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.