Tag Archives: dunguib

The Champion Chase Day Sermon – Full review of Wednesdays Cheltenham card

Good evening from the Major who writes from a Worcestershire scene of peaceful spring – The Major is returned from Cheltenham, a little bruised and wondering just how I finished the day so poor.

Proceedings started so well, Vautour was simply barnstorming – Ruby set the fractions and kicking off the turn, showed the field a clean set of heels.  I have not read Paul Nicholls comments and so am uncertain if anything was amiss with Irving but he ran no sort of race.

The Arkle was taken by an outsider, as Ruby sailed over the last the crowd rose, like a wolf showing hackles, you could feel the energy about to go into roaring Ruby home, but then the last actor joined the stage, Western Warhorse under a maximum effort from Tom Scudamore to press a slight advantage at the line, ah he had not read the script, like a balloon slowly relieving itself of its contents, the masses calmed.  A sea of slightly confused punters punctuated by the odd small stakes backer of the winner jumping for joy with their fingers clutching at a 33/1 ticket.

The Champion Hurdle demonstrated the sheer triumph and disaster our sport allows.  Travelling up the inside on the back straight, Our Conor, such an effective hurdler, crumpled quickly on the landing side and suffered such injuries that it was deemed that the best course of action was to put him down.  He gave me an inspirational moment last year and having followed him all season, it sobered me up alright.  Christ, it is a magnificent sport but there is a grave price.  It has not rightly sunk in, it is a terrible thing and while we move on, I shall not forget that great moment.

Contrast was provided within moments.  I watched the race from a spot I frequent, knowing that Nicky Henderson is there.  At some point just before the race, I realised that Jessica Harrington was alongside me in a smart red coat, class act I can tell you.  As Jezki battled on with Geraghty using all of his guile to repel McCoy on My Tent or Yours, she burst into tears of joy – You could see what it meant.  Afterwards, in a touch of class, Henderson went and embraced her… I regaled this to a table of serious Irish betting fraternity who tell me that they are the best of friends.

What a contrast.  That is Cheltenham in a nutshell.  I managed to suggest another horse that fell and with the screens up, looked like it might be serious but thankfully for the connections of Gardefort and the Williams yard, it seems as though it was tiredness and being winded.  Yet I also saw with my eyes people will Quevega on, they helped her, does that sound ridiculous?  Yes, it does, doesn’t it… Well I know, I was there.

In gambling, your investment returns may go up as well as down.  The Major is down, yet, this is not the end, not even the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning, I can see the light.  Vautour and Quevega are in a number of multiples I have – This is good.  Plus, I feel like I have come on for the run today.

Wednesday Cheltenham Tips

Now, should you be a newcomer, you might not realise that I have already written up my thoughts for the Grade 1 races on the Wednesday card.  I may refer to that page and so you can use the link to go to it if you want and read the earlier thoughts.  That is how the internet works!

The day starts with the Neptune and another key plank of the Majors antepost week plots runs and we need at least a place and hopefully one better from Faugheen.  The Red Sherlock and Rathvinden tied form is good but we get Ruby and since I am (and for the more infrequent / novice gamblers amongst you) going to use the technical term… I am ‘balls deep’ in this position my friends – Cheltenham depends on him and Annie Power.

As a footnote, if Lieutenant Colonel wins, consider the emotions, Dessie Hughes lost his stable star today in tragic circumstances, what god send the next to arrive on the scene and lift the spirit.

Then the RSA – Again, more substantial notes are available on the link above but I think this is a weak RSA (cannot remember that many strong ones!) and all those at the head of the market have question marks.  As such, I stand by my selection, now drifted to 25/1 in Annacotty.  He was giving weight to Indian Castle when running with credit in defeat, this drying ground will be fine and he has been targeted clearly at this race all season…. Have faith and courage my friends.

The Coral Cup is an enigma, wrapped in a puzzle and then smashed over your head time and time again.  What can I tell you… Trends… In the last 15 years a horse has won 15/15.  It had a jockey 15/15.  I was not on it 15/15.  You have been warned.

For what it is worth, I have looked at the card until my head hurts.  Dunguib fits none of the usual profile but he is hardly a usual horse having been the great Irish hope until injury made him miss his best days.  He is eleven, he will not want this rattling ground playing havoc with his joints!  No.

There are plenty I can make some sort of case for.  It also plagues me that the winner of this race has not returned at huge prices in recent years.  In the end, I am betting Indevan at 20/1.  Ruby again, Ricci again.  Long absence to overcome but in excellent hands to do so.

Then the big race of the day, again something I have covered at length and I am most happy to continue to suggest backing the favourite Sire de Grugy makes sense.  This is a weak Champion Chase and he has done everything right.  I am surprised he is 11/4, load a cannon!

The Cross Country is a unique race for the festival and I like it, I know it has its detractors but if you are on course, I suggest you make your way to the centre of the course and enjoy watching the action up close.

