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The Saturday Sermon – Royal Ascot Trouncing…. Bookies 4 – The Major 0

Good morning from a bright and grey Worcestershire as the Major rises, licking his wounds and opening the Ascot cards with a trepidation born from a week of losses.

The Major has struggled badly this week, lumbering on clumsily, stumbling blindly and lashing out wounded and hurt.  The troubling thing is that this poor run is not bad luck, I have been consistently wrong in the thinking.  If a few 25/1 shots had finished out of the places and our 3/1 sorts were beaten by a nose then I would take some succor from the outrageous slings and arrows of fortune.  As it is, I have no place to hide.  If you have been backing them with me, what can I say?  Thank god, those that frequent the Major require no apology, it is not how we work.  Neither do I expect your thanks…

I provide thoughts, free.  You get to open the top of my skull and extract from the darkly fertile material.  The product is often unhinged but it is yours to do with as you please.   When you act and back a horse, then this is your choice.  I take no responsibility for your action so any credit is yours as is the invoice of loss.

However, I need something special today to rise like the phoenix, to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Just a decent day would do for me, nothing dramatic, something I could cling to Dunkirk style.  Something I could attach the virtue of victory to.

Royal Ascot Saturday Tips

The Chesham is always an exciting affair and Bunker is the present favourite after winning his Haydock race is fabulous style.  When he got down to work he quickly parted company from the rest…  Hannon and Hughes have only one dart at this and they could have had many so you would imagine he has a good chance.

Ballydoyle only have one bullet too and their Friendship only managed third on debut but I am sure will leave that well behind.

It pays to stick with those that are prominent in the market and for the Major, this is simple.  Bunker looked far the most impressive, have a slice.

The Hardwicke is a race that always makes me think of Harbinger who was a stunning winner of the 2010 renewal.  It was such a shame that he was injured seriously and forced to retire as I had him chalked up as that years Arc winner and would have loved to have seen if I was right!

You cannot ignore the recent Hardwicke record of Stoute who lines up with Sir John Hawkwood.  I am not that enamoured by the form but anything with Moore aboard at the moment has to be respected.  Can the handicapper step up?

Noble Mission has had the moniker of Frankels brother thrust upon him on every racecourse appearance.  He is clearly a very decent horse but seemingly no better than that.  Seems harsh that he should be heavily criticised for only being listed class but the Major thinks that is where his level is.

I am convinced the winner is from Ektihaam and Sir John Hawkwood.  I am backing the latter as it is available at 9/1 with Betvictor.  I also advise a reverse forecast on the pair.

The Diamond Jubilee Stakes is always the plan for Society Rock.  He has won the race, been placed in it and been a fifth in recent years.  His fifth was a little unlucky in my view having been drawn the wrong side to get at Black Caviar.  At 9/2, he is a fair chance.  This race throws up some surprises though.  There is not a right age to be, draw is important but more so to be on the pace side than anything… Plenty of big priced winners have had success and Reply is one for me that might just improve from the generally available 33/1 chance he is branded with here.  He will be fine with conditions and is drawn where I would like…

Duke of Firenze was impressive at Epsom, getting up nicely with the Moore drive.  He is well drawn and should go well in the Wokingham.  The race normally goes to a classier sort nearer the top of the weights aged 4-5.  Duke of Firenze meets that bracket too.  He is also ridden by Moore who, as I have already stated, is the best jockey riding this week.  What is not to like?  I am also having a saver on Rex Impersonator who gets Callen and has a chance if finally showing the true potential.

The Duke of Edinburgh is the penultimate race and I want a progressive looking beast.  As such, I am supporting Lahaag, 9/1, who was only just pipped at York and looked very useful last season.  I can’t leave Sir Graham Wade, 25/1,  alone in this either as I remain convinced the horse has a damn good win or two to come.

