Monthly Archives: October 2012

Saturday Sermon featuring Aintree, Newbury, Doncaster and Chepstow plus football tips

Good morning from the Major who writes from the ancient Devon wool town of Chudleigh. The sky is bright, painfully so, the air is sharp. They gritted the high roads last night. Winter arrives. It is the Majors favourite time of year.

The chances of sunburn (a significant risk for my northern skin) have gone, insects are dying, and good riddance, or making home for the winter. National Hunt racing is awakening from its deep restful slumber, slowly at first lumbering into action like a mighty machine, creaking and groaning yet we know that soon it will be in full swing, delivering heart stopping action all the way to Prestbury Park where our pulses will race and dreams will be made and shattered.

Channel 4 has shuffled the pack and overall I think they have it right. Gina Bryce is a great addition (has the Majors heart in her icy grip). John McC and John Francome, while loyal servants are not right for the sports coverage. They make too much light of the sport and that is not helpful. I understand they want to make racing accessible but you can combine expertise with an understandable presentation style.

Clare Balding achieves this blend well enough although the Major would have not have picked her. As for Rishi, well that’s a bad call in my view.

The greatest losses are those of Mike Cattermole and Alasdair Down who have genuine expertise and racing fans will miss them.

If it were my call, I would have left Balding and co and recruited instead Matt Chapman who would have added some real lustre to proceedings. Overall though, it will remain compulsive Saturday viewing.

Just 4 weeks ago the Major ran the Berlin marathon raising money for a fabulous cause Whizz Kidz… I was quite surprised to see a race in their name today at Newbury but indeed, Worthington have kindly sponsored a tasty looking race and the Major is having a charity bet in the same race

Last weeks blog produced some tasty winners and decent advice and represented a welcome return to form. I often wonder who the people who turn up to this club are each week. Some of you I know because you tweet me (@tdl123) or I know you outside of this environment. Most of you though are strangers.

Welcome, one and all. Membership is free, in fact, there is no membership. Just an agreement that certain behaviours and standards exist.

My advice is amateur. I am profitable… But only just. I make lots of errors. My research and thinking does take time and I come here to offer it for free. Sometimes I offer you a slice of Victorian military history or a piece of ancient philosophy in addition to some sporting thoughts. I am afraid you have to accept the wanderings of my damaged mind as it weaves and meanders between the sporting advice and other thoughts, some interesting, some dark, all a swirling vortex. I enjoy writing it, it feels like a release, as though these unhinged thoughts could builspans turn my head into an evil pressurised vestibule, the Saturday Sermon is my release valve. So feel good, by reading you are helping my mental health and probably keeping me from greater ill.

All I ask is that you come in the same spirit, unbridled enthusiasm for life and well aware of the finite nature of what we are given.

It is time to enter the field of battle again so please, don thy heavy leathers, polish that lance point and have your groom bring up the heavy charger. We shall meet the enemy at full tilt, he with that wicked deception, let us enter the violent swirling mess of war and be triumphant. Tonight we eat steak and drink good wine.

To the sports….

Doncaster Racing Post Trophy Tips

The Racing Post trophy has been fertile feeding grounds by Ballydoyle of recent years. Camelot, High Chaparral and Camelot all went on to win the Derby after taking in this late season Group One.

It is understandable then that the moves O’Brien and co made this week were a huge advert for the chances of Kingsbarn. At the 5 day stage they had a number of representatives including Battle of Morengo, one of the market favourites. They then supplemented Kingsbarn and duly removed all else. Clearly he is the one that has been doing the best work at home.

Kingsbarn once supplemented was a magnet for money. 12s, 10s, 8s, 6s and all the way down to a current 5/2 best price Hills. I think he will go off at 13/8, call me mad but I think the story is compelling enough to attract money all day and if Kingsbarn obliges then the enemy will not enjoy their dinner.

It is times like this that the Major is cautious – Work at home may not translate to being the best horse here. I am guessing a bit but I reckon Kingsbarn himself has no idea he is the hot favourite! His maiden form is insignificant, you are betting on reputation – clearly he is hugely talented but when the market moves like this, the value call is to swim against the tide and tell yourself a different story.

