Tag Archives: overturn

The Saturday Sermon – Grand National day tips at Aintree, just none in the National!!

Good evening from the Major who is residing in Birmingham for the night at the in-laws. The Aintree Saturday post is necessarily brief as a result.

The morning brings a flight to Paris for marathon weekend, your reluctant athletic correspondent shall report on those exploits next week. For now, all I ask is some sympathy between the hours of 8.00 and 12.30 on Sunday morning.

Warning to anyone new who has not visited the blog or read my twitter feed in the last few days. There are no Grand National tips on this blog. There are tips for each of the other races at Aintree.

I wrote two days ago about why I do not support the race. Without labouring the point for regular readers… the National is racing’s shop window but it is a travesty to think that it represents the sport I love. 30% of the horses in the National are likely to fall. A horse is likely to die.

It makes me furious when uninformed folk suggest that the venture is monetarily driven and that connections care little about their horses. I would suggest if you proffered that opinion to the Twiston-Davies family after the tragic loss of Little Josh earlier today then you might get punched, you would deserve it.

Yet, despite me knowing that risk is inherent in all national hunt racing (and living with it), the percentages involved in the national make sobering reading and it is not for me. Unique fences, 40 horses, the longest race in Britain… a unique cocktail that despite safety improvements will always make the race a risky one.

Saturday Aintree Tips

The opener sees Dodging Bullets taking on Up and Go. The former was starting to look decent but seemingly was found out in the Supreme. The latter, a McCain inmate has only run in soft conditions. Utopie des Bordes has set some decent early form in Britain and her French form is excellent, she has won on good ground but may be to better effect over longer.

Eduard is not dismissed but I suspect that one will come better in the future.

On balance I am going for Up and Go – He is likely to try and make all but I think he can get away with it. He gets the assistance of Jason Maguire who I like to see at the front of affairs, dictating things…

The Up and Go partnership would be hoping for a quick fire double with Overturn in the second. To tip this one, I have to look beyond the chances of Alderwood who has just won the Grand Annual. That form is excellent – The Grand Annual is such a competitive handicap that I always think you will see multiple winners coming out again for the Aintree and Punchestown handicaps. It is telling that Alderwood is going straight to Grade 1 level and it is hard to ignore but Overturn is a horse you cannot help but like.

He is as flexible as you like, gives his all and has a touch of class. He would not have enjoyed conditions in his Arkle and his earlier chasing form, while not in top class events, certainly was visually stunning. Overturn or Alderwood, Alderwood or Overturn….. Alderwood... Have a slice.

In the Liverpool Hurdle goes my bet of the day. I think the World Hurdle form is suspect at best. Celestial Halo is not a horse I trust, Solwhit is also a bit beyond prime and the fact the two battled out an exciting finish, well it just served to say there was a lack of class to that. Against them both, I am going to suggest African Gold at 9/1 – At Fishers Cross did everything to boost the form of the Albert Bartlett in which African Gold was a solid second.

In the listed handicap, I am going to pick good ground specialist Problema Tic at 14/1 – Pipe can ready this one who looks likely to come back now the spring is here.

In the 5.10, I am more interested in the jockey than the horse. Trying to solve the latter is a mystery as there are simply so many who are seemingly well handicapped. Finding a good jockey is down to three factors, win %, experience and what my eyes have told me! Corbett, Mahon and Brooke are my three to focus on.

Ranjaan is the mount of Mahon and may be seen to better effect on good ground but Nicholls is not in the best touch this week in my view. Brooke rides Local Hero was well beaten in the Elite by Zarkander but has been given plenty of time to recover and arrives very fresh. Meganisi is the Brooke ride and has won a couple of nice handicaps this term.

I am suggesting a small pop at both Meganisi and Local Hero.

If the Twiston Davies team had a horrible day yesterday with the loss of their stable pet, I am backing a fine double with a winner in the bumper in the shape of Pure Science at 9/1. He conceded a lot of ground racing wide in the Champion Bumper but still came in 6th and I feel a decent run will see him involved.

Outside of Aintree, I feel a 6/5 punt on Rupert Lamb is in order.

In the football, Reading must be feeling a bit desperate and Southampton continue to show spark, 13/10 for an away win is worth it. On Sunday, I feel Tottenham at 5/4, home to Everton is a gift from god. Hull at 5/6 is a must buy.

 

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is African Gold, Rupert Lamb, Alderwood and Tottenham.

Courage and roll those dice.

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Wednesday Horse Racing Tips – Fairyhouse, Ludlow and Doncaster – Shabash, roll those dice

Good evening from the Major who has been reviewing tomorrows racing cards while watching the continuing free fall of Aston Villa Football Club.

Like a Member of Parliament, I feel I need to declare an interest, the Major for those who do not know, has a soft spot for West Brom.  Since a young man, I was outnumbered in my social group by Villa fans, oh how the times have changed.

