Tag Archives: big bucks

The 2014 Cheltenham World Hurdle Card Sermon – Forwards in courage

Good evening from the Majors abode where I write from the comfort of the lounge, shoes off, kicking back with a bottle of decent Malbec, the gentle neon glow of events in Catalonia providing a gentile fuzzy backdrop.  Outside, the evening brings a chill to prickle the skin, all pleasant, the smell of spring on the air.  The daffodils are at their brightest, the magnolia buds splendid and luxurious – Ah, it is good to be alive in England at such a time my friends – Be thankful for your lives, thankful for the incredible coincidence that created you and thankful for the wealth that life has bestowed on you.

Wednesday saw us draw blood, our sabres clashed with sparks and we drew a mark on the enemy.  Faugheen was the horse that I had lumped into and was a key part of many multiples – If we can get wins for Annie Power, Kings Palace, Silviniaco Conti and On the Fringe – Then a small mothership will have landed.

Faugheens victory appeared as though God was replicating the Supreme, trying to draw it again, only better, Ruby to set the fractions getting his beast into a lovely rhythm (although Faugheen doesn’t pay the obstacles any respect does he!) and then go for him off the turn…

On Tuesday as Ruby rousting Vautour from the bottom of the hill, I screamed like a man possessed, I was possessed…. KICK RUBY, KICK, KICK,KICK, KICK…. There was no doubt, to those within my locale as to where my money had been staked… Let me tell you, lest you not have experienced the sensation yourself, a winner under Ruby is 20% sweeter, 40% more energetic and 100% more memorable.  Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby… the crowd love it and so do I my friends, so do I.

I was working today and so have reviewed the proceedings this evening.  As such, I cannot embellish your apprehension and appreciation of the day.  I shall record this… Sire de Grugy must be one of the most popular winners of the week.  A bargain purchase, small owners (no discredit to their stature you understand!), what a dream.  I enjoyed the picture of Ryan Moore, who is himself accustomed to the splendours of Hong Kong, Japan and Ascot stood politely and in fine sartorial style, in support of the family ventures in National Hunt.

How unlucky was Katgary.  Now, you may notice that I tipped this horse yesterday and please understand, as a gentleman, I am not crowing at this misfortune, merely observing that having almost been bought down and after deciding to walk through the last hurdle, well there will be another day for that one!  Unlucky if like I, you were invested.

I was a bit miffed that Black Hercules could not hold the place but that was fair and square.  Bloody bumper, seduces me with a siren call each year.

Half way through now… and in dangerous territory.  Tomorrow, I am not going to go too hard.  The final assault on Friday requires suitable ammunition and energy, let us not leave ourselves short.  I haven’t the time to detail the 18th century exploits of General Gottfried von Clausewitzs but, I will find another sermon for that (I know…. you cannot wait), his simple words will suffice for you this evening, let them ring in your ears across the next 48 hours:

Pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination.

To the World Hurdle card, Shabash my Friends, roll the dice.

Thursday Cheltenham Tips

Once again, regular readers will be aware that I have already posted some thoughts on the Grade One races on the card which you can find on this link.  I will be referring to it throughout.

The further we get into the week, the more that good ground form is becoming a must.  With decent weather expected, we want those speedy sorts with youthful knees and plenty of healthy cartilage!

The opening race is the JLT novices, as a newly upgraded race to G1 status, I have already written up my thoughts a week earlier on the aforementioned link.

I have not really changed my mind… but I sort of have.  If you are on Oscar Whisky, I do not think you have a bad hand.  However, I am being swayed by Wonderful Charm.  Both horses have good ground form so I cannot claim it is that.  Someone quizzed my decision on twitter as to whether I had fully considered the weight allowance from their last encounter… Partly this and partly the fact that WC is less exposed has me switching allegiances…  Being proud and not recognising ‘confirmation bias’ is a fast road to the gambling poorhouse.  11/2 is available with Bet365 and a handful of others.

The Pertemps Final is a more tricky affair by nature.  If it were a girl, your mother would have warned you about her.  The Major also offers caution… I am having a slender stake on Utopie Des Bordes at 25/1.  It might be the Henderson second string but I think good ground might return the girl to good form.

Then the Ryanair – Again this has been covered on the previous post and this time I stick with my guns on Benefficient.  He was 9/2 then but the drying ground and common sense has trimmed him in to a best priced 7/2.  If you wish an alternative, I would go no further than Boston Bob who is a best priced 10/1 shot which is a reflection of his poor jumping.  Yet, he was a contender in last years RSA and if he puts in a clean round, I’d be surprised not to see him get close.

