Monthly Archives: November 2012

Saturday Sermon with Haydock and Ascot tips….

Good morning from the Major who writes from a sodden Worcestershire where deluges of rain have altered the vista. It is a pretty site, fields now lakes, vast expanses of new temporary wetland which the bird life will enjoy.

It all happened so quickly, rivers and brooks burst sending violent floods of water into new places where it doesn’t belong.. roads, fields, flat areas vulnerable to the torrents of water, now settled in calm collectives. They will disperse as quickly as they came, silently draining and giving back their taken land.

The Major has been sleeping more soundly. Whatever the cause it dispersed as quickly as it pooled too. With sleep, comes confidence. Today my faithful few, we daub the war paint and go to war. We have an excellent renewal of the Betfair Chase, a decent Amlin at Ascot and football opportunities too.

Sharpen that lance point and prepare the heavy charger. The enemy is dug in, prepared for our onslaught, we shall take them on directly, first on horse, picking with our lance points at the gallop and then fighting man to man with bayonets fixed. It will be dirty work but we deserve our victory… To the sports…

3.05 Haydock – Betfair Chase

What a fantastic renewal of the Betfair Chase. The two remaining placed horses from last years Gold Cup do battle with Silvianaco Conti and Weird Al.

You can read this race a number of ways and what complicates matters further is the testing conditions which could readily deteriorate to heavy. I am making the assumption that it will.

The only horse with good form when that word appears is Cannington Brook but while he has shown improvement, surely he is not a Grade 1 winner.

The ground could scupper the chances of The Giant Bolster who is clearly a rose on the significant upgrade surprising many with a superb Gold Cup second. He is the stable star and reportedly doing very well. He is likely to run off the front and although in a small field that could be advantageous, in these specific conditions, I suggest he will be setting it up.

That leaves Weird Al, Long Run and Silvianaco Conti.

I like Weird Al a lot. Quirky and difficult to train, this will be his Gold Cup without doubt. He will be tip top for this and has a record that is mores site fresh. Strongly considered and his soft ground form (4 from 5) suggests that heavy holds little fear.

Silvianaco Conti is a second season chaser with serious merit. He has clearly progressed like so many of the Ditcheat team do. He looked excellent on seasonal debut int he Charlie Hall, particularly as that was his first time outside of novice company. He is going to be fit and ready.

Long Run is the proven class. How I wish, Barry Geraghty would get a chance. Then we would know whether the scruffy jumps are the horses habit or the amateur jockey factor. Owners can do what they want and the Corinthian spirit can be admired but as a racing fan, I want to see the best jockeys on the best horses. I am still a fan, a clean round and this machine is unbeatable in my view. He won a Gold Cup as a young pup beating good sorts. He always hits a few but stands up and keeps going. These fences at this speed on this ground might suit…. That though is the problem, can you believe the horse has never run on anything worse than good to soft! It is hard to know what Long Run will make of heavier conditions.

The tip…. Hmmmmm tricky. Weird Al is tempting simply because this is the main aim. Long Run is really tempting now drifting, I am opting for Silviniaco Conti, I am also having a reverse forecast on the first two in the market.

At the start of this season, I had written off Paul Nicholls chances of top trainer. Henderson had far more 160+ rated sorts and it looked like all the talent was there. Now with Silvianaco, Al Ferof and others showing progression, it is wide open again.

2.30 Haydock

I really like the two at the top of market and am going to tip Katkeau – Pipe has an excellent record in the race and I am not put off by jockey bookings. This is a ‘could be anything’ French import and 13/2 Coral is fine for me.

2.10 Ascot – Amlin Chase Tips

The ground at Ascot is likely to be very testing too particularly as the rain will hit Berkshire.

A few weeks back, the Major heavily tipped For Non Stop at 13/2 which duly obliged and you might expect the same again but no….

Today, even the Fehily factor (the Majors favourite underrated jockey), I am tipping Finians Rainbow. Last year, my selection was simply awesome in the Champion Chase, outclassing Sizing Europe. The latter is an exceptional horse in his own right who won doing cartwheels in Ireland last week.

