Tag Archives: al kazeem

Longchamp Arc Day Thoughts

Good day from the Major who writes from the office in glorious Cheltenham where the fine conditions betray the mind into thinking it is late August.

Yesterday was a mixed bag and probably edged by the enemy if being fair.  Today though, in conjunction with the skies bright dawning, I shall share the riches of my mind for Longchamp Arc day.  Let’s get stuck in to the big one.

Longchamp – The Arc

Any racing fan and punter who has any notion of improving their staking strategies focus their energies on value.  The most likely winner is less important than the biggest disparity between price and chance.  Thus, our aim always is assess chance as remotely and impartially as we can.  I would concur that good advice is often to do this before seeing the market, then you can back your own view independent of others.

That said, the market itself is often a great indicator and can reveal useful information in its own right.  In the instance of the Arc, the market is an opportunity in itself.  The Japanese have such a fixation on winning the Arc that they flood the PMU with bets for their own runners, thus Orfevre and Kizuna will be the subject of sustained betting, making the pot imbalanced.  If you want a value punt, then baking anything other than these two on the PMU represents value. Secondly, if you have the time and the energy, it would not be too difficult to use this market disparity to put yourself into a no-lose situation.  Backing Orfevre and Kizuna in the UK and the remaining lively hopes on PMU should be a strategy to which you could return a profitable book regardless of outcome.

Regardless of this nuance to the day, I am sure you are more interested in the race itself so here are some thoughts.

Ruler of the World

I was not that impressed with the Derby this year, I felt at the time that the classic crop was poor (Dawn Approach and Talent being the exceptions) and that thought remains.  Yet Ruler of the World performed with some credit in his trial where he was pipped by Kizuna.  In fact, he was doing more work at the death… Interesting.

Here is a thought though – I think the trials which are held just a few weeks before Arc weekend give a false sense of certainty.  We tend to place too much value in them.  consider this, just four of the Arc winners from this century have won an official trial on the way, plenty of Arc winners were not tuned up for their trial and plenty more did not bother with one.

Kizuna

If you like Ruler of the World then surely you must like Kizuna.  I think this horse brings some of the best form into the race and has a profile that would befit an Arc winner.  According to the trainer, there was plenty left to work on when he won his trial.

The Prix Niel though asked more questions than it gave answers.  Yes Kizuna beat Ruler of the World but the latter was doing more at the finish.  However, Kizuna probably had more to give and I do not think was fully extended, in fact I would argue the horse had a fairly gentle race.

Leading Light

You pay serious money to be supplemented for the big race, couple that with the profile of Leading Light, a certain stayer and many will be hoping that this horse can get to the front and stay there.  That in itself is an interesting conundrum.

Longchamp is an interesting course, the wide bend they take can catapult a well timed runner from the back into the momentum needed to win and generally, those coming from the middle of back of the pack fare better than those in front.  Thus to win the Arc from the front you have to be special or lucky.  I think Leading Light would have to be in the second group.

Should he get to the front, I would be relying on better horses not getting their run combined with bad timing from other challengers to see him as the winner.

That said, it has happened plenty of times before and since I believe Talent to be very good, I would be disingenuous to suggest that Leading Light is a forlorn hope.  I thought Talent might have got to him with a clear run in the St Leger and having tweeted Mr Beckett to suggest she be supplemented if Leading Light was, I got a two word reply…. ‘next year’

Orfevre

What of the favourite then.  He is going to popular and unpopular depending on the partisan camp you find yourself in.  I have already observed the near fanatical home support he will receive.  Suggesting he will be beat to a true Orfevre fan is to place your life in danger!  There is also a significant camp that believes he would have won the race last year if it had panned out slightly differently, reminding myself of the race, it seems impossible with 300m to go that any other result than an Orfevre win was possible.  Yet the leader tied up after showing us that explosive burst of speed…

In the ‘agin’ camp, you have the trends argument.  Five year olds do not do very well, no Japanese horse etc etc – I always have an issue with trends and the people who use them – They need to be grounded in something!  It is clear that with Japanese racing amongst the best quality in the world, it is a matter of time before we have a winner of the Arc from their quarters, thus as a trend it is of no use to me.  The five year old trend also needs some context – There are not that many highly fancied five year olds that compete in the race so pound for pound you would expect them to have a sparse record.

