Monthly Archives: January 2013

Saturday Sermon – Cheltenham Trials Day Tips | Leopardstown | FA Cup… Shabash and load those cannons

Good evening from the Major who writes relaxing, from the lounge. The television was proving a poor distraction, action was taken, a button pressed. Now silence envelops me in a soft bubble, occasionally punctuated by a car passing by, tyres kissing the dark wet tarmac. Thinking time.

Worcestershire feels unclean. Lumps of white snow whose edges are diminishing fast cling to the landscape, lit up by the passing lights, starved of their icy fuel, unable to fight off the rising temperatures, slowing eating themselves. Soon teh land will be free again.

Cheltenham, racing, it is on. Shabash. The Major is looking forward to entertaining friends on course. I suspect a crowd of good racing folk will be there, starved of recent action, craving the goodness that floweth at the Prestbury Park cup.

We are incredibly blessed with a day at National Hunt HQ that is as good as trials day ever recorded. The moving of the Victor Chandler Chase bought Sprinter Sacre to the card and even the loss of Bobs Worth did little to tarnish the sheer quality jumping off the pages.

Such riches… There is a buddhist parable of heaven and hell which suggests that the two after-lifes have little in common. A feast in each is laid before you and in hell you are furnished with just one long chopstick, frustration ensues as you are unable to feed with it. In heaven, the same feast and the same apparatus are present but each man feeds his neighbour. Sounds uncomfortable at best.

The moral point is not lost on tomorrow though. Racing is such a richness, how the heart pumps, that rising feeling as your horse turns up that Cheltenham hill, behind but plugging on and you just know it is a long way home and you have a chance…. The smells, the magnificent beasts, the sights… we are lucky to live in such times as these, Sprinter Sacre, Puffin Billy… tomorrow we dine on the feasts that racing has given us.

As the parable teaches too, we cannot do this alone, so enjoy it in company. Join the conversation on twitter (@tdl123) and while you are online, have a little look at this tribute song to Campbell Gillies who tragically died on holiday last year. The song is nice enough and features the jockey winning on Brindisi Breeze at last years festival.

When the tapes go up on this years Albert Bartlett, many will be casting a thought back to Campbell charging up the hill holding off Boston Bob in last years contest. Who would have thought it possible that two such bright young things would be dead before the summer was out. We float by on this river just the once.

Enjoy Cheltenham tomorrow, savour these times and be lucky. The Trials day is a fantastic taster of what is to come.

The Major has started recording his antepost thoughts for Cheltenham. Have a read when you get a chance, so far I have covered the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup.

I feel able to claim that I am in reasonable touch over the last month, a small spell on the sidelines this week hopefully has done me good. I have been known to go well fresh and so today, returning from a break, here I am at your disposal.

Daub thy war paint, load the light cannon, prepare the mortars, the enemy comes from below to attempt to breach our line, we are dug in well on the ridge though. We shall fire mortar but dropping shot from above is difficult to gauge… if it comes to it, we shall engage them man to man with 5 cartridges each and bayonets fixed and glistening their evil reflections.

To the sports…

Cheltenham Trials Day Tips

The going is soft but it might be odd ground. The covers have been on all week so the top might be loose. Fresh rain is forecast too so it might get tacky. I am erring on proper soft ground sorts.

What a feast of action we have, eight races, six of them graded… let us sharpen our minds.

12.10 Grade 2 Triumph Trial

Irish Saint is currently 6/4 and I fancy him to go off a lot shorter after an impressive Kempton win last time out. Soft underfoot conditions have already proven no problem.

The race is marked by the absence of an Alan King runner. He has run the race in 5 of the last 7 runnings all with horses of 2/1 and under.

Rolling Star has to be the biggest eye-catching entry, while it is hard to rate the French form, Henderson does not throw darts at races like this and so despite an incredibly tough introduction to British hurdles, he is respected.

Of the others, Knight of Pleasure makes appeal. He could not have won more convincingly on debut at Sandown and the Moore yard are in fine form – A tremendous piece of each way value at 14/1 with Stan James.

On balance though, the Major feels that Nicholls has a good one on his hands in Irish Saint and at 6/4 generally, I think this evenings prices are the one to take.

12.40 Cheltenham Novice Chase

Radjhani Express gave Sam Waley-Cohen the first of two winners on the Kempton boxing Day card. His rise in the weights and dubious style at the obstacles are enough to put me off.

