Tag Archives: denman

The Majors Saturday Sermon – Hennessy Tips, Premier League et al

A fine late autumn morning to you all from the Major who has been up early, reading form and walking through the market town of Pershore, as like I, it woke from slumber.

It is cool and dry in Worcestershire and the purpose of my early morning constitutional sojourn was to take air, collect the racing publication and to absorb a little of life.

The Tank leaves a customary floundering wake, Newbury will miss him

The smell of the bakers was a delight, the cheery hello from the grocer as he stacked trays of colourful produce outside the store.  These elements were straight from a stereotypical market town, acknowledged.

Walking early in the morning, you notice make observations that other times of day blind you to.  I had never noticed the Baptist Church in the market square before.  The fine Georgian building has some interesting features and is fairly prominent.  When the Major is visiting the market square though late at night for a bottle of something fine, I am oblivious to this building.

A change of pace reveals camouflaged detail.  Sometimes it is good and neccessary to do exactly that.  For this mornings stroll in the cold air, I wore no coat.  Not a deliberate act, simply an ommission.  However, the cold feel of air on the skin is a sensation that many people dismiss as simply unpleasant.  The Major disagrees.  Cold ears can make you feel the sense that it is much better to be alive.

Thus, the Majors recent form requires new angles into todays races, rebirth, regeneration.  If you are a new follower (of which we had a couple of subscribers this week) or a regular, I can only apologise for the recent run of form.  The Major did his conkers on Long Run last week and yesterdays tip felt good but trailed in last of the finishers at Newbury.

Today we reload, the Major has bought a fresh mind to the day.  Let us daub the war paint once more to battle our devious enemy.  He of sleight of hand and deception of the mind.

What a day of sport we have too.  The Hennessy is the finest handicap there is in the Majors view.  More sensible than the Grand National and full of quality.  The big yards are all represented, they know what is required to win the race, more of that soon.

We also have the fighting fifth, made to be one of the Majors favourite races by Punjabi, who has a place in the Majors heart.  The year Punjabi won the fighting fifth, he had been kept on the go on the flat in the summer.  The Major fancied his as a leading Champion Hurdle contender and had been backing him in drips since his third in the championship race at the previous Cheltenham Festival.  Punjabi won the fighting fifth and went on to win the Champion Hurdle which was the Majors largest ever win, enough to pay for some fabulous women, not enough to keep them!

To the sports and in the words of a Mr Redmond, whom I know carries the essence of the Majors gambling spirit in his heart, go large or go home.

The Hennessy

With last weeks Kauto Star explosion at Haydock, there must be a pang in the air of Newbury that Denman, the other elder statesmen of the Nicholls yard goes direct to the Lexus rather than take in the Hennessy.

I have to say that surely this is the correct decision though.  Asking Denman to shoulder top weight (he is rated 9lbs superior to Neptune Collonges, running him would leave just 5 rivals in the handicap proper) and stick it to horses some 5 years his junior would be a cruel task to set in the Majors view.

Take a moment of your life and revel in the Tanks 2009 win in this race.  That day he could have carried me around.  If your hairs do not stand on end as he clears the cross rail fence without touching the birch; or when hearing the crowd cheer him on, even as What a Friend (who was in receipt of 2 STONE!!!) could not get to him on the run in…….. awesome, relentless power, a true champion – Watch and enjoy one of the best steeplechase performances of all time, the Tank was the right nickname, he just drew the sting out of all of them.

Todays race.  I think Great Endeavour is going to be all the rage.  Currently 6/1, the cosy Paddy Power winner carries a modest penalty for that race and is sure to go well.  Some punters may make more of the fact that he has never been extended to this distance but the way he finished up the Hill at Cheltenham, he should easily get a Newbury three miles.  The Pipe team have taken a couple of Hennessy Gold Cups in the last ten years, they know what it takes, he has a favourites chance.

Michel Le Bon carries the hopes of the Ditcheat team and could be anything, he fits the second season chaser trend of many Hennessy winners (taking Denmans other wins out).  Noel Fehily is one of the Majors favourite pilots and another that is highly considered, particularly as it is trading shorter than the Walsh ridden Nicholls horse.

Muirhead is the first of a couple I like at a price.  At 25/1 with Boylesports, I think you are getting terrific value.  Just slightly outside of the 6/7 year old bracket, Muirhead looked terrific in winning the Munster National and will not be inconvenienced by goodish ground.