As for the winner, I am a big fan of Big Shu, a horse I think should be much much shorter than 4/1.  He was superb in this race last year and while a stone rise in the weights is a leveler, I think he is likely to go again.  He has been laid out for this race and my only concern is that the ground might not be ideal.  At  huge price, Diamond Harry is no forlorn hope.  Get stuck into my boy though!

The Fred Winter is another head scratcher.  So many improvers, so much to like! I am swayed that the drying ground might be quite an issue for those with proven form in the book this winter.  This is the tenth running of the race and it has had two 40/1 winners to date, one of which I had the pleasure of a bet on in Une Artiste…. Sweet memories.

I cannot find a profile I particularly like and so am siding with Katgary who we know so little about.  Good hands, reasonably expensive and nearer the bottom of the weights which is the slightly more normal profile of a Fred Winter winner.  Tread with care.

I have already covered the Champion Bumper in the link above.  I am happy enough with Black Hercules but this is the bumper! Alternatives? Izzini with her mares allowance looks interesting at 50/1 (Boyles) and so does Our Kaempfer at 28/1 with BetVictor – They are longer priced darts and this is not a race I suggest you stake your dignity on.

Courage and roll the dice.

Cheltenham Festival Day One Preview – Festival Tips including a 50/1 STUNNER!!

Marsh Warbler

Marsh Warbler could be overpriced but it is Cue Card for the Major - Good luck followers

Thankfully regular followers of the Major arrive at the festival in good touch.  The Saturday Service returned a 55% profit with placed horses at 18/1 and 15/2 as well as a 5/2 winner.  We also had Wales to beat Ireland at a shade of odds on and Hull to win at Coventry at 9/5.  This from just 8 bets. 

As always, the Major is free, amateur and unhinged – All of my advices are recorded in the top navigation, you can see every bet I advise, with who, the price and the outcome.  I also summarise monthly performances.  It is all there.

Now though we are at a National Hunt fans Christmas Eve, the excitement is palpable, the treasure trove of racing goodness shall overflow from Prestbury Parks ample cup.  The moment has arrived, let us sup. 

Regulars will also notice a change of scenery.  The Major felt that the festival deserved a sprucing up of the decorations, hence a new banner, one of carnage, drama, horses and Guinness. 

The Major has been working this evening in readiness to offer a run down race by race.  If you are on course then I wish you a terrific day.

The Supreme Novices Hurdle

Dunraven Storm strikes me as a forgotten horse in this race.  The animal had done little wrong but has been off course for too long.  25/1 appeals on original form and I would not put someone off an each way slice but a lot has to be taken on trust regarding well-being.  He may have been held by Cue Card on previous outings but not by much and the same can be said of Al Ferof who has fitness in his favour but at 9/1 probably is poorer value.

Gibb River is an improver but not even the stables second choice so that would be a significant shock.

John Quinn has had some very positive things to say about his Totesport Trophy winner, Recession Proof.  Not for the Major.

There is going to be plenty of pace on with three of four horses wanting to set a fair gallop.  This includes sorts like Hidden Universe who is going to want to get on with it.  So will Marsh Warbler who also likes to lead.  It is tough to win a race of this quality from the front.  Of the two (and there are likely more), Marsh Warbler is very interesting to the Major.  The Chepstow form looks very good and with the good ground in his favour, this one may be harder to peg back than many expect.  25/1 is a bit dismissive.

Zaidpour has let a few people down in the last two runs but the Major would be at pains to stress that was on heavy ground in Ireland.  This one could surprise a few although Ruby made the decision to go to Al Ferof.

Spirit Son has done little wrong and I would expect him to be involved.  Sprinter Sacre likewise is a quality beast.

The way the race is likely to pan out would have Marsh Warbler near the front at the turn for home.  I would expect the lively pace to be a real asset to the hold up horses with good form in the book.  That said, no-one wants to give Marsh Warbler too much rope.  This unknown may not stop too quickly.

This is likely to set it up nicely for the others.  I have to say Cue Card has the best form in the race. FACT.  I would be very surprised if any jockey did not want to be on this one, Joe Tizzard can score the first victory of the festival for Britain and for the punters.

My advice is to take Cue Card at 5/2 with Paddy Power and William Hill.  The dangers are Sprinter Sacre and Spirit Son rather than Recession Proof and Al Ferof in the Majors view.  Marsh Warbler is worth an each way saver at a price. 

I think Cue Cards price will be honest because of the record of the recent hotpot favourites in the festival opener.  Certainly last year, Dunguib did not have the same form against top class opposition and had a claimer on board.  I think Cue Card is a different prospect, I hope he finishes the strongest of all.  I might not think Menorah will win the Champion Hurdle but the form of Cue Card is still goo enough for this.

The Arkle

The Arkle is a tremendous race.  What a wonderful start to the festival, the Supreme and then BOOOMMM, the Arkle!

