Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Majors Saturday Service – Horseracing Tips for the Greenham and the Scottish National

The Aston Villa team that won the FA Cup in 1895.

OK the Villa team of today are no match for the 1895 cup winners but they should have enough to see off West Ham

Good afternoon from the Major who must apologise for the lack of early morning study.  The coffee pot was cold, the dawn untroubled by the Majors eyes. 

Why I hear you beloved followers cry.  Well the Major had some bad news this week, a knee injury that has ruled out my potentially record-breaking run in the London marathon, devastated.  Ah, I hear you calling to me across the ether of the internet… but Major you are relentlessly positive, buck up your ideas and practice what you preach, dust off your war tunic and remount, gleaming sabre in hand … lead the battle

You are right, we will not mention it again.

The Greenham, Newbury, 3.10pm.

I have to say that I was blown away by Frankel last year.  The performances were the best I had seen from a two year old.  Furthermore, as a Galileo colt, there is no reason to believe he will not have over-wintered well.  3/1 for the Derby, the only question is will he stay, they asked that of Sea the Stars too.

That said, at 4/11 I am happy to offer Strong Suit a chance to catch him off guard.  The early season form of Henry Cecil’s runners is mixed, no winners from 9 runners is the last fortnight.  Hannon has had his string out and has chipped in 9 winners in the same period from 50 runners (23 placed).

Most of all I like the fact that Hannon is happy to have a pop.  Frankels big tests are to come, Hannon seems happy to have a go with Strong Suit and this might be his big day.  4/1 in places, have a slice.

3.25 Ayr – The Scottish National

Two appeal to the Major.

The entry of Neptune Collonges for Nicholls has relegated many runners to run out of the handicap.  One of them is Poker de Sivola, the National Hunt Chase winner of 2010.  Murphy will have him well prepped, my only concern is whether rattling ground will suit.

One that it will and the Majors selection is Ouzbeck.  At 16/1 this good ground specialist could go very well with young able Jack Doyle navigating.  A capable jockey, he is incredibly tall, I suspect he will have to fight weight battles later on!

The final racing selection is the 2.40 Newbury in which the Major fancies Pontenuovo.  4/1 load your cannon and your neighbours.

On the football fields….

Victor Chandler are 23/10 for Aston Villa to win at West Ham.  I think this is a reasonable bet.  West Ham have the ability to be utterly clueless.  Their loss last week and Villas win give me enough confidence to back the claret and blues for a valuable win that will make them unlikely relegation candidates.

I also like the price of Wigan to win at Blackpool.  While both teams are likely to be relegated, Blackpool appear in free fall and Wigan are organised and threatening enough to do the job.

Apologies for the shortness of the post.  Normal service resumes next week where the write up will contain the usual historical sermon, possibly about Custer, possibly Abyssinia.

I advise you this evening to eat fish in a decent restaurant, take that flaxen-haired temptress who has been suggestive of late.  Enjoy lifes frivilous pleasures, several times.

Good luck and shuffle the cards.

Thursday Tips for Cheltenham – The Craven at Newmarket – The Majors Midweek Horseracing Tips

Icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea.

Nicene Creed - 8/1 KABOOOOM! Get stuck in, when you collect, tell him the Major sent you.

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.

Finally…..

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.

Midweek Horseracing Tips – A couple from Cheltenham plus tips for The Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket – The Majors Wednesday Selections

Nell Gwyn.

Now far be it for the Major to criticise Charles II but old Nell was hardly a looker, you could have done better your majesty.

Shabash!  Thanks to a recent rich vein of form, the Major is having the best month of the year so far. 

Cheltenham has a card tomorrow that includes a graded race, there must be a couple of money making opportunities….

Good ground is a consideration, the track is likely to ride fast. 

3.55 Cheltenham Grade 2 Silver Trophy sponsored by Matersons

Poquelin is an odds on favourite for the big race of the day and it is clear to see why.  Based on his festival run, he has the form in the book and going for the champion trainer with Ruby over to ride, Pokey will be all the rage.  Cleanish jumper, fairly reliable, course and distance winner in December in a better race.  His handicap mark of 170 means he is the only horse to race off his proper mark.

What is not to like.  All of this is accounted for in a 4/6 on price.

The Major seeks a bit of value elsewhere though. 

Regular followers know that the Major has a soft spot for horses with good form in the books where I can make a case for some sort of recovery.

The way this race shapes I simply do not think Holmwood Legend or De Boitron who both showed decent Cheltenham festival form are classy enough to trouble Pokey.

