Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Saturday Sermon – Tips for the Challow Hurdle and a Lingfield Steamer.. all aboard choo choooooo

Good morning from another impermeable grey early hour in Worcestershire, where the Majors central heating creaks into gear and the wood burner spits and crackles alive.  The coffee pot has bubbled away and the Major has studied in the knowledge that this is the final chance to serve up some winners in 2011.

Fingal Bay, apple of Hobbs eye

Until a fortnight ago, recent racing form was pretty bad.  Then it went disastrous and bottomed out in the worst run the Major has ever had.  I gave up monitoring performance in the top tabs some time ago because it was a lot of hassle to keep recording all bets.  At the time, horseracing was definitely profitable, football and other sports much more dubious.

With the recent run, even the horse racing profitability for the year must surely be in doubt.  Still, the Major blunders on blind, like a wounded animal, stumbling forever forwards, onwards and relentless, recklessly positive.  Remember, even the blinded squirrel will find the odd nut. 

The Major has fallen very low, but shall rise up.

A New Year tomorrow and the Major will probably make a face-lift to the site, let us all hope it is on the back of a post that closes 2011 with some winners. Shabash!

The Major may well start the New Year with a visit to Cheltenham.  Oscar Whisky is the star turn out and I may pop down to watch, may see you there?

It hammered down last night and the Major is pleased to see Uttoxeter pass its inspection, soft ground is the order of the day, we shall try to find some horses that enjoy having their toe in the mud.

The Challow Hurdle – Newbury

Fingal Bay can only be backed at 4/11 and given that Hobbs described his as one of the best he has had, you have to think that he is by far the likeliest winner of a shallow looking Challow Hurdle field.  Hobbs has yet to declare which race at Cheltenham he is aiming Fingal Bay at, he is clearly well loved at home though and it would be a surprise to see him beaten here.

This is no bet to serve up to the Majors followers though, when we are seeking funding for a New Years Eve celebration.

Therefore, I suggest backing Fill the Power each way at 22/1 with Corals and sticking that selection in a reverse forecast with Fingal Bay too.

Fingal Bay should really win readily, his Graded novice hurdle wins already look impressive enough and there seems to be more improvement to come, an exciting prospect.

1.40 and 2.45 Lingfield – The Fancy and the Steamer

The Major offered up Irons on Fire a few weeks ago when 8/1 on the previous evening and went off at an astonishing 6/4.  See, the Major always smells a gamble.

That day, Irons on Fire and Rowan Ridge pulled clear of the pack and my selection was second and reported a tendon injury.  They re-oppose today with a 3lb pull for Irons on Fire and the booking of Kieran Fallon suggesting that better is expected.  He can entitled to be better for the last turnout and Irons on Fire is still well below his best marks from a couple of years previous so I advise a strong win bet.

In the 2.40, I have another steamer at 6/1 that I urge you to back early because I think the money will come.

Taajub is my selection who I think could be coming back to hand from a handy draw and a mark that has fallen 25lbs since his glory days finishing a quarter length second in an Ascot Group 3 to Our Jonathan.  That old form is far better than anything else can boast in the field and so all hope is pinned on a return to something near like it.

Te reason that the Major thinks Taajub may well be about to turn a small corner is his last run which went into the notebook.  Over 6f around Kempton, he met a wall of horses coming into the straight and had to veer sharply left before getting his run, he then stayed on well to finish 5th but was less than 2l from being the winner. 

That run suggests better to come and that 7f holds no fears too.  I wish Novellen Lad was not in the field because the booking of Fallon makes you fearful that he is also handily placed but I am going to stick my neck out with a 6/1 (Skybet) tip for Taajub.

2.05 Newbury Novice Chase

Finally on the horseracing front, I wanted to offer my tip for the Novice Chase.  Three absolutely cracking prospects line up in Cue Card, For Non Stop and Walkon. 

The first has the most experience over fences but seems a little short of top class.  This is a shame because the Champion Bumper that Cue Card won seemed to single him out as a future champion, since then he has not quite gone on.

Walkon had a superb debut over fences at Exeter and certainly looks to be a worth favourite.  He never quite recaptured his Triumph Hurdle form from 2009 when coming back from injury last season but the Exeter run seems to have marked a new era for Walkon and he could be a first-rate chaser.