I am not put off by the trends, I am slightly concerned for him in the ground and against a better Arc field than last year.  In fact the 2012 Arc has a very shaky look to it, won by a long shot, with Masterstroke third(anyone?).  In fact, St Nicholas Abbey finished down the field but it was not his day and overall, I am against Orfevre not because of his age but because I doubt the form.  His Arc was weak and his trial the weakest of them.  I think that weakness also provides succour for those that support him and point to last years wide draw… My argument is that in a very weak Arc, draw is less important (as it is if you are a natural hold up sort)

Clearly he is very talented and he has a blistering turn of foot but I am going elsewhere.

Treve

She is good and is yet to be beaten and there was a time where the three year old filly allowance would have given her a significant advantage.  Yet that gap has been narrowed and I think it is a big ask for her.  It is easy to be swayed by her unbeaten record and she is in fine fine hands, I just think this might be too much for her.

The most unsettling part of her profile is the year she has had – If she were top class why not be campaigned as such?

Intello

Will Intello stay?  that is the key question about this runner.  Fabre / Pelier are a formidable pair and seeking their third Arc win (although first this century!).

On the subject of stamina, my view is that Intello should be fine.  He was a ready winner of the French Derby and that was in good to soft ground – He stayed on fine that day and although this is an extra 300m, it is a trip into the unknown and in the breeding there are mixed messages.

It is also an odd course he has charted to the race and last time must have been set up as a confidence booster.  He is a hard horse to assess because we have not seem him in the top races recently and we have not seen him extended in distance, a definite question.

Al Kazeem

There seems no easier of the main players to back than Al Kazeem following a tailing off of his form in the last two runs and a wide draw.  Seriously, the way people have written him off seems a tad unfair.

I don’t see him as a winner myself either but that is not to discredit his positives.  I think he has a style of running that would suit the Arc, right up until the end.  Watching the race last year, Orfevre drifted right quite badly and Al Kazeem suffers the same.  He has done it on a few of his wins, most notably his last G1 at Sandown and I wonder if his tailing of form is connected to that.

Not for me but give the boy credit.

Flintshire

My antepost book is focussed on Flintshire and I wish it were not the case.  The Dansili colt needs decent ground and I think that will be his undoing.  This seemed apparent in his trial and on similar ground, I think he does not have the racing style to glide to victory.

Summary

If you believe Orfevre to win, you have to think any Arc is quality and that he was unlucky last year and that the age and returner stats are less important – I have some sympathy for that view but not at 2/1.

If you think Ruler of the World then you must overcome a slight ground concern but believe he was better than Kizuna for the bare result in the Prix Niel – I can accept that too.

For you to back Kizuna 15/2, you have to think that there was plenty left off for his trial where he was treated lightly and travelled much the best.  this I have significant sympathy for and thus he gets my nod.

As a post script – What a shame Novellist is not there, he would have carried my money.

The Rest of the Card

12.45 – Maarek 8/1 – Likes the cut and needs some luck

1.20 – Veda – 8/1 – Seriously sinister profile – Once raced and thrown into this!

1.55 – Charm Spirit – 7/1 – Can win from the front, looked mighty impressive here latest.

2.30 – Silasol – 7/1 – Time for some revenge over Tasaday over this more suitable trip

4.40 – Moonlight Cloud – Evens (Coral) – Easily the best in this field

5.10 – Tac de Boistron – 6/1 (Ladbrokes) – Unexposed at marathon distances and in good heart

The Saturday Sermon – Irish Champion Stakes Tip – A dash of serendipity… Leopardstown and Haydock etc

Good morning from the Major who writes from a glorious Worcestershire scene with stunning early morning light splashed across the deep green lawns.  A faint sharpness to the temperature betrays that we are at the edge of the seasons.  The jumps are coming my friends.

