Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Saturday Service – Punchestown and Sandown Tips… Changing the Guard

Good morning from a dreary Worcestershire setting with a stern breeze confirming the weathers mood as antagonistic.  Lying in bed at an early hour, I listened closely to the noise lorries were making as they passed the village on the main road, the light hissing I could make out was certain to mean a slick road surface; who says you cannot forecast the weather with your ears.

Une Artiste (bear side) is still under estimated in the markets

The Major is frankly astonished we have had racing at Punchestown this week.  Heavy isn’t close, bottomless is not adequate, bog will suffice.  I do not blame the Punchestown team, conditions are safe.  However, when you are watching two mile bumper sorts finishing strung out like they have completed a four mile course, you have to question whether it is racing as we know it.  It looks too punishing for the Major.  That said, I have right only to opinion, it is for those who have invested their resources into owning and training a horse to decide on what they should do.Today is the changing of the guard as we see off the national hunt season with the Celebration Chase and Gold Cup at Sandown as well as the Punchestown Gold Cup.  The flat season also offers treats up with Sandowns mixed discipline card giving us two Group 3 races including the Gordon Richards stakes.

Football has reached the business end of the season too.  What a game we witnessed on Tuesday as Chelsea dug deep to repel Barcelona.  There was something utterly British about the sheer will that Chelsea showed, refusing to bend.  The oft quoted Any Sunday quote regarding games been won in inches sprang to mind as Messi connected powerfully from the penalty spot, two inches lower, the ball is in off the bar and the game would have been up.  Good news for Barca fans though, the Major can confirm I have signed a contract to replace Pep.  I am planning on bringing in a traditional British centre half and centre forward, some six foot three types, plus we will be more direct.  The contract I signed is three years, paying £2m per year…… All I hope now is that Barca also sign it, I shall keep you informed.

By the way if you think that because Real and Chelsea found ways of stopping Barcelona, then football was somehow the loser…. I say to thee, codswallop.  Mental strength is as important a component in winners as is raw ability.  The Major suggests that such toil is equally beautiful too.  The Majestic pass from Iniesta is poetic as is a centre half throwing his body down in the vain hope that a full bloodied strike hits him on the full.

Last week The Major was at the Emirates and enjoyed the colourful Saturday morning carnage on the underground.  At 10am, a man so drunk he could not stand was using language as inflammatory as you can imagine.  The Major was minded to say something but did not.  Neither did anyone else.  We all just stood there while he spewed forth his inutterables.  At one point he opened a tin of a milky drink, I have no idea what the constituent ingredients were.  He poured half of it on the floor, even then, we all remained content to stay quiet and hope his attention did not turn to us.  If just one citizen had broken rank and confronted him, I am sure the crowd would have supported but none did.  Afterwards, your reluctant correspondent felt a little deflated by the whole affair.  I like to think that I do the right thing.

Imagine if I had said something.   There was the risk that accompanies confronting a drunken sort.  The Major has only fought while a schoolboy and I lost most of those encounters, soon learning where my skills lay.  Imagine though if I had done something on that tube train.  The euphoria and adrenaline, the confidence drawn.  The rightfullness.

Later in the week, news came from Birmingham of a death in the family friend network.  The funeral is Tuesday.  We all drift by the once dear readers.  Do the right thing when you can.  Grasp those moments.  They are yours alone, the tally sheet is a private affair.

Before the horseracing tips start in earnest, the Major (@tdl123) is tipping up a twitter account to follow…. Emma Louise (@EmmyKGtS) is an amateur photographer specialising in racing.  She takes requests when she goes to track and the Major has already pinched her work for the blog on previous posts.  Well worth a follow….

To the sports and let us daub our war paint.

Punchestown Gold Cup Tips

In the last two years some big price horses have won the Punchestown Gold Cup so tipping up Rubi Light at 3/1 requires some explanation.

One of the big question marks hanging over my tip is the chance that Rubi Light will not stay.  Given the conditions, it is a fair question.  The Major clearly takes the view he will and what is more I always think that unproven stayers are always well treated in the market.

Rubi Light will face Quel Esprit as main market rival and with Willie Mullins form at Punchestown alone, you would have to think his horse will be involved.  I am concerned though that the horse came out of the Cheltenham Gold Cup on the morning of the race and this one I am happy to wait for next season for this one.

5.05 Punchestown Mares Hurdle

The Major is waiting for the rest of the racing world to agree that Une Artiste is a much better horse than she is given credit for.