Billie Magern carried the Majors money when disappointing last time but I am willing to keep faith.  He is highly tried and out of the Twiston Davies yard, I am sure they are not tilting at windmills so they must genuinely think better is possible.  He is only an effective 1lb better off with Great Endeavour for a 13l defeat in the Paddy Power but I am willing to take a punt that at 33/1 (much bigger on Betfair) he can be competitive in these conditions.

Aiteen Thirtythree is the other favoured Nicholls runner that has already shown some class as a novice.  You have to suspect that the reappearance run over a trip that was never going to suit was designed to protect a handicap mark.  With Ruby aboard and the opportunity to benchmark against Michel Le Bon, money would be significant.

The Major has to make a selection from these five and with a poor recent record, I am tempted to suggest Great Endeavour and Michel le Bon who have excellent and more obvious chances.  However, I am loading up the value guns on Muirhead and Billie Magern.  25/1 and 33/1 (bigger on the exchanges) – Load the cannons and thank me for my bravery later.

The Fighting Fifth

Thinking of bravery.  The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (5th Regiment of foot) have a distinguished service history dating back to action in the 17th century.  They have seen service in the American Revolution but it was action in the Peninsular war of the early 19th century that earned the nickname of the fighting fifth.

It is not a bad nickname given some of the exploits of their soldiers in later warm engagements in India, particularly during the first mutiny.  Read the account of Private Patrick McHale VC who lead skirmishing to the gun positions when fighting the Sikhs at Cawnpore, or that of Peter McManus who also won a VC fighting in the streets of Lucknow rescuing a senior under fire from enemy sepoys.

In the year Punjabi won the fighting fifth, there was a £1m bonus for a horse that could collect this prize, the Christmas hurdle at Kempton and the Champion Hurdle.  The removal of this bonus brings just 5 contenders and I am not sure any of them will come close in Cheltenham in March.

The race has to be won though.  Binocular if anything like on top of his game will win.  It is hard to keep in mind that this horse is only 7.  He has shown dazzling brilliance and pretty shocking awfulness too.  First time out, will he go well?

It is all about match fitness for the Major.  Binocular has beaten Overturn in a fair fight and there is no good reason to expect that Overturn is better, there is good reason to suspect that he is fitter.  Celestial Halo while having a winning reappearance to the Major looks worse bet of the three.  I am not sure the reappearance amounted to much.

So the question is fitness or class?

I am going with Class.  Binocular.  Nicky Henderson may not have had the big winners in the last few weeks but there is no doubt that he is the apple of the McManus eye.  Fitness is a big concern.  Binocular is a bull of a horse and takes a lot of getting fit.  However, trainer comments seem to gently suggest he is in grander shape now then when narrowly losing out last year, this is not a strong a field, on that balance, I am in, odds against at 11/10 is very fair.

7.50 Wolverhampton

Yes, the Major reviews the top races of the day and also brings you his thoughts on the Bookiefreebies.com Handicap at Wolverhampton tonight.

The horse that catches my eye is the Ed Dunlop trained Voodoo Prince.  Off a long break, this three year old returns to action after being gelded.  I often wonder if we gelded the England football team whether it would have the desired effect of getting them focussed back on the sport…

However, in this case, I think they have taken action as the horse should be better than shown.  He has been defeated favourite on his last two starts after winning a very nice mile race at Haydock in the spring.

The question is whether this is to get a run into the horse or whether we have a bit of a good thing.  What settled the Majors mind was the jockey booking.  McLaughlin is a sound booking and he turns up at Wolverhampton for this single ride, a bit of effort.

I am willing to overlook the breeding record on the surface which is poor and pile in at a tasty 6/1 that we have found a good thing.

To the football…….

Mr Hill of the good ship Hiscox will once again denounce the Major selecting against the mighty West Brom but Spurs at Evens is an absurd price.  They are one of the best teams in the division and are playing very good stuff.  Albion will be missing key players, potentially including Long and I would take Spurs every time at that price.

I like the concession with Bet365  (could be a few punts with them today) on their double and treble the goalscorer in the Charlton, Liverpool v Man City and Stoke v Blackburn fixtures.  Essentially you get the price if a single goal is scored but double and treble the price if 2 goals or a hat-trick is bagged by your selection.  They are best price Jon Parkin too at 7/1 so I suggest an investment for Monday night.

QPR are a monster price to win at Carrow Road.  5/2 does not reflect the fact that they are the better team.  They were last season and they are this season too both on results and on the additions to their squad.  Get stuck in.

Tonight, curry is the order of the day, keep it nice and simple, local fare, eat with your hands.  Take a friend.

Courage, roll those dice.

