Tag Archives: simenon

The Wednesday Punchestown Gold Cup Sermon and the Ascot Sagaro Stakes

Good Evening from the Major who writes from an extremely pleasant Worcestershire scene where spring light lasts deep into an evening of Gods creation blending deep greens, pale blue sky and clean cool air.

The Major had a flying visit to London today and with the tube strike in full militant action (there were real trade unionists with colourful ancient RMT banners), chaos was the order of the day.  Great snaking queues led to tables with volunteers handing maps of bus routes, the taxi rank was a seething mass of impatience and all of the time, outside, unknown to the panicking masses, a highly gratifying temperate climate awaited the walkers.

My destination was Kings Cross, two and a half miles, taking in some of the fine architecture and seeing the full spectrum of the denizens of this great city, very good indeed.

The return train, late in the afternoon was thick with homeward bound weary travellers.  The pressure released once we had despatched the Oxford crowd, then the remaining West Country folk collectively stretched into the new-found comfort and space and admired the North Oxfordshire countryside whirring past the window.

One of the memories I have from the Lambourn open weekend was of the drive home.  The landscape was spectacular, monstrous fields that stretched as far as the eye could see without interruption by hedge, thicket or even an old oak.  Industrial scale farming but the conformity and the scale, these things stayed with me as they sometimes do. In contrast, Worcestershire has a rural scene that is a patchwork of irregular design, variance, colour; what it lacks in grandeur, it makes up for in variety.  I am boring myself.

The blog had a decent opening day at Punchestown.  We had seven selections, one went non runner (Djakadam).  Three did not feature.  Diplomatic rattled the top of two down the back straight and lost interest.  Module fell and Disputed in the last led the field into it before demonstrating a lack of ability at the business end.

On the positive side, Be Positive was the only game in town as indicated and I advised a significant investment on Faugheen and you could have joined the queue for payout half way through the race, he simply loved leading them off the front, tremendous.  The turn up was our Mullins bumper selection that drifted to 12/1 (adv 7/1) but held on all the same, as they say, the horse knows not the price.

Faugheen may rightly feel a bit overshadowed this evening.  While his performance had us racing fans purring, it was not as stirring as the spectacle of Sizing Europe, admiral old servant, pinging away off the front like he was rolling back the years.  A tremendous win, a wonderful story but for the Major – I do not like my G1s won by a 12 year old.  Yes, I can hear the names you are calling me.

Wednesday Punchestown, Cheltenham Hunter Chase and Ascot Tips

I may not cover every race, certainly the opening race for conditional jockeys looks a minefield and an unappetising one for me to unpick.

The second is much more interesting and Cheltenian is an excellent starting point now that this former Champion Bumper horse has commenced a belated hurdling career.  He is proving a decent handicapper and his mark of 141 is marginally superior to anything else we have seen here, with Le Vent D’Antan a pound behind.  I prefer the British raider and 11/4 is available this evening.  The big danger must come from Carraig Mor who looked to the world a champion at Uttoxeter but has disappointed since, King is nobody’s fool and he brings him across, moderation, as my mother would say.

The third race, a Grade 1 novice hurdle is much more of Championship ilk and seemingly, two of the three key protagonists are Gigginstown.  I have an easy decision here because I think the Albert Bartlett form is superior and thus Very Wood gets a strong recommendation at 9/2 with Paddy Power.

This is not the strongest Gold Cup I have seen.  Do not be upset, it still is an interesting race but Boston Bob has never really translated from an accomplished hurdler to a top class chaser.  This might seem harsh given he just won a Grade 1 at Aintree but that Melling Chase was much poorer than this, even if Ballynagour ran respectably today (without beating the admirable pensioner).  Boston gets the benefit of a Ruby ride and there is enough to like.

Three of the last five winners returned at long prices, 14s and two at 20s.  I do not see something from left field but do suggest Lyreen Legend might go well off the front.  This has not been one of my favourite horses but is exceptionally capable and this track is sure to suit more than Cheltenham where the horse travelled but did not stay.

On balance, I think Boston Bob is the bet.  It was not his fault he beat lesser beasts well in the Melling.  He at least has a strike rate over fences that suggests more might be to come if he gets his jumping together.  The flatter track will suit I guess…. I feel dirty, 3/1.

This is turning into an obvious blog but why can anyone see any of the Champion Hurdle horses reversing form with Silver Concorde? I cannot, Carberry gave the horse a great ride and is replaced here by McNamara who had the Dermot Weld winner today (ps looked like an Ascot Gold Cup sort to me!).

