Tag Archives: night of thunder

The Royal Ascot Sermon – Day One

Good Evening from the Major who writes tired following a long weekend and a long first day in the office putting my shoulder to the wheel.

It is cooler tonight in Worcestershire and I suspect deep sleep will come easily.  I am going to keep this brief.  Yet, be warned, the Major is in fine form.  Another Saturday Sermon and another batch of winners…. If I had managed to keep my discipline and not fire in some ill-judged, slightly large, borderline moronic machine gun style bets then I’d have a terrific Ascot  war chest.  Alas.

Still, let us take the form into the finest day of flat racing in the year, the Tuesday of Royal Ascot.  Today, a Frankel foal and his mare, again in foal to Frankel sold for a combined £1.15m – Quite apt on the eve of one of favourite runs of his.  Who can forget the blistering pace of Frankel in the last two furlongs of the Queen Anne.  Go watch it again, at half way, ask yourself how Frankel can possibly win by fifteen lengths over this field of G1 winners he is buried amongst…. then watch the miracle happen.  Splendid – Only surpassed by his Royal Lodge and perhaps his defeat of Canford Cliffs just after the Hannon superstar had lowered Goldikovas colours. 

To Ascot…. 

The Queen Anne normally goes to a real class act, Paco Boy, the aforementioned Frankel, Goldikova and Canford Cliffs…. This does not quite look the same. 

I think the two that have achieved the most are Soft Falling Rain and Toronado.  The latter is of clear interest on his Sussex Stakes form but has not always run to his ability and on his first run back is an uncomfortable odds on shot for the Major.  Instead I side with Soft Falling Rain who has a globe-trotting profile and superb pieces of form including a highly decent runner-up berth behind Variety Club last time.

In one of the finest days of racing, the Queen Anne is followed up by the Coventry, one of my favourite juvenile races. 

You cannot ignore the record of Ballydoyle in this race and the fact that from their abundant riches of youth, they rely on a single runner, it is a great advert for War Envoy.  He is another likely prospect out of American standing sire War Front who gave us last years winner War Command and the highly capable Declaration of War.

Hannon is another with plenty of Coventry credentials and I was very taken with Kool Kompany but my selection is from a less fashionable yard, The Wow Signal who absolutely smashed an Ayr field of five ast time out.  Now that form may not be a hill of beans, or however the saying goes, but second out (beaten 9l) went on to win by 6l next time out and third place, a whopping 20l down to my tip, went on to win his next race too. 

Then it is time for the muscular pumped up sprinters to strut their stuff for Her Majesty.   While I respect Shea Shea and Sole Power greatly, I feel it is time for a new injection of class into the sprinting scene and Hot Streak is near the top of my list having won the Cornwalis in very taking style last year, a subsequent loss to Sole Power was very respectable given it was a seasonal debut and I would expect that form to reverse here. 

That said, near the top of the list, is not top of the list.  That spot belongs to Guerre.  For those of you with a dabbling of French, should my selection lose, I can roll out my favourite Victoria Military French quote attributed to Marshal Bosquet on the hills above the Valley of Death, Balaclava, Crimea, shortly after our light brigade had charged under incorrect orders under battery fire from every side into heavily defended Russian positions at the head of the valley; c’est magnifique mais c’est pas la guerre.  He saw what the rest of the world would come to understand… receiving an incomprehensibly suicidal command, Lord Cardigan (loved a drink) rode his troops from the front directly into the face of danger, such was the good order of our military.  Magnificent, but it is not war.  The Kaiser had an account posted to every barracks in Germany to extol the inspiration of these brave warriors, fearless.

From this, you might have guessed correctly that Guerre is another from War Front, well named you see.  The appeal goes beyond the sentiment I clearly hold.  While it is unusual for a three year old to win this race, it is not unheard of.  His Naas run when beating Maarek was very nice indeed, load a cannon at 11/1 with BetVictor (10s generally).

