Tag Archives: quito de la roque

The Saturday Sermon – Breeders Cup, Ascot, Wetherby, Down Royal… Fabulous Day of Sports… Courage and Roll the Dice

Good morning from the Major who writes from the early morning bed, such a fine day of sport has me alert at an early hour, my head snaps up and left to purvey a Worcestershire scene, the weather is not consistent with my senses.  The horizon is lost to a soupy grey blankness whose cold permeates you just by looking at it, ghostly trees poke through the still and choking mist, their limbs at strange angles, everything weighted down by a dampness you can feel.

I feel in contrasting mood though, sharp and earnest.  I have spent the week in London, or at least the latter half.  I have stayed in fine hotels and eaten well, business was conducted in amicable and brisk terms with mutually beneficial conclusions reached with little conflict.  All in all, most pleasing.

I attended a dinner in Mayfair on Wednesday night, a very fine occasion too.  It also happens in close proximity to my casino of choice, so it seemed perfectly acceptable to pop in for a few spins of fortune in the small hours – That proved the fast route to a lighter wallet.  Leaving just after midnight, I found the tube closed and since I was staying in Bethnal Green, I resolved to walk embracing the night air, I estimated it at just over an hour at a brisk pace.

London is a fine place and the richness of life was abundant.  For some, walking in a forest in spring, with nature coming to life, from its formerly frozen slumber; that experience brings great contentment.  For myself, I draw the same from such busy urban scenes.  Full of mischief, opportunity and intrigue – bristling with life.

Halloween parties spilled their drunken youngsters onto the streets, three half-naked men fought in Leicester Square but with little serious commitment to their causes, men in Hi Vis jackets performed essential maintenance tasks on drains and lights and emergency services hurtled by, their stunning deep blue lights scattering across the architecture which towered above.

In Covent Garden itself, men were putting the finishing touches to the Christmas Tree, which, being Covent Garden needs to be extravagant.  While now, I think of how irritating that such things are done at the end of October (Come the Major’s revolution, we will not be allowed to celebrate Christmas until 20th December), at the time, I just marvelled at it.  The splendour of it all.  I am under no illusion, the city, any city, has no care for me, I am merely present as an observer, a passer through – welcome but soon to be discarded.  Yet I am drawn to these scenes, life itself is played out in just a short walk and these attractions are like a siren call.

As I left Covent Garden, a consistent and cold rain came suddenly, clearly able to seep through any protection my clothing offered.  I flagged down a black cab to complete the journey.  The streets now were dark, the road was black and  slick, with the window down,  I could hear the pleasant kissing sound of the tyres against the asphalt.  Cold air through the window filled my nostrils and I felt that rare feeling… Contentment.  All I say is this, it is good to be alive.

To the sports.

Wetherby Tips – Charlie Hall Chase Day

The national hunt fixtures are coming at us thick and fast now and Wetherby sees some real stars of the track come to their seasonal debuts.  Let us start with the big race.

Long Run is clearly the main attraction in the Charlie Hall Chase.  He is a horse that always strikes me as older but you have to remember he was one of the very few horses to win a Gold Cup at the tender age of 5.  Many astute judges have poured some scepticism against the quality of that renewal and I cannot deny that my own seemingly unshakeable faith in Long Run is starting to shake.

Yet, he is a remarkable horse and at the age of 8, is arguably coming into to his peak season.  Here is a stunning statistic for you to bore others with.  Long Run has never been unplaced.  I repeat and embellish… Long Run has never been unplaced in TWENTY SIX runs under rules in Britain, Ireland and France.

You may detect a note of determined defence in my opening gambit for Long Run, if so, I congratulate you, your political antennae are well tuned.  So, please take my selection of Long Run for the Charlie Hall with the understanding that my soft spot for the old boy remains intact.  This year could be a stunning one in the staying chaser division and I hope my boy can get them off to a good start.

His opposition in the Charlie Hall consists of Grade One winning Benefficient who I think wants better ground and Unioniste who I doubt is that good and there is a small shadow over Paul Nicholls runners it seems to me.  The one I would be most concerned about would be Cape Tribulation.  While Imperial Commander may not have been his old force, it was a fantastic duel at Cheltenham last season and this is a dangerous sort to underestimate on his day having finished fifth in the Gold Cup and he also loves heavy ground which he may well yet get if the weather gods are with him.

