Tag Archives: our mick

The Saturday Aintree Grand National (not) Sermon…

Good evening from the Major who writes from the house of a good friend, the night is long, the body weary.  The evening weather is still and close, warm for the season, after some ale, the Major shall keep things brief.

The company of good friends can ease the minds worry and tonight has proven such, the valve opened, somewhere deep in the system, the central boiler gives a command, through the lengthy network of pipes, steam hisses, anxiety is distributed, the pressure releases. Wonderful.

For once I feel tired and so few thoughts spill from my mind for your delectation, I have less time to regale you with tales of Victorian military adventure; tonight you receive less, than usual, glimpse of my dark mind, the vortex is sealed.  This is probably not a bad thing.  Just have a healthy day.

The Thursday Aintree card was a triumph, Friday, a dog.  The Grand National is laid before us… courage, hold your nerve, still now, be still, wait, I will release the order in time, until then, keep that finger still and your shoulder tight, feeling the warmth of your brother in arms.

To the Grand National Card:

Saturday Aintree Tips

The opening novice hurdle is a challenge, the Supreme form is starting to look superior with Josses Hill and Sargeant Reckless clear of the rest; this could be a frightening prediction of the sheer excellence of Vautour, let us hope a new national hunt star is born.  Wilde Blue Yonder was in the chasing pack and is booked for a place here you would think.  Lac Fontana was relentless if not spectacular as a winner of the county and while this trip might be suitable, he needs a test and I do not trust that he is the best horse.

I did like Volnay de Thaix who was an impressive winner in handicap company last time, has some nicely tied form with Iriving and is proven on the ground.  However, yesterday, I liked the chances of Tistory for the same connections but ignored the fact that Barry Geraghty had voted against and I face the same issue here.  Once bitten.  I am following Geraghty and picking Oscar Hoof who can be sniffed at 11/2 in a few places.

Trifolium ran well in the Arkle, a race in which a few eyebrows were raised on the entrant Ted Veale, that proved a good entry as he ran well.  However, I make a strong case for Hinterland.  He was rerouted to the Champion Chase after the defection of Sprinter Sacre and against that better company he was performing with credit before parting company with the rider.  Balder Succes rates a danger but I am lumpy on this one.

In the stayers hurdle, At Fishers Cross gets a fine chance to take a Grade 1 but I am not currently a fan.  He has suffered with back issues , as has the Major; allowing me to empathise with my equine friend.  He has not looked as fluent at the obstacles and I attribute this to his physical issues.  As such, if he were mine and allow me to offer this advice with the surety it deserves, as I am a far greater judge than his day to day work riders, jockey, trainer and owner who parted with real money to acquire him; he should be in a field, thinking about whether he goes chasing next year.  Not for me.

The market has differing ideas about Whisper who can be backed at 13/2 and 4/1.  There is a lot to like about the way this horse travels but I thought his winning effort in the Coral was both excellent and draining.  Melodic Rendezvous surely needs heavy ground, which leaves me the uncomfortable choice of Zarkander a general 3/1 shot.  I am not the biggest fan to be honest but as Holmes suggests, eliminate the impossible…

Holywell has done a lot of advertising for the chances of Victor Hewgo – I would not put anyone off but feel we can find some value.  Unioniste has an excellent course record and I prefer that one of the two at the top of the market.  Yet while he won his only start on good, he is one from four on good to soft and I am not convinced that this rattling surface is ideal.  I am out on a limb though and backing 25/1 (Sportingbet) shot Our Mick who is in excellent hands to overcome a period in the doldrums and at least has been targeted at this race.

I am not a national fan, read the post two back to see my view but I am abstaining on this piece of tradition.  Good luck to you if you play, my own position is weak and hypocritical but alas.

When I ponder the unlucky ones in the festival such as Calipto and The New One; Katgary is in the same file.  He was almost bought to a standstill before rallying home and failing only by a whisker.  Get on at 3s.

I went to the Grand National meeting a few years back and had no joy all day.  Being part of a group of chaps who were planning a full frontal assault on the delights of Liverpool city centre that evening, I felt bad that I had provided them no additional ammunition.  One uncouth gentlemen in the group had been betting under his own steam and had made a couple of pounds and had the vulgarity to gloat.  Thankfully, we loaded up the kitty again and had an on the nose bet on the bumper winner, Steps to Freedom who had a superb Carberry special to come scorching wide and late to win at 12/1.  Our £100 had been secured at 14s after an extensive walk up and down the pitches, there were scenes.

There is going to be some pace in this and I am backing Ballybolley who is OK with the good ground, if he is a shade of the last Twiston Davies Aintree bumper winner, The New One, we are in luck.

In the football, Man City are a snip at 4/11, that should be in the acca, Wolves are 7/10, that should be a founding block too.  Too add the spice, QPR at 21/10.

The Martin Hill bet is an each way trixie (weak I know) on Oscar Hoof, Hinterland and Katgary.

Courage and roll those 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.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday Cheltenham Tips

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

The Supreme Novices 1.30

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

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

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

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

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

2.05 Cheltenham – The Arkle

Already Advised: Menorah 11/1

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

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

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

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

2.40 JLT Handicap

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

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

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

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

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

Champion Hurdle Tips

Already Advised: Rock on Ruby 14/1

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

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

The Cross Country

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

The Mares Hurdle

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

5.15 Novice Handicap Chase

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

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

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

We are through the eye of the needle brace warriors.