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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