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Grand National Meeting – Thursday at Aintree – Massive Fancy for the Major

The Major has an absolute thunderbolt for Thursdays opening card of the Aintree National meeting – It could not get off to a more exciting start with 3 grades ones compromising the Liverpool Hurdle, a cracking juvenile contest before the big race of the day, the Totesport Bowl.

Take a good look Champion Hurdle 2012 contenders, take a good look... Zarkander is the real deal

I want to start with the big race on day one, the Totesport Bowl.  One of the Majors thoughts when approaching the National and the Punchestown Festival meets is to look for horses that avoided Cheltenham.  So many arrive at Aintree over the top after a tough season and are expected to put it in again on better ground when their initial target was three weeks prior.

Thus the Totesport Bowl is a great opportunity for the Major to look to get Denman beat.  Although lightly campaigned this year, which yu would expect for an eleven year old, I think it is just too much to expect the old boy to put up a winning performance against some decent opposition so soon after a hard race in the Gold Cup.  Has he recovered from his exertions, it is a huge question and 11/10 simply gives you little leeway.

This is particularly pertinent when the next two in the betting did not go to Cheltenham and arrive fresher.  The one the Major likes is Punchestowns.  Henderson has always liked this horse and I think that it is the one that has got the opportunity to show progression.  6/1, take a slice, with Geraghty doing the business.

I am not sure the fences will suit Nacarat, 4/1 second favourite, not many of the others make great reading, Deep Purple could run a race.  Punchestowns for the Major to pick up a prize I think connections have expected.

The Liverpool Hurdle, the opener sees Big Bucks a strong odds on bet and after the demolition of Grand Crus at the festival, you cannot argue on the surface pricing.  Again, both of these horses had tough festivals and with Aintree just 3 weeks after their World Hurdle exertions, I would be loathed to back anything odds on.  While the class is at the top of the market, so is the doubt – The same question exists.  After being primed and then pushed to the limit in 3 miles around Cheltenham, who knows how well Big Bucks and Grand Crus are arriving at Aintree. 

On the form book, nothing has yet looked like threatening Big Bucks unbeaten hurdles record.  What a horse. 

I am going to take an absolute flyer on Possol who has been missing for some time.  100/1 reflects the fact that wining this off such a break would be an insane ask but with likely conditions to be OK and a former 4l defeat to Big Bucks in the form book last year, I like the chances that 100/1 gives us to at least pinch a place.  Richard Johnson, a safe pair of hands rides. 

Now for the piledriver.  Set your phasers to obliterate.

Zarknder is bet of the week for the Major.  Evens about one of the most impressive triumph winners I have seen is a stand out price.  Get stuck in, load both barrels, aim, fire.  Thank me later, penalty kick. 

Why am I so confident?  Well everything points at this one being a star.  Not only was the Triumph win so visually stunning but second that day
(and the Majors 7/1 selection) was Unaccompanied.  This girl went back out on the flat, at the Curragh last week and in listed company relegated the return of St Nicholas Abbey to third, Unaccompanied is a serious horse. 

This means that surely Zarkander is the real deal, Triumph winners have a terrible record in the Champion Hurdle but the Major will make an exception, I fully expect Zarkander ton be a leading Champion Hurdle contender.  This means it really should go in at evens on Thursday, get stuck right in.  This can pay for the week!

Cheltenham Gold Cup Tips – BOOOMMM! Three Profit Days From Three for the Major – We are through the looking glass….

Punters of Britain the Major is on a high, another profit day on Thursday, with Albertas Run returning 6/1 and Big Bucks at evens.

Important news.  Regular readers will know the Major resides in the village of Defford, outside of Pershore in rolling Worcestershire countryside.  This is 20 miles north of the course and I can report some important news…. The rain has come.  The amount of rain tonight could be crucial and it makes the job tomorrow more difficult.  I have no idea what the ground will be like first thing.  I shall risk it and offer my advices but I warn all punters to freestyle if the Major was off.  For the record I am going to expect enough for good to soft, soft in places.  Perhaps dead, perhaps tacky.  Makes life tougher.

The Major does not need to be told that he rants.  For a very special and abusive friend, I have agreed to start highlighting the advices in bold for those with less time to read the analysis or reasoning.  This is a concession that may not last.

It is the day of the reckoning and the Major, though be art weighed in the balance will not be found wanting

75% of the battle is done.  We have wounded the enemy and he seems unsteady on his feet.  He has a nasty looking gash where we took his cut on the near side and then caught him with our own defensive slice.  His guard is still up though and his mind devious; in this injured state he is dangerous, on guard young man and keep a steady eye, his rapier slashes may be crude but we need dedication to the end to see this enemy dispatched to meet his reckoning.

