Tag Archives: river maigue

Cheltenham Tuesday Tips – Its Cheltenham Eve… The Arkle and Champion Hurdle await tomorrow…

Good evening and merry Cheltenham Eve from the Major who writes from the vengeful cold wasteland of Worcestershire.  The Siberian wind swirls across the landscape whipping silent flakes of snow that land anonymously.

It is cold.  The sort of biting wind that searches every channel of clothing, driving deeply into the joins, seeking and exploiting weakness.

If you are coming to Cheltenham, dress warmly, wear layers, lots of layers.  While out earlier, I think I caught ‘Weather Tourette’s’… such is the ferocity of the Russian air, it causes uncontrollable swearing that my mother would have been ashamed to hear me exhale.

Upon Cheltenham Eve the excitement amongst the twitterati of racing acclaim is etched into their timelines.  Right now, all of our dreams are intact, all hopes remain untested, it will only remain so for a short while longer, savour this for anticipation is as good as the day itself.

The Major will take you through the Tuesday Cheltenham card.  The battle is now upon us, our forward units have been skirmishing the enemy lines for many months, we have engaged man to man with bayonets fixed and now we settle down to sort it out.

I hope you arrive with a war chest becoming the great week.  I hope coins are spilling from your wallet.  If you are one of those that believes you should bet within your means, please find yourself another blog, you are not welcome here.  If the stake matters not, then there is little point to your endeavour.  Have a little edge to your stakes… live a little, load those cannons and feel the rush of adrenaline.  This is Cheltenham, it is good to be alive and be here.

I am conscious that the blog will be receiving more than its usual readership.  If you are new to these shores, welcome, whether tourist or new follower, I wish to be a good host.  The Major is free, barely profitable and certainly unhinged… read on my friends and take what you will.  At the end I have posted a few blogs to give you some second opinions too, you see, I believe in customer advocacy.

Please consider taking part in my charity tipping competition.  I am inviting you to take on my 4 year old son who has picked his Cheltenham selections.  Full details in this post.

A note for my strategy… The first two days of the festival are run on the old course and this is well worth taking notice of.  The turn in for the old course gives a fairly short run in.  You might think that with soft ground and a hill to contend with, it gives those from the back a decent chance.  Yet, last year, the opening days required horses to be prominent and the Major will be seeking these sorts in the tips for the Cheltenham Tuesday card….

Daub thy war paint young warrior, sharpen that lance point and bring up your charger.  We shall pick them at the gallop, crying Shabash and St George.

The Supreme

The opening race of Cheltenham 2013 has been made very interesting by the decision of connections to run My Tent or Yours as opposed to supplementing him for the Champion Hurdle later on the card.  The owner, JP McManus, already has Jezki, whom he purchased for an eye watering sum earlier in the season scheduled for the Supreme and after MTOY destroyed a good Betfair field and the tragic racecourse death of Darlan, many suspected, he might pay to supplement MTOY to the Champion Hurdle.

Instead, he takes his chance as a 15/8 favourite in the Supreme.  The Major thinks that common sense has broken out here.  My Tent or Yours has earned a mark of 162 for his troubles but should be introduced to the top prizes next year.

The Supreme is not always an easy race to tip.  Novices that are still on upwards curves can show some violent form swings.   The runners that are proven on the ground are My Tent or Yours, Puffin Billy, Champagne Fever, Jezki, River Maigue and Cause of Causes.

Of them, I feel My Tent or Yours has certainly shown the best form and will not put you off a decent bet.  2/1 is generally available this evening.

Yet the tip goes to 15/2 shot, Champagne Fever.  Ruby Walsh has selected him as the best shot and I think he may have a point, he has valuable Cheltenham form having won the bumper a year ago.  What I really like about the selection is that he is a prominent racer which at least will put him in the race on the home turn, that and a love of soft ground can help him overcome a marginal defeat to Jezki from earlier in the season.

Really worth taking Hills up on their 5 places paid offer – That is an incredibly generous start to a week of superb offers from the enemy.

The Arkle

When Donald McCain recently suggested that Overturn would give the grey Aeroplane Simonsig a race in the Arkle, Henderson was quick to give his own bullish view.

I can only see the red hot favourite shortening up as the main rival Overturn has been avoiding soft conditions all winter, in his career he has only won one of his four races on ground softer than good to soft.  Overturn is admirable but I feel will be setting this up.

Simonsig is 4/6 and I grant you it is no working mans price but we all need some winners on day one.

The JLT Handicap

Fruity O Rooney may well be a popular pick here having run so close in the same race last year.  noone would deny that he would be a worthy winner and he is racing off a 1lb lighter mark here.

Only one horse in the last fifteen years has won off a weight greater than 11-2 and the tally of winners contains just one 11 year old.  These seem logical enough trends and help us profile a likely sort.  Soft ground is also a big plus.

