Tag Archives: hurricane fly

Friday Punchestown Festival Tips

Good evening from the Major who again writes from the comfort of a warm bed.  The radio is gently spilling out the peaceful and assuring tones of Radio Four.

Today, we finally had a result.  Rye Martini advised last night at 20/1 returned an 11/1 winner in the opener.  I won’t brag but god it felt good.  Should you be new to these parts, I issue a fair warning.  This is not the normal service.  Very welcome 20/1 winners come infrequently – Even the blind squirrel finds the odd nut.

Still, that winner has given me a few darts to throw at Fridays card so….

Punchestown Friday Tips

No prices are up for the opener but I will take a cautious bet on Shin a Vee.  A previous winner and placed effort in this race suggest he will be tuned up but he is incredibly the only horse in the line up to win on either soft or heavy.  Derek O’Connor was the final persuader as this fine amateur rider is extremely valuable in a race of this nature.  Forecast SP 7/1.

The handicap race in this second is a damn puzzle.  The Real Article is of some interest, while he has not been the same chaser as hurdler (where he started on an absurdly low mark), the distances he has been run at suggest that there might be a big run in him and he is competing off almost twenty pounds lower.

I am interested in three, Terminal, Competitive Edge and Immediate Response.  Terminal ran respectably in the RSA and may be able to carry this sort of weight around.  On jockey booking, Immediate Response has a better chance and with Mullins winning FIVE races at Punchestown yesterday, both of these are going to be backed.  This sends me down the route of a value pick in 16/1 Competitive Edge.  He looked very much on the upgrade until last time in the Irish National where he clearly did not stay.

The 4.55 is as much of a puzzle but I am going for Panther Claw at 7/1 who ran really well in the Irish National and may have been coming with a run if not for a bad jumping error.

Hurricane Fly looks rock solid for the Irish Champion Hurdle and will raise a mighty cheer taking this race once again – I am sure some of the chaps are still dinig out on him regaining his title in March.

In contrast, next on stage in the novice hurdle is Pont Alexandre who left a lot of Irish money in the satchels when failing to shine at Cheltenham.  Clearly plenty remain faithful and he is already a 4/6 shot.  The excuse there was the ground and this surface is expected to be much preferred.

I am willing to have a pop at the Mullins second string here though at 9/4, Un Atout makes some appeal.  His own festival finished honourably with a 4th in the Supreme but that was marred by trouble at the obstacles.  This track will be a little easier in that regard especially with far fewer runners.

Un De Sceaux is my NAP of the day – Mullins is having such an amazing week and this horse can continue his winning spree.  Clearly talented and targeted at Punchestown… what’s not to like… 2/1 – Load the Cannons.

Bluemountainbeach is closely related to Blackstairmountain who has had just won half a million on a far flung adventure to Japan!  Katie Walsh is not a common rider for Willie and does not have the finest record (1 winner from 9 rides n last 2 years).  County Champion gets my vote instead after a dominant Cork victory last time.

Oscar Delta was subject to one of the most amazing finishes of the festival as he tried to jink out on another circuit throwing his jockey when the race was at his mercy.  Salsify picked up the pieces that day after being raced fashionably off the pace.  I can’t see why Oscar Delta cannot gain revenge and I hope so, for Miss Mangan at least.

Courage, roll those dice.

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Cheltenham Festival Tuesday Tips – Champion Hurdle.. All aboard!

Good evening from the Major who writes to you on Cheltenham Eve, the most exciting night of the year, all good boys and girls should get to sleep, right after you have sorted out that lucky 15!

Geraghty says he is the best he has sat on.... The aeroplane that is Sprinter Sacre - photo courtesy of the marvelous http://www.facebook.com/GoodToSoftPhotography

I have already posted my antepost tips for Cheltenham a week ago but I am planning to write short pieces advising of any notes and fancies in the next days runners.Enjoy, have fun and remember Tom Segals words last week in Sundays paper – It is not as important as we feel, have fun but keep perspective.

Tuesday Cheltenham Tips

Here we go, here are the Majors tips for the opening day of Cheltenham.

The Supreme Novices 1.30

The Supreme novices can be a very tricky race in which to find the winner, there are plenty of red-hot candidates.

