Tag Archives: nathaniel

The Saturday Sermon – Haydock Sprint Cup Tips, 33/1 Ascot Tip and a 33/1 shot at Leopardstown!. Shabash

Good Evening from the Major who writes from a rural Worcestershire scene, dark at an hour forboding the coming cold of winter.

How the Major loves the change of season. Of fair complexion, I have always struggled in the sun, it makes me ill. Nice dark nights, cold air on your face and less brightness with which to ache my northern eyes, winter is my time.

The Major is in decent form with some nice winners last weekend. Let us hope the run continues and we strike gold with the huge amount of tips provided below.

I am writing the post on a Friday evening as I am running in the morning. I am taking on 9 miles and then I am going to repeat the dose on Sunday. This is all in preparation for the Berlin marathon which I run with my brother and Adam Redmond, both also avid gambling spirits.

Our cause is Whizz Kidz – A superb charity giving young disabled people mobility. The way in which their equipment and training can boost a childs confidence and change their lives is a wonderful thing. If you have a few pounds to spare, the Major urges you to consider a small donation at our justgiving page.

After all, what has the Major ever asked of you. You remain anonymous, arriving here to read these words each week. You are one of a few hundred regulars. You know me; I ask little, I know I am barely profitable – I offer my ideas for free neither expecting praise or condemnation after the result. I serve you no adverts, I don’t pester you to sign up for anything. You get the Major every weekend, unhinged and honest. Free, no strings attached. Just once, might I appeal to your generosity.

If you don’t really know me, then just donate the cost of a pint – Remain anonymous if you will, it would move me to receive such generosity. After all, you don’t have to, it is merely a choice.

Betfred Sprint Day and the main race looks a cracker. Another in the British Champions Series which has been a roaring success. Below I have compiled tips for that, alongside some racing tips for Leopardstown where the Group One Irish Champion Stakes is lit up by the presence of Snow Fairy and Nathaniel. As usual, the Major brings you the highlights and I cover the entire and I must say entirely impenetrable Ascot card. As a close colleague of the Majors, Mr Smith, is attending, should there be winners, I trust a man of considerable means, might consider a donation to the cause.

Be ready to daub thy war paint my dear followers, be ready to bear arms. Bravery in the face of our enemy; he who makes markets of the most devious nature to fool us and confound our minds. Allow me to cut through the clouds of misdirection.

For real bravery, consider the tale of Airmen Sergeant Norman Jackson VC. You have to do some magnificent things to win a Victoria Cross, in this case, he crawled onto the wing of his Lancaster which had sustained fire after a raid on Schweinfurt, a Bavarian town on the Main river. The wing was on fire and Sergeant Jackson resolved to put the fire out with an extinguisher. His parachute accidentally opened on the way out, meaning he knew that if he fell, he was doomed.

In those circumstances, would you crawl onto a plane wing at 200mph, 20,000 feet in the air? What is more, he knew that even if succesful, he would never be able to get back into the aircraft.

He fell from the wing after dropping the extinguisher, his chute partially worked and in addition to his broken bones and burns, he suffered being captured. That is the sort of action that requires recognition with our highest honour, a small cross of bronze (legend has it from the cannons at Balaclava where our thin red line and light brigade saw action… although a more likely source is Chinese bronze).

To the sports….

3.25 – Haydock Betfred Sprint Cup Tips

This is a proper Group One race with top class sprinters taking each other on – On rattling ground at Haydock it is going to be fast and furious.

Aussie sprinter Ortensia is on a hat trick bid after superb Goodwood and York wins this term. Her early form in Britain looked ropey but on balance she had plenty of excuses for those first two runs. The Nunthorpe win was particularly good and she remains of clear interest at 11/4.

Society Rock has the assistance of Kieran Fallon and if breaking on terms could be a threat to all. 11/1 is a great each way price.

Strong Suit has been on the wrong side of a Frankel beating and I think Hannon is doing the right thing dropping him back to sprint distances. Quicker ground seems the key to the horse who is a general 6/1 chance.

Three year olds have a reasonable record in the Haydock Sprint Cup but Es Que Love is surely outclassed.

The Major is going instead to rely on my old favourite Bated Breath at 7/2 with Totesport and Betfred. My selection set a course record in the Temple Stakes and I think the quick ground we get here is the key to him. His Haydock record is outstanding and I fancy him to go one better than his second here last year.