A few nights back, I was driving late at night across the Warwickshire countryside, the last flickering of a blood red sunset was extinguished and the peaceful nature of the empty road was in harmony with the dark sky, peace.  It was still warm enough to travel with the window open which is a ready preference to air conditioning to me.  If not for the freshness of the air then for, the rush of it over skin at high speeds, testing the resistance, very pleasant, very childlike.

While the road was fast, my mind wandered, as it will, I was able to tune into the radio in the background from time to time and what I heard, I found interesting.  The programme was concerned with Serendipity and the presenter seemed to be examining how it is created, it struck a chord.

For what it is worth, I consider your chances of enjoying your life almost entirely dependent on you and bearing no correlation to the random nature of your environment.  There are those that believe themselves governed by luck, dark forces or benevolent powerful religious deities.  Crackpots aside, I would accept that to a point, fortune is an influential factor in your happiness but not necessarily in the way you might expect.

I believe you create your own luck in one crucial aspect, by seeking it with a healthy outgoing attitude.  Finding luck in my view is one part state of mind and one part fortune.

Consider coincidence for one moment.  When something seemingly, incredibly unlikely occurs, we could consider this to be an act of a hidden hand.  Yet, I would say that it is massively unusual that incredibly unlikely things do not happen all of the time.  This is just a statistical view, after all we are involved in hundreds of thousands of interactions each day.  Some are personal, others with objects, others with technology.  Is it not reasonable that if we are engaged in a thousand activities a day, then once in every three years, a one in a million event will occur?  Since you know 500 people, it is likely that you here of a one in a billion occurrence, twice in a decade.  In other words, incredibly strange things are surprisingly common.

We don’t believe this to be the case when a coincidence occurs because we only consider the coincidence in the context of that event.  If for example, you bought a second hand car and in the boot found an old possession of yours that you had left on a train some years ago, you would consider it a fateful act.  Considering the odds of an occurence such as this in isolation it is understandable that you might seek a solution that involves some hidden hand of fate.  Yet the solution is more boring in one sense.  While you found a possession in the boot, you did not perhaps crash into an old school friend on the way home, or find that the car dealer shared the same name and date of birth with you.  In other words, coincidence happens because of the massive number of opportunities it has to occur.

More vital as to whether coincidences will occur in your life is not whether it will happen but your ability to spot them.  Your ability to live a life enabling happiness to occur in the twists and turns of lifes path.

I think there are two facets to your ability to spot the swing of fate and fortune around you.  Firstly, it is about routine, if you live a clockwork existence, you will not be exposed to as many new experiences and will not have the framework for the serendipitous events that may occur.  Secondly, I believe attitude has a role to play.  My opinion is that you need to give good fortune your permission.

Last night, returning from a long week of study, I visited my local bookmaker and found him surprisingly busy for a Friday.  Not busy enough that he would not offer me a coffee, good man.  I got chatting to a very knowledgeable chap next to me about the chances of the Godolphin good thing in the 8.20 at Kempton.  The conversation was good and as it went on, I was taken by the good mans deep knowledge and strong views.  Turns out he has a string of horses across major trainers both sides of the Irish Sea.  He gave me one to follow.  Luck finds you my friends it is intrinsic in the materials and events around us.  It is happening now, relax and turn yourself in to that beautiful music.  I do not know where it might take you as there are billions of outcomes but I urge you to dismiss bad feelings as good events are upon you, if you let them be.

It might not be the best example I can give you but if you live your life in a generous and sharing manner and are open to the possibilities that may present themselves, such things will happen.  In each generation of human existence, our lives improve.

Irish Champion Stakes Tip

Without doubt, the sporting highlight of the weekend for me is the Irish Champion Stakes.  Being run as a twilight card, it is not until ten to seven this evening but I quite like that format.  It has the look of a cracking race.  I really hope that the rain has not been too heavy to persuade John Gosden to remove The Fugue who is a key actress on the stage.

Current Irish rain radar

Current Irish rain radar

That weather looks key to picking a camp to be in.  As you can see from the radar, there are some violently bright colours which look to me to be just to the north of Leopardstown.

If the track goes good to soft or worse is the key question .  So the Irish Champion tip is based firstly on how much water they are going to get and then on which horse will cope best with a downpour or the good to firm they advertised overnight.

