Tag Archives: Cirrus des Aigles

The Saturday Sermon – Ascot Champions Day Tips | Cheltenham and a bit of football… Shabash

Good evening from the Major who writes, weary and happy, settling into the weekend, like a well worn glove.  It is late, very late, the Worcestershire scene tonight is dank, driving home, orange streetlights in the distance flickered, seemingly to fizzing and humming in the wet like a live wire gently caressing the damp earth.

I have been out with colleagues and friends this evening eating a thoroughly average meal but in such damn fine raucous company that the cuisine was merely a distraction.  Laughs so deep and primal, deep within, they are fine for the soul and in the company of good people, well… Ah, All is well in the world.

I remain on the cusp of exhaustion, as I write I hear the patter of rain against window glass and it sounds like tiny fingers tapping a rhythm.  I know I am warm and I know out there in the darkness, there are things moving.

I love the winter and it is coming to us now.   Even recently, while  deep into Autumn, the late days of summer held on dearly but now, things are changing.  The rain that kisses you now is cold and taking a morning walk, toes feel numb, fingers tingle.  Summer has had its time at the front, running freely, wild times of chaos.  Now is nearly the time for winter, climbing the hill relentlessly, coming home on a tight rein and the Major is pleased.

I have enjoyed the flat season immensely this summer.  While the classic crop was an average bunch, there were some great memories of which my favourites were Dawn Approach and Toranado going to battle, Talent fighting for her head and still finishing like a train in the Oaks and… momentarily the triumphant victory of War Command in the Coventry, to name but a few.

Yet, todays racing at Cheltenham has reminded me that the flat season is always the poorer cousin to the Majors real passion, National Hunt.  I think the reason I prefer it is the longevity of the horses.  It allows for much greater stories to develop.  Horses that start in bumpers, transcend to hurdling and become novice chasers before joining the staying chaser ranks and those glorious old servants that win ten years after their bumper dreams.  They become like old friends.

Today’s cards offer the perfect handover from flat to the jumps season.  Yes, we still have a few big days to come, particularly the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster but the Ascot Champions Day is a perfect climax to the summer contests and the first days of the Cheltenham season whet the appetite for the narrative untold.  Be still my friends, it is our season.  To the sports..

Ascot – Champions Day Card

There has been a real fuss over Champions Day and the prospect of moving key Newmarket races next year to create Future Champions Day.  In all honestly, it strikes me that a lot of the antipathy is simple resistance to change.  After all, why not try it and if it does not work, we can go back!  This is a superb card, FIVE group ones, we are spoilt.

One criticism of the timing of the card is that it is likely to have high-profile defections due to winterish ground.  That is true of tomorrow but you either have an end of season finale of you do not.  We definitely need some soft ground horses tomorrow…

In the opener, the horses that I think will go well on the going are Estimate, Harris Tweed, Biographer, Aiken, Pale Mimosa and Eye of the Storm.

Aiken ran well in this last year and likes it soft under foot but I am not convinced he is good enough.  The Queens horse Estimate must rate a huge danger to all having won all of her Ascot starts but I just fancy the chances of Eye of the Storm, 7/1, who won a listed contest latest and has a valuable weight-for-age allowance.  He is a smart colt who needs to up his game again but well could do that with plenty progressive profile and the Ballydoyle machine is purring again.  Pale Mimosa is no 14/1 shot either and I also like the favourite a lot so it shall be small stakes.

The Champion Sprint Stake is one of these top class races that could typically go to any of the protagonists.  Maarek was good when winning the Prix Abbaye and loves it soft but the home team has such a candidate too in Jack Dexter who the dogs have been barking for all week down from 12s into 4s overnight.  I have to say that it is hugely attractive, Jack Dexter has won 6 from 6 on soft or worse.  Yet I am loathed to support either at the prices and instead opt for 13/2 shot Viztoria who also has an unblemished record on soft ground (although only 2 races).  It is a concern that man of the moment Johnny Murtagh is not aboard the girl but I think this is his inability to do the weight rather than him feeling he has a better shot with Belmont Mast.

Regular readers will know what is coming next.

