The Saturday Sermon.. Ascot Tips, Haydock Tips, Black Caviar

Good morning from a dark mild Defford where the Major and his Coffee have been up watching the mighty mare Black Caviar win her 19th race on the bounce.

Black Caviar... For the first time, the Major accepts that she might be better than Frankel

Congratulations to all connections, today’s victory is another astonishing chapter in her career.

Firstly consider she was dropped to 5f, a trip well short of ideal.  then consider she was meeting the only horse to have previously give her a race, Hay List, over his ideal distance.  Then consider she had to come off the bridle (pretty rare!) to get the better of him by under two lengths, coming within a whisker of beating the course record.  Great cricket all round.  As an achievement, it ranks with all of her races for the Major.

It reminded me somewhat of Prince Nazeem who as a young boxer seemed capable of anything.  Stepping up two weight divisions to beat Steve Robinson on his home turf of Cardiff.  Let’s hope Black Caviar doesn’t have a penchant for drugs and booze!

What a prospect awaits if connections get Black Caviar to Royal Ascot where she might meet Frankel in the Queen Anne.  What a curtain raiser that would be!  Black Caviar would be probably at the top end of her distance and given a handy mare’s allowance, it would be an unbelievable race.  Please, Jesus, please.

What a day of sport we have on this fine mid February morning.  FA Cup, Ascot, Haydock, Wincanton and a good card in Ireland.  The riches are laid before us, delicacies that remind us how good it is to be alive.  Savour moments like these.

The Major hopes to be posting ante-post round ups for Cheltenham and the National in the coming week, watch this space.  Let’s build the war chest with some winners today.

1.50 Ascot Reynoldstown Novice Chase

This looks a hot rematch between Bobs Worth and Silviniaco Conti who look to have the race between them.

The positives for Conti include his Ascot course win (hurdling) and his second to Grand Crus in the Feltham where he had Bobs Worth in behind.  Clearly high quality, sure to run a big race.

However, Bobs Worth however has positives of his own, Henderson cannot do wrong at the moment with a terrific strike rate.  Interestingly, Bobs Worth had a breathing operation after the Feltham suggesting more is expected.  The Major thinks this is telling.

Thus, on balance, I think Bobs Worth is well worth a healthy punt at 6/4 and that is the Rendlesham tip.  As a footnote, surely backing both is a shot to nothing?

2.10 Haydock – Prestige Novice Hurdle

This graded hurdle race looks wide open at 7/2 the field and a number of leading contenders.

Thehillsofuisneach has looked an improver in each of his handicap runs but has to concede weight here.  4/1 is a reasonable reflection of his chances.

Ruben Cotter is a Nicholls horse who has not shown enough yet to warrant much more than his 14/1 pricing.  His Chepstow run in heavy ground was reasonable and while better than 14/1, perhaps it is telling that this one holds no entries for the festival.

Brinsdini Breeze looked very impressive winning in difficult conditions over this distance at Newcastle where he made all.  I do worry that this style may not suit in this company and as such is overlooked.  He would have to be top quality to lead this lot a merry dance.

On balance, I am all for Stan James and Ladbrokes pricing of Real Milan at 9/2.  This horse represents last years winning trainer and although the bare form does not quite hold up, I think the scope for improvement is there. 

3pm Ascot – Betfair Chase

An absolute belter of a lineup with Riverside Theatre (last years winner), Kauto Stone and Medermit.

The Major is siding with Kauto Stone who I am hoping gets Paul Nicholls back into a better line of form. 

Kauto Stone has come with a very solid reputation and although he failed to add to that in the Tingle Creek, he was running over an inadequate distance and up against the reigning Champion Chaser, Sizing Europe. 

While Riverside Theatre should offer a solid round (with well-being taken for granted), Kauto Stone would not have to improve too much to threaten that form and is probably entitled to be better than previous, particularly now stepped up in trip.

The tip is Kauto Stone, 5/2, Paddy Power or William Hill.

3.20 Haydock Grand National Trial

Now the national weights are out, I am sure we will start to see better runs from a number of GN entries, guaranteed of a racing weight in April.

The inclusion of Neptune Colonges has left many of todays runners out of the handicap proper.  The top weight is the class act of the field and should certainly be involved.  That said, although recent efforts have shown some spark, is Neptune Collonges the force of old?

Le Beau Bai and Giles Cross recently slugged it out in the Chepstow mud and both could go well here but the Major looks beyond them.

Two of note, Always Right has obvious chances with a great strike rate (when completing).  Some Target stepped back up in trip will also be a threat.

The tip though is Mohayer at 10/1.  I think the improvement seen this season may not be out of place or, yet complete.  The further this one goes, the better it seems and I am willing to back it at the prices.

To the football….

My big tips in the footy are Norwich to beat Leicester in the FA Cup, 10/11 is like someone knocking on your door and delivering a thick wedge of sterling.

Bristol Rovers can beat Oxford at home, being a form team, so 19/10 is a bit big.

That’s it from the Major today.  May your dinner tonight be illustrious and bountiful, take many friends and enjoy. 

Courage and roll those dice.

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