My early memories were following Albion down to the old second division where, ably aided by Bob Taylors goals, we did battle through the season with Brentford and Stoke, finishing 4th (I think) before an epic play off semi final battle with Swansea (the home leg of which was the most sensational atmosphere) and then a victory over Port Vale in the final.  Hazy memories of a seven-foot (exaggeration) striker for Stockport that would always score against us, maybe his name was Williams.

Albion played some dreadful football, we played some awful teams.  The heart of the awfulness was reserved for the referees.  Listening to fans of Premier League teams complain about poor refereeing is hard to take when you have seen the standard lower down the leagues.

At this time in my life, Villa fans were cavorting about the top ten clubs in the land flaunting Saunders, Atkinson, Yorke and co.  They were a decent team, their safety was never in doubt, they were never quite the best but they were at least in that game.

I am not a man who harbours grudges, the anger some  conjure over a rival’s team is lost on me.  It just is not that important.  On your death-bed will you consider it energy well spent?

Yet I do think that Villa fans would be well served a dose of Championship football.  They would learn something.  I am aware this sounds patronising and I advertised my vested views up front.  In life, your sense of entitlement is tempered if at times you did not get all the Christmas presents you wanted.

Yesterday, the Major scored three winners from four tips.  They came in at 8/11, 6/5 and 6/4.  I missed with Lovcen.  What do you want from me?  Riches?  Well, you won’t get them.  You will get my unhinged views but I am no golden source.  Tonight, I again look at the cards, seeking inspiration.  Stick with me if you please, I ask nothing of you but to be good to your fellow men.

If you play an active part of the Twitter community, say hello sometime (@tdl123).  Twitter hosts a plethora of racing minds, I shall bring one to your attention.  Over the Last  is a podcast put together with some love by @pghenn and co.  Well worth a listen.

To Wednesdays racing… let us see if there are more short price horses worth backing.

Doncaster Tips

I am curious that Overturn steps up in trip in the 2.15.  His Arkle price is as short  as 5/1 and while he is sure to be effective over this extra 3f, it is interesting to see a step up in trip.  He is way better than the opposition here, let us not forget last seasons Champion Hurdle runner-up spot to Rock on Ruby.  Lucy Wadhams runner is interesting, the race is a no bet scenario for the Major.

In the opener, Handazan is out and has plenty of experience after chasing Far West home this season.  That form puts him in the mix but you have to feel he would be vulnerable to something else top class emerging.  I think another unfortunate brave effort in defeat is in line again and Jonjo makes a fairly rare foray to Doncaster to unleash the highly talked of Last Shadow.  There is a risky element to the tip given the lack of jumping experience but this horse was decent on the flat (beating Swynmor) and is reportedly a very viable Triumph sort where he is currently not available in any market other than Betfair (25s).

Ludlow Tips

While I might be forgiven a little sentimentality given it is my mantra, Roll the Dice looks a very backable 9/4.  The tip still has the measure of Last Shot in the Major’s view and the rise for the last win is manageable.  I like Tom O’Brien in the saddle and Hobbs has a good record at Ludlow.  Back it.

It could be a good day for Hobbs as I fancy his hotpot in the opener.  Whatsupjack might be the best of those with experience but Tiqris looks a very able recruit to the jumps game having shown good bumper form.

I am a fan of Longsden and Fehily as a team and Tidal Way at 3/1 looks a nice candidate for me.  His last race was a decent affair and the second and third went on to win races of their own.  Tidal Way was in charge that day and looks on an entirely workable mark.

Bordoni and Amoralist look the obvious two to concentrate on in the juvenile hurdle at 3.05, but I am not sure they are the only two.  In this juvenile contest, there might be a fly in the ointment with King of Dudes, this Irish import is in the right hands and will likely go off at a tastier price (6/1+).

Fairyhouse Tip 

Forjoethepainter has gone up somewhat in the weights since his last easy win but that rise is offset by a claim made by this capable jockey.  The ground offers no problem and the last win was impressive and so 7/4 is impressive.

Courage and roll those dice.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is: Tiqris, Tidal Way, Roll the Dice and Forjoethepainter

The Majors Christmas Special – Kempton King George Tips, Dundalk Bank Builder too

Christmas seems to be an obsession in the modern age, a concept people desperately cling to in the vain hope that it can provide meaning, happiness or satisfaction in their void souls. These people are not like us, they do not gamble and have never felt the thrill or despair that a gentleman gambler experiences. Feel pity, as quoted of Jesus in Luke, forgive them, they know not what they do.

