Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Saturday Sermon – Curragh Irish Derby Tips – Newcastle Northumberland Tips – Tour de France tips – Stories are more powerful than facts

Good morning from the Major who writes from the bright breezy and highly changeable climate of Worcestershire.  The kitchen table is bedecked with breakfast goodies…. Soundtracking my breakfast – Mikes Smokehouse salmon pate on a toasted Bredon Hill bakery bun with a duck egg topping the lot… Magnifique.

Camelot – The new Frankel, the new Sea the Stars…. Whadda ya reckon?

Your correspondent believes that stories are more powerful than facts.

The case agin is one I have plenty of sympathy for.  After all, my approach to selecting tips is a statistical approach.  I often advise on strike rates, form and history purely as a game of numbers.  This jockey is 2 from 2 for the yard, the horse has a 50% win rate on ground worse than soft or the trainer has a 33% win rate with his runners at this track… you know the sort of thing.  Yet evidence is a less powerful force than internal analysis.

We like to think as a rational beings which use facts to govern and dominate decision-making.  Yet, before we create a belief we stir in the most important ingredient, a story…. A story that we tell ourselves.

Stories make us feel more right about the judgement we have made.  As primeval needs go, the need to feel safe and right is paramount.  This is the force that allows people to convince themselves of things despite the evidence.  It is the reason it can be hard for someone to break from an abusive partner.

The Major is suggesting then that facts + your internal story = your belief.

Consider… The sun has risen every morning of your life and science has given you reasons as to why the sun comes up in the morning, or more accurately that our celestial orb turns so that you are on a part of our Earth facing the sun.

You add to this your own story, given you have no reason (I sincerely hope) to not think the sun won’t be up in the morning, then a certain belief is created in your head.

It is however, the internal story and not the fact that is more important.  Sometimes you might choose to control that story to your benefit.  The Majors greatest example of this dates to the Falklands conflict.

You may have forgiven a little trepidation on behalf of British Harrier crews heading steaming through the South Atlantic.  Understanding that his aircraft were outnumbered five to one, Cmdr Nigel ‘Sharkey’ Ward who commanded the 801 Naval Air Squadron from HMS Invincible stated that this created a ‘target rich environment’ for his pilots.

The facts remain, his forces were outnumbered, but the belief is changed because of what you tell yourself and others.

In calculating a good tip, I am not suggesting that you dismiss the facts, I am merely suggesting that in assessing your chances with the enemy, consider both the facts available and what you are telling yourself about them.

Facts: Camelot has only raced on good to soft.  He won on it.  His Sire has a worse strike rate on soft than Galileo or Dubawi (responsible for three of todays opponents), his connections have warned about soft being a concern, the forecast is for more rain, he his 10lbs ahead of his nearest rival today on RPR…… What story should we tell ourselves about these facts… that Camelot is the class act and will overcome them or that the ground and the rain will conquer him and 30/100 is no price?

The Major will not answer the question for you, I merely offer you a reflection on critical reasoning so that you may start to discern in your decision-making process the fact from the story.  Only then might you start to understand how you created a belief and thus the confidence with which you might proceed.

To the sports….

Tips for the Irish Derby – The Curragh 7.40pm

Well done to the racing authorities that are trying an evening slot for the Irish classic.  I hope their attendance is up and think it is a good thing to try.

I have already laid out the main issue facing Camelot here which needs answering as he is in a field of seven meaning some tight each way terms.

Without question, Akeed Mofeed is an interesting runner – John Oxx does not tilt at many and surely we are yet to see the best from this Dubawi colt.

If Astrology is getting pacemaking duties then Imperial Monarch holds some appeal.  A winner on soft, the son of Galileo has had a litany of hard luck stories.

Overall – I am minded to back Camelot at 4/11 on.  When I weigh up the ground versus class argument, I come down in favour of the sheer brilliance of what we have seen so far.

Not a price for many, apologies.

Tips for the Northumberland Plate, Newcastle – 3.20pm

First of all, congratulations to the track for getting the race on.  The pictures from Newcastle earlier this week were incredible… black skies and a paddock under water.  Getting the Northumberland, or the Pitmens Derby as it is known, on was a good achievement.

