Tag Archives: gauvain

Saturday Sermon featuring Aintree, Newbury, Doncaster and Chepstow plus football tips

Good morning from the Major who writes from the ancient Devon wool town of Chudleigh. The sky is bright, painfully so, the air is sharp. They gritted the high roads last night. Winter arrives. It is the Majors favourite time of year.

The chances of sunburn (a significant risk for my northern skin) have gone, insects are dying, and good riddance, or making home for the winter. National Hunt racing is awakening from its deep restful slumber, slowly at first lumbering into action like a mighty machine, creaking and groaning yet we know that soon it will be in full swing, delivering heart stopping action all the way to Prestbury Park where our pulses will race and dreams will be made and shattered.

Channel 4 has shuffled the pack and overall I think they have it right. Gina Bryce is a great addition (has the Majors heart in her icy grip). John McC and John Francome, while loyal servants are not right for the sports coverage. They make too much light of the sport and that is not helpful. I understand they want to make racing accessible but you can combine expertise with an understandable presentation style.

Clare Balding achieves this blend well enough although the Major would have not have picked her. As for Rishi, well that’s a bad call in my view.

The greatest losses are those of Mike Cattermole and Alasdair Down who have genuine expertise and racing fans will miss them.

If it were my call, I would have left Balding and co and recruited instead Matt Chapman who would have added some real lustre to proceedings. Overall though, it will remain compulsive Saturday viewing.

Just 4 weeks ago the Major ran the Berlin marathon raising money for a fabulous cause Whizz Kidz… I was quite surprised to see a race in their name today at Newbury but indeed, Worthington have kindly sponsored a tasty looking race and the Major is having a charity bet in the same race

Last weeks blog produced some tasty winners and decent advice and represented a welcome return to form. I often wonder who the people who turn up to this club are each week. Some of you I know because you tweet me (@tdl123) or I know you outside of this environment. Most of you though are strangers.

Welcome, one and all. Membership is free, in fact, there is no membership. Just an agreement that certain behaviours and standards exist.

My advice is amateur. I am profitable… But only just. I make lots of errors. My research and thinking does take time and I come here to offer it for free. Sometimes I offer you a slice of Victorian military history or a piece of ancient philosophy in addition to some sporting thoughts. I am afraid you have to accept the wanderings of my damaged mind as it weaves and meanders between the sporting advice and other thoughts, some interesting, some dark, all a swirling vortex. I enjoy writing it, it feels like a release, as though these unhinged thoughts could builspans turn my head into an evil pressurised vestibule, the Saturday Sermon is my release valve. So feel good, by reading you are helping my mental health and probably keeping me from greater ill.

All I ask is that you come in the same spirit, unbridled enthusiasm for life and well aware of the finite nature of what we are given.

It is time to enter the field of battle again so please, don thy heavy leathers, polish that lance point and have your groom bring up the heavy charger. We shall meet the enemy at full tilt, he with that wicked deception, let us enter the violent swirling mess of war and be triumphant. Tonight we eat steak and drink good wine.

To the sports….

Doncaster Racing Post Trophy Tips

The Racing Post trophy has been fertile feeding grounds by Ballydoyle of recent years. Camelot, High Chaparral and Camelot all went on to win the Derby after taking in this late season Group One.

It is understandable then that the moves O’Brien and co made this week were a huge advert for the chances of Kingsbarn. At the 5 day stage they had a number of representatives including Battle of Morengo, one of the market favourites. They then supplemented Kingsbarn and duly removed all else. Clearly he is the one that has been doing the best work at home.

Kingsbarn once supplemented was a magnet for money. 12s, 10s, 8s, 6s and all the way down to a current 5/2 best price Hills. I think he will go off at 13/8, call me mad but I think the story is compelling enough to attract money all day and if Kingsbarn obliges then the enemy will not enjoy their dinner.

It is times like this that the Major is cautious – Work at home may not translate to being the best horse here. I am guessing a bit but I reckon Kingsbarn himself has no idea he is the hot favourite! His maiden form is insignificant, you are betting on reputation – clearly he is hugely talented but when the market moves like this, the value call is to swim against the tide and tell yourself a different story.

