Tag Archives: mossley

Cheltenham Festival Tuesday Tips – Champion Hurdle.. All aboard!

Good evening from the Major who writes to you on Cheltenham Eve, the most exciting night of the year, all good boys and girls should get to sleep, right after you have sorted out that lucky 15!

Geraghty says he is the best he has sat on.... The aeroplane that is Sprinter Sacre - photo courtesy of the marvelous http://www.facebook.com/GoodToSoftPhotography

I have already posted my antepost tips for Cheltenham a week ago but I am planning to write short pieces advising of any notes and fancies in the next days runners.Enjoy, have fun and remember Tom Segals words last week in Sundays paper – It is not as important as we feel, have fun but keep perspective.

Tuesday Cheltenham Tips

Here we go, here are the Majors tips for the opening day of Cheltenham.

The Supreme Novices 1.30

The Supreme novices can be a very tricky race in which to find the winner, there are plenty of red-hot candidates.

Good ground means we can rule a few out but not many and Agent Archie, Darlan, Galileos Choice and Montbazon are all high on the Majors list.

Other options include Tetlami who has done nothing wrong and Prospect Wells who may improve for his wind op and goes for Paul Nicholls who has run two winners in the last 8 years.

The two I like best though are Steps to Freedom and Trifolium and it is with the former that I will stake my first claim on the enemies satchel.  He is fine on the ground and has plenty of top class bumper form.  It might worry many that he has been put away for this for so long but Harrington knows exactly what she is doing and she is a trainer I admire.  7/1 generally but I don’t mind waiting as I think it might drift.

The Major had a lovely 12/1 winner on this horse at last years National meeting and since I gave it to a betting syndicate of the finest Birmingham chaps, I was a popular man that day.

2.05 Cheltenham – The Arkle

Already Advised: Menorah 11/1

In my antepost piece, I was keen on Menorah as I think he is under rated and over priced.  Too much is made of previous jumping errors which his trainer is well capable of sorting out.  I am happy enough with the antepost ticket but have to say that Sprinter Sacre may make this field look like handicappers.

Not often that my head is turned by a jockey’s comment but Barry Geraghty at the weekend said that Sprinter Sacre is the best horse he has ever sat on!  Consider he rode the mighty Moscow Flyer and well…..

3pts win Sprinter Sacre 10/11.  Don’t forget Paddy Power are offering a refund if Sacre wins, refund on your bet.

Al Ferof wants a punch up according to Ruby, I think Sprinter Sacre will be too classy to mix it like that.  Cue Card leading from the front sounds like a disaster to me, simply setting up some nice pace for the others to aim at.

2.40 JLT Handicap

Back in 1998, Unguided Missile took this race off eleven stone ten.  It was one of three horses to win off more than eleven stone in the last fifteen years and the other two were off eleven stone two.  Another interesting trend is that of six year olds which have not won in that time frame, which sort of puts a line through Our Mick and Mossley who has been a bit suspect over fences.

That is the Majors starting point – I want, ideally, sub eleven stone and I want a good ground horse.

Of interest are Hold on Julio who is a very good Alan King horse, on the upgrade and for a trainer that has won this handicap twice in the last ten years.

Baile Anrai is the other horse of interest, the Ian Williams chaser will appreciate the ground and 14/1 is fair.

I am going to take a slice of both at 13/2 and 14/1, I do not mind being double handed in this race.

Champion Hurdle Tips

Already Advised: Rock on Ruby 14/1

My antepost selection has come in to 10/1 and I am happy enough with my early selection.  Zarkander may prove a better horse, particularly at two miles but I think this race may pan out for Rock on Ruby who will be staying on to best effect at the hill.

The only horse I have eyes for outside of the selection is Hurricane Fly who looks the likeliest winner.

The Cross Country

The Major is not a fan, take pin, close eyes, jab paper, walk to bookie, make deposit, immediately eat ticket.

The Mares Hurdle

Quevega will surely win this; 1/2 is prohibitive so no bet.

5.15 Novice Handicap Chase

The Major has often advertised the antics of Hunt Ball’s owner, Anthony Knott.  He jumped on board Hunt Ball when entering the winners enclosure and when riding his first winner for 27 years of amateur riding, celebrating before the line with an unorthodox riding style to boot, genius.  If he wins, there is one place I want to be, the winners enclosure because I am sure he is unable to hold himself back at Cheltenham and with the cameras on him!

Triolo D’alene is a classy looking import that is sure to go well, 7/1 is very fair.

