Tag Archives: bog warrior

The Saturday Sermon – Doncaster, Navan and Kempton – 25/1+ tips in the Spring Mile and Lincoln

Good evening from the Major who writes from a warm friendly lounge at my in-laws in the Birmingham suburbs.

I have flown in and out of Edinburgh this week for my employer, yet I must confess that there was some pleasure to be had alongside the business.  As with all of the Majors travels, I file for your appraisal my report of the Scottish capital – I intend to keep it to the important facets.

The suburbs of Edinburgh are largely low angular, regular bungalow houses in cold and quiet neighbourhoods, most uninspiring, distant feeling, no.  This contrasts markedly to the City Centre where pomp and splendour is the order of the day.  The horizon is dominated by sheer faces of granite rising from the Earth in chest thumping confidence.  The properties amplify the feeling, hulking stone imposing structures, neo-classical and elegant and a little intimidating but pleasing to the eye.  Around the city walls, they grow in proportions telling of times when the only way to find space was up.

I undertook a whisky tasting session.  I tried to embrace enthusiastically the work at hand but must conclude that the drink is an abomination.  The textures and layers of a good brandy achieve the same without making you feel like you are swallowing bad medicine.

As for the folk.  The men are upright and have angular noses, speak directly and deal straight.  Perfectly acceptable.  The women folk are small, black bobs of hair, small dark eyes set into pale white faces.  They dress smartly, consistently and with warm sensible black tights and sensible shoes.  I always delight in a well turned out sort and compliment their sharp neat style with a wonderful accent of drawling soft burr and excitable inflections and the Major has found a blueprint to fall in love perpetually.

As these sorts age, their stature stiffens slightly and the lips purse but still curl at the edges, I am sure that their mind runs to fun if you can get beyond the conservative defence.  I did not have the time to test that supposition.

I stayed at the Balmoral – A friend later told me it is his favourite hotel, I do not rate it quite the same.  The views are excellent, the building is impressive, the cocktail barman an expert; yet the rooms lacked something and I felt it just short of some of the other luxury establishments I have had the good fortune to frequent.  I am not criticising it, merely applying the high levels of judgement required when someone purports something to be the best.

I am still licking my wounds on one of the most painful punting Gold Cup days in living memory – Each of my selections falling by the wayside, a relentless slaughter with no mercy shown.  Given my time again, I would have left the Gold Cup and celebrated instead National Pi day which happened to fall on the same day as the Gold Cup in this year – It would have aided my wallet and saved my emotions and energy.  Pi day is always 14th March work it out and is a worthwhile acknowledgement of one of the most beautiful aspects of mathematics.

The answer to the question, ‘What is a Circle?’,  Pi is an irrational number, it cannot be expressed completely.  Modern computational ability has calculated Pi to over a trillion places.  In the sequence, any patterns that emerge in the decimal places are purely accidental.  For example, the first five characters are 14159 and that sequence is first repeated when you get to 6954-6959 digits in.  The number 9 is repeated 6 times in a row just over 760 characters in, yet this is the only time a ‘6 in a row’ occurs in the first million decimal places.  Eventually, any pattern you wish for will emerge, if you looked deep enough into the decimal points, waves and waves of randomness but the scale of it throwing up anomalies.  The number is infinite, thus the permutations too.  That frightens me or at least unsettles me.  Eventually everything will happen – Hold on to that thought as we once again go back to the field of battle and continue our quest, concerned with landing the mothership.

To the sports.

Doncaster Tips

Now last week, the Major fared well, scoring some nice hits of which the highlight was 12/1 Pepite Rose.  I am only lightly boasting.

As the Lincoln meeting is the start of the flat season, it can be difficult to assess the form of the various strings flexing their muscles.  The Doncaster ground has come up soft and that gives us an angle to work on.  These flat horses, by and large, do not like it so and if we can find a few mudlovers, we will fare well.

I am not betting on the Brocklesby – I have enough of my faculties intact to see that as folly.

The listed mile race however….. well.  Guest of Honour, Fencing and Emell I suspect all want decent ground and so have the lines through them.  Andrew Balding is starting the season in scintillating form with 8 winners from his 17 runners in the last fortnight.  He saddles the outsider of the field in Butterfly McQueen who gets a handy fillies allowance and has arguably given her best in her two runs (resulted in a win and a place) on heavy ground.  Let it rain.  16/1 in a place, 14/1 generally.

