Tag Archives: sam winner

Thursday Cheltenham Tips

Good evening from the Major who writes a brief post from the sofa ahead of tomorrows Cheltenham action.

My company sponsors the Mares Bumper and a cohort of my colleagues will be in attendance having a tremendous time.  As for I, sadly I shall not be part of the fun but I have set about writing the card up.

Thursday Cheltenham Tips

The ground condition is going to be a key consideration in selections.  Good to soft today and blustery dry overnight conditions suggest it might ride fast so a proper late Spring horse is what I am after.

Course form is often a good starting point for assessing horses at Cheltenham.  The undulating left-handed course with a stiff finish does not suit all horses.

The opener is a nice listed novice event in which none of the horses have the above requisite form but a number will be comfortable on the ground.  Those include Doyly Carte, Ma Filleule, Flying Phoenix, Hidden Identity, Shesa Bear and Springinherstep.

Ma Filleule is going to attempt to give weight away to all – The Warwick graded winner was midfield in the Martin Pipe but should have a race like this in her.  Henderson had a winner here with Whisper yesterday and I would think this girl has a great chance of getting him off to a flyer here too.    The chief danger I see is Hidden Identity who had Shesa Bear well beaten at the end of 2012 but I would fancy the Henderson horse to do the business at a price of 7/4.

2.35pm is the Mares Novice Chase – I have been a fan of Violin Davis for some time, she has been getting better and better but anyone watching her last race would have to admit she was fortunate to continue the sequence as Nataani seemed to have the better of her when falling late on.  Good ground is no problem and the Majors favourite jockey is aboard in Noel Fehily.  Looks vulnerable.

I prefer Tara Rose who may prefer better ground and goes for the local yard Twiston Davies who scored a big priced winner yesterday.  9/2 is a fair price.

The 3.10 is a difficult handicap puzzle and there is one the bookies are undecided over tonight.  Scholastica is 7/1 and 14/1.  I quite like this horse and think it is pretty well handicapped.

I do prefer 6/1 Eleven Fifty Nine though – Honeyball has had another good season and probably has an improver on his hands here now he steps this girl up in trip.

In the 3.45, Midnight Chase is going to be a popular pick, he loves it round Cheltenham and good ground is what he needs.  That said, he has been a bit below par… any return to peak form and he is a danger to all – While you have to excuse a poor season, he has been campaigning on soft ground which is less suitable.

Cedre Bleu incredibly got his nose in front on the line last time but looked to be fading and while a strapping sort, I am not sure this rollercoaster course will be the making of him.

Galaxy Rock is a serious horse around Cheltenham too and as long as a heavy fall at the festival has not dented his confidence, he could run well.

I am opting for 10/1 shot Ashkazar who won this race for me last year at a skinnier 6/1! His profile was the same, poor season and then rocked up and won this.

In the 4.20, Paul Nicholls runs Sam Winner who is 9/2.  Nicholls said Sam Winner was his best hope at the festival with a handicap mark from god!  He proceeded to flop very badly in the Pertemps burning the Majors and many others money and hopes.  No doubt the horse is quirky but there is some decent talent in there waiting to come out!

In the 4.55 I opt for Mister Matt at 10/3 who fell when ahead in this last year.  I think he has an excellent chance although the favourite Kie looks a battling sort.

The Endsleigh Insurance Mares bumper is a tricky betting puzzle.  Plenty of first time winners whose form is difficult to assess… Fabrika is the Henderson bumper horse, that yard won this last year and this girl looked OK when winning last time out.  Fairytale Theatre looks one with lots of promise for Team Ditcheat and at a forecast 9/2, I think a bet is in order.

The 6pm Chase and I am willing to take a chance on Let’s Get Serious who at least boasts some course form.

Courage, roll those dice.

Advertisements

Cheltenham Day Three Tips – World Hurdle Thursday, Ryanair, Jewson… The awesome Aeroplane and another day sober in paradise

Good evening from the Major who writes from another bitterly cold Worcestershire which sports a biting wind.  The temperature remains cold enough to numb the touch and add a dull ache to knee and ankle joints.  The only antidote is the warming effect of winners and champions.

The former I had a couple of.  Only a couple and I am in no doubt that day two belonged to the enemy.