Having finished within ten lengths of the triumph market leaders on debut in Britain, she went on to take a festival race well before returning to Cheltenham to win pretty much on the bridle, despite a market drift.

7/4 with Betvictor is a smashing price and 2m 2f in heavy conditions will suit her down to the ground, as long as she is not over the top, I suspect she wins comfortably.

2.35 Sandown – Tips for the Celebration Chase

An intriguing contest at Sandown where many questions need answering…

Which version of Somersby will turn up? Can French Opera beat a better field to retain his crown? Has Wishfull Thinking turned a corner?

The ground at Sandown remains just soft on the chase course although heavy on the flat.  The Major is torn between the three above in this race and marginal preference is with Somersby at 10/3 (Stan James).  A horse that often looks like he needs further, I think the conditions here are perfect.  Let us not forget that this horse beat the Champion Chaser, Finians Rainbow at this venue and his best performances have all come at the minimum trip.

I think Somersby can put his best foot forward and that will be too good for most these.  Wishfull Thinking remains the chief danger.

3.10 Bet365 Gold Cup

20 runners and a near four mile trip around Sandown.  This will be a real test for the strong willed amongst the field.

West End Rocker must surely be due a bit of luck and will relish the test.  Available at 17/2 I would not put you off.

Dovers Hill was an eyecatcher winning here on his latest appearance, 5lbs up in the weights looks a very light punishment given the defeated that day went on to perform so well in the Scottish National.  My main concern with this one though is the ground where he has failed to place on four starts on soft or worse.

The other of interest is Galaxy Rock.  Jonjo would not run him if he did not feel he was up to the exertion after last weeks efforts.  Even so, it is a big ask to run well in two big assignments in the week.

Le Beau Bai is one that will be praying for more rain, it simply cannot be soft enough for him!  The likely favourite will go well I am sure but….

On balance, 17/2 West End Rocker is the one that will carry the Majors penalty!

3.45 Sandown – Gordon Richard Stakes Tips

Poet looks about as certain of a place as a bet can get given that the seven year old will thrive in todays energy sapping conditions.  This would normally be the tip but the Major is drawn to the recent history of this race which show that Sir Michael Stoute has won three of the last five outings.

His representative today and the Majors tip for the Gordon Richards is World Domination at 11/1 (Stan James).  This horse was once favourite for the Derby before disappointing twice last season.  On the last occasion he returned with an injury and so I would not be so quick to write him off.  The ground is certainly a big question but it is only an unknown not necessarily a hindrance.  All of that is in the 11/1 price in the Majors view and so have a meaty slice and thank me later.

To the football fields….

Everton to beat Fulham at home looks a nice bet at 10/11.  I cannot see many goals going in at the Albion unless Villa fold early and so nil nil at half time at 9/4 makes plenty of appeal.  Bolton are fighting for their lives and 3/1 to bring the points out of Sunderland feels fair.  Corals go evens about Sheffield Wednesday winning at Brentford and that should be backed too.

Why not dine with Tapas this evening.  It is a nice way of eating.  Take a sort that doesn’t mind getting her fingers in the food and raises a giggle as the grog flows.  Eat well and relax.

Courage, roll those dice.

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Scottish Grand National Tip 50/1 | Scottish Champion Hurdle Tips… plus Newbury

Good evening from the Major who writes from the dark Worcestershire countryside night.  No Saturday morning post as I am London bound on the early train to catch Association Football at the Emirates.

Walkon.... Going to an extreme stamina test, what is that about?

A long and busy day is in the making.  I always think I might nap on the early train but in reality, I know I will read the papers.11am for cocktails at the Emirates is gruelling but one must make do as best as one can.  The company will be excellent and the game promises to be close.  Grab what floats by on the tide dear friends.

The late afternoon train back to Pershore and then an evening with friends at a charity event – Marvelous stuff.

What a great day of sport too.  Ayr offers a tasty card including the Scottish Grand National, the Scottish Champion Hurdle and a further Grade 2 novice affair.  Newbury host three Group races including the Greenham where Bronterre gets the chance to boost the already red hot Dewhurst form.  Then there is an interesting sprint race in Naas.

Apologies for the tardiness in updating the bet records again.  The reason I only kept them for five months before stopping them last year was simply the hassle.  I promise to get them up to date again though soon.  People do want to know whether they are reading the considered advice of an expert or the babbling noise that falls from the mouth of a madman.  I can assure it is the latter.