McMurrough has terrific form on the Northern circuit, winning two handicaps but this is a long way from Wetherby, interesting.

Gullinbursti has looked just short of class on a few occasions a dirty scope on the middle of three runs was an excuse but I am not convinced a tough track like Cheltenham is what he needs.

Venetia Williams stable jockey Aidan Coleman has opted for Renard D’Irlande over Benny Mist who was a last time winner in a small field at Taunton.

Johns Spirit at 5/1 (Boylesports) is the tentative choice for the Jonjo / McCoy partnership. He looks consistent enough and a small stake is advised as plenty of others could improve.

Sizing Santiago is the other that help some interest off a massive 14/1 but he is merely one of a few that persuade me to keep stakes on the selection low.

1.15 Grade 3 Handicap

Nadiya De La Vega has run well at Cheltenham but has a habit of getting worse as the season progresses.

Bless the Wings is a talented animal and this is the right time of the season to catch it but I fear the ground may be against the King horse.

Katenko looks a very tasty favourite at 4/1, the French import to the Williams yard is a powerful looking horse and this sort of contest may bring better.

I am opting though for the horse with a fantastic winning habit, Bold Sir Brian. My tip, smacks a few fences but the way he put away Pacha Du Polder and his penchant for softer conditions bodes very well. Have a meaty slice and thank me later.

Tips for the Victor Chandler Chase

Sprinter Sacre… The Aeroplane…. His judgement cometh and that right soon.

2.25 Argento Chase Tip

It is a shame that Bobs Worth is a non runner in the contest, it would have been fantastic to get another look at the Gold Cup favourite. However, as long as Tidal Bay stays in, we have a proper race on our hands here.

I must be the only National Hunt fan not to be that taken with the whole Lexus form. My own Gold Cup thoughts revolve around Bobs Worth, Long Run and Silviniaco Conti.

Grand Crus is starting to look like a list of excuses but that said they look valid. The wind op was a response to his poor efforts at Cheltenham and then he went well in the King George before blowing up, he arguably will strip fitter for that.

Imperial Commander will have his fans as a twelve-year-old former Gold Cup winner but not for the Major.

Midnight Chase won this last year but the creeping years and a tougher field might make a repeat bid a failing one, but he does love it round here.

Others with strong track form include Weird Al, Little Josh and Wayward Al.

The whole race feels like a weigh up between the older sorts out for a last hoorah and a few younger animals bidding to be better. Hunt Ball is one of those but I think his improving is done.

It is a younger chaser I am opting for though and it is Grand Crus that represents the value pick at 5/1. He can improve for his recent shows and will surely play a role.

3.00 The Novice Hurdle

At Fishers Cross has good handicap form and Coneygree looks like he has some of his half-brother Carruthers talent but neither appeal as much as The New One. Two and a half miles around Cheltenham looks a nice warm up for the Neptune after the tip destroyed a Warwick field last time. That race fell apart but there was no doubt over the ease in which the winner did his business.

Whisper is a potential fly in the ointment, the Henderson inmate could be anything but against a proven class animal, I am sticking with the New One.

3.35 The Cleeve Hurdle

It is the day that keeps on giving. The 3.35 is the Cleeve Hurdle, a race that sees Oscar Whiskey test his World Hurdle credentials with Reve de Sivola taking him on. He needs to win this to put to be the stamina concerns to bed ahead of the festival.

Reve de Sivola beat a good yard stick in Smad Place (placed in last years World Hurdle) last time at Ascot and that was an excellent effort coming back from a break.

Kauto Stone is starting to look tricky and Crack Away Jack owes me too much to contemplate.

I am sticking with 13/8 shot Oscar Whisky (Hills) who has the best Cheltenham record of the lot.

4.10 – The Lucky Last

Dildar to get me out of trouble at 9/2.

Leopardstown Tips

Just in case you are not drowning in the quality of the Cheltenham card, Leopardstown offer some excellent racing too.

Sadly only three go to post in the Arkle Novice which Avrika Ligeonniere should take at prohibitive 4/6 odds.

9/4 Marito for the same connections can make it a profitable day in the 2.15, one I very much like.

In the big handicap, 9/1 Carlingford Lough with Slippers aboard is my tip.

Football Tips

QPR 4/6, Wigan 4/7 and Hull 4/5 are an FA Cup treble.

