Monthly Archives: January 2012

Tuesday Southwell Action – Take to the sands

With the thermometer plunging downwards, The Major loves winter, it is my favourite season, the cold air, the lack of sunburn and insects and the glory of national hunt racing.

Sadly, it is highly likely that the Taunton card, which looked marginally above average standard for a Tuesday, may be abandoned.  So, the Major has set his sights on two little tickles at Southwell where the deep sand will remain dismissive of winters cold sharp hands.

Tuesday Southwell Tips

Sistine should go well in the first (1.30), at 3/1 with Hendersons superb strike rate at Southwell, staying on the same modest mark for his 3l defeat at Southwell last time out, there are good reasons to suspect better can be expected.  I would say this rates a top price, have a slice.

The main bet though will be in the 4pm. Avonrose is in particularly good order and goes well here, I like 15/2.  The Ellison horse Soopacal looks absolutely primed to run a big one for the jockey they often use when they are ready!  3/1 reflects that, this price could contract. 

Punching also likes the course and it is likely will run a big race for Hayley.  I would have liked to have seen this one get a few more pounds off though for recent slightly below par efforts.

Overall though, Avonrose has not run a bad race at Southwell and Philip Makin is 1 from 2 races in that two years for the yard.

Avonrose 8/1 WIN BET.

Irish Champion Hurdle Day – Leopardstown Tips – The Return of the Fly

Good morning from the Major who sits typing on this cold frosty morning – A whiteness has descended, the plants look brittle at the edges, like they might shatter.

Hurricane Fly

It could be one of these but the Major is daring to oppose the Fly

Let’s hope racing goes ahead.

The Saturday Service was unprofitable.  While Grumeti was controversially awarded the race in the stewards room, the other mortars the Major aimed fell adrift.  Reload followers and trust in the greatest force of all, your own independent mind.

Of those other mortars, Charminster ran a race into fourth, Diamond Harry looked scruffy at the fences and surely is not suited to Cheltenham, having never raced comfortably, I would take that one straight to Aintree.

Not the best Saturday.  The Majors January profit has plunged to 13%…

January Results
Sport Stakes Profit
Racing 32 38.53%
Football 14 -42.79%
Total 46 13.78%

To Sunday and redemption….

Leopardstown Tips

 I have resolved to stop giving out footballing bets looking at the charts, they simply never pay for me!  Either that or I am going to have someone who is better at it provide them.  Mr Dipper, Mr Hill or Mr Redmond spring to mind.

I am going to concentrate more on my core subject, the sport of Kings.  Leopardstown hold a sumptuous banquet of a card today, how I wish I was there.

Let’s tackle the Grade 1 races first…

Leopardstown 1.25 Arkle Chase

The market is hugely focussed on the leading three chances, Flemenstar, Notus de la Tour and Blackstairmountain; 14/1 bar.

The Major also thinks the winner is in there and with just seven runners, I feel opposed to finding each way value, even though Gift of Dgab and Baily Green both look overpriced to me. 

I also find some merit in the claims of Lucky William whose second in a Grade 2 at Punchestown is not disgraceful.

The truth is that Bog Warrior seems to have held all of these Irish novices and looks the far better horse. 

The closest I can get to that in here is Flemenstar.  He chased Bog Warrior to within 7 lengths earlier in the season and seems to have improved over fences since.  The trainer / jockey strike rate is impressive and I think it is a reliable choice.

I will admit that Mullins is in tremendous form and it is hard not to get on Blackstairmountain but overall, my tip Flemenstar at 2/1, feels better value. 

2.30 Leopardstown – Irish Champion Hurdle

I love racing because I love stories.  Hurricane Fly is a tremendous example of a racing story that makes the sport great.

This horse has suffered a few setbacks and it was not until last March that we finally got him to Cheltenham.  His hurdling record ahead of that was sensational.  In total, Hurricane Fly has started thirteen races and has lost just two.

The first was a summer hurdle in France, probably not his season, where he finished second by two lengths without his usual sparkle.  The last loss, seven races ago, to Solwhit was in bottomless ground and the Fly simply did not show up.

Yet this horse has had many doubters.  Five of those wins since 2009 have been against Solwhit, the critics argue this is not strong.  He is also a fragile horse, he has suffered several setbacks over the years, including this campaign, where the Major believes this is the Fly’s third intended start.