Andy Oliver is hardly a fashionable sort for these races. This is his second attempt at a Racing Post Trophy and his last attempt was a disaster! That said, his representative today has what I would argue is the best form on show.

Therefore my tip for the RP Trophy is First Cornerstone at 12/1 with Paddy Power. He is more experienced and will love underfoot conditions. Have a slice.

Aintree Tips – Old Roan Chase Day

I am so glad that Monets Garden had his name added to the Old Roan, some horses strike a chord not because of what they achieved but because of their character and the joy they bought. On the advice of the late Sir Clement Freud I had a chunky bet on Monet once for the King George. Sir Clement was a personal hero of mine (may your life be as rich and varied) but his tipping was not his forte. Still it was the start of a relationship with Monets Garden.

Wishfull Thinking has cost me a lot of money over the last two years and while the horse has a chance of settling that debt today, too much has gone before and it will be a hell of a training feat to return the love of the game to this animal.

Gauvain is very interesting catching him first time out, he has won many a seasonal appearance before going on to achieve less. At ten, sold into a new yard for a fairly light sum, I am interested but not convinced.

A far more likely sort is the Majors Old Roan tip, For Non Stop. My selection is 6/1 with Betfred and is one of the more progressive profiles in the field. His Cheltenham form behind the now Gold Cup favourite Sir Des Champs was good and he is a grade one winner already. Noel Fehily is one of my favourite jump jockeys and this rates a strong piece of advice. Go lumpy.

In the 4.35 at Aintree, it comes down to Unioniste and Carlito Brigante. The former is well related and looks another fine French raid by Paul Nicholls. The latter is a Coral Cup winner and with form in the book, the Majors tip at 2/1.

Cape Express looks to have a great chance in the opener too…

Chepstow Tips

Aintree is not the only track with decent jumps action, Chepstow also has some tasty action and I am taking a chance on 12/1 Return Spring in the Grade 2 novice hurdle. Hobbs targeted this race last year and this entirely unexposed sort can play a part.

Arthurian Legend is sure to be targeted at the Silver Trophy, a handicap he win last year and 6/1 is very nice. Salubrious could be anything but I will take experience over potential here too.

Newbury Tip

Just the one tip from Newbury (plus the charity bet) and that is Camborne (7/1) in the Group 3 St Simon Stakes. If there is one trainer to fix the errant mind of a wild sort, then I would place my faith in Gosden (well I suppose Johnstone too!). Anyway, the Royal Ascot win was eye catching and I expect Cambourne to be doing the best work at the death!

This years Horris Hill is in honour of an incredibly worthwhile cause Whizz Kidz. I have raised money for them over the last couple of years and am happy to spot a tenner charity bet in their race today. My selection is the Dettori ridden Tahwid at 7/1. If you fancy supporting a great cause why not make a small donation yourselves. They are also worth a follow if you are on Twitter…

To the football….

Wigan often look nice in defeat but with home advantage I am taking style to beat function and 11/8 they beat West Ham is a bet.

I think Chelsea will beat Manchester United even without Lampard. They look threatening this year and I am not sure this is a better united team. 6/4 is a lovely price.

Cardiff can be backed at 4/5 and that is a smashing price, I would be hugely surprised if they do not keep up form at home to Burnley.

May your dinner be voluptuous and may that apply to the company too. We go round the once, make sure your doing it in the presence of like minded souls.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – The Gambling Gentlemens Weekend Must-Read

Good morning from the Major who sits at his Kitchen table concocting a wonderful weekend of gambling. 

This week, advices were at times unlucky but did not pay and the great start to the year took a small hit.  That said we are still hugely profitable, thanks to a number of tasty horses going in..

January Results
Sport Stakes Profit
Racing 20 86.65%
Football 8 -28.64%
Total 28 53.71%

All advices remain on my posts, for checking and the record of them is in the menu above.  The Major’s tips are always free and the thinking unhinged.  If just one child is saved from a life of non-gambling as a result of what I do, I shall go to my grave content.  Seal the lid Mr Undertaker, and let little Johnny know that I still think Trafford Lad can land a big prize one day.