I find criticism of tipsters small minded.  Not surprising since I am an amateur tipster who gets his fair share of grief.  The subject is a popular rant of mine but as an individual, you have a sacred right that no-one can take, the independence of your own thought.  Therefore, what you choose to do with any information is your decision alone.  I have no right to your thanks either if you choose to bakc a horse with your own money that I like.  What I write is free, in the public domain for one and all.  Friend, foe, the deserving and the cad.

There is another reason, I find the criticism of an amateur tipster odd and that is the decline of the good loser.  If you have never watched ‘The Sting’ then you are not welcome here.  During the early scenes, the lead character grifts a small fortune and blows it on a crooked roulette table.  As his girl for the night rants and screams and the dealer throws him an extra dig (a bit rich since he cooked the table), he simply tilts his hat, grimaces and moves on with his life.

After the Majors revolution, licences will be issued allowing people access to bookmakers premises and online betting accounts.  To qualify, you must demonstrate your ability to take defeat gracefully.  If you can afford to bet, it is the minimum you owe.

Today the Major gambles the same as he always does… A touch of inspiration, a deal of perspiration and a smattering of procrastination.  I shall stick to the formula.  Sometimes innovation is required, a surprise change of methodology to surprise the enemy.

When the Suez Canal was under threat from revolt in nineteenth century Egypt,  Wolseley led a daring night march.  His goal was to attack regular Egyptian infantry who were well dug in at Tel el-Kebir.  He took Highlanders and Indian Infantry, meeting the enemy at dawn with bayonets fixed.  The British were just a stones throw from the Egyptian defences before their alarm was raised and so ferocious was the assault that the enemy largely fled.  Wolseley was a detached and clinical sort who chased down his foe.

Several thousand Egyptians died, by contrast, Wolseley had just 60 odd that failed to answer the roll call.  The decisive win paved the way for the British to march on Cairo.  The ensuing carnage of the defeated enemy clogging the Cairo road meant that little meaningful resistance was put up.  We reinstalled the Khedive and the valuable Suez Canal which had reduced by more than a half the sea trip to India was secure.

To the sports. Daub thy war paint….

Scottish Grand National Tips – 3.25 Ayr

With 25 runners, bookmakers offering five places are putting up a decent concession.  Bet365, Betvictor, Paddy Power, Boylesports and Stan James… well done.

Hmmmmmm, a damn hard handicap.  By far the most interesting horse in this race is Walkon.  Make no mistake, Walkon was a top class juvenile and when he won his chase debut after a lengthy absence, at the start of this season, the world looked like it was laid out entirely for his own satisfaction.  Things have not gone to plan since then but an entry in the Scottish National?  The horse could be accused of being one-paced at times.  This step up to a marathon distance may trigger a sparkling performance from a horse well handicapped or it is an act of desperation…. 25/1 is a fair price to find out.

Merigo looks an each way steal having been prepped for this race all season.

The other two of significant interest are Galaxy Rock who has two things the Major likes about his chances.  Firstly, bar a rallying Neptune Collonges, Sunnyhillboy almost landed the Grand National last week and Galaxy Rock would have then been the yards stab at the National double.  Secondly, the horse ran a blinder earlier in the season at Cheltenham and on face value that form has him very well in.

The final horse on the shortlist is Portrait King.  The Eider winner has been showing much more class now upped to marathon distances.  That said, I am wary of backing a novice, no matter how good his chances look.  It is a tough one to ignore though, his 9lb raise looks very light considering how gamely he rallied after smacking three out.

All of my selections and most of the field will be fine on the good ground.  On balance, all four have a good chance.

I would not my cap too towards Mostly Bob who if putting in a big round of jumping, which is a considerable if… would be there at the finish.

However, the Major has gone for a 50/1 outsider that would be a shock winner.  Petitfour out of the Twiston-Davies team (won the race with Hello Bud four years ago).  I think a marathon trip will suit and ground won’t be a problem.  The horse has had his problems and has not been in the winners enclosure for several years but I do not think it is a forlorn hope…. Have a slice with Betvictor who go the five places.

Scottish Champion Hurdle Tips

Champion Hurdle in name, limited handicap in nature.

Providing a Scottish Grand National Tip requires you to immerse yourself in a sea of information, finding the winner of the Scottish Champion Hurdle is much much easier.