The key to this race will be a preference for heavy conditions, to the point where I would like to see my tip have a decent breast-stroke action.

Il de Rey has been all the rage all week and it is easy to see why – He will relish this and the trainer won the plate the year before last with Overturn.  Add to that the fact that Il de Rey is the Pricewise selection and boom…. 7/2 is now the available price!

The Major has to look beyond that, principally because the horse is carrying nine stone and three pounds, a weight only carried once in the last fifteen years to victory.

The Major is going to suggest two.

Montaff 12/1 and Lexington Bay 14/1.  Please take both with Betvictor who are still four places on the race and thank me later!  If you do not like going double handed then opt for the former.

Montaff went close in this race last year off a mark almost a stone heavier.  He has also won on heavy (although it was some time ago) – I am fairly confident we will see a different horse to the one that flopped in the middle east and has been running with some lack of ability for the last twelve months.

2.15 Newcastle Betfred Chipchase Stakes Tip

Fair play to Betfred who after sponsoring the race, have gone best price on all runners.  That shows some price, n’est pas?

The Major’s bet of the day goes in this and I am very confident about this tip.

Eton Rifles is a 4/1 shot and drifting in places but one in which I suggest you load the cannons.

His form ties in well to the market leaders but it is his love for the mud battles which attracts me strongly.  I fully expect the horses to be finishing this sprint like they have been running in the Eider, strung out and twenty lengths….

Looks to me like the Bank has been ordering up a bit more quantitative easing!  Get stuck in to Eton Rifles.

4.05 Maiden Stakes at Newmarket

I know it seems a bit random throwing in a suggestion for a maiden at Newmarket.

Yet, the Major is drawn to the Godolphin runner, Inaad; out of New Approach.  Suroor is having a decent time of it and New Approach has been a revelation as a bloodline with his offspring holding several leading market positions in next years classics.

Stan James are over-priced for the Major at 7/1… thank me later.

Tips for the Tour de France

The Major is no huge fan of cycling but has a huge respect for these athletes.  They are competing in what has to be one of the hardest competitions to man.

The Major does have a couple of family/friend members who do follow the sport closely and they are suggesting that the Tour this year is cut and dried.

Bradley for green and Wiggins for the yellow.  Interestingly, Betvictor have opened a market on that double and priced it at 9/1….. well well, that could pay for a nice drop of Bordeaux.

Tonight may your dinner be a kebab.  No, not from your chip shop but from a man who knows how to cook lamb tenderly over smoking charcoals.  Allow yourself to eat alone, company is not everything.

Courage, roll those dice……

Saturday Sermon – 16/1 Royal Ascot Tips, Black Caviar – ‘The Wonder from Down Under!’ – The rights and wrongs of racing and Ascot reflections….

Good morning from a bright and cheery Worcestershire where the Major types happy in the knowledge that the world of this age is perfectly organised for an Englishman with a few spare pounds in his pocket and a cheery outlook on life.

Aahhhh – A day the Major has waited for – Black Caviar racing on British soil

I make no apology for being content.  If you are not, then please do not begrudge those of us that are.Royal Ascot has been a triumph.  The spectacle, the racing and the Majors form have been the ingredients of a tasty week.  I shall write something of it here, if you feel the need to skip it and go to the tips, please leave my site – Your sort is not welcome here, when you go to church, you listen diligently to the sermon.

Firstly the spectacle of racing.  Last year I compiled my top ten racing moments of 2011.  Apologies if many of the video feeds might not be working!  I am sure when I compile this years come the close of the year, many Royal Ascot moments will be contenders.

I loved Frankel demolishing the field, it made my heart sing.  I know Excelebration took him on which may have flattered the final distance but seriously, people might knock the field but there were plenty of decent Group 1 animals in behind.  Let us just accept that we live in an age of the machine and enjoy – Thanks again to connections who kept him racing at the age of four instead of fulfilling a potentially lucrative stud career.

Frankie winning on Colour Vision was probably my moment of the week though.  I was on Fame and Glory and thought the O’Brien horse was a shoe in.  Frankie though showed his superb handling of the track and sheer will to boot home the Godolphin inmate. Frankie has had a tough time of it.  Godolphin are short of a star or two and the winners have dried up.  Rumours of retirement were put down by Dettori but it left a waft in the air… was the great man done?

