Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Saturday Sermon on Hennessy Day – My 33/1 pick…

Good evening from the Major who writes from a mild fine Bassetlaw where the salmons and purples of the dying day have faded to the irresistible depth of night’s solitude, we gaze to the universe, unimpeded by our nuclear fireball which drowns out the beauty during the noise of the day.

I feel dirty, a film of ugly consumerism clings to me, you see I bought a TV on Black Friday.  I caught a case of TV envy seeing my fathers new Sony and bleating like a sheep I walked into our nations electrical retailer Curry’s to spend a few hundred more than intended.  I kept my screen budget well but was tempted into picking up a sound bar which now means that my teeth rattle at critical dramatic cinematic moments.  These ultra HD screens are impressive and offer such detail that the Major will still have excellent definition of my horse, despite it labouring away 70 lengths down the field.

I had just a few hours sleep last night and today has been written off.  I knew late in the evening I was in trouble, I had the urge for solitude, a sense always amplified by the application of good alcohol.  My thoughts were lost in amongst the schmaltz and dazzle of the NFL Thanksgiving schedule and before I knew it I was fighting sleep in the first half of the late game, knowingly well beyond the event horizon, no point paddling any more, you may as well let go and let yourself fall through it all.

Our politics feel desperately stupid once again.  I watched the most mind numbing bland and intellectually barren Question Time.  The simplicity with which arguments are made, conjecture assumed as fact, opposing sentiment assumed as evil intent and such little grace and humility.  Ah, let’s not talk politics, it will do little to raise the stench of filth I carry around already after buying a Black Friday TV.

My favourite film is The Sting.  If you have not seen it, you must.  I always feel it was influential in my gambling career.  There is a scene in which a young naive Robert Redford loses a newly found fortune in a single hand of crooked roulette.  His friend spinning the wheel urged him not to place the bet knowing the wheel was bent but couldn’t say as much under the beady eye of the muscle.  As Robert Redford sees the ball drop in an unprofitable slot, he sucks it up, clicks his mouth and just let’s it go.  I have always held the ambition of facing defeat with the same sanguine passivity, there is a wonderful detachment to him in the moment, as he tips his hat down to cover his eyes a little.

Last week, I scored a hat-trick.

I have little else to offer this week.  Let’s get to business.  To the sports.

Hennessy Day and the Fighting Fifth

The Hennessy brings such memories doesn’t it, old smouldering memories suddenly flicker into life again, a sudden violence of flame and all in the moment we return to Denman whose second Hennessy carrying a jockey, two sacks of coal and towing a caravan; yet braving it out, showing all his class, gosh, was that not his finest performance?

The Carruthers Hennessy was as equally uplifting, that horse deserved a big one.  So did Many Clouds.  The Hennessy is a lovely race.  A staple in our diet.  That Denman performance…. I know I am wallowing but Christ, the sheer bravery and exertion of brilliance.  Foot perfect, relentless power, eyeballing rivals who wilted away like smoke in the breeze…. Denman was a force of nature.

The Fighting Fifth carries memories as well.  Punjabi – What a glorious season that was, the £1m bonus available for the Fighting Fifth, the Christmas Hurdle and the Champion Hurdle.  A fall at Kempton meant it was unclaimed but 22/1 in the Champion Hurdle was a price I was on and to be fair, I’d be claiming bits of 40s+ all season.  After-timing is a terrible crime, guilty M’lud.  Actually, not guilty at all, I bleated about Punjabi to anyone that would listen.

Let’s start with the Hennessy, I feel I can solve it this year.  It is officially good to soft but I think that we want to be on the good ground horses.

Regal Encore is not the worst 40/1 runner I have ever seen.  There is an awful lot you need to get past and with those problems in clear view, it makes it harder backing it off a career high mark but I am always reminded of the early promise of this one who had JP reaching for a very large cheque.  Not for me in the end but one I shall feel bitter about if it runs a place or worse without my money on.

Jonjo is in a list of illustrious trainers that I never quite get right.  A current 7% strike rate does not inspire confidence but this is the sort of yard that might well defy that and Holywell will enjoy the ground.

The one I am settling on does require a leap of faith but I think it is justified.  Triolo D’Alene is in good training hands and won the race in 2013 of a similar mark.  Performances have obviously jumped around since.  Yet, many of the poor shows (not all but c’mon look at the price!) have been explained by conditions, Triolo needs good ground.  A touch of class and a hefty price.  33/1.

