Monthly Archives: December 2012

Sunday Taunton Trixie – Keep the winners rolling…..

Good morning from the Major who writes from an ashen rural scene. All is quiet,the gentlest of breezes caresses the trees as though apologising for former bad behaviour.

The brook whose banks burst flooding the lower slopes has bloated its reservoir but now rests content. Like the tiger having eaten well, sleep comes to all.

Taunton is on! It is the only meaningful card today unless you crave the dog racing passing as equine sport at Lingfield, not for me.

I am typing on a small screen so forgive me for the lack of explanations, I have three favourites, the ones I trust to do the Taunton business for you….

Taunton Sunday Racing Tips – The Trixie of Favourites.

The most interesting runner at Taunton is the Henderson horse Ma Filleule who goes in the 2.20. Her Newbury placed form has been well advertised and the money has poured in. I took a slice of 5/4 last night having missed the 7/4 by an hour 8/13 is all there is left bug I take the cramping odds as further encouragement and suggest you do too. Doyly Carte has been tipped before by the Major but I fancy the Henderson beast today.

The other two I like book end the card. Let’s start with the omega, in the lucky last I like Dancing Daffodil at 9/4 (Hills and Coral). I think this one scored with plenty in hand and a 12lb rise might not be enough. The horse looks well placed stepping back up in trip here as Montys Revenge I think is a better chaser than hurdler and not one is be confident about. I tipped this last time and suggest reinvesting.

In the opener, Henderson has found an easy race for Electrolyser to make a debut over hurdles. A pretty good flat horse, certainly better than anything else here, they have gone hurdling later in life than most would. We saw a similar horse bolt up, whose name escapes me (anyone)…

There you go, Sunday Mega Trixie – Electrolyser, Ma Filleule and Dancing Daffodil – add a bit of Chelsea away if you want to Yankee up!

Courage, roll the dice.

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The Saturday Sermon – Newbury Challow Hurdle Tips Horseracing from Leopardstown including their Grade 1 Festival Hurdle

Good evening from the Major who writes from the bed.  The good lady is alongside (fear not, a significant bolster, giant if you will, separates us), she is reading her book and biding her time before most likely snapping and letting me know that the tippety tap production of the Saturday Sermon is effecting her harmony.

The weather in Worcestershire is grey and mild, infuriatingly boring.  The wind is rising though and on it is the promise of significant morning rain.  The brook over the road from the Majors country seat is full of recent downpours, it is creeping remorselessly up my neighbour’s garden, devouring higher ground.

What a fantastic day of racing, we have been spoiled with the offerings this week.  The Lexus Chase had an enthralling climax with unbelievably brave Tidal Bay sticking his neck through the crowd to take glory on his only ever foreign excursion.

You can only speculate what this horse might have achieved if he had been with Nicholls his whole career.  He seemingly has the keys to him and a brave Hennessy performance preceded this heroic Lexus win.  The Major had written him off, well he is turning twelve.  Gold Cup horse… no, not for me.

In fact, I have been swimming against the tide for some time on the subject of the Gold Cup.  My views are simple.  Long Run underperformed significantly last year in one of the weakest renewals ever.  Take that out, he has won a Gold Cup aged 6 (rare and in doing so broke the track record), has won two King Georges (regaining it this year) and for me is the classiest staying chaser there is on the scene.

I have given my views already on the jockey situation but overall, I am a buyer of Long Run for the Gold Cup at 7/1 and the Lexus further convinced me.

Sir Des Champs has done little wrong but perhaps is not the world beater we might have imagined.  Flemenstar is a non stayer and drops to the Champion Chase.  Peter Casey thinks Sprinter Sacre will be quaking in his boots, I don’t think Flemenstar will get him off the bridle.  Tidal Bay is not a Gold Cup horse aged 12, no way.  Bobs Worth is the real danger as I do rate that one highly but he has not achieved as much as Long Run.

While we are on ante post betting, have a bit of Major Malarkey at 25/1 for the Welsh National.  It will be good for you, you can thank me later.

A very good friend asked me how I make money from writing the Major’s blog and was quite surprised to hear that I don’t.  I have never (and can never foresee a time when I might)  promoted services to my followers.  For a start, it is not my style, I enjoy writing this too much and prefer the honest relationship we have.  I offer you this for free, you can despise me when you have lost your money.  I don’t want the integrity of your hatred lost in a confusion over whether I was just wrong and cost you money or whether I was being evil and tried to trick you into backing a loser.  One I regularly am guilty of, the other I am not capable of.

