Tag Archives: shutthefrontdoor

The Saturday Sermon – Full Cheltenham International Card Tips – Let’s get Christmas paid for!

Good evening from the Major who writes from a pleasant Worcestershire evening with the family happily all around and Chinese food in, fit to burst.

The Major is full of business this evening, all bustling and bristling to get to the racing action.  A nice card at Cheltenham awaits and below is a full run down of my thoughts for tomorrow.  I am looking forward to seeing the New One in action – He is a serious contender for the Champion Hurdle although I confess to holding ante post tickets on Our Conor who was breathtaking in March, delivering a performance from the gods, a rare thing, winning a festival race on such a tight rein.

Such joyous days, I was not on but could only admire.

Lately, such times have been hard to recall.  I am suffering with an anxiety, dark and malevolent.  Blood surging, pressure building inside the skull, little respite.  Waking in the dark hours, restless, thoughts whirring away and not the pleasant sort.  Early in the mornings, in the worst moments, I struggle to shake it off.  The night world invading the day.

Yet now as I sit here, the fire underway, all is swept aside and a contentment lightens my mood.  Tomorrow I am to Birmingham and to spend some time watching the sport in great company.  Sport is wonderful.  All of life is contained within.

We are on this path just the once stranger.  We have no dress rehearsal.  I repeat my oft-repeated plea, we drift by on the tide just the once, grab on to what floats by, take up the fortune my friends.  If there are two simple things, just two to make your aim.. make it these… Experience and Companionship.

Daub thy war paint for it is December and we have a Christmas to pay for.  Mount the heavy horse for we will skirmish in open formation into their forward lines, meeting them man to man with our lance points flashing in the bright sunlight.  To the sports.

Cheltenham Tips

In the Cheltenham opener, the Triumph trial, I am interested in two near the top of the market.

All three fancied horses come from strong yards with Henderson holding the favourite, Kentucky Hyden; Nicholls with French import, Vicenzo Mio and John Ferguson represented by Commissioned.  All three yards arrive is good form and it is noteworthy that Nicholls has used this race to launch the British careers of some decent sorts in the past, winning it twice in the last two years.

The Henderson horse won by half the track at Sandown but that small field was easier pickings than this.  I prefer the Nicholls horse who has won a decent race at Auteuil and is a definite contender.  Yet I am more persuaded by the Ferguson horse, Commissioned.  I know the record of the yard at jumping HQ is atrocious (0 wins, 2 places, 15 runners – 2 Years) but look beyond that and there is a lot to like about my tip.

Commissioned is an ex Mark Johnstone horse and has excellent form on good ground, which is a handy advantage.  The yard have had 6 winners in the last two weeks and with some handy flat form, I think the 5/1 offered by Ladbrokes is well worth taking… Get invested.

Only 4 runners make it for the stayers novice chase but it is an intriguing race all the same.  A lot of folk are going to take the way Shutthefrontdoor was closing on Le Bec last time at Cheltenham as a significant positive over this extra distance.  It certainly looks like he should be able to reverse form but I am not convinced – To me Le Bec kept finding more too and I am not convinced that the defeated foe necessarily has the upper hand tomorrow with an extra furlong and 3lbs to help him.

Le Bec was sixth in the Albert Bartlett and looks pretty assured at his fences, although he did hit one at Cheltenham last time and still finished well.

It is between these two in my book.  I am going for the reverse and a bet on Shutthefrontdoor at 11/8.  There is a further more powerful reason for a reverse in my eyes.  That is the replacement of Le Bec of Noel Fehily by Aiden Coleman.  Now I have nothing against Coleman, he is a good jockey in his own right but I am a huge Fehily fan who is surely worth some lengths to the horse.

In the Jenny Mould memorial, I am opting for Astracad (8/1) who will definitely pop up in a race like this sooner or later.  The horse has picked up a couple of course wins, although has been highly tried at Cheltenham.  I think he prefers the better ground and his trainer would like to win the Jenny Mould memorial as she was a big supporter of his yard.  Of the others, Shooters Wood would have been very interesting but I think conditions are against.  It might also be that we have not bottomed out the potential of Drumshambo who also made the short-list.

Kings Palace looks like a solid favourite for the 1.50pm.  The Pipe horse won really well here last time, loves good conditions and 5/4 does not put me off… Load the heavy cannon.