In case you have not had enough Group 1s, then The St James Palace is next.  What a terrific little contest with Kingman and Night of Thunder reopposing after what now looks like a tremendous Guineas.  All week I have been thinking this market is a bit wrong.  Night of Thunder was a less fashionable sort and for many, his drift across the track, the fact that Kingman did not have him to aim at; thee are facts that denigrate his classic victory. 

When Kingman subsequently turned up and rampaged in Ireland, their minds were made up.  The Guineas was an aberration and it will all be put right in the St James.  Well I think this is a classic case of snobbery.  Night of Thunder did nothing wrong when having the Irish Guineas winner and the Derby winner back in the places at Newmarket, if anything he would have been better in a straight line!  Get stuck in!

Generally speaking if you have the first four races wrong at Ascot on Tuesday, you should head to the bar and forget the last two!  The two handicaps that close the card are very difficult to solve.

In the 5pm, I am siding with Villa Royale who at 16/1 is a great price having won a nice race at York last time, her improvement has not stopped it seems.

In the lucky last, I have to go with Hootenanny Ward has bought him over the pond for this and I wish connections all the best for their endeavour.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – A top draw Greenham, Ayr Champion Hurdle (I hate calling it that) and Grand National

Good evening from the Major who writes from a virile Worcestershire scene where an abundance of colour is framed by a pleasant mid evening light; golden crops of rape, deep green grasses and dark brown earth, festering with pungent manures which gloop onto the roads trailing behind the great field workhorses coughing out their fumes and building a small tail of traffic.

The Major writes tired and failing, beer in hand and the abyss of sleep calling.  Yet, the Sermon, my weekly mistress, or perhaps more accurately master, calls me to her once more.  Penance comes once we are written and I click the blue button just inches away… publish.

The Masters is playing out in the background.  The Major posted a guest piece mid-week and the three runners are not currently dominating the leaderboard… Alas.  Nevermind, The Major also asked twitter for their fancied bets and twitter responded, my Masters stable now includes virtually half the field and since I do not think I have a golfer in the top ten, I am thinking of contacting the Guinness Book of Records.  Incredible performance, if only I had been pressing pink, not blue.

Augusta looks sensational, it always does.  I am no golfing fan but I enjoy tuning in to see the glorious grounds, stunning flora and those white bunkers glaring at you in the brightness.  The birdsong and the shade of the trees dancing across perfect greens with dark curves of water.  Although these things have been arranged by man, they are seemingly close to heaven in their composition.  It is how they wrote of the Old Summer Palace, man-made elements arranged in such a way that the beauty is breath-taking, an undeniable set of complimentary factors, it is almost impossible to fathom why one texture or colour plays so nicely against the next, it just works, some genius beyond my capability compiled it and I, your mere correspondent can only admire it.

From such perfection we slide, I watched Panorama regarding Marine A who has been convicted of murder.  I was amazed at the number of people who were willing to defend his actions.  Yes he was under extreme duress and I have every empathy for that but we cannot let the barbarism of our ancestors guide our moral judgements.  I know many of you may disagree, seemingly there is widespread support, we are partisan, he is one of ours, shooting in cold blood is never right.

I do dislike preaching, so I apologise.  Perhaps it is better if we take in the sports.  Whatever our views of the world, we are united in facing our filthy enemy whose mind so devious works to deceive and disorient.  See clearly my friends, hold a steady lance, close up ranks and despite being outnumbered, stick that chin out and let them see the straightness of our backs and certainty of posture, a certainty that speaks of victory.  Courage, roll the dice.

Newbury

With no patience before the gorging commences, I jump straight to the main dish of the Newbury card.  The Greenham has been, at times, a disappointing Guineas trial.  I am not sure why we do not get some better sorts competing most years, perhaps it is the more modern trend of taking your blue blood straight to Newmarket? Notwithstanding Frankel won the race, there are few true global stars that have emerged from the winners enclosure.  Hence it remains a Group 3.  Maybe the tide is turning though because Olympic Glory, last years winner was certainly no slouch.

