Tag Archives: masterminded

The Majors Christmas Special – Kempton King George Tips, Dundalk Bank Builder too

Christmas seems to be an obsession in the modern age, a concept people desperately cling to in the vain hope that it can provide meaning, happiness or satisfaction in their void souls. These people are not like us, they do not gamble and have never felt the thrill or despair that a gentleman gambler experiences. Feel pity, as quoted of Jesus in Luke, forgive them, they know not what they do.

All the Major wants for Christmas is Kauto Star getting round Kempton well and coming back to the festival for a last hoorah

It feels like a quarter of the year is entirely and pointlessly focussed on 25th December. Children have an expectation, they seem unable to comprehend that it is not a right. While Christmas can be wonderful if small, well meant and subtle, too often it is a time of dry turkey, contrived fun, dreadful entertainment, the worst of western consumerism and for the punting man, very little sport to distract from the sheer terror of it all. I recommend the pub.

A solitary card at Dundalk on Friday is all that remains before the curtain comes down and the two-day racing blackout of Christmas Eve and Day. Two entire days of nothing, deadness, silence in the dark, have the will to say hold on dear friends, hold fast, do not break that line for there is light and hope. Redemption cometh.

Yes, the Majors mantra is to remain relentlessly positive, perhaps the enforced break offers a silver lining. The Majors tips are going through an extended period of dire form, from which I find myself unable to break free, Christ, even the regulars are complaining.

We must look at the break as a moment of reflection. Perhaps it provide the needed opportunity to change. If that makes the black-out medicine palatable, the glorious Kempton Boxing Day King George card, makes it wholly worthwhile.

Boxing day Kempton, for a jump racing fan, is one of the years glorious moments, top quality racing and the time to enjoy it… crafted by Jesus, rubber stamped by Sir Clement Freud, who I am sure sits at the same table.

The real beauty is that it comes after these two days of nothing. Like a thirsty man lost in the desert, when he finds water, he is tempted to gulp, so I caution you appropriately. The Major has posted King George tips 72 hours in advance so when the madness sets in, we will not be tempted by momentary urges bought on by the panic of two days, sans racing.

If you are reading this before Christmas, I can assure you that purchasing a bet for someone is a wonderful present. A little patent on the three Kempton selections below could make someone very happy indeed. It is indeed a thoughtful gift.

Before we contemplate Kemptons glories on the other side of the chasm, we have one chance to build a war chest, this side of Christmas. There are a handful of races on the all weather track at Dundalk tonight and the Major has a fancy.

Friday Dundalk Tip

I wonder if the Mullins and Murtagh partnership, which is an exceptionally rare occurrence, have teamed up to take the opener (5pm). Why would I feel it is a strange time for a rare Mullins and Murtagh tie up? Well the race is in honour of Ireland and Dundalks champion jockey… Johnny Murtagh! The forecast SP is 14/1 and I am going to follow my nose and get stuck in at anything over 8s.

The horse itself, Dougal Philps, is not disgraced on its first run. Mullins is in fine form too. Interesting runner, interesting race in honour of the top jock, interesting stable booking, all very interesting, 14/1… very very interesting!!

Load the cannon for Boxing Day…

King George Kempton Card – Tips for the King George Chase

The Major set up a gambling club this year with a group of fair men, we named it the King George Gambling Syndicate. The net result of the club is that we have £1183 to unleash on the King George and where the money is placed is entirely up to Mr Anthony Dipper.

These are the Majors thoughts on what is an exceptional race in exceptional times. If you do not share the Majors view that this is the best era of jump racing for many decades, consider this potted history…

Tipping the King George looked easy enough at the start of the season. Long Run had just broken the track record in his Cheltenham Gold Cup win. At the unlikely age of 6, he was evidently the new king, no question. I was on big at 5s for his Gold Cup win, following the Holmes logic that once you have ruled out every other possibility, what remains is truth. It was obvious why I was a believer, the evidence was all there.

