Tag Archives: just the judge

The Friday Royal Ascot Sermon – Tips for each race…

Good Evening from a glorious Worcestershire that carries none of the closeness of the previous night, the land basks under a marvelous summer evening.

Today was golf, along the front nine, the overcast conditions and warm air were pleasant and I had plenty of opportunity to explore the full parkland site on which Tewkesbury Park is set.  Along the back nine, a few moments that bought a smile, dropping my 7 iron tee shot into the middle of the tenth hole was one.  The tee is a good height above the green and it makes for a fun shot.  It is a tricky thing dropping mortar fire accurately from height.

I scored badly in the end but was satisfied with the day.  Just below the course, which by the way, affords excellent views across to Bredon Hill (a horse as well you know), the Black Mountains and Cleeve Hill, under which our beloved Prestbury Park resides….  is a very significant historic battlefield.  The Battle of Tewkesbury, a key fixture in the War of the Roses, was a fifteenth century dust-up between the House of Lancaster and the House of York.  The Prince of Wales lost his life along with a few thousand others. 

My racing notes are submitted for your delectation, the Lancastrians suffered from a terribly judged ride.  Having been ill-used on a hot march the previous day, they failed to cross the Severn at Gloucester and marched up river and camped overnight at Tewkesbury. 

By contrast the Yorkists enjoyed a superb toe into the race and arrived at the business end very fresh.  Their leaders were mere youths, many teenagers but damned experienced. 

The Army of the House of Lancaster positioned themselves with the Avon and Severn at their rear, foolish.  York ensured their left flank was defended effectively with a deployment of mounted guards to cover the open woods. 

The ground ahead was poor stuff and with some break, the gunners had their chance to make a mark.  Since many of Lancaster guns had been left behind for expediency of speed on the previous days forced march, York had several advantages.  They used these well, arrows and shot raised panic amongst the Lancastrians and all good order was lost.  In an attempt to flee and cross the river, many souls were cut down remorselessly by the Yorkists in the meadow below the golf club, the Bloody Meadow…. now that’s a spot I don’t fancy losing my ball to.

With the prospect of the big game on the horizon (Japan), I am heading straight for the Friday tips.  Do you know, Tokyo is on the list of must visit cities… alongside Moscow.  Interesting, not really, travel enthusiasts are such a bore.

Friday Ascot Tips

Thursday… ah Thursday.  The strike rate dropped, I was more wrong than right but still a profit was returned with Bracelet getting her well-bred 12/1 assets together when it counted.  Good but not glorious.

As long as Japan win, my bank has a healthy glow to it.  Japan.  What am I doing.

The Albany is a head scratcher but I am going to take Wesley ward at his word… If he has better horses over for Ascot than Hootenanny…. and one of them is Sunset Glow then surely… surely is wins the Albany?  Now it is a leap of faith and a few throw away words do not a gamble make.  Yet, I cannot help but admire, as well as be thankful, how he brings a good string over. 

In the Wolferton, I like Dick Doughtwylie but suspect he needs a bit more juice under foot.  It is a shame as John Gosden is in fine fettle.  I also like Just the Judge but not only does Charles Hills have a poor Ascot record, he is not in the best recent form either.

 I like Cafe Society a lot.  He will be fine in conditions and given he exchanged hands for a third of a million this week, you would think that the new astute owners would be expecting some early returns.

Yet if you like Cafe Society, you have to be on Bold Sniper,  – 5/2,The Queen was perhaps unlucky to lose the gold Cup yesterday when Estimate gave her all and just came short to Leading Light who has an excellent strike rate and is starting to look a touch classy.  My tip is a bit lightly raced and has looked awkward at times but has shown superb class handing weight and a beating to Cafe Society.  Have a slice.

Then the King Edward VII Stakes – Adelaide is being well supported and you can see why having easily won his race at the Curragh, moving up and commanding well.  Western Hymn brings the Derby form which looks good but I am not convinced he will like the ground, I think he has the class mind as he had a shocking fight down the hill, shoulder barging away.  Snow Sky was scratched from the Derby following injury and who knows what was expected?

The ground is an issue for a lot of these in my view and the two I am settled on are the Galileo (his can go on anything!) aforementioned colt Adelaide and the selection Miners Lamp who has an excellent strike rate, takes to his racing well and has a Newmarket win which looks very tidy indeed.

