people, I believe are most afraid of their own mortality. they will die scared. They need to convey certainty in their knowledge, because they are too weak to accept that they do not know, that the world is far greater than the insignificance speck that is you and I.
Accepting we cannot predict, control and know is a terrifying prospect, the very idea that we have no idea takes us closer to our own insignificance. Socrates knew it and you should be at peace with it too as it is inescapable. It is as inevitable as your own death.
Bleak, possibly… but cheer yourself that you have the elixir of life, freedom, autonomy and vibrancy. You are here, after all, many are not. That thought, the one in your head right now, it is yours alone. Drink deeply from the cup, let it run over and splash down you. You are alive, you have your own mind.
My point about prediction and how thin and feeble it can be is why gambling is the best hobby a man could possibly have. It teaches humbleness in the face of the infinite, it teaches you to try to garner just a slither of understanding of the small detail, not to fool yourself with an illusion of absolute control.
The belief that one has the ability to predict outcome with certainty belongs to the fool. In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is King. Know something and understand it is only something.
Ask yourself, have you ever had a strong sense of a horses chances only to see it lose unfortunately? Have you ever used information to understand a picture but just not quite staked well, thus losing?
When doing so, do you feel frustrated or is there another emotion too? Contentedness, a rested mind that you were able to comprehend the variables, even if it was without reward? If you do not feel this, then please do not come back. We here are gentlemen gamblers, at the snooker table we acknowledge those lucky deflected pots and we call our own fouls.
If you have felt it, then embrace it.
To the sports and remember, I am merely a guide shining a tiny narrow light into the cavernous kingdoms of information, my torch may flash on something you like but I am only searching myself, I offer thought, not fact. The beauty of life is not control, it is choice and chance so be with me today followers… courage and roll those dice.
Newbury Challow Hurdle
Two terrific prospects for the Neptune clash here and both Clondaw Kaempfar and Taquin du Seuil look potentially top class.
The former was bought for a six figures and has won a decent bumper and two good hurdles, including a listed contest latest. Never raced on heavy but the soft ground form suggests this is no problem.
Taquin du Seuil is another classy prospect and it was surprising to me that it is second favourite in the early prices. Jonjo has used this race before with some decent horses including the ill-fated Wichita Lineman. Taquin won a Uttoxeter bumper with some authority before bumping into the smart My Tent or Yours and losing.
That loss was interesting, while he was not that fluent at the obstacles, he was ultimately well held and I would suggest that the trip was already inadequate.
Stepped up a further half mile last time out and raised into Grade 2 company, Taquin Du Seuil smashed the opposition which although potentially a bit light for the standard, marks him as a serious prospect.
On the whole, Taquin du Seuil has achieved more to date than the others and I think, kept to these distances, he is a very smart prospect. He is my strong tip for the Challow Hurdle and I would be taking those 16/1 prices on the Neptune now.
2pm Leopardstown – Istabraq Hurdle Tips
I do not think Hurricane Fly is likely to retake his Champion Hurdle crown come March but he should be able to give his fans something to cheer about here. 3/10 might be no punters price but neither Thousand Stars or Unaccompanied are within a stone of the former champ and any other outcome would be a major surprise to me.
Another Leopardstown favourite I will tip is Sizing Gold who is likely to go off around evens in the 12.55, having finished 10l down to the decent Don Cossack last time up, a repeat performance would be enough but surely improvement is on the cards.
In the 1.30pm, I am willing to give 4/1 shot The Real Article another chance. Once a controversial handicapper over hurdles that ended up in graded races, he is looking to shape into a very useful chaser. A fall last time out came when travelling nd jumping well enough and if the confidence is unharmed he will be a threat to all at this level.
In the 2.35, I am going to have a considerable slice of Zuzka at 6/4. This mare was unfortunate enough to run into Jessica Harringtons Jezki in the Royal Bond (impressive winner of the Future Champions), there is no such opposition here. If anything the Royal Bond stretched her a little and she did well to be within a few lengths of Jezki, all in all, she should have the guns for this.
You need the mind of Stephen Hawking to attempt to decipher the 3.05… just watch it!
More Newbury Racing Tips
The 1.35pm sees the chase debut of Colour Squadron who could be a decent jumper of the larger obstacles having run Captain Conan close over hurdles last year.
That said, jumping was an issue with the small ones and Newbury fences are tough enough. The ground might help slow things up and could be an assistance but I cannot tip a chase debutant with that record at the obstacles.
Module is also full of promise but I prefer the chances of Tenor Nivernais and Bury Parade who have both registered chase wins. The former might have a few quirks but definitely has some quality as shown when spread-eagling a Bangor field, that was not top class stuff but probably just the confidence booster Tenor Nivernais needed.
The tip for the Newbury Novice Chase though is Bury Parade who was an expensive purchase recently into the Ditcheat team after beating Super Duty at Carlisle. That horse went on to smash-up a decent Cheltenham field in the Schloer Chase providing ample advertisement that the transfer fee for my Newbury tip could be money well spent indeed. Take the hint.
Given I am all about Taquin Du Seuil, you would expect me to be on My Tent or Yours at cramped odds in the last and I will be!
To the football tips…
I am all aboard the Watford money express to Brighton at 11/4. I also think 13/10 Leyton Orient to beat my old team Walsall and 5/6 for Tranmere at home should be in your multiples. I must say that Sunderland look the value bet to me, Villa are in free fall at the moment and the Spurs form against them should not be taken literally. 13/5 home win is a bet.
Hull are a touch the wrong side of evens to beat Leeds at home and I think they should be bought. Palace are 11/5 to win at Forest, with turmoil at that club, I fancy this being a good time to get them.
The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Taquin Du Seuil, Zuzka, Leyton Orient and Bury Parade. Load the cannons.
May your dinner be a simple meal. Remove the finery and return to basics. Have good company with you and sleep content.
Courage and roll those dice.