Tag Archives: elusive kate

The Saturday Sermon…. Newmarket, Chester and Market Rasen…

Good evening from the Major who writes from the settee, restless and unsettled.

This may be the shortest Saturday Sermon in some time for various reasons. Mainly though it is time of which I am short. This weekend, I must repay a debt and spend a day with my two boys so I was committed to publishing before midnight. Having being under siege with a head cold for two weeks, my downtime plans first involve sleep.

I am so tired. It has been hectic at work and while I won’t dwell on the detail it has been an unsettling time of late. Coming home tonight, I left the motorway to beat a cross country path after a bad accident had closed a lane. The words are quickly passed over on a traffic report. Closer to home another road was closed following a head on collision. I am so tired, it comes over me like waves each threatening to dislodge my sea anchor and sweep me away, thrown in a tumult, spinning out of control.

There is so much to do. I have a lawn that needs cutting, runs that need to be set upon, decorating, business to tend to, purchases outstanding, lots of things that remain unread. These things pile up, each compresses the last like layers of coal and over time, the pressure squeezes out any enjoyment or contentment, nothing is pleasing, confused I slump and lunge from each item outstanding to the next, all purpose gone, acting not on impulse anymore but out of some strange conviction that salvation lies in ticking items off. How foolish. I am so tired. Sleep will come soon.

Newmarket Tips

Rumours abound that Betfred will go 16/1 the field for the Cambridgeshire in the morning. It is not a race I normally enjoy, 35 runners. I will get to my thoughts on that shortly…

The Royal Lodge opens the card and it looks a fair match up from Chesham winner Berkshire and 4th Somewhat. The latter has had more experience since and shown improved form and with match fitness assured I am on at 2/1.

It was a bit of a turn up yesterday when Charles Hill won the Falmouth but I think he has an excellent chance of another big prize with Kiyoshi in the 2.35. Truth be told though, I think Joyeuse has a solid claim too as is still improving and 6/1 is a fine price.

The Sun Chariot is a cracker with the rematch between Sky Lantern and Elusive Kate. These two have history and it is a hotly awaited showdown. I am all for Sky Lantern at 7/4 who I thought would easily have beaten Elusive Kate if not for the carry in the Falmouth. That is some form too as we are talking about a star European filly.

In the Cambridgeshire, my instinct is to go with Educate but having been let down so often, I have settled on two bets on Tha’ir and Forgive both of whom are 25/1 shots. I think both have been laid out for this and both have capable pilots…. It’s fun but not a race I’ve committed serious thought to.

At Chester, in the 3.05, I am struggling to split Zain Eagle and Gabrials Kaka both of whom have excellent chances. The former benefits from my favourite non retained jockey, Neil Callan and the latter has the crucial course form. On balance I am siding with Gabrials Kaka at 6/1.

At Market Rasen the Summer Plate is another open contest but I am opting for 10/1 shot Grandads Horse. My pick comes with Noel Fehily aboard and looks an improver over fences.

In the football, I have strong fancies for Arsenal away at Swansea (7/5) and Spurs (7/4) who I think will beat Chelsea. I also think Birmingham could win at Reading (10/3)

For Martin, I suggest a Sky Lantern, Grandads Horse and Spurs trixie.

The rest of you, I wish you a fine dinner in the best of company. Courage and roll those dice.

Newmarket July Meeting – Friday Tips

Good evening from the Major who writes from a pleasant warm Worcestershire where the most beautiful of evenings departs gracefully and the clear shimmering celestial  plafond is revealed.

For some, such a pristine summers evening is the pinnacle of the environmental condition and I can see the merit.  Earlier tonight, I was sat as an uninvited guest at my company’s Finance team rounders barbecue.  The sun was setting, turning the vista coral and warming soft skinned arms, the air gentle, the birdsong in perfect proportion to the mood.  Yes, it is the finest that the season can offer.

Yet the Major looks to winter for the true splendour of nature.  For a start, I prefer the season in general.  Being born of Northern skin, summer’s blessings are always tempered by my inclination to burn and a strong dislike of insects.

Winter bears the gifts of darker nights in which I sleep contented.  Ah, to awaken on a bitterly frosty morning and to be about the Worcestershire countryside, drawing sobering cold air to pain the lungs.  The frost crackling on brittle looking branches, all the land a wonder, pristine whiteness, the air thickening in front of your face with your own breath…. Yes, it is better, I know, I was there.

