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.
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.