There is no doubt the horse is a mercurial talent but is he fit?

If he is, is there credible opposition?

Well, yes is the answer to the second question.  Last years Triumph form has worked out very well.  The mare that finished second that day, lines up this afternoon and is in receipt of a handy 9lbs mares allowance.

Unaccompanied is surely the one if any, to give Hurricane Fly a scare.  In receipt of 10lbs, she beat Thousand Stars relatively comfortably last time out and is entitled to be better yet.  She is still 5 and so improvement is expected.

Strictly that form is probably not good enough to get to the Fly but then there is the first question, the really tricky one, is Hurricane Fly at 100%?

A further complication in the Majors mind is that there is no obvious front runner in a field of five.  I am pretty sure the versatile Thousand Stars out of the same stable as Hurricane Fly will take the job but we are not assured of a strong pace.  This could be very tactical.  This is also more solid ground than the Fly is used to, that should not be a problem but the combination of those two factors does make me wonder if the Fly’s usual turn of foot, so devastating, will be seen to the same effect.

This promises to be a cracker so where should you put your money?

The Major believes the Fly is the best horse.  The Major also thinks that 1/2 is plenty skinny enough.  There is no doubt that Mullins would not race him unless he was ready, they think too much of him and have held him back plenty of times, even when the trainer knew it would be an unpopular decision.

I still think that making a seasonal debut in this hot race against an unexposed potential wonder-mare in receipt of a sack full of weight….

Maybe I will look stupid later but Unaccompanied 4/1.

I was going to look at the novice hurdle that follows the Irish Champion Hurdle but thought I would throw a slightly different arrow at another that caught the eye.

Ffos Las – 2.55 Handicap Hurdle

The Welsh ground is heavy and for the Major, I always appreciate an extreme of condition, it helps create value.

The selection is a horse I think may go off a gamble…. Tarateeno 5/1.

It is only the third horse that Pat Murphy has sent all the way from Berkshire to Wales and he makes the long trip for a £3k contest with just this one horse in the box.

Tarateeno is racing off a mark of 90, yet just at the start of 2010, he had a mark of 124 over hurdles.  He probably did not deserve that but to tumble so far, it has taken a long consistent run of shocking performances.

Many of those performances have also been over fences rather than hurdles and his recent two spins over the smaller obstacles have been marginally better, even if they have not halted his slide.

His form on heavy ground is decent.  Three miles in this is probably just right.

Courage, roll those dice!

The Saturday Sermon Cheltenham Racing Tips, 4th Round FA Cup Tips

Good morning from the Major who writes from the cold Worcestershire heartland.  The earthen smell of the outdoors, the depths of January and the glory of a superb Cheltenham card – It is good to be alive and an Englishman on days of such heady mix.

Diamond Harry to win the Argento Chase

Diamond Harry for the Major.... send me the postcard

You may notice this post was posted in the wee hours, this is due to the Majors Saturday commitments which have disturbed the usual weekend rhythm.

Did you realise that the Major loves gambling?  Had you picked up on this subtlety?  That was a rhetorical question.  Truly it is an honourable endeavour and if you are not certain of this in your heart.  If you give even the slightest credence to it being a sin or a weakness, then please move on, your sort is not welcome here.  

Can you get a paper between addiction and unconditional love?  Well yes, addiction is irrational, unconditional love not necessarily so.  Either way, the Major cares little, I simply love the thrill of sporting chance. 

Nobody has captured the honourable endeavour more accurately in my view than the great Kipling, one of England’s finest poets, whose prose roused the youth of the nation into a mission of imperialism, setting fires alight in the bellies of youth to win their spurs fighting in some foreign clime to bring the three C’s to the rest of the world.

From his most famous Poem ‘If’. 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

The Major feels remorse for those that do not gamble, it is as if they are missing an essential part of the great existence we share.  We go floating by just the once and you need to grab whatever flotsam comes your way in the current.  Accept the sweet gifts my friends, yet ask no questions.  

If you want to read Kipling, I suggest you start with Kim.

To the sports…. shine the point on that lance young man and polish that saddle.  We shall meet our enemy hand to hand and we shall be dressed as a gentleman should be.