All the Major wants for Christmas is Kauto Star getting round Kempton well and coming back to the festival for a last hoorah

It feels like a quarter of the year is entirely and pointlessly focussed on 25th December. Children have an expectation, they seem unable to comprehend that it is not a right. While Christmas can be wonderful if small, well meant and subtle, too often it is a time of dry turkey, contrived fun, dreadful entertainment, the worst of western consumerism and for the punting man, very little sport to distract from the sheer terror of it all. I recommend the pub.

A solitary card at Dundalk on Friday is all that remains before the curtain comes down and the two-day racing blackout of Christmas Eve and Day. Two entire days of nothing, deadness, silence in the dark, have the will to say hold on dear friends, hold fast, do not break that line for there is light and hope. Redemption cometh.

Yes, the Majors mantra is to remain relentlessly positive, perhaps the enforced break offers a silver lining. The Majors tips are going through an extended period of dire form, from which I find myself unable to break free, Christ, even the regulars are complaining.

We must look at the break as a moment of reflection. Perhaps it provide the needed opportunity to change. If that makes the black-out medicine palatable, the glorious Kempton Boxing Day King George card, makes it wholly worthwhile.

Boxing day Kempton, for a jump racing fan, is one of the years glorious moments, top quality racing and the time to enjoy it… crafted by Jesus, rubber stamped by Sir Clement Freud, who I am sure sits at the same table.

The real beauty is that it comes after these two days of nothing. Like a thirsty man lost in the desert, when he finds water, he is tempted to gulp, so I caution you appropriately. The Major has posted King George tips 72 hours in advance so when the madness sets in, we will not be tempted by momentary urges bought on by the panic of two days, sans racing.

If you are reading this before Christmas, I can assure you that purchasing a bet for someone is a wonderful present. A little patent on the three Kempton selections below could make someone very happy indeed. It is indeed a thoughtful gift.

Before we contemplate Kemptons glories on the other side of the chasm, we have one chance to build a war chest, this side of Christmas. There are a handful of races on the all weather track at Dundalk tonight and the Major has a fancy.

Friday Dundalk Tip

I wonder if the Mullins and Murtagh partnership, which is an exceptionally rare occurrence, have teamed up to take the opener (5pm). Why would I feel it is a strange time for a rare Mullins and Murtagh tie up? Well the race is in honour of Ireland and Dundalks champion jockey… Johnny Murtagh! The forecast SP is 14/1 and I am going to follow my nose and get stuck in at anything over 8s.

The horse itself, Dougal Philps, is not disgraced on its first run. Mullins is in fine form too. Interesting runner, interesting race in honour of the top jock, interesting stable booking, all very interesting, 14/1… very very interesting!!

Load the cannon for Boxing Day…

King George Kempton Card – Tips for the King George Chase

The Major set up a gambling club this year with a group of fair men, we named it the King George Gambling Syndicate. The net result of the club is that we have £1183 to unleash on the King George and where the money is placed is entirely up to Mr Anthony Dipper.

These are the Majors thoughts on what is an exceptional race in exceptional times. If you do not share the Majors view that this is the best era of jump racing for many decades, consider this potted history…

Tipping the King George looked easy enough at the start of the season. Long Run had just broken the track record in his Cheltenham Gold Cup win. At the unlikely age of 6, he was evidently the new king, no question. I was on big at 5s for his Gold Cup win, following the Holmes logic that once you have ruled out every other possibility, what remains is truth. It was obvious why I was a believer, the evidence was all there.

Long Run is a horse I have followed with interest. I remember being stood within yards of Henderson and his entourage when Long Run failed to fire in the 2010 RSA (Henderson just mixes it with the crowd at the festival, I can tell you exactly where he will be stood again in March). You could see the mood with connections that day was pretty low, it left me thinking that it was not the result they were expecting. That and Hendersons comments about the horse just stuck with me, he was clearly loved at home.

Long Run lost the RSA that day at Cheltenham and then the Paddy Power in November. Both races he lost because he has a tendency to see his fences poorly. Henderson has had the horse with Yogi schooling those fences between each run and he is desperate to get him jumping well because clearly he is top draw.

Then came the postponed 2010 King George and Kauto’s impenetrable crown was whipped from him by Long Run. The evidence was now building for the Major that Long Run was the new king.

This was cemented as fact in the Majors mind when in March 2011 at the Gold Cup, the real Long Run landed, winning the Blue Riband race and setting a new track record. Job done.

Thus you can understand why I came into this season thinking that he would be unbeatable and that the old guard were spent. Thanks for the memories Kauto, now move over and let the new young gun in.

It was so simple, neat and tidy but noone had read the script to Kauto, Nicholls, Walsh and the Dicheat team.

As soon as the new order was constructed in such orderly fashion, the Betfair Chase at the start of this season destroyed all certainty. Kauto came back and demolished Long Run doing some serious damage to the track record in the process. It has to be one of Kautos best performances, akin to the 2009 King George.