Going Wrong is an oddly strong fancy at 11/1 though.  Ferdy Murphy has won two runnings of this race and the selection has been very strong at Sedgefield.  Russell is an interesting jockey booking, a rider rarely used by the shrewd trainer, all in, I think this is a very good bet.

We are through the eye of the needle brace warriors.

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.

The Majors Saturday Service – 15th January Sports Tips | Five Star Kauto?

Good morning fair punters of Britain from Defford where the skies are still dark as I type these words on a momentous day for all racing fans.

Thats how we want it...... Kauto first, fresh air in second

The frozen conditions over Christmas meant that the traditional King George boxing day race was postponed.  Today, we find out if Kauto Star, the greatest chaser I have personally seen, can win a fifth King George.

The Major salutes all equine greats who take on such great challenge.  Anyone who enjoys racing cannot fail to admire Kauto Stars jumping style which is stag like.  Beautifully efficient, economic at times, flamboyant at others.  He clearly loves Kempton and seems to reserve a few of his magnificent leaps for the crowd there.  He can also hit a fence and is an occassional faller – Excitement is Kautos middle name. 

The Major has already posted his views on the outcome of the race – My ante post King George Tips piece suggested Riverside Theatre.  4/6 is probably the right price for Kauto but his Down Royal win on his seasonal reappearance was workmanlike and the Major just feels that the spark has gone a bit from Kauto – How I dearly want to be proved incorrect. 

I have such good memories.  The boxing day where the brother-in-law took up the Majors advice and fell in love with a horse who won the race while still heading out into country on lap 2.  The time he broke Nacarat who seemed to be travelling like a challenger.  The horrible fall when still learning in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.  Knuckling down to see off L’ami who was challenging as a featherweight.  Beating Imperial Commander by a nose.  The classic Denman v Kauto Gold Cup, watching it with my father and brother and being dissapointed.  The elation of him regaining his crown.  4 boxing day delights as he imperiously stamped his ownership on each race.  The first time I backed him, winning tidily up at Kelso. 

Kauto is special.  Stylish, superb, wonderfully french, charismatic and a winner.  What better partner for today than AP McCoy.  I would be the first to agree that I think Fehily or Walsh would have a more suited racing style for Kauto but AP feels an appropriate passenger for KAuto if he wins today.

Heart….. Kauto Star, Head…… Riverside Theatre each way, Pocket….. Mossley in Warwicks 2.45.

Let’s set about the day’s action.  Today the Major urges you once more through his Saturday sports tips service to bet like real men (and women as I was recently reminded… you know who you are!).  Bet with an amount that would make you blush if your mother asked.  Irresponsible gambling is the key to a long life of debauchery, fun and fulfillment.  At those final gates, at your final destination, what do you think St Peter wants to hear? … he wants to know that when the moment came, you were not found wanting, no not you; you dashing young blade, you set your mind on blood, glory and honour and charged alongside the Major into the theatre and turmoil of war, at full gallop, wearing your war face, chin proud, your sabre aloft and flashing with a streak of the enemies claret running down the edge.  Watch your shirt young man, your valet will have a ghastly time getting that out.

Let us see what goes at the races.

First things first, the tidy little hurdle at Warwick, which passed a precautionary 8am inspection, the 2.45 Leamington Novices Hurdle (Grade 2).  There is a previously tipped Major winner going in this, Mossley.  A nice little winner at Cheltenham, Henderson trained (Quote: he has plenty of pace and is unlikely to be inconvenienced by this drop in trip) – I agree with Henderson and think this horse makes a decent bet at 15/8 with Corals.  It is not a big stakes race as Saffran de Cotte could be much better on this surface  (I wouldn’t put anyone off at 25/1 with Corals, it is easy enough to put a line through his last time out performance), Jetnova could be a decent horse and Court in Motion on a strict line of form is a couple of pounds ahead of Mossley on the Majors reckoning.  However, I have liked the way Mossley goes about his races and 15/8 is a monster price.  Have a slice.  Remember though the Majors betting resolutions, don’t get too excited, it is a novice hurdle.

At 3.20 at Warwick, another handicap puzzle and this is one that I have spent a good 40 minutes on this morning.  There are many I like.  Officier de Reserve threatens to run a race one day.Companero is a fascinating runner and could be a big threat if Howard Johnson has him well prepped after a big break from racing.  Bobby Gee looks on the upgrade and Le Beau Bai in his penultimate race showed the requisite form and has a useful 7lb claimer in Jake Greenall.  A hugely interesting outsider for the Major is Noun de la Thinte.  This mare will not be inconvenienced by the ground and although has been below par this season, I suspect this ten year old still has a decent run to give.  It is 38/1 with Red32, 45/1 for those with a Betfair account.  Have an each way interest.

