Tag Archives: midnight game

The Saturday Sermon – Tips from Naas, a brief look at Kempton, some football and your belief

Good morning from the Major who writes from a wintry Worcestershire.  The slab of dirty snow sits on the ground like a single plane.  It is a transitional state, roofing is partly covered, there is less of it than I imagined, this is not satisfying

The fire I set last night is merely ash this morning.  Today, this will roar again, sausages in the pan, all is well.  The Major has been overall in decent form, there was a horrific post this week which managed to get some very short price favourites beaten but the overall ledger is positive and I know you all well, a forgiving bunch.

We have enjoyed some good days recently, I am not sure today will be one, with so much off, caution is advised.

I do have a 33/1 ante-post Cheltenham Festival tip for your delectable review, let us see if we can make some profits with which you might back such a prospect.  I will get round to writing up a few festival posts, soon I promise.

Fans of jump racing will, like I, be disappointed with the abandonment of Haydock, Ascot and Taunton.  All of these tracks were to host good racing, including Sprinter Sacre at Ascot and Hunt Ball at Taunton.  I feel sorry for Taunton in particular who were putting on a terrific day of racing for a small track.

Thank the good lord above for Naas which is on.  The Irish track might be heavy but races and we get to have another look at Aupcharlie who I am very excited about.

Right now, all of our beliefs are intact.  Belief, that which is made of the facts as you perceive them and the story you tell about them.  You may see that the sun rises every day, science has also given you an explanation for why this happens.  Both of these ‘fact’ sources compliment each other and from it, you discern a conclusive story that the sun will rise tomorrow.  Let’s hope you are right, otherwise I will never know if my ante post position on Taquin Du Seuil was sensible or not.

The order of these events is important though.  Which comes first, fact or story?  May I suggest an answer….  you need to accumulate the facts while leaving your partisan view to the side.  This allows you to draw your own landscape and often leads to you swim against the punting tide, which can be a very profitable place to be.

The danger of the alternative is that you create your story and bend the facts to suit.  If you forma  prediction too early, then you discard contradictory fact and only seize on those that compliment your chosen outcome.

A crucial part of your punting philosophy should also be ‘fact selection’.  For example, trends analysis.  The Major cringes when he often sees long term football trends quoted as a guide to present day success.  Ask yourself how relevant it is to look at historical team performance at a particular ground.  For example, if Team Y have not won at Team X for 15 years, of what concern is that today?

Select your facts, leave your predilections behind, analyse the data and then create your story.  Find a new angle that others are not discussing, then you may reap rich harvests.

To the sports.

Naas Tips – The Maiden (1pm)

Naas is heavy…. very very very heavy.  It has passed inspection but it is going to be a muddy carnage.  I love extreme conditions, not for the test itself (it goes without saying that we all want the animals and riders to come back safe), but because it gives us an angle of certainty.  We know that we need horses that act on it and this means we can draw a line through a lot of runners.

In the opener, Morning Assembly arrives with a very good set of credentials having finished runner-up to Sizing Gold.  The bumper form stacks up too.  It is the likely winner but 8/11 is a bit short in a big field of maidens.  Expanding Universe is the tip although I will not be getting lumpy about it.  After showing some very decent bumper form, the tentative selection ran poorly on hurdles debut but I am willing to assume that the ability has not evaporated and 8/1 is a fair price to get involved again, each way today.

As a footnote, Glen Gyle is 161 on Betfair.  It is a monstrous price and he came out much more likely on my reading of the race.  OK, he has a lot of explaining to do for a string of dreadful efforts but it is the first time back on heavy which were the conditions faced when he won his Hexham race.  A true point to pointer, perhaps all is not lost on this one.  Have a small saver.

1.35pm Grade 3 Hurdle

The graded hurdle race allows us another look at Solwhit, the old foe of Hurricane Fly.  The reappearance run was very respectable and only the apple of the Majors eye, Bog Warrior, was too good for this Grade 1 winner.

Win that run under his belt, perhaps he should take this convincingly (4/7).  I am minded that he will, given that the danger (So Young)    The form of the last Grade 2 second is pretty good having finished with Monksland in his sights and if Solwhit does crack, then I am sure So Young will exploit it.  The Mullins yard are in terrific form.

2.10 – Naas – Grade 2 Novice Chase

If there is one thing I took from the defeat of Aupcharlie to Back in Focus, it was that the best horse did not win on the day.  In the Leopardstown clash, Aupcharlie seemed to travel better of the two in the last half mile and I think it was a peck on landing, experience and being asked for maximum effort a bit late (after being ushered to the front too soon in my opinion) that caused the slight defeat, rather than the slight victory.

That day, Aupcharlie was a big entry in my notebook, even though the Major had tipped and backed his victor.

In such fine margins, it is interesting to look at the market interpretation of events.  Back in Focus is 8/1 – 14/1 for a number of Cheltenham engagements, Aupcharlie is 20/1 for the RSA.