Long Run is a horse I have followed with interest. I remember being stood within yards of Henderson and his entourage when Long Run failed to fire in the 2010 RSA (Henderson just mixes it with the crowd at the festival, I can tell you exactly where he will be stood again in March). You could see the mood with connections that day was pretty low, it left me thinking that it was not the result they were expecting. That and Hendersons comments about the horse just stuck with me, he was clearly loved at home.

Long Run lost the RSA that day at Cheltenham and then the Paddy Power in November. Both races he lost because he has a tendency to see his fences poorly. Henderson has had the horse with Yogi schooling those fences between each run and he is desperate to get him jumping well because clearly he is top draw.

Then came the postponed 2010 King George and Kauto’s impenetrable crown was whipped from him by Long Run. The evidence was now building for the Major that Long Run was the new king.

This was cemented as fact in the Majors mind when in March 2011 at the Gold Cup, the real Long Run landed, winning the Blue Riband race and setting a new track record. Job done.

Thus you can understand why I came into this season thinking that he would be unbeatable and that the old guard were spent. Thanks for the memories Kauto, now move over and let the new young gun in.

It was so simple, neat and tidy but noone had read the script to Kauto, Nicholls, Walsh and the Dicheat team.

As soon as the new order was constructed in such orderly fashion, the Betfair Chase at the start of this season destroyed all certainty. Kauto came back and demolished Long Run doing some serious damage to the track record in the process. It has to be one of Kautos best performances, akin to the 2009 King George.

If you took Kauto Star out of the Betfair Chase, the Long Run view would still have held. After all, he finished second by just 8 lengths which would have been close to a track record and don’t forget he had walked through one fence and was scruffy at many others (same old Long Run, oddly enough this was Kautos issue as a younger horse, that french style).

We must also remember that Kauto was tuned up to his best but Henderson hinted that he had left some off Long Run. With a clean round, could Long Run have emerged as the champ? Could he really have beaten Kauto?

Without Kauto in that race, we would still be celebrating Long Run as the new hero of the chase track… but Kauto was there, wasn’t he, it was no dream, although it was unbelievable, it happened, he did it, he bloody did it. I know because I watched it.

If Kauto wins again on boxing day, it will be his fifth King George. Should it happen, it is record for eternity, one that will remain, as the universe which has expanded across the millenia, begins to reverse, once again all matter is bought together being crushed, under unfathomable pressures to the size of a matchbox, before exploding and expanding in the next cycle of relentless Big Bangs.

Perhaps in the next universe a horse might take six King Georges, still seems unlikely and if it does happen, it is not a universe that the Major cares for. Good luck to them.

Who will win though on the day? So you need a tip for the King George?

I do think the preparedness is key. In the Betfair, Kauto was 100%, I think connections wanted to silence the voices that were calling for retirement by showing them that a fit Kauto has the zest to carry on. It would be a masterful training performance to take his older legs, get him rested and then back for this.

Long Run will have had this as the main target and is likely to be in a better physical condition. I am in two minds over the track. One part of me thinks that Kempton will suit; but they can go at a fair clip into those fences down the back and if he is not foot perfect, we could see that traditional Long Run error. That could be crucial.

Of the other runners, Masterminded has never tried three miles but Nicholls is stepping him up anyway. Nicholls though had this as a plan for some time, I think Masterminded will be well tuned up and if he stays he is interesting. He used to struggle with two and a half miles although those days seem behind him. I think he will stay and, controversially, I think he will beat Kauto, there I have said it, will he beat the others though?

Johnson has been raving about Captain Chris. His last run was too bad to be true and an infection was to blame. If recovered, this horse could still be ready to show us more. Place prospects but overall I think I prefer the win chances of Long Run and Masterminded.

Overall, I am minded to bet on Masterminded. As much as Long Run could be the next best thing, I think three miles around Kempton is going to be Mastermindeds’ ideal condition. He takes his fences so well at pace just like his stablemate, Kauto, and I think that will buy him enough lengths. Under pressure Long Run is prone to error and I just suspect that Kauto will not be seen in the same light as The Betfair.

Masterminded is currently 8.8 on Betfair, get stuck in and wish me Merry Christmas.