Edgardo Sol. 9/4 Betvictor again.  This horse has found his form in sparkling style this spring with a fine second in the county hurdle being followed up with a breathless Aintree win.  As long as this does not come too soon, I would be quite surprised if he did not go in again.

2.15 Grade 2 Novice Chase

Pacha Du Polder is only five and looks a sure improver but the Major opts for Rival D’Estruval.

My selection has shown decent form and my only concern is that this trip might be a little on the short side.

Tips for Newbury Group Races

3.10 Newbury – Greenham Stakes Tips

As opposed to the good ground north of the border, expected conditions at Newbury are soft.

Trumpet Major gave the Dewhurst form a further boost when rocketing home at Newmarket this week.  Ektiham had already franked that race and so Bronterre looks the form pick here.  The Major’s observations are hardly revolutionary though as he is 8/11 generally.

Caspar Netscher is hugely experienced for a horse just starting his classic year.  Very well thought of and highly tried, I think his best form ties in.  Although untried, I think he will be fine with conditions.

Rebellious Guest is amongst the early crop of Cockney Trucker colts to hit the course.  I think he could be good.

On balance, I think the Greenham will go to Caspar Netscher at 3/1.

2.35 Newbury – Fred Darling

The girls have a go in the Group 3 at 2.35pm.

Best Terms looks a very promising sort but the Major is going to dutch two in Brick Tops and Electrelane.  Both have shown promising maiden wins, both have won on soft, both are well-bred.  Electrelene is my tip for the record, although seemingly Ralph Becketts (won this race twice in last ten years) second string, I am a big fan of Neil Callan and 12s is decent.

Tips for the 3.40 Naas 5f Listed Contest

The listed sprint in Ireland can go to 7/2 shot The Reaper.  Ground and trip are not going to be a problem, clearly Spirit Quartz is the principle danger as the British raider.

To the football….

Chelsea have not been scintillating of late but have mustered a hardness and togetherness that is grinding out results.  In their big week, I think 3/1 that their form continues is massive, take a hefty slice.

Sunderland have been a little off colour but can prise three points from Villa Park at 12/5.  O’Neill won’t tolerate a switching off and will demand the best result possible.  Many Villa fans I know are worried about the clubs ability to win any remaining fixture, that gloom could become serious tomorrow.

Newcastle to beat Stoke at 7/10… load the money printer.  Back Cisse too.

May your dinner be in a popular place in a group, choice of wine, good fish perhaps.  I hope you are in fine company.  The quieter sort who is limitlessly likeable.  Even when you fall in love everyday, as the Major does, for moments it can be deep.  Meaningful and fleeting.  Tip well and breathe it in.

Courage, roll those dice.

Thursday Tips for Cheltenham, plus Craven Tips – Newmarket…. Some big price selections….

Good evening from the Major.  Wine flowing, mind calculating; preparing for battle at Prestbury Parks temple of National Hunt racing.

Tomorrow is business and pleasure as the Major hosts high performing colleagues.  Much fun will be had in glorious company and the Major relishes the opportunity to enhance his reputation as a barely profitable lunatic.

Cheltenhams Thursday Card…..

2pm Novice Hurdle (Listed)

£5 each way is not a huge stake but applied to a huge 54 tote returned festival winner and many hundreds of pounds flow your way!  Une Artiste was tipped by the Major for a Sandown race (which she failed in) and then backed on the day during the festival… glorious.  I do not feel the need to apologise for this gloating.  Those who know my gambling realise I have earned the moments in the sun whether fortuitous or engineered through deep analysis.

Will the girl go in again?  Well she carries a Grade 3 winning penalty after her Fred Winter win but as a four year old boasts a weight allowance and a progressive profile.

In all honesty, the way she finished up the hill, I think odds-against is a terrific bet and I suggest a hefty slice.  Swincombe Flame is an obvious danger but the 5/4 about the tip, Une Artiste is way too tempting.

2.35 Cheltenham Tips – Novice Chase

The Major has also seen the favourite of the second race win when Take of Shoc’s went in at Stratford.  Having fallen in love with Rebecca Curtis I am tempted to back it blind but for you, my faithful followers, I shall put my personal feelings to one side.

Indeed, I avoid Take of Shoc’s who steps up in grade on a hat trick bid and that might find the animal out.  Instead I tip, Back Bob Back.  Last time out, the horse won well at Chepstow and looked entitled to a hefty rise in the weights.  7lbs was more than reasonable.  There were some previous runs that were of dubious quality, one of which a valid heavy ground excuse can be made.  On balance, 5/1 is a fair price.

