Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Saturday Sermon: Newmarket, The Curragh, Chester and Newcastle…. Courage, roll the dice

Good evening from the Major who writes dead tired from a Worcestershire scene of warm stink under an ugly grey orange sky.  The air is bound to me, suppressing freedoms, my shoulders tight; God, grant it so that I might sleep some.

My burden on life’s road is light.  Compared to the horrors that unfold all over the world each day.  I have no cause for complaint and am happy to carry my lot. Of late, it has been tiring.  With a fair wind, this time next week, I shall tell of things that right now I am unable to impart.

What horrors.  A man decapitated in France, his bloody head written on and hung from the fence.  At what point in your insanity do the barbarous acts in themselves sober the perpatrator up?  How strong the madness that prevails through such savagery and still leaves you thinking you were doing the right thing?

In Tunisia, holidaymakers, defenceless, gunned down.  At peace in the blazing North African sun, white sandy beaches and lapping shore, beach furniture and cold drinks on hand, the holiday novel.  From this to brutality with no adjustment, instant horror.  The suddenness.

A man can die but once; we owe God a death.

Organised religion.  I was forced into church as a boy and I cannot say I was the worse for it.  I liked a lot of Christian teachings, particularly those of forgiveness which can often be mistaken for weakness.  Yet, being of independent mind, there were two significant thoughts which thwarted me being a ‘convert’.

Firstly, none of it adds up.  You are asked to accept with faith things which make no sense, are unproven and frankly it goes against my very being.  I believe their could be a God.  As a man of science, perhaps a higher power is a good a way as to describe what is beyond the universe, or what time and space existed before the big bang; to suggest his son had a rare culinary logistical cuisine to feed a large crowd with a few fish and bit of bread seems odd at best.

Secondly, it was the uniformity of it.  Thinking of issues in a binary way.  I dislike all religions for this.  So rarely are questions of importance so simple.  Yet, difference is not encouraged within a religion, the rules are there to create social cohesion.

In Syria, the Islamic State slaughtered 160 in retribution for their previous defiance in conjunction with the Kurds.  The blindness of their cause, their souls irretrievable.

I have no answers, yet I know this.  The news in our faces is horrifying and God, I wish no such fortune on anyone.  Yet, the nature of news allows us to over think it.  There are 65 million people in this country, bad things will happen many times.  You cannot react, neither govern, the whole by what seems reasonable to you.

It is why I am perfectly ambivalent towards Burkhas and Fox Hunting.  In either case, the subject is so far from my world, it is irrelevant.  Some advocates who feel strongly on either issue might exclaim profanity as though not having a view and ‘living to let live’ is in itself wrong.  What do I feel about Fox Hunting?  Not a lot.  I have never done it and know not enough of the environmental impacts to make a strong argument.  I do think the Master of the Hunt et al look faintly ridiculous in their haughty outfits but if it makes them happy.

Similarly the Burkha.  I cannot tell you whether it is empowering for some women and repressive for others.  Yet, as long as it is worn by choice, then I believe, as a Britain proud of our liberal heritage (accepting it took some passages of decided non liberal times to get there), passionately believe that you, I, anyone; should be able to wear whatever they damn well please, comic, tragic or beautiful.

Anyway, I must get to the sports.  Our mothership is an elusive craft but she will come.

Saturday Racing Tips – The Curragh

It is Irish Derby day and the Curragh has a decent undercard too.  I am going to be picky as I wish to move to the other courses.

Gordon Lord Byron plays an important role in the 3.35pm at The Curragh.  He keeps the price on my tip honest.  I like GLB, he has won spring of high order but he surely needs more give.  I often think that horses with a reference for softer ground are even more dependent in their more mature years.

Tested represents Weld who was not having the best of the last few weeks until he rocked up with some decent performers on Friday, including Eshera who stepped up well.  Tested has good form in the book and was entitled to the seasonal debut run, which was decent anyway.  The Selkirk filly is being dropped back in trip and breeding suggest it is OK and good ground is also ideal.  There is 2/1 about (Paddy, Ladbrokes)

Last year, Hannon bought across Kool Kompany, the strong travelling winner of the Railway Stakes and the market suggests a repeat prescription could be on the cards with Log Out Island.  As you see, I agree.  While his last Ascot run was highly respected, it is the debut beating of a field including Buratino which catches the eye the most.  Evens…… One for the multiples.

Tip for the Irish Derby

Jack Hobbs is a lovely horse.  I would fancy it to win a Champion Hurdle not that there is a risk of it!  He is a big sort, travels freely and with menace and while his Sandown handicap win had a seemingly awesome turn of foot, I think in G1 company, the reality is, he needs pace.