This Arkle is an intriguing contest and I have a few angles I want to pursue.  For me (and I don’t mind sticking my neck out!) Finians Rainbow would be a 10/1 shot.  I just think his form in small fields is over-rated.

Captain Chris is a very interesting runner – I am hugely surprised that connections felt this Arkle was the right race, it looks red-hot and I am not sure Captain Chris will not find it all happening a bit too quickly for him over the minimum trip. – His best races for the Major have been those when stepped up in distance.

Ghizao  has the best form in the race for the Major but the break (last ran in December is a concern. 

I don’t think that Realt Dubh will be inconvenienced by the goodish ground and as Irelands best hope in the Arkle, he warrants respect.  The Major has had a winner with him before.

Medermit will go off as favourite and after his narrow defeat of Captain Chris, it is fair enough.  3/1 is plenty skinny for the Major but not under-priced.  I would be happier if the last few runs had not been over half a mile further. On good ground back at this trip, I question whether the turn of foot is quick enough.

My idea of the best animals at the top of the market are Medermit or Realt Dubh.  I would love to go with the bigger priced horse but Noble Prince, twice defeated by Realt Dubh is not a fantastic yardstick, perhaps Irelands best will not be good enough. 

At a massive 50/1, the Major is going to take a chance on Stagecoach Pearl.  There are plenty of questions about some at the top of the market.  Stagecoach Pearl needs to be forgiven the last defeat at the hands of Finians Rainbow but let us not forget that this horse is rated 147 for a reason (same as Realt Dubh).  At least it will give you a race as it likes to go from the front.  A clean round and it might surprise a few and hold on for a place.  You never know, it might go one better!

Spinal Research Handicap Chase

This is a very tricky handicap.  Heading the weights is Blazing Bailey, a favourite at Cheltenham who has improved as a chaser.

Rare Bob also has good form in the book, particularly the last race where blinkers were applied for the first time sparking improvement.

Great Endeavour has been raised a stone since last festival due to improved performances, I suspect more improvement is to come.

Caroles Legacy has feasibly a decent mark racing off 4lbs lower than his hurdle mark, of interest.

Bensalem on 6/1 is of a similar profile but probably a better version of it.  Not only did the horse finish second last year, this followed a very poor error at the first.  He went on to improve as a hurdler, makes plenty of errors but progressive.

Reve de Sivola is even more progressive!  10/1 (Sportinbet)!! This horse was second to Peddlers Cross last year, very worthy form.  The problem is whether you are likely to get a clean round.  In my view, if he jumps well he wins.

Razore Royale is back to a winning mark if finding old form.

Sunnyhillboy is also fancied as last years runner-up in the plate.  While he has some likely improvement, I am unsure he is the likely winner.

In summary if Bensalem and Reve de Sivola jump, they will be the first two in the Majors calculations.  Those are big ifs.  That said, I just like the look of Reve de Sivola and at 10/1 (Sportingbet) am willing to take it on, hope that Daryl Jacob gets is settled and jumping and then it shows what a class animal it is on the home run. 

The Champion Hurdle

I covered my thoughts on the Champion Hurdle in yesterdays post.  Peddlers Cross is my nap of the meeting.

The Cross Country

I forgot to mention in my Cheltenham build up piece that a real joy at the first day is to head to the centre of the course for the Cross Country.  You will never get as close to these magnificent beasts as they tackle some interesting obstacles.

The Cross Country is a race the Major has an awful track record in.  Maljimar is my idea of the winner with Garde Champetre peaked and the weight catching up with him.  6/1 is available generally.

The David Nicholson Mares Hurdle

It is hard to get past the hat-trick seeking Quevega who was once considered a Champion Hurdle contender.  For the second season running she gets her shot on her debut for the season.  That was a fine training performance last year from Willie Mullins, I have to say that at just 7, you have to admire the record already. 

Sparky May has to be the main danger, rated a 4/1 chance and unbeaten over hurdles, it is hard to assess what the form amounts to.  On a line with Caroles Legacy it looks quite impressive and as such I would prefer this as a bet solely because the horse ran eight weeks ago.

If Quevega turns up in the same form as last year, there is no reason to suggest she won’t, then I think Sparky May has to find 9lbs further improvement.  That is not beyond the realm of possibility and I suggest a 4/1 stake.

The Lucky Last – The Centenary Novice Handicap

This is the trickiest race of the day for the Major.  The field of novices have some very interesting contenders.

Short and sweet.  I think it comes down to Divers 9/1 and Definity 7/1.  Back both for wins, or each way for those of lesser vigour…. thank me later!

In Summary

If Cue Card (or Marsh Warbler), Stagecoach Pearl, Reve de Sivola and Peddlers Cross don’ go well, it is a bad day because the Major does not fancy trying to recoup losses in the Mares Hurdle, Cross Country or the Centenary.

I hope that whatever you are on, you take great wedges of cash from the old enemy.  Allow yourself to be carried along with the tide, remember what the Major tells you, you go along once so enjoy it. 