I am gambling on a good dousing of rain.  I think the horse most unlikely to be involved if the ground goes soft is The Fugue.  She has only placed once on anything with soft in it and has more often than not, been withdrawn in such conditions.

O’Brien is claiming that Declaration of War is a better horse on good going but the stats seem to suggest he is less bothered by soft than his trainer thinks.  He has won in heavy and soft and in fact has never put a bad run in under those conditions.  There are times where I wonder if such statements are based on the trainers preference than the horses.  If you have a top horse, you might be reluctant to want to consider it versatile.  Like a utility footballer, the suggestion is jack of all trades, master of none.  For one, I am convinced that Declaration of War will love the conditions.

Kingsbarns did his winning in the slop too and while O’Brien has stuck with Declaration of War, the belated return of Kingsbarns could be quite a story.  Off the track for so long, it is hard to interpret the signal of him being bought back in at this level.  I do have a view though.

Coolmore may have an embarrassment of riches but they like to tell good stories with their top horses.  If they felt that Kingsbarns was not ready, I am sure they would have found him an easier entry point.  As such, that does not concern me.  His inexperience does, he has only raced twice, even if one of those victories was a very good Racing Post Trophy in which Trading Leather could not lay a glove on him.

Joseph O’Brien has voted for Declaration of War.  What does he know.

Then we have Al Kazeem, one of the heroes of the flat season.  When this horse retires, I am sure my enduring memory will be of the day he truly popped Camelots bubble.  He has been brilliant this season.  I do not think that it was the ground that got the better of him at York (when defeated by Declaration of War and Trading Leather), I think it was York itself.  York is definitely a specialist track.

I could dance and dance in this race but this is my confirmed position.  Forget reason.  I want the excitement of a Kingsbarns bet in my life.  I really like Seamie Heffernan and this horse was favourite for classics before his setbacks.  He will love the ground.  My view is cemented by the opinion that both the main protagonists to my tip, Al Kazeem and Declaration of War are highly tried this season (13 runs between them).  My boy might well lack experience but he gets a generous weight allowance and is fresh.  At this stage of the season, that might be the key factor.

Lots of horses get turned over at this end of the year and post race, the trainer will be telling us that they are to be put away.  I can imagine that being the case with at least one from Al Kazeem and Declaration of War.  The Fugue, if she runs, will hate conditions and Trading Leather, needs further.  Kingsbarns may well lack experience but I want that edge in my life and at 7/1 with Stan James makes a great bet.  Watch your each way selections because without the Fugue we are reduced to 7 runners.  Pray for rain.

The rest of Leopardstown…

Free Eagle may be 1/2 but is a reliable bet for multiples in the juvenile race.  Already favourite for the Derby, this looks an exciting sort.

The Matron Stakes is the poorest Group 1 race I have seen in some time and this is underlined by the market who go 4/1 the field.  Kenhope probably has the best form in the book but I am never a fan of horses with good placings hoping to translate that well to a win at the top-level.  This race might not take much winning at all and I am interested in three.  Caponata, will not mind forecast softer conditions, while not electric, she has ability.  Lily’s Angel could easily run into a place although even I am wary of advertising her win potential, it just strikes me that 20/1 is wrong.

However, my tip for the Matron is the only truly progressive horse in the line up, Fiesolana.  She has improved massively on some OK French form and is being aimed at a race on Arc weekend.  She has placed on heavy in the past so bad weather might be OK and at 8/1 with Ladbrokes, I am a buyer.

Haydock Saturday Tips

Haydock boasts an excellent card starring the Sprint Cup.  There has been a fair amount of weather related change here too.

The favourite has been a star of the season, Lethal Force surprised a fair few at Ascot but upheld that form well and looks the real deal.  However, clearly the trainer feels he likes better ground and the slight toe in conditions surely give others a squeak here.  I am slightly cautious of this view as like Declaration of War, Lethal Force has a good record on good to soft and I have seen nothing to suggest he might suffer if it is truly deep.

More than most race types, sprints I find rotate form more frequently.  These highly strung racehorses can have off days more easily than their relaxed middle distance counterparts and I am always reluctant to be on at a short price.

