Tag Archives: prince de beauchene

The Saturday Sermon – Fighting Fifth and Hennessy Day 50/1 Tip for the Hennessy

Good morning from the Major who writes from the lounge, baffled and tired.  The Worcestershire morning is calm and bland, cool and grey, it is dark now and peaceful, save for the odd car that trundles past outside.

Last weekend, my long-suffering comrade in arms, Martin Hill, was close to reclaiming many lost investments when the multiple I name in his honour came within a whisker of landing.  The first two legs of his trixie had landed and in the final race, Saved by John led, was headed at the last by Alasi and fought back famously to be denied by a quarter length.  Now that was exhilaratingly painful, an emotion us racing fans are familiar with.

This week, a few people have asked me for a Hennessy tip.  I have been giving them Our Father who up until last night was my fancy.  I have changed my mind (see below, I have a 50/1 Hennessy tip now!) but I stand that Our Father can be a contender if on one of his going days.

One of the reasons I liked Our Father is that I am sure he would be wound up for the race.  First of all it is the Hennessy so of course he will be but secondly, he was part owned by the legendary Johnson team and I could not help but feel that Pipe would love to win the race as tribute to the late David Johnson, a magnificent contributor to the sport and the Pipe yard.

That was speculation but it made me consider the life of David Johnson.  Reading about him , having never met him, he strikes me as a very nice sort of chap.  While manners can be afforded if you are stinking rich, they are not automatic, in fact some substitute money for common courtesy so it must be a compliment to say that money seemed not to pollute the man’s capacity for enjoying life and inspiring others around him to do so too.

Yet, I can assure you dear readers that a life of riches is not a necessity for your own personal contentment.  It helps but is not close to being the most important thing.  Consider the things you can buy and have bought.  How many were for show?  The Major confesses to be as weak here as well.  When spending money, the consideration is as much ‘how does this make me look’ or perhaps more accurately and very closely (as it is also based on the opinion of others ‘how does buying this make me feel’ than most practical considerations.  Otherwise brands would not work.

Epicurean wisdom dictates (and I entirely support) that the most important matter is friendship not wealth.  You need precious little to be happy.  Practice it today – Make a phone call to an old friend, invite them to something.  Instead of buying those nieces and nephews presents at Christmas, set up a day out with them.  You will find my friends that experience beats trinkets my friends.  Release yourself from the social need to demonstrate wealth.  Purchase for function.

Sport allows you to feel again.  Like sparks from the fire, dimming until the end, our lives are short vignettes in this planets great tome of life.  Allow sport, racing to illuminate for you.

Daub thy war paint young warrior and join me at the line, we shall skirmish in open formation into the enemies forward positions, smashing through with our heavy horse and setting upon them in close quarter….. Cry Shabash and raise that lance point, the blood staining but the silver glittering beneath.

Newbury Tips

Let us start with the Hennessy, a race that often throws up a Gold Cup winner, most notably in recent years with the likes of Bobs Worth and Denman.

The recent of Hennessy winners show two distinct winners profiles.  Either a decent chaser (135-150 Official Rating) can win it off a featherweight, or a top class chaser (160+) can bear the burden of top weight and see off the pretenders.   In the last fifteen years, the two Gold Cup winners mentioned are the only two horses that have won off a mark above 160.

The relationship between weight and official rating that creates the race make-up is complicated by the quality of the top rated horse that goes in.  When Denman won off a mark of 174, it was a remarkable achievement.  He may have been lucky and hit a year where a particular dearth of non-improvers constituted the field but no horse has won off a mark in the 170s before.  He had almost half the field outside of the handicap and only Mon Mome, a previous National winner was within a stone.

Paul Nicholls has an excellent Hennessy record having won three of the last ten renewals (twice with Denman of course).  Henderson has two wins in the same period.  Nicholls has one shot at the race this year in Rocky Creek who looks a thorough stayer and capable.   He, like many, has had no run this season but that is not a problem.  With the big races like this, the top stables can be relied upon to have their main charges well prepared.