A forecast with Ortensia is also a bet I would like to take on.

Ascot Tips – The Full Ascot Card

1.30 Juvenile Maiden

There is not a lot of form evidence with these two year olds and so the Major advises you to keep stakes at a minimum.

Telescope and Meshardal are very interesting debutantes, both have derby entries. On breeding, this looks like it might be a bit sharp for the former, a son of Galileo. The Sharmadal bred Mershardal might go well on debut. Mershadal is from the Hannon yard, possibly the most effective trainer for bringing the best from two year olds, even if other trainers seem to surpass him with older horses.

Interestingly, with Richard Hughes not available for Hannon, Pat Dobbs, the next stable pick is on Bursledon, a horse I would be interested in.

In these races, money can be crucial and at this stage, no market is open and so the Major is advising blind. Keep stakes small but I would chance a small bet on King Muro at 33/1 or so (guessing the price here so use your own judgement!)

2pm – Fillies Juvenile Maiden

Half an hour later and it is the turn of the girls. Only seven runners and three of them are representatives of the Mohammed Al Zarooni stable. That is an interesting yard for juveniles, they are focussed on their breeding operation. The market seems to have little feel for the genuine chances suggesting that they are not a gambling yard. The Major likes this as if you find one at a price, you need not be put off.

While there are less runners, the quality is all there.

Taking Al Zarooni’s runners, then jockey booking suggests they are happiest with Desert Blossom, who won her debut race with the field strung out. I would not jump to judge the bare form as superb but clearly she has ability.

Fleeting Spirit is an interesting runner, a big filly, she is sure to improve with time as she comes to herself. She had the bad luck of meeting the ill-fated Newfangled on debut and went one better subsequently. Her last third was a bit dissapointing off what looked like a winnable mark.

While I think Desert Blossom is the likeliest winner, I prefer at the prices, rank outsider, 12/1 shot Nice Story. The Chepstow race she won was entirely ordinary. We do not get many Suave bred horses in the UK, the sire is out of AP Indy and the Major is happy that this could be a well bred sort. While the Chepstow run was only OK, the ground here will be more suitable and at 12/1 I fancy a slice.

This is also not a race to get too involved in. I might have a small reverse forecast with Desert Blossom too.

2.35 Ascot – Class 2 Nursery Sprint

Another two year old race, this time over a sprint distance. A very difficult contest to tip.

The market is wide open at 9/2 the field and that reflects the open nature of the affair.

Kodiac bred, Foxy Forever is very interesting. The yard have used young Barzalona twice and have won with him on board twice. His debut win at Wolverhampton followed some significant support and so you have to be interested at 15/2 (Paddy Power).

Experience brings Opt Out into the frame with this being the seventh race of the colts career. He has moved on in leaps and bounds in the last two although the last win at Warwick saw another 5lbs lumped on. I love the toughness of Johnstones horses but prefer Fanning in the saddle.

While Foxy Forever is a very interesting horse with an eye catching booking, it is 6/1 shot Stand of Glory that the Major is going to tip in the Ascot nursery sprint. The ground at Thirsk was pretty rattling and Ascot can dry to include firm tomorrow – There is no way that the Ripon race is true form having led in unsuitable ground, I am sure a place is the minimum we could expect.

3.10 Fillies Handicap

Sharmadal filly Wahylah probably ran her best race at Beverley last time out and the manner of the race suggests that this step up in trip is well in favour.

Ted Durcan gets a rare eye catching ride (2 wins from 3 in last two years) for the yard or Mrs Greeley who has a fair each way chance.

Speedi Mouse is a most interesting runner seeking a hat-trick. The inexperienced jockey has clearly got a good tune out of the horse and the mild weights increase won’t stop further improvement. Of interest.

The Major though is going to tip Honeymead at 12/1. My selection only managed fifth last time out but that was only a few lengths down to the very useful Dutch Rose. That was probably the best run for some time and while many will overlook on the grounds of being exposed, the Major has a sense that there might be a bit more to come.

3.45 Ascot – Class 2 Handicap

A series of the usual handicap suspects have turned up for this class 2 Ascot handicap.

There are few easy races at Ascot today with either mind bendingly difficult handicaps or juvenile guesswork at the heart of these difficult connundrums.