One that fits a profile I like is Copper Bleu.  Let us not forget that this is a Jewson winner.  In receipt of a stone and a half on ground he will like and with the admirable Richard Johnson on board…. 10/1 is a fair price.  Take a slice and put it in the reverse forecast with Pokey if you feel brave.  You know what to do.

Lets leave Cheltenham and have a look at the big race at HQ.

4.10 Newmarket – The Nell Gwyn Stakes

HQ kicks off the Craven meeting with a lovely card including the group rated Nell Gwyn Stakes.

I am a fan of selecting flat horses at this stage of the season who have had a prep run.  Fitness both physical and mental is more assured.  That said to win a Nell Gwyn you need a touch of class.  Those that have the suitable class are Sing Softly, Maqaasid and Sweet Cecily.

The favourite is Sing Softly, an O’Brien trained horse who boasts the best form having won a listed race in April at the Curragh on heavy ground.  Here lies the problem.  Sing Softly has never run on ground with the word good in it, let alone firm.  The stallion record does not fill you with confidence either. 

I am not saying the 11/4 shot cannot win but I prefer to look elsewhere.

A few trainers have been sending out early winners but surely the early season form of the Bailey yard needs noting.  They have had 5 winners from 9 runners in the last two weeks.  He sends out Strictly Pink with Cathy Gannon on board who seems to be a go to jockey (35% strike rate in last two years).  Interesting thrown in at this far superior level but surely going to be outgunned. 

The one the Major settles on is Ladies are Forever.  8/1 is a good price for a horse with sharp sprinting form in the book from a decent 2yo cv.  It will not mind the ground. 

Sweet Cecily could be an improver at 3.  Elshabakiya looks short of the required form. 

5.05 Cheltenham Novice Chase

The third midweek horseracing tip sees the Major return to Prestbury Park.  There is a half decent novice chase in the penultimate event.

It really looks like it is between Adams Island and Balthazars Gift.   

Of the two, the Major is going to side with Adams Island.  I cannot help but feel that the Captain Chris form is stronger than anything Balthazars Gift offers.  Tipping up Adams Island is also partly due to the return to the saddle of A P McCoy.  He is 29% for this trainer, it looks like a serious run is planned.

Magical Legend is not without chance.

May your bets be blessed by the good lord of gambling.

Aintree Report – The Majors Sunday Selection

Becher's Brook, 1890, engraving of horses jump...

Beechers Brook c1890 - The National is a gruelling test, it is odd but telling that as a nation we embrace it as our horseracing pinnacle

Good morning punters of Britain.  Having visited Aintree for the first time yesterday, the Major offers you his field report.  Plus, we have a Sunday selection to finish the week on a high.

Grand National day at Aintree is a spectacle.  There is no other word for it.  It has a different feel to both Royal Ascot and the Cheltenham Festival.

For a start it is more down to earth.  The people attending are mainly local, there is less of an Irish contingent (they are sorely missed), the Majors perception on this may have been tainted by the fact that we were in Tatts.

We stood on the mound, a fair furlong fropm the finish.  An elevated concrete hill with little rules and regulation.   It offers an OK view of racing but it is so busy that moving from bar, to bookie to viewpoint required operational planning.

If the people are common, they make a fine effort and their decked out attire demonstrated how seriously the people of Liverpool treat the day as an opportunity to dress up and have bloody good fun.

The men dress in grey suits with black ties, very 1964, dapper.  The women are in a range of summer and party outfits.  They ranged from orange strumpets whose candour, decibel levels and diction betray their education to some wanton sorts clearly out for a good time.  No tweed on site, with the notable exception of one squire who looked remarkably dapper in his gun club attire.

By the end of the day more than half are roaring drunk.  There are rivers of booze, empty bottles and other detritus rolling down the mound.  One fight almost broke out but was diffused.  Overall these people come for a bloody good time and if it sounds like the last days of Rome, well that’s not far from the case and good on them.  As the Major preaches, you get just the one bus ticket my friends, ensure you take a moment to enjoy the spoils. 

As a vantage point, I found sight lines surprisingly poor.  That is not what people were there to do it seems.  The crowd on national day is huge.  It meant that I didn’t get to see much of Aintree.  Next year, I am going to go on the Thursday or Friday to get a better appreciation of what the course offers.  Local knowledge is crucial – Mr Garner, thank you for th travel advice Maghull station worked like a charm. 

The racing was superb.  Finians Rainbow won as the Major expected it too.  Sam Winner was less rewarding, not sure all is well with that one.  Geraghty and Henderson claimed a quick double with Spirit Son looking impressive.  Oscar Whisky was dominant but how much that form line can be trusted is anyones guess.  Thousand Stars is hardly a glorious yardstick, well done to Geraghty again though who got down to business well to settle the matter.  In our group, this was a winner even if not for the Major, some of the ladies were beting on any descendents of the fine sire Oscar in memory of a deceased pet (I think) while Messrs Reilly an increasingly impressive gentlemen gambler had loaded his cannons, well done sir.