With that said, the Major is going to tip 11/4 shot, For Non Stop.  My selection is 11/4 and on chase debut finished runner-up to the exciting Al Ferof.  This is a race that should suit and I expect further progress.

Finally, if you need one more tip!  1.45 Warwick, Great Reason 6/4 should win readily enough.

To the football…

Ironically as the racing star has dulled in recent week, the Majors football tipping has been OK.  From a jam packed New Years Eve coupon, the Major has picked out a handful of tips…

Norwich at 28/17 are a good thing to beat Fulham at home, Norwich have enough firepower up top to take three points here.

I continue to mine the seam of Spurs and expect them to win at Swansea so 8/11 is a backable proposition.

Finally Hull at 9/4 to win at Burnley is a monster price for the Major.  Get stuck in and send me a postcard.

May dinner be generous and enjoyable.  It is your last of the year.  Indulge.  Make sure that company is forgiving and fun, after all, it is New Year and to breeze in the fresh annum with anything else is a waste.

Courage, roll those dice.

King Kauto V – Plus, Leopardstown Lexus Tips

Festive greetings and good morning from a mild Defford where the grey sky seems stuck overhead as if something has lodged itself in the weather system permanently.

The Major was awestruck with the King George race and I would suggest that unless the Gold Cup can serve up something better, which although ridiculous at the start of the season, now seems entirely plausible; then what we witnessed on Boxing Day could well be the race of my lifetime.

What a superb moment as Ruby brings Kauto to his Kempton Crowd before setting off back up the track to the winners enclosure

This seems a bold statement but for all of the reasons outlined in my previous post, Kauto and the Ditcheat team achieved something that was simply unbelievable.

What was beautiful about the race was the simplicity of Ruby and Kautos approach.  Get near the front, get a good view of the fences, get that superb travelling rhythm and smartness at the obstacles in play for Kauto and let the others worry about the rest.  How majestic it was too.  It never seemed as though you were watching a horse about to turn 12 years old, he was imperious.

How effective those tactics were too.  Once Nacarat and Golan Way had burned the early speed, Kauto took it up and had them all off the bridle turning into the home straight.

Long Run valiatly tried to peg the old master back and given a further half furlong, might just have done it.  This augers well to go back to Cheltenham where Long Run will have an extra two furlongs to get to Kauto.

As much as I admire the corithian approach of the Waley-Cohens with the son riding the fathers horse and taking on the top pro’s, I do wonder if I am the only one who wants to tell them, enough is enough.  Give the reigns to Geraghty and lets see whether this superb young chaser can give us more with one of the worlds finest jump jockeys on board.  Indeed, I suspect, we would have had a different result if Geraghty had ridden on Boxing Day..

Long Run is scruffy at so many fences, often skewing left, often taking the top 6 inches of birch with him.  Henderson has had him at Yogi Breisner the ‘go to’ specialist to try and get horses jumping straighter but I think the pilot is what needs to change.  The chances of that seem slim given that he has won a Gold Cup and giving up the dream of a second might be tough. 

Talking of Gold Cups, the way in which Grand Crus did the business in the Feltham must point to a Gold Cup effort.  He could be a genuine challenger too, he has done nothing wrong over fences and Silvianaco Conti and Bobs Worth were very good yardsticks.

Leopardstown Christmas Festival Tips

There has been some great racing already at Leopardstown.  The heavy ground has had an impact and there have been some disappointments in the poor showing from some leading fancies.

It was a particular shame that Bog Warrior fell on the back straight as this one looks top draw, it was a crashing fall and so I hope the horse shows no ill signs as a result.

Topaz Fort Leney Chase – Grade 1 – 1.25

Three Gigginstown representatives are out and two of them are joint favourites.

Last Installment and First Lieutenant have both achieved plenty over fences but it is the latter that the Major thinks is bet of the day.

2/1 is the current price with Boylesports but I expect this to tighten up an awful lot.

In the race which Bog Warrior walked away an easy winner, First Lieutenant was pulled up after walking through a fence.  Should there be no ill effect then I am very interested in this runner.  That day he was 5/4 favourite and although we have to use our imaginations to understand what might have happened without that error, I suspect he is a very good horse.

