Tag Archives: Slade power

The Saturday Sermon – July Cup Tips, York and anything else that takes the eye

Good evening from the Major who writes from a stifling Worcestershire scene where the warm and heavy evening feels dirty against a clammy skin.  There is a peach moon hanging at twenty degrees above the horizon, some cool white clouds crossing its face, like thin brittle fingers suspended in the soupy air.

The Major has had an exhausting week and as I arrive at the weekend, sleep beckons, the warm embrace of oblivion with the promise of a fresh mental state at the other end.  Not that I can claim to take many fulsome nights of slumber, no, in the small hours, the night world there exists whirring sounds, strange creaks and dark feelings haunting the corners, these do not ooze into consciousness slowly, no they race through my mind constantly changing, heart beating, adrenaline chemically enhancing and amplifying my already alert self.  I would give you tens that I cannot rest the full night.

I have tried drugs, they are good at getting me to sleep just not very good at keeping me there.  No, exercise is the real key and the Major is running again.  Thank you to those kind readers, none of whom I have met in the flesh, who kindly supported my charitable run on Sunday in the British 10k.  It is to raise

Izzy would like to thank all you lovely punters who spared a couple of quid from your warchest for Footsteps!

Izzy would like to thank all you lovely punters who spared a couple of quid from your war chest for Footsteps!

funds for Footsteps Foundation, a marvellous charity that help children with severe physical and developmental needs, just like my gorgeous niece, Izzy, who at the age of 4 has a serious undiagnosed condition.  Bless her gorgeous soul.

Anyway, if you have a couple of shekels to spare, then I promise that my not inconsiderate frame, lungs screeching in pain, jelly legs staggering forwards like some awfully wounded animal flailing my way around our great capital; will earn every penny and it is a smashing cause.  You can donate on this link and the Major will remember you when you are at the gates of hell, for that is where I shall be, there is to be no deliverance from purgatory for the Major, no forgiveness for my sins, yet I can at least put a good word in for you.   Thank you to @sar6ie, @onedeswalker, @ruthmuckle, @jimknight88 Keith and Simon and possibly more who all have been so very generous.

There is so much racing to talk about that this might be my longest ever post.  There are 6 daytime meetings including some excellent cards at York (100 runners), Newmarket (93), Chester (66) and Ascot (83).  There are a further two day time meetings in Ireland and so the day will be stretched – This pile up has been criticised but not from my corner – It looks like a tremendous typhoon of a Saturday and I am looking for those interesting moves.  Which jockeys have gone where? and why? Can we find a thin line of evidence to lead us to paradise? Is there a thread on the satchel which our enemy carries into battle that we might just get our finger nails on, then cling on as the stitching unravels?  Let us see my friends.  Before that I have no strong lecture but a small personal tale to tell so sit back and take in that pungent fresh coffee aroma.

In rush hour, the main arteries of A-road asphalt propel the tin cans and their tiny inhabitants to their cottage homes.  They are tiring to drive along, the monotony suffocates the mind and your reflexes are dulled.  Suffice to say, last night, I was shaken from my stuporous torpor by an animal darting across the carriageway.  This is not uncommon in these parts but normally the larger animals that might leap from the verges, with a maniacal suicidal lunge, come at night, foxes, badgers and deer.

This was a dog and I like dogs.  Stopping, I got out of the car warily.  I am not afraid of dogs, quite the contrary, I grew up with them.  At risk of losing half of my readers, they are far superior company than cats.  They are at times selfless, caring, loyal and fierce defenders of their family.  Admirable traits in a servant.  No, my caginess was simply the situation.  As a child, my mother stopped to tend to a German Shepherd late at night in Walsall town centre, he had been hit by a car and was looking sorry for himself.  Through terror he acted, you know what is coming and my mother should have been wiser, no serious harm was done but I was too young to recall his fate so that part of our journal shall remain incomplete.  Suffice to say that it imprinted a caution around wounded beasts.

Anyhow, my animal, a gorgeous young boxer, a pup I would say, had no road sense whatsoever, but seemed entirely unharmed.  In fact, he struck me as damned pleased with himself, bounding around blissfully unaware of the dangers of the 60mph section of the A38 on which he was intent on scampering.  He was friendly enough to approach but reaching for the silver tag dangling from his collar triggered a game in which he would dart off at a pace thrice that of which I am capable, stop after 20 yards and look pitifully back at me.  It reminded me of playing my father once at squash, he, a more accomplished player than I, had a knowing look as he started the game, he commanded the T, sent me scurrying around the court at his leisure and seemed to score at pleasure, he carried the same look; one part disdain, one part pity; one part mocking.

There were some cottages set back from the road down a dirt track, a mere 50 yards aft and thinking that my renegade might be a defector from those parts, I made my way swiftly along the verge with ‘Bertie Bounder’ following.  From time to time I waved a clenched fist at him indicating some sort of treat may well be within and the brainless exuberant free spirit fell for it readily enough.  Oh, I can lead the gullible when I have to.

At the last in the line of small terraced cottages, I could detect movement in the garden and hollering a welcome drew around a man who looked startled to have a caller.  These are quiet parts you see.  The dog was his as it turned out and he was at pains to thank me for stopping and rescuing him before some terrible misadventure occurred.  There was something very odd about this chap.  He was a biker I would guess, a dark beard, dark clothing and wayward look that told of a life lived.  It was not his appearance though, no, he seemed distracted and I was about to find out why.

