Good morning from Defford, Pershore, Worcestershire, where the Major has been at the good coffee for many hours solving the riddles of the Gold and Silver Cups at Ayr.
Those sort of handicaps are manna from heaven for Pricewise and the Major has tried to take an angle on the Ayr Gold Cup. A contributing factor in the punters favour is the softening ground, recent wet weather has done us happy gambling few, a favour.
The Major always finds in unsettling to talk to people who do not gamble and almost seem allergic to it. The thrill of a sporting chance selected and backed with your own money is as close to god as you can get. The moment before the event, when your thought and reason remains untested, the scintillating opportunity yet you feel certain you are right, your heart flutters but your hand is steady. You have played the event out in your head many times over and visualised the result.
Then the event itself, you watch your horse travelling smoothly, your jockey motionless, like he were made of china. Approaching the business end, the leader is flat-out and your man has still to press the button, you come upsides, yet from the back a challenger, where did he come from. Thank god yours is a Mark Johnston tough as nails handicapper, he digs deep to find extra reserves and then in the flash of the line…. you are beaten by a short head. Unbelievable.
Christ. The heart is pumping. You lost your wager, you were wrong, by fractions. Yet, where else could you have felt that moment, that instant in which it seemed like you were touching the face of god. Gambling, a sin, then why did the good Lord make it feel so exhilarating.
Gambling is not a sin, vice or bad habit. Neither is not for fools. It is reserved for us people who understand that we drift by on the river of life just the once and we must grab hold of whatever good that floats by our way. It is good to be alive, make sure you feel it. Today bet with stakes that hurt and reward.
The Ayr Gold Cup – 3.20pm
The two big handicaps at Ayr on Friday have done little to provide a strong view on any draw bias. Both had a mix of stalls finishing the places and while stall 3 won in both instances, the way the Bronze Cup played out, it was not evident that either side had an advantage.
That said, it seemed being on a side was an advantage as few horses travelled well up the middle of the track.
The Gold Cup and the Silver Cup are puzzles, written in code, contained in an enigma which is just a figment of a madman’s mind. There is a lot of guess-work going on but there are things to grip onto.
Some trainers have a much better record in this race and it is worth following Fahey (if you have a clue which runner is fancied most!) but much more profitable following a certain Mr Nicholls, the Sprint King.
Given his awesome track record in the race, I am going to take a super keen interest in his horses. I also don’t particularly want the older horses. 4/5 years old is ideal for me, that’s my Sprint Cup specialist. Throw in a soft ground ready animal and we can whittle the mass of runners down to a few possibilities.
Tajneed will love conditions but at 8 is not the profile of the winner. He also falls into a category of horses I think are hampered, those with a weight of more than 9 stone, 2lbs. Only one horse has won off a higher weight than that in the last fifteen years.
There may be 27 runners but a soft ground horse, progressive and with a bit of big field experience and you have the winner with Fahey and Nicholls runners.
Mayson is a very interesting runner, particularly with the booking of Hanagan the odds on favourite to defend his champion jockey crown. Entitled to need a come back run, Mayson looks well handicapped. We also knows he goes OK when he gets his toe in. 18/1 is a fair price and the Majors only reservation is his relative youth and low miles on the clock. I suspect he is well handicapped but in a race of this size, you would like a horse who has a bit more experience.
Mayson is drawn 5 and while I want one low, I want one high too. So I am also opting for Anne of Kiev. At 40/1 this one is a bit of an outsider but the only key factor I do not like is the age, 6. I think the form is solid enough, particularly that which ties Anne of Kiev into Deacon Blues in the Wokingham. She also has big race experience and thrives in big fields.
So my Ayr Gold Cup Strategy is Mayson drawn low and Anne of Kiev drawn high.
2.30 Newbury Mill Reef Stakes
The Mill Reef stakes has an interesting look to it and much of your view on the winner has to be taken from your assessment of Casper Netscher.
While the Major holds the form in high enough regard, I am conscious that this horse has been on the go a lot. He is not the only horse in the race that has had a busy campaign.
The last couple of winners had a maximum of three prep runs and I think I would like to find a more lightly raced individual.
The one I am opting for is Redact. The case is that it is a Hannon horse and once again the master of the juvenile season has had a blinding year. He buys so many horses to train as juvenile winners you have to admire the yards philosophy. Richard Hughes picks this one ahead of Crown Dependency and there is little wrong with that horse.
Jockey selection was important for the Major here. Redact is a horse that looked entirely progressive until last time out. After breaking badly and racing freely, the horse never got into it and was 8l behind Gerfalcon.
Hughes sticking with the horse tells me that was not his running. 9/1, have a slice and thank me later.
To the sports.
At the start of the season, I drew up my own handicap score for the premier league, blind to the industry edition calculated by the Racing Post team. I found that the teams I wanted to be with were Man United (I felt they would win by a clearer margin), Newcastle and Stoke. My teams so far have done me proud. I wanted to get QPR, Villa, Blackburn and Arsenal. Again, I feel I had this right although Villa are outperforming my expectation.
QPR pretty much bought a new squad on transfer deadline day and that makes reading their chances away at Wolves difficult. Normally I would opt for a home win but with players like Wright-Phillips in the QPR team… well who knows. That project could still go up in flames.
Given that one of my positive teams, Stoke are away at one of my negatives, Sunderland and are 23/10, you would think I would be racing to get a bet down. The truth is that I would jump at it if Stoke had not had a hard European trip mid-week. Off putting.
I have four football bets this weekend.
1. Manchester United to bt Chelsea 10/11 – Man United have looked devastating in the EPL this season and Chelsea do not have it together yet, I would be very surprised if United were not to overcome them at home.
2. Bolton to beat Norwich 5/6 – Again a nearly evens price about a home team I fully expect to do the business. Norwich although they looked decent enough against the Albion on Saturday… are not that good.
3. Manchester City to win at Fulham 8/13 – City have looked very very good this season and an average Fulham team should not hold them.
4. Swansea to beat the Majors West Brom 9/5 – Bottom line is that Swansea are half useful and West Brom looked shaky at Norwich. A better team would have beaten them. Swansea can be that team.
Collect your winnings today with a smile reserved for the enemy that has a touch of all-knowing. You will need the bundle for dinner.
May that dinner be served on fine china and come with exceptionally fine in-season ingredients. For company take the one you have your eye on with that simple, almost plain but pretty look, she brings a flashing smile to light her canvas on which god painted a work which was outstanding for its simplicity not loud in it’s glory. Perfectly nice and there is nothing wrong in that, an innocence that is sweet too, genuinely a lovely person. They all want their fun though, mark the Majors words. When the bill comes, tip well, no recession, you can afford it.
Courage and shuffle those cards.