Good ground means we can rule a few out but not many and Agent Archie, Darlan, Galileos Choice and Montbazon are all high on the Majors list.

Other options include Tetlami who has done nothing wrong and Prospect Wells who may improve for his wind op and goes for Paul Nicholls who has run two winners in the last 8 years.

The two I like best though are Steps to Freedom and Trifolium and it is with the former that I will stake my first claim on the enemies satchel.  He is fine on the ground and has plenty of top class bumper form.  It might worry many that he has been put away for this for so long but Harrington knows exactly what she is doing and she is a trainer I admire.  7/1 generally but I don’t mind waiting as I think it might drift.

The Major had a lovely 12/1 winner on this horse at last years National meeting and since I gave it to a betting syndicate of the finest Birmingham chaps, I was a popular man that day.

2.05 Cheltenham – The Arkle

Already Advised: Menorah 11/1

In my antepost piece, I was keen on Menorah as I think he is under rated and over priced.  Too much is made of previous jumping errors which his trainer is well capable of sorting out.  I am happy enough with the antepost ticket but have to say that Sprinter Sacre may make this field look like handicappers.

Not often that my head is turned by a jockey’s comment but Barry Geraghty at the weekend said that Sprinter Sacre is the best horse he has ever sat on!  Consider he rode the mighty Moscow Flyer and well…..

3pts win Sprinter Sacre 10/11.  Don’t forget Paddy Power are offering a refund if Sacre wins, refund on your bet.

Al Ferof wants a punch up according to Ruby, I think Sprinter Sacre will be too classy to mix it like that.  Cue Card leading from the front sounds like a disaster to me, simply setting up some nice pace for the others to aim at.

2.40 JLT Handicap

Back in 1998, Unguided Missile took this race off eleven stone ten.  It was one of three horses to win off more than eleven stone in the last fifteen years and the other two were off eleven stone two.  Another interesting trend is that of six year olds which have not won in that time frame, which sort of puts a line through Our Mick and Mossley who has been a bit suspect over fences.

That is the Majors starting point – I want, ideally, sub eleven stone and I want a good ground horse.

Of interest are Hold on Julio who is a very good Alan King horse, on the upgrade and for a trainer that has won this handicap twice in the last ten years.

Baile Anrai is the other horse of interest, the Ian Williams chaser will appreciate the ground and 14/1 is fair.

I am going to take a slice of both at 13/2 and 14/1, I do not mind being double handed in this race.

Champion Hurdle Tips

Already Advised: Rock on Ruby 14/1

My antepost selection has come in to 10/1 and I am happy enough with my early selection.  Zarkander may prove a better horse, particularly at two miles but I think this race may pan out for Rock on Ruby who will be staying on to best effect at the hill.

The only horse I have eyes for outside of the selection is Hurricane Fly who looks the likeliest winner.

The Cross Country

The Major is not a fan, take pin, close eyes, jab paper, walk to bookie, make deposit, immediately eat ticket.

The Mares Hurdle

Quevega will surely win this; 1/2 is prohibitive so no bet.

5.15 Novice Handicap Chase

The Major has often advertised the antics of Hunt Ball’s owner, Anthony Knott.  He jumped on board Hunt Ball when entering the winners enclosure and when riding his first winner for 27 years of amateur riding, celebrating before the line with an unorthodox riding style to boot, genius.  If he wins, there is one place I want to be, the winners enclosure because I am sure he is unable to hold himself back at Cheltenham and with the cameras on him!

Triolo D’alene is a classy looking import that is sure to go well, 7/1 is very fair.

Going Wrong is an oddly strong fancy at 11/1 though.  Ferdy Murphy has won two runnings of this race and the selection has been very strong at Sedgefield.  Russell is an interesting jockey booking, a rider rarely used by the shrewd trainer, all in, I think this is a very good bet.

We are through the eye of the needle brace warriors.

The Majors Antepost Tips for Cheltenham Festival – 40/1, 25/1 and more

The time has come for the Major to reveal exactly which horses I want in my portfolio before the tapes go up on Tuesday 13th March and the famous roar echos around the Gloucestershire air.

Antepost betting can be terrific fun and equally incredibly frustrating and the Major normally would recommend getting involved in Cheltenham betting only at this stage.

