Tag Archives: darlan

The Boxing Day Sermon – Kempton King George Tips – Scrub that – Here is the winner of the King George plus some other tips from the Kempton card

Merry Christmas and Good Evening from the Major who writes to you from the table of my parents home in Sutton Coldfield.

The weather is cold and blustery, walking the dogs earlier in Sutton Park I had to turn my collar to the wind and bear the brunt of the cold damp on my hat-less head.  The sun was setting and the dogs were rooting through the undergrowth, bounding and sliding through the mud.  As the dank gloom descended, a certain sanguine sense settled on me.  Sometimes, when cold, out, watching dogs becoming filthy, considering the weakness of your attire, on the brink of night, with a warm home waiting…. you are so close to life, it feels good.

The walk after Christmas lunch was in order, my good mother had prepared four meats, Turkey, Pork, Gammon and Beef.  Where was the lamb I cried, surely two cuts of pig was too many….. Apparently it is not the Christmas spirit and I was chastised.

My sister was meant to host Christmas but a new cooker was not arriving in time and with a fortnight to go, the switch was made.  That pretty much made my mothers Christmas, the combination of playing reluctant host coupled with the smell of a crisis.

I trust your Christmas has been fine and in perspective.  I wish all of you merry band the happiest of times, the best of health and gods own luck.  I know my followers are the decent sort, I try and root out the cads, they tend not to return.  As such, I shall not remind you to think of others less fortunate, you will be doing that already.

There is so much racing tomorrow and so much I want to do that I wanted to provide two blog posts.  The first would be an in-depth analysis of the King George – I plan on giving you Christmas cheer with the winner.  I want to share the thought process that leads to the decision too, allowing you to part company with me at any given point.

I will then provide a less detailed summary of some of the other Kempton racing.

In a separate post, I planned on a whirlwind tipping ceremony of every race run tomorrow (that is a lot).  The analysis would have been surface level only but it feels like a fun thing to do.  Sadly, it is Christmas and I am snow blind by racing with no fewer than a million races tomorrow.

Before the tips though, racing royalty and a Sam Waley Cohen rant (not against him per se).

Recent History of Kempton’s King George and Long Run’s Jockey

Kauto Star will be in attendance at Kempton tomorrow and the sight of the five time race winner will warm the festive air with fans clamouring to be in the presence of greatness.

Winner of the race in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, defeated by Long Run in 2010 and regaining his title in 2011 – Is there a more impressive recent national hunt race record.  Add 4 Betfair Chase titles, 2 JN Wine Champion Chase runs and the first horse to regain a Gold Cup and you have a bone fide legend.

Spare a thought for Nacarat though.  Watching many of those Kauto wins, the horse that sets such a nice tempo and travels oh so well until the last half mile deserved more credit than history will give him.  I shall afford him what I can, my thanks for his brave efforts against superior flesh.

Without doubt, my favourite King George would be 2009.  Barbers Shop toiled on, Nacarat the same but Ruby and Kauto that day looked like perfection personified.  Some of the fences he cleared were majestic.  He looked a horse born knowing he was the greatest.

Should Long Run have beaten him in last years renewal?  Probably.  I know it is a well worn subject but the Major would add his two penneth worth to the views of the jockeyship of Long Run which in my view cost too much momentum in last years King George and in the Gold Cup.

Sam Waley-Cohen of the fabulously wealthy clan is a full-time dentist and for six months of the year, pretty much a full-time national hunt jockey too.  He works incredibly hard to do what he does.

The case for the defence is that…. 1) Sam has already won a King George and a Gold Cup aboard Long Run, thus it is a proven partnership worth protecting 2) Is it not the Corinthian spirit that the Major knocks…. ah the plucky amateur, playing with such straight a bat and steeled spirit as the best of them…. There is that too, granted.  3) Let us not forget too that Mr Robert Waley-Cohen has paid his money, it is his toy set and he can do what he wants, he who pays the piper….?