It will be a great 20-25 minutes in racing.  The Fighting Fifth is an interesting if not stellar renewal.  The most interesting runner has to be 11-year-old Hidden Cyclone.  How might he be considered?  Well he did beat Apples Jade who’s bubble was burst again subsequently.  Soft ground and a handler that is shrewd… Well well 25/1.

Irving has a fighting fifth to his name but I am never convinced by that one.

No, I shall advertise the chances of Sceau Royal who can be backed at 9/4.  Daryl Jabob is not everyone’s cup of tea but I have always found him an honest tryer even if he lacks a touch of the pizzazz.

Finally – Again because I am tired.  I think Dusty Legend in the Newbury opener.  13/8 and I’d back this one any day.  Funnily enough, I don’t fancy the evens favourite, La Bague Au Roi.  The one I would fancy in a forecast is Copper Kay.

So tired.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Betfair Chase Day

Good evening from the Major writing from a crystal clear cold November in North Notts, Gringley on the Hill, as the name suggests bears the brunt of the latest cold front streaming in from the Atlantic, whistling between these old buildings.  Draw sharp breath, high-pitched resonance in the roots of my teeth.

All seasons in one day.  I rose to snowfall with a ground temperature just too low for it to settle, we just don’t quite have the elevation.  Driving to work, as the slip road fell from the main carriageway, I entered a deep fog streaming off the Chesterfield Canal.  I stopped the car and got out into the dulled light, sounds and movement, distance all stifled.  Somehow the blanket of whiteness, snaking across the land with still canal waters was a comfort, life felt quieted and I wished for once that I might remain there for just a little longer than my travail would ever allow.  Someone has to push the wheel.

Regular readers will know that like many folk, the Major often veers from a straight thinking track.  This week, like many was, one of those.  Something innocuous troubled me and an anxiety so acute, it felt like an insect, buried deeply, gnawing away.

I could never claim that I have suffered the full face of depression or anxiety but I do sometimes feel like these illnesses brush my cheek.  Of the two, I would guess, in my naivety, that depression is the more comfortable, dangerously so.  An apathy and a darkness but one that lacks the horrid chemical urgency of an anxious mind.

My issue passed as easily as it had arrived, like the fog it lifted and new things occupied my thoughts, new space was created, a fresh canvas.

For a reason that is foreign to me, I am starting to look greatly towards Christmas with a fondness I have not previously felt for the season.   Call me Scrooge but Christmas was something that was a distasteful noise until 23rd December when I might start entering the spirit of the thing.  This year, I am already committing valuable brain time as to what I might prepare for the table and how the Major’s two sons might be wowed by their morning.  My heart is maudlin for those who have less and I am wondering what has happened to me, the me I know, the one that was dead on the inside.

Don’t think this is improvement, I am not sure what these signals mean am I have not settled yet on how I feel about them.

Enough of this self-reflection.  I do not wish to be a terrible bore to you.

That Chesterfield Canal is a lovely stretch.  It runs to the Trent and was used back in the day to run iron and coal from Derbyshire to the Trent and then the Humber.  The canal also ferried most of the stone used to build the current Houses of Parliament which was quarried just a few miles from my office and thus passed just a few miles from my house, 175 odd years prior.

Never enough time.  Running out on me.  I have to organise a stag do for @frankelslobro.  I have to write a 15,000 word dissertation to complete my MBA studies.  I have a business to run and a family.  In amongst it, there is little time to think.  The maelstrom whirls around and around, I find myself washed up here agin, the weekend upon me, the fire roaring and the supermarket shiraz (I didn’t feel I deserved better) slipping down.

I don’t have the simplicity that the great military leaders enjoy.  The certainty and fortitude required to act with the confidence not that you thought you were right but that you knew you were.  The sort of arrogance that would expect God to rise and greet you to the dinner table.

It won Trafalgar for Nelson and allowed Wellington to galavant across Spain and Portugal.  I am a ditherer, I want the analysis and I will change my mind.

In the case of the latter, his self-absorbed hubris was not beyond observing the same in others.  He said of Napoleon that his nemesis had the equivalent effect of adding 40,000 troops to the theatre.

The system of war is corrupt without a simple truth.  The person who has to break a moral code and conduct some violent action can only do so with a faith, remorselessly trained into them, in those people who supply the orders or at least the system, the hierarchy that does.  Likewise, the person giving the order can only do so, knowing they do not ultimately carry it through.