Bournemouth 8/11 and Tranmere 23/10 are my league one picks.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Bold Sir Brian, Oscar Whisky, Irish Saint and Tranmere.

May your dinner be paid for by a trixie which made your wallet bulge. The company delectable.

Courage, roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Tips from Naas, a brief look at Kempton, some football and your belief

Good morning from the Major who writes from a wintry Worcestershire.  The slab of dirty snow sits on the ground like a single plane.  It is a transitional state, roofing is partly covered, there is less of it than I imagined, this is not satisfying

The fire I set last night is merely ash this morning.  Today, this will roar again, sausages in the pan, all is well.  The Major has been overall in decent form, there was a horrific post this week which managed to get some very short price favourites beaten but the overall ledger is positive and I know you all well, a forgiving bunch.

We have enjoyed some good days recently, I am not sure today will be one, with so much off, caution is advised.

I do have a 33/1 ante-post Cheltenham Festival tip for your delectable review, let us see if we can make some profits with which you might back such a prospect.  I will get round to writing up a few festival posts, soon I promise.

Fans of jump racing will, like I, be disappointed with the abandonment of Haydock, Ascot and Taunton.  All of these tracks were to host good racing, including Sprinter Sacre at Ascot and Hunt Ball at Taunton.  I feel sorry for Taunton in particular who were putting on a terrific day of racing for a small track.

Thank the good lord above for Naas which is on.  The Irish track might be heavy but races and we get to have another look at Aupcharlie who I am very excited about.

Right now, all of our beliefs are intact.  Belief, that which is made of the facts as you perceive them and the story you tell about them.  You may see that the sun rises every day, science has also given you an explanation for why this happens.  Both of these ‘fact’ sources compliment each other and from it, you discern a conclusive story that the sun will rise tomorrow.  Let’s hope you are right, otherwise I will never know if my ante post position on Taquin Du Seuil was sensible or not.

The order of these events is important though.  Which comes first, fact or story?  May I suggest an answer….  you need to accumulate the facts while leaving your partisan view to the side.  This allows you to draw your own landscape and often leads to you swim against the punting tide, which can be a very profitable place to be.

The danger of the alternative is that you create your story and bend the facts to suit.  If you forma  prediction too early, then you discard contradictory fact and only seize on those that compliment your chosen outcome.

A crucial part of your punting philosophy should also be ‘fact selection’.  For example, trends analysis.  The Major cringes when he often sees long term football trends quoted as a guide to present day success.  Ask yourself how relevant it is to look at historical team performance at a particular ground.  For example, if Team Y have not won at Team X for 15 years, of what concern is that today?

Select your facts, leave your predilections behind, analyse the data and then create your story.  Find a new angle that others are not discussing, then you may reap rich harvests.

To the sports.

Naas Tips – The Maiden (1pm)

Naas is heavy…. very very very heavy.  It has passed inspection but it is going to be a muddy carnage.  I love extreme conditions, not for the test itself (it goes without saying that we all want the animals and riders to come back safe), but because it gives us an angle of certainty.  We know that we need horses that act on it and this means we can draw a line through a lot of runners.

In the opener, Morning Assembly arrives with a very good set of credentials having finished runner-up to Sizing Gold.  The bumper form stacks up too.  It is the likely winner but 8/11 is a bit short in a big field of maidens.  Expanding Universe is the tip although I will not be getting lumpy about it.  After showing some very decent bumper form, the tentative selection ran poorly on hurdles debut but I am willing to assume that the ability has not evaporated and 8/1 is a fair price to get involved again, each way today.

As a footnote, Glen Gyle is 161 on Betfair.  It is a monstrous price and he came out much more likely on my reading of the race.  OK, he has a lot of explaining to do for a string of dreadful efforts but it is the first time back on heavy which were the conditions faced when he won his Hexham race.  A true point to pointer, perhaps all is not lost on this one.  Have a small saver.

1.35pm Grade 3 Hurdle

The graded hurdle race allows us another look at Solwhit, the old foe of Hurricane Fly.  The reappearance run was very respectable and only the apple of the Majors eye, Bog Warrior, was too good for this Grade 1 winner.

Win that run under his belt, perhaps he should take this convincingly (4/7).  I am minded that he will, given that the danger (So Young)    The form of the last Grade 2 second is pretty good having finished with Monksland in his sights and if Solwhit does crack, then I am sure So Young will exploit it.  The Mullins yard are in terrific form.