I do not know you but you might have gleaned somewhat of my own mind, over time.  You might think me a little unhinged, you might enjoy it, you might be informed, you might be here through chance, a first time, or you might be here through reluctant familiarity, like returning to a poor soap opera as a matter of habit.

In providing my racing tips, I profess not expertise but an enthusiastic and positive amateur approach.  What is more, I believe any claimed expertise in my field is fallacy.  It is partly why I stick to my mantra of courage and roll the dice.  

By the way, I stole that, or at least I borrowed heavily to get to it.  If anyone can tell me (comment or tweet @tdl123) where from and get it right then I will be impressed….  Answers next Saturday.

Roll the dice, the courage to take chances… but as a horseracing fan and amateur tipster, is it not my job to remove chance, to be certain?  Is it not therefore an admission of shame to say that chance plays the master role?

Put simply, there is too much information to be certain of anything in life.  We can access such enormous amounts of data not just in racing but in all walks of life and it has a profound impact on how we view the world.

Using information wisely is a profitable business is all walks of life.  Yet there is little information, if any, to which I can claim exclusive access.

I have a rating engine I use which although using someone elses software platform is essentially my own.  This is not unique though and the source information for the engine is common.

My point is this, our views are so often based on things that everyone else can access too.  There is so much of this information too, I can access the strike rate of Sir Des Champs sire on left-handed tracks, if I want to, if I think it merit worthy.

The idiotic, select elements of this ‘sea of data’ that fit their pre-existing argument.  If you like Sir Des Champs, you might be minded to convince yourself that an extra half mile will see him beat Flemenstar.  If you like Flemenstar, you might select his unbeaten record to decide that he will be superior on the day.  This is dangerous, if you do not realise you are doing it.  It is easy to corrupt yourself into false confidence.

All I am saying is that there is enough data to pretty much argue anything.  It is the human condition that we believe we can control enough of what lies around us to predict the future, we are desperate to do this and you can see it in people all of the time.  If you even start to critically analyse what people say, just scratching the surface of their belief systems, you find it full of weakness, yet some convey their belief with such authority.

How frustrating that is, to meet the man born believing , in fact, knowing himself to be right.  These people, I believe are most afraid of their own mortality.  they will die scared.  They need to convey certainty in their knowledge, because they are too weak to accept that they do not know, that the world is far greater than the insignificance speck that is you and I.

Accepting we cannot predict, control and know is a terrifying prospect, the very idea that we have no idea takes us closer to our own insignificance.  Socrates knew it and you should be at peace with it too as it is inescapable.  It is as inevitable as your own death.

Bleak, possibly… but cheer yourself that you have the elixir of life, freedom, autonomy and vibrancy.  You are here, after all, many are not.  That thought, the one in your head right now, it is yours alone.  Drink deeply from the cup, let it run over and splash down you.  You are alive, you have your own mind.

My point about prediction and how thin and feeble it can be is why gambling is the best hobby a man could possibly have.  It teaches humbleness in the face of the infinite, it teaches you to try to garner just a slither of understanding of the small detail, not to fool yourself with an illusion of absolute control.

The belief that one has the ability to predict outcome with certainty belongs to the fool.  In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is King.  Know something and understand it is only something.

Ask yourself, have you ever had a strong sense of a horses chances only to see it lose unfortunately?  Have you ever used information to understand a picture but just not quite staked well, thus losing?

When doing so, do you feel frustrated or is there another emotion too?  Contentedness, a rested mind that you were able to comprehend the variables, even if it was without reward?  If you do not feel this, then please do not come back.  We here are gentlemen gamblers, at the snooker table we acknowledge those lucky deflected pots and we call our own fouls.

If you have felt it, then embrace it.

To the sports and remember, I am merely a guide shining a tiny narrow light into the cavernous kingdoms of information, my torch may flash on something you like but I am only searching myself, I offer thought, not fact.  The beauty of life is not control, it is choice and chance so be with me today followers… courage and roll those dice.

Newbury Challow Hurdle

Two terrific prospects for the Neptune clash here and both Clondaw Kaempfar and Taquin du Seuil look potentially top class.

The former was bought for a six figures and has won a decent bumper and two good hurdles, including a listed contest latest.  Never raced on heavy but the soft ground form suggests this is no problem.

