Tag Archives: inish island

Wednesday Punchestown Festival Tips

Good evening from the Major who writes from his bed again after a weary day of battle.  Forgive me for a more concise post but sleep is calling me with her sweet siren song, irresistible urging me downwards… one limb becoming heavy and almost impossible to lift, a drifting sensation and peaceful slumber.

I value the commodity of sleep far more than when a young man.  In life most of the fun things happen in the small hours, where normality slithers between the cracks.  Now, as a father, the noise of two children and constant demand of your attention, well it drains you.  I still gather sleep in small harvests, a useful habit but now the motivation is not preparation for more moonlit mischief, rather the sagging necessities of everyday existence.

In the dark hours, I lie awake thinking.  Not fervently you understand, more aimlessly, my mind wandering through memories and daydreams that I have collected and deposited in a vast library with no Dewey codes.  A great palace of thoughts in small rooms with unlabeled doors, unsure of where the next one takes you, closing your eyes and seeing shapes move, colours morphing and light blurring at the edges.  Cogito ergo sum.

To Punchestown.  I hope we fare better than day one.  Tasiocht and Western Boy both returned one place out of the money, Moyle Park and Sprinter Sacre did their jobs, the former scraping in, the latter doing enough.  The champagne went flat.  Tuesday I score as a moderate defeat, wounded but merely superficially, we return.

Wednesday Punchestown Tips

The opener is as open a race as you will find.  8/1 the field and no amount of research is really going to make me feel better about it, this is wrestling an octopus.  Instead of pretending, I shall inform you that my eye was drawn to Chavoy who is priced up at 14/1 with Boylesports – He is a Ferdy Murphy runner and that has not happened at Punchestown for years.  He has won a couple of races already, thought nothing anywhere near this testing and he looks as likely as the next.

The 4.20 is an intriguing race as the market is dominated by two Mullins horses. Call Me Bubbles seemed to step up at Navan and has a race fitness advantage over the exciting French import Viconte Du Noyer.  The race won at Auteuil looks decent with Blood Cotil, a decent yardstick back in 4th and two other french horses holding up the form.  It is a bit of a concern that the horse has been missing for a year and this is a hot introduction back to the track.

I am going to take a risk on Gassin Golf at 6/1.  He is out of Montjeu and made a mark of 99 on the flat.  It is early days on his hurdling career and he pulled ridiculously hard before being pulled up in the Triumph – Throw in that he is another clearly targeted at the Punchestown festival and we have a decent bet prospect.

Ballycasey is a hot favourite for the novice hurdle at 4.55pm, I am a little concerned that this is a big step up in class but the talk has been hot about him and evens quotes might be hard to come by at the off.  He missed the Albert Bartlett in which Inish Island chased At Fishers Cross up the hill finishing five lengths down at the line, that is solid form and this is a classic balance of proven ability versus potential.

Instead of the pair of them I am going to chance Road to Riches at 10/1.  Soft ground is preferred and so drying conditions are a concern but I am willing to give him a chance.  His Aintree run was too bad to be true and earlier form reads well.

5.30pm and the race we will be waiting for – The Punchestown Gold Cup.  I have a real issue in this race because I am torn between a desire to see Long Run prove me right and the fact that my logic is appealing to me to abandon him.  Say what you will, he keeps getting placed at the top level.  I do think though that three miles and a furlong around Punchestown is not far enough these days and given his penchant for throwing himself into the odd fence, the extra pace around here may not help either.

The quality of this years renewal is stunning.  Last year, China Rock managed a win at 20/1 after running just a few days before! That horse won and was rated 162 at the time, five of the eight runners in this years contest are rated above that mark, make no mistake, this is a superb race.  Be warned though, prior to the China Rock 20/1 turn up, winners have come in at 20/1 and 14/1 so the principals are no shoe in.

In short, First Lieutenant is very interesting, especially if the ground dries more. He looked like he needed further in the Ryanair and being second to Cue Card is no disgrace anyway.  Sir Des Champs surprised me, I was the first to think his form was not as strong as popular opinion.

What the hell – I am sticking with old faithful Long Run – Mainly because I could not bare him to win and me not to be on… do with that as you may.

