Tag Archives: st nicholas abbey

The Saturday Sermon on Derby Day

Good evening from the Major who writes from the dulling Worcestershire evening.  The air is chilling beautifully, the crackling ball of plasma has dipped beneath the horizon and dusk brings a calm to the soul.

The Major has been immobile this week, regular readers will have noticed the abbreviated Sermon last Saturday.  The Major suffered a sudden sporting injury and the finest medical opinions in my local surgery suggest I have torn ligaments.

Don’t rush to sympathise with me, for today I struck a minor mothership and am undeserving of your thoughts.

I cannot say I scrutinised the Oaks card with great thoughtfulness, it was just one of those days where a lack of contemplation boded well.

I had Thistle Bird in Epsoms opener, only because I have a soft spot for anything in Nathaniels colours.  Resurge was my winning selection in race two on account of Neil Callan being one of the more under rated jockeys.  Gregorian had the best Group form in the book and was my selection in the third before the fourth in which I chose Mister Music (the only leg that let me down) on account of wanting some Hughsie in my mix.  Then the Oaks, I almost took The Lark but settled on 20/1 winner Talent.  Why? Well it’s damn hard to read what these fillies are up to and I felt her listed race was open to be interpreted as better as she had fought hard for her head in it and won despite that wasted energy.  My how she repeated that tomfoolery today.

Coming down the hill towards Tattenham corner, she was on the verge of rearing, fighting viciously with Hughes.  Once he had her on the straight, he asked her to go between two tiring sorts, which seemed the wrong course to me when a simpler option lay wide.  She went through though and put the race to bed in glorious style.  It was not Hughes’ finest ride in my consideration but for a quality hard-working jockey, no other deserves to break a classic duck with two in one season more than he.  Bravo.

The Majors spoils?  Well I had each way doubles and trebles on the five selections.  The swag was enough for a holiday, not the Caribbean perhaps but maybe a weekend in a fine hotel with enough loot to satisfy some of my lascivious vices.  As I say, feel no pity for I.

The strangest part is that despite considering myself fairly level minded, after three legs, special thoughts were brewing in my mind, the opportunity of great gains lay before me.  Mister Music put pay to those.  I was lost a bit, to the point where even when Talent galloped home,  I still felt rather flat, more than I should have.  That troubled me and stayed with me, as these things will.

If it were not for the back, I would take these illicit gains and romp to Epsom tomorrow for some fun on the downs.  As it is, I shall leave those shenanigans to my good friend Mr Hadden and his merry band.  For them, I shall try to reproduce the trick but the Major is circumspect.  I am the blind squirrel and occasionally I find the odd nut.  I am the broken clock, correct twice in a day.  Past performance is not a guide to future performance.

To the sports…

Epsom Derby Day Tips

I am going to go across the Epsom card.  My principles are as follows.  You need a good jockey, for this I am going to use subjective views, my own.  You ideally also need a horse that has gone well at Epsom before where there is a significant camber.  If no Epsom form is available, I would allow Brighton, Goodwood or Bath form to correlate.  To business.

1.35 Epsom

In the opener, High Troja is current favourite.  Starting last time at 25/1 at Newbury, the horse was visually impressive but that was off an awful crawl and I am not entirely buying the form.  Plus Ed Dunlop has saddled 4 winners from 33 runners in the last two weeks, not a huge problem but not convincing either.  Plus the Newbury ground was much better than this… plenty of doubts.

Space Ship carries those Nathaniel colours as well but also has a lot of questions.  He clearly is progressing and the Chester win was fine.  He has good form tied with Telescope from last season but his win was on good to firm and Chester is a completely different proposition to Epsom.

Neil Callan is my favourite jockey in the race, I have never seen him given anything other than his best and he keeps things simple.  That said, I am struggling to find a line of form that puts St Paul de Vence in it, he would have to improve a lot from his reappearance, which is only a minor possibility in my view.

The opener is a tricky affair and I am going to chance my arm on King Muro.  Andrew Balding is a top trainer and I am sure he has not bought the horse to Epsom for a day trip.  It is in on a bottom weight of 8-2 and has the assistance of Hayley Turner for the first time in the horses career.  His only win came at Kempton in a class 6, hardly enthralling I know but last time out at Chester was interesting.  The horse was prominent and travelled well but threw an anchor out two furlongs out and the jockey was kind from there to the line.  Who knows?  The price builds in the doubts, 20/1.