The West Yorkshire Hurdle has lost At Fishers Cross which is a crying shame because I really thought that was a weekend banker.  For most, it leaves Tidal Bay as the obvious place to go and I understand that thought.  Yet, I cannot.  I do love Tidal Bay, he has been a great servant to the sport and his wins last year were inspiring.  He is twelve though and my tip, Medinas, is half that age.  He is a Coral Cup winner and improving, he won’t mind the bad weather coming and has just a fistful of pounds to find on official ratings with Tidal Bay – When you consider that Medinas is half his age, it is an easy enough assumption to think that improvement could be forthcoming.

Ascot Tips

The three mile handicap chase at 3pm, the United, is a trappy race to call but there are a few in there that are worthy of attention.

Twirling Magnet is a huge 16/1 with Bet365.  He has clearly not been a straight forward horse and has been bedecked in all manner of headgear.  He came good at Cheltenham at the end of last year and while his strike rate has not been prolific, I think there is reason to believe more could come.  Firstly, he is starting to get the hang of it, secondly, he is ground versatile, thirdly, he has the very capable Maurice Linehan in the saddle. Of interest.

I would not put you off a slice of Same Difference either.  He placed in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in the spring and that was terrific form.  If he is picking up where he left off, there is a big chance of a massive run.

I am looking to one of the unexposed sorts though and the horse that appeals the most is Opening Batsmen.  I get the services of Noel Fehily in the saddle and long term victims of my blog will know that I consider Noel a huge advantage to a horse in any race.  My horse is an improver too – We have to put a line through his run at Aintree in the spring but that was on unfavoured ground and at the time of the season where many horses are over the top.  I am happy with 9/1 – Take a slice.

I plan on a second Fehily inspired punt on No No Mac in the 3.50 – The form of his start this season has been firmly franked when his close conqueror at Uttoxeter, Timesrememebred, went on to smash the Grade 2 novice at Chepstow.

Down Royal – JNWine Tip

While Wetherby may have Long Run, the JNWine has attracted a stellar line up of Sizing Europe, First Lieutenant and Kauto Stone.

For me, it makes sense to focus on the first two in the market.  While Kauto Stone has won this before, I am suitably concerned by the runs that some of Nicholls horses are putting in that I do not want to be on this ones side today.

Sizing Europe has not had a brilliant record when stepped up in trip but this is the place to try again and he has been desperately unlucky not to win one of these.  He has been beaten by Kauto Star and Quito de la Roque in this race in recent years.

First Lieutenant has three years on the former Champion Chaser and proved a very good horse last season, arguably unlucky not to come away with a greater haul of trophies.  Like Sizing Europe, he has had a warm up race, unlike Sizing Europe, he did not win his but was only down a length or two.  Also unlike Sizing Europe, it is my belief that with slightly younger legs, he is better equipped to get over those exertions earlier.

For reasons of class, you might pick Sizing Europe.  For reasons of youth and improvement, I am opting for First Lieutenant.

If you like a price, I would not put you off Quito de la Roque at 14/1 who may play a hand.

Santa Anita – The Breeders Cup

At the Breeders, I am going to be on:

9.05 – Mizdirection 9/2 – Unbeaten at Santa Anita!

9.43 – Havana – 3/1 – Will outclass these, ignore comments about last run being less than impressive

11.40 Wise Dan – 5/4 – LOAD THE CANNONS!

In the football, I fancy West Ham at 5/4 to beat Villa at home.  Many think the Villains are a better team away from home and that might be true.  I also still have concerns over their overall quality and am happy to take the hammers in this.  Chelsea are a big 4/6 to win at Newcastle in my opinion with the latter starting to struggle.  Wigan 17/20 to win at home is a price I want as is 6/10 Coventry to win at home (well sort of home).

May your dinner be in the best company and the wines delectable.  As the waiter brings the bill, be generous as you can afford to be.

