Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Saturday Service – The Majors Horseracing Tips – Newmarket and Ripon… The Cambridgeshire, Sun Chariot, Chevely Park, Royal Lodge plus Premier League Tips

Welcome from the Major to another fine Saturday of sporting action with some of the finest racing around.  Coffee and concentration has given the Major an edge, one that can only be satisfied by silencing the enemy and winning this round of action.

Timepiece is the 11/2 NAP of the day

So the Major calls you to arms, put on your red coat.  Sharpen your point and be prepared to pick off the enemy with no remorse, he offers you none in return.  We will be ready, just you, me, the other followers, our Brown Bess rifles and 40 rounds per man.

Remember that thin red line of the 93rd Balaclava and remember it never breaks even to infantry and horse charging downhill.  Our indomitable spirit is the same, unbreakable like Sir Colin Campbell the pit bull leader who loved a scrap.

Let us revel in the arena of sport which the good Lord has displayed before us.  It is revealed in its glory.  We have the Cambridgeshire, the toughest race to crack as a tipster.  The Cheveley, the Royal Lodge, listed national hunt races at Market Rasen and decent fayre from Ripon where the Major has a work acquaintance attending.

Let us start with the Royal Lodge, one of the Majors favourites.

2.05 Newmarket – The Royal Lodge – Group 2

There does not look like anything like the quality of last years 30/100 winner Frankel in this years renewal of the Royal Lodge.

Rockinate is of interest having possibly been unsuited by the soft conditions underfoot last time out.  He has a chance of giving Rock of Gibraltar a decided shove up the stud rankings.

The Major though prefers to go with Wrote.  O’Brien has had a quieter summer than usual but has a good record in this race.  Wrote looks to be a major player in the stable and I am going to back the Irish powerhouse of racing to take the race for a third time in six years.  4/1 with Paddy Power is fair enough.

2.35 Newmarket – Cheveley Park – Group 1

Where Rockinate might look beatable in the first, Best Terms looks a much more useful Hannon inmate.  This horse has improved with each appearance and last time out, the defeat of Fire Lily looked mighty impressive.

That said 5/4 gives little room for any other thoughts other than a Best Terms win, yet the Major thinks there are other potential winners to consider.

First alternative would have to be Lightening Pearl for Ger Lyons.  This looked to step up hugely on it’s last run and they have not made the trip across the sea without a hope of a big run.

Shumoos at a price if putting his best foot forward could threaten the places too.  At 20/1, although he has not progressed in the same way as Best Terms, he is running for a stable that know how to win a Cheveley Park.

On balance, keep it simple, Best Terms will win.

3.10 Newmarket – Sun Chariot Stakes – Group 1

The group one action continues at pace from Newmarket with a fantastic renewal of the Sun Chariot.  Saphresa and Rod Collet go for a hat trick of wins and with the horse in decent touch, who is to say they cannot do it from a best price 2/1.

This is one though that the Major feels easier to oppose.  Over the years, the Sun Chariot goes to a 3-year-old with the occasional 4-year-old winning.  Saphresa won last year as a 5-year-old and I think it is asking too much to expect the same again when there are cracking horses wanting to take this Group 1 with handy allowances.

It is the two three year olds I think we should focus on, both seem to represent better value.

Together, the O’Brien horse has seen plenty of action for a classic generation horse.  With a strikerate of just 2 wins in 13 starts, you must have some doubts but this is not the whole story.  The story of the defeats is interesting.  Two three-quarter length defeats in the British and Irish 2,000 Guineas show she is a class act.  Running well in defeat is always a concern for the Major but this is an O’Brien horse he has targeted for this race.  Interesting

Alanza is another of clear interest.  This John Oxx, Aga Khan and Murtagh special has improved markedly on the last three occasions but the Major is unsure that the running is any better than Together.

This makes life tough.  If you think that Alanza is 7/2 and Together 9/1, there is only one choice from the two.

The Major thinks an alternative is in order and Timepiece is the choice.  She is a class act, she has defeated Saphresa on her last meeting with her.  She has run credibly in Deauville at their festival the last twice.  I think at four, her best trip is still a mile at which she is four wins from five runs.  Shabash, take a slice.

3.50 Newmarket – The Cambridgeshire

This is a conundrum, disguised as a puzzle, hiding in an enigma, wrapped in Satans cloak.

If ever there was a race set to freeze your brain with draw bias, pace and handicap mark question marks, the Cambridgeshire is it.