Markets for the main Cheltenham races open immediately after the preceding years event has been run.  However, getting on early means you do not have the benefit of an entire years form knowledge, you do not see the improvers or judge the injury, prep or yard form; you do not know which horses are planned to be stepped up in trip or to go chasing.

Crucially, the vast majority of bookmakers have now gone non-runner, no-bet.  This simply means a refund if your horse does not make it to the start line!  Now is the time for the Major to roll out his Cheltenham antepost tips.

The festival is such a competitive betting commercial space, you also get the plethora of offers from bookies keen to get you in the habit of using their account ahead of the week.  The Major will make no bones about advising which offers you should go for.  The stand out must be Paddy Power who are offering a refund on your horse in the Arkle, if Sprinter Sacre is beaten.  That will cost them a lot of money and we should be in the queue to take advantage.

I have broken my thoughts down into each day – I am not trying to cover every race, just my main thoughts……

One horse I don’t think will turn up (unless the heavens open) and I will miss is the Gigginstown horse, Bog Warrior.  I think this is the best chaser in the making and look forward to an exciting future but his runs require soft conditions…  Lets hope Aintree or Punchestown is soft enough.

Champion Trainer and Champion Jockey

My first antepost bet of the week has to be in the top trainer market where you can get 25/1 about Alan King (William Hill).  He has a decent portfolio of chances in the handicaps and in Grumeti, looks to have a warm prospect, it can be just a handful of horses required to win a top trainer prize at the festival. 

I would also recommend a small stake on Daryl Jacob to pick up top jockey at 40/1.  If some of the Mullins horses do not travel over well or are faced by very good conditions, then I fancy getting some Mullins / Walsh mounts turned over.  This then gives Daryl Jacob a great chance of winning a few on the best alternate Nicholls rides…. just a thought. 

Cheltenham Tuesday Tips – Champion Hurdle, The Arkle….

Firstly, go to Ladbrokes and claim your free £5 bet!  You have to do it online and you have to deposit but that’s it; a completely free £5 bet for Cheltenham’s Tuesday card….

The racing – Let’s start with the Arkle.  There is no way that you should back anything unless it is with Paddy Power in this race. 

Cue Card, 8/1, has been touted by his jockey as a likely front runner, which I do not think will do him much favour.  Peddlers Cross, 9/2, is likely to line up here but may take his chances in the Champion Chase, where he is a top price 20/1, or the Jewson, 6/1.  I would put him in the Champion Chase if I owned him as I think it is a weak Champion Chase this year, more of that later.  Al Ferof at 4/1 is too short for me, although Ruby wants to oppose Sprinter Sacre with him, I am not sure there is enough in the price for a horse that has looked just short of top class.  Sprinter Sacre has been described as an aeroplane and does look top drawer, the likely winner but in a race that has a habit of turning those sorts over!

Thus, the antepost Arkle selection for the Major is Menorah at 11/1 with Paddy Power.   I cannot forget that the placed form in last years Champion Hurdle and despite the horse needing to put many excuses behind, it is entirely possible that the festival is the place to do it.  Plus with a refund available is Sprinter Sacre does go in…. well, value indeed.

In the JLT Handicap Chase, I do quite fancy Walkon at 20/1 who likes Cheltenham and has some fair class; these staying handicap chases often suit a classy horse and I want this one on my side.

The Champion Hurdle – The antepost market for the Champion Hurdle has been dominated by Hurricane Fly.  The injury prone Irish star showed all his class last year to smash his field, although on reflection, was it the strongest? 

Although Binocular was reported back to his all time best at Wincanton last time, the Major has severe doubts about whether we will see that form or what it adds up to. 

Zarkander looks good but has to overcome a serious lack of experience and 5/1 is no price. 

Once again, the Major is looking down the list at something that might run a bigger race and the pen stops at Rock on Ruby at 14/1.  This horse will be staying on to best effect at the end of the race and I just have a feeling that things might fall in his lap rather.  It could be a fairly small Champion Hurdle field and things may get messy.

Cheltenham Wednesday Tips – The Champion Chase, The Neptune, Coral Cup and RSA Chase

This years Champion Chase looks a fairly poor renewal.  As much as I know the yard can prepare for the big run, it looks like Big Zebs best days are behind him.