In the awkwardness that fell between our sentences, our polite and civil exchanges, something was simply not right.  I asked matter of fact if the dog had escaped through an open gate and he did not answer, rather he seemed puzzled.  He was looking through me now, rather than at me and then he simply stuttered… No, the wife was out walking him.  The realisation of the words and the the thoughts which moments before had been hanging in the air, settled now suddenly.

The cold fell over us like a blanket.  We both started back up the track at a vigorous pace but being British, not running you see, even feeling that someone might be hurt, we wish to keep some dignity, god help her.  I was asking whether she always took the same route and as a plan, we decided to cross the road, split down the path that ran parallel opposite and see if we could see her.  To allay his worry, I suggested that most likely, she was wandering in the woods or across some hay-field, looking for our chum but this mans peace was only going to come once that was fact and not conjecture.

We crossed, we split and a mere 50 yards up my path, with my search partner well out of sight, I thought I caught voices drifting back from the direction he had set off in.  Standing breathless straining at the wind, I heard them again and decided that coming back to him was the judgement.  I did not need to get far.  Returning to the gate, I could hear very well the two of them, a loud female voice booming I CAN’T FIND THE BLOODY DOG! It did not sound happy but in consideration of the feelings pouring from her husbands face mere moments earlier, it made me smile to think of him now under the whip.

I slinked away, through the gate, back across the road, slipping into the seat and driving off without stopping to acknowledge.  Why you wonder?  Well, a favour is an odd thing sometimes, do it and the recipient can feel at odds, unsure how to show their generosity.  From the timbre of her pitch too, it seemed to me that my retired Hells Angel had enough on his plate.

Is there a moral to this tale.  Well, it would be this.  Terrible things lurk in our future, we do not know the time of their coming but they punctuate the normality that exists between.  So my friends, take a keen hold of that normality, we drift by the once on the river, grab on to whatever floats by.  Ask few questions, let banal troubles wash away on the river.

To the sports and daub thy war paint, the maul is thick with limbs thrashing violently, confusion reigns, we shall take on the enemy at close quarters with a mere ten rounds per man and bayonets fixed.

The July Cup

I am going to start with the big one.  My favourite July Cup moment was Hayley Turner winning her first Group One aboard Dream Ahead, how she scythed through the melee that day, poise perfect, power packed finish and gloriously triumphant afterwards.  What a shame she has been so dogged with injury, this season is not progressing well either, she is at half the strike rate she was in 2011 when she picked up her only two G1 winners.

This July Cup is a tremendous renewal.  A top quality field, I hope that the ground ends up good to soft and we keep them all in.  The forecast is for no more rain but it remains soft and showers threaten.

I know who I want in the July Cup but feel I am about to be thwarted by the conditions.  I was mightily taken with Due Diligence in the Diamond Jubilee.  He is entitled to be improving anyway but that was a damned good run having been drawn on the wrong side for all of the pace.  He made his way over and only failed to get to Slade Power by a length and was snatched in the final strides anyway.  O’Brien has said that he is a fast ground horse, despite him winning on yielding to soft in Ireland – On those grounds, I do not think he will appear.  Sole Power is less likely to run on account of the ground too and one of the other Ballydoyle string, Fountain of Youth is also a probable scratch.

There are a host of others who are unlikely to want to feel their toe sinking, they include the American raider from the Wesley Ward team, Undrafted (quite a nice story behind that name, the owner is a famous American Footballer but was undrafted himself) and Aljamaaheer

Slade Power is well worth considering.  He will stand at stud next year with Darley and may well turn out to be a strong producer of precocious sorts.  For now, he remains right at the top of the tree for European sprinters and he has a darn fine chance here.

The thing is, the sprinting divisions can be odd affairs, you think you have the form nailed down and then the key actors decide to switch roles.  In the last ten runnings of the July Cup, there have been five double figure returns, including a 20/1 and 22/1 shot so we should not rule too many out.

So here is where I am.  Slade Power has an excellent chance and I would not put you off at 5/2.  Yet, I am playing the upset card and thinking that Jack Dexter and Cougar Mountain might have bigger roles to play.

They are very different profiles – Jack Dexter has shown his best form in soft ground and so some more rain would be excellent.  He finished midfield at Ascot but the ground was against him there and he will relish this.  If the ground and the race cuts up, I would expect a much better run and 20/1 with Laddies and Hills will soon go if the heavens open.

Cougar Mountain could be anything.  He has had very favourable reports and the reason he is on the list is that he is likely to be the main Ballydoyle contender now.  Inexperienced, thrown in but out of Fastnet Rock and in the best of hands.

I am opting for Jack Dexter and I hear those form students scoffing at me for having the effrontery to suggest he is up to winning a Group One.  Yet three year olds have a questionable July Cup record and I will go with experience and conditions above the vague promise of potential.

 Newmarket – Tip for Bunbury Cup

This race is likely to be cutting up as well as the runners are protected from getting their legs muddy, wimps.  There are two things I am primarily looking for to create the shortlist.  A good draw as I think the pace is going to be on the low side with Best of Order likely to tow them all along and Moss Glen and Horsted Keynes being willing followers – Yet the bias often favours the high draw, a quandary.  Soft ground form as I am planning on another shower or two to keep it this way.

The swing in the weights that Horsted Keynes receives after what I considered to be pilot error (Spencer hold up job) at Ascot is a damn handy pull and if I had more confidence of the horse acting on the ground, he might be my winner (never raced on anything worse than good).