In the 2.40 listed 6f race, I only have eyes for the favourite Jack Dexter who has looked a group horse at 6f on his favoured soft ground.  Heavens Guest might be the main danger but I am loading a cannon for the fans favourite.

In the spring mile, I am looking for a soft ground horse that has been drawn in the low numbers.  I want a four year old and the ground is key.  I have settled therefore on Freewheel at 28/1 with the assistance of the experienced and capable Fortune doing the steering.

Then the big one, the Lincoln.  I cannot find an ideal profile horse at all so it is with a little trepidation that I place a small stake on Unsinkable at 25/1 with Skybet (I have no affiliation – The Major is advert free, affiliate free…. always just mildly profitable and slightly unhinged).

Navan

One sniper shot tip for Navan and it is to take the 5/2 about Bog Warrior with all your available capital!  My favourite horse in training needed his last run and I promise he will put Baily Green to the sword.  He gallops for fun and while he is prone to incredible error, he will win!  Even if he does not, you will get the pleasure of backing a horse who runs without a care in the world, head in his chest!

Kempton Tips

The second and third races are the ones I am interested in.  In the second race, I like Trumpet Major as a competitor, he has proven class.  Yet, I am going with the gal, Modernstone who boasts excellent all-weather form including a second to Grandeur and I am backing her at 7/2.

In the 2.55, I like Rebellious Guest and Uramazin.  I have settled on the former.  No explanation, 13/2.

In the football, I shall try to deliver a hat trick of winners as per last week… Leicester have checked out a bit and Burnley pack enough punch that 9/5 is a bet.  Chelsea are a bet at 4/9 to beat Palace… they will not slip up.  Wolves are taking a small army to MK Dons and the fans will be rewarded 11/10…

The Martin Hill bet is Jack Dexter, Rebellious Guest and Unsinkable in an each way trixie.  I would also recommend a coverage on Bog Warrior doubled with Burnley.

I hope your dinner is excellent and in the finest of company, a goddess and a sage.  Allow yourself to be wineflown for the spring is here and that is cause to celebrate.  Tip well.

Courage friends and roll the dice.

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The Saturday Sermon – Ascot, Gowran, Wincanton and Haydock, plus the football

Good evening from the Major who writes from the bed, dead tired and with a low tremulous wind signalling the latest violent front being launched off the Atlantic, up the Severn Estuary and smashing into the first significant land since the Caribbean.

The Major has dined this evening with the good lady.  Now I know a few of you are wondering whether I am the romantic type and I might settle that thought by telling you that today is also my wedding anniversary, the twelfth to be accurate.  12 years, it goes by in the blink of an eye.  We were married in Sri Lanka and I shall not bore you with the travel detail that others may crow about – To dwell for long on such trivia is crass and wastes your time.  Suffice to say, I found the woman to come in rounded shapes, with toothy beaming smiles and a hearty wish for your contentment.  Excellent curry too, almost as good as the homeland, Birmingham, home of the balti.  The pleasure of a finely balanced dish, coriander, fresh accompanied by a cold fresh mango juice – God has been good to us.

Usually I detest dining on Valentines night, the expense, lack of choice, busyness and sense that you are being forced to behave a certain way, not for me – It is unsettling, lacks class, decorum wearing thin at the edges.  Tonight thought, we ate simply, in a decent pub, hotel slash restaurant..

The pub has its own farm and the pork was exceptional.  I don’t think the scallops were from its grounds, the flooding is not so bad yet.  It all went down well, mission accomplished.

The weather is fantastic.  I do not truck with these folk who wring their hands and decry flood and storm.  Naturally, I am as sorry for those who have their home flooded as the next man, it must be a terrible show.  No, I contend that Violenti Non Fit Injuria – You bought the home on the plain or river – You cannot claim victimhood when such water course overspills its guts.

I find the urges of some to cancel overseas aid disproportionate.  Less than a thousand homes, largely insured, have been flooded.  This does not construe a crisis.  As a nation, we used to withstand constant nightly shelling from the Luftwaffe, I think we can cope with this.  The old proverb of bringing your troubles to a common room with your fellow-man and choosing to leave with your own applies.  Syria has a population of 22m, approximately 8m are displaced and mostly living in tents, some in desperate condition.  2m of the 8m are children.  Do I sound callous?  I do not mean to – Anyone with a flooded home must be going through a terrible experience and I hope the spell of dry weather coming in persists.