The the feature Coronation Stakes.  I do like Rizeena, in a funny way she reminds me of Long Run, what possible connection I hear you cry… well it is a physical one, she looks the leggy sort, almost spider-like at times… She likes the firmer conditions enough but I do worry that the way she slaps her legs down, it cannot be the best for her, despite that her form has been excellent, I particularly likes her Prix Morny run.

Richard Hughes won this race with Sky Lantern last year and in many ways Lucky Kristale is a similar sort of prospect and is no 201 shot.  Sea The Stars is in full cry now as a stallion and My Titania is sure to win a race in this grade, is this it?  Olivier Peslier takes over on Lightening Thunder who has sterling form in behind Miss France in the Guineas.

Christ… it is tough.  I am steered by the winners of this race being near the head of the market.  My Titania gets the nod at 9/2 with Paddy Power.  She has been skillfully handled and can add to the growing stud reputation of 2,000 Guineas, Derby and Arc winning superstar, Sea the Stars.

Hartnell wins the Queens Vase… Although have at least a few shekels on Anglo Irish at 40/1… Gosden second string I know but come on…

Horsted Keynes wins the last with draw and ground on side.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Oaks Sermon…. Epsom Friday and etched memories of Talent…

Good Evening from the Major who writes from a cooling Worcestershire scene where extremist changeable weather has delivered sudden violent sheets of water before sharply turning on a penny piece and gifting strong electromagnetic radiation strengthened by the summer season and subsequent position of the Earth on is elliptical dance.

The Major is tired after a week of excesses.  A day at the cricket turned into an all you can drink real ale saga.  An evening fine dining, rich food, to bed in the witching hour and today, a day around a golf course in great company but with an aching sorry back and blistered hands.

Last year, the Oaks gave me a tremendous thrill with me being a single winner away from £30k.  I still managed a tidy sum from my £25 stake and the centrepiece was a tremendous performance from Talent of whom I remain convinced is a first-rate filly who was a touch unlucky in the St Leger and would not have been out-of-place in the Arc.  OK, I may accept that this last thought is a little optimistic or perhaps romantic but I stand true to my assertion in the general if not the detail.

Talent was superb in the Oaks, the lesser fancied stable runner, she had won well on the all-weather, was bred for it and had Hughsie booked, I had also seen a piece where Beckett explained that he was struggling to split her from the much more fancied Secret Gesture who had been the pick of Crowley – Talent raced the first two furlongs like a fresh precocious juvenile.  She bit hard and rocked her head from side to side as Hughes fought with her to settle her – She wanted to let rip and he knew it was a mile and a half. 

Still, I thought the race was gone already, it is not often a horse fights that strongly and goes on to win, let alone as readily as she did.  Coming down the hill, she had calmed down and switched wide she came smoothly into the mid pack at Tattenham Corner.  Hughsie feeling her come to him, man and filly fused in athletic poise, the spring coiled, shouted in boyish enthusiasm ‘can you believe how well I’m going!’ I think his remark was intended at Moore but memory fails on the detail.

With just under four furlongs to home, Hughes had the audacity to take a further pull.  What was his thinking, at the time, I silently cursed, why break the momentum?  Perhaps though, Hughes intended to be the last play actor to the stage.  He may have been minded of her energy spent early in the race and felt that if he were to win it would be on the line.  However, this moment became inconsequential as he slipped the girl her reign and she simply sliced her way down the outside, eating up the ground in spite of the camber she was experiencing for the first time. 

She flashed past the line with The Lark and Secret Gesture in powerless pursuit.  Glorious – I recite this all from memory not because I care little about the accuracy, no no no my friends – I care greatly that as a voice in our wonderful sport you come to me.  I wish to give you slices of fine cuts to remind, enhance or simply share the richness of this magnificent sport.  God, those classy two-tone grey stripes, that cherry red hat…. If you won money on a lucky dip lottery ticket, these things would not remain with you. 

Tomorrow, I am being entertained.  I shall be calculating carefully the balance between polite guest and wanting to have a proper look around Epsom.  I am driving too and shall be in fine company.  Here are my thoughts though, do with them as you see fit.

Epsom Friday – Oaks Card Tips

In the opener, Thistle Bird returns to the race she won on the card last year, bless her, since none of the other runners have won at Epsom, this win brings her right into consideration.  Yet, against her, you can argue that this is a stronger renewal and she has looked a bit ‘found out’ at times. 