If you took Kauto Star out of the Betfair Chase, the Long Run view would still have held. After all, he finished second by just 8 lengths which would have been close to a track record and don’t forget he had walked through one fence and was scruffy at many others (same old Long Run, oddly enough this was Kautos issue as a younger horse, that french style).

We must also remember that Kauto was tuned up to his best but Henderson hinted that he had left some off Long Run. With a clean round, could Long Run have emerged as the champ? Could he really have beaten Kauto?

Without Kauto in that race, we would still be celebrating Long Run as the new hero of the chase track… but Kauto was there, wasn’t he, it was no dream, although it was unbelievable, it happened, he did it, he bloody did it. I know because I watched it.

If Kauto wins again on boxing day, it will be his fifth King George. Should it happen, it is record for eternity, one that will remain, as the universe which has expanded across the millenia, begins to reverse, once again all matter is bought together being crushed, under unfathomable pressures to the size of a matchbox, before exploding and expanding in the next cycle of relentless Big Bangs.

Perhaps in the next universe a horse might take six King Georges, still seems unlikely and if it does happen, it is not a universe that the Major cares for. Good luck to them.

Who will win though on the day? So you need a tip for the King George?

I do think the preparedness is key. In the Betfair, Kauto was 100%, I think connections wanted to silence the voices that were calling for retirement by showing them that a fit Kauto has the zest to carry on. It would be a masterful training performance to take his older legs, get him rested and then back for this.

Long Run will have had this as the main target and is likely to be in a better physical condition. I am in two minds over the track. One part of me thinks that Kempton will suit; but they can go at a fair clip into those fences down the back and if he is not foot perfect, we could see that traditional Long Run error. That could be crucial.

Of the other runners, Masterminded has never tried three miles but Nicholls is stepping him up anyway. Nicholls though had this as a plan for some time, I think Masterminded will be well tuned up and if he stays he is interesting. He used to struggle with two and a half miles although those days seem behind him. I think he will stay and, controversially, I think he will beat Kauto, there I have said it, will he beat the others though?

Johnson has been raving about Captain Chris. His last run was too bad to be true and an infection was to blame. If recovered, this horse could still be ready to show us more. Place prospects but overall I think I prefer the win chances of Long Run and Masterminded.

Overall, I am minded to bet on Masterminded. As much as Long Run could be the next best thing, I think three miles around Kempton is going to be Mastermindeds’ ideal condition. He takes his fences so well at pace just like his stablemate, Kauto, and I think that will buy him enough lengths. Under pressure Long Run is prone to error and I just suspect that Kauto will not be seen in the same light as The Betfair.

Masterminded is currently 8.8 on Betfair, get stuck in and wish me Merry Christmas.

The Christmas Hurdle

Much less of a write-up on this race but no less a fascinating clash, even if a little less high-profile.

We have the barrel chested Binocular, who seems to have two ways of racing, JP McManus and Nicky Henderson had their day in the sun when he returned to win a Champion Hurdle in 2010 but since then (and prior to it), Binocular has been inconsistent and at times poor. I think he is a hard horse to get fit and needs a lot to fall right so 2/1 is not for me.

The second market leader is Overturn, who seems to love as much racing as possible. He relishes getting his nose in front and understands what is required but the suspicion is that he is just short of Champion Hurdle class. That might be enough to win this anyway.

The final of the trio that head the market is exciting prospect Rock on Ruby. While the form of his festival second to First Lieutenant is not as strong a CV as the others, his reappearance run suggested he is a star in the making. Although someway short on official BHA rankings, he could clearly take another giant leap forward and take this.

I am getting on Rock on Ruby at 2/1 and also may purchase a 16/1 Champion Hurdle ticket ahead of Boxing Day as a Christmas gift for some lucky soul!

The Feltham

This looks like a straight punch up between three exciting chasers in Grand Crus, Silviniaco Conti and Bobs Worth.

As much as Grand Crus has impressed, Bobs Worth did just a little bit more for the Major in his recent defeat of Cue Card. That day, Bobs Worth travelled well until smacking four out. Then it was time for Geraghty to earn his riding fee, in a superb demonstration of the great jockeys horsemanship, he relaxed the horse, got him back into a rhythm and up on the line to win.

Silviniaco Conti has done little wrong. His 5l defeat to Menorah was decent form, though it must be said that twice he has finished behind Cue Card who seems a better hurdler. Conti now seems to have improved based on the awesome win at Wincanton on reappearance. For me 9/2 is a superb price, Nicholls has been sweet on this horse and I fancy conditions will be perfect.

Merry Christmas to you all from the Major. May it pass with a warm glow in your heart. Let us deal with the peripheral noise and come back Boxing Day, clear minded and show our intent to the enemy ahead of the New Year.