Moreover, this year is a very decent looking renewal, Kingman has every chance of being a top class animal, he certainly looked so in the Solario.  He is not the only classy sort lining up as we also have the Chesham and Royal Lodge winner, Berkshire; the Gimcrack and Middle Park winner, Astaire and a host of other decent sorts.

While Kingham may prove the best of these eventually, I am taking Night of Thunder against him at 7/2 (Hills or Paddy Power) – Hannon chooses this one to follow up last seasons win with Olympic Glory (a different Hannon admittedly!) and he was a ready winner of a listed contest when last seen.  I particularly like his breeding being our of that very rich vein of Dubawi and Galileo crosses…

In the 1.50, the other Group 3 on the cards, Frankels full brother Noble Mission is joint favourite and a horse that will not carry the Majors money.  He will be able to cope if there is more cut than expected underfoot but looks vulnerable for a win and it is a winner we want… all repeat after me.. WINNERS WINNERS WINNERS WINNERS… alright, on my own.

Cubanita gave a good beating to Noble Mission and that was useful course form.  I like that at Newbury for its sweeping wide straight suits a real galloping sort.  Of interest.  Astonishing has something to prove on form for me and so by process of thorough and absolute analysis, I give you Mutashaded.  He was only a few lengths down to Hillstar at Ascot and this looks a mighty easier race.

Ayr – The Scottish Champion Hurdle

The renewal of the Greenham is above par and the same can be said of the Scots Champion Hurdle at Ayr.  Being a limited handicap, it is littered with decent winners down the years but again, few that you would argue reached the top of the tree.

This year, at one stage, the entries looked as good as the proper Champion Hurdle… Don’t be offended you Ayr lovers, proper means level weights, a fight between the best!  Anyway, the race had attracted entries from Hurricane Fly, My Tent or Yours, The New One and Pegasus, ridden by Jesus.  Sadly, Flaxen Flare and My Tent or Yours stand their ground but we have to make do with that.

The last five winners of the race won with marks of 141, 143, 144, 130 and 139 and so it is some achievement for Ayr to get the classy My Tent or Yours who runs off 168.  His presence and lofty mark have meant that only Flaxen Flare and Court Minstrel get to race at their proper weights.  Look I am surprised that My Tent or Yours is evens so lump on – I think it is a cunning plan from our new Canadian bank master to allot some extra QE amongst us ordinary folk (you not I my friends).  Flaxen Flares form in the County is the next best on offer but this is a classy classy horse and he deserves this day with the sun on his back.  Bet with conviction and courage, we do not think it, we know it.

Now for the Scottish Grand National.  10/1 the field says is all…. Last year Godsmejudge was the first horse in over a decade to lump round a weight of over eleven stone.  It is also a race that unlike the British equivalent, is won more often by seven and eight year old chasers, most likely on account of the less gruelling contest.

Again though, Tidal Bay is doing to this race what My Tent or Yours has done to the other showpiece.  18 of his 29 opponents are racing off an artificially high weight because of him taking his place.

I am going out on a limb and suggesting 33/1 shot Nuts and Bolts who is ridden by Lucy Alexander and fits the profile I like.  The horse has proven most effective on this sort of ground and may outrun the price, as could possibly so many others.  Merry King will win a race like this one day and I will kick the dog at having left it unbacked.  Before you get mad, I do not have a dog, OK; it will have to be a child.  Lie Forrit would be incredibly popular as a winner and the other horse that may just outrun a massive price is McMurrough.  God alone knows… stick a pin in, or find a proper tipster, you’ll be richer in pocket but less so in spirit.

At Navan, Answered can give us a 9/4 winner… match fitness persuades me over the eye-catching Ebasani.

and the football…

I am worried that Everton will run out of steam and so am hesitant about the 4/5 even though they are playing out of their skin… What the hell, put it in.  Derby to beat Huddersfield 8/11… glorious.  Wolves at Crewe 6/4, Luton at home to Braintree 11/20… They are the bankers.  The spice is Swansea who might outplay 4/1 against a weary legged Chelsea.