No horse in the race is more interesting than Invictus.  He had the notable scalps of Bobs Worth and Silviniaco Conti in behind in the Reynoldstown, his last race in February 2012.  Given those horses are now rated 180 and 173,  if you could rely on a direct form line, his mark of 145 is a gift from god.

I do not think so much of Merry King, although anything Jonjo trains in a major handicap is impossible to dismiss.  Prince de Beauchene attempts to buck his trend of terrible luck – Having been laid out for to Grand Nationals only to fall to injury.  Lord Windermere will have many fans but since I do not rate the RSA form, I am not one of them.  Highland Lodge comes from the Lavelle yard which is firing on all cylinders… of some interest.  Loch Ba also is not without hope.

Hmmm, Invictus is highly interesting for me but so is Our Father.  I have been a fan of this horse since watching his absolutely slaughter a decent Cheltenham field – He took my eye as a really powerful traveller.  He is clearly decent fresh but has two ways of running.

Having dwelt on the subject for some time, I am settling on a rank outsider for the Hennessy.  My selection can currently be backed at 33/1 generally (though 25/1 in a place) and at a striking stand out 50/1 with Stan James.  I am talking about Opening Batsmen.  This is a horse I backed a couple of weeks ago at Ascot and was disappointed to see jump badly and be pulled up.  He is a second season chaser for Harry Fry who has a tremendous Newbury record, we also get the significant benefit of Noel Fehily too.  The horse also has some excellent form.  He is in here off 146 but last season have a good beating to Rolling Aces who has franked the form and won again, now on a mark of 153.  There may well be more persuasive and obvious claims but I am quite happy to be on this fella at 50s…. Have a slice.

I have always felt that Reve de Sivola was a World Hurdle winner in the absence of a decent in-form rival – That is probably being very harsh but I fully expect At Fishers Cross to give a sound hiding and even at 4/5 I want to be involved.

The listed hurdle opener is a cracking affair and while Vicky De L’Oasis was an impressive Wexford winner for the in form Mullins team, I am opting for Free Thinking who races in the Waley-Cohen colours.  The thing is that my selection was also impressive when winning a lesser affair (at Ludlow) smashing Koolala and eased.  Koolala went on to frank that form winning a Uttoxeter bumper on Thursday.

The Fighting Fifth

The ground for the Fighting Fifth is good this year after last year they swam it.  This is a race where a hot favourite can get turned over and here the market is hugely centred on two, My Tent or Yours and Melodic Rendevouz.

Melodic Rendevouz was very good when beating my selection Key West at Wincanton in the Elite Hurdle, readily picking up Far West, a Nicholls horse who ran no sort of race when out again last weekend.  My Tent or Yours is a Champion Hurdle protagonist who won the Betfair Hurdle and I thought was unlucky in the Supreme where Champagne Fever had first run on him.  To be fair, he had every chance in the festival race but was unable to pick up the winner on the hill.

The filly in the race is of some interest having won a listed race on reappearance.  The Cockney Sparrow gets weight from all of her rivals and represents last years winning trainer.   A small case might be made for Grumeti but the rest are rounding up the field.

So how do we split these key players?  The ground might help, The Cockney Sparrow has won on it, My Tent or Yours and Melodic Rendevouz have never raced on it.  The former is out of a Sire whose progeny have only 1 win from 36 starts on the ground.  While it is thin evidence, it does trouble me a bit.  Add in the obvious fitness advantage of Melodic Rendevouz and I prefer the second favourite.

On a strict line of form with Champagne Fever, who Melodic Rendevouz faced back in 2012, then My Tent or Yours has the beating.  This means I must think MR has improved or has conditions in favour and I think both of those things to be true.  A leveler is jockey bookings as I would far rather have McCoy in the saddle than Schofield.  Not that I am against the latter, who has a great record with the horse(5/6), but class counts.  Melodic Rendevouz it is at 5/2 (1/4 in places).  Cockney Sparrow is an each way steal at 9/1.