Some felt when Golden Horn beat him in round one that it might be reversed in the Derby.  I did not and for once was right, the Derby win was at least as dominant.

While Jack Hobbs lost nothing in running second, I do dislike those sorts that start to fin a losing habit.  It is enough for me to find the next best.

O’Brien is the port of call for those seeking an alternative.  After all, he saddles half the field and has won the race in all but one of the last nine runnings.  What form!  He was denied in Trading Leathers year when the 4/5 favourite, Ruler of the World, Epsom (proper, Irishmen I am ribbing you) Derby winner ran pale.

Giavanni Canaletto is my tip at a backable 10/1.  Not each way, go win.  He is beautifully bred and has struggled to show his true form, I have faith that it is there to be found.

Saturday Chester Tips

I have never been to the Roodee.  Shocking really, I have an old friend up there, , one of those laugh a minute Indian girls with impeccable manners, tremendous company.

Anyway, one of the best men on Twitter @onedeswalker is heading to course and Mick, you deserve a cracking day out, all said.  So, follow these tips, lose your money, drink two bottles of Champagne and languish in sublime snagging enjoyment of loss.

We all know Chester favours a speedy sort from a low draw, especially in these conditions.

The 2.30pm is interesting in that stalls 1 and 3 are occupied by hold up types in Vimy Ridge (well worth a read; magnificent military action of the Canadians taking higher ground against well dug in Germans, WW1) and Long Awaited.  It might cause some carnage on the inside and will either afford easy leads to the market leaders Blythe Spirit and Captain Dunne.  On the former, I would prefer more give underfoot, on  the latter, he looks use to place but can be beaten.

My winner is the Tom Dascombe trained Seve, available at 11/2.  A speed demon, the minimum trip suits and while Stall 6 is normally a big issue, he will burst forward and if, on his left, all carnage breaks loose, well.  We will be will compensated for that draw, 11/2, confident bet.

The 3.40pm is a conundrum.  The handicapper has assessed Sinfonietta to a mark of 95 but it is a messy affair rating some of the regional French nonsense.  Can I back it?  With a supposed 20lbs in hand?

The question morphs into whether you can find a decent alternate.  Sinfonietta is at an unusual fast track, tight bends and has to overcome a wide draw.  Is there anything to be found to challenge?

Warofindependence.  If you spent best part of half a million (US) on a racehorse, you might expect that it’s debut would not be as a three year old, at Chester, gelded and at an outsiders 14/1.  Impeccable US blue blood, War Front the sire out of a Smart Strike mare, how the mighty have fallen.  There is nothing to go on but I might thrust a few shekels down for pity’s sake.

I am playing Doctor Bong who did nothing wrong on debut and is well drawn, 7/1.

Finally, in the last (5.25pm), I propose a confident tip in Our Gabrial.  Last time out was something of a recovery for a horse that has won at Chester and in the hands of connections whose sole goal is to win here, well 11/2.

Sniper Shot Tip – Newcastle

The Northumberland Plate.  I had a winner with Seamour last time out and since Ellison is filling his boots at this festival again, I am sticking with this one at 11/1 (Paddy Power 5 places).  It has a bad draw and given the course stayers win last time was done from a prominent position, it might be a concern.  Not for me.

Finally, Newmarket

Another single tip visit.  I think Johnstone is coming to form and in the 2.50pm he has Lidos Lady a prominent racer who is excellent value at 13/2.  A Danehill Dancer filly out of a Sadlers Wells mare, the blood lines are good and the debut win, typically for one of these quarters was from the front.  The yard is rocking, she has won already and is a fine sort.  Get stuck in.

May your dinner be taken with close friends who have seen you for what you are and are friends all the same.  Italian food, all good tomato, rich and cream sauces, good cuts of meat in generous servings.  A good Barolo.

The Martin Hill: A trixie; Seve, Tested and Our Gabrial.

Courage, roll the dice.

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The Saturday Sermon: Tips for the 2015 Royal Ascot Saturday Card

A beautiful summers evening greetings to you from Worcestershire where the Major relaxes easily into stride for another sermon in which we will try again for the mothership.

I must apologise, I missed a Friday Royal Ascot run through, sheer exhaustion after a day of travel.  Plus, stress.

On Thursday, I spent the day in the City of London, to lunch for business, drinks at St Pauls late on for pleasure.  More drinks on the train, a nightcap back at home and a restless night and come this morning, I could not raise the gallop required to get the sermon out.

