Tag Archives: noble mission

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 – Scottish National and Champion Hurdle Tips, Newbury 40/1 Spring Cup Tip… Plus, over-reaction

Good morning from the Major who writes to you from a Worcestershire scene bathed in Springs awakening.  A glorious chorus of blazing light from an azure blue sky with a freshening cool breeze and the land comes to life.

Transition – We are moving from one state to another.  The National Hunt season is in it’s death throes, Punchestown is around the corner but it is the leaving party, a celebration of what has gone.

In contrast, bright new two year olds, representatives of the top yards, hundreds of years of breeding excellence are launching their bids for stardom on flat tracks up and down the land.  Expensive reputations go pop, greenness is rife but in amongst it, lurks the next generation urging forwards relentlessly, for now oblivious to their relative impending end, a mortality we all share.

Spring is here, the most dishonest of seasons.

The Major was bought up in a conservative household, both in politic and conduct.  Not that I entirely agree with either as a way of life but it perhaps explains my detestation of over reaction.  It is an emotive response which I guard this merry band of warriors against.  Lend me your ear and do not dare skip to the tips – Why would you do that anyway, it is not as if great valuable treasures await you there, merely disappointment and soul searching questions, such as why do I return here each week…

As a gambler, selection is the art form.  Information is presented to us as it is to our enemy who prices future events on it.  We take a view and seek weakness in the enemies calculations.  This requires judgement.  Judgement requires the ability to differentiate the important from the not, to put aside noise and tune in to the signal.

Over reaction and partisan opinion is a curse of the modern world.  When presented with a situation, the expectation is that you instantaneously believe one thing or another.  You either love Thatcher or despise her, those in the middle are drowned out.  Those at the edges seize on facts and present them in loud cacophony as though the more inciteful the language, the truer the belief.  The fallacy is that there is a common sense, a greater truth.

Let us not talk politics at breakfast though, nothing could be more impolite.  Yet let me ask you to self reflect on how able you are to flex your mind.  Being able to do so will make you a better gambler, you will discard the untrue and the less useful more quickly if you consider the disease of over-reaction.

Take any major publicly debated event with popular opposing views.  Think of those people expressing the most extreme views on that spectrum.  When the pressure is upon you to have your own view and express it to others, how often and able do you say…

 I have not made up my mind yet – Indecision is portrayed as a weakness by those incapable of critical thought.  Au Contraire, allowing yourself time to consider and weigh your opinion, particularly in situations where a strong perceived common sense answer exists, is a strength.  Reserving your judgement while all around you show a complete inability to do so, is a virtue.

Inability to change your mind – Sticking rigidly to a belief is linked to the last point by the disease of blind conviction.  Feel comfortable with the words… I used to think this but I now think I was wrong.  

Ask yourself why you believe a view to be true… Beliefs are entirely personal, they belong to you alone.  Beliefs are constructed from two ingredients and understanding them can help your critical thought.  Facts and Stories.

Facts are (as far as science can take us) evidence based and in themselves have no opinion.  Story plays a more central role in constructing a belief.  You can draw your story externally but more crucially internally.  Thus you can change your belief about a given set of facts just by telling yourself a different story.  This is a founding principle of establishing a sporting viewpoint for a bet.  We can all see the Premier League table, we all would draw different beliefs on what happens next, the only difference between the table and the outcome is the story we have told ourselves.

The vitriol of others is their own issue…. When you disagree with someone of partisan mind, they tend to go through a number of phases – Seek to recognise them and it helps you be comfortable in your position against them.  Firstly they think you do not have as much information as they do, so they will seek to share new facts or show the old facts through a new prism (Think of all of the Thatcher stats put out this week).  Then they believe you are incapable of understanding the data as they do, that you are stupid.

Should you demonstrate equal mental agility but just prefer a different story, the third and final stage of their reaction to you is disgust.  They think you are evil.  They think you know what they know, are able to see the truth but choose to say something else out of a dishonest malevolence.  This is not your problem, do not hand over the keys to your decision making process to idiotic tendentious idiocy.

To the sports…

The Scottish National – Ayr

An incredible turnaround in the weather has seen Ayr go from barely raceable midweek to perfect spring ground today.  The Scottish National is on along with a few other decent races so….