Jonjo has taken the race twice in the last five years, not the most robust stat but clearly Merry King will have his followers.  He lost a thorough battle last time at Haydock in very testing conditions.  It showed he has talent and heart as well as a liking for the mud.. shortlist material.

Quantativeeasing owes the Major and a return to form would hurt but not be that shocking, my main concern for that one is the ground.

Pete the Feat is the Hunt Ball of the season having gone up over 40lbs for his exploits.  Last time out was bitterly disappointing and many will now be feeling he has been caught by the handicapper but the Major holds a hope.

The two I like are Monkerty Tunkerty and Loch Ba.  The former at 16/1 is reaching veteran status which is not quite the profile I had in mind but he comes with a light CV that suggests he has more to give.   The latter showed tremendous improvement to win last time at Newbury in tough conditions and a rise of nearly a stone might not put him out of the frame for this.

Please note place terms, many bookies are 4 places only but plenty are 5 places.

Tips for the Champion Hurdle

The championship race of the Tuesday is the Champion Hurdle and the 2013 renewal seems to lack a little lustre.

The absence of Darlan is a loss and reminds us how frail the boundary of delight and despair.

Hurricane Fly is the one horse that could raise the roof on Tuesday.  He will come with an army of Irish supporters who are convinced that the Fly can regain his crown.  Last year I felt he had a fair crack and could not get to Rock on Ruby and Overturn.  The talk is that he was not quite right.

Certainly he has not put a foot wrong this year, destroying fields in Ireland that, to be fair, he should destroy.  That makes a reading of his form difficult.  He is also 9 and has had to travel…. not the sort for me at 2/1.

Zarkander has not put a foot wrong too this season and his defeat of Grandouet and Rock on Ruby at the course was particularly strong.  Both of his foes that day may be able to give a good excuse but Zarkander is starting to look like a horse who knows how to get his head in front.  He has looked a lot stronger this year and remains undefeated this season.

Grandouet is of clear interest.  Losing that day to Zarkander was no disgrace given the amount of time he was off the course previously   He is obviously a delicate sort and has an interrupted preparation once again.  That was the cause of a a significant drift in his price but connections have been reassuring.  He is only 6 and entitled to improve.

Rock on Ruby has run this season as though this was the only race on trainer Harry Frys mind.  Last year when he won the Champion Hurdle (tipped up ante post by the Major at 14s!) he was technically a Paul Nicholls inmate but operating from the satellite yard ran by Fry.  He has been fitted with blinkers for the first time which comes as a bit of a surprise to the Major.  I cannot bring myself to back him again.

So it is Zarkander and Grandouet for the Major and who gets the tip of death?  At the prices now, it has to be Grandouet.  I am suggesting a win bet too.  If he performs he is entitled as any to win.  He now gets 4lbs from Zarkander which with natural fitness after that first run back should be enough to turn the tables.  Have a slice.

The Cross Country

If you can brave the cold, head out to the middle of the course for the cross country – It is a thing to behold.

The Major is keeping it simple, Enda Bolger is the specialist in these races and Arabella Boy is a worthy favourite, have a large slice and thank me later.

The Mares Hurdle

Quevega bids for history in the Mares Hurdle, seeking a fifth straight race win.  What is incredible is that Mullins keeps this spring horse under wraps until this race each season and so she bids to do so on debut.  Does the ground hold a concern?  Not really, she seems very versatile… what a girl.

It would be an incredible achievement and she is sure to raise a fine cheer come glory or defeat.

Normally I would be getting edgy about backing a nine year old but she is so lightly raced and so well looked after that I think that the rest are playing for places.

Of them, Une Artiste is the one I would fear.  The Major has had some tasty wins with this girl, including a surprise in last years Fred Winter.  She is young, progressive but needs to be if she is going to endanger that record.

5.15 Listed Chase

If at this stage, the day has not gone to plan, I suggest a mere light interest in the last.  Save your ammunition for easier puzzles than this.

The Novice Handicap Chase is designed in the deepest darkest minds of our enemy.  A swirling vortex of factors, the inexperience of chasing, the lack of course form, the improvers and the ground… 20 runners… we stand little chance.

Hazy Tom won a good race at Warwick and was just headed at Mussleburgh, I would argue he wants to be stepped back up from the minimum distance and he catches the eye with the Majors favourite jockey Noel Fehily aboard.

Rajdhani Express is of some interest if his jumping holds together and 25/1 could look big.

Carlito Brigante as a Coral Cup winner has plenty of attractions but the going is a significant concern for the Major.  Klepht is one to watch in the market.

On balance, I am opting for Hazy Tom at 16/1.