The first twelve to get the dreaded black line were the top runners on the card.  No horse has won a Cambridgeshire in fifteen years off a higher weight than 9st 3lbs.  The most notable scalp of this cut was Man of Action, the Godolphin 11/1 shot.  Man of Action will love conditions but is ruled out on weight.

The Rowley mile course at Newmarket is stunning.  A wide expanse of land that allows the horses to gallop up onto a heath after the finish post.  Beautiful but the nature of the course means any patch of it may be chosen to run on.  This makes draw analysis of previous running useless.

The Major has opted for Questioning the Gosden horse who is also 11/1.  I like the 5l defeat to Pour Moi, I like the fact that Gosden has a sterling record in the Cambridgeshire and being 10lbs ahead of the handicapper, I am going to opt for this likelier sort to win.

4.15 Ripon – Class 2 Handicap

Paul, if you are reading, best of luck at Ripon.  While I would have liked to go through the entire card, I had to spend hours on Newmarket and so have had a look at the feature race to try and find a winner.

The horse first of interest to the Major is Murbeh.  Although off the track for some time since third in a Newmarket handicap, this Meehan runner has a big chance.  That day at Newmarket, he ran on well at the close and he will have plenty of pace to aim at today at Ripon.

Below Zero of the big prices is considered.  At 20/1, this Johnston horse ran extremely well to take a valuable Leopardstown race three starts back.  Since then, there have been two flops without particular explanation although taking so much racing in such a short time is as likely as any.  This will be Below Zeros 4th run in September and so is taken out of consideration… best watched.

Top weight Pepper Lane is a likely sort.  This one ran no sort of race in the Gold Cup at Ayr and the Major can only take it that this was entirely the wrong running.  Her last two races were at this track and both she finished on top.  She went into the Gold Cup up 22lbs since her first win of the season.  She would have to be good to win this of that mark but if you take her Gold Cup run out then she did look a Group sprinter in the making.  Considered.  Do not forget that she defeated Our Jonathan in her last Ripon run, she is a quality horse.

Discanti and Artic Feeling at prices also are off some interest.

On balance, the value in the race for the Major is Pepper Lane.  I am willing to suggest she is a much better horse than her Ayr Gold Cup run and 7/1 prices plenty of the question mark in.

To the sports….

Tottenham away make appeal at 19/20 and I think they will come away with the three points from Wigan.

QPR who have smashed Wolves and a Villa team where the faint calls of resignation from a manager many did not want…. good recipe for backing the hoops at 13/10.

I also like Man United to win at 10/17 away at Stoke.  Stoke did not have a European hangover excuse to roll out for their defeat last week to Sunderland and Manchester United have looked devastating every start this year.  10/17 is way too short in the Majors view.

May your dinner be a fine curry with a cold beer.  Consider eating it alone, after all one must not be worried about your own company.

Courage and shuffle those cards.

The Saturday Sermon – Ayr Gold Cup Horseracing Tips, Newbury Mill Reef Tips, Premier League Tips

Good morning from Defford, Pershore, Worcestershire, where the Major has been at the good coffee for many hours solving the riddles of the Gold and Silver Cups at Ayr.

Anne of Kiev…. 40/1 Shabash

Those sort of handicaps are manna from heaven for Pricewise and the Major has tried to take an angle on the Ayr Gold Cup. A contributing factor in the punters favour is the softening ground, recent wet weather has done us happy gambling few, a favour.

The Major always finds in unsettling to talk to people who do not gamble and almost seem allergic to it. The thrill of a sporting chance selected and backed with your own money is as close to god as you can get. The moment before the event, when your thought and reason remains untested, the scintillating opportunity yet you feel certain you are right, your heart flutters but your hand is steady. You have played the event out in your head many times over and visualised the result.

Then the event itself, you watch your horse travelling smoothly, your jockey motionless, like he were made of china. Approaching the business end, the leader is flat-out and your man has still to press the button, you come upsides, yet from the back a challenger, where did he come from. Thank god yours is a Mark Johnston tough as nails handicapper, he digs deep to find extra reserves and then in the flash of the line…. you are beaten by a short head. Unbelievable.

Christ. The heart is pumping. You lost your wager, you were wrong, by fractions. Yet, where else could you have felt that moment, that instant in which it seemed like you were touching the face of god. Gambling, a sin, then why did the good Lord make it feel so exhilarating.