The way he bought Colour Vision home told you what you needed to know, the fire burns brightly.  How sweet for Frankie that Barzalona (a friendly rivalry), the 20 year old Derby winning emerging star was unable to pass when seemingly coming with a winning run on Opinion Poll.

The stories racing throws up, no other sport competes.

The Major has had a great week with tips for Royal Ascot.  Eleven tips (13 with 2 non runners) yielded 4 winners.  Most Improved 8/1, So You Think 6/4, Princess Highway 13/2 and Estimate 4/1 (all advised prices).  Following to £1 level stakes,  make that a £24 return for £11 invested.  More than double your money…. lovely jubbly!

Sadly Fame and Glory let down my brother in laws treble, sorry Dave.

The week also got me thinking about the morality of horse racing.  It is something the Major is confronted with from time to time.  The Majors dear lady is an avid animal lover (not in the biblical sense you understand) and opposes the sport deeply.  We do not talk much about it as you can imagine!

The Major is also confronted from time to time with anti-racing campaigners at Aintree or Cheltenham.

This week, hundreds of thousands of people who are not racing fans filed through the gates at Ascot in their finery to take part in the racing festival.  Many will not have a strong view on racing but it got me thinking about the morality of the sport.

My good lady has the objection that the horses are put to racing purely for our enjoyment and this is morally wrong.  It is based on a view that a horse has a right not to be forced to do something it does not want to do, a classic libertarian stance.  I sympathise with it but do not agree.

I think the overall benefit of the sport outweighs a horses individual right.  I would ask you to consider the benefit, there is the employment offered by the racing tracks, hospitality services, trainers and media; not even considering the considerable contribution from the gambling industry to the economy and therefore society.  There is the joy that enthusiasts like I take from the sport; readers know how passionate I am – Enough to continue getting up early on a Saturday to deliver this drivel each week!

Finally, some horses do enjoy racing so it is not every horse that is coerced into the sport.  Indeed, Racing could be argued to have a net positive impact on horses lives.

Overall the benefit of our great sport far outweighs the violation of a horses right, if indeed they have one.  As a race we use animals for enjoyment and sustenance.  Race horses are well looked after in their lives, no intention of harm exists in the sport, though we have to accept the risk of horse death is a certainty.

My utilitarian argument, of the greatest benefit, I believe stands up and I hope that we have more converts to our magnificent sport today when the ‘wonder from down under’ graces our turf.

What a shame it is her only European race.  I made the argument last week that it seems an endeavour only based in principle, not financial or career defining that she win today.  Then to Hong Kong and greater riches.  I hope she gives us a show.

I have often debated the Frankel v Black Caviar question and it is an understandable shame they will never race.  Why ask either of them to race at an un-ideal distance.  I thought the fair answer was 7f but it would endanger Frankels attitude as lighting him up over shorter distances might bring back some of those free running tendencies from his youth, something that his training team worked hard to eradicate allowing him to take shots at prizes over 10f.

As it is, I always thought she was the better horse but now I am unsure again.  I shall go to the grave not knowing but I take pleasure from it.  As I have made the point in previous posts, instead of racing them, let us breed them and call their foal Pegasus Devil, a horse with fire red eyes that roars fire from the nostrils.

To the sports…

Chesham Stakes – 2.30 Ascot Tip

This is a nice line up and the Major is looking forward to the Chesham.

On trends, only two winners in the last 15 years have gone off at bigger than 10/1 prices and I am looking for something near the top of the market.

On a bloodstock note, five runners in the race are out of Sixties Icon!  Thanks to @emmakgts on twitter for that observation.  The Major makes a further note on breeding – New Approach has Thair in the race, Godolphins 6/1 hope – The sire is having a terrific time with his progeny currently heading the markets for several of next years classics….

However, Thair is not the way I am going.  Key trainers in the Chesham have been Hannon and Johnstone and the Majors tip comes from the first.

Jalaa at 4/1 could be anything, won well at Leicester, not inconvenienced by the ground. Have a taste.

3.05 Hardwicke Stakes

The Hardwicke is another cracker this year.  I truly confused myself last night while figuring out which side I want to be on.

