Tag Archives: crack away jack

Saturday Sermon – Cheltenham Trials Day Tips | Leopardstown | FA Cup… Shabash and load those cannons

Good evening from the Major who writes relaxing, from the lounge. The television was proving a poor distraction, action was taken, a button pressed. Now silence envelops me in a soft bubble, occasionally punctuated by a car passing by, tyres kissing the dark wet tarmac. Thinking time.

Worcestershire feels unclean. Lumps of white snow whose edges are diminishing fast cling to the landscape, lit up by the passing lights, starved of their icy fuel, unable to fight off the rising temperatures, slowing eating themselves. Soon teh land will be free again.

Cheltenham, racing, it is on. Shabash. The Major is looking forward to entertaining friends on course. I suspect a crowd of good racing folk will be there, starved of recent action, craving the goodness that floweth at the Prestbury Park cup.

We are incredibly blessed with a day at National Hunt HQ that is as good as trials day ever recorded. The moving of the Victor Chandler Chase bought Sprinter Sacre to the card and even the loss of Bobs Worth did little to tarnish the sheer quality jumping off the pages.

Such riches… There is a buddhist parable of heaven and hell which suggests that the two after-lifes have little in common. A feast in each is laid before you and in hell you are furnished with just one long chopstick, frustration ensues as you are unable to feed with it. In heaven, the same feast and the same apparatus are present but each man feeds his neighbour. Sounds uncomfortable at best.

The moral point is not lost on tomorrow though. Racing is such a richness, how the heart pumps, that rising feeling as your horse turns up that Cheltenham hill, behind but plugging on and you just know it is a long way home and you have a chance…. The smells, the magnificent beasts, the sights… we are lucky to live in such times as these, Sprinter Sacre, Puffin Billy… tomorrow we dine on the feasts that racing has given us.

As the parable teaches too, we cannot do this alone, so enjoy it in company. Join the conversation on twitter (@tdl123) and while you are online, have a little look at this tribute song to Campbell Gillies who tragically died on holiday last year. The song is nice enough and features the jockey winning on Brindisi Breeze at last years festival.

When the tapes go up on this years Albert Bartlett, many will be casting a thought back to Campbell charging up the hill holding off Boston Bob in last years contest. Who would have thought it possible that two such bright young things would be dead before the summer was out. We float by on this river just the once.

Enjoy Cheltenham tomorrow, savour these times and be lucky. The Trials day is a fantastic taster of what is to come.

The Major has started recording his antepost thoughts for Cheltenham. Have a read when you get a chance, so far I have covered the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup.

I feel able to claim that I am in reasonable touch over the last month, a small spell on the sidelines this week hopefully has done me good. I have been known to go well fresh and so today, returning from a break, here I am at your disposal.

Daub thy war paint, load the light cannon, prepare the mortars, the enemy comes from below to attempt to breach our line, we are dug in well on the ridge though. We shall fire mortar but dropping shot from above is difficult to gauge… if it comes to it, we shall engage them man to man with 5 cartridges each and bayonets fixed and glistening their evil reflections.

To the sports…

Cheltenham Trials Day Tips

The going is soft but it might be odd ground. The covers have been on all week so the top might be loose. Fresh rain is forecast too so it might get tacky. I am erring on proper soft ground sorts.

What a feast of action we have, eight races, six of them graded… let us sharpen our minds.

12.10 Grade 2 Triumph Trial

Irish Saint is currently 6/4 and I fancy him to go off a lot shorter after an impressive Kempton win last time out. Soft underfoot conditions have already proven no problem.

The race is marked by the absence of an Alan King runner. He has run the race in 5 of the last 7 runnings all with horses of 2/1 and under.

Rolling Star has to be the biggest eye-catching entry, while it is hard to rate the French form, Henderson does not throw darts at races like this and so despite an incredibly tough introduction to British hurdles, he is respected.

Of the others, Knight of Pleasure makes appeal. He could not have won more convincingly on debut at Sandown and the Moore yard are in fine form – A tremendous piece of each way value at 14/1 with Stan James.

On balance though, the Major feels that Nicholls has a good one on his hands in Irish Saint and at 6/4 generally, I think this evenings prices are the one to take.