I am less keen on Gordon Lord Byron but you cannot rule out any sprint horse with Johnny Murtagh up.

You know what, I am sticking with Lethal Force.… That drift might be the making of us.

It seems the Haydock card has me backing favourites…. In the 2.40, Monitridge at evens looks a fine bet as Tawhid needs more than a 4lb swing to get back at him and these conditions will suit my tip.  Sir Mark Prescott delayed the start to his season but has been sensational and Pallastor at 10/3 is all the rage in the Old Borough Cup, I am in.  I also find it hard to doubt that Musical Talent 5/4 is a bad bet on handicap debut for the Queen and Hannon.

My only football tip is to give Sheffield United their opportunity in the last chance saloon.  2/1 away to Rotherham.  They might have recorded some poor results but I remain convinced there is a good team there who play nicely and will come good.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Montiridge, Lethal Force, Fiesolona, Kingsbarns

I trust your dinner to be taken in the finest company.  Eat heartily, drink well and remember… Courage, roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Racing Tips from Haydock and Sandown #crowdsourcingmultiple – Wimbledon and Lions – It is good to be alive…

Good morning from the Major who writes to you from a Worcestershire scene that is bright and damned splendid.  I was up early with the cool dawn to review the day’s sport, my company the bubbling coffee pot.  The garden is filled with a gentle golden light, the landscape here has come alive, it is souls awakening, I shall dust down the barbecue this evening.

The Major has a boss who swears by a pizza ovens’ superiority over the trusted barbecue.  I personally remain sceptical but plan one as a late summer project and shall report back accordingly.  I do like the idea of a table of toppings laid out while a tandoori-style clay oven roars aways with a small hardwood smokeless fire within.  It meets my pyromaniacal urges.

It is a good day to spend time outdoors, the sun on your skin, the fullness of summer about you.  By the time you get to dinner, whichever form yours takes, let us hope we have amassed winnings from our endeavours that bulge from our wallets embarrassingly.  Digging into your ribs, an uncomfortable reminder of the wages of sin which we relentlessly pursue.

The Major was at a family members 70th birthday last night.  At this fine age, as one might expect, the gentleman was concerned of his own mortality.  Not bleatingly morbid you understand, more considerately reflective.  We have but a short time on this river my friends… If I assume an average readership of 40 years of age, then you all have approximately 2,000 more Saturday Sermons before your demise, some less, some more…

Just think about that for a moment.  You visit another 2,000 times and then you die.  Spend this time wisely.  My advice to you, for what worth it might carry, is this – You, and only you, can be trusted to know your own mind and what you believe to be good and worthwhile.  Thus, cast off social conditioning and act accordingly, pleasure and generosity, seek harmony, judge not and allow ones heart to race with possibility.

We float by just the once, enjoy the trappings of what comes on the current… as the old Persian saying goes… lick up the honey stranger and ask no questions.

Dust, we all come together in the end.  In the meantime, I have 2,000 shots at both making you appreciate this drivel and landing you a mothership of biblical proportions.  Today, I have a real feeling that a monumental win is upon us.  There are some selections that I think have a bloody good chance so…..

Once again, daub thy war paint young warriors, sharpen that lance point and holster your curved blade, we may have to entertain the enemy at close quarters.   For they have closed their field positions and I intend us to skirmish towards them in open formation with infantry first, cavalry second, heavy horse last – There will be some warm work involved but I trust you all for it.  To the sports.

Sandown Tips

I love Coral Eclipse day – The race that pits the classic generation against their elders, the new pretenders versus the established stars.  We shall come to that…

In the opener, Plover looks the most enticing proposition having won a Kempton maiden well and run well on debut previously on Newbury turf, thus we can assume that the surface holds no problem.  The Oasis Dream filly is the likeliest winner but I am not confident enough to get too lumpy about the 13/8 branded about this morning.

The Major is even less enthusiastic about the second race which is a sprint.  The baton of success is handed from one horse to the next through the summer in these sorts of contests – Who knows – In the Crowd Sourced Multiple (a collection of tips from twitter) below, someone has suggested Kingsgate Native coming back to form after disappointing last time – Maybe?  No tip from me.