2.10 – Naas – Grade 2 Novice Chase

If there is one thing I took from the defeat of Aupcharlie to Back in Focus, it was that the best horse did not win on the day.  In the Leopardstown clash, Aupcharlie seemed to travel better of the two in the last half mile and I think it was a peck on landing, experience and being asked for maximum effort a bit late (after being ushered to the front too soon in my opinion) that caused the slight defeat, rather than the slight victory.

That day, Aupcharlie was a big entry in my notebook, even though the Major had tipped and backed his victor.

In such fine margins, it is interesting to look at the market interpretation of events.  Back in Focus is 8/1 – 14/1 for a number of Cheltenham engagements, Aupcharlie is 20/1 for the RSA.

Given that I think that is a reasonable RSA assessment, he really should easily be good enough for this… not a punting mans price but 1/2 is good enough for my multiples.

2.45pm Naas

Un Atout 2/5… simples.  Come on, this is a genuine Supreme horse (currently 20s) and acts on heavy, this is merely a confidence booster.  Mullins won this last year with Midnight Game who although was disappointing subsequently, was the Irish champion trainers main Supreme entry of a poor bunch.  He must think highly enough of Un Atout.

3.15 Naas – Handicap

I know what you are thinking… come on Major stop serving up these odds on shots and give us something to back!  Well I do not blame you…

There is another favourite in the Naas 3.20 that it is hard to dislike.  Matsukaze, an inmate of Tony Martins showed substantial improvement last time out and maybe a stone rise is not enough to prevent a further win today.  The ground holds no problem and so it is a decent 9/4 play with Boylesports, Carberry is up.

Beneficial is useful but won’t enjoy this mud bath.  Speed Dial will and is a major fly in the ointment.  This horse has shown plenty of progression but there is an issue too and that is the track.  He likes to be held up and at Naas that can be an advantage as the course has an uphill run in and it is long, plenty of chance to reel in the front-runners but… he is nil from seven on undulating tracks and nil from three left-handed.

On balance, I back Matsukaze to get the job done.

3.50 Naas

In a trappy affair with plenty of rogues lurking, the Major tips up Lucky Spring at 9/1.  While he has never won on heavy, he has placed in three of four efforts on the surface and on an opening chase mark, at least has the opportunity to improve beyond it a little.

The Bumper

I am going to have a small slice of Lots of Memories against the favourite who represents the Mullins team.  6/1 is very reasonable, my tip has more experience which might be important in this ground.

Kempton Tips

Kempton is on so we avoid two racing free days in Britain on the bounce…  I am not the biggest all-weather fan and so will be small slices of the following….

4.05 – Gertrude Versed 4/6 and trusting market signals last time 2.20, Haftohaf for the Botti team.

Cheltenham Antepost – Coral Cup

The 2012 Coral Cup was won by Son of Flicka who landed a near million reported gamble for his owners.  Have a look at the race, it is a bit odd, the winner is on and off the bridle but in the finish, wins well.

This year, the horse is seemingly in terminal decline but surely his main aim is an effort at defending his title.  The market has two views of this, there is the one I have just given you, BetVictor are 16/1.  Then there is the view that he is done for (Bet365 are 33/1).  Have a slice of the latter and thank me later.

Football Tips

Although it will send my good friend Martin Hill crackers, I do think that 4/1 Villa to win at West Brom is generous.  OK, Villa are in free fall but West Brom are hardly firing on all cylinders either and with so much at stake, this game is surely destined to be tight, edgy and in the balance.  On those grounds, backing Villa makes sense, they have looked by far the worse of these outfits this year but I am not sure that is what this game is about.

Sunderland look big to me at 11/4 to win at Wigan.  Hull to win at Peterborough (5/4) and definitely Watford (4/5) all aboard the money train, at home to Huddersfield.

May your dinner be a wholesome pasta in a simple sauce, with a light leafy salad containing spicy rocket.

The Hill Yankee is Watford, Matsukaze, Aupcharlie and Haftohaf.

Courage, roll those dice.

Thursday Racing Tips – Thurles and Wincanton… Firing in the winners, Shabash and roll those dice…

Good evening from the Major who writes from a frozen Worcestershire landscape, the brittle white crust compresses with a rustle under boot but beneath is tough as teak.

