Tag Archives: so you think

Wednesday Royal Ascot Tips – Tuesday results… Advised Bated Breath 6/1 (2nd).. Advised Most Improved 9/1 (won)

Good evening from the Major – The first day of Royal Ascot was a winning one for the blog with Bated Breath beating all but the Hong Kong raider and Most Improved staying on doggedly from the front to win at 9/1.

Most of all the day will be remembered for the 1/10 annihilation of the Queen Anne by Frankel.  He has been given a provisional timeform rating of 147 which would make him the best horse they have ever rated in their six decade history… wow.

That rating will be confirmed in the next few days but the performance without doubt in the Majors mind was Frankels best.  He destroyed a field that many will say is not top class but Excelebration would have won several G1s without Frankel on the scene.  That includes today where he was a beaten second by eleven lengths.

By rating Frankel 147, they are judging that Excelebration ran almost a stone below his previous best rating.  That might be true as he did try to take Frankel on but if anything it flatters Frankels mark.  He also lost a shoe.  He could also get better…. Frightening.

Thank God for Prince Khalid Abdulla who kept Frankel in training and gave us this joy.

To Wednesday and a couple of select Royal Ascot tips, let us hope we keep the winners flying in!

Wednesday Ascot Tips – Jersey Stakes

I was very keen on Fort Bastion but he looks a non-runner.  Richard Hughes had given him such a warm write-up at the weekend and had rated him his likeliest Royal Ascot winner.

Last years winner Strong Suit was against the trend as it is unusual for a horse with a group win on the CV to win this.

Power hardly did wonders for the form of the Irish 2,000 guineas yesterday and although Wrote technically has achieved most so far in coming to third to Power in the classic, I am not convinced and would prefer stablemate Ishvana, the filly who was second in her Guineas run.

Aljamaaheer is on a massive upwardly curve and comes second on the Majors list, I certainly would not put you off a bet.  Another that I would consider is 4/1 favourite Sentaril who looks progressive and with Murtagh booked, can definitely be involved.

The Jersey normally goes to a well considered horse and the Major is opting for one.  I am going for the completely unexposed Valbchek who battled well over 6f beating Swiss Spirit last time.  An extra furlong will suit and Noseda has a decent record in the race.  7/1 is generally available.

Prince of Wales Stakes

As much as I respect Carlton House, Reliable Man and Planteur in particular, my bet of the week has to be So You Think.

The Ballydoyle horse was second to Planteur in Dubai and has been known to disappoint but equally he has won four Group 1s while with O’Brien and I think he will be fully ready for this.  His greatest rival Cirrus Des Aigles was a notable omission at the 48 hour declarations… have a chunky slice at evens if you must but…

Rumour has it William Hill are 6/4 from 8.30, don’t know how much you can get on but I would get it all on!

The Saturday Sermon – Tips for the Lincoln (40/1) and Dubai World Cup

Good morning from rural Worcestershire where the air seems less charged and a frantically heated week.  The Major is at the kitchen table having slept like the dead, the coffee is bubbling away and once more I prepare for battle with the enemy.

Am I backing Chantal Sutherlands ride in the Dubai World Cup? Well no... erm, I just thought readers would like to know the Candian rider..... The Major, helpfully at your service

After having a great time at Stratford races last week, the Major is considering taking the two young boys back today.  They enjoy the space, they love the horses and Stratford has such an intimate feel to it, it is ideal for a family day out.

What great news that Channel Four are getting all domestic coverage of racing.  If you use the search bar, you will find that this has been a long term campaign for the Major.  Put simply, the dedication of the Channel 4 team is there.  Every week they are racing and include the excellent morning line in their schedules.I always felt it unfair that the BBC had some of the crown jewels like the Arc, the National and the Derby.  I also found it odd that they chose to include the Welsh National in their chosen fixture list too!

I have always rated the Channel 4 team far superior and I believe they do not need Clare Balding to move over.  Don’t change a winning formula.