Andy Oliver is hardly a fashionable sort for these races. This is his second attempt at a Racing Post Trophy and his last attempt was a disaster! That said, his representative today has what I would argue is the best form on show.

Therefore my tip for the RP Trophy is First Cornerstone at 12/1 with Paddy Power. He is more experienced and will love underfoot conditions. Have a slice.

Aintree Tips – Old Roan Chase Day

I am so glad that Monets Garden had his name added to the Old Roan, some horses strike a chord not because of what they achieved but because of their character and the joy they bought. On the advice of the late Sir Clement Freud I had a chunky bet on Monet once for the King George. Sir Clement was a personal hero of mine (may your life be as rich and varied) but his tipping was not his forte. Still it was the start of a relationship with Monets Garden.

Wishfull Thinking has cost me a lot of money over the last two years and while the horse has a chance of settling that debt today, too much has gone before and it will be a hell of a training feat to return the love of the game to this animal.

Gauvain is very interesting catching him first time out, he has won many a seasonal appearance before going on to achieve less. At ten, sold into a new yard for a fairly light sum, I am interested but not convinced.

A far more likely sort is the Majors Old Roan tip, For Non Stop. My selection is 6/1 with Betfred and is one of the more progressive profiles in the field. His Cheltenham form behind the now Gold Cup favourite Sir Des Champs was good and he is a grade one winner already. Noel Fehily is one of my favourite jump jockeys and this rates a strong piece of advice. Go lumpy.

In the 4.35 at Aintree, it comes down to Unioniste and Carlito Brigante. The former is well related and looks another fine French raid by Paul Nicholls. The latter is a Coral Cup winner and with form in the book, the Majors tip at 2/1.

Cape Express looks to have a great chance in the opener too…

Chepstow Tips

Aintree is not the only track with decent jumps action, Chepstow also has some tasty action and I am taking a chance on 12/1 Return Spring in the Grade 2 novice hurdle. Hobbs targeted this race last year and this entirely unexposed sort can play a part.

Arthurian Legend is sure to be targeted at the Silver Trophy, a handicap he win last year and 6/1 is very nice. Salubrious could be anything but I will take experience over potential here too.

Newbury Tip

Just the one tip from Newbury (plus the charity bet) and that is Camborne (7/1) in the Group 3 St Simon Stakes. If there is one trainer to fix the errant mind of a wild sort, then I would place my faith in Gosden (well I suppose Johnstone too!). Anyway, the Royal Ascot win was eye catching and I expect Cambourne to be doing the best work at the death!

This years Horris Hill is in honour of an incredibly worthwhile cause Whizz Kidz. I have raised money for them over the last couple of years and am happy to spot a tenner charity bet in their race today. My selection is the Dettori ridden Tahwid at 7/1. If you fancy supporting a great cause why not make a small donation yourselves. They are also worth a follow if you are on Twitter…

To the football….

Wigan often look nice in defeat but with home advantage I am taking style to beat function and 11/8 they beat West Ham is a bet.

I think Chelsea will beat Manchester United even without Lampard. They look threatening this year and I am not sure this is a better united team. 6/4 is a lovely price.

Cardiff can be backed at 4/5 and that is a smashing price, I would be hugely surprised if they do not keep up form at home to Burnley.

May your dinner be voluptuous and may that apply to the company too. We go round the once, make sure your doing it in the presence of like minded souls.

Courage, roll the dice.

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Saturday Sermon – Racing Tips from Ascot, Cheltenham and Cork, plus Frankel – Time at Ascot…

Good evening from the Major who writes to you from a Defford where the sky hangs heavy with the threat of a downpour, it feels as if it were sagging and clinging to my cheek, cold and damp… my sort of weather.