Thinking of sleep, this week, there was news that Karl Burke has his trainers licence back.  It reminded me suddenly of an unfortunate dream I endured that Frankel had been billeted, not into the intricate and delicate hands of the late Cecil but instead into the Burke yard.

The dream revolved around me backing Frankel for a seller at Southwell and I was the only person there who knew his true ability and of course, I could not have explained to others what I knew.  It turned out that it was not to be Frankel’s day and he toiled across the sand stamping his stride down hard as a course specialist took the race.  I was angry at the insulting performance, at the wasted magnificence but being powerless, what could I do?

That morning, I woke with a sadness.  Now do not get me wholly wrong, I do like a touch of skullduggery in racing as well as life, it adds flavour.  There is a fine line which I often cannot draw myself between a plot horse laid out for a race and darker practices afoot.  As for Burke and where the Major stands on his licence, I have my view, I shall let you draw your own.

It is such a beautiful night.  The stars above, seemingly everlasting, immeasurable, so distant.  For many, considering such vastness seems overwhelming, the fear, a realisation of mortality, of insignificance.  For the Major, while the realisation is undeniably true, the feeling invoked is one of liberation.  For understanding the simplicity of your existence, well… you have a duty my friend, a duty to yourself, you are the lucky one.

So Let us enjoy ourselves and be good to others.  Care little for the pointlessness which others may fixate on.  Savour in the moment of the small detail, we float by the once my friends, just the once.

To the sports and fair warning.  The Major did not manage a post for Thursday but it is to your own benefit.  My race reading for Thursday radiated defeat.  Let us hope it is done with.

Newmarket Friday Tips

In the opener, I am opting for Nardin who is generally priced at 6/1.  Stepping up a furlong will probably draw more advantage and watching her last race (at Newmarket) she did well coming late to get up for second.  It is a little off-putting that Ed Dunlop has only managed 4 places from his 20 runners at HQ in the last few years but I shall overlook this.  Indignant is a viable alternative to my selection, Hannon had two winners yesterday and I thought his string looked in reasonable order.

In the 2.10, much of the focus is on Rizeena and rightly so.  She looked a very good winner at Ascot, though Fig Roll was not far behind and may improve again now with an extra 200 yards to exact the damage.  Bye Bye Birdie has a question mark after being well and truly beaten at Ascot by Rizeena, before turning in a much better performance on home soil… interesting.   On balance, I think Fig Roll is a generous 15/2 with Betvictor and she goes on the slip.  Hannon has won this race a couple of times in the last ten years, most recently with Memory, a Highclere horse that I had a soft spot for but was never the same afterwards.

The Falmouth  sees just three oppose Sky Lantern and my first reaction to the card was of surprise.  I had to exclaim to the heavens that this was a gift from God as I could not understand why Sky Lantern was only just shading odds on at 10/11.  Giofra is the most interesting opponent but one that strikes me will be ill at ease with the small field and firm conditions.  It was while considering this contender that the style of Sky Lanterns wins started to gnaw at me.  She has been a hold up horse and I wonder how tactically versatile she is.  The same is not true of Elusive Kate at 5/2 – Make no mistake about it, my tip is hard as nails and can have them stacked up to accelerate off a slow pace… In my head, it is mapped out for victory already!

The 3.15 handicap is 8/1 the field which tells you what you need to know.  The Major is keeping stakes low on Barracuda Boy at 14/1 with Stan James – Plenty of time to improve yet and last time was not his likely best, in a yard that does well in this sort of race too.

Regulars who know me well understand that I like my two year olds with a run in them.  That leaves me Collaboration, Expert, Right of Appeal, Edge and True Story to concentrate on in the maiden at 3.50.  True Story is an obvious contender but was not first choice for the yard on debut and either surprised or is simply not a top player for them.  Expert ran well at Bath which is a tough course to make a debut on, the step up is a bonus and I like Sean Levey in the saddle.  He looks the Hannon second string though and Edge is a preferable sort and almost got the nod.

Instead the Major tips Right of Appeal at a likely 16/1 or bigger.  Johnstone had a fine first day of the festival and this horse has some strong credentials.  He has seen a racecourse, his form is nothing to shout about but his trainer would not have him in this without a chance.  I like his breeding and will trust that, being out of Dubawi, he will relish the rattling ground.  All in a decent long shot.