Remember you can sign up for the email alerts in the left hand column.  You can also sign up to the tweet feed @tdl123.  Tweet me if you are on track tomorrow.  The festival tips piece for Wednesday will be written late on Tuesday and a little bit more drunkenly.  Have a great day.

Go to bed and sleep, Santa doesn’t come unless you do….

The Major’s Ultimate Cheltenham Festival Guide 2011

The Racecourse from Cleeve Hill

Just before I wrote this post tonight, I passed the course, it was a buzz of tiny people seeing to the detail, lights on, christ it whets the appetite

The Major has attempted to give you lucky people visiting Cheltenham this week a guide as to what you can expect, if you have not been before and a few of the Major’s favourite bits for those seasoned campaigners.  There is also the Major’s banker for the week which goes in the Champion Hurdle.

Like all bitten by the Prestbury Park bug, I have many fond memories of the festival.  I backed Kauto the year Denman won, convinced that the bully would not upset the master, that was pretty special being proven wrong.  Watching Big Bucks destroy the field in 2010 still on the bridle at the last, almost mocking the field, that was good.  Ingles Drever winning his third world hurdle crown, like Big Bucks having to come off the bridle half way around before showing us all what a champion he was, well that was probably the finest moment….  then again Masterminded’s first Champion Chase was special too, leaping like a stag clearing the imposing Cheltenham obstacles like a stage in the fastest chase race there is.  I hope that 2011 brings us all a few more breath-taking memories.  They stay with you.

Around the Course

Cheltenham racecourse is huge, particularly the extended bit when you get to festival week.  Let’s start with the enclosures

The Different Enclosures

Best Mate is not in the main section of the site.  It is wedged on the opposite side of the finishing line and is the cheapest enclosure.  In my experience, bar access is good, the atmosphere is just as exciting and the view of the grandstand adds something to the experience.  However, you lose access to the parade ring and winner’s enclosure as well as a host of other bonuses of being in the main area.

Tattersall’s tickets are over in the main part of the course.   Club gives you access to a few extra areas but in my experience during the festival there is very little benefit to a club ticket.  Members get a few extra exclusive areas too.

The Guinness Village

This is on the main site, so no use if you are a Best Mate ticket holder.  There is a live band, a pretty big outdoor Guinness bar and a cracking atmosphere – You should definitely head down here!  The village is lined by bars and plenty of people having a fine time.

The Arkle Bar

Without doubt my favourite Cheltenham spot is the Arkle bar.  The bar is adorned with old news coverage of ‘himself’.  The crowd in there is young and country, its good fun.

As an experience, take a race with a Henderson runner, go into the Arkle bar and order up either a Guinness or have a whisky and stones ginger wine.  Head outside 5 minutes before the off and stand by the first drainage cover you come across.   This is where you will find Nicky Henderson; he watches all of his runners from this exact spot, always worth a visit.

The Parade Ring

This is always very busy for the festival, particularly before and after the feature races.  I would suggest you squeeze in for a visit though, seeing the horses and owners parading before they set off for the start gives some perspective.  The owners trying to look calm, the jockeys getting their leg up onto to their mounts, it is good stuff.  Even better if you can be there when a champion returns.  The cheers raised as a good winner returns to the ring is famous.


OK, so it is not the primary purpose of your visit and nor should it be.  The Major would recommend a stroll around the marquee villages of stalls that come in for the Major race days at Cheltenham.  You will see goods that you would never have even considered purchasing and the types of people that regularly do.  Ever wante a set of pink corduroys?  No, nor I; yet if that horse ins the 4.20….

Cheltenham Pubs and Eateries

For drinking post racing in Cheltenham, you will find plenty of pubs with clientele spilling onto the pavements.  If you fancy young and disco (I am aware that no one uses that word), try Vodka Revolutions in a fabulous old church building. 

If you are after something more real ale, I would suggest The Jolly Brewmaster – Always a good selection, well kept, enjoy.

If you want to watch the sport, try Tailors just off the High Street or the Hogshead near the bottom of the High Street with a handy local Betfred.   There was a pool bar opposite the Hogshead but I think it may be shut down. 

While in the area though I must point out that there is a kebab shop on your left as you walk away from the High Street at the lower end.  It is simply amazing as kebab shops go.  Try before you mock.

General Advice – The Ground

I have a slight concern about this year’s festival as a betting contest.  The terrible winter we have had has meant that no good ground horse has had suitable conditions, until now.  This may mean that many of our form races are not the guides we think they could be.   I would advise checking carefully before writing off better ground horses, particularly the Irish ones.  I am sure there will be a few big surprises from the previously written off.

One example of what I mean would be Zaidpour who has won twice on soft, been beaten toiling away in the heavy and yet remains the apple of his trainers eye.  It is difficult to compare that form with that of Cue Card but 10/1 Zaidpour, who knows?  Take care out there.