None of these assuage my frustration at the present situation.  My arguments are simple.  True champions in our sport are there to behold.  Kauto, Frankel, Denman, Arkle, Red Rum, Sea Bird…. take your pick, what they achieve is more than the purse for their owner, far more.

Horses like these achieve things that transcend the individual.  It is no longer one element of the race, it is the whole, it is the story.  The spontaneous round of applause as Kauto pulled up in the Gold Cup in March was beautiful, a crowd acknowledged a champion.  Ruby asked the first question but did not belittle the horse by asking again, Kauto said no once, it was enough and everyone appreciated the graceful departure.

In the case of Sam Waley-Cohen, he accepts that he is not the best jockey and this creates pressure, he clearly thrives on it too.  Sam might get 30-40 winners in a year but that compares poorly to the best jockeys riding hundreds of winners, you would expect it too as well, it is the benefit of being professional.

The skill of jockeyship in these races for me is in presenting the horse well at fences.  Geraghty, Walsh, McCoy, Fehily, O’Brien, Madden and Russell, among many of the top pro’s, do this exceptionally well.

If Long Run were aided by such a jockey, I am absolutely convinced that the horse would already hold two King George titles and two Gold Cups.  Both of the defeats came from scruffy jumping and the jockey looks awkward to me.

I accept I have never ridden a horse but while I will gladly bear the brunt of those that know far more than I from the saddle, I know what my eyes and what my sense tells me.

Long Run would be better served with a fully professional top class jockey, he would jump better and thus run to a better mark.  I not only feel a frustration born from a desire to see the best jockeys on the best horses, I also feel the greater sport is suffering as a result.  This is no ordinary chaser, trying to win a half valuable handicap.  This is potentially one of the best chasers we have seen, history beckons.  I wish we did not handicap him with an amateur in the saddle.

The owners pay the bills, they can do as they please, I just wish for the sake of racing that Geraghty would get the leg up tomorrow.

None of this is a slight on Sam Waley-Cohen either.  He accepts the basis of my argument, that he is not as good as the top professional riders.  I genuinely admire the work he must put in to ride at the standard he does.  He also seems like a top guy.  None of this is personally directed, he is doing his best, I just wish he would keep it to the likes of Radjhani Express.

The King George Winner

I said I would provide the name of the winner of the King George.  Here we go….

I analyse races to differing criteria and I want to share the process for selecting the winner of the King George with you.

I have used my judgement and some statistical base to analyse the horses chances on going, trainer form,horse age,  jockeyship, best horse form, recent horse form and likelihood of enjoying the track.

Yet, analysis like this is only useful in ensuring you do not miss elements of fact in the story you create.  Live your life by a model and the bumblebee cannot fly. So, once I have made this assessment, I shall make my case.

My scores came out, incredibly flat, suggesting this is a wide open King George.

Long Run 14.45%
Captain Chris 10.72%
Cue Card 9.36%
Riverside Theatre 10.14%
Junior 10.23%
For Non Stop 6.45%
The Giant Bolster 8.06%
Champion Court 8.55%
Grand Crus 10.81%
Kauto Stone 11.21%

In each the percentage is chance of winning on the scores allotted with my usual adjustments made.

In this case, I am going to throw them away.  It suggests a range of prices akin to a handicap from 6/1 Long Run to 16/1 For Non Stop.

My market, massively rates the chances of the outsiders. How does that fit with my feel for the race….. hmmmm, not very well.  This will be a case of drawing on some of the analysis but feeling my way through the back stories of each.

The most massive factor for me is class, it strikes me that our best chasers win the King George.  They are normally aged from 7-9, that is, in their peak racing years.  Look at the names… Kauto, Kicking King, See More Business – The multiple winners are class horses.

It is easy to get distracted by analysis, what we have to ascertain are two things – Are there serious impediments to you running your best?  Are you good enough?

