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…
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.
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.