The Household Cavalry dressed in Sheikh Abdulla’s colours in honour of Frankel, the finest horse of our generation

Tomorrow I ride for Ascot, I am taking my father and meeting a friend there for a beer too. Whatever happens we are in for a terrific day of racing but it would be dishonest to say that if Frankel fails to run, it would not be a touch deflating.The way they have handled this horse has given us every chance to enjoy the champion that he is. On Twitter (@tdl123) I rated my top three Frankel races and decided that my favourite was the Queen Anne. Having had longer to reflect I have changed the order slightly and now have a top four in the following order.

4th – The Guineas

This will be top of most peoples lists – The way he flew from the gates and had them at it from half way. A stunning performance and the way they finished strung out like 3 mile chasers was testament to what the great horse had achieved.

3rd – Royal Lodge

The more I watch the Royal Lodge he won, the more I love it. The move he makes on the bend to put the race to bed was stunning and although Treasure Beach was stopped in his tracks, Frankel would still have won by half a furlong!

2nd – The Queen Anne

What a way to open Royal Ascot – As a performance, this was his highest rated in my view. He did not just win, he destroyed a field of top horses and left everyone gasping for air. Awesome.

1st – His First Sussex Stakes versus Canford Cliffs

Context is important and this race was full of it. Goldikova a winner of more Group One races than seems possible was reaching the end of her career. Canford Cliffs, one of the best Hannon has ever had, lowered her colours and rightfully claimed the best miler in Europe crown. Then Frankel met him at Goodwood. The camber at Goodwood means many horses do not act there. The combination of factors meant that the Major tipped Canford… Then this happened…

Let us hope that Frankel runs – The generosity of connections have given us more than we needed but we are like gluttons and want it all. Treasure the moment. The only possible upside of him not running tomorrow is a possible crack at the States and the breeders cup meeting… Personally I would like him to finish his career at Ascot tomorrow.

To the sports….

Ascot Tips – 1.50 – The Stayers

At this stage of the season, I am looking for the slightly more lightly raced sorts. The Ascot ground will also be very soft which should rule a few out…

In the opener, most of the animals will be fine with the soft conditions. Gold Cup winner Colour Vision beat a number of these including Fame and Glory back in July. Opinion Poll, the other Godolphin horse was second that day and goes off as 3/1 favourite here. Aiken is a horse I really like but feels like he might just be a bit short of top draw. Ile de Re is an interesting runner but has to make a big step up in class. Rite of Passage is a fascinating runner and could play a part at 8/1 if well tuned up.

After some thought though, the Major is going to offer Fame and Glory at 11/2 – A former winner of the race who has lost some of his lustre – If he wins tomorrow, it will be a fitting end to a sparkling career… words that we may well repeated later in the day!

2.20 Ascot – Tips for the Sprint

The sprint is a fascinating contest and I would love to back Maarek, especially with the booking of Jamie Spencer. I am wondering though whether the horse is feeling the effect of the campaign and I may well give him a miss. The muddier the better for that one so if more rain arrives, it may be a persuading factor.

The Major is siding with a horse packed with potential in Slade Power who looked a horse going places in the summer. After a break to freshen him up, I expect a top draw performance and although there are proven G1 horses in the field, I do not want to back Wizz Kid unless in France and Society Rock is the main danger. Blue Square offer 15/2 and a quarter odds the place, have a slice.

2.55 Ascot – Group 2 Mile and a Half

The two to concentrate on seem to be Great Heavens and Sapphire. The former took an Irish Classic in the slop and loves these conditions. She was my idea of the Arc winner as I am a massive fan. She cruised into the straight at Longchamp looking a likely challenger but faded badly and I just wonder if the season and he travels are catching up.

Thus the tip is Sapphire for the Weld team. She is a horse of immense talent and seems to be much better the further she goes, seemingly tapped for toe over 400m shorter in the Pretty Polly. She is a true mud lark and at 10/3 generally I think a great bet to beat Great Heavens who I would like to see racing agin next year where hopefully connections might give her a light schedule with a hopefully soft ground Arc as the target.

QE II 3.30 Ascot

Excelebration is an absolute bolt on here and I suggest a reasonable investment at just shading odds on. He has been beaten by Frankel so often yet is still a top class horse and now placed to avoid a battle with the inevitable, he is gaining very well deserved Group One successes.

