Tag Archives: nadiya de la vega

Saturday Sermon – Cheltenham Trials Day Tips | Leopardstown | FA Cup… Shabash and load those cannons

Good evening from the Major who writes relaxing, from the lounge. The television was proving a poor distraction, action was taken, a button pressed. Now silence envelops me in a soft bubble, occasionally punctuated by a car passing by, tyres kissing the dark wet tarmac. Thinking time.

Worcestershire feels unclean. Lumps of white snow whose edges are diminishing fast cling to the landscape, lit up by the passing lights, starved of their icy fuel, unable to fight off the rising temperatures, slowing eating themselves. Soon teh land will be free again.

Cheltenham, racing, it is on. Shabash. The Major is looking forward to entertaining friends on course. I suspect a crowd of good racing folk will be there, starved of recent action, craving the goodness that floweth at the Prestbury Park cup.

We are incredibly blessed with a day at National Hunt HQ that is as good as trials day ever recorded. The moving of the Victor Chandler Chase bought Sprinter Sacre to the card and even the loss of Bobs Worth did little to tarnish the sheer quality jumping off the pages.

Such riches… There is a buddhist parable of heaven and hell which suggests that the two after-lifes have little in common. A feast in each is laid before you and in hell you are furnished with just one long chopstick, frustration ensues as you are unable to feed with it. In heaven, the same feast and the same apparatus are present but each man feeds his neighbour. Sounds uncomfortable at best.

The moral point is not lost on tomorrow though. Racing is such a richness, how the heart pumps, that rising feeling as your horse turns up that Cheltenham hill, behind but plugging on and you just know it is a long way home and you have a chance…. The smells, the magnificent beasts, the sights… we are lucky to live in such times as these, Sprinter Sacre, Puffin Billy… tomorrow we dine on the feasts that racing has given us.

As the parable teaches too, we cannot do this alone, so enjoy it in company. Join the conversation on twitter (@tdl123) and while you are online, have a little look at this tribute song to Campbell Gillies who tragically died on holiday last year. The song is nice enough and features the jockey winning on Brindisi Breeze at last years festival.

When the tapes go up on this years Albert Bartlett, many will be casting a thought back to Campbell charging up the hill holding off Boston Bob in last years contest. Who would have thought it possible that two such bright young things would be dead before the summer was out. We float by on this river just the once.

Enjoy Cheltenham tomorrow, savour these times and be lucky. The Trials day is a fantastic taster of what is to come.

The Major has started recording his antepost thoughts for Cheltenham. Have a read when you get a chance, so far I have covered the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup.

I feel able to claim that I am in reasonable touch over the last month, a small spell on the sidelines this week hopefully has done me good. I have been known to go well fresh and so today, returning from a break, here I am at your disposal.

Daub thy war paint, load the light cannon, prepare the mortars, the enemy comes from below to attempt to breach our line, we are dug in well on the ridge though. We shall fire mortar but dropping shot from above is difficult to gauge… if it comes to it, we shall engage them man to man with 5 cartridges each and bayonets fixed and glistening their evil reflections.

To the sports…

Cheltenham Trials Day Tips

The going is soft but it might be odd ground. The covers have been on all week so the top might be loose. Fresh rain is forecast too so it might get tacky. I am erring on proper soft ground sorts.

What a feast of action we have, eight races, six of them graded… let us sharpen our minds.

12.10 Grade 2 Triumph Trial

Irish Saint is currently 6/4 and I fancy him to go off a lot shorter after an impressive Kempton win last time out. Soft underfoot conditions have already proven no problem.

The race is marked by the absence of an Alan King runner. He has run the race in 5 of the last 7 runnings all with horses of 2/1 and under.

Rolling Star has to be the biggest eye-catching entry, while it is hard to rate the French form, Henderson does not throw darts at races like this and so despite an incredibly tough introduction to British hurdles, he is respected.

Of the others, Knight of Pleasure makes appeal. He could not have won more convincingly on debut at Sandown and the Moore yard are in fine form – A tremendous piece of each way value at 14/1 with Stan James.

