Tag Archives: regal encore

The Saturday Sermon – Tips for all Cheltenham G1s, Sandowns Imperial Cup…. Close ranks now for the final Cheltenham assault

Good evening from the Major who writes from a peaceful and beautiful Worcestershire scene.  The day was spring like, the sun framing the lush green landscape, bringing out the deep colours in full glory.

The Major is tired, very tired.  This week, I have been burning the candle at both ends, with evening shifts, compiling thoughts on the grade one racing to come from Cheltenham.  You can read my thoughts on the 13 G1s on this page.

Having written so much, being on the verge of such an epic week, I am sure you will forgive the brevity of this weeks sermon.  Before the maelstrom begins, I wish to be peaceful and at rest for a few days.  Calmness.

The year before last, the Major attended the festival and drank at pace for four days.  Amongst the drinking, I gambled with an intensity that the situation deserved.  Financially it was a rewarding year.  Emotionally and physically, it was exhausting.  I was glad when it was over, when the merry-go-round stopped.

I am only reviewing a few of tomorrows races and if I am perfectly honest, I did them a little half-hearted.  The fatigue of my mind is two-fold, one is the sheer waves of sleep beginning to wash over me.  The other is the many hours of race reading ahead of next week.  I need rest from both.

Short sermon, rest, gentle betting tomorrow.  To Sandown.

Sandown Tips

I have not had much luck with the Imperial Cup and so my investments will always be limited on this race.  We are all familiar with the bonus paid for the double with a Cheltenham race and it attracts trainers with a solid gold handicap horse ready to go.

From 2002 to 2008, the Pipes won it five years from seven.  I remember Gaspara, the little mare, best of those, she went on to win at Cheltenham too and there were scenes… heavily backed!

Pipe has two in the race, top weight Swing Bowler and then, the seeming first string, Baltimore Rock – The latter is of interest, being the improver of the two but 9lbs for a heavy ground Ludlow win tempers enthusiasm a little.

Regal Encore gets the tentative nod.  He was my Champion Bumper horse last year and did not disgrace me, finishing second.  Dangers lurk, go easy 7/2.

Sound Investment looks a penalty kick in the 4.25 Novice Chase.  It is a race that Nicholls has targeted and this horse was spectacular at Taunton latest.

One for Chepstow

It is another favourite but Consigliere travelled really well at Newcastle but emptied near the finish.  I think he will be better for that and can win a race of this quality.  Although he has only won once from six shots on heavy, I don’t think it is too much of an issue.  13/8.

In the football, Chelsea to beat Spurs (8/13) is a bet and so is Wolves at Walsall (15/13).

The Martin Hill bet landed last week and I was very pleased for him!  Patience of a saint that man.  To keep it simple, it is a Consigliere, Chelsea and Sound Investment treble.  Won’t buy a new suit but might buy a few more bullets for the final assault on Cheltenham.

May your dinner be simple but the company excellent.

Courage and roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Racing Post Trophy Day… Aintree and Doncaster

Good evening from the Major who writes from the bed, tired and ready for slumber.  The darkened sky howls and the air froths and swirls, dancing at an ever-changing pace, gentle to furious in a rising crescendo and at once, peace again, for a passing moment.  Change in the air.  Danger.

The Major scored some winners last Saturday, including a tasty hat-trick at Cheltenham from just the three selections.  Even Martin Hill (yes he really exists) commended my changing fortune with a smile and a generous acknowledgement that is barely deserved.  That man has endured a torrent of poor fortune, all my own doing, but hangs in there, determined to the end.  I fear his lot will be like one of those collies that following the death of a beloved owner, sits above the grave, full of melancholy.  He gets his glimmers of hope, enough to string him along to the next investment and for me, I am thankful and most of all hopeful, that one day, patience is rewarded.