In this race, I believe only the following have no serious impediment.  Long Run, Kauto Stone, Cue Card, Captain Chris and Riverside Theatre.

Grand Crus is perhaps my highest profile offcut, I feel will struggle on the ground.  He has much poorer form on soft and has never raced on worse.  A wind op may be crucial in proving me wrong but I am willing to bet that the spring will see him run his best races and maybe failing here might put the RSA on the cards.

I am not with the Giant Bolster who has shown one piece of top form in placing in a poor Gold Cup on summer ground.  Not for me.

Champion Court is good but looks thoroughly average in this company.

Likewise, For Non Stop, who has the added impediment of being unlikely to enjoy Kempton, in fact this horse has a surprisingly bad record going right handed.

Junior looks like a horse supplemented to try and win some place money, I don’t think it will pay off – Handicapper out of his depth is my reading.

So, to the protaganists and let us assess the chances and review the merits.

I want to start with two you might be surprised to find me rule out.  Kauto Stone and Cue Card.  Both have different profiles.

Kauto Stone is proven over trip and ground, his three mile win in Ireland on heavy represents his best form and Kauto’s half brother (what a story that would be!) should enjoy conditions.

Cue Card has to prove he will get the trip – Connections think it is no problem on on Kempton’s flat track and I might agree if it were not for the heavy conditions. This will make it a truly testing three miles and turning for home going well may mean nothing after the last fence.

The truth is that six year olds have won the race but they have to be top draw.  Kauto won aged six, winning a Tingle Creek in the same year (unbelievable really!) – So that is the standard to judge the chances of these two by.

Kauto Stone, definitely not in my view… Cue Card, maybe, just maybe.

Then there were three and as Holmes said, rule out the impossible and whatever remains, no matter how far fetched is the truth.

Riverside Theatre, Captain Chris and Long Run.  We have two horses that have placed in a King George and on that has won it and placed in it.

Captain Chris showed arguably his best form last time out encountering heavy for the first time.  If that form sticks then I think he is booked for a place as a minimum and represents a terrific 16/1 price.  He loves conditions and he loves Kempton (three from five).

Riverside Theatre has not had a run this year but that is not a concern.  His record fresh is immaculate and he will be wound up for this.  He also loves Kempton and gets Geraghty aboard.

This is why Long Run has to be the tip for the King George.  When it comes down to it, class is the compelling argument.  Riverside rates one of the two horses I rate in the contest and Long Run gave him a twelve length beating when only a novice.  Anything like that form and my selection should wipe the floor with this lot.  The jockey is the only impediment I can think of and I think he will win despite that.

People forget that this horse set the track record when winning the Gold Cup. That is some achievement and I think it is the class act in the field.

Cue Card rates a danger, there are lots of if’s – Of the two 6 year olds, the former Champion Bumper horse rates the one that could be of the quality to progress and win again.  Those if’s add up though, will he get heavy? Will he be good enough? Will he stay the trip?  A risky dodge, but a dodge.

My best each way alternative would be Captain Chris who only has to overcome his inconsistency to rate a very good place chance at 16/1.

Long Run will win the King George, class will tell.

The Christmas Hurdle

The talk is that Cinders and Ashes will be better for the last run and may reverse with Countrywide Flame who looked an easy winner on soft.

Darlan arrives as one of the best of last years novices but really this one needs better ground, surely.

For the Major, the art is to keep it simple, Countrywide Flame is the Christmas Hurdle tip and with good reason.  He loves the mud, he has just shown terrific form and the triumph is not looking bad as a form race.  15/8, keep it simple.

The Major will however have a slice of former Champion Hurdler, Punjabi.  This horse is the apple of my eye, I still see his white face on that little body as he held off Binocular and Celestial Halo to win me my biggest pile of notes ever.  That will be one for the heart and I would love to see him run a place.