3.10 Listed Mares Handicap Hurdle

Both Kells Belle and Ixora are respected after running reasonable races in the Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham.  However, they meet a horse in Tante Sissi who is on the rampant upgrade and is sure to improve further for distance.  4/1 may be generous.

Silver Gypsy showed a bit of promise on her Bangor run last time out.

3,45 Cheltenham Handicap Chase Tips

A very trappy affair.  Exmoor Ranger throws himself at fences at times and is far from foot perfect.  He has returned to some sort of form in the Kim Muir, notably that run was in behind Sunnyhillboy who was desperately unlucky not to pick up a Grand National.

Also interesting is Bradley who went in at Haydock recently by half a dozen lengths and looks very interesting having been a former winner at Cheltenham in 2010 on hunter chase evening.

A good round of jumping from Ashkazar would be lethal to all concerned as his chase mark is 20lbs+ below his hurdle mark.  2 runs over the bigger obstacles have wielded one win and the yard are in good touch.  6/1 seems big and so the tip is Ashkazar…. load the cannon.

4.20 Cheltenham Handicap Hurdle

Seventeen runners in a difficult to solve handicap.  There is an obvious standout candidate in 6/1 shot Allthekingshorses who was only raised 4lbs for his last win in a race in which he really showed some inexperience.  If he has learned from that, then he would be entitled to go close but the Major looks elsewhere.

WARNING: THE NEXT PIECE OF ADVICE CONTAINS 2% HEAD AND 98% HEART.

I have long been a fan of Pause and Clause who I simply have to stick with through thick and thicker.  16/1 is a damn fine price if a good run could be guaranteed, which is far from likely.  Join me in the insanity realm if you like…. 16/1 tip, Pause and Clause.

4.55 Cheltenham

Wester Ross is the 11/4 (Bet365) selection because although a visor is fitted, Cheltenham will definitely suit the hold up style.  Simple, never complicate the beautiful, allow it to breathe.

5.30 Tips for the Bumper! Endsleigh Insurance Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race

A mares bumper sponsored by the Majors employer.

I work for Endsleigh running the Broker side of the business which specialises in commercial insuranceunoccupied home insurance and financial advice.  With many colleagues there who know my passion for the sport, this race more than any will be an intense fire of pressure to find a winner.

Only Betfair pricing available this evening but Glorious Twelfth and Tickety Bleue look the two to be on after their Newbury battle.  The likely favourite is the latter who is entitled to improve and overcome a 1olb turnaround in the weights.

However, the Major wants to highlight three that could outrun likely massive odds.

Firstly, Susan Nocks runner, forecast 33/1, is a rare runner for the yard in a bumper but is out of Kayf Tara and that is an advert in itself.

Two other newcomers catch the eye in Maid of Oaksey and Old Dreams.  The latter earns the vote at a likely 14/1 as an Old Vic offspring for a trainer that knows how to ready a bumper sort.

Finally Newmarket Tips – The Craven

Hannon often is unsure of his best runner and the Major opts that Crius is the best of his three in a tight call.

Most Improved is second in the Guineas market as I write but that is based on placed form in a Dewhurst which although clearly classy…. is placed form.

On balance 9/1 Crius for a win bet.

Wednesday Cheltenham And Newmarket Tips plus Grand National Views

Good evening from the Major who posts tips for tomorrows very decent action from racing HQ for the flat, Newmarket, as well as the jumps home, Cheltenham.

This is the first post since Aintree and the Grand National and now the dust has settled, some reflection is in order.

The Grand National is an anomaly of a race. As much as I embraced the affair on Saturday pointing out the institutional following the race has in Britain, the truth be told, it is unlike all other national hunt racing. While it is a race I find exciting, it is a novelty.

It is also a race that exacts its cost on the public image of racing. It is one of the few (possibly the greatest) moments of the year when the non-racing public enter the world. That public saw the majority of the field fail to complete, horrific falls causing pile-ups and commentators using the term ‘destroyed’ to describe beautiful animals.

The National should not be a risk free race. It does however need to be safer. Readers of the Monday press would have noted that the lead racing story was Synchronised and According to Pete, not Neptune Collonges.

In the Majors view, if the race cannot be significantly safer, then we should remove it from the schedule – it does not reflect the sport well.

