Tag Archives: aiken

The Saturday Sermon – Ascot Champions Day Tips | Cheltenham and a bit of football… Shabash

Good evening from the Major who writes, weary and happy, settling into the weekend, like a well worn glove.  It is late, very late, the Worcestershire scene tonight is dank, driving home, orange streetlights in the distance flickered, seemingly to fizzing and humming in the wet like a live wire gently caressing the damp earth.

I have been out with colleagues and friends this evening eating a thoroughly average meal but in such damn fine raucous company that the cuisine was merely a distraction.  Laughs so deep and primal, deep within, they are fine for the soul and in the company of good people, well… Ah, All is well in the world.

I remain on the cusp of exhaustion, as I write I hear the patter of rain against window glass and it sounds like tiny fingers tapping a rhythm.  I know I am warm and I know out there in the darkness, there are things moving.

I love the winter and it is coming to us now.   Even recently, while  deep into Autumn, the late days of summer held on dearly but now, things are changing.  The rain that kisses you now is cold and taking a morning walk, toes feel numb, fingers tingle.  Summer has had its time at the front, running freely, wild times of chaos.  Now is nearly the time for winter, climbing the hill relentlessly, coming home on a tight rein and the Major is pleased.

I have enjoyed the flat season immensely this summer.  While the classic crop was an average bunch, there were some great memories of which my favourites were Dawn Approach and Toranado going to battle, Talent fighting for her head and still finishing like a train in the Oaks and… momentarily the triumphant victory of War Command in the Coventry, to name but a few.

Yet, todays racing at Cheltenham has reminded me that the flat season is always the poorer cousin to the Majors real passion, National Hunt.  I think the reason I prefer it is the longevity of the horses.  It allows for much greater stories to develop.  Horses that start in bumpers, transcend to hurdling and become novice chasers before joining the staying chaser ranks and those glorious old servants that win ten years after their bumper dreams.  They become like old friends.

Today’s cards offer the perfect handover from flat to the jumps season.  Yes, we still have a few big days to come, particularly the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster but the Ascot Champions Day is a perfect climax to the summer contests and the first days of the Cheltenham season whet the appetite for the narrative untold.  Be still my friends, it is our season.  To the sports..

Ascot – Champions Day Card

There has been a real fuss over Champions Day and the prospect of moving key Newmarket races next year to create Future Champions Day.  In all honestly, it strikes me that a lot of the antipathy is simple resistance to change.  After all, why not try it and if it does not work, we can go back!  This is a superb card, FIVE group ones, we are spoilt.

One criticism of the timing of the card is that it is likely to have high-profile defections due to winterish ground.  That is true of tomorrow but you either have an end of season finale of you do not.  We definitely need some soft ground horses tomorrow…

In the opener, the horses that I think will go well on the going are Estimate, Harris Tweed, Biographer, Aiken, Pale Mimosa and Eye of the Storm.

Aiken ran well in this last year and likes it soft under foot but I am not convinced he is good enough.  The Queens horse Estimate must rate a huge danger to all having won all of her Ascot starts but I just fancy the chances of Eye of the Storm, 7/1, who won a listed contest latest and has a valuable weight-for-age allowance.  He is a smart colt who needs to up his game again but well could do that with plenty progressive profile and the Ballydoyle machine is purring again.  Pale Mimosa is no 14/1 shot either and I also like the favourite a lot so it shall be small stakes.

The Champion Sprint Stake is one of these top class races that could typically go to any of the protagonists.  Maarek was good when winning the Prix Abbaye and loves it soft but the home team has such a candidate too in Jack Dexter who the dogs have been barking for all week down from 12s into 4s overnight.  I have to say that it is hugely attractive, Jack Dexter has won 6 from 6 on soft or worse.  Yet I am loathed to support either at the prices and instead opt for 13/2 shot Viztoria who also has an unblemished record on soft ground (although only 2 races).  It is a concern that man of the moment Johnny Murtagh is not aboard the girl but I think this is his inability to do the weight rather than him feeling he has a better shot with Belmont Mast.