Ladbrokes are generous offering 14/1 about Global Village from the Ellison yard. I would suggest that ground conditions are not ideal and I have given up on trying to guess when the yard have one ready – Money would be significant.

Primaeval is very interesting to the Major who would have hated the soft draining conditions last time out. Returned to suitable conditions, a big run could be on the cards.

In these sorts of races though, the Major prefers the class acts playing off higher weights and the sort that fits the bill is Johnstones Bannock. 10/1 is generally available this evening for my tip who benefits from the best 7lb claimer in Michael Murphy. Get involved.

4.15pm Ascot – 12f Handicap

This is another mind bending puzzle with many horses that enter the equation.

Gospel Choir beat the very useful Sun Central who went on to win again, that form has pushed Gospel Choir to the top of the market. Sir Michael Stoute has a successful relationship with Baker and this horse has won two handicaps here from three wins this year. Very interesting.

Stencive, narrowly defeated by Gospel Choir has to be in the calculation too with some pretty blue blood. In fact the horse is closely related to my favourite ever horse, George Washington. Clearly very useful and on balance, irresistible – the Major tips 10/1 Stencive. My selection, a son of Dansili, should give us a decent run at a decent price.

Incidentally, Fennell Bay is no way a 33/1 shot. OK, the busy schedule may have effected recent performances but if Johnstone has freshened up this outsider then he could make a mockery of that price.

Castilo Del Diablo is another witha great chance. Entirely unexposed, well drawn and a formerly expensive purchase, who knows? I would not put you off.

4.50 Ascot Food and Wine Handicap

Last Sovereign is a rejuvenated animal under the inexperienced jockey Jacob Butterfield, I think the improvement may be stopped by the best part of half a stone extra burden.

Fitz Flyer is the 5/1 favourite and did well just behind the Majors tip Tax Free last time out. Hardly a strike rate to fill you with confidence but signs of a big run are there.

The Major has to decide between Intransigent at 8/1 – A potentially progressive beast whose latest all weather win was decisive and there is little reason why it cannot be replicated on turf. My other fancy is equal 8/1 shot Ajjaadd, who looks like he sort that has been laid out for the race. It is coming to his time of year, the market knows it and while a few more pounds off the weight would help, surely he will be tuned up.

On balance, I just think Ajjaadd will be a major player at 8/1.

5.45 Leopardstown – Irish Champion Tips

The weight allowance normally means that the classic generation have a very good chance in the Champion but this year, the proven class is in the older horses.

Snow Fairy at 2/1 would be my favourite of them, the admirable mare has won 6 group one affairs including her last race at Deauville.

Good luck to Buick who is making the helicopter dash across the Irish Sea to ride Nathaniel. The favourite is clearly a talented animal but I am not sure this is his race.

As for St Nicholas Abbey, the shortness of the trip is one concern but the effect that Frankel inflicted with his Juddmonte demolition act is as much a concern.

Instead the Major opts for 33/1 shot Daddy Long Legs and I ask for your imagination. My tip won the UAE derby and looked set for a globe trotting career but his runs in the states were awful. Given a fresh turf chance back at home, with the three year old allowances, I’m not ruling out some chance for the horse in what might be a tactical affair.

That’s it from the Major who gives you nine sporting horsey tips. If I had to pick a nap, then I would be hard pressed between Bated Breath and Stencive.

May your winnings pay for a dinner to which you can take the classiest of sorts. Bedecked in expensive trinkets and reeking of perfume, she might be full of herself, but after a decent bottle or three and a sight of a fat wallet, the look in the eye will run to more than decent steak. Airs and graces or not, we are all the same in the end.

Courage, roll those dice.

Saturday Sermon – King George Ascot Tips…

Good morning from the rural air of Worcestershire where my entire village has taken to their lawns with all manner of grass cutting devices.  From hand pushed old-fashioned mowers to ride-on machines with horsepower aplenty.  The air is thick with that most delightful of smells, cut grass.

Today I only offer a short post.  The reason is social commitments and I can only apologise.  Feel for me though.

The King George at Ascot today is as good a running as I can remember.  The race is definitely feeling back to top class.  Perhaps the momentum changed when Harbinger won going away from a top field including Derby winning Workforce.

