Tag Archives: big occassion

The Saturday Sermon – Scottish National and Champion Hurdle Tips, Newbury 40/1 Spring Cup Tip… Plus, over-reaction

Good morning from the Major who writes to you from a Worcestershire scene bathed in Springs awakening.  A glorious chorus of blazing light from an azure blue sky with a freshening cool breeze and the land comes to life.

Transition – We are moving from one state to another.  The National Hunt season is in it’s death throes, Punchestown is around the corner but it is the leaving party, a celebration of what has gone.

In contrast, bright new two year olds, representatives of the top yards, hundreds of years of breeding excellence are launching their bids for stardom on flat tracks up and down the land.  Expensive reputations go pop, greenness is rife but in amongst it, lurks the next generation urging forwards relentlessly, for now oblivious to their relative impending end, a mortality we all share.

Spring is here, the most dishonest of seasons.

The Major was bought up in a conservative household, both in politic and conduct.  Not that I entirely agree with either as a way of life but it perhaps explains my detestation of over reaction.  It is an emotive response which I guard this merry band of warriors against.  Lend me your ear and do not dare skip to the tips – Why would you do that anyway, it is not as if great valuable treasures await you there, merely disappointment and soul searching questions, such as why do I return here each week…

As a gambler, selection is the art form.  Information is presented to us as it is to our enemy who prices future events on it.  We take a view and seek weakness in the enemies calculations.  This requires judgement.  Judgement requires the ability to differentiate the important from the not, to put aside noise and tune in to the signal.

Over reaction and partisan opinion is a curse of the modern world.  When presented with a situation, the expectation is that you instantaneously believe one thing or another.  You either love Thatcher or despise her, those in the middle are drowned out.  Those at the edges seize on facts and present them in loud cacophony as though the more inciteful the language, the truer the belief.  The fallacy is that there is a common sense, a greater truth.

Let us not talk politics at breakfast though, nothing could be more impolite.  Yet let me ask you to self reflect on how able you are to flex your mind.  Being able to do so will make you a better gambler, you will discard the untrue and the less useful more quickly if you consider the disease of over-reaction.

Take any major publicly debated event with popular opposing views.  Think of those people expressing the most extreme views on that spectrum.  When the pressure is upon you to have your own view and express it to others, how often and able do you say…

 I have not made up my mind yet – Indecision is portrayed as a weakness by those incapable of critical thought.  Au Contraire, allowing yourself time to consider and weigh your opinion, particularly in situations where a strong perceived common sense answer exists, is a strength.  Reserving your judgement while all around you show a complete inability to do so, is a virtue.

Inability to change your mind – Sticking rigidly to a belief is linked to the last point by the disease of blind conviction.  Feel comfortable with the words… I used to think this but I now think I was wrong.  

Ask yourself why you believe a view to be true… Beliefs are entirely personal, they belong to you alone.  Beliefs are constructed from two ingredients and understanding them can help your critical thought.  Facts and Stories.

Facts are (as far as science can take us) evidence based and in themselves have no opinion.  Story plays a more central role in constructing a belief.  You can draw your story externally but more crucially internally.  Thus you can change your belief about a given set of facts just by telling yourself a different story.  This is a founding principle of establishing a sporting viewpoint for a bet.  We can all see the Premier League table, we all would draw different beliefs on what happens next, the only difference between the table and the outcome is the story we have told ourselves.

The vitriol of others is their own issue…. When you disagree with someone of partisan mind, they tend to go through a number of phases – Seek to recognise them and it helps you be comfortable in your position against them.  Firstly they think you do not have as much information as they do, so they will seek to share new facts or show the old facts through a new prism (Think of all of the Thatcher stats put out this week).  Then they believe you are incapable of understanding the data as they do, that you are stupid.

Should you demonstrate equal mental agility but just prefer a different story, the third and final stage of their reaction to you is disgust.  They think you are evil.  They think you know what they know, are able to see the truth but choose to say something else out of a dishonest malevolence.  This is not your problem, do not hand over the keys to your decision making process to idiotic tendentious idiocy.

To the sports…

The Scottish National – Ayr

An incredible turnaround in the weather has seen Ayr go from barely raceable midweek to perfect spring ground today.  The Scottish National is on along with a few other decent races so….

First of all, the Scottish Champion Hurdle at 2.40…

This is a nice race, the field is open which reflects the limited handicap coupled with the fact that not many of these are soft ground specialists meaning they should all cope.  That boils up a nice race and I am opting for Une Artiste, 9/1 Hills.