The Major has started recording his bets again, you will find it on the top menu, along with new resources which I will expand from time to time. 

The Saturday Gambling Sermon is here so relax.  Gentlemen adjust your hat to a jaunty angle (26 degrees), strike up a cigar (Cohiba Siglo IV) and let us go to war once again.

Finians Rainbow - Looks like they have ordered up more of the Quantative Easing again!

We have the riches spread before us like a rich man in heaven.  The grade one Victor Chandler Chase, seven grade two races and a grade three; spread across Haydock, Naas and Ascot. 

The highlight is certainly the Victor Chandler which has been used, in the past, as a springboard for the best chasers.

Todays renewal is no exception with the superb Finians Rainbow versus Al Ferof.  It is a clash to whet the appetite, Henderson v Nicholls, Geraghty v Walsh; in a race that also includes Somersby and Wishful Thinking.  This is what Saturday sport is about.

Appetite is the focus of this mornings Saturday Sermon, well that and independent thought, which I will get to shortly. 

A man’s appetites on a Saturday should be satisfied with a fine salmon and poached egg.  Failing that, the Major’s favourite breakfast dish, Eggs Benedict would more than suffice – If you are not familiar with this particular morning spectacular, then live a little, order one up and allow the Major to brighten your existence.  Life will not be the same again.

Appetite for risk is something the Major is familiar with from my daily pursuits both vocational and recreational.  To be able to judge risk, you need to be able to weigh the likelihood of an event occurring with the impact of the resultant outcome.  Your acceptance of a wager should be determined by such.

This is straightforward and is similar to the mathematical concepts of probability, odds and value which the Major has posted in the Gambling Resources section of the site. 

Calculating value is one matter, your personal appetite dictates how you react to that value.  In the Majors opinion, gamblers and people of business are happy to operate at the low risk with certain, low reward end of the risk spectrum.  They rarely back themselves to go for the high risk but high reward opportunities that present themselves.  Consider…..

I have often said, that if a horse should be 33/1 but has been priced at 100/1, you should back it.  This is because it is profitable.  Ultimately, that calculation is more important than what you think will happen.  Yet few people will back such a prospect, even when they have calculated that it is great value.

For example, if you calculate reasonably that each of the Premier League elite teams will lose a home game, once a season to a bottom third team, then you might reasonably surmise that the odds of those away teams should be approximately 8/1.  Thus if QPR were at Chelsea and priced at 12/1, this would be a value price in your book, the reward is great but the risk is high as you still believe that the outcome is 87.5% likely that your bet will not pay. 

What is important is not that you think it will not happen, it is that you still think it is more likely to happen than the market price suggests.

This is fundamentally why gambling is not a ‘get rich quick’ scheme but a long game dotted with regular consistent losses.  What is important is that when you win, you backed outcomes at correct prices. 

Don’t be a sheep.  When you here someone say that Manchester United are a certainty at home, remind that they did lose at home to Blackburn…. at 28/1.  Whatever outcome occurs, the test of judgement is whether you priced it correctly. 

What people get confused between is value and likelihood.  Just because something is likely, does not make it good value.  Human nature dictates to follow likelihood more than value because we want to win more.  This thought clouds the brain.  Often, value dictates back Blackburn but likelihood says back Manchester United because it is more likely.  Be careful of those voices in your head, remember the Major’s calculation for betting value – (Decimal Odds * Probability) / 100.  Value greater than 1 – Back it.  Value less than 1 – Leave to the sheep.

So I think Chelsea to win at Norwich is just a 40% probability.  Their price is 1.66.  1.66*0.4 = 0.664 – Shocking value for the Major.

That is the sport of it, the intellectual thrust of judgement and calculation.  The fine balance.  When people ask why I gamble, I reply ‘why not?’ – The Major pities those who cannot feel the rush of blood at a sporting event where you have staked your money on the market being wrong.  When you made your honourable personal choice, your own integral thoughts, that which no man can alter but thee, that which god gave you to distinguish yourself as that of the finest and highest privelege – A man with independent thought.  What finer or purer thing exists? 