The Christmas Hurdle is a race (2.25 Kempton) which I think has been set up as the long term target for Starluck.    Starluck is no Binocular but Twiston-Davies will have been targeting this race.  I like horses set out for a race even when their bare form suggests they might not have the quality to take the spoils.  Make no mistake, this is Starlucks Champion Hurdle.  Binocular if on form will hammer him but Binocular is massive and famously difficult to get right.  That said, the advice is still Binocular who is available at 11/4 with both Hills and Coral.  He is the best horse in it and Henderson is 41% winners to runners in the last fortnight, have a piece of that!  Khyber Kim while a very good horse I think will need more than Kemptons flat 2 miles.  Binocular, Starluck to fight it out, Overturn to challenge the Khyber for third.

Now as previously highlighted, the Major brings you the big race analysis and also delves into the small print to find hidden gems.  I like the look of Dream of Fortune who goes in the 1.15 at Lingfield on the all weather.  Now, the bare recent form looks horrible and that is why 5/1 is so suspicious.  David Evans can ready a gamble and this is a horse that previously has won in claimers with the likes of Tom Queally on board.  Todays 7lb claimer takes the ride for a second time and racing of an effective featherweight, a win bet is advised and take it early.

Onto the sports fields of our great nation. 

The big premier league games all happen tomorrow.  I fancy Spurs to give Manchester United a decent game.  Surely, Ferguson will not play Neville against Bale!  Regardless, I feel 2/1 does not do free flowing Tottenham justice and Van der Vaart will relish the challenge, I see him arriving late into the box to open the scoring…

With such a poor run West Brom will be hoping the return of Tamaz at centre half will galvanise them at home to Blackpool.  I cannot trust them at odds on though to beat a Blackpool team who play without fear.  Odemwingie is a big miss for West Brom as is Ollson.  Sadly, I feel a tangerine bet brewing at a generous 15/4 with Stan James – Take a piece.

A bet I quite like is Man City v Wolves, nil nil at half time which is 12/5 with Victor Chandler.  Man City are 4/11 on to take this game and as short as 2/7 in places.  Now, they have invested again in this new big burly signing (Dzeko is 7/2 as first goalscorer) – Wolves though are not in free fall yet, they have organisation and determination.  They have taken wins from Liverpool and Chelsea lately.  Man City can be eye wateringly boring at times and a chance is taken that Wolves hold out to half time.

Wigan versus Fulham being played on a continous loop could be what Dante and his Divine Comedy had in mind for the tee totallers in the tenth circle of hell, if he had got that far. 

He looks less than happy - He would definitely have imprisoned Satan in the JJB

Wigan are not good but they do have threat.  Today N’Zogbia is back but Cleverley is out, as is Kirkland.  Fulham lose their best player in Schwarzer who is on Asian Cup duty with Australia.  Wigan have only won two of their last ten home games, Fulham just one win in ten away games.  Kamara could be a 7/1 each way first goalscorer bet with Bet365 who go one third odds and unlimited places giving a tidy profit as long as he nets at some point.  The Major though goes for 3 goals or more at 11/8 with Victor Chandler.  Both teams will be looking to win.

QPR as table topping Championship travellers to Burnley look value at 9/4 with Victor Chandler.  They might have had an interesting defeat at Blackburn with Diouf and Warnock embracing controversy as is their way, however, todays trip to Burnley is clearly an easier fixture and 9/4 is way too generous.  Load the big cannon.

There is an interesting long term bet to take an interest in which is with Ladbrokes.  They go 4/1 about West Ham getting the Olympic stadium.  This is a must bet.  I cannot see Spurs plan of removing the athletics facilities garnering enough favour.  Views are strongly opposed on this but West Ham 4/1 who have a long term interest and clearly stated ambition for the project are a great price.

Bristol Rovers make an OK bet too at 7/2 to win at Carlisle.  I suspect the Carlisle team are in a down turn after just one draw from their last three, which included a defeat at Torquay.  New signing Michalak from Leeds may strengthen the team but Rovers who are just 5 points behind, admittedly in the relegation zone, have found the net 4 times in their last two games – Not convincing but neither 7/2.

