Tag Archives: hot streak

The Royal Ascot Sermon – Day One

Good Evening from the Major who writes tired following a long weekend and a long first day in the office putting my shoulder to the wheel.

It is cooler tonight in Worcestershire and I suspect deep sleep will come easily.  I am going to keep this brief.  Yet, be warned, the Major is in fine form.  Another Saturday Sermon and another batch of winners…. If I had managed to keep my discipline and not fire in some ill-judged, slightly large, borderline moronic machine gun style bets then I’d have a terrific Ascot  war chest.  Alas.

Still, let us take the form into the finest day of flat racing in the year, the Tuesday of Royal Ascot.  Today, a Frankel foal and his mare, again in foal to Frankel sold for a combined £1.15m – Quite apt on the eve of one of favourite runs of his.  Who can forget the blistering pace of Frankel in the last two furlongs of the Queen Anne.  Go watch it again, at half way, ask yourself how Frankel can possibly win by fifteen lengths over this field of G1 winners he is buried amongst…. then watch the miracle happen.  Splendid – Only surpassed by his Royal Lodge and perhaps his defeat of Canford Cliffs just after the Hannon superstar had lowered Goldikovas colours. 

To Ascot…. 

The Queen Anne normally goes to a real class act, Paco Boy, the aforementioned Frankel, Goldikova and Canford Cliffs…. This does not quite look the same. 

I think the two that have achieved the most are Soft Falling Rain and Toronado.  The latter is of clear interest on his Sussex Stakes form but has not always run to his ability and on his first run back is an uncomfortable odds on shot for the Major.  Instead I side with Soft Falling Rain who has a globe-trotting profile and superb pieces of form including a highly decent runner-up berth behind Variety Club last time.

In one of the finest days of racing, the Queen Anne is followed up by the Coventry, one of my favourite juvenile races. 

You cannot ignore the record of Ballydoyle in this race and the fact that from their abundant riches of youth, they rely on a single runner, it is a great advert for War Envoy.  He is another likely prospect out of American standing sire War Front who gave us last years winner War Command and the highly capable Declaration of War.

Hannon is another with plenty of Coventry credentials and I was very taken with Kool Kompany but my selection is from a less fashionable yard, The Wow Signal who absolutely smashed an Ayr field of five ast time out.  Now that form may not be a hill of beans, or however the saying goes, but second out (beaten 9l) went on to win by 6l next time out and third place, a whopping 20l down to my tip, went on to win his next race too. 

Then it is time for the muscular pumped up sprinters to strut their stuff for Her Majesty.   While I respect Shea Shea and Sole Power greatly, I feel it is time for a new injection of class into the sprinting scene and Hot Streak is near the top of my list having won the Cornwalis in very taking style last year, a subsequent loss to Sole Power was very respectable given it was a seasonal debut and I would expect that form to reverse here. 

That said, near the top of the list, is not top of the list.  That spot belongs to Guerre.  For those of you with a dabbling of French, should my selection lose, I can roll out my favourite Victoria Military French quote attributed to Marshal Bosquet on the hills above the Valley of Death, Balaclava, Crimea, shortly after our light brigade had charged under incorrect orders under battery fire from every side into heavily defended Russian positions at the head of the valley; c’est magnifique mais c’est pas la guerre.  He saw what the rest of the world would come to understand… receiving an incomprehensibly suicidal command, Lord Cardigan (loved a drink) rode his troops from the front directly into the face of danger, such was the good order of our military.  Magnificent, but it is not war.  The Kaiser had an account posted to every barracks in Germany to extol the inspiration of these brave warriors, fearless.

From this, you might have guessed correctly that Guerre is another from War Front, well named you see.  The appeal goes beyond the sentiment I clearly hold.  While it is unusual for a three year old to win this race, it is not unheard of.  His Naas run when beating Maarek was very nice indeed, load a cannon at 11/1 with BetVictor (10s generally).

In case you have not had enough Group 1s, then The St James Palace is next.  What a terrific little contest with Kingman and Night of Thunder reopposing after what now looks like a tremendous Guineas.  All week I have been thinking this market is a bit wrong.  Night of Thunder was a less fashionable sort and for many, his drift across the track, the fact that Kingman did not have him to aim at; thee are facts that denigrate his classic victory. 

