Good morning from rural Worcestershire where the air seems less charged and a frantically heated week. The Major is at the kitchen table having slept like the dead, the coffee is bubbling away and once more I prepare for battle with the enemy.
After having a great time at Stratford races last week, the Major is considering taking the two young boys back today. They enjoy the space, they love the horses and Stratford has such an intimate feel to it, it is ideal for a family day out.
What great news that Channel Four are getting all domestic coverage of racing. If you use the search bar, you will find that this has been a long term campaign for the Major. Put simply, the dedication of the Channel 4 team is there. Every week they are racing and include the excellent morning line in their schedules.I always felt it unfair that the BBC had some of the crown jewels like the Arc, the National and the Derby. I also found it odd that they chose to include the Welsh National in their chosen fixture list too!
I have always rated the Channel 4 team far superior and I believe they do not need Clare Balding to move over. Don’t change a winning formula.
What a great day of sport; the Majors appetite is whetted; the racing includes the Lincoln and the World Cup in Meydan while the Premier League has some fixtures which look incorrectly priced to the Major.
Let us be thankful for being alive in this moment and let us find that elusive winner at odds that will put a smile on your bank managers face. There are followers of this blog who back blindly the advice they read. I hope that today, they all land for you as well as me!
The March form is strong; there are some numbers to be updated in the betting register and results tabs in the menu but it is only about a week out of date.
As ever, the Major remains profitable… just. If that is your sole aim though, you are not welcome. The Major is more than just a tipster seeking profit.
In fact, I charge you not for being here but I do ask that you merit your welcome. The criteria are simple. You must be a gentleman. You must take losing as well as winning. You must enjoy the sport in the knowledge that it is a diorama of life itself with success and failure decided on a whim. You must appreciate your own frailty and understand that we drift by on this tide just the once; grab on to what you can and enjoy. Lap it up my friend and ask no questions. Oh, and a passing interest in Victorian military history helps.
The Major is free, barely profitable and certainly unhinged. If this is the sort of tipster you are after then read on. Every week, the Saturday Sermon tries to land the mothership; join my immortal battle; daub your war paint, sharpen your lance point and let us pick our enemy off at the trot.
I accept no criticism for bets that fail; I take no thanks for those that win. Your mind is your own; the last thing a man can take from you; do with it as you please.
Can I also point out the fancy new banner that has replaced my Cheltenham special. Given the flat season is here, I thought the highest rated horse in the world should grace our banner.
To the sports.
3.15 Doncaster – Tips for The Lincoln
The big flat curtain raiser is a handicap woven together by the devil to fox us, teasing us with intrigue. 22 runners charging down Doncasters straight. Firstly, fair play to Paddy Power Racing who go five places on their each way terms, credit where it is due.
What makes it so damned difficult to solve the Lincoln is that this race is the first run of the season for so many of these horses. Which of the four year olds have wintered well and are now better horses? Which are in form? What about track bias?
I am minded to follow the four year olds this year. They have collected the prize six times in the last nine runnings and they are far fewer in number on each card.
Fury at 7/1 ticks a lot of boxes but given just how bad his last season was, caution is advised. Connections will hope that having him gelded makes all the difference and he is one in the field who could hose up.
The other 4 year olds are hard to enthuse about. Askaud at a price (50/1) at least has a decent attitude but given he likes to lead, I cannot feel he will take this.
Eton Forever is a five year old with an excellent 7/1 chance. I am a big fan of the Varian stable and Neil Callan is one of my favourite flat jockeys and one of the most under-rated around in the Majors view.
On balance I am going to back two. Fury is the first tip at 7/1 for a win. Haggas has won the Lincoln twice in the last ten years and that gives us hope that he has his horse primed.
The second is a massive price for a contender that is not obvious. Shavansky is a 40/1 shot (BetVictor / Sportingbet) and with the way he can finish a race, he could be plugging on to good effect in the final yards. There have been good noises from the yard on twitter and the Major is tempted with a slice.
Meydan – Tips for the World Cup
£3.8m for the winner. The money that the Sheikhs are putting up at Meydan is eye watering and they deserve the attention from the best yards in the world. This truly is a World Cup.
The O’Brien trained So You Think is rumoured to be in fine fettle and is a general 5/2 chance.
I have to say that the surface is my main concern for the horse. He never seemed to get going at Churchill Downs on dirt and Tapeta has similar qualities in the Majors view. Not one for me, although his draw is helpful. That said, the horse is off to stud back in Australia and this would add another few thousand $ to the fee!
Smart Falcon has carried all before him in the far east, amassing £5.5m in winnings from 19 victories in a 25 race career. We have not seen him in Europe or the Middle East though and although I prefer the selection to So You Think, not for the Major.
The Major is going to tip 10/1 shot Royal Delta who is also drawn comfortably enough in stall 7 and is a strong dirt performer.
Game on Dude ridden by the talented and beautiful Canadian Chantal Sutherland will have to expend a lot of energy from gate 14 to get to the lead and I fear that will undo the horses chances. That strong gallop though which has been missing in recent World Cups (and reducing them to near meaningless) should be assured today with four front runners in the field.
and in other racing….
Still in Meydan, ten year old Kasbah Bliss aims at the Group 3 stayers race (2.45), 16/1 and not a tip but would love to see the old warrior do it again!
In the 3.25, Mickdaam is an absolute steal at 5/1, proven on the course and amongst the best form on show regardless; at least twice the price the Major has him at.
In the 4.35, Bob Bafferts The Factor could be a dream winner for the trainer who suffered a heart attack in Dubai. 6/1 is a huge price but reflects the lack of experience on the Tapeta surface – With this selection I am happy to take that on chance.
In a terrific day of racing, the other price that catches the eye is in the 5.20 Webster Cup at Navan. This Grade Two contest has plenty of previous graded winners in it and we are trying to assess which winter horses are over the top and which summer horses are coming to hand. On good ground, I have to advise you to call your money man and free up some capital with which to back Zaarito at 5/2. Finishing second to the tidy looking Seabass last time out and sure to cope with conditions, a strong fancy.
In the football, Bolton look a tidy 9/4 to win at Wolves who look gone to me. Arsenal are 8/13 to win at QPR, also worth adding in as well as Newcastle to beat Liverpool (2/1).
May your dinner be a glorious steak, shown the merest glimpse of a flame and served with a light salad. The company should be the country sort who does not mind the blood on the plate.
Courage and roll those dice.