Regular readers will know what is coming next.

At 2.55, in a corner of Berkshire…. TALENT WILL WIN THE CHAMPIONS FILLIES AND MARES STAKES.  Get stuck in at 7/2 and thank me later.  She should have won the Leger (OK a bit stretched) and I would have like to have seen her in the Arc (next year) and she has nothing to fear here, I shall pray that she settles.  The Lark and the German horse Nymphea may be the closest to looking at Talents glorious behind at the finish.

The QEII is a cracking race and while it is a shame Toronado did not make the line up, we have plenty of quality to give Dawn Approach something to consider.  The one I think could completely outrun his price is Kingsbarns at 16/1.    This time last year, he had the world at his feet, was favourite for classics but his day in the sun has yet to come this year, missing most through injury.  His return was very poor but it is perfectly reasonable to think he may have needed that both physically and mentally.  We also get Joseph on board, the comfort that we know he has been in top hands (O’Brien is a master at getting these sorts to fire again) and he won both his juvenile starts on soft.  What is not to like?

In the Champion Stakes, Derby winner Ruler of the World is of key interest but is unproven on the ground, although he is a Galileo so perhaps we should not worry too much, of interest.  Mukhadram and Farhh are both classy sorts but all of them should really be paying homage to Cirrus Des Aigles.  We all remember him giving Frankel a good run last year and you may remember Cirrus winning the race in the previous year, he was 12/1 that day, tomorrow I can only advise you to be on at 5/4.

Cheltenham Tips

Poor old @limerickjfk – He tweeted me on Thursday night for some Friday Cheltenham tips and even promised me the benefit of a big drink should they come in.  I gave him a non runner and one that finished down the field.  I am the sort of friend you do not need.  Still, we shall try again and I shall stick a drink on the ledger the other way regardless, because it was nice to be asked!

There are some lovely sorts in the opener at Cheltenham, it is a tasty opening to proceedings.  Minella Fiveo is an interesting runner being an Irish raider with Noel Fehily up but the form is uncertain and despite a tempting price, I shall steer to more settled waters.  IT is the last time winners which I want to stick with and of them, Kings Palace stands out.  The Pipe trained horse won his last race at Fontwell very nicely indeed and I think may be better for further.  Oscar Magic rates a real danger as the stable has always been positive about him.  Others stand their chance too but I like my selection well enough.

Skipping a race and looking at the 3.10, I cannot get away from Samtegal, 9/4,  who was placed in a Scottish Champion Hurdle (a poorer handicap imitation of the Cheltenham masterpiece) which is good enough but he was also placed in a Triumph.  I am normally a bit hesitant about Paul Nicholls at this stage of the season, knowing he likes to leave a bit to work on but he had two winners here yesterday and I am in.

Finally in the 5.00, Balder Success is going to be a hot ticket after winning a Chepstow race latest, proving jumping and fitness.  I see those benefits but thought it a slightly odd race.  At the finish he appeared either idling or more likely running flat and I am not sure stiff tracks are what this horse needs.  Turned out again quickly, we will find out.  I shall back my argument with a stake on another.  Dark Lover, 2/1, was  a better hurdler than Balder Success and gets 8lbs here.  He also comes with the benefit of winning at Cheltenham before.  If you are feeling brace, Mr Watson could beat the lot if he decides to apply himself, a big if!

In football, one bet.  West Brom (my own team, I do declare an interest!) have a great chance of winning at Stoke – The team are brimming with talent and confidence, it is a good time to be a baggie.

May your dinner be as well as @limerickjfk who shall eat at Queens Hotel, in excellent company and with good wine, having solved several of the large Cheltenham handicaps.

He will be joined by Martin Hill should the Major break a string of bad losing advices to him with this suggested each way trixie: Talent, Kings Palace and Kingsbarns.

Courage, roll those dice.