The Martin Hill bet is West Ham, Havana, Wise Dan, No No Mac and Long Run.  Take them in 1pt doubles (10 bets) and 0.5pt trebles (10 bets) and stick a few pennies on it all coming home.

Courage, roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon… Tips from Longchamp, Ascot, Gowran Park, Newmarket…. Politics and Fortune

Good morning from the Major who writes from a Worcestershire scene that has stirred dramatically like souls awakening.

Last week I wrote on Friday night, dead tired like, in a dark melancholic mood and a few folk tweeted to check I was not too effected. A few others spoke to me in person and I can assure one and all, as I did them, that I was merely wallowing in my own dark soul. Thanks for asking, it is nice to know that someone will attend your funeral, even if just for the brandy.

I slept last night deeply and soundly for the first time this week. Gazing out now across the Worcestershire rural rolling fields which have a deep healthy ruddy look towards Bredon Hill topped by its folly. I once stood there in winter and met another walker who gave me a history lesson. The manor house on the hill used to be a magistrate and a regular punishment would be to stake convicted souls to the ground and leave them to the will of the wolf packs that lived in the long disappeared forests. Sobering stuff.

There is an old Chinese proverb that I have often found serves me well. Do not begrudge another mans fair fortune. For that reason, I hold no ill feeling to those that, as I type, are hurtling towards Paris for Arc weekend.

Consider their luck. They are combining several of life’s finest facets. Train travel can stir the childish soul in each of us with a tickle of excitement in our chest, St Pancras drips in opportunity, to stand and see the multitude of people and trains, each following a unique path, curving away, it is the essence of life itself. Liberty and Opportunity. To be travelling to Paris as well. One of the worlds finest cities, a place where a man can be immersed in his own mischief. The Eiffel Tower is the second most beautiful thing I have seen created by our own hands.

I say second because I consider it only bettered only by the Sagrada Familia which baffles the mind, a building which towers, soars and then melts and drips in front of your eyes, great tree trunks of columns, facades of such devilish detail and so well combined, I cannot describe well enough to you, dear readers, how each vista of that building compliments the next, I can not do that justice so you must go for yourself. To be baffled by our own creation, wonderment immeasurable.

Regardless, those heading to Paris must surely feel so alive at this moment and to them I say this. Soak it up, savour the Parisian air, take your time to absorb the environment as you, for you are the lucky few. Arc weekend is one of my favourite moments in the racing calendar. I normally draw a profit from it and may well write up a Sunday blog to cover the main card.

I used to hesitate when I told new acquaintances that my main hobby was horse racing. It can have ‘low rent’ connotations, for some (and certainly not I) it is a step removed from Babs Windsor advertising bingo in horrendously tacky style, a parody of itself. Aye, we can be tarred alongside a bad lot.

These days I feel a growing self assuredness to share my hobby which reflects my burgeoning confidence that we, the steady readership of this blog, our small community of hardy, intelligent, courteous and humble souls, sticking with me to land the ultimate mothership, willing to take on Kiplings impostors of triumph and disaster, together my friends, we hold values and understand philosophies that are worth sharing. Consider.

This week, in the UK, the partisan nature of our politics has been at the forefront of national events. Now I shall not bore you with my own judgements largely because I am not sanctimonious enough to believe you are incapable of forming your own.

I shall share an observation though that whatever you think, the system is designed to club you into one team or another. Partisan views rule and like flys to light, once people associate with one, there is a sense of obligation to remain loyal to a philosophy, restricting your reasoned ability. It makes people more stupid than they need be.

You either think that Ralph Miliband was a militant Marxist bent on the destruction of Britain, or he was a polite academic who fought bravely for the country. Either the BBC is promoting a left wing agenda and determined to do damage to its commercial competitors or it is a fine British institution bathed in its independent values. It strikes me that you have to belong to either side, the uncomfortable place to be is in the middle, with a complexity of views that would suit neither side.

Yet that is the more natural position for most people. We see this in the politics of any major party, internally factions disagree on major themes but unity is seen as an overriding value. To be a supporter, you have to sign up to the whole agenda. You commission your critical analysis to a third party.

