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The Saturday Sermon – Haydock Sprint Cup Tips, 33/1 Ascot Tip and a 33/1 shot at Leopardstown!. Shabash

Good Evening from the Major who writes from a rural Worcestershire scene, dark at an hour forboding the coming cold of winter.

How the Major loves the change of season. Of fair complexion, I have always struggled in the sun, it makes me ill. Nice dark nights, cold air on your face and less brightness with which to ache my northern eyes, winter is my time.

The Major is in decent form with some nice winners last weekend. Let us hope the run continues and we strike gold with the huge amount of tips provided below.

I am writing the post on a Friday evening as I am running in the morning. I am taking on 9 miles and then I am going to repeat the dose on Sunday. This is all in preparation for the Berlin marathon which I run with my brother and Adam Redmond, both also avid gambling spirits.

Our cause is Whizz Kidz – A superb charity giving young disabled people mobility. The way in which their equipment and training can boost a childs confidence and change their lives is a wonderful thing. If you have a few pounds to spare, the Major urges you to consider a small donation at our justgiving page.

After all, what has the Major ever asked of you. You remain anonymous, arriving here to read these words each week. You are one of a few hundred regulars. You know me; I ask little, I know I am barely profitable – I offer my ideas for free neither expecting praise or condemnation after the result. I serve you no adverts, I don’t pester you to sign up for anything. You get the Major every weekend, unhinged and honest. Free, no strings attached. Just once, might I appeal to your generosity.

If you don’t really know me, then just donate the cost of a pint – Remain anonymous if you will, it would move me to receive such generosity. After all, you don’t have to, it is merely a choice.

Betfred Sprint Day and the main race looks a cracker. Another in the British Champions Series which has been a roaring success. Below I have compiled tips for that, alongside some racing tips for Leopardstown where the Group One Irish Champion Stakes is lit up by the presence of Snow Fairy and Nathaniel. As usual, the Major brings you the highlights and I cover the entire and I must say entirely impenetrable Ascot card. As a close colleague of the Majors, Mr Smith, is attending, should there be winners, I trust a man of considerable means, might consider a donation to the cause.

Be ready to daub thy war paint my dear followers, be ready to bear arms. Bravery in the face of our enemy; he who makes markets of the most devious nature to fool us and confound our minds. Allow me to cut through the clouds of misdirection.

For real bravery, consider the tale of Airmen Sergeant Norman Jackson VC. You have to do some magnificent things to win a Victoria Cross, in this case, he crawled onto the wing of his Lancaster which had sustained fire after a raid on Schweinfurt, a Bavarian town on the Main river. The wing was on fire and Sergeant Jackson resolved to put the fire out with an extinguisher. His parachute accidentally opened on the way out, meaning he knew that if he fell, he was doomed.

In those circumstances, would you crawl onto a plane wing at 200mph, 20,000 feet in the air? What is more, he knew that even if succesful, he would never be able to get back into the aircraft.

He fell from the wing after dropping the extinguisher, his chute partially worked and in addition to his broken bones and burns, he suffered being captured. That is the sort of action that requires recognition with our highest honour, a small cross of bronze (legend has it from the cannons at Balaclava where our thin red line and light brigade saw action… although a more likely source is Chinese bronze).

To the sports….

3.25 – Haydock Betfred Sprint Cup Tips

This is a proper Group One race with top class sprinters taking each other on – On rattling ground at Haydock it is going to be fast and furious.

Aussie sprinter Ortensia is on a hat trick bid after superb Goodwood and York wins this term. Her early form in Britain looked ropey but on balance she had plenty of excuses for those first two runs. The Nunthorpe win was particularly good and she remains of clear interest at 11/4.

Society Rock has the assistance of Kieran Fallon and if breaking on terms could be a threat to all. 11/1 is a great each way price.

Strong Suit has been on the wrong side of a Frankel beating and I think Hannon is doing the right thing dropping him back to sprint distances. Quicker ground seems the key to the horse who is a general 6/1 chance.

Three year olds have a reasonable record in the Haydock Sprint Cup but Es Que Love is surely outclassed.

The Major is going instead to rely on my old favourite Bated Breath at 7/2 with Totesport and Betfred. My selection set a course record in the Temple Stakes and I think the quick ground we get here is the key to him. His Haydock record is outstanding and I fancy him to go one better than his second here last year.

A forecast with Ortensia is also a bet I would like to take on.

Ascot Tips – The Full Ascot Card

1.30 Juvenile Maiden

There is not a lot of form evidence with these two year olds and so the Major advises you to keep stakes at a minimum.