Saturday Sermon – Racing Tips from Ascot, Cheltenham and Cork, plus Frankel – Time at Ascot…

Good evening from the Major who writes to you from a Defford where the sky hangs heavy with the threat of a downpour, it feels as if it were sagging and clinging to my cheek, cold and damp… my sort of weather.

The Household Cavalry dressed in Sheikh Abdulla’s colours in honour of Frankel, the finest horse of our generation

Tomorrow I ride for Ascot, I am taking my father and meeting a friend there for a beer too. Whatever happens we are in for a terrific day of racing but it would be dishonest to say that if Frankel fails to run, it would not be a touch deflating.The way they have handled this horse has given us every chance to enjoy the champion that he is. On Twitter (@tdl123) I rated my top three Frankel races and decided that my favourite was the Queen Anne. Having had longer to reflect I have changed the order slightly and now have a top four in the following order.

4th – The Guineas

This will be top of most peoples lists – The way he flew from the gates and had them at it from half way. A stunning performance and the way they finished strung out like 3 mile chasers was testament to what the great horse had achieved.

3rd – Royal Lodge

The more I watch the Royal Lodge he won, the more I love it. The move he makes on the bend to put the race to bed was stunning and although Treasure Beach was stopped in his tracks, Frankel would still have won by half a furlong!

2nd – The Queen Anne

What a way to open Royal Ascot – As a performance, this was his highest rated in my view. He did not just win, he destroyed a field of top horses and left everyone gasping for air. Awesome.

1st – His First Sussex Stakes versus Canford Cliffs

Context is important and this race was full of it. Goldikova a winner of more Group One races than seems possible was reaching the end of her career. Canford Cliffs, one of the best Hannon has ever had, lowered her colours and rightfully claimed the best miler in Europe crown. Then Frankel met him at Goodwood. The camber at Goodwood means many horses do not act there. The combination of factors meant that the Major tipped Canford… Then this happened…

Let us hope that Frankel runs – The generosity of connections have given us more than we needed but we are like gluttons and want it all. Treasure the moment. The only possible upside of him not running tomorrow is a possible crack at the States and the breeders cup meeting… Personally I would like him to finish his career at Ascot tomorrow.

To the sports….

Ascot Tips – 1.50 – The Stayers

At this stage of the season, I am looking for the slightly more lightly raced sorts. The Ascot ground will also be very soft which should rule a few out…

In the opener, most of the animals will be fine with the soft conditions. Gold Cup winner Colour Vision beat a number of these including Fame and Glory back in July. Opinion Poll, the other Godolphin horse was second that day and goes off as 3/1 favourite here. Aiken is a horse I really like but feels like he might just be a bit short of top draw. Ile de Re is an interesting runner but has to make a big step up in class. Rite of Passage is a fascinating runner and could play a part at 8/1 if well tuned up.

After some thought though, the Major is going to offer Fame and Glory at 11/2 – A former winner of the race who has lost some of his lustre – If he wins tomorrow, it will be a fitting end to a sparkling career… words that we may well repeated later in the day!

2.20 Ascot – Tips for the Sprint

The sprint is a fascinating contest and I would love to back Maarek, especially with the booking of Jamie Spencer. I am wondering though whether the horse is feeling the effect of the campaign and I may well give him a miss. The muddier the better for that one so if more rain arrives, it may be a persuading factor.

The Major is siding with a horse packed with potential in Slade Power who looked a horse going places in the summer. After a break to freshen him up, I expect a top draw performance and although there are proven G1 horses in the field, I do not want to back Wizz Kid unless in France and Society Rock is the main danger. Blue Square offer 15/2 and a quarter odds the place, have a slice.

2.55 Ascot – Group 2 Mile and a Half

The two to concentrate on seem to be Great Heavens and Sapphire. The former took an Irish Classic in the slop and loves these conditions. She was my idea of the Arc winner as I am a massive fan. She cruised into the straight at Longchamp looking a likely challenger but faded badly and I just wonder if the season and he travels are catching up.