The Martin Hill bet is Answered, My Tent or Yours, Mutashaded in a power trixie.

I trust that you can take care of your own dinner plans but wish for you, the most delightful of company over a fine medallion of excellent beef, perhaps a cut from Highland Cattle reared with love in the Welsh hills.  Good wine, good company, a freedom, relaxation, restfulness; a healthy tip to reflect your contentment with proceedings and a knowing glint in your partners eye that tells you as to where her mind runs.  All these things, I wish for you.

Courage friends, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Racing Post Trophy Day… Aintree and Doncaster

Good evening from the Major who writes from the bed, tired and ready for slumber.  The darkened sky howls and the air froths and swirls, dancing at an ever-changing pace, gentle to furious in a rising crescendo and at once, peace again, for a passing moment.  Change in the air.  Danger.

The Major scored some winners last Saturday, including a tasty hat-trick at Cheltenham from just the three selections.  Even Martin Hill (yes he really exists) commended my changing fortune with a smile and a generous acknowledgement that is barely deserved.  That man has endured a torrent of poor fortune, all my own doing, but hangs in there, determined to the end.  I fear his lot will be like one of those collies that following the death of a beloved owner, sits above the grave, full of melancholy.  He gets his glimmers of hope, enough to string him along to the next investment and for me, I am thankful and most of all hopeful, that one day, patience is rewarded.

Of course, there is never any need to offer thanks for any winners I might find.  For a start, I am barely profitable, as advertised, so, your wins are probably hard-earned (you backed a lot of my losers too) or lucky, you dropped in on a going day.  Either way, I cannot claim credit.  What is more, I would not consider it proper to claim credit where I would not accept blame.  You see, I merely offer you the thoughts I have, the deep reaches of my mind, piecing together information in some construct that seems robust.  What you do with this is entirely your own choice.  I would not accept someone choosing how to bet my money, I do not presume to tell you how to spend yours.

Writing the sermon each week is a grounding in my hectic life.  I considered parking the blog (dark thoughts of a year ago) but find the anchor in the week a pleasant bolt hole for myself and my thoughts.  The thousand odd souls that wander in are welcome but the benefit I fear is mine.

I often wonder what a brand new reader might make of this.  Would you describe this as a tipping site?  Well if you did, it is not exactly a typical one.  For a start, I benefit from no adverts (any you see are merely those of WordPress and keep the site free for me to use).  I also make no charge, sell any service or claim any special information.

My tips are actually profitable, this may at times seem hard to believe.  If you stray into the menu, you will find two separate parts of this blogs history where I went to the effort of recording the tips given and painstakingly creating a record.  It was profitable.  Just.  Not the sort of profit that might have you jet off to the Caribbean in the company of an expensive sort, more the sort that might have you reaching for a bottle from the top shelf in Asda.

What interests me more is the reaction a new reader might have to the first part of the blog.  In a lucky week, a thought to write about occurs well before I sit to write the blog.  Perhaps, A dark night driving home, black rain-slicked roads and a distant emergency blue light, stimulate a thought, that is incubated until the anointed hour to write the sermon and out it spills, gushing with little reverence or key message, falling loosely and thence on the page, lay wasted and abused, incoherent noise.  In other weeks, my mood is dark and it tightens up my mind, as fear will, so what is written is brief and curt.

If you stray to these parts and are new, welcome.  We are a gentlemanly bunch, no riff raff need apply.  The game is afoot my friends, it is the time of the weekend where our hopes and dreams are intact.  It is time to prepare the heavy charger, sharpen the point on that lance and ready thyself for the battle.

To the sports….

Tip For The Racing Post Trophy

There has been a lot of rain in the UK but seemingly, Doncaster is only good to soft as I type.  I would certainly want to be on the side of a horse who might cope if it was a little worse than that and may well hold fire on the betting until having seen the morning weather and perhaps watched the first few races.