I enjoy the excitement of a good storm, the violence of it.  Driving home in the middle evening this week, great waves of water were smashing into the windscreen, sheet after sheet, the horizon suddenly visible and then gone again.  I could make out the shapes of great terrifying trees, blackened against an already dark backdrop, moving in fast menacing ways, limbs twisting and thrusting, side to side, they looked like giant monsters fighting a deathly duel, all exaggerated by the low light.

I hope that all four of Ascot, Gowran, Wincanton and Haydock get the go ahead.  With extra rain and all four already at ‘heavy’ I fear we may lose some.

For weeks, I have heard the same view expressed, that come Cheltenham, on good to soft ground, we are going to see some surprising results.  Who knows what ground we will get.  I care little for this argument, my antepost has been building on ability only.  I have multiples galore and am most happy with the positions on Silviniaco Conti, Bobs Worth (yes I was backing both), Annie Power (WH so need her to turn up there), Vautour and a few more.  I am less confident about Our Conor (backed a lot) and have plenty of others I would ask for my money back on if the bookie were such inclined.

Anyway, it is time to start building our war chest.  Last week was not a great week.  A couple of winners but largely I made poor calls.  The Tom George horse Module hurt me the most, I had him written off but he won like a lunatic.

The mothership left the dock and deposited none of her kind cargo, no generosity was served.  Be warned too, my run this week continued with a series of ‘good things’ getting turned over – Arsenal, Barca – Christ, the account has taken a right beating.  At such times, one might retreat, draw breath, lick ones wounds and assess a new route.  Not for the Major, no… I shall polish my lancepoint because I know that my destiny is unquestionable.  I do not think it, I know it.

There will be another full frontal assort and these are my weapons of choice.  To the sports…..

Wincanton

Let us hope that this track survives the night intact and can get their excellent card on.

In the second race, a novice hurdle, the three useful looking favourites are all sired by super National Hunt stud, Kings Theatre.  One of his should win and I am taking Paul Nicholls charge Tagrita who is proven on the ground and has won three times this season.   Blue Buttons looks a threat and with Kings string coming back to form, The Pirates Queen may well improve from her earlier season exploits and the further distance, keep it sensible.

The Kingwell Hurdle goes off at  3.35 and pits Melodic Rendevous meets Zarkander and Grumeti giving 8lbs to the latter.  The easy pick here is Melodic and  suggest you smash in with nerves of steel.  Bet like a man possessed and be thankful.  The reasoning?  Well, Zarkander is decent, aptly demonstrated by his seconds this season to Annie Power and The New One.  While the ground will help him deal with such a short distance, this is a warm up for the World Hurdle.  The favourite is a tremendous traveller and given he has Notarfbad in the field (for pace surely) there will be no hiding place here.

Grumeti is definitely  better ground horse and if they leave him in, it will be the first time he has raced on heavy (record on soft 1/3, record on good to soft, 4/4).  Easily overlooked.

Haydock Tips

Celestial Halo has found an excellent prep race for his World Hurdle bid.  I would be interested in Restless Harry but believe he is Ascot bound.   Although it looks an easy and obvious pick (and what is wrong with that? Complaining?  See the manager!) Celestial looked at his very best when winning the Long Walk last time out.  Mickie would be the each way selection but I think they will all be enjoying a fine view of the Halo’s tail.

The Grand National trial is not my sort of race.  You may recall, you my not, that I am not a fan of the National in general.  Now the weights for the big race are out, we shall see some surprising steps up in form, I am sure.  Merry King and Our Father are both contenders for sudden returns to greater things.  The former has looked like a horse that needs 6m!  The latter was one of the best travelling horses I have seen.  Today I am having a small stake in the Venetia runner, Emporers Choice who will love conditions and we all know the form she is in in these big Saturday races.

Wolf Shield is drifting for the 3.30 but I would not dismiss it at 14s – Heavy ground and a return to form last time suggests it could get involved.  No, I rather stick with Flemenson or Horatio Hornblower.  On the grounds that he gets a lump of weight and the services of Maguire in the saddle, I am siding with the latter.

In the Albert Bartlett, I am interested in the proven mud sloggers, Wuff and Toubeera.  I got stung when writing off a Tom George horse last week (Module) but am happy to burden that concern again by suggesting a decent stake on 13/2 (Coral generally 11/2) Toubeera.  I prefer Aidan Coleman to Paddy Brennan, she gets some weight on grounds of sex, which will be a bigger help in deep ground.  I think the extra distance will suit also.  Have a slice.

Ascot Tips

It is a fine fine day of National Hunt and Ascot Chase Day is a superb card.