The Feltham

Although I am going to win no friends with the value punting set, Dynaste looks as good as a bolt on bet as I know.  His facile chase victories mean that the 5/1 ante post for the RSA is my current favourite Cheltenham bet.

There is nothing in this field that scares me at all.  His jumping is immaculate, what is not to like.

The 3.45 Handicap Hurdle – Kempton

Four favourites on one card is probably not what you want from your tipping man but Katkeau is all the rage in the last.  The Pipe inmate looks a handicap good thing sort and one poor UK run is nowhere near enough to ignore this promising French sort….

Racing Post Novice Chase – Leopardstown

Avrika Ligeonniere is an evens favourite and it is understandable as to why.  When you are as blessed as Mullins is with Novice Chasers and you have a handful in at the five day stage, which you take out to rely on one brute shot, punters have to take notice.

Oscars Well though is the one for me.  This horse fell on the penultimate start but apart from that not a lot has gone wrong.  This is a classic case of my horse having more in the bank but reputation catapulting the other to the head of affairs.  Take the 7/4 on the second favourite… its a bet.

To the football…

Tottenham odds against at Villa look a bet.  Surely Villa will be fighting to restore some pride but it is a young team and they may struggle, particularly if they concede early.

Watford are my money train at the moment, hence 5/4 at Bristol City is Merry Christmas!

May your Boxing Day be better than mine.  I am booked for lunch at 2pm… what sort of sick person does that to me?  A wife of ten years is the answer… She claims innocence but really… She will pay.

Courage, roll the dice.

Friday Aintree Tips – includes a 25/1 Topham Tip

THIS IS THE 2012 POST, 2013 tips will be posted at midnight on Thursday on the home page.

2013 tips are now live.

Good evening from the Major who writes with tips for the fantastic Friday Aintree card.  The sheer quality of racing makes the heart skip a beat.

Finians was top class when seeing off Sizing Europe. This will suit…. load the large cannon

No joy from the three Aintree tips offered on Thursday.

To be fair, Crack Away Jack came in second at 50/1 after being highlighted as a possible improver.  Pearl Mix was a non runner but Grumeti’s win was a moral victory as the form lines were tied.  The other two selections fared poorly.

We need Fridays Aintree Tips to bring the Warchest for the weekend, let us review the action and see if we cannot find some opportunities to load the large cannon.

Aintree Top Novice Hurdle – 2pm

Darlan’s second in the Supreme Novices is rock solid form and to be fair, you could argue he was a little unlucky not to be the winner.

Prospect Wells was not that far behind that day but the Major is opting for a horse who finished even further behind in the Supreme… the tip is Vulcanite.

The selection is a general 10/1 shot and has been pulling very hard in his races.  If he settles I think he could be a classier act than yet shown over the obstacles as he was a decent flat horse.  Aintree is a flatter track, which I feel will suit his running style and help him settle as they will go quicker.  Now with more experience, I think there is a reasonable case to be made that Vulcanite could come improve past them all.

2.30 Mildmay Novice Chase

I can understand why the market has priced up Champion Court as favourite.  This horse likes to bowl  along and on a flat track and likely granted an easy lead, he could be hard to peg back.

Silviniaco Conti has some very good tied form with Bobs Worth who was an impressive Cheltenham winner.  Ruby opts to ride him too.

Neither of these market leaders are that convincing to the Major though who looks a little further down to find a golden nugget hiding away.

Join Together is the 11/2 tip (Stan James).  Ruby disagrees with me having chosen Silviniaco Conti over this stablemate but I think my selection has the greater form.  His last run at Cheltenham was a disappointment and I have to find a valid reason (the ground).

With a line through that run, my horse has given weight and a beating to Champion Court and has beaten subsequent Cheltenham winner Teaforthree.  Have a slice.

3.05 Melling Chase

The selection here is far more simple.  Finians Rainbow, a winner at Aintree last year and the reigning Champion Chaser, should have nothing to fear from this field and should be backed to the hilt at 11/8 with Stan James.