The Major’s Cheltenham Tip of the Week

I am going to be giving a rundown of the following days Cheltenham tips every evening (sobriety allowing); therefore I am going to keep my advices here for my banker.

It is Peddlers Cross in the Champion Hurdle.  I thought Binocular was shaping up as a bet and I had the field down to Binocular or Peddlers.  Binoculars abstention today made it an easy race.

Don’t get me wrong, Hurricane Fly could be a champion, I do worry about two things, one, how strong is the form against Solwhit who is now pursuing a staying hurdle career?  Secondly, the lack of course form is a worry; some very good horses do not perform to their best at Cheltenham.  Ruby in the saddle will help, although not much more than Townend.  One thing is for certain, the jockey booking will probably keep the money pouring on.

Menorah is also ahead of Peddlers Cross in the market but again, while I accept there is clearly no problem with Cheltenham, I do question the form.  Now before Menorah fans become irate with the Major, I must say that clearly it is a top class animal.  That said, the Cheltenham form this year beating Cue Card and Silviniaco Conti has not worked out all that well.  That, plus the recent runner stat which the Hearty Ploughman rolled out which is also a negative.  The Major only cares for trends that make sense, does this one?  In many races I wouldn’t care for it, I often back horses running fresh as long as I believe the trainer capable of getting it ready.  That said, this is a champion hurdle, 2 miles of fast hurdling against the best in the world……. a recent run is a trend we can count given no mistakes are allowable.

Dunguib is intriguing but too many questions, Khyber Kim is a terrific place prospect but doesn’t feel like a winner.

Peddlers Cross is an unbeaten hurdler, including when defeating this year’s champion hurdler on debut this season.  I accept that is not a race that Binocular would have been wound up for but…. what has PEddlers done wrong.  I like the fact that Jason Maguire awas willing to risk the rest of his weeks rides at the festival to challenge a riding ban which would have kept him off Peddlers Cross.   Get stuck in and get the week off to a flyer. 9/2, Sportingbet – KABOOOOMMM.

Bookmakers Offers of the Week

The Major urges you to take the most optimised betting strategy as possible for the week.  If you are going to the track then of course, take a bundle and have a laugh.  However, you should take advantage of the offers available.

Use a site like oddschecker.com to ascertain the best odds for anything you fancy.  Then sign up for new accounts and take advantage of the free bets bookies offer.   Most do.  For example Boylesports are offering a £20 stake a £40 free bet, have a piece of that!  £60 on for £20 staked, lovely.

Then understand the specials on offer and use them where they fit your betting pattern.  For example, anyone who doesn’t want Cue Card in the Supreme should get on with Paddy Power who offer a full refund if the favourite wins!  In the same race, Betfair offer new accounts a refund of up to £25 on Cue Card stakes if he loses!

Bet365 offer a free bet of the equivalent staked when your initial bet wins at 4/1 or more on any race covered by Channel 4.  The bet is redeemable on the next C4 race.

Mark Boylan – Finally, this lad knows the score!  13 and he loves the festival so much, he wrote a song about it – What a cracking Irish voice too!  Warning, it may stay with you!

The Majors Saturday Service – FA Cup Fourth Round Tips, Betfair Chase Tips, Kingwell Hurdle Tips – Ascot, Wincanton, Gowran Park KABOOM!!!!!!!

Good morning from the outskirts of Pershore where the Major calls to prayer all brave punters of Britain.  Rejoice and be glad for it is time for the Saturday service from the Major. 

His undertaker, a man of morals, returned £2,000 found in his jacket pocket. Sir Clement would urge us to bet bravely.

Two posts for the price of one – Breaking news – A new poster who goes by the name of The Cleveland Steamer has provided some excellent analysis of the days events – Although the content deserves a write up of it’s own, I have attached it to the bottom of the Majors post today. 

The last few weeks have been tough.  A few very positive moments can be drawn.  The Sunday post which tipped two winners from two selections at 22/1 and 11/2.  The Friday selection of Pere Blanc which turned out to be the handicap snip.  However, the overall strike rate needs a lift and the Major aims to deliver with this weeks Saturday service. 

A terrific weekend of sporting action awaits us.  The Major has reviewed the FA Cup 4th Round for tips, the horseracing tipping service which is extremely profitable this month has selections from the Betfair Ascot Chase as well as a couple of other eye catchers from other courses.  It is also the start of the cricket world cup.

In one sense, seeing this set of tricky and devious conundrums laid out before me by the worst of men (my devious enemy, the bookmaker) blinds me in vitriol, should my own answer to the enemy will be violent and thunderous?

Wait, temper those thoughts, be calm, this wrath is destructive and un-profitable.  As good Chinese philosophy teaches, the mind is clouded by such vivid anger.  Thankfully for the Major, last night, an angel of the lord visited me.  She bought such soothing peace in the form of a fine home cooked banoffee pie.  All modern concerns were quickly ridden from the mind.  Where there was discord, she bought harmony.  She shall be remembered at tea time, when the enemy is vanquished once more to the shadows and the fine wines are drawn from the cellar.