If there is one thing in our modern politic that I dislike, it is the rise of the moral perfectionist, the idea that the ideal is attainable.  Not that I am against the dreamers, I am one myself.  I am against those that still the true nature of the world under a deception that no ill is necessary.  Nothing will be perfect, get used to it.  Terrible difficult decisions have to be made.

Wellington said a whole number of things.  He called his men scum, drunks and suggested that as many signed up because of their bastard children as did those with a romantic draw to war.  His singlemindedness can be heard in some of his quotes too.  He said;

I shall see no officer under my command is debarred ….  from attending to his first duty, which is and always has been to train the private men under his command that they may without question beat any force opposed to them in the field.

and on his great victory at Waterloo…

It has been a damned serious business – Blücher and I have lost 30,000 men. It has been a damned nice thing – the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life…By God! I don’t think it would have done if I had not been there.

Arrogance does not quite cut it.

To the sports.

Betfair Chase Day

Six go to post in the big one and it is a quality field although it is a shame we have lost Menorah.

We have a French raider which is an oddity but in the form, there is nothing to shout about.

After that, five quality British sorts.  Double King George winner Silviniaco Conti; Grade 2 hurdler and impressive listed chase debutante Seeyouatmidnight; Champion Bumper, King George Winner and two-time Betfair Chase winner, Cue Card; Irish Cavalier, who defeated Cue Card and Menorah in an already busy season (his fourth race) and finally, novice Gold Cup winner Coneygree.


Irish Cavalier gets my line.  I like him but I am not sure the soft conditions are going to be ideal.  He is versatile but this will go to a ‘toe in the ground’ pro.

Cue Card just faded in the Charlie Hall.  I have never been the biggest fan of Cue Card, a little like Hurricane Fly, it has cost me dearly many times!  He strikes me as the sort that will do well in his senior years and he is getting there, he will run the Gold Cup as an 11-year-old this season.  It is tight, but at 13/8 I have to say, no.  That said, he has been so consistent that a fading effort at Wetherby can hardly be the evidence on which to retire him can it!

Christ, what will we see of Coneygree?  If he is back to form, he wins, that is my view.  It is just a big if.  You might argue 2/1 bakes that in but does it?  Against this lot?  Yet, he is unbeaten after five goes over the big obstacles but he needs to be tuned up and after a period on the sidelines, who knows.

Conti, paired with Fehily, my favourite of jump jockeys is enticing at the price.  8/1 is plenty generous for a horse that has shown plenty of class but has a good share of critics.

I write as I think.  The head is swaying towards Cue Card, the more obvious sort.  The gambling instinct in me wants to play Coneygree and how sweet that would be, to hold the winning ticket as he swoops through.  There is a value itch for Silvi and Seeyouatmidnight is exactly the unfashionable under-rated sort I often play too.

I am going to back the second best horse in the race, the favourite, Cue Card.  15/8 Paddy Power.  In the end, I hope he wins too.  As much as I love undefeated sorts, Coneygree will be defeated.  There is not really the option of being undefeated in the sorts of races he runs in.  Coneygree has the opportunity of securing a great feat ahead.  Maybe the second horse to regain a Gold Cup.  Yet in the Betfair, Cue Card can cement his own name by securing his third win in the race, surely that is worth cheering on.

If I had to make the forecast, I’d say Coneygree to beat Silviniaco Conti.

Coral Hurdle Tip – Ascot

Only five rock up for this Grade 2 so all runners will pick up a minimum of £2.5k, not bad for fifth.

Anyway the winner will be Yanworth who is incredibly available at evens.  Tasty.  I enjoyed seeing this horse last year and feel JP has a good one here.  The course Barry charted in the Neptune seemed to think Yanworth wanted a lap of Gloucester Cathedral and still he almost beat Yorkhill.  I have always been a Garde La Victoire fan but am not a fan of horses campaigned over fences and hurdles in a zig zag pattern, no thank you.

Yanworth – Order up the good steaks.

Something Else for the Weekend Sir?

So far, I have offered you a 15/8 fav / joint fav and an evens shot.  Ouch.  Well, few of you come for any info, you are all here to imbibe in my poor state and read an opinion on the racing, a diseased opinion.

Haydock 1.15pm – Mysteree is a very interesting runner.  Michael Scudamore does not get many very good horses and when he does, he campaigns them smartly.  There is a bit of me thus, that thinks, that this horse might have a day marked up later in the season but money tomorrow would be informative.  Scu sends plenty up north but not that many to Haydock and Richard Johnson is an interesting booking (5th booking in two years, no wins in that time).