No wonder hostages survive, able to hold on that thought – Whatever happens, my independent thought still remains.  That integrity cannot be taken away. 

To the Sports, daub thy war paint…..

The Victor Chandler Chase – 3.10 Ascot

First of all, The Major dops his hat to Victor Chandler who are stumping up a matched £25 bet offer for existing customers.  The Major has not studied the detail but this firm have always been generous with their concessions.  As a bookmaker they offer best priced markets too, so that when a horse drifts you collect the better price.  One of the Major’s preferred accounts.

The market is currently full of bookmakers competing for our wagers on this race – This has forced the overround down to 103%, happy days!

We are looking at some of the upcoming stars heading the market in the shape of Al Ferof and Finians Rainbow.  These two, with the possible addition of Wishfull Thinking seem the progressive sorts and that is what the Major wants.

Wishfull Thinking has disappointed a bit this term in the Tingle Creek and the Paddy Power but looked a top prospect at the close of last season, it is possible we are getting to his time of year and he is a dangerous sort to rule out.  That said, he has reportedly had breathing problems which two wind ops do not seem to have solved, not without a chance but in this company, overlooked.

Al Ferof has won both starts over fences and although that does not equate to much experience, visually he looked very comfortable.  The form line with For Non Stop is not the strongest, but hugely respectable.  Remember we are comparing him though to the best potential Grade 1 chasers mind and he might still need to improve more.

Finians Rainbow however ticks more boxes.  His Kempton win last time (beating Wishfull Thinking) showed plenty of guts and a decent turn of foot; having been pretty much on the deck with half a mile to go.  His novice campaign was exceptionally strong and Henderson clearly thinks highly of him.  His Arkle defeat for me, remains amongst the best pieces of form on show, the time evidence supports that view.

I think the Victor Chandler will pan out with Forpadytheplasterer and Wishfull Thinking taking them along.  This should suit Finians Rainbow.

Get stuck right in and thank me later: 5/2 Victor Chandler with their additional concession.

1.45 Champion Hurdle Trial – Haydock

In name this is a Grade 2 Champion Hurdle trial, in truth, it is not a great show.  Just four go to post and the 1/2 favourite is Celestial Halo. 

The resaon for throwing the race into the Saturday Sermon in is that I am not sure 1/2 is at all value for the favourite.  The race is sure going to be tactical.  It is heavy ground and with a small field, they will probably go at a dawdle until the business end.

A further concern is that Celestial Halo has never run on heavy ground and this will be bottomless.  While his soft ground form suggests it will be fine, after coming out of a hrad last race, 1/2 is no price.

Instead, I suggest Marsh Warbler who I think will thrive in the mud.  7/2 Skybet, have a slice.

1.00 Ascot – Novice Handicap Chase

It is hugely difficult to evaluate the form of my selection Triolo D’Alene who is available to back at 10/3 with Betfred but 127 gives plenty of opportunity if the ability is there.  Top connections might have an easy score here and 10/3 might look the price of fools at ten past one. 

10lbs of weight conceded from Oldrik who rates the danger, persuaded me to get on the Henderson unknown quantity.

Haydock 1.10

Bet of the day for me is in the Novice Chase over two and a half miles at Haydock.

While State Benefit looks like being another of the riches spilling from the Henderson yard, the Major would be concerned that the bottomless ground may get to him.  Certainly his Exeter win on soft seems to suggest he likes getting his toe in but Haydock in these conditions is a different prospect.

This is why I place great weight on the two wins Cotswold Charmer has collected on heavy.  His chase debut win at Bangor was on soft and he has scope to keep improving.

5/1 is generally available and is overpriced for the Major. 

To the football….

African Cup of Nations

The African cup of nations kicks off today and I am very pleased to be sat on an ante-post ticket backing Senegal at 10/1.  They have been backed into 11/2 across the board and you can see why.  They should have a relatively trouble-free passage to the Semi-Finals and their squad is littered with European striking talents.  In fact, they boast seven strikers of which, we would be most familiar with Demba Ba.  If you want a tournament interest, have a slice – I fully expect the ageing Ivory Coast squad, who start the tournament 13/8 favourites, to flop once again. 

