Monthly Archives: June 2013

Sunday Uttoxeter Racing Tips…

Good morning from the Major who writes from the bedside listening to peaceful music and gazing out at a bright cloudy Worcestershire scene.

I have had a request for a review of the Sunday Uttoxeter racing Card and so I am going to fly through it… try to keep up.  As a health check, yesterday was not that bad.  Lingfield did not go well but at the Curragh, I scored a 20/1 winner and a 3/1 winner.  Maybe the Major is coming back to the boil!  Let us hope so.

Uttoxeter Tips

In the first, my eye was drawn to Rally the Troops who has been off the track since the end of 2011 but is still young (6) and with a yard capable of coaxing some form back.  Yet, the yard form of Bowen is extremely striking (9 winners from last 18 runners) and I am backing The Road Ahead at 7/2 to get the job done with Tom O’Brien a very capable pilot.

In the second, it is hard to put you off Lyssio even if he is conceding weight all around.  The Champ is riding for Jim Best who has a decent Uttoxeter record and the form stacks up with the Fakenham win looking decent.

The 2.40 is a tricky race and not a lot jumps off the page.  As a result I am putting up Night of Passion who is entirely unexposed but could be reasonable.

In the 3.10, Baccalaureate will have his fan seeking a hat trick but this is a tougher race and he carries a stone more as a result of his last victory.  It’s a risky prospect but I think Solaras Exhibition should be given another chance – His Ffos Las exploits read very well and although not entirely straight forward, can play a part at 14/1.

The John Smiths Summer Cup

This is a very decent race.  Officially a listed chase, a number of decent sorts have turned up.  Next to the Midlands National, I assume this is Uttoxeters top race day.

Vitrix Gale is going to be popular after running well under a welter burden at Perth.  Weird Al is easily the best of these if putting in a good show (who knows!?!).   Lost Glory has a solid profile for Jonjo and AP.

Deireadh Re is near the top of my list, his hurdles mark is a lot higher than this and at Fontwell he showed himself a competent jumper of fences.  Inexperience troubles me though, especially in this company.

At a massive price, Red not Blue will relish the firming ground, he has won 9 from 13 on good ground and 25/1 is the wrong price.

I am going to overlook the chase experience question and get on Deireadh Re who could have a lot more to show in this sphere.

The 4.20 looks more solvable and I am keeping it obvious with the Best / McCoy combination again and Emerald Glade.  The last piece of form is well advertised and I think a double with Lyssio is in order.

In the penultimate race, I am only interested in Catch Tammy and Bennys Quest.  In the end, Bennys Quest looks a solid 9/2 bet.

Bracken Quest has been withdrawn from good ground races even though he has a good record on it (from 2 runs, 1 win, 1 place) which is curious.  He is 10/1 and my get out of jail card.

Courage, roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon with a Lingfield Flavour… plus the Northumberland Plate

Good evening from the Major who writes from a close Worcestershire evening air, stifling and uncomfortable.

Thank goodness Ascot is behind me.  I can only say that it was a non stop unending catastrophe.  I started with a solid idea of the group winners, decent form in my mind concerning the leading three year olds and a small war chest with which to undertake the campaign.  I managed to overcome those issues with  incredible deftness to leave the week pot-less.  Following the Major at Royal Ascot was your fast route to the poorhouse.

The dust has settled.  This is a brief post as the Major is dedicating his weekend to the garden.  As such, we shall head straight to the sports.

Lingfield Tips

It is strange you might consider that the Major is spending some time on the Lingfield Saturday card but @rjcoughlan is attending and I said I would, for what it is worth.

Going to Lingfield for the racing is not high on the Major’s list of ways to spend the time until we face our final reckoning.  That is because I typically associate Lingfield with the sandy dog track; where low-grade racehorses trade handicap positions, skullduggery and gambling plots unfold and my only usual advice would be to back Robert Tart, Adam Kirby or Neil Callan… either that or stick a pin in the card.

Yet Lingfield boasts a rather fine turf course whose attributes are slightly undulating, sharp left hand turns but a reasonable long straight in which normally, horses get their run.  I like it.