At 2.55, in a corner of Berkshire…. TALENT WILL WIN THE CHAMPIONS FILLIES AND MARES STAKES.  Get stuck in at 7/2 and thank me later.  She should have won the Leger (OK a bit stretched) and I would have like to have seen her in the Arc (next year) and she has nothing to fear here, I shall pray that she settles.  The Lark and the German horse Nymphea may be the closest to looking at Talents glorious behind at the finish.

The QEII is a cracking race and while it is a shame Toronado did not make the line up, we have plenty of quality to give Dawn Approach something to consider.  The one I think could completely outrun his price is Kingsbarns at 16/1.    This time last year, he had the world at his feet, was favourite for classics but his day in the sun has yet to come this year, missing most through injury.  His return was very poor but it is perfectly reasonable to think he may have needed that both physically and mentally.  We also get Joseph on board, the comfort that we know he has been in top hands (O’Brien is a master at getting these sorts to fire again) and he won both his juvenile starts on soft.  What is not to like?

In the Champion Stakes, Derby winner Ruler of the World is of key interest but is unproven on the ground, although he is a Galileo so perhaps we should not worry too much, of interest.  Mukhadram and Farhh are both classy sorts but all of them should really be paying homage to Cirrus Des Aigles.  We all remember him giving Frankel a good run last year and you may remember Cirrus winning the race in the previous year, he was 12/1 that day, tomorrow I can only advise you to be on at 5/4.

Cheltenham Tips

Poor old @limerickjfk – He tweeted me on Thursday night for some Friday Cheltenham tips and even promised me the benefit of a big drink should they come in.  I gave him a non runner and one that finished down the field.  I am the sort of friend you do not need.  Still, we shall try again and I shall stick a drink on the ledger the other way regardless, because it was nice to be asked!

There are some lovely sorts in the opener at Cheltenham, it is a tasty opening to proceedings.  Minella Fiveo is an interesting runner being an Irish raider with Noel Fehily up but the form is uncertain and despite a tempting price, I shall steer to more settled waters.  IT is the last time winners which I want to stick with and of them, Kings Palace stands out.  The Pipe trained horse won his last race at Fontwell very nicely indeed and I think may be better for further.  Oscar Magic rates a real danger as the stable has always been positive about him.  Others stand their chance too but I like my selection well enough.

Skipping a race and looking at the 3.10, I cannot get away from Samtegal, 9/4,  who was placed in a Scottish Champion Hurdle (a poorer handicap imitation of the Cheltenham masterpiece) which is good enough but he was also placed in a Triumph.  I am normally a bit hesitant about Paul Nicholls at this stage of the season, knowing he likes to leave a bit to work on but he had two winners here yesterday and I am in.

Finally in the 5.00, Balder Success is going to be a hot ticket after winning a Chepstow race latest, proving jumping and fitness.  I see those benefits but thought it a slightly odd race.  At the finish he appeared either idling or more likely running flat and I am not sure stiff tracks are what this horse needs.  Turned out again quickly, we will find out.  I shall back my argument with a stake on another.  Dark Lover, 2/1, was  a better hurdler than Balder Success and gets 8lbs here.  He also comes with the benefit of winning at Cheltenham before.  If you are feeling brace, Mr Watson could beat the lot if he decides to apply himself, a big if!

In football, one bet.  West Brom (my own team, I do declare an interest!) have a great chance of winning at Stoke – The team are brimming with talent and confidence, it is a good time to be a baggie.

May your dinner be as well as @limerickjfk who shall eat at Queens Hotel, in excellent company and with good wine, having solved several of the large Cheltenham handicaps.

He will be joined by Martin Hill should the Major break a string of bad losing advices to him with this suggested each way trixie: Talent, Kings Palace and Kingsbarns.

Courage, roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon… Tips from Longchamp, Ascot, Gowran Park, Newmarket…. Politics and Fortune

Good morning from the Major who writes from a Worcestershire scene that has stirred dramatically like souls awakening.

Last week I wrote on Friday night, dead tired like, in a dark melancholic mood and a few folk tweeted to check I was not too effected. A few others spoke to me in person and I can assure one and all, as I did them, that I was merely wallowing in my own dark soul. Thanks for asking, it is nice to know that someone will attend your funeral, even if just for the brandy.

I slept last night deeply and soundly for the first time this week. Gazing out now across the Worcestershire rural rolling fields which have a deep healthy ruddy look towards Bredon Hill topped by its folly. I once stood there in winter and met another walker who gave me a history lesson. The manor house on the hill used to be a magistrate and a regular punishment would be to stake convicted souls to the ground and leave them to the will of the wolf packs that lived in the long disappeared forests. Sobering stuff.