Ultra expensive Un Temps Pour Tout will want to win the opener if he is going to be considered a Supreme contender.  Given he cost £450k, it is the least you would want.

In the second, I am backing Gervey Chambertin at 5/2 – I always thought this classy hurdler would be an even better chaser and I would be disappointed if we did not see a good run.  It is unusual for me to back against a favourite that has much more chasing experience (Many clouds 3 runs) but those were easy schooling small field sessions and this is different.  Experience may not count if I have my theory right, that Gervey will be a spring heeled natural.  Let’s see.

In the 2.40 chase I do love Teaforthree – Here is something strange I learned this week.  Did you know he was the Sky Soccer AM horse?  Why they sold him I do not know but they would have had a placed Grand National horse on their hands!  Well, I am not backing him today as the main agenda will be Aintree.  No I think this is an excellent chance for Highland Lodge 7/2 but will be keeping stakes small.

Jump to the Ascot Chase at 3.50 – The most interesting runner of the day goes in this Grade 1 as Hunt Ball returning from his American adventures.  He can be backed today at 33/1.  Rolling Aces of some interest but on bare form, he cannot yet hold a candle to Captain Chris who should go in at 11/10. He loves the mud, loves going this way around, boasts good form that is strong this season… Looks one for the accumulators.

It can be a Hobbs / Johnson double as in the next Mountain King looks a great 6/4 shot – I was really taken with the way he travelled in the Ludlow mud and this progressive sort can go well again.

Gowran Park

At 2.25, I will be glued to At The Races in case Bog Warrior returns to the track.  I am this horses biggest fan, partly because I always felt he had tremendous ability but largely because of his distinctive style of running.  He lobs along, head firmly pressed down against his chest – Doing his own thing.  Now, I feel a bit frustrated for him.  He will love this heavy ground, his name is very apt.  Yet, I am perplexed as to why connections are taking him chasing again  He has often blundered at the bigger obstacles but is a classy hurdler.  Coming down the hill in the World Hurdle, I really thought he was going to play a hand – Then his serious injury effected him and he bottomed out quickly.  He has had lots of entries and I suspect he will be a NR again today but I look forward to his return.  For betting purposes, I am on Turban at 13/8.

Un De Sceaux has another procession planned for 3.35.

In the football.  Wolves are a penalty kick at 1/2 and I would lump in.  Southampton to win in the cup at Sunderland is a more tentative selection at 13/10.

The Martin Hill Multiple, which needs to land to build the man’s war chest is… Melodic Rendezvous, Horatio Hornblower and Turban in a trixie of glory.

I hope your dinner is kept simple but in the company of friends.  Eat with your hands, may I suggest Fajita – Becoming involved, mixing well people and food.  Drink well and be thankful.

Courage, roll those dice.

Cheltenham Day Three Tips – World Hurdle Thursday, Ryanair, Jewson… The awesome Aeroplane and another day sober in paradise

Good evening from the Major who writes from another bitterly cold Worcestershire which sports a biting wind.  The temperature remains cold enough to numb the touch and add a dull ache to knee and ankle joints.  The only antidote is the warming effect of winners and champions.

The former I had a couple of.  Only a couple and I am in no doubt that day two belonged to the enemy.

The latter we were blessed with, in fact we saw a new legend.  Sprinter Sacre was breath-takingly good.  He beat a Champion Chase field by 19 lengths, hard held.  The commentator summed it up suggesting that this steeplechaser was sent from celestial heavens… who could argue with that.  No doubt, we have a star and let us hope he remains centre stage for many years.

On Tuesday, I left the racecourse by the bottom car park and spent 90 minutes queuing.  Thus in a planned change of operational procedure, tonight I parked in town and walked, a test and learn.  It certainly was easier and it gave me the pleasure of a post-racing stroll through Pittville and across the park to my car.  It was all most pleasant but the trappings of the festival that you witness on this journey remain etched in my mind, as these things will.

The girls handing out cards for gentleman’s clubs look very different through the eyes of a sober man.  The language is the same… the use of the word ‘guys’ in a voice straining to suggest familiarity.  They aim to make the groups of men who average twenty years their senior comfortable, as though they are conversing in normal circumstances.  That level of performance though must tire and something in their body language, the slope of shoulder, the curl of a lip hides a disdain for the work.  It is cold and you can see it in their eyes.