I think the money will come so want to be on early.

Put simply, I think this Cheltenham Festival winner (put Rock on Ruby into a close second) could be first class and today it is a no brainer.  I think 2/1 could look very generous later on.

Jockey booking support the view, if you have a Boylesports account, clean them out!

2.00 Christmas Hurdle – Leopardstown

This Grade 2 hurdle, unlike the Kempton version is over three miles not two and so we see some of the better Irish staying hurdlers out.  It must be quite depressing owning some of these horses in the age of Big Bucks.

Mourad and Voler La Vedette appear to have this race between them.

The two principals met in the Hattons Grace where Mourad gave 7lbs to Voler and got a 3l beating.  It is worth noting that it was Mourads first appearance of the season (although he was kept on the go in the summer) and surely better could come now.

The weight difference is also important with an extra two pounds in Mourads favour.

Despite this though I am going to side with 6/4 shot Voler La Vedette.  I think the ground is going to suit Voler much more than Mourad and this will help the Majors tip get the trip.

The Lexus 2.35 Leopardstown

The Lexus is another of the highlights on the Christmas racing calendar and it is a cracker.

Will Rubi Light stay?  Will top class Quito handle the ground? What sort of condition is Noland in? Why did they not get a run into Magnanimity?

It really is a puzzle. 

Noland is a fascinating runner, he has been sent over the sea by Ditcheat and you have to think that it is significant.  There were plenty of easy contests to place him in at home if they were unsure but this is bold as brass.  Noland gave Denman a beating over hurdles in his first Cheltenham festival.  An injury hit career has meant that we do not know what ability remains, although he should have plenty of gas in the tank.  It is worth noting that Nicholls sent What a Friend over to successfully take the Lexus two seasons back, very very interesting.

There is not often a big upset in the Lexus though and so I am siding with 15/8 favourite Quito de la Roque who has done everything right so far.  2/1 is very fair.  While the ground might be more ideal with extra cut, he has won on good before so I do not expect him to be too inconvenienced.

There it is, a tasty treble, Quito, Voler and First Lieutenant.  Nothing too outrageous in there.

The Majors Christmas Special – Kempton King George Tips, Dundalk Bank Builder too

Christmas seems to be an obsession in the modern age, a concept people desperately cling to in the vain hope that it can provide meaning, happiness or satisfaction in their void souls. These people are not like us, they do not gamble and have never felt the thrill or despair that a gentleman gambler experiences. Feel pity, as quoted of Jesus in Luke, forgive them, they know not what they do.

All the Major wants for Christmas is Kauto Star getting round Kempton well and coming back to the festival for a last hoorah

It feels like a quarter of the year is entirely and pointlessly focussed on 25th December. Children have an expectation, they seem unable to comprehend that it is not a right. While Christmas can be wonderful if small, well meant and subtle, too often it is a time of dry turkey, contrived fun, dreadful entertainment, the worst of western consumerism and for the punting man, very little sport to distract from the sheer terror of it all. I recommend the pub.

A solitary card at Dundalk on Friday is all that remains before the curtain comes down and the two-day racing blackout of Christmas Eve and Day. Two entire days of nothing, deadness, silence in the dark, have the will to say hold on dear friends, hold fast, do not break that line for there is light and hope. Redemption cometh.

Yes, the Majors mantra is to remain relentlessly positive, perhaps the enforced break offers a silver lining. The Majors tips are going through an extended period of dire form, from which I find myself unable to break free, Christ, even the regulars are complaining.

We must look at the break as a moment of reflection. Perhaps it provide the needed opportunity to change. If that makes the black-out medicine palatable, the glorious Kempton Boxing Day King George card, makes it wholly worthwhile.

Boxing day Kempton, for a jump racing fan, is one of the years glorious moments, top quality racing and the time to enjoy it… crafted by Jesus, rubber stamped by Sir Clement Freud, who I am sure sits at the same table.

The real beauty is that it comes after these two days of nothing. Like a thirsty man lost in the desert, when he finds water, he is tempted to gulp, so I caution you appropriately. The Major has posted King George tips 72 hours in advance so when the madness sets in, we will not be tempted by momentary urges bought on by the panic of two days, sans racing.