12.40 Cheltenham Novice Chase

Radjhani Express gave Sam Waley-Cohen the first of two winners on the Kempton boxing Day card. His rise in the weights and dubious style at the obstacles are enough to put me off.

McMurrough has terrific form on the Northern circuit, winning two handicaps but this is a long way from Wetherby, interesting.

Gullinbursti has looked just short of class on a few occasions a dirty scope on the middle of three runs was an excuse but I am not convinced a tough track like Cheltenham is what he needs.

Venetia Williams stable jockey Aidan Coleman has opted for Renard D’Irlande over Benny Mist who was a last time winner in a small field at Taunton.

Johns Spirit at 5/1 (Boylesports) is the tentative choice for the Jonjo / McCoy partnership. He looks consistent enough and a small stake is advised as plenty of others could improve.

Sizing Santiago is the other that help some interest off a massive 14/1 but he is merely one of a few that persuade me to keep stakes on the selection low.

1.15 Grade 3 Handicap

Nadiya De La Vega has run well at Cheltenham but has a habit of getting worse as the season progresses.

Bless the Wings is a talented animal and this is the right time of the season to catch it but I fear the ground may be against the King horse.

Katenko looks a very tasty favourite at 4/1, the French import to the Williams yard is a powerful looking horse and this sort of contest may bring better.

I am opting though for the horse with a fantastic winning habit, Bold Sir Brian. My tip, smacks a few fences but the way he put away Pacha Du Polder and his penchant for softer conditions bodes very well. Have a meaty slice and thank me later.

Tips for the Victor Chandler Chase

Sprinter Sacre… The Aeroplane…. His judgement cometh and that right soon.

2.25 Argento Chase Tip

It is a shame that Bobs Worth is a non runner in the contest, it would have been fantastic to get another look at the Gold Cup favourite. However, as long as Tidal Bay stays in, we have a proper race on our hands here.

I must be the only National Hunt fan not to be that taken with the whole Lexus form. My own Gold Cup thoughts revolve around Bobs Worth, Long Run and Silviniaco Conti.

Grand Crus is starting to look like a list of excuses but that said they look valid. The wind op was a response to his poor efforts at Cheltenham and then he went well in the King George before blowing up, he arguably will strip fitter for that.

Imperial Commander will have his fans as a twelve-year-old former Gold Cup winner but not for the Major.

Midnight Chase won this last year but the creeping years and a tougher field might make a repeat bid a failing one, but he does love it round here.

Others with strong track form include Weird Al, Little Josh and Wayward Al.

The whole race feels like a weigh up between the older sorts out for a last hoorah and a few younger animals bidding to be better. Hunt Ball is one of those but I think his improving is done.

It is a younger chaser I am opting for though and it is Grand Crus that represents the value pick at 5/1. He can improve for his recent shows and will surely play a role.

3.00 The Novice Hurdle

At Fishers Cross has good handicap form and Coneygree looks like he has some of his half-brother Carruthers talent but neither appeal as much as The New One. Two and a half miles around Cheltenham looks a nice warm up for the Neptune after the tip destroyed a Warwick field last time. That race fell apart but there was no doubt over the ease in which the winner did his business.

Whisper is a potential fly in the ointment, the Henderson inmate could be anything but against a proven class animal, I am sticking with the New One.

3.35 The Cleeve Hurdle

It is the day that keeps on giving. The 3.35 is the Cleeve Hurdle, a race that sees Oscar Whiskey test his World Hurdle credentials with Reve de Sivola taking him on. He needs to win this to put to be the stamina concerns to bed ahead of the festival.

Reve de Sivola beat a good yard stick in Smad Place (placed in last years World Hurdle) last time at Ascot and that was an excellent effort coming back from a break.

Kauto Stone is starting to look tricky and Crack Away Jack owes me too much to contemplate.

I am sticking with 13/8 shot Oscar Whisky (Hills) who has the best Cheltenham record of the lot.

4.10 – The Lucky Last

Dildar to get me out of trouble at 9/2.

Leopardstown Tips

Just in case you are not drowning in the quality of the Cheltenham card, Leopardstown offer some excellent racing too.

Sadly only three go to post in the Arkle Novice which Avrika Ligeonniere should take at prohibitive 4/6 odds.