2.05 Woodcote Stakes

These big early season contests for two year olds offer less evidence but we can still apply reason.

This is the type of race where you would expect to see the plethora of riches from the Hannon juvenile camp dominate but he has only won it once in fifteen years.  That said, Thunder Strike comes with obvious credentials having won two sprints very nicely, a step up of a furlong should not be a problem either.

Two reasons make me opt for Riverboat Springs though at 11/2.  Firstly, Thunder Strike only has form at Doncaster and Newbury – Two flat straight easy courses, this is a different world.  Riverboat Springs won at Bath, a swerving dipping and cambered course – That win was also on good to soft.  I also like the fact that Channon has targeted this race in recent years winning it twice in the last ten years, including the last running with Chilworth Icon.

2.40 Epsom Coronation Cup

The first of the two Group One races and the Coronation Cup renewal is a disappointment.  Only five runners, one of which looks to be a pace horse.

It is incredible to consider that Ballydoyle have such spoils that they can deploy listed winners to be a hare for their top animals to aim at.  That seems to be the lot of Chamonix.  It may also be the job of Chapter Seven who may be leading Dunaden.  This should make for an interesting early pace duel.

St Nicholas Abbey has won the last two runnings of this race and I have no clue how to oppose him.  Joshua Tree is a Grade One winner in Canada, winning their top race for the globe-trotting Ed Dunlop stable – This is tougher.  Dunlop knows Dunaden well as he was responsible for the defeat of Red Cadeaux by a shadow in the Melbourne Cup in 2011.

Since then, St Nicholas Abbey has given him a good hiding and as far as I can see another dose is due to be served up in the race that St Nick has made his own.  4/11 is not sexy I know.

The Dash

The dash is all about the draw.   It is also a punters graveyard.  In the last three years we have had winners at 33/1 and 50/1.  Kudos throughout the season of sprinting swings from one horse to another so I have less faith in the science of prediction than in other races.

Nothing I just told you is new.  The top four in the betting come from stalls 15 and upwards.   What glimpses may have the winner left though, what can we analyse that might allude to the true signal, the one horse that will cross the line mere fractions of seconds before the next?

Captain Dunne ticks a number of boxes, he is almost a stone lower than when running well in this last year  A reappearance run will have him spot on, he likes the ground and is well drawn.  A contender, no doubt and I expect the money to come flying.

It is merely in search of value that brings me to my more interesting selection.  Ballesteros is available at 22/1 and I think it dismisses his chances.  He was 4th in a Prix de l’Abbaye behind Wizz Kid but in front of Sole Power, that is well franked form, c’est vrai?  In the saddle is William Buick, a pilot who won this just five years ago.  Have a slice.

Derby Tip

I am surprised that this evening the books are out to get Dawn Approach.  At the start of this week, the colt was odds on but has drifted to 11/8 and Ladbrokes are going 7/4 in the morning for 15 minutes from 8.15… I kid you not!

Dawn Approach gave me and a few Business School pals a terrific thrill in the 2,000 Guineas.  Listening to the race on the radio and the commentators excitable description of him powering away at the bushes, well… it was better than watching it.

On what grounds do we see him beaten?  Trip is the one that is being trotted out. He has only raced over a mile and so will he get a distance 50% further.  When we don’t have the evidence to go on we look to the clues…. Breeding and Visual evidence from former races.  On breeding, the favourite is out of New Approach (who himself is a Galileo horse).  New Approach was a derby winner and sire of yesterdays Oaks winner.  The Dam, Hymn of the Dawn, gives us no clues.  She was a poor racer and kept to short distances in Ireland with Jim Bolger.

Visually, Dawn Approach hardly looks the sort to be inconvenienced by a well run mile and a half.  If anything, you could argue he will improve for the step up. His sire did.

Back for the verdict on Dawn Approach in a moment.  Ocavango was of serious interest to the Major but being drawn in stall 1 has a sobering effect as was highlighted in todays stats, it is definitely a penalty.

