Tag Archives: star witness

The Majors Saturday Service – July Cup Tips

Good morning from fine Defford where the Major welcomes you warmly into his Saturday Service.

It has been many weeks since I last updated the results.  My apologies for the tardiness but raising the effort is difficult when you know the last few weeks have been utterly barren.  The Major has not had a good Saturday in a long time and we are in desperate need of a decent day.

Never forget the Majors motto though, relentless positivity.  We will try again and we will find ourselves a tasty set of tips to boost those accounts back into the green

Beachfire was an eye catcher at Ascot – Lots of headgear though, reliable?

Never give in.  Churchill had that right.  The master of oratory once raised the men of Thermopylae as a standard in one of his great speeches and surely those brave Spartans fighting in their impenetrable square would make the right reading to set our minds for a days battle with our old enemy.

No, the Major evokes a different spirit.  Given the parlous state of the account right now, it seems more apt to think back to the sinking of HMS Birkenhead, 1852.

Named after her yard, the Birkenhead was a transport iron frigate used to ferry troops to our war in South Africa, the Kaffir War, more commonly known now as the Xhosa War.

HAving left Portsmouth, HMS Birkenhead collected Irish troops before docking at Cape Town.  A short hop around the treacherous waters of the cape to the destination Algoa Bay was the doomed final leg.

In pitch black, HMS Birkenhead struck rock and foundered leaving 643 souls on a sinking piece of wreckage.  100 men are thought to have drowned in their beds as water poured in through the fissure in the bulkhead.

On deck, the survivors had to deal in quandary, there were only enough lifeboats for maybe a third of the people.  Step forward Captain Seton, who was given command not of the vessel but of the military personnel.

There were women and children of the officers being transported and realising the carnage that could ensue, Captain Seton called on high discipline on board a 2,000 lump of wood and metal, fast sinking into the cool Southern Ocean and into the shark occupied, hideous depths.

This is where the phrase ‘women and children’ was coined.  Survivors recall the utter discipline of our armed men as they stood silently to attention while the last of the lifeboats was launched, knowing fully what this meant but not one man breaking rank.

The ship foundered 2 miles from shore and some men managed to swim.  Most were taken by shark and some died trying to land on the rocky South Africa shoreline.  Just shy of 200 survived, most in the lifeboats.  Afterwards, our great rouser of youth, Kipling wrote a wonderful line….

But to stand an’ be still to the Birken’ead drill is a damn tough bullet to chew

The Prussian military so impressed by the account of discipline ordered it be read and postered at every barracks in the land.  You see, British military discipline is famed the world over.  Where else bar Balaclava has such strong evidence of our conviction been given to Johnny Foreigner, which brings to mind the response to the famous charge of the lights from a Frenchman ‘C’est magnifique, mais c’est ne pas guerre’.

The Major calls on this discipline today.  Bet like men, with calm mind and steady hand.  Losses in recent times do not shake our unfounded belief in the 16/1 price mistakenly put up by our enemy.  His time cometh, and that right soon.

To the sports…..

The Darley July Cup – Newmarket

This is the best sprint in Europe and at 3.35 we have a cracking field.  The real key to this is what the weather does.  The BBC says cloudy and dry and I am going to put my faith in Auntie.

This puts in favour Delegator and Bated Breath while Monsieur Chevalier*, Dream Ahead and Regal Parade are negatives.

Of the two I think will go well, Delegator makes the most appeal.  While he was a quality miler and was a little unlucky in his classic year, the recent drop to sprinting class has reawakened him and his best season could well be this one.

What I really like about Delegator is the gears.  This years Derby showed that at Group One level, having the gears is the crucial element between top class and very good.  Watch his York reappearance over a sprint distance and Delegator moves smoothly away when asked.  Todays race will be off equally a strong pace and so I expect Frankie to get him settled off the pace and at the crunch moment, let’s see what he can do.