Norwich make a nice 13/10 home bet against Cardiff.  While the bluebirds are well fancied this year by the Major, they have a few hurdles to get over.  Firstly, Bellamy being arrested is not going to help.  Then the imminent sale of Boothroyd to Newcastle just gives a sense of instability at the club.  Why cash in on Boothroyd for £750k when the great prize of promotion is there, surely that’s worth risking losing him on a free in the summer?  This lack of ambition is obviously a result of a club in financial trouble. 

Palace can be backed at 11/2 with Victor Chandler at Swansea.  On the surface of things, Palace are a terrible bet, they are rubbish on the road and not much better at home.  They do not have the worst squad in the world and I can see them climbing out of trouble.  This bet is taken on the grounds that new manager and ex player Freedman can galvanise the team.

The Nap is …… Mossley at 15/8. 

May the enemy tremble as he sees you approach.  Remember to wager an amount that you would be embarrassed to admit to family.  Tonight, I think you should drink pastis before eating duck prepared in a traditional french country style with green peppercorn.  When the man removes your plate, insist on the manager bringing the bottle of his best brandy and joining you.  It would be crass to let him see the bankroll which is moving uncomfortably in your finely tailored pocket.  Thank him for his hospitality and tell him you are one of the Majors and we will return.

Tips across the full Cheltenham Card, Football and Boxing… and X Factor

The Major wishes all enthusiastic punters of Britain a very fine morning.  Followers, we are on a remarkable run, it has been ten weeks since we last posted a Saturday service that did not make a profit.

Once again, this morning, the Major has been up early to select the finest cuts from the delectable delights of this weekends sporting action for your personal astute perusal.

The coffee has been bubbling away for many hours, there is a fine smell in the air, coffee bean and money.  I feel ready to stand with each and every punter of Britain, shoulder to shoulder and take on the old enemy once again.  The turf accountant has priced his markets and has delivered his conundrums, we shall solve..

What a magnificent card at Cheltenham.  As previously posted, marvelous stuff moving the Tingle Creek.  A shame that Twist Magic ducks it but Masterminded more than makes up for that.  The Major cannot attend but will be there in spirit.  To those friends on course, enjoy the Guiness.  I have solved the card which we shall cover first (sports followers, keep scrolling)….

11.40 – What a time to start racing, do you drink before or not?  Of course you do..  Then you tag along to a friendly looking turf accountant and place a bet as follows.   The good ground could be key today and the 4 I think will go well in conditions are Woolcombe Folly, Imsingingtheblues, Tartak and I’m Delilah.  Ferdy Murphy and Tom George don’t seem to be running many at the minute and those that have are not placing.  Pipe is at best in uncertain form, which leaves Woolcombe Folly as the obvious selection.  It is a concern whether he goes around Cheltenham and so at 4/1,  will avoid advising to back the horse I think most likely and look at the value instead.  Fiendish Flames trainer Donald McCain is in fine touch and can be backed right now at 11/1 with Coral.  Have an each way slice but keep the stakes low.  Woolcombe could take it and I wouldn’t be putting anyone off a bet on Tartak with his 10lb claim, I’m Delilah who is sure to run a race on a surface he likes and I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see Oh Crick bounce back.  Wide open, stakes low, wedge intact chaps.

12.10 – Triumph Hurdle Trial – Placing large stakes on juvenile hurdles is the fast way to the poor house in the Majors view.  Again, this is not a great betting environment.  Sam Winner looks the obvious candidate and his odds on price reflects his good looking winner at Cheltenham last month (advised by the Major).  Whilst he is the likely winner, I can’t back a juvenile at that price (even one with all important course form), who knows what might pop up – Plus, the Majors boss doesn’t like them this short and is bound to be on course – The courteous thing is to find the value.  A media luz is an obvious potential thorn in the favourites side but having not jumped a hurdle its an almighty leap to place it around 2/1.  For those who need an interest, I would advise Pantxoa who can currently be backed at 10/1 with Bet365 on each way terms of quarter odds the first three (well done B365, best price and best terms, top marks from the Major).

12.45 – The novice chase is another conundrum.  Back to 3m 1f, Time for Rupert, last months course winner will be a warm favourite.  I quite like the look of Quinz as one that could improve past them all.  Previous jumping errors seem to have been ironed out by Hobbs and this horse has had two confidence boosting wins.  More rain would have made Cannington Brook of interest.  11/2 for my selection with Totesport, get it quick they are stand out on the price.