The Christmas Hurdle

Much less of a write-up on this race but no less a fascinating clash, even if a little less high-profile.

We have the barrel chested Binocular, who seems to have two ways of racing, JP McManus and Nicky Henderson had their day in the sun when he returned to win a Champion Hurdle in 2010 but since then (and prior to it), Binocular has been inconsistent and at times poor. I think he is a hard horse to get fit and needs a lot to fall right so 2/1 is not for me.

The second market leader is Overturn, who seems to love as much racing as possible. He relishes getting his nose in front and understands what is required but the suspicion is that he is just short of Champion Hurdle class. That might be enough to win this anyway.

The final of the trio that head the market is exciting prospect Rock on Ruby. While the form of his festival second to First Lieutenant is not as strong a CV as the others, his reappearance run suggested he is a star in the making. Although someway short on official BHA rankings, he could clearly take another giant leap forward and take this.

I am getting on Rock on Ruby at 2/1 and also may purchase a 16/1 Champion Hurdle ticket ahead of Boxing Day as a Christmas gift for some lucky soul!

The Feltham

This looks like a straight punch up between three exciting chasers in Grand Crus, Silviniaco Conti and Bobs Worth.

As much as Grand Crus has impressed, Bobs Worth did just a little bit more for the Major in his recent defeat of Cue Card. That day, Bobs Worth travelled well until smacking four out. Then it was time for Geraghty to earn his riding fee, in a superb demonstration of the great jockeys horsemanship, he relaxed the horse, got him back into a rhythm and up on the line to win.

Silviniaco Conti has done little wrong. His 5l defeat to Menorah was decent form, though it must be said that twice he has finished behind Cue Card who seems a better hurdler. Conti now seems to have improved based on the awesome win at Wincanton on reappearance. For me 9/2 is a superb price, Nicholls has been sweet on this horse and I fancy conditions will be perfect.

Merry Christmas to you all from the Major. May it pass with a warm glow in your heart. Let us deal with the peripheral noise and come back Boxing Day, clear minded and show our intent to the enemy ahead of the New Year.

There it is, the Majors tips for Kempton, I wish you the best. I will be posting at some point in the festive period more tips (We have the Welsh National for a start) and also my promised guide to the best 2011 horseracing moments. If you did not see the Sportingbet.com podcast, the Major got an almighty mention from their team (follow the link, it’s about 7:45 in). Was pleased to see that my top moment made a great splash there and was also selected by the Racing Post as their number one moment too.

Courage followers, shuffle those cards, it is darkest, before the dawn.

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The Saturday Sermon – Old Roan Aintree Tips – Racing Post Trophy Horseracing Tips

The Major bids you good morning from a wonderfully cold Defford where the biting air of winter is alike souls awakening.

Winter is gods chosen season and Old Roan Chase day is the sign that soon there will be no sign of a wasp, no hint of a sunburn and glorious long dark nights where a man may achieve a slumber of death and emerge blinking and reborn into the new day.

Aidan knows how good Camelot is, we get to see today at Donnie

National Hunt racing is back to take over the mantle from the flat.  The day is symbolic, we see Aintree and the Old Roan and we also see the potential derby horse in his last run of the season in the Racing Post Trophy.

What a nice move to name the Old Roan after Monet’s Garden the popular white chaser.  It is the highlight of an interesting card at Aintree.

As for the Racing Post Trophy.  Will the entirely unexposed O’Brien favourite , Camelot, triumph?  Very possible, but at 6/4 the Major is in the no camp, more of that shortly.

A lifetime of gambling on horses is a lifetime of education.  The accumulation of knowledge and the development of instinct.  Surely Peter in Chapter 1 which was written in amanuensis was referring to our lifetime battle with the enemy.

And to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive

So to knowledge and to the sports, let us strike mercilessly at the enemies dark soul and to victory, upright and vigorous.

The Monets Garden Old Roan Chase – Aintree

How disappointing that this such an old institution as the Roan Chase attracts just three runners.  Masterminded and Albertas Run are worthy of their places, Pure Faith is not.