When Kingman subsequently turned up and rampaged in Ireland, their minds were made up.  The Guineas was an aberration and it will all be put right in the St James.  Well I think this is a classic case of snobbery.  Night of Thunder did nothing wrong when having the Irish Guineas winner and the Derby winner back in the places at Newmarket, if anything he would have been better in a straight line!  Get stuck in!

Generally speaking if you have the first four races wrong at Ascot on Tuesday, you should head to the bar and forget the last two!  The two handicaps that close the card are very difficult to solve.

In the 5pm, I am siding with Villa Royale who at 16/1 is a great price having won a nice race at York last time, her improvement has not stopped it seems.

In the lucky last, I have to go with Hootenanny Ward has bought him over the pond for this and I wish connections all the best for their endeavour.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – MOTHERSHIP SCOOP 6 – The Curragh for the 2,000 Guineas, Haydock and Goodwood

Good evening from the Major who writes weary from a breezy Worcestershire where torrents of unrestrained and ungovernable precipitation from the heavens pool in still cold accumulations until the high winds and dry air, vanquish them, leaving a desolate earth and an unsettled Major.

I could never hope to describe what ails me.  Restless mind, palpitating heart; I think my state is the natural product of many years of debauchery.  I know nice people, lots of them.  The sorts whose essence is virtuous, an integrity they were born with.  I think I spot these traits so well in others because I know myself to be neither nice or normal.

As I lie in the dark hours, doubts aggregating, skin tingling, mind racing, heart speeding; I can fathom not the cause.  Many thoughts trouble me, some rooted in reality, many fantasies.  Fixating on each new thought as the greatest trouble, I know, at last, that the fear and anxiety is wasted, yet in the moment, it is indiscernible.

Feel no sorrow for me, I am sure I deserve some burdens to bear, I know plenty of those nice and normal people undeservedly encumbered.

I like where I live.  I am a few miles into country from Pershore and there is plenty of interest.  I am close to a huge dish pointing at the skies – part of the Jodrell Bank array.  Pershore and Upton are ancient towns steeped in history, particularly the former with an abbey of the finest order dating back over a millennia.  The civil war was active in these parts, most notably Tewkesbury but we saw some local action, indeed, the matter was settled in Worcester and we reap the benefits today, such as those enshrined to the people to freely vote UKIP, god help us.

King Charles was on the retreat in 1644 from Oxford, his rearguard harassed and skirmishing, the enemy with the taste of blood, mercilessly raking forays against the isolated; the Royalists sought safe camp to regroup.  Crossing the Avon at Pershore, Charles saw the opportunity and ordered the destruction of the bridge.  The job was botched and with the enemy closing, the close warm work saw the deaths of 40 men, mostly drowned under the cool oaks in the dark brown still waters of the summer Avon.  The same that I gaze upon.

The retreat continued and in finality, the first stage of the war ended with small pockets or Royalists holed up in North Wales and Cornwall.

Charles himself may have exuded poor judgement at Pershore Bridge, but you might conclude, that time served him for his deeds, well enough.  He was executed after the second phase of the war, beheaded.

I have no idea of what I live in fear of.  The irrationality beguiles me, paddle folks, keep your head above the waterline and seize the moments of ecstasy as they present.  Courage, roll the dice.

To the sports, Saturday racing….. Haydock is a challenge, am I meant to work on the forecast firm ground or interpret the weather?  I am playing good to soft.

Scoop 6

At 7/1 the field, I can see a lot of our dreams being made extinct in leg one.  Alas.  For a free share of this stake, make a comment, or retweet the blog before the first race starts and on good faith, I shall cut you in.  I long for the mothership and perhaps, just maybe.

2.05 – Bear Behind – In highly competent new hands and watch out!

2.50 – Henry The Aviator – Will kill some tickets! May yet have more to come.