1.20 – Relkeel.  Top class stuff this.  Karabak, Zaynar, Celestial and Sentry Duty may have their quirks but they all have top notch form in the bank.  Two of them have recorded better RPR ratings than the likes of Cue Card and Menorah who will steal the headlines today.  The problem here is which one is going to put the best foot forward.  Henderson has obvious claims with both Zaynar and Sentry Duty and of the two I prefer the one that Geraghty has chosen not to ride.  Sentry won a three horse race here in January and will be fine with the ground.  I like the profile of this Henderson horse that he has kept busy on the flat (usually a good sign – like Punjabi in his champion hurdle season).  It’s a Grade 2 so Sam Twiston Davies cannot claim but I still like Banjaxed Girl who carries least weight of all.  Quartz de Thaix has done nothing wrong but will be challenged for a lead today.  Karabak wants rain in the Majors view.  Zaynar will be a danger to all if the headgear has the desired impact.  It’s a tricky conundrum but on balance I think two are worth backing each way – Sentry Duty 7/1 and Carlo Brigante whose trainer, Gordon Elliot, has bought over from Ireland where he could have been engaged in other contests.  Fourth in the triumph was no shabby result and at 4, plenty of improvement can come from this 22/1 shot (Stan James thank you – especially as you are 1/4 the place).  Have a slice of both.

We are in the second half of the card at 1.55 – What a monster of superlative racing.  Can anything beat Masterminded?  He looked tuned to his best back at Ascot but can he be trusted these days.  He pinged the third last that day like the horse of old (tipped up by the Major) clearing it majestically without touching a bristle.  Masterminded will win if he is 80% fit and ready.  Should the game slip, Gauvain will pick up the pieces.  Strong win bet advised with Paddy Power who go evens is advised.  For those who like a tasty price, I suggest the straight forecast with Gauvain – Incidentally, if you agree with the Major that Masterminded, the best horse in training 18 months ago has returned to his best (he is only 7 and in fine hands) then why wouldn’t you avail 888 of their 5/1 offer that he wins both today and in the Champion Chase……. 

2.30 Vote AP – Just a couple of weeks ago, The Major was on his soapbox wondering why the industry was not getting more behind our champion jump jockey McCoy for Sports Personality of the Year – Great to see the race names for this cause – Let’s hope it has the effect.  There well may be some sentimental money for Fingeronthepulse ridden by AP, but none of the Majors.  Daves Dream looked impressive in November and the Major would have been on if Pricewise hadn’t stolen the value first – Well done to him advised it at 13/2.  Out of the handicap by a pound, Matuhi is an obvious eyecatcher at 16/1 and an each way bet is not a bad shout.  I am looking for the winner though.  Little Josh won’t get the easy lead he had last time in November plus I am sure he wants the word soft to appear in the going.  To win this Little Josh would have to post a better rating than Exotic Dancer with his last to first performance several years ago, it’s a big ask.   Great Endeavour could be a threat if running a proper race, maybe he wasn’t tuned up for the Paddy Power – 10/1 is fair.  The one for the Major is heavily weighted but classy Mad Max.  Again, Geraghty prefers another but the Major respects Carberry as a booking and this experienced sort could be involved if he is tucked away and turned off for the first two miles. 

3.05 International Hurdle – Well well well.  Hmmmmmmmmmm.  Cue Card, potential superstar.  Menorah – Supreme Novices winner and the winner of the greatwood available at 9/4 with Paddy Power.  Silvicano Conti – Twice tipped successfully by the Major this year.  This is the greatest conundrum of all.  Of the remainder, Astracad at an astronomical 50/1 could run into a place if two of the top three don’t fire, it certainly does its best running on good.  So does Clerks Choice, last time out an odds of crash at Haydock following a Cheltenham win (another Major tip!), could return to form which might get a place at 12/1 – Anything better would be a surprise.    The Major has puzzled over the top three for some time.  Conti has established credentials after defeating two decent fields this season but last time out I cannot help but feel the performance of Zaynar and some of the others was too bad to be true – Conti may have been flattered, at my peril I shall overlook.  This then comes to a punch up between Menorah who has slightly more experience and a Grade 1 hurdle festival race to his name versus probably the most exciting bumper horse we have seen for some years.  There are similarities between the hype around Cue Card and that of Dunguib last year.  There is however one notable difference, Colin Tizzard has decided that instead of placing his potential world beater in walk over contests, Tizzard has bravely decided to ask the question now….. is Cue Card a champion bumper contender this year at his tender age?  I admire this.  I also think it points to a degree of confidence.  Why risk your star if you don’t think the answer is yes.  Cue Card could take an easier route and rock up at the festival to take the Supreme.  Finally, I like to back horses with that chance of being a true star.  Prove me wrong Menorah but you are simply a damn fine hurdler with an 8/1s chance of winning the blue riband hurdling event in March.  Cue Card, you could be a Gold Cup winner.  With that in mind, don’t you want to be able to say that you were on when he picked up the International all those years ago? My advice is to get on Cue Card at the available 2/1 – The head expresses some caution that we must remember this is a 4yo.  Class tells.  We shall see.