The second maiden looks a better race and only the booking of Fallon for the favourite, Vermont, puts me off.  I just do not think Fallon is the jockey he once was and I much prefer to stick with Mark Johnstone and a maiden double if de Sousa can bring Lions Park home at a likely 7/2.

Famous day for Johnstone?  Could well be if I am right because I really fancy Henry the Aviator in the last.  I was absolutely stunned in the horses defeat last time out and now having been freshened up with a small break, am ready to believe that normal service will be resumed – 7/2, have a significant slice and thank me later.

Royal Ascot Tuesday Tips…. the madness begins, what to trust? which stories to unfold?

Good evening from the Major who writes to you on Royal Ascot eve from a dusky Worcestershire whose cool air belies the season.

The Major must confess to not mustering quite the Cheltenham heights of fervour on Ascot eve.  Yet, we gaze down as Generals on the scene below with the battle about to be joined.  Our artillery are firing Armstrong shells which are bursting brightly above the enemies damn business like looking lines.  Our forward infantry is skirmishing in open formation and the heavy cavalry with lance drawn are bristling to get involved.

What orders shall we send?  What combination of factors does our reason, experience and instinct favour?  Are they right?

Shall we dig in grimly like the Warwickshire’s at Rorke’s Drift, firing our Martini Henry rounds until the enemy is upon us and we entertain them with bayonets drawn and twenty rounds per man?

Shall calamity strike us, like Lord Cardigan, with Raglans orders, charging his Lancers, Dragoons and Hussars into, to quote Tennyson, into that valley of death, sluicing through Russian positions at awful cost; shall we be done the same way? Discharging our bets, each greater than the last seeking glory to shadow past loss but finding none.  Shall our utter defeat be glorious and draw awe from our friends.  As the French General Bosquet famously said; c’est magnifique mais c’est ne pas guerre.

or.. dare we dream, shall our Ascot be akin to Sir James Hope gloriously marching to Beijing, sweeping far numerically superior foe before him, punching his great fist of heavy horse through those ranks of elite Mongol warriors and bringing the Qing forces to heel in glorious style.

At this moment, we can savour the uncertainty, our preparations are made, our strategy of bets laid out.  I wish you luck in the field, my friends.

Royal Ascot Tuesday Tips

The opening day of Royal Ascot is my favourite.  The St James Palace, The Kings Stand and the Queen Anne; not to mention the Coventry, the delights are laid before us, we must eat slowly as not to gorge.

The Queen Anne

The Queen Anne gets us off to an absolute flyer with a single question race… Will Animal Kingdom run to form on his first British start.  If you could answer that with a solid yes then you surely have the winner of the race.  After a number of high-profile defections, the 2011 Kentucky Derby and 2013 Dubai World Cup winner is the star of the show.

He has not raced in Britain, he has not raced over a straight mile.  He has not encountered an uphill finish… cause for concern?

None of these factors seem to bother Graham Motion, UK born trainer of Animal Kingdom.  He has been housing the horse in Lambourn since his travel from Dubai.  Animal Kingdom has had plenty of time to acclimatise and has spent some time at Ascot too as part of his induction.  Having handled the heat and pressure of his former exploits, surely the opening crowd of Ascot won’t effect him…

Motion states his main fear is the ground.  Currently good but with rain forecast, the horse does not want it too soft.

On balance, the other factors bother me less too.  Animal Kingdom is an impressive looking specimen and has a world-class jockey on board.  I would expect those facets to more than cover the unusual course and finish.  The ground is a concern… maybe worth waiting for…

The contenders include Sovereign Debt who was runner-up at a massive price to Farrh in the Lockinge.  That form holds up and he loves Ascot, Sovereign Debt won’t mind the rain either, in fact I dare say that Michael Bell is currently praying for the heavens to open.

Of the John Gosden pair, clearly Elusive Kate is the favoured sort.  I think this is a big ask against the big boys on seasonal debut and I would be more interested in Gregorian who look very pleasing when hitting the front last time out at Epsom on Oaks day.

O’Brien saddles Declaration of War who has something to prove but is in the finest of hands to do it.