Taquin du Seuil is another classy prospect and it was surprising to me that it is second favourite in the early prices.  Jonjo has used this race before with some decent horses including the ill-fated Wichita Lineman.  Taquin won a Uttoxeter bumper with some authority before bumping into the smart My Tent or Yours and losing.

That loss was interesting, while he was not that fluent at the obstacles, he was ultimately well held and I would suggest that the trip was already inadequate.

Stepped up a further half mile last time out and raised into Grade 2 company, Taquin Du Seuil smashed the opposition which although potentially a bit light for the standard, marks him as a serious prospect.

On the whole, Taquin du Seuil has achieved more to date than the others and I think, kept to these distances, he is a very smart prospect.  He is my strong tip for the Challow Hurdle and I would be taking those 16/1 prices on the Neptune now.

2pm Leopardstown – Istabraq Hurdle Tips

I do not think Hurricane Fly is likely to retake his Champion Hurdle crown come March but he should be able to give his fans something to cheer about here.  3/10 might be no punters price but neither Thousand Stars or Unaccompanied are within a stone of the former champ and any other outcome would be a major surprise to me.

Another Leopardstown favourite I will tip is Sizing Gold who is likely to go off around evens in the 12.55, having finished 10l down to the decent Don Cossack last time up, a repeat performance would be enough but surely improvement is on the cards.

In the 1.30pm, I am willing to give 4/1 shot The Real Article another chance.  Once a controversial handicapper over hurdles that ended up in graded races, he is looking to shape into a very useful chaser.  A fall last time out came when travelling nd jumping well enough and if the confidence is unharmed he will be a threat to all at this level.

In the 2.35, I am going to have a considerable slice of Zuzka at 6/4.  This mare was unfortunate enough to run into Jessica Harringtons Jezki in the Royal Bond (impressive winner of the Future Champions), there is no such opposition here.  If anything the Royal Bond stretched her a little and she did well to be within a few lengths of Jezki, all in all, she should have the guns for this.

You need the mind of Stephen Hawking to attempt to decipher the 3.05… just watch it!

More Newbury Racing Tips

The 1.35pm sees the chase debut of Colour Squadron who could be a decent jumper of the larger obstacles having run Captain Conan close over hurdles last year.

That said, jumping was an issue with the small ones and Newbury fences are tough enough.  The ground might help slow things up and could be an assistance but I cannot tip a chase debutant with that record at the obstacles.

Module is also full of promise but I prefer the chances of Tenor Nivernais and Bury Parade who have both registered chase wins.  The former might have a few quirks but definitely has some quality as shown when spread-eagling a Bangor field, that was not top class stuff but probably just the confidence booster Tenor Nivernais needed.

The tip for the Newbury Novice Chase though is Bury Parade who was an expensive purchase recently into the Ditcheat team after beating Super Duty at Carlisle.  That horse went on to smash-up a decent Cheltenham field in the Schloer Chase providing ample advertisement that the transfer fee for my Newbury tip could be money well spent indeed.  Take the hint.

Given I am all about Taquin Du Seuil, you would expect me to be on My Tent or Yours at cramped odds in the last and I will be!

To the football tips…

I am all aboard the Watford money express to Brighton at 11/4.  I also think 13/10 Leyton Orient to beat my old team Walsall and 5/6 for Tranmere at home should be in your multiples.  I must say that Sunderland look the value bet to me, Villa are in free fall at the moment and the Spurs form against them should not be taken literally.  13/5 home win is a bet.

Hull are a touch the wrong side of evens to beat Leeds at home and I think they should be bought.  Palace are 11/5 to win at Forest, with turmoil at that club, I fancy this being a good time to get them.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Taquin Du Seuil, Zuzka, Leyton Orient and Bury Parade.  Load the cannons.

May your dinner be a simple meal.  Remove the finery and return to basics.  Have good company with you and sleep content.

Courage and roll those dice.

Fridays Racing Tips – Leopardstown Lexus Chase, Christmas Hurdle and Novice Chase – Load the cannons again my friends

Good evening from Worcestershire where the Major writes from the lounge. The good lady has joined me and while that scuppers the darts action, she compromised to ‘Escape to Victory’ so karmic forces remain balanced.

What a glorious day of betting for the Major. Winners were plastered all over yesterday’s blog. A double in Ireland and three from five at Kempton was a resounding success. Excellent but just shy of the mothership, it was close, as close as Bourne getting up on Dildar….. Aaahhhh the sweet sanguine feeling of loss.