Anyway, a restful day and I feel at ease now to let slip the wandering thoughts of my mind.

The stress from the meeting in the week is an odd thing.  You might think it was a problematic meeting, it was not.  You might wonder if the stakes were high, not really.  In fact, it went well, I got on very well with the chap and he even insisted on picking up the tab.

I find, coming free from a situation with no wounds inflicted brings its own pressures.  I know why, but I dare not share, that one is too close to the bone and since I have been writing the sermon for just six years, we don’t know each other quite well enough, yet.

I have long been looking for a new spiritual leader in life.  The role has been vacant since the passing of Sir Clement Freud who was such a spectacular mixture of the best of life vices and virtues.  He had such an incredible history and achieved so much in various fields, seemingly unconnected, save that in everything he did, he did to the full.

One of the leading candidates today came to my mind as an email from her charity foundation arrived announcing that the trailer for a film based on her life to date was out.

Malala.  Words are poor currency to give her the credit I wish.  Such an incredible orator for all her lack of years.  Her voice has that beautiful tinkling sing-song quality with the wobbling pitch you find across the Indian sub-continent and her laughter is punchy, it shocks you.

Anyone who stood up against such evil men as the Taliban for the rights of girls to be educated, deserves enormous respect.  That she suffered at such a young age, an attempt on her life for this stand is an absurd and disgusting misalignment of humanity.

Yet, without it, I would never have heard of her.  Have a look at some of her speeches on Youtube, I cannot adequately portray her wisdom, her maturity and a trait I particularly admire, her capacity for forgiveness and acceptance.  A fine Noble Peace Prize winner.  You net about £6m with that, aye, that don’t mention the money much do they, although I think Malala shared the prize.

She will never be my number one.  She lacks the requisite darkness, though she has ample mischief, of that I can tell.  I will though see the film on opening night and raise a toast to Birmingham’s finest, for I have adopted her for our city since she received her critical care at Europe’s best hospital (the QE) and continued her education at Edgbaston Girls School.  She is a Brummie alright.

This week saw the 200 year anniversary of Waterloo.  I followed an account relaying the action on twitter hour by hour.  It was all I could do to resist chipping in throughout the day to cry encouragement to the Iron Dukes forces and their Prussian allies.  Napoleon was a fearful commander, incisive, intelligent and adaptive.  Yet, the Duke was undefeated in Major actions and has the edge for me.  His bundle and go work through Spain in the Peninsular Wars was a great feat requiring courage and skill as a leader.

Anyway, he will surface in a further sermon, no doubt.  So will Malala.

Saturday Royal Ascot Tips

The Chesham kicks us off, seven straight furlongs for the juveniles.  The ground will race fast again.  At this stage of the season, the colts have the edge on the fillies, even allowing for the weight.  Just one filly took one of the last ten renewals.

That exception was Maybe, an O’Brien filly who went on to complete an unbeaten five race juvenile season before disappointing a bit in her classic year.  Given the name of the O’Brien horse is Ballydoyle, plenty will have seen this naming as significant.  Surely that is a name that could have given to anything, ergo, she must be special.

I do not truck with such talk.  Maybe she is.  Yet, if they wanted the name immortalised, surely they would have looked for a colt with much higher potential for future breeding profile.

I am looking for a colt.  Palawan is of interest at a whopping 25/1.  Hannon and Hughes had great days at Ascot today and he won’t throw anything into the Chesham.  It is likely that the form of the debut race (fifth when favourite) will be  irrelevant and I would not put you off.

However, the presence of the favourite, allows a healthy price to form around my tip, Tonkinese.  His debut race looks all the better now following the grand effort of Air Force Blue earlier in the week, he followed that up with a solid victory taking his maiden, keeping up a good gallop.  The ground is a slight concern so I will keep it small and have a saver on Palawan.

John Gosden has a fine recent record in the Wolferton and he saddles the unbeaten favourite, Mahsoob.  There is a lot to like, he is fine on the ground, has been winning from the back which often masks more ability and has Group 1 entries.  He gets 9lbs more to shoulder and that has me considering other options though I wonder if I am wise to do so.  After all, Mahsoob had an entry for the Hardwicke which was an almighty leap to consider.

He has the blood for it, being a Dansili colt out of a Montjeu mare.  Mahsoob for me, 15/8 generally.  I shall pray for safe passage for Hanagan up the Ascot straight.

Then the Hardwicke.  All horses contesting the race are officially rated within 5lbs of each other but the idea that they are somewhat equal is hard to swallow.