Yet the Major is wearied from battle too.  Three days of analysis of some of the trickiest handicaps, snow blind from reading form lines, vigilance as we approach the last dear friends.  We are almost triumphant, yet ’tis many a slip between the crouch and the leap.

The Triumph

Grandouet has been put away since the defeat of Two Kisses in January.  Two Kisses is a reliable yardstick, the form is unspectacular but good.  Henderson always has a good sort for the Triumph and the jockey booking suggests this is it.

I hate to make strong statements as they can be wrong and this may mislead but I just cannot believe Smad Place is good enough, it looks over rated to me.

A Media Luz was beaten by stablemate Grandouet and although the assistance of AP McCoy will help, I cannot see it turning the tables.  At this age, the mares allowance is influential but I just do not think it will be enough in the case of A Media Luz.

Unaccompanied, another of the fairer sex and thus 7lb in, is the Irish leading fancy for the powerful Weld / Smullen team – Dangerous to ignore, particularly with the weather turning.

Zarkanda is an Aga Khan bred animal who while über impressive when defeating Molotof, is in better company here.  Molotof is the Henderson third string.  I find it interesting that Ruby has defected to Sam Winner though.

Yet Sam Winner has struggled to cope in his last race.  Looking highly capable in the heart of winter, has some of the sparkle gone.

This triumph is a classic.  The crunch decision is over the form lines you take.  Grandouet has to be respected but had been defeated by Sam Winner, who in turn was defeated by Marsh Warbler who ran poorer than expected earlier in the week.  Both may be forgiven a run but neither are rock solid.

Zarkander has been abandoned by Ruby but could be absolutely anything.

For the Major, Unaccompanied  It has the best Irish form, the Irish trainers are having a great week, this would get Friday off to a steamer.  Have an each way bet at 7/1 and hope the allowance and rain aid the cause.  Stick it in the toaster, butter, marmite, cup of steaming tea and thank me later.

The County Handicap Hurdle

The County is a puzzle hidden inside an enigma which is disguised as a rohypnol induced nightmare.

Alazari who picked up the Imperial Cup and is hunting the £75k bonus is an obvious threat but in a field of 28 and having run in the last week, I am unsure it is wise to invest at 8/1.

Dirar is sitting favourite and you can see why.  Stable form and profile mean it should be involved, interesting.

The Major advises you though to bet sensibly, this is an insanely difficult prize.  I would proffer a few thoughts as follows.

Snap Tie a pound off top weight loves Cheltenham and has been dropping to a very handy mark.  Having not run since October 2009 it would be an almighty training performance but Hobbs can do it and Dickie Johnson in the saddle is a huge boost, 14/1 is it enough?

Salden Licht gets the burden of an extra pound, thus is the top weight and despite making a couple of errors when chasing after Recession Proof in the Totesport is on the Majors considered list, particularly at 25/1, not out of it.

Get me out of Here is also extremely well treated if the tongue tie has the desired effect, I would not put you off, personally 16/1 is an OK price but not what I am after.

Soldatino looks held unless there were excuses last time.  Dee Ee Williams more so.

Alaivan comes into it if the rain has been significant. 

Ski Sunday is a bit of an unknown.  The January run with subsequent winner Skint behind has a classy look about it.  It was only rated 66 on the flat but is a much better hurdling prospect, hmm.

Final Approach would not be 12/1 had Call the Police performed solidly on Wednesday.  Ruby and Mullins 12/1 in this sort of handicap, interesting.

Zanir at 33/1 could run a bigger than expected race too.

The Major has not ruled too many out of the County.  I have a shortlist of a few.  The most interesting of which is Snap Tie.  A Cheltenham horse, a mark that has dropped from two years off, 14/1 is as tight as I would want it but I just fancy the trainer and jockey if they have the horses confidence back.  It goes against many of the Majors principles, after all the time off the track is a significant downside before competing in such a big field.  I just have a sense that Johnson can turn him off and nurse him through, letting class do the rest.

The Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle

Some time ago the Major put up a piece about Moonlight Drive which had been tipped to me antepost.  It definitely wants the rain which is coming and is a threat still but the softer the better.  Certainly the stable hold it in good regard it seems and as Recession Proof is a stablemate then they have a decent yardstick with the Totesport Trophy winner.

The hope was that Bobs Worth would defect to the Neptune and since that has not happened, it has to be a major threat in this given the ease of the Grade 2 success last time out.