The Cheltenham bumper winner Briar Hill is attempting the double taking on this Grade 1 Punchestown event.  There has not been a major turn up in the bumper for some time but one I like at a humongous price is Noel Meades Apache Stronghold at 28/1.  The yard have a terrific record in the bumper.  All said and done though, Briar Hill has an excellent chance here and 6/4 is a fair price.

The 6.40pm is the handicap chase.  Nadiya de la Vega is not my sort – The mare is likeable but might just be found out.  Instead I am opting for 10/1 shot Mr Cracker who I suspect has had this as the target for some time and whose second in a grade 2 last time looks OK.

In the lucky last, I am dodging the two at the head of the market and opting for Fairy Island who might be much better than we have yet seen.

Friday Cheltenham Gold Cup Tips – The Major is Chasing, JT McNamara, The Triumph… last chance for glory

Good evening from the Major who writes from an overcast Worcestershire scene that is positively balmy compared to recent conditions.

The Major is tired.  Three days of battle cling to my clothes and skin and there is a certain stench of defeat about it.  Today we scored a magnificent win with Cue Card, whom I gave a strong indication to load the cannons on, but there ends the success.

Should you feel  disappointed  I hope it eases your mind to understand that the Major was significantly invested in Sam Winner, Ballynagour and Oscar Whiskey all of which floundered hopelessly at one stage or another.

Twitter is alight with thoughts and prayers for JT McNamara who suffered a fall on Galaxy Rock in the Kim Muir, the consequence of which was him suffering a severe neck injury.  Powerful barbiturates were used to induce a coma and the racecourse medical team flew with him on the air ambulance to Bristol.  My own losses become inconsequential.

A bitter taste was left by that turn of events which unfurled as the racecourse team were dealing with Matuhi who suffered a fatal fall in the previous race.

This all followed the surprising news that Davy Russell had suffered a punctured lung, although the cause remains a mystery.  He is stood down and tonight there remains a mystery as to who will ride Sir Des Champs in the Gold Cup on Friday…

The Major kept good company today and included in the group was a chap whose methodology involved selecting horses on a theme from current events.  He selected the papal election and so used that when reviewing each race.  To build my own knowledge of what is likely to transpire in the 2013 Cheltenham Festival championship races, I have invested hundreds of hours following national hunt racing.  You know already what happened.  He selected the winner of the first two races at 25/1 and 20/1 before following up with some rather tasty each way places including Celestial Halo (of course) at 40/1.  Good on him, I wish every man his good fortune, I just hope our own enterprise is rewarded tomorrow.

Today was a critical day and it swung things in the bookmakers direction.  We need winners.  We have just one day remaining.

Stick with me, it is darkest before the dawn.  As Roosevelt (Theodore) said it is better to be faithful than famous.  Either that, or pick a theme and knock yourself out!

The Triumph

Our Conor is going to give Ireland a terrific chance of winning a Triumph, not a traditionally strong race for the raiding team.  He has already had the measure of many of his Irish rivals this winter including Stocktons Wing and Diakali.

On the home team, the probable best chance is Rolling Star who beat Irish Saint  on British debut on heavy ground and could be anything.  That win was at Cheltenham and mighty impressive.  Henderson has won three of the last twelve Triumph hurdles and so clearly he is to be feared.

Complicating the scene is the ground / weather.  The rain is likely to not be serious until later in the afternoon and so this will be a good ground race.  That brings in some serious questions for Rolling Star and Our Conor, neither of whom have raced on good.

Lac Fontana has an interesting profile having not disgraced himself against better horses in novice company and now stepping down to juvenile grade for this.  Jockey booking suggests Far West has the measure of him at home.

On balance, Our Conor is getting the line – I am not convinced the yard is in the best shape, the horse has done better in smaller fields and he has the travel to contend with.

Both Far West and Rolling Star have won at Cheltenham.  I cannot split them but will do so on trainer form at the festival which means that Rolling Star gets the nod.

The County Hurdle

The favourite in the County is Cotton Mill, well thought of by Pricewise, enough to make him his antepost Champion Hurdle pick.  The County is a much less ambitious target.

Cotton Mill may have some class but the County is often won by a springer from lower in the weights and that is the Major’s angle into the race.  Age 5/6, Mullins horses particularly interesting…

This leads us straight to Tennis Cap at 12/1 who I think has an excellent chance.  Ranjaan has been the selection of Ruby which is an advert in itself but with Ditcheat not showing their usual swagger this week, I prefer Paul Townend aboard my pick

The Albert Bartlett

I am not sure how the Albert Bartlett will feel tomorrow after we witnessed the rise of equine and jockey stars Brindisi Breeze and Campbell Gillies and their tragic deaths last year.  I am sure the course will have some moment planned to commemorate them.