A thoroughly decent day for the Major with my Newbury tips, even if I say so myself.  Well, who else is going to thank me, apart from ‘john’ who posted a nice acknowledgement in the comments?  The rest of you can hang for all I care, miserable sods.

Actually, that is not quite true.  You need not thank me at all, in fact I have always carried transparency on my terms and conditions of usage.  You must behave yourself and act with decorum, no cads allowed.  I must write up my thoughts on a regular basis and at least score a few good days, I am also free to embellish any tips and racing information with the ramblings from the dark vortex swirling in my mind.  You must listen patiently as I disgorge them.

Then you are free to do as you please.  Your usage of the information is entirely at your own liability and any rewards are entirely yours.  I accept neither praise nor abuse.  Quid pro quo.

What a great day for the Major, seven tips, three winners all at odds against, a placed 20/1 shot (adv. 14/1) and a placed 9/1 shot, a 2/1 second and one best forgotten.

A couple of chaps, tourists in the punting world, took an interest today.  I laid them 11/8 about Fago who romped home the class act of the field.  Tomorrow they want more… Well Pierre and Oliver… more you shall get but be warned, the T&Cs are clear, caveat emptor or perhaps more accurate volenti non fit injuria.

Thursday Tips from Thurles and Wincanton

At one point, the horse in training which the Major has the softest spot for was engaged at Thurles tomorrow over fences.  Thank goodness, that folly did not come to fruition, I am of the mind that Bog Warrior should never see a chase fence again, apart from the ones he passes on his route to winning the World Hurdle.

Wincanton is a day of handicaps and the Major has precious little time to unpick them.  Hence, my visit there will be quick and simple, pulling out the likeliest and leaving the puzzles to my betters.  Let us all hope that racing goes ahead, a 9am inspection is called for.

Shutthefrontdoor is no bet but a massive odds on shot in the last.  If he wins well, expect the Cheltenham novice books to change!

In the 3.20, Brick Red is a hugely obvious sort.  Evens is available this evening (Ladbrokes) and will be a long forgotten price in my view when the tapes go up.  There is nothing in this field to challenge that I can find and the only thing that might beat him is if he has not fully recovered from his exertions of a week ago.

In the stayers race (2.50), we have an old favourite Mike de Beauchene turning up but aged 13 and without a win since his prolific winter of 07/08, he can only be watched and let’s be honest, do we want to see him toiling round Wincanton mid-week…. well-earned retirement would be my wish for him.  The one I want to be on is Dusky Bob (despite my solemn vow not to back Ellison horses) who won last time out in soft conditions.  He showed good heart at Musselburgh and this extra three furlongs and track should bring out the best in him, it could be a walking finish and that’s when I expect Dusky to be doing his best work!  9/2 generally.

At Thurles, we have two Graded events to whet the Thursday appetite.

The opener at Thurles unfurls a French Mullins import that looks a likely / shot. In a field of 19, I am minded to avoid it, even if it does look a likely sort.

The second looks like a good opportunity for Mikhael D’Haguenet but if you want to back him at 4/11 then I will seek to have you sectioned.  Who knows which version will turn up.

The Kinloch Brae Chase is a Grade 2 chase and has attracted a reasonable field.  Some old sorts line up and they are not the ones I want to concentrate on.  Joncol, Oscar Time and Tranquil Sea are top class horses but surely past their prime.

Quito de la Roque has been a real let down this year and Davy Russell seems to have given up hope and takes the ride on  Roi de Mee.  That one has been in fine form this year winning all of his starts since a strange reappearance where he was thrashed. That was by Sizing Europe but I suspect the summer ground did for him more than anything.  A danger to all as I don’t think we have seen the best yet, he has not really been challenged this season.

Days Hotel looks very exciting too.  He had been off track for some time before beating a reasonable (if a little exposed) field on reappearance.  It may not have been much but he did it in style I think this step up in trip will be advantageous if anything (ex pointer and bred for it).

In summary, I am really struggling to split the two at the top of the market.  It promises to be an excellent race.  I am going to make a call and at the prices suggest we go with Roi de Mee or Days Hotel.. or both… Oh god, I can’t do it.  Back them both, or why not try a reverse forecast.  I give up on the Kinloch Brae.

Tarla is just 4/9 to take the grade 2 Mares Novice Chase at 2.40.  I was a supporter of hers when she fell when dominating at the last in a race at Cork on my birthday.  She has had a little time to get over her exertions and should take this.  There is not that much more to fancy really.

