Tag Archives: cape tribulation

The Saturday Sermon – Breeders Cup, Ascot, Wetherby, Down Royal… Fabulous Day of Sports… Courage and Roll the Dice

Good morning from the Major who writes from the early morning bed, such a fine day of sport has me alert at an early hour, my head snaps up and left to purvey a Worcestershire scene, the weather is not consistent with my senses.  The horizon is lost to a soupy grey blankness whose cold permeates you just by looking at it, ghostly trees poke through the still and choking mist, their limbs at strange angles, everything weighted down by a dampness you can feel.

I feel in contrasting mood though, sharp and earnest.  I have spent the week in London, or at least the latter half.  I have stayed in fine hotels and eaten well, business was conducted in amicable and brisk terms with mutually beneficial conclusions reached with little conflict.  All in all, most pleasing.

I attended a dinner in Mayfair on Wednesday night, a very fine occasion too.  It also happens in close proximity to my casino of choice, so it seemed perfectly acceptable to pop in for a few spins of fortune in the small hours – That proved the fast route to a lighter wallet.  Leaving just after midnight, I found the tube closed and since I was staying in Bethnal Green, I resolved to walk embracing the night air, I estimated it at just over an hour at a brisk pace.

London is a fine place and the richness of life was abundant.  For some, walking in a forest in spring, with nature coming to life, from its formerly frozen slumber; that experience brings great contentment.  For myself, I draw the same from such busy urban scenes.  Full of mischief, opportunity and intrigue – bristling with life.

Halloween parties spilled their drunken youngsters onto the streets, three half-naked men fought in Leicester Square but with little serious commitment to their causes, men in Hi Vis jackets performed essential maintenance tasks on drains and lights and emergency services hurtled by, their stunning deep blue lights scattering across the architecture which towered above.

In Covent Garden itself, men were putting the finishing touches to the Christmas Tree, which, being Covent Garden needs to be extravagant.  While now, I think of how irritating that such things are done at the end of October (Come the Major’s revolution, we will not be allowed to celebrate Christmas until 20th December), at the time, I just marvelled at it.  The splendour of it all.  I am under no illusion, the city, any city, has no care for me, I am merely present as an observer, a passer through – welcome but soon to be discarded.  Yet I am drawn to these scenes, life itself is played out in just a short walk and these attractions are like a siren call.

As I left Covent Garden, a consistent and cold rain came suddenly, clearly able to seep through any protection my clothing offered.  I flagged down a black cab to complete the journey.  The streets now were dark, the road was black and  slick, with the window down,  I could hear the pleasant kissing sound of the tyres against the asphalt.  Cold air through the window filled my nostrils and I felt that rare feeling… Contentment.  All I say is this, it is good to be alive.

To the sports.

Wetherby Tips – Charlie Hall Chase Day

The national hunt fixtures are coming at us thick and fast now and Wetherby sees some real stars of the track come to their seasonal debuts.  Let us start with the big race.

Long Run is clearly the main attraction in the Charlie Hall Chase.  He is a horse that always strikes me as older but you have to remember he was one of the very few horses to win a Gold Cup at the tender age of 5.  Many astute judges have poured some scepticism against the quality of that renewal and I cannot deny that my own seemingly unshakeable faith in Long Run is starting to shake.

Yet, he is a remarkable horse and at the age of 8, is arguably coming into to his peak season.  Here is a stunning statistic for you to bore others with.  Long Run has never been unplaced.  I repeat and embellish… Long Run has never been unplaced in TWENTY SIX runs under rules in Britain, Ireland and France.

You may detect a note of determined defence in my opening gambit for Long Run, if so, I congratulate you, your political antennae are well tuned.  So, please take my selection of Long Run for the Charlie Hall with the understanding that my soft spot for the old boy remains intact.  This year could be a stunning one in the staying chaser division and I hope my boy can get them off to a good start.

His opposition in the Charlie Hall consists of Grade One winning Benefficient who I think wants better ground and Unioniste who I doubt is that good and there is a small shadow over Paul Nicholls runners it seems to me.  The one I would be most concerned about would be Cape Tribulation.  While Imperial Commander may not have been his old force, it was a fantastic duel at Cheltenham last season and this is a dangerous sort to underestimate on his day having finished fifth in the Gold Cup and he also loves heavy ground which he may well yet get if the weather gods are with him.