Given that I think that is a reasonable RSA assessment, he really should easily be good enough for this… not a punting mans price but 1/2 is good enough for my multiples.

2.45pm Naas

Un Atout 2/5… simples.  Come on, this is a genuine Supreme horse (currently 20s) and acts on heavy, this is merely a confidence booster.  Mullins won this last year with Midnight Game who although was disappointing subsequently, was the Irish champion trainers main Supreme entry of a poor bunch.  He must think highly enough of Un Atout.

3.15 Naas – Handicap

I know what you are thinking… come on Major stop serving up these odds on shots and give us something to back!  Well I do not blame you…

There is another favourite in the Naas 3.20 that it is hard to dislike.  Matsukaze, an inmate of Tony Martins showed substantial improvement last time out and maybe a stone rise is not enough to prevent a further win today.  The ground holds no problem and so it is a decent 9/4 play with Boylesports, Carberry is up.

Beneficial is useful but won’t enjoy this mud bath.  Speed Dial will and is a major fly in the ointment.  This horse has shown plenty of progression but there is an issue too and that is the track.  He likes to be held up and at Naas that can be an advantage as the course has an uphill run in and it is long, plenty of chance to reel in the front-runners but… he is nil from seven on undulating tracks and nil from three left-handed.

On balance, I back Matsukaze to get the job done.

3.50 Naas

In a trappy affair with plenty of rogues lurking, the Major tips up Lucky Spring at 9/1.  While he has never won on heavy, he has placed in three of four efforts on the surface and on an opening chase mark, at least has the opportunity to improve beyond it a little.

The Bumper

I am going to have a small slice of Lots of Memories against the favourite who represents the Mullins team.  6/1 is very reasonable, my tip has more experience which might be important in this ground.

Kempton Tips

Kempton is on so we avoid two racing free days in Britain on the bounce…  I am not the biggest all-weather fan and so will be small slices of the following….

4.05 – Gertrude Versed 4/6 and trusting market signals last time 2.20, Haftohaf for the Botti team.

Cheltenham Antepost – Coral Cup

The 2012 Coral Cup was won by Son of Flicka who landed a near million reported gamble for his owners.  Have a look at the race, it is a bit odd, the winner is on and off the bridle but in the finish, wins well.

This year, the horse is seemingly in terminal decline but surely his main aim is an effort at defending his title.  The market has two views of this, there is the one I have just given you, BetVictor are 16/1.  Then there is the view that he is done for (Bet365 are 33/1).  Have a slice of the latter and thank me later.

Football Tips

Although it will send my good friend Martin Hill crackers, I do think that 4/1 Villa to win at West Brom is generous.  OK, Villa are in free fall but West Brom are hardly firing on all cylinders either and with so much at stake, this game is surely destined to be tight, edgy and in the balance.  On those grounds, backing Villa makes sense, they have looked by far the worse of these outfits this year but I am not sure that is what this game is about.

Sunderland look big to me at 11/4 to win at Wigan.  Hull to win at Peterborough (5/4) and definitely Watford (4/5) all aboard the money train, at home to Huddersfield.

May your dinner be a wholesome pasta in a simple sauce, with a light leafy salad containing spicy rocket.

The Hill Yankee is Watford, Matsukaze, Aupcharlie and Haftohaf.

Courage, roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Hennessy Gold Cup 25/1 Newbury Tip

Good morning from the Major who writes from a bright Worcestershire scene where the top of the grass has been licked by frost and dark curled brown leaves clutter the paths.

At the start of the week, my locale flooded, rivers burst their banks, unable to contain the violent fast strains of rainwater collected in supply chains unimaginable upriver. It was one of those exciting scenarios that gifts the realisation that in such a modern age, we can still be held at the will of whatever the Atlantic or Artic decides to spit at us.

Many folk like myself enjoy such excitement, it is invigorating. It rattles the soul a little, throws up new angles and offers new reflections. After all, isn’t that the best we can hope for in life. For some, their reaction to drama is to complain….. come the Majors revolution, these will be the first to go against the wall. They will be in fine company – Piers Morgan, Anne Robinson and anyone associated with Radio 5 non sports output. I shall despatch them personally with my own pistol. Not enjoying the spectacles given freely to you is an offence to god.

This week, the Major was back at University studying Operations Management (does the supply chain comment make more sense now?). I am working in a small team of fellow students, thrown together by the course, purely chance encounter. Since a man like me has most sorts of debauchery bubbling just inches from the surface, it was not long until they sniffed me out as one who likes a gamble, was good with the bottle and game for mischief.

Since they have been introduced to the Major, I thought it fair to introduce them.

Pierre the investment banker thoroughly good sort with a raucous laugh. Nataliya who was straight as an arrow at first but with her growing confidence, comes a glint in her eye. Oliver, thoroughly clever sort, direct thinking – says exactly what he thinks. Tom whose employment at Rolls Royce is matched by a suitably plummy tone and Richard a man whose wide eyed reactions to new thoughts would make him a good poker opponent.

