Tag Archives: diakali

The Saturday Sermon – Punchestown Tips, Sandown Tips – Suarez biting incident.. Football

Good morning from the Major who writes from bed in some discomfort.  On a rare but regular basis, the Major tweaks muscles in the base of my back leaving me a hobbling and complaining wretch.  I am not a good patient.

A week of bans in sport with Al Zarooni picking up a proper disqualification which spells the end of his training career – Good.  Suarez picked up a substantial ban too which had the wallahs of Liverpool wringing their hands and exclaiming the unfairness of it all.

The Major is pleased that a tough stance was taken on this incident.  Liverpool, in their reaction to it, are demonstrating that they learned little from the Suarez / Evra situation.  The Managing Director, the man the entire club takes a lead from in terms of behaviour and culture, suggests that the punishment targets the individual not the crime.  Other cultural leaders of the club show the balance between an organisation who want to protect a valuable asset and those that understand the disrepute he is dragging the club through… again.

Rodgers: Having reviewed the video footage and spoken to Luis, his behavior is unacceptable and I have made him aware of this – Wow, if I bit someone at work, my own company would not take the time to explain that this is ‘unacceptable’, that would be taken as read, I would be punished (fired).

Souness: …the board have to see it that way because they’re risking everything this great football club stands for 

To feel for balance in the argument it is worth considering the alternate arguments which seem to be as follows.

Is Suarez being targeted because of a history and thus, 8 weeks is too harsh a punishment?  Biting is a very dishonourable aspect to sport that disgusts many people.  In his first biting incident, Suarez was banned for 7 weeks.  In Rugby last year, Dylan Hartley took an 8 week ban for biting a finger of an Irish opponent.  Thus, 10 weeks (7 for the incident itself, 3 for violent conduct) seems fair for a second offence.  

If the club and player felt it was unduly harsh, they could appeal and run the risk of it being increased.  Their decision not to, speaks to me some what of the advice they will have received behind the scenes and their real view behind the hyperbole.  It is worth remembering that the panel who set the tariff is independent of the FA.

The Liverpool statement suggests that the tariff is unfair (which I believe to be posturing) because it is not consistent with other punishments.  One of the issues the FA need to address is retrospective action applying to players who are cautioned in a game but later found to have committed a more heinous crime.  This is what happened to Defoe, an equally low act, while unfortunate he did not serve justice it does not mean that we should not deal properly with Suarez who was not cautioned in the game.

Suarez is going to receive the full support of Liverpool.  A player whose record is so chequered, whose reputation so low, receives the full support of the club again.

Sadly the message I receive is: The values of Liverpool < The talent of Suarez – A sorry state of affairs for one of our football institutions.

If I had the time I would explore how the brand damage done by these instances will mean the club play in the long run.   I would highlight the personal values people associate with their sporting support.  Instead, we shall head to the tips…

We scored a reasonable return at Punchestown yesterday.  The fly did the business in the style you would like from a 1/4 winner.  Un Atout battled hard for victory with Pont Alexandre withdrawn.  The instruction to load the cannons on Un De Sceaux paid dividends and overall, it was not a bad day at all.

Punchestown Tips

If you are heading to Punchestown, I hope you have a marvellous time.  @limerickjfk shall be on track and I wish you and your compadres the very best of luck.

The opening Irish Field Chase could go to Shakervilz at 4/1.  He was a runner up in the Cross Country at the Cheltenham festival, that form was well franked this week.  Heavy ground should be no problem to him.  Have a small slice.

In the second, I think you need some medical attention if you back Mikael D’Haguenet.  Clearly there is enough talent to take this, after all he beat subsequent RSA chase winner Lord Windemere this season.  Yet, he throws some horrendous runs in on a regular basis.  Aupcharlie has hardly looked impressive at this end of the season either and so a chance is taken on Grey Gold at 8/1 – I am sure they are not tilting at windmills stepping the Carlisle winner up so far in class.