Yet in racing, we learn to examine each aspect, independent of others. Our greatest profits often come when we swim against the tide. We are used to dissecting the components of an argument and reconstructing them to our own view. We are familiar with being wrong, for some of us it is a most regular event! We deal with this by examine our calculations and are willing to change our future patterns accordingly, to learn. Even when we are right (and there are considerable lessons here) we should conduct the same.

My biggest ever win was when, god bless the little toughie, Punjabi battled on up the hill to win the Champion Hurdle. It was the last time I backed the horse. Why? Well I was wrong to back it, yes Punjabi was worth a place but was a tad fortunate to win (a nose) and others should have reeled in the winner on the hill. A useful question we ask (following win or lose) is would I follow the same staking plan. We should ask the same in our wider lives. To be right and to question whether you made the right… It is a gambling lesson.

While we are spreading the enlightenment, let us get to the sports….

Longchamp Tip

In a fantastic warm up to Arc day, the highlight is an interesting Prix Dollar. If Cirrus Des Aigles is anywhere near his best form, then he surely should teach this lot a lesson. I would love to see the boy back to his best and lead them a merry dance but you have to be concerned with his form. His last win at Maison Lafitte was OK but represents far lesser form than he has previously shown but it could have boosted his confidence. One major plus is that Cirrus is certain to go in the ground which looks like riding quite soft. He has form on heavy. A return to top form (far from certain) is the key issue…. As I love the horse following his gallant pop at Frankel, I will be a backer but I want a saver and that horse which I offer as a tip to you is Willie the Whipper.

The claims are not as obvious at first but I am sure Duffield is not tilting at windmills. The Great Voltigeur form is pretty strong and that was run on ground that was much better than this horse needs. These conditions will suit and in a race where plenty could set aggressive fractions, I fancy being on one switched off at the back and arriving at the business end like a hot knife slicing through butter. 14/1, have a slice of what’s good for you!

The Prix Chaudenay looks a very good race and I like both of the Aga Khans runners but since I think the Fabre trained Montjeu colt, Montclair, could improve and the ground adds an uncertain dimension to these progressive sorts, it is a contest I am going to enjoy watching with no financial interest. On the subject of Montjeu, did you see that his colt to Finsceal Beo (what a cracker she was) sold for nearly €3m in the week. With Montjeu sadly no longer with us, it is true to say that they don’t make them like this anymore…. Good luck to the young blade. If he were mine I’d enjoy naming him.

Good luck too to Neil Callan on Fire Ship – it would be great to see the best freelance jockey from the UK get a deserved international high profile win although I must confess that I shall be keeping my powder dry!

To Newmarket…

The 2.20 is the half a million pounds sales race and one in which there is an expected significant array of progressive angles to take.

I might not be popular if you cam here for an alternate view but Toofi looks the part for me. He has the experience, has shown the form, has positive trainer vibes and crucially has Mr Murtagh, the man we all trust over from Ireland for his usual Saturday raid. 3/1 as I type.

I do like these sales races and in the opener, I have a strong strong feeling about Night Song at 3/1 – this Oasis Dream filly has definitely been targeted at this and Gosden has issued positive statements. She holds all the right entries and I suspect this will be her arrival on the big stage.

My other Newmarket bet goes in the last where Ajman Bridge looks for all the world a weekend NAP. 13/8 is a steal. I like these profiles when in the capable hands of Cumani, the Pontefract win was highly impressive on seasonal debut and 8lbs higher is nothing really.

Meanwhile at Ascot….

Just two bets for me and again they are reasonably easy to find. Umneyati deserves a tremendous amount of respect in the 2.05. James Tate has a decent one here as she looks progressive but has enough experience (4 wins) and some decent soft ground form. Ascot can be a killer when the ground is described as soft, no other track in my view drains as quickly as the Berkshire turf and what starts soft can finish anything but.

Still, it will not put me off a big bet on Ascription who should love conditions. I know I am joining the world and his dog but who could not be impressed with the last time out performance. The Doncaster performance was emphatic and 11lbs will do nothing to stop this one. Let’s be honest, the moniker ‘group horse in a handicap’ is going to be used plenty about this one. Right now though, I’d rather be on the train. 8/1 last night, a kew withdrawal drew the price in but the money is flooding on, Pricewise has given it up – your cousins granny is on as is your Doctor and your Mistress and 4/1 is starting come under pressure. If you can’t beat em.

