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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.