Finians is simple. Evens is a gift.

2.45 Ascot – Coral Hurdle

Again, I am looking to keep it simple here. The best horse in the race is Oscar Whiskey who is also tactically Flexible. He can and will front run and will be damn hard to peg back – he likes a lot of cut so conditions bear no ill – smash it up in a double with Finians Rainbow, 4/5… I can see it being 4/7 at the off.

2.35 Gowran

Last tip from the Major comes from Gowran Park where a highly regarded Mullins horse (always worth noting) does battle with Hidden Cyclone. I fancy Call the Police to come out on top based on reputation and the weight benefit he gets as Hidden Cyclone has won a Grade 3.

Currently 7/4 but only Paddy Power has a market! Outrageous!

To the football…

Derby should beat Blues (5/4) who are a club in turmoil. I fancy that in a double with Blackburn (11/10) who should see off Millwall.

Lucky 15… For Mr Hill, (Derby, Blackburn, Finians Rainbow and Call the Police). It might not be £600 worth but good luck!

May your dinner be fuelled by magnificent winners. Have pasta and a light wine, a Bourgogne perhaps. I hope the company is enchanting and as you drop the tip on the table after the bill is settled, may her eyes widen and the race be put to bed.

Courage, roll those dice.

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The Saturday Sermon – Cheltenham Paddy Power Meeting Tips including a 22/1 mothership and a 20/1 Paddy Power tip

Good Evening from the Major who writes from a Worcestershire rural scene of cold wintery showers blustering outside the bay windows of my living room.

The Major had a poor day at the first day of the Open meeting at Cheltenham. A very decent second for my 16/1 shot was the sole return from the six races which started with a comprehensive defeat for Fingal Bay…. I was talking up this horse all morning to anyone that would listen and offer my humble apologies to each of you for having the misfortune to listen.

I have had an entire week of being unable to sleep. Poor diet? I don’t know but the thoughts swirling in my mind, occupying the peaceful parts with their noisy clumsiness. Tiredness and defeat. I feel cloaked in the stuff, choking my movement, I yearn to break the shackles.

Continuous sleep deprivation is deeply unsettling yet interesting as equal to uncomfortable. For me the consequence is short of temper, lack of energy and an affinity with dark thoughts.

Our lives are punctuated by the rhythm of sleep. Patterns bring comforting conformity and shape. Security. When you disturb the pattern, you create the opposite; uncertainty. It is as though the individual levers and cogs of the brain, dissolve and form new structures that you are no longer familiar with. A dystopian world in which you become a prisoner, unsure if sleep will return you to normality. The boundaries between the night world and the day world lose their integrity, one seeps into the other. An osmosis that is oozing and unwelcome…. things that belong in your dreams in the night, turn up unexpectantly.

What a tragedy is unfolding again in the middle east. The sight of children injured and dying seems not enough to sober up either side and so the air strikes and the rockets continue. At a distance, war and it’s devastating consequence seem inevitable actions for those with the great responsibility of protecting a nation. To the Major, they seem instead more akin to the playground, the reasoning shallow, the considerations glib. The mood this week is not good.

In the morning, a new day and the promise of redemption. I need some fine sport to lift my gloom. A powerful remedy, a surging performance that raises the pulse.

To the sports….

Cheltenham Paddy Power Gold Cup Day Tips

Far West is an obvious place to start given that Ditcheat have taken this race the last two years with French imports. 6/4 is fair considering the obvious credentials. Both Nicholls and Henderson have hit the ground running this season and the latter is represented by Vasco du Ronceray. What he beat at Hereford adds up to a hill of beans but the manner of the defeat gave intent.

The opening contest is a Triumph Hurdle trial and with little comparative form, I am opting for Far West who at least beat a useful sort in Handazan and at 6/4 rates a good chance to bring home the bacon for Nicholls et al.