Gowran – Jumps Grade 2 Action!!

Fantastic, the jumps season is back. Sizing Europe is running at Gowran and at age 11 is seeking the hat trick in this race. At some point these horses have to give way to age. It comes to us all, the sensing of the competent by the inexorable whim of time, creaking and continuos the introduction of decrepitness until the end and dust, we float about the cosmos.

As much as I would love to see Sizing Europe win, I am going to opt for Quito de la Roque with Davy ‘Iron Man’ Russell in the saddle. I think Davy has another cracking chance in the follow up race where he is in Minella for Value’s saddle. Davy at the Double?

In the 2.25 at Gowran, I am going to be on Guitar Pete too.

American Racing

There is some terrific action at Belmont and Keeneland tonight and I shall be tuned in to At the Races for all of it. Worth the time alone though is Wise Dan who will go off at short prices for the 10.21 at Keeneland. What a horse, well worth watching.

For betting purposes, I suggest Day at the Spa in the 9.17 at Keeneland (where incidentally Say makes her American debut), Artemis Agrotera in the 10.14 at Belmont and Havana in the 10.46 at the same venue.

In the football, I do fancy two. Walsall, a club I supported as a boy and watched at the LS Fellows Park are going well and I trust them to beat Brentford. I also fancy Leyton Orient to beat Oldham purely based on the views of @tjheezy.

May your dinner be fine and Italian, possibly the greatest cuisine on earth. I wish that the only discomfort for you is the size of your bankroll digging into your ribs. As the bill comes and your over fattened wallet drops to the table, remember how good it is to be alive. Next year my friends, I shall be typing this from Paris, no questions.

The Martin Hill sponsored bet is Ascription, Quito de la Roque and Ajman Bridge in a Trixie.

Courage and roll those dice.

Thursday Racing Tips – Thurles and Wincanton… Firing in the winners, Shabash and roll those dice…

Good evening from the Major who writes from a frozen Worcestershire landscape, the brittle white crust compresses with a rustle under boot but beneath is tough as teak.

A thoroughly decent day for the Major with my Newbury tips, even if I say so myself.  Well, who else is going to thank me, apart from ‘john’ who posted a nice acknowledgement in the comments?  The rest of you can hang for all I care, miserable sods.

Actually, that is not quite true.  You need not thank me at all, in fact I have always carried transparency on my terms and conditions of usage.  You must behave yourself and act with decorum, no cads allowed.  I must write up my thoughts on a regular basis and at least score a few good days, I am also free to embellish any tips and racing information with the ramblings from the dark vortex swirling in my mind.  You must listen patiently as I disgorge them.

Then you are free to do as you please.  Your usage of the information is entirely at your own liability and any rewards are entirely yours.  I accept neither praise nor abuse.  Quid pro quo.

What a great day for the Major, seven tips, three winners all at odds against, a placed 20/1 shot (adv. 14/1) and a placed 9/1 shot, a 2/1 second and one best forgotten.

A couple of chaps, tourists in the punting world, took an interest today.  I laid them 11/8 about Fago who romped home the class act of the field.  Tomorrow they want more… Well Pierre and Oliver… more you shall get but be warned, the T&Cs are clear, caveat emptor or perhaps more accurate volenti non fit injuria.

Thursday Tips from Thurles and Wincanton

At one point, the horse in training which the Major has the softest spot for was engaged at Thurles tomorrow over fences.  Thank goodness, that folly did not come to fruition, I am of the mind that Bog Warrior should never see a chase fence again, apart from the ones he passes on his route to winning the World Hurdle.

Wincanton is a day of handicaps and the Major has precious little time to unpick them.  Hence, my visit there will be quick and simple, pulling out the likeliest and leaving the puzzles to my betters.  Let us all hope that racing goes ahead, a 9am inspection is called for.

Shutthefrontdoor is no bet but a massive odds on shot in the last.  If he wins well, expect the Cheltenham novice books to change!