How delighted the four owners must be at the defections from this Grade 2.  From a stone and a half out of the handicap, you would think Pure Faith would have to be lucky to finish third of three but the prizemoney for allocating this slot is still £5500.

As for the winner, the Major would think Masterminded over Albertas Run but at 1/2 and 15/8, it is hard to enthuse over the chances of either with both making seasonal reappearance and the uncertainties of pace in a three runner affair.

No bet for the Major.

The Racing Post Trophy – Doncaster

This is a much better betting medium and we have a few angles into the race.

O’Brien always takes this race as a serious route for his best colts and in Camelot we have an entirely unexposed sort.  Sent off to win his maiden in good style, he was catapulted to the head of the derby market which is incredible considering the level of form.

Yes, O’Brien has a great record in the race and I have no doubt that the market is effected by memory of St Nicholas Abbeys dramatic win a few years previous but 6/4 is no price up against horses with better form.

The colt that the Major prefers is Fencing, who missed the Dewhurst due to too firm conditions.  The last win is as good as anything on show with plenty of subsequent winners in behind.  3/1 is fair enough for the best form horse in the race – Have a slice.

4.35 Galway Novice Chase

I am loving this race as a betting medium.  The ground, the trip and the presence of two horses who will slit each others throats at the front equals a real opportunity.

I am happy to oppose both Foildubh and Regal D’Estruval who I think will not enjoy each others company tearing along at a proper pace.

The suspicion is that Ainama and Sweeps Hill will be seen to better effect over further but then again, the heavy ground will be an aid to both.

Westmeath has the services of Davy Russell suggesting it is a superior horse to Grey Soldier but Westmeath comes with the warning that his trainer does not think soft is ideal.  This is an odd statement given his track record is raced 4, won 2 and placed once on soft (never raced on worse) although it is worth noting the sire record of Kayf Tara offspring is shocking so maybe he has an OK record in spite of the ground and not because of it.

Sweeps Hill is probably the classier of all of these on what we have seen so far but again, ground doubts exist.

There you go, I have found a reason for all to lose so which reason at what odds am I willing to discard?

I have decided to select Foildubh at 8/1.  While he might like prominence, he is not always a tear them up sort and if comfortable sitting off the pace may be hard to pin back.

2.15 Newbury

There are two that appeal in this at opposite ends of the market.  The favourite Saigon has shown the best form and will be fine with firmer underfoot conditions and as a result, you should take a slice of the 7/2 he will win.  His Middle Park form is better than anything else and with Murtagh assisting (rare ride for yard), I fully expect a win.

The other I fancy is rank 50/1 outsider, Wise Selection.  He will also like conditions and while he has been a flop in the summer, the maiden he won had a very good look to it.  Maybe, they can find the key to this tricky individual and it is interesting he is thrown back into listed company.

To the sports…

Three football teams to follow in the premier league today.  Mr Hill will once again be furious as I suggest odds against priced Villa represent 13/10 value against West Brom.

Newcastle should see off Wigan and 8/13 for the Toon undefeated team looks good to me.

Finally, Bolton benefitted from the international break and I suspect their improvement to stick at home to a Sunderland team that the Major thinks is vulnerable.  They spent a lot of money badly and I think Bruce to go next in the Premier League should be considered too.

May dinner reflect the glories of the day.  May the company be both interesting and willing.  Tip well.  Enjoy the simplistic detail, the sound of the rain on the conservatory roof and the warmth of a good jacket in the bracing air.

Courage readers…… roll those dice.

 

Friday Racing From Aintree – The Majors Fancies

A great days racing on Thursday as the National meeting opened.  The Major put three up and overall they were a good reflection of the wonderful vagaries of being a gambling man.  How enriched your life is for appreciating it.

Back to Aintree and bring forward the heavy calvary

Firstly Denman proved, as the Major suggested, to be over the top.  Easy to say after the event but running the eleven year old after a three week gap since his last hard run seems a touch harsh.  Hindsight is a powerful thing though and there is no chance connections would have given him a punishing run if they thought he could not compete.  The Major does not critice them but does feel that it was more likely than not that the outcome would be a lacklustre display from the old boy.  Noone likes to see him well beaten like that.

