Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Saturday Sermon – King George Day plus #crowdsourcingmultiple

Good evening from the Major who wrote this introduction, dead tired, slumped in the kitchen in a Worcestershire air brewing with trouble.  Clammy and suffocating, in it I cannot rest, my eyes are alert and dart to each sudden noise.  In old houses such as this, the bones creak and groan, each new sound aggravates the heart, palpitating with vigour.  Perturbed, the mood, something dark hangs over me.

In these moments deep in the night, when the thoughts deep down bubble to the surface, fears emerge untethered by their daytime confinement.  I am scared that when dawn breaks, this feeling will last, that somewhere in the system, it went wrong.  Things that should be leashed at the midnight hour are somehow free to plague me.

My emotions stir thinking of Daniel Pelka a tragic loss of life.  Just 4 years old, starved and beaten at home, he received further punishments for stealing food from other children at school.  His mother warning teachers not to feed him and herself bribing the child with sweets to maintain his silence.

What confusion in that poor childs mind.  What darkness seeps through the whole thing.  The fragility of a child, the innocence.  The intent, powerful emotions stir.  Still and deep.

What troubles me most is whether the thoughts that run through my mind in the small hours could escape, somehow seep into the day world where everything carries with it, a sense that all will be well.

Morning breaks, a close cloud covered morning.  The Major has risen and arrived at the office, fresh and revived, the words above appear now to be written by a stranger, let us move on.

What a load of nonsense the Royal Baby saga turned out to be.  Journalists, standing outside a hospital with nothing to report on, straining to make something, anything newsworthy.  Have you noticed the stock question a journalist asks any passer-by in such circumstances… ‘Can we have your reaction to…’  Then gushes forth the incontinent thoughts of the masses.  I have no strong view on our monarchy itself, in fact, since the Queen is of a racing mind, I feel a kinship, tough old bitch.

In the coming weeks, I would like to pen a piece on my favourite jockeys and why I like them.  I have commented often that I find, next to horse ability, the jockey ability to be a crucial part of my race reading.  Although I gave up keeping records some time ago (when they were mildly profitable, I would point out!), my feeling is that this is a profitable field to plough, particularly in amateur races where the gulf in jockey quality is greatest.

The article will come, although maybe not as I have the habit of promising things I don’t get round to.  Yet, I shall share with you now, some of the riches of my thinking so that you might judge me.

The top five flat jockeys, based on class and season form, that spring to the top of my mind are… Ryan Moore, of course, Neil Callan, the best damn independent there is, Jimmy Fortune, simple and strong, Silvestre de Sousa, what a season and Adam Kirby, not so much style as brute strength – A man I like to follow in the class 6 races at Lingfield that you know you should never be betting on.  Clearly this needs some thought because Murtagh and Manning are missing, it might turn out to be a top ten – Don’t be upset, I am making this up as I go along, in case you failed to notice.

As for the jumps boys… McCoy, once again, a little obvious, forgive me, Slippers Madden, Jason Maguire, always presents his horses so well to a fence, Ruby, is like watching poetry and then take your pick from some under-rated sorts in Tom O’Brien, Doyle, Maurice Linehan….

Let us get to the sports… Sharpen that lance point young man, bring yourself up to attention for god is on parade and he wishes to see the cleanliness of your tunic.  The deep red colours of our gallant Victorian splendour, looking so dapper in the full light of day, ready to fight the hoards of Satan himself….. Courage and Shabash.

King George Day Tips

Ascot is a hard card to read today, as a big uncertainty remains over the ground they will race upon.

Regardless, it is nothing short of a tragedy that St Nicholas Abbey, the splendid Ballydoyle warrior is fighting for his very life on King George day.  This year the toll of casualty has been high in our sport both on the track and off it, both human and horse.  Good luck old boy, just imagine it is 2009, you are back at Doncaster and Johnny Murtagh is just giving you that little squeeze, digging in his heels just a little and you know it is business time, quickening clear to be one of the most impressive winners of the Racing Post trophy I have seen.  A touch of that spirit and the team of vets will soon be brushing you down and preparing you for your new kept life.

It has left the King George a poorer race.  While Cirrus des Aigles is a fine horse, I am not with him.  Don’t get me wrong, I like him – How can you not?  Gelded, so lacking the illustrious connection to future progeny – That probably helped connections with their decision to come and take on the mighty Frankel when others cried enough and looked for cover.  He gave Pegasus a damn good race too and on his preferred soft ground.