The latter we were blessed with, in fact we saw a new legend.  Sprinter Sacre was breath-takingly good.  He beat a Champion Chase field by 19 lengths, hard held.  The commentator summed it up suggesting that this steeplechaser was sent from celestial heavens… who could argue with that.  No doubt, we have a star and let us hope he remains centre stage for many years.

On Tuesday, I left the racecourse by the bottom car park and spent 90 minutes queuing.  Thus in a planned change of operational procedure, tonight I parked in town and walked, a test and learn.  It certainly was easier and it gave me the pleasure of a post-racing stroll through Pittville and across the park to my car.  It was all most pleasant but the trappings of the festival that you witness on this journey remain etched in my mind, as these things will.

The girls handing out cards for gentleman’s clubs look very different through the eyes of a sober man.  The language is the same… the use of the word ‘guys’ in a voice straining to suggest familiarity.  They aim to make the groups of men who average twenty years their senior comfortable, as though they are conversing in normal circumstances.  That level of performance though must tire and something in their body language, the slope of shoulder, the curl of a lip hides a disdain for the work.  It is cold and you can see it in their eyes.

Do not take me as a prude by the way.  I am a believer that consenting adults are perfectly able to choose what they want to do without my views and whatever contracts are struck are for those parties alone.  In fact I am generally in favour of skullduggery.  I just prefer it a bit more refined.

Sadly for the Major, Taquin Du Seuil did not win the Neptune.  I did not pass go, I did not collect significantly more than 200.  Still, the dream itself was worthwhile.  There will be another time.

We go into Thursday with our war chest intact.  Early exchanges have been searching, exploratory forays to test defences and reactions.  I almost fell into the trap of backing Coral Cup and Fred Winter horses with conviction, pure folly and I kept my losses sensible… The enemy allowed me fancy prices about Mullins Jnr and Nina Carberry in the amateur riders…  I took them.

The next two days could be taken easily, too concerned with the fear of loss to try to be glorious.  No, not for us, we know what we must do…  Read on only if you are prepared to come with me and face the abyss.  Fearless.

To Cheltenham…. load the heavy cannons, stand broad and tall.

The Jewson

Dynaste cost me a fortune when defecting from the RSA to the Jewson and I am not sure it was a great call.  His previous Feltham win was very strong defeating Third Intention and generally looking very good.  This is also my issue with Dynaste – He has only won one of four starts at Cheltenham and we know it is a specialist track

I think the RSA field was weaker and today he faces Captain Conan, a horse I can easily forgive a more lacklustre display at Sandown when winning latest.  That day he clearly was not himself but still finished well on the hill to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.  He was not right that day and he is reported much better now – I think a 13/2 punt (Paddy Power) is in order.

Aupcharlie has looked an immensely powerful traveller who has not always found much off the bridle.  Interesting but overlooked.

The Pertemps Final

Look, let us keep this really simple.  When Paul Nicholls describes a handicap mark as a ‘gift from God’, one should sit up and pay attention.  Sam Winner heads the market at 9/2 and I think it is well worth backing.  He has won twice at Cheltenham from four visits so the track holds no fears.  His Triumph race was interesting, while only fourth, he was staying on at the end.  He has beaten Grandouet and been within half a dozen lengths of Zarkander.  That makes a mark of just 140 very manageable.. I have to agree with his trainer.

The Pertemps is often won by a more experienced handicapper.  Maybe that is a reflection of the rigours of a big field.

If you like one at a price, Ely Brown at 20/1 does look a tad tasty.  Sam Winner for me.

The Ryanair

The quality of the Ryanair is superb this year as the Aeroplane scared people into stepping up half a mile in trip.

First Lieutenant is favourite and most argue that his form finishing in a heap with Flemenstar, Sir Des Champs and Tidal Bay is also key to the Gold Cup.  The Major remains unconvinced.  It is the presence of Tidal Bay that bothers me.  First Lieutenant is a top horse, he was a superb hurdler beating Rock on Ruby and showed promise as a novice hurdler.  Yet his last win was 9 starts back.  I know he has not been disgraced in any run since but I am always nervous with horses with bad strike rates no matter what their form lines.

Most people will be a fan of the favourite because of the stamina doubts of Cue Card based on a poor King George effort.  I don’t think that day had anything to do with stamina, I think he just had a bad day… it happens.

Champion Court has a lot of plusses but for me lacks the requisite je ne sais quoi.

No… Cue Card.. 7/2… smash it.