When horses fade late on in a race, the trainer often reaches for the ‘didn’t stay’ comment as a comfort.  This is what has happened with Windhoek who is now stepped back 400m in a hope to get back on winning form and fulfil earlier promise.  I like the horse and have fond memories of his win on Guineas day but often these trip changes mask an underlying issue… the horse is not good enough.  I remain here, ready to apologise personally to Windhoek and the fine Mr Johnston if proven wrong.

I do like Wentworth who is the subject of very positive mutterings from Richard Hughes.  I like Hughsie, decent sort, always gives an honest view – I am planning on doing a piece on my favourite jockeys soon and he is in the mix.  That said, I would say the weakest part of his race riding, to my amateur eye, is his positioning.  Over confidence or judgement gets him into some tight spots and Wentworth is drawn very wide today so this particular facet of his riding will be sternly tested.

No, I am having a small stake on Rockalong – He was a big disappointment on his penultimate start but was put away for a small break afterwards and then returned with a sharp runners up run at Salisbury – Could still be more to come and 11/1 gives us a sporting bet.

In the 3.15 is one of three ‘bets of the day’.  I am surprised that bookies are going 4/1 about Integral who looks to be a filly with a lot of opportunity.  Sir Michael Stoute trains the horse and this is a tried and tested route for some of his better horses… (3 winners in last 10 years).  Auction strikes me as the chief danger but I urge you all to load the heavy cannon here.

The Coral Eclipse is extremely fascinating if not the highest calibre renewal of the race.  Al Kazeem has proven a revelation as a five year old and is a deserving favourite.  As well as showing some class when putting Camelot (fallen from a lofty position), Al Kazeem showed grit at Royal Ascot.  I would not put you off, particularly if you are quick and get some of the 3/1 available.

In the last 16 years, there have been 5 winners of the Coral Eclipse that are in their classic years.  If ‘trip’ is oft the mask for a fundamental lack in equine quality, then unlucky in running is another… That brings us to Mars.  The only three year old in the Eclipse fits this description after disastrous poor luck in the Derby and in the Prince of Wales.  I like him but I don’t trust him.

The Major is plumping for The Fugue who in a poor Eclipse gives us an excellent chance.  She was a very good Nassau winner and her exploits in America were very good – The Prince of Wales was her seasonal debut which allows us room for further improvement… 9/2… come on girl.

Caucus has excellent tied form with Estimate which would put several of these opponents behind and looks the easy selection at 2/1 in the Marathon.

No tip in the last at Sandown.

Haydock Racing Tips

I was originally tipping just two horses at Haydock, Tumblewind and Albasharah but the Major loves nothing more than the request of a well heeled looking sort and Nicola (@madgecarlton) asked me to complete the card…. so….

There is a great bet in the opener at Haydock in 6/1 Tumblewind who I thought was very impressive last time and forms the second leg of three in my ‘bet of the day’.  A half stone rise is unlikely to stop that progress…. Boom get involved!

I think Dubawi Sound is the best of an uncertain bunch in the 6f sprint.  I have always liked Masamah who has the ability to break well and lead them a merry dance but the extra furlong is probably not to his liking and my selection

Albasharah looks a must bet 9/4 (Bet365) in the Lancashire Oaks and completed the ‘bet of the day’ set – She was as unlucky as you can get at Royal Ascot and this is one I am happy to extend the generosity of a second chance to!  De Sousa has been riding really well this year and is a plus.

In the Old Newton Cup, there are a few eye catchers as you might expect.  The Major has always been a fan of Sir Graham Wade who I am surprised did not go on to develop into a group class animal.  Although largely disappointing of late, I still hold the candle.  Yet, the Major shall leave those thoughts for another day.  Instead I would back Franciscan who clearly has been laid out with this race in mind.  A poor run last year in this contest belied the yards excellent record at targeting the Old Newton.  In the last ten years they have won the race three times with Zeitgeist, Alkaased and Mad Rush and they have ‘hit the bar’ on several other occasions.  If you put last years disappointing run in this race from this horse down to the deep conditions, then we have a live plot spreading out before us beautifully… get involved!