Now the Major is prepared.  Strength has been restored, the vital signs are glowing and we shall approach the days sporting opportunity with the renewed vigour of a man well fed on the sort of down to earth goodness that you can see, replayed in the eyes of one on his deathbed, content in the knowledge that he witnessed a full life and in it enjoyed the wholesomeness of variety. 

The Majors personal hero is the late Sir Clement Freud who lived the fullest life as a foodie, gambler, journalist, MP, military man, nightclub owner, horseracing owner, jockey and broadcaster.  His Racing Post columns were a highlight of my week.  You can purchase a book of these columns and I would suggest that if you have a sense of the Bon Vive and enjoy racing, you do. His outlook on todays events would be one of valour.

So, to the sports fields of Britain, load the large cannon young man.  Bring your charger up, wipe that blood from your lance and let us charge once more in the Queens name into the fray.

Let us start with the tricky Grand National trial at Haydock.  With the weights out for the National, now is the time we will start to see some ‘surprising’ runs from the staying chase division as the shrewd trainers unleash their good things.

Todays 3.20 at Haydock could just reveal this very thing.  This is why I cannot have Pricewise assertions that this is likely to go to those at the top of the weights with the experience and class in the book.  The Major forms the opposite view, although does think Carruthers has a chance at 10s.  We are looking for something top class that has dropped in the weights or something featherweight, yet to show us the true form.

Haydocks heavy going is going to be mud bath status by mid afternoon and being a Grand National trial over three and a half miles, this race is going to take all the getting.  We need something that stays forever. 

West End Rocker is one that catches the eye.  An improver and one that is many people’s idea of the National winner, it has also won its sole race on heavy ground, considered.

The real eye catcher that for the Major could be well in is Le Beau Bai.  This has been sliding down the weights and has been weighted to get competitive with West End Rocker.  It is also a mudlark, striking 33% wins on heavy (raced 9 times) and placing 6.  The stable is in fine form with ten runners in the last week, 3 winning and 7 placing. 

The other chief threat could be the Twiston Davies horse, Major Malarkey.  I suspect this one could have a lot more to come at marathon distances.  It looks well treated today off 10 stone 8 pounds and son Sam takes a further 3lb off.  This is a step into the unknown with the horse but they know what they are doing and 10/1 at Stan James may look ridiculous later on.  Raced once on heavy and not seen at its best, the ground is a slight concern but a decent strike rate on soft gives hope.

The advice is to back both Major Malarkey and Le Beau Bai.  10/1, Stan James and 9/1 are generally available.  Rule out West End Rocker at your peril but we have to follow value relentlessly.

The preceding race at Haydock is a Grade 2 hurdle, the Rendlesham.  I find the outsider of the field interesting.  Kayf Aramis has been poor this year finishing tailed off behind Bensalem at Cheltenham in the latest outing.  I wonder if the headgear coming off could spark life into this one.  Kayf is still young enough to leave a mark on a race like this and last years second was pretty good.  Probably nothing beats Bensalem in normal circumstances but with the rain forecast to continue all morning, I wonder if a chance should be taken on Chief Dan George.  14/1 is a great price if this turns into a mud battle.  Go for the win bet, each way slices the value up too much in this 6 runner contest.

At Ascot we have some fine races.

The 2.25 is an interesting contest with french trained Royal Tune coming over to have another pop at a listed race.  Last seen at Ffos Las, it could have won carrying my own considerable frame around!  The Major is the first to say that 16lbs of uplift in the weights may not be anything like the amount needed to halt this one.

9/4 is available, have two slices, send me a postcard….. this looks mustard.

The Betfair Ascot Chase at 3pm is the race of the day.  The market has it down to the first two, with Riverside Theatre and Pride of Dulcote, 7/4 and 5/2 respectively.  Riverside has been a horse of profit for the Major, successfully finishing second when selected as the 14/1 ante post tip for the King George, solid form.  Paul Nicholls though has always had a huge amount of respect for Pride of Dulcote who has shown mixed form, beating Punchestown which initially looked super impressive but subsequently let down by the losers following runs.  This is a difficult race to pick. 

Tartak has always been a horse that the Major felt had a big run in and at 8, still has the opportunity.  Big Fella Thanks wants the rain to pour down and this looks too short.

On balance, the favourite, Riverside Theatre at 7/4 looks the value selection.  No bet advised though as Pride of Dulcote could clearly have Gold Cup aspirations.

The 3.40 at Gowran Park is a three runner event, which is insane given the 26k Euro prize pot.  Fenton has chosen this as the comeback route for Dunguib, the former star novice hurdler who B T O’Connell gave a confident ride to at the festival, upsetting many backers when failing to close down the lead.