The World Hurdle

Reve de Sivola and Oscar Whisky are surely the key starting points in the World Hurdle.

Many had the latter down as a non stayer but I was never convinced about that and his last run at Cheltenham surely put pay to it.  I think he will be fitter for the effort and on much much better ground, he will have the measure of Reve de Sivola in my opinion.

My betting strategy is going to be clouded by the presence of Bog Warrior.  He is my favourite horse in training.  Top hurdle form looked like it might transfer to fences but some major jumping errors have seen them convert the horse back to hurdles and he has been awesome ever since.  If you want to see why I love the horse so much, have a look at the Drinmore he won on Youtube.  His style is head in chest, bowling along… How can you not love him?  He will carry a significant sum of the Majors wedge for that reason alone…

Yet my advice to you all is Oscar Whisky at 7/2.

The Bryne Group Plate

Sorry to be boring but I cannot get away from Ballynagour, 4/1.  The performance it put in suggested that we have missing a lot while he has been lightly raced.

Hunt Ball is eased back into handicap level and his mark may well be passable.  He won this off just over a stone lighter last year but is a class horse.

I cannot get away from the Pipe horse though… Join the money train.

The Kim Muir

The stakes here must be kept to a minimum as the puzzle is vast and the traps numerous.

There are only 5 horses in the vast field though that have won at Cheltenham and that is not a bad angle to take into this.  Super Duty, Prince of Pirates, Swing Bill, Galaxy Rock and Alfie Sherrin should all cope with the decent ground.

I put a line through Swing Bill because although some of his form is working out well, he is 12 and I do not like it.  Jumping puts me off Prince of Pirates but a clean round equals danger for all in my view.

The Major struck well in the John Oaksey by suggesting that the jockey in these amateur races is vital.  This brings other horses into contention too including Vesper Bell and Romanesco.

Class horses have no problems lumping weight around the Kim Muir so Super Duty and my selection should be fine if they have the minerals.  I am sticking with the boy who got the job done for us on Back in Focus…. Patrick Mullins is aboard Vesper Bell.. That one has placed form at the top level and the Irish National trial he competed in has worked out OK.  There is every reason to be excited about 16/1 so have a large slice and berate me later for being so interested in a horse in a ridiculously tricky handicap.

The Cross Country

Go back two days to see the reasoning for Arabella Boy to win the Cross Country.

Courage, roll those 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.

Friday Cheltenham Madness – Tips for each race….

The International meeting at Cheltenham kicks off with a decent little card and the Major will be on course aiming to pay for Christmas, once more.

Last Saturdays form continued the Majors mixed to shocking form but as my old gambling friends would say, even the blind squirrel finds the odd nut….. we venture on brave few unto honour.

Killyglen... could be a shocker... let's hope not for the sake of the Majors children whose Christmas is still in the balance

12.00 Novice Chase

Only 4 runners but a cracking start with Solix opposing Sam Winner and opening as slight market favourite.

The Henderson horse gets the Majors vote by slim virtue of the trainers better form and unbelievably strong credentials in these events, the horses strong form looks fine and there is decent ground which I am unconvinced that Sam Winner will appreciate.   There is rain coming down which would square it up but even if it goes good to soft, I suspect that Solix is the better horse and he edges a narrow opener.

12.35 Handicap Hurdle

Edgardo Sol, Aather and Golden Gael are the three that catch the Majors eye.

The first from the champion trainer has great credentials and Harry Derhams useful 7lb claim brings the horse down to a decent looking mark.  The latest run at Sandown looked half decent.

Aather is harder to explain at 25/1 and in terrible form.  Unreliable, off the track for some time but….. the Major has had this one on a watch list on pieces of form that date back some time.  It takes some imagination to see it winning but as Thoreau said, the world is a canvas to such imagination….

The Major however goes for a more sensible route and tips Golden Gael. Unexposed and the booking of the stables ‘go to’ jockey is enough for the Major.  8/1…. have a chunky slice….

1.10 Handicap Chase

Nudge and Nurdle is plummeting towards some tasty looking marks and money for this one would be significant but not for the Major.

That’lldoboy is of definite interest and not a bad value favourite at 2/1.  He is up 17lbs though in his last two runs and I am concerned (probably more than most will be) that he may be getting into the grip of the handicapper.