Battle of Marengo is unbeaten in five and out of the O’Brien camp so has to be taken seriously but it concerns me that the horse is yet to compete at the top-level.  Last years Ballydoyle derby winner Camelot had already taken in the Racing Post Trophy as a juvenile and the 1,000 guineas as a seasonal debut before the derby.  I question the strength of the O’Brien classic crop this year and will swerve this one.  If you wanted a Ballydoyle horse, I would prefer Mars who did compete in the 1,000 guineas and gets Hughsie who knows every roll of these Epsom Downs.

When the answer is right in front of you, do not be afraid.  Dawn Approach is the obvious selection and I find his case entirely compelling.  I would want 6/4 or bigger to account for the risk we are taking that he will handle the track but he is in good hands to do so (as his Sire did).  He delivered the goods in the Guineas and I am getting stuck into a follow up in the second classic he is eligible for.

4.50 Handicap

Moore riding Sirvino for David Barron catches the eye as it is a rare booking.  However, it has not been one that has reaped rewards either (no wins, three runners in last two years).  He did at least serve up a stronger performance last time out when winning at York, staying on well to score at last.

I am prepared to have a pop at another at bigger odds in 11/1 shot Scatter Dice.  My selection might be a typical Johnstone horse and if he gets in front two furlongs out may just prove hard to catch.

The other horse that caught my eye was Sheikhzayedroad who I think will enjoy this new trip.

5.25 Handicap

If you are not ahead by the time of the handicap, you need a bit of luck in this last race because it is a minefield.

I am going for Seeking Magic at 9/1 with the strong Adam Kirby in the saddle, I could tell you why but I won’t.

The each way Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Seeking Magic, Scatter Dice, King Muro, Riverboat Springs.

I hope your dinner is bought with the bountiful catch of the day and the company you keep is elegant and charismatic.

Courage, roll those dice.

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Saturday Sermon – Tips for Breeders Cup, Santa Anita – Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby | Down Royal JNWine Thoughts

Good morning from the Major who writes from a cold Worcestershire rural scene where conditions lack dignity of ice or frost.  Instead we are treated to a wind chill – It is somehow a dirtier cold.  If we are to be in winter, we should do it properly.

My post yesterday was a disaster.  Conditions at Santa Anita are set up for upsets.  A tight turning turf track on firm which is unusual for all European horses and a dirt track that most have never raced upon.

My selections went from bad to worse and the only thing I got right was Fame and Glory being finished.  Even in his best conditions he is a done deal so the time to retire is right.  I cannot claim too much glory for this correct premonition.  Talking to my brother he said: Well done you got one horse not to win… ouch.

This is going to be fairly brief because I have an essay to write and this is simply a distraction from the lofty studies of business.

You will be glad to hear that the sermon has been reduced.  Suffice to say this, enjoy yourself today.

Santa Anita – Breeders Cup Tips

Draw is essential – That was the lesson I learned last night.  You do not want the inner berth, those horses get trapped on the rail – Look what happened to The Fugue and Sky Lantern, finishing full of running but having nowhere to go.  Getting out is not easy from the inside position, you are better to come slightly wider (like Flotilla).

6.50 Juvenile Turf – Gervinho has been reportedly putting in good track work and I am going to take a 16/1 chance that this could be the best of the home team.

Tips for the 7.35 Fillie and Mare Sprint – Groupie Doll has been transformed by headgear but has some ground to make up so I am going to opt for Dust and Diamonds at 11/2 (Hills) – Lost as to why this 7f contest is a sprint!

8.14 – Dirt Mile – Shackleford needs to have the race run to suit and I am not sure it will be.  I am going to take a chance that Bob Baffert has got to the bottom of Fed Biz poor latest show and the 6/1 (Coral) shot puts his best foot forward here.

8.57  Turf Sprint – Starspangledbanner has had some injury problems and is polaxed by draw 14, it would be one of the best performances ever to beat this field from there.  Yet my tip is only 5 berths left.  8/1 Bridgetown is the call and will be doing his best work at the finish with Mizdirection and Corporate Jungle.

9.36 Grey Goose Juvenile – Shanghai Bobby looks a class act to me… Go lumpy at 2/1.

10.18 – 1m 4f Breeders Cup Turf Tips – A cracking race in which St Nicholas Abbey bids to win again.  There is some tough opposition though and the one that the Major fancies is 5/1 (Paddy) Shareta – The Japanese raider is a danger to all.