Gambling is not a sin, vice or bad habit. Neither is not for fools. It is reserved for us people who understand that we drift by on the river of life just the once and we must grab hold of whatever good that floats by our way. It is good to be alive, make sure you feel it. Today bet with stakes that hurt and reward.

The Ayr Gold Cup – 3.20pm

The two big handicaps at Ayr on Friday have done little to provide a strong view on any draw bias. Both had a mix of stalls finishing the places and while stall 3 won in both instances, the way the Bronze Cup played out, it was not evident that either side had an advantage.

That said, it seemed being on a side was an advantage as few horses travelled well up the middle of the track.

The Gold Cup and the Silver Cup are puzzles, written in code, contained in an enigma which is just a figment of a madman’s mind. There is a lot of guess-work going on but there are things to grip onto.

Some trainers have a much better record in this race and it is worth following Fahey (if you have a clue which runner is fancied most!) but much more profitable following a certain Mr Nicholls, the Sprint King.

Given his awesome track record in the race, I am going to take a super keen interest in his horses. I also don’t particularly want the older horses. 4/5 years old is ideal for me, that’s my Sprint Cup specialist. Throw in a soft ground ready animal and we can whittle the mass of runners down to a few possibilities.

Tajneed will love conditions but at 8 is not the profile of the winner. He also falls into a category of horses I think are hampered, those with a weight of more than 9 stone, 2lbs. Only one horse has won off a higher weight than that in the last fifteen years.

There may be 27 runners but a soft ground horse, progressive and with a bit of big field experience and you have the winner with Fahey and Nicholls runners.

Mayson is a very interesting runner, particularly with the booking of Hanagan the odds on favourite to defend his champion jockey crown. Entitled to need a come back run, Mayson looks well handicapped. We also knows he goes OK when he gets his toe in. 18/1 is a fair price and the Majors only reservation is his relative youth and low miles on the clock. I suspect he is well handicapped but in a race of this size, you would like a horse who has a bit more experience.

Mayson is drawn 5 and while I want one low, I want one high too. So I am also opting for Anne of Kiev. At 40/1 this one is a bit of an outsider but the only key factor I do not like is the age, 6. I think the form is solid enough, particularly that which ties Anne of Kiev into Deacon Blues in the Wokingham. She also has big race experience and thrives in big fields.

So my Ayr Gold Cup Strategy is Mayson drawn low and Anne of Kiev drawn high.

2.30 Newbury Mill Reef Stakes

The Mill Reef stakes has an interesting look to it and much of your view on the winner has to be taken from your assessment of Casper Netscher.

While the Major holds the form in high enough regard, I am conscious that this horse has been on the go a lot. He is not the only horse in the race that has had a busy campaign.

The last couple of winners had a maximum of three prep runs and I think I would like to find a more lightly raced individual.

The one I am opting for is Redact. The case is that it is a Hannon horse and once again the master of the juvenile season has had a blinding year. He buys so many horses to train as juvenile winners you have to admire the yards philosophy. Richard Hughes picks this one ahead of Crown Dependency and there is little wrong with that horse.

Jockey selection was important for the Major here. Redact is a horse that looked entirely progressive until last time out. After breaking badly and racing freely, the horse never got into it and was 8l behind Gerfalcon.

Hughes sticking with the horse tells me that was not his running. 9/1, have a slice and thank me later.

To the sports.

At the start of the season, I drew up my own handicap score for the premier league, blind to the industry edition calculated by the Racing Post team. I found that the teams I wanted to be with were Man United (I felt they would win by a clearer margin), Newcastle and Stoke. My teams so far have done me proud. I wanted to get QPR, Villa, Blackburn and Arsenal. Again, I feel I had this right although Villa are outperforming my expectation.

QPR pretty much bought a new squad on transfer deadline day and that makes reading their chances away at Wolves difficult. Normally I would opt for a home win but with players like Wright-Phillips in the QPR team… well who knows. That project could still go up in flames.

Given that one of my positive teams, Stoke are away at one of my negatives, Sunderland and are 23/10, you would think I would be racing to get a bet down. The truth is that I would jump at it if Stoke had not had a hard European trip mid-week. Off putting.

I have four football bets this weekend.

1. Manchester United to bt Chelsea 10/11 – Man United have looked devastating in the EPL this season and Chelsea do not have it together yet, I would be very surprised if United were not to overcome them at home.