Five of the last ten renewals went to Stoute.  The most memorable had to be Harbinger who later suffered a terrible injury before he had chance to exercise my own theory that he was an Arc winner.  Telescope won last year, in the same Highclere colours and at 5/4, you might call me unimaginative but the mothership will land only when we combine the obvious and the brave.

The the Diamond Jubilee, three years ago, do you remember Black Caviar almost losing her unbeaten run when the jockey dropped his hands?  My god.

The one I want on my side is Due Diligence.  O’Brien has advertised the health of his inmates in fine style this week and I am relying on that continuing into Saturday.  The horse ran second last year, carrying my money as a burden.  It has the credentials and these sprinters always improve into their fourth year.  6/1 for a win purpose, interesting that William Hill are offering four places at 11/2.

It is 10/1 the field in the Wokingham, the usual state of affairs.  Crafty Northern trainers have usually got some beast tucked up on a handicap mark much too light Tatlisu is a standout example because he represents last years winning trainer, Fahey and has Moore booked, a man who has broken Ascot records this week.  10/1 is perfectly acceptable, I would not dissuade you.

My tip for the Wokingham though is a horse who was thoroughly impressive at Goodwood last season, Intrinsic.  He can be bought at 14/1 and with Hughes bagging a double on Friday, he will have a pilot bursting with confidence.  My confidence in the tip is tempered slightly by the interrupted preparation which lacked a race, yet his Goodwood performance was worth a lot more than the 5lbs he was raised (to 100).

The lucky last, The Queen Alexandra.  Mullins has plundered the race twice in three years with Simenon and Pique Sous.  Wicklow Brave is 5/4.  Another shortie Major!! Shame on you.  Well, what can I say, that Mothership will come in…. it will.

May your dinner be taken in the best company, glamour, beauty, great food, better wine; tip well and let it flow.

The Martin Hill bet: Mahsoob, Telescope and Wicklow Brave…. Trixie of powerfulness.

Courage, roll the dice.

 

 

 

Royal Ascot 2015 Thursday Tips…. It’s Gold Cup O ‘Clock…. well not the real Gold Cup but a Gold Cup

Good evening from the Major who writes to you from a sticky humid Worcestershire, hot stinking conditions, motorcycles opening up their throttles on the road, a suffocating coat that clings to you.  Ah, for a cold shower and sleep.

Tomorrow I ride for London and may well meet a few old friends in the city and imbibe a few refreshing drinks, that might shake the malaise.

It did not help that the blog performed so badly today.  We hit a few places at decent prices but it was all a tad soggy chips.

To make matters worse, in a case of atrocious after timing, I had several cover bets as the day progressed and struck gold with a GM Hopkins and Osaila double which swelled funds magnificently.

About this moment, I imagine you are cursing the sermon, Ah Major! Why must you stoop to such low levels….. I agree, I can be a bastard at times.

What an unbelievably complex society we live in.  Do you ever sit and wonder about it?  I did on Tuesday, in view of the fact that Gok Wan takes up an uncomfortable amount of time, I carried a New Scientist magazine which speculated on what would happen to a hundred human babies on a desert island.  As interesting the estimates were, running down the side of the page was a potted history of the earliest evidence we have of humans using various technology and tools.

I shall pose to you know as a thought exercise.  Shoes, Art, Jewellery, Cooking, Agriculture and Religion.  Go on, write down your order, see how you do, it is only you and me.  Answers below.

To the sports.

Thursday Royal Ascot Tips

There is a bit of water going on overnight and a good thing too.  I am all for allowing the firmer ground animals to enjoy their conditions but you ideally want enough give that some of the stars participation is not jeopardised.  You might think this a bit unfair, surely the firm ground beasts who float across the surface with hooves barely kissing the ground, they deserve their day, n’est pas?  Well yes.  Yet I want the ground to be as inclusive as possible and so good to firm is as firm as we should get.

I know it is harsh but you cannot reverse rainfall, if it goes heavy, there is no magic bullet to take the moisture out.  If there were, I would want it used in the same way.  There should be an optimal ground that Ascot aims for.

We kick off with the Norfolk, a Group 2 sprint for the juveniles.  I would love to find an alternate but King of Rooks looks an absolute banker at evens for any accumulator. I mentioned on yesterday’s blog that Buratino was the most impressive winner of the week for me so far, he had plenty in hand in winning what looked like a perfectly good Coventry.  Since King of Rooks has form tied in, I have to back him while the evens lasts.  Bet like you mean it.