9/4 Marito for the same connections can make it a profitable day in the 2.15, one I very much like.

In the big handicap, 9/1 Carlingford Lough with Slippers aboard is my tip.

Football Tips

QPR 4/6, Wigan 4/7 and Hull 4/5 are an FA Cup treble.

Bournemouth 8/11 and Tranmere 23/10 are my league one picks.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Bold Sir Brian, Oscar Whisky, Irish Saint and Tranmere.

May your dinner be paid for by a trixie which made your wallet bulge. The company delectable.

Courage, roll those dice.

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

The Liverpool Hurdle

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

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

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

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

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

Juvenile Hurdle Tips – Aintree 2.30

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

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

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

Betfred Bowl Tips

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

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

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

5.25 Aintree – Silver Cross Handicap

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

Good luck to one and all.

Friday Cheltenham Tips – Shabash

What a superb card at Cheltenham for the opening of the Paddy Power meeting…

I have spent some time immersed in the form and my thoughts and have drawn up a series of tips.  The Major needs some winners, the last couple of Saturday Sermons have delivered misery to the masses.

Here is my whirlwind tour of tomorrows Prestbury Park card…  Good luck to those good folk I know are there.  Mr McGerr I might see you for a sneaky quick one at the close.   Krish and the gang… do some damage.

1.10 Amateur Riders Handicap Chase

£10k is not bad prize money for this handicap chase for amateur riders and highlights the sheer decency of this card.

I am always a fan of backing horses with good amateurs up and since we have the Gold Cup winning jockey riding an unexposed chaser, I expect Time for Spring to start clear favourite.  A capable hurdler, his debut and breeding suggest he will go on as a chaser.  That said his round of jumping at Carlisle was not perfect and Cheltenham will provide the usual searching test of jumping accuracy so overlooked.

You have to respect the Pipe yard targeting ten-year old Swing Bill back at this but I would be surprised if he can cope with his mark.  He needs an upwards surge in form to be involved.

In second place on the selection stakes is in a field of potentials is the horse making the trip from County Cork, Barel of Laughs.  This 7/1 shot is another who seems to be significantly on the improve and who knows if the best part of a stone up in the weights is enough to stop him.  Joint second would be co-favourite Stewarts House whose last race was probably the best recent form on offer.  Tim Vaughan is in decent touch with his string and 6/1 seems reasonable.

The tentative selection though is Bescot Springs who acts on most goings.  He is one of those that the handicapper also has applied a prohibitive rise to on last running.  I still think he is a very interesting 12/1 shot.  His Kelso win was worth at least the 13lb rise and he had been performing well in novice events over both obstacles.  He has some very interesting form in the book including a two length defeat to Mad Moose.  Very interesting, make an investment.

1.45 2m Handicap Chase

Some great familiar names take part in this 2 mile handicap chase.

The race revolves around whether Crack Away Jack can return to old form.  In his earlier days he looked top class but after a season on the sidelines, he seemed to have lost the plot last year.

I have lost track of the Nicholls inmates that have risen back to glory following the magic wind op and if it has the trick, 7/2 could be the best value you see for the rest of this year.  The ground is in his favour and given he is shooting for a £25k pot, perhaps we should take the hint and invest.  He is one of the old favourites of the Major but on balance best watched.

I am opting for second favourite Haventascoobydo at 8/1 though who is also suited by conditions and is surely a horse on the significant upgrade.  The slight concern is his jumping has let him down on occasion and that is a trait in a horse that would normally get the Majors red line at Cheltenham but I am willing to give this one a chance on his third chase start.

Money for Oh Crick could be significant.

1.45 Cross Country

If you are there, get yourself over to the middle of the course, the cross country is a special watch from there.  I am not a massive fan of the cross country but it is a decent spectacle up close.

The day Garde Champetre retires is the day he will stop being a thorn in the Majors side, I relentlessly back against this one but each time it is a folly.

Here I go again though…. At 12, he is knocking on.  I also think Uncle Junior has decent enough form.  Sod it 6/1 here I go.

2.55 Novice Hurdle

Steps to Freedom is a 6/4 hot favourite and the Major had a fantastic day at Aintree on Grand National Da when this raider won the hurdle at 12/1.  He looks a very useful sort having proved his worth over obstacles already but there is a magic formula to follow here….

