Tag Archives: sea moon

Saturday Sermon – King George Ascot Tips…

Good morning from the rural air of Worcestershire where my entire village has taken to their lawns with all manner of grass cutting devices.  From hand pushed old-fashioned mowers to ride-on machines with horsepower aplenty.  The air is thick with that most delightful of smells, cut grass.

Today I only offer a short post.  The reason is social commitments and I can only apologise.  Feel for me though.

The King George at Ascot today is as good a running as I can remember.  The race is definitely feeling back to top class.  Perhaps the momentum changed when Harbinger won going away from a top field including Derby winning Workforce.

Today though we have represented in the line up winners of a previous King George, an Arc, A Melbourne Cup, a Hong Kong Vase, Derbies of many nationalities, a St Leger, a Coronation Cup; the list of Group One winners goes on…. stunning, a race I am looking forward to.

The Major has been tweeting a lot this week (@tdl123) in recognition of the fantastic achievement of Team Sky.  It looks to all the world like they are going to take a one two in the Tour de France.  For Wiggins, surely a knighthood and a Sports Personality is assured (he was trading at 7/4 for the latter honour), even more certain if he attains some olympic glory too.

His team though deserve so much credit.  Froome has moved up through the field but always remained focusses on his main goal; make Wiggins win it.  He would have been a real threat if this was not a team game and he not a great team player.  His year will come, he deserves it.

I am not a cycling fan but I have been captivated by this years Tour.  What these guys are doing is an incredible feat of endurance and skill.  I admire anyone with a special ability, to bend a free kick, to strike a golf ball further and more accurately.  Yet, the Tour riders are out there day after day riding stages in excess of a hundred miles over mountains, real mountains.  The sheer determination is a thing to behold.  These boys keep going, using their bodies to pump out maximum energy, single mindedly, no choice just commitment… to each punishing climb.  They keep going an eternity after us mortal souls would cry enough.

To the sports.  If you are thinking of following the Majors racing tips today, may I warn you that I am on the cold list.  Not a good week.  Right now I could get Shergar beaten.

Tips for the King George – Ascot

Having paid tribute to the line up, now I have the tricky decision of selecting a tip from the race.

Sea Moon is guaranteed to give a splendid running which can not be said of Nathaniel.  While his returning run was determined and masterful, surely an extra week or two of time to recover would have been useful?

Ascot dries so quickly that I think the ground will ride as perfect good.  This negates some of the benefit that Nathaniel would have from softer condition.  He does not get the same useful weight for age that he received last year… Questions over the prep remain – Dangerous but I am going elsewhere.

The Sea Moon / Dunaden form is striking and with a bit more luck in running, the latter might come out on top.  Connections have flown their favourite jockey over from Australia – Significant?  The horse has won a Hong Kong Vase and a Melbourne Cup; that is fantastic even if both were tight finishes.

I find Deep Brilliante a fascinating runner.  The Japanese Derby horse is the only three year old in the field and thus benefits from a significant weight advantage.  I am not convinced by the form in the far east though and although a massive outsider of interest, I have persuaded myself overnight to go elsewhere.

Masked Marvel is surely not good enough.

Sir Michael Stoute, Godolphin, John Oxx and Ballydoyle have taken 12 of the last 15 runnings of this race.  The interruptions were Gosden (last year – Nathaniel), John Oxx and Andre Fabre.  It is fair to say that the trend is the best of the home team (Britain and Ireland).

On those grounds I am going to ignore Dunaden, Deep Brilliante and Danedream (whose Arc form I didn’t like anyway) and concentrate on the profiles I think likeliest.

I am opting for 9/2 shot St Nicholas Abbey.  His wins in the Coronation Cup and raid on the Breeders Mile were great achievements and even if the horse failed to quite live up to his lofty reputation in his classic year, we are getting to see what he is capable of. So St Nicholas Abbey is the Majors tip for the King George and good luck to all concerned.

5.25 Cartmel

The biggest pot the Cumbrian track has put up has attracted a very decent field including the first horse that Henderson has run at Cartmel.

Royal Riviera is the selection – The Twiston-Davies horse is improving and I fancy the 12/1 shot to put up a good show.

May your dinner this evening be fuelled by the winnings of a huge each way double you placed on my selections.  Bosh.

Courage, roll the dice.

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Saturday Sermon – 16/1 Royal Ascot Tips, Black Caviar – ‘The Wonder from Down Under!’ – The rights and wrongs of racing and Ascot reflections….

Good morning from a bright and cheery Worcestershire where the Major types happy in the knowledge that the world of this age is perfectly organised for an Englishman with a few spare pounds in his pocket and a cheery outlook on life.