There are a host of young improvers queuing up to have a pop at Oscar Rock in the 1.05.  I am interested in Five in a Row who beat a decent horse The Last Samuri who has gone on to win again when stepped up in trip.  That form is OK but off-putting is the recent Ellison National Hunt form which shows 1 winner from 20 runners.  I am instead opting for Ballyaton who also looks useful and comes with the benefit of proven good ground form (2 runs, 2 wins).  He also handed a drubbing to Key to the West last season and that reads well with that horse winning twice this term already.

In the opener, I am more confident of the chances of Green Flag at 10/11.  I have no doubt that Streams of Whiskey could be a threat but while he was 3l down to my pick, when falling at the last, he was travelling the lesser of the two (although he had made earlier errors).  He needs a clean round of jumping and these fences will be a real test.

In the football, Walsall (8/11), QPR (7/10) and Wolves (6/4) are my selections in a tasty treble.

The Martin Hill multiple is simple… Opening Batsmen, Free Thinking and Meledic Rendevouz in an each way trixie.

I hope you enjoy a dinner in the finest of company.  Allow yourself a draw on the best brandy they have… we float by the once and must grasp anything which we enjoy.  This is not the practice round, this is it.

Courage, roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Newcastle Eider Tips, Arithmetic Gambling

Good evening from the Major who writes from a Worcestershire whose glorious air is frozen, so chilling as to be alienating, take refuge indoors and stoke those embers.

For me the evening held an emergency trip to the good lady stranded on the side of the M42. Two small children, traffic flying by, most unpleasant, most unsettling. All is now well, the brood are returned, all is back to order.

How is your arithmetic? The Major spent many a night as a young man at the pub dart board. Traditional etiquette dictates that you chalk your name on the board to indicate your intent to play and then immediately prior to your game, you score the preceding game. This, I hold, is the main reason that my own arithmetic is of a credible level. Calculate the sum of three numbers (often multiples) and detract from a starting point of 501 (after 5 pints), repeat ad infinitum and you have a successful strategy for improving your mental number dexterity.

Yet, my own skill is merely amateur. If you have a few moments of your life to spare, observe the mathemagician.

He reminds me of a story concerning one of the greatest mathematicians of our time. Srinivasa Ramanujan had no formal mathematical training but made a huge contribution to number theory. He came to Cambridge and completed some amazing work. Hardy, a fellow academic famously recalled visiting him in hospital and casually remarking that the number 1729 (the number of the taxi Hardy had arrived in) had no significance. Ramanujan replied that he was wrong and that the number was particularly interesting as the lowest possible number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.

That’s pretty impressive n’est pas? However I question whether he could have scored 321 down by twenty, treble 17 and twenty five and I suspect he was slow to get the round in too. 225 by the way.

Successful gambling is part art, part maths. I would not put you off a gut instinct but I would encourage you to give yourself maximum advantage. Allow me to stretch your probability muscles in readiness for the day. Imagine I offer you a game of dice. Two die are involved. If I roll a 12, I score. If you roll a seven, you roll again and if you roll a second consecutive seven, you score. We can play for £10 a point – Fancy the game? (answers in the comments!)

Why do this? Well, we need to keep ourselves match fit, the significant engagements are coming. I see the enemy raising and rallying behind his standard. They are going non runner, no bet – BetVictor was the first to break rank but I understand Bet365 have too. Paddy Power tomorrow, mark my words.

Cheltenham is so palpably close my friends. Stand with me, side by side, each man holding the square. We need not flinch yet, keep your nerve young man, they circle us with their superior number, the metal of their blade offers sudden violent glints but do not be panicked. For if each can trust that man at his side then we shall stay strong and defeat their superior number.

To the sports. Take it easy today, protect that war chest of yours.

Newcastle Eider Card

The Eider in soft ground is as searching as test as you get in National Hunt racing. A few runnings on heavy have left a handful of runners out on their feet struggling to the line. Frankly a sight that does not befit our sport, in fact at that level it is no longer fair to describe it as a sport. Tomorrows test, while stretching should not be such a harsh examination.