Novice Hurdle = Nicky Henderson.

I am all about Ericht at 5/1.  It looked a decent Champion Bumper and so 6th in that sphere reads well.  From a stable with an embarrassment of riches in the novice hurdle stakes, it is telling that Henderson lines this one up for the Grade 2 feature of the opening day of the Paddy Power.

Have a chunky slice and send me the postcard.

3.30 Conditional Jockeys

Henderson has a fine record in this race and so Semi Colon has to be respected on that alone.  The lightly raced mare will come into it on previous Cheltenham form, highly respected.

The Paul Nicholls Tigre Daron is also a danger to all and the Ditcheat team are in splendid form.  Probably no fun in the price though in a race like this.

There are reasons that I believe Architrave is a well priced 25/1 and trainer form is one of them.  For those that like a price, take a slice.

As tempted as I am by Architrave, it is 16/1 shot Suburban Bay I like the most.  Stopped on a hat-trick bit at Worcester, I think there is still more improvement to come.  He will like conditions and generally is a sound jumper.  Alan Kings season has started fine….

4.05 Steel and Plate Novice Chase

They have saved the best for last.  Cue Card versus Grand Crus… fascinating.

Is it a two horse race?  Well Champion Court is a decent shout but given the way he walked through a few fences in the small field at Aintree latest, you would have to question the suitability of Cheltenham.

The only other runner of appeal is the entirely unexposed Dualla Lord who is bought into a race Nicholls once targeted with Denman.  Dualla Lord would have to be very fine to take this though and is over-looked.

Zaynar seems in permanent decline although a glimmer of hope could be taken from the last run.

Of the two market favourites, I am going to opt with Cue Card. Grand Crus would be staying hurdle champion if it was not for the might Big Bucks, there is nothing wrong with that form!

Known chase form is a boost though for my selection Cue Card.  Of the two, he is also the one probably to prefer the ground.  6/4, go large, go long and drink hard!

Good luck to all of you at Cheltenham tomorrow.  I hope the tips pay off or at least give you some excitement.

The Majors Saturday Service – 22nd Jan – Victor Chandler Chase Tips, Premier League – Crack Away Followers!

Photograph of the finishing post, Ascot Raceco...

Let's all hope that Ascot beats the weather

Warm greetings to another fine sporting weekend for the Majors faithful followers.  Today we have the usual premier league tips, while in horseracing The Major has a Victor Chandler Chase 16/1 tip against Masterminded going for his third win of the season. 

So far this week the Major has tipped two outstanding losers and a non runner.  This uninspiring week followed last weekend which was almost a write off due to a shocking football run.  However, last Sunday provided a 25/1 winner in Baycross, the Majors longest priced success of the year and this win did restore some parity. 

Today followers, have faith.

Faith is indeed why we gathered here on this day, the gamblers sabbath, as men prepared to do battle.  So the Major raises the clarion call again, you must restock your bank before we unleash the cannons once more.  Relentlessly positive.

An anonymous writer in Deuteronomy wrote..  ‘Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid…for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee’

The Major teaches you in the same vain to bet like real men (and women – you know who you are!), ensure the stake demands your heart to flutter and skip a beat, reminding you of your very existence, feel your pulse again and realise that the world is not about Simon Cowell or fast food or Wetherspoons.  Out there the meaning of existence resides in the simple pleasure of a guilty moment of regret over the risk you have taken in playing your hand, before the thrill of the contest itself.  Bet with a stake that means victory delivers sweet feelings and a cash return you can actually do something with.  If you are playing with a stake that will make absolutely no difference to your planned evenings entertainment, then what is the point?  Something needs to ride on the outcome, you need to feel alive again.

The Saturday Service is here, it is your honourable duty to load the large cannon with the fine shot and then lead the charge.  The Major is he that will go with you and will not fail you or forsake you*

Point of order, the data sheets which are on the top tabs hold all of the data year to date.  You will notice a new tab called the betting summary.  This simply takes the raw data and summarises the performance of the horseracing tips, football advices etc on a month by month basis.  You will see that our profit from 48 bets is 14%, horseracing has been our strongest suit at 37% profit.  The two naps have returned a trebling of stake.  Pleasing but not enough.