Bad losers are awful gamblers, they get confused. Nothing is personal, if you need a refresher in how to lose, watch my favourite film , The Sting…. A sharp intake of breath, a tilt of the hat and as Kipling said, never breath a word about your loss.

Leopardstown on Friday completes a fantastic schedule of Christmas racing. Let us do battle once again, join me, I feel a final 2012 push, we shall take the ridge and repel the counter, we shall meet them man for man, with bayonets fixed. To Leopardstown.

Leopardstown Tips

I am going to start with tips for the Lexus. It is being run on heavy ground, which will be cut up but most in the field will enjoy it. What a race we have, we have all been waiting for it. Surely the Lexus Chase only concerns the first two in the market.

The highest profile horse I am ignoring is Tidal Bay. He was conceding 6lbs to Bobs Worth when providing a worthy challenge in the Hennessy but I think that was the extent of his abilities. He has been quirky in time and I am not convinced travel will be for him. That said, Ruby is in the seat and might choose to make the running as Tidal Bay will be best suited by a searching stitching stamina test. Turning twelve though and after a hard race last time, he is first of the main protagonists with a line through.

Midnight chase did once beat Tidal Bay but on this ground, I can’t see him landing a blow here.

So the front two…. Flemenstar leapt to the head of the Gold Cup market when serving up a beating to Sir Des Champs last time out. Peter Casey is a colourful owner and it will be good for the sport to see Flemenstar remain a top class horse winning good races.

This is over a further half mile which possibly plays for Sir Des Champs’s chances. When he lost to Flemenstar it was over arguably too short a trip and his seasonal debut and so it is fair to expect better from him.

Sir Des Champs is a two time festival winner and his RSA quarterbacked a decent betting Cheltenham for the Major. My heart is with him. He has an extra year on Flemenstar and I think he is an excellent prospect for the Gold Cup.

I am pretty convinced by the argument that Sir des Champs can reverse placings. Davy Russell was quite kind to him in the John Durkan, these conditions will play into his hands. This sthe start and the finish of the Majors search for a Lexus tip.

11/4 is available on Sir Des Champs and at that price, the Major is a big buyer.

Tips for the Christmas Hurdle

The 1.35 Christmas hurdle has a air of utter quality about it.

Zaidpour is installed as favourite after taking the Hattons Grace last time up but I am not sure of that race. It was a steadily run affair and not form I trust entirely. Monksland was pretty close to Zaidpour that day with Voler la Vedette back in third.

That mare is a wonderful horse and a bloody good yardstick so if I am wrong about the race then Zaidpour is damn good. He is a horse that was kept busy in the summer but not to much effect, his French raid was poor and I just find him hard to trust.

I like So Young, but if they insist on cutting out the pace with him then he won’t be winning this.

Weapons Amnesty was a mighty impressive winner of the RSA who has been plagued with injury. I had him earmarked as a Gold Cup sort prior to his extended spell on the mend list. Given he is returning to hurdles first, I expect this is an exploratory mission and we can expect more next time up. That said, he is receiving some handy weight off some of these due to the construct of the penalties.

When it comes down to it, probably the winner is one of the Hattons Grace finishers. Of them, Monksland appeals the most at 4/1. Zaidpour makes me nervous and I think my tip is more progressive and in receipt of an extra 2lbs and stepping up in distance, I am taking a slice.

2.25 Topaz Novice Chase

Goodness me there are some puzzles in here. Some excellent horses and this will be very informative.

Aupcharlie looks second of the Mullins string but could be anything after an impressive chase win with impeccable jumping.

Avrika Ligeonniere gave a good beating to Dedigout last time out and the former looks a top class novice, it is fair to say Mullins will know where he stands with Dedigout. Avrika went on to beat Benefficient in the Drinmore.

The main Mullins horse heads the market. Back In Focus looked a top class horse and another natural at the obstacles, clearly a that to all. 5/4 just seems a bit short, although he looks the likely winner.

Instead the Major is going to tip Tofino Bay at 10/1. The Troytown win was brave, particularly so as a novice. He is a less fashionable sort having taken the handicap route but I think the form is good. He is fine on soft and has a likeable attitude – have a slice.

Good luck tomorrow troops, courage… Roll those dice.

December 27th – Kempton and Leopardstown Tips – keep the Christmas winners rolling!

Good evening from the major who writes from the armchair of the living room, stuffed full of Christmas gammon, my body groans.