Aahhhh – A day the Major has waited for – Black Caviar racing on British soil

I make no apology for being content.  If you are not, then please do not begrudge those of us that are.Royal Ascot has been a triumph.  The spectacle, the racing and the Majors form have been the ingredients of a tasty week.  I shall write something of it here, if you feel the need to skip it and go to the tips, please leave my site – Your sort is not welcome here, when you go to church, you listen diligently to the sermon.

Firstly the spectacle of racing.  Last year I compiled my top ten racing moments of 2011.  Apologies if many of the video feeds might not be working!  I am sure when I compile this years come the close of the year, many Royal Ascot moments will be contenders.

I loved Frankel demolishing the field, it made my heart sing.  I know Excelebration took him on which may have flattered the final distance but seriously, people might knock the field but there were plenty of decent Group 1 animals in behind.  Let us just accept that we live in an age of the machine and enjoy – Thanks again to connections who kept him racing at the age of four instead of fulfilling a potentially lucrative stud career.

Frankie winning on Colour Vision was probably my moment of the week though.  I was on Fame and Glory and thought the O’Brien horse was a shoe in.  Frankie though showed his superb handling of the track and sheer will to boot home the Godolphin inmate. Frankie has had a tough time of it.  Godolphin are short of a star or two and the winners have dried up.  Rumours of retirement were put down by Dettori but it left a waft in the air… was the great man done?

The way he bought Colour Vision home told you what you needed to know, the fire burns brightly.  How sweet for Frankie that Barzalona (a friendly rivalry), the 20 year old Derby winning emerging star was unable to pass when seemingly coming with a winning run on Opinion Poll.

The stories racing throws up, no other sport competes.

The Major has had a great week with tips for Royal Ascot.  Eleven tips (13 with 2 non runners) yielded 4 winners.  Most Improved 8/1, So You Think 6/4, Princess Highway 13/2 and Estimate 4/1 (all advised prices).  Following to £1 level stakes,  make that a £24 return for £11 invested.  More than double your money…. lovely jubbly!

Sadly Fame and Glory let down my brother in laws treble, sorry Dave.

The week also got me thinking about the morality of horse racing.  It is something the Major is confronted with from time to time.  The Majors dear lady is an avid animal lover (not in the biblical sense you understand) and opposes the sport deeply.  We do not talk much about it as you can imagine!

The Major is also confronted from time to time with anti-racing campaigners at Aintree or Cheltenham.

This week, hundreds of thousands of people who are not racing fans filed through the gates at Ascot in their finery to take part in the racing festival.  Many will not have a strong view on racing but it got me thinking about the morality of the sport.

My good lady has the objection that the horses are put to racing purely for our enjoyment and this is morally wrong.  It is based on a view that a horse has a right not to be forced to do something it does not want to do, a classic libertarian stance.  I sympathise with it but do not agree.

I think the overall benefit of the sport outweighs a horses individual right.  I would ask you to consider the benefit, there is the employment offered by the racing tracks, hospitality services, trainers and media; not even considering the considerable contribution from the gambling industry to the economy and therefore society.  There is the joy that enthusiasts like I take from the sport; readers know how passionate I am – Enough to continue getting up early on a Saturday to deliver this drivel each week!

Finally, some horses do enjoy racing so it is not every horse that is coerced into the sport.  Indeed, Racing could be argued to have a net positive impact on horses lives.

Overall the benefit of our great sport far outweighs the violation of a horses right, if indeed they have one.  As a race we use animals for enjoyment and sustenance.  Race horses are well looked after in their lives, no intention of harm exists in the sport, though we have to accept the risk of horse death is a certainty.

My utilitarian argument, of the greatest benefit, I believe stands up and I hope that we have more converts to our magnificent sport today when the ‘wonder from down under’ graces our turf.

What a shame it is her only European race.  I made the argument last week that it seems an endeavour only based in principle, not financial or career defining that she win today.  Then to Hong Kong and greater riches.  I hope she gives us a show.

I have often debated the Frankel v Black Caviar question and it is an understandable shame they will never race.  Why ask either of them to race at an un-ideal distance.  I thought the fair answer was 7f but it would endanger Frankels attitude as lighting him up over shorter distances might bring back some of those free running tendencies from his youth, something that his training team worked hard to eradicate allowing him to take shots at prizes over 10f.

As it is, I always thought she was the better horse but now I am unsure again.  I shall go to the grave not knowing but I take pleasure from it.  As I have made the point in previous posts, instead of racing them, let us breed them and call their foal Pegasus Devil, a horse with fire red eyes that roars fire from the nostrils.