They are good sorts and I intend to improve them immensely by immersing them in a gluttony of dubious moral indulgences. You cannot pay for that sort of education. They can thank me later.

I wanted to mention why I like large cities and something about perceived wisdoms from a gambling perspective but instead we shall head to the sports, saving those thoughts for another time. Daub thy war paint young warrior and call up your light horse. We shall attack the high ground which our enemy has taken with breathtaking speed, scattering him before us and capturing his cannons.

To the sports….

The long distance hurdle puts Big Bucks back out and he is currently 1/10. I agree with the price, he has time to do a crossword and win this surely! Not a tipping race.

Tips for the Hennessy

I do love Newbury for jump racing. It is a fair course with demanding enough obstacles but what I like most is the long straight that seems designed to create dramatic stories. It is a shame Timmy Murphy is injured as he knows more than most how a hold up ride around Newbury bears fruit.

When I look at the Hennessy trends, it strikes me that you have two sorts of winners. Underestimated 6-8 year olds who show tremendous improvement to exploit lenient marks and seasoned top class jumpers like Denman and Trabolgan, happy to win shouldering a burden.

Could Tidal Bay fit the latter pattern? He has certainly reinvigorated the memories of youth, he strains at the bit now reminiscent of his juvenile days when surging on the bend to go clear and stay on up the hill to become an Arkle horse. Not today for the Major though, I always thought he was a bit hit and miss and never quite the finished article. Could be wrong.

Last years surprise winner Carruthers is off the same mark bar a pound And could be a threat held up. Is a repeat on the cards? Just doesn’t seem the sort for the Major.

Teaforthree is a interesting runner for Rebecca Curtis who never fails to make the Majors heart flutter. This animal will go prominent which puts me off but not as much as the core focus for this Cheltenham winner being the Welsh National in the Christmas holiday.

There seems a slight cloud over the Henderson outfit at the moment, many are running well and the strike rate holds up but in the mix are a number of disappointing efforts. This and the ground concerns (now all clear) mean that no one is buying into Bobs Worth. Interesting given that he was an impressive RSA winner to First Lieutenant and will be fit first time up (won last seasons debut). He might be inexperienced but he is likely the only likely Gold Cup contender in the field.

Remember, it makes good sense to swim against the tide sometimes as a gambler. 11/2 Bet365 looks massive especially as there are 5 places available.

The final horse I want to mention is the Hennessy tip…. DIAMOND HARRY. Already a Hennessy winner, my selection has seemingly lost the plot entirely. Following Diamond has been an expensive endeavour for the Major who was convinced he would beat up the Wincanton Badger Ales field last time out.

It is too early though to give up, he is a classy sort and the result of his recent derisory efforts is that he is now a stone below the mark from which he won the Hennessy (over Denman let’s not forget although a substantial weighted difference!). Load the cannons and raise a glass to resurrection and redemption.

The winner of the Badger Ales, The Package is the Pricewise horse although I don’t if Tom Scudamore replacing the injured Timmy Murphy is a significant blow to the horses chances. Have a saver on Bobs Worth near the off, his price is getting silly.

12.50 Newbury

Having said that of Henderson, stick Ma Filleule (God-daughter) in your multiples, exciting French import and I’m not sure the Uttoxeter form offered up in opposition amounts to much.

2.20 Newcastle – The Fighting Fifth

I love this race ever since the apple of my national hunt eye, Punjabi, took this on the way to Champion Hurdle glory….. Ahhhh blissful memories.

Today’s meeting only just got the go ahead and the heavy conditions have cut the field to four. It looks a penalty kick for Cinders and Ashes who is proven in conditions. So is Trifolium who also likes cut and so that’s my forecast. Countrywide Flame will surely be found out in the mud.

1.20 Fairyhouse

Final horses and thoughts from me on the Saturday Sermon….. Protarasfor the Noel Meade yard at Fairyhouse is a tip. This horse looks like it has some scope and at only 5, seems on a very workable mark. In good hands and 12/1 is generous.

I have to point out that Davy Russell skips a good Hennessy ride on First Lieutenant to take a promising book of rides at Fairyhouse. That looked an advert in itself and I’m going to tip a lucky 15 on Bright New Dawn 8/1, Midnight Game 10/3 (Simenon out), Bog Warrior (a horse I love, a real galloper) 11/10 and throw in Bristol City 8/5.

On the football fields, I am not convinced Villas scrappy 1-0 victory over Reading is a turning point and ‘Arry will have QPR wound up in front of the home fans, 11/10 must bet. I like Watford who are odds on but should win and. Finally 8/5 Bristol City who are in the relegation zone but can beat a confused and demoralised Wolves.

May your dinner be paid for by Diamond Harry at 25/1 and consist of steak, wine and fine accompaniments. I hope the company is generous in nature and as the haze of brandy settles on your mind, relax, these are good times.

Courage and roll the dice.