It is surprising but lumbering a weight around the Eider has not been a hindrance to success. Comply or Die managed it off top weight and last year Portrait King carried eleven eight to victory.

We are however after a thorough stayer. The favourite as I type is Chac Du Cadran. He is young (7) but there have been similar profile winners, such as Portrait King, and his last run was a very good marathon examination. He is up the best part of a stone but has a thoroughly progressive profile.

The presence of Master Overseer has put half the field out of the handicap and while the top weight has a big job on his hands, he is a class act on his day. The big question is which version of the horse turns up. Danger to all if he gets his own way.

To add a further layer of intrigue, the presence of Master Overseer is keeping his stable-mate Big Occasion on bottom weight. He has the distance to prove and has not shown enough yet. Intriguing though.

The other eye catcher is Rapidolyte De Lada at 14/1. This horse won a small time affair at Carlisle but looks the sort to be fancied by this.

On balance, the Major opts for the class act on an each way basis. Master Overseer can be backed at 8/1 with Bet365, have a slice.

Kempton Tips

Starting with the Adonis (2.05) – This juvenile is going to give us a huge pointer as to the Triumph in less than three weeks time.

Irish Saint is well fancied after being denied by the exciting looking Rolling Star last time out at Cheltenham. He has not raced on anything other than soft ground which is a slight concern. He is a listed winner in France and clearly feared as the Ditcheat best pop at the Triumph. That form is pretty hot too and given he has shown an aptitude for the track, I fancy him to come out on top and 6/4 is a decent price. Strong bet advice. L’unique is the only one fear.

The 2.40 is the Pendil Novices Chase and this is a race that Paul Nicholls clearly likes for his top novice chasers. He has won the race an astonishing six years in the last seven, including Cristal Bonus last year and I am backing Grandioso to keep up his marvellous record at 9/4 (Coral). He looks versatile regarding the ground and his Ludlow win was very taking.

The 3.15 Dovecote Novices hurdle is a classic case of a more experienced sort in Brick Red taking on some young pretenders. I am a big fan of the Venetia Williams horse, he has won some good handicaps and deserves a crack at this. Yet I cannot help but feel he is vulnerable. Alan King took this race last year with Grumeti whom he though very highly of and he won it in 06 with Senorita Rumbalita and in 2009 with the well touted Trenchant. Thus I follow Fair Trade in at 8/1 with a fair degree of interest.

The 3.50 has all the signs of being a smash and grab job. JP has just spent a fortune on Wyck Hill and all the signs are that this mark is well within the horses capabilities. 3/1 could look exceptionally generous. Expect him to lead and I think he might be hard to peg back. Nacarat would bring the house down if he could must what it takes, good luck old boy.

Fairyhouse Graded Contests

Fairyhouse has its own warm up show for the Triumph with Dogora and Stocktons Wing seemingly the two to concentrate on. Is it just the Major who thinks this or have a lot of Ricci owned ho pots with Ruby up come a cropper when out in front? Not put off, I stick with the evens favourite to get the job done.

The Bobbyjo chase is one of those contests run after the national weights are out where we get a better idea of the principles chances. Seabass is my tip in the race at 4/1 who I think has been lined up for a pop at the national. While Prince de Beauchene may have all of the form, record and connections to be a worthy favourite, a national plot horse is a national plot horse.

In the football…

Connect your carriages to the Watford money train once again…. choo choooooo 5/6. Oldham to beat Portsmouth 8/11, like last week it feels like a cheap shot. Peterborough to beat Blues 7/5 is a bet too.

May your dinner be served by some fine European sort who treats service as an art form and is reassuringly expensive. This can only be paid for with some significant combinations today so good luck. Go easy on the brandy too, none of the XO, Cheltenham is almost here, save thy liver and thy purse.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Master Overseer, Irish Saint, Watford and Grandioso. UPDATE – NEWCASTLE OFF so replace master overseer with Fair Trade

Courage, roll those dice.