Second point of order, the Major reminds followers of how to get the Saturday Service quickly.  As soon as the Major posts, emails are sent to the subscriber list.  To subscribe, use the tool in the left hand menu.  If you prefer to get your notification by twitter, @tdl123 is the place to be.

To todays action.  First the Victor Chandler Chase.  Clive Smith and Paul Nicholls will be itching to win this after last weeks Kauto Star defeat in the King George.  In Masterminded they have the best rated horse in training and it is too easy to forget that Masterminded is in his prime and not on the downgrade like his stablemate Kauto.  After all Masterminded has already won several Grade 1’s, two champion chases and suffered a dip in form that had many writing him off – That’s quite a back story for a horse who has just turned eight. 

He looks back to his impervious best this season with two solid victories.  What impressed me in both wins this season was the flamboyance.  Is there a better chaser at standing off a fence before clearing it in soaring style by a foot, not touching a twig then landing like a ballerina moving away on the bridle; with horses trainling in his wake, their pschological well-being and ability to compete destroyed.  Masterminded does look to have found his love of racing again this season which is great news, unless you are competing with him. 

Some people have Masterminded as the unquestionable two mile champ which, if you are in this camp, makes the 15/8 about Champion Chase success this year an absolute must bet.  The Major thinks though that outstanding as he is, he also has an outstanding competitor in Big Zeb.  It is going to be a cracker in March but we must play todays hand and await that race with huge anticipation.  (The Major has already advised his ante post Cheltenham tips)

Todays Victor Chandler is a penalty kick for Masterminded, in the Majors opinion.  There is nothing wrong with Petit Robin, Somersby and Mad Max but they are up against a quality animal.  If Masterminded turns up in decent heart, there is nothing to suggest he will not, he will win.  8/11 does not quite reflect this and so the Major would encourage anyone to take William Hill on at that price.  Not an advised bet though, the Major seeks the value bet.

The horse the Major really likes and the only one that allows a chink of doubt about a Masterminded win is Crack Away Jack.  This horse was incredibly unlucky not to win the Champion Hurdle in 2009.  Watch the race again and you will see he loses 15 lengths at the start, which is a lot of ground to give to top class animals in a 2 mile hurdle!  He finished that day like a train up the hill finishing a 3 length (ish) 4th.  Having suffered injuries since then, it is hard to make what remains of his undoubted talent. 

The horse has won fresh before though and at 16/1 with Bet365 who go 3 places and quarter odds (best price too), it is worth a speculative one.  The speculation is not about whether I think Crack Away Jack is capable of running a place or picking up the race if Masterminded is not in top form, it is more about his readiness and in that his trainer, the wonderful Emma Lavelle is buoyant ‘He is in really good order…… He has always run well fresh.  He looks straightforward, seems well and is at a good weight’

Of the others, Petit Robin looks like he wants further to me and is not in the top draw.  Mad Max looks a hard sort to place.  Tchio Polos at the bottom of the card for Paul Nicholls might improve but looks nowhere near good enough on anything shown so far.

The 2.55 at Ascot offers a similar bet to Crack Away Jack.  Walkon is an Alan King (who has had a quiet season) trained hurdler who has been missing injured for over a year and a half.  However, returning in this grade 2 shows some confidence in the horse and his well-being. 

Walkons second in the Triumph hurdle was good form finishing second to Zaynar at his best with Starluck back in 4th. 

A complete unknown in this is Sire Collonges who races off a featherweight.  Another french import for the Nicholls stable – Who knows what this one is about, impossible to tell but taken as too green for this quality race particularly as Lough Derg will ensure a ready pace and will expose jumping inexperience. 

Soldatino is the 5/2 favourite but really, this Triumph winner while good, 5/2?!?  OK, it could win but really I am unsure its form of winning last years Triumph is as good as the form of the second Walkon achieved in the previous year.  This then leaves the 12/1 Walkon as a standout bet – Get stuck in, have an each way chunk and thank me later.  Generally available at quarter odds and three places.

As long as Ascot races, the ground will be perfect.  Gowran however is off as is Haydock which is a shame as the Major had done work on both!