Telescope and Meshardal are very interesting debutantes, both have derby entries. On breeding, this looks like it might be a bit sharp for the former, a son of Galileo. The Sharmadal bred Mershardal might go well on debut. Mershadal is from the Hannon yard, possibly the most effective trainer for bringing the best from two year olds, even if other trainers seem to surpass him with older horses.

Interestingly, with Richard Hughes not available for Hannon, Pat Dobbs, the next stable pick is on Bursledon, a horse I would be interested in.

In these races, money can be crucial and at this stage, no market is open and so the Major is advising blind. Keep stakes small but I would chance a small bet on King Muro at 33/1 or so (guessing the price here so use your own judgement!)

2pm – Fillies Juvenile Maiden

Half an hour later and it is the turn of the girls. Only seven runners and three of them are representatives of the Mohammed Al Zarooni stable. That is an interesting yard for juveniles, they are focussed on their breeding operation. The market seems to have little feel for the genuine chances suggesting that they are not a gambling yard. The Major likes this as if you find one at a price, you need not be put off.

While there are less runners, the quality is all there.

Taking Al Zarooni’s runners, then jockey booking suggests they are happiest with Desert Blossom, who won her debut race with the field strung out. I would not jump to judge the bare form as superb but clearly she has ability.

Fleeting Spirit is an interesting runner, a big filly, she is sure to improve with time as she comes to herself. She had the bad luck of meeting the ill-fated Newfangled on debut and went one better subsequently. Her last third was a bit dissapointing off what looked like a winnable mark.

While I think Desert Blossom is the likeliest winner, I prefer at the prices, rank outsider, 12/1 shot Nice Story. The Chepstow race she won was entirely ordinary. We do not get many Suave bred horses in the UK, the sire is out of AP Indy and the Major is happy that this could be a well bred sort. While the Chepstow run was only OK, the ground here will be more suitable and at 12/1 I fancy a slice.

This is also not a race to get too involved in. I might have a small reverse forecast with Desert Blossom too.

2.35 Ascot – Class 2 Nursery Sprint

Another two year old race, this time over a sprint distance. A very difficult contest to tip.

The market is wide open at 9/2 the field and that reflects the open nature of the affair.

Kodiac bred, Foxy Forever is very interesting. The yard have used young Barzalona twice and have won with him on board twice. His debut win at Wolverhampton followed some significant support and so you have to be interested at 15/2 (Paddy Power).

Experience brings Opt Out into the frame with this being the seventh race of the colts career. He has moved on in leaps and bounds in the last two although the last win at Warwick saw another 5lbs lumped on. I love the toughness of Johnstones horses but prefer Fanning in the saddle.

While Foxy Forever is a very interesting horse with an eye catching booking, it is 6/1 shot Stand of Glory that the Major is going to tip in the Ascot nursery sprint. The ground at Thirsk was pretty rattling and Ascot can dry to include firm tomorrow – There is no way that the Ripon race is true form having led in unsuitable ground, I am sure a place is the minimum we could expect.

3.10 Fillies Handicap

Sharmadal filly Wahylah probably ran her best race at Beverley last time out and the manner of the race suggests that this step up in trip is well in favour.

Ted Durcan gets a rare eye catching ride (2 wins from 3 in last two years) for the yard or Mrs Greeley who has a fair each way chance.

Speedi Mouse is a most interesting runner seeking a hat-trick. The inexperienced jockey has clearly got a good tune out of the horse and the mild weights increase won’t stop further improvement. Of interest.

The Major though is going to tip Honeymead at 12/1. My selection only managed fifth last time out but that was only a few lengths down to the very useful Dutch Rose. That was probably the best run for some time and while many will overlook on the grounds of being exposed, the Major has a sense that there might be a bit more to come.

3.45 Ascot – Class 2 Handicap

A series of the usual handicap suspects have turned up for this class 2 Ascot handicap.

There are few easy races at Ascot today with either mind bendingly difficult handicaps or juvenile guesswork at the heart of these difficult connundrums.

Ladbrokes are generous offering 14/1 about Global Village from the Ellison yard. I would suggest that ground conditions are not ideal and I have given up on trying to guess when the yard have one ready – Money would be significant.

Primaeval is very interesting to the Major who would have hated the soft draining conditions last time out. Returned to suitable conditions, a big run could be on the cards.

In these sorts of races though, the Major prefers the class acts playing off higher weights and the sort that fits the bill is Johnstones Bannock. 10/1 is generally available this evening for my tip who benefits from the best 7lb claimer in Michael Murphy. Get involved.

4.15pm Ascot – 12f Handicap

This is another mind bending puzzle with many horses that enter the equation.