The Queen is in attendance and so Carlton House would be a popular winner but it is Excelebration for the Major.

Ascot Champion Stakes

It is not often that the Major here whispers but I have it on good authority that Frankel might be a decent sort! This race requires no bet, it is a moment of historic racing importance. I hope Frankel serves it up to Cirrus Des Aigles

Enjoy it…

4.45 Amateur Riders Handicap

I find it disappointing that this race exists on the card of what is meant to be the climax of the flat season. It really seems out of place.

Smarty Socks would be the one I would want but I am dubious that these are his conditions. Boring as it may seem, Jack Dexter is the 5/1 selection. The Ayr Bronze Cup winner loves a bit of mud and is surely goi to have a big say. Kingscroft (16/1) and Atlantic Sport (33/1) also make some appeal.

Cheltenham Selections

It is so good to see racing back at Cheltenham. Fridays action saw The New One take a decent Novice hurdle. Given that he hit most of them, he must be some animal to still win, I expect a big season.

Rendl Beach should be a good thing in the opener at 6/4. Curtis horses often need a warm up but this one won smartly on reappearance and a big run is surely on the cards tomorrow.

In the second race, I am going to take a chance on 22/1 shot Quito Du Tresor. I think that there may be more to come from this one. The Henderson horse Nadiya De La Vega at 10/1 is decent value too.

Baby Mix and Dodging Bullets are two rising stars and the latter looks a great evens bet based on the 4th position achieved in the Triumph.

In the 4th race, I like the look of two Qianshan Leader at 22/1 catches the eye as does Darna at 16/1. The latter looks an intriguing sort.

In the 4.20 I am a big fan of Irish raider Defence of Duress and suggest a decent investment.

Third Intention should see the field off in the penultimate race if match fit. 3/1 is a very fair price as he should be much better than this field, many of whom have a readiness advantage.

In the last maybe Southfield Theatre on a strict reading of form with The New One but honestly, stick a pin in!

Cork Tip

I like Rock Critic in the listed contest and at 2/1 am having it in several selections…

May your dinner be fine, in the company of someone nice. Each day we are above ground is an opportunity so do not waste yours. Let us hope that Frankel gives us something to cheer.

Courage, roll the dice.

Short Saturday Sermon

Owing to time and hangover pressures, the Major brings you the shortest Saturday Sermon ever.

I am shielding my eyes from the bright Worcestershire countryside due to,the blazing light and serious hangover combination.

Thus, for once, I shall be brief…

The Cesarewitch is a race in which I am two handed… I like the Pricewise selection which I got at 12s (montaser) – Given the owner pulled a higher rated runner so this animal could scrape into the handicap… Well, there is an advert…

Adam Kirby has voted to ride Moohaajim in the 2.20 and that is good enough for me…

In the 4.40, I like the look of Cap O Rushes which I have backed at 11/1…. Yes there are plenty of unknown sorts but I was taken with the look of this horse.

Finally Fingal Bay goes at Chepstow today and while 8/13 might put most off, The words of Hobbs still ring in my ear…. the best he has ever had….

May your dinner be fine and glorious… Just go easy on the bottle….

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Tips from Ascot, Newmarket and Gowran… Plus Arc day preview

Good evening from the Major who writes from a Worcestershire countryside where the autumn has arrived.

Dark, cold and wet. Miserable for some but manna for the Major. Dark and cold means sleep, wet means less insects and less sun to tender skin and cold northern eyes.

Imagination and chance. Two intertwined lines dancing, embracing, going away and then like all of threads of our lives, joining together at times, swaying and merging before departing wide yet like all of us, to dust we return, we come together again in the end. Imagination, chance and death.

Sunday is Arc day, my favourite moment of the year. It is disappointing that it is not on terrestrial TV but I am sure that channel 4 will resolve negotiations in time for next year. Instead, race fans will be tuning in to 415 and the marmite Matt Chapman. For the record, the Major is a big fan, he adds genuine enthusiasm which although it spills over and at times lacks a little sophistication, is energising and adds to my enjoyment of his racing presentation.