On balance though, the Major feels that Nicholls has a good one on his hands in Irish Saint and at 6/4 generally, I think this evenings prices are the one to take.

12.40 Cheltenham Novice Chase

Radjhani Express gave Sam Waley-Cohen the first of two winners on the Kempton boxing Day card. His rise in the weights and dubious style at the obstacles are enough to put me off.

McMurrough has terrific form on the Northern circuit, winning two handicaps but this is a long way from Wetherby, interesting.

Gullinbursti has looked just short of class on a few occasions a dirty scope on the middle of three runs was an excuse but I am not convinced a tough track like Cheltenham is what he needs.

Venetia Williams stable jockey Aidan Coleman has opted for Renard D’Irlande over Benny Mist who was a last time winner in a small field at Taunton.

Johns Spirit at 5/1 (Boylesports) is the tentative choice for the Jonjo / McCoy partnership. He looks consistent enough and a small stake is advised as plenty of others could improve.

Sizing Santiago is the other that help some interest off a massive 14/1 but he is merely one of a few that persuade me to keep stakes on the selection low.

1.15 Grade 3 Handicap

Nadiya De La Vega has run well at Cheltenham but has a habit of getting worse as the season progresses.

Bless the Wings is a talented animal and this is the right time of the season to catch it but I fear the ground may be against the King horse.

Katenko looks a very tasty favourite at 4/1, the French import to the Williams yard is a powerful looking horse and this sort of contest may bring better.

I am opting though for the horse with a fantastic winning habit, Bold Sir Brian. My tip, smacks a few fences but the way he put away Pacha Du Polder and his penchant for softer conditions bodes very well. Have a meaty slice and thank me later.

Tips for the Victor Chandler Chase

Sprinter Sacre… The Aeroplane…. His judgement cometh and that right soon.

2.25 Argento Chase Tip

It is a shame that Bobs Worth is a non runner in the contest, it would have been fantastic to get another look at the Gold Cup favourite. However, as long as Tidal Bay stays in, we have a proper race on our hands here.

I must be the only National Hunt fan not to be that taken with the whole Lexus form. My own Gold Cup thoughts revolve around Bobs Worth, Long Run and Silviniaco Conti.

Grand Crus is starting to look like a list of excuses but that said they look valid. The wind op was a response to his poor efforts at Cheltenham and then he went well in the King George before blowing up, he arguably will strip fitter for that.

Imperial Commander will have his fans as a twelve-year-old former Gold Cup winner but not for the Major.

Midnight Chase won this last year but the creeping years and a tougher field might make a repeat bid a failing one, but he does love it round here.

Others with strong track form include Weird Al, Little Josh and Wayward Al.

The whole race feels like a weigh up between the older sorts out for a last hoorah and a few younger animals bidding to be better. Hunt Ball is one of those but I think his improving is done.

It is a younger chaser I am opting for though and it is Grand Crus that represents the value pick at 5/1. He can improve for his recent shows and will surely play a role.

3.00 The Novice Hurdle

At Fishers Cross has good handicap form and Coneygree looks like he has some of his half-brother Carruthers talent but neither appeal as much as The New One. Two and a half miles around Cheltenham looks a nice warm up for the Neptune after the tip destroyed a Warwick field last time. That race fell apart but there was no doubt over the ease in which the winner did his business.

Whisper is a potential fly in the ointment, the Henderson inmate could be anything but against a proven class animal, I am sticking with the New One.

3.35 The Cleeve Hurdle

It is the day that keeps on giving. The 3.35 is the Cleeve Hurdle, a race that sees Oscar Whiskey test his World Hurdle credentials with Reve de Sivola taking him on. He needs to win this to put to be the stamina concerns to bed ahead of the festival.

Reve de Sivola beat a good yard stick in Smad Place (placed in last years World Hurdle) last time at Ascot and that was an excellent effort coming back from a break.

Kauto Stone is starting to look tricky and Crack Away Jack owes me too much to contemplate.

I am sticking with 13/8 shot Oscar Whisky (Hills) who has the best Cheltenham record of the lot.

4.10 – The Lucky Last

Dildar to get me out of trouble at 9/2.