The rain is persistent and dark outside, best not venture out. Instead wallow in the digital glow of an online account bigger than twelve hours previous.

Forgive some gloating but I was fairly pleased with my King George write up. As well as tipping the winner, I strongly hinted at Captain Chris and my staking plan matched. Winners from Dynaste and Spurs helped and a late night top up on Stoke was the icing. Lovely.

Christmas is all about excess and tomorrow, our already brimming vessels will have more goodness carelessly splashed into them. I say careless because it is hard to keep up. Some of the jockeys riding today, I simply did not recognise. There was no way I was ever going to have the most rudimentary understanding of how the Sedgefield or Market Rasen cards might shape.

I am used to scanning every race, every day of the year. Often you get a sixth sense for a card you like. Sometimes the Grade 1, sometimes the class 6 £1900 Wolverhampton seller. With this many meetings, it is hard to do that which makes me uneasy.

Still, while the finest cuts are being presented at our table and I am distracting you with my own psychological flaws, you must forgive my rudeness, let us look closely at what is presented to us and rise up as one against the enemy…

To the racing.

Kempton Tips

The French listed form of Irish Saint and the Ditcheat record of handling these French imports means there is only one possible bet for me in the opener, Nicholls has a good record in this race.

I cannot find a bet in the second. Certainly the Arkle favourite Simonsig should win but in these conditions and conceding the best part of a stone to Hinterland (no mug), I can’t be on at 1/6.

In the mares handicap at 1.30, I am backing Bunglasha Lady who looks progressive. Her last run suggested she is a bit of an awkward customer but she handles soft and has a reasonable weight to lug around. Over the distance, this will take a lot of getting and if she can be switched off, I would be surprised if she was not involved. Swincombe Flame is an obvious danger as is the Henderson improver, One Lucky Lady.

The Peterborough

The 2.05 is the twice rearranged Peterborough Chase. It is an interesting and difficult race to tip because none of the horses have won in heavy ground.

For Non Stop missed his King George assignment to take part in this and he will be the stopping point for many, particularly as he tried hard to give weight away to Captain Chris last time out who went on to greater things in the King George. I have two main concerns, one is his record going right handed and the other is the heavy ground.

Hunt Balls heroics seem to be fading fast but it might be a bit early to write this one off. His soft ground form is strong.

Menorah may be stretched and is a dicey prospect. French Opera is not my type and certainly doesn’t feel the sort to be improving now.

No on balance, the Peterborough Chase tip is Hunt Ball who has form measuring close to the best with these. Having looked so straight forward last season, I am willing to draw a line through the seasonal reappearance and assume well being. 6/1 with Paddy Power.

The Desert Orchid Chase

This should be quite simple from the Majors point of view, it all revolves around the two defeated adversaries of Sprinter Sacre from the Tingle Creek and the useful if a little quirky Wishfull Thinking.

Sanctuaire finished in front of Wishfull Thinking last season and is fine on soft ground. Having recently been beaten by Kumbeshwar and now having to concede another 4lbs to that rival it might be surprising to find it is my tip for the Desert Orchid.

Kumbeshwar is probably underrated overall and probably the Tingle Creek was a very big step forward on previous form. Anyone who watched the race though knows the cost Sanctuaire paid for asking the questions of Sprinter ‘The Aeroplane’ Sacre. Much more sensible tactics will be applied here as there is no one of the Aeroplanes’ quality here. Evens…. Fill your boots and thank me later.

Other Kempton Tips

In the 3.15, I am tipping a small wager on Mister Hyde who will like conditions and showed a likeable attitude latest. Jonjo and Maguire is an interesting partnership and maybe we can expect a little more from this 11/2 shot.

In the last, my advice is, take a pin, drop it in, rip your selection out of the paper, go to a bookmaker on course, screw the paper up and set fire to it, eat any remaining ashes. Look bookmaker in the eye, about heel and leave. I just saved you some money.

Leopardstown Dial a Bet and Future Novices Grade 1’s

Two good races in Ireland for us to consider.

The Dial a Bet features Sizing Europe who is a 2/5 shot but should murder this lot. Possibly the ground is a bit slow but the shorter distance will balance. I really fancied Sizing Europe for the King George, this is a top class horse and I would be surprised if any of these can land a blow on him.