This girl is a favourite of mine and although in decent company here, I think there are good reasons to have faith.  She is getting a stone from the top weight Grumeti (who must have a chance of his own with his Countrywide Flame form looking better as time elapses!) which is helpful.  She will love conditions and I think the large field in the Mares Hurdle may have been the undoing of her last time.  There will be far less hustle and bustle to this and I hope she can acquit herself with honour.

I have an early line through Sametegal who although one for the future after the Triumph, this race usually goes to one more experienced.

The Scottish National

Twenty six runners and 9/1 the field make the Scottish National a bloody challenge to tip.

I like Big Occasion a lot, his big field stats bode well alongside his staying credentials (Midlands National winner last time out) – I am sure he is capable off this mark but his jumping troubles me a little.

I much prefer having a horse on side below the 11-6 cliff that appears in the weights..  This rules out Auroras Encore, Lion Na Bearnai, Silver By Nature, Our Mick, Always Right and Rival D’Estruval.  The last is favourite and you can see why, if there is to be a trend buster, I think he is the likely one especially with Timmy Murphy up who is the best staying chase jockey (won this twice in last three years aboard Merigo)

One that ticks all the boxes though and has a superb jockey up top is Monsieur Cadou – At 14/1 (Bet365, Ladbrokes) he is the Majors Scottish National tip.

Tap Night looks to hold every chance in the 2.05 Vulmidas Cup – Have a lumpy one.

Newbury Tips

Frankels brother Noble Mission has an excellent chance to pick up a decent prize in the Group 3 at 1.50pm.  Model Pupil is the main opposition and I think he needs another half mile to be seen to his best.

The Spring Cup is a riddle locked in an enigma and my dart has landed on Memory Cloth at a whopping 40/1.  I was with this horse last week for the big handicap and he let me down but I cannot help but stay on this track now that an eye catching jockey booking has been made.  Queally does not normally ride for Ellison and since I rate him a lot, I am having an investment.

The Football

I cannot believe Cardiff are almost 2/1 to win at Burnley.  It is a time of year where prices for better teams become over inflated on the angle that they have less to play for…  Have a slice of the Bluebirds!

Southampton have played themselves out of relegation trouble it seems but Swansea are a team that I always want on my side and 7/5 for a home win is generous.  Sunderland might be hitting a hot streak and 12/5 is another price to be on for a home win against Everton.

QPR do not strike me as a team that will play better for the pressure being released.  I expect Stoke to win so 13/5 is another juicy price.  I also think Norwich is a big win price at 4/5.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Cardiff, Monsieur Cadou, Une Artiste and Tap Night

May your dinner be marvellous  flanked with beautiful people of great company. Courage and roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Newcastle Eider Tips, Arithmetic Gambling

Good evening from the Major who writes from a Worcestershire whose glorious air is frozen, so chilling as to be alienating, take refuge indoors and stoke those embers.

For me the evening held an emergency trip to the good lady stranded on the side of the M42. Two small children, traffic flying by, most unpleasant, most unsettling. All is now well, the brood are returned, all is back to order.

How is your arithmetic? The Major spent many a night as a young man at the pub dart board. Traditional etiquette dictates that you chalk your name on the board to indicate your intent to play and then immediately prior to your game, you score the preceding game. This, I hold, is the main reason that my own arithmetic is of a credible level. Calculate the sum of three numbers (often multiples) and detract from a starting point of 501 (after 5 pints), repeat ad infinitum and you have a successful strategy for improving your mental number dexterity.

Yet, my own skill is merely amateur. If you have a few moments of your life to spare, observe the mathemagician.

He reminds me of a story concerning one of the greatest mathematicians of our time. Srinivasa Ramanujan had no formal mathematical training but made a huge contribution to number theory. He came to Cambridge and completed some amazing work. Hardy, a fellow academic famously recalled visiting him in hospital and casually remarking that the number 1729 (the number of the taxi Hardy had arrived in) had no significance. Ramanujan replied that he was wrong and that the number was particularly interesting as the lowest possible number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.

That’s pretty impressive n’est pas? However I question whether he could have scored 321 down by twenty, treble 17 and twenty five and I suspect he was slow to get the round in too. 225 by the way.

Successful gambling is part art, part maths. I would not put you off a gut instinct but I would encourage you to give yourself maximum advantage. Allow me to stretch your probability muscles in readiness for the day. Imagine I offer you a game of dice. Two die are involved. If I roll a 12, I score. If you roll a seven, you roll again and if you roll a second consecutive seven, you score. We can play for £10 a point – Fancy the game? (answers in the comments!)

Why do this? Well, we need to keep ourselves match fit, the significant engagements are coming. I see the enemy raising and rallying behind his standard. They are going non runner, no bet – BetVictor was the first to break rank but I understand Bet365 have too. Paddy Power tomorrow, mark my words.