The Major has always thought that this horse is a bit special.  20/1 for the Champion Hurdle might not be a bad bet.  Certainly the young jockey will appreciate not being quite so prominent in the build up.  8/11 is skinny enough but I would have a slice.

The Kingwell Hurdle (3.45 Wincanton) is a cracking prep race for the Champion Hurdle.  Several market players are out today and it is the second best race of the day. 

Mille Chief is the favourite following a seriously good handicap effort last time out.  The Major could be wrong (he often is) but I feel this one is short of top class.  This makes 5/4 about his chances a bit skinny.  The Major has had previous success plowing the furrow of Silvianco Conti.  Some would be disappointed about his latest third but come on!!  It was behind Menorah and Cue card.  The big question is whether 2m is his best trip.  The track record of Dicheat sending horses toWincanton though persuades the Major that the master trainer Nicholls has few concerns.  7/2 available, load the large cannon and allow its noble roar to be heard across the mild and fine Somerset fields.

Uttoxeter was abandoned.  I wonder if that relates to the racing or just a general comment about the town.

The Majors leaves the horseracing cards of today with a final tip at Gowran Park.  4.10 the Maiden hurdle.  The Major wants form in the book, nearish the head of the market, good jockey booking, lenient price….. let’s see.

On balance I settle for Dibella.  Hopeless in a couple of novices, now in a handicap (already arouses the instincts!) rated a fair 83 on the flat, racing off 10-10 when you take the jockeys claim into consideration, no-one has a market yet, which is not surprising, but the 10/1 forecast SP in the Racing Post, I think will be 16/1.  At that price have a win bet.

To the fields of sporting chance…

Last week, I suggested West Brom were shocking value at home to the Hammers who could be backed at 3/1.  At half time, I was eating humble pie.  At full-time I felt confident once more that it was the correct bet at the prices.  It seems the bookmaking fraternity still oppose my view that Albion are simply too weak in defense to present a good bet and they go 18/5 (Victor Chandler) that Wolves can win at the Hawthorns in tomorrows televised game.  Wolves are more organised than West Ham and a Geordie girls hen night in Blackpool is more organised that West Broms back four.  On that evidence, I suggest you load both cannons, fire, reload and repeat until your turf accountant concedes.

I am going to stick to my quality assertions about the FA Cup and suggest you should back a double for West Ham (evs) and Stoke 7/10 against Burnley and Brighton respectively, both Premier League clubs at home.  This is a return of £68 to a purple one – These prices are both with Hills who are bets priced about both outcomes.  Thank me later.

Equally Birmingham should not go unbacked at the short but very fair 7/10 with Victor Chandler.  Sheffield Wednesday are poor enough and even with players rested, Blues will surely be too strong.

The Cricket World Cup kicks off today and Le Grand Fromage, a guest poster has already put up his tips for, world cup top wicket taker and world cup top scorer.  The Major will not add to these selections, instead suggesting you read the expert selections.

This evenings fare will undoubtedly be game.  I am going to suggest a Chateau Lezongar to compliment.  Don’t forget to tip like a man who had £50 on the nose on a Le Beau Bai win and now has an uncomfortable wedge of notes tightly wrapped and held by a money clip inside your jacket.  If the wedge is not there, tip the same, this is only right.  At midnight be upstanding and toast the Queen.  Pure of heart, simply pleasures, the joys of being an Englishman in this the finest of times. 

Todays Nap is hard.  I love the Wolves bet.  It has to be (sorry Mr Hill).

For those who like the lucky 15, I suggest Royal Tune, Wolves, Silvianco Conti and Birmingham.  For the brave, substitute Birmingham for Major Malarkey!

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The Cleveland Steamer – Guest Post

The Majors is delighted to introduce a new guest blogger, The Cleveland Steamer who has written the following assessment of the days value.  Please note that any selections are those of the guest blogger and not the Major who only records his own selections in his betting records.  To see all of the Majors selections, you can see a full record of all  February tips here.  All of this is available in the top menu. 

Morning sports fans! With the onset of the FA cup value bets seem few and far between today in the great fields of the UK today. Crawley to win at 48/1 or draw at 8/1 seems far too short for my liking. Scanning the remaining fixtures no value springs out. Even Brighton 4/1 away would not yield the necessary.

However, hope springs internal in the form of the Premier leagues poorer and distant cousin: the Championship. The unpredictable nature of this gladiatorial battle ground means risk savvy punters steer away from this hot bed. Men are men in this league and the bets reflect the fact that only Preston are dead and buried. But there are two games that deserve a steamer.