Now when I say you can argue that the renewal is stronger, I have mixed feelings.  For example, Just the Judge, an Irish Classic winner has hardly looked reliable since but is trading at 9/2.  This is a challenge in the race… No horse running has been placed in their last two races, the volatility is concerning.  Arguably Mango Diva is the most reliable but although it is a hard race to call, I am drawn all the way back to Thistle Bird.  Epsom form you see…. 11/4. 

Air Pilot is a very interesting runner in the second race.  My best friend Beckett runs a handicap debutante against highly experienced and highly competent company.  Very interesting but on the bare face of the form, work to be done – Of course rapid improvement might come but I prefer my dishes in this race to be served hot.  As such, Sennockian Star the Johnstone runner gets my nod.  He has course form and clearly more was expected last time when a well beaten favourite… 12/1 in a place… 10/1 generally.

Just like Thistle Bird, Gregorian returns to try to retain his Diomed Group 3 crown and he does seem to go well on his seasonal debuts – Definitely considered.  Highland Knight is a talented sort of old but his legs are probably weary although the course is none  Graphic is improving and has Moore to help from the saddle – I have that feeling.

It looks like Abseil versus the field in the Investec Mile Handicap at 3.20 and his main competition in my eyes is Dance and Dance as well as Vainglory.  I probably would prefer the former of those two as he did very well at Newmarket and knows his business around Epsom.  These are all good reasons to back any of the above but the Major is drawn to a horse I fear will be something of a profit drain for me…. Henry the Aviator.  He was my selection in a monster Scoop6 race and did let me down but I still feel there is more to come and you can back the tip at 28/1 if you are selective.

Then the big one.  I am not going to stand on parade, I am just going to unleash my considered view.  I do not trust the market in the Oaks very much, the Derby has an issue too and it relates to the track bias which I have already alluded to.  Now with the colts, their talent often overcomes it but it strikes me that on the feminine side of the ledger, they are more vulnerable to trappy undulating tracks that imbalance and change the rhythm regularly.   None of this field have run at Epsom.

The race has been less dominated by O’Brien as some of the other classics.  It has also been claimed by 20/1 winners in the last three years…..

It is worth considering the horses whose connections have shelled out £30k to run.  Anipa – £30k means nothing to that owner but the horse has merit, a damn fine turn of foot and a stable speaking highly.  Marsh Daisy – This one is more interesting indeed, has won at Goodwood and in good style – That course has similarities.  Lily Rules is a strange addition to the race as I see little to suggest she might place despite her improvement.  Finally , for the latecomers, Honour Bound who has been a madam for the handlers runs at 20/1.  She is in the hands of my Beckett Oaks Training hero and won the same trial at Lingfield that Secret gesture won last year.

Sea the Stars has a building sire reputation and it would be wonderful for him to claim a first Group 1 and with Taghrooda.  This one is bred from the blue stuff as is a cross with the Sadlers Well line…. Unbeaten too…. Shortlist.

In summary, I would not put you off Taghrooda at 9/2 (only in a place), that is value.  I feel compelled to have a small saver at 28s on Honour Bound too.  Yet, I am drawn to Marsh Daisy who can be backed at 12s with Skybet.  The Major is an old romantic and if Jimmy Fortune were to win the Oaks given his recent personal tragedy, there will not be a dry eye in the house.  Go on Jimmy.

Parbold disappointed me last week and so in the penultimate, I side with That is the Spirit at evens.  Then for the lucky last….. and God alone knows we need it… Art Official 14/1 – Hannon Buick…. something to do with the ground and … I am so tired.

Good night.

Courage and roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Goodwood and Galway Festival Tips #crowdsourcingmultiple

Good evening from the Major who writes from bed, tonight alone, the warm air that held Worcestershire tightly has been disrupted by newer fresher air.  The scene is turbulent as these two competing forces skirmish across the sky, flashes of battle, the roar of conflict.

The good lady has left for Birmingham for the evening, my two boys sensing my lack of true paternal control have sought some ruin, getting amok among the house.  At first it seemed that they were not to be quieted but like all things, decay came to their once seemingly perpetual energy, at last, peace fell.

Peace is a precious commodity for the Major, such is the nature of my work and home, that seldom is there time to spare and nothing to think of, all is vigour, rush and noise.

