Good morning from the Major who writes from Cork, all full of Christmas hangover, weary from the excess. The sky here is large, full of Atlantic glory, the ground crisp, my head hurts.
The Major is not well acquainted with Ireland. Driving down from Dublin, the signs were racecourse after racecourse, each stirring a memory.
Christmas Day was spent with Jim and Mary, he from Waterford, she from Cork. Their hospitality was excellent. From the sole served to me for Christmas lunch (I am vegetarian for a year) to the fine wines and brandy that washed it down, all was good.
Jim worked at Winson Green and Wormwood Scrubs, he is a solid sort, keeps things simple – It is fair to say I liked him from the start. We connected immediately because of a mutual appreciation of racing – Sometimes you can look at a man and know you have that in common.
I trust your Christmas was as merry as mine. Forgive the lateness of the post, I type from the hotel I am residing at. My head hurts and we badly need a turn in fortune. Such things happen at times like these.
To the sports. Saddle up my kindred warriors. It is time for us to daub the war paint. We may have needed credit to enter the Christmas period but we shall emerge dripping in cash, victory upon victory, sedimentary layers of success building relentlessly until the enemy cries no more and we give out of sheer generosity for the spirit of the season.
Kempton – Boxing Day Tips
I love this card. It is one of my favourite days of racing. Memories bubble up of Kauto sailing over the fences, leaving Madison de Berlais or the Tom George trained grey whose name momentarily escapes me (forgive the drunken haze), in his glorious wake. Or of Long Run, battling on like a true warrior. The King George has taken its rightful place as the second best race of the season.
To win 5 King Georges. Think of that. Incredible.
Two meetings have been called off and the Major does not care. Partly because of my wine flown state, partly because Boxing Day is hectic enough. Jockeys you have never heard of pressed into action and races going off back to back, remorseless and relentless, painfully busy.
Let us begin like all good stories at the start.
The opener looks like a good opportunity for Dubai Prince who is a very good convert to the hurdling game and won on debut. He is definitely not a straight forward sort but clearly has talent and his Donnie win has been franked since with the second going in again.
In the second, Western Warhorse is one I have followed after hitting the bar at Cheltenham. Disappointing next time out and the Major abandons him for Ericht who is a fine bet at 7/2. The Henderson horse made a decent start over the big obstacles in a race won by Funny Star, a decent Nicholls horse who has gone on to win again.
Although it looks a spot kick for Just a Par, I am siding with Green Flag who has looked very impressive to the eye and a natural jumper.
Then the Christmas hurdle. Take your pick of the top two – Both incredibly impressive hurdling prospects, My Tent or Yours and The New One make this a very good renewal. I remember the race that cemented Punjabi in my mind as a Champion Hurdler, even though he fell when chasing leg 2 of the £1 million WBX bonus… Ahhhhhh. I think we will have a new favourite for the Champion Hurdle today and I believe it to be My Tent or Yours. When you consider that McCoy > Twiston Davies, it becomes an easy choice.
Then the big one. For my money, Cue Card will get beaten. It is a tough one ruling him out because I was quite impressed with his Betfair win. As I said before that race, I am not concerned about his stamina, even though he has pace to burn. Yet, some races just fall completely right for a horse and I believe the betfair to be that way fir Cue Card. No, the Major has interest in others. Al Ferof is of interest but again, I just think there are better horses. The King George is won by a class animal and for me that means either Silviniaco Conti or Long Run.
Regular readers will know there is a touch of the heart about Long Run for me, I cannot deny it. I love his gangly style and despite the amateur rider who is a definite handicap, this is a superb horse. I think people overlook just how young he was when he won a Gold Cup – Not may do that at such a tender age. Since then, his career has gone one way but this is an excellent chance for him on ground he will relish and with the spotlight and pressure on others.
However, the money goes to Silviniaco Conti who is a very very good horse in his own right. I thought he was travelling as well as Bobs Worth when coming down in the Gold Cup and frankly, he is one of my horses for the season. 9/2 is available with some outfit I have never heard of but 4/1 is the general price.
Sportingbet go 8/1 about Beyeh in the last and it will stay in my top pocket as a Get Out of Jail card.
At Leopardstown, Anifleet and Champagne Fever both look like 1/2 spot kicks – Not much fun there. Limerick has an even shorter 1/4 certainty in Felix Younger – Where has the fun of Christmas gone?
It is to Wetherby and the Roland Meyrick for the other selection to add to your Christmas acca. I am interested in two of the bigger priced runners. While Cloudy Too is a good starting point for Sue Smith, I think this race is far more open than the market suggests. My two are…. Cape Tribulation at 8/1 and Master of the Hall at 25/1. The first is the bet, the second the saver. Malcolm Jefferson has won this in the last few years and I think the form that Cape Tribulation has shown at Cheltenham has been close to top class. I am surprised he is this price but understand that we need to return to form.
To the football.
I have asked my brother-in-law to guest tip the Premier League. He is a good drinking partner and will see you right…
Man United will beat Hull in an old score style – By that he means draw half time and Man Utd at full time. Villa Palace is a dreadful prospect (he is a Villa fan too) and unders is the way to go. Cardiff v Southampton is a BTTS certainty. Chelsea a 1-0 scoreline against Swansea. Everton v Sunderland is a nil nil! Surprised me too. Fulham might get the points out of Norwich at a price. Newcastle v Stoke is worth backing in the overs market. Arsenal to beat West Ham to nil. Spurs v West Brom is a 2-2 – Reminds me of when we did come away with that scoreline and Scott Dobie scored a blinder! Finally, over 4.5 goals in Man City v Liverpool.
Outlandish calls… big prices… Merry Christmas.
For the Major – I would be a buyer of Villa t close to evens because even though they are poor, Palace are worse. I would also back Spurs to beat Albion because they have more conviction currently. Regulars will know that I believe Wigan to be constantly overpriced and that is true today too.
I hope your Boxing Day is in fine family company and that you indulge to the right amount. Think of me and toast to all that is good in this world.
From Cork, I wish you and yours well. Courage… Roll those dice.