That said finding an opponent to beat him is tough.  Bene Lad at the foot of the weights might be the chief danger but comes with plenty of questions upped in class.

Overall, despite the handicap concerns I am sticking with the favourite and willing to put good money that he toils up the hill second to something implausibly well handicapped!

1.45 Handicap Chase

I am only interested in Mon Parrain and Shakalakaboomboom.

The first was a major player for the Paddy Power if the money was to be believed and the second finished last season on a career best at Punchestown and is bought here by Henderson despite having a poor record at Prestbury Park. , tough decision.

On balance I think Shakalakaboomboom is worthy of a stake at 9/2.  At the end of the day, I prefer the better form of the Henderson yard and he is capable of having this one tuned up.

Backing both feels like a shot to nothing mind.

2.20 Cross Country

Expecting a tip on the Cross Country from the Major…… I am sorry, I do not truck with witchcraft, good luck to you.  Stop looking at me like that…. Satan get behind me….

Uncle Junior and it hurts me to type it.

2.55 Handicap Hurdle

If the rain comes the Major will plug on betting on Pause and Clause, possibly through a heady mix of sheer stupidity and loyalty, who I am convinced has bigger races in him than this but I find it hard to back Emma Lavelles charge on merit.

Evan Williams is in form and so Di Kaprio is considered but surely Oscargo can give the famous Nicholls / Walsh combination another Cheltenham win here.  The third at Cheltenham last time out is probably as good form as on show here and this horse is (unlike most) entirely unexposed.  Garton King is obviously interesting too being from the same stable and unbeaten but I would take jockey booking as informative here.

So Oscargo is it…. well no.

I am after more value and Killyglen at 8/1 offers me just that.  As a younger horse, this one threatened to be better class than this.  If you accept that his seasonal reappearance was needed then he is on a decent mark and the Major is willing to stick with him, particularly as Dickie Johnson has been booked for a rare (or possible debut) stable ride.

3.30 Novice Hurdle

Darlan at 1/2 is surely one of the hottest novice hurdlers in the Henderson yard which makes him one of the hottest seasonal prospects.

The Majors suggestion is Aikideau at 16/1 who showed improved form on reappearance when entitled to need the run.  Probably not good enough but an each way shout.

The Majors Rather Special Grand National Saturday Service – Load the Cannons Followers

For once the Major bids you a good late evening from starry Defford where the Major pens his Saturday Service on the evening shift.  Horseracing tips across the Aintree Grand National card have been prepared.  Why is the Major up late completing the weekly sermon?  Is the Major tiring of rising before 6am on a Saturday for the purpose of researching the days value in our relentless battle against the enemy?  The answer is no, of course not.

To Aintree and let the magic unfurl. Hoof, noise and battle - It will not be pretty

As always followers can get the latest posts alerted to them by following twitter @tdl123 of signing up to the free email service in the left hand column.  The Major remains free, amateur and unhinged.

Well done to young virile Sean, one of our band of fortune who bravely went in on the Majors advice to take the reverse forecast on Masterminded and Albertas Run.  I hope those nerve endings tingled.  I understand more winners were on the cards for you too, there was warm work to be had with the enemy fighting vigorously and frantically with slashing blade but you kept a cool hand and deflected his devious strokes, it returned for you a rich spoil, excellent work.  Incidentally, you have AP McCoy, one of the greatest men ever to walk the earth to thank.  Albertas Run was off the bridle from 5 furlongs out, how many other jocks would have kept their animal up to the work to finish second.  How many would have that strength both physical and mental?  He held off third by sheer force of will, superb – any animal with 4 legs capable of being saddled and ridden by Tony McCoy will always make a sound proposition. 

A quiet, mysterious and largely unknown tipster from the West Country known as the Shannonator gave up Battle Group yesterday to a small select few, which the Major duly failed to follow, well done to Mr Day who I know had a tasty touch.  Mr Hill, unlucky on Albertas Run – Compensation was sought on Devil to Pay at Fontwell.  Your method is questionable, your result emphatic.  Mr Febery – Surely it is time to break the habit and bet like a man on the National, be irresponsible, the good lord demands it. 

Just look at how Big Bucks hurdles, it is a thing of beauty, elegance, efficiency, speed, grace, skill and athleticism.

The Major is going to the heart of the beast’s lair tomorrow to do battle at Aintree.  Needs therefore must, I resolve not to let you, the faithful few, you brace of warriors down.