First of all, the Scottish Champion Hurdle at 2.40…

This is a nice race, the field is open which reflects the limited handicap coupled with the fact that not many of these are soft ground specialists meaning they should all cope.  That boils up a nice race and I am opting for Une Artiste, 9/1 Hills.

This girl is a favourite of mine and although in decent company here, I think there are good reasons to have faith.  She is getting a stone from the top weight Grumeti (who must have a chance of his own with his Countrywide Flame form looking better as time elapses!) which is helpful.  She will love conditions and I think the large field in the Mares Hurdle may have been the undoing of her last time.  There will be far less hustle and bustle to this and I hope she can acquit herself with honour.

I have an early line through Sametegal who although one for the future after the Triumph, this race usually goes to one more experienced.

The Scottish National

Twenty six runners and 9/1 the field make the Scottish National a bloody challenge to tip.

I like Big Occasion a lot, his big field stats bode well alongside his staying credentials (Midlands National winner last time out) – I am sure he is capable off this mark but his jumping troubles me a little.

I much prefer having a horse on side below the 11-6 cliff that appears in the weights..  This rules out Auroras Encore, Lion Na Bearnai, Silver By Nature, Our Mick, Always Right and Rival D’Estruval.  The last is favourite and you can see why, if there is to be a trend buster, I think he is the likely one especially with Timmy Murphy up who is the best staying chase jockey (won this twice in last three years aboard Merigo)

One that ticks all the boxes though and has a superb jockey up top is Monsieur Cadou – At 14/1 (Bet365, Ladbrokes) he is the Majors Scottish National tip.

Tap Night looks to hold every chance in the 2.05 Vulmidas Cup – Have a lumpy one.

Newbury Tips

Frankels brother Noble Mission has an excellent chance to pick up a decent prize in the Group 3 at 1.50pm.  Model Pupil is the main opposition and I think he needs another half mile to be seen to his best.

The Spring Cup is a riddle locked in an enigma and my dart has landed on Memory Cloth at a whopping 40/1.  I was with this horse last week for the big handicap and he let me down but I cannot help but stay on this track now that an eye catching jockey booking has been made.  Queally does not normally ride for Ellison and since I rate him a lot, I am having an investment.

The Football

I cannot believe Cardiff are almost 2/1 to win at Burnley.  It is a time of year where prices for better teams become over inflated on the angle that they have less to play for…  Have a slice of the Bluebirds!

Southampton have played themselves out of relegation trouble it seems but Swansea are a team that I always want on my side and 7/5 for a home win is generous.  Sunderland might be hitting a hot streak and 12/5 is another price to be on for a home win against Everton.

QPR do not strike me as a team that will play better for the pressure being released.  I expect Stoke to win so 13/5 is another juicy price.  I also think Norwich is a big win price at 4/5.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Cardiff, Monsieur Cadou, Une Artiste and Tap Night

May your dinner be marvellous  flanked with beautiful people of great company. Courage and roll those dice.

Friday Royal Ascot Tips – Profitable Ascot so far from the Major

Good morning from the Major whose Ascot week has been quite profitable so far.  Profitable yes, spectacular, not quite.

Yesterday, Princess Highway added to the winners with an 8/1 comfortable win (advised 13/2) and I thought we were desperately unlucky in the first with my 12/1 selection finishing fifth after being hampered at the furlong pole.

Today I have only time for a short post so I offer you some speedy tips…

The Albany Stakes Tips – Ascot 2.30pm

Newfangled is a tasty favourite for this after having the race on her schedule following her easy Newmarket win.  Given that was on soft you can see why she would be all the rage this morning.

That said, others will handle soft too and I am looking for some value.  In the last five years we have had winners at 50/1, 16/1, 16/1 as well as an odds on favourite.

The Albany tip from the Major is going to Sandreamer at 16/1.  It is an animal that fits the ‘could be anything’ bracket after smashing moderate horses on debut.  The ground is a slight concern as that race was on good to firm and these conditions will be very different but I like most that the trainer has taken the Albany three times in ten years.

Of the rest, Sendmylovetorose is also terrific value at 16/1 and I would not put anyone off a pop at that one, given the easy debut win at Naas on soft.