The World Hurdle is also covered on my earlier post.  No change.  Annie Power is bet of the meeting for me.  She is surely only going to get even shorter.  I am in the lucky position of having done a lot of business on her when her plans were unconfirmed and my portfolio holds some juicy 5/1 slices, many in multiples, that sounds boastful…. but I’m leaving it in.

She is a best priced 6/4, I am sure some generous bookie will go 2/1 for ten minutes in the morning and good luck getting on.  I think she will shorten further, because events influence prices.  Fresh in punters memories are images of The Flys defeat on Tuesday, his aged legs unable to keep pace with the new guard.  Big Bucks, come on in, your time is up.

The two races that complete the card are viciously difficult to interpret.  The Byrne Plate is possibly the more difficult with just a single winner in the last ten years returning at under 10/1.  I cannot really find a reliable sort for the ground.  I was half interested in Shangani for Venetia but, would you want hers on a rattling surface?  Hmmmmm Colour Squadron can go well here but 8/1 is no bet in this sort of race… Jonjo has to be feared in any festival handicap (as per Holywell on Tuesday) and Johns Spirit ran a blinder in the Paddy Power… Ballynagour was one I felt confident in last year but god only knows what to expect… The pin drops onto Third Intention who may not have the splash of stardom about him, but winners of this race rarely do.  New headgear, preferred ground….  I don’t know…. ask the bloody cat for all I care, he probably has a better idea.

The finale, is a little less perplexing – Indian Castle was likely going to be my selection but Annacotty let that form down in todays RSA and so I am less warm about the favourite this evening.  Our Father once looked awesome but goes on a long list of Pipe horses that I cannot fathom.  I am taking two (still to small stakes).  The first was my original thought, Night Alliance – I have liked the way this one has travelled at times and given a break after a gruelling trial around Haydock on suitably heavy ground, I am banking on a come back.  The other is back to Jonjo – I cannot leave Twirling Magnet unbacked at 14/1 – He won’t mind the sun on his back and a speedy surface and the master may have another prepared to perfection.

Good luck my friends.

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The Saturday Sermon – National Hunt Feast from Cheltenham, Doncaster and Leopardstown – A splash of FA Cup Magic too

Good morning from the Major who writes from the bed gazing serenely across a brightening Worcestershire dawn.  Once again the land is waterlogged, the brook over my road and down 50 metres has flooded, the temporary lake resting with the confidence of permanence.

The Major caught rest in snatches through the night, the time between filled with a headphone in one ear, dreamily listening to the World Service, drifting in and out of concentration.  The words and stories came to me as images, patchy and alarming.  Two dead building World Cup stadiums in Brazil, one fell from a roof.  Syrian refugees.  A bomb, half a ton of high explosive in Cairo destroying the oldest Islamic museum in the world, thousands of artefacts dating to before the time of Christ.

Coming awake is like leaving another world behind.  I need a shower to leave that night world where it belongs.  To delineate properly the border, reinforcements are needed to stop it seeping into the day world.

This week, Barney Curley landed a mothership.  Now, enough has been said for me not to bore you with my opinions but safe to say I love the skullduggery of racing as much as the next man and the suggestion it puts people off is a nonsense.  People are attracted to the richness.  It helps that I managed a touch on it myself.  I saw the Eye of the Tiger gamble and got 7/2 overnight, thanks to @yahwey I caught one other too, Indus Valley which I got at 10s.  Attractive prices but oh, how I wish I had gotten wind of the other two…

Cheltenham races today – Trials day.  I would be present but for the birthday of number one son, Daniel, he eight – Under ideal circumstances I would have taken him but at the age, the Science Museum and friends and family seems more attractive to him… He is a long term project, give me time.

Last week showed well, we travelled into the Sermon perfectly with a 6/1 winner and hit the mark with Melodic Rendevouz – I still managed to make the weekend a losing one after piling in most my bets to multiples including Wigan… They lost three nil at Doncaster.  The misery piled up in sedimentary layers… I saw they went one nil down… Then we went live to the Keepmoat for a goal update and it was two… The energy for the weekends punting seeping away, rapidly draining.