10.58 Sprint – Call me crazy but I am opting for 40/1 (Betvictor)  Hamazing Destiny.  My tip has finished in the top 5 in this race twice already and while drawn wide, will get the help of a suicidal pace in the field.

11.40 Santa Anita – Breeders Cup Mile

Then the race we wait all night for.  It is worth staying up just to get a look at Wise Dan.  This chestnut monster looks like he would rip your face off given a chance!  An absolute herculean looking animal, he is in at 11/4.

I am not sure Moonlight Cloud who was so close to downing Black Caviars colours in the summer will enjoy these conditions.

Excelebration has obvious form claims and a win would only go on to stamp Frankels authority on the global racing scene through collateral form.

On balance though, I think Wise Dan for the home team is a strong win tip.

Charlie Hall Chase Tips

What a shame only 6 make it to the start for the Charlie Hall.  Surely a grade 2 chase with £50k+ for the winner could command a greater turn out?

Planet of Sound probably needs genuine good ground to be seen at his best and so is ruled out.

Master of the Hall goes well fresh and is a big price at 10/1.  Yet I cannot see how he will give 5lbs to exciting second season chaser Silviniaco Conti who should take the Charlie Hall for Team Ditcheat at 6/4.

Down Royal – JNWine Chase Tips

The JNwine is the feature track race of the year and it is a shame they have lost Sizing Europe from the card this morning.

I like Kauto Stone but think he might fall just short of top class and would be happier with a slice of the 10/3 about Quito De La Roque who goes well fresh and will enjoy it today.

In the football, Sunderland odds against to beat a lacklustre Villa is appealing at 6/5.  So is 8/11 Man Utd to beat Arsenal.  Tottenham are too short at 8/15 but it is no punters price.

May your dinner be delightful and the company generous.  I apologise for the rushed edition but I have work to do.  Wish me luck.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Haydock Sprint Cup Tips, 33/1 Ascot Tip and a 33/1 shot at Leopardstown!. Shabash

Good Evening from the Major who writes from a rural Worcestershire scene, dark at an hour forboding the coming cold of winter.

How the Major loves the change of season. Of fair complexion, I have always struggled in the sun, it makes me ill. Nice dark nights, cold air on your face and less brightness with which to ache my northern eyes, winter is my time.

The Major is in decent form with some nice winners last weekend. Let us hope the run continues and we strike gold with the huge amount of tips provided below.

I am writing the post on a Friday evening as I am running in the morning. I am taking on 9 miles and then I am going to repeat the dose on Sunday. This is all in preparation for the Berlin marathon which I run with my brother and Adam Redmond, both also avid gambling spirits.

Our cause is Whizz Kidz – A superb charity giving young disabled people mobility. The way in which their equipment and training can boost a childs confidence and change their lives is a wonderful thing. If you have a few pounds to spare, the Major urges you to consider a small donation at our justgiving page.

After all, what has the Major ever asked of you. You remain anonymous, arriving here to read these words each week. You are one of a few hundred regulars. You know me; I ask little, I know I am barely profitable – I offer my ideas for free neither expecting praise or condemnation after the result. I serve you no adverts, I don’t pester you to sign up for anything. You get the Major every weekend, unhinged and honest. Free, no strings attached. Just once, might I appeal to your generosity.

If you don’t really know me, then just donate the cost of a pint – Remain anonymous if you will, it would move me to receive such generosity. After all, you don’t have to, it is merely a choice.

Betfred Sprint Day and the main race looks a cracker. Another in the British Champions Series which has been a roaring success. Below I have compiled tips for that, alongside some racing tips for Leopardstown where the Group One Irish Champion Stakes is lit up by the presence of Snow Fairy and Nathaniel. As usual, the Major brings you the highlights and I cover the entire and I must say entirely impenetrable Ascot card. As a close colleague of the Majors, Mr Smith, is attending, should there be winners, I trust a man of considerable means, might consider a donation to the cause.

Be ready to daub thy war paint my dear followers, be ready to bear arms. Bravery in the face of our enemy; he who makes markets of the most devious nature to fool us and confound our minds. Allow me to cut through the clouds of misdirection.