Sea Moon should run better than he did in the St Leger and has the benefit of a decent warm up race at Goodwood.

There is a lot to like about Memphis Tennessee with that derby form looking rock solid, the Major fears on this course though that his front running style might be setting this up for a closer.

The horse I am tipping in the Hardwicke is Aiken.  William Buick abandoned Masked Marvel (non runner) for Aiken who has some superb form to his name.  The formline that takes the eye is the beating of Dunaden who is a Melbourne Cup and Hong Kong Vase winner.  With soft ground no problem, Aiken looks to me a top class prospect and I suggest a very healthy investment at 4/1.

3.45 Ascot – Diamond Jubilee Tips

The Major will not be betting in what should be a procession for Black Caviar.  I wonder what our Australian racing friends think we make of Black Caviar.  I sense that down under their is a feeling of ‘go show them Black Caviar, go beat those English doubters’.

Just for the record, the Major is praying for her to destroy the field – She is amazing and this is a part of her story I want to go well.  Go on girl.

She is also a monster having topped 600kg – That is almost a third more horse than some of our finest!

Although the form is hard to translate, there is a line through Group one winning Star Witness that suggests she is 13lbs or so ahead of Prohibit, one of our finest.

If you were looking for each way value, I would be wary of Moonlight Cloud, the Major thinks that the horse will love the cut but might sacrifice a place by having a pop at BC.

You are as well looking for a horse that is racing for a place and might be staying on at the death passing beaten, tired horses that took the Black Caviar machine on and failed.  That horse for the Major would be The Checka who is a new propsect since being dropped in trip this year.

One word of warning to Black Caviar, there have been upsets in this race in the past…. best of luck girl.

4.25 Ascot – The Wokingham

The Wokingham is the usual puzzle at 9/1 the field.  The Major was happy last night to get a touch of 25/1 on Waffle.  I could see the money piling up and figured it was the Pricewise horse.  14/1 is still available.

If you follow me on twitter (@tdl123) you would have benefitted from that tweet last night.  I am chuffed that I got it right and feel very happy sticking with my selection.

The trainer readied it for last year where it ran superbly only beaten by the unbelievably handicapped Deacon Blues.

Have a cannon loaded!

I am going to be double handed in this race though because of the draw.  My first tip, Waffle is coming out of 23 so I want something in the other pack too and I am looking at Desert Law at 16/1 – Going back to 6f is certainly a plus for this animal and he will represent the Major on that side of the track.

5pm Ascot Tip – The Duke of Edinburgh

The Major wanted to be on a horse finishing well in this handicap and the one that carries my penalty is Cill Rialig, 16/1. 

Cill Rialig competed in the same warm up Goodwood affair as Sea Moon and I think this has been the long term target for this previous listed winner, even if the last win was a couple of years ago in this race off a mark of 7lbs lower.

Being in foal and the ground are both concerns but the Major is going to stick with her.

5.35 Ascot – Tips for the Queen Alexandra

Anyone who watched Simenon smash the opposition on Tuesday would have been taken with the manner of victory.  This step up in trip again should be a further advantage and the likelier risk to getting as good run is merely whether the exertions of racing have taken a toll.

The Major though is going to side with Zuider Zee whose form got a good boost by Opinion Polls running earlier this week.  Flat trainers have a better record in the Queen Alexandra and I think my stead can do the business at a tasty 5/1.

Enjoy today and be happy.  Tonight eat well and with good company, see a film, relax, observe, pass no judgement.

Courage, roll those dice.

Friday Royal Ascot Tips – Profitable Ascot so far from the Major

Good morning from the Major whose Ascot week has been quite profitable so far.  Profitable yes, spectacular, not quite.

Yesterday, Princess Highway added to the winners with an 8/1 comfortable win (advised 13/2) and I thought we were desperately unlucky in the first with my 12/1 selection finishing fifth after being hampered at the furlong pole.

Today I have only time for a short post so I offer you some speedy tips…

The Albany Stakes Tips – Ascot 2.30pm

Newfangled is a tasty favourite for this after having the race on her schedule following her easy Newmarket win.  Given that was on soft you can see why she would be all the rage this morning.