The other horse of interest and the one I settle on to advise tonight is Champion Court.  At 10/1, I hope they have sorted the issues which caused the horse to hang so badly when it looked like it might get involved in defeat to Bobs Worth last time out.  The previous form has some depth, Bobs Worth could well be too good but with Henderson not enjoying the best week, I oppose with Champion Court.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup

The Major has a strong fancy in the Gold Cup this year which is odd because it is as open as any I can recall.  I would go as far to say it is the best Gold Cup in many years, it will be a privilege to watch the interwoven strands of form, story, conjecture and magic unfurl.

It is not so much a case for the Major of picking the winner, it is more a case for finding the least likely reason any of the main protagonists will fail to lose.  That is not to say the quality is poor, quite the opposite.

The highlight of our national hunt year is solved by answering these questions correctly:

1. Does Kautos small bleed excuse his poor King George run and is he capable of pulling his old school form out when it matters? (He would go down not only as the only horse to have regained a Gold Cup but to have done that twice, wow)

2. Is Denmans third to the non runner Diamond Harry, giving best part of 2 stone away, in the Hennessy a decent bit of form?

3. Is the ground soft enough for Pandorama, the Majors ante post tip for the gold cup?

4. What does the Kempes Irish Hennessy win form add up to?

5. How ripe is Imperial Commander and how good was last years Gold Cup?

6. Is Midnight Chase a credible threat?

7. Is it time to change the old guard?

8. Who wins?

The Majors view: 1. No, he looked shot in the Down Royal opener, I know Nicholls will not have had him wound up for that but I think he is on a slide.  2. This is better form than anything Kauto has done but only entitles him to place form in the Majors view.  3. Probably not but if the rain keeps coming, too early to tell 4. Nothing 5. The Major is unimpressed on both counts.  6. Not really, if he were mine he would go straight to the National. 7. Yes.  8. LONG RUN.

I am aware that the stats for 11 year olds are shocking and so are the stats for 6 year olds.  Here is the advice.  If the ground gets good to soft, soft in places, then go Pandorama.  If it remains any better than that, stick with Long Run. 

I am going to believe that his 6 year old status is offset by the fact that he has had an awful lot of racing.  This was probably the reason that he lost last festival.  I was standing by Nicky Henderson that day (not that I know him!) and it did not look like the expected script was followed.  After being on the go all of the previous summer in France and then all winter, I think Long Run was already over the top at the festival.  The way he demolished the King George field suggested he is a different prospect to me.  He should stay, he won’t mind conditions, he is inexperienced but…. 5/1 Hills (who offer £20 bet on the race and a free £10 at the weekend to all customers), Paddypower and Coral – Have the biggest slice your wallet allows and send me the postcard.

Master Hobday, if you are reading, it already carries a £20 from the Majors wallet for you, the man, the legend.

The Foxhunters

The two races after the Gold Cup are surely designed as a bookies benefit to drag in any remaining cash. 

Gone to Lunch could be dangerous if showing the best of old form.  Baby Run is a worthy favourite, nothing wrong with betting that.

For value though the Major plumps for On the Fringe.  Probably too young, where Baby Run is starting to wear.  9/2 (Hills) On the Fringe for the Major.

The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys

Conditional jockeys riding make this one of the most trappy handicaps of the festival. 

That said, there is one that stands out like a beacon to the Major in King of the Night.

This horse gets to race off a mark of just 139 despite having lost by a nose to Sprinter Sacre (now rated 145) when giving a full stone away.

From the champion trainer, plenty of scope.  11/1, the best the Major can come up with.

The Lucky Last – The Grand Annual

Christ, if you need a win here you are in trouble.

I might have the long priced answer too.  The Major has always had an eye for Sports Line.  OK, he gets way to frisky in his races and is often fighting for his head but when he does settle he looks classy.

What catches the eye is the switch to Timmy Murphy, I think they plan on burying him away in the field under the best rider at the last to first tactic.

33/1 is the sort of price to get you out of any trouble.

The Cheltenham Festival Summary

I hope you have had a terrific week.  The Major has taken not given and this is a refreshing change to last year.

In not many hours from now, the point in the year that National Hunt fans aim at is the furthest from us.  Thank god that the 2012 antepost markets are already open. 

Let us draw blood once again tomorrow.  I hope the racing is glorious, your victory magnanimous.

Gold Cup night deserves the best french cuisine.  Have some duck in the country fashion seared and with green peppercorn sauce.  A good Bordeaux.  Tip well, this is right.  Be upstanding for the Queen at midnight.  Find a nice girl from Cork whose sing song voice shall last with you for many days.