 

The Majors Saturday Service – Grand National Preps – Horseracing Tips for Newbury, Kelso, Kempton, Gowran Park and Doncaster plus Premier League Football Tips

Good morning from fine frosty Pershore.  The cold white frost tips on the fields contrasts wonderfully with the brown hot coffee which has been on the bubble for hours.  Let’s see what value exists in the weekend sporting calendar.  The fire has been lit, the trace of heavy coal is in the air, but the fire is lit inside the Major too.  Today we shall win.  This, in spite of the first three selections being in some of the hardest races to go at.

The Last Stand at Gandamak Village - The Major will never let a few defeats effect our relentlessy positive approach

Indeed, a fine early morning, the Major bids to thee, oh faithful few.  How the profits dwindled in recent weeks and those who are light of spirit departed….. Those who remain are the merry band, wistful and dogged souls willing to follow in part blindly, part courageously and part loyally, and my how they stick with the recent unrelenting thin gruel that has been served from the Majors humble pot.  Bless you, bless you all, we are here now at the moment of regeneration and we shall be rightly rewarded, rich rewards.  Pity those that are not you at this time.

Gambling is a marvellous thing it reminds you that you are alive.  Be happy that you know this – Be distrustful of those that do not.

The Majors mid-week horseracing tip of Horsfield looked pleasing until he smacked the third from home and Patman du Charmil took it up to win (frustratingly advised as the main danger).  At least the Majors logic was right, which has been off in a few too many lately.  Following the correct trends and belief is the crux of the dogmatic approach the Major will adopt to this week’s Saturday service.  Positivity is key; we were not victims of bad luck.  Luck happens.  Persistently outperforming the enemies pricing strategy out-trumps it.   this is not the home for people looking for an easy way to make money gambling and in the Majors view, unless you set up a casino, no such thing exists.

We have to remain relentlessly positive, as is the Majors resolution, have faith in our sporting judgement.  We should never fall as low as Lord Elphinstone, leader of the army in Afghanistan.  In 1842 the slump in his character meant that he succumbed to a series of decisions that were disastrous for the British army, culminating in an attempted retreat over the hills to Jalalabad through 90 miles of Afghan winter.  Weakened, indecisive, low self-confidence… it is the fast route to the poor house for punters.  For old Elfie, the approach resulted in an unmitigated disaster culminating in the worst military disaster of the Victorian age, losing his entire force of 5,000 English and Indian Sepoys, all of them cut up in the Khyber Pass (along with over 10,000 camp followers and pack animals) with the survivors making a fateful last stand at Gandamak Village where their military square held firm for so long but only a good doctor Brydon escaped alive.  What a shame Lady Sale did not take control, such was the spirit in her, such was the steel – I suggest you read her account.  She knew that the demise of the army was due to a lack of leadership and conviction. 

The Major will not fail you thus, I urge you to reinvest, bet like men
(and woman – you know who you are!), feel alive as you know you should.  We shall remain vigorous and our conviction is intact.

A note of thanks to Le Grand Fromage whose guest post on top cricket world cup bowler betting, looks to be a winner.  The Major has a small each way ticket on Johnson – Malinga equally is not letting followers down.  If any other guest bloggers want to get in touch, leave a comment or talk to me (if you know me that is!).  The Cleveland Steamer had less luck with his guest post a few weeks back but the contribution was good.  A couple of others (Gentleman Jim and The Hearty Ploughman) are threatening to lend us the power of their minds, wait and see.

The weekends spread of sporting action is laid before us for our delectable selection.  As always, the Major urges the usual moment of reflection before the veil is lifted and we reveal our hand to the enemy.  Close your eyes, concentrate on just your left arm, imagine it is made of lead, can you feel it stuck to the surface it rests on? Breathe and think about it as you do, now imagine your whole body feels like a block of lead heavy and sinking as you exhale, yet lifting as you breath in.  Breathe, relax, let your troubles wash off you.  Now open your eyes warrior and allow your souls awakening, you are ready.  The Major raises the bugle; let us join the bloody fray – The noise and chaos no longer trouble you, you register it but are able to rise above.  With your lance point sharpened and shiny we shall skewer a few enemies beautifully and with the claret dripping in globules down to the gauntlet, be at complete peace that we did our duty.  To Sports.