In the opener, I would have to be on Banadeer whose debut race I watched where he finished a close up second having possible been out fought on the run in.  That might give some cause for concern regarding attitude but I think the colt did well having broken a little badly, he made up good ground and travelled well, these two year olds can learn a lot from run to run and since that was the best form on offer anyway, I think the odds on shot should go in easily enough in the opener.

There are a few competing for favouritism in the second and the Majors fancy is one of them.  Indian Tinker looks the most obvious call having shown a return to form last time where he chased Cincinnati Kid home at Leicester.  While just over a length short of the winner, he was three clear of old warrior Methaaly in third.  A repeat effort will see him win at 5/2.

The third race is a fillies handicap in which I am struggling to see past the Lady Cecil trained, handicap debutant Tomintoul at 5/1.  Moma Lee is a the 2/1 favourite but I think my selection if putting the best foot forward (not guaranteed) has an excellent chance of getting upsides.

The 7.25 is a four runner affair and in these, I am always swayed by jockey booking.  Apart from horse ability, I always considered jockey booking the most significant factor in calculating my horses probability of winning and I think the emphasis on jockey is greater in extreme small or large fields where timing, tactics and putting the horse in the best position are amplified in influence.

In the Majors view Bishop < Keniry < Doyle < Queally.  Thus the selection is 8/1 rank outsider Santo Prince who has yet to run well this year but might find this small field a good chance to find a love of racing again.

Then the racing switches to the fibresand and the first of the last three races is a seller… Right Stuff is destined to be the odds on favourite but I think I am going against and backing Proud Times at a forecast 4/1.  The horse has some talent but has had some significant issues and faded badly on a return from another big break latest.  I am pinning hopes that the lung opener there and Adam Kirbys assistance can do the business.

In the penultimate race, I am backing Hello Sailor to outrun 9/1 odds.  His last run was too bad to be true and the soft conditions probably had something to do with it.  Point of Control would be of huge interest if the money comes and Duchess of Gazeley also caught the eye in a race where it was hard to narrow the thoughts.

In the last, Harbinger Lass makes easily the most appeal.  I think Channon must have thought she was better than this class as she has been in some much hotter races to date.

Northumberland Plate

The field for the renewal of the Northumberland Plate is absolutely top-notch.  I want to increase our chances in this race by ignoring anything over 9 stone as only two horses have shouldered more than that to victory in the last twenty years.  However, it feels a dangerous tactic as the field quality in 2013 is unusually high.

Yet lurking nearer the base of the weights is Mubaraza a Dalakhani colt trained by Ed Dunlop and ridden by Paul Hanagan.  The jockey had a nasty fall at Ascot on Ektihaam but he has been riding brilliantly this week and I think he will give us a great run for our money.

The Curragh – Irish Derby Day

The quality racing on Saturday is happening on the Curraghs evening shift.  Moving the Irish Derby to be run in the early evening was an interesting move but not one the Major is entirely opposed to.  @limerickjfk and his band of merry men shall be on course and the Major wishes you the finest of fortune.

Watching Friday Curragh action, the form of O’Brien struck me.  He had seven runners and two winners which is not at all shoddy.  In there though, he had three favourites unplaced, including a 4/6 shot and some of those runners performed particularly badly.  I am not agin him entirely, more I tread a little more warily than usual.

My reading of the Curragh card is as follows.

The opening maiden looks a penalty kick for Intensified if you trust the market which prices him at 1/3.  Not surprising really as the form tie with War Command who was easily the most impressive Royal Ascot winner for the Major is excellent.  However, I am wary of horses with excuses, particularly those tied to better form.  Intensified also has tied form with Sir John Hawkins so it looks rock solid.

Second on the card, in the listed race, I am supporting 6/1 shot Flashy Approach.  This horse is making a huge step up from a debut maiden win to compete with seasoned campaigners but I like the connections and I like the breeding.  New Approach is already a leading sire this season and this is going to further improve in the years to come as he gets a better quality crop of mares to cover.  As it is Flashy Approach is out of a Group 2 winner.  Load the Cannons, John Oxx will have him ready.