The same was true yesterday, after lunch I tuned in to see that Noel Fehily had won in the opener at 12/1 – What a start to the day… My Fehily multiple was looking in fine order.. It was to be the last winner he had – In fact, I did not manage another placed horse.  Disappointing.  Still, there will be many a false dawn before our own Curley sized mothership.  Indeed, you may have time to grow an oak from an acorn or you may be planning the spending tonight… who can tell.

Daub thy warpaint young warriors, we shall ride flank to flank, tight formation, with lances raised awaiting the order…. To the sports..

Cheltenham Card

No surprise, Cheltenham has gone heavy overnight so we are looking for some horses who can take it.  Out goes, The Giant Bolster (never liked him anyway), in comes Restless Harry (loves heavy and is Pricewise).

Goodwood Mirage is one of the most expensive national hunt recruits you will find, reaching 380k for his services, you would expect a lot.  Yet, price does not buy success in racing, particularly national hunt and the memory of Un Temps Pour Tout, who tempted me in with his 450k price tag (most expensive ever by the way) and failed.

Nick Williams has not had many runners but has Le Rocher who held Kentucky Hyden on heavy at Chepstow – On that form he is of clear interest and proven on the ground, hmmm.  Then the favourite, Vincezio Mio – Clearly Nicholls thinks a lot of him.  Ronaldinho is not a forlorn 20/1 shot if you read the list of horses the trainer has won this race with in the past – Katchit, Franchoek, Walkon and Grumeti.  Plus a 100/1 shot took this in 2010.  His Newbury race might not be that bad and although he was well beaten, he was prominent until after the last – He may be a non stayer, he may have needed it – We should certainly afford him the same flexibility we might afford Goodwood Mirage or Vincenzo Mio on those grounds.

It is a difficult race to make a call on.  Nicholls thinks a lot of Vincenzo Mio but he has not traditionally aimed his top guns at this.  I have to support Le Rocher over Kentucky Hyden but Nick Williams has not had many runners lately.  Sod it, I am sticking with the money… Goodwood Mirage  gets the tentative nod at 5/1.

Dark Lover has both course and ground form and so gets the nod in the second race which is a trappy handicap.  I considered the chances of Samingarry and Renard D’Irlande who both could go well, the former having the measure of subsequent grade 1 winner, Annacotty who I struggle to see overhauling him on these terms.  Anyway, 9/1 is available about my selection, with 10s in a place, if you have ever heard of Unibet!

I am not convinced that genuine heavy ground will suit Double Ross and so with an 8lb rise to contend with, I am going against the improver who I backed last time out.  Cedre Bleu is a horse I have followed and I like his chances but I am sticking with Venetia Williams and Aiden Coleman, a combination that is having a great season.  Shangani was a good festival runner and should be OK in conditions.

The Argento Chase market is led by Rocky Creek who is decent but at the prices, I am overlooking.  The same combination I liked in the previous saddle up with Houblon Des Obeaux, who has a number of fans.  Pricewise beat me to the punch with pointing out the chances of Restless Harry who loves it this soft and came back with a bang last time out.  The Giant Bolster needs good ground and Harry Topper is ridiculously burdened with the most weight of all.  No, regardless of ones thunder having been stolen, I am with Restless Harry too.

Maybe Lizzie Kelly will prove a great jockey, maybe it is the folly of love (she is the daughter of the trainers wife, who is also the owner – follow?) but I am surprised that a jockey with just ten rides to her name gets a ride on a horse with a live Grade 2 chance.  That said, she has won 4 starts, including twice with this horse, last time on New Years Day at this course.  Not for me.

No, I shall focus on the two market leaders, Red Sherlock and Rathvinden, both of whom are proven in the mud.  I am readily behind Red Sherlock who has been winning lesser races effortlessly.  His preparation is one that suggests the stable (although not my favourite yard) hold him in high regard and I am minded that he at least has the course form.

Then the big one and the big question – What remains of the incredible ability of Big Bucks?  He is only eleven but is bidding to win having been off the course for over a year.  If he was not so talented, passing him over would be easy.  His age and these injuries mean are hard to overcome and there are a couple of progressive horses lining up against him.

In these staying races, age can play less of a part as speed is less important than class.  Yet, the age does trouble me.  Big Bucks has occasionally looked like a horse that is not straight forward.  He has lost the jockey that really understood him too.  It is enough for me to look elsewhere.  I may well look very foolish come 3pm but my prediction is… pulled up.  I really hope that he comes home OK – Nobody wants to see a champion humbled, let alone injured.

