Tag Archives: mango diva

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.

Wednesday Ascot Tips – Bookies 1 Major 0

Good evening from the Major who writes from a Worcestershire country scene where the heavy air settles uncertainly around me.

Tuesday was not a good day.  Losses are one thing but the way I decided against 20/1 winner War Command on the mere whim of Coventry winners being generally a lot shorter in the market… it sounds as daft as it looks now typing it.  Still, below I have prepared the Wednesday card and absolutely, one hundred percent, without question or hesitation, guarantee you nothing, nothing at all, other than the inner most thoughts of the swirling dark vortex of my mind.

War Command was the most exhilarating display of Tuesday simply blasting clear from the field, SHABASH! and coming home in glorious isolation – He is 10/1 for next years Guineas with Ladbrokes.  Yet for me, as eye-poppingly sexy as that performance was, it plays second fiddle to the return to the top of Dawn Approach.

His win lacked the spike of adrenaline one feels from a horse, clearly superior, surging clear of a defeated field… no, it was for rather different reasons that I thought it was a rather famous Royal Ascot performance.  Like the derby, Dawn approach pulled hard and I feared the worst but unlike the derby, he did finally settle.  There was some interference that effected Toranado slightly more than Dawn Approach but the two of the settled down to a traditional eye to eye, nostril searing, lung bursting battle to the post.  Dawn Approach prevailed.

Was he the better horse? Yes.  Wait, I hear Toranado fans cry, Major, we must object, you have already ceded that Dawn approach suffered less bumping and won by a nose, surely there is a moral victory for Toranado?

Well no.  You see, when it gets to fight time, when the bell rings, talent and running fast is one thing but I have no doubt that Dawn Approach worried Toranado out of it.  Well done, Dawn Approach, you gave us a race that shows off the magic of our sport, the backstory, the talent, the raw athleticism and, in the end, the heart.  To quote Kipling;

And so hold on when there is nothing in you, except the will which says to them ‘Hold on’!

Wednesday… the Major needs to tip some winners, I know.  I rely on your good will.  All I can promise are a few simple truths that hopefully you can carry with you during our barren runs.  I always follow what I write up.  I have no deals with bookmakers, there are never any affiliate links, or adverts – I get offers from time to time but this blog is just for us.  What I ask from you is that you act like gentleman, if you cannot manage that, please leave.

To Wednesday and the tips of glory.

Wednesday Ascot Tips

The Jersey Stakes

The Jersey Stakes is a bit of a consolation prize in many ways.  Not that anyone would bemoan or underestimate the value of a Group 3 prize but these horses are the ones that are not quite top draw.

Tawhid has been travelling already with the Godolphin horse contesting in Germany – of some interest.  Gale Force Ten competed in the French 2,000 guineas and I am a bit surprised he is being dropped in trip, I won’t be on the favourite.

Garswood was the great northern hope in our guineas but disappointed a bit after being supported.  The trainers comments suggest he was still a baby and might be seen better here.

My eye settles on two.  At a massive 20/1 price, Ajraam looks a real likely sort having won the Wood Ditton and then beating a very useful looking sort in Henry the Aviator.  My second selection is the French raider Mutin – Surely to goodness, this horse has made the trip with victoire in mind and I want to be on at 15/2.  If you want one, go with our Gaelic friend.

The Duke of Cambridge Stakes

Duntle is very unlucky not to have a Group one to her name after losing the Matron Stakes to a stewards decision.  She looks likely to go off favourite here.  She did win the Sandringham last year and has clearly been upgrading since, of serious interest.

I think we can get her beat though and I am looking at Thistle Bird, Dank and Chigun.  This lot have raced each other twice already and it is a score to Dank, a score to Chigun and a blank to date for Thistle Bird.

I like Thistle Bird but think the other two edge it.  The problem then is I cannot split Queally and Moore easily… I mean if push come to shove, I prefer Moore but they are both class pilots.

The fine balance though falls in favour of Dank on grounds that when beating Chigun, she was giving 3lbs.

Prince of Wales Stakes

Then the one we have been waiting for.  Al Kazeem versus Camelot.  I have to admit that I was caught out by Al Kazeem giving a good beating to Camelot last time out.  There were no obvious extenuating circumstances, in fact, Al Kazeem was the one with something in hand so it is surprising to see them again jostling for position at the head of the market.

To be honest, that is where my search starts and finish for the winner of the Prince of Wales.  I mean, you can make a case for the French one, Maxios who has looked good at Longchamp this term.  I think the main threat is The Fugue, the Nassau was amazing

I was very taken with Al Kazeem and he is reportedly Arc bound, all being well – His trainer has always thought the most of him and I think 9/4 is a tremendous price.

Royal Hunt Cup

If you get to the Royal Hunt Cup and are in need of a winner, you know you are in trouble.

Stirring Ballad will be the first port of call for many ships in the Ascot maelstrom.  Trainer Balding declared him his best chance of the week and given that man knows how to win a handicap like this, many have taken a keen interest.

I am going to take a risk on there being a story in it’s own right.  I am backing Burke’s Rock at 16/1 with Frankie Dettori, to rise like a phoenix and remind us of some of his former Ascot exploits.  This filly has a good draw and while you cannot be too confident in the Royal Hunt, I shall have a slice.

Queen Mary

Reroute is both the Pricewise horse and my own selection after recording an eye-catching time on racecourse debut last Friday at York.  Much of the early evening value has gone but 8/1, you want to be involved, you know it!

The Sandringham

The Sandringham is another head twisting puzzle, a mass of horses coming down the straight course,

You would do better than simply to back Bracing Breeze who is sent over y the Weld team.  His Ascot runners are small in number but high on success and Pricewise has already suggested this as a likely winner.

Zurigha would have been high on my list but has to contend with draw 8.  The middle stalls are OK but lower middle is definitely a hindrance, Bracing Breeze is next door so both have some work to do.

The Major is opting for Mango Diva, 6/1 who is the best drawn of the horses I fancy.  Ryan Moore does the steering and like many of those lining up, has plenty of potential improvement.

Courage, luck and I hope we have a better day two.