Tag Archives: fencing

The Saturday Sermon – York, Mussleburgh and Sandown

Good morning from the Major who writes from a grey close Worcestershire where the suns filtered light gloops down, slowly pooling between the pale white walls, amongst the garages, over the fields and upon the cool dark water.

The Major is pleasantly tired after a busy week of exertions, the coffee has been bubbling up though and it fills the nostrils with the promise of alertness. 

Amongst the heavy travails of the week, the Major has once again sought pleasure.  A business trip to the capital bought me to Lords for the opening test game.  Sat with full exposure to a forceful sun, the straw hat inconveniently still under my stairs, England wobbled, then steadied.  Bell looked fluent but Root took the score away and looked so pleased with his hundred, as he should be with his position under threat from the upstart Buttler.  Lunch had been an Italian, vittels so pleasant that we missed half of the afternoon session. 

Late in the afternoon, the sun had barely cooled but I would find it hard pressed to name a better time and place than Lords for the first test.  The classical sounds, the well attired, the surrounding splendid dusky red apartment blocks, should I ever ‘make it’, you will find me living in St Johns Wood with the good as did my hero, Sir Clement Freud.

Last night was pleasant but in a different manner.  Bristol Zoo on a Friday night.  I can feel that you pause as I type the words but I kid you not, it was the finest of evenings.  A live jazz band on their splendid lawn, so picturesque as the sun sets, the Pimms bar in full flow.  Of all animals, Gorillas have a unique ability to strike me dumb.  The features are so human it leaves me a little stupefied.  At dusk, lions prowled in their enclosure, their gaping jaws opening like hells awakening.  Beautiful jewelled wasps, so pretty up close, flamingos, their plump little bodies held aloft on spindle legs.

This has been a pleasant week.  Perhaps all preempted by the Sermon from last Saturday.  We struck with three winners at 9/1, 11/1 and 3/1 of seven advised selections and so it must remain as a highly succesful week.  We are in form. 

This is the lull before Royal Ascot.  I have not yet examined many of the cards and must confess I hold absolutely no antepost positions at all.  Thinking of my build to Cheltenham, it settles the question of whether I prefer the flat or the NH.  I know it is a crass pointless question and so I shall dwell little on the why, it is personal preference that is all, not a competition.  We are not children here, we left childish things behind.  Should you want a more partisan correspondence, row on to other shores my friend.

The only view I have is that the unfashionable Night of Thunder may represent value in the St James Palace.  When a hot favourite is turned over by a horse that drifted so badly as did Kingman in the Guineas, people feel a bit aggrieved.  Then seemingly redemption came in Ireland with a commanding performance on heavy ground and now they meet again, people feel that he is rightful one, ready for his ordination and then we may treat the Guineas as a simple aberration. 

The Major is less convinced.  The Irish Guineas was in tough ground and it must have taken something from the horse.  Plus, Night of Thunder, drifting badly across the wide Newmarket expanse and this may have disguised a further bit of talent.  Yes, Hughes takes over from Fallon but I see little reason that the less fashionable horse cannot put it up to his seemingly anointed superior. 

We will get to that on Tuesday.  For now, we have a mothership to search for.  So my friends, clean those sheepskin saddle cloths and mount your heavy chargers, with lancepoints glinting blindingly, our enemy shall see us coming in tight formation across the plain, the bugles carrying over the air – Regular British and Indian lancers, the imposing Daffadars with bristling proud beards at the head of their men, crying Shabash!  So few are our number that the enemy may at first mock from their well invested positions but those confident features begin to doubt, oh how they doubt, a furtive glance amongst them as they witness the good order with which we come on, relentlessly, at a pace that tells them what they need to know, we do not think we shall be victorious, we know it.  For as long as we can remember, our military virtue has been the finest in the world.  What was drilled into us at horseguards shall be played out now on some foreign dusty field.  Run, you fools, run.

 ‘Act according to your conscience and defy the consequences’ Sir Hope Grant

To the sports.

Saturday Racing Tips

Of racecourses you could visit for a pleasant day, I find it hard to trump York, it is right up there.  Vigorous Northern air, splendid scenes, a nice course and less riff raff than Doncaster.  Yet I also find it more and more a bit of a specialist track.  A galloping straight that oddly seems to take some getting,

The opening race might be an odd place to start as an amateur ladies race but I like these contests purely through the lens of investment.  Jockey skill is a facet of a race calculation that I believe more important than most.  Never more is this true than in the amateur events where the disparity of ability is at its greatest.