Albertas Run who has won the race in 2010, is now 11 and the newcomer looks more progressive.

The way Finians Rainbow finished up the Cheltenham hill suggested that 2m 4f around Aintree is well within reach.  The main danger in the Major’s eyes is Wishfull Thinking who I remain convinced has some big races to run.

Smash it up.

Topham Chase Tips

One of the trickiest contests to resolve is Thursdays Aintree Topham chase.  Tipping a winner in this is a tricky business indeed.

A couple of thoughts influence the tip, the ground is being watered and I think with a dry forecast, they are worried about it going ‘good’.  I am looking for good ground sorts and hope we don’t get that dead ground that throws up such odd results.

Secondly, there is a hugely strong Topham trend towards bottom of the handicap sorts.  Just one horse in the last twelve winners carried more than 11st and that was Gwanako.  In fact, since the turn of the century, seven winners carried 10st 4lbs or less.  To be fair, this does not rule out many as you often have a classy sort taking on unexposed players.

Peter Bowen is heavily represented again including the Topham hat-trick seeking Always Waining.  He will sure be popular again and will be in the best shape for this so has to be considered even at eleven.

Little Josh is now running off the same marks that got him a Paddy Power Gold Cup.  Liking to front run, conditions will suit so 11/1 Paddy Power is half decent.  However, 11st 4lbs on trends will be a burden.

The selection though is harder to justify than these.  Montoya’s Son has started to recover some form and the recent Newcastle show was OK.  It is not unrealistic to expect further improvement and 25/1 (Paddy Power) allows some room for that.  Many bookies are offering 5 places so do watch the terms.

4.15 Sefton Novices

When connections described Fingal Bay as the best they have had, the Major made a big mark in the book and left it there.  6/4 is very reasonable for a horse that has shown terrific form.

Having bypassed Cheltenham, Fingal bay turns up at Aintree fresher than many and if he has most of the form that his reputation suggests, then he should carry these before him.

For those that like a bigger price, Knock a Hand looks extremely progressive and could well take a place.

4.50 Handicap Hurdle

I have been through this card and cannot decide between two so am serving both up.

Bourne, I think, was unsuited last time and has plenty of potential left in what was a progressive profile before the festival.  9/1 is a win bet.

Like Minded is a 25/1 Paul Nicholls inmate who has not done much winning but would be closely matched with 14/1 Ataglance now on these revised terms.  Harry Derham has had a high profile winner for the yard this term and is well worth his claim.

The other big price horse that I considered is 25/1 shot Saphir River who did not give a decent run on British debut and has to prove some worth out of confusing French form.  It is notable though that there was a quarter of a million fee for the horse – Market support could be significant on second UK start.

The Bumper

Go to twitter… follow @kingofbumpers… do not ask the Major!

Cheltenham Festival Tuesday Tips – Champion Hurdle.. All aboard!

Good evening from the Major who writes to you on Cheltenham Eve, the most exciting night of the year, all good boys and girls should get to sleep, right after you have sorted out that lucky 15!

Geraghty says he is the best he has sat on.... The aeroplane that is Sprinter Sacre - photo courtesy of the marvelous http://www.facebook.com/GoodToSoftPhotography

I have already posted my antepost tips for Cheltenham a week ago but I am planning to write short pieces advising of any notes and fancies in the next days runners.Enjoy, have fun and remember Tom Segals words last week in Sundays paper – It is not as important as we feel, have fun but keep perspective.

Tuesday Cheltenham Tips

Here we go, here are the Majors tips for the opening day of Cheltenham.

The Supreme Novices 1.30

The Supreme novices can be a very tricky race in which to find the winner, there are plenty of red-hot candidates.

Good ground means we can rule a few out but not many and Agent Archie, Darlan, Galileos Choice and Montbazon are all high on the Majors list.

Other options include Tetlami who has done nothing wrong and Prospect Wells who may improve for his wind op and goes for Paul Nicholls who has run two winners in the last 8 years.