Today, I am not sure the rain will be there in time and as these top horses get older, they get less reliable.

The problem today is that we do not have much in our armoury to get him beat.  Many are allotting credit to the Ascot form of Hillstar that I am not sure it is due.  He is a handicapper who has clearly improved significantly but this is the top table now and we shall see how his form holds, shan’t we.

Trading Leather is interesting.  The Irish Derby winner seems to me to be a horse that has kept below the radar.  The son of Teofilo is one that wants those storms to keep clear until after the race.  Here is the rub though, to win the King George as a three year old you have to be elite.  Galileo, Nathaniel etc etc… Trading Leather? Really?

Novellist is interesting… He has beaten Cirrus des Aigles this season and looks a certain improver – Of the main protagonists, this would be my call

So, the Major is going off piste… In a race I think could fall apart, I am going to advise you to back the outsider of the field Red Cadeuax at a freely available 40/1.

What is my case?  Well OK, the first thing is that we need to ignore two poor runs this season, easily done – Both races were over 2f shorter than this and I think the old boy needs further these days.  His Singapore form was not brilliant and he never got going at Ascot.  Yet, let us not forget he was runner-up in the Dubai World Cup in March.  Ed Dunlop knows the time of day, he is not in this to make up the numbers, they think they can get in the prize money.

If you follow the Majors thinking, then you have a favourite who might be beyond his best before date (as is my own selection to be fair), some three year olds that I don’t think are Galileo-esque and then this campaigner who is the most experienced of the lot of them.  Have a slice and thank me later.

The Rest of Ascot

In the last 15 years, just one horse has won the Princess Margaret at odds larger than 6/1 and that was 25/1 shocker Mixed Blessing in 2005.  It seems sensible thus, to focus upon Wind Fire, Queen Catrine, Along Again and Wee Jean.

My guess is Chroussa will lead them along like she did at the Curragh and again will play second fiddle to one of those four.  Queen Catrine is the least appealing of them, I think the Newmarket form is good but needs to be better.  Hannon is keen on Fig Roll and the master of juvenile horses is hard to ignore but I shall – She is too small (exactly what they said about Messi by the way)

Windfire came close in the Norfolk against the colts and that is very solid.  She started that race at 16/1 and I am not convinced yet that is was our strongest renewal.  It is dangerous to ignore Wind Fire because stepping up a furlong from the Norfolk looks exactly what this girl needs… but I am.

I am sticking to my ‘jockey angle’ and opting for Along Again to make the necessary improvement, take the 7/1.

The next race I am interested in is the 4.25 Lady Amateurs race – Let us test my amateur jockey record.  We want experience and a good strike rate and completely ignore the horse!

Four of the jockeys have a 10%+ strike rate in the last two years, Jane Mangan, Miss Walton, King and Brotherton.  Miss King has only had three winners from 18 rides in that time so slips off my considered list through inexperience.

Now I have to consider the horses and of them, Jane Mangan’s appeals the most, 7/1 shot, the most aptly names… See the Storm.  Some good form preceded the third at Chester which was a dampener, I will admit.  Yet, Chester is not to every horses liking with its tight turns and back on a more suitable track with what I consider the best jockey aboard… well.

Incidentally, do you remember poor Jane Mangan being thrown from her mount, Oscar Delta, as she was coming up the Cheltenham hill on a tight reign to victory?  I have never felt so sorry for a jockey, about to claim her most famous moment on the famous Prestbury Park, in front of a huge throng and Oscar Delta decides that 4m is not enough and he is off for another circuit.  Dumped on the floor, having to stand and tramp back past the crowd, many of whom were on the favourite Salsify, who was gifted the race, ouch.  Not that I feel too bad for her, she has had plenty of days in the sun since then and good luck to her…..

Finally, Emirates Flyer looks a shoe in in the last and 15/8 should be taken with gusto.

Meanwhile at York

It is the Sky Bet York Stakes, group two action and Mukhadram is the obvious choice even at 8/13.  He was desperately unlucky not to be second Ascot behind Al Kazeem after being snatched up on the rails.  Before you get all angry at me for putting up the obvious, go and read the Red Cadeaux bit again… it’s about the balance, yin and yang… calm.