Thus the tip is Sapphire for the Weld team. She is a horse of immense talent and seems to be much better the further she goes, seemingly tapped for toe over 400m shorter in the Pretty Polly. She is a true mud lark and at 10/3 generally I think a great bet to beat Great Heavens who I would like to see racing agin next year where hopefully connections might give her a light schedule with a hopefully soft ground Arc as the target.

QE II 3.30 Ascot

Excelebration is an absolute bolt on here and I suggest a reasonable investment at just shading odds on. He has been beaten by Frankel so often yet is still a top class horse and now placed to avoid a battle with the inevitable, he is gaining very well deserved Group One successes.

The Queen is in attendance and so Carlton House would be a popular winner but it is Excelebration for the Major.

Ascot Champion Stakes

It is not often that the Major here whispers but I have it on good authority that Frankel might be a decent sort! This race requires no bet, it is a moment of historic racing importance. I hope Frankel serves it up to Cirrus Des Aigles

Enjoy it…

4.45 Amateur Riders Handicap

I find it disappointing that this race exists on the card of what is meant to be the climax of the flat season. It really seems out of place.

Smarty Socks would be the one I would want but I am dubious that these are his conditions. Boring as it may seem, Jack Dexter is the 5/1 selection. The Ayr Bronze Cup winner loves a bit of mud and is surely goi to have a big say. Kingscroft (16/1) and Atlantic Sport (33/1) also make some appeal.

Cheltenham Selections

It is so good to see racing back at Cheltenham. Fridays action saw The New One take a decent Novice hurdle. Given that he hit most of them, he must be some animal to still win, I expect a big season.

Rendl Beach should be a good thing in the opener at 6/4. Curtis horses often need a warm up but this one won smartly on reappearance and a big run is surely on the cards tomorrow.

In the second race, I am going to take a chance on 22/1 shot Quito Du Tresor. I think that there may be more to come from this one. The Henderson horse Nadiya De La Vega at 10/1 is decent value too.

Baby Mix and Dodging Bullets are two rising stars and the latter looks a great evens bet based on the 4th position achieved in the Triumph.

In the 4th race, I like the look of two Qianshan Leader at 22/1 catches the eye as does Darna at 16/1. The latter looks an intriguing sort.

In the 4.20 I am a big fan of Irish raider Defence of Duress and suggest a decent investment.

Third Intention should see the field off in the penultimate race if match fit. 3/1 is a very fair price as he should be much better than this field, many of whom have a readiness advantage.

In the last maybe Southfield Theatre on a strict reading of form with The New One but honestly, stick a pin in!

Cork Tip

I like Rock Critic in the listed contest and at 2/1 am having it in several selections…

May your dinner be fine, in the company of someone nice. Each day we are above ground is an opportunity so do not waste yours. Let us hope that Frankel gives us something to cheer.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Doncaster Tips (St Leger), 20/1 Chester Tip and the St Leger Curragh Action – Mr John Dunlop and the subject of patience….

Good morning from the Major who writes from the Birmingham suburb of Yardley where an overcast heaven misleads.  The air has a lightness, it will be a nice day.

Camelot bids to be the first Triple Crown winner since Nijinsky…. Good luck Team Ballydoyle

This is the time of year for the Major.  It is dark enough at night and in the morning for a man who sleeps lightly to rest properly.  the sun does not burn at my fair Northern skin and my eyes relax more having to squint less against the bright light.

What a cracking day of racing too.  Both the English and Irish St Leger meets (although two entirely different races) and Camelot bids very strongly to become the first triple crown winner the Major will have had the pleasure to witness.

Fair play to connections for taking this route.  Doncaster races must be absolutely made over – The St Leger has lost a good deal of lustre over recent years.  Watching Masked Marvel struggle yesterday, I wonder what impact this grueling affair can have on three year old horses.  This might be why top owners have taken the best horses into other races, I do not know for sure.