Chase the Spud would have been my pick because the yard form is solid and the horse is match fit.

Again, it is a classic, head v heart encounter.  Mysteree… has the nod.

In the football… I’d have Stoke to beat Bournemouth at 5/4.

I hope your dinner is taken in good company.  Mine will be.  Old friends, good curry, more wine that the doctor would say is right.

Courage, roll the dice.

Saturday Sermon – Paddy Power (or BetVictor) Gold Cup Day

Good evening from the Major who writes from a slightly hazy but still crisp aired Nottinghamshire with the moon filtered through a wispy layer of condensation suspended silently, covering me from the empty blackness, silence and cold depths of the nether.  It is out there though, always.

The moon is close to the Earth in the next 48 hours, a perigee.  Due to the oscillations of orbit, the timing of our marbles rolling round our solar system, the moon was last this close in 1948.  All this means for you is that is about 10% bigger than usual.

The Major slips through another week.  Some week too.  Trump.

Firstly let me lance the boil.  I tweeted that not only was a 40% profit on Clinton the finest bet you might find, I added that you should contact your money holders to free up capital for investment.  My fingers are burned but this is not the worst injury, the degradation to my pride is near complete.

My humbleness is fortified by a personal reduction in wealth…. Mock me greatly but remember, I paid a capital price for my error.

What a shock too.  Let me make no bones about it, Trump is a pretty ungentlemanly sort to run the US Government.  As an observer I would say he is equal in parts stupid and the same obnoxious.

Regular readers will know that the Major is not a particularly proud individual.  I confess my sins and I know that they do not reflect well on my soul.  As such, you can be reassured that any scrutiny I apply to myself, however accurate, is at least honest.

As a midnight owl sort, I have found myself watching some pretty poor TV over the years.  At times, I have strayed into watching the American version of the Apprentice.  Goodness me.  It was a hard watch.  C-list celebrities going through stage-managed tasks and culminating in The Donald pontificating across the boardroom.

So often, his direct speech to people reverted to their looks.  You could not watch him without concluding that he is horrible.  He is.  Subsequent footage of him and allegations against hims are entirely predictable.  I also disagree with his politics and I say this as a centre right-minded liberal (in the proper use of the word, rather than the Farron abuse of it).  Trump is a protectionist, I am in favour of open markets.

I could never have voted for him.  That and my losses I have to put aside to a dark point of history.

Incredibly, to my mind, he garnered enough support to get him to the White House.

Enough has been said publicly to analyse the anguish the ‘mainstream’ feels about their loss of the public confidence.  Some blame the majority that voted for him (as per Brexit), some believe that his core vote was lied to (as per Brexit) and few reflect on a growing disdain for folk being preached to.

When Michael Gove said that Britain had suffered enough of experts, he was derided.  ‘Experts’ felt their intelligence impinged and the trend setters felt their fact bases core strength eroded.  Yet, Gove was taping into something.  You cannot blame him for identifying it, whether you like the thing or not.

We are falling out of love with the ‘facts’, in so much as they are presented.  Consider the markets.  At the off, they were certainties that… the Tories could not win a majority, we would remain and that Clinton would win.  Are pollsters asking the wrong questions, the wrong people or are folk not willing to reveal heir thoughts as willingly?

I do not know.  What I would offer is this. The drama is overplayed.  When I see a child under 7 years of age proffering distress at the outcome of an election on social media, my eyes thin and I consider the parenting.  When I see anguished young people gnashing their teeth and wringing their hands, I wonder how we won wars.

I cannot criticise the people in a functioning democracy for the choice they made.  No matter how incompatible with my own thoughts.  It is called being an adult.  Get over it, people think different things.

My own experience of the election night was something else.  I drifted into the wee hours sober and wide-eyed.  Even when I put my head to pillow, my mind was racing with the then inevitable surprise that most of Britain was to wake up to in shock.

Winter arrived this week.  Darkness, cold.  My favourite season.

I drove home through this bleakness, the road became a lonely place in the lanes between my office and the home-place.  A rain slicked road under a canopy of darkened oak, a light fog… my mind wandering as it will.  I felt I was sliding down the road, like it was a tunnel, quiet and for a moment, I was lost until my heart quickened under the danger of throwing half a tonne of metal out of control and my concentration snapped into action.