To make the race safe, the Major thinks that all of the landing areas should be levelled including Bechers. The number of runners should be taken down to 30 and the welcome additional criteria for entry should be tightened. There should be a longer run to the first and the race should never be run on good or firmer.

The Major was very flat after Saturdays race. I am not a National Hunt fan who thinks that non-racing fans should keep their beak out, on the contrary the sport needs examination and challenge. Boxing and Formula One have gone through similar calls for bans, with both enjoying the benefit of subsequent improvements.

Cheltenham Wednesday Tip – Silver Trophy Grade 2

There is a decent Cheltenham card on Wednesday and the Major has reviewed the Grade 2.

The Nicholls yard continues in decent form and I think he has the winner of the race in Aerial.  He ran back into form last time out and should not be inconvenienced by the better ground. The jockey booking suggests he is the number one choice of the yard who are also represented by Woolcombe Folly. Have a decent slice of the Cheltenham tip ‘Aerial’ and thank me later.

Newmarket Tips for Wednesday – Nell Gwyn Stakes

The Nell Gwynn is a target race for some 1,000 Guineas sorts but I would be surprised if this years classic winner is lining up here.

Starscope is favourite and the way that the Selkirk filly won her maiden was decent. Gosden has won the Nell Gwyn three times in the last fifteen years which is an advert in itself but on the negative side of the ledger, It looks alarming though that connections are reaching for the headgear at this stage.

Pimpernel probably boasts best form at this stage but that is a fine line and with huge unknowns over the development of these over the winter, it is hard to read. She does have the advantage of being match fit.

On the short list is Minidress of Godolphin who gets the benefit of rock and roll jockey Barzalona. The Nell Gwynn tip though is Nayarra who defeated Minidress over course and distance and has useful international form to her name. 16/1 is too big, have a slender piece.

Saturday Aintree Tips – 33/1 Grand National Tips and Trends

THIS IS THE 2012 POST FOR 2013 tips, click on the banner above for the home page

Good evening from the Major who prepares these dispatches to prepare my followers and those casual souls who came across the blog for the bookies busiest day….. Aintree’s Saturday Grand National card.

While the Major has been in tip-top form of late, so far, this week, Aintree has been costly. Today, Finians Rainbow and Darlan both delivered at shorter prices but the longer fancied tips did not perform.

Killyglen at 20/1 for the Major.... Enjoy National day

Finians performance was very taking and as I suspected, the step up to two and a half miles around Aintree was right up his street. I think he would be a decent three miler too, particularly if connections make less use of him in races, this could mean he is a King George animal.

Prepare your minds….. Saturday at Aintree, the big showpiece that is the Grand National; courage followers, hold on; hold on while those around you lose their nerve. As your sinews are stretched and worn, at the very breaking point, hold on. Hold the thin red line until you see their eyes. Then play, bet large, go hard or go home, leave nothing.

I have friends on course and to the Streetly crew, I bid you luck, merriment and mischief. Memories of last year are still haunting my soul.

I also apologise for the significant length of today’s post. I know many of you will skip the prose to get to the meat. Well you shouldn’t, it is cheating, you miss the imbalance and insanity that whirls around my dark soul. I gave you the courtesy of revealing my mind, please absorb it, or find yourself a more direct tipster, one with less references to Victorian military history, a more proprietary sort. Only a certain sort will find the following to their personal satisfaction.

If you are one, then sign up to the email service in the left hand menu of follow the Major on twitter @tdl123. I post the Saturday Service every week and top it up with other occasional posts when there is something I like. My results are always posted in the top menus. I turn a very small profit. I never accept criticism or praise – I offer my thoughts for free and encourage all to use their own minds and take responsibility for their actions!

Grand National Tips and Grand National Trends

A colleague of mine approached me today and asked if I would join the office Grand National sweepstake. I did…. twice. As I plucked out Sunnyhillboy and BecauseIcouldntsee (could have been far worse) from the bucket, he asked if I bet on the National.

That is an odd question I thought. He knows I am an incredibly succesful gambler*. He was basing the question on the fact that many regular horseracing punters avoid the national because of the sheer nature of 40 runners, carnage at the fences; is it a race that can be worked through on form or is it a lottery?

*based on The Majors sheer persistency in the overwhelming face of mediocrity

Well the reality is that the National is different to any other race in a few crucial respects.