What is certain is that the St Leger has lost some of the Group One class it is bestowed with.  The arrival of unbeaten Camelot is a shot in the arm for the last of our classics.

John Dunlop announced retirement this week and what better way to mark your retirement announcement than to have the winner in the feature race on Friday, Times Up ran the trainer proud.

Plenty of accolades have been sprayed about regarding Mr Dunlop and the Major will not try to do what others know better.  I will say something about patience though.

Last night, my father in law watched the Shawshank Redemption.  Like many, it is a film he has seen quite a few times before and knowing the outcome adds to the enjoyment.  The subtleties that transpire over a period of time are nurtured and grow.

What a different film it would be if the prison break had been effected over the course of a year., not through guile and perfection but through reaction and urgency?  Where we buy into the aloof lead character is that without uttering a word, he spent half a lifetime achieving something in silence.  A thing he was happy to carry on his soul alone.

The Major sadly is a product of the modern generation.  I am used to having desires fulfilled here and now.  Food is cheap and available and not something you grow.  Purchases of aspiration come immediately, saving is something you do not need to do when you can acquire cheap credit, why wait… This is the lesson of the modern generation.

As someone whose hungers are avaricious and grasping, I think I am able to spot a patient man better than most and Mr Dunlop strikes me as such.  The manner in which he built a training empire.  The manner in which his main owner won the Gold Cup (his stated personal dream) the year before he died after decades of trying.  The manner in which Mr Dunlop carries himself.  Ah yes, I recognise what I do not exhibit.

Mr Dunlop leaves a racing legacy through his sons, again something deliberate which he created.  Spoils of satisfaction are greater for those who built rather than bought.  I imagine he is a content man and wish him all the best for retirement.

To the sports

Doncaster St Leger Tips

Camelot has brushed aside all opposition he has faced and is n better than 4/9 to complete his triple crown bid at Donnie this afternoon.  His turn of foot when putting the derby to bed was devastating and why would we think that staying would be an issue over this 500m odd further?  He won the derby by five lengths being eased, why would the St Leger distance pose a greater problem?

Main Sequence, second in the derby has no right to be reversing the form in my view.  Yet O’Brien has issued a slight warning about staying the distance.  If you ask me, that is simply bluster, the sort of thing a Premier League manager does to deflect potential blame – Camelot should win and O’Brien should accept that as fact.

It is a race in which you can score terrific each way value.  Gosden has a terrific record in this race and when pushed, Buick has selected to ride Thought Worthy.  I am not sure he has got this choice right but perhaps the sluggish look to his Irish Derby race might be ground connected, it was slow that day.

I am going to suggest two lively outsiders for you.

Thomas Chippendale is lightly raced but was beaten well by Thought Worthy at York.  I am not reading too much into that as conditions were rattling and I do not think that this one acted on it – I would not put you off an each way slice at 28/1.

However, the Major is going for a 16/1 tip for the St Leger (Ladbrokes go quarter odds the place) with Guarantee.

If we are going to get Camelot beat, it will be the unlikely circumstance that the favourite does not stay.  Dartford is in the race to ensure a decent pace and I think they might go quickly enough to try to exploit any potential stamina issues – This would set things up well enough for Guarantee who will be doing his best work at the death.

Late and fast, grimly staying on…. Let us see if Guarantee can give us the each way value.  If you can take it, have a lumpy bet on the favourite too at 4/9.

The Irish St Leger – Tips for the Curragh

the Irish St Leger is an open aged affair and Gosden sends Aiken over on a raid.  This could bear fruit as the Chantilly race he won was a very good Group affair.  That said, his form in the Hardwicke was not brilliant.

Fame and Glory has won several times at the Curragh and the O’Brien trained favourite will no doubt be popular.

Brown Panther is another British raider with a sporting chance and the form with the others is well tied.