On balance, the balance of this race is going to come down to the ground.  I am hoping it stays fairly sound and plan on taking every available bookie offer to supplement the current evens price of Animal Kingdom in the morning.  Coral are going 2/1 for £25 and I am sure there will be more.  The thing that convinces me most is class….. the recent history of the Queen Anne reads like a who’s who of Group 1 racing… Goldikova, Frankel, Canford Cliffs….. Animal Kingdom, feels right n’est pas?

Kings Stand Stakes

Another Group 1, another international star, this time it is South Africa and Shea Shea, as well as Aussie representative Shamexpress.  Prohibit, Sole Power, Kinsgate Native, Swiss Spirit and Reckless Abandon make this an absolute mouth-watering renewal.

Prohibit won the Kings Stand two years ago and can be backed at 40/1, I seriously would not put you off, even if it does not appear, at first glance, to be best in his yard yet alone best in the race.  His stablemate Kingsgate Native, a sterling warrior, back to form last time out is from the same yard and while he will have his fans, if he ever wins again, he won’t be carrying my money.  Kingsgate Native has misbehaved at Ascot before so caveat emptor.

Shea Shea is clearly a leading talent and had Sole Power well beaten twice so must be the form pick  Again we are dealing with an international star traveller who we must take on trust has settled into British life.  Given his globe trotting success, it makes sense to assume he is OK with it.  He is sometimes a bit lit up though and will be ponied to the start.

The other raider, Shamexpress, troubles me as connections have clearly stated that firm going is preferable.

I like Reckless Abandon and three years olds have a great record in this sprint.  He has every chance of reversing form with Swiss Spirit and winner Kingsgate Native as he raced on the wrong side and did not have a lot go his way.  He also gets a shift in the weights to his advantage.

Something tells me to get after Shea Shea.  With the top sprint horses often getting turned over as the season develops, I would never want to be on something that short in the Kings Stand.  That is my strategy.

On balance, I think Reckless Abandon is the most solid option.

The St James Palace

What a beautiful renewal of the St James Palace – For me, this is worth the entrance fee alone, if only I were lucky enough to be present.

First of all, you have to assess Dawn Approach.  When winning the 2,000 guineas, he looked like Pegasus, powering away from the bushes.  His derby run is best described as unexplained.  He broke fine but after half a furlong, something went click and he lit up like a wild bear.  Kevin Manning fought for control, no doubt with his shoulder sockets burning but half way down the hill, no matter who was to win the Herculean struggle for supremacy between man and horse, the race was gone.

Much was made of whether Ballydoyle got the horse beaten with a muddling pace while Bolger had no pacemaker… That is remedied tomorrow with Lettir Mor surely in there to ensure his stablemate has a hare to aim at.

My concern is the mental effect of the Derby on the horse, the whole affair must have at least confused the horse and for me, he is a watch animal for now.  I am a bit surprised they have not sought distance with Dawn Approach to recuperate.  I cannot have been the only punter watching the whole affair unfold to consider the wonder and fortune with which the late Sir Henry Cecil drew the best from Frankel.  Such a comparison is unfair, I draw it not to criticise Bolger – After all Sir Henry will have made his own mistakes at times… Rather it highlights the fine judgements and simple luck needed in managing this top quality precocious youngsters.

Clearly leaving Dawn Approach out of calculations is a big call because his previous form as an unbeaten star is impeccable….. yet it is decided.

I am not keen on horses sub 5/1 with excuses last time.  Toranado may well have had good reason but solving it does not make him value.  What I specifically mean is that to think that it represents value, you have to think Toranado had a great chance of beating Dawn approach anyway.  I did not.

So Magician then… surely.  Well…. there is a horse with a disturbed preparation and that bothers me too.  This horse otherwise would be my pick.  He has won a  2,000 guineas and that is the route that Henrythenavigator, Rock of Gibraltar and Mastercraftsmen all took on the way to their successful St James Palace stints.

So, we have one horse with potential mental issue, one who needs to get over a palate / breathing issue and one that needs to overcome a setback from kicking out in his box.

Of the shorter horses, I fancy Magician.  I trust O’Brien to have him OK after his knock and I think he has a solid winning chance.