In this race, Brotherton and Walsh have the skill and experience (2 year stats):

Brotherton and Walsh combined: 314 runs, 13.1% wins, 32.5% placed

The Rest Combined: 273 runs, 7.7% wins, 30.4% placed.

Tiger Lily is unexposed and as the youngest in the field could be a fly in the ointment, especially as I think her jockey may prove to be quite decent.  Warlu Way hit the bar in this race last year and has run terribly since but as a consequence goes off 2lbs lower today, interesting.  Yet my chosen pilots are aboard Saptapadi and Pearl Castle.  Of those Saptapadi has been winless for some time but was a bit unlucky at the Derby meeting under Silvestre de Sousa, it could be. 

Yet, I am going to go with Pearl Castle who in Serena Brotherton has the most accomplished guide.  This Montjeu gelding has been over the hurdles of late with no disgrace, finishing 10l down the field in a Grade 1 race in Ireland.  That reads well for a mark of 86 and I suggest a bet with Tiger Lily being feared.  Normally the Major prefers potential over experience but this is York and so 4/1 for my boy…. Have a slice.

I am going to take a bit of a chance that in Chester’s 3.40, Lexi’s Hero is back to full song and ready to go after a short break.  There is no doubt that the horse has some ability, I like McDonald enough in the saddle and while I can see the attraction of Cruisetothelimit, stall 7 over 6f at Chester is tough enough for that one, my jockey can settle my selection from a plum stall 3 and we can steal it off the bend.

I am not usually a fan of sprints but I shall have a pop at the Sandown listed contest which will be attracting a lot of attention today.  The draw is not as essential as Chester but still, it favours lower numbers again.  Strategical is highly interesting having won three races here last year, the cause of the belated reappearance is not certain but Hughes is up for Godolphin and Appleby, seeking his first win for the yard after 2 places from 2 efforts to date.   

In nine runnings of this sprint contest, we have only had one 10/1 winner, it is clearly a race that favours the favourites.  Reroute would fit my profile but I have to confess that as much as I fancy her, Hayley has gone off the boil in my view and I couldn’t back her mounts… for now.

Picking the winner requires me to compromise on either draw or class.  If it is the former, then I like the understated chances of One Chance out of stall 5 who was placed in a Queen Mary, though was a few lengths down.  At 16/1, I shall have a saver to make sure I have this side of the track covered.  Though, my main bet I am staying safe.  I think again the favourites prices will be up on the winners board.  G Force looked every inch the progressive muscular sprinter at York  and if Daniel Tudhope can settle the animal from stall 11.  His York win was not a bolt and blast win and so I am hopeful he can.  Big bet as 5/2 prices in a poor draw but I am struggling to see the winner in 1-6 anyway.

Mussleburgh for @sar6ie

I am a sucker for a request and since Sar6ie is off to Mussleburgh, I thought we might take in a few races on this fine Scottish card.  Firstly, I wish him all the best for the weather, the company, the debauchery, the investments and the vittels – Enjoy it all as we pass by the once and must latch onto to any flotsam we can… Greedily take at the honey my friends.

Firstly, you might want to stay at the bar on the picnic rug for the first race at 1pm, where a 1/2 juvenile heads the field.  You are relying on collateral form to back that with confidence and it does not look that bulletproof to me.  Some of these youngsters can find extra ways to lose you know.  Personally, I would wager a Shekel on Just the Tip who at 10/1 (and a fellow Kodiac charge) seems value to me, Dagleish does well with his juveniles (15% in last two years).

In the 1.30pm, I quite like the chances of Kyllachy Star at 11/1 who has made the trip after a big dissapointment last time.  It is easy to ignore that though when you consider the ground was against him.  Paul Mulrennan can do the business from the saddle and while the strike rate of this horse is not to write home about, there is enough ability to cause this field problems.

You could set your watch by Lysino in the 2pm race so we shall move swiftly on.

I am going to jump to the key race of the day, the 3.35.  The roof will go up if Borderlescott goes in, what a campaigner.  However, the Major is attracted to one at a price.  Racy gave no show whatsoever in the Epsom dash but plenty of horses do not like that camber and in this company, if running to previous, I think we have a live contender at 16/1.  Megan Carberry has been riding well and did well after an horrendous fall earlier in the week to get back on a winner yesterday, that was for Ellison too and I would think this runner gives us a good longer priced chance.