Leopardstown Tips

Just in case you are not drowning in the quality of the Cheltenham card, Leopardstown offer some excellent racing too.

Sadly only three go to post in the Arkle Novice which Avrika Ligeonniere should take at prohibitive 4/6 odds.

9/4 Marito for the same connections can make it a profitable day in the 2.15, one I very much like.

In the big handicap, 9/1 Carlingford Lough with Slippers aboard is my tip.

Football Tips

QPR 4/6, Wigan 4/7 and Hull 4/5 are an FA Cup treble.

Bournemouth 8/11 and Tranmere 23/10 are my league one picks.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Bold Sir Brian, Oscar Whisky, Irish Saint and Tranmere.

May your dinner be paid for by a trixie which made your wallet bulge. The company delectable.

Courage, roll those dice.

Saturday Tipping Service – Sandown, Ffos Las – Unleash the big cannon

Good morning to all fair punters of this land from what looks outside to be another dary and murky Worcestershire Saturday.

The coffee has been bubbling away for hours and the Major is prepared.

England expects 4 goals or more at 17/11, load the big cannons chaps!

Let us be inspired to take the fight to the enemy with some words from our greatest naval leader, Horatio.

If a man consults whether he is to fight, when he has the power in his own hands, it is certain that his opinion is against fighting – The Major trusts that his followers understand this sentiment and bet with stakes that befit men of valour such as we.

We have some fine sport this weekend. The Six Nations kicked off last night with a fine English win in Cardiff, Torres begins his Chelsea career with a match up against his old team and on track, Nicky Henderson unleashes the full power of his champion hurdle contenders to pick up the big graded hurdles. Tasty morsels that make me happy to be alive feeling blood coursing through veins and arteries, sinew tissue tenses as each event unfolds on the unwritten pages. Look in the eyes of those vacuous souls around you – get involved.

It is a great card at Ffos Las and while the Major has yet to visit that particular corner of Wales, I am reliably informed that this fledgling track is a great addition. It certainly would not exist without Dai Walters and so it is fitting that he gets to run Oscar Whisky, who served the Majors followers well on New Years Day when tipped up and winning well at Cheltenham at 4/1. He goes in the Welsh Champion Hurdle today and I am sure he will be fully tuned up for connections.

Let us start on the track.

The 2.25 at Sandown is a great novice event. Great because is throws up a quandry. Medermit undoubtedly showed the best form of these when hurdling but seemingly has unconvinced as a chaser. Captain Chris is still unexposed in the Majors view as a chaser and we may see the best of him today. The penny seems to be dropping for Rock Noir too who comes with impressive french form which has thus failed to fully translate. After two outings over fences, the Henderson Nadiya de la Vega may settle better and complete a hat-trick but Mr Gardner is another from this stable which could be anything.

With 9 runners this is a nice contest for each way punters, four bookmakers – Bet365, Skybet, 888sport and Blue Square go quarter odds the places, credit where it is due.

The Major sees it like this. Jonjo and Alan King don’t seem to have their string in the most sparkling form and so lines go through Medermit and Rock Noir, ruling out two nearer the top of the market.

The two I really like that could go on to better things are Captain Chris and Nadiya de la Vega. The former has smart form behind Arkle contender Ghizao, the later gets a handy mares allowance of 7lb. Reading the trainers comments the latter seems to the main stable hope in the race with Mr Gardner having to a fair bit more stepping up. Take Captain Chris each way at 9/2 with Bluesq and take a win bet on Nadiya at the same price. For those who like a reverse forecast, have a slice and thank me later. These unexposed sorts put the dinner on the table. Wimping out? Certainly but profits are profits. Push come to shove, if you just want just the one, then Hobbs seems to have some riches in the Novice Chasers category and so the Captain for me.

The Major tries to bring you the key races but always looks into the dark corners of a weekends depths to uncover the elusive value – quite rightly, not many people woke up this morning wondering about the Blue Square Sprint Series (Class 6) going at 2.55 at Lingfield, it certainly won’t worry the terrestrial TV producers!