To the sports…

Chesham Stakes – 2.30 Ascot Tip

This is a nice line up and the Major is looking forward to the Chesham.

On trends, only two winners in the last 15 years have gone off at bigger than 10/1 prices and I am looking for something near the top of the market.

On a bloodstock note, five runners in the race are out of Sixties Icon!  Thanks to @emmakgts on twitter for that observation.  The Major makes a further note on breeding – New Approach has Thair in the race, Godolphins 6/1 hope – The sire is having a terrific time with his progeny currently heading the markets for several of next years classics….

However, Thair is not the way I am going.  Key trainers in the Chesham have been Hannon and Johnstone and the Majors tip comes from the first.

Jalaa at 4/1 could be anything, won well at Leicester, not inconvenienced by the ground. Have a taste.

3.05 Hardwicke Stakes

The Hardwicke is another cracker this year.  I truly confused myself last night while figuring out which side I want to be on.

Sea Moon should run better than he did in the St Leger and has the benefit of a decent warm up race at Goodwood.

There is a lot to like about Memphis Tennessee with that derby form looking rock solid, the Major fears on this course though that his front running style might be setting this up for a closer.

The horse I am tipping in the Hardwicke is Aiken.  William Buick abandoned Masked Marvel (non runner) for Aiken who has some superb form to his name.  The formline that takes the eye is the beating of Dunaden who is a Melbourne Cup and Hong Kong Vase winner.  With soft ground no problem, Aiken looks to me a top class prospect and I suggest a very healthy investment at 4/1.

3.45 Ascot – Diamond Jubilee Tips

The Major will not be betting in what should be a procession for Black Caviar.  I wonder what our Australian racing friends think we make of Black Caviar.  I sense that down under their is a feeling of ‘go show them Black Caviar, go beat those English doubters’.

Just for the record, the Major is praying for her to destroy the field – She is amazing and this is a part of her story I want to go well.  Go on girl.

She is also a monster having topped 600kg – That is almost a third more horse than some of our finest!

Although the form is hard to translate, there is a line through Group one winning Star Witness that suggests she is 13lbs or so ahead of Prohibit, one of our finest.

If you were looking for each way value, I would be wary of Moonlight Cloud, the Major thinks that the horse will love the cut but might sacrifice a place by having a pop at BC.

You are as well looking for a horse that is racing for a place and might be staying on at the death passing beaten, tired horses that took the Black Caviar machine on and failed.  That horse for the Major would be The Checka who is a new propsect since being dropped in trip this year.

One word of warning to Black Caviar, there have been upsets in this race in the past…. best of luck girl.

4.25 Ascot – The Wokingham

The Wokingham is the usual puzzle at 9/1 the field.  The Major was happy last night to get a touch of 25/1 on Waffle.  I could see the money piling up and figured it was the Pricewise horse.  14/1 is still available.

If you follow me on twitter (@tdl123) you would have benefitted from that tweet last night.  I am chuffed that I got it right and feel very happy sticking with my selection.

The trainer readied it for last year where it ran superbly only beaten by the unbelievably handicapped Deacon Blues.

Have a cannon loaded!

I am going to be double handed in this race though because of the draw.  My first tip, Waffle is coming out of 23 so I want something in the other pack too and I am looking at Desert Law at 16/1 – Going back to 6f is certainly a plus for this animal and he will represent the Major on that side of the track.

5pm Ascot Tip – The Duke of Edinburgh

The Major wanted to be on a horse finishing well in this handicap and the one that carries my penalty is Cill Rialig, 16/1. 

Cill Rialig competed in the same warm up Goodwood affair as Sea Moon and I think this has been the long term target for this previous listed winner, even if the last win was a couple of years ago in this race off a mark of 7lbs lower.

Being in foal and the ground are both concerns but the Major is going to stick with her.

5.35 Ascot – Tips for the Queen Alexandra

Anyone who watched Simenon smash the opposition on Tuesday would have been taken with the manner of victory.  This step up in trip again should be a further advantage and the likelier risk to getting as good run is merely whether the exertions of racing have taken a toll.

The Major though is going to side with Zuider Zee whose form got a good boost by Opinion Polls running earlier this week.  Flat trainers have a better record in the Queen Alexandra and I think my stead can do the business at a tasty 5/1.

Enjoy today and be happy.  Tonight eat well and with good company, see a film, relax, observe, pass no judgement.