In the Premier League, I am following my belief that Chelsea are weaker than the market thinks and suggesting a Norwich win at 5/1 with 188Bet.  While my tip for Chelsea to fail to beat Sunderland did not pay, after watching the game, surely you would not want to be on Chelsea today at 4/6 best price?  Incidentally the draw is a best price 16/5, making that a 100% overround.  £6 with Ladbrokes (6/4), returns £10, so does £2.40 with 16/5 Victor Chandler and so does £1.70 with 188bet at 5/1.

I know Fulham have a decent home record but Newcastle still look great value at 3/1.  I think the price is inflated because markets believe they will miss Tiote and Ba too much but in reality it is more their no nonsense 4-4-2 sensible approach that has been winning them games.  They have kept it simple and they work hard.  They have adequate players to drop in and while their 1-0 QPR win was not spectacular, it again showed their organisational strength.  3/1 is too dismissive.

Finally Wigan look better than 3/1 to get a result at QPR.  Wigan play nice football, a fact not helped by their shocking pitch.  QPR will suit them and the Major has never been convinced by Mark Hughes, not a fan.

Mr Hill – The Lucky 15 Order is: Finians Rainbow, Norwich, Cotswold Charmer and Senegal – That should pay for a new pair of shoes or two!  Put Triolo d’Alene in if you feel the football is not to your particular taste.

Tonight may your dinner be beautiful, akin to the Major who took a ‘diet break’ eating a fine Chateaubriand in the week.  The tenderloin has to be the best cut of beef and I recommend you try it.  Have for company a country sort that won’t be offended by the bloodiness of your dish.  Dine well for tomorrow may never come.

Courage and roll those dice.

The Majors Saturday Service – 22nd Jan – Victor Chandler Chase Tips, Premier League – Crack Away Followers!

Photograph of the finishing post, Ascot Raceco...

Let's all hope that Ascot beats the weather

Warm greetings to another fine sporting weekend for the Majors faithful followers.  Today we have the usual premier league tips, while in horseracing The Major has a Victor Chandler Chase 16/1 tip against Masterminded going for his third win of the season. 

So far this week the Major has tipped two outstanding losers and a non runner.  This uninspiring week followed last weekend which was almost a write off due to a shocking football run.  However, last Sunday provided a 25/1 winner in Baycross, the Majors longest priced success of the year and this win did restore some parity. 

Today followers, have faith.

Faith is indeed why we gathered here on this day, the gamblers sabbath, as men prepared to do battle.  So the Major raises the clarion call again, you must restock your bank before we unleash the cannons once more.  Relentlessly positive.

An anonymous writer in Deuteronomy wrote..  ‘Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid…for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee’

The Major teaches you in the same vain to bet like real men (and women – you know who you are!), ensure the stake demands your heart to flutter and skip a beat, reminding you of your very existence, feel your pulse again and realise that the world is not about Simon Cowell or fast food or Wetherspoons.  Out there the meaning of existence resides in the simple pleasure of a guilty moment of regret over the risk you have taken in playing your hand, before the thrill of the contest itself.  Bet with a stake that means victory delivers sweet feelings and a cash return you can actually do something with.  If you are playing with a stake that will make absolutely no difference to your planned evenings entertainment, then what is the point?  Something needs to ride on the outcome, you need to feel alive again.

The Saturday Service is here, it is your honourable duty to load the large cannon with the fine shot and then lead the charge.  The Major is he that will go with you and will not fail you or forsake you*

Point of order, the data sheets which are on the top tabs hold all of the data year to date.  You will notice a new tab called the betting summary.  This simply takes the raw data and summarises the performance of the horseracing tips, football advices etc on a month by month basis.  You will see that our profit from 48 bets is 14%, horseracing has been our strongest suit at 37% profit.  The two naps have returned a trebling of stake.  Pleasing but not enough.

Second point of order, the Major reminds followers of how to get the Saturday Service quickly.  As soon as the Major posts, emails are sent to the subscriber list.  To subscribe, use the tool in the left hand menu.  If you prefer to get your notification by twitter, @tdl123 is the place to be.