I would agree with Andy (see #crowdsourcingmultiple below) that Jive is the best chance in the 4.05 and 11/2 is a tasty price.

Shebebi has a style of running that is likely to set the race up for a closer but I am still going to give Dane O’Neill a chance to judge his ride from the front and make his ride last home at 8/1.

What a disappointment only three make it to post in the lucky last – Broughton the evens favourite gets my vote.

Good luck Nicola and remember, the Majors tips are akin to acts of god, who knows…. Inshallah.

The Lions will lose to Australia.  Murray will lose to Djokovich.  Easy double… Looks to me like Mark Carney, our new Bank chief has ordered up some more Quantitive Easing!

#CrowdSourcingMultiple

The Major has requested the best NAPs of the day from his Twitter colleagues…..  I shall be putting these selections into a multiple, using the power of crowd thinking to gain glorious riches….  I would also suggest all of these fine folk are worth following on Twitter… (the Major is @tdl123 by the way):

@lukeyboy1325 – Based in Canada (or was, hard to keep up with these digital sorts), Luke likes most sports, holds an opinion and is a generous tweeter:  Pique Sous at Bellewstown 🙂 double it up with Al Kazeem in the Eclipse

‏@Spinitg – Seanie is a must follow on twitter – He is as immersed in Irish racing as you can be.  7:20 Sylvian Mist 9/4 #nap

@a_p_l_77 –  Andy is a Liverpool fan and huge Racing aficionado – Prefers his National Hunt but I’ve known this shrewdie land a few pots…. Jive in the 4.05 at Haydock….

@boilberg – I must confess to not knowing Ben as well, yet…. NAP tomorrow is 2.55 Albasharah 2/1

@onedeswalker – Mick loves racing and always has a tasty priced multiple he is working up! …. I won’t insult you with the optimism of the treble but Kingsgate Native at 6-1 is best bet tomorrow. Forgive last run, would be 3s.

Finally in traditional style, the Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Integral, Tumblewind, Albasharah and Caucus.

May your dinner be fine and the company both engaging and beautiful.  Courage, roll those dice.

Wednesday Ascot Tips – Bookies 1 Major 0

Good evening from the Major who writes from a Worcestershire country scene where the heavy air settles uncertainly around me.

Tuesday was not a good day.  Losses are one thing but the way I decided against 20/1 winner War Command on the mere whim of Coventry winners being generally a lot shorter in the market… it sounds as daft as it looks now typing it.  Still, below I have prepared the Wednesday card and absolutely, one hundred percent, without question or hesitation, guarantee you nothing, nothing at all, other than the inner most thoughts of the swirling dark vortex of my mind.

War Command was the most exhilarating display of Tuesday simply blasting clear from the field, SHABASH! and coming home in glorious isolation – He is 10/1 for next years Guineas with Ladbrokes.  Yet for me, as eye-poppingly sexy as that performance was, it plays second fiddle to the return to the top of Dawn Approach.

His win lacked the spike of adrenaline one feels from a horse, clearly superior, surging clear of a defeated field… no, it was for rather different reasons that I thought it was a rather famous Royal Ascot performance.  Like the derby, Dawn approach pulled hard and I feared the worst but unlike the derby, he did finally settle.  There was some interference that effected Toranado slightly more than Dawn Approach but the two of the settled down to a traditional eye to eye, nostril searing, lung bursting battle to the post.  Dawn Approach prevailed.

Was he the better horse? Yes.  Wait, I hear Toranado fans cry, Major, we must object, you have already ceded that Dawn approach suffered less bumping and won by a nose, surely there is a moral victory for Toranado?

Well no.  You see, when it gets to fight time, when the bell rings, talent and running fast is one thing but I have no doubt that Dawn Approach worried Toranado out of it.  Well done, Dawn Approach, you gave us a race that shows off the magic of our sport, the backstory, the talent, the raw athleticism and, in the end, the heart.  To quote Kipling;

And so hold on when there is nothing in you, except the will which says to them ‘Hold on’!