We are so close to Cheltenham now that the graded races dry up, sucked into the swirling vortex of the festival.  However, this leaves some nice betting handicaps and we can start to consider our ante post options.  What is for sure is that we need some festival funds and so a winning Saturday Service is required.   

To the racetracks of Britain.  (Don’t forget – Email alerts of new posts are available, sign up in the left hand column – Twitter is @tdl123).

3pm Newbury – Handicap Chase (Wiltshire Country Show Supporting Greatwood)

Pipe and Nicholls have a terrific record in this race between them.  While Pipe is not the force of old, early support last night and this morning has been for Matuhi who is dropping back in trip.  This is most likely connected to being a Pricewise selection.  It is now a best priced 10/1 and 8/1 in most places after opening at 14s.

There are 17 to post for this race and it looks wide open.  Niche Market will never perform at this trip surely and this must be a simple get to know you race for Ruby ahead of the national.  That said, surely Ruby will ride Midnight Chase, anyway, Niche Market will be barely warmed up at the winning post, so unlikely to feature.

Swing Bill has a much higher handicap mark to contend with else his latest runaway victory looked good on the eye.  Unlike many Russian Flag at 25/1 will probably enjoy conditions although the trip is again too short. 

The two the Major picks are Big Fella Thanks and Prince de Beauchene.  Both have won at two and a half miles or shorter.  Of the two the one I put up as a selection is Big Fella Thanks.  It looks like he is back to some decent form.  He won this last year off just two pounds higher and at 9 there is no reason to suspect he would be backwards on that form.  The field looks a mixed bag and in a tight contest, I will stick with form in the race. 

3.15 Doncaster – The Grimthorpe

Merigo is the Majors idea for the national at the moment but no point backing it yet as the 28/1 will still be available after today because Merigo is racing over a trip far too short to impact the price positively even though it is 3m 2f!  I am sure that this Scottish National horse will be looked after on its return from a 4 month break.  Despite the jumping at times being a little hit and miss, the Major has had his eye on Minella Four Star for some time.  13/2 is available with Skybet and so this is the selection.

I do find Ringaroses an interesting sort for Jonjo, it has a lower chase mark to its advantage today and a clear round would make it an each way must.  That clear round is anything but certain but I would point out that the horse needs better ground and has not always had it on chase starts.  Another tough race to call.

2.55pm Gowran Park Shamrock Handicap Chase 

Those first two races were pretty tough handicaps and so it was a relief to start work on the Shamrock.

While the ground in Britain is good to soft verging on good, Ireland still has its heavy conditions and the conditions at Gowran are Soft to Heavy on the Chase course.  Glenfinn Captain is 7 from 14 in any conditions with the word Heavy in, versus 1 from 13 when that crucial word is missing from the going.  At 12 though and with the ‘right’ conditions having been available 3 times in the last 18 months and Glenfinn not taking advantage, we have to look elsewhere, even though 14/1 in the only open market (well done Bet365) is still overlooked.

Surprisingly the other runners are not solid claims on heavy going which is why I pointed out the record of Glenfinn because of the ground.  There is one I like a lot in this race though and that is The Sneezer.  It will race prominently and has the help of Tom Doyle in the saddle an excellent jockey… well-balanced, calm at ease, probably just the sort to control the pace from the front.  11/2, wait until someone offers 6/1, I think they will and then have a slice. 

Just Friends is the danger in what I think will be a race where the improvers outperform the more exposed sorts.

3.40pm Kelso totesport.com Premier Chase

Ballabriggs goes for famous connections who use this as a warm up for a national sort – Cloudy Lane being the best example.  That said, 5 runners, it could be more tactical than Ballabriggs needs and while it is taken to win, a no bet race for the Major.