The Tercentenary is not as straight forward.  Stouts entries have to be noted in this race and Disegno is attracting support tonight.  That might partly be due to the presence of Moore up top who is on fire this week.  There is still some 8/1 and I would not put you off.  The form is OK against some listed types and good ground will undoubtedly suit but the strongest advert for the chances is the vibes, money is coming for a yard that has won this several times in the last decade and it seems, if you trust the money, Disegno’s intended target all along was this.  Either that or it is Pricewise and I am too lazy to check that.

He is second-rate anyway, yes he might be more accurate but does he tell you whether humans made jewellery or shoes first.  No, a decisive no.

Anyway, I am backing a Dubawi colt, bred from a Dansili mare.  Time Test has impeccable blue blood connections to make the Queen blush.  He made a mockery of a mark of 93 on handicap debut and looks well set to make it two from two for the punters.  5/2 Paddy Power.

Jim Bolger is generally a trainer I trust and so the fact he plunges Pleascach straight from Guineas success to a mile and a half should be something I can take in my stride.  Nothing about her excellent Guineas win would suggest that she cannot make a step up in trip but at Ascot as well, I don’t know, it just seems a lot to ask.  She is the class miler, is she the class middle distance horse?  Breeding says it is OK but this is a step up.

There are two I would oppose with.  Firstly, Curvy has been a different beast this year.  She has won a pair of handicaps and took the step up to group company well enough when having a good colt in behind her.  O’Brien has his string in excellent Ascot order and I would encourage you, if these were your original thoughts.

My mind though is straying the John Gosden way to the entirely unexposed Gretchen.  She is one of five Galileo fillies in the field and is surely a decent sort in the making.  There is a lot of assumption but Gosden does not roll that many dice and having plunged her into a good maiden which she won, perhaps this leap in class is not beyond her.  9/1.

The Gold Cup…. Forgotten Rules is unbeaten and is likely to be shorter than the 11/4 about now, particularly if some of the early favourites have gone in at Ascot.   The watering has come at the right time for the horse and Weld must have hopes of taking the top race on consecutive days.

Mizzou won the Sagaro here which is reassuring course experience and decent form to boot.  He is a Galileo sort and has enjoyed a rattling surface before so makes an excellent each way bet to nothing.

I would think that an accident with the watering is the only thing to bring Simenon and Tac de Boistron into calculations.

Forgotten Rules is a lovely looking sort, so classy and not bottomed out either.  It is hard to bet against him but I believe the conditions and the extra experience of  Mizzou make the 11/2 with Paddy Power a price too large.  I am sorry Forgotten Voice.

The Britannia, 5pm.  Portage, the Godolphin ‘god only knows’ string is my pick at 11/1 Betway (if you can hold your nose, 10/1 else).  If you watch the three races of his career, all you see is a horse prepared for a major handicap win.  I am sure it is true of several others in the field but Godolphin have a very good record in Ascot handicaps and the money is telling.  Keep things simple.

The lucky last, the King George V.  Dissolution is the Stoute representative and although he has not won this race for a few years, he has a fine record in it overall.  I have to back it, although you might find the number of favourites I am suggesting, unpalatable; I cannot help this, I speak as I find.  Anyway, his form is tied in with Time Test so you might know your fate early on.

Courage, roll the dice.

By the way, as I recall it goes…

Oldest to newest… Cooking, Shoes, Agriculture, Jewellery, Art, Religion.  I might have this wrong and will check for tomorrows sermon!

Wednesday Royal Ascot Tips…. Let’s get involved

Good evening from the Major who writes from another splendid Worcestershire evening, requiring the windows raised to draw in the evening air.  The paling sky, a peaceful waning blue wisps lightly on the senses, kissing you with a magical nature that you cannot describe.  Why that colour blends so well into the  deep greens of the land, I cannot say but then I am merely your poor correspondent.

How did we fare on the opening day?  Well, not too bad, not too bad at all.  The card started with a shocker mind.  The Beast from the East, Able Friend, in which I had placed my confidence, ran his race before he entered the stalls.  Slathered in sweat, he was a worked up fellow and unsurprisingly, popped the question at three furlongs, there was no response and, as I am sure his Hong Kong fandom will attest, followers breathed a sigh of relief as he was given an easy time of it once the race was gone, well done Joao Moreira.

Air Force Blue, advised at a fancy price was beaten into second, fair and square by Buratino who was a real take out of the day for me, there was plenty left and I think that is a horse to watch.

Nobody had the sprint winner in which my Australian pick was never a feature.  Gleneagles was an easy winner of the St James Palace, easily coming away, that was an easy pick.