In the novice chase at 1.20, Sire Collonges is going to be a hot order representing the top yard and looking a fine prospect at Fontwell and at Cheltenham. Course form is always mprtant at Cheltenham. It is an undulating course with tough fences and a steep downhill section, not every horse gets it.

The Major though is going to tip Sraid Padraig at 8/1. The Tony Martin raider won with any amount in hand at Limerick and it is interesting that he is thrown into this. Tasty.

In the 3m 3f marathon, the Major would tipping up Problema Tic but the Pipe yard seem slightly below par so far this season. I find it hard to fathom Bradley at 5/1 when Ashkazar is at 12/1… The latter had the better of the former last time out and while both are proven on course, Ashkazar is preferred but being out of the Pipe yard again, I go elsewhere. Currently 22/1 with William Hill, I offer you up Chicago Grey my selection has the talent and has dropped to a hugely tempting mark. Johnson gets the rare ride for the Elliot team and he is 1/1 in the saddle for the yard in recent times. Shabash.

Paddy Power Gold Cup Tips

What a superb renewal of the Paddy Power. Hunt Ball, Grand Crus, Walkon… An absolute cracker. The major is tempted by many. Grand Crus is clearly a class act and if he chases to his hurdles mark, is very well in. yet the yard is in short form as already highlighted and I will resist which is a shame as if not for being well, he looked like the RSA winner.

Hunt Ball would be four and a half stone out of the handicap if running this time last year! Has a horse ever improved to the degree he has? The winners enclosure will be lively if Knott gets to celebrate again and I wish them luck.

Walkon looks more a more likely sort but I am slightly distrustful. As a second season chaser though, I fancy he has the profile but he is on the watch list.

In recent years, it has been more the fashion to win the Paddy Power from down the handicap. Roll back a few more years and horses with an eleven stone plus burden were more common. Most of the were trained by Martin Pipe with classics such as Our Vic and twice winner (five years apart) Cyfor Malta.

The latter was the only horse in the last twenty outings to win at the age of 5 which is a major signal to the experience required. This is the only thing putting me off Triolo D’Alene.

There will be plenty of pace on and the one I fancy to take advantage of it is Divers at 20/1 (Stan James) – he will be doing his best work late and that’s good enough for me.

The last two Cheltenham races are not affairs for me.

Three football teams for me – the footy is proving profitable of late…. Birmingham at 17/10 at home is a price. I fancy Southampton to beat QPR at 3/1 and I like Newcasle at 10/11 at home to Swansea, that’s a nice little treble.

May your dinner be fuelled by a successful Trixie and be a mix of beautiful nonsense. The wine must flow, the release valve easing the system pressure. May the day return to the day and the night be confined to the night.

Courage and roll those dice.

Friday Cheltenham Open Meeting Tips

Good evening from the major who writes to you while enjoying the calming effects of a tasty takeaway treat of Butty Bach ale from the village pub.

Tomorrow they race at Cheltenham and the Major will feel a pang in his heart as he is tied to his office a mere seven miles away.

What a great meeting the Paddy Power is. I used to attend every year with a good friend on the Saturday but then we drifted apart… Life is constantly changing, shame, the memories are blindingly good, particularly the year Our Vic went in, that night was a live band, fine restaurant and the sort of drunk that leaves you blissfully blind.

The major remains troubled. Many things. Gaza, emptiness, isolation… I don’t know, sleep comes rarely and sketchy at best.

Yet, moments of fleeting beauty still stir the spirit. Take Sizing Europe today in the Clonmel Oil Chase. Clearing the birch perfectly, never troubled by the inferior beasts who kept him company for two miles. It is why National Hunt is better than flat racing in my earnest yet humble opinion.

The way a top class chaser might deceive rivals hypnotising them into a metronomic pace but then stealthily up the ante, cranking up the pace and moving through the gears from adagio through allegro and continue the accelerando to presto….. Stunning and worthy of our existence. What we owe these fine beasts… Shabash!

a few tips for Cheltenhams Friday card, let me know if any pleasure was derived (@tdl123)

First of all, I am putting my mortgage on Fingal Bay when Hobbs described him as the best he has had, eyebrows were raised. Some of that gloss has gone after the Sefton at Aintree but that was a horrible race in which to trust form. OK, it would have been nicer to see, on Chepstow reappearance, a bit more distance between him and reliable yardstick Tiger O Toole but he still looked a little idle to me in front. Strong tip, to go mad to 5/4.