This leaves Sizing Europe, a best priced 11/10 shot and Finians Rainbow at 5/1.  Now it has cost me money, but I am still of the view that Sizing Europe is very beatable and I am going to keep that instinct.  My issue is that I do not think the horse to do it is Finians Rainbow, at least not this year.

Once again the Major’s eyes are wandering down the list and I settle on Wishfull Thinking a general 16/1 shot.  Again a horse with some questions to answer but one with definite talent and not just place claims in my view.

The Coral Cup may be a handicap where we are yet to see the well weighted horse.  Therefore I am holding my judgement until after the Imperial Cup next weekend but would register an early interest in Smad Place at 16/1.

The RSA chase is all about whether Grand Crus turns up or not.  Personally I would run him in the Gold Cup.  I suspect though that connections will go for the RSA and use Kauto’s declaration of fitness (Assuming that comes) as  the decision point.  Whichever race he turns up in, I am very interested in Grand Crus who has taken to regulation fences extremely well.  9/4 therefore that he wins the RSA is a price from heaven and we should all be relieving Sportingbet of the weight of their satchel.

The Neptune is another race in which I fancy the favourite.  Now that Henderson has declared this the target for Simonsig, I think the 7/2 with Boylesports represents great value.  There is not a massive amount of quality in behind this (spare Boston Bob who may not line up) so I have no hesitation in getting on early and large.  This is an ideal antepost market to tip as it looks like the favourites price will only go one way.

If you want a tip for the Champion Bumper, you are in the wrong place!  Try @kingofbumpers on Twitter on the day!

Cheltenham Thursday Tips – World Hurdle, Jewson and Ryanair

Big Bucks is so dominant in the World Hurdle market, it is hard to find an obvious piece of value.  It is there though, in the w/o Big Bucks prices.

Oscar Whisky has been touted as a real credible threat to the champion and while the Major will believe that when he can see it, 7/4 (Hills, Power, Coral and Boylesports) is a fine price. 

Although the market says he will, I don’t think Peddlers Cross will line up ion the Jewson which makes last years festival winner, Sir Des Champs, my selection at 6/1.

The Ryanair could be a cracking race this year and while Riverside Theatre returning from injury to great form shapes the market, it is Irish raider Noble Prince who the Major wants on side.  6/1 is the price, have a big slice and thank me later.

Cheltenham Friday – The Gold Cup, The Triumph

The Triumph has been shaping up well in the last month with the principles being taking each other.  I am putting two up to back at win stakes; Pearl Swan, 8/1 Paddy Power) and Grumeti, 5/1 (Generally).  I think this is the best form line and neither will mind the Cheltenham hill, a test many others in the field are to face into yet.

The Gold Cup is hugely interesting race this year.  I am assuming that Kauto turns up, which is no certainty.  If he does, he has been racing with the mind of a six year old, clearly noone has told the great horse that he is in his veteran years!  That said, I would urge anyone who would back Kauto with money and not just heart, to rewatch last years Gold Cup and King George.  There lies all the evidence you need that despite Long Run being scruffy at fences, he will outstay Kauto.

Long Run at 13/8 with a clear round is a great price but it is the clear round that bothers me.  I also do not think this is the horses fault but rather the amateur jockey – I am afraid that the Major is in the camp that would like to see Geraghty on board and really see how great this horse can be.

The antepost tip though is two-fold and buried way down the list.  I think this years Gold Cup has got the hallmarks of a race that could go to a massive outsider.  Long Run might jump his way out of it, Kauto and Grand Crus might not be there, Burton Port might bounce.

The two I am interested in are What a Friend and Captain Chris, both at 40/1 – What a Friend ran to a place last year and is sure to be in the mix, Captain Chris has quality but has run a season of shockers.  That said, he has always looked a spring horse and so I am relying on him coming back to form.  Mainly, let’s hope that Kauto gets there and gives a good race to bow out on.

That is it, the full Cheltenham portfolio.  Whatever you do, bet an amount that makes you nervous, else you won’t enjoy it as you should!

Irish Champion Hurdle Day – Leopardstown Tips – The Return of the Fly

Good morning from the Major who sits typing on this cold frosty morning – A whiteness has descended, the plants look brittle at the edges, like they might shatter.

Hurricane Fly

It could be one of these but the Major is daring to oppose the Fly

Let’s hope racing goes ahead.