Of course, there is never any need to offer thanks for any winners I might find.  For a start, I am barely profitable, as advertised, so, your wins are probably hard-earned (you backed a lot of my losers too) or lucky, you dropped in on a going day.  Either way, I cannot claim credit.  What is more, I would not consider it proper to claim credit where I would not accept blame.  You see, I merely offer you the thoughts I have, the deep reaches of my mind, piecing together information in some construct that seems robust.  What you do with this is entirely your own choice.  I would not accept someone choosing how to bet my money, I do not presume to tell you how to spend yours.

Writing the sermon each week is a grounding in my hectic life.  I considered parking the blog (dark thoughts of a year ago) but find the anchor in the week a pleasant bolt hole for myself and my thoughts.  The thousand odd souls that wander in are welcome but the benefit I fear is mine.

I often wonder what a brand new reader might make of this.  Would you describe this as a tipping site?  Well if you did, it is not exactly a typical one.  For a start, I benefit from no adverts (any you see are merely those of WordPress and keep the site free for me to use).  I also make no charge, sell any service or claim any special information.

My tips are actually profitable, this may at times seem hard to believe.  If you stray into the menu, you will find two separate parts of this blogs history where I went to the effort of recording the tips given and painstakingly creating a record.  It was profitable.  Just.  Not the sort of profit that might have you jet off to the Caribbean in the company of an expensive sort, more the sort that might have you reaching for a bottle from the top shelf in Asda.

What interests me more is the reaction a new reader might have to the first part of the blog.  In a lucky week, a thought to write about occurs well before I sit to write the blog.  Perhaps, A dark night driving home, black rain-slicked roads and a distant emergency blue light, stimulate a thought, that is incubated until the anointed hour to write the sermon and out it spills, gushing with little reverence or key message, falling loosely and thence on the page, lay wasted and abused, incoherent noise.  In other weeks, my mood is dark and it tightens up my mind, as fear will, so what is written is brief and curt.

If you stray to these parts and are new, welcome.  We are a gentlemanly bunch, no riff raff need apply.  The game is afoot my friends, it is the time of the weekend where our hopes and dreams are intact.  It is time to prepare the heavy charger, sharpen the point on that lance and ready thyself for the battle.

To the sports….

Tip For The Racing Post Trophy

There has been a lot of rain in the UK but seemingly, Doncaster is only good to soft as I type.  I would certainly want to be on the side of a horse who might cope if it was a little worse than that and may well hold fire on the betting until having seen the morning weather and perhaps watched the first few races.

The Racing Post Trophy has gone to the O’Brien Ballydoyle team in three of the last four years with Kingsbarns, Camelot and St Nicholas Abbey.  Thus it is credible to argue that this powerhouse have again saved on of the best of their crop again for this late autumn showpiece.  Century won his maiden with ease, a race that they put Magician through in the year before.  I am getting on now for small stakes at 4/1 and may well top up later.

The selection is one of three O’Brien horses and since Joseph has chosen Century, I see no reason to think he is not the better of the two stable-mates, Johan Strauss and Buonarroti.  Certainly, all of O’Briens recent winners in this have been his first string.

If there is lots of rain, then The Great Gatsby comes into it, simply for being a proven swimmer.  I am sticking with the obvious though and Century to win the Racing Post Trophy.

My second bet for Doncaster is the second favourite at 11/4 in the 2.05, Night of Thunder.  This might be quite an appropriate name given the band of weather set to sweep across the UK on Monday morning, fate aside though, I think the Hannon trained juvenile can take this.  His run at Goodwood was visually stunning.  It was on slow ground and for a horse to handle the camber and come away so readily with no previous racecourse experience, really spoke volumes of the underlying ability.

Clearly Stubbs is an interesting runner.  Followers of the horse would have been left scratching their heads after the Coventry where he ran no race.  A line through that and you have an unexposed O’Brien juvenile, not something you would want to strongly bet against.  Yet, the Coventry has left a question mark and I was suitably impressed with Night of Thunder to think him a threat anyway so the choice was easy.