4.15pm Kelso totepool Hurdle

While in the previous big race at Kelso, the fancied McCain runner is a miss for the Major, Desert Cry should be backed to the hilt in my view.  11/4 is currently available and this horse is a clear up and comer in the Majors view.  A resurgent Jason Maguire fresh from winning his appeal to shorten his ban for marking a horse (allowing him his Peddlers Cross ride a week Tuesday in the Champion Hurdle), is going to be in fine form.

Load the large cannon for Desert Cry, the Major has eyes for no other in this race!

4.00pm Kempton Betfred Novices Chase

It only feels right having had a selection in the big races from the main fixtures today to select one from Kempton.

The easiest selection is Playing with Fire who looks unexposed and unlikely to be stopped by the penalty for his all the way win at Leicester.

There you go, simple.

It is always difficult to work through the major handicaps, the amount of information to sort, shift, examine, note and discard is huge.  Playing with Fire and Desert Cry make a tasty double.  The Major is keen on the both in a way that is less possible when selecting handicap winners.  In handicaps you are balancing known runs against weights and conditions, you are more likely to find one that has a better chance than its price.  This is different from these novice races where although the form is not there you can find those you consider to be penalty kick horses, that is much better than the field. 

and in other sports…… Football Tips

It is a tough weekend of fixtures to find value from but I like West Hams chances at home to a beleaguered looking Stoke.  The Major fancied them to see off West Brom last weekend but they looked a little downhearted and while unlucky to concede a goal that was offside, there was not the usual fire in the bellies.  13/10 for West Ham who are on a much better run to overcome them at home is a must bet for the Major.

Fulham to beat Blackburn looks good at 8/11 at home.  the Major underestimated Fulham earlier in the season suggesting they could be relegation candidates.  This was incorrect, they look a much more solid proposition and with Blackburn seemingly doing their best to get involved in the dog fight at the bottom, Fulham to win at Craven Cottage is a decent shout even at odds on prices.

Birmingham who must be on a high after their Wembley antics are taken to beat the Majors West Brom at 7/5.  Albion look to be without their key influential players of Dorrans and Odemwingie.  Fortune does not look good enough and unless Blues are suffering a hangover from their Wembley endeavour, should win their crucial home fixture.

After two decent home wins, Bristol City might keep a run going at Coventry this afternoon.  13/5 with Victor Chandler is a fair price.

I also fancy Huddersfield who can be backed at 11/8 with Corals – Take a piece and thank me later, Yeovil don’t hold enough of a threat.

Tonight, I suggest you dine on steak.  It has been some time since we did.  Now, please, get this right.  Ask a good butcher for his finest piece of fillet and look for a healthy marbling.  Roll it gently in pepper.  Heat a pan of oil until close to burning.  Allow 30 seconds maximum each side.  Remove and let it cool.  Serve with Rocket and Jersey Royal potatoes.  A little butter melted is fine on the potato, peppercorn sauce on the steak is certainly not, as that is akin to trucking with witchcraft.  A pleasing Barolo will accompany well.  A Crème Brulee could follow if it is a light one. 

As you can see I am suggesting cooking this yourself.  Unusual but pleasant.  Invite a companion over, she should be an earthy sort from the country, but well-heeled and curvy, healthy smile, groomed.  She was bought up well-educated, level-headed, open-minded, independent and likes beef to be cooked properly.  Make sure she is confident but not too chatty no-one wants to be jabbered at on a Saturday evening. 

You will have a fulfilling evening.  Be subtle but on arrival, allow the roll of notes to be seen as you pay for her carriage – This will be enough.  Unlock the Tantalus at midnight after you have been upstanding for the Queen.  Take the flask of brandy and pour a measure that reflects the day’s glories whether of defeat or victory.

Enjoy these times of health, go with the tide and hold on to whatever floats by you, after all remember that you only go by the once.