What a great advert The New One gave for At Fishers Cross in his demolition job in the Neptune on Wednesday.  That Cheltenham race now looks key to this.

Utopie des Bordes has some experience which is an advantage but I am not sure it is good enough.

Ballycasey lines up to have a pop at At Fishers Cross where Inish Island failed.  Neither I think will get to the favourite.  All evidence to me says that At Fishers Cross is very very classy and has a great attitude.  If the rain is not soaked in by the time of the Albert Bartlett I would not be too concerned as the tip is an Oscar bred animal and should be fine under firmer conditions.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Tips

The 2013 Gold Cup has a decent feel to it with a number of potential winners and a great story to unfold.

At this point last year, I was convinced Sir Des Champs would go on to be crowned 2013 Gold Cup winner but he seems to have a lost a little edge.  That said he has improved with each run this year, looks a thorough stayer and clearly likes Cheltenham.  Yet, the standing down of Davy Russell is a final negative for the Major.

I cannot have the Giant Bolster.  Won’t place.  Neck on line.

At 10/1 Captain Chris would be a consideration having run Long Run so close in the King George but rain might put pay to his chances.

Bobs Worth, Long Run and Silviniaco Conti are harder to split.

Silviniaco Conti has two negatives that put him out of the picture for the Major.  Firstly, he has no Cheltenham win to his name and while he has looked mighty impressive this term, he has yet to face this sort of challenge.  Secondly, I alluded earlier to the fact that Ditcheat just look a little short of sparkle this week.

That leaves me with a Henderson 1-2.  The order is the tricky thing.  The trend of not regaining a Gold Cup (with the exception of Kauto Star) does not bother me.  Long Run picked up his at a very tender age and there is no reason why he cannot win another simply because others have not.  He probably was not on full song when Conti beat him on seasonal debut, his King George win was brave and overall the Major is not against him at all.

Bobs Worth won a Hennessy and showed he had staying power doing so.  He has 4 course wins from 4 starts, including an Albert Bartlett and an RSA.  The Hennessy makes me slightly nervous because Tidal Bay is a yardstick that I think over-rated.  I might be the only person to think this but it makes me concerned about the Irish Hennessy form too, a view supported by the trouncing Cue Card gave First Lieutenant.  A further concern would be deteriorating conditions with Bobs Worth only experience incredibly being on goodish ground.

That leaves me with Long Run.  11/2 is available and I think it is well worth a decent wedge even if we are hampered by the Amateur Jockey.

The Foxhunters

Jockey booking is essential and after that, horse quality is required.  I think Salisfy can defend his title but 11/4 is not much of a price, particularly as the ground is going to be getting away from him.

I much prefer the 10/1 about Cottage Oak available with Corals.  The more rain he better for this one whose price accounts for the talented looking but inexperienced rider.

The Martin Pipe

After Dynaste went down in the Jewson, Ballynagour seemed to empty fast in the Byrne Plate and it seems hard to trust Pipe horses at the head of affairs.  This puts Gervey Chambertin in a little doubt.

It is only a little doubt though and I think it telling that the Pipe yard are having a pop at the race named in honour of their own with just this entrant.  He is a full brother to Grand Crus and could have been entered in several of the novice hurdles.

Solix is not a 66/1 shot in my eyes and if Ian Williams has him firing, he could make a mockery of that price.

Bourne has shown some class and rates a credible winner if we get more rain, 20/1 is workable.

The Major is opting for the fantastic festival of Willie Mullins to continue with a big run from the unexposed Make your Mark at 12/1 – Clearly he has been well thought of at various stages and if he arrives here in form, perhaps we will see it happen in front of us!  A saver on the Pipe horse is recomended.

The Grand Annual

The former race is named after the Pipe yard and the Grand Annual also carries the name of a famous yard, the Hendersons.  Rather than take one good shot at the prize, the team have lined up six darts to throw and there are cases for many of them.

The yard had a one-two in the race last year but this year they may struggle to cope with the Tome George trained Rody (8/1).  The race has a tendency towards featherweights and Rody carries 10 8 – Have a slice.