If you are reading this before Christmas, I can assure you that purchasing a bet for someone is a wonderful present. A little patent on the three Kempton selections below could make someone very happy indeed. It is indeed a thoughtful gift.

Before we contemplate Kemptons glories on the other side of the chasm, we have one chance to build a war chest, this side of Christmas. There are a handful of races on the all weather track at Dundalk tonight and the Major has a fancy.

Friday Dundalk Tip

I wonder if the Mullins and Murtagh partnership, which is an exceptionally rare occurrence, have teamed up to take the opener (5pm). Why would I feel it is a strange time for a rare Mullins and Murtagh tie up? Well the race is in honour of Ireland and Dundalks champion jockey… Johnny Murtagh! The forecast SP is 14/1 and I am going to follow my nose and get stuck in at anything over 8s.

The horse itself, Dougal Philps, is not disgraced on its first run. Mullins is in fine form too. Interesting runner, interesting race in honour of the top jock, interesting stable booking, all very interesting, 14/1… very very interesting!!

Load the cannon for Boxing Day…

King George Kempton Card – Tips for the King George Chase

The Major set up a gambling club this year with a group of fair men, we named it the King George Gambling Syndicate. The net result of the club is that we have £1183 to unleash on the King George and where the money is placed is entirely up to Mr Anthony Dipper.

These are the Majors thoughts on what is an exceptional race in exceptional times. If you do not share the Majors view that this is the best era of jump racing for many decades, consider this potted history…

Tipping the King George looked easy enough at the start of the season. Long Run had just broken the track record in his Cheltenham Gold Cup win. At the unlikely age of 6, he was evidently the new king, no question. I was on big at 5s for his Gold Cup win, following the Holmes logic that once you have ruled out every other possibility, what remains is truth. It was obvious why I was a believer, the evidence was all there.

Long Run is a horse I have followed with interest. I remember being stood within yards of Henderson and his entourage when Long Run failed to fire in the 2010 RSA (Henderson just mixes it with the crowd at the festival, I can tell you exactly where he will be stood again in March). You could see the mood with connections that day was pretty low, it left me thinking that it was not the result they were expecting. That and Hendersons comments about the horse just stuck with me, he was clearly loved at home.

Long Run lost the RSA that day at Cheltenham and then the Paddy Power in November. Both races he lost because he has a tendency to see his fences poorly. Henderson has had the horse with Yogi schooling those fences between each run and he is desperate to get him jumping well because clearly he is top draw.

Then came the postponed 2010 King George and Kauto’s impenetrable crown was whipped from him by Long Run. The evidence was now building for the Major that Long Run was the new king.

This was cemented as fact in the Majors mind when in March 2011 at the Gold Cup, the real Long Run landed, winning the Blue Riband race and setting a new track record. Job done.

Thus you can understand why I came into this season thinking that he would be unbeatable and that the old guard were spent. Thanks for the memories Kauto, now move over and let the new young gun in.

It was so simple, neat and tidy but noone had read the script to Kauto, Nicholls, Walsh and the Dicheat team.

As soon as the new order was constructed in such orderly fashion, the Betfair Chase at the start of this season destroyed all certainty. Kauto came back and demolished Long Run doing some serious damage to the track record in the process. It has to be one of Kautos best performances, akin to the 2009 King George.

If you took Kauto Star out of the Betfair Chase, the Long Run view would still have held. After all, he finished second by just 8 lengths which would have been close to a track record and don’t forget he had walked through one fence and was scruffy at many others (same old Long Run, oddly enough this was Kautos issue as a younger horse, that french style).

We must also remember that Kauto was tuned up to his best but Henderson hinted that he had left some off Long Run. With a clean round, could Long Run have emerged as the champ? Could he really have beaten Kauto?

Without Kauto in that race, we would still be celebrating Long Run as the new hero of the chase track… but Kauto was there, wasn’t he, it was no dream, although it was unbelievable, it happened, he did it, he bloody did it. I know because I watched it.