21 runners in the handicap and 6/1 the field tells you something… Gathering Power is current favourite and after Royal Ascot, who would argue against Mr Murtagh, he is showing irresistible form from the saddle.  I prefer Akira at 14/1 who gave Tropical Mist a good beating when winning on his second start.  I also think Majestic Queen should not be 20/1 either so will have a small saver. Dangers aplenty!

It goes from the difficult to the mind bending as the 4.45 is the 30 runner sprint which is currently 10/ the field!  I am taking a stab at Bajan Tryst who is a massive 28/1 as I type with BetVictor.  These sprinters swap form like anyones business and so the key is not to be too hung up on literal readings.  Instead, find a decent jockey and a sprinter that looked like he was heading the right way ( as mine was last time when a little unlucky).  Tick the boxes of capability, jockey and form and you have a contender.

The Railway Stakes is more solvable, particularly with Coach House who was second to the excellent American raider No Nay Never at Royal Ascot in the field.  I am not that convinced that Coach House will beat Stubbs who was in the Coventry and finished 6th but had raced on the wrong side.  I would prefer to have a slice of the stable second string at 4/1, a price I suspect might drift.

In the Sapphire Stakes I am opting for Slade Power.  The horse was a Pricewise pick at Ascot and would surely have played a better pat if breaking on terms.  That was uncharacteristic and if coming out of the stalls, I expect a very good run.  7/2, fill your boots.

The Irish Derby

Libetarian has passed into the hands of Godolphin and they are looking for some immediate payback as the horse has another crack at Ruler of the World and Galileo Rock from the first three home in the Epsom Derby.

You have to admire the record of O’Brien in this race, he has won the last seven renewals.. A role call including Camelot, Fame and Glory and Dylan Thomas.

Whether Ruler of the World is in that category, we shall see.  Yet I think odds-against cannot be ignored.  The horse is unbeaten  He won the derby on an unusual undulating and cambered track having crossed a sea.  If Libetarian and Galileo Rock fans think their own hard luck stories give them a rightful expectation of overturning the form, I think they are wrong.

It is often easy to look at a placed horse and concoct a reason as to why the horse was unlucky.  Yet in doing so, you ignore the fact that the horse WAS unlucky.  It is no certainty that over a fairer track that either of the Derby runner ups will get to Ruler of the World.  If anything, I think the latter might improve further back on home soil on a course that should suit better.

The one I worry about as a fly in the ointment is 9/1 shot Sugar Boy but on balance, I think the odds against price of Ruler of the World is a signal that European recession and Austerity is being bought to a close.  Steak tonight!

The Lucky Last

If we end up needing the lucky last, we are in big trouble.

Any Willie Mullins horses redirected to the flat need to be respected and so Call me Bubbles is of interest.

Abou Ben is an extraordinary entry.  At the tender age of 11, he is in resurgent form and can defy the latest rise in the weights.  Many might be put of by his switch from soft to firm ground but not me.  He has won on it before so why worry?

I am playing my get out card on Fanaan Aldaar at 25/1 who is just out of the handicap proper but I am not concerned.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Hello Sailor, Harbinger Lass, Tomintoul and Muburaza.

Courage, roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Royal Ascot Trouncing…. Bookies 4 – The Major 0

Good morning from a bright and grey Worcestershire as the Major rises, licking his wounds and opening the Ascot cards with a trepidation born from a week of losses.

The Major has struggled badly this week, lumbering on clumsily, stumbling blindly and lashing out wounded and hurt.  The troubling thing is that this poor run is not bad luck, I have been consistently wrong in the thinking.  If a few 25/1 shots had finished out of the places and our 3/1 sorts were beaten by a nose then I would take some succor from the outrageous slings and arrows of fortune.  As it is, I have no place to hide.  If you have been backing them with me, what can I say?  Thank god, those that frequent the Major require no apology, it is not how we work.  Neither do I expect your thanks…

I provide thoughts, free.  You get to open the top of my skull and extract from the darkly fertile material.  The product is often unhinged but it is yours to do with as you please.   When you act and back a horse, then this is your choice.  I take no responsibility for your action so any credit is yours as is the invoice of loss.

However, I need something special today to rise like the phoenix, to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Just a decent day would do for me, nothing dramatic, something I could cling to Dunkirk style.  Something I could attach the virtue of victory to.