There is an old Chinese proverb that I have often found serves me well. Do not begrudge another mans fair fortune. For that reason, I hold no ill feeling to those that, as I type, are hurtling towards Paris for Arc weekend.

Consider their luck. They are combining several of life’s finest facets. Train travel can stir the childish soul in each of us with a tickle of excitement in our chest, St Pancras drips in opportunity, to stand and see the multitude of people and trains, each following a unique path, curving away, it is the essence of life itself. Liberty and Opportunity. To be travelling to Paris as well. One of the worlds finest cities, a place where a man can be immersed in his own mischief. The Eiffel Tower is the second most beautiful thing I have seen created by our own hands.

I say second because I consider it only bettered only by the Sagrada Familia which baffles the mind, a building which towers, soars and then melts and drips in front of your eyes, great tree trunks of columns, facades of such devilish detail and so well combined, I cannot describe well enough to you, dear readers, how each vista of that building compliments the next, I can not do that justice so you must go for yourself. To be baffled by our own creation, wonderment immeasurable.

Regardless, those heading to Paris must surely feel so alive at this moment and to them I say this. Soak it up, savour the Parisian air, take your time to absorb the environment as you, for you are the lucky few. Arc weekend is one of my favourite moments in the racing calendar. I normally draw a profit from it and may well write up a Sunday blog to cover the main card.

I used to hesitate when I told new acquaintances that my main hobby was horse racing. It can have ‘low rent’ connotations, for some (and certainly not I) it is a step removed from Babs Windsor advertising bingo in horrendously tacky style, a parody of itself. Aye, we can be tarred alongside a bad lot.

These days I feel a growing self assuredness to share my hobby which reflects my burgeoning confidence that we, the steady readership of this blog, our small community of hardy, intelligent, courteous and humble souls, sticking with me to land the ultimate mothership, willing to take on Kiplings impostors of triumph and disaster, together my friends, we hold values and understand philosophies that are worth sharing. Consider.

This week, in the UK, the partisan nature of our politics has been at the forefront of national events. Now I shall not bore you with my own judgements largely because I am not sanctimonious enough to believe you are incapable of forming your own.

I shall share an observation though that whatever you think, the system is designed to club you into one team or another. Partisan views rule and like flys to light, once people associate with one, there is a sense of obligation to remain loyal to a philosophy, restricting your reasoned ability. It makes people more stupid than they need be.

You either think that Ralph Miliband was a militant Marxist bent on the destruction of Britain, or he was a polite academic who fought bravely for the country. Either the BBC is promoting a left wing agenda and determined to do damage to its commercial competitors or it is a fine British institution bathed in its independent values. It strikes me that you have to belong to either side, the uncomfortable place to be is in the middle, with a complexity of views that would suit neither side.

Yet that is the more natural position for most people. We see this in the politics of any major party, internally factions disagree on major themes but unity is seen as an overriding value. To be a supporter, you have to sign up to the whole agenda. You commission your critical analysis to a third party.

Yet in racing, we learn to examine each aspect, independent of others. Our greatest profits often come when we swim against the tide. We are used to dissecting the components of an argument and reconstructing them to our own view. We are familiar with being wrong, for some of us it is a most regular event! We deal with this by examine our calculations and are willing to change our future patterns accordingly, to learn. Even when we are right (and there are considerable lessons here) we should conduct the same.

My biggest ever win was when, god bless the little toughie, Punjabi battled on up the hill to win the Champion Hurdle. It was the last time I backed the horse. Why? Well I was wrong to back it, yes Punjabi was worth a place but was a tad fortunate to win (a nose) and others should have reeled in the winner on the hill. A useful question we ask (following win or lose) is would I follow the same staking plan. We should ask the same in our wider lives. To be right and to question whether you made the right… It is a gambling lesson.

While we are spreading the enlightenment, let us get to the sports….

