Good morning from a changeable Pershore where downpours have been usurped by a brightness that defies the early hour. The air is fresh and so is the Majors mind as we set about trying to score a profitable Saturday Service.
Once again, the Major is tardy about updating the numbers, forgiveness is sought and I will get on to it shortly.
One of my betting resolutions is to try to bet with small stakes on inexperienced races. I am set to challenge that philosophy at the end of this year. The thinking is evidently that lesser experience gives us less chance to evaluate the standard of the horse and can lead to horse error, particularly in hurdling / chasing debuts. Some of this logic remains but actually some of the easiest selections come in maidens for two year olds in my newly formed view.
The fact there is not too much to go on gives you more chance of evaluating every run. While the job is to pick the classier animal, the prices reflect the fact that this may be an unknown. When this is baked into the tissue, if you are unable to unlock the form maybe by using bloodstock lines or the routes that the big yards take to getting experience into their top two year olds then you can get great prices on horses that are classier than their competitors.
Quick link for those who like their gambling scientific, as does the Major. You could advance your technique twenty years reading the excellent blog by James Willoughby – The figures never lie.
This year is the thirtieth anniversary of the Penlee Lifeboat disaster (December). The BBC showed a terrific documentary about the disaster some years ago. It was the most moving piece of television I have witnessed. The closing scenes which replayed the transcript between the helicopter pilot and the doomed Penlee lifeboat which ended in him repeatedly calling to them with a tragic silent reply; is as poignant a moment you will portray on a box in your living room. The Major offers a Kings ransom for anyone who has a copy.
If you are unfamiliar with the Penlee lifeboat disaster, I would recommend you to reading up on it. The Bravery of the people who man our lifeboats is outstanding and a credit to our land. You know where the RNLI is, next time your lucky 15 lands, you could give yourself a healthy mental dose by making a donation to those of the purple and orange livery whose boats and crews have been the only call of distressed mariners.
To the sports….
Nod of credit to William Hill. Staking £20 on any of the first 2 races at Newcastle or Newmarket and you get a £10 bet on the Northumberland Plate. This is open to current accounts as well as new accounts. It is warming to see them extend promotions to current account users.
3.05 Northumberland Plate
Let us start with the Plate.
This is a tough nut to crack and I will point out to followers that I cut my preparations shorter when I came to the conclusion that I want a horse who is currently under-rated, rather than one with experience and noted quality whose exploits are well seen and accounted for in the current mark.
I think the ground is only going to be genuine good to soft and that it will be pretty fair. It looks like drying conditions.
The Northumberland Plate is a race where you could make an argument for any one of a dozen runners and so it is with caution that I put forward English Summer at 16/1 generally with all betting to four places at quarter odds.
Mark Johnston can have a horse well in on a mark in these big handicaps and his horses are tough as nails. Stall 8 is fine.
High Office was my other consideration at 11/1.
As you would expect the Pricewise horses are being backed. Since my selection differs, he has done me a favour!
Newmarket 2.15 Empress Stakes
As I indicated in the preliminaries, I am starting to appreciate the opportunities juveniles give you. The Empress Stakes is a race for two year old fillies and they are 8/1 the field barring My Propellor, the Chapple Hyam entry which is a hot 5/4 favourite. You have to acknowledge that with a huge ban hanging over Richard Hughes, the fact he takes this race on a two year old is noteworthy but the price is plenty short enough. Turned out quickly, I am trying to get her beaten.
This gives us an excellent each way opportunity.
Misty Conquest is considered and ruled out. Her races have shown some tasty form which include two wins from the front. She will no doubt try the same here and I cannot see that style of racing on the 6f straight July course being helpful to her chances.
Lilys Angel is well considered as her experience (5 races) could stand her well. Of those starts, there is plenty of form to pick at. She is probably just short of top class but an each way option.
I however, want my each way goose to have a chance of being top class. Lilys Angel is probably a great bet for a place but not the winners berth and I want that!
The two I am drawn to are on the strength of jockey booking and breeding.
The Clan MacDonald is the first consideration. Riding sensation (which I think is the agreed descriptor) Michael Barzalona (Great name) is set to ride for David Barron on this Intikhab filly who won her Hamilton maiden with comfort. It is the young jockeys first booking for the stable and 10/1 is reasonable.
Queens Revenge could not overcome the worst draw in the Hilary Needler. That day she was sideswiped as she left the stalls but stayed on to be within 2 lengths of the leader at the close. The extra furlong of the Empress Stakes is likely to suit and Ryan Moore is a significant booking for Tim Easterby. 9/1 with Corals is a decent price.
Of the rest, Red Larkspur should not be quite as big as 50/1 and Nayarra has had her chances to show us she has the talent to match her impeccable breeding.
On balance, The Clan MacDonald in an each bet at 10/1 generally. My Propellor could be top class but I am willing to take her on given the short break since her last run.
3.35 Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes
Keeping things simple, I am willing to back Midday at 8/11.
The bottom line is she is the proven best horse in the race. Her recent defeat at Ascot to top class colt, St Nicholas Abbey was disappointing to the Major but more down to riding tactics (sent out to win 3f from home) than anything else. Even so, that form is good enough to win this.
Given her top rival (Snow Fairy) has not raced this year and that 3 year olds (Misty for Me) have a poor record in this contest and these sorts of races, I think it is a good thing. 8/11 beats the 4/7 I was expecting and I am happy to take a humongous single.
To other sports….
I am often told that Tennis is a great betting medium. I am quite sure that 2pac is also at the forefront of hip hop but it does not make me want to buy his music. On the marmite subject of Murray I am on the hate side. A strong word and one not meant in it’s full sense, I just do not like him. It has not much to do with the English / Scottish tension and absolutely nothing to do with his ‘winners’ assertive attitude. Given the choice of enjoying a meal with Federer, Nadal, Murray or any other top tennis player, he would be bottom of my list, he does not strike me as a nice person. I am sure he will be quite concerned.
Switzerland are tough to break down and could be a thorn in Spains side. 7/2 for the Swiss to lift the trophy is a generous enough price and while the Spaniards look impressive and a real chip off the senior team, I think it is dangerous to over-estimate their abilities at this stage.
Tonight, let English Summer pay for a delectable dinner at a fine establishment. If you took a succesful double with The Clan MacDonald then the Major likes brandy and needs to see four letters not three on the bottle neck. If you are dining well, take an appropriate lady.
Good luck and roll those dice.