The #crowdsourcingmultiple

The contributions from twitter are as follows:

@TheParadeRing  5.00 Ascot Emirates Flyer

@Lukeyboy1325 boring, but Cirrus Des Aigles

@TheGolfBandit ES QUE LOVE 1515 ASCOT – The Major loves this horse!

@IamNotLuke Contemplating 2:05 Wild Fire but going for a bit better odds with Y 2:20 Smarty Socks

@mattjcollins165m Henry the aviator 2.40 ascot ew around the 12/1 mark – and this one too!!

@LegalWiggy 8s Lilo Lil 1720 Lingfield and Expert  1410 Newmarket

@h103efa captain royale 4.50

May your dinner be opulent in the company of ravishing beauties with the wanton look in their eye that tells you where their mind runs to.  Eat lustily at a bloody steak, ah yes, allow the blood to rise a little, we are on the ride just the once you know.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Red Cadeaux, Along Again, See the Storm and Emirates Flyer.

Courage, roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Irish Oaks ‘Talent’ Day…. My recollection of the British Oaks

Good evening from the Major who writes from a dry dusty Worcestershire whose arid landscape is burned to a gentle straw colour.

The Major has cold Northern skin and this heat is not my ideal.  Yet, I do enjoy the world coming to life for a spell of good weather.  Generally, as long as you keep good company, less clothing is more fun.

The splendour of the weekend sport is laid before us.  We have cycling, cricket and of course the Irish Oaks and the reappearance of British Oaks winner, Talent.

I was immensely impressed by her win at Epsom.  A significant wager (she was a 20/1 winner of which I had a nother 3 from 5 selections, doubles and trebles) did act as catalyst to the joy of watching such a magnificent performance, I must admit. Regardless of personal financial rewards, this was a performance with a majestic touch.  It reminded me that life is good and that racing is the sport of those with a liking for the rich turf stories which resonate the intense emotions of our own impending deaths . Indulge me though as I tell you the running of the 2013 Oaks.   

The story of Talent and the Epsom Oaks

Talent was the second string of the Beckett yard, the 20/1 outsider.  Her juvenile debut gave no hint of her real ability and even her maiden win on Kemptons polytrack was gritty rather than flashing, it was also to be her only other two year old start.

It was her Newmarket 2013 reappearance that had caught my eye and hinted she could be better.  She clearly was not fully tuned for the listed  contest but I liked the girls attitude as she settled down to serve it up to Lady Nouf and grind out a seasonal debut win.

Granted there was much more glamorous form in some of her fellow competitors books.  Becket top stable jockey Jim Crowley had also overlooked Talent in favour of Secret Gesture, the yards more fancied runner and favourite for the race.  Yet Beckett was still very complimentary about Talent, he certainly gave the impression that the gulf in price between them was artificial and that he also held her in good esteem.  The scene was set.

The stalls rattled open and Talent is sluggish into stride, with Richard Hughes erect in the stirrups, the suspicion to my eye was that the tardiness was deliberate.  Held up, she exuded comfort climbing the Epsom hill, lobbing along in the rear.  Talent in the early cut and thrust was enjoying her day out at the races.  

This all changed shortly after she passed the high point on the course.  Here the track bends left and the ground drops away.  With the changing ground, Talent started to chomp at the bit, at first just jostling, almost playful but not settling as you want your runner to do.  As the race tempo builds, her agitation escalates, she is now fighting for her head with some gusto…  As she approaches Tattenham Corner she is becoming keener and keener… Is she hating every stride?  Is she outclassed?  Still green?

Whatever the reason, it all seems as though my goose is cooked, just 24 hours earlier, we watched a replica race.   Dawn Approach expended similar energy fighting Kevin Manning in the Derby, it looks for all the world as though Talent was to be served the same way.  However, appearances can be deceptive.

As they turn for home, Talent calms again back on the level, what is left in the tank?  As the bend completes, she gives Madame Defages a bump, she is still active, still ready to compete, will she break cover now?  Hughsie has other ideas, he holds her together, tight on the reigns… not yet girl, not yet.  Most eyes are focussed on the higher profile Secret Gesture, and The Lark who have started their own runs at the head of affairs…

Talent has yet to break fully clear and for just a moment, she seems to make heavy weather of finding that space, bunching horses block her path, Hughsie takes a pull, ice running through the mans veins and then asks her to squeeze through a gap, he has a willing companion, her head lowered she knuckles down to the business end.  