In the 3.20, Brick Red is a hugely obvious sort.  Evens is available this evening (Ladbrokes) and will be a long forgotten price in my view when the tapes go up.  There is nothing in this field to challenge that I can find and the only thing that might beat him is if he has not fully recovered from his exertions of a week ago.

In the stayers race (2.50), we have an old favourite Mike de Beauchene turning up but aged 13 and without a win since his prolific winter of 07/08, he can only be watched and let’s be honest, do we want to see him toiling round Wincanton mid-week…. well-earned retirement would be my wish for him.  The one I want to be on is Dusky Bob (despite my solemn vow not to back Ellison horses) who won last time out in soft conditions.  He showed good heart at Musselburgh and this extra three furlongs and track should bring out the best in him, it could be a walking finish and that’s when I expect Dusky to be doing his best work!  9/2 generally.

At Thurles, we have two Graded events to whet the Thursday appetite.

The opener at Thurles unfurls a French Mullins import that looks a likely / shot. In a field of 19, I am minded to avoid it, even if it does look a likely sort.

The second looks like a good opportunity for Mikhael D’Haguenet but if you want to back him at 4/11 then I will seek to have you sectioned.  Who knows which version will turn up.

The Kinloch Brae Chase is a Grade 2 chase and has attracted a reasonable field.  Some old sorts line up and they are not the ones I want to concentrate on.  Joncol, Oscar Time and Tranquil Sea are top class horses but surely past their prime.

Quito de la Roque has been a real let down this year and Davy Russell seems to have given up hope and takes the ride on  Roi de Mee.  That one has been in fine form this year winning all of his starts since a strange reappearance where he was thrashed. That was by Sizing Europe but I suspect the summer ground did for him more than anything.  A danger to all as I don’t think we have seen the best yet, he has not really been challenged this season.

Days Hotel looks very exciting too.  He had been off track for some time before beating a reasonable (if a little exposed) field on reappearance.  It may not have been much but he did it in style I think this step up in trip will be advantageous if anything (ex pointer and bred for it).

In summary, I am really struggling to split the two at the top of the market.  It promises to be an excellent race.  I am going to make a call and at the prices suggest we go with Roi de Mee or Days Hotel.. or both… Oh god, I can’t do it.  Back them both, or why not try a reverse forecast.  I give up on the Kinloch Brae.

Tarla is just 4/9 to take the grade 2 Mares Novice Chase at 2.40.  I was a supporter of hers when she fell when dominating at the last in a race at Cork on my birthday.  She has had a little time to get over her exertions and should take this.  There is not that much more to fancy really.

In the 3.10, its odds on again for the Major as I fancy 4/6 Ballycasey to beat Milborough.

In the 3.40, Drawn N Drunk gets the nod, up the best part of a stone for a convincing win last time out might not be enough.  Sure to be prominent and make it a real test, lets see if we can bag a 6/1 winner.  Away We Go will be popular but I don’t think good enough.

Courage and roll the dice.

Saturday Sermon – Tingle Creek Sandown Tips, Chepstow and Aintree Becher Chase day too…. Shabash, courage and roll those dice

Good morning from a bright Worcestershire rural picture. The air has mellowed, dropping its aggressively cold tones and becoming thoroughly more agreeable.

Sound tracking my breakfast – Fine Wiltshire pork sausages with local free range eggs, peppered and orange juice.

Facts and stories. Which of these is the greater? To a gambling man who likes a model of statistical value, you might argue the former always trumps. The tangible can be valued, a feeling cannot. We are trying to get to truth aren’t we, no sentimentality can come into it.

Yet, through human history though, people discard reason regularly, sometimes with disastrous consequences, sometimes for good reason.

Last night, a colleague and old friend lost an earring – her distress was not related to the cost but the fact that it had been her grandmothers. Time adds value that the jeweller or insurer cannot recognise.

In the same way, evaluating a business decision or a gambling opportunity carries the same dilemma. All in life is made of two elements. Fact and story. Your ability to fathom a good and useful story is more important in life than your ability to handle data. Fact. Not time to explain why, just trust in the Major and my sermon. Do your research, calculate your pricing model and then leave the last bit to personal feeling. Add a little of what cannot be explained. Life is like that. Enjoy it.