Courage, roll those dice.

Friday Cheltenham Horseracing Tips – Shabash, roll those dice

Good evening from the Major who writes with a head cold brewing, the system is slowing down, the heartbeat is louder and forced, things are aching.

The good living seems to be catching up on me yet the real heavy nights are still ahead of me, this weekend.  A combination of rigorous drinking, single-mindedness and hardcore N-(4-hydroxyphenyl) ethanamide will see me through.

Tomorrow there is racing at Cheltenham.  I was thinking of an early night but was persuaded to write-up some Cheltenham tips by a foxy piece earlier.

There I was earlier, a gentlemen mingling among acquaintances, glass of champagne in hand… when over she strolls, wanton look in her eye, not the most glamorous sort but a certain curl of the lip lets you know where her mind is running… ‘you have something I want….‘  Well well thinks I…. ‘I am racing at Cheltenham tomorrow, give us your tips’

In hindsight perhaps anything else was unlikely.

So to Cheltenham and lets daub the war paint and do battle once more….. Ms N, good luck.

Cheltenham Tips

In the opener Rebel Rebellion for the champion trainer could be interesting stepped down in class from a daunting assignment trying to tackle the hugely exciting Captain Conan.  I think he might be bumping into more useful sorts here though and would need to show a lot of improvement for the step up in trip.

Henderson, Longsden and McCain have their strings in fine order and I think it is wise to concentrate on their runners.  Hilldisvini is small but progressing nicely, might just have run into a decent field here though.  Super Duty looks decent, particularly the line through Simonsig.

Yet, boring as it seems, the Major is tipping Broadbackbob for the opener at 5/4.  The yard, ground and trip look fine and this horse was very reasonable over the smaller obstacles.

The second race is a conditional jockeys affair and in these contests, the quality of the jockey plays a bigger role than normal.  Mr Nolan has a 17% strike rate, Mr Derham, Lineham and Bellamy between 12-13% and Lucy Alexander is a top notch rider too (11%).

I do not want to look any further than Simply Wings (Nolans ride) at 7/1 – A bloodless winner of a beginners chase last time, my tip should go well for 7/1.

The 1.20 handicap is an open affair (9/2 the field) – Tom Du Lys is an easy selection at 8/1 – It looks like the horse is being backed so may go off shorter.  The reasoning is the same that everyone else will see – Henderson, Geraghty, French Import, Handicap debut slightly disappointing, put away until this season!

The Grade 3 handicap at 1.55 is the graded race of the day.  Bradley has run well at Cheltenham before and given that he handles the track, he will be a warm order.   Quartz de Thaix is a horse seemingly on the upgrade and while upped in class, might be a better horse yet.

Midnight Chase has excellent course form and is surely booked to be in the places and can take the race.

Not a race I want to be heavily involved in but I am opting for Becauseicouldntsee – If the Thurles run was a warm up then the horse will be well for this and the yard are hardly one to tilt at anything.

The cross country will hopefully get the go ahead and if so I don’t think it is worth looking beyond 3/1 Uncle Junior and 5/1 Bostons Angel.  I would back the former, despite the top weight, who has experience of this game.

The penultimate race a class 2 handicap is a quality race and again is a fairly open affair – I could make cases for quite a few.

The most appealing of a long list are Inish Island who seems unlikely on profile but won a hurdle race last time at Downpatrick nicely.  In excellent hands to try to cope with the step up in distance and the assistance of the Walsh ride.

At Fishers Cross won readily last time and while seemingly moving left across the track for pressure, still had plenty in hand.  The jumping was a bit of a concern and let’s face it, Cheltenham is going to examine that closely.

Saint Roque is interesting, bought down when getting competitive latest, but it is a worry that Ruby has gone for Inish Island.  The course experience could be important but Nicholls string seem to be going a little of the boil after an awesome run 3/4 weeks ago.

Sivola de Sivola has a big race in him but often needs a lot of encouragement and if something arrives on the hill travelling more smartly, I am not sure I would want to be on the Tom George inmate in a crisis.

Tight call between some interesting sorts.  On each you make a compromise   The compromise I am happiest with is that At Fishers Cross, can step up and make quality count.  I am hoping the slower pace of this race will enable a cleaner round of jumping.  9/2.

Eduard is the bumper tip at 9/2 after ifandbutwhynot franked the Newcastle race they competed in.