The Saturday Service was unprofitable.  While Grumeti was controversially awarded the race in the stewards room, the other mortars the Major aimed fell adrift.  Reload followers and trust in the greatest force of all, your own independent mind.

Of those other mortars, Charminster ran a race into fourth, Diamond Harry looked scruffy at the fences and surely is not suited to Cheltenham, having never raced comfortably, I would take that one straight to Aintree.

Not the best Saturday.  The Majors January profit has plunged to 13%…

January Results
Sport Stakes Profit
Racing 32 38.53%
Football 14 -42.79%
Total 46 13.78%

To Sunday and redemption….

Leopardstown Tips

 I have resolved to stop giving out footballing bets looking at the charts, they simply never pay for me!  Either that or I am going to have someone who is better at it provide them.  Mr Dipper, Mr Hill or Mr Redmond spring to mind.

I am going to concentrate more on my core subject, the sport of Kings.  Leopardstown hold a sumptuous banquet of a card today, how I wish I was there.

Let’s tackle the Grade 1 races first…

Leopardstown 1.25 Arkle Chase

The market is hugely focussed on the leading three chances, Flemenstar, Notus de la Tour and Blackstairmountain; 14/1 bar.

The Major also thinks the winner is in there and with just seven runners, I feel opposed to finding each way value, even though Gift of Dgab and Baily Green both look overpriced to me. 

I also find some merit in the claims of Lucky William whose second in a Grade 2 at Punchestown is not disgraceful.

The truth is that Bog Warrior seems to have held all of these Irish novices and looks the far better horse. 

The closest I can get to that in here is Flemenstar.  He chased Bog Warrior to within 7 lengths earlier in the season and seems to have improved over fences since.  The trainer / jockey strike rate is impressive and I think it is a reliable choice.

I will admit that Mullins is in tremendous form and it is hard not to get on Blackstairmountain but overall, my tip Flemenstar at 2/1, feels better value. 

2.30 Leopardstown – Irish Champion Hurdle

I love racing because I love stories.  Hurricane Fly is a tremendous example of a racing story that makes the sport great.

This horse has suffered a few setbacks and it was not until last March that we finally got him to Cheltenham.  His hurdling record ahead of that was sensational.  In total, Hurricane Fly has started thirteen races and has lost just two.

The first was a summer hurdle in France, probably not his season, where he finished second by two lengths without his usual sparkle.  The last loss, seven races ago, to Solwhit was in bottomless ground and the Fly simply did not show up.

Yet this horse has had many doubters.  Five of those wins since 2009 have been against Solwhit, the critics argue this is not strong.  He is also a fragile horse, he has suffered several setbacks over the years, including this campaign, where the Major believes this is the Fly’s third intended start.

There is no doubt the horse is a mercurial talent but is he fit?

If he is, is there credible opposition?

Well, yes is the answer to the second question.  Last years Triumph form has worked out very well.  The mare that finished second that day, lines up this afternoon and is in receipt of a handy 9lbs mares allowance.

Unaccompanied is surely the one if any, to give Hurricane Fly a scare.  In receipt of 10lbs, she beat Thousand Stars relatively comfortably last time out and is entitled to be better yet.  She is still 5 and so improvement is expected.

Strictly that form is probably not good enough to get to the Fly but then there is the first question, the really tricky one, is Hurricane Fly at 100%?

A further complication in the Majors mind is that there is no obvious front runner in a field of five.  I am pretty sure the versatile Thousand Stars out of the same stable as Hurricane Fly will take the job but we are not assured of a strong pace.  This could be very tactical.  This is also more solid ground than the Fly is used to, that should not be a problem but the combination of those two factors does make me wonder if the Fly’s usual turn of foot, so devastating, will be seen to the same effect.

This promises to be a cracker so where should you put your money?

The Major believes the Fly is the best horse.  The Major also thinks that 1/2 is plenty skinny enough.  There is no doubt that Mullins would not race him unless he was ready, they think too much of him and have held him back plenty of times, even when the trainer knew it would be an unpopular decision.

I still think that making a seasonal debut in this hot race against an unexposed potential wonder-mare in receipt of a sack full of weight….

Maybe I will look stupid later but Unaccompanied 4/1.