What a great day of sport; the Majors appetite is whetted; the racing includes the Lincoln and the World Cup in Meydan while the Premier League has some fixtures which look incorrectly priced to the Major.

Let us be thankful for being alive in this moment and let us find that elusive winner at odds that will put a smile on your bank managers face.  There are followers of this blog who back blindly the advice they read.  I hope that today, they all land for you as well as me!

The March form is strong; there are some numbers to be updated in the betting register and results tabs in the menu but it is only about a week out of date.

As ever, the Major remains profitable… just.  If that is your sole aim though, you are not welcome.  The Major is more than just a tipster seeking profit.

In fact, I charge you not for being here but I do ask that you merit your welcome.  The criteria are simple.  You must be a gentleman.  You must take losing as well as winning.  You must enjoy the sport in the knowledge that it is a diorama of life itself with success and failure decided on a whim.  You must appreciate your own frailty and understand that we drift by on this tide just the once; grab on to what you can and enjoy.  Lap it up my friend and ask no questions.  Oh, and a passing interest in Victorian military history helps.

The Major is free, barely profitable and certainly unhinged.  If this is the sort of tipster you are after then read on.  Every week, the Saturday Sermon tries to land the mothership; join my immortal battle; daub your war paint, sharpen your lance point and let us pick our enemy off at the trot.

I accept no criticism for bets that fail; I take no thanks for those that win.  Your mind is your own; the last thing a man can take from you; do with it as you please.

Can I also point out the fancy new banner that has replaced my Cheltenham special.  Given the flat season is here, I thought the highest rated horse in the world should grace our banner.

To the sports.

3.15 Doncaster – Tips for The Lincoln

The big flat curtain raiser is a handicap woven together by the devil to fox us, teasing us with intrigue.  22 runners charging down Doncasters straight.  Firstly, fair play to Paddy Power Racing who go five places on their each way terms, credit where it is due.

What makes it so damned difficult to solve the Lincoln is that this race is the first run of the season for so many of these horses.  Which of the four year olds have wintered well and are now better horses?  Which are in form? What about track bias?

I am minded to follow the four year olds this year.  They have collected the prize six times in the last nine runnings and they are far fewer in number on each card.

Fury at 7/1 ticks a lot of boxes but given just how bad his last season was, caution is advised.  Connections will hope that having him gelded makes all the difference and he is one in the field who could hose up.

The other 4 year olds are hard to enthuse about.  Askaud at a price (50/1) at least has a decent attitude but given he likes to lead, I cannot feel he will take this.

Eton Forever is a five year old with an excellent 7/1 chance.  I am a big fan of the Varian stable and Neil Callan is one of my favourite flat jockeys and one of the most under-rated around in the Majors view.

On balance I am going to back two.  Fury is the first tip at 7/1 for a win.  Haggas has won the Lincoln twice in the last ten years and that gives us hope that he has his horse primed.

The second is a massive price for a contender that is not obvious.  Shavansky is a 40/1 shot (BetVictor / Sportingbet) and with the way he can finish a race, he could be plugging on to good effect in the final yards.  There have been good noises from the yard on twitter and the Major is tempted with a slice.

Meydan – Tips for the World Cup

£3.8m for the winner.  The money that the Sheikhs are putting up at Meydan is eye watering and they deserve the attention from the best yards in the world.  This truly is a World Cup.

The O’Brien trained So You Think is rumoured to be in fine fettle and is a general 5/2 chance.

I have to say that the surface is my main concern for the horse.  He never seemed to get going at Churchill Downs on dirt and Tapeta has similar qualities in the Majors view.  Not one for me, although his draw is helpful.  That said, the horse is off to stud back in Australia and this would add another few thousand $ to the fee!

Smart Falcon has carried all before him in the far east, amassing £5.5m in winnings from 19 victories in a 25 race career.  We have not seen him in Europe or the Middle East though and although I prefer the selection to So You Think, not for the Major.