Today though we have represented in the line up winners of a previous King George, an Arc, A Melbourne Cup, a Hong Kong Vase, Derbies of many nationalities, a St Leger, a Coronation Cup; the list of Group One winners goes on…. stunning, a race I am looking forward to.

The Major has been tweeting a lot this week (@tdl123) in recognition of the fantastic achievement of Team Sky.  It looks to all the world like they are going to take a one two in the Tour de France.  For Wiggins, surely a knighthood and a Sports Personality is assured (he was trading at 7/4 for the latter honour), even more certain if he attains some olympic glory too.

His team though deserve so much credit.  Froome has moved up through the field but always remained focusses on his main goal; make Wiggins win it.  He would have been a real threat if this was not a team game and he not a great team player.  His year will come, he deserves it.

I am not a cycling fan but I have been captivated by this years Tour.  What these guys are doing is an incredible feat of endurance and skill.  I admire anyone with a special ability, to bend a free kick, to strike a golf ball further and more accurately.  Yet, the Tour riders are out there day after day riding stages in excess of a hundred miles over mountains, real mountains.  The sheer determination is a thing to behold.  These boys keep going, using their bodies to pump out maximum energy, single mindedly, no choice just commitment… to each punishing climb.  They keep going an eternity after us mortal souls would cry enough.

To the sports.  If you are thinking of following the Majors racing tips today, may I warn you that I am on the cold list.  Not a good week.  Right now I could get Shergar beaten.

Tips for the King George – Ascot

Having paid tribute to the line up, now I have the tricky decision of selecting a tip from the race.

Sea Moon is guaranteed to give a splendid running which can not be said of Nathaniel.  While his returning run was determined and masterful, surely an extra week or two of time to recover would have been useful?

Ascot dries so quickly that I think the ground will ride as perfect good.  This negates some of the benefit that Nathaniel would have from softer condition.  He does not get the same useful weight for age that he received last year… Questions over the prep remain – Dangerous but I am going elsewhere.

The Sea Moon / Dunaden form is striking and with a bit more luck in running, the latter might come out on top.  Connections have flown their favourite jockey over from Australia – Significant?  The horse has won a Hong Kong Vase and a Melbourne Cup; that is fantastic even if both were tight finishes.

I find Deep Brilliante a fascinating runner.  The Japanese Derby horse is the only three year old in the field and thus benefits from a significant weight advantage.  I am not convinced by the form in the far east though and although a massive outsider of interest, I have persuaded myself overnight to go elsewhere.

Masked Marvel is surely not good enough.

Sir Michael Stoute, Godolphin, John Oxx and Ballydoyle have taken 12 of the last 15 runnings of this race.  The interruptions were Gosden (last year – Nathaniel), John Oxx and Andre Fabre.  It is fair to say that the trend is the best of the home team (Britain and Ireland).

On those grounds I am going to ignore Dunaden, Deep Brilliante and Danedream (whose Arc form I didn’t like anyway) and concentrate on the profiles I think likeliest.

I am opting for 9/2 shot St Nicholas Abbey.  His wins in the Coronation Cup and raid on the Breeders Mile were great achievements and even if the horse failed to quite live up to his lofty reputation in his classic year, we are getting to see what he is capable of. So St Nicholas Abbey is the Majors tip for the King George and good luck to all concerned.

5.25 Cartmel

The biggest pot the Cumbrian track has put up has attracted a very decent field including the first horse that Henderson has run at Cartmel.

Royal Riviera is the selection – The Twiston-Davies horse is improving and I fancy the 12/1 shot to put up a good show.

May your dinner this evening be fuelled by the winnings of a huge each way double you placed on my selections.  Bosh.

Courage, roll the dice.

Coral Eclipse Sandown Tips, Murray, Farhh, Rain, Haydock Tips….It is the Saturday Sermon

Good morning to you all from a rural Worcestershire where the pressing warm air still feels charged with the potential of release.

Cityscape with that distinctive white blaze….

Surprising really as like most, we have been deluged.  From the Major’s windows I can see down the hill into the culvert where an impromptu lake has formed, as it does when system cannot cope.The Major loves the Sandown Coral Eclipse race.  An opportunity for the three year olds and four year olds to battle it out.  A chance for the upstarts, fresh from the Guineas exploits to meet their elders and see if the weight for age allowance and impertinence of youth can win over.  It is a chance to judge the classic generation.Only not so this year.  Bonfire may well be a fine horse but he is the sole representative of his age group today.  This does not mean the race is diminished.  In fact there are a number of intriguing angles for the Major, more of that in a moment.