Then, like souls awakening to the brilliant brightness of summers dawn, she is suddenly free.  Relishing the difficult camber of the Epsom straight, she powers to join the fray, drawing alongside the principals.  Pausing momentarily, as though to take stock, Hughsie taps her with the whip and she surges forward taking an enormous gangly stride, her surge of raw pace is ugly in delivery but decisive in effect.  A second crack from the pilot and she is away, Talent is not for catching.

And that my friends is the battle of the 2013 Oaks filed and receipted for your appraisal.  Disagree? False pace, don’t rate the form? Please recall that the Major is only amateur and my mind is unhinged, I am merely your reluctant correspondent.  Don’t take my word for it, judge for yourself.

Now to the sports and let us deal straight with the malevolent force of our enemy.  See clearly and act with conviction, tonight we dine, silver service, on fine undercooked steak, washed down with burgundy and in the company of those fine sorts who are so sure of their place in life, they act not thinking they are right, but knowing it.

Saturday Racing 

The Irish Oaks is run at 6.15pm, guess who I am on!  Stan James are 3/1 about Talent and I suggest you speak to your international money man to see what liquidity you can achieve by this time.

I would also suggest a double with Darwin who aces in the Minstrel Stakes which is the preceding contest.  The classic generation horses don’t have the strongest overall record in the race but the last three years have seen two winners.  John Oxx has won the race with Takar and Air Chief Marshall went in for team Ballydoyle three years ago.  My selection is 11/8, have a chunky slice.

The Betfred Summer Plate – 3.30 Market Rasen

The Summer Plate normally goes to a proven decent sort, you do get a fair smattering of six year old winners but normally they are already classy sorts and are not usually lurking at the bottom of the handicap.  This year, the race is wide open with the enemy pricing up this conundrum in a vortex at 7/1 the field.

Peter Bowen has had a tremendous recent record in the race and Dineur must be on the shortlist as a result of that form alone.

There are two I will take against Bowen, they are Galaxy Rock and Viva Colonia.   The first is well tried in the top handicaps and may well come to the boil for this.  The second Viva Colonia is the tip and one I would not normally offer.  Why not?  Well, I am not the biggest fan of Brian Ellison but I am of Noel Fehily and I just think this horse has the credentials.  Viva Colonia won the summer hurdle here two seasons ago, if his recent runs have been prepping him for this, he could be a danger to all and 20/1 with Hills might look a mighty price.

Newbury Tips

The opener must surely go to Gold Top.  The Hannon / Hughes entry is up against the boys this time but has looked good so far and Hughsie is having to slim down to his bottom weight for the ride… Load a cannon.

In the 3.15, I like Ocean War at 3/1, this selection is an interesting horse who has suffered injuries that kept him from racing for several years.  However, he was previously a classy looking sort and surely plenty of improvement is available on second start back from those troubles?

Krypton Factor is a shoe in for the 3.15.  The Ascot form is of the highest order having finished in the places behind Society Rock and Lethal Force, surely too good for this lot and 2/1 seems generous.  Normally horses do not suffer badly from breaking from the stalls.  Have a hearty slice.

That is it from the Major for this week.  I trust your dinner is delectable.

The Martin Hill lucky 15 by nature of the four tips on the blog today is Talent, Viva Colonia, Darwin and Krypton Factor.

Courage and roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon on July Cup Day 2013

Good Evening from the Major who is writing from Birmingham and the home of the in-laws.  The evening has darkened, I am sat at the rear of the house with the glass doors flung open and the cooling air flooding in and washing over me gloriously.

The Major did not fare much better on the second day of Newmarket.  Elusive Kate held on.  More typical of my tipping form is that in the opener I talked myself off the winner and onto the third placed horse.

I don’t mind a few losers though, it makes winning all the sweeter… Bear with me my friends, the mothership cometh soon.

I am too tired to deliver a significant Saturday sermon, I am sure many of you skip it and go straight to the tips anyway.  What is the point of that?  If you are here seeking immediate profits from a knowledgeable tipster, you are in the wrong place.  If I were able to make lots of money from my hobby, I would not be sharing the riches of my mind.  That’s probably a lie, my crippling desire to be liked always overwhelms any reluctance to deploy generosity.

To the sports.

