Good evening from the Major who writes from the middle of the night for the first time in two years. I walked tonight in the flatlands on North Nottinghamshire and truly enjoyed a beautiful sunset. The light dancing on the Chesterfield Canal was pink and the framing was perfect for our pair of striking swans, so perfectly white.
Typing these words after two years feels a little foreign. You will forgive me for keeping this rather brief. I did have a confession for you but I think that might wait for another day. Not the type of confession I’d expect you to smitrk about either, no, not skullduggery, rather something that felt tasteless.
In this hiatus, I have managed to follow some racing but have certainly not been as on it as I once was. Not that a downturn in study is likely to have much impact on the results, they were not that good to start with. Let’s be honest, it is not what you come for.
What dark days we have. I have close ones that are genuinely worried about what will happen with this conflict. I am one of lifes worriers myself but oddly never about matters like this. Still, the imagery and the horror is something that will come to me in these dark hours. No wonder tens of thousands are signing up to offer accommodation.
I am not at Cheltenham this week. I am applying myself rather responsibly to my work. I have though about downing tools and heading down on an impulse but in honesty I can’t make tomorrow and I’ll be honest, Tuesday is obviously the best day! I actually think it is one of the most open Tuesdays in years. Some Champion Hurdle days in the last decade have had a number of absolute sitters. This year, the key races seem to have a number of classy viable options, with Honeysuckle looking the obvious banker. Let’s see how we do.
If I can, I will write another sermon or two this week. Keeping it brief will help motivate me for now. However, I do want to thank you for reading and thank those that message me at this time each year.
Courage, roll the dice.
Champion Hurdle Day Tips
1.30pm The Supreme
What an absolute banger of a start! This is a good a Supreme field as I can remember. Now in saying that, we only truly find out in the years to come but it looks a field of stars that will fuel our national hunt stories for years to come. Rivalries are there to be made.
Five of the last ten Supremes have gone to Willie Mullins and when you look at Dysart Dynamo and the striking form, you might have expected him to be odds on. The fact he is not is a reflection of the substance to the race.
Nicky Henderson has won a couple of supremes in recent memory with stable stars such as Shiskin and Altior, Constitution Hill has looked absolutely fantastic in his races, tearing apart some half decent feels. Now I know the Irish have had the upper hand in recent years but some of those wins did look mighty good. Jonbon has incredibly for some gone out of fashion, that horse has done nothing wrong but the buzz has not gone his way.
then we have Kilcruit. When he and Sir Gerhard fought out their champion bumper, it looked certain that both would be booked for future grade 1 success. Kilcruits price is lengthened by two poor efforts by his expected standard in December. If he had missed those races and simply won his maiden (which he did in fine style) you might expect it to be a bit harder to decide on jockey bookings in the Mullins yard. If there are doubts, at least he looks like he is going the right way again. A contender in my book.
Mighty Potter is a very interesting runner too. What I like about this one is that he looks like a confirmed stayer. It sounds perverse but you need that in a Supreme, it is always run at breakneck pace and you want a horse that can keep kicking up that hill.
The Supreme is normally a race I do well in. In fact, it is normally one I have formed a strong opinon about. It is always a little nervy going heavily in on race one of day one but for me it has been a race I’ve had a feel for. This year, I cannot feel the same. These horses have excellent credentials. By very cagey elimination, Kilcruit is the one I’d not want to be too heavily into, even at the odds.
As much as Willie Mullins record is very hard to get away from, I’ll go with the horse that made me draw breath. Constitution Hill for small stakes at 5/2.
2.10 pm The Arkle
I have been a fan of Blue Lord this season and have backed him on a couple of victories. That said, I am finding it harder to be overly optimistic about his chances in this. That Irish Arkel was a fascinating race. Over the last it looked to me like Riviere D’Etel might have the better of Blue Lord and the pair wandered around all over the shop on the run in. Blue Lord looked like he was going to throw it away on the run in. Supporters of his will maybe conclude that he was idling but I am not so sure. The horse I found even more interesting from that race is Saint Sam. He does not look a very big horse but he travels well and might have been involved himself if he had not smacked a couple of fences.
Riviere is potentially the most upwardly mobile of the three at 5 years old (I am sure they used to get an age allowance for that some years ago?) and she gets a handy 7lbs mares allowance.
Edwardstone is the great British hope. I am not sure the form is as strong as the Irish contenders but there was a lot to like about his styles of victory. Probably not one for me.
The one I am playing though is Haut En Coleurs at 7/1. This horse did very well in the circumstances to place in a triumph and while young and lacking experience is surely made for chasing. I think it might be the one to suprise the market leaders.
2.50 pm Ultima Handicap
For all the dominance that Irish handicappers have had over the British, the Ultima has been one race where the home team have snucka few good ones in.
While the money has been flying in for Tea Clipper (and I have a slice or two of that one) I want to find a home horse that fits my profile. I do like the look of the horse whose name was slipped past the authorities, Fantastikas, He looks a trier and is in good hands. Plus the commentator can have good fun there.
However, the one that truly stands out for me is Oscar Elite at 20/1 who admittedly has found little form this season. Though excuses can be made for a couple of efforts and the Albert Bartlett form entitles this horse to be much better than this mark. We might know our fate early but if he can get into a rhythm, we might have a decent run for the price.
I also would not put anyone off Ben Dundee who while not prolific has very decent form and the stable have been bullish. Oscar Elite for me.
3.30 The Champion Hurdle
What a horse Honeysuckle has been. She did me proud last year and who can deny that the 8/13 is not fully deserved in Tuesdays championship race.
This might be a race to look for an each way steal though. Mainly because who knows how Appreciate It will run. There is no doubt it is one super talented horse but turning up for your seasonal debut at Cheltenham is a tough old ask.
The two that to me look compelling options at bigger prices are Zanahiyr at 20/1 and Teahupoo at 10/1. The former had perfectly good juvenile form and I think that price is rather tasty! However, Teahupoo appeals on a few extra levels. For one, he is in very good hands, he has won very well in some testing conditions and while he won’t have that ground tomorrow, it proves he has some steel. Finally, remember we are racing on the old course on these first few days, it suits a front runner, while that hill does often sort the wheat from the chaff, the run in is not that long and so a strong travelling runner has a decent advantage. Teahupoo likes to lead, let’s see who can catch him.
Whichever way you cut it, looks like an Irish 1-2-3 to me.
Bed is calling so I am giving you the short versions of the last three!
4.10pm The Mares Hurdle – My money will be carried by Burning Victory who is entitled to improve again. the mareas at the top of the market do not look rock solid to me (although the most appealing at shorter prices is Stormy Ireland). I am going for the less fancied stablemate. Her jumping needs to be spot on but I think we might get a good spin at 9/1.
4.50pm The Fred Winter – It seems so obvious that Mullins good thing will hose up in the Fred Winter but can you take 5/2 about a horse he hasn’t raced yet? The answer is probably yes but instead I am going to play Rachael Blackmores ride on Champion Green at 12/1. As with all of these, the question is one of how much improvement there is to come. Small stakes, dangers everywhere.
5.30pm The National Hunt Chase – Why are there so few runners for this renewal? God knows. Anyway, you know what to do. Jamie Codd brings home the cheese. Run Wild Fred at 7/4 is my NAP of the day!
May your pockets overflow more than your glass. I wish you all well.