Royal Ascot Saturday Tips

The Chesham is always an exciting affair and Bunker is the present favourite after winning his Haydock race is fabulous style.  When he got down to work he quickly parted company from the rest…  Hannon and Hughes have only one dart at this and they could have had many so you would imagine he has a good chance.

Ballydoyle only have one bullet too and their Friendship only managed third on debut but I am sure will leave that well behind.

It pays to stick with those that are prominent in the market and for the Major, this is simple.  Bunker looked far the most impressive, have a slice.

The Hardwicke is a race that always makes me think of Harbinger who was a stunning winner of the 2010 renewal.  It was such a shame that he was injured seriously and forced to retire as I had him chalked up as that years Arc winner and would have loved to have seen if I was right!

You cannot ignore the recent Hardwicke record of Stoute who lines up with Sir John Hawkwood.  I am not that enamoured by the form but anything with Moore aboard at the moment has to be respected.  Can the handicapper step up?

Noble Mission has had the moniker of Frankels brother thrust upon him on every racecourse appearance.  He is clearly a very decent horse but seemingly no better than that.  Seems harsh that he should be heavily criticised for only being listed class but the Major thinks that is where his level is.

I am convinced the winner is from Ektihaam and Sir John Hawkwood.  I am backing the latter as it is available at 9/1 with Betvictor.  I also advise a reverse forecast on the pair.

The Diamond Jubilee Stakes is always the plan for Society Rock.  He has won the race, been placed in it and been a fifth in recent years.  His fifth was a little unlucky in my view having been drawn the wrong side to get at Black Caviar.  At 9/2, he is a fair chance.  This race throws up some surprises though.  There is not a right age to be, draw is important but more so to be on the pace side than anything… Plenty of big priced winners have had success and Reply is one for me that might just improve from the generally available 33/1 chance he is branded with here.  He will be fine with conditions and is drawn where I would like…

Duke of Firenze was impressive at Epsom, getting up nicely with the Moore drive.  He is well drawn and should go well in the Wokingham.  The race normally goes to a classier sort nearer the top of the weights aged 4-5.  Duke of Firenze meets that bracket too.  He is also ridden by Moore who, as I have already stated, is the best jockey riding this week.  What is not to like?  I am also having a saver on Rex Impersonator who gets Callen and has a chance if finally showing the true potential.

The Duke of Edinburgh is the penultimate race and I want a progressive looking beast.  As such, I am supporting Lahaag, 9/1, who was only just pipped at York and looked very useful last season.  I can’t leave Sir Graham Wade, 25/1,  alone in this either as I remain convinced the horse has a damn good win or two to come.

I am closing a disastrous Royal Ascot out with a bet on the favourite in the Queen Alexandra.  Since Shahwardi was runner up last year to none other than Simenon, who almost stopped the Queens estimate Gold Cup party earlier in the week, it is fair to assume Shahwardi will take some stopping and frankly, I am surprised it is 7/2.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Shahwardi, Sir John Hawkwood, Bunker and Lahaag…

Courage, roll those dice.

Friday Royal Ascot Tips – The strands of our sport – Bookies 3 Major 0 – This is threatening to be a Royal Ascot whitewash

Good evening from the Major who writes from a dull and deadened Worcestershire scene where I survey the battlefield below and witness a darkened smoking wasteland strewn with the fallen, victims of my strategy, heavy wears the crown.  The Major has been squarely beaten each day of Ascot, but I am not defeated, not yet, still the glimmer remains, I shall regather.

Allow me to tell you something of why I love racing.  Stories.  The trainers, jockeys, owners and of course the horses themselves.  Each represent their own story, each story splinters like wild strands they spurn onwards swinging out wide and wild, at times intertwined violently, sometimes losing pace and direction, to nothing, to something.

Some of my favourite stories I am able to get on this blog, sometimes they are magnificent sometimes so subtle, I feel privileged as the nuance of the occurrence tingles at the edge of my senses – privileged not because it is a clique, it is not, anyone can love this sport, though there is an investment in time required but that is simply acclimitisation, not exclusivity.  We are diverse. It is a wonderful sport, to be able to see and feel those strands around you.  The conspiracy is an open one.