Then there is Mars.  Like many, I was very surprised to see Mars stepped back to a mile after doing his best work at the finish in the derby.  I think the course will suit him much better, he got going late at Epsom on a course that doesn’t suit many horses.  There is  going to be a lot of pace on in the St James Palace so a closer might be a good idea.  12/1 is available, I suggest a win bet.

The Coventry

Two lines strike me in the Coventry.  Firstly there is the tale of Sir John Hawkins, after his Curragh win, Sir John Hawkins was supplemented for this race.  That process cost connections £45k, they are plenty fluid enough to have a pop at any race they fancy but my view is that to do so at a later stage when they have a stable of other live chances… well, connections must think there is a decent chance of winning.

The second line of enquiry is Richard Hannon.  He has won this race with Canford Cliffs and Strong Suit, the latter racing in the colours of Championship.  Interestingly, those horses also took in the Newbury maiden which Championship won too… interesting.

If the Coventry was more open, I would definitely be betting War Command.  It is hard to split that one from Sir John Hawkins.  Yet this race favours those at the head of affairs and I am going to stick with Ryan Moore who I rate the superior of the jockeys on my fancied sorts.

Ascot Stakes

I am minded to have a pop at two in this for win bet purposes as there are two I am struggling to be drawn on.

Tiger Cliff would bring the house down winning for the recently widowed Lady Cecil.  Sir Henry said that he thought this was the winner of the race prior to his sad parting and 11/2, I want to be on – Even if it is just to be a part of the emotion of this horse winning.  There will not be a dry eye in Ascot.

The other I want on my side is the Phillip Hobbs trained Big Easy.  There are so many of these jump horses that transfer well back to the flat and Hobbs is pretty decent at it, I still have memories of Detroit City performing well reverting back to the flat.  12/1 is plenty for me to take an interest.

The Windsor Castle

If the twenty runners in the penultimate race provides a conundrum, the twenty-eight due to post in the finale make life insanely tough.

I want one in a high draw and I am opting for last years winning trainer and jockey combination in Ryan and Makin.  Sleeper King is 16/1 in a few places and that is where my pin landed.

Best of luck to you.  For the Major, after a mammoth post, it is to bed.

The Saturday Sermon – Newmarket Cambridgeshire Tips – Group 1 Tips for the Cheveley Park and Sun Chariot – Plus Market Rasen Listed Chase

Good evening from the Major who writes from a dark Birmingham where a busy weekend awaits.

I am up in the second city as it is the home of my parents and tomorrow, I fly with my father, brother and friend to Berlin.  On Sunday, I am competing in the Berlin marathon, my debut and nerves and excitement are mingling.

Elusive Kate is a hot bet for the Major

It is motivating to think of those that sponsored you (click here if you can spare a few bob) – I must mention Vicki O’Connell who tweeted Mo Farah asking for a message of support.  Given how much of a hero Farah is to me, the very thought was beautiful – Cheers Vick.

It is also uplifting to consider the cause.  In my case it is Whizz Kidz – A magnificent charity who provide mobility equipment for severely disabled children.  It makes an awful lot of difference to the lives of these young people and the waiting list for the kit runs to 70,000 – What will you bet today… £20?  £40?  Why not consider donating 10% on my Justgiving page, just add the note that the Major sent you and I will be proud to consider that just one of my followers supported me.

After all – This blog is free, unhinged and provided come rain or shine.  I never ask anything of you…. Well that is not strictly true.  I ask that you behave accordingly, bet with vigour and feel life coursing through your veins.  These things I ask are for your own good but you are not welcome here unless you agree to them.

Regular readers will be familiar with my penchant for Victorian military history. This week, given my own need, come Sunday, for stimulating verse, I give you the poem Vitai Lampada by Sir Henry Newbolt.