That race was a key piece of form and the winner was Louis the Pious who is now accompanied by one of my favourite jockeys Neil Callan returning from injury.  I am also very interested in this ones stablemate, the second O’Meara horse is Best of Order who is now ridden by Jamie Spencer (was on Louis at Ascot for his win), that is intriguing n’est pas?

One that draws me in is the Luca Cumani runner, Ayaar at 9/1 with Bet Bright but 8s with proper firms!  I am not sure they want to race him on soft and so it is with thin reasoning that I leave him and focus my firepower on Absolutely So who is being smashed up again, just like he was in the Wokingham where he finished out the back, possibly unsuited by the rattling Ascot ground.  Of significant interest at 7/1 and the Majors tip.

Newmarket – The Superlative 2.40pm

Hannon has won this (well of course he has it is a top class juvenile!) twice in recent years with King Torus and then the ‘destined for better things’ Olympic Glory.  He runs Estidhkaar a winner at Newbury in mid June.  That race is starting to look quite hot since the 4th, another Hannon inmate, St Brelades Bay went to Windsor (again Hannon, standard) and won.  The second, Mustadeem also won his next race at Sandown.

Gleneagles will have obvious claims being bred from the top stuff and winning impressively at the Curragh.

Lieutenant Kaffee is a highly interesting runner for Fahey.  He does not throw many darts at these sorts of races and he tends to hit his doubles so that alone is a signpost.  The races the horse has competed in are hard to assess but that is true of the whole field, not to be underestimated.  Archie for the Manor House team is a similar profile, shrewd trainer…

In the end, the Superlative often goes to a fancied runner and it is either the Hannon hottie or the Ballydoyle runner for me.  I have settled on Gleneagles, his win was taking, out of Galileo and You’resothrilling I think he is a very worthy favourite at 2/1.

I’d put nobody off a forecast with the Hannon horse though, even a reverse one if you don’t have the kahunas to see your convictions through.

York Tips

Now a man of commerce I know well, who resides in the beautiful rolling Yorkshire landscape has put in a request for some of the action at York to be covered.  Firstly, Matt, have a wonderful day, York is in my view, one of the very finest courses we have and I hope the sun shines, the cold crisp wine flows and the company shines.  As I always respond to requests, here is the full card for your delectation and possibly later, derision.

Completely different conditions will prevail up north where we are seeking the speedster types, those smooth operators that float over the turf in delicate, rhythmic and efficient style.

I mentioned at the outset that jockey movements were of clear interest on a day like today and the fact that Ryan Moore, the best in the world has gone to York is telling.  Yes York has a quality card but surely Moore would have been a shoe in on a ride in the July Cup, certainly he might have gotten himself a Ballydoyle fancy there.  So what is he at York for?

Well in the opener I hope he can get us underway with well backed Dusky Queen at 6/1.  You might argue the horse should have won last time out at York and this track form, even in defeat gives me confidence.  I consider York to be a bit of a specialist track, to the eye it looks straight forward with a long sweeping left hand turn into a generous flat to downhill straight but many horses do not seem to give best and so course form is a positive mark.

Moore could easily be on a double by the time the second race has finished as Waila looks the sort to click and win going away.  The truth is it is hard to know what to expect and the master Stoute has reached for headgear on recent runs to try to focus the mind and get a consistent performance from the horse.  The money is coming but 7/4 is short enough for a horse that might make its own mind up.  I prefer the Godolphin runner Al Saham who has been improving and whilst another that needs the headgear, looks a little but more solid with it on.  Plus if this comes down to a punch up, I’d prefer my tip to respond well enough to a robust Fallon drive.  4/1 – Take that.

Then the John Smiths Cup.  Haggas has won two of the last three runnings both times with similar types.  Four year olds, weighted below nine stones and he has another one here in Queensbury Rules who does not have a massive amount of obvious positives save these mentioned – He is being stepped up in distance after the Hunt Cup exploits and I just have a feeling he will come good in a race like this soon.  In fact the last 8 runnings have gone to horses with a burden of less than nine stone and I think this might be a 14/1 turn up.

Then the sprint at 3.30 and I simply have to follow up on G Force.  You might remember me giving this a big mention some weeks ago when he disappointed a bit at Sandown.  that day he was caught out a bit in mid division and I think his third can be upgraded.  He is lightly raced in this company and the way he won his handicap debut suggested that the later summer sprint group races would be on the agenda.  If that is to be the case then 3/1 is a price we can make a mockery about.  I am always hesitant with this big powerful strutting sprinters who like men on steroids can act like head-cases but even considering that, this remains a tremendous bet, pile in (10/3 BetVictor) – Load the large cannon is the message.

The 4.05 – Given that this race was won by none other than the Grey Gatsby last year who went on to French Derby glory for the Ryan yard, you have to be fully respectful of their runner here, Flaming Spear.  He holds tickets for all the right races and cost a quarter of a mill so enough is expected.  Polarisation is the one with the experience that appeals but given he made a debut at Southwell, it seems unlikely he is one of the fancied Johnstone beasts. No, no, no…. The Major is going to suggest a potentially bigger priced newcomer in Moonlightnavigator at a likely SP of 12/1.  This son of HenrytheNavigator was also an expensive purchase for a yard where he would be a key player in the stable.  The dam was a useful US sort and I would be really hopeful of a big run.