3.05 King Edward Stakes Tips

I am a fan of Shantaram in this, currently 8/1 and set to drift if the Betfair money markets are right, I think I might be swimming against the tide.

Yet I thought the formline with Main Sequence and the progressive nature of the horse suggested that Shantaram was not simply rounding up the numbers in this. 

Of the others, I see no reason why Noble Mission will reverse form with Thought Worthy with the latter a true St Leger sort who will benefit over this further distance.

The Coronation Stakes Tip – Ascot 3.45

The 1,000 guineas form is crucial to assessing what is likely to happen in this race and the racing world has a definite chasm in opinion.  Some think that the form shown by Homecoming Queen in unusual conditions was exceptionally good, leading all the way and others think it is a race to discard.

The Major is towards the latter and certainly do not think the favourite is a good thing here.

Instead I offer Laugh Out Loud who since the 1,000 Guineas has won well in France and at York and surely won’t be making the mistake of giving Homecoming Queen as much rope this time.  9/2 have a slice.

Finally, in the 5pm Queens Vase, I would suggest a bet on the Queens horse, 4/1 Estimate.  Interesting that she is competing against the boys over this stayers distance and I would suggest this tip is not merely patriotic!

The Saturday Service – Tips for Newmarket, Bangor, Preakness Stakes, Uttoxeter

Good morning from a permanently grey and damp Worcestershire.  A cold gentle wet blanket hangs in the air, not the weather that Frankels return should be honoured with.  We should have had lightning or blazing heat.

Frankel might be the headliner today but Uttoxeter is where the Major plans to have it away

This week, the Major suffered an injury, a badly bruised, potentially broken toe.  It came about from a wrestling match where my opponent was a mighty octopus, I kid you not.My enemy had the element of surprise, attacking in the small hours, trying to suffocate me as I slept but I was quick…… not tonight my friend, I just ain’t ready to go yet….  I leapt from the bed and fought him to the floor.  The kicks I delivered were those of a deranged man whose heart is going at the maximum rate.  Accuracy of blow was sacrificed for a ferocious random savagery driven by blind fear for my life.  I am not experienced at this and recognise now that a coolness was needed in the heat of the moment.

Yet, I must have landed one or two decent blows on my powerful foe because my cephalopod friend retreated as quickly as he came.  An extensive search of chambers did not reveal a hiding place or the beasts method of entry or exit. intruiging.

The whole thing makes me suspicious it was a all a dream.  In the moment, it was real, I was there.  As Confucious (I believe it was he and due to the lateness of the hour, have no time to check) said: I dreamt I was a butterfly and now I am awake, I am unsure if I am a man who once dreamt about being a butterfly or a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.  Who knows?

I am aware that I need a couple of hours to update the stats… it will get done.  Last week was not great but this week I feel it.  Polish up the saddles men, we ride to victory.

With the focus on Frankels return, I feel some attention should be given to some of the summer jumping scene and I am offering tips from Bangor and Uttoxeter as well as Newbury and Newmarket.  This is where the Major does his best work.

Frankels return is special.  the Major is hoping to attend Sussex Stakes day at the other end of the summer where we might get the great match between Frankel and Black Caviar.  I think the Sussex Stakes conditions will be hugely in Frankels favour.  Firstly the distance, we know that Frankel will get a mile easily and we know he is as comfortable over shorter.  It would inconvenience him less to meet over 7f than it will Black Caviar to step up to a mile.  Secondly is the track.  Goodwood has an alarming camber and not all horses act there.  We know from Frankel destroying Canford Cliffs (His best performance in the Majors view) last year that this is no problem for Frankel, yet Black Caviar is uncertain…  I say get them at Ffos Las for a match race over 7f!!

Finally before the sports tips, as you know, the Saturday Service is a blog of habit.  You get the spiel, you know when you read ‘To the Sports’ we are into the tips, you understand the indicators of the things I really like… load the cannons (of varying size, have a slice (of varying size), money printer and other regular parlance of the tipster.  You get your dinner suggestion, sometimes with an indicator of the company you should take.  You get some military history or philosophy and the barely profitable tips…. All of it, the rambling of an unhinged mind.  Well I am adding something… soundtracking of my breakfast.  It made a debut last week and I continue it today….

