Good morning from the Major who writes from a breezy Worcestershire where taking the early morning air has been most pleasant. The freshness is deceiving as the day is merely breaking and there is an inevitability to the raw heat that is to come.
This week I made the effort to blog each night and cover every Royal Ascot race. Very profitable it turned out too – Well reasonably so, ‘very’ might have been accurate if the ‘Bank of Treve’ had not failed with no government intervention, I add. From 30 pieces of advice, we scored 5 winners priced at (advised) Hartnell 4/1, Bracelet 12/1, Anthem Alexander 4/1, Muteela 8/1, The Wow Signal 7/1 and Hootenanny 11/2. Not a bad haul, especially as we had plenty of places from the other 25 runners – Not bad, not bad but no mothership.
Perseverance. What a shame for Channel 4 that their viewing figures were down. By contrast, good weather and an improving product saw Ascot gate numbers swell. So what is wrong with our TV Coverage then? Last year, the first that they covered Royal Ascot, the numbers fell off a cliff. This was to be expected, after all Auntie had an established proposition and being the BBC was able to advertise their product to kingdom come (as a liberal, I would be for abolishing it). Therefore first time around, you could forgive Channel 4.
To see a further marked reduction in viewer numbers is a little perplexing and quite worrying. I quite like the overall product. I think the coverage is excellent, the Morning Line, followed by coverage of every race plus an evening highlights package – Bravo. You can leave Gok Wan out for me, I am not a fashion sort you see… but even if I would not tune in for him, his segments did not dominate really, they did not distract too badly from the racing. Plus C4 have offered innovation, the new camera angles, breadth of coverage and I particularly like getting insight into the stewards enquiries, that is excellent.
So, England are out of the World Cup. In a way I am glad, I can stop pretending to be too bothered. It was a shame we did not step up against Uruguay but I hope one and all treat Hodgson respectfully, the man is a gentleman – As a cad myself, I spot the real thing easily enough.
Now for a new team to follow. I think it is going to be wine, cheese, Magret de Canard au miel et aux poires and ‘Vive La France!’ all the way.
Step gently through the darkened brush, our prey unaware of our presence, the danger carrying on the cold air, we can land this mothership….
Do you know I have written 525 posts – My first was over five years ago, I started not long after Punjabi gave me the biggest win of my life at the time, taking the Champion Hurdle at 22/1 – The following day after that first post, I posted my first tip, Classic Contours running at Beverley. The step up in trip of three furlongs caught my eye – It came fifth (perhaps I missed this opportunity to stop this foolish endeavour) but then CC went on to win in his next two races after stepping up a further quarter of a mile….. It finished a 46 rated beast after 29 runs with those two wins being the only to he tasted, hardly inspiring stuff but, do you know, I have a soft spot for the beast, I know how he feels you see. 525 times since I have tried for this elusive mothership and 525 failures have been recorded. Each Saturday, rest assured, I am betting what I propose to you my friends. I always have a small stake on being entirely right with my thinking, just a few Shekels that would pay off the mortgage.
Have I made money over this time overall? Well I do not know. In two separate spells I tried recording on a register all bets and a marginal profit was the result. (10-15%) – This is good enough considering the over-round but I haven’t made anyone rich. I get the occasional thank you, a few drinks and bottles have been offered. I never accept any praise though beyond a polite thank you. You see, my philosophy is simple, I offer you my genuine thoughts, what you decide to do is your wanton right. Your liberty is hard-fought for by our ancestors and I am unable to take it from you. Therefore whether you bet or not based on the foolish dribble that spills from my mind is entirely your own judicious determination. Thus I cannot accept the hurrahs and homage and neither can I the slings and arrows – As Buddha imparted his wisdom of being criticised, if you are to offer me a gift and I do not accept it, then to who does the gift now belong?
You might feel that my spirit is dented after so many written words, so many late nights finding an angle, looking for the horse that has favoured conditions, the plot, the class, the breeding… well no dear friends, yes I might feel a little jaded but just to leaf through the Racing Post brings that same childish thrill, the rising passion in my chest, a chemical injection coursing through the veins. Yes the flame still flickers dear friends, melancholy banished…. to the sports and sharpen those lancepoints, get on parade and look the part, maybe number 526 will be our turn.
To the sports and before we do, spare a thought for @limerickjfk, a regular reader and decent fella too (worth a follow), right now he is indisposed in some foreign far-flung corner of the Earth – well, lying by the pool in Thailand actually preparing his Ascot investments no doubt, choak dee na ka.
Royal Ascot Saturday – Tips Across the Card
If you have jumped to this bit, then stop cheating and head back to the top. We only accept folk of polite virtue in these parts.
The Chesham has only gone overseas once in the last ten years (to Ballydoyle with Maybe) but it looks likely to go again. It could cap an excellent week again for the Irish raiders or it might be making a bigger trip across the water to the States.
We have seen the advantage a higher draw gives you on the straight course at Ascot. Mainly the winning is done on the stands side of the track. With inexperienced two year olds, it can be more significant in my opinion as to drop behind from the gates and track across and then take your chances in the traffic is a tricky manoeuver requiring a skillful pilot and a willing and smart accomplice, hard to achieve with a juvenile.