In the third, On His Own jumped 24 of the national fences before falling at Valentines second time around.  I did not watch the race as per my previous views on it but I understand from racing notes, he was fading at the time.  I think the ground is much more to his liking here (unbeaten on worse than soft) but it is a big ask after his exertions earlier this month.

I think you have to take Wyck Hill‘s last run at Kempton with a pinch of salt given his track record on softer ground.  At 5/1, I suggest a small slice.  Liberty Counsel is also too big at 16/1 and the Irish National winner can run into a place at least so have a small saver.

Tarla looks a shoe-in at 4/6 in the fourth.  One for multiples.  She has good chase form but was very game reverting to the smaller obstacles last time.  Largely Ruby has got the stable calls right this week and so his selection of the horse over Glenns Melody carries significance.

The Champion 4yo Hurdle at 5pm is all the weaker for the absence of the uber-exciting Our Conor.  Of all of the Cheltenham winners, his Triumph success was breathtaking and surely signals a significant career ahead.  Mullins saddles four of the six runners and of them, Diakali is a shade odds on to win.  Although I am a bit nervous at the price, he does look the most likely winner.  Dogora could be an excellent cast off from Closutton for David Casey as I think back on heavy, we might see much more horse.

Gigginstown have seven darts to throw in the 5.35 handicap.  While only a certain amount of work can be done in such races, I am suggesting an investment at 17/2 in Fahamore who has a number of attractive points.  He looks well handicapped having battled out a finish (lost) with Acapulco, when having to give best part of a stone.  Since that foe went in earlier in the week, it has to rate as good form.  Heavy ground holds no problems (6 runs, 3 wins, 2 places) – What’s not to like? He only has 24 others to defeat!

That is it from Punchestown for me, I am not playing in the bumper or the charity race.

Sandown Tip – Celebration Chase

This race more than any marks the end of the National Hunt adventure.  Last year, Sanctuaire blitzed the field.  He looks a horse whose mind has been destroyed by the Aeroplane and I wonder if he will run a big race again – It sort of reminds me of this.  He is favourite here though and has shown enough in the past to justify it… if (and a big if in my mind) he can return to his former self.

Finians Rainbow is a horse the Major likes.  I was really taken by his Champion Chase win last year (people forget so easily), he really fought hard going past the bypassed fence tussling with Sizing Europe.  This season has been a disappointment having never properly recovered from a spell on the sidelines.  Good ground holds no fears.

One who will relish good ground and is overpriced is Tataniano who is six from six on good ground.  That alone is probably not enough to make him a win bet but at 33/1 I would put noone off having a slice in case a return to top form (won off 160) is in order on better ground.

Sod it… Finians Rainbow is the best of these and I am backing Henderson to have worked some magic.  Have a decent slice of the 9/2.

Football – Regular readers will know that Watford are the team I have been classing as the money train for some time and they duly delivered for me last night at Leicester at 3/1.  I am reinvesting those funds in some teams I like.  I think Stoke will be keen to finish strongly and can see off Norwich at home.  Southampton have the guns to beat West Brom who have had a poor end of season.  I also think that Newcastle at 11/5 are a big price to see off Liverpool.  For all of the troubles listed above, I think an unsettled Liverpool performance might be one of the outputs of the whole affair.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Shakervilz, Finians Rainbow, Stoke and Diakali.

I trust your dinner is expensive and held in fine company.  Allow a generous tip and be awake at the wrong side of midnight.  It is good to be alive.

Courage, roll those dice.

Friday Cheltenham Gold Cup Tips – The Major is Chasing, JT McNamara, The Triumph… last chance for glory

Good evening from the Major who writes from an overcast Worcestershire scene that is positively balmy compared to recent conditions.

The Major is tired.  Three days of battle cling to my clothes and skin and there is a certain stench of defeat about it.  Today we scored a magnificent win with Cue Card, whom I gave a strong indication to load the cannons on, but there ends the success.