In the penultimate race at 4.40, I was planning a  bit of a turn up.  I am not sure that a lot of the horses near the head of the market are going to enjoy the forecast conditions and so I am considering Gabrials King at an unfashionable 18/1 shot with BetVictor to my slip.  He won’t mind the rattling ground and there is every chance he has targeted at this race, a contest in which he placed last year.  There have been some smatterings of form since and to his credit, he has been running at reasonable levels, to the extent that he is competing this year on 11lbs more.  However, the main advice is to back Great Fighter for Godolphin at 7/1.  He is less exposed than many of these and this track and this extra test might be the making of him.

In the lucky last, I am pinning my hopes on Billyoakes a general 6/1 shot who I think has an excellent chance.  He beat Denzille Lane with ease when they met and that horse went on not to be disgraced in the Windsor Stakes at Ascot.  Well worth an investment.

Best bets of the rest?

The riches are legion, the time so limited….

Pushkin Musuem is 3/1 in the 2.50 at Chester and being honest, if he jumps he wins.  This one has the almost plum (I prefer box 2/3/4 to box 1) draw and a terrifying cruising speed, if the others want to beat him, they will have to come round the outside, incredibly tough at Chester…. Lump in 3/1.  This horse has shown how capable he is on fast ground, no fears.

A similar story for Confessional in the 4pm at Chester who looks on a nice mark and has conditions and draw to suit.  8/1, going in!

I have not had time to go through the Ascot card, it is a tough life as a tipster on a night like tonight.  My sole bet there will be 9/2 Kinshasa  in the 4.15.

Had enough? I certainly have.

I trust you will be dining on the evening in the finest restaurant.  The owner joining you at the table to thank you for the custom and to serve the good brandy.  Your company lightly toasted by this stage and all well in the world.

The Martin Hill bet is G Force, Moonlightnavigator, Dusky Queen and Pushkin Museum in an each way yankee.

Courage friends, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – #RoyalAscot Saturday… Across the card tips from the whole week

Good morning from the Major who writes from a breezy Worcestershire where taking the early morning air has been most pleasant.  The freshness is deceiving as the day is merely breaking and there is an inevitability to the raw heat that is to come.

This week I made the effort to blog each night and cover every Royal Ascot race.  Very profitable it turned out too – Well reasonably so, ‘very’ might have been accurate if the ‘Bank of Treve’ had not failed with no government intervention, I add.  From 30 pieces of advice, we scored 5 winners priced at (advised) Hartnell 4/1, Bracelet 12/1, Anthem Alexander 4/1, Muteela 8/1, The Wow Signal 7/1 and Hootenanny 11/2.  Not a bad haul, especially as we had plenty of places from the other 25 runners – Not bad, not bad but no mothership.

Perseverance.  What a shame for Channel 4 that their viewing figures were down.  By contrast, good weather and an improving product saw Ascot gate numbers swell.  So what is wrong with our TV Coverage then?  Last year, the first that they covered Royal Ascot, the numbers fell off a cliff.  This was to be expected, after all Auntie had an established proposition and being the BBC was able to advertise their product to kingdom come (as a liberal, I would be for abolishing it).  Therefore first time around, you could forgive Channel 4.

To see a further marked reduction in viewer numbers is a little perplexing and quite worrying.  I quite like the overall product.  I think the coverage is excellent, the Morning Line, followed by coverage of every race plus an evening highlights package – Bravo.  You can leave Gok Wan out for me, I am not a fashion sort you see… but even if I would not tune in for him, his segments did not dominate really, they did not distract too badly from the racing.  Plus C4 have offered innovation, the new camera angles, breadth of coverage and I particularly like getting insight into the stewards enquiries, that is excellent.

So, England are out of the World Cup.  In a way I am glad, I can stop pretending to be too bothered.  It was a shame we did not step up against Uruguay but I hope one and all treat Hodgson respectfully, the man is a gentleman – As a cad myself, I spot the real thing easily enough.

Now for a new team to follow.  I think it is going to be wine, cheese, Magret de Canard au miel et aux poires and ‘Vive La France!’ all the way. 

Step gently through the darkened brush, our prey unaware of our presence, the danger carrying on the cold air, we can land this mothership….

Do you know I have written 525 posts – My first was over five years ago, I started not long after Punjabi gave me the biggest win of my life at the time, taking the Champion Hurdle at 22/1 – The following day after that first post, I posted my first tip, Classic Contours running at Beverley.  The step up in trip of three furlongs caught my eye – It came fifth (perhaps I missed this opportunity to stop this foolish endeavour) but then CC went on to win in his next two races after stepping up a further quarter of a mile….. It finished a 46 rated beast after 29 runs with those two wins being the only to he tasted, hardly inspiring stuff but, do you know, I have a soft spot for the beast, I know how he feels you see.    525 times since I have tried for this elusive mothership and 525 failures have been recorded.  Each Saturday, rest assured, I am betting what I propose to you my friends.  I always have a small stake on being entirely right with my thinking, just a few Shekels that would pay off the mortgage.   

Have I made money over this time overall?  Well I do not know.  In two separate spells I tried recording on a register all bets and a marginal profit was the result.  (10-15%) – This is good enough considering the over-round but I haven’t made anyone rich.  I get the occasional thank you, a few drinks and bottles have been offered.  I never accept any praise though beyond a polite thank you.  You see, my philosophy is simple, I offer you my genuine thoughts, what you decide to do is your wanton right.  Your liberty is hard-fought for by our ancestors and I am unable to take it from you.  Therefore whether you bet or not based on the foolish dribble that spills from my mind is entirely your own judicious determination.  Thus I cannot accept the hurrahs and homage and neither can I the slings and arrows – As Buddha imparted his wisdom of being criticised, if you are to offer me a gift and I do not accept it, then to who does the gift now belong?

