The month continues to go very well but yesterdays three tips drew a blank and so we return rejuvenated for a crack at Thursdays interesting card. The Major is bullet proof to loss, relentlessly positive when things didn’t quite work out as planned. Roll on dear friends like the flowing river ever bending, winding never stopping.
Thursdays racing at Cheltenham and Newmarket is very decent, the Craven is a tasty affair.
The Major knows a number of people at Prestbury Park tomorrow, in fact the business foolish enough to pay the Major a wage in return for a dubious work output is sponsoring a race. The ground is perfect good, quick but not rattling, a dash of rain today will keep it such. I have decided to fly through the Cheltenham card for all those attending:
2.10 Novice Hurdle
The breathing operation that Nicholls often uses like a magic wand on his horses seems to have done the trick for Current Event whose latest form at Newbury reads very tidily. Visually that win was impressive. It is not favourite in this novice though because another tasty looking up and comer opposses.
Third Intention ran just 9l short of Zarkander in the triumph three weeks ago and that is rock solid. Unaccompanied, second in the triumph went on to win a listed contest back on the flat relegating top class St Nicholas Abbey to third. Zarkander went on to win at Aintree although it needed to knuckle down to business after the last and on balance the run was nowhere as good as the Triumph effort.
Higgys Ragazzo raced just eleven days ago and needs to step up considerably on previous wins, that said McCoy is booked and Henderson always has a wealth of novice stars. The Major is not sure this is one of them given the low level it has so far competed at.
Of the others, by far the most interesting is Occassionaly Yours. Although looking like being 16/1 in the morning (no markets open as type) it is not without chance. Not a prolific winner but recent handicap form gives it a chance of running into a place.
The Major is nothing but positive and I seek for thee a winner in the first. This race normally is a bit of a dog for four year olds but surely this field has better quality.
While Current Event is exactly the type that Nicholls imports from France to great success, probably Current Event has better form. He seemed to settle much better in the Triumph and has had an extra week to get over exertions. That said, the Major is not a fan of the fact that he was a withdrawal from the Grand National meeting. On balance, it is probably still a value bet. Betfair early pricing suggests favouritism is in the balance with both of these backable at around 8/5. I would suggest that they will come for the Nicholls horse and therefore will go against the flow and take Third Intention to show us he is the real deal.
Expected SP: 7/4
2.45 Nicholson Holman Novice Chase
Having raced yesterday and fell, it is unlikely that Magical Legend will take to the track, if so, I would imagine it is best watched, even though they price it at 7/1 tonight.
Mr J Scott, a trainer with a reasonably small string has only had one runner at Cheltenham in the last year and none at the festival. However, in the last fortnight, 4 of his 6 runners have gone in. Cool Friend the yards representative has some nice pieces of form in the book, notably with Adams Island (2nd yesterday) and Caroles Legacy.
Cottage Acre is an eyecatcher. It smacked the first Uttoxeter obstacle hard last time out when trying to defy more than a stone rise in the weights for a previous easy victory. 8/1 is fair if it gets a clean round of jumping and although the mark remains high. The main issue is that of the ground.
On balance. Classic Swain is the selection. It will love the conditions, no doubt will be well set being from the champion trainer who never uses Prestbury Park as a training ground. 9/2 is a fair price for one that could gallop them all into the ground.
3.20 Listed Mares Handicap Hurdle
A wide open handicap in which ground and trainer form are the key factors for the Major.
A number appeal. Veiled will love this and if improving her jumping could go well for young David Bass. Banjaxed Girl won this last year and will enjoy conditions. Her presence also puts all but 5 of these out of the handicap.
Violin Davis is one of them but her 5lb claimer more than allows for that. 11/2 reflects her leading chance.
On balance the Major likes the price of Santera (12/1) and advises an each way slice. This horse has had the measure of Banjaxed Girl, who we know to be a reliable yardstick for this race. Now meeting at revised weights which are much more in the selections favour, surely it has a great chance. You need to put a line through the poor effort in the Mares Hurdle at the festival but 12/1 gives plenty of scope for that factor. Get stuck in, take a meaty slice and send me the postcard.
3.55 Handicap Chase
A difficult handicap puzzle. On balance and to keep things simple, the Irish Raider has come a long way when there are similar prizes to be had nearer home and at 6/1 Benefit Night could be a tasty prospect. Headgear seems to have improved this one and although unraced on any surface excluding the word soft, his Sire’s progeny go OK on lively surfaces so there is no reason to believe it will be a huge disadvantage.
Breedsbreeze will love conditions but stick with Benefit Night.
4.30 Molson Coors Handicap Hurdle
Without doubt Nicene Creed is a top of the ground sort. It has placed on all 4 starts on good ground and twice won. I think more improvement will come and hope the fitting of headgear is merely a focussing tool.
Dantari is interesting at a bigger price. A better run last time, it will not mind conditions and at 12/1 I would not put you off.
The selection is Nicene Creed at 8/1. Dantari in the reverse forecast for those brave souls.
5.05 Conditional Jockeys Handicap
Conditional jockeys are an added part of the puzzle in the 5.05. 7/2 Anquetta is the Majors win selection.
Put simply the last two runs look as good as anything on show. It has placed 3 from 5 attempts on good, in young Bass carries a great 5lb claimer and for a long way looked threatening in the Grand Annual.
Its a conundrum but Anquetta for the Major.
The Magnificent 5.40 Endsleigh Insurance Mares Bumper
Seventeen mares, eight previously unraced, 2 miles and a furlong, this is a tough nut to crack.
Ballyquin Queen probably has shown the best form of those that have raced. The Sandown bumper it contended was better than this and when the penny dropped Ballyquin seemed to stay on reasonably well. No markets are open as I type, the forecast SP from the Major is 9/2 and I think it no more than fair.
One More Cookie was a pricey enough purchase for the Tizzard clan who can prepare a bumper winner first time out, considered.
The Major always prefers a bit of experience in these events but the horse to carry the dreaded weight of the Majors wager is Caroles Destiny. Well related and from a yard who always puts a decent sort in this race, probably will be popular, understandable. I am hoping 4/1 might be available and if so, smash into it with both cannons loaded.
As many of you regulars know the Major works for Endsleigh in their business insurance arm. It would be nice to find the winner of this sponsored race. Good luck to those in the Endsleigh box, enjoy.
A Quick Crack at the Craven – Newmarket 4.10pm
This is simple NATIVE KHAN.
It has the best form. Both Libranno and Yaseer could improve but ative Khan looks class. He also clearly loves rattle in the ground.
The only thing that can get him beaten in the Majors view is false pace.
At this early stage of the flat season, you want to see trainer form. Ed Dunlop is 4 winners from 9 runners, that will do!
Get the big guns out for this one. 4/5 will shorten in the Majors view.