Gospel Choir beat the very useful Sun Central who went on to win again, that form has pushed Gospel Choir to the top of the market. Sir Michael Stoute has a successful relationship with Baker and this horse has won two handicaps here from three wins this year. Very interesting.

Stencive, narrowly defeated by Gospel Choir has to be in the calculation too with some pretty blue blood. In fact the horse is closely related to my favourite ever horse, George Washington. Clearly very useful and on balance, irresistible – the Major tips 10/1 Stencive. My selection, a son of Dansili, should give us a decent run at a decent price.

Incidentally, Fennell Bay is no way a 33/1 shot. OK, the busy schedule may have effected recent performances but if Johnstone has freshened up this outsider then he could make a mockery of that price.

Castilo Del Diablo is another witha great chance. Entirely unexposed, well drawn and a formerly expensive purchase, who knows? I would not put you off.

4.50 Ascot Food and Wine Handicap

Last Sovereign is a rejuvenated animal under the inexperienced jockey Jacob Butterfield, I think the improvement may be stopped by the best part of half a stone extra burden.

Fitz Flyer is the 5/1 favourite and did well just behind the Majors tip Tax Free last time out. Hardly a strike rate to fill you with confidence but signs of a big run are there.

The Major has to decide between Intransigent at 8/1 – A potentially progressive beast whose latest all weather win was decisive and there is little reason why it cannot be replicated on turf. My other fancy is equal 8/1 shot Ajjaadd, who looks like he sort that has been laid out for the race. It is coming to his time of year, the market knows it and while a few more pounds off the weight would help, surely he will be tuned up.

On balance, I just think Ajjaadd will be a major player at 8/1.

5.45 Leopardstown – Irish Champion Tips

The weight allowance normally means that the classic generation have a very good chance in the Champion but this year, the proven class is in the older horses.

Snow Fairy at 2/1 would be my favourite of them, the admirable mare has won 6 group one affairs including her last race at Deauville.

Good luck to Buick who is making the helicopter dash across the Irish Sea to ride Nathaniel. The favourite is clearly a talented animal but I am not sure this is his race.

As for St Nicholas Abbey, the shortness of the trip is one concern but the effect that Frankel inflicted with his Juddmonte demolition act is as much a concern.

Instead the Major opts for 33/1 shot Daddy Long Legs and I ask for your imagination. My tip won the UAE derby and looked set for a globe trotting career but his runs in the states were awful. Given a fresh turf chance back at home, with the three year old allowances, I’m not ruling out some chance for the horse in what might be a tactical affair.

That’s it from the Major who gives you nine sporting horsey tips. If I had to pick a nap, then I would be hard pressed between Bated Breath and Stencive.

May your winnings pay for a dinner to which you can take the classiest of sorts. Bedecked in expensive trinkets and reeking of perfume, she might be full of herself, but after a decent bottle or three and a sight of a fat wallet, the look in the eye will run to more than decent steak. Airs and graces or not, we are all the same in the end.

Courage, roll those dice.

The Saturday Service – Irish 2,000 Guineas Tips | Temple Stakes Tips – Eurovision Song Contest Tips!!!

Good morning from the Major who writes to you from the kitchen table of my modest Worcestershire home.  We are bathed in warmth this morning, summer has arrived.

The Major is not a summer man.  Born with a fair red head, the sun causes me pain.  I cannot operate well in it, it burns my skin.  It causes insects to flourish and at nights the heat of the land keeps me awake well into the troubled souls hour.

This last week, the Major has been in poor form.  I tipped an Ian Williams handicap debutante yesterday to some friends and family.  I was quite confident that the 10/1 shot could be a steamer.  10th.  Not that many people are speaking to me, I fear some may be giving me the Agincourt Salute.

Redemption shall come.  Faith can move mountains.  Any road, I fear not for when the great auditor shall check my ledger, pounds and pence will not matter, the style of acquisition will only matter.  I remain free, unhinged and marginally profitable.

This morning, my breakfast is soundtracking a slice of nutty bread, topped with carver ham and a duck egg, kindly donated by my generous neighbours.  A little salt… lovely.

To the sports.

Tips for the Irish 2,000 Guineas – 3.15 The Curragh

The Irish 2,000 Guineas runs today on good ground where Jim Bolgers Parish Hall goes off as marginal favourite.

I have to say that there is a lot to like about the runner.  He took a bit of time getting warmed up for the game in his juvenile year but came good by the end winning the Dewhurst and defeating Coventry Stakes winner, Power.  No prep run is not a real concern for me normally in the Guineas but given this is a horse who seems to need to build a momentum in his season, on the watch list.