The West Yorkshire Hurdle has lost At Fishers Cross which is a crying shame because I really thought that was a weekend banker.  For most, it leaves Tidal Bay as the obvious place to go and I understand that thought.  Yet, I cannot.  I do love Tidal Bay, he has been a great servant to the sport and his wins last year were inspiring.  He is twelve though and my tip, Medinas, is half that age.  He is a Coral Cup winner and improving, he won’t mind the bad weather coming and has just a fistful of pounds to find on official ratings with Tidal Bay – When you consider that Medinas is half his age, it is an easy enough assumption to think that improvement could be forthcoming.

Ascot Tips

The three mile handicap chase at 3pm, the United, is a trappy race to call but there are a few in there that are worthy of attention.

Twirling Magnet is a huge 16/1 with Bet365.  He has clearly not been a straight forward horse and has been bedecked in all manner of headgear.  He came good at Cheltenham at the end of last year and while his strike rate has not been prolific, I think there is reason to believe more could come.  Firstly, he is starting to get the hang of it, secondly, he is ground versatile, thirdly, he has the very capable Maurice Linehan in the saddle. Of interest.

I would not put you off a slice of Same Difference either.  He placed in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in the spring and that was terrific form.  If he is picking up where he left off, there is a big chance of a massive run.

I am looking to one of the unexposed sorts though and the horse that appeals the most is Opening Batsmen.  I get the services of Noel Fehily in the saddle and long term victims of my blog will know that I consider Noel a huge advantage to a horse in any race.  My horse is an improver too – We have to put a line through his run at Aintree in the spring but that was on unfavoured ground and at the time of the season where many horses are over the top.  I am happy with 9/1 – Take a slice.

I plan on a second Fehily inspired punt on No No Mac in the 3.50 – The form of his start this season has been firmly franked when his close conqueror at Uttoxeter, Timesrememebred, went on to smash the Grade 2 novice at Chepstow.

Down Royal – JNWine Tip

While Wetherby may have Long Run, the JNWine has attracted a stellar line up of Sizing Europe, First Lieutenant and Kauto Stone.

For me, it makes sense to focus on the first two in the market.  While Kauto Stone has won this before, I am suitably concerned by the runs that some of Nicholls horses are putting in that I do not want to be on this ones side today.

Sizing Europe has not had a brilliant record when stepped up in trip but this is the place to try again and he has been desperately unlucky not to win one of these.  He has been beaten by Kauto Star and Quito de la Roque in this race in recent years.

First Lieutenant has three years on the former Champion Chaser and proved a very good horse last season, arguably unlucky not to come away with a greater haul of trophies.  Like Sizing Europe, he has had a warm up race, unlike Sizing Europe, he did not win his but was only down a length or two.  Also unlike Sizing Europe, it is my belief that with slightly younger legs, he is better equipped to get over those exertions earlier.

For reasons of class, you might pick Sizing Europe.  For reasons of youth and improvement, I am opting for First Lieutenant.

If you like a price, I would not put you off Quito de la Roque at 14/1 who may play a hand.

Santa Anita – The Breeders Cup

At the Breeders, I am going to be on:

9.05 – Mizdirection 9/2 – Unbeaten at Santa Anita!

9.43 – Havana – 3/1 – Will outclass these, ignore comments about last run being less than impressive

11.40 Wise Dan – 5/4 – LOAD THE CANNONS!

In the football, I fancy West Ham at 5/4 to beat Villa at home.  Many think the Villains are a better team away from home and that might be true.  I also still have concerns over their overall quality and am happy to take the hammers in this.  Chelsea are a big 4/6 to win at Newcastle in my opinion with the latter starting to struggle.  Wigan 17/20 to win at home is a price I want as is 6/10 Coventry to win at home (well sort of home).

May your dinner be in the best company and the wines delectable.  As the waiter brings the bill, be generous as you can afford to be.

The Martin Hill bet is West Ham, Havana, Wise Dan, No No Mac and Long Run.  Take them in 1pt doubles (10 bets) and 0.5pt trebles (10 bets) and stick a few pennies on it all coming home.

Courage, roll those dice.

New Years Day Cheltenham Racing Tips

Happy New Year to all the faithful who have followed through glory and into darkness, we emerge into the new light with our faces ablaze in the warm glow of certainty, certainty that we shall take the enemy and empty his satchel.  This year, we shall land the big one.

To Cheltenham, allow the air to clear your head

I am going to post my top ten horseracing moments of 2011 soon but it does appear everyone has beaten me to it.  I will do it regardless, watch this space.

Today, racing is at Cheltenham and the Major is taking his youngest son (3 verging on 4) to take in the smells, sights and to get a basic grip of the fundamentals in the betting transaction.  It is good to indoctrinate early.