I was a big fan of At Fishers Cross coming into the season but you have to be tempered by his performances.  I am not sure what has happened there but he looks one to pick up again after he has had a summer on his back.  Mind you, a return to form would be dangerous for the field as he is unbeaten at Cheltenham in three starts.

Reve de Sivola is a horse I have backed on a few occasions but never quite get right.  He seems better than ever now back in staying hurdles and my thinking is torn between his proven class and the potential of the Mullins raider Boston Bob.  Reve de Sivola causes me some consternation about Cheltenham having won twice from twelve starts…

Sod it, 9/1 is too big – I am hoping, it is hope, that At Fishers Cross has whatever issues behind him and can bring back the magic.  Surprise!

It could be that throughout the card I have not scored a single winner.  On the other hand, we could be holding that mothership ticket going into the last.  Seeing a Brian Ellison horse being backed (Totalize) is a signal but I am thinking that the handicapper may have taken a chance with Lac Fontana who is 7/1 generally and 8s with 888.com ironically.

Doncaster Tips

Is the drop in trip for Annie Power going to inconvenience her… no.  Is 1/5 a backable price… probably – She has been dominant in her races and looks a top class prospect.  It certainly looks like this is a signal that she is heading for the Champion Hurdle, which makes the Pricewise (third time I have mentioned him this morning!) 14/1 advice very sound.  Reading between the lines, I cannot understand why the yard would want to do it and have come to an unfounded speculative conclusion that Mullins himself would go to the stayers race but that Ricci wants a Champion Hurdle runner and ultimately, it is the owners horse.

Anyway, the two horses I am interested in at Doncaster are Caid Du Berlais who I want a lumpy piece of at an incredible 9/2 with 888.com (generally 11/4).  That price may be wrong and I am happy at 11/4 if I cannot get on.

I find Mart Lane an interesting runner in the Sky Bet Chase and his last run looks interesting.  Unioniste is no doubt a very good stayer but I am concerned that his exploits in Ireland both expose his limitations at the top level (Still excellent in this context) and more troubling, may have taken a physical toll – It was a tough race.

Alas, I am following a horse that will enjoy conditions and may well have some more improvement – Kruzhlinin.  He can be backed at 11s… Have a slice.

Leopardstown

Paul Townend has suffered the effect of Ruby being at home more weekends this year but gets a chance today on the Mullins first string in Ireland.  I rate him as a jockey and think he can take the Grade 2 Novice Chase on Djakadam.   Only 6/4 but I think this one will make a better chaser than hurdler and although less experienced and younger than his rivals, he gets some handy weight too.

Will Quick Jack keep up his relentless rise through the weights… Yes.

FA Cup action continues and my usual aim is to find overpriced Premier LEague teams away at Championship of League one clubs.  Swansea 21/20 at Birmingham City, Hull 10/11 at Southend and in League 1, Walsall at 7/5 and Wolves at 10/7.

The Martin Hill bet is a yankee including Quick Jack, Caid du Berlais, Red Sherlock and Wolves (if he can keep his breakfast down).

May your dinner be extravagant and in the best of company, with her wanton eye telling you to where her mind runs.

Courage friends, roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Hennessy Gold Cup 25/1 Newbury Tip

Good morning from the Major who writes from a bright Worcestershire scene where the top of the grass has been licked by frost and dark curled brown leaves clutter the paths.

At the start of the week, my locale flooded, rivers burst their banks, unable to contain the violent fast strains of rainwater collected in supply chains unimaginable upriver. It was one of those exciting scenarios that gifts the realisation that in such a modern age, we can still be held at the will of whatever the Atlantic or Artic decides to spit at us.

Many folk like myself enjoy such excitement, it is invigorating. It rattles the soul a little, throws up new angles and offers new reflections. After all, isn’t that the best we can hope for in life. For some, their reaction to drama is to complain….. come the Majors revolution, these will be the first to go against the wall. They will be in fine company – Piers Morgan, Anne Robinson and anyone associated with Radio 5 non sports output. I shall despatch them personally with my own pistol. Not enjoying the spectacles given freely to you is an offence to god.

This week, the Major was back at University studying Operations Management (does the supply chain comment make more sense now?). I am working in a small team of fellow students, thrown together by the course, purely chance encounter. Since a man like me has most sorts of debauchery bubbling just inches from the surface, it was not long until they sniffed me out as one who likes a gamble, was good with the bottle and game for mischief.