If Kauto wins again on boxing day, it will be his fifth King George. Should it happen, it is record for eternity, one that will remain, as the universe which has expanded across the millenia, begins to reverse, once again all matter is bought together being crushed, under unfathomable pressures to the size of a matchbox, before exploding and expanding in the next cycle of relentless Big Bangs.

Perhaps in the next universe a horse might take six King Georges, still seems unlikely and if it does happen, it is not a universe that the Major cares for. Good luck to them.

Who will win though on the day? So you need a tip for the King George?

I do think the preparedness is key. In the Betfair, Kauto was 100%, I think connections wanted to silence the voices that were calling for retirement by showing them that a fit Kauto has the zest to carry on. It would be a masterful training performance to take his older legs, get him rested and then back for this.

Long Run will have had this as the main target and is likely to be in a better physical condition. I am in two minds over the track. One part of me thinks that Kempton will suit; but they can go at a fair clip into those fences down the back and if he is not foot perfect, we could see that traditional Long Run error. That could be crucial.

Of the other runners, Masterminded has never tried three miles but Nicholls is stepping him up anyway. Nicholls though had this as a plan for some time, I think Masterminded will be well tuned up and if he stays he is interesting. He used to struggle with two and a half miles although those days seem behind him. I think he will stay and, controversially, I think he will beat Kauto, there I have said it, will he beat the others though?

Johnson has been raving about Captain Chris. His last run was too bad to be true and an infection was to blame. If recovered, this horse could still be ready to show us more. Place prospects but overall I think I prefer the win chances of Long Run and Masterminded.

Overall, I am minded to bet on Masterminded. As much as Long Run could be the next best thing, I think three miles around Kempton is going to be Mastermindeds’ ideal condition. He takes his fences so well at pace just like his stablemate, Kauto, and I think that will buy him enough lengths. Under pressure Long Run is prone to error and I just suspect that Kauto will not be seen in the same light as The Betfair.

Masterminded is currently 8.8 on Betfair, get stuck in and wish me Merry Christmas.

The Christmas Hurdle

Much less of a write-up on this race but no less a fascinating clash, even if a little less high-profile.

We have the barrel chested Binocular, who seems to have two ways of racing, JP McManus and Nicky Henderson had their day in the sun when he returned to win a Champion Hurdle in 2010 but since then (and prior to it), Binocular has been inconsistent and at times poor. I think he is a hard horse to get fit and needs a lot to fall right so 2/1 is not for me.

The second market leader is Overturn, who seems to love as much racing as possible. He relishes getting his nose in front and understands what is required but the suspicion is that he is just short of Champion Hurdle class. That might be enough to win this anyway.

The final of the trio that head the market is exciting prospect Rock on Ruby. While the form of his festival second to First Lieutenant is not as strong a CV as the others, his reappearance run suggested he is a star in the making. Although someway short on official BHA rankings, he could clearly take another giant leap forward and take this.

I am getting on Rock on Ruby at 2/1 and also may purchase a 16/1 Champion Hurdle ticket ahead of Boxing Day as a Christmas gift for some lucky soul!

The Feltham

This looks like a straight punch up between three exciting chasers in Grand Crus, Silviniaco Conti and Bobs Worth.

As much as Grand Crus has impressed, Bobs Worth did just a little bit more for the Major in his recent defeat of Cue Card. That day, Bobs Worth travelled well until smacking four out. Then it was time for Geraghty to earn his riding fee, in a superb demonstration of the great jockeys horsemanship, he relaxed the horse, got him back into a rhythm and up on the line to win.

Silviniaco Conti has done little wrong. His 5l defeat to Menorah was decent form, though it must be said that twice he has finished behind Cue Card who seems a better hurdler. Conti now seems to have improved based on the awesome win at Wincanton on reappearance. For me 9/2 is a superb price, Nicholls has been sweet on this horse and I fancy conditions will be perfect.

Merry Christmas to you all from the Major. May it pass with a warm glow in your heart. Let us deal with the peripheral noise and come back Boxing Day, clear minded and show our intent to the enemy ahead of the New Year.

There it is, the Majors tips for Kempton, I wish you the best. I will be posting at some point in the festive period more tips (We have the Welsh National for a start) and also my promised guide to the best 2011 horseracing moments. If you did not see the podcast, the Major got an almighty mention from their team (follow the link, it’s about 7:45 in). Was pleased to see that my top moment made a great splash there and was also selected by the Racing Post as their number one moment too.