Wednesday… the Major needs to tip some winners, I know.  I rely on your good will.  All I can promise are a few simple truths that hopefully you can carry with you during our barren runs.  I always follow what I write up.  I have no deals with bookmakers, there are never any affiliate links, or adverts – I get offers from time to time but this blog is just for us.  What I ask from you is that you act like gentleman, if you cannot manage that, please leave.

To Wednesday and the tips of glory.

Wednesday Ascot Tips

The Jersey Stakes

The Jersey Stakes is a bit of a consolation prize in many ways.  Not that anyone would bemoan or underestimate the value of a Group 3 prize but these horses are the ones that are not quite top draw.

Tawhid has been travelling already with the Godolphin horse contesting in Germany – of some interest.  Gale Force Ten competed in the French 2,000 guineas and I am a bit surprised he is being dropped in trip, I won’t be on the favourite.

Garswood was the great northern hope in our guineas but disappointed a bit after being supported.  The trainers comments suggest he was still a baby and might be seen better here.

My eye settles on two.  At a massive 20/1 price, Ajraam looks a real likely sort having won the Wood Ditton and then beating a very useful looking sort in Henry the Aviator.  My second selection is the French raider Mutin – Surely to goodness, this horse has made the trip with victoire in mind and I want to be on at 15/2.  If you want one, go with our Gaelic friend.

The Duke of Cambridge Stakes

Duntle is very unlucky not to have a Group one to her name after losing the Matron Stakes to a stewards decision.  She looks likely to go off favourite here.  She did win the Sandringham last year and has clearly been upgrading since, of serious interest.

I think we can get her beat though and I am looking at Thistle Bird, Dank and Chigun.  This lot have raced each other twice already and it is a score to Dank, a score to Chigun and a blank to date for Thistle Bird.

I like Thistle Bird but think the other two edge it.  The problem then is I cannot split Queally and Moore easily… I mean if push come to shove, I prefer Moore but they are both class pilots.

The fine balance though falls in favour of Dank on grounds that when beating Chigun, she was giving 3lbs.

Prince of Wales Stakes

Then the one we have been waiting for.  Al Kazeem versus Camelot.  I have to admit that I was caught out by Al Kazeem giving a good beating to Camelot last time out.  There were no obvious extenuating circumstances, in fact, Al Kazeem was the one with something in hand so it is surprising to see them again jostling for position at the head of the market.

To be honest, that is where my search starts and finish for the winner of the Prince of Wales.  I mean, you can make a case for the French one, Maxios who has looked good at Longchamp this term.  I think the main threat is The Fugue, the Nassau was amazing

I was very taken with Al Kazeem and he is reportedly Arc bound, all being well – His trainer has always thought the most of him and I think 9/4 is a tremendous price.

Royal Hunt Cup

If you get to the Royal Hunt Cup and are in need of a winner, you know you are in trouble.

Stirring Ballad will be the first port of call for many ships in the Ascot maelstrom.  Trainer Balding declared him his best chance of the week and given that man knows how to win a handicap like this, many have taken a keen interest.

I am going to take a risk on there being a story in it’s own right.  I am backing Burke’s Rock at 16/1 with Frankie Dettori, to rise like a phoenix and remind us of some of his former Ascot exploits.  This filly has a good draw and while you cannot be too confident in the Royal Hunt, I shall have a slice.

Queen Mary

Reroute is both the Pricewise horse and my own selection after recording an eye-catching time on racecourse debut last Friday at York.  Much of the early evening value has gone but 8/1, you want to be involved, you know it!

The Sandringham

The Sandringham is another head twisting puzzle, a mass of horses coming down the straight course,

You would do better than simply to back Bracing Breeze who is sent over y the Weld team.  His Ascot runners are small in number but high on success and Pricewise has already suggested this as a likely winner.

Zurigha would have been high on my list but has to contend with draw 8.  The middle stalls are OK but lower middle is definitely a hindrance, Bracing Breeze is next door so both have some work to do.

The Major is opting for Mango Diva, 6/1 who is the best drawn of the horses I fancy.  Ryan Moore does the steering and like many of those lining up, has plenty of potential improvement.

Courage, luck and I hope we have a better day two.