Longchamp Tip

In a fantastic warm up to Arc day, the highlight is an interesting Prix Dollar. If Cirrus Des Aigles is anywhere near his best form, then he surely should teach this lot a lesson. I would love to see the boy back to his best and lead them a merry dance but you have to be concerned with his form. His last win at Maison Lafitte was OK but represents far lesser form than he has previously shown but it could have boosted his confidence. One major plus is that Cirrus is certain to go in the ground which looks like riding quite soft. He has form on heavy. A return to top form (far from certain) is the key issue…. As I love the horse following his gallant pop at Frankel, I will be a backer but I want a saver and that horse which I offer as a tip to you is Willie the Whipper.

The claims are not as obvious at first but I am sure Duffield is not tilting at windmills. The Great Voltigeur form is pretty strong and that was run on ground that was much better than this horse needs. These conditions will suit and in a race where plenty could set aggressive fractions, I fancy being on one switched off at the back and arriving at the business end like a hot knife slicing through butter. 14/1, have a slice of what’s good for you!

The Prix Chaudenay looks a very good race and I like both of the Aga Khans runners but since I think the Fabre trained Montjeu colt, Montclair, could improve and the ground adds an uncertain dimension to these progressive sorts, it is a contest I am going to enjoy watching with no financial interest. On the subject of Montjeu, did you see that his colt to Finsceal Beo (what a cracker she was) sold for nearly €3m in the week. With Montjeu sadly no longer with us, it is true to say that they don’t make them like this anymore…. Good luck to the young blade. If he were mine I’d enjoy naming him.

Good luck too to Neil Callan on Fire Ship – it would be great to see the best freelance jockey from the UK get a deserved international high profile win although I must confess that I shall be keeping my powder dry!

To Newmarket…

The 2.20 is the half a million pounds sales race and one in which there is an expected significant array of progressive angles to take.

I might not be popular if you cam here for an alternate view but Toofi looks the part for me. He has the experience, has shown the form, has positive trainer vibes and crucially has Mr Murtagh, the man we all trust over from Ireland for his usual Saturday raid. 3/1 as I type.

I do like these sales races and in the opener, I have a strong strong feeling about Night Song at 3/1 – this Oasis Dream filly has definitely been targeted at this and Gosden has issued positive statements. She holds all the right entries and I suspect this will be her arrival on the big stage.

My other Newmarket bet goes in the last where Ajman Bridge looks for all the world a weekend NAP. 13/8 is a steal. I like these profiles when in the capable hands of Cumani, the Pontefract win was highly impressive on seasonal debut and 8lbs higher is nothing really.

Meanwhile at Ascot….

Just two bets for me and again they are reasonably easy to find. Umneyati deserves a tremendous amount of respect in the 2.05. James Tate has a decent one here as she looks progressive but has enough experience (4 wins) and some decent soft ground form. Ascot can be a killer when the ground is described as soft, no other track in my view drains as quickly as the Berkshire turf and what starts soft can finish anything but.

Still, it will not put me off a big bet on Ascription who should love conditions. I know I am joining the world and his dog but who could not be impressed with the last time out performance. The Doncaster performance was emphatic and 11lbs will do nothing to stop this one. Let’s be honest, the moniker ‘group horse in a handicap’ is going to be used plenty about this one. Right now though, I’d rather be on the train. 8/1 last night, a kew withdrawal drew the price in but the money is flooding on, Pricewise has given it up – your cousins granny is on as is your Doctor and your Mistress and 4/1 is starting come under pressure. If you can’t beat em.

Gowran – Jumps Grade 2 Action!!

Fantastic, the jumps season is back. Sizing Europe is running at Gowran and at age 11 is seeking the hat trick in this race. At some point these horses have to give way to age. It comes to us all, the sensing of the competent by the inexorable whim of time, creaking and continuos the introduction of decrepitness until the end and dust, we float about the cosmos.

As much as I would love to see Sizing Europe win, I am going to opt for Quito de la Roque with Davy ‘Iron Man’ Russell in the saddle. I think Davy has another cracking chance in the follow up race where he is in Minella for Value’s saddle. Davy at the Double?

In the 2.25 at Gowran, I am going to be on Guitar Pete too.

American Racing

There is some terrific action at Belmont and Keeneland tonight and I shall be tuned in to At the Races for all of it. Worth the time alone though is Wise Dan who will go off at short prices for the 10.21 at Keeneland. What a horse, well worth watching.

For betting purposes, I suggest Day at the Spa in the 9.17 at Keeneland (where incidentally Say makes her American debut), Artemis Agrotera in the 10.14 at Belmont and Havana in the 10.46 at the same venue.