Aintree Old Roan Tips

The ‘Monet’s Garden’ Old Roan is a race which truly deserves its name.  I love the National Hunt season for the longevity of the horses which gives greater chance for their personal stories to develop.  Monet’s Garden was never quite the top draw but won this race three times over four years and with it, the hearts of many a racing fan.  He was a fine competitor and his white figure contrasted against the black silks stood out.

Again the Aintree turf may deteriorate from the currently advertised good to soft and I will err on that side.

Carrickboy has some ability and if you were assured of him putting his best foot forward, 14/1 might seem a decent proposition.  Indeed, he had today’s favourite, Walkon behind when winning at Cheltenham in the spring.  Yet, I am also minded that in the last fortnight, Venetia has sent out 9 runners and has not yet recorded a place.

Wishfull Thinking is not getting younger but holds some of the best form in the race.  His second in this last year was quite a distant second (nigh on 30l), that was on good ground behind For Non Stop (who I remember tipping by the way!).  Classy and cannot be ruled out./

I am not sure what to make of Edgardo Sol, he has been running well enough but does not look spectacular.  Is it possible that the step up in trip (not raced beyond 2m 1f) would improve him?  Possible but not for me.  I am also considering that if he was really fancied, then maybe Daryl Jacob would not have gone to Chepstow.

Astracad is not my sort of horse.  The Holmes quote is that once you have ruled out all impossible things, then what remains, no matter how improbable is the truth.  On these grounds, I would have nothing winning the Old Roan!  Thus I have to come back to Walkon, my 9/2 hope, whose stable are in form, has enjoyed visits to Aintree before (even if it was hurdling or on the national course) and has great form shouts.

Regal Encore was my Champion Bumper pick and while he ran second that day, I am hoping he will go one better over hurdles in the last today.

To the other sports

You will forgive me but I am too tired to start contemplating Newbury.  So a fistful of football tips and to bed.

I think Liverpool are a poor short price favourite because I fancy West Brom but shall not offer this as advice as I am prejudiced by my own support for the away team.  I do think West Ham are a massive 4/1 price to win at Swansea.  The home team had a tough game in Europe in mid-week and were deflated by a last gasp equalizer, West Ham can take advantage.  Other than that, Southampton look a banker at 6/10 to beat dreadful Fulham at home.  I would also back QPR at 15/8 away at Burnley.

The Martin Hill advice is to back an each way trixie on Century, Walkon and Night of Thunder.

To all of you, I wish you luck and prosperity.  I hope your dinner is taken in the most refined company and that the only discomfort be the wallet which digs into your ribs.

Courage, roll those dice.

Cheltenham Wednesday Tips – The Champion Chase, Champion Bumper… and Taquin Du Seuil

Good evening from the Major who returns to an icy Worcestershire scene from the equally frigid Cheltenham air.  Post racing, I dined in Pershore tonight, the company was good, the dinner reasonable but the restaurant odd.   The subtleties required that underpin a good service were lost on my hosts.  Still 6/10.

The same score could apply to the review of day one of Cheltenham, we went to battle but no definitive blows were struck, we danced around our enemy, driving into their lines in small neat packs, sharp fast movements, not overly committal and retreating quickly under threat from their rearguard.  There were some warm engagements as Champagne Fever struck at 15/2 and then the more obvious Simonsig and Quevega results bolstered our position.  Yet the gloss was tarnished by the no-show of Hazy Tom, Monkerty Tunkerty, Loch Ba and Grandouet, ah Grandouet.

Still very healthy profits from day one.  I did though get the Champion Hurdle all wrong.  Fair play Hurricane Fly, he was sublime.  Other day one observations.  The ground is not proper soft and being prominent is still important.  Easy.

