The frozen conditions over Christmas meant that the traditional King George boxing day race was postponed. Today, we find out if Kauto Star, the greatest chaser I have personally seen, can win a fifth King George.
The Major salutes all equine greats who take on such great challenge. Anyone who enjoys racing cannot fail to admire Kauto Stars jumping style which is stag like. Beautifully efficient, economic at times, flamboyant at others. He clearly loves Kempton and seems to reserve a few of his magnificent leaps for the crowd there. He can also hit a fence and is an occassional faller – Excitement is Kautos middle name.
The Major has already posted his views on the outcome of the race – My ante post King George Tips piece suggested Riverside Theatre. 4/6 is probably the right price for Kauto but his Down Royal win on his seasonal reappearance was workmanlike and the Major just feels that the spark has gone a bit from Kauto – How I dearly want to be proved incorrect.
I have such good memories. The boxing day where the brother-in-law took up the Majors advice and fell in love with a horse who won the race while still heading out into country on lap 2. The time he broke Nacarat who seemed to be travelling like a challenger. The horrible fall when still learning in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Knuckling down to see off L’ami who was challenging as a featherweight. Beating Imperial Commander by a nose. The classic Denman v Kauto Gold Cup, watching it with my father and brother and being dissapointed. The elation of him regaining his crown. 4 boxing day delights as he imperiously stamped his ownership on each race. The first time I backed him, winning tidily up at Kelso.
Kauto is special. Stylish, superb, wonderfully french, charismatic and a winner. What better partner for today than AP McCoy. I would be the first to agree that I think Fehily or Walsh would have a more suited racing style for Kauto but AP feels an appropriate passenger for KAuto if he wins today.
Heart….. Kauto Star, Head…… Riverside Theatre each way, Pocket….. Mossley in Warwicks 2.45.
Let’s set about the day’s action. Today the Major urges you once more through his Saturday sports tips service to bet like real men (and women as I was recently reminded… you know who you are!). Bet with an amount that would make you blush if your mother asked. Irresponsible gambling is the key to a long life of debauchery, fun and fulfillment. At those final gates, at your final destination, what do you think St Peter wants to hear? … he wants to know that when the moment came, you were not found wanting, no not you; you dashing young blade, you set your mind on blood, glory and honour and charged alongside the Major into the theatre and turmoil of war, at full gallop, wearing your war face, chin proud, your sabre aloft and flashing with a streak of the enemies claret running down the edge. Watch your shirt young man, your valet will have a ghastly time getting that out.
Let us see what goes at the races.
First things first, the tidy little hurdle at Warwick, which passed a precautionary 8am inspection, the 2.45 Leamington Novices Hurdle (Grade 2). There is a previously tipped Major winner going in this, Mossley. A nice little winner at Cheltenham, Henderson trained (Quote: he has plenty of pace and is unlikely to be inconvenienced by this drop in trip) – I agree with Henderson and think this horse makes a decent bet at 15/8 with Corals. It is not a big stakes race as Saffran de Cotte could be much better on this surface (I wouldn’t put anyone off at 25/1 with Corals, it is easy enough to put a line through his last time out performance), Jetnova could be a decent horse and Court in Motion on a strict line of form is a couple of pounds ahead of Mossley on the Majors reckoning. However, I have liked the way Mossley goes about his races and 15/8 is a monster price. Have a slice. Remember though the Majors betting resolutions, don’t get too excited, it is a novice hurdle.
At 3.20 at Warwick, another handicap puzzle and this is one that I have spent a good 40 minutes on this morning. There are many I like. Officier de Reserve threatens to run a race one day.Companero is a fascinating runner and could be a big threat if Howard Johnson has him well prepped after a big break from racing. Bobby Gee looks on the upgrade and Le Beau Bai in his penultimate race showed the requisite form and has a useful 7lb claimer in Jake Greenall. A hugely interesting outsider for the Major is Noun de la Thinte. This mare will not be inconvenienced by the ground and although has been below par this season, I suspect this ten year old still has a decent run to give. It is 38/1 with Red32, 45/1 for those with a Betfair account. Have an each way interest.
The Christmas Hurdle is a race (2.25 Kempton) which I think has been set up as the long term target for Starluck. Starluck is no Binocular but Twiston-Davies will have been targeting this race. I like horses set out for a race even when their bare form suggests they might not have the quality to take the spoils. Make no mistake, this is Starlucks Champion Hurdle. Binocular if on form will hammer him but Binocular is massive and famously difficult to get right. That said, the advice is still Binocular who is available at 11/4 with both Hills and Coral. He is the best horse in it and Henderson is 41% winners to runners in the last fortnight, have a piece of that! Khyber Kim while a very good horse I think will need more than Kemptons flat 2 miles. Binocular, Starluck to fight it out, Overturn to challenge the Khyber for third.