That said, others will handle soft too and I am looking for some value.  In the last five years we have had winners at 50/1, 16/1, 16/1 as well as an odds on favourite.

The Albany tip from the Major is going to Sandreamer at 16/1.  It is an animal that fits the ‘could be anything’ bracket after smashing moderate horses on debut.  The ground is a slight concern as that race was on good to firm and these conditions will be very different but I like most that the trainer has taken the Albany three times in ten years.

Of the rest, Sendmylovetorose is also terrific value at 16/1 and I would not put anyone off a pop at that one, given the easy debut win at Naas on soft.

3.05 King Edward Stakes Tips

I am a fan of Shantaram in this, currently 8/1 and set to drift if the Betfair money markets are right, I think I might be swimming against the tide.

Yet I thought the formline with Main Sequence and the progressive nature of the horse suggested that Shantaram was not simply rounding up the numbers in this. 

Of the others, I see no reason why Noble Mission will reverse form with Thought Worthy with the latter a true St Leger sort who will benefit over this further distance.

The Coronation Stakes Tip – Ascot 3.45

The 1,000 guineas form is crucial to assessing what is likely to happen in this race and the racing world has a definite chasm in opinion.  Some think that the form shown by Homecoming Queen in unusual conditions was exceptionally good, leading all the way and others think it is a race to discard.

The Major is towards the latter and certainly do not think the favourite is a good thing here.

Instead I offer Laugh Out Loud who since the 1,000 Guineas has won well in France and at York and surely won’t be making the mistake of giving Homecoming Queen as much rope this time.  9/2 have a slice.

Finally, in the 5pm Queens Vase, I would suggest a bet on the Queens horse, 4/1 Estimate.  Interesting that she is competing against the boys over this stayers distance and I would suggest this tip is not merely patriotic!

Royal Ascot Thursday Tips – 20/1 Tip plus Gold Cup advice… Can the Major land more Ascot spoils?

Well the Major failed in the Jersey yesterday but came good with the strong advice to back So You Think which was only in doubt for  a brief moment as the Queens Carlton House stalked up.

To Thursday and a day of terrific action at Ascot.  Last weekend was a relatives birthday and I bought him a treble on Germany (winning the Euros, So You Think and Fame and Glory) at 11/4, 7/4 and 5/4 respectively.  Leg one in… fingers crossed for tomorrow.

Royal Ascot Tips – The Norfolk Stakes

We start Ascots Thursday card with a sprint over 5f for juveniles.  Both favourites are owned by Qatar Racing.

Cay Verde and Ahern are both sprint bred (Ahern is out of Dutch Art) and although the former (favourite) has won at Ascot already this term, I would prefer the chances of the latter until I saw Hototo go in today which gave Cay Verde a good form boost..  Neither though offer the value I am seeking from this sort of contest.

Dutch Art won this race in 2006, for Peter Chappell Hyam before going on to being one of the finest sires of sprint horses, it is a shame that Chappel-Hyams do not have a runner today.

Dawn Approach won on Tuesday in a workmanlike fashion but that form line gives Mister Marc more than a squeak.

Annunciation has received the vote of Richard Hughes after a facile win in a very hard to assess 3 runner affair at Windsor.  Previously that horse had finished runner up to fellow debutante Reckless Abandon.

Gale Force Ten is a very interesting runner over the minimum trip and with a strong pace, I think he will be doing his best work at the end of the race.

The Major though is going to offer Marawij as the tip in the Norfolk.  12/1 with BetVictor is a fair price.  I am a big fan of Varian / Callan and this horse had several subsequent winners in behind on what might prove a hot maiden win.

Ribblesdale Stakes

Plenty of Oaks contenders reopposing here and I am not at all surprised that The Fugue is favourite.  She seemed unlucky that day and closed like a train to take a close up third at the death.

Shirocco Star also had an unlucky Oaks after being struck into but still made fourth.

In the Majors view, Vow needs them to go off like 5f sprinters to win this although she could be good for a place.

The Major though is settling on Princess Highway who won a Group 3 in Ireland, relegating Was (subsequent Oaks winner third) to the places.  13/2 seems a very fair price.