Good luck to all of you throughout the week.  I will post Wednesdays thoughts by midnight tomorrow.  For second opinions on tomorrow, have a look at any or all of the following, they are ad free enthusiastic racing fans… Young Racegoer, Luke Elder, Good to Soft, King of the Jumps (Callum, Luke and Emma – I wish you all the best)

Courage and roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon | Full Ascot Tips | Black Caviar | Crowdsourcing a Multiple | Building a Cheltenham War Chest

Good evening from the Major who writes from a cooling damp Worcestershire scene.  The Major is tired and uneasy.  There is nothing like a good night of rest to resolve that but since the night lies between me and a refreshed state, then you have to take me as you find me…  Slipping into the night state, in that phase where the day and night merge with thoughts dancing on the edge of reason and fears you can almost touch.

We are used to the news being a repeating loop of misery but earlier today, a BBC report from Mali breached my usual bullet-proof emotionally barren defences.  The image is stark, the setting desperate and the mental conditions achieved to cut a man’s arm off… it is so unfathomably distant, it is hard to belief that it exists in the world we inhabit.

There were other items of news this week which scored direct hits on my usually high levels of mischief and boisterousness, anniversaries of tragedies, fresh tragedies, meteors missing the earth (a 6 mile one wiped out the Dinosaurs you know), food, trouble, more trouble, scandal, disgrace, death, disease, lying, filth.

Tiredness, stress, these things lower ones defences.

There are so many slices of pain which are upsetting to dwell upon, endless reams of stories, regenerating each day, the man from Mali made the limelight, many others are merely minor parts, in such a world, stab after stab, remorseless, brutal, without reason.  The reality of aging is coming to terms with the meaning of life… inevitable relentless decay, sometimes sudden and collapsing, sometimes protracted.  It comes for us all, if not at first, then at last.

You may be wondering whether I intend to remain in this sombre mood for the rest of the sermon.  The answer is no.  Having removed myself of the burden (thank you for listening), I feel lightened and able to move on.  I shall lament in these disconsolate streets no more.

You see, we are here, we are alive and we owe it as a duty to enjoy ourselves.  To open our eyes to the glory of possibility.  So today, observe, relax, laugh and enjoy, feel no guilt for that which the fickle hand of fate has given you.  For we are here, we are alive.  Enjoy it, consider it dutiful.

To the sports…

Cheltenham is coming.  In four weeks, all of our questions will be answered.  Is the Major right about Long Run being under-rated?  Will Sprinter Sacre dominate the Champion Chase?  Will he be the shortest priced winner ever?  Is Hurricane Fly the best two mile hurdler there is?  Are Dynaste, Quevega and Simonsig good things? Can Oscar Whisky reverse form with Reve de Sivola? but will Bog Warrior provide a surprise and come over the top of both of them?

Ah… the anticipation.  Right now all of our dreams are intact.  Well, that is unless your antepost bubbles have started to pop with the tragic death of Darlan or the withdrawal of Tidal Bay and Flemenstar.  I am afraid it is that time where we hold our breath, hoping they get the key players arrive in one piece, anxiously watching Betfair and twitching at the slightest move in the markets.

On that point, what a class act the Ditcheat yard are.  With a prominent position in the national and World Hurdle market, there was not a tremor before the news broke concerning Tidal Bay… fair play.

We don’t know what the festival holds but I am willing to be the answers to my questions are Yes, Yes, Yes, No, Yes, Yes, Probably not but I’m backing him anyway out of unadulterated love.

I hope your antepost portfolio is bulging like a drunk mans belly, fattening up nicely for the feast.  Today we shall try to add to your war chest.  We shall raise the capital required for war with a few tactical raids on the enemy supply lines.  I see a few opportunities, a few wagon carts of ammunition on the road guarded by merely a few dozen of their light lancers, we shall take them at the double, engage at close quarters and withdraw sharply with the Maria Theresa coins spilling from our saddle packs.  Shabash!

Anyone joining me at 5.30am to see Black Caviar?  The wonder mare is set to rock Flemington again and it is worth getting up for.  1/20 for Nelly to win in the morning, she is under rated in the UK by some after almost getting chinned at Royal Ascot.  She was legless in the conditions that day and was carrying injuries as well as being lighter after the exertions of travel.  Her terms, her turf tomorrow – Watch the monster devour the prey.

Jim Knight – Have a terrific day at Ascot, I would say be lucky, but you are… being there, the cold air on your face, the heaving hulks of sweating beasts after their exertions for your pleasure, drink beer, gamble with intent and have a ready eye for mischief.

I am focussing on Ascot, Haydock is left for someone else.

Saturday Ascot Tips

Conditions are soft and with Ascot being such a fast drying course and a dry forecast, I am edging towards good to soft horses.

The opening novice hurdle contains some decent sorts but looks short of a top class star.

Aaim to Prosper has not done an awful lot wrong – A late converter to hurdling, he was the only ever horse to win two Cesarewitch’s.  I am not convinced.