In the Future Novices, Waaheb and Sizing Rio both have plenty of potential, with the former a very exciting sort. However, Jezki is possibly the best Harrington prospect for some time and I think this one is set for the top, I am backing it at 5/4 and in a quick fire double with Sizing Europe.

Good luck and roll those dice.

The Boxing Day Sermon – Kempton King George Tips – Scrub that – Here is the winner of the King George plus some other tips from the Kempton card

Merry Christmas and Good Evening from the Major who writes to you from the table of my parents home in Sutton Coldfield.

The weather is cold and blustery, walking the dogs earlier in Sutton Park I had to turn my collar to the wind and bear the brunt of the cold damp on my hat-less head.  The sun was setting and the dogs were rooting through the undergrowth, bounding and sliding through the mud.  As the dank gloom descended, a certain sanguine sense settled on me.  Sometimes, when cold, out, watching dogs becoming filthy, considering the weakness of your attire, on the brink of night, with a warm home waiting…. you are so close to life, it feels good.

The walk after Christmas lunch was in order, my good mother had prepared four meats, Turkey, Pork, Gammon and Beef.  Where was the lamb I cried, surely two cuts of pig was too many….. Apparently it is not the Christmas spirit and I was chastised.

My sister was meant to host Christmas but a new cooker was not arriving in time and with a fortnight to go, the switch was made.  That pretty much made my mothers Christmas, the combination of playing reluctant host coupled with the smell of a crisis.

I trust your Christmas has been fine and in perspective.  I wish all of you merry band the happiest of times, the best of health and gods own luck.  I know my followers are the decent sort, I try and root out the cads, they tend not to return.  As such, I shall not remind you to think of others less fortunate, you will be doing that already.

There is so much racing tomorrow and so much I want to do that I wanted to provide two blog posts.  The first would be an in-depth analysis of the King George – I plan on giving you Christmas cheer with the winner.  I want to share the thought process that leads to the decision too, allowing you to part company with me at any given point.

I will then provide a less detailed summary of some of the other Kempton racing.

In a separate post, I planned on a whirlwind tipping ceremony of every race run tomorrow (that is a lot).  The analysis would have been surface level only but it feels like a fun thing to do.  Sadly, it is Christmas and I am snow blind by racing with no fewer than a million races tomorrow.

Before the tips though, racing royalty and a Sam Waley Cohen rant (not against him per se).

Recent History of Kempton’s King George and Long Run’s Jockey

Kauto Star will be in attendance at Kempton tomorrow and the sight of the five time race winner will warm the festive air with fans clamouring to be in the presence of greatness.

Winner of the race in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, defeated by Long Run in 2010 and regaining his title in 2011 – Is there a more impressive recent national hunt race record.  Add 4 Betfair Chase titles, 2 JN Wine Champion Chase runs and the first horse to regain a Gold Cup and you have a bone fide legend.

Spare a thought for Nacarat though.  Watching many of those Kauto wins, the horse that sets such a nice tempo and travels oh so well until the last half mile deserved more credit than history will give him.  I shall afford him what I can, my thanks for his brave efforts against superior flesh.

Without doubt, my favourite King George would be 2009.  Barbers Shop toiled on, Nacarat the same but Ruby and Kauto that day looked like perfection personified.  Some of the fences he cleared were majestic.  He looked a horse born knowing he was the greatest.

Should Long Run have beaten him in last years renewal?  Probably.  I know it is a well worn subject but the Major would add his two penneth worth to the views of the jockeyship of Long Run which in my view cost too much momentum in last years King George and in the Gold Cup.

Sam Waley-Cohen of the fabulously wealthy clan is a full-time dentist and for six months of the year, pretty much a full-time national hunt jockey too.  He works incredibly hard to do what he does.

The case for the defence is that…. 1) Sam has already won a King George and a Gold Cup aboard Long Run, thus it is a proven partnership worth protecting 2) Is it not the Corinthian spirit that the Major knocks…. ah the plucky amateur, playing with such straight a bat and steeled spirit as the best of them…. There is that too, granted.  3) Let us not forget too that Mr Robert Waley-Cohen has paid his money, it is his toy set and he can do what he wants, he who pays the piper….?

None of these assuage my frustration at the present situation.  My arguments are simple.  True champions in our sport are there to behold.  Kauto, Frankel, Denman, Arkle, Red Rum, Sea Bird…. take your pick, what they achieve is more than the purse for their owner, far more.