The stories that come readily to my mind as I sit here lazily typing are Kauto Star and his last King George, JT McNamara being airlifted off the Cheltenham course, Millman winning on his last ride, Hayley’s ice cool ride on Incendo at Kempton, the young Barzalona, astride, arm aloft, a short head victory aboard Pour Moi and the vitality of life surging through his veins and pouring from his being.  I could open my mind and spew forth hundreds of these examples…. The owners, horses, trainers, jockeys, gamblers, bookmakers et al… the stories ebb and flow, the strands weave in and out and at our great festivals sometimes those elements align powerfully, they come together, converging so completely as to be awesomely breath-taking and such is the staggering magnitude of the history that underpin events, you can be lost in the intoxication of it all.

I won’t dwell and repeat the words of others who have explored the superb nature of the Queen winning the Gold Cup.  I won’t dwell either on the racing exploits of Riposte either but that winner for the widow of Sir Henry reminds you of why it is good to be alive.  If you want a good write up of the great man, read this, it is an excellent piece from my kindred blogger Strange Rumblings, it is a nice template by which to live a life – Sir Henry more than deserves the race named in his honour on Friday.  I consider myself something of a rogue and I know another scoundrel when I see one.

The themes and strands that weave and turn, twisting and occasionally coming together, then spinning out almost uncontrollably, arcing outwards faster and faster until in the end, at the very end, they all come back together again, finality…. for all of us, we are served the same.  I love this sport, no other better encapsulates what it is to be alive, spend your time wisely my dear friends.  RIP Sir Henry Cecil.

Ascot Tips for Friday

Now it is clearly three nil to the enemy and the Major is in desperate need to pull something out of the fire.

In the Albany, I am rooting for Joyeuse, who would be another to raise huge bonhomie with victory in the morning.  She is a half-sister to Frankel out of Oasis Dream rather than Galileo and come on, who is not on her side in spirit, even if not in wallet?

She won her Lingfield maiden well in the end, having started a little stutteringly.  I thought it was a little worrying to see her in headgear first time up but it got her concentrated and she finished very well, putting distance between her and the hoi polloi… the headgear, may raise a frown but it stays on here, function over fashion.  4/1 is available, have a slice.

In the King Edward, Battle of Marengo is a popular odds on favourite on account of some extremely classy looking form from Ireland and a 4th in the Derby that puts him close to the forefront of his generation, particularly impressive having been done on the sharp end.

Yet I am minded that Greatwood was put away for Ascot after a disappointing Dante.  Clearly that was not his running but with eight runners taking the field, I would prefer to be on this 8/1 shot that I think might yet be capable of playing a big hand this year.

The Coronation Stakes looks a damn good race and my first port of call was Sky Lantern.  It might have been my last but for two things.  One, Hughsie has been caught in behind horses a bit this week and I wonder if he feels things are running against him, contrast that with Moore who is just riding sublimely at the moment.  My second cause for concern is the draw which leaves Sky Lantern with some serious extra work.

Thus, Pavlosk is my 8/1 pick, I was quite taken with her listed win at York and while has only a marginally kinder draw, I am backing Moore to get us in position.

John Gosden is seeking a hat trick of wins in the Wolferton Handicap and so you have to think Dick Doughtywylie has been prepared for this and will know the job, this is technically a drop in grade and Chester may not have been his sort of place.

I am taking a bit of a risk on Ocean War at 20/1.  Barzalona takes the ride for Saeed bin Suroor.  Now this horse has been missing for two years but the trainer is well qualified to have him ready and the last time we saw him he was running badly in the 2011 derby won by Pour Moi, referenced in our introduction.  Now he may have been down the field but forget not that he went off 12/1 for that.  He has never looked an easy ride, often jinking, stumbling and edging.  20/1 though, this could yet be a quality horse.

In the race in Sir Henry’s honour, I am on Disclaimer.  The horse has an excellent chance but I won’t allow a moment of history to pass and not to have staked my money in such a glorious ledger of it.

In the last, the Buckingham Palace, I considered staking my chances on rank outsider Dubawi Sound.  40/1 with Coral, I think the Meydan run was no disgrace and the gelding may be suited by this.  Sadly stall 29 is no help.