The luck last is the Grade 2 Albert Barlett Novices Hurdle, hardly a bad race to finish on – What a superb card, why am I not there?  Henderson looks to me like he is sat on a star in Mossley.  5/1 with Corals right now, have a slice and lets hope he can get us out of any bother later!

I wish everyone attending the finest of afternoons.  And in other sports….

What a week at Newcastle, clearly unhappy with 11th, Ashley choose to get ri of stable influence Hughton.  The team played atrociously at West Brom where they were expected to give a good game to the Baggies.  The Major feels they must have known, the body language seems to suggest this.  I am not a huge fan of Liverpool as regular readers know but surely 23/20 (Blue Sq) is too big.  OK no Gerrard but I think Newcastle would be beaten by most Premier League teams today so a top half team should have no problem – There is talk of boycotts and protests, this could be a choppy time for the toon.  I don’t have a problem with Pardew, he is articulate and he has as much chance of avoiding relegation as Hughton did (although if the movements this week do cause a fundamental shift in confidence, this might turn out to be Pardews poisoned chalice) 

Spurs are an astonishing price to win at home to Chelsea.  Chelsea are in free fall at the moment.  Wilkins departure had a similar impact to the one I am expecting at Newcastle.  Drogba looks way off, they are missing the steel in the middle, Lampard, Essien and Terry.  Chelsea look vulnerable.  15/8!!! Spurs are priced as if they would win this just once in three – Sorry, that’s absurd.  Have a chunk.

More football bets for you.  Brightons recent turn of form for the worse has meant that they are now overpriced to win at Huddersfield.  Brighton who played FC United midweek stayed up north to avoid two long journeys in the week and I think that reflects the professional approach the probable league winners bring.  How on earth 11/4 is available with Coral, the Major does not know – Brighton are a class act and can beat 5th placed Huddersfield – Load the large cannon.

Bury are also capable of defying the odds and picking up a win at Wycombe.  Bury look a different team on the road and have won their last two away games by an aggregate 8-1.  2/1 to for Bury (3rd) to win at Wycombe (6th) – tasty.

Hull will struggle at Palace in the afternoon kick off.  Hulls striker has a less than 1 in 10 strike rate (admittedly used as a winger for many games) and with the uninspiring Barmby in the hole, it is hard to see Hull netting at improving Palace.  7/5 available with Hills.

On form I would back Sunderland to beat Fulham at Craven Cottage.  11/4 can be taken with Victor Chandler.  Might be worth waiting to see if the influential players of Gyan and Gordon pass late fitness tests before plunging.

West Brom arrive at Villa Park full of confidence after turning the recent run of poor form around with a good 3-1 defeat of poor Newcastle.  Villa have lost all 4 league games under Houllier which points to a value 12/5 bet with Stan James.  No bet for the Major but a likely contender.

Khan fights in his toughest ever test in the Majors view against Maidana.  Maidana can really punch which is reflected in an excellent stoppage rate.  Khan looks slightly vulnerable to a punch and this boy could land one.  As much as it pains me, I think the 11/4 for a Maidana win represents better value.  If they had been fairer and offered 4/1 by KO or TKO I would have had a slice of that too.

Having delved into Xfactor last week, the Major feels compelled to see if he can back up his winning NAP last week, Mary to exit at 18/19.  We nailed the fact that Cher and Mary would fight out the bottom two.  The Major still is of the view that Matt is the likely winner.  Having advised Rebecca last week, it is pleasing to see her come into second favouritism.  I am surprised though that Matt can be backed at 10/11 given his apparent support.  I would take a good slice of that.

The NAP is Liverpool, Masterminded, Matt Cardle and Brighton in an accumulator – Don’t say I’m never adventurous!!!

The Major wishes you the finest of betting Saturdays.  I wish all those at Prestbury Park the most succesful of days.  May you empty the enemies satchel with a smile.  Tell him the Major sent you and we will see him again shortly.