You might feel that my spirit is dented after so many written words, so many late nights finding an angle, looking for the horse that has favoured conditions, the plot, the class, the breeding… well no dear friends, yes I might feel a little jaded but just to leaf through the Racing Post brings that same childish thrill, the rising passion in my chest, a chemical injection coursing through the veins.  Yes the flame still flickers dear friends, melancholy banished…. to the sports and sharpen those lancepoints, get on parade and look the part, maybe number 526 will be our turn.

To the sports and before we do, spare a thought for @limerickjfk, a regular reader and decent fella too (worth a follow), right now he is indisposed in some foreign far-flung corner of the Earth – well, lying by the pool in Thailand actually preparing his Ascot investments no doubt, choak dee na ka.

Royal Ascot Saturday – Tips Across the Card

If you have jumped to this bit, then stop cheating and head back to the top.  We only accept folk of polite virtue in these parts. 

The Chesham has only gone overseas once in the last ten years (to Ballydoyle with Maybe) but it looks likely to go again.  It could cap an excellent week again for the Irish raiders or it might be making a bigger trip across the water to the States.

We have seen the advantage a higher draw gives you on the straight course at Ascot.  Mainly the winning is done on the stands side of the track.  With inexperienced two year olds, it can be more significant in my opinion as to drop behind from the gates and track across and then take your chances in the traffic is a tricky manoeuver requiring a skillful pilot and a willing and smart accomplice, hard to achieve with a juvenile.

Kool Kompany ran without spark behind The Wow Signal earlier in the week and thus did little to boost the form of Toscanini but ignoring that and the Halford runner has a chance.  Dick Whittington has more experience in the bag and his form was given a lift when his conqueror at Naas, Capella Sansevero came second in what looks a good Coventry to me.  Yet, O’Brien, there is nothing wrong with his wins this year but it just feels a shade below their usual terrifying brilliance.

Wesley Ward has had one winner and one place from his four Ascot runners but you have to respect whatever juveniles he brings over and for me Cordero and Crown the Kitten are the ones to focus on.  Both are beautiful American breeds and they are berthed next to each other.  It is a bit alarming that my tip has the headgear on for debut but that might help and it is a more common call in the States – I like Crown the Kittens jockey, Espinoza but let’s face it, Moore is the best.  11/2 is available with Bet365 and a couple of others.  Load a cannon, this is winnable.

In the Duke of Edinburgh we have a proper race.  This is a difficult handicap to solve asyou suspect there are some very good horses in here that have yet shown their full hand.  To keep it simple, Mick Channon, who has a poor Ascot record by the way, has described Elidor as in great form and my  best chance of the week.  Elidor is on the right side of the track and has won a King George so knows his way home, every sign is that he is coming back to the boil and you suspect he has been targeted at this.  More fashionable picks like Arab Spring will keep the price honest and I suggest loading the small bore for this at a general 12/1.

I love the Hardwicke Stakes because it brings back memories of Harbinger  in 2010.  He went on to win a King George and Queen Elizabeth stakes in the July in utterly devastating style and I was securing my antepost position for the Arc when we got the bad news of his health.  Ah, the memories though, he was impervious that day and we lost him too early.  Stoute has a superb record in this race and it is surely going to be one of his two today.

Telescope is presented as favourite in the same famous Highclere garb, which by the way is probably as nice a racing silk as you can get, you will forgive if reason alone does not dictate the selection.  He was once a hot pick for the Derby but did not appear on track last year until July.  Winning a three runner conditions event easily, then failing behind David Livingstone dented the form as he looked a bit standard.  However, his final 3yo appearance was to take the Great Voltigeur at York, though it hardly looks bullet proof for a G2. 

This year he has been beaten twice by Noble Mission in softer ground.  You might argue that Frankels brother has finally shown some overdue class but I am dubious about all of this form.  Heart fluttering two-tone blue or not, I shall overlook him.

There are plenty of horses with Ascot form here and my tip and a strong one at that is Hillstar.  Pound for pound, he has more in my form book than Telescope and he won in identical conditions in the King Edward VII.  He has two excuses this season; Tapeta in Dubai and a soft ground at an unsuitably tight Chester – It is disconcerting that Ryan Moore, the aforementioned best jockey in the world, does not agree with me but seriously, what does he know?  9/2 – I think I am right.

Diamond Jubilee time and Slade Power is the warm order of the day in a field of high-class runners.  We were all hoping to see Sole Power reappear after the exploits on Tuesday but Lynam reported that he had to be lifted to bed!  I am not surprised!

So many intriguing angles… What do I really want? Draw and Ground feel like the right angles to focus on.

As this is the case, I have a line through Slade Power as he is on the wrong side.  So is Gordon Lord Byron who won a Haydock Sprint in splendid style, hard to say it but has to be overlooked.  Christ this is tough.

I am settling on Due Diligence.  Three year olds have been doing OK in this race of late and this American import looks very nice at Naas – New star sprinter?  Who knows but 8/1 is big enough with Ryan Moore again steering (could be a belting day for him).

The Wokingham…. want the winner? Take a pin, close your eyes, drop the pin, see where it lands, then tear up the paper, burn it and eat the charred remains.

It is a renewal that is dripping in class.  Like many, I was hoping Intrinsic would make the race as it looked like a right plot underway but in the end, no joy.  My pick is drifting like a barge but I am not put off Alben Star who I fully expect to pick up a big prize at some point.  He is well drawn, will be fine on the ground and has Paul Hanagan in the saddle.  22/1 with Bet365 (I have no affiliation by the way!)