Instead I chance 14/1 shot Baccarat who is well drawn, entirely unexposed and ridden by reliable Paul Hanagan.

Courage, roll those dice.

Thursday Ascot Racing Tips | Bookies 2 – 0 The Major | Sound the bugles

Good evening from the Major who writes from a well-appointed hotel room in the leafy and gentle rolling Cotswold Hills.  The evening air is warm and musty, no stars hang in the sky, stifling.

Day two of Ascot came and went and with the exception of a single winner (Al Khazeem), it was another brutal bloodbath.  The enemy was among us at close quarters and while we met him with a steeled eye, our efforts were repelled and we fell back, weary with the exertion, confused.  We still have the colours but the ebb of the battle is slipping from our grasp.  We need redemption.

The depth of detail is missing but since it has not been of help to date, I assume you understand.  Stay the path O pilgrims.

Thursday Ascot Tips

I have one avid reader that often requests I add a bit of napalm to my selections. I have always taken this to mean that he likes it when the prices get juicy… he will be in his element today, the Major has decided that at this stage of the week, being in such dire straights, it is time to play a riskier hand.

The Norfolk Stakes is the opener and it is a race that has often been fertile for the Northern trainers.  This year, it may be heading across the Irish Sea as clearly Coach House boasts the most positive chance in the race having won a listed race in Ireland.  Clear interest.

It is eleven years since Hannon took the race but it pays to follow his juveniles and Coulsty is the pick of the yard for Hughes who was not on his maiden win at Leicester (Moore) when looking impressive.

A bit of spice is thrown in with American raider No Nay Never.  It is a big ask for these juveniles to win on a different continent and while his form makes him hard to dismiss, I feel the Animal Kingdom error was supposing too many new factors would not have an influence – This one is tackling turf for the first time too.

The Major has plumped though for another trip north for the prize and I think it could be destined for the Fahey yard.  They run Eccleston who when getting the idea quickened nicely on debut at Doncaster.  Plenty of winners have come from the race and this one looked a cut above them and so is well worth chancing  at 9/1, especially as any rain will hindrance the opponents.

The Ribblesdale is a good-looking race and Swettenham winner Winsili is of some interest, John Gosden will have her on top form and she is of interest.  The Lark needs softer ground which she would be lucky to get.  No… The Major feels this has every chance of being a one-two for Ireland who are enjoying a terrific week.

Alive Alive Oh was hugely impressive in winning with a magnificent burst of pace and if stays, then holds the ace hand.  However, 13/2 shot Just Pretending gives great value as she steps up to what should be a good distance for her.

The Queen has a decent chance of taking the Gold Cup with Estimate.  Colour Vision is big at 14/1 for a previous winner. Rite of Passage has clearly had troubles as having only raced twice since winning this in 2010 – passed over with a little reluctance, largely as, even though the horse is lightly raced, it would be record-breaking to win this as a nine-year old.

The Major is opting for 14/1 shot Last Train who is a French raider from the Fabre team.  They don’t waste shots at Royal Ascot and I am hopeful for a terrific run for our money from this Rail Link 4-year-old.

The Britannia is the usual minefield, not ignoring the recent shorter priced winners.  Wentworth is the 4/1 favourite after some terrible luck in running at Goodwood – I don’t like unlucky horses though and prefer to look elsewhere.

The one that stands out to me is Haafaguinea who I am surprised is available this evening at 22/1.  The Clive Cox / Adam Kirby combination is a bonus and ina race that is a stamina test, I think this boy will be well equipped to be working away when others have cried enough.

The Hampton Court (or whatever they are calling it!) is at 5pm and casual glances at Shirkapour reveal a French Derby fifth (run over this distance) who is a big danger.  John Gosdens Dansili colt, Remote, is a worthy favourite though having beaten Baltic Knight well latest with the runner-up scoring subsequently in a hot listed race at York.

The King George V is about picking the right Mark Johnstone horse.  He has four darts to throw at this and the one the Major likes is Greeleys Love.  Available at 20/1, it is a highly tried sort who might find improvement stepped up to 12f for the first time.  An experienced sort who might be a surprise package.

Courage and roll those dice.