Courage followers, shuffle those cards, it is darkest, before the dawn.

The Saturday Sermon – Tips for Ascot 40/1 and 50/1! Fresh from the unhinged mind of the Major

Fair tidings I wish to thee from a cold frosty Defford, where the Major has taken the early morning air, breathing in the coldness until it hurts the lungs. Returning to the kitchen table where the coffee has been bubbling away, a beautiful morning.

Oh yeah baby, Big Bucks is your daddy

Recent tipping form from the Major has left an awful lot to be desired, in fact, it has been dreadful. If you have made a purposeful visit this morning, I urge you to consider your mental health, it must be akin to that of your bank roll. I thank you though and hope to reward you with a turn in fortune to fill your purse with the enemies riches. This is our Stalingrad, do not call it a comeback, we were never gone. All brave warriors experience despair and darkness before the final true reincarnation to ultimate deliverance, read the bible, we shall rise again so daub your war paint and sharpen the lance point.

This week, Chris Graham of Sportingbet tweeted to ask for help in amassing the best sporting moments in 2011 which he is compiling into a podcast. After consideration, I overlooked McIlroy (which even for a non golf fan like myself was sensational), I thought of Mark Cavendish who probably achieved more but settled for a moment of pure poetry from my favourite sport. Kauto was moving, but no….. Frankel was explosive, again no….. Hayley winning her G1 on Dream Ahead seemed special but no…..

The image of the teenager Michael Barzalona in a Derby photo finish bolt upright in his stirrups, arm vertical to the heavens, wow. The impudence and confidence of youth, to judge that Pour Moi has the momentum to win and to celebrate so audaciously, such an outpouring of joy, that image was poetic and no BHA campaign could ever do more good for our fine sport than that.

Sports moment of the year for the Major

Once the podcast that Chris is preparing is complete, I will post a link so we can see whether we were included and what others thought worthy. I am thinking of following up with my own end of year top ten horseracing moments of 2011, perhaps early January.

While I am on ‘mentions’, a big thank you to William Hill who sent me four tickets to the Kempton winter meet, second day…. Cheers guys, I shall now galvanise a hardy bunch who fancy a day in the bracing Surrey air to clear the Christmas heads. Let me know if interested.

The Major set up a social gambling club this year, called the King George Club, essentially members bet on behalf of the group and all winnings are kept in a communal pot. The most profitable member has to bet the lot on the King George at Kempton and if we win, we share all winnings equally, very social, perhaps slightly influenced by the teachings of Marx. We have just over (as Steve Palmer would say) a bag of sand to throw at it and it looks like it could be Mr Dipper to throw the dart. We are setting it up again for next year so if interested, again let me know.

Finally I am going to run a post soon on the best people to follow on twitter for horseracing fans. Again, I will get round to it, but if you don’t follow already, consider the Major (@tdl123) – It won’t enhance your life but it will make me happy.

To the sports….

The Lough Derg Long Walk – Ascot Grade 1

How fantastic to see such a good race named after Lough Derg, the bold as brass stayer who never lost for want of trying.

Here are a few numbers….. 1113, 999849, 4/20, 13. Any ideas?

They all relate to Big Bucks… 1113 days since his last defeat (which includes 13 races), £999,849 is his career winnings, 4/20 losses on British soil and 13 is his tally of Grade 1 or Grade 2 wins. Plus, he still has plenty of time to add to that!

This horse is truly the most accomplished in training and 1/3 does not look like a bad price for those who like to buy a bit of money.

I have to say that for the Major, I generally do not back Big Bucks. Largely because of the prohibitive odds but also his habit of getting off the bridle early in his races, it never looks good even if he always delivers.

Today, the only bet I could advise in this race is courtesy of a concession bordering on the crazy. Ladbrokes, the chief sponsor on the day are offering a refund on horses finishing second to Big Bucks. That surely makes Dynaste a bet to nothing. I love these competitive Saturdays with the enemy competing for our custom with loss making offers.