Finally, the lucky last… I want to close Royal Ascot out with a winning tip and my choice is…. Pique Sous – Mullins is as dangerous here as he is in a bumper at Punchestown and 4/1 that he gets the better of Tiger Cliff is value.  Of the rest, I like Royal Irish Hussar if a return to the flat helps spark the revival.

Newmarket Sniper Shot

A horse I like the look of (and franked by the thoughts of @lukeelder) is in the 5.50, Dutch Art Dealer.  Gelding is always a wincing thought for us all but often has the desired effect and there are plenty of signs that this year, he might have more to offer.  8/1 with Sportingbet, 7/1 generally.  Load a cannon.

The Martin Hill Trixie is Dutch Art Dealer, Hillstar and Cordero.

I trust your dinner is Pad Thai and in the finest of company.  Allow the cold beer to sink down that gullet with the satisfaction that only a huge bulging inner pocket can bring.  The company both glamorous and sensational, the ambience perfect.

Courage friends, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon with a Lingfield Flavour… plus the Northumberland Plate

Good evening from the Major who writes from a close Worcestershire evening air, stifling and uncomfortable.

Thank goodness Ascot is behind me.  I can only say that it was a non stop unending catastrophe.  I started with a solid idea of the group winners, decent form in my mind concerning the leading three year olds and a small war chest with which to undertake the campaign.  I managed to overcome those issues with  incredible deftness to leave the week pot-less.  Following the Major at Royal Ascot was your fast route to the poorhouse.

The dust has settled.  This is a brief post as the Major is dedicating his weekend to the garden.  As such, we shall head straight to the sports.

Lingfield Tips

It is strange you might consider that the Major is spending some time on the Lingfield Saturday card but @rjcoughlan is attending and I said I would, for what it is worth.

Going to Lingfield for the racing is not high on the Major’s list of ways to spend the time until we face our final reckoning.  That is because I typically associate Lingfield with the sandy dog track; where low-grade racehorses trade handicap positions, skullduggery and gambling plots unfold and my only usual advice would be to back Robert Tart, Adam Kirby or Neil Callan… either that or stick a pin in the card.

Yet Lingfield boasts a rather fine turf course whose attributes are slightly undulating, sharp left hand turns but a reasonable long straight in which normally, horses get their run.  I like it.

In the opener, I would have to be on Banadeer whose debut race I watched where he finished a close up second having possible been out fought on the run in.  That might give some cause for concern regarding attitude but I think the colt did well having broken a little badly, he made up good ground and travelled well, these two year olds can learn a lot from run to run and since that was the best form on offer anyway, I think the odds on shot should go in easily enough in the opener.

There are a few competing for favouritism in the second and the Majors fancy is one of them.  Indian Tinker looks the most obvious call having shown a return to form last time where he chased Cincinnati Kid home at Leicester.  While just over a length short of the winner, he was three clear of old warrior Methaaly in third.  A repeat effort will see him win at 5/2.

The third race is a fillies handicap in which I am struggling to see past the Lady Cecil trained, handicap debutant Tomintoul at 5/1.  Moma Lee is a the 2/1 favourite but I think my selection if putting the best foot forward (not guaranteed) has an excellent chance of getting upsides.

The 7.25 is a four runner affair and in these, I am always swayed by jockey booking.  Apart from horse ability, I always considered jockey booking the most significant factor in calculating my horses probability of winning and I think the emphasis on jockey is greater in extreme small or large fields where timing, tactics and putting the horse in the best position are amplified in influence.

In the Majors view Bishop < Keniry < Doyle < Queally.  Thus the selection is 8/1 rank outsider Santo Prince who has yet to run well this year but might find this small field a good chance to find a love of racing again.

Then the racing switches to the fibresand and the first of the last three races is a seller… Right Stuff is destined to be the odds on favourite but I think I am going against and backing Proud Times at a forecast 4/1.  The horse has some talent but has had some significant issues and faded badly on a return from another big break latest.  I am pinning hopes that the lung opener there and Adam Kirbys assistance can do the business.

In the penultimate race, I am backing Hello Sailor to outrun 9/1 odds.  His last run was too bad to be true and the soft conditions probably had something to do with it.  Point of Control would be of huge interest if the money comes and Duchess of Gazeley also caught the eye in a race where it was hard to narrow the thoughts.

In the last, Harbinger Lass makes easily the most appeal.  I think Channon must have thought she was better than this class as she has been in some much hotter races to date.

Northumberland Plate

The field for the renewal of the Northumberland Plate is absolutely top-notch.  I want to increase our chances in this race by ignoring anything over 9 stone as only two horses have shouldered more than that to victory in the last twenty years.  However, it feels a dangerous tactic as the field quality in 2013 is unusually high.

Yet lurking nearer the base of the weights is Mubaraza a Dalakhani colt trained by Ed Dunlop and ridden by Paul Hanagan.  The jockey had a nasty fall at Ascot on Ektihaam but he has been riding brilliantly this week and I think he will give us a great run for our money.

The Curragh – Irish Derby Day

The quality racing on Saturday is happening on the Curraghs evening shift.  Moving the Irish Derby to be run in the early evening was an interesting move but not one the Major is entirely opposed to.  @limerickjfk and his band of merry men shall be on course and the Major wishes you the finest of fortune.