Bensalem was game but couldn’t haul in the others.  Then it was time for the big one.

At least Arbor Supreme was in the race going onto the last circuit.  Our selection was pulled up with around 8 obstacles to go.  Great to see so many horses involved and fair play to Jason Maguire whose first consideraion was the winner Ballabriggs who he dismounted in strides of the winning pst and led back to the winners enclosure.

If you think shop bookmakers are stingy on national day, some of the on course boys are verging on outright criminal activity.  I saw plenty of them offering 1/6 a place!  Ouch. 

We arrived at the bumper without victory.  Regular brave followers know the highs and lows of punting glory.  It is what we are in it for.  This is why I mentioned Messrs Reilly who gets it.  Yesterday he walked away with a roll that would choke a donkey.  What impresses is not the winnings or picking winners, it is the understanding of what gambling is about.  He stakes more than he should, he reaps the rewards.  Messr Redmond, equally impressive, though less profitable.  Men who know how to lose in the same way they know what the sweet taste of watching Paul Carberry sat motionless half way down the field as those around him reach for their sheleighly frantically urging their beasts on, watching your man come wide still like a statue, he hasn’t played his hand yet, oh you cool bastard, then, a little squeeze, a tap on the shoulder, the button is pressed and Steps to Freedom swoops to win comfortably.  The betting pool was reinvested in at the last to ensure we had a chance of winning on the day.  What impressed me most was the mens decision to take this on the nose.  The enemy was not happy, particularly as the Major insisted on no Scottish notes!  The chaps were delighted, a bundle of notes each to carry to Liverpool and throw at the dancing girls.

 The Grand National meeting is worth going to.  The attendees are down to earth and in party spirit.  It is a young affair, next year a quieter day.

3.45 Leopardstown – Group 3 P W McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes

Let us see.  Predergast, Oxx and O’Brien are all in good touch, so trainer form looks hot for this Group 3.  The sole exception is Jim Bolger, whose last two weeks have returned no winners from 27 runners. O’Brien has 3 of the runners today.

It is nice to see Murtagh, now not tied to Ballydoyle riding horses from a wide range of stables.  He is aboard John Oxx’s Adilapour, a general 9/1 shot.  This one may have needed the reappearance run. 

Recital is the red hot favourite.  It won a Group 1 in November and it looked very impressive doing so.  A talented animal.  8/11, is that fair?  Well he does boast the best form on show, trainer form is not an issue.  Montjeu sorts prefer a little juice in the ground, but genuine good to firm probably won’t stop him.

I am tempted by Paddypowers 9/1 on Adilapour who I suspect might strip fit for today. 

What to do.

On balance, while it is hard to judge how these animals have wintered when for many this is their first run of the year, I am going to do the obvious and have a slice of Recital.  8/11 is fair.  Load a cannon.  For the brave, reverse forecast with Adilapour.

The Majors Rather Special Grand National Saturday Service – Load the Cannons Followers

For once the Major bids you a good late evening from starry Defford where the Major pens his Saturday Service on the evening shift.  Horseracing tips across the Aintree Grand National card have been prepared.  Why is the Major up late completing the weekly sermon?  Is the Major tiring of rising before 6am on a Saturday for the purpose of researching the days value in our relentless battle against the enemy?  The answer is no, of course not.

To Aintree and let the magic unfurl. Hoof, noise and battle - It will not be pretty

As always followers can get the latest posts alerted to them by following twitter @tdl123 of signing up to the free email service in the left hand column.  The Major remains free, amateur and unhinged.

Well done to young virile Sean, one of our band of fortune who bravely went in on the Majors advice to take the reverse forecast on Masterminded and Albertas Run.  I hope those nerve endings tingled.  I understand more winners were on the cards for you too, there was warm work to be had with the enemy fighting vigorously and frantically with slashing blade but you kept a cool hand and deflected his devious strokes, it returned for you a rich spoil, excellent work.  Incidentally, you have AP McCoy, one of the greatest men ever to walk the earth to thank.  Albertas Run was off the bridle from 5 furlongs out, how many other jocks would have kept their animal up to the work to finish second.  How many would have that strength both physical and mental?  He held off third by sheer force of will, superb – any animal with 4 legs capable of being saddled and ridden by Tony McCoy will always make a sound proposition. 