Cheltenham is so palpably close my friends. Stand with me, side by side, each man holding the square. We need not flinch yet, keep your nerve young man, they circle us with their superior number, the metal of their blade offers sudden violent glints but do not be panicked. For if each can trust that man at his side then we shall stay strong and defeat their superior number.

To the sports. Take it easy today, protect that war chest of yours.

Newcastle Eider Card

The Eider in soft ground is as searching as test as you get in National Hunt racing. A few runnings on heavy have left a handful of runners out on their feet struggling to the line. Frankly a sight that does not befit our sport, in fact at that level it is no longer fair to describe it as a sport. Tomorrows test, while stretching should not be such a harsh examination.

It is surprising but lumbering a weight around the Eider has not been a hindrance to success. Comply or Die managed it off top weight and last year Portrait King carried eleven eight to victory.

We are however after a thorough stayer. The favourite as I type is Chac Du Cadran. He is young (7) but there have been similar profile winners, such as Portrait King, and his last run was a very good marathon examination. He is up the best part of a stone but has a thoroughly progressive profile.

The presence of Master Overseer has put half the field out of the handicap and while the top weight has a big job on his hands, he is a class act on his day. The big question is which version of the horse turns up. Danger to all if he gets his own way.

To add a further layer of intrigue, the presence of Master Overseer is keeping his stable-mate Big Occasion on bottom weight. He has the distance to prove and has not shown enough yet. Intriguing though.

The other eye catcher is Rapidolyte De Lada at 14/1. This horse won a small time affair at Carlisle but looks the sort to be fancied by this.

On balance, the Major opts for the class act on an each way basis. Master Overseer can be backed at 8/1 with Bet365, have a slice.

Kempton Tips

Starting with the Adonis (2.05) – This juvenile is going to give us a huge pointer as to the Triumph in less than three weeks time.

Irish Saint is well fancied after being denied by the exciting looking Rolling Star last time out at Cheltenham. He has not raced on anything other than soft ground which is a slight concern. He is a listed winner in France and clearly feared as the Ditcheat best pop at the Triumph. That form is pretty hot too and given he has shown an aptitude for the track, I fancy him to come out on top and 6/4 is a decent price. Strong bet advice. L’unique is the only one fear.

The 2.40 is the Pendil Novices Chase and this is a race that Paul Nicholls clearly likes for his top novice chasers. He has won the race an astonishing six years in the last seven, including Cristal Bonus last year and I am backing Grandioso to keep up his marvellous record at 9/4 (Coral). He looks versatile regarding the ground and his Ludlow win was very taking.

The 3.15 Dovecote Novices hurdle is a classic case of a more experienced sort in Brick Red taking on some young pretenders. I am a big fan of the Venetia Williams horse, he has won some good handicaps and deserves a crack at this. Yet I cannot help but feel he is vulnerable. Alan King took this race last year with Grumeti whom he though very highly of and he won it in 06 with Senorita Rumbalita and in 2009 with the well touted Trenchant. Thus I follow Fair Trade in at 8/1 with a fair degree of interest.

The 3.50 has all the signs of being a smash and grab job. JP has just spent a fortune on Wyck Hill and all the signs are that this mark is well within the horses capabilities. 3/1 could look exceptionally generous. Expect him to lead and I think he might be hard to peg back. Nacarat would bring the house down if he could must what it takes, good luck old boy.

Fairyhouse Graded Contests

Fairyhouse has its own warm up show for the Triumph with Dogora and Stocktons Wing seemingly the two to concentrate on. Is it just the Major who thinks this or have a lot of Ricci owned ho pots with Ruby up come a cropper when out in front? Not put off, I stick with the evens favourite to get the job done.

The Bobbyjo chase is one of those contests run after the national weights are out where we get a better idea of the principles chances. Seabass is my tip in the race at 4/1 who I think has been lined up for a pop at the national. While Prince de Beauchene may have all of the form, record and connections to be a worthy favourite, a national plot horse is a national plot horse.

In the football…

Connect your carriages to the Watford money train once again…. choo choooooo 5/6. Oldham to beat Portsmouth 8/11, like last week it feels like a cheap shot. Peterborough to beat Blues 7/5 is a bet too.

May your dinner be served by some fine European sort who treats service as an art form and is reassuringly expensive. This can only be paid for with some significant combinations today so good luck. Go easy on the brandy too, none of the XO, Cheltenham is almost here, save thy liver and thy purse.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Master Overseer, Irish Saint, Watford and Grandioso. UPDATE – NEWCASTLE OFF so replace master overseer with Fair Trade

Courage, roll those dice.