Newmarket – July Cup Day

I have such fond memories of Hayley Turner galvanizing Dream Ahead to win the July Cup, weaving her way through at pace…. Her first Group One, that would take some beating!

Before we get to the feature, we have some other contests to cut our teeth on.

Defendant is of interest in the opener for Ryan Moore – The horse won a Beverley maiden and although has not excelled since, has run with credit against older more experienced horses.  I am more persuaded by the Queens horse Princes Trust at 4/1.  My selection won nicely last time out and looks on a mark that leaves plenty for improvement.  With the Hannon yard in fine fettle, what is not to like?

Hannon also has a good record in the second race, the Superlative Stakes with his recent winners being King Torus and Olympic Glory.  His representative Washaar needs serious respect, retained jockey Dane O Neill means usual rider Hughes is on Chapple Hyam’s horse, Noble Metal.  Not without a chance in the Majors view.  The one I am putting up though is Somewhat at 6/1.  He has been setting himself up a bit by leading out in his races but must be respected and Murtagh is still a top class rider.

You could beat yourself up trying to find the solution in the 3.15 Bunbury Cup.  The Major liked Emilio Largo, Bertiewhittle and I’m so Glad, all for different reasons but the dart landed on Redvers at 14/1.

In the big race, I have a strong strong fancy.  While I love Society Rock and would not begrudge him the win, I think he is up against it.  Shea Shea was my idea of a good thing at Ascot but am less convinced now.  The horse that blew me away though was Lethal Force, 9/2.  The Clive Cox runner did it the hard way at Ascot but more improvement is still available and I am a fan.

Emirates Flyer looks the best bet for the 4.25 but I am keeping it calm at the prices.

The 5pm came down to a call between Dutch Courage and Al Baz.  I went with the latter at 3/1 because I think Neil Callan is a pus and while the last race form was at Redcar, it was pretty powerful.

In the lucky last, I am sticking with Cousin Khee.  He is more experienced than most but his Plate form showed that he is a very capable sort and 11/1 is big.

May your dinner be generous and in good company  Courage and roll those dice.

The Martin Hill lucky 15 is Emirates Flyer, Al Baz, Somewhat and Princes Trust

Newmarket July Meeting – Friday Tips

Good evening from the Major who writes from a pleasant warm Worcestershire where the most beautiful of evenings departs gracefully and the clear shimmering celestial  plafond is revealed.

For some, such a pristine summers evening is the pinnacle of the environmental condition and I can see the merit.  Earlier tonight, I was sat as an uninvited guest at my company’s Finance team rounders barbecue.  The sun was setting, turning the vista coral and warming soft skinned arms, the air gentle, the birdsong in perfect proportion to the mood.  Yes, it is the finest that the season can offer.

Yet the Major looks to winter for the true splendour of nature.  For a start, I prefer the season in general.  Being born of Northern skin, summer’s blessings are always tempered by my inclination to burn and a strong dislike of insects.

Winter bears the gifts of darker nights in which I sleep contented.  Ah, to awaken on a bitterly frosty morning and to be about the Worcestershire countryside, drawing sobering cold air to pain the lungs.  The frost crackling on brittle looking branches, all the land a wonder, pristine whiteness, the air thickening in front of your face with your own breath…. Yes, it is better, I know, I was there.

Thinking of sleep, this week, there was news that Karl Burke has his trainers licence back.  It reminded me suddenly of an unfortunate dream I endured that Frankel had been billeted, not into the intricate and delicate hands of the late Cecil but instead into the Burke yard.

The dream revolved around me backing Frankel for a seller at Southwell and I was the only person there who knew his true ability and of course, I could not have explained to others what I knew.  It turned out that it was not to be Frankel’s day and he toiled across the sand stamping his stride down hard as a course specialist took the race.  I was angry at the insulting performance, at the wasted magnificence but being powerless, what could I do?

That morning, I woke with a sadness.  Now do not get me wholly wrong, I do like a touch of skullduggery in racing as well as life, it adds flavour.  There is a fine line which I often cannot draw myself between a plot horse laid out for a race and darker practices afoot.  As for Burke and where the Major stands on his licence, I have my view, I shall let you draw your own.

It is such a beautiful night.  The stars above, seemingly everlasting, immeasurable, so distant.  For many, considering such vastness seems overwhelming, the fear, a realisation of mortality, of insignificance.  For the Major, while the realisation is undeniably true, the feeling invoked is one of liberation.  For understanding the simplicity of your existence, well… you have a duty my friend, a duty to yourself, you are the lucky one.