For real bravery, consider the tale of Airmen Sergeant Norman Jackson VC. You have to do some magnificent things to win a Victoria Cross, in this case, he crawled onto the wing of his Lancaster which had sustained fire after a raid on Schweinfurt, a Bavarian town on the Main river. The wing was on fire and Sergeant Jackson resolved to put the fire out with an extinguisher. His parachute accidentally opened on the way out, meaning he knew that if he fell, he was doomed.

In those circumstances, would you crawl onto a plane wing at 200mph, 20,000 feet in the air? What is more, he knew that even if succesful, he would never be able to get back into the aircraft.

He fell from the wing after dropping the extinguisher, his chute partially worked and in addition to his broken bones and burns, he suffered being captured. That is the sort of action that requires recognition with our highest honour, a small cross of bronze (legend has it from the cannons at Balaclava where our thin red line and light brigade saw action… although a more likely source is Chinese bronze).

To the sports….

3.25 – Haydock Betfred Sprint Cup Tips

This is a proper Group One race with top class sprinters taking each other on – On rattling ground at Haydock it is going to be fast and furious.

Aussie sprinter Ortensia is on a hat trick bid after superb Goodwood and York wins this term. Her early form in Britain looked ropey but on balance she had plenty of excuses for those first two runs. The Nunthorpe win was particularly good and she remains of clear interest at 11/4.

Society Rock has the assistance of Kieran Fallon and if breaking on terms could be a threat to all. 11/1 is a great each way price.

Strong Suit has been on the wrong side of a Frankel beating and I think Hannon is doing the right thing dropping him back to sprint distances. Quicker ground seems the key to the horse who is a general 6/1 chance.

Three year olds have a reasonable record in the Haydock Sprint Cup but Es Que Love is surely outclassed.

The Major is going instead to rely on my old favourite Bated Breath at 7/2 with Totesport and Betfred. My selection set a course record in the Temple Stakes and I think the quick ground we get here is the key to him. His Haydock record is outstanding and I fancy him to go one better than his second here last year.

A forecast with Ortensia is also a bet I would like to take on.

Ascot Tips – The Full Ascot Card

1.30 Juvenile Maiden

There is not a lot of form evidence with these two year olds and so the Major advises you to keep stakes at a minimum.

Telescope and Meshardal are very interesting debutantes, both have derby entries. On breeding, this looks like it might be a bit sharp for the former, a son of Galileo. The Sharmadal bred Mershardal might go well on debut. Mershadal is from the Hannon yard, possibly the most effective trainer for bringing the best from two year olds, even if other trainers seem to surpass him with older horses.

Interestingly, with Richard Hughes not available for Hannon, Pat Dobbs, the next stable pick is on Bursledon, a horse I would be interested in.

In these races, money can be crucial and at this stage, no market is open and so the Major is advising blind. Keep stakes small but I would chance a small bet on King Muro at 33/1 or so (guessing the price here so use your own judgement!)

2pm – Fillies Juvenile Maiden

Half an hour later and it is the turn of the girls. Only seven runners and three of them are representatives of the Mohammed Al Zarooni stable. That is an interesting yard for juveniles, they are focussed on their breeding operation. The market seems to have little feel for the genuine chances suggesting that they are not a gambling yard. The Major likes this as if you find one at a price, you need not be put off.

While there are less runners, the quality is all there.

Taking Al Zarooni’s runners, then jockey booking suggests they are happiest with Desert Blossom, who won her debut race with the field strung out. I would not jump to judge the bare form as superb but clearly she has ability.

Fleeting Spirit is an interesting runner, a big filly, she is sure to improve with time as she comes to herself. She had the bad luck of meeting the ill-fated Newfangled on debut and went one better subsequently. Her last third was a bit dissapointing off what looked like a winnable mark.

While I think Desert Blossom is the likeliest winner, I prefer at the prices, rank outsider, 12/1 shot Nice Story. The Chepstow race she won was entirely ordinary. We do not get many Suave bred horses in the UK, the sire is out of AP Indy and the Major is happy that this could be a well bred sort. While the Chepstow run was only OK, the ground here will be more suitable and at 12/1 I fancy a slice.

This is also not a race to get too involved in. I might have a small reverse forecast with Desert Blossom too.