2. Bolton to beat Norwich 5/6 – Again a nearly evens price about a home team I fully expect to do the business. Norwich although they looked decent enough against the Albion on Saturday… are not that good.

3. Manchester City to win at Fulham 8/13 – City have looked very very good this season and an average Fulham team should not hold them.

4. Swansea to beat the Majors West Brom 9/5 – Bottom line is that Swansea are half useful and West Brom looked shaky at Norwich. A better team would have beaten them. Swansea can be that team.

Collect your winnings today with a smile reserved for the enemy that has a touch of all-knowing. You will need the bundle for dinner.

May that dinner be served on fine china and come with exceptionally fine in-season ingredients. For company take the one you have your eye on with that simple, almost plain but pretty look, she brings a flashing smile to light her canvas on which god painted a work which was outstanding for its simplicity not loud in it’s glory. Perfectly nice and there is nothing wrong in that, an innocence that is sweet too, genuinely a lovely person. They all want their fun though, mark the Majors words. When the bill comes, tip well, no recession, you can afford it.

Courage and shuffle those cards.

Tips for the Arc – The Majors Preview – Sarafina / Workforce / So You Think / Nathaniel / Reliable Man / Galikova / Nakayama Festa

The Arc market has a great shape to it and the Major is mighty excited by the Longchamp showpiece.  The Arc is on the Majors hit list of things that must be done in the coming few years.

Freddy Head and Galikova – 7/1 Boooom she has the Majors vote

For a start, it is cheap, if you happen to be in Paris.  Entry is a fistful of Euros.  You can buy tickets on the day and it attracts a crowd of biblical proportion.  Viva Le Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

This years contest is a cracker.  Two horses would have made it possibly the best renewal ever…. if connections had successfully stepped Frankel up to a mile and a half, clearly we would be salivating – Sometimes, a dream is wonderful – You can awake wondering which reality is the truth.

I also think the Arc de Triomphe is substantially poorer for the horse the Major would have backed, Pour Moi.  The last to first run in the derby was über impressive and I had this one down as the Arc winner for some time – Alas injury means we are missing Pour Moi.

There is however quality left in abundance and the Major’s heart flutters at the prospect of this years renewal, it is good to be alive, n’est pas?

The Arc Market.

The market is 7/2 bar and this gives plenty of punting opportunity.  Workforce is the horse that some cannot make up their minds about, 5/1 to 7/1 are both available.

Horse Price
Sarafina 7/2
So You Think 5
Nathaniel 5
Reliable Man 7
Workforce 5
Galikova 7
Meandre 14
Hiruno DAmour 16
Snow Fairy 25
Sea Moon 16
Nakayama Festa 25

Sarafina 7/2 – The Aga Khan Power Mare ****

Sarafina deserves to be favourite in the Majors view.  Her win the last weekend in one of the two Arc trials was superb.   That said, the Aga Khan was lucky to keep the race in the Majors view.  The french stewards have itchy trigger fingers and there is no doubt Sarafina barged her way through a non-existent hole to win.

That is what made her trial win in the Prix Foy so appealing to the Majors eye, she had already quickened to contend and then had the nerve and the power to come away again from the leaders.

She has not raced against three-year olds which puts a slight dampener on the form but she looks the best middle distance racer in France.  Last year she may well have been a contender at the finish but for a shocking traffic problem turning for home – She almost hit the deck and rallied impressively to make third.  In one sense this also troubles the Major, is she the sort to find trouble again?  The Arc is the sort of race that needs a jockey cute to positioning and while Sarafina has the bravery, I just have this odd feeling that she might get herself into a hole again, after all she managed it on Sunday with just 4 runners!!….. instinct.

Overall, a significantly considered horse.

Workforce 5/1-7/1 – Sir Michael Stoutes Reigning Champion***

Last years Arc winner returns as a four-year old and fair play to Prince Khalid Abdullah who could easily have retired the star at the end of his classic season.  On behalf of all racing fans, thank you.

This season has been a bit of a mixed bag.  Firstly, a Sandown Group 3 on soft was won with a pleasing enough reappearance.  Then came the Sandown showdown with So You Think where the latter got the better in a decent duel.  So You Think seemed to hold Workforce comfortably that day but three vital things will be in Workforces favour on Arc day.

Firstly he has won at Longchamp.  Secondly, the ground is likely to be soft and I think that will suit Workforce.  Finally the Sandown showdown was over 1m 2f, a distance probably on the sharp side for last years Arc champion.