This Gold Cup, I hope you have every reason to be glad in your heart.

Tips for each Cheltenham Festival Championship Race – Guest Post, The Hearty Ploughman

Another guest blogger has thrown us some sporting viewpoint in our relentless quest for value.  The Hearty Ploughman is well-known to the Major and a respected punter.  He has kindly offered a view on the four championship races of the festival – Cheltenham tips aplenty.

He is the one on the right in the cap!

His analysis is often heavily statistics based and follows plenty of work.  Kindly he has proffered his thoughts for our benefit at no cost.

Included is a 14/1 Gold Cup contender and is a very interesting bet – Please remember to ensure you get NRNB (Non runner no bet), most bookies are there now but some are shamefully still letting you down.  Well worth the extra protection, this week saw the withdrawal of Diamond Harry and Riverside Theatre from their respective races, there are always a couple of high proile late non runners…. over to the Hearty Ploughman.

The Hearty Ploughman – Tips for the Four Cheltenham Festival Championship Races

Punters of the world, the time of year is almost upon us when once again we invade Prestbury Park to do battle with the old enemy the bookmaker. My good friend the Major has bestowed upon me the great honour of writing this piece on his website giving my thoughts and tips for the four big races at the meeting.

Day 1 – The Champion Hurdle

This race is normally won by horses that have had more than one race this season are aged over 5 and less than 11, have won or been placed at the festival before (providing it has run at the festival), ran within the last 2 months and finished in the top three in its last race. Using these trends we can narrow the field down to just a few horses, it helps focus the mind.

I believe the winner will come from one of the following, Binocular, Peddlers Cross or Hurricane Fly. Hurricane Fly as good as he is does not have the course experience, so by backing him you are taking on trust that he will handle the conditions. Peddlers Cross is a real battler, expect him to be off the bridle first but will be running all the way to the line.

However my selection is Binocular, he ticks all the boxes and the way he won round Cheltenham last year and again at Kempton in the Christmas hurdle was mighty impressive. That and the fact that Nicky Henderson is the master at getting one spot on for Cheltenham mean he is the choice for me.

Day 2 The Champion Chase

This race is normally won by a horse that was 1st, 2nd or 3rd last time out, ran 1-4 times this season and is in the top 4 of the betting. This leaves us with just the 4 horses to concentrate on, Master Minded, Big Zeb, Woolcombe Folly and Somersby.

Master Minded does not seem to have totally re captured the form he had before his injury, Somersby continues to be a nearly horse and Woolcome Folly still have to prove he can do it in a grade 1 at Cheltenham.

This leaves me with just the remaining horse Big Zeb.  One of my favourite horses in training, travels well, will like the better ground he should encounter at Cheltenham so am expecting a repeat of last years success.

Day 3 – The World Hurdle

Surely bearing major accidents this race is between Big Bucks and Grand Crus. Big Bucks is a class act and Grand Crus is improving all the time. Not much to choose between the two but preference is for Big Bucks.

Day 4 – The Gold Cup 

Looking at the trends we have to discount horses older than 10. That immediately takes out Kauto and Denman. Another trend is that the horse must have run 2-5 times this season. This takes out last year’s winner Imperial Commander. 

Unless the word soft appears in the going, Pandorama may not even run. For me there are only 2 horses to concentrate on. Long Run and Midnight Chase. Long Run has run at Cheltenham twice and on both occasions has been placed. Is it that he doesn’t like the course or does his jumping need brushing up a bit? Having watched both races it would suggest that his jumping needs improving. At Kempton he jumped much better and connections have employed the services of Yogi again to make further improvements. I am sure he will go close once again.

However at a bigger price I prefer Midnight Chase, another horse who is a real battler. He has course form, been placed at the festival and is a front runner who does not like to be passed. At a price of around 14/1 provides good  value and is my idea of the winner.

The Majors Saturday Service – 15th January Sports Tips | Five Star Kauto?

Good morning fair punters of Britain from Defford where the skies are still dark as I type these words on a momentous day for all racing fans.

Thats how we want it...... Kauto first, fresh air in second

The frozen conditions over Christmas meant that the traditional King George boxing day race was postponed.  Today, we find out if Kauto Star, the greatest chaser I have personally seen, can win a fifth King George.

The Major salutes all equine greats who take on such great challenge.  Anyone who enjoys racing cannot fail to admire Kauto Stars jumping style which is stag like.  Beautifully efficient, economic at times, flamboyant at others.  He clearly loves Kempton and seems to reserve a few of his magnificent leaps for the crowd there.  He can also hit a fence and is an occassional faller – Excitement is Kautos middle name. 