There it is, the Majors tips for Kempton, I wish you the best. I will be posting at some point in the festive period more tips (We have the Welsh National for a start) and also my promised guide to the best 2011 horseracing moments. If you did not see the Sportingbet.com podcast, the Major got an almighty mention from their team (follow the link, it’s about 7:45 in). Was pleased to see that my top moment made a great splash there and was also selected by the Racing Post as their number one moment too.

Courage followers, shuffle those cards, it is darkest, before the dawn.

The Majors Saturday Sermon – Hennessy Tips, Premier League et al

A fine late autumn morning to you all from the Major who has been up early, reading form and walking through the market town of Pershore, as like I, it woke from slumber.

It is cool and dry in Worcestershire and the purpose of my early morning constitutional sojourn was to take air, collect the racing publication and to absorb a little of life.

The Tank leaves a customary floundering wake, Newbury will miss him

The smell of the bakers was a delight, the cheery hello from the grocer as he stacked trays of colourful produce outside the store.  These elements were straight from a stereotypical market town, acknowledged.

Walking early in the morning, you notice make observations that other times of day blind you to.  I had never noticed the Baptist Church in the market square before.  The fine Georgian building has some interesting features and is fairly prominent.  When the Major is visiting the market square though late at night for a bottle of something fine, I am oblivious to this building.

A change of pace reveals camouflaged detail.  Sometimes it is good and neccessary to do exactly that.  For this mornings stroll in the cold air, I wore no coat.  Not a deliberate act, simply an ommission.  However, the cold feel of air on the skin is a sensation that many people dismiss as simply unpleasant.  The Major disagrees.  Cold ears can make you feel the sense that it is much better to be alive.

Thus, the Majors recent form requires new angles into todays races, rebirth, regeneration.  If you are a new follower (of which we had a couple of subscribers this week) or a regular, I can only apologise for the recent run of form.  The Major did his conkers on Long Run last week and yesterdays tip felt good but trailed in last of the finishers at Newbury.

Today we reload, the Major has bought a fresh mind to the day.  Let us daub the war paint once more to battle our devious enemy.  He of sleight of hand and deception of the mind.

What a day of sport we have too.  The Hennessy is the finest handicap there is in the Majors view.  More sensible than the Grand National and full of quality.  The big yards are all represented, they know what is required to win the race, more of that soon.

We also have the fighting fifth, made to be one of the Majors favourite races by Punjabi, who has a place in the Majors heart.  The year Punjabi won the fighting fifth, he had been kept on the go on the flat in the summer.  The Major fancied his as a leading Champion Hurdle contender and had been backing him in drips since his third in the championship race at the previous Cheltenham Festival.  Punjabi won the fighting fifth and went on to win the Champion Hurdle which was the Majors largest ever win, enough to pay for some fabulous women, not enough to keep them!

To the sports and in the words of a Mr Redmond, whom I know carries the essence of the Majors gambling spirit in his heart, go large or go home.

The Hennessy

With last weeks Kauto Star explosion at Haydock, there must be a pang in the air of Newbury that Denman, the other elder statesmen of the Nicholls yard goes direct to the Lexus rather than take in the Hennessy.

I have to say that surely this is the correct decision though.  Asking Denman to shoulder top weight (he is rated 9lbs superior to Neptune Collonges, running him would leave just 5 rivals in the handicap proper) and stick it to horses some 5 years his junior would be a cruel task to set in the Majors view.

Take a moment of your life and revel in the Tanks 2009 win in this race.  That day he could have carried me around.  If your hairs do not stand on end as he clears the cross rail fence without touching the birch; or when hearing the crowd cheer him on, even as What a Friend (who was in receipt of 2 STONE!!!) could not get to him on the run in…….. awesome, relentless power, a true champion – Watch and enjoy one of the best steeplechase performances of all time, the Tank was the right nickname, he just drew the sting out of all of them.

Todays race.  I think Great Endeavour is going to be all the rage.  Currently 6/1, the cosy Paddy Power winner carries a modest penalty for that race and is sure to go well.  Some punters may make more of the fact that he has never been extended to this distance but the way he finished up the Hill at Cheltenham, he should easily get a Newbury three miles.  The Pipe team have taken a couple of Hennessy Gold Cups in the last ten years, they know what it takes, he has a favourites chance.

Michel Le Bon carries the hopes of the Ditcheat team and could be anything, he fits the second season chaser trend of many Hennessy winners (taking Denmans other wins out).  Noel Fehily is one of the Majors favourite pilots and another that is highly considered, particularly as it is trading shorter than the Walsh ridden Nicholls horse.

Muirhead is the first of a couple I like at a price.  At 25/1 with Boylesports, I think you are getting terrific value.  Just slightly outside of the 6/7 year old bracket, Muirhead looked terrific in winning the Munster National and will not be inconvenienced by goodish ground.