Watching Friday Curragh action, the form of O’Brien struck me.  He had seven runners and two winners which is not at all shoddy.  In there though, he had three favourites unplaced, including a 4/6 shot and some of those runners performed particularly badly.  I am not agin him entirely, more I tread a little more warily than usual.

My reading of the Curragh card is as follows.

The opening maiden looks a penalty kick for Intensified if you trust the market which prices him at 1/3.  Not surprising really as the form tie with War Command who was easily the most impressive Royal Ascot winner for the Major is excellent.  However, I am wary of horses with excuses, particularly those tied to better form.  Intensified also has tied form with Sir John Hawkins so it looks rock solid.

Second on the card, in the listed race, I am supporting 6/1 shot Flashy Approach.  This horse is making a huge step up from a debut maiden win to compete with seasoned campaigners but I like the connections and I like the breeding.  New Approach is already a leading sire this season and this is going to further improve in the years to come as he gets a better quality crop of mares to cover.  As it is Flashy Approach is out of a Group 2 winner.  Load the Cannons, John Oxx will have him ready.

21 runners in the handicap and 6/1 the field tells you something… Gathering Power is current favourite and after Royal Ascot, who would argue against Mr Murtagh, he is showing irresistible form from the saddle.  I prefer Akira at 14/1 who gave Tropical Mist a good beating when winning on his second start.  I also think Majestic Queen should not be 20/1 either so will have a small saver. Dangers aplenty!

It goes from the difficult to the mind bending as the 4.45 is the 30 runner sprint which is currently 10/ the field!  I am taking a stab at Bajan Tryst who is a massive 28/1 as I type with BetVictor.  These sprinters swap form like anyones business and so the key is not to be too hung up on literal readings.  Instead, find a decent jockey and a sprinter that looked like he was heading the right way ( as mine was last time when a little unlucky).  Tick the boxes of capability, jockey and form and you have a contender.

The Railway Stakes is more solvable, particularly with Coach House who was second to the excellent American raider No Nay Never at Royal Ascot in the field.  I am not that convinced that Coach House will beat Stubbs who was in the Coventry and finished 6th but had raced on the wrong side.  I would prefer to have a slice of the stable second string at 4/1, a price I suspect might drift.

In the Sapphire Stakes I am opting for Slade Power.  The horse was a Pricewise pick at Ascot and would surely have played a better pat if breaking on terms.  That was uncharacteristic and if coming out of the stalls, I expect a very good run.  7/2, fill your boots.

The Irish Derby

Libetarian has passed into the hands of Godolphin and they are looking for some immediate payback as the horse has another crack at Ruler of the World and Galileo Rock from the first three home in the Epsom Derby.

You have to admire the record of O’Brien in this race, he has won the last seven renewals.. A role call including Camelot, Fame and Glory and Dylan Thomas.

Whether Ruler of the World is in that category, we shall see.  Yet I think odds-against cannot be ignored.  The horse is unbeaten  He won the derby on an unusual undulating and cambered track having crossed a sea.  If Libetarian and Galileo Rock fans think their own hard luck stories give them a rightful expectation of overturning the form, I think they are wrong.

It is often easy to look at a placed horse and concoct a reason as to why the horse was unlucky.  Yet in doing so, you ignore the fact that the horse WAS unlucky.  It is no certainty that over a fairer track that either of the Derby runner ups will get to Ruler of the World.  If anything, I think the latter might improve further back on home soil on a course that should suit better.

The one I worry about as a fly in the ointment is 9/1 shot Sugar Boy but on balance, I think the odds against price of Ruler of the World is a signal that European recession and Austerity is being bought to a close.  Steak tonight!

The Lucky Last

If we end up needing the lucky last, we are in big trouble.

Any Willie Mullins horses redirected to the flat need to be respected and so Call me Bubbles is of interest.

Abou Ben is an extraordinary entry.  At the tender age of 11, he is in resurgent form and can defy the latest rise in the weights.  Many might be put of by his switch from soft to firm ground but not me.  He has won on it before so why worry?

I am playing my get out card on Fanaan Aldaar at 25/1 who is just out of the handicap proper but I am not concerned.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Hello Sailor, Harbinger Lass, Tomintoul and Muburaza.

Courage, roll those dice.

Saturday Sermon – Racing Tips from Ascot, Cheltenham and Cork, plus Frankel – Time at Ascot…

Good evening from the Major who writes to you from a Defford where the sky hangs heavy with the threat of a downpour, it feels as if it were sagging and clinging to my cheek, cold and damp… my sort of weather.

The Household Cavalry dressed in Sheikh Abdulla’s colours in honour of Frankel, the finest horse of our generation

Tomorrow I ride for Ascot, I am taking my father and meeting a friend there for a beer too. Whatever happens we are in for a terrific day of racing but it would be dishonest to say that if Frankel fails to run, it would not be a touch deflating.The way they have handled this horse has given us every chance to enjoy the champion that he is. On Twitter (@tdl123) I rated my top three Frankel races and decided that my favourite was the Queen Anne. Having had longer to reflect I have changed the order slightly and now have a top four in the following order.

4th – The Guineas

This will be top of most peoples lists – The way he flew from the gates and had them at it from half way. A stunning performance and the way they finished strung out like 3 mile chasers was testament to what the great horse had achieved.

3rd – Royal Lodge

The more I watch the Royal Lodge he won, the more I love it. The move he makes on the bend to put the race to bed was stunning and although Treasure Beach was stopped in his tracks, Frankel would still have won by half a furlong!