Tips for The Cheltenham Card

What a truly terrific card at Cheltenham for Trials Day.  The Argento chase looks superb, even with Grand Crus dropping out, the juvenile hurdle looks a cracker too. For those on the course, enjoy, I wish you the happiest of days, think of the Major…. childrens party…. bad times. 

For those reading late at night, the rain has come to Cheltenham so although the official going is good to soft, it may be soft in places.

I hope I have found some winning Cheltenham tips for you.  Get these in a Lucky 15 and thank me later!

12.55 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial

Grumeti was incredibly unlucky not to win when falling eight lengths clear and cruising at the last on his second hurdles start at Newbury.  He had previously spread-eagled a Taunton field and looks a top class prospect.

That said, so does Baby Mix.  He had Hinterland 7 lengths behind (a horse that Hollow Tree failed to beat over course and distance) and crucially has Cheltenham form.

One of the most interesting runners is Pearl Swan.  A french import in the hands of Nicholls entered at this level and still being quoted at 10/1.

When all is said and done, I am minded to back Grumeti at 6/4.  There is not so much love in the price but Alan King took this trial with Franchoek, Katchit and Walkon in the last five years so he clearly aims his top Triumph prospect at it.

Incidentally, if you want my best Cheltenham bet, I would take the 16s still about for Dildar to win the Triumph Hurdle.   This Nicholls inmate has a similar feel to Zarkander.  A classy flat animal (5l down to Pour Moi and only narrowly beaten by the French Derby winner!) he could first appear on a UK course on the Friday of the festival, do not say I did not warn you!

1.30 Cheltenham – Novice Handicap Chase

This is a wide open handicap and the markets are 7/1 the field.  The horses that are nof significant interest are..

Made in Time who has won both chase starts he has completed.  Sadly he has only completed half his chase starts and that makes him a difficult horse to tip in a competitive handicap which will test his jumping.

Charminster looks certain to improve now stepping up in distance and is a serious contender in the Majors view.  He looks classy and could get away with carrying eleven seven, this is a handicap debutante of clear interest.

Carpincho also looks fairly treated and the stable have booked Costello for the ride.  He is 1/3 for the yard and this is not a horse without chance.

That’lldoboy still looks on the upgrade and we cannot be certain that the handicapper has stopped Mr Chow either who was turned out twice quickly over the New Year to take advantage of lenient marks.  124 may still be going easy on him.

Bless the Wings is certainly well in on his form with Our Mick.  The latter is now equipped with a mark of 142 and Bless the Wings was a 6 length second at Kempton so 130 looks tidy.

Overall I am going to steer you to Charminster at 10/1.  McCain is in decent enough touch and this horse does look pretty decent.  Bless the Wings (particularly), That’lldoboy and Mr Chow all rate as live dangers.

2.25 Argento Chase

This is pretty much a Gold Cup field with the exceptions of Grand Crus, Long Run and Kauto.  A classy affair for the highlight of the card.

The Major has to side with Diamond Harry who looks sensational value at 7/2. 

Captain Chris has looked all wrong on his last runs and if he returns to his form from last spring then he will be a danger to all.  That said, the Major thinks he is a spring horse and best watched so 11/4 gets no love from these quarters.  I also think they need to step back to two and a half miles but we will see.

Time for Rupert needs to step up and with the stable seemingly out of sorts, not for me.

Overall I am very pleased to be getting 7/2 for Diamond Harry, a fragile horse but one who has a superb winning record.

3.10 Novice Hurdle –  Grade 2

This is a great looking race and the two to concentrate on are well advertised in the market, Knights Pass and Broadbackbob.

The first has gone from strength to strength hurdling and is entitled to have a step up in class.

The second and the Majors tip, Broadbackbob, is another of the novice hurdling riches of the Henderson yard and should be backed early at 7/4 (general).  His two hurdle wins have been done with the minimum of fuss and he has the best form on show, simple.

To the football and 4th round FA Cup tips…

The Major’s football tips are not fairing brilliantly so these come with a profit warning.

Hull to beat Crawley… 18/19

Newcastle to win at Brighton 20/19

Stoke to win at Derby 13/10

May your dinner be Mexican, hearty beans and fiery flavour, eat with your hands and take company that is relaxed and uncomplicated – The sort with a plain yet somehow wanton look.  Enjoy yourself.  Tip well. 