Andy Murray has made the Wimbledon final and good luck to him.  Twitter (the Major is @tdl123 by the way!)  has a habit of repeating jokes and the line about him winning and being British and losing and being a sCot has done many the round.

The Major is happy for him to be Scottish if he loses and retain his miserable dour Scots Presbyterian outlook if he wins too.  Entertainment is part of the modern sports persons brand.  Being liked is as equal to what you have won.  The pure of heart might balk at this – After all the olympian spirit is hardly about popularity n’est pas?  Yet, we chew our lip when we hear that Beckham was not picked for the squad on the grounds of likely contribution…

Beckham has it, Murray does not.  The Major acknowledges that this is nothing to do with the sport.  If you are a tennis buff then you may be content enough to base your view of a man on his forearm smash.  For those tourists of us though, we want more.  Hence, I don’t like Murray… Given the choice of a beer with him or Federer after tomorrows proceedings, no contest.  What you do as well as how you do it count.

To the sports…

Tips for Sandowns Coral Eclipse

Intriguing… The pace is likely to be generous with Nathaniel and Cityscape in the field.  Sandown for me is a course where prominence can help.  There are pointers.

Softer ground (good to soft officially) is also a big component.  Cityscape, Farhh, Twice Over and Bonfire are confirmed toe-in sorts….

The most fascinating runner has to be Crackerjack King who apart from a run in the french Derby which you would have to ignore, has looked hugely impressive.  Now an inmate of Botti, a massively interesting sort.

Let’s sift through a few.  Bonfire was at one point a hot order for the Derby after taking in the Dante.  That field though does not look as strong as it once did and I doubt that Bonfire measures up to other three year old winners of the Eclipse such as Hawk Wing or Sea the Stars…

Nathaniel would be of significant interest having won the race last year.  The Major tipped him up that day.  Having had no run this season and having been looked outpaced, I wonder if Nathaniel might be a bit caught for toe.

Of the bigger prices, I am attracted to Sri Putra who has run into the places in the last two runnings.  That one will be fired up and Varian is in great form.  66/1 is a fine price and although not the tip, neither is 66/1 right.

Twice Over could also outrun 16/1, a lover of soft conditions and proven Group One performer.  He needs to leave behind two poorer runs from this season and not a lot of excuses seem to offer themselves, perhaps at 7, the best days are gone, perhaps not.

Farhh looks of significant interest having finished really well when finally getting out of a pocket at Ascot last time out.  Personally I wonder if the reaction to that performance is a little overboard but 5/2 seems reasonable.  The horse will like conditions and this is a considered animal.  Especially as he was supplemented for this.

The Major though has settled on Cityscape.  As long as the international travel has not taken too much a toll then I think this horse has possibly the best form in the race having won the Dubai Duty Free from the front.  Good to soft should have no major fears and the Major is going to offer my eclipse tip at 5/1 with Paddy Power who refund if you are second to Farhh.

Haydock – Old Newton Cup Tips

The presence of Allied Powers has shoved the weights up enough that he shoulders almost a stone more than the second in the handicap.  The old timer loves testing conditions and cannot be ruled out stepping back into handicap company, although the Major looks elsewhere.

Lexi’s Boy will also relish conditions and McCain is in fine form stealing these flat handicap races having taken the Northumberland last weekend, considered.

The Major opts for 11/1 shot Easy Terms.  The Old Newton tip has won both starts this term and has a penchant for the sot ground.  An awkward draw has made the price honest but he overcame a shocker at Chester to come from the back and win there.  The improvement may well still be ongoing… Have a slice.

3.10 Sandown – Tips for the Coral Distaff

I must have a look at this race because I simply believe evens shot Starscope is wholly the wrong price.  I have a strong suspicion that we will find the form of her races not that strong.  The Guineas race looked odd and with Homecoming Queen now not looking quite so hot a prospect, I think evens that Starscope gets her head in front for the first time this year is a crazily short price.  I accept that I also have to find the Coronation form a bit misleading too…

That’s what I love about my sport, racing is opinion. Fact + Story = Belief and my instinct is that Starscope is over-rated massively here.