If my mortgage is intact after the opener, then I might just sit the second out as it is a rough handicap to solve. I do want to offer an opinion and am looking for value so the Major is going to tip the most interesting competitor. Wetak is a French raider and if you treat the thrashing handed out by My Tent or Yours; on British debut as a stroll out, then this becomes the main target…. Interesting enough for me to suggest a slice of Boylesports 16/1.

In the third, the novice hurdle, I am struggling to recommend Dodging Bullets who while having some top class form seems to lack a winning touch. Tominator might have been the tip but two things trouble me, firstly the yard is in limited form and secondly, his hurdling debut saw him a sloppy footed leaper. So the Major is opting for River Maigue a bumper winner in the right hands.. Make no mistake about it, the winner of this race is a serious prospect.

The cross country is a filthy betting race and many will be seduced by Orphee des Blins the winner of the Czech Pardubicka, a sort of brutal mix of cross country and Grand National. Mix form, ability and a dash if ambition and there will be plenty of backers for this. Yet, the Major thinks that there will be another day for this intriguing sort. Instead the tip is an outsider in Wedger Pardy who has a handy turn in the weights on the fancied sorts and

When amateur or conditional jockeys go to war, all sorts can happen and the Major always wants the best warriors in such an event, over the beast they ride. There are 24 of the so carnage aplenty will grace the turf… Teak, an Ian Williams (dual licence, Birmingham trainer) inmate is of some interest. The Major took my young masters off to Salisbury to watch Teak win showing a tough edge.. Titan de Sarti represents Henderson and is the Majors tip, yet a save on Akbabend mind not be foolish.

In the last, Jamsie Hall and Pentiffic are my choices at massive prices with decent jockeys.

Saturday Sermon – Wincanton Badger Ale Day Tips plus The Criterium and some Premier League…. SHABASH

Good evening from the Major who writes from a perfectly acceptable autumn evening in the Worcestershire countryside.

Tonight I lit the wood burner for the first time this season. The job requires matches and mine were in the converted stable block which having given up the job of stabling now performs very well as a perfectly reasonable one bedroom annexe. The building also compromises of an outside convenience and a boiler room which is where the matches are to be found. I lit the weak bulb and peering in the gloomy murk found a nasty surprise.

On the floor was the carcass of a Goldfinch. I am no twitcher but the Goldfinch is a striking bird with explosive flashes of red and gold. This one lacked most of the elements that it once possessed. We were down to feathers and a few bones. I suspect the cat. It feels like a bad omen.

Maybe it is a good omen. Godly sacrifice though having little statistical proof has enough popular backing to suggest that there is something to it. Take your pick. Whatever you think, I will invest in some better wattage bulbs.

Personally I think I stink of losing. I just feel a veil of defeat clinging to me like an effervescent cloak, a silver lining of loss and my wallet of diminishing power. Yet as Fuller once wrote ‘the hour is darkest just before the day dawneth’

Personally I think that’s nonsense too. In my gambling life, it is darkest before it gets darker.

Fearing the complexities of life, tonight I ate simply. Steak, cooked for a mere flash in the hottest oil my stove can muster – turned once after 20 seconds. Served alone, with a dash of mustard to the side.

Earlier this week, a steak caused my usually rock solid constitution to become imbalanced. Read into those delicate words what you will. Maybe that is the cause of my unsettled sense.

Doubts, damn doubts… Uncertainty over your own judgement. It is the beauty and curse of life that we are given independent thought to enable us to conceive beyond binary.

Each week, the Major hopes to enrich the life of one casual reader. I don’t care who, and i don’t care how many innocent victims have to read the wild thoughts of my mind, percolated through a swirling vortex of confusion before that one person draws some surprising meaning. Into the sports we shall go this week with perhaps, the most beautiful thing that one can say about such uncertainty…..