Since they have been introduced to the Major, I thought it fair to introduce them.

Pierre the investment banker thoroughly good sort with a raucous laugh. Nataliya who was straight as an arrow at first but with her growing confidence, comes a glint in her eye. Oliver, thoroughly clever sort, direct thinking – says exactly what he thinks. Tom whose employment at Rolls Royce is matched by a suitably plummy tone and Richard a man whose wide eyed reactions to new thoughts would make him a good poker opponent.

They are good sorts and I intend to improve them immensely by immersing them in a gluttony of dubious moral indulgences. You cannot pay for that sort of education. They can thank me later.

I wanted to mention why I like large cities and something about perceived wisdoms from a gambling perspective but instead we shall head to the sports, saving those thoughts for another time. Daub thy war paint young warrior and call up your light horse. We shall attack the high ground which our enemy has taken with breathtaking speed, scattering him before us and capturing his cannons.

To the sports….

The long distance hurdle puts Big Bucks back out and he is currently 1/10. I agree with the price, he has time to do a crossword and win this surely! Not a tipping race.

Tips for the Hennessy

I do love Newbury for jump racing. It is a fair course with demanding enough obstacles but what I like most is the long straight that seems designed to create dramatic stories. It is a shame Timmy Murphy is injured as he knows more than most how a hold up ride around Newbury bears fruit.

When I look at the Hennessy trends, it strikes me that you have two sorts of winners. Underestimated 6-8 year olds who show tremendous improvement to exploit lenient marks and seasoned top class jumpers like Denman and Trabolgan, happy to win shouldering a burden.

Could Tidal Bay fit the latter pattern? He has certainly reinvigorated the memories of youth, he strains at the bit now reminiscent of his juvenile days when surging on the bend to go clear and stay on up the hill to become an Arkle horse. Not today for the Major though, I always thought he was a bit hit and miss and never quite the finished article. Could be wrong.

Last years surprise winner Carruthers is off the same mark bar a pound And could be a threat held up. Is a repeat on the cards? Just doesn’t seem the sort for the Major.

Teaforthree is a interesting runner for Rebecca Curtis who never fails to make the Majors heart flutter. This animal will go prominent which puts me off but not as much as the core focus for this Cheltenham winner being the Welsh National in the Christmas holiday.

There seems a slight cloud over the Henderson outfit at the moment, many are running well and the strike rate holds up but in the mix are a number of disappointing efforts. This and the ground concerns (now all clear) mean that no one is buying into Bobs Worth. Interesting given that he was an impressive RSA winner to First Lieutenant and will be fit first time up (won last seasons debut). He might be inexperienced but he is likely the only likely Gold Cup contender in the field.

Remember, it makes good sense to swim against the tide sometimes as a gambler. 11/2 Bet365 looks massive especially as there are 5 places available.

The final horse I want to mention is the Hennessy tip…. DIAMOND HARRY. Already a Hennessy winner, my selection has seemingly lost the plot entirely. Following Diamond has been an expensive endeavour for the Major who was convinced he would beat up the Wincanton Badger Ales field last time out.

It is too early though to give up, he is a classy sort and the result of his recent derisory efforts is that he is now a stone below the mark from which he won the Hennessy (over Denman let’s not forget although a substantial weighted difference!). Load the cannons and raise a glass to resurrection and redemption.

The winner of the Badger Ales, The Package is the Pricewise horse although I don’t if Tom Scudamore replacing the injured Timmy Murphy is a significant blow to the horses chances. Have a saver on Bobs Worth near the off, his price is getting silly.

12.50 Newbury

Having said that of Henderson, stick Ma Filleule (God-daughter) in your multiples, exciting French import and I’m not sure the Uttoxeter form offered up in opposition amounts to much.

2.20 Newcastle – The Fighting Fifth

I love this race ever since the apple of my national hunt eye, Punjabi, took this on the way to Champion Hurdle glory….. Ahhhh blissful memories.

Today’s meeting only just got the go ahead and the heavy conditions have cut the field to four. It looks a penalty kick for Cinders and Ashes who is proven in conditions. So is Trifolium who also likes cut and so that’s my forecast. Countrywide Flame will surely be found out in the mud.

1.20 Fairyhouse

Final horses and thoughts from me on the Saturday Sermon….. Protarasfor the Noel Meade yard at Fairyhouse is a tip. This horse looks like it has some scope and at only 5, seems on a very workable mark. In good hands and 12/1 is generous.