To Ascot…..  I once took a group to the Sagaro Stakes day for charity – We had a spring buffet in the car park and a tremendous day of racing ensued.  Someone remind me of the horse (First Something?) definitely two words, that raced and won in the Mill reef colours – Very useful sort has had a good career – Well it won that day…. Interesting? Not really is it.

This is an excellent renewal and worthy of greater than a Group 3.  Simenon returns from his adventures including an excellent fourth in the Melbourne Cup, he will not mind the soft ground and is in good company because neither will Harris Tweed or Tac de Boistron, the latter boasts superb form from Longchamp after closing the season with a tremendous win.

When it comes down to it, I want trainer form at this stage and while Botti is only getting started, Mullins and Haggas are providing plenty of evidence that their string are in top order.  I am backing Simenon who is available at 5/1.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Newbury, Doncaster, Kelso and Meydan… Premier League.. All aboard the Cheltenham Express to Profitsville

Good morning from The Major who writes groggy of mind, tired and emotional following a day in good company yesterday.  The Worcestershire morning scene is truly one of Gods finest vistas – Crisp, clean, excellent visibility, a coldness that kisses the skin gently, and a sharp white icing to the dark green evergreen flora and their bonier stick like deciduous friends.

It would be a lovely day to attend a national hunt racecourse, flask charged and small roll of notes tucked in your pocket.  Yet, we have to exercise caution, we are close to the festival now, in touching distance and we all must prepare our forces for that monumental battle.  What weaponry shall we bring to the field to defeat our enemy in ten days time?  Let it be enough.

I enjoyed a moment this week where I felt so certain about a wager, that it felt an unfair advantage, as though I had visited the future.  The bet was Olympiakos which I have spelt with both a ‘c’ and a ‘k’ indiscriminately.  It just seemed so obvious to me that they would win and they were almost 3/1 to do so.  I enjoyed that game with a smug grin.

Fortunately for mankind, my smugness was taken from me by the extremely poor performance of Fascino Rustico at Wincanton the following day.  I was so convinced that this Nicholls runner would win, I had half of my kith and kin invested.  Same feeling, different outcome.

In the case of the latter, I was most taken by the way it came into the race at Exeter previously where it had fallen two or three out, being turned out again, looked an advantage, I mean, this is Nicholls and he knows his string, if he says no damage, let’s go.  On the negative side of the ledger, who really knows what effect a fall has had and he was being asked to lump top weight against some better opposition.

A couple of notes to order.  Firstly, note how the Olympiacos (see what I did there) win had little cross-examination.  I thought something, it happened, I have signed the chitty, filed and receipted it and thrown the key away.  I came, considered, wagered, won and that is it.  Done.  Complis.

Yet, Fascino caused me to go back and re-examine the original paperwork.  How was I so confident, yet so wrong.  In this case I can point to those three factors – The weight in the ground, the improved opposition and the impact of the previous fall.  Something is learned.

Yet, note the difference between how we gamblers treat victory and defeat.  Glorious wins are never questioned.  Let’s say Olympiakos won but were a shade lucky, would I have treated that like defeat?  Would I have examined the thought process that led me to the wager or would I conveniently and quickly shut that down to simply enjoy the win.

The natural urge is only to scrutinise the calculation following a loss but to improve, you need to do it with every bet.  When you win, you want to improve the chances that you won for the right reasons.  Don’t be the broken clock that is correct twice in the day, or the blind squirrel finding the odd nut.  Ask yourself of each win, having witnessed the event, if I were to revisit my calculation would I do the same thing?

The mind is an incredible tool.  We are not in control of it as much as we might like.  We need to train our subconscious to be better at the intuitive appreciations of the factors prior to a wager.  It can be done but it takes years of investments my friends – Learn how to trust those instincts and more crucially when not to.  Sharpen those decision making tools to enable you to distinguish the signature signal from the incredible noise.

A quick joke and then the sports.

An Irish girl, heavily pregnant is involved in a car accident (fear not this ends well).  She is in a coma.  When she comes to, the doctor is present and she immediately notices that she is no longer pregnant.  The doctor puts her mind at immediate ease explaining that they delivered twins, a boy and a girl, while she was unconscious.  ‘Oh my’ she exclaims… ‘well where are they?’, ‘your brother has them’, ‘oh no, not my idiot brother!  What did he call them.  ‘Well’ the doctor replies ‘He called the girl Denise’… ‘Hmmm Denise, that is not so bad… what about the boy?’ ‘Ah’ says the doctor ‘he called that one Danephew!’