2.55 – Penny Drops – The penny has dropped

3.10 – Perfect Blessings – Pray for rain

3.25 – Khelman – At least is in form, a vulnerable pick

3.45 – What About Carlo – Going to revel in the rain, improving

Haydock

Now to the real picks, the ones I choose, rather than the contests thrust upon me.

Ah, the pressure is greater.

The Temple feels like a solvable race this year.  I am banking on good to soft, which is a subjective view based on the forecast.  Such a thought brings Pearl Secret and Jack Dexter right into it.  That precipitation will also end the chances of Sole Power who is a proven top class athlete in these muscle sprint events.

There is a worry that Jack Dexter has done his racing and so I side with progressive soft ground loving Hot Streak – 5/2.

The 2,000 Guineas (Irish)

Kingman is all the rage and there is every reason to be a fan.  In the English version, I felt he was lonely and unlucky in the dying stages and his lofty reputation equals odds-on.  Yet I feel, there is value afoot….

and the pick for the Major is War Command – The Coventry, not always the greatest guide but this one remains in my mind.  My selection had such an incredible turn of foot, yet flopped in the Guineas.  Put off? No, why? Well, I am reminded of that juvenile performance and I would put Roderic O Connor forwards as a Ballydoyle Epsom to Curragh improver, in which template, War Command might follow.

Goodwood

With rain, I trust Totalize to give us a run at 6/1.  Over timber, performances have been perfectly fine overall and I think this might turn into a gamble…. I get Ellison wrong a lot, just a warning.

Football

The Championship final can often go to the disciplined over the moral winner, yet I still feel compelled to back the youth of Derby over the well-drilled QPR.  Just on principle, never a good betting calculation factor.   I also will be backing more goals that anticipated in the Champions League final.  I know how well Atletico press, high up the pitch, I know how that will kill creativity, I know that no team will want to lose…… yet +3.5 goals is a siren call to me, 3/1.

The Martin Hill bet is a Hot Streak, Totalize and War Command trixie.

I trust your dinner is taken while you are in good spirit.  The lady on your arm presses gently against you, the mild skin contact racing the pulse and the softened warmness maddening your senses.  Order well, shellfish, in spite of the bible.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon (despatched from foreign lands) The Ebor, York, Goodwood, The Curragh, Premier League

Good morning from the Major who writes from a glorious landscape of looming rocky outcrops whose towering edges are burned crimson with the rising sun and whose flanks are dressed with heavy deep green foliage.  Frankly I have little idea of the Worcestershire weather, for I am in Gods chosen country, Switzerland, the Bernese Alps to be more precise and it has been damn glorious here for the last 5 days.

While I shall try to be brief, for travellers tales bore me like no other and I imagine you the same, I feel I must file my report for your examination.  The place is magnificent.  I am writing from the Valais, a spectacular corner of the world where rocky monstrosities rise suddenly and in gangs to intimidate the senses and leave you aghast at the damn splendour of it all.  There are the snow-capped peaks, mountain forests, gulleys running fast with thundering torrid streams, neat disciplined vineyards clinging to the steep lower slopes and as much good air as your lungs can take.

For some scale, from my balcony I can take in 6 good peaks and each is in excess of 3,200 metres, perfectly ordinary for an Alpine mountain.  Snowdon just breaks 1,000m, a mere trifle.  What the Alpine folk must make of our national parks I do not know, although I defy any of them to not find our finest terrain, the lake district as at least of merit, mixing as it will such a varied palette of greens and blues.  Committed atheist as I am, my faith in science is challenged by the glory of such creation, for creation is what it can feel like because surely some planning was required in such masterpieces.

There are other compensations to my locale, the scenery is matched by the people.  Of Switzerland’s good denizens, I shall say this.  I have found them to be modest, decent and impeccably well-mannered.  Cars stop at crossings, truly a sign of a great civilisation.  The food too is excellent, I breakfast on cured meats and eggs, leave lunch for the wimps and dine on any number of the Italian or French dishes.

Yet more, the attractions run to more than polite society and good cuisine, you shall think me indelicate to raise it but I care not.  There is a certain style of Swiss woman, youthful with short dark hair, dark eyes, slender of figure and tall, smooth skinned and confident in her every move, sporting and fun.  You know me, I fall in love with each and every new one.