What chance Sanois? What a story that would be – Owned by a rural patisserie owner, who bought a half share for just 3k….. Imagination and chance….

Last Sunday, the Major ran the Berlin marathon. 4h 41m. The last 45 minutes were agony, carnage – fellow runners on the side of the road, feinting, collapsing, throwing up or carrying on like wounded animals relentlessly, stupidly – i was one, stumbling blindly… Yet, like all unlikely marathon runners, I was proud and uplifted after the experience and if you want to know a bit about your resolve, try it. I am going back for more, the taste is metallic.

To the sports….

Ascot Tips

The Major has driven through the torrential rain which has lashed the southern half of England in two bands on Friday.

The Racing Post says soft, the Major says heavy… Definitely heavy! Ascot drains well but will not be able to cope with this and get back to soft. This is excellent news as the Major, it gives us angles.

This is why I am very confident of getting a great tune from 5/2 Garswood with Ladbrokes in the Cornwallis Group 3 opener. My tip is proven on heavy, along with two others in the race whose form is markedly behind. Bungleinthejungle has absolute form claims but I am really unsure these conditions will suit. My tip won a listed race at Ayr like there was still serious improvement to come and this one is worth loading the heavy cannon for.

In the Bengough Stakes I am a big fan of the favourite Mince who really looks the best horse in the race. Yet, I am not sure that these are the best conditions for the horse and so I go for bigger value. Instead the Major is going to tip 5/1 Soul who has a last run that is best ignored but the Major thinks that the Newbury group win form plus the return to squishy conditions makes the profile very appealing.

Newmarket Tip

I am really torn between two, the first is The Gold Cheongsam at 3/1 who won a similar sort of event at Doncaster and was arguably unlucky in Group One company subsequently.

The Newmarket tip though is Graphic Guest at 10/1 who is best rated and proven on the ground. I accept it is not the fashionable sorts but I think 10/1 is dismissive.

Gowran Park Tips

Proper National Hunt racing at Gowran Park as former champion chase winner Sizing Europe is due to line up in the PWC Champion Chase (grade 2).

Both that horse and China Rock have won this before but in neither do I trust.

The former is certainly the better bet but at odds-on, I am just uncertain as to how tuned up he will be. Surely the Tingle Creek is the main target and as the seasons on, the legs take a little longer to warm up. Sizing Europe is vulnerable.

The one I really fancy a big win from is First Lieutenant at 5/1. Bobs Worth looked a major festival winner and I have always regarded that form as top class.

Arc Day Thoughts

Great Heavens got a late and expensive call up and that catches the eye. I always like three year old sorts in the arc, particularly the fillies as they often have not had such heavy seasons and they get some very generous allowances.

In the Prix de l’Abbaye my early thoughts run to Wizz Kid who must be due a big race and is a fancy price. It hits a note with the Major who was running the Berlin marathon for the charity Whizz Kidz!!

I feel at this stage What a Name should be backed heavily for the Grand Criterium. I am not sure the challengers are up to that much.

I cannot bear to look at the Prix de l’Opera given the love of my life Galikova runs here and is not even favourite rather than taking her long shot chances in the Arc…. No bet….

Back to the Arc, Camelot is all the rage. The Major did advise you to get on at 16s when it was available in the wake of the St Leger. That price lasted a breath only. Camelots St Leger run was good in my view and the jockey criticism was harsh. Ok the horse was probably the best in the race but hit bad positions and the Godolphin nag had a very good first run.

It concerns me more that the effort and effect on Camelot plus the effect of travel might be enough. I do reckon Camelot is the finest that Ballydoyle has had for some time. In that I differ from most who think that this crop of three year olds was ok and that Camelot was a superb derby winner. The Arc price is in to a range I find hard to back, even if the respect I have for the horse outweighs slightly the fear I hold he is over the top.

At this stage the Major wants 10/1 Shareta but I may change my kind!

I am eating dinner with the fine people at Warwick Business School as I start my MBA course. I hope yours is in freer style… The company more willing and fun.

Courage, roll those dice.