It is Up and Go that I think could be the pick of the bunch and probably offers the most scope.  He beat Many Clouds last time out at Wetherby and that horse went on to an Exeter success next time out.  Up and Go has fallen twice in the last year but was much more fluent last time.  I would get lumpy but the front running tactics concern me slightly.

I have no similar hesitations about recommending the 5/6 on offer about Rocky Creek in the second.  He looked to have the beating of Tour Des Champs last time before his rival fell and The Real Milan is not a convincing traveller.

The listed handicap chase is a trickier affair.  Vino Griego seemed to benefit from a much more patient ride last time out and looks a tempting prospect, despite a 10lb rise.  Instead, the Major is intrigued by the Kim Bailey trained The Rainbow Hunter at 9/1.  The horse has a national entry, Kim Bailey has an excellent Ascot record with his rare runners here and with a line through the last run at Chepstow (suspect not suited by the Welsh bog – When heavy there, it means swimming!) he has a live chance.  His winning form is over several subsequent winners and has a very solid feel to it… snap it up.

The 3.15 is a very trappy handicap, Bourne looked top draw when running down Dildar at Sandown before finding a lightweight but power packed McCoy way too good on Mr Watson at Cheltenham.  Not easily overlooked, but overlooked all the same.  Whitby Jack is of more interest having run well on return before picking up a race at Kempton last time out.  7lbs is unlikely to be a big problem.  Ruby Walsh is a very eye-catching booking for Queens Grove who looks a reasonable 9/1 shot.  On balance, Whitby Jack at 7/1 is the selection, have a slice and thank me later.

The main event is the very tasty morsel that is the Betfair Ascot Chase.  The Major is very interested to see Finians Rainbow return to chasing after a lengthy spell off.  Following last years thrilling and slightly controversial Champion Chase, Finians flopped and has been the subject of a wind operation.  His Champion Chase though was first class.  He beat an on form Sizing Europe fair and square in the Majors view, even if the omitted fence caused some issues.

I am not sure this will suit Captain Chris who looks more reliable this season but I am not entirely sure he will run as well today.  Hobbs could be in better form too.  Connections of Cue card are hoping that a drop back in trip will help the horse improved, the Major is watching this one only.

The real danger could be Somersby who has won at Ascot before and is a consistent sort who deserves a few Grade 1s.

On balance, I am siding with the horse I think could be top class and that is Finians Rainbow, 7/2 with Coral.

River Maigue and Far West will be battling out the penultimate contest and in receipt of a little weight, I gently suggest the latter.

In the bumper, Pipe probably has a good idea of where he stands with Red Sherlock 4/5 against Captain Cutter as the latter beat the formers’ stable companion last time out.  It is too hard to read into those form lines and while Red Sherlocks Towcester win was impressive, there was not a lot to beat.  He is 12/1 for the Champion Bumper though.

Good luck Jim.

Gowran Park – Zaidpour

The Saturday Gowran, Red Mills trial is a cracking days racing.  No bets for me, Zaidpour should do the business in a weak field for a Grade 2 but I just don’t trust him.

Wincanton – Zarkander

Zarkander and Grandouet are my main antepost interests for the Champion Hurdle and it would be a massive surprise to me if the Nicholls star could get beat here.  I think the 1/2 will look generous when he serves up a beating to this lot.

In the football – I am going to smash into Watford at 8/5 at Birmingham City.  The latter are in a bit of a state with the manager disciplining one of their most effective players (Zigic) over poor training (the worst he has ever seen apparently! The fans are siding with the player and all in, it is brewing for an unhappy camp and a venue that Watfords strong squad should easily garner three points from.

Picking Carlisle to win at Portsmouth 6/5 does not make me feel proud, yu have to feel for the Pompey fans but with their squad being peddled together from a series of short-term loans, there is little Guy Whittingham or his players can do for now.

The Crowdsourcing Multiple

I invited followers on the twitter feed to supply a NAP for the Saturday sport and had a number of responses… here they are:

@chesneywold – Somersby 3.50 Ascot

@charleah – Vino Griego – 2.40 Ascot

@doublehandful – Rocky Creek – 2.05 Ascot

@adamclarke501 – Luton to beat Millwall

@tankard999 – Bournemouth at Preston

@lukeyboy1325 – Swincombe Stone 3.05 Wincanton

My staking plan for this is an Alphabet.  That is a patent on Vino, Somersby and Rocky; a further patent on Luton, Bournemouth and Swincome and a yankee across the middle (Somersby, Rocky, Luton and Bournemouth).  Interesting!

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is: The Rainbow Hunter, Rocky Creek, Watford and Finians Rainbow

May your dinner be fuelled by the riches your fellow-man has provided.  May each help the other feast.  Open a bottle of something nice.

Courage, roll those dice.