Soundtracking my breakfast: The farm shop furnished me with the Racing Post and a pack of pork and asparagus sausages.  For those not in Worcestershire, it is Asparagus season, something that we celebrate in the Vale enthusiastically.  Accompanying I have some English Mustard and Rocket, it needs to be powerful and some Bramley Apple Juice, chilled to perfection.

To the sports…

Will Frankel Win at Newbury?

Tipping a horse at 1/3 is not much fun and I am not going to offer a tip.  Frankel is the best, a complete machine.  He has improved as he has learned to settle and that means he can now get further…. much further.  I think you should consider him an Arc horse although I am in a minority.

He has reportedly gained more physique over winter but these things can be more speculation than fact.

There is nothing on the racecard to scare him, only Black Caviar can do that.  Yet he had his setback so if we are going to get him beat it would be today.  His key rival in the race may also be better tuned after having a prep run.

No bet.

Bangor Tips

As much as I admire evens favourite Golden Call in the 3.10, I think we can get it beaten.

The horse represents trainer McCain who is in great form and has a super record at Bangor.  Yet we are taking the fact it jumps a fence well on chance.  Over this shorter distance, it will test that ability.

Instead I am going to tip Kauto Relko who has proven he can go over the larger obstacles and represents a yard who also have a good Bangor record.

I would suggest doubling that with Fabrika in the bumper (4.55).  Henderson always has a litany of these sorts winning and only the beautiful Rebecca Curtis has a chance of stopping him in the Majors view.

Newmarket Tips

Frankels brother races in the 2.15.  What a tag that is – A little unfair on the expectations of the colt really!

Thought Worthy who looked a really nice type coming out of a good maiden win.  His seasonal reappearance second was good form and in desperate conditions and I expect him to be fine with the better ground today.

That said, just because Noble Mission is always going to carry the moniker of being Frankels little brother, he is a progressive derby entry in his own right.  He has tasted one defeat, unlike his brother! The application of a hood is also a small concern but overall 15/8 is very fair.

I like the 3.20 listed race and in it I fancy Saigon at 11/2.  This represents a serious lowering of expectations back from Group 1 company in the 2,000 Guineas.  Previous pattern class form was OK.  The trainer does not have many Newmarket runners and not many winners from that but I think this unfashionable pick may prove decent value.

In the 3.55 I do not think Spice Fair has finished improving yet and so 6/1 Corals is decent pricing.  This horse owes me after last time.

Uttoxeter Tips

The track has started the day being described as good.  With the rain the Midlands is getting though, this could easily change and I fancy some rather dead ground.  In turn I am looking for some big priced fancies to spice up our Champions League warm up.

In the 6.25, Connections alone have Spate River trading as second favourite and with my gamble on the ground changing, I am ruling him out (never a more dangerous word said).  Jolly Roger the favourite also might not fancy it if it gets a bit squishier.

I give a squeak to Smalib Monterg who gets a 7lb claimer and comes from a yard with a good track record at Uttoxeter.  He has probably been running a bit honestly though and remains in the grip of the handicapper.

Flash Harriet was entitled to her reappearance run for which she has been raised 5lbs.  The Mare may be well treated and I would not put you off at 9/1.

The tip though is Hit The Switch at a massive 25/1 price.  The horse has been fairly well tried over hurdles without success but connections persist and I think there could be a light at the end of the tunnel.  I certainly think Hit the Switch will  benefit from a turn in conditions which will inconvenience many of his rivals.

The Preakness is off at 11.18 this evening and the Major is sticking with defeated Derby runner Creative Clause at 8/1.  Hills have taken an aggressive stance that Bodemeister will be defeated and offer 2/1.

The Champions League final is interesting as a sporting contest.  Chelsea have been successfully bloody minded and it is dangerous to back against such teams.  That said, Bayern are clearly a better outfit and have home advantage.  No bet.

Blackpool at 3/1 look too large.  The Championship play off can throw up some odd results and I think the frail camaraderie at West Ham will come under pressure today.

May your dinner be home made and a casserole.  So 1983.  Some good beef, fresh vegetable and some loving care will create a hearty dinner to be shared with close friends.  Crack a nice bottle of something dark red and settle in for the Preakness.

Courage and roll those dice.