I was a big fan of Colour Squadron and thought we were desperately unlucky not to win with him at the November meeting.  A better jump two out and he was definitely going to be involved.  How confident we can be in a second such performance, I am not sure.  Johns Spirit was showing further improved form though that day and 9lbs raise may not have bottomed him out.

I am opposing both though with a chance that Salut Flo returns in some sort of good order.  My selection loves decent ground and was a serious horse when last seen in competitive action.  Clearly time off tempers the enthusiasm but Pipe can ready one and this could be a seriously good mark.  Ataglance is a horse I would not put you off, he was also involved in that Johns Spirit / Colour Squadron dust-up and while finishing further behind in fourth, it is worth noting that he was racing out of the handicap that day and is much better off on tomorrows revised terms.

I do not see any dangers to The New One in the meetings feature race.  Yes it is 1/2 on but this is a serious Champion Hurdle contender and I think he should readily have the measure of Zarkander who while decent is not top class.  I would offer a word of optimism for Albert Hall who has limited British experience but has capable french form and 100/1 would be dismissive of his place chances if there were 8 runners, sadly, currently only 7 go to post.

I can make a case for all of the runners in the last.  Gemix is hard to assess, he certainly has some top class form but I am not sure what he will make of hurdling in a small field in this company.  I prefer More of That who smashed up a Folkestone race and two wins this season have been better again – More to come.

Yet, in the last, I am minded to go with Glenns Melody, she has a good strike rate and won really handsomely last time.  Since Ruby has made the effort to come over, well I take it as a positive, 7/2 is a stand out with Coral, with 3/1 more generally on offer.

At Lingfield, I would back Black Thunder in their feature race, soft ground is great for him and he was pulling clear readily at Haydock last time, easy.

In the football, I like QPR and Forest both at 5/4.

I trust that your dinner is in the best of company, generous, full of humour and mischief and that the only inconvenience is the uncomfortable wad of notes denoting the drubbing you dished out to our beautiful enemy.

The Martin Hill bet is each way doubles and trebles on all of the Cheltenham selections above with the exception of The New One and Astracad.  That’s 40 bets… Get Christmas paid.

Sunday Cheltenham Greatwood Card plus Punchestown and the Morgiana

Good morning from the Major who writes from the bed, lying lazy and peaceful.  Gazing out across the tranquil Worcestershire scene, I see my neighbours Weeping Willows and they capture the mood.  Drooping not out of weariness but out of sedate alleviation of all of life’s concerns.

The Paddy Power meeting at Cheltenham rolls on and yesterday, I consider the result to be one of hitting the bar.  I felt very right about Royal Irish Hussar and that was justified, even if a little obvious.  I was not overly perturbed by Shutthefrontdoor who ran brilliantly but could not get up to Le Bec.  It had an edge for me though which was the winner was piloted by Noel Fehily and regular readers will know that I am always at pains to back against him add into that the extremely positive mention I gave to the winner Alvarado (who I suggested a saver on).

Quentin Collonges ran well but unseated when beaten having made an error at the previous fence and charting a wide course throughout – No disgrace.  Then came the turning point in the day.  I felt my selection Colour Sargeant was desperately unlucky not to record a famous win.  He was almost bought down three out and had to pretty much stop.  Losing at least a half-dozen lengths, I thought it was an incredible performance to be just a half-length down and closing hard at the finish.  I am not saying he is a better horse than Johns Spirit as I suspect the winner did little after meeting the front but without the calamity that hit ours, well we could have got there, couldn’t we?  I know, I saw it.

Port Melon ran with credit into a place but I was expecting a bit more.  He already looks a chaser and more is to come I am sure.  The Henderson horse let us down a bit in a bumper that I think will be decent form despite the winner being a 22/1 shot.

Anyway, today, the racing is first class again on both sides of the Irish Sea.  I have had a look through and shall record my thoughts for your delectation.

Cheltenham and Punchestown Sunday Tips

One observation of Cheltenham is that the ground to me has been riding just a touch slower than I expected.  I thought we would have genuinely good ground but not many are picking up in it that well and so I am a little more cautious going into the last day.