Kool Kompany ran without spark behind The Wow Signal earlier in the week and thus did little to boost the form of Toscanini but ignoring that and the Halford runner has a chance. Dick Whittington has more experience in the bag and his form was given a lift when his conqueror at Naas, Capella Sansevero came second in what looks a good Coventry to me. Yet, O’Brien, there is nothing wrong with his wins this year but it just feels a shade below their usual terrifying brilliance.
Wesley Ward has had one winner and one place from his four Ascot runners but you have to respect whatever juveniles he brings over and for me Cordero and Crown the Kitten are the ones to focus on. Both are beautiful American breeds and they are berthed next to each other. It is a bit alarming that my tip has the headgear on for debut but that might help and it is a more common call in the States – I like Crown the Kittens jockey, Espinoza but let’s face it, Moore is the best. 11/2 is available with Bet365 and a couple of others. Load a cannon, this is winnable.
In the Duke of Edinburgh we have a proper race. This is a difficult handicap to solve asyou suspect there are some very good horses in here that have yet shown their full hand. To keep it simple, Mick Channon, who has a poor Ascot record by the way, has described Elidor as in great form and my best chance of the week. Elidor is on the right side of the track and has won a King George so knows his way home, every sign is that he is coming back to the boil and you suspect he has been targeted at this. More fashionable picks like Arab Spring will keep the price honest and I suggest loading the small bore for this at a general 12/1.
I love the Hardwicke Stakes because it brings back memories of Harbinger in 2010. He went on to win a King George and Queen Elizabeth stakes in the July in utterly devastating style and I was securing my antepost position for the Arc when we got the bad news of his health. Ah, the memories though, he was impervious that day and we lost him too early. Stoute has a superb record in this race and it is surely going to be one of his two today.
Telescope is presented as favourite in the same famous Highclere garb, which by the way is probably as nice a racing silk as you can get, you will forgive if reason alone does not dictate the selection. He was once a hot pick for the Derby but did not appear on track last year until July. Winning a three runner conditions event easily, then failing behind David Livingstone dented the form as he looked a bit standard. However, his final 3yo appearance was to take the Great Voltigeur at York, though it hardly looks bullet proof for a G2.
This year he has been beaten twice by Noble Mission in softer ground. You might argue that Frankels brother has finally shown some overdue class but I am dubious about all of this form. Heart fluttering two-tone blue or not, I shall overlook him.
There are plenty of horses with Ascot form here and my tip and a strong one at that is Hillstar. Pound for pound, he has more in my form book than Telescope and he won in identical conditions in the King Edward VII. He has two excuses this season; Tapeta in Dubai and a soft ground at an unsuitably tight Chester – It is disconcerting that Ryan Moore, the aforementioned best jockey in the world, does not agree with me but seriously, what does he know? 9/2 – I think I am right.
Diamond Jubilee time and Slade Power is the warm order of the day in a field of high-class runners. We were all hoping to see Sole Power reappear after the exploits on Tuesday but Lynam reported that he had to be lifted to bed! I am not surprised!
So many intriguing angles… What do I really want? Draw and Ground feel like the right angles to focus on.
As this is the case, I have a line through Slade Power as he is on the wrong side. So is Gordon Lord Byron who won a Haydock Sprint in splendid style, hard to say it but has to be overlooked. Christ this is tough.
I am settling on Due Diligence. Three year olds have been doing OK in this race of late and this American import looks very nice at Naas – New star sprinter? Who knows but 8/1 is big enough with Ryan Moore again steering (could be a belting day for him).
The Wokingham…. want the winner? Take a pin, close your eyes, drop the pin, see where it lands, then tear up the paper, burn it and eat the charred remains.
It is a renewal that is dripping in class. Like many, I was hoping Intrinsic would make the race as it looked like a right plot underway but in the end, no joy. My pick is drifting like a barge but I am not put off Alben Star who I fully expect to pick up a big prize at some point. He is well drawn, will be fine on the ground and has Paul Hanagan in the saddle. 22/1 with Bet365 (I have no affiliation by the way!)
Finally, the lucky last… I want to close Royal Ascot out with a winning tip and my choice is…. Pique Sous – Mullins is as dangerous here as he is in a bumper at Punchestown and 4/1 that he gets the better of Tiger Cliff is value. Of the rest, I like Royal Irish Hussar if a return to the flat helps spark the revival.
Newmarket Sniper Shot
A horse I like the look of (and franked by the thoughts of @lukeelder) is in the 5.50, Dutch Art Dealer. Gelding is always a wincing thought for us all but often has the desired effect and there are plenty of signs that this year, he might have more to offer. 8/1 with Sportingbet, 7/1 generally. Load a cannon.
The Martin Hill Trixie is Dutch Art Dealer, Hillstar and Cordero.
I trust your dinner is Pad Thai and in the finest of company. Allow the cold beer to sink down that gullet with the satisfaction that only a huge bulging inner pocket can bring. The company both glamorous and sensational, the ambience perfect.
Courage friends, roll the dice.