In the football, I do fancy two. Walsall, a club I supported as a boy and watched at the LS Fellows Park are going well and I trust them to beat Brentford. I also fancy Leyton Orient to beat Oldham purely based on the views of @tjheezy.

May your dinner be fine and Italian, possibly the greatest cuisine on earth. I wish that the only discomfort for you is the size of your bankroll digging into your ribs. As the bill comes and your over fattened wallet drops to the table, remember how good it is to be alive. Next year my friends, I shall be typing this from Paris, no questions.

The Martin Hill sponsored bet is Ascription, Quito de la Roque and Ajman Bridge in a Trixie.

Courage and roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon – King George Day plus #crowdsourcingmultiple

Good evening from the Major who wrote this introduction, dead tired, slumped in the kitchen in a Worcestershire air brewing with trouble.  Clammy and suffocating, in it I cannot rest, my eyes are alert and dart to each sudden noise.  In old houses such as this, the bones creak and groan, each new sound aggravates the heart, palpitating with vigour.  Perturbed, the mood, something dark hangs over me.

In these moments deep in the night, when the thoughts deep down bubble to the surface, fears emerge untethered by their daytime confinement.  I am scared that when dawn breaks, this feeling will last, that somewhere in the system, it went wrong.  Things that should be leashed at the midnight hour are somehow free to plague me.

My emotions stir thinking of Daniel Pelka a tragic loss of life.  Just 4 years old, starved and beaten at home, he received further punishments for stealing food from other children at school.  His mother warning teachers not to feed him and herself bribing the child with sweets to maintain his silence.

What confusion in that poor childs mind.  What darkness seeps through the whole thing.  The fragility of a child, the innocence.  The intent, powerful emotions stir.  Still and deep.

What troubles me most is whether the thoughts that run through my mind in the small hours could escape, somehow seep into the day world where everything carries with it, a sense that all will be well.

Morning breaks, a close cloud covered morning.  The Major has risen and arrived at the office, fresh and revived, the words above appear now to be written by a stranger, let us move on.

What a load of nonsense the Royal Baby saga turned out to be.  Journalists, standing outside a hospital with nothing to report on, straining to make something, anything newsworthy.  Have you noticed the stock question a journalist asks any passer-by in such circumstances… ‘Can we have your reaction to…’  Then gushes forth the incontinent thoughts of the masses.  I have no strong view on our monarchy itself, in fact, since the Queen is of a racing mind, I feel a kinship, tough old bitch.

In the coming weeks, I would like to pen a piece on my favourite jockeys and why I like them.  I have commented often that I find, next to horse ability, the jockey ability to be a crucial part of my race reading.  Although I gave up keeping records some time ago (when they were mildly profitable, I would point out!), my feeling is that this is a profitable field to plough, particularly in amateur races where the gulf in jockey quality is greatest.

The article will come, although maybe not as I have the habit of promising things I don’t get round to.  Yet, I shall share with you now, some of the riches of my thinking so that you might judge me.

The top five flat jockeys, based on class and season form, that spring to the top of my mind are… Ryan Moore, of course, Neil Callan, the best damn independent there is, Jimmy Fortune, simple and strong, Silvestre de Sousa, what a season and Adam Kirby, not so much style as brute strength – A man I like to follow in the class 6 races at Lingfield that you know you should never be betting on.  Clearly this needs some thought because Murtagh and Manning are missing, it might turn out to be a top ten – Don’t be upset, I am making this up as I go along, in case you failed to notice.

As for the jumps boys… McCoy, once again, a little obvious, forgive me, Slippers Madden, Jason Maguire, always presents his horses so well to a fence, Ruby, is like watching poetry and then take your pick from some under-rated sorts in Tom O’Brien, Doyle, Maurice Linehan….

Let us get to the sports… Sharpen that lance point young man, bring yourself up to attention for god is on parade and he wishes to see the cleanliness of your tunic.  The deep red colours of our gallant Victorian splendour, looking so dapper in the full light of day, ready to fight the hoards of Satan himself….. Courage and Shabash.

King George Day Tips

Ascot is a hard card to read today, as a big uncertainty remains over the ground they will race upon.