The Major is going to tip 10/1 shot Royal Delta who is also drawn comfortably enough in stall 7 and is a strong dirt performer.

Game on Dude ridden by the talented and beautiful Canadian Chantal Sutherland will have to expend a lot of energy from gate 14 to get to the lead and I fear that will undo the horses chances.  That strong gallop though which has been missing in recent World Cups (and reducing them to near meaningless) should be assured today with four front runners in the field.

and in other racing….

Still in Meydan, ten year old Kasbah Bliss aims at the Group 3 stayers race (2.45), 16/1 and not a tip but would love to see the old warrior do it again!

In the 3.25, Mickdaam is an absolute steal at 5/1, proven on the course and amongst the best form on show regardless; at least twice the price the Major has him at.

In the 4.35, Bob Bafferts The Factor could be a dream winner for the trainer who suffered a heart attack in Dubai.   6/1 is a huge price but reflects the lack of experience on the Tapeta surface – With this selection I am happy to take that on chance.

In a terrific day of racing, the other price that catches the eye is in the 5.20 Webster Cup at Navan.  This Grade Two contest has plenty of previous graded winners in it and we are trying to assess which winter horses are over the top and which summer horses are coming to hand.  On good ground, I have to advise you to call your money man and free up some capital with which to back Zaarito at 5/2.  Finishing second to the tidy looking Seabass last time out and sure to cope with conditions, a strong fancy.

In the football, Bolton look a tidy 9/4 to win at Wolves who look gone to me.  Arsenal are 8/13 to win at QPR, also worth adding in as well as Newcastle to beat Liverpool (2/1).

May your dinner be a glorious steak, shown the merest glimpse of a flame and served with a light salad.  The company should be the country sort who does not mind the blood on the plate.

Courage and roll those dice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breeders Cup Tips

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

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

Breeders Cup Classic

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

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

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

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

Breeders Cup Turf Mile

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

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

The Breeders Cup Juvenile

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

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

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

JNwine Champion Chase

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

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

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

Tips from the other sports

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

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

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

Courage followers and roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Champions Day Tips, Frankel, Cheltenham Racing Tips….. Shabash

Good morning from the Major who writes to you from the wooden kitchen table of the Defford pile. The day has awoken with the glorious countenance of opportunity. Can you smell the crackle of excitement? It is good to be alive.

Frankel first, fresh air second?

Champions Day at Ascot. The richest card ever put together in the UK. A real showcase to the end of the flat season. Credit to the good people of Racing for Change who have worked hard and made big choices carving up the racing calendar to make this day.

The ground though makes me nervous at Ascot. Good weather would have produced a naturally firm surface but of course, to attract the best, then they needed the word good, preferably on its own. To attain it they watered and the Major is concerned that there may be some false / dead ground and some expected results might get turned over.

In short it might be a day for the enemy. That dark and twisted man plotting to fool us with perplexing markets and swirling clouds of confusion. Surely the New International bible in Proverbs 2 was referring to same…

Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.

Allow the Major to be your punting shepherd.

To the track………

Ascot. Frankel.

I have said enough about Frankel already. He seems to me to be the horse that will mark recent times. Although Sea the Stars has probably achieved more than Frankel ever will, unless he can stay to win next years Arc… Frankel is unbelievable.

Can he get beaten at 4/11, of course he could. Does 4/11 represent value….. Hard to read for the Major. It feels perhaps generous but the margin is small. Immortal Verse is the only other one to give a squeak to but surely we know Sundays headline. If you fancy Frankel to smash them, I suggest the evens price with William Hill that he wins by two lengths. Not for the Major. If you like your bets served with a side dish of massive kahunas, I suggest Side Glance e/w 66/1 – Track form.