I was going to look at the novice hurdle that follows the Irish Champion Hurdle but thought I would throw a slightly different arrow at another that caught the eye.

Ffos Las – 2.55 Handicap Hurdle

The Welsh ground is heavy and for the Major, I always appreciate an extreme of condition, it helps create value.

The selection is a horse I think may go off a gamble…. Tarateeno 5/1.

It is only the third horse that Pat Murphy has sent all the way from Berkshire to Wales and he makes the long trip for a £3k contest with just this one horse in the box.

Tarateeno is racing off a mark of 90, yet just at the start of 2010, he had a mark of 124 over hurdles.  He probably did not deserve that but to tumble so far, it has taken a long consistent run of shocking performances.

Many of those performances have also been over fences rather than hurdles and his recent two spins over the smaller obstacles have been marginally better, even if they have not halted his slide.

His form on heavy ground is decent.  Three miles in this is probably just right.

Courage, roll those dice!

The Major’s Ultimate Cheltenham Festival Guide 2011

The Racecourse from Cleeve Hill

Just before I wrote this post tonight, I passed the course, it was a buzz of tiny people seeing to the detail, lights on, christ it whets the appetite

The Major has attempted to give you lucky people visiting Cheltenham this week a guide as to what you can expect, if you have not been before and a few of the Major’s favourite bits for those seasoned campaigners.  There is also the Major’s banker for the week which goes in the Champion Hurdle.

Like all bitten by the Prestbury Park bug, I have many fond memories of the festival.  I backed Kauto the year Denman won, convinced that the bully would not upset the master, that was pretty special being proven wrong.  Watching Big Bucks destroy the field in 2010 still on the bridle at the last, almost mocking the field, that was good.  Ingles Drever winning his third world hurdle crown, like Big Bucks having to come off the bridle half way around before showing us all what a champion he was, well that was probably the finest moment….  then again Masterminded’s first Champion Chase was special too, leaping like a stag clearing the imposing Cheltenham obstacles like a stage in the fastest chase race there is.  I hope that 2011 brings us all a few more breath-taking memories.  They stay with you.

Around the Course

Cheltenham racecourse is huge, particularly the extended bit when you get to festival week.  Let’s start with the enclosures

The Different Enclosures

Best Mate is not in the main section of the site.  It is wedged on the opposite side of the finishing line and is the cheapest enclosure.  In my experience, bar access is good, the atmosphere is just as exciting and the view of the grandstand adds something to the experience.  However, you lose access to the parade ring and winner’s enclosure as well as a host of other bonuses of being in the main area.

Tattersall’s tickets are over in the main part of the course.   Club gives you access to a few extra areas but in my experience during the festival there is very little benefit to a club ticket.  Members get a few extra exclusive areas too.

The Guinness Village

This is on the main site, so no use if you are a Best Mate ticket holder.  There is a live band, a pretty big outdoor Guinness bar and a cracking atmosphere – You should definitely head down here!  The village is lined by bars and plenty of people having a fine time.

The Arkle Bar

Without doubt my favourite Cheltenham spot is the Arkle bar.  The bar is adorned with old news coverage of ‘himself’.  The crowd in there is young and country, its good fun.

As an experience, take a race with a Henderson runner, go into the Arkle bar and order up either a Guinness or have a whisky and stones ginger wine.  Head outside 5 minutes before the off and stand by the first drainage cover you come across.   This is where you will find Nicky Henderson; he watches all of his runners from this exact spot, always worth a visit.

The Parade Ring

This is always very busy for the festival, particularly before and after the feature races.  I would suggest you squeeze in for a visit though, seeing the horses and owners parading before they set off for the start gives some perspective.  The owners trying to look calm, the jockeys getting their leg up onto to their mounts, it is good stuff.  Even better if you can be there when a champion returns.  The cheers raised as a good winner returns to the ring is famous.

Shopping

OK, so it is not the primary purpose of your visit and nor should it be.  The Major would recommend a stroll around the marquee villages of stalls that come in for the Major race days at Cheltenham.  You will see goods that you would never have even considered purchasing and the types of people that regularly do.  Ever wante a set of pink corduroys?  No, nor I; yet if that horse ins the 4.20….

Cheltenham Pubs and Eateries

For drinking post racing in Cheltenham, you will find plenty of pubs with clientele spilling onto the pavements.  If you fancy young and disco (I am aware that no one uses that word), try Vodka Revolutions in a fabulous old church building. 