Back at York…..

4/1 about Fencing who often runs to his level without being quite top draw is a decent price in the 3.15 listed contest.  In the 3.50, I am willing to back one at a price… Kickboxer at 25s with  Betvictor is all wrong.  Drawn on the right side, Luke Morris can give us a power-packed thriller!  I also do like Royal Meyzan in the same race who can be backed at 12s with the same firm.

In the football.  The World Cup is underway and while the teams may be doing their best to bring the highest of quality to this festival, the referees are so far, a disgrace.  The Brazilian game was marred by a referee that seemed to have a blueprint for how the game might map out and Mexico will feel highly aggrieved not to have had two legitimate goals and a stand out penalty taken from them.  Even though they went on to win, in a small group, goal difference is essential.

A World Cup treble of glory for you: Columbia (10/11), Uruguay (4/9) and HT 0-0, England v Italy (5/4).  That can pay for dinner.

The Martin Hill bet is a Pearl Castle, Lexi’s Hero and G Force trixie.

I trust that dinner is taken in good spirits.  Maybe the rib digging wedge is tempered by the stakes you placed today, after all, Ascot is upon us and we do not want to go early.  Yet, the company you are in is excellent, she the flaxen-haired easy-going sort, good with the bottle, good for a laugh, a curl of the lip and twinkle of the eye, a curve, a freckle; enough for your to drown in the glorious little detail. 

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Doncaster, Navan and Kempton – 25/1+ tips in the Spring Mile and Lincoln

Good evening from the Major who writes from a warm friendly lounge at my in-laws in the Birmingham suburbs.

I have flown in and out of Edinburgh this week for my employer, yet I must confess that there was some pleasure to be had alongside the business.  As with all of the Majors travels, I file for your appraisal my report of the Scottish capital – I intend to keep it to the important facets.

The suburbs of Edinburgh are largely low angular, regular bungalow houses in cold and quiet neighbourhoods, most uninspiring, distant feeling, no.  This contrasts markedly to the City Centre where pomp and splendour is the order of the day.  The horizon is dominated by sheer faces of granite rising from the Earth in chest thumping confidence.  The properties amplify the feeling, hulking stone imposing structures, neo-classical and elegant and a little intimidating but pleasing to the eye.  Around the city walls, they grow in proportions telling of times when the only way to find space was up.

I undertook a whisky tasting session.  I tried to embrace enthusiastically the work at hand but must conclude that the drink is an abomination.  The textures and layers of a good brandy achieve the same without making you feel like you are swallowing bad medicine.

As for the folk.  The men are upright and have angular noses, speak directly and deal straight.  Perfectly acceptable.  The women folk are small, black bobs of hair, small dark eyes set into pale white faces.  They dress smartly, consistently and with warm sensible black tights and sensible shoes.  I always delight in a well turned out sort and compliment their sharp neat style with a wonderful accent of drawling soft burr and excitable inflections and the Major has found a blueprint to fall in love perpetually.

As these sorts age, their stature stiffens slightly and the lips purse but still curl at the edges, I am sure that their mind runs to fun if you can get beyond the conservative defence.  I did not have the time to test that supposition.

I stayed at the Balmoral – A friend later told me it is his favourite hotel, I do not rate it quite the same.  The views are excellent, the building is impressive, the cocktail barman an expert; yet the rooms lacked something and I felt it just short of some of the other luxury establishments I have had the good fortune to frequent.  I am not criticising it, merely applying the high levels of judgement required when someone purports something to be the best.

I am still licking my wounds on one of the most painful punting Gold Cup days in living memory – Each of my selections falling by the wayside, a relentless slaughter with no mercy shown.  Given my time again, I would have left the Gold Cup and celebrated instead National Pi day which happened to fall on the same day as the Gold Cup in this year – It would have aided my wallet and saved my emotions and energy.  Pi day is always 14th March work it out and is a worthwhile acknowledgement of one of the most beautiful aspects of mathematics.