The Racing Post Trophy has gone to the O’Brien Ballydoyle team in three of the last four years with Kingsbarns, Camelot and St Nicholas Abbey.  Thus it is credible to argue that this powerhouse have again saved on of the best of their crop again for this late autumn showpiece.  Century won his maiden with ease, a race that they put Magician through in the year before.  I am getting on now for small stakes at 4/1 and may well top up later.

The selection is one of three O’Brien horses and since Joseph has chosen Century, I see no reason to think he is not the better of the two stable-mates, Johan Strauss and Buonarroti.  Certainly, all of O’Briens recent winners in this have been his first string.

If there is lots of rain, then The Great Gatsby comes into it, simply for being a proven swimmer.  I am sticking with the obvious though and Century to win the Racing Post Trophy.

My second bet for Doncaster is the second favourite at 11/4 in the 2.05, Night of Thunder.  This might be quite an appropriate name given the band of weather set to sweep across the UK on Monday morning, fate aside though, I think the Hannon trained juvenile can take this.  His run at Goodwood was visually stunning.  It was on slow ground and for a horse to handle the camber and come away so readily with no previous racecourse experience, really spoke volumes of the underlying ability.

Clearly Stubbs is an interesting runner.  Followers of the horse would have been left scratching their heads after the Coventry where he ran no race.  A line through that and you have an unexposed O’Brien juvenile, not something you would want to strongly bet against.  Yet, the Coventry has left a question mark and I was suitably impressed with Night of Thunder to think him a threat anyway so the choice was easy.

Aintree Old Roan Tips

The ‘Monet’s Garden’ Old Roan is a race which truly deserves its name.  I love the National Hunt season for the longevity of the horses which gives greater chance for their personal stories to develop.  Monet’s Garden was never quite the top draw but won this race three times over four years and with it, the hearts of many a racing fan.  He was a fine competitor and his white figure contrasted against the black silks stood out.

Again the Aintree turf may deteriorate from the currently advertised good to soft and I will err on that side.

Carrickboy has some ability and if you were assured of him putting his best foot forward, 14/1 might seem a decent proposition.  Indeed, he had today’s favourite, Walkon behind when winning at Cheltenham in the spring.  Yet, I am also minded that in the last fortnight, Venetia has sent out 9 runners and has not yet recorded a place.

Wishfull Thinking is not getting younger but holds some of the best form in the race.  His second in this last year was quite a distant second (nigh on 30l), that was on good ground behind For Non Stop (who I remember tipping by the way!).  Classy and cannot be ruled out./

I am not sure what to make of Edgardo Sol, he has been running well enough but does not look spectacular.  Is it possible that the step up in trip (not raced beyond 2m 1f) would improve him?  Possible but not for me.  I am also considering that if he was really fancied, then maybe Daryl Jacob would not have gone to Chepstow.

Astracad is not my sort of horse.  The Holmes quote is that once you have ruled out all impossible things, then what remains, no matter how improbable is the truth.  On these grounds, I would have nothing winning the Old Roan!  Thus I have to come back to Walkon, my 9/2 hope, whose stable are in form, has enjoyed visits to Aintree before (even if it was hurdling or on the national course) and has great form shouts.

Regal Encore was my Champion Bumper pick and while he ran second that day, I am hoping he will go one better over hurdles in the last today.

To the other sports

You will forgive me but I am too tired to start contemplating Newbury.  So a fistful of football tips and to bed.

I think Liverpool are a poor short price favourite because I fancy West Brom but shall not offer this as advice as I am prejudiced by my own support for the away team.  I do think West Ham are a massive 4/1 price to win at Swansea.  The home team had a tough game in Europe in mid-week and were deflated by a last gasp equalizer, West Ham can take advantage.  Other than that, Southampton look a banker at 6/10 to beat dreadful Fulham at home.  I would also back QPR at 15/8 away at Burnley.

The Martin Hill advice is to back an each way trixie on Century, Walkon and Night of Thunder.

To all of you, I wish you luck and prosperity.  I hope your dinner is taken in the most refined company and that the only discomfort be the wallet which digs into your ribs.

Courage, roll those dice.