If you are after something more real ale, I would suggest The Jolly Brewmaster – Always a good selection, well kept, enjoy.

If you want to watch the sport, try Tailors just off the High Street or the Hogshead near the bottom of the High Street with a handy local Betfred.   There was a pool bar opposite the Hogshead but I think it may be shut down. 

While in the area though I must point out that there is a kebab shop on your left as you walk away from the High Street at the lower end.  It is simply amazing as kebab shops go.  Try before you mock.

General Advice – The Ground

I have a slight concern about this year’s festival as a betting contest.  The terrible winter we have had has meant that no good ground horse has had suitable conditions, until now.  This may mean that many of our form races are not the guides we think they could be.   I would advise checking carefully before writing off better ground horses, particularly the Irish ones.  I am sure there will be a few big surprises from the previously written off.

One example of what I mean would be Zaidpour who has won twice on soft, been beaten toiling away in the heavy and yet remains the apple of his trainers eye.  It is difficult to compare that form with that of Cue Card but 10/1 Zaidpour, who knows?  Take care out there.

The Major’s Cheltenham Tip of the Week

I am going to be giving a rundown of the following days Cheltenham tips every evening (sobriety allowing); therefore I am going to keep my advices here for my banker.

It is Peddlers Cross in the Champion Hurdle.  I thought Binocular was shaping up as a bet and I had the field down to Binocular or Peddlers.  Binoculars abstention today made it an easy race.

Don’t get me wrong, Hurricane Fly could be a champion, I do worry about two things, one, how strong is the form against Solwhit who is now pursuing a staying hurdle career?  Secondly, the lack of course form is a worry; some very good horses do not perform to their best at Cheltenham.  Ruby in the saddle will help, although not much more than Townend.  One thing is for certain, the jockey booking will probably keep the money pouring on.

Menorah is also ahead of Peddlers Cross in the market but again, while I accept there is clearly no problem with Cheltenham, I do question the form.  Now before Menorah fans become irate with the Major, I must say that clearly it is a top class animal.  That said, the Cheltenham form this year beating Cue Card and Silviniaco Conti has not worked out all that well.  That, plus the recent runner stat which the Hearty Ploughman rolled out which is also a negative.  The Major only cares for trends that make sense, does this one?  In many races I wouldn’t care for it, I often back horses running fresh as long as I believe the trainer capable of getting it ready.  That said, this is a champion hurdle, 2 miles of fast hurdling against the best in the world……. a recent run is a trend we can count given no mistakes are allowable.

Dunguib is intriguing but too many questions, Khyber Kim is a terrific place prospect but doesn’t feel like a winner.

Peddlers Cross is an unbeaten hurdler, including when defeating this year’s champion hurdler on debut this season.  I accept that is not a race that Binocular would have been wound up for but…. what has PEddlers done wrong.  I like the fact that Jason Maguire awas willing to risk the rest of his weeks rides at the festival to challenge a riding ban which would have kept him off Peddlers Cross.   Get stuck in and get the week off to a flyer. 9/2, Sportingbet – KABOOOOMMM.

Bookmakers Offers of the Week

The Major urges you to take the most optimised betting strategy as possible for the week.  If you are going to the track then of course, take a bundle and have a laugh.  However, you should take advantage of the offers available.

Use a site like oddschecker.com to ascertain the best odds for anything you fancy.  Then sign up for new accounts and take advantage of the free bets bookies offer.   Most do.  For example Boylesports are offering a £20 stake a £40 free bet, have a piece of that!  £60 on for £20 staked, lovely.

Then understand the specials on offer and use them where they fit your betting pattern.  For example, anyone who doesn’t want Cue Card in the Supreme should get on with Paddy Power who offer a full refund if the favourite wins!  In the same race, Betfair offer new accounts a refund of up to £25 on Cue Card stakes if he loses!

Bet365 offer a free bet of the equivalent staked when your initial bet wins at 4/1 or more on any race covered by Channel 4.  The bet is redeemable on the next C4 race.

Mark Boylan – Finally, this lad knows the score!  13 and he loves the festival so much, he wrote a song about it – What a cracking Irish voice too!  Warning, it may stay with you!