The answer to the question, ‘What is a Circle?’,  Pi is an irrational number, it cannot be expressed completely.  Modern computational ability has calculated Pi to over a trillion places.  In the sequence, any patterns that emerge in the decimal places are purely accidental.  For example, the first five characters are 14159 and that sequence is first repeated when you get to 6954-6959 digits in.  The number 9 is repeated 6 times in a row just over 760 characters in, yet this is the only time a ‘6 in a row’ occurs in the first million decimal places.  Eventually, any pattern you wish for will emerge, if you looked deep enough into the decimal points, waves and waves of randomness but the scale of it throwing up anomalies.  The number is infinite, thus the permutations too.  That frightens me or at least unsettles me.  Eventually everything will happen – Hold on to that thought as we once again go back to the field of battle and continue our quest, concerned with landing the mothership.

To the sports.

Doncaster Tips

Now last week, the Major fared well, scoring some nice hits of which the highlight was 12/1 Pepite Rose.  I am only lightly boasting.

As the Lincoln meeting is the start of the flat season, it can be difficult to assess the form of the various strings flexing their muscles.  The Doncaster ground has come up soft and that gives us an angle to work on.  These flat horses, by and large, do not like it so and if we can find a few mudlovers, we will fare well.

I am not betting on the Brocklesby – I have enough of my faculties intact to see that as folly.

The listed mile race however….. well.  Guest of Honour, Fencing and Emell I suspect all want decent ground and so have the lines through them.  Andrew Balding is starting the season in scintillating form with 8 winners from his 17 runners in the last fortnight.  He saddles the outsider of the field in Butterfly McQueen who gets a handy fillies allowance and has arguably given her best in her two runs (resulted in a win and a place) on heavy ground.  Let it rain.  16/1 in a place, 14/1 generally.

In the 2.40 listed 6f race, I only have eyes for the favourite Jack Dexter who has looked a group horse at 6f on his favoured soft ground.  Heavens Guest might be the main danger but I am loading a cannon for the fans favourite.

In the spring mile, I am looking for a soft ground horse that has been drawn in the low numbers.  I want a four year old and the ground is key.  I have settled therefore on Freewheel at 28/1 with the assistance of the experienced and capable Fortune doing the steering.

Then the big one, the Lincoln.  I cannot find an ideal profile horse at all so it is with a little trepidation that I place a small stake on Unsinkable at 25/1 with Skybet (I have no affiliation – The Major is advert free, affiliate free…. always just mildly profitable and slightly unhinged).


One sniper shot tip for Navan and it is to take the 5/2 about Bog Warrior with all your available capital!  My favourite horse in training needed his last run and I promise he will put Baily Green to the sword.  He gallops for fun and while he is prone to incredible error, he will win!  Even if he does not, you will get the pleasure of backing a horse who runs without a care in the world, head in his chest!

Kempton Tips

The second and third races are the ones I am interested in.  In the second race, I like Trumpet Major as a competitor, he has proven class.  Yet, I am going with the gal, Modernstone who boasts excellent all-weather form including a second to Grandeur and I am backing her at 7/2.

In the 2.55, I like Rebellious Guest and Uramazin.  I have settled on the former.  No explanation, 13/2.

In the football, I shall try to deliver a hat trick of winners as per last week… Leicester have checked out a bit and Burnley pack enough punch that 9/5 is a bet.  Chelsea are a bet at 4/9 to beat Palace… they will not slip up.  Wolves are taking a small army to MK Dons and the fans will be rewarded 11/10…

The Martin Hill bet is Jack Dexter, Rebellious Guest and Unsinkable in an each way trixie.  I would also recommend a coverage on Bog Warrior doubled with Burnley.

I hope your dinner is excellent and in the finest of company, a goddess and a sage.  Allow yourself to be wineflown for the spring is here and that is cause to celebrate.  Tip well.

Courage friends and roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Old Roan Aintree Tips – Racing Post Trophy Horseracing Tips

The Major bids you good morning from a wonderfully cold Defford where the biting air of winter is alike souls awakening.

Winter is gods chosen season and Old Roan Chase day is the sign that soon there will be no sign of a wasp, no hint of a sunburn and glorious long dark nights where a man may achieve a slumber of death and emerge blinking and reborn into the new day.

Aidan knows how good Camelot is, we get to see today at Donnie

National Hunt racing is back to take over the mantle from the flat.  The day is symbolic, we see Aintree and the Old Roan and we also see the potential derby horse in his last run of the season in the Racing Post Trophy.