Billie Magern carried the Majors money when disappointing last time but I am willing to keep faith.  He is highly tried and out of the Twiston Davies yard, I am sure they are not tilting at windmills so they must genuinely think better is possible.  He is only an effective 1lb better off with Great Endeavour for a 13l defeat in the Paddy Power but I am willing to take a punt that at 33/1 (much bigger on Betfair) he can be competitive in these conditions.

Aiteen Thirtythree is the other favoured Nicholls runner that has already shown some class as a novice.  You have to suspect that the reappearance run over a trip that was never going to suit was designed to protect a handicap mark.  With Ruby aboard and the opportunity to benchmark against Michel Le Bon, money would be significant.

The Major has to make a selection from these five and with a poor recent record, I am tempted to suggest Great Endeavour and Michel le Bon who have excellent and more obvious chances.  However, I am loading up the value guns on Muirhead and Billie Magern.  25/1 and 33/1 (bigger on the exchanges) – Load the cannons and thank me for my bravery later.

The Fighting Fifth

Thinking of bravery.  The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (5th Regiment of foot) have a distinguished service history dating back to action in the 17th century.  They have seen service in the American Revolution but it was action in the Peninsular war of the early 19th century that earned the nickname of the fighting fifth.

It is not a bad nickname given some of the exploits of their soldiers in later warm engagements in India, particularly during the first mutiny.  Read the account of Private Patrick McHale VC who lead skirmishing to the gun positions when fighting the Sikhs at Cawnpore, or that of Peter McManus who also won a VC fighting in the streets of Lucknow rescuing a senior under fire from enemy sepoys.

In the year Punjabi won the fighting fifth, there was a £1m bonus for a horse that could collect this prize, the Christmas hurdle at Kempton and the Champion Hurdle.  The removal of this bonus brings just 5 contenders and I am not sure any of them will come close in Cheltenham in March.

The race has to be won though.  Binocular if anything like on top of his game will win.  It is hard to keep in mind that this horse is only 7.  He has shown dazzling brilliance and pretty shocking awfulness too.  First time out, will he go well?

It is all about match fitness for the Major.  Binocular has beaten Overturn in a fair fight and there is no good reason to expect that Overturn is better, there is good reason to suspect that he is fitter.  Celestial Halo while having a winning reappearance to the Major looks worse bet of the three.  I am not sure the reappearance amounted to much.

So the question is fitness or class?

I am going with Class.  Binocular.  Nicky Henderson may not have had the big winners in the last few weeks but there is no doubt that he is the apple of the McManus eye.  Fitness is a big concern.  Binocular is a bull of a horse and takes a lot of getting fit.  However, trainer comments seem to gently suggest he is in grander shape now then when narrowly losing out last year, this is not a strong a field, on that balance, I am in, odds against at 11/10 is very fair.

7.50 Wolverhampton

Yes, the Major reviews the top races of the day and also brings you his thoughts on the Bookiefreebies.com Handicap at Wolverhampton tonight.

The horse that catches my eye is the Ed Dunlop trained Voodoo Prince.  Off a long break, this three year old returns to action after being gelded.  I often wonder if we gelded the England football team whether it would have the desired effect of getting them focussed back on the sport…

However, in this case, I think they have taken action as the horse should be better than shown.  He has been defeated favourite on his last two starts after winning a very nice mile race at Haydock in the spring.

The question is whether this is to get a run into the horse or whether we have a bit of a good thing.  What settled the Majors mind was the jockey booking.  McLaughlin is a sound booking and he turns up at Wolverhampton for this single ride, a bit of effort.

I am willing to overlook the breeding record on the surface which is poor and pile in at a tasty 6/1 that we have found a good thing.

To the football…….

Mr Hill of the good ship Hiscox will once again denounce the Major selecting against the mighty West Brom but Spurs at Evens is an absurd price.  They are one of the best teams in the division and are playing very good stuff.  Albion will be missing key players, potentially including Long and I would take Spurs every time at that price.

I like the concession with Bet365  (could be a few punts with them today) on their double and treble the goalscorer in the Charlton, Liverpool v Man City and Stoke v Blackburn fixtures.  Essentially you get the price if a single goal is scored but double and treble the price if 2 goals or a hat-trick is bagged by your selection.  They are best price Jon Parkin too at 7/1 so I suggest an investment for Monday night.

QPR are a monster price to win at Carrow Road.  5/2 does not reflect the fact that they are the better team.  They were last season and they are this season too both on results and on the additions to their squad.  Get stuck in.

Tonight, curry is the order of the day, keep it nice and simple, local fare, eat with your hands.  Take a friend.

Courage, roll those dice.

The Majors Saturday Service – 15th January Sports Tips | Five Star Kauto?

Good morning fair punters of Britain from Defford where the skies are still dark as I type these words on a momentous day for all racing fans.