Khalil Gibran, the great Lebanese poet…. ‘doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother’…

Courage my faithful few….

2.15 Wincanton – Grade 2 Novice Chase Tips

In the last week, Silvianaco Conti showed that he is a player as a chaser this season when showing he has trained on from his superb novice year. He started that year with a win in this race and so it is of some interest that Paul Nicholls targets Poungach at this contest. He starts favourite and if the slip at the first at Chepstow has done little damage then on balance he is a threat to all.

Many of the others have not seen a racetrack in over a year although Court in Motion is an interesting runner. A solid bet would be ‘King of the Night’. Trained in what was the satellite yard of Paul Nicholls last season, I fancy Harry Fry to be a rising trainer.

The Major though is going to opt for one of those that has not seen action for some time. Aegean Dawn had some very good hurdle form. While he has been missing for some time, his trainer has had success with a handful of runners in recent weeks and I suspect that Aegean Dawn might be a strong chasing prospect and at 13/2 rates a strong tip.

2.50 Wincanton – Elite Hurdle

What a fantastic race – The main question here for the major is over the jockey bookings of Ditcheat. Maybe with the benefit of the post in the morning, we would have greater clarity but why is Ruby on what seems the second string?

Is Zarkander tuned up? Surely the staying on fifth in the Champions Hurdle signalled some intent for this year and the grade 1 novice wins he secured were solid. Prospect Wells has solid form of which the clear best is the Triumph Hurdle 5th but given there are no wins in graded company for a horse that is 2/7 over hurdles…. Hmmmmm

Zarkander is giving a stone and three to Prospect and while Daryl Jacob has been aboard Zarkander before when it has won and Ruby has been on a loser (Sam Winner) but that didn’t look planned either.

Sod it. Zarkander is the better horse. 9/4, have a slice. One word of caution for Baby Mix who I have not given up on yet.

3.25 Badger Ales Trophy – Wincanton Tips

Well I am going to keep this short and simple.

Diamond Harry won a Hennessy off a mark 6lbs higher than this and 7/1 is a steal…. He is dropped in grade and while clearly prone to injury is the class act in the field. Michael le Bon is the danger to all, very lightly raced….

Tips for the Criterium de Saint Cloud

Group one flat action for the two year olds and the Major wants a slice of Sempre Medici who will go off at a sporting price and has already proven himself in the testing conditions he faces tomorrow. He is a Medicean colt out of a line of Dansili Dancer… Few markets and no liquidity but I’m guessing 5/2 second favourite.

To the football….

The 11/5 about West Brom coming away from the Latics with maximum points is sent from heaven. Albion have looked excellent in defeat against Man City and away to Newcastle, scoring against both. They dispatched Southampton with ease and look like 6/4 chances at Wigan so the Major has to be involved.

Stoke at evens at home to QPR is a decent bet. Probably the last thing a team without a win (hanging over their heads like the sword of Damocles) needs is a trip to the Potteries. Stoke are predictable, tough and Mark Hughes has a greater stench of defeat hanging about him than I, at least I hope so, because if I don’t have that….

Newcastle 19/20 is an amazing price, they should beat West Ham tomorrow.

For a good man who asked me to start including it again…. The lucky 15 is Aegean Dawn, Zarkander, Diamond Harry and Stoke.

May your dinner be simple as mine was. Remove doubt and realise the thin slither that pares it from certainty. I hope your companion is entertaining but that you might have serenity in your own company is my ultimate hope for us all.

Courage, roll those dice.

Saturday Sermon – Tips for Breeders Cup, Santa Anita – Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby | Down Royal JNWine Thoughts

Good morning from the Major who writes from a cold Worcestershire rural scene where conditions lack dignity of ice or frost.  Instead we are treated to a wind chill – It is somehow a dirtier cold.  If we are to be in winter, we should do it properly.

My post yesterday was a disaster.  Conditions at Santa Anita are set up for upsets.  A tight turning turf track on firm which is unusual for all European horses and a dirt track that most have never raced upon.