This Pipe horse deserves a crack at the champion even if he is rated a stone inferior. Pipe knows all about Big Bucks having chased him home with Grand Crus on several occasions, 5/1 with the magic sign surely makes it a bet to nothing.

1.20 Lingfield

The Major likes to bring you tips from the top races of the day but I also like the >£2k races in which my highly tuned sense of smell for a developing gamble can sometimes give us the great early value. Last night on Facebook, I put up Irons on Fire as a candidate, a horse so well treated on old form, it just stood out. Last night 7/1, this morning 11/4…. someone is paying for Christmas in the Majors view.

Even at 11/4, I do not think the price should stop you playing, I suspect a remarkable return to form and Irons on Fire scooting up to joyous scenes in the winners enclosure….. Thank you Jesus.

The Ladbroke

A fine handicap to close any day of racing and this is an opportunity to get a value punt in. This is the most valuable European handicap hurdle and as a result you get the best up and coming horses seeking to exploit their unexposed marks.

This is why as much as I like Marsh Warbler and Brampour, I have to overlook them in favour of something tastier down the weights.

The most obvious candidate is 5/1 Prospect Wells, a good flat horse now running for Nicholls and really fits the profile. A mark of 142 seems reasonable I just wonder if firmer conditions won’t be his thing, we shall see. Jockey booking of Walsh may seem important but I think Brampour would have had Nicholls nephew Derham aboard, regardless of horse ability, after the emotional win at Cheltenham. It is interesting though that Ruby rides Prospect Wells who is kept in the handicap proper by his stablemate – The flood of antepost money tells a story too. I would not put anyone off a Prospect Wells win bet.

I am going with two at bigger prices and suggesting one at odds that seem to dismiss any chance of victory, to a casual observer.

Viva Colonia is the first at 16/1. This horse finished well at Cheltenham when behind Brampour on last outing and it was an eye-catching surge. He was raised just 3lbs for that effort while the winner went up 10lbs, at the price, given some opportunity to come on for that run, I am having a slice.

The other selection is Gibb River, Hendersons string have been in such fine order and I have to say that at 9/1, this is an each way steal.

For those that like a monster price, Ciceron avoids being out of the handicap, again thanks to Brampours involvement. At least this selection will be fine on the ground, at 50/1 if the stable were in better form I would be tempted but no wins from the last 33 runners puts me off, shame I like a 50/1 steamer!

1.55 Graduation Chase

It looks to me like all the fun will be for the Paddy Power 4th, Aerial who has come in to dispute favouritism with Hell’s Bay.

I am all for the latter who has shown the best form by a stone and I think he will win so 7/4 is not bad. I would wait to place that bet though because I think he will drift as the money comes for the Nicholls horse. That is almost certain to happen in my view because I am sure as soon as a Nicholls winner goes in (of which there is ample chance with Big Bucks / Prospect Wells et al), the sheep will open their wallets.

That said, what about the others outside of the top two? Well there is an eye catcher. Soixante has not shown nearly enough to win on existing form but I do think this race will suit and 40/1 is the wrong price. Have a slice of that and send me the postcard.

To the other sports (Fairyhouse included!)

The wheels finally came off the Spurs bus which has carried me a long way this season, 2/5 against a possibly rejuvenated Sunderland is nor price.

I think the 11/5 about West Brom coming away from an unconvincing Blackburn is particularly attractive. Mr Hill, for once, I can see it! Take a piece of that.

I also like the 11/13 price about Newcastle getting the job done at home to Swansea.

finally Hull at evens to win at home against Millwall is like finding money in the street, load a new cartridge in the money printer for this one.

I suggest a lucky 15 on Mount Colah (banker in the opener at Fairyhouse), Hull, West Brom and Hells Bay. That should pay for a new pair of shoes!

This evening may you dine well, entertain the flaxen haired wanton piece. you know the sort, the curl of the lip, a saucy smile, knowing look and reckless sense of abandon. Tip well and at the midnight hour consider how good it is to be alive in this fine age of ours.

Courage and roll those dice.

Thursday Shot to Glory

Good evening from the Major who is about to rest his weary head on the pillow, I can resist slumbers siren call no longer.

I have one thing to offer you before this call…. Tomorrow, 3.20 manadam 5/1 thank me later.