To todays action.  First the Victor Chandler Chase.  Clive Smith and Paul Nicholls will be itching to win this after last weeks Kauto Star defeat in the King George.  In Masterminded they have the best rated horse in training and it is too easy to forget that Masterminded is in his prime and not on the downgrade like his stablemate Kauto.  After all Masterminded has already won several Grade 1’s, two champion chases and suffered a dip in form that had many writing him off – That’s quite a back story for a horse who has just turned eight. 

He looks back to his impervious best this season with two solid victories.  What impressed me in both wins this season was the flamboyance.  Is there a better chaser at standing off a fence before clearing it in soaring style by a foot, not touching a twig then landing like a ballerina moving away on the bridle; with horses trainling in his wake, their pschological well-being and ability to compete destroyed.  Masterminded does look to have found his love of racing again this season which is great news, unless you are competing with him. 

Some people have Masterminded as the unquestionable two mile champ which, if you are in this camp, makes the 15/8 about Champion Chase success this year an absolute must bet.  The Major thinks though that outstanding as he is, he also has an outstanding competitor in Big Zeb.  It is going to be a cracker in March but we must play todays hand and await that race with huge anticipation.  (The Major has already advised his ante post Cheltenham tips)

Todays Victor Chandler is a penalty kick for Masterminded, in the Majors opinion.  There is nothing wrong with Petit Robin, Somersby and Mad Max but they are up against a quality animal.  If Masterminded turns up in decent heart, there is nothing to suggest he will not, he will win.  8/11 does not quite reflect this and so the Major would encourage anyone to take William Hill on at that price.  Not an advised bet though, the Major seeks the value bet.

The horse the Major really likes and the only one that allows a chink of doubt about a Masterminded win is Crack Away Jack.  This horse was incredibly unlucky not to win the Champion Hurdle in 2009.  Watch the race again and you will see he loses 15 lengths at the start, which is a lot of ground to give to top class animals in a 2 mile hurdle!  He finished that day like a train up the hill finishing a 3 length (ish) 4th.  Having suffered injuries since then, it is hard to make what remains of his undoubted talent. 

The horse has won fresh before though and at 16/1 with Bet365 who go 3 places and quarter odds (best price too), it is worth a speculative one.  The speculation is not about whether I think Crack Away Jack is capable of running a place or picking up the race if Masterminded is not in top form, it is more about his readiness and in that his trainer, the wonderful Emma Lavelle is buoyant ‘He is in really good order…… He has always run well fresh.  He looks straightforward, seems well and is at a good weight’

Of the others, Petit Robin looks like he wants further to me and is not in the top draw.  Mad Max looks a hard sort to place.  Tchio Polos at the bottom of the card for Paul Nicholls might improve but looks nowhere near good enough on anything shown so far.

The 2.55 at Ascot offers a similar bet to Crack Away Jack.  Walkon is an Alan King (who has had a quiet season) trained hurdler who has been missing injured for over a year and a half.  However, returning in this grade 2 shows some confidence in the horse and his well-being. 

Walkons second in the Triumph hurdle was good form finishing second to Zaynar at his best with Starluck back in 4th. 

A complete unknown in this is Sire Collonges who races off a featherweight.  Another french import for the Nicholls stable – Who knows what this one is about, impossible to tell but taken as too green for this quality race particularly as Lough Derg will ensure a ready pace and will expose jumping inexperience. 

Soldatino is the 5/2 favourite but really, this Triumph winner while good, 5/2?!?  OK, it could win but really I am unsure its form of winning last years Triumph is as good as the form of the second Walkon achieved in the previous year.  This then leaves the 12/1 Walkon as a standout bet – Get stuck in, have an each way chunk and thank me later.  Generally available at quarter odds and three places.

As long as Ascot races, the ground will be perfect.  Gowran however is off as is Haydock which is a shame as the Major had done work on both!