Horses like these achieve things that transcend the individual.  It is no longer one element of the race, it is the whole, it is the story.  The spontaneous round of applause as Kauto pulled up in the Gold Cup in March was beautiful, a crowd acknowledged a champion.  Ruby asked the first question but did not belittle the horse by asking again, Kauto said no once, it was enough and everyone appreciated the graceful departure.

In the case of Sam Waley-Cohen, he accepts that he is not the best jockey and this creates pressure, he clearly thrives on it too.  Sam might get 30-40 winners in a year but that compares poorly to the best jockeys riding hundreds of winners, you would expect it too as well, it is the benefit of being professional.

The skill of jockeyship in these races for me is in presenting the horse well at fences.  Geraghty, Walsh, McCoy, Fehily, O’Brien, Madden and Russell, among many of the top pro’s, do this exceptionally well.

If Long Run were aided by such a jockey, I am absolutely convinced that the horse would already hold two King George titles and two Gold Cups.  Both of the defeats came from scruffy jumping and the jockey looks awkward to me.

I accept I have never ridden a horse but while I will gladly bear the brunt of those that know far more than I from the saddle, I know what my eyes and what my sense tells me.

Long Run would be better served with a fully professional top class jockey, he would jump better and thus run to a better mark.  I not only feel a frustration born from a desire to see the best jockeys on the best horses, I also feel the greater sport is suffering as a result.  This is no ordinary chaser, trying to win a half valuable handicap.  This is potentially one of the best chasers we have seen, history beckons.  I wish we did not handicap him with an amateur in the saddle.

The owners pay the bills, they can do as they please, I just wish for the sake of racing that Geraghty would get the leg up tomorrow.

None of this is a slight on Sam Waley-Cohen either.  He accepts the basis of my argument, that he is not as good as the top professional riders.  I genuinely admire the work he must put in to ride at the standard he does.  He also seems like a top guy.  None of this is personally directed, he is doing his best, I just wish he would keep it to the likes of Radjhani Express.

The King George Winner

I said I would provide the name of the winner of the King George.  Here we go….

I analyse races to differing criteria and I want to share the process for selecting the winner of the King George with you.

I have used my judgement and some statistical base to analyse the horses chances on going, trainer form,horse age,  jockeyship, best horse form, recent horse form and likelihood of enjoying the track.

Yet, analysis like this is only useful in ensuring you do not miss elements of fact in the story you create.  Live your life by a model and the bumblebee cannot fly. So, once I have made this assessment, I shall make my case.

My scores came out, incredibly flat, suggesting this is a wide open King George.

Long Run 14.45%
Captain Chris 10.72%
Cue Card 9.36%
Riverside Theatre 10.14%
Junior 10.23%
For Non Stop 6.45%
The Giant Bolster 8.06%
Champion Court 8.55%
Grand Crus 10.81%
Kauto Stone 11.21%

In each the percentage is chance of winning on the scores allotted with my usual adjustments made.

In this case, I am going to throw them away.  It suggests a range of prices akin to a handicap from 6/1 Long Run to 16/1 For Non Stop.

My market, massively rates the chances of the outsiders. How does that fit with my feel for the race….. hmmmm, not very well.  This will be a case of drawing on some of the analysis but feeling my way through the back stories of each.

The most massive factor for me is class, it strikes me that our best chasers win the King George.  They are normally aged from 7-9, that is, in their peak racing years.  Look at the names… Kauto, Kicking King, See More Business – The multiple winners are class horses.

It is easy to get distracted by analysis, what we have to ascertain are two things – Are there serious impediments to you running your best?  Are you good enough?

In this race, I believe only the following have no serious impediment.  Long Run, Kauto Stone, Cue Card, Captain Chris and Riverside Theatre.

Grand Crus is perhaps my highest profile offcut, I feel will struggle on the ground.  He has much poorer form on soft and has never raced on worse.  A wind op may be crucial in proving me wrong but I am willing to bet that the spring will see him run his best races and maybe failing here might put the RSA on the cards.

I am not with the Giant Bolster who has shown one piece of top form in placing in a poor Gold Cup on summer ground.  Not for me.

Champion Court is good but looks thoroughly average in this company.

Likewise, For Non Stop, who has the added impediment of being unlikely to enjoy Kempton, in fact this horse has a surprisingly bad record going right handed.

Junior looks like a horse supplemented to try and win some place money, I don’t think it will pay off – Handicapper out of his depth is my reading.

So, to the protaganists and let us assess the chances and review the merits.