Royal Ascot Feature Race – Tips for the Gold Cup

This race is simple for the Major, Fame and Glory has been well prepared for this race and I am certain O’Brien has him tip top.

Marathon distances have been the making of this horse and coming from the yard that nurtured Yeats to record breaking Gold Cup heroics, I am fairly convinced that this field holds no major fears.

Fame and Glory has the class where others have some promise.  Get stuck right in.

The Brittania

I am going to side with the Irish raider Piri Wango who after winning on debut and again this season, seemingly disappointed into fourth at Dundalk.

That race though could not have panned out better with the winner (1.25L) being Ishvana who went in well today – 20/1 tip.. boom Piri Wango.  I have an unusually strong feeling about this outsider… The fact Dettori is booked too which is unusual for Ger Lyons….. have a slice.

5.35 Ascot – Tips for the King George V

The last is an enigma wrapped in a puzzle, set on fire with an incendiary fluid of confusion.

Anomaly is [possibly the most interesting runner after a facile maiden win that had put him in as favourite for the Derby.  Clearly things have not gone quite to plan but he seems back in form and is of interest.

Uriah Heap was a fancied runner in the Dee Stakes and needs to put that behind.

The one the Major is tipping though is the Luca Cumani trained Commitment.  This horse has had this as the plan for some time and I always like that.  I have to put a line through the last run in Scotland but the trainer said the gelding had excuses.  Lots of risk but 16/1 prices it in….

Good luck with whatever you back!

Wednesday Royal Ascot Tips – Tuesday results… Advised Bated Breath 6/1 (2nd).. Advised Most Improved 9/1 (won)

Good evening from the Major – The first day of Royal Ascot was a winning one for the blog with Bated Breath beating all but the Hong Kong raider and Most Improved staying on doggedly from the front to win at 9/1.

Most of all the day will be remembered for the 1/10 annihilation of the Queen Anne by Frankel.  He has been given a provisional timeform rating of 147 which would make him the best horse they have ever rated in their six decade history… wow.

That rating will be confirmed in the next few days but the performance without doubt in the Majors mind was Frankels best.  He destroyed a field that many will say is not top class but Excelebration would have won several G1s without Frankel on the scene.  That includes today where he was a beaten second by eleven lengths.

By rating Frankel 147, they are judging that Excelebration ran almost a stone below his previous best rating.  That might be true as he did try to take Frankel on but if anything it flatters Frankels mark.  He also lost a shoe.  He could also get better…. Frightening.

Thank God for Prince Khalid Abdulla who kept Frankel in training and gave us this joy.

To Wednesday and a couple of select Royal Ascot tips, let us hope we keep the winners flying in!

Wednesday Ascot Tips – Jersey Stakes

I was very keen on Fort Bastion but he looks a non-runner.  Richard Hughes had given him such a warm write-up at the weekend and had rated him his likeliest Royal Ascot winner.

Last years winner Strong Suit was against the trend as it is unusual for a horse with a group win on the CV to win this.

Power hardly did wonders for the form of the Irish 2,000 guineas yesterday and although Wrote technically has achieved most so far in coming to third to Power in the classic, I am not convinced and would prefer stablemate Ishvana, the filly who was second in her Guineas run.

Aljamaaheer is on a massive upwardly curve and comes second on the Majors list, I certainly would not put you off a bet.  Another that I would consider is 4/1 favourite Sentaril who looks progressive and with Murtagh booked, can definitely be involved.

The Jersey normally goes to a well considered horse and the Major is opting for one.  I am going for the completely unexposed Valbchek who battled well over 6f beating Swiss Spirit last time.  An extra furlong will suit and Noseda has a decent record in the race.  7/1 is generally available.

Prince of Wales Stakes

As much as I respect Carlton House, Reliable Man and Planteur in particular, my bet of the week has to be So You Think.

The Ballydoyle horse was second to Planteur in Dubai and has been known to disappoint but equally he has won four Group 1s while with O’Brien and I think he will be fully ready for this.  His greatest rival Cirrus Des Aigles was a notable omission at the 48 hour declarations… have a chunky slice at evens if you must but…

Rumour has it William Hill are 6/4 from 8.30, don’t know how much you can get on but I would get it all on!