Detail and research.  2pm Lingfield, not the natural start point for horseracing fans.  One thing of interest.  Pizzetti is 40/1 with Victor Chandler – Now OK, this looks like a plot horse for handicaps and from the Prescott stable, it is probably waiting for them but…. out of Singspiel it is arguably the best bred horse in the race and….. it has a Derby entry, so they must have had hopes at some point.  It is probably a handicap plotted sort but at 40/1 the Major is willing to stake an each way piece of silver.

Ascots 3.30 shold go to Breedsbreeze 15/8 (Sportingbet) – All of the others have big question marks, the preferences of the field would be Minella Theatre who needs to prove he is not simply at first time up specialist and I’m a Legend who looks well handicapped to the Major.  the tip is for Breedsbreeze though who has he form in the book, looks relatively well placed at 9 and the credible Ian Popham helps by taking a further 5lbs off.

Then to the sporting fields of Britain which suffer less from the wicked touch of the barren North and her icy fingers.

Wolves are no forlorn hope to beat Liverpool who have proved for a second time that changing your manager does not improve a mixed squad.  Wolves are organised and at 12/5 with Stan James, of some interest but no bet advised.

I think Aston Villa while too good for the drop have problems that Darren Bent alone cannot solve.  It is the live early evening game and backing Manchester City at 23/20 with William Hill is the advice.

The Major wants to keep Fulham on the ‘poor list’ – Thus backing Stoke at Craven Cottage makes sense at 14/5 with Victor Chandler.  Stoke may have had mid-week exertions at Cardiff but they were able and confident enough to rest key players.  John Carew may not be an inspirational signing but he can lead a line and will be another player bought into consideration from Stokes long throws.  Fulham continue to underwhelm the Major who thinks it is all presentation and no trousers.  It is worth remembering that there is a bit of bad blood between these teams.  Pulis and Hughes have twice this season refused to shake hands at the final whistle, if it tasty today, I don’t think that would suit Fulham.

Blackburn are a great price to beat the Majors own team, West Brom.  This Sunday fixture features a home team who are well organised under the quiet Steve Kean.  Albion can score goals but will struggle against the strong midfield of the Blackburn team.  5/4 with Victor Chandler is a decent price.  West Brom are getting stronger with their defense returning, Tamas is a big player but they were poor at the back when fully staffed and so it might make them more competitive but hardly delivers maximum confidence.

Equally Tottenham look a quality bet at 5/4 to win in the North East.  Andy Carroll is still missing and he is a key player for Newcastle.  Pienaar could make a debut for Spurs who just look to have enough quality to take maximum points. 

Sheffield Wednesday are spending some money and going through a transformation.  7/4 is too big for their chances to get the spoils from Orient today.

Sunderland look a tasty price too at 2/1.  Blackpool are only 6 points off the black cats who rest just outside the Europa positions.  I don’t think Sunderland will miss a beat with the loss of Bent.  Gyan looks a more complete player to me.  Blackpool are capable of scoring against most teams due to a refreshing attacking approach but they also concede.

The new Bournemouth manager has his hands full.  The club had already sold key players before losing their young talented manager Howe to Burnley.  While Bournemouth have a sterling home record, this could all change in the coming weeks and they have not entertained many of the top teams.  Brighton are that and at 15/8 are incredible value.  Take your deserved share.

The Major wishes all faithful followers the best of luck in your selections today.  Watch out for tomorrows Irish Champion Hurdle advice where sadly Dunguib has already withdrawn.

The NAP today is a double on Blackburn and Masterminded. General pricing of 6/4 and 4/6 means this pays £375 to a £100 stake, I am sure you will bet with more significant funds!

This evenings dining will follow a nine mile run.  The order of the day will be steak, shown the flame for the minimal period to make the chef feel he has earned his wage.  A Barolo to accompany, a brandy to finish.  Then to dark, peaceful slumber safe in the knowledge that no matter what happened today, no matter whether a fortune was plundered in the Majors favour or not; we sleep deeply with carnal knowledge of the joys the sporting gentleman’s world provides.

Play hard.  Allow instinct as well as research. 

As the man hails your carriage, tip well.  This is right.  Let him know the Major sent you, we will be back.

* Previous evidence demonstrates that the Major will quite regularly fail you!