Oh, I could imagine a life here if it were not for a few major flaws.  Firstly, the sport, there is lots of it but I would miss too much the comforting seasonal rhythm of our racing schedule to which I am fatefully well tuned.  Mainly though, it is the costs.  The bills will bankrupt me long before I had finished the fun.

Anyway, while I have been away, York has been ploughing on regardless.  Before now, I have only seen the results and read a few brief reports, as well as catching the drift of proceedings on twitter.  So, I may be a little out of touch.

Yet, I arrive for this weeks battle, freshened and relaxed, I plan on a few short and sharp incursions into the enemies positions.  No full frontal assault, no sweeping flanking manoeuvre, rather we shall skirmish in open formation, raiding the odd baggage train here, stealing the odd gun there.  To the sports.

Saturday York Tips

I used to think that York was a pretty fair course with its wide open straight opening some distance from the finish.  Whether there is much camber I do not know, whether the crowds that are attracted to the Knavesmire’s obvious charms intimidate the horses, I do not know but without obvious reason, it seems to me that it has become a specialist track and I often seek course form when appraising runners.

The York going could be the most significant factor though and this is the angle I attack with.  Early in the week, runners were being withdrawn from the Ebor with the likely fast conditions cited.  Now, after a sudden storm and further rain, we need a mudlark and since several are non runner already, you would think it gives us a chance to solve the puzzle.

Ebor day is a terrific bit of fun, the race can be a dark swirling mass of possibilities, the last 8 runnings have returned three 25/1 shots and a stunning 100/1 shocker from Mudawin in 2006.  In honesty, it is rarely a race that lasts in the memory, if I were to recall to you the recent winners of Willing Foe or Sessenta, it is unlikely that your heart springs youthfully at the recollection.  The latter was a winner for Willie Mullins in 2009 and in the subsequent year, Dirar was a winner for me, keeping the trophy Irish bound.

Recent years have seen a dominance of older horses winning as a result of the changing weight allowances for three year olds.  We shall stick to that rule and seek an older horse who likes to get a toe in.  Yet, before we arrive at the Ebor, there are other delights for us to review.

The listed City of York Stakes get the card off at 2.05 and Christoforo Colombo takes is favourite on his second start this season after finishing 5th in the 2,000 Guineas.  The Guineas form stacks up, as it should being a G! classic, and this is a significant drop in class back in listed company, he also placed n soft to heavy as a juvenile and his sire had no problem with softer conditions.  Yet, it concerns me that this is a race that O’Brien has never won and the break given to Christoforo Colombo may indicate that he has not been entirely straightforward.  Given the price, if you disagree and think the drop from the Guineas to this is the key, then I would highlight the fact that Glory Awaits finished ahead of him in that race too.

The Major is going to tip up Sirius Prospect who under normal conditions I think would not be good enough for this.  Yet he has won twice at York (important) and been placed in every run on soft ground (more important) and his trainer has an exemplary record from his select few runners at York.

The Melrose, 2.40pm, looks a tough race to call with none of the runners holding any York experience bar Dashing Star and Hawk Hill (both unplaced) but it will take some winning in these conditions.

Mister Impatience (won twice on soft) is the sort of Johnstone runner that you have to fear in this field – Is there a better trainer for peaking a handicap runner, couple that with the legendary toughness of his horses and he is a threat.  Argent Knight is a proven stayer but was withdrawn from soft ground earlier this year and I assume the same fate lies in store.  Hawk Hill probably has the measure of Ambleside on these terms.  The latter is a horse I love, he looks a talented sort that makes his own mind up as to when he puts his effort in! Hawk Hill is one I do like and is exactly the sort of quiet horse that you get more favourable prices about.

I am also fearful that Dark Crusader is not merely company in the horsebox for Ted Veale who runs in the Ebor (more of that later).  The pointer though falls favourably in the direction of Havana Cooler who represents the Cumani yard, who last won the Melrose six times back with Speed Gifted.  The yard is in tremendous nick and he looks a ready stayer, this race should suit his style of being held up, switched off and coming late… we shall see.