The Cheltenham opener looks a real puzzle to me.  I like the Big Casino form as it ties well to Shutthefrontdoor but the rise he got for a seasonal debut win means he is lumping top weight around.  On the list all the same.  Lieutenant Miller comes with a placing in a Cesarewitch and Henderson has won this race several times in recent years.  Lots of potential improvers, and one eye catcher is Western Warhorse – A mark of 125 is quite a place to start in handicap company but I think this horse could turn out to be quite decent – He has the assistance of Maurice Linehan who takes a first ride for the Pipe yard and he gets my tentative vote.  Even as I type those words, I am mindful of the top weight Big Casino whose conquered foe last time out, Talkin Sence, went up to Kelso to frank that form…. Hmmmm

The second, the Supreme trial, has only a disappointing field of four but it is good quality stuff all the same.  Sea Lord won a listed contest last time out and has translated group flat form into this sphere really well.  That is up against The Liquidator who came fourth in the Champion bumper and then demolished his penalty kick hurdle maiden.  Lac Fontana may well improve but really needs to if he is going to give these two a race, though it is worth noting that Nicholls won this last year with Dodging Bullets.  In the end, you have to make a decision and mine is for The Liquidator but there is not a lot to go on.

The Arkle trial looks set to be fought out between the three principles.  I like Ted Veale and remember having a winner with him when he beat Tennis Cap at the festival, he has been busy over the summer and so I am sure remains fit.  Raya Star beat Dodging Bullets but I think today we will see the latter emerge as the superior animal.

At 2.40 expect a twitter meltdown as Mad Moose the mercurial star takes to the course at 25/1.  Will he start?  Who knows!  What is more sure is that Sire de Grugy looks good banker material against this lot of monkeys.  My selection is on form and odds against, he has not really run a bad race over fences and I think we can put that in our Sunday money printer!

As for the Greatwood… This is a race that has been won by some very decent horses in years gone by including Sizing Europe, Detroit City and Menorah.  Despite the field being 7/1 bar, it is noteworthy that only two-horse in the last ten years at odds in double figures, one being Brampour in 2011 at 12/1.

Four of the last Twelve winners did so from top weight, there is nothing wrong with the profile of a top class horse thus Court Minstrel, the Scottish National winner has to be considered.  I am not convinced though and I think I am looking for something else.  My profile is going to be a damn good horse, aged 5 with the handicapper still behind – The 4yo horses often look enticing, we have a list of likely candidates here, but their record is weaker.

Olofi and Numide both won from marks below 140 and while I am not wedded to that line, it shapes the horse I am looking for.  I think I have my candidate in Pine Creek who races off 137, is clearly improving and the half stone rise for coming away from a useful Ascot field (Dildar) with Chris Pea Green, looked good.

One point of note is to keep your trigger finger sharp.  If Raya Star does give Dodging Bullets a fair beating then it would be a tremendous advert for Tanerko Emery in the Greatwood…

In the bumper, while I like the prospects of Red Sherlock, I shall have a small investment instead on Champagne at Tara who is proven on the firmer ground.

At Punchestown, I am backing Felix Younger, 7/4, whose form with White Star Line looks better now.  I also feel Don Cossack, 10/11, should get the better of Morning Assembly – He appeals to me as the one with genuine top of the tree aspirations.  I am backing the pair in a tasty double.  Telling you that Hurricane Fly will win the Morgiana is like telling you the sun will rise in the morning.

Courage and roll those dice.

Thursday Racing Tips – Thurles and Wincanton… Firing in the winners, Shabash and roll those dice…

Good evening from the Major who writes from a frozen Worcestershire landscape, the brittle white crust compresses with a rustle under boot but beneath is tough as teak.

A thoroughly decent day for the Major with my Newbury tips, even if I say so myself.  Well, who else is going to thank me, apart from ‘john’ who posted a nice acknowledgement in the comments?  The rest of you can hang for all I care, miserable sods.

Actually, that is not quite true.  You need not thank me at all, in fact I have always carried transparency on my terms and conditions of usage.  You must behave yourself and act with decorum, no cads allowed.  I must write up my thoughts on a regular basis and at least score a few good days, I am also free to embellish any tips and racing information with the ramblings from the dark vortex swirling in my mind.  You must listen patiently as I disgorge them.