Firstly it is a national institution and tomorrow morning, thousands of grandmothers, punters, religious nuts, weirdos, wackos, drunks, the unemployable, the toffs, the suburban sorts, the trendy set, well to do Mama’s and every other imaginable demographic of the British public will troop to their local bookie, fiver clutched in hand and back a National horse based on a number or a colour or the fact that there happens to be a Pete or Robert in the family (Rare Bob and According to Pete running tomorrow).

Families have traditions on which horses to back, people have habits. These habits form part of an identity both in the individual and in the nation. The National is a British tradition, a British Institution, we do it our own way. God bless us and protect our privilege as the greatest nation on the planet.

For one day, the general public touches the world beloved to me, horse racing. Some regular racing fans oddly resent these tourists, scoffing at the lack of knowledge. The Major welcomes all with open arms, for I too was once one of you.

If one person today backs a tip in the National and experiences that thrill of being involved, mentally jumping each fence with your horse, emotionally attached to the outcome…. well the world will be a better place. It was for me…. not that long ago either, watching Inglis Drever collect his first World Hurdle, with my money down. A formative day that.

The bookmaking fraternity use the occasion to turn a larger than normal profit….. In this army of small time punters, none will stop to think of the value they are getting from the bookmaker. The over-round charged can be as much as 150% and more. For those unfamiliar with this, it represents how much the market is in the bookies favour. Watch at 4pm as the BBC presenters (of which I am not a fan) will tell you how every horse is being backed and watch those prices collapse. It is Christmas for the bookies as pricing will not effect demand.

The Major is delighted that Channel Four take over from the BBC next year. Search the blog for Channel 4 and you will see I have been a long-term advocate of awarding C4 all UK terrestrial rights – They are there every single week, talk less nonsense, focus more on the racing and get what it is about. They also have a better team. In short, their heart is in it!

I also think that the new measures introduced to make the race safer are sensible and welcome. Levelling some of the landing areas is good, banning six-year olds is excellent as their inclusion was a recipe for fallers. Restricting the handicap improves safety as well as quality…. good cricket all round.

I digress. Back to the sweepstake and whether a tipster should play the National. Many punters do have success tipping the Grand National because the trends are quite strong. Before I discuss the Grand National trends and offer my tips for the 2012 running, a little on interpreting trends.

The key with any betting trend is to ask why it is valid, rather than accepting it blind. If a horse won every time you wore red socks, you would accept that the link is coincidence alone. Yet, many punters back football teams that have not won at a certain venue for 30 years. The Major urges you to ask, why is that relevent? If Preston have not won at QPR for 30 years, is it important? How is the football team that competed 30 years ago influencing the outcome today? Chance stats occur, it is not odd or unusual. In fact coincidences not occurring would be incredibly odd. Of all of the millions of interactions you have every year, it would be strange if at some, a marvelous coincidence did not occur. Perhaps you meet two old school friends in separate locations within ten minutes; maybe you win the lottery; something odd will happen to you soon, don’t read too much into it!

An episode of the Simpsons makes the point about specious reasoning well…. Since I have waffled enough, I shall post it at the base in italics!

Also remember that with any trends based decision, it is likely that the winner will fall down on one. Use trends only as a guide not as a rule; Bubba Watson met all of the Hearty Ploughmans key trends (see 4/5 posts ago) but did not make the final US Masters tips list because he missed on one trend by one shot…. Trends are a guide, not a religion!

The key Grand National Trends for the Major

Weight – Nearly 100 horses in the last 35 years have carried more than 11st 5lbs and none have won. In the last twenty-five years, just two horses has managed to carry more than 11st to victory. This makes sense, the National is a gruelling trial of stamina which is damned tough carrying more weight than your opponents.

French Breeding – French breds have a shocking national record but the Major chalks this down to coincidence, disregarded.

Regular Runs in the Season – All of the last ten runners had more than four runs in the current season – This adds up as you need to be match fit and plenty of recent chase experience is a plus.

Previous National Fences Experience – Eight of the last twelve winners have run over the national obstacles before – This is important to the Major as these fences are the toughest in the land.

Marathon Performers – The last time a winner of the National had not previously won a race at a distance of three miles or more, we were trading in old money! A proven stayer is a must.

Age – Experience is key; nine and ten-year olds have that, without being incumbered with tired, ageing legs. You might get away with a old-hat eight year old.

Pricing – Overall, the markets do perform fairly well in the National; three-quarters of the last two decades of winners have come from the top eight horses in the betting.