So Let us enjoy ourselves and be good to others.  Care little for the pointlessness which others may fixate on.  Savour in the moment of the small detail, we float by the once my friends, just the once.

To the sports and fair warning.  The Major did not manage a post for Thursday but it is to your own benefit.  My race reading for Thursday radiated defeat.  Let us hope it is done with.

Newmarket Friday Tips

In the opener, I am opting for Nardin who is generally priced at 6/1.  Stepping up a furlong will probably draw more advantage and watching her last race (at Newmarket) she did well coming late to get up for second.  It is a little off-putting that Ed Dunlop has only managed 4 places from his 20 runners at HQ in the last few years but I shall overlook this.  Indignant is a viable alternative to my selection, Hannon had two winners yesterday and I thought his string looked in reasonable order.

In the 2.10, much of the focus is on Rizeena and rightly so.  She looked a very good winner at Ascot, though Fig Roll was not far behind and may improve again now with an extra 200 yards to exact the damage.  Bye Bye Birdie has a question mark after being well and truly beaten at Ascot by Rizeena, before turning in a much better performance on home soil… interesting.   On balance, I think Fig Roll is a generous 15/2 with Betvictor and she goes on the slip.  Hannon has won this race a couple of times in the last ten years, most recently with Memory, a Highclere horse that I had a soft spot for but was never the same afterwards.

The Falmouth  sees just three oppose Sky Lantern and my first reaction to the card was of surprise.  I had to exclaim to the heavens that this was a gift from God as I could not understand why Sky Lantern was only just shading odds on at 10/11.  Giofra is the most interesting opponent but one that strikes me will be ill at ease with the small field and firm conditions.  It was while considering this contender that the style of Sky Lanterns wins started to gnaw at me.  She has been a hold up horse and I wonder how tactically versatile she is.  The same is not true of Elusive Kate at 5/2 – Make no mistake about it, my tip is hard as nails and can have them stacked up to accelerate off a slow pace… In my head, it is mapped out for victory already!

The 3.15 handicap is 8/1 the field which tells you what you need to know.  The Major is keeping stakes low on Barracuda Boy at 14/1 with Stan James – Plenty of time to improve yet and last time was not his likely best, in a yard that does well in this sort of race too.

Regulars who know me well understand that I like my two year olds with a run in them.  That leaves me Collaboration, Expert, Right of Appeal, Edge and True Story to concentrate on in the maiden at 3.50.  True Story is an obvious contender but was not first choice for the yard on debut and either surprised or is simply not a top player for them.  Expert ran well at Bath which is a tough course to make a debut on, the step up is a bonus and I like Sean Levey in the saddle.  He looks the Hannon second string though and Edge is a preferable sort and almost got the nod.

Instead the Major tips Right of Appeal at a likely 16/1 or bigger.  Johnstone had a fine first day of the festival and this horse has some strong credentials.  He has seen a racecourse, his form is nothing to shout about but his trainer would not have him in this without a chance.  I like his breeding and will trust that, being out of Dubawi, he will relish the rattling ground.  All in a decent long shot.

The second maiden looks a better race and only the booking of Fallon for the favourite, Vermont, puts me off.  I just do not think Fallon is the jockey he once was and I much prefer to stick with Mark Johnstone and a maiden double if de Sousa can bring Lions Park home at a likely 7/2.

Famous day for Johnstone?  Could well be if I am right because I really fancy Henry the Aviator in the last.  I was absolutely stunned in the horses defeat last time out and now having been freshened up with a small break, am ready to believe that normal service will be resumed – 7/2, have a significant slice and thank me later.

The Saturday Sermon – Racing Tips from Haydock and Sandown #crowdsourcingmultiple – Wimbledon and Lions – It is good to be alive…

Good morning from the Major who writes to you from a Worcestershire scene that is bright and damned splendid.  I was up early with the cool dawn to review the day’s sport, my company the bubbling coffee pot.  The garden is filled with a gentle golden light, the landscape here has come alive, it is souls awakening, I shall dust down the barbecue this evening.

The Major has a boss who swears by a pizza ovens’ superiority over the trusted barbecue.  I personally remain sceptical but plan one as a late summer project and shall report back accordingly.  I do like the idea of a table of toppings laid out while a tandoori-style clay oven roars aways with a small hardwood smokeless fire within.  It meets my pyromaniacal urges.