Should you feel  disappointed  I hope it eases your mind to understand that the Major was significantly invested in Sam Winner, Ballynagour and Oscar Whiskey all of which floundered hopelessly at one stage or another.

Twitter is alight with thoughts and prayers for JT McNamara who suffered a fall on Galaxy Rock in the Kim Muir, the consequence of which was him suffering a severe neck injury.  Powerful barbiturates were used to induce a coma and the racecourse medical team flew with him on the air ambulance to Bristol.  My own losses become inconsequential.

A bitter taste was left by that turn of events which unfurled as the racecourse team were dealing with Matuhi who suffered a fatal fall in the previous race.

This all followed the surprising news that Davy Russell had suffered a punctured lung, although the cause remains a mystery.  He is stood down and tonight there remains a mystery as to who will ride Sir Des Champs in the Gold Cup on Friday…

The Major kept good company today and included in the group was a chap whose methodology involved selecting horses on a theme from current events.  He selected the papal election and so used that when reviewing each race.  To build my own knowledge of what is likely to transpire in the 2013 Cheltenham Festival championship races, I have invested hundreds of hours following national hunt racing.  You know already what happened.  He selected the winner of the first two races at 25/1 and 20/1 before following up with some rather tasty each way places including Celestial Halo (of course) at 40/1.  Good on him, I wish every man his good fortune, I just hope our own enterprise is rewarded tomorrow.

Today was a critical day and it swung things in the bookmakers direction.  We need winners.  We have just one day remaining.

Stick with me, it is darkest before the dawn.  As Roosevelt (Theodore) said it is better to be faithful than famous.  Either that, or pick a theme and knock yourself out!

The Triumph

Our Conor is going to give Ireland a terrific chance of winning a Triumph, not a traditionally strong race for the raiding team.  He has already had the measure of many of his Irish rivals this winter including Stocktons Wing and Diakali.

On the home team, the probable best chance is Rolling Star who beat Irish Saint  on British debut on heavy ground and could be anything.  That win was at Cheltenham and mighty impressive.  Henderson has won three of the last twelve Triumph hurdles and so clearly he is to be feared.

Complicating the scene is the ground / weather.  The rain is likely to not be serious until later in the afternoon and so this will be a good ground race.  That brings in some serious questions for Rolling Star and Our Conor, neither of whom have raced on good.

Lac Fontana has an interesting profile having not disgraced himself against better horses in novice company and now stepping down to juvenile grade for this.  Jockey booking suggests Far West has the measure of him at home.

On balance, Our Conor is getting the line – I am not convinced the yard is in the best shape, the horse has done better in smaller fields and he has the travel to contend with.

Both Far West and Rolling Star have won at Cheltenham.  I cannot split them but will do so on trainer form at the festival which means that Rolling Star gets the nod.

The County Hurdle

The favourite in the County is Cotton Mill, well thought of by Pricewise, enough to make him his antepost Champion Hurdle pick.  The County is a much less ambitious target.

Cotton Mill may have some class but the County is often won by a springer from lower in the weights and that is the Major’s angle into the race.  Age 5/6, Mullins horses particularly interesting…

This leads us straight to Tennis Cap at 12/1 who I think has an excellent chance.  Ranjaan has been the selection of Ruby which is an advert in itself but with Ditcheat not showing their usual swagger this week, I prefer Paul Townend aboard my pick

The Albert Bartlett

I am not sure how the Albert Bartlett will feel tomorrow after we witnessed the rise of equine and jockey stars Brindisi Breeze and Campbell Gillies and their tragic deaths last year.  I am sure the course will have some moment planned to commemorate them.

What a great advert The New One gave for At Fishers Cross in his demolition job in the Neptune on Wednesday.  That Cheltenham race now looks key to this.

Utopie des Bordes has some experience which is an advantage but I am not sure it is good enough.