Courage, roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Breeders Cup Tips, JNwine Tips, Premier League Tips

Nicholls and The Nightingale to take the JNwine, have a slice and send me the postcard

Good morning from the rail lines of Britain where the Major is hurtling from the provincial backwaters of my native Pershore to the nation’s capital.  Today I am visiting the Emirates for a game of association football in which I hope my own team, West Brom, can repeat the unlikely heroics of last years three-two victory.

The dank and overcast conditions weigh heavy on the heart but there is plenty to pierce this seemingly impregnable depression in the weather.  The Breeders Cup, the JNwine, all of the top premier clubs in action and the opportunity of staking your hard-won monies against the enemy.

Last week was not a good Saturday Sermon with bad luck and poor decision-making costing me and any followers who went in after me a wedge.  Sunday was much better advising Nephrite, the 5/2 conqueror of Born to Sea and then getting so close to the advised double as Bonfire ran into a wall of horses when surely unleashing a winning move off the home turn at Saint-Cloud in the Criterium.  Alas.

Daub thy war paint young warrior, feel the blood rushing in your veins and embrace the metallic taste in your mouth as your body rises on the tide of adrenaline.  It is good to be alive in England right now.  Mount your charger, sharpen your lance point, prepare for battle, we shall draw a bead on the enemy and allow skill and our razor-like mind, devoid of the misty confusion of emotion, to guide our actions, be strong and decisive.  Once the maelstrom is complete, we will stand in our fine military fig with brandy in hand and smoke in our nostrils…. Shabash!

Breeders Cup Tips

I do love the Breeders Cup, European trainers locked in battle with their American counterparts, top quality action on dirt and grass.

It is always a meeting tinged with sadness for the Major too.  It was following a Kentucky storm that George Washington, one of those horses I just felt a connection to lost his life on the sloppy Churchill Downs track.

Breeders Cup Classic

Lets start with the Breeders Cup Classic.  I think we can get Uncle Mo beaten.  The yanks love this classic winner and the trainer has stated he thinks he would beat Frankel over a mile (who is he kidding, he is not fit to pony Frankel to the start!).  I am not sure he is as good as his reputation suggests.  There is also a significant concern that Uncle Mo might not stay 10 furlongs, one to avoid.

There is also a big question mark over So You Think, who knows if he will act on the surface and Aidan O’Brien has a questionable record at the Breeders Cup.

Havre de Grace would be the Majors choice but again she might not quite last the trip and we need a true stayer, especially as the dirt is sodden, plus filly records in the classic are poor.

This leaves the Major with Flat Out at 7/1 with Corals, proven on surface and sure to get the trip, I think the extra distance will allow him to reverse placings with Havre, win bet advised.

Breeders Cup Turf Mile

What quality we have on show for our delectable pleasure.  I am looking forward to seeing Sarafina strutting her stuff, she was my idea of the Arc winner as many of you will remember.  I don’t think that was her running that day and 3/1 with Hills is fair, I would not put you off.  Midday and St Nicholas Abbey could fill the places but no better than that.

Sea Moon is lightly raced and is the selection.  Sir Michael Stout was confident enough to play this one in the Arc and although that did not work out, he has a profile of a Stoute Breeders Cup winner and the trainer has an excellent record in this race.

The Breeders Cup Juvenile

I am a big fan of Daddy Long Legs who is an American bred inmate at Ballydoyle.  At 9/1, I think we might see the best of him on this surface.  Although tapped for toe in the Champagne, I think his style of running will suit the dirt and of all the O’Brien raiders, this is one I think is well priced.   He will get the pace he desperately needs to aim at.

Of course we need to get Union Rags beaten (2/1 fav) and this might not be easy.  The ease of his victories suggests a star in the making but this is a stiffer challenge than anything he has yet faced, a small saver advised for the weak of mind.

Casper Netscher has been tipped up for the juvenile mile on turf but I have to say that it will not carry the Majors money.  The owner is a yank and I am sure he envisages glory.  The horse is good too but asking it to travel to the states for its tenth run of the year is too much.

JNwine Champion Chase

No Kauto Star this year but an interesting contest at Down Royal where Irish hotpot and quiet gold cup fancy, Quito De La Roque attempts to boost his reputation in this Grade 1 contest.

I cannot have the Irish horse for this as his trainer has already declared that his preparation has not been ideal.  I am sure connections would not have had him firing at 100% for this anyway as he has bigger targets later and this encourages the Major to look elsewhere.

The place to look in my view is dictated by trainer comment, trainer record and ground.  This gives The Nightingale a tremendous chance.  This Nicholls inmate has won every start on soft which is a terrific advert and the trainer comment of ‘this is his gold cup’ gives confidence that the horse is fully wound up.  Finally, Nicholls has a tremendous record in a race that Kauto Star has dominated in recent years, I am sure he would be sending a decent sort to win again and protect that record.  9/2 is available with Coral, treat them with disdain for their utter ignorance.