I have a good wife.  I rarely mention her but I am lucky that she puts up with me.  I hope that so many years (16) make us immune to the wilds of youth and I think it does.  I have not always been a good man, neither do I want to explore all her errors too.  We can grow old like this too and the thing is, we know each other, we are with each other knowing it.

There is a lot to be said for familiarity too.  We spin round once on the ride of life.  I will forgive a few thrills and spills to gaze into the eyes of a friend at the end.

I hope you have what you want, whether it be the same or the opposite.

To the sports.


You might be hesitant about a man who proffered such strong misguided advice about the American election.  I’d support that view.

However, there is a case for the defence.  My start to the National Hunt season has been much more respectable.  We are at Cheltenham too and I always play my hand well there…

The opening Triumph Hurdle trial is always a nice race.  Many of the horses never go on to the greatest NH heights, as many Triumph winners do wilt on the vine, not being proper NH bred sorts.  There was a sense of a chance in direction when Alan King sent out Katchit and then Franchoek to win in 06 and 07.  The former was a tough Champion Hurdle winner and the latter threatened to be good too but drifted wildly.

You cannot trust these juveniles to go on to the big careers, not in the way a darn fine points winner might.

Anyway… After a slow start, Hobbs is warming up and Defi du Seuil fit s the bill for me.  The Nicholls french import is a massive risk but our boy has already won well over hurdles in the UK and has a win on decent ground under his belt.  Invest 2/1.

Thistlecrack should win but 1/6 is a never a price to take about a novice chaser no matter what their hurdle exploits.  That said, Thistlecrack looked mighty professional at Chepstow.  No bet.

The staying handicap chases are a minefield early in the season.  Ground changes will swing form but more than that, some of these horses will be on a path to the national and so it is a race in which I want is a trier.

I like Beg to Differ but am not feeling that one will be wound up.  I like both the McManus horses and am settling on Minella Rocco, 13/2  who I think might have a big hand in these staying chases.  That said, I would not put you off Upswing either so… takes your pick!

I know what you are thinking.  Taquin Du Seuil, an irresistible pill.

You can keep More of That, wind op’s often are a sign of better to come, I am not sure that this World Hurdle winner will come good again.  That said, he put Annie in her place in that race and that is strictly a fine line of form!

My pick is Frodon at 7/1.  It is an unlikely pick a he is stepping up from small novice fields into big boy company.  However, he has performed so well at that lower level that maybe this mark is well within reach.  We shall see.

That is it for me.

I am so tired.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon… What a Saturday… The Kauto Star JNWine Chase (as named by the Major), the Elite Hurdle and some American All Weather

Good evening from the Major who writes from a Nottinghamshire night as clear as creation.  Crisp cold air stings the ears.  I drove home with the car window down, embracing my favourite season.  The land, largely flat, occasionally rolls away,the aftermath of some great impact rippling to the horizon.  Yet, it is rare that you cannot see for several miles, these undulations being modest and sweeping.  Tonight, great fires dotted the landscape,, sometimes miles in the distance, the flames leaping in slow motion, not so much less dramatic but perhaps less violent than close up.

After a fine week of punting, I drew a fair blank with my picks at Newcastle and Down Royal on Fridays blog.  There were occasional brighter moments but overall, the selections ran badly.  Alas, form is temporary, mediocre punting is for life.

I must say I was very moved by the awful news coming from Tooting that the injuries that young Freddy Tylicki suffered have proved terribly life changing.  The initial reports of jockeys visiting Freddy and speaking to him, the description of ‘comfortable’ all led to a false sense of optimism that after some long spell on the sidelines, he would return to the saddle.  It is not uncommon after all.  Most of my favourite jockeys have suffered an injury at some point or other that has kept them off the track, broken bones become a badge of honour, part of our enjoyment is understanding the courage and toughness of those that compete.

As a side note to this awful incident, with a pained ankle, Ted Durcan hobbled back from the scene of the accident to the weighing in room because he thought that Crowley and Tylicki had greater needs of the medical professionals.  Ted’s ankle later turned out to be broken.  A minor detail now but one that serves to remind us that bravado is part of the intoxicating mix.

I raise this not because this incident should pass by as just part of the rough and tumble, no, no.  I raise it because the excitement we get, the thrills and spills, has a cost.  We lose horses which is bad enough, but then, far worse, infrequently, our jockeys suffer appalling injuries.