The Major has already posted his views on the outcome of the race – My ante post King George Tips piece suggested Riverside Theatre.  4/6 is probably the right price for Kauto but his Down Royal win on his seasonal reappearance was workmanlike and the Major just feels that the spark has gone a bit from Kauto – How I dearly want to be proved incorrect. 

I have such good memories.  The boxing day where the brother-in-law took up the Majors advice and fell in love with a horse who won the race while still heading out into country on lap 2.  The time he broke Nacarat who seemed to be travelling like a challenger.  The horrible fall when still learning in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.  Knuckling down to see off L’ami who was challenging as a featherweight.  Beating Imperial Commander by a nose.  The classic Denman v Kauto Gold Cup, watching it with my father and brother and being dissapointed.  The elation of him regaining his crown.  4 boxing day delights as he imperiously stamped his ownership on each race.  The first time I backed him, winning tidily up at Kelso. 

Kauto is special.  Stylish, superb, wonderfully french, charismatic and a winner.  What better partner for today than AP McCoy.  I would be the first to agree that I think Fehily or Walsh would have a more suited racing style for Kauto but AP feels an appropriate passenger for KAuto if he wins today.

Heart….. Kauto Star, Head…… Riverside Theatre each way, Pocket….. Mossley in Warwicks 2.45.

Let’s set about the day’s action.  Today the Major urges you once more through his Saturday sports tips service to bet like real men (and women as I was recently reminded… you know who you are!).  Bet with an amount that would make you blush if your mother asked.  Irresponsible gambling is the key to a long life of debauchery, fun and fulfillment.  At those final gates, at your final destination, what do you think St Peter wants to hear? … he wants to know that when the moment came, you were not found wanting, no not you; you dashing young blade, you set your mind on blood, glory and honour and charged alongside the Major into the theatre and turmoil of war, at full gallop, wearing your war face, chin proud, your sabre aloft and flashing with a streak of the enemies claret running down the edge.  Watch your shirt young man, your valet will have a ghastly time getting that out.

Let us see what goes at the races.

First things first, the tidy little hurdle at Warwick, which passed a precautionary 8am inspection, the 2.45 Leamington Novices Hurdle (Grade 2).  There is a previously tipped Major winner going in this, Mossley.  A nice little winner at Cheltenham, Henderson trained (Quote: he has plenty of pace and is unlikely to be inconvenienced by this drop in trip) – I agree with Henderson and think this horse makes a decent bet at 15/8 with Corals.  It is not a big stakes race as Saffran de Cotte could be much better on this surface  (I wouldn’t put anyone off at 25/1 with Corals, it is easy enough to put a line through his last time out performance), Jetnova could be a decent horse and Court in Motion on a strict line of form is a couple of pounds ahead of Mossley on the Majors reckoning.  However, I have liked the way Mossley goes about his races and 15/8 is a monster price.  Have a slice.  Remember though the Majors betting resolutions, don’t get too excited, it is a novice hurdle.

At 3.20 at Warwick, another handicap puzzle and this is one that I have spent a good 40 minutes on this morning.  There are many I like.  Officier de Reserve threatens to run a race one day.Companero is a fascinating runner and could be a big threat if Howard Johnson has him well prepped after a big break from racing.  Bobby Gee looks on the upgrade and Le Beau Bai in his penultimate race showed the requisite form and has a useful 7lb claimer in Jake Greenall.  A hugely interesting outsider for the Major is Noun de la Thinte.  This mare will not be inconvenienced by the ground and although has been below par this season, I suspect this ten year old still has a decent run to give.  It is 38/1 with Red32, 45/1 for those with a Betfair account.  Have an each way interest.

The Christmas Hurdle is a race (2.25 Kempton) which I think has been set up as the long term target for Starluck.    Starluck is no Binocular but Twiston-Davies will have been targeting this race.  I like horses set out for a race even when their bare form suggests they might not have the quality to take the spoils.  Make no mistake, this is Starlucks Champion Hurdle.  Binocular if on form will hammer him but Binocular is massive and famously difficult to get right.  That said, the advice is still Binocular who is available at 11/4 with both Hills and Coral.  He is the best horse in it and Henderson is 41% winners to runners in the last fortnight, have a piece of that!  Khyber Kim while a very good horse I think will need more than Kemptons flat 2 miles.  Binocular, Starluck to fight it out, Overturn to challenge the Khyber for third.