Tips from the other sports

Victor Chandler has gone insane and I fully recommend the big six 11/1 accumulator of…. Spurs to win at Fulham (where I advise a significant 11/8 stake in addition, Man City to win at QPR, Chelsea to win at Blackburn, Man U to beat Sunderland at home and Liverpool to see off Swansea……. OK you only need one slip but 11/1 is a tremendous special and I recommend a double stake.

Many Exmoor trainers will struggle with the M5 closure.  Watching the scenes of burning carnage late last night, you are reminded that safety and security are not rights and we are all vulnerable vessels of blood, bone and tissue.

Tonight dine well, at home.  You need to watch the Breeders Cup after all and see if Goldikova can make history and also to observe your well guided wagers causing the enemy pain immeasurable.  Eat curry, drink cold beer, lie back and close your eyes.  In the depth of slumber, true peace can be attained but take that roll of notes from your pocket first, if you turn into it, it could jam into your ribcage and wake you up.

Courage followers and roll those dice.

Tips for the Arc – The Majors Preview – Sarafina / Workforce / So You Think / Nathaniel / Reliable Man / Galikova / Nakayama Festa

The Arc market has a great shape to it and the Major is mighty excited by the Longchamp showpiece.  The Arc is on the Majors hit list of things that must be done in the coming few years.

Freddy Head and Galikova – 7/1 Boooom she has the Majors vote

For a start, it is cheap, if you happen to be in Paris.  Entry is a fistful of Euros.  You can buy tickets on the day and it attracts a crowd of biblical proportion.  Viva Le Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

This years contest is a cracker.  Two horses would have made it possibly the best renewal ever…. if connections had successfully stepped Frankel up to a mile and a half, clearly we would be salivating – Sometimes, a dream is wonderful – You can awake wondering which reality is the truth.

I also think the Arc de Triomphe is substantially poorer for the horse the Major would have backed, Pour Moi.  The last to first run in the derby was über impressive and I had this one down as the Arc winner for some time – Alas injury means we are missing Pour Moi.

There is however quality left in abundance and the Major’s heart flutters at the prospect of this years renewal, it is good to be alive, n’est pas?

The Arc Market.

The market is 7/2 bar and this gives plenty of punting opportunity.  Workforce is the horse that some cannot make up their minds about, 5/1 to 7/1 are both available.

Horse Price
Sarafina 7/2
So You Think 5
Nathaniel 5
Reliable Man 7
Workforce 5
Galikova 7
Meandre 14
Hiruno DAmour 16
Snow Fairy 25
Sea Moon 16
Nakayama Festa 25

Sarafina 7/2 – The Aga Khan Power Mare ****

Sarafina deserves to be favourite in the Majors view.  Her win the last weekend in one of the two Arc trials was superb.   That said, the Aga Khan was lucky to keep the race in the Majors view.  The french stewards have itchy trigger fingers and there is no doubt Sarafina barged her way through a non-existent hole to win.

That is what made her trial win in the Prix Foy so appealing to the Majors eye, she had already quickened to contend and then had the nerve and the power to come away again from the leaders.

She has not raced against three-year olds which puts a slight dampener on the form but she looks the best middle distance racer in France.  Last year she may well have been a contender at the finish but for a shocking traffic problem turning for home – She almost hit the deck and rallied impressively to make third.  In one sense this also troubles the Major, is she the sort to find trouble again?  The Arc is the sort of race that needs a jockey cute to positioning and while Sarafina has the bravery, I just have this odd feeling that she might get herself into a hole again, after all she managed it on Sunday with just 4 runners!!….. instinct.

Overall, a significantly considered horse.

Workforce 5/1-7/1 – Sir Michael Stoutes Reigning Champion***

Last years Arc winner returns as a four-year old and fair play to Prince Khalid Abdullah who could easily have retired the star at the end of his classic season.  On behalf of all racing fans, thank you.

This season has been a bit of a mixed bag.  Firstly, a Sandown Group 3 on soft was won with a pleasing enough reappearance.  Then came the Sandown showdown with So You Think where the latter got the better in a decent duel.  So You Think seemed to hold Workforce comfortably that day but three vital things will be in Workforces favour on Arc day.

Firstly he has won at Longchamp.  Secondly, the ground is likely to be soft and I think that will suit Workforce.  Finally the Sandown showdown was over 1m 2f, a distance probably on the sharp side for last years Arc champion.