For the Major the race boils down to two.

Hermival, 6/1,  was in the places in the English 1,000 Guineas behind Camelot.  That day, French Fifteen (the likely best French 3 year old) occupied a place too.  That form is rock solid and for me is as good as we have on offer here.

The more intriguing horse is Takar.  7/1 is probably a bit skinny but it is interesting that Murtagh has abandoned Born to Sea to get on this horse who has some form to find but was an impressive winner of a listed contest.  That is a great advert and despite the price being skinny, I would want this one on side.

Finally, 16/1 shot Daddy Long Legs must not go without a mention.  If an ill fated visit to the Kentucky Derby (pulled up) can be put behind him, he looked a classy horse to the Major.

On balance, I want this year to have a tuned up animal with three year old race experience.  I want good form in the book too.  This leaves me with Hermival and Takar and of the two, Hermival is the more compelling at 6/1 (BetVictor).

Haydock Tips – The Temple Stakes

Is there anything in the Temple Stakes that is going to trouble Black Caviar this summer?

The short answer is no – She is a machine and over any distance under a mile I consider her the worlds finest racehorse.

So what could chase her home?  Well Bated Breath is a fine animal.  He opposes Tangerine Trees here who got the better of him in France by a short head.  I also think his July Cup defeat is the best form in this race though it is worth noting that Bated Breath did come last season needing his first run.  For this reason alone I would normally overlook him.  However, Roger Charlton has his string in fine form so he might have the animal better tuned today…. mmmmmm.  Bated Breath is a half brother to Cityscape – This is a classy animal.  Granted, he might be better over 6f but I still think he is the best horse on the track today.

Sole Power is the main threat who will also benefit from conditions.  We are likely to get some hair-raising pace here with Tangerine Trees and Swiss Dream known to be the explosive sorts.  On Good to Firm ground this could be very quick early quarters.

I would fancy Sole Power or Bated Breath to benefit from that sort of race, just which to pick….

Although he might drift further, I am going to stick with the best horse in the race and that in my view is Bated Breath… 4/1 Hills, have a slice.

Tips for The Eurovision Song Contest 2012

Yes you read correctly, tips for the Eurovision from the Major.  Now I know a lot of my regular readers who consider themselves elegant gentleman would scream horror at the thought.  Yet, the Major feels a need to provide a tip for Eurovision for those who like their Saturday evening entertainment to be easy on the mind.

This is a 26 runner event and on trends, later draws seem to help.  Sweden are clear market favourites at 5/4 – No chance we will back that!

Russia have entered a pair of grannies from the Ural mountains.  The one toothed cute appeal may be the sort of bizarre act to claim a win but not for the Major.

The British entry Humpadinck is 20/1 and frankly I would not take 2000/1.  Britain is not popular anymore in these contests, something we should take great pride from.  Plus, drawn in trap 1, we have literally no chance – Words I do not use lightly.

The Major is going to suggest you have a slice of Serbia at 10/1.  The Balkan countries have the most powerful voting block of all and they are ideally drawn.  The money has been coming all week and so I think an investment is required!

Tonight may dinner beal fresco. Enjoy a cold beer as the last of the suns rays warms your face.  At this stage of the evening, a summers day is pleasant, I grant you.  Have good company around and be merry.

Courage, roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Breeders Cup Tips, JNwine Tips, Premier League Tips

Nicholls and The Nightingale to take the JNwine, have a slice and send me the postcard

Good morning from the rail lines of Britain where the Major is hurtling from the provincial backwaters of my native Pershore to the nation’s capital.  Today I am visiting the Emirates for a game of association football in which I hope my own team, West Brom, can repeat the unlikely heroics of last years three-two victory.

The dank and overcast conditions weigh heavy on the heart but there is plenty to pierce this seemingly impregnable depression in the weather.  The Breeders Cup, the JNwine, all of the top premier clubs in action and the opportunity of staking your hard-won monies against the enemy.

Last week was not a good Saturday Sermon with bad luck and poor decision-making costing me and any followers who went in after me a wedge.  Sunday was much better advising Nephrite, the 5/2 conqueror of Born to Sea and then getting so close to the advised double as Bonfire ran into a wall of horses when surely unleashing a winning move off the home turn at Saint-Cloud in the Criterium.  Alas.

Daub thy war paint young warrior, feel the blood rushing in your veins and embrace the metallic taste in your mouth as your body rises on the tide of adrenaline.  It is good to be alive in England right now.  Mount your charger, sharpen your lance point, prepare for battle, we shall draw a bead on the enemy and allow skill and our razor-like mind, devoid of the misty confusion of emotion, to guide our actions, be strong and decisive.  Once the maelstrom is complete, we will stand in our fine military fig with brandy in hand and smoke in our nostrils…. Shabash!