Do not take me as a prude by the way.  I am a believer that consenting adults are perfectly able to choose what they want to do without my views and whatever contracts are struck are for those parties alone.  In fact I am generally in favour of skullduggery.  I just prefer it a bit more refined.

Sadly for the Major, Taquin Du Seuil did not win the Neptune.  I did not pass go, I did not collect significantly more than 200.  Still, the dream itself was worthwhile.  There will be another time.

We go into Thursday with our war chest intact.  Early exchanges have been searching, exploratory forays to test defences and reactions.  I almost fell into the trap of backing Coral Cup and Fred Winter horses with conviction, pure folly and I kept my losses sensible… The enemy allowed me fancy prices about Mullins Jnr and Nina Carberry in the amateur riders…  I took them.

The next two days could be taken easily, too concerned with the fear of loss to try to be glorious.  No, not for us, we know what we must do…  Read on only if you are prepared to come with me and face the abyss.  Fearless.

To Cheltenham…. load the heavy cannons, stand broad and tall.

The Jewson

Dynaste cost me a fortune when defecting from the RSA to the Jewson and I am not sure it was a great call.  His previous Feltham win was very strong defeating Third Intention and generally looking very good.  This is also my issue with Dynaste – He has only won one of four starts at Cheltenham and we know it is a specialist track

I think the RSA field was weaker and today he faces Captain Conan, a horse I can easily forgive a more lacklustre display at Sandown when winning latest.  That day he clearly was not himself but still finished well on the hill to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.  He was not right that day and he is reported much better now – I think a 13/2 punt (Paddy Power) is in order.

Aupcharlie has looked an immensely powerful traveller who has not always found much off the bridle.  Interesting but overlooked.

The Pertemps Final

Look, let us keep this really simple.  When Paul Nicholls describes a handicap mark as a ‘gift from God’, one should sit up and pay attention.  Sam Winner heads the market at 9/2 and I think it is well worth backing.  He has won twice at Cheltenham from four visits so the track holds no fears.  His Triumph race was interesting, while only fourth, he was staying on at the end.  He has beaten Grandouet and been within half a dozen lengths of Zarkander.  That makes a mark of just 140 very manageable.. I have to agree with his trainer.

The Pertemps is often won by a more experienced handicapper.  Maybe that is a reflection of the rigours of a big field.

If you like one at a price, Ely Brown at 20/1 does look a tad tasty.  Sam Winner for me.

The Ryanair

The quality of the Ryanair is superb this year as the Aeroplane scared people into stepping up half a mile in trip.

First Lieutenant is favourite and most argue that his form finishing in a heap with Flemenstar, Sir Des Champs and Tidal Bay is also key to the Gold Cup.  The Major remains unconvinced.  It is the presence of Tidal Bay that bothers me.  First Lieutenant is a top horse, he was a superb hurdler beating Rock on Ruby and showed promise as a novice hurdler.  Yet his last win was 9 starts back.  I know he has not been disgraced in any run since but I am always nervous with horses with bad strike rates no matter what their form lines.

Most people will be a fan of the favourite because of the stamina doubts of Cue Card based on a poor King George effort.  I don’t think that day had anything to do with stamina, I think he just had a bad day… it happens.

Champion Court has a lot of plusses but for me lacks the requisite je ne sais quoi.

No… Cue Card.. 7/2… smash it.

The World Hurdle

Reve de Sivola and Oscar Whisky are surely the key starting points in the World Hurdle.

Many had the latter down as a non stayer but I was never convinced about that and his last run at Cheltenham surely put pay to it.  I think he will be fitter for the effort and on much much better ground, he will have the measure of Reve de Sivola in my opinion.

My betting strategy is going to be clouded by the presence of Bog Warrior.  He is my favourite horse in training.  Top hurdle form looked like it might transfer to fences but some major jumping errors have seen them convert the horse back to hurdles and he has been awesome ever since.  If you want to see why I love the horse so much, have a look at the Drinmore he won on Youtube.  His style is head in chest, bowling along… How can you not love him?  He will carry a significant sum of the Majors wedge for that reason alone…

Yet my advice to you all is Oscar Whisky at 7/2.

The Bryne Group Plate

Sorry to be boring but I cannot get away from Ballynagour, 4/1.  The performance it put in suggested that we have missing a lot while he has been lightly raced.

Hunt Ball is eased back into handicap level and his mark may well be passable.  He won this off just over a stone lighter last year but is a class horse.

I cannot get away from the Pipe horse though… Join the money train.

The Kim Muir

The stakes here must be kept to a minimum as the puzzle is vast and the traps numerous.