Performance of Champion Hurdle day has to go to Quevega who looked beat on the downhill run but the game old girl plugged on, christ she knows where the finish line is.  With my yelps of KICK RUBY KICK KICK KICK urging her up the hill and an expectant crowd waiting to pay homage to her… a special Cheltenham moment.  I do hope that next year she competes to win the race again, an unprecedented sixth festival win.  I also wonder if we cannot jiggle the race namings so that she gets to run in the Quevega Mares Hurdle.

So much about Cheltenham is good that it is sometimes easy to brush over what is bad.  The diversity of life on show is one of the main attractions.   Throw in opportunities for merriment and skullduggery and any soul who still has an ache for life can’t fail to enjoy yourself.

Today, I saw the happy drunk, the unhappy drunk, the obnoxious drunk and my favourite, the delirious drunk.  Myself, I am abstaining from alcohol for a year… yes a whole year and so the entire laddish culture that exists around Cheltenham probably stood out more to me as a consequence.

When you love something, (as do I concerning our glorious National Hunt pinnacle), then you become protective of the hallowed ground.  Certain behaviours, a decorousness is preferable and established within the community who appreciate the same thing.  I don’t want to complain about it but I would observe that by acting upon a thing, the experience can change.  Should the number of people there to solely drink be proportionately greater than the people there to enjoy National Hunt racing, then our shrine will suffer, not at first but at last.. a thousand cuts.

Are we ready for day two?  Cast aside the rigours of what has passed.  Allow the sensations of victory and defeat to slip from you, wash over you like water.  As Kipling suggested, treat both those imposters the same.  Win or lose we need to prepare.  Defeat teaches you this more readily than victory.  In defeat you analyse, in victory, too often you simply accept.  Let us prepare, as Pasteur said ‘Fortune favours the prepared mind

The National Hunt Chase

What a challenge for amateur riders, four miles of the Cheltenham undulations – The National Hunt is a real test.  Without doubt we need a thorough stayer and a top amateur rider.  Jonjo O Neill has a good record in the race too.

Of these factors, for me the most important is jockey.  If we can find a talented young soul who can switch their mount off and make them forget they are in a major staying race then we can be halfway to a decent performance.

Two obvious candidates stand out.  Nina Carberry and Mullins Jnr – Bear in mind that no other rider has ridden half the amount of rides that either of these guys have had in the last two years and they boast the best strike rate of all riders here.  Put simply, they have the experience and they have the talent (even allowing for the excellent rides they are granted).

Carberry is on Tofino Bay, an interesting candidate whom the Major has followed before – He has ability but comes with a health waning and I am not sure a trip across the Irish Sea is what he needs.

Patrick Mullins is on Back in Focus, the 3/1 favourite.  The Mullins operation are flying this week with three winners on day one and I am sure all of their runners will get plenty of backing.  This one with good reason.  He has grown into his role of staying chaser with some aplomb, makes few mistakes and has won at the top level.

That is enough for the Major who thinks Buddy Bolero, despite having potential progression is not going to be good enough.

The Neptune Novices

So Mullins is on fire and he is on record as saying that Pont Alexandre is the best novice he has… obvious then?

Well…. It is time to declare an interest.  You might need to make up your own mind after I have explained why the Major is biased.

Last December, I met Tony McCoy at the Sports Personality awards.  I asked him for a horse to follow and he suggested Taquin Du Seuil.  I wrote all about it at the time.  Although I did not declare the horse he had tipped me publicly, I did offer to communicate it privately to those interested and several of the more regular sorts took me up on the offer.

AP McCoy and the Major

AP McCoy and the Major

Since that point, I have been backing Taquin Du Seuil relentlessly for the Neptune (and a little of burned money for the Albert Bartlett).

I don’t care for the stat about Challow winners and their subsequent Neptune records, means nothing.  I also think the ground will not matter too much either. He has form tied in with My Tent or Yours and I shall remain loyal.  should he win, then I shall be found purveying the fine shops of the Festival store-holders seeking a fancy coat for the good lady.