Cheltenham Form – Only one winner, in fifty years, has won a race at Cheltenham before going on to win at Aintree. This makes sense with the demands of a Grand National and the normal relative closeness in time of the Cheltenham Festival – This year it is worth noting that a bigger time gap than normal exists. In fact, of all of the last ten runners, all had a race between three and eight weeks prior to the national – Race fit but not jaded is what we want.

Classy – Of the last ten winners, all had won at class one level, with one exception who held a second in a class one race.

The Majors Grand National Tip

After a thorough contemplation of the trends, who does the Major tip in the Grand National?

Firstly I think Synchronised is the worst possible favourite. The exertions of a Gold Cup will surely tell and I am not even sure his jumping will stand up to the National fences.

Alfa Beat has experience of the fences after falling four out in last years Topham Chase. 66/1 is too big but not the main selection.

West End Rocker is a real likely sort at 14/1. He hits the profile exactly and I think is an excellent bet.

Junior is on a very lenient mark and is considered at 16s.

I would be a big fan of Cappa Bleu but he has not seen these fences before so he doesn’t make the cut.

Seabass is Irelands ‘Hunt Ball’ having been raised 61lbs for a winning sequence that goes back over two years, no National fence experience but 22/1 seems decent.

Always Right hits many trends and his Scottish National place bodes well, 28/1 and of some interest.

Killyglen was seemingly staying on and running at least into the places last year when he came down three out. In his youth, his reputation was sky-high and this season he has had a wind op. 20/1…. mmmmmm.

Grand National Tip: On balance, two of these really appeal…

Killyglen is my main selection at 20/1, I think he could run a blinder. He stays forever and if the wind op has improved him, as the evidence this season suggest, then he meets so many of my criteria and has been dropped 5lbs since last year in the National Weights….

West End Rocker at 14/1 looks a very likely type too and he also stays forever – Worth a bite!

1.45 Aintree Mersey Novice Tip

Simonsig is all the rage after his impressive Cheltenham win but backing a 1/2 shot to go in again in these different conditions is a fast track to the poorhouse in the Major’s view.

Instead I suggest a slice of Aland Island at 9/1 who has proven stamina and I think could be a threat to the favourite.

2.50 Aintree Tip

Rock on Ruby is the last of four champions of Cheltenham to appear at Aintree. Finians Rainbow and Big Bucks have already upheld their status, Synchronised is unlikely to do so in the National but Rock on Ruby looks the value of the lot at 9/4 here.

While Zarkander at 5/2 has hope of improving for distance, I have always considered the same to be true of Rock on Ruby.

I would be very surprised if he does not go in again. Granted, Oscar Whisky won this last year but I feel my horse has more scope. Strong Tip.

3.25 Aintree – Handicap

A riddle of a handicap and the Majors tip goes to Brackloon High. This one disappointed me when I put him up for his Cheltenham engagement but I am willing to give another chance.

5.05 Aintree Handicap Tip

This is another precarious handicap but my 5.05 Aintree tip goes to 12/1 Dream Esteem who looks sure to improve further. I thought Dee Ee Williams was in with a shout as well as Constant Contact and Kazlian, the latter of which was given a poor ride at Cheltenham having committed way too early.

Tips for the Aintree Bumper

On Thursday, I suggested you go to Twitter and seek advice from the @kingofbumpers for the last. He obliged with the 6/1 winner! My idea of the winner is either Population or Il Presidente at 7/2 and 16/1 – I am going to back both for wins.

In other sports……..

A couple of stand out football bets for the Major – Blackburn look dreadful and I think Swansea will beat them 20/21. I also think QPR to win at West Brom is a 27/10 steal in a game they will be up for.

May your dinner be of high quality with company that matches. Tip well and have fun, we drift by the once and the items that come our way on the flow of the tide should be ceased upon. Lap it all up, enjoy it and ask no questions.

The Relevance of Trends with Lisa Simpson.

As promised, the genius of Lisa Simpson to aid the point!

Homer: There’s not a single bear in sight—the ‘Bear Patrol’ is working like a charm”

Lisa retorts: That’s specious reasoning

Homer: Thanks, honey

Lisa: According to your logic,she says, picking up a stone from their lawn, this rock keeps tigers away

Homer: Hmmm. How does it work?

Lisa: It doesn’t.

Homer: How so?

Lisa: It’s just a rock, but I don’t see a tiger, anywhere.

Homer : Lisa, while pulling out his wallet, I want to buy your rock.

Courage, shuffle those cards.