It is a good day to spend time outdoors, the sun on your skin, the fullness of summer about you.  By the time you get to dinner, whichever form yours takes, let us hope we have amassed winnings from our endeavours that bulge from our wallets embarrassingly.  Digging into your ribs, an uncomfortable reminder of the wages of sin which we relentlessly pursue.

The Major was at a family members 70th birthday last night.  At this fine age, as one might expect, the gentleman was concerned of his own mortality.  Not bleatingly morbid you understand, more considerately reflective.  We have but a short time on this river my friends… If I assume an average readership of 40 years of age, then you all have approximately 2,000 more Saturday Sermons before your demise, some less, some more…

Just think about that for a moment.  You visit another 2,000 times and then you die.  Spend this time wisely.  My advice to you, for what worth it might carry, is this – You, and only you, can be trusted to know your own mind and what you believe to be good and worthwhile.  Thus, cast off social conditioning and act accordingly, pleasure and generosity, seek harmony, judge not and allow ones heart to race with possibility.

We float by just the once, enjoy the trappings of what comes on the current… as the old Persian saying goes… lick up the honey stranger and ask no questions.

Dust, we all come together in the end.  In the meantime, I have 2,000 shots at both making you appreciate this drivel and landing you a mothership of biblical proportions.  Today, I have a real feeling that a monumental win is upon us.  There are some selections that I think have a bloody good chance so…..

Once again, daub thy war paint young warriors, sharpen that lance point and holster your curved blade, we may have to entertain the enemy at close quarters.   For they have closed their field positions and I intend us to skirmish towards them in open formation with infantry first, cavalry second, heavy horse last – There will be some warm work involved but I trust you all for it.  To the sports.

Sandown Tips

I love Coral Eclipse day – The race that pits the classic generation against their elders, the new pretenders versus the established stars.  We shall come to that…

In the opener, Plover looks the most enticing proposition having won a Kempton maiden well and run well on debut previously on Newbury turf, thus we can assume that the surface holds no problem.  The Oasis Dream filly is the likeliest winner but I am not confident enough to get too lumpy about the 13/8 branded about this morning.

The Major is even less enthusiastic about the second race which is a sprint.  The baton of success is handed from one horse to the next through the summer in these sorts of contests – Who knows – In the Crowd Sourced Multiple (a collection of tips from twitter) below, someone has suggested Kingsgate Native coming back to form after disappointing last time – Maybe?  No tip from me.

When horses fade late on in a race, the trainer often reaches for the ‘didn’t stay’ comment as a comfort.  This is what has happened with Windhoek who is now stepped back 400m in a hope to get back on winning form and fulfil earlier promise.  I like the horse and have fond memories of his win on Guineas day but often these trip changes mask an underlying issue… the horse is not good enough.  I remain here, ready to apologise personally to Windhoek and the fine Mr Johnston if proven wrong.

I do like Wentworth who is the subject of very positive mutterings from Richard Hughes.  I like Hughsie, decent sort, always gives an honest view – I am planning on doing a piece on my favourite jockeys soon and he is in the mix.  That said, I would say the weakest part of his race riding, to my amateur eye, is his positioning.  Over confidence or judgement gets him into some tight spots and Wentworth is drawn very wide today so this particular facet of his riding will be sternly tested.

No, I am having a small stake on Rockalong – He was a big disappointment on his penultimate start but was put away for a small break afterwards and then returned with a sharp runners up run at Salisbury – Could still be more to come and 11/1 gives us a sporting bet.

In the 3.15 is one of three ‘bets of the day’.  I am surprised that bookies are going 4/1 about Integral who looks to be a filly with a lot of opportunity.  Sir Michael Stoute trains the horse and this is a tried and tested route for some of his better horses… (3 winners in last 10 years).  Auction strikes me as the chief danger but I urge you all to load the heavy cannon here.

The Coral Eclipse is extremely fascinating if not the highest calibre renewal of the race.  Al Kazeem has proven a revelation as a five year old and is a deserving favourite.  As well as showing some class when putting Camelot (fallen from a lofty position), Al Kazeem showed grit at Royal Ascot.  I would not put you off, particularly if you are quick and get some of the 3/1 available.