The two I like best though are Steps to Freedom and Trifolium and it is with the former that I will stake my first claim on the enemies satchel.  He is fine on the ground and has plenty of top class bumper form.  It might worry many that he has been put away for this for so long but Harrington knows exactly what she is doing and she is a trainer I admire.  7/1 generally but I don’t mind waiting as I think it might drift.

The Major had a lovely 12/1 winner on this horse at last years National meeting and since I gave it to a betting syndicate of the finest Birmingham chaps, I was a popular man that day.

2.05 Cheltenham – The Arkle

Already Advised: Menorah 11/1

In my antepost piece, I was keen on Menorah as I think he is under rated and over priced.  Too much is made of previous jumping errors which his trainer is well capable of sorting out.  I am happy enough with the antepost ticket but have to say that Sprinter Sacre may make this field look like handicappers.

Not often that my head is turned by a jockey’s comment but Barry Geraghty at the weekend said that Sprinter Sacre is the best horse he has ever sat on!  Consider he rode the mighty Moscow Flyer and well…..

3pts win Sprinter Sacre 10/11.  Don’t forget Paddy Power are offering a refund if Sacre wins, refund on your bet.

Al Ferof wants a punch up according to Ruby, I think Sprinter Sacre will be too classy to mix it like that.  Cue Card leading from the front sounds like a disaster to me, simply setting up some nice pace for the others to aim at.

2.40 JLT Handicap

Back in 1998, Unguided Missile took this race off eleven stone ten.  It was one of three horses to win off more than eleven stone in the last fifteen years and the other two were off eleven stone two.  Another interesting trend is that of six year olds which have not won in that time frame, which sort of puts a line through Our Mick and Mossley who has been a bit suspect over fences.

That is the Majors starting point – I want, ideally, sub eleven stone and I want a good ground horse.

Of interest are Hold on Julio who is a very good Alan King horse, on the upgrade and for a trainer that has won this handicap twice in the last ten years.

Baile Anrai is the other horse of interest, the Ian Williams chaser will appreciate the ground and 14/1 is fair.

I am going to take a slice of both at 13/2 and 14/1, I do not mind being double handed in this race.

Champion Hurdle Tips

Already Advised: Rock on Ruby 14/1

My antepost selection has come in to 10/1 and I am happy enough with my early selection.  Zarkander may prove a better horse, particularly at two miles but I think this race may pan out for Rock on Ruby who will be staying on to best effect at the hill.

The only horse I have eyes for outside of the selection is Hurricane Fly who looks the likeliest winner.

The Cross Country

The Major is not a fan, take pin, close eyes, jab paper, walk to bookie, make deposit, immediately eat ticket.

The Mares Hurdle

Quevega will surely win this; 1/2 is prohibitive so no bet.

5.15 Novice Handicap Chase

The Major has often advertised the antics of Hunt Ball’s owner, Anthony Knott.  He jumped on board Hunt Ball when entering the winners enclosure and when riding his first winner for 27 years of amateur riding, celebrating before the line with an unorthodox riding style to boot, genius.  If he wins, there is one place I want to be, the winners enclosure because I am sure he is unable to hold himself back at Cheltenham and with the cameras on him!

Triolo D’alene is a classy looking import that is sure to go well, 7/1 is very fair.

Going Wrong is an oddly strong fancy at 11/1 though.  Ferdy Murphy has won two runnings of this race and the selection has been very strong at Sedgefield.  Russell is an interesting jockey booking, a rider rarely used by the shrewd trainer, all in, I think this is a very good bet.

We are through the eye of the needle brace warriors.

Friday Cheltenham Madness – Tips for each race….

The International meeting at Cheltenham kicks off with a decent little card and the Major will be on course aiming to pay for Christmas, once more.