A quiet, mysterious and largely unknown tipster from the West Country known as the Shannonator gave up Battle Group yesterday to a small select few, which the Major duly failed to follow, well done to Mr Day who I know had a tasty touch.  Mr Hill, unlucky on Albertas Run – Compensation was sought on Devil to Pay at Fontwell.  Your method is questionable, your result emphatic.  Mr Febery – Surely it is time to break the habit and bet like a man on the National, be irresponsible, the good lord demands it. 

Just look at how Big Bucks hurdles, it is a thing of beauty, elegance, efficiency, speed, grace, skill and athleticism.

The Major is going to the heart of the beast’s lair tomorrow to do battle at Aintree.  Needs therefore must, I resolve not to let you, the faithful few, you brace of warriors down.

Grand National Day.  Special.

Grand National day is emotive and part of English fabric.  Most people bet on the National, it is annual habit, a right.  Many will bet in memorial of those that have passed.  Some select their horse based on a name, others a tip, some go for colours, some a number.  The Majors grandmother, passed away these many years, used to back greys, she just liked them.   

When those sweepstakes are unleashed in every office and workplace, it is a part of our history, our national identity flexing muscle, rolling on like the relentless river, moving, consistent, secure, reassuring. 

The race is insane.  The hardest fences on our island over four and a half miles, forty horses piling in to each other, the Chair, Beechers Brook.  We do not ignore the pain and the anguish, strained sinew, fallen horse and man.  No, we embrace it, with dignity, respectful of the battle in which no quarter is given.  Triumphant champion where are you.

Still need an inspiration, click and watch.  See if you agree with the Major, Red Rum might not have had his amazing hat-trick if Andy Pandy had just stood up at Beechers?  Equally a better jump from Church Town Boy two out… no what am I saying, watch it, incredible to think that off top weight putting so many out of the handicap and at the royal age of 12, he won his third national, a feat never to be repeated, on the bridle like a young fresh thing.

As well as those gambling tourists, who are all welcome; how wondrous it is to think that tomorrow many more might convert to our merry crew, the religion of the gambling gentlemen.  Thousands will read, form a view, enter the alien yet exotic turf accountant and be enticed, I welcome them, I envy them, oh to have it still to learn.  They will watch their chosen beast give its all, some of these new potential warriors will leave unmoved, they will fail to see the enlightenment, the annual spectacle will be missed on them, shame on them, they live blind, stumbling onwards and I ask the good lord to forgive them, he won’t.

Ah but those few, those others for whom a door opened.  They selected a horse who gave them a run, perhaps the winner, or maybe they are a real gentlemen and their animal went before Valentines, but they still felt something move inside them.  Something permanent happened, a re-wiring, they saw, they felt their heart race and their senses grew intense, for a moment they were lost.  They caught the disease, our glourious disease.  For surely it is best to live one life with the glory of Big Bucks glaring at Grand Crus a furlong and half from home nonchalant, dominant, playing with him; to see Ruby clap in his heels bury his head and for it to be put to bed in moments… surely it is better to have this a hand full of times in one lifetime than enjoy ten lifetimes without.

Men will journeytomorrow to this glorious rebirth, let us hope a magnificent days racing prevails.  The reassuring news is that only those that reawaken become devote followers of our religion, how we welcome them and they look at us level in the eye.  They know.  They felt it.

I believe it was Descartes who described lives as if we were sparks leaving a fire, as the spark moves from the hot core into the night air, it dims and eventually extinguishes, as children we are still glorious but soon in adulthood we come detached from the wonder that the young see.  Romance, wonder, joyousness, belief in the miraculous, as we move away from the fire, we become cold, desolate, we trust our senses and not our imaginations, our worlds become more sterile, we lose the magic.  Racing can reignite the flames, see the glory, young warrior.  Now mount that charger, to battle, to the sports.

Let us start with NAP of the day.

Binocular faces Peddlers Cross in the Aintree hurdle (2.50pm).

The pricing (9/4 Binocular, 13/8 Peddlers Cross) for the top two in the market reflects the fact that Bino is less certain to stay the trip than Peddlers who many think are crying out for it.  The Major urges caution. 

The price may also reflect have some of the concern backers would have regarding Binoculars absence from the Champion hurdle, again the Major urges caution.  He missed Cheltenham because some minor treatments he was given were still present in his blood and would have given him a positive sample for banned racing substances (you can use these treatments but they must have cleared the bloodstream by race day).  This means he has been rested up a bit.  Not neccesarily a bad thing.  Just three weeks and a day ago, Peddlers was chaing home Hurricane Fly gamely staying on giving his all up the Cheltenham hill.  Bino is fresh.