I have to point out that Davy Russell skips a good Hennessy ride on First Lieutenant to take a promising book of rides at Fairyhouse. That looked an advert in itself and I’m going to tip a lucky 15 on Bright New Dawn 8/1, Midnight Game 10/3 (Simenon out), Bog Warrior (a horse I love, a real galloper) 11/10 and throw in Bristol City 8/5.

On the football fields, I am not convinced Villas scrappy 1-0 victory over Reading is a turning point and ‘Arry will have QPR wound up in front of the home fans, 11/10 must bet. I like Watford who are odds on but should win and. Finally 8/5 Bristol City who are in the relegation zone but can beat a confused and demoralised Wolves.

May your dinner be paid for by Diamond Harry at 25/1 and consist of steak, wine and fine accompaniments. I hope the company is generous in nature and as the haze of brandy settles on your mind, relax, these are good times.

Courage and roll the dice.

Thursday Aintree Tips…. Includes 18/1 and 40/1 shots

THIS IS THE 2012 POST for the 2013 Aintree Thursday card, follow the link.

 

 

 

Good evening from the Major who types in anticipation of a tremendous three days of racing in Liverpool.

The opening day of the Grand National is heady stuff as is this years whole meeting. Not often you see the winner of all four championship races at Cheltenham line up at Aintree but this year, Big Bucks, Synchronised, Finians Rainbow and Rock on Ruby all make it – this is going to be a great Grand National meeting, the Major is jealous of those who get to go.

The Liverpool Hurdle

Big Bucks will be breaking records by taking this, Breaking the British record for consecutive wins that has stood since the fifties. Words cannot describe the achievements adequately. It rated as one of the Majors moments of Cheltenham when Voler le Vedette came with what looked like a winning run at the last, only to see BIg Bucks find more and power on.

I cannot see Big Bucks losing at Aintree but it is hard to tip at that price unless you want to get balls deep (technical racing term) and at this stage of the season, that’s a dangerous tactic, even if Big Bucks looks bullet proof.

Smad Place paid a lovely place bet at Cheltenham for the Major and still looks on the upgrade, maybe it can close the gap but it takes a leap to think it will win.

Given the difficulty in backing the odds on Big Bucks and the fact that eight runners may become seven, thus compromising a potential each way steal, the Major feels unable to tip a Liverpool Hurdle sort.

Final note on the race is that Crack Away Jack owes the Major a substantial amount for consistent and almost feverish, perhaps even religious following through thick and thicker. 50/1, the ex Emma Lavelle inmate owes me a packet and perhaps the new yard and a tongue tie could restore some lustre to his running. If it gets to race time with all eight runners, I might have a small slice because any hardcore racing tipster knows exactly what happens when you finally abandon a horse you have relentlessly backed in the vain hope it is returning to form! Seriously though, maybe a change of scenery might give Crack Away Jack hope.

Juvenile Hurdle Tips – Aintree 2.30

Red hot stuff as the Triumph principles, including Countrywide Flame (winner) meet again. These conditions could well see a turn in form and it will not be a surprise to see the Triumph winner overturned. He was a surprise winner at 33/1 at Cheltenham and the beaten field will feel they have plenty of chance to turn the tables.

Grumeti was third in the triumph and the trainer sent out Walkon to win this race after he had lost his Cheltenham assignment.

The Major’s selection though is Pearl Swan. I find it an advert in itself that Ruby Walsh chooses to go with the last hurdle Triumph faller ahead of the other Nicholls horses which include the very interesting Hinterland. Pearl Swan though is tipped because I thought he was still in with a chance at Cheltenham and I fancy this to be the horses day.

Betfred Bowl Tips

Another race where the quality smacks you right in the face. I can only machine the joy that would greet Hunt Ball in the winners enclosure, Liverpool loves a rags to riches sort and Hunt Ball is the very essence of that. He started the season winning a Folkestone handicap chase off a mark of 69. That was the start of a unbelievable run which culminated in his Cheltenham win, earning a mark of 154, yep that’s 85lbs higher. Watching how he finished that race, you have to wonder if it is a Gold Cup horse. The Major always loves an odd sort and the quirky owner Anthony Knott, farmer, is one from left field. YouTube his first win as an amateur rider, genius.