Not much time to hang about today, let’s get down to the sports. She found it by the way.

Sandown Tingle Creek Day Tips

The opening novice hurdle will be won by Golden Hoof – OK it’s a shade of odds against but Henderson has won the last three running of this race with some decent types so all points to my tip being a useful sort.

In the 1.25, despite the unbelievable form of Team Ditcheat, I cannot be on Sam Winner. I give a squeak to Gilbarry at 16/1. Gilbarry is racing of a potentially lenient mark over the smaller obstacles having shown much better chase form. He has been backed into that price so maybe something is expected.

Captain Conan looks to have a simple opportunity to pick up a grade 1 chase in the Markel Novices. Hinterland did not look the same horse over the big obstacles and might have struggled to cope with Hendersons horse even if he did handle it.

This is a good a Tingle Creek as I can remember because both Sanctuare and Sprinter Sacre look as good as we have seen in this division for some time. I love the Tingle Creek, remember Kauto winnng it! I know Denman had a swaggering style but I loved The class of Kauto (made even more special by his ability to smack a fence when cruising!). No more proof can I give than reminding you that the great Kauto had the speed for a Tingle Creek before taking in a King George and the Gold Cup in the same season!

Although its hard to imagine a horse repeating those exploits, in Sanctuaire and Sprinter Sacre we have two that I could conceive scaling similar heights. My heart is with the Aeroplane, the way Sprinter put away Al Ferof and Cue Card who have both thoroughly franked the Arkle form is damn impressive. Sanctuaire is Nicholls highest rated novice chaser and so if ratings lead you then 5/2 is a gift. My story is different though, Sprinter Sacre might be the best chaser we have seen in a generation. Geraghty says he has never ridden anything like it.

I cannot wait for the Tingle Creek.

Navan Tips

Rule the World has a strong form line with Bonisland suggesting he should have his measure and so 11/10 is fine by me in the novice event at 1.20.

I don’t care that I am in danger of stating the obvious but Oscars Well should win the novice chase affair too. This horse was a multiple grade 1 winner over hurdles and loves heavy ground which is a question for many of these. 8/11 is not prohibitive for this.

Aintree Becher Chase Day Tips

The Becher is as wide open as usual. Join Together and Problema Tic are both young talented looking chasers and the former looks a thorough stayer which is crucial over these fences. My problem is the profile of these horses. This race suits an animal who is older and has been around the block a bit more. Proven fence experience is far more important than handicap mark. That makes the selection of last years winner West End Rocker – he slammed the opposition last year, likes conditions, loves the national fences and is only 5lbs higher than last year. 6/1 is a great price.

Cannot see why Quito de la Roque won’t win in the 1.05 at 10/11, the Kauto Stone race was a decent affair and he will be fitter today.

Chepstow Tip

In the 1.30, I am going to give a squeak to Caroles Destiny at 8/1, my tip was a decent hurdler and often shows a likeable attitude.

Such is the form of the Nicholls yard that I am tipping Royal Charm in the 2.05 – the mark is more workable these days and Sona Sasta is likely to set a good clip to aim at.

Chepstow when heavy takes a lot of getting. I would want proven form on the surface and. Get it from the progressive horse Noble Legend at 9/2 in the 3.15.

To the football…

I like going against clubs in trouble and so 5/1 Sunderland and 11/2 West Brom will be backed. More solid claims are Swansea who should be good enough to beat even a rejuvenated Norwich. Southampton have started going and evens is a gift at home to a leaky Reading.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 Mothership is Southampton, Oscars Well, Noble Legend and Golden Hoof.

The each way Trixie is Carole’s Destiny, West End Rocker and Gilbarry.

May your dinner be in good company in a restaurant run by competent sorts.

Courage and roll those dice.

Saturday Sermon – Tips for Breeders Cup, Santa Anita – Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby | Down Royal JNWine Thoughts

Good morning from the Major who writes from a cold Worcestershire rural scene where conditions lack dignity of ice or frost.  Instead we are treated to a wind chill – It is somehow a dirtier cold.  If we are to be in winter, we should do it properly.

