Daily Archives: June 20, 2013

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.