That said, not for me. Riverside Theatre is definitely a classy sort but comes from a tough Cheltenham race, I also don’t think he wants stepping up in trip. Medermit still looks progressive too and would be my selection but I have a feeling about a bigger priced one.

The Major though is opting to tip an 18/1 shot (bodog) in Master of the Hall. The tip missed Cheltenham so is slightly fresher – Even though this is less of an advantage this year, given the greater time between the meetings, many Cheltenham horses are prepared and targeted in a way that means they are seen to best effect there and it can be a tough training challenge to get them up again for Aintree. Master of the Hall does not have that challenge and his form is not shabby; he is not an also ran and I think 18s is superb, have a slice.

5.25 Aintree – Silver Cross Handicap

David Pipe has a number of likely sorts but I am backing one that I think has a big run in it, Tenor Nivernais. Don’t ask, I don’t rightly fully know, just one I have allowed some excuses for and I still think a sort with a big run in it. At 40/1 generally you have to have a slice, thank me later!

Good luck to one and all.

The Saturday Sermon – Tips for Ascot 40/1 and 50/1! Fresh from the unhinged mind of the Major

Fair tidings I wish to thee from a cold frosty Defford, where the Major has taken the early morning air, breathing in the coldness until it hurts the lungs. Returning to the kitchen table where the coffee has been bubbling away, a beautiful morning.

Oh yeah baby, Big Bucks is your daddy

Recent tipping form from the Major has left an awful lot to be desired, in fact, it has been dreadful. If you have made a purposeful visit this morning, I urge you to consider your mental health, it must be akin to that of your bank roll. I thank you though and hope to reward you with a turn in fortune to fill your purse with the enemies riches. This is our Stalingrad, do not call it a comeback, we were never gone. All brave warriors experience despair and darkness before the final true reincarnation to ultimate deliverance, read the bible, we shall rise again so daub your war paint and sharpen the lance point.

This week, Chris Graham of Sportingbet tweeted to ask for help in amassing the best sporting moments in 2011 which he is compiling into a podcast. After consideration, I overlooked McIlroy (which even for a non golf fan like myself was sensational), I thought of Mark Cavendish who probably achieved more but settled for a moment of pure poetry from my favourite sport. Kauto was moving, but no….. Frankel was explosive, again no….. Hayley winning her G1 on Dream Ahead seemed special but no…..

The image of the teenager Michael Barzalona in a Derby photo finish bolt upright in his stirrups, arm vertical to the heavens, wow. The impudence and confidence of youth, to judge that Pour Moi has the momentum to win and to celebrate so audaciously, such an outpouring of joy, that image was poetic and no BHA campaign could ever do more good for our fine sport than that.

Sports moment of the year for the Major

Once the podcast that Chris is preparing is complete, I will post a link so we can see whether we were included and what others thought worthy. I am thinking of following up with my own end of year top ten horseracing moments of 2011, perhaps early January.

While I am on ‘mentions’, a big thank you to William Hill who sent me four tickets to the Kempton winter meet, second day…. Cheers guys, I shall now galvanise a hardy bunch who fancy a day in the bracing Surrey air to clear the Christmas heads. Let me know if interested.

The Major set up a social gambling club this year, called the King George Club, essentially members bet on behalf of the group and all winnings are kept in a communal pot. The most profitable member has to bet the lot on the King George at Kempton and if we win, we share all winnings equally, very social, perhaps slightly influenced by the teachings of Marx. We have just over (as Steve Palmer would say) a bag of sand to throw at it and it looks like it could be Mr Dipper to throw the dart. We are setting it up again for next year so if interested, again let me know.

Finally I am going to run a post soon on the best people to follow on twitter for horseracing fans. Again, I will get round to it, but if you don’t follow already, consider the Major (@tdl123) – It won’t enhance your life but it will make me happy.

To the sports….

The Lough Derg Long Walk – Ascot Grade 1

How fantastic to see such a good race named after Lough Derg, the bold as brass stayer who never lost for want of trying.

Here are a few numbers….. 1113, 999849, 4/20, 13. Any ideas?

They all relate to Big Bucks… 1113 days since his last defeat (which includes 13 races), £999,849 is his career winnings, 4/20 losses on British soil and 13 is his tally of Grade 1 or Grade 2 wins. Plus, he still has plenty of time to add to that!

This horse is truly the most accomplished in training and 1/3 does not look like a bad price for those who like to buy a bit of money.

I have to say that for the Major, I generally do not back Big Bucks. Largely because of the prohibitive odds but also his habit of getting off the bridle early in his races, it never looks good even if he always delivers.