The title translates from the latin as Torch of Life…..  It describes a game of cricket which it tight and tense at the end and how it calls for bravery and a stiff upper lip.  Then, jumping to later in life, it translates that scene of sport to the field of war and suggests the same cry might muster the sinew and steel the nerve in a more earnest context, with blood spilt on the desert sand…

There’s a breathless hush in the Close tonight
Ten to make and the match to win
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
But his captain’s hand on his shoulder smote
Play up! play up! and play the game!
The sand of the desert is sodden red,
Red with the wreck of a square that broke;
The Gatlings jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England’s far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
Play up! play up! and play the game!
This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the school is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind
Play up! play up! and play the game!
To the sports…
The Cambridgeshire Tips – Newmarket
Cambridgeshire winners tend to weighted in the sub nine stone category and this is the starting point for the Major in hunt of a winning tip.
It is not much of a starting point – This is the trickiest of handicaps.  In the last ten years we have had a 100/1 winner and last year, Prince of Johannes returned 40/1.  It is the sort of race one might leave to Pricewise, but you must have a view.
Check the terms with your bookmaker too.  Skybet go an incredible six places on the race which is a nice touch.  Hills, Laddies and Coral remain the first four with most paying to five.
Richard Hughes is an interesting booking on Chil the Kite (10/1 Laddies) – The listed Haydock form was good and the favourite is of interest.  However, I am not sure that the low numbers are where you want to be and out of stall 1, there could be problems.  This horse will be doing good late work though.
Mijhaar has been popular and Neil Callan is the Majors favourite jockey – The horse is the wrong profile though and I will look elsewhere.
I like the look of 16/1 Jacks Revenge – He lacked the breaks in his last race having won the two previous outings.  His french jockey is an eye catching booking and there is money tonight.  
The Major is going to tip two at fancy prices for your consideration.
Ian Williams runs 33/1 Postscript (Laddies) – This is a horse on the upgrade who has won four times this season.  Low weight and drawn 28, he fits the bill for the Major perfectly and with the assistance of Graham Lee, I am anticipating a big run.
My second tip for the Cambridgeshire is Stevie Thunder.  This is another 33/1 selection and a horse that finished second in the race last year.  He is 15lbs better off with last years winner Prince of Johanne and I just fancy a big run.
Cheveley Park Tips
The six furlong Group 1 for fillies is a cracking renewal.  Maureen is all the rage at 5/2 but the Major has a tip further down the prices.
Richard Hannon is always to be feared in these juvenile contests but this is a race he has not had the richest of pickings from and I think he targets other contests more vigorously.  This race also seems to throw up few surprises and no winner has been priced bigger than 5/1 in the last six years.
Ceiling Kitty is going to take them along at a decent clip and I think might set it up for a decent closer.  
The horse I want to be on is Roshdu Queen – My tip is an unbeaten filly who might be good enough to take this.
Tips for the Sun Chariot
Beauty Parlour is a French classic winner and now in the Henry Cecil yard, looks like a dangerous horse to back against.  I do wonder though if a little more time might be required before we see the best from the horse. 
The other Cecil horse Chachamaidee has the assistance of Queally and ran well when awarded the G1 Matron in Ireland last time out.
Laugh Out Loud is a better bet at 14/1 if Mick Channons grey filly can relax into the race and this is a considered horse.
For me though there are two compelling reasons to back Elusive Kate at 9/4.  The first is that we are at a time of season where we might not be getting the best running from some of these animals.  Elusive Kate though is fresh.  Secondly, this horse has had Moonlight Cloud in behind in France and frankly, I don’t see any reason why we should consider John Gosdens filly as anything other than top class.  Feeling good about this one.
2.40 Market Rasen – Tip for the Listed Chase
How exciting that we are getting to the stage of £28k chase races being contested.  The jumps is upon us and this Market Rasen race looks cracking to me.
Paul Nicholls runner, Rebel de Marquis carries a hefty weight and is an 8/1 shot but not for the Major.  This is a reasonable field to master after a lengthy time off the course.
Bobowen is much more interesting having been an improver all summer, winning four races and finishing second to a decent sort at Worcester.  13/2 seems fair.
Qulinton at 14/1 is of some interest.  There are mixed messages about the best ground for this horse but what is certain is that he loves Market Rasen almost always finding himself in the places here.
I am going to go two handed.  7/1 Bobowen should be backed.  I am having a saver though on the 35 (Betfair) available on Idarah.  The nine year old probably is not going to improve too much but I think the best form is fine anyway.  Venetia Williams does not send many here and has had a winner amongst them.  
On the football fields – I would back Newcastle to win at Reading at 17/11. Sunderland look attractive to at 7/8 as do Man Utd at 5/8.  Doubles from this lot for me.
May your dinner be fine and the wine flowing generously.  For me, pasta, chicken, rice and maybe just a little of the grape juice to remind me I am alive.
Courage, roll those dice.