As I lie here now, listening to the wind and rain rising again in the country air, the window flung open, one can appreciate the tremendous value of peace.  It is akin to being free….. freedom is choice, I choose to listen to the fat rain, thrown down in a childish tantrum.  The good lady finds the occasional passing traffic a reason for the fenetre to always be ferme.  Yet in these moments alone, well the kiss of tyre on wet tarmac is a pleasurable a sound that I could wish for, a sound that denotes my free will.  In such small things is my happiness grounded.

Doing things that please you is a common theme in these parts.  We float on the breeze just the once.  Latch on to whatever meaningful pleasure you can my friend, you have my explicit permission.

This year, I received a piece of advice from a respected fellow gentleman gambler that struck me at first as an odd suggestion but it stuck with me as sometimes these things do and I dwelt upon it, which improved it.  He suggested that unless you are one of these snooty professional gambling sorts (if you came here for highly reliable tips by the way, you have made a grievous turn) then you can do worse than simply waging on outcomes that please you.  If there is a football game on, back the team you would like to win.  If a horse runs and you like it, or the trainer, or silks, or jockey, or name… you get the idea.  Wage on your desire.

This may seem simple but it is unusual.  Most gamblers I know select the most likely outcome they can imagine with the caveat that the outcome gives them a return that will excite them.  Fools.  Such men will happily bet a horse to win but even if they think an odds on horse is an utter certainty, they refuse to wage because the rewards of success are too slender for them.

The slightly more sophisticated approach, that more seasoned and considered sorts preach concerns value selection.  Us ‘value’ advocates consider ourselves more refined than the other ‘hoi polloi’, we certainly accept defeat more readily, seeking to learn it’s precious lessons.  Indeed ‘value seekers’ regard themselves as superior,a  wonderful feeling I can tell you.  It is not the likeliest outcome we seek but the greatest difference in our favour between likely outcome and bookmakers price.  This can have you backing all sorts of weird and wonderful outcomes, solely because you feel them ‘over-priced’.  I once was explaining this to a man who asked me for a tip.  I gave him a 20/1 horse and just before the off, he asked whether I thought it could really win.  I said it was unlikely, I thought the correct price for the horse to be 8/1, thus unlikely to win anyway.  He seemed perturbed.  The tip came last.

What about this  advice then, to back outcomes you simply desire?  Well, I have to say, it bears examination well.  Consider with me a moment.  Permit yourself to forget our continuous crusade,  our strain against the dark enemy who prices his markets in such wickedly deceptive ways and would have us twisting and writhing in our own doubts.  Imagine instead that each sporting wager was determined by your preferred outcome.  It may not be sophisticated but it would make winning somewhat more pleasurable, n’est pas?  Pleasures enhanced, simplicity, no need for calculation.

Anyway, I wish I was at Goodwood tomorrow.   Regular gentleman @iamnotluke  is reading this on a train, travelling across our green and gold land, hurtling towards those Sussex Downs – Train travel can be the most pleasing.  I hope that his train carries good coffee, I hope the Racing Post is spread on the table, that the company is excellent, that the choices made, the freedoms expressed, whether resulting in bounty or defeat are appreciated for the wonderment they bring.

We float by on this breeze just once and I pity those that never savour the moment, the anticipation building towards a great sporting event, that childish tremor inside, the moment where all dreams of tremendous successes and beautiful equine explosive displays and beautiful people, the colour, the muscle, the definition and the ambiguityLike strands flung far out, weaving their stories, it comes back together in the end, for all of us.  In that you can trust, it is one of your only certainties.

Goodwood is one of our sports finest days and know this, racing is the finest of all sports, to all in attendance today, enjoy – It is good to be alive in England on such a day.    To the sports.

Goodwood Tips

I love Goodwood – It is such a stunning course and while the racing is top class, the atmosphere mingles smartness, down to earth anti-snobbery and damn fun in fine measure.  I also think that Goodwood is a specialist track.  It has quite a camber and not every horse will act upon it.

It is Nassau day at Goodwood and Hannon and Hughes will unleash Sky Lantern, she seemed desperately unlucky not to master Elusive Kate at Newmarket.  Carried across the track by the winner, who has previous when it comes to a leftwards drift.  We will come to the Nassau.

We start in the 2.40 RAC handicap.  This is very strong handicap and it would not be surprising to see some of these sorts competing at a higher level before the autumn closes.  