I am closing a disastrous Royal Ascot out with a bet on the favourite in the Queen Alexandra.  Since Shahwardi was runner up last year to none other than Simenon, who almost stopped the Queens estimate Gold Cup party earlier in the week, it is fair to assume Shahwardi will take some stopping and frankly, I am surprised it is 7/2.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Shahwardi, Sir John Hawkwood, Bunker and Lahaag…

Courage, roll those dice.

Saturday Sermon – 20/1 July Cup Newmarket Tips – Chester Tips – Betting and striking an agreement

Good morning from the Major who writes from a freshly doused Worcestershire.  The coffee has been bubbling away and the Major has been at the form to bring some tips from Newmarket who hold their July Cup feature race today.

Hayley in the drive position on Dream Ahead last year – Superb ride, fantastic horse

In the Majors top ten moments from racing 2011, Hayley Turner featured at number nine with her scintillating ice cool ride to victory on Dream Ahead.  Leaving it late and confident the gaps would appear, her mount had exactly the same thoughts – Awesome stuff.

If you are looking for tips for Chester today, follow the link – I covered the whole card late on Friday night, some difficult racing but I did find some 50/1 tips in there!

There is so much British racing today it hurts.  Perhaps too much – I am quite unfamiliar with some of these jockeys!  Sadly the only casualty of the weather was Salisbury – They have a good track and it is unusual for them to cry enough but that shows just how relentless the weather has been.

Daub your war paint and let us go to battle – We shall find the value and once again attempt to land the mothership – It is coming, it is coming!

When striking any agreement most people consider it fair that both sides are obligated to fulfil their end of the bargain regardless.  If you enter an agreement in sound mind, surely you have a moral obligation?

Consider though the knowledge each party has ahead of an agreement.  For example, if I sell you a car I know that will break down, this is not moral.  Thus in any agreement it is not just consent but equality of knowledge that is required for a moral obligation to be formed.

I was thinking of this when considering whether a moral obligation exists to settle a debt with a layer who knows a horse will not perform.  When you struck a bet, the layer had knowledge that you did not, if the jockey had instructions to drop it out and the horse was overweight and unfit; this is an unfair bargain.  This is what angers punters more in my view when you see a non trier – It is not the lost money but the moral inequality of the bargain struck.

Yet, this is a fine balance.  Should I share my knowledge and thoughts of how a horse is likely to perform on the ground?  Not really.  Succesful punting is about finding an edge, seeking the pricing that the bookmaker has gotten wrong.  We would not feel this is unfair?

I imagine the difference in most people’s mind is that of honest endeavour.  If I research the stats for Mark Johnston’s juveniles running at Thirsk then I have earned the right to use that knowledge in striking a bet.  The similarity between this and the crooked trainer is that we are both trying to use information we have to strike a bargain in our own favour.

I am not morally justifying crooks, yet I get less angry when I back a horse and then watch as it drifts remarkably in the market, gets away slowly, jockey loses irons, makes late headway and remains unplaced…. My lack of anger is simply a reflection that I accept this as part of our game.  Watch enough racing and you get a sixth sense for the horse who might be about to turn their form around, one way or another… That’s information you can use too.  Morals? questionable… fun and intrigue? aplenty.

To Newmarket and the July Meeting….

1.40 32Red Casino Handicap

Three non runners so far including the very interesting Bronze cannon.

This soft ground is going to play havoc later in the season when it will be harder to assess form from these earlier races.

This is a cracking opening handicap with lots of these horses looking like they are capable of better.  Sir John Hawkwood has won on soft ground in very impressive style early in the season.  That Windsor form might not be massive but the horse settled well early, looked squeezed but once free ran on impressively.  11/8 is the price, fair enough because the potential is there.

Ardmay is of significant interest at 8/1.  The ground presents no problems and Graham Lee is an ideal jockey.  The only thing that puts me off is trainer form.

Instead of the obvious Sir John Hawkwood though, the Major is interested in the more experienced Compton at 12/1.  The horse ran very well at Royal Ascot on soft ground and a big run could be on the cards for the in form yard – Compton is the tip in the opener.