Regardless, it is nothing short of a tragedy that St Nicholas Abbey, the splendid Ballydoyle warrior is fighting for his very life on King George day.  This year the toll of casualty has been high in our sport both on the track and off it, both human and horse.  Good luck old boy, just imagine it is 2009, you are back at Doncaster and Johnny Murtagh is just giving you that little squeeze, digging in his heels just a little and you know it is business time, quickening clear to be one of the most impressive winners of the Racing Post trophy I have seen.  A touch of that spirit and the team of vets will soon be brushing you down and preparing you for your new kept life.

It has left the King George a poorer race.  While Cirrus des Aigles is a fine horse, I am not with him.  Don’t get me wrong, I like him – How can you not?  Gelded, so lacking the illustrious connection to future progeny – That probably helped connections with their decision to come and take on the mighty Frankel when others cried enough and looked for cover.  He gave Pegasus a damn good race too and on his preferred soft ground.

Today, I am not sure the rain will be there in time and as these top horses get older, they get less reliable.

The problem today is that we do not have much in our armoury to get him beat.  Many are allotting credit to the Ascot form of Hillstar that I am not sure it is due.  He is a handicapper who has clearly improved significantly but this is the top table now and we shall see how his form holds, shan’t we.

Trading Leather is interesting.  The Irish Derby winner seems to me to be a horse that has kept below the radar.  The son of Teofilo is one that wants those storms to keep clear until after the race.  Here is the rub though, to win the King George as a three year old you have to be elite.  Galileo, Nathaniel etc etc… Trading Leather? Really?

Novellist is interesting… He has beaten Cirrus des Aigles this season and looks a certain improver – Of the main protagonists, this would be my call

So, the Major is going off piste… In a race I think could fall apart, I am going to advise you to back the outsider of the field Red Cadeuax at a freely available 40/1.

What is my case?  Well OK, the first thing is that we need to ignore two poor runs this season, easily done – Both races were over 2f shorter than this and I think the old boy needs further these days.  His Singapore form was not brilliant and he never got going at Ascot.  Yet, let us not forget he was runner-up in the Dubai World Cup in March.  Ed Dunlop knows the time of day, he is not in this to make up the numbers, they think they can get in the prize money.

If you follow the Majors thinking, then you have a favourite who might be beyond his best before date (as is my own selection to be fair), some three year olds that I don’t think are Galileo-esque and then this campaigner who is the most experienced of the lot of them.  Have a slice and thank me later.

The Rest of Ascot

In the last 15 years, just one horse has won the Princess Margaret at odds larger than 6/1 and that was 25/1 shocker Mixed Blessing in 2005.  It seems sensible thus, to focus upon Wind Fire, Queen Catrine, Along Again and Wee Jean.

My guess is Chroussa will lead them along like she did at the Curragh and again will play second fiddle to one of those four.  Queen Catrine is the least appealing of them, I think the Newmarket form is good but needs to be better.  Hannon is keen on Fig Roll and the master of juvenile horses is hard to ignore but I shall – She is too small (exactly what they said about Messi by the way)

Windfire came close in the Norfolk against the colts and that is very solid.  She started that race at 16/1 and I am not convinced yet that is was our strongest renewal.  It is dangerous to ignore Wind Fire because stepping up a furlong from the Norfolk looks exactly what this girl needs… but I am.

I am sticking to my ‘jockey angle’ and opting for Along Again to make the necessary improvement, take the 7/1.

The next race I am interested in is the 4.25 Lady Amateurs race – Let us test my amateur jockey record.  We want experience and a good strike rate and completely ignore the horse!

Four of the jockeys have a 10%+ strike rate in the last two years, Jane Mangan, Miss Walton, King and Brotherton.  Miss King has only had three winners from 18 rides in that time so slips off my considered list through inexperience.

Now I have to consider the horses and of them, Jane Mangan’s appeals the most, 7/1 shot, the most aptly names… See the Storm.  Some good form preceded the third at Chester which was a dampener, I will admit.  Yet, Chester is not to every horses liking with its tight turns and back on a more suitable track with what I consider the best jockey aboard… well.