I am opting for a 16/1 shot instead in the lightly raced Kunooz.  Only raced twice as a juvenile, I suspect that her second run was not magnificent (behind Falls of Lora) and then she was put away.  I am taking a risk but I think progress could have been made with her being re-introduced at Listed level.

Tonight may your dinner be a simple home cooked pasta…. courage, roll those dice.

Tips for the Arc – The Majors Preview – Sarafina / Workforce / So You Think / Nathaniel / Reliable Man / Galikova / Nakayama Festa

The Arc market has a great shape to it and the Major is mighty excited by the Longchamp showpiece.  The Arc is on the Majors hit list of things that must be done in the coming few years.

Freddy Head and Galikova – 7/1 Boooom she has the Majors vote

For a start, it is cheap, if you happen to be in Paris.  Entry is a fistful of Euros.  You can buy tickets on the day and it attracts a crowd of biblical proportion.  Viva Le Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

This years contest is a cracker.  Two horses would have made it possibly the best renewal ever…. if connections had successfully stepped Frankel up to a mile and a half, clearly we would be salivating – Sometimes, a dream is wonderful – You can awake wondering which reality is the truth.

I also think the Arc de Triomphe is substantially poorer for the horse the Major would have backed, Pour Moi.  The last to first run in the derby was über impressive and I had this one down as the Arc winner for some time – Alas injury means we are missing Pour Moi.

There is however quality left in abundance and the Major’s heart flutters at the prospect of this years renewal, it is good to be alive, n’est pas?

The Arc Market.

The market is 7/2 bar and this gives plenty of punting opportunity.  Workforce is the horse that some cannot make up their minds about, 5/1 to 7/1 are both available.

Horse Price
Sarafina 7/2
So You Think 5
Nathaniel 5
Reliable Man 7
Workforce 5
Galikova 7
Meandre 14
Hiruno DAmour 16
Snow Fairy 25
Sea Moon 16
Nakayama Festa 25

Sarafina 7/2 – The Aga Khan Power Mare ****

Sarafina deserves to be favourite in the Majors view.  Her win the last weekend in one of the two Arc trials was superb.   That said, the Aga Khan was lucky to keep the race in the Majors view.  The french stewards have itchy trigger fingers and there is no doubt Sarafina barged her way through a non-existent hole to win.

That is what made her trial win in the Prix Foy so appealing to the Majors eye, she had already quickened to contend and then had the nerve and the power to come away again from the leaders.

She has not raced against three-year olds which puts a slight dampener on the form but she looks the best middle distance racer in France.  Last year she may well have been a contender at the finish but for a shocking traffic problem turning for home – She almost hit the deck and rallied impressively to make third.  In one sense this also troubles the Major, is she the sort to find trouble again?  The Arc is the sort of race that needs a jockey cute to positioning and while Sarafina has the bravery, I just have this odd feeling that she might get herself into a hole again, after all she managed it on Sunday with just 4 runners!!….. instinct.

Overall, a significantly considered horse.

Workforce 5/1-7/1 – Sir Michael Stoutes Reigning Champion***

Last years Arc winner returns as a four-year old and fair play to Prince Khalid Abdullah who could easily have retired the star at the end of his classic season.  On behalf of all racing fans, thank you.

This season has been a bit of a mixed bag.  Firstly, a Sandown Group 3 on soft was won with a pleasing enough reappearance.  Then came the Sandown showdown with So You Think where the latter got the better in a decent duel.  So You Think seemed to hold Workforce comfortably that day but three vital things will be in Workforces favour on Arc day.

Firstly he has won at Longchamp.  Secondly, the ground is likely to be soft and I think that will suit Workforce.  Finally the Sandown showdown was over 1m 2f, a distance probably on the sharp side for last years Arc champion.

Workforce was also beaten in this years King George by Nathaniel.  The Major put Nathaniel up that day and was delighted to see the game three-year old hold on.  Watching that race, Workforce looked a lively threat closing to within a length before swinging wildly across the track.

I am not sure Nathaniel would have broken had Workforce stayed straight but clearly the veering was a concern.  It normally shows a horse where something is wrong.  Perhaps the King George run was not 100% Workforce.  Furthermore, the ground was a rattling good that day and I am fairly sure, Workforce will go better on soft.

Overall there are too many questions about Workforce to allow the Major to back him.