The Gimcrack, 3.15pm, has only attracted seven runners, yet it is a wide open 4/1 field.  Astaire has the advantage of a Callan ride, a significant benefit in my opinion, yet a 4 runner conditions event at HQ is a departure from this company.  Saayerr was a good winner of the Richmond but might find this harder and I am always wary of juveniles who are burdened with extra weight through penalty.

I find it easy to be attracted to the attributes of Parbold, a general 4/1 shot.  He has won on soft and while some of his Group form has made him look a little flat-footed, with this distance and the conditions, I think he might be just the type for the job.

The Ebor, 3.50pm has seen plenty of non runners since the conditions turned.  Tiger Cliff and Opinion are heading the market and receiving the morning support.  Their compliments are that they are both progressive as an Ebor winner is likely to be.

Yet, the Major is smelling the mood in the camp and opting for Ted Veale at 9/1 with Stan James.  To win a poor Bellewstown race and then step up to the Ebor is an unlikely achievement but exactly the sort of thing that Tony Martin would pull off.  Ted Veale will love the conditions, will stay for ever and having got in from a penalty in the Irish race, looks well handicapped to do the business.  Fran Berry has made the effort to come over and I am all aboard.

The Roses Stakes, 4.25pm is the last interest I have in York and there are a number of very interesting youngsters.  Hot Streak won on debut and beat winners too but that was on fast ground and I am not sure the Ilfraaj colt will excel in this ground.  Outer Space looked a good prospect when turning over the Haggas odds on shot Jacobs Pillow but Hannon has not won this race and you would suspect he has much better in the camp.

Instead, the Major focuses on the much more highly used runner, Excel’s Beauty.  For a start, we are blessed with Callan, of whom I have extolled enough virtue.  The horse though has much merit, he was runner-up in a Newbury listed event having looked the winner only to idle slightly in front.  The horse that beat him (Wind Fire) has since placed in the Lowther and my selection has also strong form from beating Lilbourne Lass.  Experience can tell.

Goodwood – Celebration Mile

A cracking contest in order on the downs as Afsare, Premier Loco, Thistle Bird and Trade Storm come together to contest this Group 2 race.

Premier Loco won the race a year ago but it was not a clean running and there is doubt over that form.  Thistle Bird was amongst the defeated foe in that race but has improved significantly since and almost won a Group 1 last time out but could not match the turn of foot that Winsili produced (had first run).

Educate has his fans, myself included but surely is a handicapper at best.

All of them could be put away by the Major’s fancy, favourite Afsare at 9/4.  The Cumani runner was pretty dominant in G3 company last time out at Salisbury and I think the main risk is that the gelded son of Dubawi does not handle the Goodwood camber (never raced here before).

I also will be backing Mount Athos at Goodwood who is a horse of considerable talent.

The Curragh

There is a most pleasing card to be had at the Curragh and I would advise a bet on Dutch Masterpiece in the 3.10pm.  Moore has made the effort to go overseas and I suspect he was after the softer ground.  Had he known, he may have stayed home.  Yet, this boy has a live chance, he is hugely progressive and has O’Brien in the saddle.

It is the 4.20pm though that I want to tune in to, if I can find a way from these shores.  In it, War Command, returns swiftly to the action after disappointing me so bitterly in the Phoenix.  There was not an obvious reason for the flop and the Coventry form is now looking more suspect but I cannot deny the evidence that my eyes tell me from that race… This might be my cliff horse but I am all in even at evens.

To the football.

I fear for my West Brom team this year as we are significantly weakened.  8/13 that Everton beat us is a gift.  Villa should not be 7/2 to beat Liverpool either.  I also think that 4/5 Stoke to beat Palace is a bet.  I think Wigan have bought well and 5/6 that they win at home to Middlesborough is a bet and despite their poor start, I still feel Sheffield United are a team who could do well this year in League One – They are 2/1 to beat Bradford away and I would want to be involved.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Sheff Utd, Afsare, Parbold and Havana Cooler.

May your dinner be delectable and in the finest of company.  Courage and roll those dice.