Today, the only bet I could advise in this race is courtesy of a concession bordering on the crazy. Ladbrokes, the chief sponsor on the day are offering a refund on horses finishing second to Big Bucks. That surely makes Dynaste a bet to nothing. I love these competitive Saturdays with the enemy competing for our custom with loss making offers.

This Pipe horse deserves a crack at the champion even if he is rated a stone inferior. Pipe knows all about Big Bucks having chased him home with Grand Crus on several occasions, 5/1 with the magic sign surely makes it a bet to nothing.

1.20 Lingfield

The Major likes to bring you tips from the top races of the day but I also like the >£2k races in which my highly tuned sense of smell for a developing gamble can sometimes give us the great early value. Last night on Facebook, I put up Irons on Fire as a candidate, a horse so well treated on old form, it just stood out. Last night 7/1, this morning 11/4…. someone is paying for Christmas in the Majors view.

Even at 11/4, I do not think the price should stop you playing, I suspect a remarkable return to form and Irons on Fire scooting up to joyous scenes in the winners enclosure….. Thank you Jesus.

The Ladbroke

A fine handicap to close any day of racing and this is an opportunity to get a value punt in. This is the most valuable European handicap hurdle and as a result you get the best up and coming horses seeking to exploit their unexposed marks.

This is why as much as I like Marsh Warbler and Brampour, I have to overlook them in favour of something tastier down the weights.

The most obvious candidate is 5/1 Prospect Wells, a good flat horse now running for Nicholls and really fits the profile. A mark of 142 seems reasonable I just wonder if firmer conditions won’t be his thing, we shall see. Jockey booking of Walsh may seem important but I think Brampour would have had Nicholls nephew Derham aboard, regardless of horse ability, after the emotional win at Cheltenham. It is interesting though that Ruby rides Prospect Wells who is kept in the handicap proper by his stablemate – The flood of antepost money tells a story too. I would not put anyone off a Prospect Wells win bet.

I am going with two at bigger prices and suggesting one at odds that seem to dismiss any chance of victory, to a casual observer.

Viva Colonia is the first at 16/1. This horse finished well at Cheltenham when behind Brampour on last outing and it was an eye-catching surge. He was raised just 3lbs for that effort while the winner went up 10lbs, at the price, given some opportunity to come on for that run, I am having a slice.

The other selection is Gibb River, Hendersons string have been in such fine order and I have to say that at 9/1, this is an each way steal.

For those that like a monster price, Ciceron avoids being out of the handicap, again thanks to Brampours involvement. At least this selection will be fine on the ground, at 50/1 if the stable were in better form I would be tempted but no wins from the last 33 runners puts me off, shame I like a 50/1 steamer!

1.55 Graduation Chase

It looks to me like all the fun will be for the Paddy Power 4th, Aerial who has come in to dispute favouritism with Hell’s Bay.

I am all for the latter who has shown the best form by a stone and I think he will win so 7/4 is not bad. I would wait to place that bet though because I think he will drift as the money comes for the Nicholls horse. That is almost certain to happen in my view because I am sure as soon as a Nicholls winner goes in (of which there is ample chance with Big Bucks / Prospect Wells et al), the sheep will open their wallets.

That said, what about the others outside of the top two? Well there is an eye catcher. Soixante has not shown nearly enough to win on existing form but I do think this race will suit and 40/1 is the wrong price. Have a slice of that and send me the postcard.

To the other sports (Fairyhouse included!)

The wheels finally came off the Spurs bus which has carried me a long way this season, 2/5 against a possibly rejuvenated Sunderland is nor price.

I think the 11/5 about West Brom coming away from an unconvincing Blackburn is particularly attractive. Mr Hill, for once, I can see it! Take a piece of that.

I also like the 11/13 price about Newcastle getting the job done at home to Swansea.

finally Hull at evens to win at home against Millwall is like finding money in the street, load a new cartridge in the money printer for this one.

I suggest a lucky 15 on Mount Colah (banker in the opener at Fairyhouse), Hull, West Brom and Hells Bay. That should pay for a new pair of shoes!

This evening may you dine well, entertain the flaxen haired wanton piece. you know the sort, the curl of the lip, a saucy smile, knowing look and reckless sense of abandon. Tip well and at the midnight hour consider how good it is to be alive in this fine age of ours.

Courage and roll those dice.