Workforce was also beaten in this years King George by Nathaniel.  The Major put Nathaniel up that day and was delighted to see the game three-year old hold on.  Watching that race, Workforce looked a lively threat closing to within a length before swinging wildly across the track.

I am not sure Nathaniel would have broken had Workforce stayed straight but clearly the veering was a concern.  It normally shows a horse where something is wrong.  Perhaps the King George run was not 100% Workforce.  Furthermore, the ground was a rattling good that day and I am fairly sure, Workforce will go better on soft.

Overall there are too many questions about Workforce to allow the Major to back him.

So You Think – 5/1 Ballydoyle’s Aussie Import **

So You Think is tentatively one that the Major rules out at this early stage.  This might seem harsh given the Aussie import, touted as one of the worlds best horses has had a terrific season and done little wrong.  He is also a lovely looking dark horse.

His only defeat in Europe was in the Prince of Wales at Ascot where Rewilding, hardly the sort that the worlds best horse should be beaten by, got up close home to defeat So You Think.  Ryan Moore was generally lambasted for the ride.  He did send So You Think off pretty far from home to bring the bacon in and I am sure he would have held onto him for longer if he had the chance again.

Last time out, So You Think knuckled down incredibly well to see off a rampant Snow Fairy.  What is not to like?

Well two things make him an uncomfortable proposition for the Major.  Firstly, he has had a long season, the Arc will be his 6th race and a couple of them, including the last have been hard work.  The second related fact is that I prefer my Arc horse to have had an entire season pointing at Longchamp.  It was only today that connections of So You Think finally committed to the race.

This last issue prevails for the Major.  It has not been a superb season for the Ballydoyle team, I suspect that they wanted other viable Arc candidates from the likes of Recital but have ended up with just one horse that has shown the likely form.

Reliable Man – 7/1 Prix de Jockey Club Champion **

The first three-year old to review and for that reason alone a plus.  This years classic generation have been simply superb, it has been a good year indeed.

This horse has to be taken incredibly seriously in the Majors view.  The Prix Niel Arc trial Group 2 win last weekend was impressive for two reasons, firstly it is always a terrific pointer to the big day and secondly, Reliable Man was eased at the finish.  Impressive.

This winner stamped himself as a star when taking the Prix de Jockey Club which to be fair was probably not the strongest renewal.

Positives include the fact that ground will not be a problem if it gets soft and a likeable attitude.

The factors that put the Major off tipping Reliable Man are that his form is not very well tied into the leading British horses or older french horses.  I am also unsure that this one has quite the turn of foot required to win an Arc, he has not shown a Sarafina type turn of foot.  He is gritty though.

Overall, I find his price short enough and so cannot tip him for the Arc.

Nathaniel – 5/1 The Improver *** 11/2

On the 13th August 2010, a maiden was run in which Nathaniel finished second .  I do not have enough superlatives to describe Frankel but suffice to say it was the only time he has ever gone off at odds against!  7 wins later, we know that maiden in the warm early evening light of Newmarket was a remarkable affair even if the good denizens of HQ did not fully realise at the time!

Nathaniel has hardly done the form any harm himself!  A second runner up spot in his juvenile year hardly pointed to the horse being world class but whatever happened over the winter, Nathaniel landed in the spring of 2011.

He took his first race a class 5 Haydock maiden in eye-catching style.  Then a runner-up in the Chester vase, a course I am not convinced would have suited him.  If the result looked OK, it was franked firmly when the horse that got the better of him.

Treasure Beach, went on to be runner-up in a brave run in the Derby only defeated by the flashing Pour Moi and the exuberant teenager Mikael Barzalona.

Nathaniel missed the Derby and went straight to Group 2 handicap company at Ascot.  The way he won that day makes you wonder if connections wish they had supplemented him for the derby.

Then came his real day of glory.  The King George is a flagship race and his beating of Workforce and St Nicholas Abbey in receipt of 12lbs was still impressive.  As mentioned above, Workforce may not have been at his best that day, on Arc day he will be in receipt of a slightly less generous weight for age allowance.

It is insanely difficult to overlook Nathaniel as a credible threat as this years three-year olds have consistently proven their elders wrong.  Above So You Think, Nathaniel has been aimed at Longchamp for some time.

Considered.  Should I tip him for the Arc?  No.  Would I put you off him, no.

Galikova – 7/1 Freddy Heads Special Filly ****

Galikova enriches the race bringing a touch of Goldikovas class but she is there on utter merit.