Hartani looks progressive to me and while he did not win his Leger trial, it was an eye-catching run all the same.  The classic generation gets a generous lump of weight in this race but do not have a great race record.  Interesting but I am not convinced this will be the first three year old in the last eleven years to win the Irish St Leger.  Incidentally the last horse to do so was the incredible Vinnie Roe who won the first of four St Leger crowns for Dermot Weld at the age of three.

The Major has thought long about the likely way the race will pan out and in the finish I am going to suggest that Britain can complete a hat-trick of wins in this race.

I am opting for Aiken, his trainer works miracles with these sorts and 5/1 looks generous to me.

2.40 Chester – Listed Mile

After the loss of Never Can Tell yesterday, what better result that if Area Fifty One or Good Morning Star could win the feature Chester race for Dr Khoukash.

The market seems to think that Modun is the main threat but the Major has some serious doubts about this 13/8 favourite.  He has been tried at a higher level than this and I am pretty sure he is under-priced here.

Instead the Major is going to stick with a horse that I still think has some class to show, if they can crack the code.

Naseem Alyasmeen is 20/1 with Ladbrokes and at this price, I suggest an investment.  The Hamilton run did not look right to the Major and I remain optimistic that we will get a tune out of this girl sooner or later.  Crucially she has form around the tight turns of Chester winning a handicap here in the summer (although off a lowly mark).  Have a slice and thank me later.

Doncaster Tips – Champagne Stakes

Having covered the St Leger, I am back to Donnie for the second race of the day, the Group Two Champagne Stakes.

Toronado won a decent listed Ascot contest and looks well worth a crack at the Champagne Stakes.  Representing last years winning trainer, surely a decent chance.

Tha’ir continues to run well for Godolphin who have won the race twice in the last five years.  The last run at Sandown in Group Three company was pretty good – I just wonder if the bridesmaid position beckons again for this one who looks difficult to place.

5/4 shot Dundonnell won the Acomb Stakes very well last time out and you can see why he heads the market.  Under pressure at the end of that race, he seemed to lug right for the Major though and that is enough to put me off.

On balance, I am tipping Toronado for the Champagne at 11/4 (Hills or Ladbrokes) – Decent price that.

Football Tips

International breaks give teams a chance to regroup and I would not be over-keen to read too much into the form of teams entering the break.

As such, the football tips the Major likes are 17/19 shots, Spurs to win at Reading and 16/11 Villa to do the business at home to Swansea.  Have a double on that!

May your dinner be fuelled by a long-awaited 20/1 winner.  A generous hearty meal awaits where wine may flow and hours pass.  With good company a man can be simply content.

Courage, roll those dice.

Saturday Sermon – 16/1 Royal Ascot Tips, Black Caviar – ‘The Wonder from Down Under!’ – The rights and wrongs of racing and Ascot reflections….

Good morning from a bright and cheery Worcestershire where the Major types happy in the knowledge that the world of this age is perfectly organised for an Englishman with a few spare pounds in his pocket and a cheery outlook on life.

Aahhhh – A day the Major has waited for – Black Caviar racing on British soil

I make no apology for being content.  If you are not, then please do not begrudge those of us that are.Royal Ascot has been a triumph.  The spectacle, the racing and the Majors form have been the ingredients of a tasty week.  I shall write something of it here, if you feel the need to skip it and go to the tips, please leave my site – Your sort is not welcome here, when you go to church, you listen diligently to the sermon.

Firstly the spectacle of racing.  Last year I compiled my top ten racing moments of 2011.  Apologies if many of the video feeds might not be working!  I am sure when I compile this years come the close of the year, many Royal Ascot moments will be contenders.

I loved Frankel demolishing the field, it made my heart sing.  I know Excelebration took him on which may have flattered the final distance but seriously, people might knock the field but there were plenty of decent Group 1 animals in behind.  Let us just accept that we live in an age of the machine and enjoy – Thanks again to connections who kept him racing at the age of four instead of fulfilling a potentially lucrative stud career.