In the last 16 years, there have been 5 winners of the Coral Eclipse that are in their classic years.  If ‘trip’ is oft the mask for a fundamental lack in equine quality, then unlucky in running is another… That brings us to Mars.  The only three year old in the Eclipse fits this description after disastrous poor luck in the Derby and in the Prince of Wales.  I like him but I don’t trust him.

The Major is plumping for The Fugue who in a poor Eclipse gives us an excellent chance.  She was a very good Nassau winner and her exploits in America were very good – The Prince of Wales was her seasonal debut which allows us room for further improvement… 9/2… come on girl.

Caucus has excellent tied form with Estimate which would put several of these opponents behind and looks the easy selection at 2/1 in the Marathon.

No tip in the last at Sandown.

Haydock Racing Tips

I was originally tipping just two horses at Haydock, Tumblewind and Albasharah but the Major loves nothing more than the request of a well heeled looking sort and Nicola (@madgecarlton) asked me to complete the card…. so….

There is a great bet in the opener at Haydock in 6/1 Tumblewind who I thought was very impressive last time and forms the second leg of three in my ‘bet of the day’.  A half stone rise is unlikely to stop that progress…. Boom get involved!

I think Dubawi Sound is the best of an uncertain bunch in the 6f sprint.  I have always liked Masamah who has the ability to break well and lead them a merry dance but the extra furlong is probably not to his liking and my selection

Albasharah looks a must bet 9/4 (Bet365) in the Lancashire Oaks and completed the ‘bet of the day’ set – She was as unlucky as you can get at Royal Ascot and this is one I am happy to extend the generosity of a second chance to!  De Sousa has been riding really well this year and is a plus.

In the Old Newton Cup, there are a few eye catchers as you might expect.  The Major has always been a fan of Sir Graham Wade who I am surprised did not go on to develop into a group class animal.  Although largely disappointing of late, I still hold the candle.  Yet, the Major shall leave those thoughts for another day.  Instead I would back Franciscan who clearly has been laid out with this race in mind.  A poor run last year in this contest belied the yards excellent record at targeting the Old Newton.  In the last ten years they have won the race three times with Zeitgeist, Alkaased and Mad Rush and they have ‘hit the bar’ on several other occasions.  If you put last years disappointing run in this race from this horse down to the deep conditions, then we have a live plot spreading out before us beautifully… get involved!

I would agree with Andy (see #crowdsourcingmultiple below) that Jive is the best chance in the 4.05 and 11/2 is a tasty price.

Shebebi has a style of running that is likely to set the race up for a closer but I am still going to give Dane O’Neill a chance to judge his ride from the front and make his ride last home at 8/1.

What a disappointment only three make it to post in the lucky last – Broughton the evens favourite gets my vote.

Good luck Nicola and remember, the Majors tips are akin to acts of god, who knows…. Inshallah.

The Lions will lose to Australia.  Murray will lose to Djokovich.  Easy double… Looks to me like Mark Carney, our new Bank chief has ordered up some more Quantitive Easing!


The Major has requested the best NAPs of the day from his Twitter colleagues…..  I shall be putting these selections into a multiple, using the power of crowd thinking to gain glorious riches….  I would also suggest all of these fine folk are worth following on Twitter… (the Major is @tdl123 by the way):

@lukeyboy1325 – Based in Canada (or was, hard to keep up with these digital sorts), Luke likes most sports, holds an opinion and is a generous tweeter:  Pique Sous at Bellewstown 🙂 double it up with Al Kazeem in the Eclipse

‏@Spinitg – Seanie is a must follow on twitter – He is as immersed in Irish racing as you can be.  7:20 Sylvian Mist 9/4 #nap

@a_p_l_77 –  Andy is a Liverpool fan and huge Racing aficionado – Prefers his National Hunt but I’ve known this shrewdie land a few pots…. Jive in the 4.05 at Haydock….

@boilberg – I must confess to not knowing Ben as well, yet…. NAP tomorrow is 2.55 Albasharah 2/1

@onedeswalker – Mick loves racing and always has a tasty priced multiple he is working up! …. I won’t insult you with the optimism of the treble but Kingsgate Native at 6-1 is best bet tomorrow. Forgive last run, would be 3s.

Finally in traditional style, the Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Integral, Tumblewind, Albasharah and Caucus.

May your dinner be fine and the company both engaging and beautiful.  Courage, roll those dice.