Ballycasey lines up to have a pop at At Fishers Cross where Inish Island failed.  Neither I think will get to the favourite.  All evidence to me says that At Fishers Cross is very very classy and has a great attitude.  If the rain is not soaked in by the time of the Albert Bartlett I would not be too concerned as the tip is an Oscar bred animal and should be fine under firmer conditions.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Tips

The 2013 Gold Cup has a decent feel to it with a number of potential winners and a great story to unfold.

At this point last year, I was convinced Sir Des Champs would go on to be crowned 2013 Gold Cup winner but he seems to have a lost a little edge.  That said he has improved with each run this year, looks a thorough stayer and clearly likes Cheltenham.  Yet, the standing down of Davy Russell is a final negative for the Major.

I cannot have the Giant Bolster.  Won’t place.  Neck on line.

At 10/1 Captain Chris would be a consideration having run Long Run so close in the King George but rain might put pay to his chances.

Bobs Worth, Long Run and Silviniaco Conti are harder to split.

Silviniaco Conti has two negatives that put him out of the picture for the Major.  Firstly, he has no Cheltenham win to his name and while he has looked mighty impressive this term, he has yet to face this sort of challenge.  Secondly, I alluded earlier to the fact that Ditcheat just look a little short of sparkle this week.

That leaves me with a Henderson 1-2.  The order is the tricky thing.  The trend of not regaining a Gold Cup (with the exception of Kauto Star) does not bother me.  Long Run picked up his at a very tender age and there is no reason why he cannot win another simply because others have not.  He probably was not on full song when Conti beat him on seasonal debut, his King George win was brave and overall the Major is not against him at all.

Bobs Worth won a Hennessy and showed he had staying power doing so.  He has 4 course wins from 4 starts, including an Albert Bartlett and an RSA.  The Hennessy makes me slightly nervous because Tidal Bay is a yardstick that I think over-rated.  I might be the only person to think this but it makes me concerned about the Irish Hennessy form too, a view supported by the trouncing Cue Card gave First Lieutenant.  A further concern would be deteriorating conditions with Bobs Worth only experience incredibly being on goodish ground.

That leaves me with Long Run.  11/2 is available and I think it is well worth a decent wedge even if we are hampered by the Amateur Jockey.

The Foxhunters

Jockey booking is essential and after that, horse quality is required.  I think Salisfy can defend his title but 11/4 is not much of a price, particularly as the ground is going to be getting away from him.

I much prefer the 10/1 about Cottage Oak available with Corals.  The more rain he better for this one whose price accounts for the talented looking but inexperienced rider.

The Martin Pipe

After Dynaste went down in the Jewson, Ballynagour seemed to empty fast in the Byrne Plate and it seems hard to trust Pipe horses at the head of affairs.  This puts Gervey Chambertin in a little doubt.

It is only a little doubt though and I think it telling that the Pipe yard are having a pop at the race named in honour of their own with just this entrant.  He is a full brother to Grand Crus and could have been entered in several of the novice hurdles.

Solix is not a 66/1 shot in my eyes and if Ian Williams has him firing, he could make a mockery of that price.

Bourne has shown some class and rates a credible winner if we get more rain, 20/1 is workable.

The Major is opting for the fantastic festival of Willie Mullins to continue with a big run from the unexposed Make your Mark at 12/1 – Clearly he has been well thought of at various stages and if he arrives here in form, perhaps we will see it happen in front of us!  A saver on the Pipe horse is recomended.

The Grand Annual

The former race is named after the Pipe yard and the Grand Annual also carries the name of a famous yard, the Hendersons.  Rather than take one good shot at the prize, the team have lined up six darts to throw and there are cases for many of them.

The yard had a one-two in the race last year but this year they may struggle to cope with the Tome George trained Rody (8/1).  The race has a tendency towards featherweights and Rody carries 10 8 – Have a slice.

Courage, roll those dice.