Newbury Tips

In the 3.15, Tiqris looks opposable, even though the money coming now makes me a little nervous and it is backed by some excellent trainer confidence.  The thing is, his form last time was nothing special.  I am placing a small bet on Kuda Haraa, whose Huntingdon form has been well advertised – Hobbs is certainly in much better form than King (31% over 11% win ration last fortnight) but I am swung by the generous 15/2 Stan James are giving me on my selection.. small stakes.

The 3.50 Grade 3 has attracted a poor field but this is a race dominated by Ditcheat over the years.  In the last ten runnings, they have won with Pacha du Polder, Aerial, Big Fella Thanks, New Little Bric, Natal and Cornish Sett.  Thus the entries must be taken very seriously indeed.  He has Rebel Rebellion at the top of the weights and at a similar price, my selection, Ulck Du Lin.  I think the former keeps the weights nice for the later.  My horse has the advantage of Noel Fehily in the saddle.  He does not have a tremendous win record but recorded one of those on heavy ground.  Fehily is 3 from 7 runs for Nicholls – I am happy with this one – Shangani is the danger but that Venetia Saturday thing is getting a bit overbet for me.

Doncaster Tips

The Mares hurdle races are ones I enjoy and Doncaster has an interesting clash that seemingly only concerns Layla Joan, Mayfair Music and Toubeera.  I have backed the last named before and respect the Venetia runner but as you can feel from my tone, she is not the one for me today.  No, I am betting Mayfair Music.  I think Toubeera while improving has been made a lot of and is starting to look like her limitations are being reached.  That is less true of the Gordon Elliot raider but Layla Joan has not run on ground this good and that is a concern.  My selection will love it (2 from 3 on good) and Geraghty will bring home the cheese… Load a small cannon, Ladbrokes and Boylesports are 3/1.

The Grimthorpe is a race that one can never be to certain about but an experienced sort lurking on a low weight is the theme in the last few years.  The race has not been run on heavier ground for many years and so in some respects, this profile is a little surprising.  In the last 15 years, the race has been won by 15 different trainers! Not much clue there! Not often that a big price goes in and so, on balance, a small interest in Court by Surprise who has Geraghty in a rare ride for Lavelle.

Tistory still is available at 5/6 with Betvictor for the novice hurdle and will go off with the Majors weighty penalty aboard.

Kelso Tips

I am all about the favourite Clever Cookie in the Kelso Hurdle and at 11/8 am planning an investment.  The form of his races is working out very nicely and the good conditions also suit.  The extra two furlongs will also play into his hands.. Highly confident.

Kruzhlinin has an excellent Kelso record (3 from 3) and looks to have a leading chance in the 4.15.  Mr Moonshine brings some good recent form to the race having won over Christmas and again at Warwick in the New Year.  I am giving another chance to an old friend though in 5/1 (Coral) shot Opening Batsmen.  It has been a year since we saw this horse at his best but if he can return to those performances, he may well have the measure of these two, keep it sensible.

Meydan Single Shot

Yesterday afternoon, I was with a friend and work associate in London.  We spent the latter afternoon hard at work and since his hospitality is always exemplary, I felt a gift in order.  Overnight, I had been interested in the three Carroll runners at Dundalk all booked with the jockey services of Joseph O’Brien.  Well it stood out.

I purchased him an each way trixie but feeling like some confirmation was needed, fired a quick tweet off to Irish racing judge @spinitg – Seanie is unnervingly accurate in his assessment of Irish racing and if you have a twitter account, follow him, else you are doing it wrong.

Anyway, what has this got to do with Meydan?  Firstly he corrected my opening Carroll runner and recommended the winner as an alternate.  He confirmed his liking for the last of the three legs I had placed, Waving, which turned out to be the only winner.  This was all too late for my associate who now has a thin slip of useless paper to show for my gratitude for his hospitality.  It did however give me time to amass a SOB bet (read Steve Palmer or work it out) on Waving who won as you like.

All this matters because he likes Simenon in the 5.10 at Meydan and that is enough for me.

In the football…  Wolves (-1) at odds against is an excellent bet in my view.  I am also considering going against the tide and betting Newcastle.  You could see what it meant to their players when securing a late goal to take the points from Villa and 21/10 is big for them to win at Hull.

The Martin Hill bet is a double, on the rocks… Mayfair Music and Clever Cookie… Shabash

I hope your dinner is a gently spiced persian delight with the full richness of that cuisine playing out on your palette.  May the company be generous and the bill weighty but settled with a smile as you both appreciate the experience and it will barely bite into the spoils of the day.

Do you know that eating out regularly is one of the things that will make you live longer?  Quite true my friends, so do not wait for permission, have a table ready for this evening.

Courage, roll the dice.

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.