Clondaw Warrior, advised at 8/1, bought success to the day, Shabash!  Then Areen, advised at 16/1 came within a whisker of making a memorable day, closing to within a short head and being ahead a stride further.  Strike that last remark from the record, we take the good and the bad in equal measure here.

I watched all this unfold in the pub.  To earn such privilege, I put my back to some meaningful garden activity and by 1.30 was in the cold shower.  Having sought and received permission, I wandered to a local hostelry where I was able to relax, content in my own company.

The garden work involved stripping out old rotting wooden garden timbers.  This was heavy labour, but it came with compensations.  My straw hat kept the sun comfortably off, allowing the breeze through.  I was disturbing long peaceful nature, millipedes, slow worms, beetles, woodlice, slugs, spiders, ants and many other of evolutions creations.  At first, my skin crawled at the thought and the touch but soon the feeling passed and I was bulling away like a good ‘un.

Then, all of a sudden I had company.  A Robin, so cheerful I liked him straight away, landed by me and proceed to eye me, not warily, just checking.  When I did not react, he continued to pick his way through the delights I was unearthing.  He stayed with me throughout the morning, coming within a few feet of me, to enjoy his fill, never fearing my presence and I enjoying his.

As I walked down to the pub, I say a green finch dead on the path, nothing unusual in a rural scene.  His eye was open, his was rigid on his side.

All we are frightened of is the end, it lies beneath every misbegotten action we take.

That finch enters the cycle.  The first to get at his carcass will be the bacteria, they will be the first to decay yours too.  You see, the bacteria have an unconquerable advantage, they do not need to find your carcass, they are already on it, and in it.  When you die, they will multiply quickly.

Molds including yeast come next.  Fungal growth on meat adds colour, often fluffy branching growth spreads across the carcass.

These two normal beat the insects who follow.  Flies lay eggs, maggots devour, beetles are tuned to the smelly advertisement and in the end, there is little left.

Bones, they decay more slowly but they decay all the same.

This is all we have to come and so we should concentrate on living lives we find fulfilling.  I shall not tell you to live each day like your last, that would be terrifying.  Yet I shall urge you to immerse yourself in each experience.

We float by this once, grab onto whatever luck brings you on the tide.  Lick up the honey stranger, ask no questions.

To the sport.

Wednesday Royal Ascot Tips

One of the races of the week kicks off Tuesday at Ascot, the Queen Anne, it was not a vintage edition but it delivered a worthy winner in Solow who gained a hat trick of group one wins.  The grey horse doesn’t quite look the part to me but who cares for that when he runs with such gusto.  He stayed on well but was unspectacular.  He can be beat.  It must also be a bit disheartening to connections that he is gelded.  Do I sound sore?  I do not mean to, I like the way his ears went back and he knuckled down to see them off, it was worthy, worthy, I used that word twice.

Anyway, Wednesday kicks off with the Jersey, 7 furlongs and the market has decided it is Ivawood versus the rest.

The ground is set for rattling.  It was quick today and after the sun-baked turf has enjoyed a warm night, it will be knee-knocking firm tomorrow.  Ivawood will not mind.

He was third in the Guineas which although not a spectacular affair (bar Gleneagles who is enjoying things) absolutely entitles him to favouritism, even giving the weight.  He has always looked speedy and you would think that encourages me over the 7f trip but I feel he can be beat and we should try.

The most interesting horse in the race has to be Sir Isaac Newton who makes for a great win bet at 11/1.  You have to feel he is a hit or miss type and so there is little point in each way!  I know there are some folk out there nursing the burns on their fingers still but it would be such a shock for him to come good, even at this stage.

The Major though is going to offer a different tip.  Frankie is due one and I like Hathal who is available at 12/1 with PaddyPower.  His debut runner-up spot was excellent, considering Haggas normally brings them on strongly from debut.  and Hathal did very well chasing home Consort who was match fit and had race course experience.  It really would be no surprise to see this horse take a Group 3.

The Queen Mary is an open renewal but it often is and there is no shock to see some of the outsiders fare well.  Judging the sprinters is hard enough, throw in the filly element it gets harder, make them juveniles and there is a lot of guesswork involved.

Kurland is an interesting entry as she had an option for the Albany but has stepped up to this tougher task.  Noteworthy.  Besharah was attractive to me, especially as I have one Haggas nag on my slip already but she is not too generously priced, if you fancy it, go for it at 11/2.

Mine though is 12/1 Ward raider Bruised Orange at 12/1.  Acapulco is the favoured Wesley Ward horse judging the jockey bookings but that might not be that telling.  Yet, Bruised Orange has a win under her belt at Keeneland and when the Frankie bomb goes off, I want in.