Freddy was a champion apprentice and I was hugely impressed with him in that year.  He won the championship on the last day, with his rival, Probert, suspended.  He thoughtfully gave his trophy to the family of Jamie Kyne, the young apprentice working at Quinns who died in a fire in Malton alongside Jan Wilson, another young jockey.  A man still resides in prison for starting that fire, what a world.

Since that auspicious start, Freddy has pulled double-digit win percentages in every year and this year finally got his Group One, travelling to France on Fanshawe’s Speedy Boarding, winning first the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville and following up with a second G1, the Prix de l’Opera on Arc day.

The very best jockeys are richly rewarded.  Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori while taking the exact same risks, fly around the world first class and enjoy the trappings of being at the top of their sport globally.  Sliding down the scale, you reach the jockeys we rely on to turn up at Hexham, Brighton and Dundalk.  I am sure the issue of injury carries a heavier burden amongst those men and women.

Freddy was on the up, it has been cut short in the blink of an eye.

He lies in a hospital bed tonight with no feeling or movement below his waist.  I cannot imagine where you start to reconstruct your life from there.  Casting aside all of the conscious and sub-conscious ambitions you held.  Seeing that the things you previously aspired to, no longer apply.  Having to find a new worth, a new path and not becoming lost, panging for your old one.  I am not sure I could.

Yet, I must be careful not to apply gto this situation a mawkishness which I always dislike in others.  In the end, wallowing in the sentiment is of no practical value.  Of course compassion is natural.  Like criticism, we sometimes amplify it because we are scared that the victim of circumstance or the perpetrator of some act, could well have been us.

What is more, to assign too much coddling to a fine sportsman is to do Freddy a disservice.  If I met him now, of course I would express my strong sympathies.  I know myself I’d be scared in his position.  Yet, I should not assume how he might react.  I can imagine he might see his injury as his new challenge, something to be defeated, no matter what that might mean.

Thankfully, Freddy is in fine hands.  As well as the intensive care team, the IJF will be kicking in with their support birth in respect of care and if necessary, financial support too.  In that despair and confusion, what saints those folk must be.

I won’t preach that we owe jockeys a moral duty.  As a man of liberty, I believe in our agency and such duties cannot be forced.  We cannot help but feel that compassion though and we are linked to this mans injuries.  We consume the entertainment of the battles that he and his colleagues provide.  The same debt we felt for JT McNamara ‘King of the Cross Country’ who succumbed to his injuries this year.

By texting IJF to 70800, you can donate £5 to the Injured Jockey Fund.  Even better, by visiting this page, you could set that up as a regular £5 donation, once a month.  One bet less.

Anyway, to the sports.  Wishing you all good health.

Down Royal JN Wine Tips

A proper card at Down Royal and memories always stir of Kauto who so often used this race as his springing board, it became a pleasurable marker in the year.

I want to take on Bel Ami de Sivola in the 1.25 who I cannot justify an odds on figure, though Meade has started the season pretty well.  My pick is a British raider.  Ian Williams has sent the box over for London Prize.  My pick has won on good and good to firm ground and gets the conditions here.  Being a previous inmate of John Ferguson, you know exactly the sort you are getting.  It is a tasty maiden hurdle.

Straight to the 2.35, the JN Wine Champion Chase.  Regular readers will know that Don Poli is one of my favourites.  I think he has been mishandled at times and the run he was given in the Gold Cup was not the finest use of him, he still managed to place though.  Yes he is one paced, but that is the point of the staying division!  Those that plug on when others have cried enough.  Anyway, 5/1 is no as insane as some of those that cry ‘BOAT!’ would have you believe.  Yes, even 3m looks sharp but… Don Poli is just 7, hard to reconcile I know, what is more, DP loves better ground and is the most certain horse in the line up to get it.

Valseur Lido is no mug but on first appearance for de Bromhead but gets the line from me because of the ground, this is one that I am sure needs winter to soften the earth.  de Bromheads other runner, Sadlers Wells is not to be dismissed at a generous 12/1 either.  At the bigger prices I also like Monksland as an each way punt.  Fitness is a boost and if you are not sniffy about the form of his placed efforts, he is entitled to run to a place.  That is half the field I like when you count the obvious chances of Conti!

For the winner, I have to focus between the romance of Don Poli and the practicality of Silviniaco Conti.  After all, with 7 runners, this is no longer an each way race.  I am playing Don Poli at 5/1 and you can chuckle at my foolishness later.  You knew I would, didn’t you.