2.35 Ascot – Class 2 Nursery Sprint

Another two year old race, this time over a sprint distance. A very difficult contest to tip.

The market is wide open at 9/2 the field and that reflects the open nature of the affair.

Kodiac bred, Foxy Forever is very interesting. The yard have used young Barzalona twice and have won with him on board twice. His debut win at Wolverhampton followed some significant support and so you have to be interested at 15/2 (Paddy Power).

Experience brings Opt Out into the frame with this being the seventh race of the colts career. He has moved on in leaps and bounds in the last two although the last win at Warwick saw another 5lbs lumped on. I love the toughness of Johnstones horses but prefer Fanning in the saddle.

While Foxy Forever is a very interesting horse with an eye catching booking, it is 6/1 shot Stand of Glory that the Major is going to tip in the Ascot nursery sprint. The ground at Thirsk was pretty rattling and Ascot can dry to include firm tomorrow – There is no way that the Ripon race is true form having led in unsuitable ground, I am sure a place is the minimum we could expect.

3.10 Fillies Handicap

Sharmadal filly Wahylah probably ran her best race at Beverley last time out and the manner of the race suggests that this step up in trip is well in favour.

Ted Durcan gets a rare eye catching ride (2 wins from 3 in last two years) for the yard or Mrs Greeley who has a fair each way chance.

Speedi Mouse is a most interesting runner seeking a hat-trick. The inexperienced jockey has clearly got a good tune out of the horse and the mild weights increase won’t stop further improvement. Of interest.

The Major though is going to tip Honeymead at 12/1. My selection only managed fifth last time out but that was only a few lengths down to the very useful Dutch Rose. That was probably the best run for some time and while many will overlook on the grounds of being exposed, the Major has a sense that there might be a bit more to come.

3.45 Ascot – Class 2 Handicap

A series of the usual handicap suspects have turned up for this class 2 Ascot handicap.

There are few easy races at Ascot today with either mind bendingly difficult handicaps or juvenile guesswork at the heart of these difficult connundrums.

Ladbrokes are generous offering 14/1 about Global Village from the Ellison yard. I would suggest that ground conditions are not ideal and I have given up on trying to guess when the yard have one ready – Money would be significant.

Primaeval is very interesting to the Major who would have hated the soft draining conditions last time out. Returned to suitable conditions, a big run could be on the cards.

In these sorts of races though, the Major prefers the class acts playing off higher weights and the sort that fits the bill is Johnstones Bannock. 10/1 is generally available this evening for my tip who benefits from the best 7lb claimer in Michael Murphy. Get involved.

4.15pm Ascot – 12f Handicap

This is another mind bending puzzle with many horses that enter the equation.

Gospel Choir beat the very useful Sun Central who went on to win again, that form has pushed Gospel Choir to the top of the market. Sir Michael Stoute has a successful relationship with Baker and this horse has won two handicaps here from three wins this year. Very interesting.

Stencive, narrowly defeated by Gospel Choir has to be in the calculation too with some pretty blue blood. In fact the horse is closely related to my favourite ever horse, George Washington. Clearly very useful and on balance, irresistible – the Major tips 10/1 Stencive. My selection, a son of Dansili, should give us a decent run at a decent price.

Incidentally, Fennell Bay is no way a 33/1 shot. OK, the busy schedule may have effected recent performances but if Johnstone has freshened up this outsider then he could make a mockery of that price.

Castilo Del Diablo is another witha great chance. Entirely unexposed, well drawn and a formerly expensive purchase, who knows? I would not put you off.

4.50 Ascot Food and Wine Handicap

Last Sovereign is a rejuvenated animal under the inexperienced jockey Jacob Butterfield, I think the improvement may be stopped by the best part of half a stone extra burden.

Fitz Flyer is the 5/1 favourite and did well just behind the Majors tip Tax Free last time out. Hardly a strike rate to fill you with confidence but signs of a big run are there.

The Major has to decide between Intransigent at 8/1 – A potentially progressive beast whose latest all weather win was decisive and there is little reason why it cannot be replicated on turf. My other fancy is equal 8/1 shot Ajjaadd, who looks like he sort that has been laid out for the race. It is coming to his time of year, the market knows it and while a few more pounds off the weight would help, surely he will be tuned up.