Grand National Day.  Special.

Grand National day is emotive and part of English fabric.  Most people bet on the National, it is annual habit, a right.  Many will bet in memorial of those that have passed.  Some select their horse based on a name, others a tip, some go for colours, some a number.  The Majors grandmother, passed away these many years, used to back greys, she just liked them.   

When those sweepstakes are unleashed in every office and workplace, it is a part of our history, our national identity flexing muscle, rolling on like the relentless river, moving, consistent, secure, reassuring. 

The race is insane.  The hardest fences on our island over four and a half miles, forty horses piling in to each other, the Chair, Beechers Brook.  We do not ignore the pain and the anguish, strained sinew, fallen horse and man.  No, we embrace it, with dignity, respectful of the battle in which no quarter is given.  Triumphant champion where are you.

Still need an inspiration, click and watch.  See if you agree with the Major, Red Rum might not have had his amazing hat-trick if Andy Pandy had just stood up at Beechers?  Equally a better jump from Church Town Boy two out… no what am I saying, watch it, incredible to think that off top weight putting so many out of the handicap and at the royal age of 12, he won his third national, a feat never to be repeated, on the bridle like a young fresh thing.

As well as those gambling tourists, who are all welcome; how wondrous it is to think that tomorrow many more might convert to our merry crew, the religion of the gambling gentlemen.  Thousands will read, form a view, enter the alien yet exotic turf accountant and be enticed, I welcome them, I envy them, oh to have it still to learn.  They will watch their chosen beast give its all, some of these new potential warriors will leave unmoved, they will fail to see the enlightenment, the annual spectacle will be missed on them, shame on them, they live blind, stumbling onwards and I ask the good lord to forgive them, he won’t.

Ah but those few, those others for whom a door opened.  They selected a horse who gave them a run, perhaps the winner, or maybe they are a real gentlemen and their animal went before Valentines, but they still felt something move inside them.  Something permanent happened, a re-wiring, they saw, they felt their heart race and their senses grew intense, for a moment they were lost.  They caught the disease, our glourious disease.  For surely it is best to live one life with the glory of Big Bucks glaring at Grand Crus a furlong and half from home nonchalant, dominant, playing with him; to see Ruby clap in his heels bury his head and for it to be put to bed in moments… surely it is better to have this a hand full of times in one lifetime than enjoy ten lifetimes without.

Men will journeytomorrow to this glorious rebirth, let us hope a magnificent days racing prevails.  The reassuring news is that only those that reawaken become devote followers of our religion, how we welcome them and they look at us level in the eye.  They know.  They felt it.

I believe it was Descartes who described lives as if we were sparks leaving a fire, as the spark moves from the hot core into the night air, it dims and eventually extinguishes, as children we are still glorious but soon in adulthood we come detached from the wonder that the young see.  Romance, wonder, joyousness, belief in the miraculous, as we move away from the fire, we become cold, desolate, we trust our senses and not our imaginations, our worlds become more sterile, we lose the magic.  Racing can reignite the flames, see the glory, young warrior.  Now mount that charger, to battle, to the sports.

Let us start with NAP of the day.

Binocular faces Peddlers Cross in the Aintree hurdle (2.50pm).

The pricing (9/4 Binocular, 13/8 Peddlers Cross) for the top two in the market reflects the fact that Bino is less certain to stay the trip than Peddlers who many think are crying out for it.  The Major urges caution. 

The price may also reflect have some of the concern backers would have regarding Binoculars absence from the Champion hurdle, again the Major urges caution.  He missed Cheltenham because some minor treatments he was given were still present in his blood and would have given him a positive sample for banned racing substances (you can use these treatments but they must have cleared the bloodstream by race day).  This means he has been rested up a bit.  Not neccesarily a bad thing.  Just three weeks and a day ago, Peddlers was chaing home Hurricane Fly gamely staying on giving his all up the Cheltenham hill.  Bino is fresh.

Bino is a bull of a horse and I always think I want a race in him.  That said, Henderson surely would have him fit for this just three weeks after his intended target.

I urge caution if you think he won’t stay.  The ground and flat track will help.  He is such a better hurdler than Peddlers.  He is a flat jumper, moving over his obstacles with speed and maximum efficiency.  I also think the lack of obvious pace will help.  I can only consider Oscar Dan Dan as the likely pace setter. 