Taquin Du Seuil for me 5/1.  It is a fantastic race though and I would not put you off a saver on Two Rockers at 14/1. The New One comes with the advantage of being proven at the course and also has form tied in with My Tent or Yours.  Yet, the yard is going through a sparse time and I think conditions suit others better.  I am also unconvinced by Rule the World. So, the tip comes with fair warning… Should Taquin win though, you may find me in a state of utter delirium, identifiable by a mile wide grin.

The RSA Chase

The defection of Dynaste from the RSA to the Jewson has been the cause of significant damage to the Majors antepost position.  Still, you go early for the prices and you take the bumps that come along.  It has made me more wary of Pipe horse placement in the future though. Unioniste, 7/2, has done little wrong but as a five year old, I think this is an almighty tough ask over a searching three miles.  That said, Golden Chieftain who won on Tuesday has given the Newbury form a boost.  That and the fact that Ruby has abandoned Boston Bob for my selection are enough for me.

Boston Bob himself has a good chance but I think his form has an ordinary look to it.  Hadrians Approach almost got the better of Unioniste last time out and rates a danger but I just think mine is better.

Champion Chase

If Sizing Europe was at his peak (two years ago) he might have finished within ten lengths of Sprinter Sacre.  As it is the Black Aeroplane barring accident will live up to the billing.  Simple. 2/7.

Coral Cup

This contest is one of the festivals greatest puzzles with lots of form lines converging and plenty of puzzling handicap marks to decipher.  The best you can do is seek a few you prefer and take a punt.

A key piece of evidence concerns Mr Watson and AP McCoy.  In January, the latter slimmed down to minimum weight to win a gamble on the former and that looked pretty impressive.  The best part of a stone rise is probably not the limit of the horses ability.

Charlie Longsden is having a great year and runs Pendra a horse bought by JP McManus.  By virtue of the contract between the top owner JP and AP the top jockey, then it is understandable that Pendra is a short price.  Clearly they fancy winning with him.

Yet the Major cannot get away from that win by Mr Watson at 16/1.  Proven course form is a massive plus and who knows what APs thoughts are regarding the chances of the horse who now gets Richie McLernon in the saddle.

The Fred Winter

The Fred Winter is as difficult as puzzle as the Coral Cup.  24 runners go to post and many of them have highly progressive profiles making form reading difficult. The focus for the Major is again finding a likely sort and keeping stakes sensible. I do wonder if Ruby has his selection right opting for Saphir Du Rheu over Kalmann.  The Nicholls horse had a confidence booster at Taunton and arrives here with a good chance but I would prefer the chances of the Mullins horse who cost a pretty penny and whose French form has a very decent look about it – He is one of three representatives of yard and owner and jockey bookings suggest he is the most likely.

The Major though is going to tip a 40/1 shot in Habesh.  Like most runners we have a potential improver but this one has arrived after an unusual preparation.  I think it is a trainers Cheltenham debut and the unusual prep has been two runs on the Dundalk all weather track after a very good Limerick win.  His all weather handicap mark will hardly set pulses racing but he does seem a better hurdler.  It is worth noting that he beat Stocktons Wing at Limerick, who subsequently defeated Dogora at G2 level… interesting n’est pas?

The Champion Bumper

I like so many of the bumper horses it is difficult to narrow it down.  So many of them have destroyed average bumper fields, it is hard to get a good reading on which of those performances were the relevant ones.

There are so many other things to note and like… I like Regal Encore because JP bought him but did a deal to leave him with Honeyball.  I like Sergeant Reckless because Richard Hughes rides and is sure to want to bag a Cheltenham winner.  I like the Liquidator because Tom Scu rides it which in turn suggests it is the better of the Pipe horses.  I like Blackmail because he is coming to good hand and the form of his last win is very good.

Which do I like the most?  Regal Encore 10/1.  Kings Theatre bred, that will do for me. Courage, roll those dice.