On balance, I just think Ajjaadd will be a major player at 8/1.

5.45 Leopardstown – Irish Champion Tips

The weight allowance normally means that the classic generation have a very good chance in the Champion but this year, the proven class is in the older horses.

Snow Fairy at 2/1 would be my favourite of them, the admirable mare has won 6 group one affairs including her last race at Deauville.

Good luck to Buick who is making the helicopter dash across the Irish Sea to ride Nathaniel. The favourite is clearly a talented animal but I am not sure this is his race.

As for St Nicholas Abbey, the shortness of the trip is one concern but the effect that Frankel inflicted with his Juddmonte demolition act is as much a concern.

Instead the Major opts for 33/1 shot Daddy Long Legs and I ask for your imagination. My tip won the UAE derby and looked set for a globe trotting career but his runs in the states were awful. Given a fresh turf chance back at home, with the three year old allowances, I’m not ruling out some chance for the horse in what might be a tactical affair.

That’s it from the Major who gives you nine sporting horsey tips. If I had to pick a nap, then I would be hard pressed between Bated Breath and Stencive.

May your winnings pay for a dinner to which you can take the classiest of sorts. Bedecked in expensive trinkets and reeking of perfume, she might be full of herself, but after a decent bottle or three and a sight of a fat wallet, the look in the eye will run to more than decent steak. Airs and graces or not, we are all the same in the end.

Courage, roll those dice.

York Festival – Wednesday Tips, Great Volitigeur and the Juddmonte

Good evening from the Major who writes a short post from the cool Worcestershire clear evening. The major has had winning posts of late, let us hope the form continues.

Wednesday is the opening day of the York festival and so I write with a very short post.

The Great Voltigeur

Main Sequence is shaping up as market favourite at 2/1 and it is easy to like his chances. An unbeaten animal until taking on superstar Camelot in the Derby, this Lingfield Trial winner also when down in the Grand Prix de Paris where thedeep conditions would not have suited. This good to firm will be better but there is strong opposition.

Noble Mission claimed group 3 glory last time out and the horse famous for his sibling will be seeking to set up a famous day for the family in the preceding race to Frankels’.

A strong form line can be taken from Noble Mission to Thomas Chippendale who is seeking a hat-trick and clearly morose improve. The Ballydoyle raider is surely better value than Noble Mission at 4/1 and 5/1 respectively.

Enke and Energiser, the Godolphin representatives don’t make much appeal and while Thought Worthy represents Gosden who has a terrific record in the race, I think this is a strong enough field.

On balance there is a 9/4 price about Main Sequence with Betvictor and I think it is a price worth taking.

The only other York race that appeals as a betting medium is the open sprint handicap which opens the day.

2pm York – Sprint Handicap

If it was not for trainer form the Ponty Acclaim would be the selection in this – a horse with a touch of class and one that is drawn on the side I want to be on. That trainer form is bad though….

The 9/2 favourite is Rex Imperator who has looked a group horse in the making. Charlton does not take that man to York so it has to be respected, clearly on the upgrade.

Tax Free is available with Boylesports at 10/1 – this is a horse. Gave a big mention to at the weekend at a big price. He is knocking on and not a certainty to string two good races together but he is turned out again before the handicapper gets a chance to put his mark back up and his second was very decent on Saturday.

The one the Major goes for though is another who competed with far less distinction in the St Wilfred. Lexis Hero is a general 16/1 shot and a classy enough horse on the day. I don’t think the drop to this trip will be a problem – the horse is one to lead and I would not be shocked to see a return to form.

The Juddmonte

It is an enormous leap to think Frankel will struggle over 10f – the way he finishes his races, I cannot think he will do anything other than smash this lot. St Nicholas Abbey on best form might get within ten lengths but Frankel is playing a different game to the rest of them.

If you are looking for each way value then the two that appeal are Sri Putra who gained a well deserved top class victory at this course last time out and Twice Over who won the race last year.

Courage one and all, roll those dice.

Saturday Sermon – King George Ascot Tips…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tips for the King George – Ascot

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

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

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

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

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

Masked Marvel is surely not good enough.

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

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

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

5.25 Cartmel

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

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

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

Courage, roll the dice.