Workforce was also beaten in this years King George by Nathaniel.  The Major put Nathaniel up that day and was delighted to see the game three-year old hold on.  Watching that race, Workforce looked a lively threat closing to within a length before swinging wildly across the track.

I am not sure Nathaniel would have broken had Workforce stayed straight but clearly the veering was a concern.  It normally shows a horse where something is wrong.  Perhaps the King George run was not 100% Workforce.  Furthermore, the ground was a rattling good that day and I am fairly sure, Workforce will go better on soft.

Overall there are too many questions about Workforce to allow the Major to back him.

So You Think – 5/1 Ballydoyle’s Aussie Import **

So You Think is tentatively one that the Major rules out at this early stage.  This might seem harsh given the Aussie import, touted as one of the worlds best horses has had a terrific season and done little wrong.  He is also a lovely looking dark horse.

His only defeat in Europe was in the Prince of Wales at Ascot where Rewilding, hardly the sort that the worlds best horse should be beaten by, got up close home to defeat So You Think.  Ryan Moore was generally lambasted for the ride.  He did send So You Think off pretty far from home to bring the bacon in and I am sure he would have held onto him for longer if he had the chance again.

Last time out, So You Think knuckled down incredibly well to see off a rampant Snow Fairy.  What is not to like?

Well two things make him an uncomfortable proposition for the Major.  Firstly, he has had a long season, the Arc will be his 6th race and a couple of them, including the last have been hard work.  The second related fact is that I prefer my Arc horse to have had an entire season pointing at Longchamp.  It was only today that connections of So You Think finally committed to the race.

This last issue prevails for the Major.  It has not been a superb season for the Ballydoyle team, I suspect that they wanted other viable Arc candidates from the likes of Recital but have ended up with just one horse that has shown the likely form.

Reliable Man – 7/1 Prix de Jockey Club Champion **

The first three-year old to review and for that reason alone a plus.  This years classic generation have been simply superb, it has been a good year indeed.

This horse has to be taken incredibly seriously in the Majors view.  The Prix Niel Arc trial Group 2 win last weekend was impressive for two reasons, firstly it is always a terrific pointer to the big day and secondly, Reliable Man was eased at the finish.  Impressive.

This winner stamped himself as a star when taking the Prix de Jockey Club which to be fair was probably not the strongest renewal.

Positives include the fact that ground will not be a problem if it gets soft and a likeable attitude.

The factors that put the Major off tipping Reliable Man are that his form is not very well tied into the leading British horses or older french horses.  I am also unsure that this one has quite the turn of foot required to win an Arc, he has not shown a Sarafina type turn of foot.  He is gritty though.

Overall, I find his price short enough and so cannot tip him for the Arc.

Nathaniel – 5/1 The Improver *** 11/2

On the 13th August 2010, a maiden was run in which Nathaniel finished second .  I do not have enough superlatives to describe Frankel but suffice to say it was the only time he has ever gone off at odds against!  7 wins later, we know that maiden in the warm early evening light of Newmarket was a remarkable affair even if the good denizens of HQ did not fully realise at the time!

Nathaniel has hardly done the form any harm himself!  A second runner up spot in his juvenile year hardly pointed to the horse being world class but whatever happened over the winter, Nathaniel landed in the spring of 2011.

He took his first race a class 5 Haydock maiden in eye-catching style.  Then a runner-up in the Chester vase, a course I am not convinced would have suited him.  If the result looked OK, it was franked firmly when the horse that got the better of him.

Treasure Beach, went on to be runner-up in a brave run in the Derby only defeated by the flashing Pour Moi and the exuberant teenager Mikael Barzalona.

Nathaniel missed the Derby and went straight to Group 2 handicap company at Ascot.  The way he won that day makes you wonder if connections wish they had supplemented him for the derby.

Then came his real day of glory.  The King George is a flagship race and his beating of Workforce and St Nicholas Abbey in receipt of 12lbs was still impressive.  As mentioned above, Workforce may not have been at his best that day, on Arc day he will be in receipt of a slightly less generous weight for age allowance.

It is insanely difficult to overlook Nathaniel as a credible threat as this years three-year olds have consistently proven their elders wrong.  Above So You Think, Nathaniel has been aimed at Longchamp for some time.

Considered.  Should I tip him for the Arc?  No.  Would I put you off him, no.

Galikova – 7/1 Freddy Heads Special Filly ****

Galikova enriches the race bringing a touch of Goldikovas class but she is there on utter merit.

As a half-sister of Goldikova, the wonder mare who races for identical connections, it is delightful to see her turn out, a class act of her own, she has looked top draw several times in her classic year.  Goldikova has been a reliable top class mare.  Who says Galikova will not have her day in the sun.