Integral is a well supported evens favourite of the Duke of Cambridge.  I am happy to oppose with Rizeena though who was beaten by Integral in the Falmouth on unsuitable sloppy ground.  Rizeena loves Ascot having won on all three track visits, since the course is not for all, it is noteworthy.  Like Integral, she will not mind the faster ground either.  While she flopped on her Newmarket seasonal debut, this will have been the target and at 8/1 with Bet365 (3 places, quarter odds… The Major has no links, no affiliations), I suggest an investment.

The Prince of Wales was going to be one of my bets of the week as I am a big Free Eagle fan (see the banner!).  His task is easier given the unfortunate withdrawal of California Chrome with an innocuous foot injury from which he would have recovered in a week…. damnation.

The Grey Gatsby loves his racing and will be fit and ready to go after misfiring twice this year.  Something about him though, I cannot nail it, yet in this race, I feel he will find one too good.

Western Hymn is another whose very worthy credentials just fall short of the spark I seek.  His strike rate is good though and he handles the ground.

I am sure they wanted to get a run into Free Eagle and I am slightly worried about the ground for him.  I feel edgy.

I am going to chance Ectot at 11/2 who was a splendid prospect coming into the Arc where he flopped.  Yet, prior to that he was winning good races and some with a flourish.  This is certainly his trip and while a prep run would have been nice, he goes fresh and earns my vote.

I have my pin ready for the Royal Hunt Cup!

It has landed on Spark Plug a 14/1 shot.  I like Jimmy Fortune who gives an honest and experienced if not flashy account from the saddle.  The horse has leapt forwards this season, doing particularly well in the long Newbury straight last time out when demonstrating a decent turn of foot.  Have a go.

I am staying obvious and safe with Always Smile in the last race of the day the Sandringham.  11/4.  Progressive and Godolphin do well in these sorts of Ascot races.

Courage, roll the dice.

Royal Ascot 2015: Tuesday Tips…. Shabash

Good evening from the Major who writes from a baking Worcestershire heat where the hazy beating of the sun abates little into the evening.  The barbecue has been in action and now I have retired to the oldest part of the house whose ancient walls retain a coolness built with patience and preciously protected.

Newcomers for Royal Ascot week?  The tips are free, I have absolutely no deals with any turf accountants, no links, no adverts (with the exception of those WordPress might provide which are unavoidable since, I have long resisted the urge to spend £150 on my blogging account).  Yet there are some simple rules.

When we have winners (barely profitable), you owe me no thanks.  Your agency is your own business, I choose how I shall spend my own capital, I shall not presume to tell you how to spend your money.  Since I can neither take credit or blame for your choices, you should see this only as a portal of my dark and perverse thoughts.  We also run a decent club here, no riff raff, collars, jackets and ties at all times.

Yet, I venture to break my own rules, well they are mine.  Should you have strayed this way on Saturday, you might have read something you agreed with, I sincerely hope not.  It was one of those weeks where I could not have picked my own nose.  For this, I apologise.  There, see, the proper order of society has me itching for politeness.

Now then, Ascot.  I must confess that I do not feel the same aura of excitement building to this festival of flat racing as I do towards Cheltenham.  Thankfully the two don’t compete and so flat aficionados will care little for my personal preference.

Royal Ascot is pretty special though.  I have attended several times, although not this year.  The atmosphere varies depending on the price of your ticket, as does the standard of dress!  However the buzz and thrill is exceptional.  The worlds well-to-do gather to compete amongst the elite through the exquisitely expensive bloodstock on show.

I am not one for the fashion and the people spotting but the racing quality is first rate.

I do hope you saw The Trainer and The Racehorse documentary on Channel 4 at the weekend.  If not it is worth your time and is on 4 on demand.  I will be lucky to see a Frankel again in my lifetime, a horse so spectacularly good he eclipsed all rivals.  The programme fell short in a couple of areas, not mentioning the jockey was odd and there was an enormous leap in his race performances which mean that we skipped my favourite.  The 2012 Queen Anne was his best performance in my view, eclipsing the Juddmonte, Guineas and his Royal Lodge which was like a bucket of ice water.

Excelebration was an excellent horse.  He won 4 G1s in his career, each well deserved.  His tally would have been 7 without Frankel and the manner in which his dismissed him in the Queen Anne was frankly inspiring.  Racing can make your hairs stand on end, you know when you have witnessed something historic.