Then you are free to do as you please.  Your usage of the information is entirely at your own liability and any rewards are entirely yours.  I accept neither praise nor abuse.  Quid pro quo.

What a great day for the Major, seven tips, three winners all at odds against, a placed 20/1 shot (adv. 14/1) and a placed 9/1 shot, a 2/1 second and one best forgotten.

A couple of chaps, tourists in the punting world, took an interest today.  I laid them 11/8 about Fago who romped home the class act of the field.  Tomorrow they want more… Well Pierre and Oliver… more you shall get but be warned, the T&Cs are clear, caveat emptor or perhaps more accurate volenti non fit injuria.

Thursday Tips from Thurles and Wincanton

At one point, the horse in training which the Major has the softest spot for was engaged at Thurles tomorrow over fences.  Thank goodness, that folly did not come to fruition, I am of the mind that Bog Warrior should never see a chase fence again, apart from the ones he passes on his route to winning the World Hurdle.

Wincanton is a day of handicaps and the Major has precious little time to unpick them.  Hence, my visit there will be quick and simple, pulling out the likeliest and leaving the puzzles to my betters.  Let us all hope that racing goes ahead, a 9am inspection is called for.

Shutthefrontdoor is no bet but a massive odds on shot in the last.  If he wins well, expect the Cheltenham novice books to change!

In the 3.20, Brick Red is a hugely obvious sort.  Evens is available this evening (Ladbrokes) and will be a long forgotten price in my view when the tapes go up.  There is nothing in this field to challenge that I can find and the only thing that might beat him is if he has not fully recovered from his exertions of a week ago.

In the stayers race (2.50), we have an old favourite Mike de Beauchene turning up but aged 13 and without a win since his prolific winter of 07/08, he can only be watched and let’s be honest, do we want to see him toiling round Wincanton mid-week…. well-earned retirement would be my wish for him.  The one I want to be on is Dusky Bob (despite my solemn vow not to back Ellison horses) who won last time out in soft conditions.  He showed good heart at Musselburgh and this extra three furlongs and track should bring out the best in him, it could be a walking finish and that’s when I expect Dusky to be doing his best work!  9/2 generally.

At Thurles, we have two Graded events to whet the Thursday appetite.

The opener at Thurles unfurls a French Mullins import that looks a likely / shot. In a field of 19, I am minded to avoid it, even if it does look a likely sort.

The second looks like a good opportunity for Mikhael D’Haguenet but if you want to back him at 4/11 then I will seek to have you sectioned.  Who knows which version will turn up.

The Kinloch Brae Chase is a Grade 2 chase and has attracted a reasonable field.  Some old sorts line up and they are not the ones I want to concentrate on.  Joncol, Oscar Time and Tranquil Sea are top class horses but surely past their prime.

Quito de la Roque has been a real let down this year and Davy Russell seems to have given up hope and takes the ride on  Roi de Mee.  That one has been in fine form this year winning all of his starts since a strange reappearance where he was thrashed. That was by Sizing Europe but I suspect the summer ground did for him more than anything.  A danger to all as I don’t think we have seen the best yet, he has not really been challenged this season.

Days Hotel looks very exciting too.  He had been off track for some time before beating a reasonable (if a little exposed) field on reappearance.  It may not have been much but he did it in style I think this step up in trip will be advantageous if anything (ex pointer and bred for it).

In summary, I am really struggling to split the two at the top of the market.  It promises to be an excellent race.  I am going to make a call and at the prices suggest we go with Roi de Mee or Days Hotel.. or both… Oh god, I can’t do it.  Back them both, or why not try a reverse forecast.  I give up on the Kinloch Brae.

Tarla is just 4/9 to take the grade 2 Mares Novice Chase at 2.40.  I was a supporter of hers when she fell when dominating at the last in a race at Cork on my birthday.  She has had a little time to get over her exertions and should take this.  There is not that much more to fancy really.

In the 3.10, its odds on again for the Major as I fancy 4/6 Ballycasey to beat Milborough.

In the 3.40, Drawn N Drunk gets the nod, up the best part of a stone for a convincing win last time out might not be enough.  Sure to be prominent and make it a real test, lets see if we can bag a 6/1 winner.  Away We Go will be popular but I don’t think good enough.

Courage and roll the dice.