I want to start with two you might be surprised to find me rule out.  Kauto Stone and Cue Card.  Both have different profiles.

Kauto Stone is proven over trip and ground, his three mile win in Ireland on heavy represents his best form and Kauto’s half brother (what a story that would be!) should enjoy conditions.

Cue Card has to prove he will get the trip – Connections think it is no problem on on Kempton’s flat track and I might agree if it were not for the heavy conditions. This will make it a truly testing three miles and turning for home going well may mean nothing after the last fence.

The truth is that six year olds have won the race but they have to be top draw.  Kauto won aged six, winning a Tingle Creek in the same year (unbelievable really!) – So that is the standard to judge the chances of these two by.

Kauto Stone, definitely not in my view… Cue Card, maybe, just maybe.

Then there were three and as Holmes said, rule out the impossible and whatever remains, no matter how far fetched is the truth.

Riverside Theatre, Captain Chris and Long Run.  We have two horses that have placed in a King George and on that has won it and placed in it.

Captain Chris showed arguably his best form last time out encountering heavy for the first time.  If that form sticks then I think he is booked for a place as a minimum and represents a terrific 16/1 price.  He loves conditions and he loves Kempton (three from five).

Riverside Theatre has not had a run this year but that is not a concern.  His record fresh is immaculate and he will be wound up for this.  He also loves Kempton and gets Geraghty aboard.

This is why Long Run has to be the tip for the King George.  When it comes down to it, class is the compelling argument.  Riverside rates one of the two horses I rate in the contest and Long Run gave him a twelve length beating when only a novice.  Anything like that form and my selection should wipe the floor with this lot.  The jockey is the only impediment I can think of and I think he will win despite that.

People forget that this horse set the track record when winning the Gold Cup. That is some achievement and I think it is the class act in the field.

Cue Card rates a danger, there are lots of if’s – Of the two 6 year olds, the former Champion Bumper horse rates the one that could be of the quality to progress and win again.  Those if’s add up though, will he get heavy? Will he be good enough? Will he stay the trip?  A risky dodge, but a dodge.

My best each way alternative would be Captain Chris who only has to overcome his inconsistency to rate a very good place chance at 16/1.

Long Run will win the King George, class will tell.

The Christmas Hurdle

The talk is that Cinders and Ashes will be better for the last run and may reverse with Countrywide Flame who looked an easy winner on soft.

Darlan arrives as one of the best of last years novices but really this one needs better ground, surely.

For the Major, the art is to keep it simple, Countrywide Flame is the Christmas Hurdle tip and with good reason.  He loves the mud, he has just shown terrific form and the triumph is not looking bad as a form race.  15/8, keep it simple.

The Major will however have a slice of former Champion Hurdler, Punjabi.  This horse is the apple of my eye, I still see his white face on that little body as he held off Binocular and Celestial Halo to win me my biggest pile of notes ever.  That will be one for the heart and I would love to see him run a place.

The Feltham

Although I am going to win no friends with the value punting set, Dynaste looks as good as a bolt on bet as I know.  His facile chase victories mean that the 5/1 ante post for the RSA is my current favourite Cheltenham bet.

There is nothing in this field that scares me at all.  His jumping is immaculate, what is not to like.

The 3.45 Handicap Hurdle – Kempton

Four favourites on one card is probably not what you want from your tipping man but Katkeau is all the rage in the last.  The Pipe inmate looks a handicap good thing sort and one poor UK run is nowhere near enough to ignore this promising French sort….

Racing Post Novice Chase – Leopardstown

Avrika Ligeonniere is an evens favourite and it is understandable as to why.  When you are as blessed as Mullins is with Novice Chasers and you have a handful in at the five day stage, which you take out to rely on one brute shot, punters have to take notice.

Oscars Well though is the one for me.  This horse fell on the penultimate start but apart from that not a lot has gone wrong.  This is a classic case of my horse having more in the bank but reputation catapulting the other to the head of affairs.  Take the 7/4 on the second favourite… its a bet.

To the football…

Tottenham odds against at Villa look a bet.  Surely Villa will be fighting to restore some pride but it is a young team and they may struggle, particularly if they concede early.

Watford are my money train at the moment, hence 5/4 at Bristol City is Merry Christmas!

May your Boxing Day be better than mine.  I am booked for lunch at 2pm… what sort of sick person does that to me?  A wife of ten years is the answer… She claims innocence but really… She will pay.

Courage, roll the dice.