Frankie winning on Colour Vision was probably my moment of the week though.  I was on Fame and Glory and thought the O’Brien horse was a shoe in.  Frankie though showed his superb handling of the track and sheer will to boot home the Godolphin inmate. Frankie has had a tough time of it.  Godolphin are short of a star or two and the winners have dried up.  Rumours of retirement were put down by Dettori but it left a waft in the air… was the great man done?

The way he bought Colour Vision home told you what you needed to know, the fire burns brightly.  How sweet for Frankie that Barzalona (a friendly rivalry), the 20 year old Derby winning emerging star was unable to pass when seemingly coming with a winning run on Opinion Poll.

The stories racing throws up, no other sport competes.

The Major has had a great week with tips for Royal Ascot.  Eleven tips (13 with 2 non runners) yielded 4 winners.  Most Improved 8/1, So You Think 6/4, Princess Highway 13/2 and Estimate 4/1 (all advised prices).  Following to £1 level stakes,  make that a £24 return for £11 invested.  More than double your money…. lovely jubbly!

Sadly Fame and Glory let down my brother in laws treble, sorry Dave.

The week also got me thinking about the morality of horse racing.  It is something the Major is confronted with from time to time.  The Majors dear lady is an avid animal lover (not in the biblical sense you understand) and opposes the sport deeply.  We do not talk much about it as you can imagine!

The Major is also confronted from time to time with anti-racing campaigners at Aintree or Cheltenham.

This week, hundreds of thousands of people who are not racing fans filed through the gates at Ascot in their finery to take part in the racing festival.  Many will not have a strong view on racing but it got me thinking about the morality of the sport.

My good lady has the objection that the horses are put to racing purely for our enjoyment and this is morally wrong.  It is based on a view that a horse has a right not to be forced to do something it does not want to do, a classic libertarian stance.  I sympathise with it but do not agree.

I think the overall benefit of the sport outweighs a horses individual right.  I would ask you to consider the benefit, there is the employment offered by the racing tracks, hospitality services, trainers and media; not even considering the considerable contribution from the gambling industry to the economy and therefore society.  There is the joy that enthusiasts like I take from the sport; readers know how passionate I am – Enough to continue getting up early on a Saturday to deliver this drivel each week!

Finally, some horses do enjoy racing so it is not every horse that is coerced into the sport.  Indeed, Racing could be argued to have a net positive impact on horses lives.

Overall the benefit of our great sport far outweighs the violation of a horses right, if indeed they have one.  As a race we use animals for enjoyment and sustenance.  Race horses are well looked after in their lives, no intention of harm exists in the sport, though we have to accept the risk of horse death is a certainty.

My utilitarian argument, of the greatest benefit, I believe stands up and I hope that we have more converts to our magnificent sport today when the ‘wonder from down under’ graces our turf.

What a shame it is her only European race.  I made the argument last week that it seems an endeavour only based in principle, not financial or career defining that she win today.  Then to Hong Kong and greater riches.  I hope she gives us a show.

I have often debated the Frankel v Black Caviar question and it is an understandable shame they will never race.  Why ask either of them to race at an un-ideal distance.  I thought the fair answer was 7f but it would endanger Frankels attitude as lighting him up over shorter distances might bring back some of those free running tendencies from his youth, something that his training team worked hard to eradicate allowing him to take shots at prizes over 10f.

As it is, I always thought she was the better horse but now I am unsure again.  I shall go to the grave not knowing but I take pleasure from it.  As I have made the point in previous posts, instead of racing them, let us breed them and call their foal Pegasus Devil, a horse with fire red eyes that roars fire from the nostrils.

To the sports…

Chesham Stakes – 2.30 Ascot Tip

This is a nice line up and the Major is looking forward to the Chesham.

On trends, only two winners in the last 15 years have gone off at bigger than 10/1 prices and I am looking for something near the top of the market.

On a bloodstock note, five runners in the race are out of Sixties Icon!  Thanks to @emmakgts on twitter for that observation.  The Major makes a further note on breeding – New Approach has Thair in the race, Godolphins 6/1 hope – The sire is having a terrific time with his progeny currently heading the markets for several of next years classics….