2.10 Superlative Stakes

Some top class juveniles on show here and perhaps the pick of the form is Olympic Glory whose run in behind Dawn Approach in the Coventry was very strong.  This Choisir inmate at the Hannon yard will be well prepped and there is no reason to suspect anything other than a decent run.  Richard Hannon has taken this race three times in the last fifteen years.

The only off-putting matter is whether soft ground is going to be ideal.  It was good to soft at Ascot but this is going to be deeper something that Choisir colts are not famous for.

Instead the Major is taking a chance on proven mudlark Operation Chariot.  Another suitable sporting name!  12/1 is very fair because while the four runner race our colt won at Sandown is unlikely to be the hottest of maidens, it was on soft ground and the selection has similar conditions here.  Certainly worth a punt.

2.40 Newmarket – Bunbury Cup Handicap

An incredibly competitive handicap that needs a lot of sorting out.

Bonnie Brae is all the rage having raced on the unfavoured side at Ascot last time out – Soft ground is manna from heaven for this one and it is sure to give a good account.

Jamesie would be an obvious threat to the favourite but the draw has done the Irish raider no favours and while the ground might level that up a bit, I am probably against that on value.

The two that catch my eye are Seal Rock and Captain Bertie.  The first will enjoy getting his toe in and while on a high winning mark, I think has a chance.

It is 12/1 Captain Bertie that the Major tips for the Bunbury Cup though.  The latest Sandown run was promising enough and soft conditions play into hand here – WEll worth a shot but I would not put you off Bonnie Brae either.

3.20 July Cup Tips – Newmarket

What a shame that the ground has had such an impact on this race.  Bated Breath the favourite has come out as had Libranno, a succesful tip for the Major on last appearance.

This gives plenty of horses a chance to claim a Group One.

One horse that already has that on his CV is Society Rock.  The new favourite at 10/3, this still represents value.  The 5th in behind Black Caviar at Royal Ascot was solid and arguably the best career performance for Society Rock came on soft ground when winning the Golden Jubilee last summer.

Sepoy is retiring to stud and so this is a last racecourse start for the horse who achieved a lot in Australia.  I hope Godolphin have some joy in breeding with him as this is the sort of horse they tend to make worse – Seriously, how many top class imports to Godolphin improve?  I am struggling to think of some but can think of plenty who disappointed after making high-profile moves.

Dandy Boy is attempting a very difficult Wokingham, July Cup double but is not without hope.

The Major would have been very interested in Strong Suit if connections were not so nervous about the soft conditions – It does not sound like he will make the line up – I think they should try with him – If coming back to the best of his form, the shorter distance might help him put in a challenge and 12/1 prices ground concerns in.

The value choice for the Major though is the O’Brien horse Reply at a whopping 20/1.   I find it interesting that the yard are persisting with the horse and indeed have dropped him back into sprint distances.  Like many, the ground is an unproven quantity but I am sure they are not throwing darts with this entry – The sole representative of Ballydoyle in any group one race is a danger to all.

That’s it from Newmarket for the Major – The 3.55 has been decimated down to three runners as the conditions play havoc with the trainer plans.

Whatever you back, I hope the bargain you strike with the bookmaker is in your favour, have no moral qualms about it – After all you are reading this to try to glean an advantage yourself*.

May your dinner be a fine fillet steak shown just a glimpse of the flame, please put no sauce on it, perhaps a little salt and eat with a fresh bread.   I will permit mustard if you need.  Accompanying is a nice bottle of Malbec and eat before company as the nature of the contents of your maw may be off-putting… At the witching hour, think of me – I shall be awake, thoughts racing, hopes building that tomorrow is the day when we land the mothership – That is the beauty of life, there is always a tomorrow.. until there is not and then you have no worry or care at all… Remember the Major and my view on life… we go by the once grab hold of what is next to you on the tide, enjoy and ask few questions.

Enjoy the steak.

Courage, roll those dice.

* If you think the Major and my tips are going to give you a significant advantage, please seek urgent medical attention