As a half-sister of Goldikova, the wonder mare who races for identical connections, it is delightful to see her turn out, a class act of her own, she has looked top draw several times in her classic year.  Goldikova has been a reliable top class mare.  Who says Galikova will not have her day in the sun.

Her french Oaks (Prix de Diane) second looked better when she defeated the winner last time out in her Arc trial.  On a strict line of form with the yardstick Colombian, Reliable Man is under her thumb, we shall see about that on the day but she certainly has nothing to prove with regard to her right to an Arc stall..

I thought her Arc trial was a superb visual result.  She still raced keenly, perhaps wanting to get on with things and still had the energy to put the field to bed.  Given that was on soft ground, it is quite impressive.

Freddy Head will have left a bit off for the Arc too, it is not unreasonable to expect improvement, strongly considered.

Nakayama Festa – The Majors Lively 25/1 Outsider

Nakayama Festa is the final horse I offer to you under the spotlight.  The Japanese raider surprised many when second in the race last year at a tasty 22/1.

That day showed a couple of things…. firstly he is a top class animal and secondly he is fine in the usual deadening french autumnal ground.

Back in the Far East he was probably over the top when trailed off in a Japanese Group 1 last November.

Since then he has been under wraps until Arc Trial day on Sunday.  He went down fourth of four to Sarafina which is a less shocking result when you consider he led, setting himself up for the closer.  While he is versatile, his best performances have come from off the pace and so it was, in one sense, surprising to see him bowl along in his Arc trial.

A few things strike me.  Firstly, that a few lengths defeat to Sarafina is not in itself a terrible result.  Soft ground presents no problem.  I very much like the fact that Nakayama Festa has been entirely aimed at the Arc this year.  He has had the french prep run and that is his lot.

More should come on the big day and at 25/1 there is plenty of value in this runner.

Summary My Tip for the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe

Class horses win the Arc.  You have to look for those you genuinely think have the utter quality.

I also want a horse that was always aimed at Longchamp, not one that may have had other options.

My conclusion is that Galikova represents the best value.  Sarafina certainly was beautiful on the eye but I worry she might find more trouble.

In a year where three-year olds have dominated, I want one on my side in the Arc and I am going for the headlining result of Galikova doing the business with all of her allowances.  Ground is not a problem and the Major thinks a general 7/1 is utterly reasonable.  8/1 is available with Corals – Have a slice and thank me later.

Remember the Major had this right with Workforce last year, it is one of my favourite races, understandably.

If you fancy a lively price, I would tip up Nakayama Festa who is 33/1 with Hills.

Sarafina and Nathaniel are evidently the others I considered putting up as my Arc tip.  So You Think and Workforce are the two I consider over-priced.

One final horse I have not run a deeper profile on in this post is Sea Moon.  This one was so fancied in the run up to the St Leger but ground went against.  On the day I thought he had a chance of catching Masked Marvel with a clear run, he did not get one.  At 20/1, he is considered but has not shown enough.

Courage and shuffle those cards.

Cracking Wednesday Cards – Three Superb Races – Tips for the Kerry National (Listowel), Fortune Stakes (Sandown) and John Musker Trophy (Yarmouth)

Good Evening from the Major who writes to you with tips for the three big Wednesday races.  We have the Grade A Kerry National as well as two listed races at Sandown and Yarmouth.  Shabash, let us win money and eat well.

Celestial Girl (former ownership) – 33/1 for the Yarmouth listed race

Let us start in Ireland with the Kerry National.

4.10 Listowel Kerry National

This sort of big race handicap in Ireland always looks the most incredible puzzle to solve but actually there are plenty of clues.  Hourigan, Mullins and McNamara have all targeted the race in the past with strong entries and they are always a great place to start.

Both the Mullins wins were with his fancied horses.  Uncle Junior is of obvious interest on this criteria but at 10, simply does not match the profile of the likely winner, with no ten-year old winning in the last 15 years and so the Major goes elsewhere.

Blazing Tempo is the really fancied Mullins horse and is a fit with Walsh on board but surely the rise for the last win makes life tougher.  That said you cannot knock the spirit of this mare and I am sure a place is on the cards and at 6/1 that is a profit.

At 10/1 in the market, you find Dancing Tornado – Hourigan has a great record in this race and it is interesting he sends this one back for more.  Once again though, I feel it likely that there is a better younger horse.