Here is my brief view of each race on the card.  Perfect ground awaits in Cheltenham, we had some decent rainfall which has sent us to the gooey end of good to soft, ideal stuff, no excuses.

12.30 Novice Hurdle

Of the form shown, I think Barbatos is probably the best of what we have seen, but the known performance in this race is probably not that helpful.

Instead, the Major considered opting for the Rebecca Curtis trained One Term.  This horse has raced in fields of 10 or more runners 4 times and that could be handy here.   The listed bumper form reads well and I feel this one could be a decent 7/1 chance.  The stable form puts me off a little.

So I prefer the chances of 10/1 shot Imperial Circus who showed terrific spirit last time out.  On that occasion he managed to muscle Rolling Aces out, that horse was a 1/2 Paul Nicholls shot so both the form and the manner of victory are eye-catching.

That attitude augurs well and a half mile drop back in trip in unlikely to be a problem. 

1.05 Novice Chase

If Solix is to win this, it surely will his work between the fences rather than over them which seals victory.  As a hot chase, that is a key concern for the Henderson horse.  That said, Solix beating Syrabrite was decent stuff.

Sonofvic is the obvious choice and I am going to put noone off a bet.  He jumped well when in behind Grand Crus at Newbury and when you consider that the World Hurdle bridesmaid has now been installed as 10/1 in places for the Gold Cup, it gives a flavour of what Sonofvic achieved, all the more impressive as it was his first shot over regulation fences.

I cannot see a reason why 5/4 is not a steal for a horse that Nicholls has been very positive about on Twitter.  Get on Sonofvic.

With doubts about jumping, Invictus would replace Solix as my choice for the forecast.

1.35 Handicap Chase

This is a much trickier puzzle and the Major has spent some time ruling lines through those I think cannot win, several possibilities remained but I have stuck my neck out on a selection I hope can give us a great value run.

There are some terrific veterans running in this , horses that would give Kauto a couple of years!  The Major however is siding with Mostly Bob at 10/1.

Despite being prone to the odd error, I feel this one can certainly be involved with a clean round.  10/1 seems a fair price to pay to see if he has learned from his first Cheltenham experience.  If they go off too fast, expect Mon Mome to run a big race from the back, two and a half miles is a daft distance and I can only assume that this former National winner has another target for which the handicap mark needs protecting.

2.10 Chase Handicap

The two of interest to the Major are Cape Tribulation and Havingotascoobydo.

The latter looks very interesting being put back up half a mile on recent handicap efforts, which were decent anyway.  If that sparks a bit more improvement, he should be involved and 7/1 is tasty enough.

Cape Tribulation needs to improve again over fences as he has been better over the smaller obstacles.  That said, his reappearance was probably needed and conditions will be fine, the early 20/1 has gone but 12/1 does not feel prohibitive.

Final mention goes to Calgary Bay who has not built on the promise shown as a novice some seasons ago.  That said, the recent course reappearance was adequate and there is still scope to improve.

Overall I am siding with Havingotascoobydo who having turned 7 today has the relative youth to improve again now stepped back up.

2.45 Handicap Hurdle

Great to see Tidal Bay out running at Cheltenham.  I have a soft spot for this animal from which any performance seemed possible.  Is it credible that Nicholls can eek a bit of the old form now the horse has turned 11?  On balance, the Major thinks not, though noone will be cheering more as he rounds the home turn in front!

Oscargo looked a first-rate horse at the last Cheltenham meeting, even though he was carrying the Majors money, which equates to a 10lb penalty.  There is no obvious reason to think he will not be involved again and that being the case I suggest 11/8 is a fair price.

3.20 Hurdle

Last year, Oscar Whisky took this event on this card on way to bigger and better things.  He is clearly the best animal in the race but Poungach is getting a very handy pull.

On a strict form line, the latter is terrific value at 5/2 and I suggest an investment.  This is likely to be a highly tactical affair and there is no way I would want to be on a horse so closely marked to the second favourite at 2/5.

3.50 The Bumper

Last year, Keys took this race from Cinders and Ashes having to survive a photo and a stewards enquiry. 

At the time, Keys was trained out of a flat yard and I like the profile of those horses that flat yards target at the bumpers. 

A suitable raider in this race looks like the Kevin Ryan trained Flaming Arrow, available at 9/1 this morning.  It is extremely eye-catching for the Major that this yard have booked Barry Geraghty, it seems to me that they have a shot at taking home the £7k first prize.

I am having a go each way as Trespasser looks a highly likely sort following the turn of speed he showed at Taunton.

Courage, roll those dice!