Sir Michael Stoute has had a few winners in the last few years and he is represented by the Queens horse Bold Sniper.  When it comes to potential improvers, he is high on the list as he bears a St Leger entry… interesting.  He looked a little unlucky at Ascot to me as his draw did not help and considering that, he performed well.  Royal Signaller appeals at 14/1 as one that is overpriced but I am happy with the 11/2 about my selection (Stan James / 888).

The Nassau looks a cracker and it seems to revolve around Sky Lantern.  She was a powerful winner of the Guineas and was unlucky against the older Elusive Kate at HQ.  She has also won here before, which is a huge plus too.  Perhaps the big question is whether she will step up well.

The same question applies to Just the Judge who is also asked to race over a further distance for the first time, having finished in the places behind Sky Lantern twice.  Connections could have put Secret Gesture into this but opted for another crack at Sky Lantern with Just the Judge – Will she exert a Toronado style revenge?

Just Pretending is the O’Brien main threat and is seeking to improve on classic places too.  Ambivalent has won a G1 in Ireland when doing it from the front in the Pretty Polly.  I imagine that style will make her vulnerable here.

Two very interesting runners are Hot Snap and Sajjhaa.  The former was the big let down in the Guineas.  She beat Sky Lantern as a juvenile and surely the 1,000 guineas was not her running, yet it worries me that she has been off for this time.  Sajjhaa is an international sort that has won at the highest level in Dubai and run well in Hong Kong.  Suroor suggests she will be better for the run and conceding a chunk of weight here would be hard.

For all of these intriguing sorts, the Nassau normally goes to a fancied sort.  The biggest winner in the last 15 years was an incredible 11/2.  As such, I suggest Integral as a valid alternate to Sky Lantern.  My selection gave such a blistering display at Sandown in a listed contest that you had to take notice.  As Moore v Hughes hots up, I shall be on the former here.

In the Stewards Cup, I could get immersed in terrible detail but instead I am going to gamble that Hoof It has been campaigned with this in mind.  The horse is 16/1 (Bet Victor / Stan James) which could look huge if so.  He is only a pound higher than his last victory in this and although he looked bob average in the listed debut this year, it is noteworthy that he carries two G1 entries later in the season.  The race has a history of quality – Some winners of this have lumped the big weight, let us hope Hoof It can do the same.  Heavens Guest is just one of a host of dangers.

Mezel did well to win up north combatting inexperience and may be a much better prospect here.  That is my last selection at 4/1 in the 5pm, that is my last Goodwood selection but a strong one – That form was well advertised by the second, Free Code who went on to win at Thirsk next time… plenty of scope for Mezel.

Galway Tips

I am going to have a pop at Iniesta in the opener which looks both an obvious and ill-informed choice.  I care not.  Princess Aloof looks similarly well placed to win the second.

Stuccodor last lost a year ago in the Galway festival of 2012! Since then he has won 5 times and has risen 30lbs in the handicap as a result! Now you might worry that such a rise might put pay to his chances back in hotter company but there are two reasons to stay aboard.  Firstly, the horse loves the slop and not all of these will.  Secondly, his last victim has since won three times, hardly suggesting the handicapper has caught up!

Three favourites I hear you cry! Well look, I think they are the best value.

Now, something from the other shelf, the winner of the Ladbroke Hurdle.  Two appeal and I am having a slice of both.  Security Breach is only a 4 year old and has taken some backing but did get off the mark at Gowran last time and has won on heavy too.  If Landero did not have such concerns over the ground, I would have been investing.  He was pulled from a race earlier in the week when the ground went soft and it is much worse now.  This leaves me with my Mullins runner, a 9/1 chance with Paddy Power.

The football season has kicked off but I shall watch for now.  Sheff Utd looked mighty impressive tonight although lack a finisher.  They may be my new money train, watch this space.

May your dinner be held in the most upliftingly beautiful company.  Courage, roll those dice.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15: All Goodwood Mezel, Integral, Hoof It, Bold Sniper

The #crowdsourcingmultiple

Thanks to all who submitted their tips – If you are not part of the conversation on Twitter… get involved!

@h103efa 3.05 Thirsk Blockade

@onedeswalker 3.15 Goodwood Just The Judge

@Spinitg  2:35 Galway Princess Aloof

@Lukeyboy1325 3:30 Newmarket Urban Dance

@IamNotLuke 2.30 Goodwood Bold Sniper

@cafcbrad  3.10 Galway Stuccodor

@mytentoryour 4.30 Newton Abbot Union Saint

@danieldrazek 3.45 Galway Landero