Breeders Cup Tips

I do love the Breeders Cup, European trainers locked in battle with their American counterparts, top quality action on dirt and grass.

It is always a meeting tinged with sadness for the Major too.  It was following a Kentucky storm that George Washington, one of those horses I just felt a connection to lost his life on the sloppy Churchill Downs track.

Breeders Cup Classic

Lets start with the Breeders Cup Classic.  I think we can get Uncle Mo beaten.  The yanks love this classic winner and the trainer has stated he thinks he would beat Frankel over a mile (who is he kidding, he is not fit to pony Frankel to the start!).  I am not sure he is as good as his reputation suggests.  There is also a significant concern that Uncle Mo might not stay 10 furlongs, one to avoid.

There is also a big question mark over So You Think, who knows if he will act on the surface and Aidan O’Brien has a questionable record at the Breeders Cup.

Havre de Grace would be the Majors choice but again she might not quite last the trip and we need a true stayer, especially as the dirt is sodden, plus filly records in the classic are poor.

This leaves the Major with Flat Out at 7/1 with Corals, proven on surface and sure to get the trip, I think the extra distance will allow him to reverse placings with Havre, win bet advised.

Breeders Cup Turf Mile

What quality we have on show for our delectable pleasure.  I am looking forward to seeing Sarafina strutting her stuff, she was my idea of the Arc winner as many of you will remember.  I don’t think that was her running that day and 3/1 with Hills is fair, I would not put you off.  Midday and St Nicholas Abbey could fill the places but no better than that.

Sea Moon is lightly raced and is the selection.  Sir Michael Stout was confident enough to play this one in the Arc and although that did not work out, he has a profile of a Stoute Breeders Cup winner and the trainer has an excellent record in this race.

The Breeders Cup Juvenile

I am a big fan of Daddy Long Legs who is an American bred inmate at Ballydoyle.  At 9/1, I think we might see the best of him on this surface.  Although tapped for toe in the Champagne, I think his style of running will suit the dirt and of all the O’Brien raiders, this is one I think is well priced.   He will get the pace he desperately needs to aim at.

Of course we need to get Union Rags beaten (2/1 fav) and this might not be easy.  The ease of his victories suggests a star in the making but this is a stiffer challenge than anything he has yet faced, a small saver advised for the weak of mind.

Casper Netscher has been tipped up for the juvenile mile on turf but I have to say that it will not carry the Majors money.  The owner is a yank and I am sure he envisages glory.  The horse is good too but asking it to travel to the states for its tenth run of the year is too much.

JNwine Champion Chase

No Kauto Star this year but an interesting contest at Down Royal where Irish hotpot and quiet gold cup fancy, Quito De La Roque attempts to boost his reputation in this Grade 1 contest.

I cannot have the Irish horse for this as his trainer has already declared that his preparation has not been ideal.  I am sure connections would not have had him firing at 100% for this anyway as he has bigger targets later and this encourages the Major to look elsewhere.

The place to look in my view is dictated by trainer comment, trainer record and ground.  This gives The Nightingale a tremendous chance.  This Nicholls inmate has won every start on soft which is a terrific advert and the trainer comment of ‘this is his gold cup’ gives confidence that the horse is fully wound up.  Finally, Nicholls has a tremendous record in a race that Kauto Star has dominated in recent years, I am sure he would be sending a decent sort to win again and protect that record.  9/2 is available with Coral, treat them with disdain for their utter ignorance.

Tips from the other sports

Victor Chandler has gone insane and I fully recommend the big six 11/1 accumulator of…. Spurs to win at Fulham (where I advise a significant 11/8 stake in addition, Man City to win at QPR, Chelsea to win at Blackburn, Man U to beat Sunderland at home and Liverpool to see off Swansea……. OK you only need one slip but 11/1 is a tremendous special and I recommend a double stake.

Many Exmoor trainers will struggle with the M5 closure.  Watching the scenes of burning carnage late last night, you are reminded that safety and security are not rights and we are all vulnerable vessels of blood, bone and tissue.

Tonight dine well, at home.  You need to watch the Breeders Cup after all and see if Goldikova can make history and also to observe your well guided wagers causing the enemy pain immeasurable.  Eat curry, drink cold beer, lie back and close your eyes.  In the depth of slumber, true peace can be attained but take that roll of notes from your pocket first, if you turn into it, it could jam into your ribcage and wake you up.

Courage followers and roll those dice.