Bino is a bull of a horse and I always think I want a race in him.  That said, Henderson surely would have him fit for this just three weeks after his intended target.

I urge caution if you think he won’t stay.  The ground and flat track will help.  He is such a better hurdler than Peddlers.  He is a flat jumper, moving over his obstacles with speed and maximum efficiency.  I also think the lack of obvious pace will help.  I can only consider Oscar Dan Dan as the likely pace setter. 

Peddlers is surely going chasing.  The price seems to suggest this years Champion Hurdle was better than last.  I am not sure.  At 9/4 I suggest a reasonable stake on Binocular. 

1.45 Novice Hurdle

What a cracker.  Spirit Son re-opposes horses that were behind him at Cheltenham when he lost out to Al Ferof.  Recession Proof is one I feel will be better suited by the step up in trip.  The Quinn yard could be in better form, 11/1 is fair.

The Major prefers the chances of Rock on Ruby.  There was plenty to like about his head defeat to First Lieutenant and the previous defeat by 2l to Bobs Worth also now looks good following Bobs Worths win at the festival too.  Daryl Jacob who missed out on the Zarkander race this week may get his payday here.

Sam Winner is Ruby Walsh’s chosen mount and the way he stayed on from well back in the Triumph suggested further would be better.  I think this one might not be the easiest ride but he clearly has ability.

It comes down to the two Nicholls horses.  The Major goes for Sam Winner and a chance taken at 5/1.

Take a slice, add butter, allow it to melt slightly.

2.15 Maghull Novice Chase

I know connections of Classic Fly will get a kick out of a runner in this Grade 1 contest but surely it cannot be good – If he inconveniences a major candidate, it makes a mockery of his entry.  I just hope that Peter Toole keeps him out of the way.

Finians Rainbow looks good to the Major as he is the one of the top three in the betting which is more likely to give an assured round of jumping.  Both Ghizao who walked through a few at Cheltenham and Starluck who can be clumsy; look unsafe.  That said Finians hit the last at Cheltenham but to be fair by then he was on the stretch already with Captain Chris putting the race to the sword.

Overall, I would rate Finians a good bet.  4/5 Paddy Power might seem short, it is, but 4/6 is the Majors pricing.  4/5 is not stingy. 

The Bumper at Aintree

Steps to Freedom is the tentative 12/1 each way suggestion.  This interesting sort won well on bumper debut last summer in Ireland.  It probably was going to lose when it clipped heels with a rival in its second run.  A year on, who knows. 

Gallox Bridge at 50/1 is not the worst outsider I have ever seen.  OK nothing special has come from his sole bumper which he won at Fontwell but he did it nicely and it is hard to judge how good he is.

Laveroque is backable, particularly if Rock on Ruby performs well earlier in the day. 

Allure of Illusion at 7/1 is also a viable option being completely unexposed and of connections that are likely to know when they have a good one – Money would be significant.

Wondering why I have not provided a tip for the Grand National?  Follow the link to my post earlier in the week – Abor Supreme 20/1.

A note about betting on the National.  If you are the sort that is going to your local bookmakers to place the bet, please do so on the tote.  You will notice that on the Grand National, the prices for most of the field will contract horribly mid morning with bookmakers vociferously telling us about several ‘plunge horses’.  Nonsense, this is the bookies payday, they will try to operate an overround of 150%+, ouch.  Place your bet on the tote, you can do this at most bookies.  This is a 116% fixed overround and so you will get far better value.  Most are simply unaware and the bookies take advantage of the casual punters.   

To the sports fields…..

Just one bet.  Cardiff should win at Doncaster.  11/8 is quite a price given the gulf in class.  Throw in that Doncaster have not scored in their last three outings and well, it looks like a terrific bet.  Coral can take a beating on this one.

May your bets be blessed by the lord of debauchery who watches over us gamblers and rewards our free living spirit.

Why not taken Binocular and Cardiff in a tasty double?  Surely Jesus would?

Take your winnings and fly to Colombo.  Travel from Fort Railway Station, paying a few hundred rupees for a single up to Bandarawela in the hills.  It is cools and pretty.  Stay in the old colonial hotel, send the Major a postcard.

Saturday night, I suggest Indian food.  A tasty array of spiced curries, dhal, chapatis etc.  Eat with your fingers and entertain a sort where this will break the ice.  A classic looking sort but down to earth, smiles readily.  Be polite and expect little, you will gain more.  Drink beer with her too.  You will be gloriously spent from the days sports to entertain ‘le gallop’, no harm in being a gentleman for the night.

Messrs Redmond, Wiseman, Hobday, Reilly, Powell et al – Load the big guns people, we are through the looking glass.

Courage followers, shuffle the cards.