Last Saturdays form continued the Majors mixed to shocking form but as my old gambling friends would say, even the blind squirrel finds the odd nut….. we venture on brave few unto honour.

Killyglen... could be a shocker... let's hope not for the sake of the Majors children whose Christmas is still in the balance

12.00 Novice Chase

Only 4 runners but a cracking start with Solix opposing Sam Winner and opening as slight market favourite.

The Henderson horse gets the Majors vote by slim virtue of the trainers better form and unbelievably strong credentials in these events, the horses strong form looks fine and there is decent ground which I am unconvinced that Sam Winner will appreciate.   There is rain coming down which would square it up but even if it goes good to soft, I suspect that Solix is the better horse and he edges a narrow opener.

12.35 Handicap Hurdle

Edgardo Sol, Aather and Golden Gael are the three that catch the Majors eye.

The first from the champion trainer has great credentials and Harry Derhams useful 7lb claim brings the horse down to a decent looking mark.  The latest run at Sandown looked half decent.

Aather is harder to explain at 25/1 and in terrible form.  Unreliable, off the track for some time but….. the Major has had this one on a watch list on pieces of form that date back some time.  It takes some imagination to see it winning but as Thoreau said, the world is a canvas to such imagination….

The Major however goes for a more sensible route and tips Golden Gael. Unexposed and the booking of the stables ‘go to’ jockey is enough for the Major.  8/1…. have a chunky slice….

1.10 Handicap Chase

Nudge and Nurdle is plummeting towards some tasty looking marks and money for this one would be significant but not for the Major.

That’lldoboy is of definite interest and not a bad value favourite at 2/1.  He is up 17lbs though in his last two runs and I am concerned (probably more than most will be) that he may be getting into the grip of the handicapper.

That said finding an opponent to beat him is tough.  Bene Lad at the foot of the weights might be the chief danger but comes with plenty of questions upped in class.

Overall, despite the handicap concerns I am sticking with the favourite and willing to put good money that he toils up the hill second to something implausibly well handicapped!

1.45 Handicap Chase

I am only interested in Mon Parrain and Shakalakaboomboom.

The first was a major player for the Paddy Power if the money was to be believed and the second finished last season on a career best at Punchestown and is bought here by Henderson despite having a poor record at Prestbury Park. , tough decision.

On balance I think Shakalakaboomboom is worthy of a stake at 9/2.  At the end of the day, I prefer the better form of the Henderson yard and he is capable of having this one tuned up.

Backing both feels like a shot to nothing mind.

2.20 Cross Country

Expecting a tip on the Cross Country from the Major…… I am sorry, I do not truck with witchcraft, good luck to you.  Stop looking at me like that…. Satan get behind me….

Uncle Junior and it hurts me to type it.

2.55 Handicap Hurdle

If the rain comes the Major will plug on betting on Pause and Clause, possibly through a heady mix of sheer stupidity and loyalty, who I am convinced has bigger races in him than this but I find it hard to back Emma Lavelles charge on merit.

Evan Williams is in form and so Di Kaprio is considered but surely Oscargo can give the famous Nicholls / Walsh combination another Cheltenham win here.  The third at Cheltenham last time out is probably as good form as on show here and this horse is (unlike most) entirely unexposed.  Garton King is obviously interesting too being from the same stable and unbeaten but I would take jockey booking as informative here.

So Oscargo is it…. well no.

I am after more value and Killyglen at 8/1 offers me just that.  As a younger horse, this one threatened to be better class than this.  If you accept that his seasonal reappearance was needed then he is on a decent mark and the Major is willing to stick with him, particularly as Dickie Johnson has been booked for a rare (or possible debut) stable ride.

3.30 Novice Hurdle

Darlan at 1/2 is surely one of the hottest novice hurdlers in the Henderson yard which makes him one of the hottest seasonal prospects.

The Majors suggestion is Aikideau at 16/1 who showed improved form on reappearance when entitled to need the run.  Probably not good enough but an each way shout.