He does not look that popular in the market and 5/1 is available.  Dream Ahead is my selection if the ground gets more moisture.  While the Middle Park form looks a little exaggerated, let us not forget that he was joint champion juvenile with Frankel.  This could be just his thing in receipt of handy weight from Delegator.  Unbeaten at 6f, a right danger if the rain comes.

*Monsieur Chevalier is also one that will drift as unfancied on anything without soft in the title.  I am less sure that proper good will be a hindrance.  MC was a sterling 50/1 placed bet for the Major at Royal Ascot and you might wonder why I do not press up on him at 9/1.  Well, I do think that Royal Ascot form is as good as anything this set of horses has produced this season, arguably the best.  Society Rock looked a superb horse and MC was best of the rest.  My concerns more lie in that I am unsure he will race twice the same in any consecutive outings – He looks unreliable to me but has the ability and 10/1 prices that in.

Overall I am looking at Delegator 5/1 with Hills.  Incidentally, the Racing Post app are out to get Delegator so if you fancy another in the Darley July Cup, bet on their app with William Hill and you get your money back if Delegator wins… nice.

3.15 John Smiths Cup York

This was a conundrum of a race but a few things stood out.

I was really taken by the manner of Beachfires win at Royal Ascot, this might not be the track to attempt such back to front tactics again but with a clear run, I would be very interested in 9/1.

Modun had excuses at rain-soaked Ascot and he could put the record straight today.  Pricewise clearly thinks a lot of Pekan Star who with the Majors favourite Neil Callan aboard is now 10/3 favourite after trading earlier at 5/1.

At a big price, I think Kay Gee Bee could be interesting.

Overall though, I am settling on 9/1 Beachfire, I hope he gets a cleanish run for young star William Buick and he is certain to be finishing well.

I am going to back an outsider to in Tepmokea.  The reappearance run has to be questioned a little for value but that factor and a wide draw, which is not necessarily a hindrance any more, I think create a false price at 20/1.  Lee Topliss takes off 5lbs and gives the Major a strong sense of value.

In other races, 8.55 Salisbury, interesting to see Michael Hills make the trip for just one ride on Rougette.  12/1 is available.

In the States – The Man o War stakes, Belmont Park can go to Gio Ponti – Closely matched with the O’Brien traveller Capo Blanco, I fancy the globe-trotting Gio Ponti to prove his worth.  9/4 is too good to resist in a race he took last year.

In other sports…

Javeen Mendis look completely over-priced at 8/1 to be Sri Lankas top wicket taker, have a slice of that – The slow pitch should suit…

We have not beaten the French women for decades so why we think we will start now I am not sure, 5/4 France to beat England is a must bet.

You could double that with 2/7 German ladies to beat Japan, that pays close to 2/1.

Tonight may you dine on fresh fish, bake yourself a simple fish pie, simply acquire some nice steaks of cod, smoked haddock as well as some mussels and maybe prawn.  Cook in a little cream and white wine before putting in the base of a nice ceramic pot, topping with mash and finishing off.  Invite a simple sort who will delight in home cooking, she need not be too well-heeled, watch a simple film and let nature take his course.  She may well be encouraged to the gallop when your money clip falls from your breast pocket.  Tell her the Major had his lucky 15 come in, and you were there.  If you are lucky enough to retire up the flight of stairs in company, remember Captain Seton and those steely minded chaps on the Birkenhead, ‘women and children first’

Courage men and roll those dice.

First Day of Ascot – Horseracing Tips

Good Evening from the Major on the eve of the flat racing spectacular, Royal Ascot.

Canford Cliffs and Italo make a nice 40/1 Double!

Admist the top hats, finery and plum accents, we are about to embark on 5 days of the finest racing in the world, full stop.  There may be richer races in Dubai and Hong Kong but no-one can match the history and worthiness of our very own Berkshire track.

The Major visited Ascot earlier this year for Sagoro Stakes day, it was only the second time I have been, having previously been during last years Royal Ascot week.  The new stand is immense and a credit to British racing.