Her french Oaks (Prix de Diane) second looked better when she defeated the winner last time out in her Arc trial.  On a strict line of form with the yardstick Colombian, Reliable Man is under her thumb, we shall see about that on the day but she certainly has nothing to prove with regard to her right to an Arc stall..

I thought her Arc trial was a superb visual result.  She still raced keenly, perhaps wanting to get on with things and still had the energy to put the field to bed.  Given that was on soft ground, it is quite impressive.

Freddy Head will have left a bit off for the Arc too, it is not unreasonable to expect improvement, strongly considered.

Nakayama Festa – The Majors Lively 25/1 Outsider

Nakayama Festa is the final horse I offer to you under the spotlight.  The Japanese raider surprised many when second in the race last year at a tasty 22/1.

That day showed a couple of things…. firstly he is a top class animal and secondly he is fine in the usual deadening french autumnal ground.

Back in the Far East he was probably over the top when trailed off in a Japanese Group 1 last November.

Since then he has been under wraps until Arc Trial day on Sunday.  He went down fourth of four to Sarafina which is a less shocking result when you consider he led, setting himself up for the closer.  While he is versatile, his best performances have come from off the pace and so it was, in one sense, surprising to see him bowl along in his Arc trial.

A few things strike me.  Firstly, that a few lengths defeat to Sarafina is not in itself a terrible result.  Soft ground presents no problem.  I very much like the fact that Nakayama Festa has been entirely aimed at the Arc this year.  He has had the french prep run and that is his lot.

More should come on the big day and at 25/1 there is plenty of value in this runner.

Summary My Tip for the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe

Class horses win the Arc.  You have to look for those you genuinely think have the utter quality.

I also want a horse that was always aimed at Longchamp, not one that may have had other options.

My conclusion is that Galikova represents the best value.  Sarafina certainly was beautiful on the eye but I worry she might find more trouble.

In a year where three-year olds have dominated, I want one on my side in the Arc and I am going for the headlining result of Galikova doing the business with all of her allowances.  Ground is not a problem and the Major thinks a general 7/1 is utterly reasonable.  8/1 is available with Corals – Have a slice and thank me later.

Remember the Major had this right with Workforce last year, it is one of my favourite races, understandably.

If you fancy a lively price, I would tip up Nakayama Festa who is 33/1 with Hills.

Sarafina and Nathaniel are evidently the others I considered putting up as my Arc tip.  So You Think and Workforce are the two I consider over-priced.

One final horse I have not run a deeper profile on in this post is Sea Moon.  This one was so fancied in the run up to the St Leger but ground went against.  On the day I thought he had a chance of catching Masked Marvel with a clear run, he did not get one.  At 20/1, he is considered but has not shown enough.

Courage and shuffle those cards.

The Saturday Sermon – St Leger at Doncaster (14/1 tip) and Premier League Tips

Good morning from the Major who has been at the good coffee early to study the card and bring you the winner of the St Leger.

Sea Moon with beautiful white blaze first, noone but fresh air second

The last classic of the season is a true stayers test and unlike any other classic is open to both colts and fillies. This gives us the interesting task of assessing Blue Buntings ability against the boys, more of that in a moment.

The Major would like to land a catastrophic blow on the enemy today, let us land the perfect left right pincer movement.

We shall be decisive like Sir Robert Napiers expeditionary force of Irish, British and Indian troops in Abysinnia or Sir Hope Grants mixed British, Indian and French force which went to Peking to force the emporer to sign our trade treaty in the second Opium war. Well disciplined, well executed. Sir Hope Grant took the forts at the river head with a perfect pincer movement, infantry skirmishing ahead of his position and as the enemy approaches, the flags go up and the lights will come out like a mighty fist to run the enemy down, the heavies follow to finish the job. Swift and decisive against a far numerically superior force.

Sir Hope got to Peking and got the treaty signed but had to fight his way there. There was also subsequent outrage as the Chinese tortured to death many of the small numbers of prisoners of war they held. British and Indian troops of the Queen as well as Parkes and Loch, two envoys, were given horrendous treatment in the ‘Board of Punishment’. Their bodies were returned after peace had been negotiated which seemed a deliberate act of subterfuge.

Lord Elgin who travelled as the lead political on the embassy decided that retribution would take the form of the sacking of the Summer Palace.

It took thousands of troops to destroy the greatest collection or architecture and art ever amassed. While he was merely a descendent of the Elgin who lifted marbles from Greece, the family certainly had their vandal moments!

Lets start our own rout with the St Leger.