Incidentally, do you remember poor Jane Mangan being thrown from her mount, Oscar Delta, as she was coming up the Cheltenham hill on a tight reign to victory?  I have never felt so sorry for a jockey, about to claim her most famous moment on the famous Prestbury Park, in front of a huge throng and Oscar Delta decides that 4m is not enough and he is off for another circuit.  Dumped on the floor, having to stand and tramp back past the crowd, many of whom were on the favourite Salsify, who was gifted the race, ouch.  Not that I feel too bad for her, she has had plenty of days in the sun since then and good luck to her…..

Finally, Emirates Flyer looks a shoe in in the last and 15/8 should be taken with gusto.

Meanwhile at York

It is the Sky Bet York Stakes, group two action and Mukhadram is the obvious choice even at 8/13.  He was desperately unlucky not to be second Ascot behind Al Kazeem after being snatched up on the rails.  Before you get all angry at me for putting up the obvious, go and read the Red Cadeaux bit again… it’s about the balance, yin and yang… calm.

The #crowdsourcingmultiple

The contributions from twitter are as follows:

@TheParadeRing  5.00 Ascot Emirates Flyer

@Lukeyboy1325 boring, but Cirrus Des Aigles

@TheGolfBandit ES QUE LOVE 1515 ASCOT – The Major loves this horse!

@IamNotLuke Contemplating 2:05 Wild Fire but going for a bit better odds with Y 2:20 Smarty Socks

@mattjcollins165m Henry the aviator 2.40 ascot ew around the 12/1 mark – and this one too!!

@LegalWiggy 8s Lilo Lil 1720 Lingfield and Expert  1410 Newmarket

@h103efa captain royale 4.50

May your dinner be opulent in the company of ravishing beauties with the wanton look in their eye that tells you where their mind runs to.  Eat lustily at a bloody steak, ah yes, allow the blood to rise a little, we are on the ride just the once you know.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Red Cadeaux, Along Again, See the Storm and Emirates Flyer.

Courage, roll those dice.

Saturday Sermon – Racing Tips from Ascot, Cheltenham and Cork, plus Frankel – Time at Ascot…

Good evening from the Major who writes to you from a Defford where the sky hangs heavy with the threat of a downpour, it feels as if it were sagging and clinging to my cheek, cold and damp… my sort of weather.

The Household Cavalry dressed in Sheikh Abdulla’s colours in honour of Frankel, the finest horse of our generation

Tomorrow I ride for Ascot, I am taking my father and meeting a friend there for a beer too. Whatever happens we are in for a terrific day of racing but it would be dishonest to say that if Frankel fails to run, it would not be a touch deflating.The way they have handled this horse has given us every chance to enjoy the champion that he is. On Twitter (@tdl123) I rated my top three Frankel races and decided that my favourite was the Queen Anne. Having had longer to reflect I have changed the order slightly and now have a top four in the following order.

4th – The Guineas

This will be top of most peoples lists – The way he flew from the gates and had them at it from half way. A stunning performance and the way they finished strung out like 3 mile chasers was testament to what the great horse had achieved.

3rd – Royal Lodge

The more I watch the Royal Lodge he won, the more I love it. The move he makes on the bend to put the race to bed was stunning and although Treasure Beach was stopped in his tracks, Frankel would still have won by half a furlong!

2nd – The Queen Anne

What a way to open Royal Ascot – As a performance, this was his highest rated in my view. He did not just win, he destroyed a field of top horses and left everyone gasping for air. Awesome.

1st – His First Sussex Stakes versus Canford Cliffs

Context is important and this race was full of it. Goldikova a winner of more Group One races than seems possible was reaching the end of her career. Canford Cliffs, one of the best Hannon has ever had, lowered her colours and rightfully claimed the best miler in Europe crown. Then Frankel met him at Goodwood. The camber at Goodwood means many horses do not act there. The combination of factors meant that the Major tipped Canford… Then this happened…

Let us hope that Frankel runs – The generosity of connections have given us more than we needed but we are like gluttons and want it all. Treasure the moment. The only possible upside of him not running tomorrow is a possible crack at the States and the breeders cup meeting… Personally I would like him to finish his career at Ascot tomorrow.

To the sports….

Ascot Tips – 1.50 – The Stayers

At this stage of the season, I am looking for the slightly more lightly raced sorts. The Ascot ground will also be very soft which should rule a few out…

In the opener, most of the animals will be fine with the soft conditions. Gold Cup winner Colour Vision beat a number of these including Fame and Glory back in July. Opinion Poll, the other Godolphin horse was second that day and goes off as 3/1 favourite here. Aiken is a horse I really like but feels like he might just be a bit short of top draw. Ile de Re is an interesting runner but has to make a big step up in class. Rite of Passage is a fascinating runner and could play a part at 8/1 if well tuned up.