Sadly the Major selected poorly when opposing Denman.  That could be the last time poor jumping Punchestowns carries the Majors loot.  Fair play to Nacarat for galloping them into the ground in such hearty style.

Then the flip side of racing.  The Major put up Zarkander as the bet of the week at evens (Tuesday evening).  It went off at 4/6 and won.  The history books have this as a big win for the Major as I gave this one out believing it could not lose. 

Yet, if not for a faller two out which bought down the strong travelling Grandouet, it would not have been; for it looked, for all the world as if the Henderson trained beast was travelling all over the eventual winner. 

Fair play to Zarkander who dug deep and seemed to have put the contest to bed at the last with a slick leap (he does hurdle beautifully, reminds me of Katchit, the last Triumph winner to take the Champion Hurdle in the following year! Very quick over the obstacles).  He was to hard work on the run in though and a lesser man than Ruby may not have got Zarkander home. Glorious winners or fortunate scrappers, the enemy pays out the same.  Likewise losers are losers.

Then Possol who 4 furlongs out looked like he might feature in the places but faded to 6th as a 100/1 shot should!  Big Bucks put in the most breathtaking performance.  This time, no muddling pace, no field looking to get him tactically beaten.  Gwanako taking them along at a lick.  Grand Crus had a fair pop at the champ, Carlo Brigante equally loomed up before fading, he didn’t have the class.  Through it all, Big Bucks dominant eyeing Grand Crus dismissively before putting the race to bed easily.  Outstanding.

Even his old flat spots have been ironed out of his runs these days.  Is it inconceivable that he could win 5 world hurdles?  He is already in the history books as one of the best staying hurdlers ever, now unbeaten in 12……… simply a star.

To Friday and the last chance to make some money for the big one on Saturday.

The 2pm Top Novice Hurdle could go to 8/1 shot A Media Luz.  Henderson always has such riches in the novice hurdle class.  The form behind Grandouet, given Thursdays running looks strong.  If it settles, 8/1 is a disrespectful price and I prefer Geraghty on these inexperienced sorts.

The 2.30 is an interesting contest and I would be about Quito de la Roque if the ground were a bit more juicy but there has to be a significant chance, the warm conditions have created ground with too much rattle for this one.  

I prefer another.  Although Geraghty deserts Radium for Master of the Hall I cannot think there is much between them.  Radium was travelling as good as any behind Bostons Angel at the festival.  He hit three out and weakened soon after, 14/1 prices in a few questionable factors and the Major takes it as a value punt each way.

The Melling Chase at 3.05 is a cracker.  All bar Tranquil Sea competed at the festival which makes selecting the winner tougher as the Major has already advertised his thoughts about well used horses coming to Aintree expecting to frank form on tired legs.

In fact Tranquil Sea is an interesting contender.  It is a big ask to expect him to pick this up after a lay off but this Paddy Power Gold Cup winner certainly has a touch of class and if prepped has the advantage of fresh legs.

Good ground and a flat track might help Masterminded see out two and a half miles.  His champion hurdle run was a shocker.  He was already beaten when blundering badly and losing by 31l ultimately to Sizing Europe in this years Champion Chase.  5/1 seems a fair price, on top form he is the best in the race in the Majors view.

Somersby will definitely be suited by two and a half miles (11/2).  While the Major would not begrudge him a win, he looks like the bridesmaid again.  Mad Max could go well if returning to peak form, he has had Somersby behind previously so 16/1 is a price.  Kalahari King has never been one for the Major and it seems under-priced at 9/2.

This is a tough conundrum.  The Major is going for the quality.  Albertas Run and Masterminded.  Which one though.  4/1 or 5/1.  On balance, I am going for Masterminded.  It is a big risk expecting Masterminded to be in top form.  Who knows why his display seemed so listless in the Champion Chase after some of his earlier sparkling form was on display this season.  Masterminded seems to have been around longer than his 8 years age would allow, maybe the Major could be accused of including a bit of heart in the selection.  5/1 back for the win.  Albertas run in the reverse forecast for the brave.