My post yesterday was a disaster.  Conditions at Santa Anita are set up for upsets.  A tight turning turf track on firm which is unusual for all European horses and a dirt track that most have never raced upon.

My selections went from bad to worse and the only thing I got right was Fame and Glory being finished.  Even in his best conditions he is a done deal so the time to retire is right.  I cannot claim too much glory for this correct premonition.  Talking to my brother he said: Well done you got one horse not to win… ouch.

This is going to be fairly brief because I have an essay to write and this is simply a distraction from the lofty studies of business.

You will be glad to hear that the sermon has been reduced.  Suffice to say this, enjoy yourself today.

Santa Anita – Breeders Cup Tips

Draw is essential – That was the lesson I learned last night.  You do not want the inner berth, those horses get trapped on the rail – Look what happened to The Fugue and Sky Lantern, finishing full of running but having nowhere to go.  Getting out is not easy from the inside position, you are better to come slightly wider (like Flotilla).

6.50 Juvenile Turf – Gervinho has been reportedly putting in good track work and I am going to take a 16/1 chance that this could be the best of the home team.

Tips for the 7.35 Fillie and Mare Sprint – Groupie Doll has been transformed by headgear but has some ground to make up so I am going to opt for Dust and Diamonds at 11/2 (Hills) – Lost as to why this 7f contest is a sprint!

8.14 – Dirt Mile – Shackleford needs to have the race run to suit and I am not sure it will be.  I am going to take a chance that Bob Baffert has got to the bottom of Fed Biz poor latest show and the 6/1 (Coral) shot puts his best foot forward here.

8.57  Turf Sprint – Starspangledbanner has had some injury problems and is polaxed by draw 14, it would be one of the best performances ever to beat this field from there.  Yet my tip is only 5 berths left.  8/1 Bridgetown is the call and will be doing his best work at the finish with Mizdirection and Corporate Jungle.

9.36 Grey Goose Juvenile – Shanghai Bobby looks a class act to me… Go lumpy at 2/1.

10.18 – 1m 4f Breeders Cup Turf Tips – A cracking race in which St Nicholas Abbey bids to win again.  There is some tough opposition though and the one that the Major fancies is 5/1 (Paddy) Shareta – The Japanese raider is a danger to all.

10.58 Sprint – Call me crazy but I am opting for 40/1 (Betvictor)  Hamazing Destiny.  My tip has finished in the top 5 in this race twice already and while drawn wide, will get the help of a suicidal pace in the field.

11.40 Santa Anita – Breeders Cup Mile

Then the race we wait all night for.  It is worth staying up just to get a look at Wise Dan.  This chestnut monster looks like he would rip your face off given a chance!  An absolute herculean looking animal, he is in at 11/4.

I am not sure Moonlight Cloud who was so close to downing Black Caviars colours in the summer will enjoy these conditions.

Excelebration has obvious form claims and a win would only go on to stamp Frankels authority on the global racing scene through collateral form.

On balance though, I think Wise Dan for the home team is a strong win tip.

Charlie Hall Chase Tips

What a shame only 6 make it to the start for the Charlie Hall.  Surely a grade 2 chase with £50k+ for the winner could command a greater turn out?

Planet of Sound probably needs genuine good ground to be seen at his best and so is ruled out.

Master of the Hall goes well fresh and is a big price at 10/1.  Yet I cannot see how he will give 5lbs to exciting second season chaser Silviniaco Conti who should take the Charlie Hall for Team Ditcheat at 6/4.

Down Royal – JNWine Chase Tips

The JNwine is the feature track race of the year and it is a shame they have lost Sizing Europe from the card this morning.

I like Kauto Stone but think he might fall just short of top class and would be happier with a slice of the 10/3 about Quito De La Roque who goes well fresh and will enjoy it today.

In the football, Sunderland odds against to beat a lacklustre Villa is appealing at 6/5.  So is 8/11 Man Utd to beat Arsenal.  Tottenham are too short at 8/15 but it is no punters price.

May your dinner be delightful and the company generous.  I apologise for the rushed edition but I have work to do.  Wish me luck.

Courage, roll the dice.