So You Think – 5/1 Ballydoyle’s Aussie Import **

So You Think is tentatively one that the Major rules out at this early stage.  This might seem harsh given the Aussie import, touted as one of the worlds best horses has had a terrific season and done little wrong.  He is also a lovely looking dark horse.

His only defeat in Europe was in the Prince of Wales at Ascot where Rewilding, hardly the sort that the worlds best horse should be beaten by, got up close home to defeat So You Think.  Ryan Moore was generally lambasted for the ride.  He did send So You Think off pretty far from home to bring the bacon in and I am sure he would have held onto him for longer if he had the chance again.

Last time out, So You Think knuckled down incredibly well to see off a rampant Snow Fairy.  What is not to like?

Well two things make him an uncomfortable proposition for the Major.  Firstly, he has had a long season, the Arc will be his 6th race and a couple of them, including the last have been hard work.  The second related fact is that I prefer my Arc horse to have had an entire season pointing at Longchamp.  It was only today that connections of So You Think finally committed to the race.

This last issue prevails for the Major.  It has not been a superb season for the Ballydoyle team, I suspect that they wanted other viable Arc candidates from the likes of Recital but have ended up with just one horse that has shown the likely form.

Reliable Man – 7/1 Prix de Jockey Club Champion **

The first three-year old to review and for that reason alone a plus.  This years classic generation have been simply superb, it has been a good year indeed.

This horse has to be taken incredibly seriously in the Majors view.  The Prix Niel Arc trial Group 2 win last weekend was impressive for two reasons, firstly it is always a terrific pointer to the big day and secondly, Reliable Man was eased at the finish.  Impressive.

This winner stamped himself as a star when taking the Prix de Jockey Club which to be fair was probably not the strongest renewal.

Positives include the fact that ground will not be a problem if it gets soft and a likeable attitude.

The factors that put the Major off tipping Reliable Man are that his form is not very well tied into the leading British horses or older french horses.  I am also unsure that this one has quite the turn of foot required to win an Arc, he has not shown a Sarafina type turn of foot.  He is gritty though.

Overall, I find his price short enough and so cannot tip him for the Arc.

Nathaniel – 5/1 The Improver *** 11/2

On the 13th August 2010, a maiden was run in which Nathaniel finished second .  I do not have enough superlatives to describe Frankel but suffice to say it was the only time he has ever gone off at odds against!  7 wins later, we know that maiden in the warm early evening light of Newmarket was a remarkable affair even if the good denizens of HQ did not fully realise at the time!

Nathaniel has hardly done the form any harm himself!  A second runner up spot in his juvenile year hardly pointed to the horse being world class but whatever happened over the winter, Nathaniel landed in the spring of 2011.

He took his first race a class 5 Haydock maiden in eye-catching style.  Then a runner-up in the Chester vase, a course I am not convinced would have suited him.  If the result looked OK, it was franked firmly when the horse that got the better of him.

Treasure Beach, went on to be runner-up in a brave run in the Derby only defeated by the flashing Pour Moi and the exuberant teenager Mikael Barzalona.

Nathaniel missed the Derby and went straight to Group 2 handicap company at Ascot.  The way he won that day makes you wonder if connections wish they had supplemented him for the derby.

Then came his real day of glory.  The King George is a flagship race and his beating of Workforce and St Nicholas Abbey in receipt of 12lbs was still impressive.  As mentioned above, Workforce may not have been at his best that day, on Arc day he will be in receipt of a slightly less generous weight for age allowance.

It is insanely difficult to overlook Nathaniel as a credible threat as this years three-year olds have consistently proven their elders wrong.  Above So You Think, Nathaniel has been aimed at Longchamp for some time.

Considered.  Should I tip him for the Arc?  No.  Would I put you off him, no.

Galikova – 7/1 Freddy Heads Special Filly ****

Galikova enriches the race bringing a touch of Goldikovas class but she is there on utter merit.

As a half-sister of Goldikova, the wonder mare who races for identical connections, it is delightful to see her turn out, a class act of her own, she has looked top draw several times in her classic year.  Goldikova has been a reliable top class mare.  Who says Galikova will not have her day in the sun.

Her french Oaks (Prix de Diane) second looked better when she defeated the winner last time out in her Arc trial.  On a strict line of form with the yardstick Colombian, Reliable Man is under her thumb, we shall see about that on the day but she certainly has nothing to prove with regard to her right to an Arc stall..