The two the Major has been wrestling with are Charles Byrnes runner which has been evidently pointed at this, Bideford Legend…. and the Thomas Mullins runner, Dr Whizz.

The case for the 9/1 main selection is simple.  Charles Byrnes won this last year and in setting out the path for Bideford Legend, it looks like another raid is planned.  Bideford legend matches much of the required profile for the Major and in a couple of Killarney wins, he has shown himself an accomplished jumper.

The second case is a little harder to make out.  Particularly as many will think dr Whizz has little chance of seeing out the trip.  The trainer, Mr T Mullins, fears not stamina issues and i think this is key.  He is lightly raced, a potential improver and one I feel a 25/1 price is a touch too generous, have a slice.

Back both.

4.05 Sandown Fortune Stakes – Listed

King Torus was a recent 9/2 winner for the Major and having been a proven Group winner, has to be respected.  That said, he has a style of running that is less than ideal, coming off the bridle early before asserting late last time out.

For the major, there are not at lot of reads into this race and so the winner comes from either King Torus or the Andrew Balding runner Laytime at 6/1.  This one has finished his last race well, which would be a concern given the better ground tomorrow.  If he is not caught for toe, I expect his earlier form where he looked a progressive sort to carry on and from the bottom of the card given his lack of big race wins and classic year status, I think there could be a decent run from the Andrew Balding runner.

Back both!!

3.20 John Musker Fillies Stakes

There is a great shape to this particular race from a punting perspective.  The market offers you two likely winners in the shape of Modeyra and Principle Role with the field 7/1 bar.  Of the two I much prefer Modeyra but that is priced into the market already.

The Major though has spotted a 33/1 chance that I am willing to risk a wager on in the hope that significant improvement occurs.

Celestial Girl is a Hughie Morrison runner at 33/1  that is on a hat-trick bid.  Sounds good until you consider that she was competing off a mark below 80.  Granted that form is unlikely to put her in the frame but there are a few things that the Major considers to be clues to a better run to come.

Firstly, her last Epsom run was in a reasonably competitive handicap and she came from off the pace.  Those sorts of runs often hide a better handicap mark.

I am also attracted to the jockey booking.  Chris Catlin might not be a star name but is an effective jockey who, like Seb Sanders, gets a fair amount of winners from a no-nonsense riding style.  Morrison has booked him ten times in the last two years, 3 wins, 5 places.

7 of Morrisons last 19 runners placed and so I offer no hesitation in suggesting the step up in class for Celestial Girl might not be overwhelming.

Courage and shuffle those cards.

The Saturday Sermon – St Leger at Doncaster (14/1 tip) and Premier League Tips

Good morning from the Major who has been at the good coffee early to study the card and bring you the winner of the St Leger.

Sea Moon with beautiful white blaze first, noone but fresh air second

The last classic of the season is a true stayers test and unlike any other classic is open to both colts and fillies. This gives us the interesting task of assessing Blue Buntings ability against the boys, more of that in a moment.

The Major would like to land a catastrophic blow on the enemy today, let us land the perfect left right pincer movement.

We shall be decisive like Sir Robert Napiers expeditionary force of Irish, British and Indian troops in Abysinnia or Sir Hope Grants mixed British, Indian and French force which went to Peking to force the emporer to sign our trade treaty in the second Opium war. Well disciplined, well executed. Sir Hope Grant took the forts at the river head with a perfect pincer movement, infantry skirmishing ahead of his position and as the enemy approaches, the flags go up and the lights will come out like a mighty fist to run the enemy down, the heavies follow to finish the job. Swift and decisive against a far numerically superior force.

Sir Hope got to Peking and got the treaty signed but had to fight his way there. There was also subsequent outrage as the Chinese tortured to death many of the small numbers of prisoners of war they held. British and Indian troops of the Queen as well as Parkes and Loch, two envoys, were given horrendous treatment in the ‘Board of Punishment’. Their bodies were returned after peace had been negotiated which seemed a deliberate act of subterfuge.

Lord Elgin who travelled as the lead political on the embassy decided that retribution would take the form of the sacking of the Summer Palace.

It took thousands of troops to destroy the greatest collection or architecture and art ever amassed. While he was merely a descendent of the Elgin who lifted marbles from Greece, the family certainly had their vandal moments!

Lets start our own rout with the St Leger.

3.10 Doncaster St Leger

The St Leger has lost some of its lustre in recent years. Gone are the horses who want triple crown glory. Now bloodstock demand is for mile to mile and a half horses. The super rich owners want Derby horses and Arc horses, not Yorkshire Cup types.