My selections went from bad to worse and the only thing I got right was Fame and Glory being finished.  Even in his best conditions he is a done deal so the time to retire is right.  I cannot claim too much glory for this correct premonition.  Talking to my brother he said: Well done you got one horse not to win… ouch.

This is going to be fairly brief because I have an essay to write and this is simply a distraction from the lofty studies of business.

You will be glad to hear that the sermon has been reduced.  Suffice to say this, enjoy yourself today.

Santa Anita – Breeders Cup Tips

Draw is essential – That was the lesson I learned last night.  You do not want the inner berth, those horses get trapped on the rail – Look what happened to The Fugue and Sky Lantern, finishing full of running but having nowhere to go.  Getting out is not easy from the inside position, you are better to come slightly wider (like Flotilla).

6.50 Juvenile Turf – Gervinho has been reportedly putting in good track work and I am going to take a 16/1 chance that this could be the best of the home team.

Tips for the 7.35 Fillie and Mare Sprint – Groupie Doll has been transformed by headgear but has some ground to make up so I am going to opt for Dust and Diamonds at 11/2 (Hills) – Lost as to why this 7f contest is a sprint!

8.14 – Dirt Mile – Shackleford needs to have the race run to suit and I am not sure it will be.  I am going to take a chance that Bob Baffert has got to the bottom of Fed Biz poor latest show and the 6/1 (Coral) shot puts his best foot forward here.

8.57  Turf Sprint – Starspangledbanner has had some injury problems and is polaxed by draw 14, it would be one of the best performances ever to beat this field from there.  Yet my tip is only 5 berths left.  8/1 Bridgetown is the call and will be doing his best work at the finish with Mizdirection and Corporate Jungle.

9.36 Grey Goose Juvenile – Shanghai Bobby looks a class act to me… Go lumpy at 2/1.

10.18 – 1m 4f Breeders Cup Turf Tips – A cracking race in which St Nicholas Abbey bids to win again.  There is some tough opposition though and the one that the Major fancies is 5/1 (Paddy) Shareta – The Japanese raider is a danger to all.

10.58 Sprint – Call me crazy but I am opting for 40/1 (Betvictor)  Hamazing Destiny.  My tip has finished in the top 5 in this race twice already and while drawn wide, will get the help of a suicidal pace in the field.

11.40 Santa Anita – Breeders Cup Mile

Then the race we wait all night for.  It is worth staying up just to get a look at Wise Dan.  This chestnut monster looks like he would rip your face off given a chance!  An absolute herculean looking animal, he is in at 11/4.

I am not sure Moonlight Cloud who was so close to downing Black Caviars colours in the summer will enjoy these conditions.

Excelebration has obvious form claims and a win would only go on to stamp Frankels authority on the global racing scene through collateral form.

On balance though, I think Wise Dan for the home team is a strong win tip.

Charlie Hall Chase Tips

What a shame only 6 make it to the start for the Charlie Hall.  Surely a grade 2 chase with £50k+ for the winner could command a greater turn out?

Planet of Sound probably needs genuine good ground to be seen at his best and so is ruled out.

Master of the Hall goes well fresh and is a big price at 10/1.  Yet I cannot see how he will give 5lbs to exciting second season chaser Silviniaco Conti who should take the Charlie Hall for Team Ditcheat at 6/4.

Down Royal – JNWine Chase Tips

The JNwine is the feature track race of the year and it is a shame they have lost Sizing Europe from the card this morning.

I like Kauto Stone but think he might fall just short of top class and would be happier with a slice of the 10/3 about Quito De La Roque who goes well fresh and will enjoy it today.

In the football, Sunderland odds against to beat a lacklustre Villa is appealing at 6/5.  So is 8/11 Man Utd to beat Arsenal.  Tottenham are too short at 8/15 but it is no punters price.

May your dinner be delightful and the company generous.  I apologise for the rushed edition but I have work to do.  Wish me luck.

Courage, roll the dice.