Just one note on breeding. Frankel is out of Galileo, his Dam was out of Danehill, true blue blood. If he did (as the Majors heart cries out) go for the Arc as a 4yo, he would, incredibly, be the first Galileo colt to do it.

4.10 Ascot – Tips for the Middle Distance Champions Race

So You Think looks terrific value on a pure form line with most but I have to say that he has been well used this season and although there were excuses in the Arc, I already had concerned he may be over the top. One to avoid in the Majors view.

The horse that the Major opts for is one I think coming well to hand and worthy of a pop, Snow Fairy.

She was a gamble for the Arc in which she finished one place better than SYT and she is tough as nails. Her win record could put you off but I really feel obliged to give her another chance, take a slice.

Cheltenham – The Showcase Saturday Tips

I had a cracking day tipping up Cheltenham yesterday with three winners at 11/8, 5/2 and 10/1.

I am following the same logic to pick out my best bets on the Saturday Showcase card. Good luck to those at Prestbury.

2.05 – The first four in the market all have a shout but I opting for the 11/2 Nicholls trained Round Tom. The Hereford handicap which is sandwiched by two wins may just have been over too far a distance. He has shown a liking for firm surfaces and as hinted at yesterday, in the early meetings of the season, I am inclined to avoid Nicholls with his winter brigade but am happy to back his summer jumpers who are fit as a fiddle – Don’t forget Nicholls took this novice last year.

2.40 – Benbane Head looks very interesting back on his prefered firm surface, the Major would not put you off. However, 4/1 is a shortish price. The Major is going to take the plunge on Edgbriar. He won this last year and his mark is pretty much the same. He has a more likely stable companion running but since top jock has defected, the Major has too, 9/1, load the medium cannon with the chain shot. Perhaps a Benbane Head saver.

3.15 This is a classic example of a horse I want to dodge in Tonic Mellysse, the Nicholls favourite. Plan A is the definite form selection but having failed to record a win on three starts on good to firm, there is a question. I am persuaded to take a chance that third favourite Palawi at 4/1 might be the solution. He has been prepped with a flat run and while his last course visit was pretty poor, his Aintree form, prior to fall, looked very good in this context. Take a substantial slice.

3.50 – Plenty of potential winners including Galaxy Rock, Benny be Good, Ethiopia and Balthazar King. It is Galaxy Rock and Balthazar King I struggle to split, I just opt for the latter at 6/1 but would think a saver in order. Not a certainty, just a value proposition.

4.25 – Queen of Cool will be seen in better light on this ground, small stake advised.

4.55 – Health is Wealth and Pure Faith both have claims on the ground but the Majors preference is for Zaynar. This former placed horse in the Champion Hurdle is clearly the best here and despite a poor season last year and an uncertainty of adapting to fences, the Major says, stick with quality.

5.30 – The lucky last, good luck to you. Alexandr Nevsky for Tom Taafe and Ruby Walsh is an obvious contender, Ruby having an extremely rare ride for the Taafe team. As much as I will probably regret it though, I am going for Clondaw Warrior whose stable has a tremendous record with this young jockey and the last win was both well executed and well franked.

Other sports…….

I always find it difficult to back Premier League games after the international break. Many form teams suffer, losing momentum and it gives teams with recent poor results time off to regroup… no bet scenario.

As for the Rugby, I am going to opt for France. They are an odd team and I understand the drive behind such a youthful upcoming Welsh contingent but France will be a different proposition…. 11/8, easy.

May your dinner be in a half reasonable establishment with the sort you have your eye on in the office. Always awkward, have a few glasses of champagne and then a pastis aperitif. As dinner starts she will loosen up. By the time the bill is presented and she sees the roll from which you settle it, her mind will be made up. La Gallop, enjoy.

Courage, shuffle the cards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Arc Market.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall, a significantly considered horse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nathaniel – 5/1 The Improver *** 11/2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nakayama Festa – The Majors Lively 25/1 Outsider

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courage and shuffle those cards.