In the 3.10, its odds on again for the Major as I fancy 4/6 Ballycasey to beat Milborough.

In the 3.40, Drawn N Drunk gets the nod, up the best part of a stone for a convincing win last time out might not be enough.  Sure to be prominent and make it a real test, lets see if we can bag a 6/1 winner.  Away We Go will be popular but I don’t think good enough.

Courage and roll the dice.

Wednesday Newbury Racing Tips – Determination… you don’t know the meaning of the word…

Good evening from the Major who writes from the solid frozen hulking rural scene of Worcestershire, the air seems to hang and pinch at you.  I am sat comfortably in the living room watching the inaugural showing of Utopia, it looks like my kind of show.

Tonight I have been working on accountancy, all part of the Majors MBA studies.  I am enjoying it…… thus hammering the final nails into the coffin of any rock and roll that remains in my soul.

Someone asked me recently whether I make any advertising revenue from the blog.  I explained that it was more of a communal project, attracting like-minded souls onto a punting lifeboat where gentlemen’s rules apply.  No charges apply and no advertisements or ulterior motive exists – I am with you and we are equal…. trying to land the mothership.

They suggested that I must have buckets of determination to write at a prolific rate.  Determined… hmmmm, I had never thought of it like that, I enjoy it.

Those words stayed with me though, as these things will and I was reminded of them when hearing of the demise of Maurice Herzog this week.  A French mountaineer who in the early fifties was the first to scale a peak over 8,000m, (Annapurna), a few years before Hilary and co managed Everest.

Herzog was your sort of man who was born with his mind made up.  You know he sort.  When they say something, you just know, they will do as their word.  Don’t cross that sort.

He inspired many ordinary folk and generations of mountaineers.  He knew a summit bid of Annapurna was way too risky on the day they did it but proceeded because he was minded to.  Short on kit (lost his gloves at the summit) the damage inflicted required field amputation of many toes and fingers.

Determined… me, no.  I shall leave that for others.

To the sports.

Tips – Newbury Wednesday Card

I hope Newbury survives the frost, course officials seem confident so let us hope the Berkshire cold is no worse than expected.

When Alan King has a juvenile entered at a Grade 1 track, every other trainer has cause for concern and in Seventh Sign, he probably fields the smartest flat form on offer.  Captain Cardington would be interesting on his penultimate run but perhaps with the dust settled that was not the best form.  Veauce de Sivola is a full brother to Reve de Sivola and money for the newcomer would be significant although it is not a yard that rush their top animals.  On balance, Seventh Sign is a likely  shot and at that price, I am a buyer.

In the 1.20, the track have attracted a few good runners for a fairly small prize.  Big tracks can do that but I must say, the prize money at Newbury on Wednesday is a bit poor.  Still…. James de Vassy could be an interesting chaser but can only be watched after a few years on the side lines.  AP worked wonders upon Colour Squadron at Newbury last time out chasing home the very useful Module and handling a slipped saddle too.  Why look anywhere else than Fago though who is another top class looking French recruit, when Ditcheat send their novice chasers to Newbury, you can be sure they know their business.

In the 1.55 Novice Hurdle, the three with penalties will be the first three home in my view and the order is the significant conundrum.  Etricht has been a bit disappointing and finally started to go the right way last time at Fakenham.  Melodic Rendezvous looked the real deal when beating Imperial Leader and the bare face of that form entitles the latter to be thereabouts in this company, even if the race was a dawdle to start with.  It might pay to stick with the King yard and Uxizandre who is a proven performer in soft conditions, while disappointing first time out at Market Rasen, he showed he has transferred his French potential last time with a stylish win here beating good yardsticks.

The 2.25 handicap chase is a bloody conundrum and 14 runners with 5/1 the field is not the prettiest each way market.  IF you were fed up earlier with me pointing out the damn obvious then you might prefer a slice of 14/1 with Ringa Bay.  Firstly, the negatives – He is up in class significantly and sports an amateur jockey.  The positives are numerous though.  His last win at Lingfield was decent enough but he showed good form.  There is plenty to think he is progressive on this type of surface too having only raced on soft or worse three times, winning twice and placing once.  It could be an experiment from the yard who don’t send horses to Newbury but maybe they have a decent beast on their hands.