 The Sefton Novices is the only other race the Major wants in on.  Sparky May and Mossley are worthy favourites and of the two, the Major prefers Mossley.  That said, this is a good opportunity to look for fresher legs.  The Major is going to take a chance on little fancied WestMeath who has skipped the festival and is a general 16/1 shot.  Good ground not a problem, worth a pop.

Pandora’s Box is open – Champion Chase Cheltenham Tips

BOOOOOMMMMMMMMM!

The Major is off to a flyer on the opening day. 

That said, understanding followers appreciate that it was wonderful watching my nap get beaten by Hurricane Fly, Peddlers Cross ran a race and in the Majors view if Peddlers had held a greater lead, Hurricane would have reeled him in anyway, breathtaking.

If you fall low, like Lazarus, then awake my child, Lazarus started lowly and yet finished canonised - In the same way let us re-birth

We had winners though.  Reve de Sivola was a decent place, losing to the highlighted Bensalem.  9/1 Divers was the result of the day.

Day one was a firecracker of emotion.  Electricity crackled.  The fly made it good to be a racing man.  Drink was served.  Food delivered.  The Major held his own.

To all those whose day one battle was fruitless.  Well I say to thee that Lazarus started as a beggar and finished a saint.  The Major has not stooped so low, yet we shall raise ourselves higher still.

Get that harness on young man, ensure your preparation is complete.  We are engaged in the melee  The danger is to go to the front too soon.  With too much excitement you might exclude consideration, if in this mood, you find are rash and in over-optimism peak early……… well then draw breath, be still and settle thyself.  The battle dictates that you shall ready your stamina.

The Majors followers know this is right, this is a four day conflict.  There will be some warm work at the gate, a little skirmish perhaps, be prepared.

To Champion Chase day, have courage and shuffle the cards

First of all I offer you no advice for the opener simply because the Major refuses to truck with witchcraft.  If a beady eyed hobgoblin should stop thee and challenge, simply say ‘BESHABAR – Now get behind me SATAN’ – Does that constitute advice, probably, I shall count it as an each way bet.

The Neptune

In the second, Oscars Well needs a bigger trip, leaving Rock on Ruby and So Young for the Major.

So Young has been dismissive of the opposition in Ireland. Very impressive and a price to match.

On a strict line of form with Megastar, Minella Class holds Rock on Ruby – I support that. Both of them are held?

The one that appeals most on faster ground is Tornado Bob.  All of the form is on ‘probable’ unsuitable ground.  12/1 – Stick it in the microwave, let your taste buds explode when it goes ping!

RSA Chase

This is simple.  Time for Rupert is a quality animal that the Major has ignored before at a cost.  That said it is without a run this year.

Mullins knows that Mikael D’Haguenet has always been a champion of something in the making.  The Major thinks it is the RSA chase.  Ruby, on a high, surely he can get Mikael D’Haguenet into the rhythm that his trainer thinks could win a major event. 10/1 KABBBBOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!

Champion Chase

OK Masterminded looks back to form.  However do you think his thin margin defeat of Somersby adds up to more that a Big Zeb defeat to Golden Silver?

The Major reckons that on times Big Zeb was the master.  On strictly the clock, Masterminded has something to find.

A tentative 3/1 is advised in the understanding that the Major would gladly tear up his ticket to see that stag like Masterminded leap at the last as he puts the field to bed.

Head – Big Zeb, heart – Masterminded.  3/1.

Coral Cup

The Coral Cup is always a challenge.  The Major has settled on Call the Police – Mullins and Walsh have an improver on their hands that the Major feels is able to take this, 6/1 WHAAAAMMMMMM!.

Fred Winter

The Major has been puzzling over the Fred Winter for some time.  The bottom line is that Whitby Jack is 12/1 and too damn intriguing!

The Lucky Last – The Bumper

Wow what a bumper – The Major fancied Keys but in the absence of the flat trained specialist, surely Cheltenian stands a better than 12/1 chance on a track going left-handed?  Dickie in the saddle – BOOM.