What a nice move to name the Old Roan after Monet’s Garden the popular white chaser.  It is the highlight of an interesting card at Aintree.

As for the Racing Post Trophy.  Will the entirely unexposed O’Brien favourite , Camelot, triumph?  Very possible, but at 6/4 the Major is in the no camp, more of that shortly.

A lifetime of gambling on horses is a lifetime of education.  The accumulation of knowledge and the development of instinct.  Surely Peter in Chapter 1 which was written in amanuensis was referring to our lifetime battle with the enemy.

And to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive

So to knowledge and to the sports, let us strike mercilessly at the enemies dark soul and to victory, upright and vigorous.

The Monets Garden Old Roan Chase – Aintree

How disappointing that this such an old institution as the Roan Chase attracts just three runners.  Masterminded and Albertas Run are worthy of their places, Pure Faith is not.

How delighted the four owners must be at the defections from this Grade 2.  From a stone and a half out of the handicap, you would think Pure Faith would have to be lucky to finish third of three but the prizemoney for allocating this slot is still £5500.

As for the winner, the Major would think Masterminded over Albertas Run but at 1/2 and 15/8, it is hard to enthuse over the chances of either with both making seasonal reappearance and the uncertainties of pace in a three runner affair.

No bet for the Major.

The Racing Post Trophy – Doncaster

This is a much better betting medium and we have a few angles into the race.

O’Brien always takes this race as a serious route for his best colts and in Camelot we have an entirely unexposed sort.  Sent off to win his maiden in good style, he was catapulted to the head of the derby market which is incredible considering the level of form.

Yes, O’Brien has a great record in the race and I have no doubt that the market is effected by memory of St Nicholas Abbeys dramatic win a few years previous but 6/4 is no price up against horses with better form.

The colt that the Major prefers is Fencing, who missed the Dewhurst due to too firm conditions.  The last win is as good as anything on show with plenty of subsequent winners in behind.  3/1 is fair enough for the best form horse in the race – Have a slice.

4.35 Galway Novice Chase

I am loving this race as a betting medium.  The ground, the trip and the presence of two horses who will slit each others throats at the front equals a real opportunity.

I am happy to oppose both Foildubh and Regal D’Estruval who I think will not enjoy each others company tearing along at a proper pace.

The suspicion is that Ainama and Sweeps Hill will be seen to better effect over further but then again, the heavy ground will be an aid to both.

Westmeath has the services of Davy Russell suggesting it is a superior horse to Grey Soldier but Westmeath comes with the warning that his trainer does not think soft is ideal.  This is an odd statement given his track record is raced 4, won 2 and placed once on soft (never raced on worse) although it is worth noting the sire record of Kayf Tara offspring is shocking so maybe he has an OK record in spite of the ground and not because of it.

Sweeps Hill is probably the classier of all of these on what we have seen so far but again, ground doubts exist.

There you go, I have found a reason for all to lose so which reason at what odds am I willing to discard?

I have decided to select Foildubh at 8/1.  While he might like prominence, he is not always a tear them up sort and if comfortable sitting off the pace may be hard to pin back.

2.15 Newbury

There are two that appeal in this at opposite ends of the market.  The favourite Saigon has shown the best form and will be fine with firmer underfoot conditions and as a result, you should take a slice of the 7/2 he will win.  His Middle Park form is better than anything else and with Murtagh assisting (rare ride for yard), I fully expect a win.

The other I fancy is rank 50/1 outsider, Wise Selection.  He will also like conditions and while he has been a flop in the summer, the maiden he won had a very good look to it.  Maybe, they can find the key to this tricky individual and it is interesting he is thrown back into listed company.

To the sports…

Three football teams to follow in the premier league today.  Mr Hill will once again be furious as I suggest odds against priced Villa represent 13/10 value against West Brom.

Newcastle should see off Wigan and 8/13 for the Toon undefeated team looks good to me.

Finally, Bolton benefitted from the international break and I suspect their improvement to stick at home to a Sunderland team that the Major thinks is vulnerable.  They spent a lot of money badly and I think Bruce to go next in the Premier League should be considered too.

May dinner reflect the glories of the day.  May the company be both interesting and willing.  Tip well.  Enjoy the simplistic detail, the sound of the rain on the conservatory roof and the warmth of a good jacket in the bracing air.

Courage readers…… roll those dice.