Thats how we want it...... Kauto first, fresh air in second

The frozen conditions over Christmas meant that the traditional King George boxing day race was postponed.  Today, we find out if Kauto Star, the greatest chaser I have personally seen, can win a fifth King George.

The Major salutes all equine greats who take on such great challenge.  Anyone who enjoys racing cannot fail to admire Kauto Stars jumping style which is stag like.  Beautifully efficient, economic at times, flamboyant at others.  He clearly loves Kempton and seems to reserve a few of his magnificent leaps for the crowd there.  He can also hit a fence and is an occassional faller – Excitement is Kautos middle name. 

The Major has already posted his views on the outcome of the race – My ante post King George Tips piece suggested Riverside Theatre.  4/6 is probably the right price for Kauto but his Down Royal win on his seasonal reappearance was workmanlike and the Major just feels that the spark has gone a bit from Kauto – How I dearly want to be proved incorrect. 

I have such good memories.  The boxing day where the brother-in-law took up the Majors advice and fell in love with a horse who won the race while still heading out into country on lap 2.  The time he broke Nacarat who seemed to be travelling like a challenger.  The horrible fall when still learning in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.  Knuckling down to see off L’ami who was challenging as a featherweight.  Beating Imperial Commander by a nose.  The classic Denman v Kauto Gold Cup, watching it with my father and brother and being dissapointed.  The elation of him regaining his crown.  4 boxing day delights as he imperiously stamped his ownership on each race.  The first time I backed him, winning tidily up at Kelso. 

Kauto is special.  Stylish, superb, wonderfully french, charismatic and a winner.  What better partner for today than AP McCoy.  I would be the first to agree that I think Fehily or Walsh would have a more suited racing style for Kauto but AP feels an appropriate passenger for KAuto if he wins today.

Heart….. Kauto Star, Head…… Riverside Theatre each way, Pocket….. Mossley in Warwicks 2.45.

Let’s set about the day’s action.  Today the Major urges you once more through his Saturday sports tips service to bet like real men (and women as I was recently reminded… you know who you are!).  Bet with an amount that would make you blush if your mother asked.  Irresponsible gambling is the key to a long life of debauchery, fun and fulfillment.  At those final gates, at your final destination, what do you think St Peter wants to hear? … he wants to know that when the moment came, you were not found wanting, no not you; you dashing young blade, you set your mind on blood, glory and honour and charged alongside the Major into the theatre and turmoil of war, at full gallop, wearing your war face, chin proud, your sabre aloft and flashing with a streak of the enemies claret running down the edge.  Watch your shirt young man, your valet will have a ghastly time getting that out.

Let us see what goes at the races.

First things first, the tidy little hurdle at Warwick, which passed a precautionary 8am inspection, the 2.45 Leamington Novices Hurdle (Grade 2).  There is a previously tipped Major winner going in this, Mossley.  A nice little winner at Cheltenham, Henderson trained (Quote: he has plenty of pace and is unlikely to be inconvenienced by this drop in trip) – I agree with Henderson and think this horse makes a decent bet at 15/8 with Corals.  It is not a big stakes race as Saffran de Cotte could be much better on this surface  (I wouldn’t put anyone off at 25/1 with Corals, it is easy enough to put a line through his last time out performance), Jetnova could be a decent horse and Court in Motion on a strict line of form is a couple of pounds ahead of Mossley on the Majors reckoning.  However, I have liked the way Mossley goes about his races and 15/8 is a monster price.  Have a slice.  Remember though the Majors betting resolutions, don’t get too excited, it is a novice hurdle.

At 3.20 at Warwick, another handicap puzzle and this is one that I have spent a good 40 minutes on this morning.  There are many I like.  Officier de Reserve threatens to run a race one day.Companero is a fascinating runner and could be a big threat if Howard Johnson has him well prepped after a big break from racing.  Bobby Gee looks on the upgrade and Le Beau Bai in his penultimate race showed the requisite form and has a useful 7lb claimer in Jake Greenall.  A hugely interesting outsider for the Major is Noun de la Thinte.  This mare will not be inconvenienced by the ground and although has been below par this season, I suspect this ten year old still has a decent run to give.  It is 38/1 with Red32, 45/1 for those with a Betfair account.  Have an each way interest.

The Christmas Hurdle is a race (2.25 Kempton) which I think has been set up as the long term target for Starluck.    Starluck is no Binocular but Twiston-Davies will have been targeting this race.  I like horses set out for a race even when their bare form suggests they might not have the quality to take the spoils.  Make no mistake, this is Starlucks Champion Hurdle.  Binocular if on form will hammer him but Binocular is massive and famously difficult to get right.  That said, the advice is still Binocular who is available at 11/4 with both Hills and Coral.  He is the best horse in it and Henderson is 41% winners to runners in the last fortnight, have a piece of that!  Khyber Kim while a very good horse I think will need more than Kemptons flat 2 miles.  Binocular, Starluck to fight it out, Overturn to challenge the Khyber for third.