Good luck warriors, suffer thy losses well at the setting of the sun, tis only a while until daybreak, then we see the enemies eye, deep, dark, unmoving. Have vigour, be relentless.  Then peace, sleep, it is right.  Till dawn awakens the soul once more.

Tips for each Cheltenham Festival Championship Race – Guest Post, The Hearty Ploughman

Another guest blogger has thrown us some sporting viewpoint in our relentless quest for value.  The Hearty Ploughman is well-known to the Major and a respected punter.  He has kindly offered a view on the four championship races of the festival – Cheltenham tips aplenty.

He is the one on the right in the cap!

His analysis is often heavily statistics based and follows plenty of work.  Kindly he has proffered his thoughts for our benefit at no cost.

Included is a 14/1 Gold Cup contender and is a very interesting bet – Please remember to ensure you get NRNB (Non runner no bet), most bookies are there now but some are shamefully still letting you down.  Well worth the extra protection, this week saw the withdrawal of Diamond Harry and Riverside Theatre from their respective races, there are always a couple of high proile late non runners…. over to the Hearty Ploughman.

The Hearty Ploughman – Tips for the Four Cheltenham Festival Championship Races

Punters of the world, the time of year is almost upon us when once again we invade Prestbury Park to do battle with the old enemy the bookmaker. My good friend the Major has bestowed upon me the great honour of writing this piece on his website giving my thoughts and tips for the four big races at the meeting.

Day 1 – The Champion Hurdle

This race is normally won by horses that have had more than one race this season are aged over 5 and less than 11, have won or been placed at the festival before (providing it has run at the festival), ran within the last 2 months and finished in the top three in its last race. Using these trends we can narrow the field down to just a few horses, it helps focus the mind.

I believe the winner will come from one of the following, Binocular, Peddlers Cross or Hurricane Fly. Hurricane Fly as good as he is does not have the course experience, so by backing him you are taking on trust that he will handle the conditions. Peddlers Cross is a real battler, expect him to be off the bridle first but will be running all the way to the line.

However my selection is Binocular, he ticks all the boxes and the way he won round Cheltenham last year and again at Kempton in the Christmas hurdle was mighty impressive. That and the fact that Nicky Henderson is the master at getting one spot on for Cheltenham mean he is the choice for me.

Day 2 The Champion Chase

This race is normally won by a horse that was 1st, 2nd or 3rd last time out, ran 1-4 times this season and is in the top 4 of the betting. This leaves us with just the 4 horses to concentrate on, Master Minded, Big Zeb, Woolcombe Folly and Somersby.

Master Minded does not seem to have totally re captured the form he had before his injury, Somersby continues to be a nearly horse and Woolcome Folly still have to prove he can do it in a grade 1 at Cheltenham.

This leaves me with just the remaining horse Big Zeb.  One of my favourite horses in training, travels well, will like the better ground he should encounter at Cheltenham so am expecting a repeat of last years success.

Day 3 – The World Hurdle

Surely bearing major accidents this race is between Big Bucks and Grand Crus. Big Bucks is a class act and Grand Crus is improving all the time. Not much to choose between the two but preference is for Big Bucks.

Day 4 – The Gold Cup 

Looking at the trends we have to discount horses older than 10. That immediately takes out Kauto and Denman. Another trend is that the horse must have run 2-5 times this season. This takes out last year’s winner Imperial Commander. 

Unless the word soft appears in the going, Pandorama may not even run. For me there are only 2 horses to concentrate on. Long Run and Midnight Chase. Long Run has run at Cheltenham twice and on both occasions has been placed. Is it that he doesn’t like the course or does his jumping need brushing up a bit? Having watched both races it would suggest that his jumping needs improving. At Kempton he jumped much better and connections have employed the services of Yogi again to make further improvements. I am sure he will go close once again.

However at a bigger price I prefer Midnight Chase, another horse who is a real battler. He has course form, been placed at the festival and is a front runner who does not like to be passed. At a price of around 14/1 provides good  value and is my idea of the winner.