After some thought though, the Major is going to offer Fame and Glory at 11/2 – A former winner of the race who has lost some of his lustre – If he wins tomorrow, it will be a fitting end to a sparkling career… words that we may well repeated later in the day!

2.20 Ascot – Tips for the Sprint

The sprint is a fascinating contest and I would love to back Maarek, especially with the booking of Jamie Spencer. I am wondering though whether the horse is feeling the effect of the campaign and I may well give him a miss. The muddier the better for that one so if more rain arrives, it may be a persuading factor.

The Major is siding with a horse packed with potential in Slade Power who looked a horse going places in the summer. After a break to freshen him up, I expect a top draw performance and although there are proven G1 horses in the field, I do not want to back Wizz Kid unless in France and Society Rock is the main danger. Blue Square offer 15/2 and a quarter odds the place, have a slice.

2.55 Ascot – Group 2 Mile and a Half

The two to concentrate on seem to be Great Heavens and Sapphire. The former took an Irish Classic in the slop and loves these conditions. She was my idea of the Arc winner as I am a massive fan. She cruised into the straight at Longchamp looking a likely challenger but faded badly and I just wonder if the season and he travels are catching up.

Thus the tip is Sapphire for the Weld team. She is a horse of immense talent and seems to be much better the further she goes, seemingly tapped for toe over 400m shorter in the Pretty Polly. She is a true mud lark and at 10/3 generally I think a great bet to beat Great Heavens who I would like to see racing agin next year where hopefully connections might give her a light schedule with a hopefully soft ground Arc as the target.

QE II 3.30 Ascot

Excelebration is an absolute bolt on here and I suggest a reasonable investment at just shading odds on. He has been beaten by Frankel so often yet is still a top class horse and now placed to avoid a battle with the inevitable, he is gaining very well deserved Group One successes.

The Queen is in attendance and so Carlton House would be a popular winner but it is Excelebration for the Major.

Ascot Champion Stakes

It is not often that the Major here whispers but I have it on good authority that Frankel might be a decent sort! This race requires no bet, it is a moment of historic racing importance. I hope Frankel serves it up to Cirrus Des Aigles

Enjoy it…

4.45 Amateur Riders Handicap

I find it disappointing that this race exists on the card of what is meant to be the climax of the flat season. It really seems out of place.

Smarty Socks would be the one I would want but I am dubious that these are his conditions. Boring as it may seem, Jack Dexter is the 5/1 selection. The Ayr Bronze Cup winner loves a bit of mud and is surely goi to have a big say. Kingscroft (16/1) and Atlantic Sport (33/1) also make some appeal.

Cheltenham Selections

It is so good to see racing back at Cheltenham. Fridays action saw The New One take a decent Novice hurdle. Given that he hit most of them, he must be some animal to still win, I expect a big season.

Rendl Beach should be a good thing in the opener at 6/4. Curtis horses often need a warm up but this one won smartly on reappearance and a big run is surely on the cards tomorrow.

In the second race, I am going to take a chance on 22/1 shot Quito Du Tresor. I think that there may be more to come from this one. The Henderson horse Nadiya De La Vega at 10/1 is decent value too.

Baby Mix and Dodging Bullets are two rising stars and the latter looks a great evens bet based on the 4th position achieved in the Triumph.

In the 4th race, I like the look of two Qianshan Leader at 22/1 catches the eye as does Darna at 16/1. The latter looks an intriguing sort.

In the 4.20 I am a big fan of Irish raider Defence of Duress and suggest a decent investment.

Third Intention should see the field off in the penultimate race if match fit. 3/1 is a very fair price as he should be much better than this field, many of whom have a readiness advantage.

In the last maybe Southfield Theatre on a strict reading of form with The New One but honestly, stick a pin in!

Cork Tip

I like Rock Critic in the listed contest and at 2/1 am having it in several selections…

May your dinner be fine, in the company of someone nice. Each day we are above ground is an opportunity so do not waste yours. Let us hope that Frankel gives us something to cheer.

Courage, roll the dice.