Now as previously highlighted, the Major brings you the big race analysis and also delves into the small print to find hidden gems.  I like the look of Dream of Fortune who goes in the 1.15 at Lingfield on the all weather.  Now, the bare recent form looks horrible and that is why 5/1 is so suspicious.  David Evans can ready a gamble and this is a horse that previously has won in claimers with the likes of Tom Queally on board.  Todays 7lb claimer takes the ride for a second time and racing of an effective featherweight, a win bet is advised and take it early.

Onto the sports fields of our great nation. 

The big premier league games all happen tomorrow.  I fancy Spurs to give Manchester United a decent game.  Surely, Ferguson will not play Neville against Bale!  Regardless, I feel 2/1 does not do free flowing Tottenham justice and Van der Vaart will relish the challenge, I see him arriving late into the box to open the scoring…

With such a poor run West Brom will be hoping the return of Tamaz at centre half will galvanise them at home to Blackpool.  I cannot trust them at odds on though to beat a Blackpool team who play without fear.  Odemwingie is a big miss for West Brom as is Ollson.  Sadly, I feel a tangerine bet brewing at a generous 15/4 with Stan James – Take a piece.

A bet I quite like is Man City v Wolves, nil nil at half time which is 12/5 with Victor Chandler.  Man City are 4/11 on to take this game and as short as 2/7 in places.  Now, they have invested again in this new big burly signing (Dzeko is 7/2 as first goalscorer) – Wolves though are not in free fall yet, they have organisation and determination.  They have taken wins from Liverpool and Chelsea lately.  Man City can be eye wateringly boring at times and a chance is taken that Wolves hold out to half time.

Wigan versus Fulham being played on a continous loop could be what Dante and his Divine Comedy had in mind for the tee totallers in the tenth circle of hell, if he had got that far. 

He looks less than happy - He would definitely have imprisoned Satan in the JJB

Wigan are not good but they do have threat.  Today N’Zogbia is back but Cleverley is out, as is Kirkland.  Fulham lose their best player in Schwarzer who is on Asian Cup duty with Australia.  Wigan have only won two of their last ten home games, Fulham just one win in ten away games.  Kamara could be a 7/1 each way first goalscorer bet with Bet365 who go one third odds and unlimited places giving a tidy profit as long as he nets at some point.  The Major though goes for 3 goals or more at 11/8 with Victor Chandler.  Both teams will be looking to win.

QPR as table topping Championship travellers to Burnley look value at 9/4 with Victor Chandler.  They might have had an interesting defeat at Blackburn with Diouf and Warnock embracing controversy as is their way, however, todays trip to Burnley is clearly an easier fixture and 9/4 is way too generous.  Load the big cannon.

There is an interesting long term bet to take an interest in which is with Ladbrokes.  They go 4/1 about West Ham getting the Olympic stadium.  This is a must bet.  I cannot see Spurs plan of removing the athletics facilities garnering enough favour.  Views are strongly opposed on this but West Ham 4/1 who have a long term interest and clearly stated ambition for the project are a great price.

Bristol Rovers make an OK bet too at 7/2 to win at Carlisle.  I suspect the Carlisle team are in a down turn after just one draw from their last three, which included a defeat at Torquay.  New signing Michalak from Leeds may strengthen the team but Rovers who are just 5 points behind, admittedly in the relegation zone, have found the net 4 times in their last two games – Not convincing but neither 7/2.

Norwich make a nice 13/10 home bet against Cardiff.  While the bluebirds are well fancied this year by the Major, they have a few hurdles to get over.  Firstly, Bellamy being arrested is not going to help.  Then the imminent sale of Boothroyd to Newcastle just gives a sense of instability at the club.  Why cash in on Boothroyd for £750k when the great prize of promotion is there, surely that’s worth risking losing him on a free in the summer?  This lack of ambition is obviously a result of a club in financial trouble. 

Palace can be backed at 11/2 with Victor Chandler at Swansea.  On the surface of things, Palace are a terrible bet, they are rubbish on the road and not much better at home.  They do not have the worst squad in the world and I can see them climbing out of trouble.  This bet is taken on the grounds that new manager and ex player Freedman can galvanise the team.

The Nap is …… Mossley at 15/8. 

May the enemy tremble as he sees you approach.  Remember to wager an amount that you would be embarrassed to admit to family.  Tonight, I think you should drink pastis before eating duck prepared in a traditional french country style with green peppercorn.  When the man removes your plate, insist on the manager bringing the bottle of his best brandy and joining you.  It would be crass to let him see the bankroll which is moving uncomfortably in your finely tailored pocket.  Thank him for his hospitality and tell him you are one of the Majors and we will return.