The Titanic Belfast Chase!  3.05pm.  What a name for a race.

Le Mercurey seemed to go off the boil last season, even though he beat a disappointing Bristol de Mai at Aintree, his RSA run was not what was on the script.  Nicholls has won this race so many times and with horses that were never quite destined for the top.  Remember Kauto Stone or Cristal Bonus or The Nightingale?

I don’t know.

Ground has played a big influence in my picks at Down Royal and quite right too.  It is a big factor and the results today may not be reflected in the heavy conditions we are yet to get to.  It is the first time we have had good ground for this meeting in ten years and I am noting the conditions strongly.

Sub Lieutenant goes on the ground, represents a yard in form and has already shown us he is in fine fettle.  11/4, he carries the Majors’ penalty.

Wincanton – Elite Hurdle Tip

Over the Irish Sea, the most valuable race of the day is the Elite hurdle at Wincanton.

Sceau Royal is favourite and quite right too after a visually very impressive opening to his campaign at Cheltenham.  Leoncavallo was quite fancied that day too but he was dismissed by the Alan King runner who put some late season flops (yard was in a slump) well behind him to storm home.    I have to say that 6/4 from Coral is an absolute steal.  If there are some of you out there who some here for the racing advice and feel that you want 16/1 and 33/1 tips, well it is not that sort of missive.

Each week, thoughts spill out and I do not see this as a tipping service, more as a journal of madness that one day doctors and criminal historians might dwell over.  I cannot help how I feel.  The computations of my mind are laid out honestly for you.

Is is profitable?  Well, yes, but mildly.  Each time I have recorded (it is onerous and not my style), I have made modest 10% profits over time.  This will not make you rich.

Breeders Cup Tips


Say what you will but the Breeders Cup has the edge for me of all the great world meetings.  It is a proper international affair and produces some incredible drama.

I love seeing the European raiders head over and yes, doesn’t it feel good when one of ours pokes the eye of an over-hyped Yankee Lasix addict!

In the Filly and Mare turf race, I am betting that they go off at some eye watering clip and the Stoute trained, Queens horse, Queens Trust, can benefit from being towed in with her high cruising speed coming to the fore.  That would be some story itself in a race that threatens to overflow with emotion.  We are lucky to still have the favourite in the market, Lady Eli, with us after she suffered a life threatening illness.  To come back to the highest level is an incredible tale and there might be a tear shed if she comes home.  My preferred story is that of the Queen winning at Santa Anita though.  The trainer does target this race and Queens Trust is exactly the sort to benefit from a bit of the crazy juice.

My next bet on a raider will be Limato in the Breeders Cup Mile.  As long as the horse can adapt to Lasix and a left hand track (I am putting myself off a bit), I am confident in the ability.  I love Limato, such a stylish sort and 7/2 (Bet365) should be bought with a reckless abandon.

I will be up at half past midnight to watch California Chrome.  Sheep like I will bet and follow that one all the way to glory!  Could be a rousing finish in the witching hour to a splendid card.

Courage friends, roll the dice.

Friday Racing Tips – Newcastle and Down Royal

Good evening from the Major who writes from a Nottinghamshire night where the air lies heavy, smoky chimneys adding to the moist cool spore heavy air, we are deep in the mossy autumn and as doors are shut to the cooling winds, the Major feels alive with the possibilities of the early National Hunt season.

Posting on a Thursday night Major? Well yes.  My mind wanders as it will and I am enjoying getting back into the swing of surgically opening my scalp, drilling through the skull to release the pressure as they used to will ill minded folk.

Also, I was asked and I am a sucker for a request.

The issue is, I was asked for a cursory review of the Newcastle card while there is a decent Warwick card, a perfectly acceptable Fontwell one, some less palatable stuff at Hexham (a track at which I am cursed, beyond the help of Brian Hughes) but a darn reasonable Down Royal effort for a Friday.  Of course, that is because Saturday brings JN Wine Champion Chase day, or as it should be called and will be forever associated with us National Hunt sorts, the Kauto Star Seasonal Opener Chase.

I lit the fire tonight, a cool beer is on hand and some peace is threatening to break out.  The fire lighting was touch and go.  I have a large stack of logs delivered for the winter but in my new abode, foolishly, I arranged that before identifying how I was to store them.  As such, an ugly tarpaulin does it’s poor best to keep the water out but is marginally effective.