Courage, roll those dice.

Thursday Racing Tip… Gowran Park Thyestes Chase 16/1 and 12/1 Selections

The Majors Wednesday tip ran into a place but was not good enough to take the spoils of war.  I returned to take stock of the Thursday cards and there is some good action in Ireland and the UK.

Tinakellylad for the Major in the Thyestes

The top action is at Gowran Park where there is a £52k Chase and a £26k Hurdle race which features the likes of Voler la Vedette and Zaidpour in what promises to be a warm encounter. 

It is the chase contest with 18 runners and a beautiful handicap conundrum worthy of the finest racing minds, that attracts the Majors eye though.  A fiendish puzzle, wrapped in an enigma, coded and written down, dismantled and disturbed, only those whose minds can reassemble the fragments dare to assess the eighteen runners.  Dare dip thy crucible in the boiling seething pot?

Sadly you only have the Major as your guide.  I am only an amateur sherpa in these high climes but I come with unbridled enthusiasm, relentless optimism and an idea of the winner.

3.05 Gowran – The Thyesetes Chase

There is a very strong trend in the Thyestes that the Major is using as the basis of his tips, as I feel two are worthy of backing. 

Of the last ten winners, only one horse (last years Siegemaster) carried a burden in excess of eleven stone.  In fact, 70% of winners carried 10 stone 2 lbs or less.  A featherweight is what we are looking for.

I have run the usual calculations and have the probabilities in the Majors eyes for each horse.  Willie Mullins has four runners in a race he has taken with National winner Hedgehunter as well as Homer Wells, all four warrant respect.  Two of them Shakervilz and Some Target sit in the top four of the betting.

Start Me Up would also be of clear interest and he heads the market at 8/1.  Some good bumper and hurdles form and a warm up race over too short a distance actually adds up to an interesting profile.  The price is skinny enough but more money could be significant.

First reserve Tullintain is of some interest to the Major if he gets a run but since we are after something to back, I am going to suggest a 16/1 shot.

The Major has settled on two horses to back for wins.

Tinakellylad is the first selection at 16/1, the Mouse Morris trained eight year old.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this horses best form having beaten Kempes as a novice.  He has had some problems having been bought down in the Munster National before being pulled up twice.  However last time out at Cork, he returned to a better line of form.

I am backing him to run a decent race off 10st 4lbs, with a further 5lb pull from his worthy jockey A P Heskin.

The second animal is 12/1 Adams Island who gets a Barry Geraghty ride.  His last run was also a turning point in a decent race at Leopardstown.  He has had money come for him in races this year that he has flopped at, this is the second time Geraghty has taken the ride and the Major feels a big run is expected.  12/1 William Hill is the best price.

Have two slices and thank me later.

Wednesday Mussleburgh Horseracing Tip

Good evening from the Major who sits at the very bottom of the base curve that is the weeks racing action.

This is the moment where the ‘curve of racing quality’ which was heading relentlessly downwards since the weekend starts turning skywards in hope and expectation, optimistically emerging, blinking, from the darkness of Southwell £1.6k sellers; dreaming of the graded bounty promised by the weekend which we can almost taste.

Mussleburgh hosts a fairly ordinary card but the Major has an interest in the two mile handicap hurdle…

3.10 Mussleburgh

Good ground is a great asset in differentiating the field in this hurdle contest.  The Major believes only three horses will thrive in the conditions.  They are Baaher, City Ground and Beidh Tine Anseo.

In the case of Baaher, I am not convinced he will trouble the judge, his recent chasing work has not been great and this seems plan B.

City Ground is harder to read.  Although he did not demonstrate too much to think he would be a good hurdler last time out (unseated when unlikely to win); it is still possible he is learning his way.  His flat form holds up well, of interest.

Dontpaytheferryman, enjoying his 56th run under rules is one of those Ellison horses that needs to be caught right.  He is weighted near to best and I have a hunch tomorrow is not a going day.

My selection is 5/1 Beidh Tine Anseo, this horse has been running with some credit on probably unsuitable soft ground.  His mark has fallen a further 4lbs since his last run and I think the key turning point in the horses form will be the forecast firmer conditions he will get at Mussleburgh.

Incidentally Beidh Tine Anseo translates as Will Fire Here.  Another nugget to enrich your existence.