Leeds vs Norwich

This will be an epic match and in normal circumstances one to avoid. Two heavy weights going at it can often be poor as a spectacle with managers ensuring they do not lose points rather than gain. Leeds are strong and with the Elland road faithful blowing a fearful breeze 6/4 seems reasonable for a home win. Combine this with Norwich under strength at the back and missing their influential centre back 6/4 seems good odds. But the bookies are not taking into account one thing: Paul Lambert. Delias boys have been a revelation under this man known as their answer to Jose Mourniho. He is a leader and has cemented himself as  the prince of East Anglia- only second to King Alan Partridge. 23/10 is superb value for a team who never say die and a definite steamer for this afternoon. For those who like even more heat from their chillis look to the winner being scored 75 mins to the end of the match. Norwich have scored after 90 twice in last month. Surely a sign of the never say die attitude the fierce scot has bred into these contenders. Have a stroke and watch the ire of the bookie rise.

Scunthorpe vs Derby 

On paper this is a Derby demolition. Scunthorpe having struggled this season. Derby have Old big heads offspring in the big chair and have seasoned veterans throughout the team. Even without home advantage the Rams are 6/4 to win. However, two key factors make a Scunthorpe win at 17/10 a tasty bet. Form: Scunthorpe took out Derbys neighbours, Forest, 1-0 during the week. Some would say a freak result but the confidence and belief this will bring will be visible on the field of dreams. The second is Derby. The steamer watched with interest when Derby were destroyed by Leicester a week or two ago. Leicester are a strong team but Derby rolled over and had the bellies ticked. They looked lost and without a leader. An early goal, a deflection or a set piece for Scunthorpe the belief will drain from this Derby side. For those who like the odd extravagant punt check the odds out on Clough leaving after a Scunthorpe defeat. Stranger things have happened.

More Saturday Profits (62.5%) – Sunday Horse Selections

Well another Saturday in the life of the Major and we returned a tidy profit thanks to the performance of Damien tipped up at an outstanding value price of 33/1 and finising a nice second.

France also did the business at 4/6 as you expect them to which left the usual story in the rest of the football selections.  Torquay, Charlton and Bournemouth, all tipped at big odds against prices to win away all managed score draws!  Most dissapointing was Torquay who were 3-1 up with twenty to play, as good as cash you might have thought but they conspired to concede a further two goals.

Today there is some nice racing in Ireland and an interesting hurdle at Ffos Las.  I like early season racing over the sticks, my philosphy generally is to back summer horses who have had good campaigns against the superstars who may be in need of their first run.  Firstly the flat selections..

2.45 at the Curragh and I fancy the likeable old dog Snaefell.  6/1 looks booked for a place and maybe better although a win might be tough off top weight.  Pads Smullen to offer assistance, an each way bet to nothing in my view.

There may well be a good juvenile filly to come out of the 3.15 and the one I like the profile of is the long proiced Hadrians Waltz each way 25/1 with Skybet or Boyles.  This is an impeccably bred horse (I would love to find a bookmaker to offer me a price that a classic winner next year will come from the Holy Roman Emporer bloodline).  Sadlers Wells on the Dam side – I just think this horse maybe taking a moment for the penny to drop.  She was never in her debut race finishing so far out the back to be untrue (although unfancied at 33/1) – Last time out on the artificial surface at Dundalk  it finished third running in snatches.  Well trained, Heffernan doing the steering, chances.

You can get 7/2 about Rainforest the O’Brien Murtagh horse in the 4.15 at the Curragh and why the devil not!  My concern would be the cut of the ground but at 4.20 7/2 might look mighty generous.

Ffos Las has a nice loooking class 2 contest at 4.30 with some wily old nags.  If Dishdasha decides to run a decent race again one day it could walk all over this field.  Following my rules though Rio Gael or Points of View are the two to follow with slight preference for the former as it is a more generous 8/1 – Get some each way love about that.

Limericks 2m 1f Grade 3 is down to 5 runners which is a shame.  The top two in the market dominate and despite shouldering an extra three pounds I prefer the course form of Let Yourself Go at 6/4.

The Munster National is of course the race of the day.  The two I like can be backed at double figure prices.  Paddy Pub might be well tuned up following his latest fourth, this could have been the target and a 3m Limerick test will suit – 10/1 is good for me.  Wins Now has been in decent form and 14/1 with Slippers Madden to help in a driving finish, well, what value.  I plum for the latter.

The jumps season is nearly here in full flow.  The big Newbury meeting is a stones throw away. 

It might seem an age away but maybe, just maybe Dunguib for the champion Hurdle 20/1 with Paddy Power ….. Get Geraghty on board.. This horse could still be something special.  Binocular is an absurd 3/1 lay that all day long he has had his moment.  Punjabi gave me the biggest win of my life in the 09 contest and I have the same sense about Dunguib.  He has class by the bucket load and cannot be blamed for not getting up to win the Supreme in March when given way too much to do.  People forget class easily enough.  I just wonder when after a couple of runs this year with Dunguibs cruising speed breaking good horses again whether that 20/1 will look sensible.  Especially if he has learned to jump!

Remember what Sunday School taught you…. and on the seventh day he rested, with a mug of steaming tea, a burgeoning online account and a small bet on Tony McCoy through the card.  May your nightcap be sweetened by the joy of your succesful punts.