It would have been a thing of great beauty if Sea the Stars had opted to take in the Triple Crown in his classic year…. alas, Guinea and Derby horses tend not to think St Leger any more. Perhaps we will never have another triple crown winner. If we were to, I would suggest it would be a filly.

In fact, recent St Legers have been pretty poor affairs (relatively speaking for a Group 1 and a classic!) – This year looks different though. What makes the contest an intriguing one is the ground which has hardened up and with no more rain expected until ten past three, it is changing the shape of the market.

The principle victim of the top of the ground turf seems to be Sea Moon. A long term favourite for the race after demolishing a Great Voltigeur field by nearly ten lengths, this lightly raced sort is clearly happier with cut. His form could suggest so and so does the reaction of connections to the dry weather forecast.

The Great Voltigeur also featured Seville who was third, vanquished by Sea Moon that day. Seville was second in an Irish Derby and so a serious O’Brien horse but was likely unsuited by York – This makes me question the form of the Great Voltigeur and seek a different form line for the winner. That said, O’Briens horses look like they are coming to their own of late.

We have Blue Bunting, a 2,000 guineas winner, Irish Oaks winner and Yorkshire Oaks winner – Probably filly of the season. She gets a 3lb pull on account of her being of the fairer sex and must be reckoned with at a best priced 7/2. Good to firm would be no inconvenience. Two of the last five runnings have gone to Godolphin, significantly interesting.

A regular poster Michael put up Masked Marvel last week and you can see the good points. Beating Census was great form although watching that race, I would question whether he is the better horse. 9/1 is fair but not for the Major – Good luck Michael.

Brown Panthers form is tied into Census and Masked Marvel and at 14s is arguably the best value of that trio. Yard form is also a slight concern here with just the one winner from the last twenty five runners. While Census may have taken Brown Panther on their latest run, it was notable that the Panther had a lot of picking up to do. The previous German raid did not go brilliantly but the travel may have been a factor. With Fallon booked, this is a serious contender in my view.

I really think the winner will come from Sea Moon, Brown Panther and Blue Bunting. Splitting them is tough. Sea Moon on the drift is a concern but how sure can we be he will not act on firmer ground? The Sire, Beat Hollow, has had 355 of his progeny run in Britain on good to firm and 50 won. This is not out of line with his form with more cut and so the evidence is conjecture on behalf of connections. Now, connections know their stuff but….. could we go where others dare tread?

Sea Moon is a horse that looked a true star. What he did to the Great Voltigeur field was highly impressive, not just the beaten foe but the turn of foot. He was eased down at the finish that day and the Major has a simple belief, if he shows the Great Voltigeur form today, he will win. It is hard to leave him but those ground worries are ominous.

I have settled on Brown Panther. 14/1 is a good price for one whose form is mixing it up with the best here. We have the services of Fallon doing the steering – Come on the Panther.

3.15 The Curragh – Goffs National Stakes Group 1

The Curragh hosts the Irish St Leger card and although it is a fine race, I fancied a crack at the Goffs Stakes for juveniles.

Soft conditions in Ireland make it interesting working through this card and the Majors choice is Dragon Pulse a 11/4 joint favourite.

Dragon Pulse on breeding is fancied to handle the soft and did win a maiden in conditions too. While Power, is the main rival, I suspect he will not like the cut in the ground at all.

Have a chunky slice of the Dragon.

There are other great races at Doncaster, the Curragh, Goodwood and Chester. The Major does think Berling is the most reliable in Chesters listed race but overall I am going to stick with Brown Panther and Dragon Pulse to bring home the weekend beans.

In other sports…. Villa are a massive 3/1 to win at Everton, given the Toffees current woes, it could well effect the team on the pitch who are now without Arteta. Villa are organised if not spectacular and 3/1 (Victor Chandler) is a price to take on them stealing the goodies from Goodison. Everton have protesting fans as well as a shortage of options in the final third with Yakubu and Beckford joining Arteta on the outward transfer pile. The new boys may take time to settle in and I am willing to take a chunky slice of the Villa pie at a lovely 3/1.

May your dining this evening be punctuated by a fine string quartet and a magnificent lady of grace who steals the attention of any dining room. For all of her well-heeled manner, her thoughts will run the same way as the rest of them when good lobster and Sancerre have been devoured.

Courage and shuffle those cards….