On top of a slight dampness, I had no kindling.  Not normally a problem as my sharp axe can go to work splitting some logs and I could make my own.  That is, if I could find the axe.  So, with a hammer and some sort of sharp bludgeoning driver that rests in the bottom of my tool case for ugly work, I set about paring bark from the wood and then used my own patented twisted paper and kindling start.  At first it was not hopeful, the first reluctant deep orange flames produced a smoke slowly that rather than rising, coolly pools in the hearth.  Soon though, with a little gentle encouragement, the flame reared and natures destructive will was irresistible again.  The Major’s bottle of red, now glints enticing a pleasing orange flame, dancing on the neck.

To the sports.

Newcastle Tips on a Friday

I have had a blinding betting week.  I after-timed a tweet with four from four winners which netted me £350 from a £15 play but that followed greater wins, spoils dripping from the bookmakers satchel.

As the investment adverts will tell you.  The value derived from your investments may go down as well as up.  What is more, I have done something rather benign and sensible for me.  I have withdrawn the bag of sand and paid for Christmas.  I know what you are thinking, what an arsehole.  Guilty.

Anyway, I will look across the Newcastle card.  Then I will get to the more serious business.   I do not mean that as a criticism of taking a day at Newcastle.  I am sure that @Shepster4945 and his entourage will have a fulfilling day and each experience, there lies merit to be found.

There are a few races on the card that fit the bill of unsolvable.  The first is not far off.  In the face of no real certainties, I feel a little tickle on Linganno Felice at 12/1 because he has McDonald up top who I don’t mind and frankly, I’m struggling to find good reasons to back any.

The second is a poor affair and way to bad to have an overnight 4/6 favourite that has not won a race and whose debut performance is starting to look seriously over-rated.

Huddersfilly Town has been backed in from 12s to 6s and while the yard are not renowned for winners, especially the juvenile sort, money does talk.  How much money it requires to move a horse in such a race is debatable but this must be some sign of faith.

I am going to play Oberyn though, who has found a weak race for debut.  There are winners in the family and some 9/2 is available if you shop around.

In the third, maybe the application of blinkers to Lilvanita might make the difference.  If there is money, I’d be very wary of this Ellison horse.  The massive odds on favourite would be entitled to win one earliest form but again, the evidence that this will be produced tomorrow is thin.  Sod it, I’m going to take the big prices about Lilvanita and hope the money falls like rain.  9/1 available.

In the 5.20, I want to be on the right side of Rosy Ryan who deserves to come on lots for the reappearance after injury.  If bouncing back to last summers form, 6/1 would be a fine price.  The support for the mare this evening looks telling too, all aboard.

I am jumping a race and opting for the Fahey raider Miss Van Gogh at 7/1 (William Hill) in the 6.20.  Dutch Art horses can be a bit hit and miss on the all-weather and that is a concern as we have not seen this one on an artificial surface yet but that is very much priced into 7/1 and I would have a generous slice.

Those are my five for Newcastle.  It was hard work finding them and I am going to back them with the fervour of a comatose sloth.

The Milan bred Monbeg Notorious looks an excellent bet in the first at Down Royal at 11/10.  It doesn’t sound like much fun but I think the Noel Meade horse and the other Elliot horse are there just keeping the price honest.  Some markets are already odds on and I predict, it will run off at 4/6.  Walsh to steer, go collect.  You might critique my short price selection but consider that it takes nerve to tip it too, I am staking my reputation that 11/10 is too big.

I am sticking with Gigginstown and Elliot with Shattered Love in the second at 9/4.  The Mullins sure thing is stepping up again and if anything, I’m only tempted away by the de Bromhead 25/1 Little Folke who has shown fighting qualities.  We get a bit carried away with the sauntering cantering half a furlong winners, thinking each one will grace Cheltenham with a win in March and forget that our sport equally belongs in the equine mind, some are tougher than others and 25/1 is a bit dismissive.  Shattered Love it is but I will have a saver.

Of course Apples Jade wins!  Not much fun in 1/3, let alone the 1/5 it will set off at!

In the 3pm, I would much rather be on the seemingly second Gigginstown string, Be My Hero at 4/1.  Granted A Toi Phil has shown some classy form but it needs the summer off to have restored that because (although it was the top-level), his festival efforts were poor.  My pick has the breeding of a NH sort.

Nina Carberry in the bumper, Joey Salsa, 2/1.

Courage, roll the dice.