However, Thair is not the way I am going.  Key trainers in the Chesham have been Hannon and Johnstone and the Majors tip comes from the first.

Jalaa at 4/1 could be anything, won well at Leicester, not inconvenienced by the ground. Have a taste.

3.05 Hardwicke Stakes

The Hardwicke is another cracker this year.  I truly confused myself last night while figuring out which side I want to be on.

Sea Moon should run better than he did in the St Leger and has the benefit of a decent warm up race at Goodwood.

There is a lot to like about Memphis Tennessee with that derby form looking rock solid, the Major fears on this course though that his front running style might be setting this up for a closer.

The horse I am tipping in the Hardwicke is Aiken.  William Buick abandoned Masked Marvel (non runner) for Aiken who has some superb form to his name.  The formline that takes the eye is the beating of Dunaden who is a Melbourne Cup and Hong Kong Vase winner.  With soft ground no problem, Aiken looks to me a top class prospect and I suggest a very healthy investment at 4/1.

3.45 Ascot – Diamond Jubilee Tips

The Major will not be betting in what should be a procession for Black Caviar.  I wonder what our Australian racing friends think we make of Black Caviar.  I sense that down under their is a feeling of ‘go show them Black Caviar, go beat those English doubters’.

Just for the record, the Major is praying for her to destroy the field – She is amazing and this is a part of her story I want to go well.  Go on girl.

She is also a monster having topped 600kg – That is almost a third more horse than some of our finest!

Although the form is hard to translate, there is a line through Group one winning Star Witness that suggests she is 13lbs or so ahead of Prohibit, one of our finest.

If you were looking for each way value, I would be wary of Moonlight Cloud, the Major thinks that the horse will love the cut but might sacrifice a place by having a pop at BC.

You are as well looking for a horse that is racing for a place and might be staying on at the death passing beaten, tired horses that took the Black Caviar machine on and failed.  That horse for the Major would be The Checka who is a new propsect since being dropped in trip this year.

One word of warning to Black Caviar, there have been upsets in this race in the past…. best of luck girl.

4.25 Ascot – The Wokingham

The Wokingham is the usual puzzle at 9/1 the field.  The Major was happy last night to get a touch of 25/1 on Waffle.  I could see the money piling up and figured it was the Pricewise horse.  14/1 is still available.

If you follow me on twitter (@tdl123) you would have benefitted from that tweet last night.  I am chuffed that I got it right and feel very happy sticking with my selection.

The trainer readied it for last year where it ran superbly only beaten by the unbelievably handicapped Deacon Blues.

Have a cannon loaded!

I am going to be double handed in this race though because of the draw.  My first tip, Waffle is coming out of 23 so I want something in the other pack too and I am looking at Desert Law at 16/1 – Going back to 6f is certainly a plus for this animal and he will represent the Major on that side of the track.

5pm Ascot Tip – The Duke of Edinburgh

The Major wanted to be on a horse finishing well in this handicap and the one that carries my penalty is Cill Rialig, 16/1. 

Cill Rialig competed in the same warm up Goodwood affair as Sea Moon and I think this has been the long term target for this previous listed winner, even if the last win was a couple of years ago in this race off a mark of 7lbs lower.

Being in foal and the ground are both concerns but the Major is going to stick with her.

5.35 Ascot – Tips for the Queen Alexandra

Anyone who watched Simenon smash the opposition on Tuesday would have been taken with the manner of victory.  This step up in trip again should be a further advantage and the likelier risk to getting as good run is merely whether the exertions of racing have taken a toll.

The Major though is going to side with Zuider Zee whose form got a good boost by Opinion Polls running earlier this week.  Flat trainers have a better record in the Queen Alexandra and I think my stead can do the business at a tasty 5/1.

Enjoy today and be happy.  Tonight eat well and with good company, see a film, relax, observe, pass no judgement.

Courage, roll those dice.