3.10 Doncaster St Leger

The St Leger has lost some of its lustre in recent years. Gone are the horses who want triple crown glory. Now bloodstock demand is for mile to mile and a half horses. The super rich owners want Derby horses and Arc horses, not Yorkshire Cup types.

It would have been a thing of great beauty if Sea the Stars had opted to take in the Triple Crown in his classic year…. alas, Guinea and Derby horses tend not to think St Leger any more. Perhaps we will never have another triple crown winner. If we were to, I would suggest it would be a filly.

In fact, recent St Legers have been pretty poor affairs (relatively speaking for a Group 1 and a classic!) – This year looks different though. What makes the contest an intriguing one is the ground which has hardened up and with no more rain expected until ten past three, it is changing the shape of the market.

The principle victim of the top of the ground turf seems to be Sea Moon. A long term favourite for the race after demolishing a Great Voltigeur field by nearly ten lengths, this lightly raced sort is clearly happier with cut. His form could suggest so and so does the reaction of connections to the dry weather forecast.

The Great Voltigeur also featured Seville who was third, vanquished by Sea Moon that day. Seville was second in an Irish Derby and so a serious O’Brien horse but was likely unsuited by York – This makes me question the form of the Great Voltigeur and seek a different form line for the winner. That said, O’Briens horses look like they are coming to their own of late.

We have Blue Bunting, a 2,000 guineas winner, Irish Oaks winner and Yorkshire Oaks winner – Probably filly of the season. She gets a 3lb pull on account of her being of the fairer sex and must be reckoned with at a best priced 7/2. Good to firm would be no inconvenience. Two of the last five runnings have gone to Godolphin, significantly interesting.

A regular poster Michael put up Masked Marvel last week and you can see the good points. Beating Census was great form although watching that race, I would question whether he is the better horse. 9/1 is fair but not for the Major – Good luck Michael.

Brown Panthers form is tied into Census and Masked Marvel and at 14s is arguably the best value of that trio. Yard form is also a slight concern here with just the one winner from the last twenty five runners. While Census may have taken Brown Panther on their latest run, it was notable that the Panther had a lot of picking up to do. The previous German raid did not go brilliantly but the travel may have been a factor. With Fallon booked, this is a serious contender in my view.

I really think the winner will come from Sea Moon, Brown Panther and Blue Bunting. Splitting them is tough. Sea Moon on the drift is a concern but how sure can we be he will not act on firmer ground? The Sire, Beat Hollow, has had 355 of his progeny run in Britain on good to firm and 50 won. This is not out of line with his form with more cut and so the evidence is conjecture on behalf of connections. Now, connections know their stuff but….. could we go where others dare tread?

Sea Moon is a horse that looked a true star. What he did to the Great Voltigeur field was highly impressive, not just the beaten foe but the turn of foot. He was eased down at the finish that day and the Major has a simple belief, if he shows the Great Voltigeur form today, he will win. It is hard to leave him but those ground worries are ominous.

I have settled on Brown Panther. 14/1 is a good price for one whose form is mixing it up with the best here. We have the services of Fallon doing the steering – Come on the Panther.

3.15 The Curragh – Goffs National Stakes Group 1

The Curragh hosts the Irish St Leger card and although it is a fine race, I fancied a crack at the Goffs Stakes for juveniles.

Soft conditions in Ireland make it interesting working through this card and the Majors choice is Dragon Pulse a 11/4 joint favourite.

Dragon Pulse on breeding is fancied to handle the soft and did win a maiden in conditions too. While Power, is the main rival, I suspect he will not like the cut in the ground at all.

Have a chunky slice of the Dragon.

There are other great races at Doncaster, the Curragh, Goodwood and Chester. The Major does think Berling is the most reliable in Chesters listed race but overall I am going to stick with Brown Panther and Dragon Pulse to bring home the weekend beans.

In other sports…. Villa are a massive 3/1 to win at Everton, given the Toffees current woes, it could well effect the team on the pitch who are now without Arteta. Villa are organised if not spectacular and 3/1 (Victor Chandler) is a price to take on them stealing the goodies from Goodison. Everton have protesting fans as well as a shortage of options in the final third with Yakubu and Beckford joining Arteta on the outward transfer pile. The new boys may take time to settle in and I am willing to take a chunky slice of the Villa pie at a lovely 3/1.

May your dining this evening be punctuated by a fine string quartet and a magnificent lady of grace who steals the attention of any dining room. For all of her well-heeled manner, her thoughts will run the same way as the rest of them when good lobster and Sancerre have been devoured.

Courage and shuffle those cards….