I thought her Arc trial was a superb visual result.  She still raced keenly, perhaps wanting to get on with things and still had the energy to put the field to bed.  Given that was on soft ground, it is quite impressive.

Freddy Head will have left a bit off for the Arc too, it is not unreasonable to expect improvement, strongly considered.

Nakayama Festa – The Majors Lively 25/1 Outsider

Nakayama Festa is the final horse I offer to you under the spotlight.  The Japanese raider surprised many when second in the race last year at a tasty 22/1.

That day showed a couple of things…. firstly he is a top class animal and secondly he is fine in the usual deadening french autumnal ground.

Back in the Far East he was probably over the top when trailed off in a Japanese Group 1 last November.

Since then he has been under wraps until Arc Trial day on Sunday.  He went down fourth of four to Sarafina which is a less shocking result when you consider he led, setting himself up for the closer.  While he is versatile, his best performances have come from off the pace and so it was, in one sense, surprising to see him bowl along in his Arc trial.

A few things strike me.  Firstly, that a few lengths defeat to Sarafina is not in itself a terrible result.  Soft ground presents no problem.  I very much like the fact that Nakayama Festa has been entirely aimed at the Arc this year.  He has had the french prep run and that is his lot.

More should come on the big day and at 25/1 there is plenty of value in this runner.

Summary My Tip for the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe

Class horses win the Arc.  You have to look for those you genuinely think have the utter quality.

I also want a horse that was always aimed at Longchamp, not one that may have had other options.

My conclusion is that Galikova represents the best value.  Sarafina certainly was beautiful on the eye but I worry she might find more trouble.

In a year where three-year olds have dominated, I want one on my side in the Arc and I am going for the headlining result of Galikova doing the business with all of her allowances.  Ground is not a problem and the Major thinks a general 7/1 is utterly reasonable.  8/1 is available with Corals – Have a slice and thank me later.

Remember the Major had this right with Workforce last year, it is one of my favourite races, understandably.

If you fancy a lively price, I would tip up Nakayama Festa who is 33/1 with Hills.

Sarafina and Nathaniel are evidently the others I considered putting up as my Arc tip.  So You Think and Workforce are the two I consider over-priced.

One final horse I have not run a deeper profile on in this post is Sea Moon.  This one was so fancied in the run up to the St Leger but ground went against.  On the day I thought he had a chance of catching Masked Marvel with a clear run, he did not get one.  At 20/1, he is considered but has not shown enough.

Courage and shuffle those cards.

Day Four – Friday Royal Ascot Tips – The Major Strikes with a 20/1 winner and a 22/1 place on Thursday

Well after a disastrous Wednesday, Thursdays Ascots tips came good at the double with Opinion Poll chasing home impressive Fame and Glory at a hefty advised 22/1 before slamming in a 20/1 winner with Pisco Sour from 4 advices.


Memory (nearside) winning the Albany – More of this please Hughsie

The Major has had a long day in London and so the post tonight is brief and focussed.  Two strong bets for singles and a double.

3.05 King Edward VII Stakes

This is a nice Group 2 mile and a half for colts and geldings and the Major has a strong fancy in World Domination.  This was always a highly thought of Derby contender and with the Dante form being franked by Pisco Sour, the once favourite for the Derby can improve beyond his 5/1 odds.

I do not fancy Nathaniel at 11/4 – I do not rate the Chester run to Treasure Beach as much as the bookies.

Equally, Mijhaar, who while winning like he had anything in hand, faces a different proposition today.

World Domination is the confident selection.

3.45 Coronation Stakes

This Group One mile for fillies sees a number of Guineas horses and potential improvers come together to clash again.  A top quality line up and a cracking race.

More than Real is the first under the spotlight.  The form of the two year old Breeders Cup meeting win looks excellent – It is turf form too.  The Americans have not had that much success this Ascot and I am planning on this not being the turn around moment.

Theyskens Theory is under consideration, particularly as she has a win on soft.  Interesting but probably just a little short of top class.

The one the Major opts for though is Memory at 8/1.  Connections had a strong view that they had a Guineas winner on their hands with this one but she was quirky and finished last after giving the field half the track at the start.  Hannon has a record of getting these sorts right, just like Strong Suit on Tuesday, if so 8/1 looks a monstrous piece of value.