2nd – The Queen Anne

What a way to open Royal Ascot – As a performance, this was his highest rated in my view. He did not just win, he destroyed a field of top horses and left everyone gasping for air. Awesome.

1st – His First Sussex Stakes versus Canford Cliffs

Context is important and this race was full of it. Goldikova a winner of more Group One races than seems possible was reaching the end of her career. Canford Cliffs, one of the best Hannon has ever had, lowered her colours and rightfully claimed the best miler in Europe crown. Then Frankel met him at Goodwood. The camber at Goodwood means many horses do not act there. The combination of factors meant that the Major tipped Canford… Then this happened…

Let us hope that Frankel runs – The generosity of connections have given us more than we needed but we are like gluttons and want it all. Treasure the moment. The only possible upside of him not running tomorrow is a possible crack at the States and the breeders cup meeting… Personally I would like him to finish his career at Ascot tomorrow.

To the sports….

Ascot Tips – 1.50 – The Stayers

At this stage of the season, I am looking for the slightly more lightly raced sorts. The Ascot ground will also be very soft which should rule a few out…

In the opener, most of the animals will be fine with the soft conditions. Gold Cup winner Colour Vision beat a number of these including Fame and Glory back in July. Opinion Poll, the other Godolphin horse was second that day and goes off as 3/1 favourite here. Aiken is a horse I really like but feels like he might just be a bit short of top draw. Ile de Re is an interesting runner but has to make a big step up in class. Rite of Passage is a fascinating runner and could play a part at 8/1 if well tuned up.

After some thought though, the Major is going to offer Fame and Glory at 11/2 – A former winner of the race who has lost some of his lustre – If he wins tomorrow, it will be a fitting end to a sparkling career… words that we may well repeated later in the day!

2.20 Ascot – Tips for the Sprint

The sprint is a fascinating contest and I would love to back Maarek, especially with the booking of Jamie Spencer. I am wondering though whether the horse is feeling the effect of the campaign and I may well give him a miss. The muddier the better for that one so if more rain arrives, it may be a persuading factor.

The Major is siding with a horse packed with potential in Slade Power who looked a horse going places in the summer. After a break to freshen him up, I expect a top draw performance and although there are proven G1 horses in the field, I do not want to back Wizz Kid unless in France and Society Rock is the main danger. Blue Square offer 15/2 and a quarter odds the place, have a slice.

2.55 Ascot – Group 2 Mile and a Half

The two to concentrate on seem to be Great Heavens and Sapphire. The former took an Irish Classic in the slop and loves these conditions. She was my idea of the Arc winner as I am a massive fan. She cruised into the straight at Longchamp looking a likely challenger but faded badly and I just wonder if the season and he travels are catching up.

Thus the tip is Sapphire for the Weld team. She is a horse of immense talent and seems to be much better the further she goes, seemingly tapped for toe over 400m shorter in the Pretty Polly. She is a true mud lark and at 10/3 generally I think a great bet to beat Great Heavens who I would like to see racing agin next year where hopefully connections might give her a light schedule with a hopefully soft ground Arc as the target.

QE II 3.30 Ascot

Excelebration is an absolute bolt on here and I suggest a reasonable investment at just shading odds on. He has been beaten by Frankel so often yet is still a top class horse and now placed to avoid a battle with the inevitable, he is gaining very well deserved Group One successes.

The Queen is in attendance and so Carlton House would be a popular winner but it is Excelebration for the Major.

Ascot Champion Stakes

It is not often that the Major here whispers but I have it on good authority that Frankel might be a decent sort! This race requires no bet, it is a moment of historic racing importance. I hope Frankel serves it up to Cirrus Des Aigles

Enjoy it…

4.45 Amateur Riders Handicap

I find it disappointing that this race exists on the card of what is meant to be the climax of the flat season. It really seems out of place.

Smarty Socks would be the one I would want but I am dubious that these are his conditions. Boring as it may seem, Jack Dexter is the 5/1 selection. The Ayr Bronze Cup winner loves a bit of mud and is surely goi to have a big say. Kingscroft (16/1) and Atlantic Sport (33/1) also make some appeal.

Cheltenham Selections

It is so good to see racing back at Cheltenham. Fridays action saw The New One take a decent Novice hurdle. Given that he hit most of them, he must be some animal to still win, I expect a big season.

Rendl Beach should be a good thing in the opener at 6/4. Curtis horses often need a warm up but this one won smartly on reappearance and a big run is surely on the cards tomorrow.

In the second race, I am going to take a chance on 22/1 shot Quito Du Tresor. I think that there may be more to come from this one. The Henderson horse Nadiya De La Vega at 10/1 is decent value too.

Baby Mix and Dodging Bullets are two rising stars and the latter looks a great evens bet based on the 4th position achieved in the Triumph.

In the 4th race, I like the look of two Qianshan Leader at 22/1 catches the eye as does Darna at 16/1. The latter looks an intriguing sort.

In the 4.20 I am a big fan of Irish raider Defence of Duress and suggest a decent investment.

Third Intention should see the field off in the penultimate race if match fit. 3/1 is a very fair price as he should be much better than this field, many of whom have a readiness advantage.

In the last maybe Southfield Theatre on a strict reading of form with The New One but honestly, stick a pin in!

Cork Tip

I like Rock Critic in the listed contest and at 2/1 am having it in several selections…

May your dinner be fine, in the company of someone nice. Each day we are above ground is an opportunity so do not waste yours. Let us hope that Frankel gives us something to cheer.

Courage, roll the dice.