The 3pm sees Violin Davis try to do herself justice after getting stuck in the glue at Exeter.  This track looks like it might suit her more with less undulations, more chance to get a rhythm going… basically it is easier.  Her experience will have taught her and I think 6/4 has to be backed.

Newbury have a bumper and a hunter chase to finish the card.

The 3.30pm bumper looks as wide open as you like with several boasting superbly progressive profiles.  Arguably Vieux Lion Rouge was the most exciting looking and he certainly comes from good quarters, representing the Pipe yard.  I am going to take a chance on Kalucci improving significantly for his second at Wetherby.  Third that day went back on the polytrack to in again next time out and with McCoy taking over from Felix de Giles, you have to say there are some positive signs.  Currently 3/1.

In the last, Chapoturgeon makes for an excellent hunter chaser and is likely to start odds on here.  I am going to have a smaller each way slice of Silver Story who I think could play a role.

Courage and roll those dice…


Racing Tips on the Tuesday Ffos Las Card….

Good evening from the Major who writes with a flash post to try to recoup some face after what I shall describe as ‘Black Sunday’.

I hope for your own sake you were not inclined to visit on Sunday.  If you did, I pray you either left immediately or felt disinterested in the advice I offered.  If sadly, this was not the case then your finances may be substantially less fluid and for this I can only apologise.

After a period of sustained profits, the Major managed to get his tips at 8/11 and 1/4 beaten and did not manage a winner from the other two picks either.

I never promised you much but come on, this is low stuff.

I am determined to get some Cheltenham posts up soon.  I am also determined to do some volunteering, sort out my tax return, organise some marathon training and numerous other things too so do not hold your breath.

When I do, I will kindly ask for a few of the fabulous photographs that Emma-Louise Kerwin takes.  You can follow her fantastic work on twitter @EmmaKGts or on her blog, Good to Soft or on Facebook.   I am plugging her work partly to garner favour and persuade her to give me some shots!  It is not all shallow though, when I say it is good, go and see for yourselves… The up close and personal stuff at the fences and of the tack on horses in the parade ring, the sweat, the heaving, the awkward jumps, the ones that ping the fences, the stars, the ever presents and the triers…..  she captures my beloved sport through that lens like the BFG capturing dreams in a jar…

To Ffos Las and to restore order.  Let’s hope it is on….

In the opener, Theatre Evening is my idea of the winner having cost the best part of two hundred thou’ at the sales.  Incredibly that price was achieved after a fall when pointing!  To be fair it was a good race and he had it in the bag!  McCoy could have been on Bob Ford the second favourite so that must be an advert in itself.  Being a Kings Theatre horse, the ground is no concern and hopefully, this won’t be another favourite the Major gets turned over.

Another favourite worth backing goes in the second in the form of Shaking Hands – This Pipe inmate won showing great attitude at Towcester on similar ground beating Cadran Du Chac who the Major put up (successfully I add!) for the Yorkshire National.

The 2.10 is a three runner affair and I opt for the outsider of the three in One in a Milan.  His Irish form was better than his run at Taunton would have you believe and second time out might be the time to catch him.

The 2.45 is a trappy handicap.  Storm Alert has to contend with a 10lb higher mark than his last time win but his claimer reduces some of that burden.  The Jonjo horse (with AP up and a yard that has a good record here) Dream Again Boys was supported last time out and is surely better than his last two runs suggest can only be watched (although money would tempt me to follow in).

The tip in the 2.45 is Annaluna at 5/1 who has been running well over the smaller obstacles to suggest that this is well within ability.  The yard is in great touch and the booking of Jamie Moore is interesting (never before used) – The step up in trip will be a positive, partly to give the horse a pace that will give plenty of sight of the fences…

Without doubt Lucky Prince at 4/1 is my idea of the bet in the 3.15.  Likes the ground, proven on the course… easy.

The 3.50 is wide open as the market (6 runners 10/3 the field) suggests.  Forever My Friend is going to be backed as many will think it was the distance that found the horse out over Christmas, I am not sure the horse goes in soft conditions so the same concerns apply.  Michigan D’isop can go well from a break, has Schofield up (one from one for the yard) and although tricky is worth a pop at 4/1.

With the weather forecast, they will be running the 4.20 in the dark.  I’m not sure we have seen much great form from those with runs so I will tip Land of Vic, currently trading at about 6/1 for the Bowen / Moore team.

Courage, roll those dice.