Peddlers is surely going chasing.  The price seems to suggest this years Champion Hurdle was better than last.  I am not sure.  At 9/4 I suggest a reasonable stake on Binocular. 

1.45 Novice Hurdle

What a cracker.  Spirit Son re-opposes horses that were behind him at Cheltenham when he lost out to Al Ferof.  Recession Proof is one I feel will be better suited by the step up in trip.  The Quinn yard could be in better form, 11/1 is fair.

The Major prefers the chances of Rock on Ruby.  There was plenty to like about his head defeat to First Lieutenant and the previous defeat by 2l to Bobs Worth also now looks good following Bobs Worths win at the festival too.  Daryl Jacob who missed out on the Zarkander race this week may get his payday here.

Sam Winner is Ruby Walsh’s chosen mount and the way he stayed on from well back in the Triumph suggested further would be better.  I think this one might not be the easiest ride but he clearly has ability.

It comes down to the two Nicholls horses.  The Major goes for Sam Winner and a chance taken at 5/1.

Take a slice, add butter, allow it to melt slightly.

2.15 Maghull Novice Chase

I know connections of Classic Fly will get a kick out of a runner in this Grade 1 contest but surely it cannot be good – If he inconveniences a major candidate, it makes a mockery of his entry.  I just hope that Peter Toole keeps him out of the way.

Finians Rainbow looks good to the Major as he is the one of the top three in the betting which is more likely to give an assured round of jumping.  Both Ghizao who walked through a few at Cheltenham and Starluck who can be clumsy; look unsafe.  That said Finians hit the last at Cheltenham but to be fair by then he was on the stretch already with Captain Chris putting the race to the sword.

Overall, I would rate Finians a good bet.  4/5 Paddy Power might seem short, it is, but 4/6 is the Majors pricing.  4/5 is not stingy. 

The Bumper at Aintree

Steps to Freedom is the tentative 12/1 each way suggestion.  This interesting sort won well on bumper debut last summer in Ireland.  It probably was going to lose when it clipped heels with a rival in its second run.  A year on, who knows. 

Gallox Bridge at 50/1 is not the worst outsider I have ever seen.  OK nothing special has come from his sole bumper which he won at Fontwell but he did it nicely and it is hard to judge how good he is.

Laveroque is backable, particularly if Rock on Ruby performs well earlier in the day. 

Allure of Illusion at 7/1 is also a viable option being completely unexposed and of connections that are likely to know when they have a good one – Money would be significant.

Wondering why I have not provided a tip for the Grand National?  Follow the link to my post earlier in the week – Abor Supreme 20/1.

A note about betting on the National.  If you are the sort that is going to your local bookmakers to place the bet, please do so on the tote.  You will notice that on the Grand National, the prices for most of the field will contract horribly mid morning with bookmakers vociferously telling us about several ‘plunge horses’.  Nonsense, this is the bookies payday, they will try to operate an overround of 150%+, ouch.  Place your bet on the tote, you can do this at most bookies.  This is a 116% fixed overround and so you will get far better value.  Most are simply unaware and the bookies take advantage of the casual punters.   

To the sports fields…..

Just one bet.  Cardiff should win at Doncaster.  11/8 is quite a price given the gulf in class.  Throw in that Doncaster have not scored in their last three outings and well, it looks like a terrific bet.  Coral can take a beating on this one.

May your bets be blessed by the lord of debauchery who watches over us gamblers and rewards our free living spirit.

Why not taken Binocular and Cardiff in a tasty double?  Surely Jesus would?

Take your winnings and fly to Colombo.  Travel from Fort Railway Station, paying a few hundred rupees for a single up to Bandarawela in the hills.  It is cools and pretty.  Stay in the old colonial hotel, send the Major a postcard.

Saturday night, I suggest Indian food.  A tasty array of spiced curries, dhal, chapatis etc.  Eat with your fingers and entertain a sort where this will break the ice.  A classic looking sort but down to earth, smiles readily.  Be polite and expect little, you will gain more.  Drink beer with her too.  You will be gloriously spent from the days sports to entertain ‘le gallop’, no harm in being a gentleman for the night.

Messrs Redmond, Wiseman, Hobday, Reilly, Powell et al – Load the big guns people, we are through the looking glass.

Courage followers, shuffle the cards.