Royal Ascot – Opening Day Tips

Tuesday is also my favourite day of the meeting.  I like the race profiles.  I also dare to suggest it has been kind to me in the past.  Let us see.

We start with the Queen Anne.

Toormore and the Godolphin representative (and last years 2,000 Guineas winner), Night of Thunder will have their supporters.  The latter has always had the measure of the former and I do not see a reason for that changing.

Yet, the two global star raiders strike me as having superior quality and I would be surprised if the winner did not come from either Able Friend or Solow.

The latter has been visually highly impressive, beating the reliable and classy Grey Gatsby readily and dispatching a possibly deteriorating Cirrus des Aigles too this season.  Clearly Solow has not been bottomed out and I think he is the more fashionable at the head of the market.  However…..

I am drawn irresistibly to Able Friend who will attract a good bet from me on day one.  There is plenty of substance to the form in Asia where he has been winning G1 after G1 in Hong Kong.  Moreira is a star in the saddle and I have no fear that the switch to a straight track will bother him.  Paddy Power are currently 3/1 but 5/2 is the more general price.

From the glorious opener we fall into the Coventry, a race always packed with pedigrees and potential.

Jim Bolger fields the favourite with Round Two, a Teofilo colt who looked the part at the Curragh latest, easily dealing with a listed class field.  That looked good and the jungle drums are beating.

The Coventry has only had an SP greater than 10/1 twice, this century, a bit of a surprise given the nature of the race.  I suppose, you could argue that at the top end, the true equine stars stand out.  Both of those outsiders were 20/1 and both were saddled by O’Brien.  He has a stellar record in the Coventry and so you have to take a good luck at debut winner, Air Force Blue, a War Front colt.

Wesley Ward is a trainer to follow at the Royal meeting, adding a splash of American glitz to proceedings.  He brings serious horses over and has described Finnegan as his 2016 Kentucky Derby horse.

Finally, War Department might not be as sexily bred but Haggas unleashed a monster at Leicester and despite missing the break, he powered up in a style that had us all reaching for the Royal Ascot notebooks.

Such potential, so many possibilities.  O’Brien is in scintillating form.  He has won this race seven times in the last twenty runnings.  Air Force Blue gets the nod for small stakes, 7/1.

Then it is time for the tempestuous muscular sprinters to strut down to the start for the Kings Stand.  Sole Power has been a wonderful beast for connections and bids to win this for a record third time.  That would be something incredible.

Jack Dexter needs the heavens to open, I like him but he has also probably never shown quite this level of form.  G Force is a favourite of mine and I came close to giving him the nod, especially at 11/1.

Yet, the one I want is another raider, this time, Australian.  The Aussies take great pride in their racing but they are somewhat specialists in my view.  The Melbourne Cup, their best middle distance / staying race is a handicap and what our Australian friends produce best are sprinters, case in point, Black Caviar.

Shamal Wind can be backed at 8/1 in a few places, 7/1 in more.  Ryan Moore is booked.

Fabre brings his Make Believe over for the St James Palace but I cannot see beyond Gleneagles.  His Guineas win was authoritative and he added the Irish version in spite of hitting trouble.  Could be a good day for Aidan.  Skybet is 8/11, good sports.

The two and a half miler changes the beat a bit and it is worth noting the number and quality of national hunt trainers who have won this race.  O’Neill, Mullins, Henderson and Pipe have all had winners in the last ten years.

I rely on Mullins who has Ryan Moore booked, the same combination that did the business with Simenon a few years prior.   Clondaw Warrior is generally 8/1, have a slice.

In the last, the Windsor Stakes, we are back to reviewing sprinters.  The Bolger colt out of Acclamation, Ard San Aer is one to note and I would not put you off at 12/1.  Hannon fields three of which Hughes has gone for Orvar, interesting but his record in the race is not sensational.

I always want one of Wesley Wards on my side and 9/1 Ruby Notion will be on a slip as a saver.  It is hard to know what to make of her dirt debut win but I have made the case for the Ward Ascot raiders already.

Soapy Aitken can be backed at 6/1 and having won twice over the minimum trip already has shown some good credentials.

No, I want one at a price in a wide open renewal and I think Areen gives me a chance at 16/1.  That price is available only because he was unable to follow up his impressive debut win with another.  His last run at Sandown can be dismissed though, he came out of the stalls to a violent roughing up and that seemed to be the catalyst for worse, hanging severely throughout, we did not get the normal run though Areen did stay on again at the finish.

May your Ascot dinner be paid with fine winners allowing you take friends in great state and entertain generously, sharing your wealth.

Courage, roll the dice.