There are only 5 horses in the vast field though that have won at Cheltenham and that is not a bad angle to take into this.  Super Duty, Prince of Pirates, Swing Bill, Galaxy Rock and Alfie Sherrin should all cope with the decent ground.

I put a line through Swing Bill because although some of his form is working out well, he is 12 and I do not like it.  Jumping puts me off Prince of Pirates but a clean round equals danger for all in my view.

The Major struck well in the John Oaksey by suggesting that the jockey in these amateur races is vital.  This brings other horses into contention too including Vesper Bell and Romanesco.

Class horses have no problems lumping weight around the Kim Muir so Super Duty and my selection should be fine if they have the minerals.  I am sticking with the boy who got the job done for us on Back in Focus…. Patrick Mullins is aboard Vesper Bell.. That one has placed form at the top level and the Irish National trial he competed in has worked out OK.  There is every reason to be excited about 16/1 so have a large slice and berate me later for being so interested in a horse in a ridiculously tricky handicap.

The Cross Country

Go back two days to see the reasoning for Arabella Boy to win the Cross Country.

Courage, roll those dice.

Sunday Racing Tips at Cork and Punchestown for the awesome John Durkan

Good morning from the Major who writes from the warm bed. Sausages are being prepared downstairs, all is well in the world.

Could we have had a better weekend of racing?

Firstly the class act. Sprinter Sacre did exactly what your spirit wants. Winning on the bridle and hammering Sanctuaire. The Nicholls horse may have over-stretched as Kumbeshwar stole second from him, murdering a few forecasts no doubt in the process. In a bout of spectacular aftertiming I was going to suggest that forecast to younyesterday morning as I thought it might pan out that way.

Still, enough of my own brilliance, you know enough of that, after all you are here and that can only be tacit acknowledgement of my minds power.

Sprinter was in a different league to the best we have, the form lines are insane. I put Sprinter Sacre 10lbs ahead of Jesus.

If that was not enough for you, you gluttonous fool, then the wins of Captain Conan and Golden Hoof were good watches too but merely accoutrements to a piece of racing history.

The biggest cheer on a racecourse was at Aintree not Sandown. 14 years young Hello Bud winning the Becher was eye wateringly good. As stories go this is unbeatable. You don’t get much better symbiosis of horse and rider than this. How the old boy held grimly on to win by a head was inspiring and the crowd duly lapped it up.. Bravo. Little Josh a hard working sort was a popular winner too in the last.

Is that enough? No! Red Cadeaux, globe trotting servant of the Ed Dunlop yard wins his first group 1 at Sha Tin in the early hours….

The stage is set for a magnificent Sunday but surely we have been given too many treats already. How do we beat the gourmet of delights already served up… We’re we deserving of them, have we been over-fed? No.

If you are near Punchestown you have to go. It is my birthday and I would love nothing more than to attend the John Durkan today. Plus, entry is €10 – for that you get one of the best races of the season….

Punchestown Tips

The John Durkan is a fabulous renewal. There are only four going to post but each is a worthy sort and put together it is an intriguing field.

Flemenstar has gone from strength to strength and is favourite today. You can understand why but this is the toughest task to date and I don’t want to be short changed. Sir Des Champs is the current head of the Gold Cup market after travelling and jumping like a dream in the Jewson. Great engine, great jumper, probably the best of these in my view but I am concerned that he might strip fitter for this.

The third of the second season chasers gets my vote. Regular readers know that Bog Warrior is my favourite horse in training. I love him. I also think he has a chance and 11/1 is dismissive. Firstly I think this is his best distance. He will be fit after demolishing a hurdles field last time out. He has also beaten Flemenstar all be it under different circumstances. Have a slice and thank me later.

Good luck to Mikael D’Haguenet who is odds on in the beginners chase…. Not for me.

I do like 3/1 shot Balnaslow in the earlier novice event though – point and bumper form is OK but Mullins introducing him into this company is an advert in itself.

Cork Tips

Three graded races at Cork, it’s a good day there too…

Tarla is not a punters price but 4/9 is probably still lenient and I advise the horse for some multiples. Same applies to Road to Riches.

In the Hilly Way Chase, I think the is a bit of value to be had. Of course the Mullins horse looks progressive but there are some seasoned campaigners here and some are very talented, if not altogether trusted to put their race in.

The one I like the most is 6/1 shot Foildubh who is still potentially improving and has some reasonable tied form with Flemenstar.

Courage, 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.