Now as previously highlighted, the Major brings you the big race analysis and also delves into the small print to find hidden gems. I like the look of Dream of Fortune who goes in the 1.15 at Lingfield on the all weather. Now, the bare recent form looks horrible and that is why 5/1 is so suspicious. David Evans can ready a gamble and this is a horse that previously has won in claimers with the likes of Tom Queally on board. Todays 7lb claimer takes the ride for a second time and racing of an effective featherweight, a win bet is advised and take it early.
Onto the sports fields of our great nation.
The big premier league games all happen tomorrow. I fancy Spurs to give Manchester United a decent game. Surely, Ferguson will not play Neville against Bale! Regardless, I feel 2/1 does not do free flowing Tottenham justice and Van der Vaart will relish the challenge, I see him arriving late into the box to open the scoring…
With such a poor run West Brom will be hoping the return of Tamaz at centre half will galvanise them at home to Blackpool. I cannot trust them at odds on though to beat a Blackpool team who play without fear. Odemwingie is a big miss for West Brom as is Ollson. Sadly, I feel a tangerine bet brewing at a generous 15/4 with Stan James – Take a piece.
A bet I quite like is Man City v Wolves, nil nil at half time which is 12/5 with Victor Chandler. Man City are 4/11 on to take this game and as short as 2/7 in places. Now, they have invested again in this new big burly signing (Dzeko is 7/2 as first goalscorer) – Wolves though are not in free fall yet, they have organisation and determination. They have taken wins from Liverpool and Chelsea lately. Man City can be eye wateringly boring at times and a chance is taken that Wolves hold out to half time.
Wigan versus Fulham being played on a continous loop could be what Dante and his Divine Comedy had in mind for the tee totallers in the tenth circle of hell, if he had got that far.
Wigan are not good but they do have threat. Today N’Zogbia is back but Cleverley is out, as is Kirkland. Fulham lose their best player in Schwarzer who is on Asian Cup duty with Australia. Wigan have only won two of their last ten home games, Fulham just one win in ten away games. Kamara could be a 7/1 each way first goalscorer bet with Bet365 who go one third odds and unlimited places giving a tidy profit as long as he nets at some point. The Major though goes for 3 goals or more at 11/8 with Victor Chandler. Both teams will be looking to win.
QPR as table topping Championship travellers to Burnley look value at 9/4 with Victor Chandler. They might have had an interesting defeat at Blackburn with Diouf and Warnock embracing controversy as is their way, however, todays trip to Burnley is clearly an easier fixture and 9/4 is way too generous. Load the big cannon.
There is an interesting long term bet to take an interest in which is with Ladbrokes. They go 4/1 about West Ham getting the Olympic stadium. This is a must bet. I cannot see Spurs plan of removing the athletics facilities garnering enough favour. Views are strongly opposed on this but West Ham 4/1 who have a long term interest and clearly stated ambition for the project are a great price.
Bristol Rovers make an OK bet too at 7/2 to win at Carlisle. I suspect the Carlisle team are in a down turn after just one draw from their last three, which included a defeat at Torquay. New signing Michalak from Leeds may strengthen the team but Rovers who are just 5 points behind, admittedly in the relegation zone, have found the net 4 times in their last two games – Not convincing but neither 7/2.
Norwich make a nice 13/10 home bet against Cardiff. While the bluebirds are well fancied this year by the Major, they have a few hurdles to get over. Firstly, Bellamy being arrested is not going to help. Then the imminent sale of Boothroyd to Newcastle just gives a sense of instability at the club. Why cash in on Boothroyd for £750k when the great prize of promotion is there, surely that’s worth risking losing him on a free in the summer? This lack of ambition is obviously a result of a club in financial trouble.
Palace can be backed at 11/2 with Victor Chandler at Swansea. On the surface of things, Palace are a terrible bet, they are rubbish on the road and not much better at home. They do not have the worst squad in the world and I can see them climbing out of trouble. This bet is taken on the grounds that new manager and ex player Freedman can galvanise the team.
The Nap is …… Mossley at 15/8.
May the enemy tremble as he sees you approach. Remember to wager an amount that you would be embarrassed to admit to family. Tonight, I think you should drink pastis before eating duck prepared in a traditional french country style with green peppercorn. When the man removes your plate, insist on the manager bringing the bottle of his best brandy and joining you. It would be crass to let him see the bankroll which is moving uncomfortably in your finely tailored pocket. Thank him for his hospitality and tell him you are one of the Majors and we will return.