Now as previously highlighted, the Major brings you the big race analysis and also delves into the small print to find hidden gems.  I like the look of Dream of Fortune who goes in the 1.15 at Lingfield on the all weather.  Now, the bare recent form looks horrible and that is why 5/1 is so suspicious.  David Evans can ready a gamble and this is a horse that previously has won in claimers with the likes of Tom Queally on board.  Todays 7lb claimer takes the ride for a second time and racing of an effective featherweight, a win bet is advised and take it early.

Onto the sports fields of our great nation. 

The big premier league games all happen tomorrow.  I fancy Spurs to give Manchester United a decent game.  Surely, Ferguson will not play Neville against Bale!  Regardless, I feel 2/1 does not do free flowing Tottenham justice and Van der Vaart will relish the challenge, I see him arriving late into the box to open the scoring…

With such a poor run West Brom will be hoping the return of Tamaz at centre half will galvanise them at home to Blackpool.  I cannot trust them at odds on though to beat a Blackpool team who play without fear.  Odemwingie is a big miss for West Brom as is Ollson.  Sadly, I feel a tangerine bet brewing at a generous 15/4 with Stan James – Take a piece.

A bet I quite like is Man City v Wolves, nil nil at half time which is 12/5 with Victor Chandler.  Man City are 4/11 on to take this game and as short as 2/7 in places.  Now, they have invested again in this new big burly signing (Dzeko is 7/2 as first goalscorer) – Wolves though are not in free fall yet, they have organisation and determination.  They have taken wins from Liverpool and Chelsea lately.  Man City can be eye wateringly boring at times and a chance is taken that Wolves hold out to half time.

Wigan versus Fulham being played on a continous loop could be what Dante and his Divine Comedy had in mind for the tee totallers in the tenth circle of hell, if he had got that far. 

He looks less than happy - He would definitely have imprisoned Satan in the JJB

Wigan are not good but they do have threat.  Today N’Zogbia is back but Cleverley is out, as is Kirkland.  Fulham lose their best player in Schwarzer who is on Asian Cup duty with Australia.  Wigan have only won two of their last ten home games, Fulham just one win in ten away games.  Kamara could be a 7/1 each way first goalscorer bet with Bet365 who go one third odds and unlimited places giving a tidy profit as long as he nets at some point.  The Major though goes for 3 goals or more at 11/8 with Victor Chandler.  Both teams will be looking to win.

QPR as table topping Championship travellers to Burnley look value at 9/4 with Victor Chandler.  They might have had an interesting defeat at Blackburn with Diouf and Warnock embracing controversy as is their way, however, todays trip to Burnley is clearly an easier fixture and 9/4 is way too generous.  Load the big cannon.

There is an interesting long term bet to take an interest in which is with Ladbrokes.  They go 4/1 about West Ham getting the Olympic stadium.  This is a must bet.  I cannot see Spurs plan of removing the athletics facilities garnering enough favour.  Views are strongly opposed on this but West Ham 4/1 who have a long term interest and clearly stated ambition for the project are a great price.

Bristol Rovers make an OK bet too at 7/2 to win at Carlisle.  I suspect the Carlisle team are in a down turn after just one draw from their last three, which included a defeat at Torquay.  New signing Michalak from Leeds may strengthen the team but Rovers who are just 5 points behind, admittedly in the relegation zone, have found the net 4 times in their last two games – Not convincing but neither 7/2.

Norwich make a nice 13/10 home bet against Cardiff.  While the bluebirds are well fancied this year by the Major, they have a few hurdles to get over.  Firstly, Bellamy being arrested is not going to help.  Then the imminent sale of Boothroyd to Newcastle just gives a sense of instability at the club.  Why cash in on Boothroyd for £750k when the great prize of promotion is there, surely that’s worth risking losing him on a free in the summer?  This lack of ambition is obviously a result of a club in financial trouble. 

Palace can be backed at 11/2 with Victor Chandler at Swansea.  On the surface of things, Palace are a terrible bet, they are rubbish on the road and not much better at home.  They do not have the worst squad in the world and I can see them climbing out of trouble.  This bet is taken on the grounds that new manager and ex player Freedman can galvanise the team.

The Nap is …… Mossley at 15/8. 

May the enemy tremble as he sees you approach.  Remember to wager an amount that you would be embarrassed to admit to family.  Tonight, I think you should drink pastis before eating duck prepared in a traditional french country style with green peppercorn.  When the man removes your plate, insist on the manager bringing the bottle of his best brandy and joining you.  It would be crass to let him see the bankroll which is moving uncomfortably in your finely tailored pocket.  Thank him for his hospitality and tell him you are one of the Majors and we will return.