Detail and research.  2pm Lingfield, not the natural start point for horseracing fans.  One thing of interest.  Pizzetti is 40/1 with Victor Chandler – Now OK, this looks like a plot horse for handicaps and from the Prescott stable, it is probably waiting for them but…. out of Singspiel it is arguably the best bred horse in the race and….. it has a Derby entry, so they must have had hopes at some point.  It is probably a handicap plotted sort but at 40/1 the Major is willing to stake an each way piece of silver.

Ascots 3.30 shold go to Breedsbreeze 15/8 (Sportingbet) – All of the others have big question marks, the preferences of the field would be Minella Theatre who needs to prove he is not simply at first time up specialist and I’m a Legend who looks well handicapped to the Major.  the tip is for Breedsbreeze though who has he form in the book, looks relatively well placed at 9 and the credible Ian Popham helps by taking a further 5lbs off.

Then to the sporting fields of Britain which suffer less from the wicked touch of the barren North and her icy fingers.

Wolves are no forlorn hope to beat Liverpool who have proved for a second time that changing your manager does not improve a mixed squad.  Wolves are organised and at 12/5 with Stan James, of some interest but no bet advised.

I think Aston Villa while too good for the drop have problems that Darren Bent alone cannot solve.  It is the live early evening game and backing Manchester City at 23/20 with William Hill is the advice.

The Major wants to keep Fulham on the ‘poor list’ – Thus backing Stoke at Craven Cottage makes sense at 14/5 with Victor Chandler.  Stoke may have had mid-week exertions at Cardiff but they were able and confident enough to rest key players.  John Carew may not be an inspirational signing but he can lead a line and will be another player bought into consideration from Stokes long throws.  Fulham continue to underwhelm the Major who thinks it is all presentation and no trousers.  It is worth remembering that there is a bit of bad blood between these teams.  Pulis and Hughes have twice this season refused to shake hands at the final whistle, if it tasty today, I don’t think that would suit Fulham.

Blackburn are a great price to beat the Majors own team, West Brom.  This Sunday fixture features a home team who are well organised under the quiet Steve Kean.  Albion can score goals but will struggle against the strong midfield of the Blackburn team.  5/4 with Victor Chandler is a decent price.  West Brom are getting stronger with their defense returning, Tamas is a big player but they were poor at the back when fully staffed and so it might make them more competitive but hardly delivers maximum confidence.

Equally Tottenham look a quality bet at 5/4 to win in the North East.  Andy Carroll is still missing and he is a key player for Newcastle.  Pienaar could make a debut for Spurs who just look to have enough quality to take maximum points. 

Sheffield Wednesday are spending some money and going through a transformation.  7/4 is too big for their chances to get the spoils from Orient today.

Sunderland look a tasty price too at 2/1.  Blackpool are only 6 points off the black cats who rest just outside the Europa positions.  I don’t think Sunderland will miss a beat with the loss of Bent.  Gyan looks a more complete player to me.  Blackpool are capable of scoring against most teams due to a refreshing attacking approach but they also concede.

The new Bournemouth manager has his hands full.  The club had already sold key players before losing their young talented manager Howe to Burnley.  While Bournemouth have a sterling home record, this could all change in the coming weeks and they have not entertained many of the top teams.  Brighton are that and at 15/8 are incredible value.  Take your deserved share.

The Major wishes all faithful followers the best of luck in your selections today.  Watch out for tomorrows Irish Champion Hurdle advice where sadly Dunguib has already withdrawn.

The NAP today is a double on Blackburn and Masterminded. General pricing of 6/4 and 4/6 means this pays £375 to a £100 stake, I am sure you will bet with more significant funds!

This evenings dining will follow a nine mile run.  The order of the day will be steak, shown the flame for the minimal period to make the chef feel he has earned his wage.  A Barolo to accompany, a brandy to finish.  Then to dark, peaceful slumber safe in the knowledge that no matter what happened today, no matter whether a fortune was plundered in the Majors favour or not; we sleep deeply with carnal knowledge of the joys the sporting gentleman’s world provides.

Play hard.  Allow instinct as well as research. 

As the man hails your carriage, tip well.  This is right.  Let him know the Major sent you, we will be back.

* Previous evidence demonstrates that the Major will quite regularly fail you!