This is where the Major sees a nice bit of value in the ten year old Misaro, Now OK, this one holds absolutely no sectrets from the handicapper but it has dropped 9lbs to below previous winning marks and seemed in fine fettle when chasing home the winner at Wolverhampton last time out. Probert (a fine young jockey) takes the ride again and at 9/1 with Skybet (again good work) and William Hill, an each way slice is advised – These are the only two markets open at the moment, as a Ron Harris horse, we could some price movement.

The big race at Sandown should be a penalty kick for Binocular who will go off at a 1/12 sort of price. On ratings, it is two stone ahead of anything else so why would it not win. If you need an interest, Blue Square go 10/11 that Binocular wins by less than 12 lengths. I cannot imagine Henderson wants to give the horse a hard ride and fully extend him. Plus on goodish ground with a horse that doesn’t like to hit the front too soon, I would take less than 12 lengths as an OK bet.

The Welsh Champion Hurdle stars Oscar Whisky who is likely to go off at 1/6, again not a casual punters bet. I have to say that I think the horse is good but I am unsure that this good ground is ideal. It should not stop him winning, no bet advised but I think Barizan if the rain holds off could steal a march and out-run 20/1.

I am more interested in some of the other Henderson sorts. He certainly has an embarrasment of riches in the stable this year. Loose Performer is available with value at 5/4 with Skybet (4.15 Ffos Las). At that price, even in a maiden hurdle I would have a chunky one.

To the sports fields of Britain….

Marvelous stuff in the rugby last night. No advised six nations tips today but the Major has a number of people better equipped to review the first weekends action and offer better value advices – Watch out for a post mid week from ‘Gentleman Jim’ and ‘The Frisky Gardener’…… don’t ask. I also have a couple of people watching the golf markets who are promising to offer some pearls, guest bloggers are always welcome. If you want an interest in the six nations then Italy in the -12 handicap at 10/11 with Bet365 is of interest.

Hull have spent well bringing experienced league striker Matty Fryatt to Humberside and I would take them to win at Scunthorpe comfortably at 7/5 with Blue Square, Hills and Ladbrokes.

Tottenham should have little problem with Bolton but Spurs have two ways of playing and no bet advised.

Wigan are not doomed yet but throwing the lead at West Brom will not have helped their cause. 10/11 is the price in the draw no bet market for Blackburn and it is strongly advised.

Man City play with huge caution when away at top teams. At home to West Brom they will be far more open and attacking. This will also suit West Brom who are utterly undaunted by such encounters – a recipe for goals? 15/2 is probably OK for West Brom but the Major prefers 3.5 goals or more at 17/11 with Red32 – Get stuck into that it is a price of utter beauty cast in the furnaces of the turf accountants foolishness and insanity.

I also like the chances of Villa at evens against a Fulham team that look less comfortable on the road. I have been impressed with Fulham who the Major read as a relegation possibility. With players returning and some interesting squad additions, they look set to climb the table. I do feel that Villa are in the same boat though and with a probable stronger back end to the season, the Major tips Villa to beat Fulham today.

Although Stoke are strong at home and Sunderland are missing Bent and Cattermole, I still like the 14/5 about a Sunderland win in the potteries. Gyan is a class act and Sunderland are well organised. Load the light gun.

Cricket paid well with one bet and one win in January and let us hope that strike rate can be kept up as the Major advises the finale of the one day series going to England. 11/10 looks skinny on the surface given the current 5-1 status of the series but Australia rest key players (Watson and Clarke) and England played well with the bat in defeat.

The Major has a sizzling date with a fine flame haired Welsh hotpot so it is fitting that the nap goes at Ffos Las (Blue Ditch is the translation) – I trust Loose Performer to hack up at 4.15 affording luxury truffles, caviar, champagne and other delights on my lady companion……. that said, a value meal will probably suffice if the Majors experiences of South Wales are anything to go by.

I trust your flask will be charged with the good brandy. If you are also entertaining an earthy sort from the valleys then my advice is to allow your wallet to drop to the table with a thud, the mere sight of the red notes will be enough for the desired effect, with her eyes like saucers, call the man over and let him know that ‘Bydd y dyn hwn yn talu am bopeth’ – I am sure the rest will take care of itself.