To all those attending Ascot tomorrow, I wish you good luck, envy your good fortune and hope that the Majors tips strike home.

If you are going just tomorrow, you have arguably picked the best day of the week.  Although there are a plethora of Group One races at Ascot later in the week, tomorrow sees the explosive Frankel reappear after his 1,000 Guineas win as well as Goldikova, the relentless French raider taken on Canford Cliffs, apple of Hannons eye and we may well find out who is the best miler of a strip of Berkshire track.

2.30 Queen Anne Stakes

What a way to kick the racing festival off.  After the pomp and ceremony of watching the Queens carriage roll down the straight, the proper entertainment opens with what is race of the week for the Major.

The ground is a rare good to soft for Ascot, this could be influential.  I think it is already having an impact on the betting.

For me, the best miler full stop is Canford Cliffs.  He has a wonderfully explosive turn of foot and a great cruising speed.  The ground is the only question.

That said the ground is not much more likely to suit Goldikova, the French wonder mare.  Her record is insane, yet she is less likely to be at her best now soft appears in the going.  She has only lost 6 races of 22 and just once has failed to place.  Every none-victory came with good to soft or worse conditions.

Cape Blanco is one that will relish true good to soft ground.  Even with softer conditions, the view has to be that he needs further.

Rio de le Plata owes a big race, he is probably in too rich company here but I have always suspected this formerly well-regarded Godolphin horse will eventually come good.

On balance, Canford Cliffs for the Major at 6/4.  Goldikova won this so impressively last year beating Paco Boy.  Richard Hughes knows all about Goldikova having been soundly beaten on Paco more than once.  He knows what it takes to beat her and in Canford Cliffs he believes, and I am minded the same,  he has the ammunition.

Let’s get the week off to a flyer.  With the Queens colours being lowered by Pour Moi in the derby and a french flag flung over the victors neck as he trooped to the Epsom winners enclosure, we are due a slice back.  Let’s send Freddy Head home empty-handed and with just a small note explaining that we are coming in September and bringing Workforce to claim the Arc!!  I love racing, the heritage and story, few other sports offer us such riches.

3.05 Kings Stand Sprint

Well if that was not enough, why not follow-up with the Kings Stand Sprint, the 5 furlong sprint is furious and exhilarating.

The line up is as international as you can get.  Overdose the Budapest Bullet, soundly beaten on his last start in Britain is a tasty 12/1 but too much has to be taken on trust.

Star Witness the Australian raider is favourite at 9/2 and is well fancied.  The Aussies have a tremendous record in the Kings Stand and he has to feature on the short list.

A few weeks ago, the Major nailed Sole Power in the Temple Stakes at Haydock and that win was probably the best British springing form this year.  8/1 make Sole Power a decent each way shout as if he does not hit trouble in running, he will be finishing best of all.  The faster the pace the better.

Kingsgate Native is a high-class entrant for Middleton Park, 9/1 is fair.

This is wide open and so the Major is willing to take a wild stab at Monsieur Chevalier.  As a juvenile, Monsieur Chevalier was hugely impressive but he has clearly had his problems, missing all of last season.

On his return in average company he should beat, he ran into trouble and despite never threatening the leaders, had a satisfactory blow out staying on nicely in the final furlong.  25/1 makes Monsieur a superb bet – Bet365 and Boylesports are the only two bookies offering 4 places at quarter odds at the best price.

3.45 Ascot – St James Palace Stakes

Now it is simply absurd, three top class Group Ones to open the racing and here the superstar of his classic generation, Frankel looks to add to his hyper impressive CV.

If you were reading yesterday when guest blogger The Green Flash, put up his 2011 US Open Tips, you will have read the shocking news that I want to get Frankel beaten, is this possible?

My case is hardly bullet proof and a little based on gut instinct, but here we go.

No doubt, Frankel is a wonderful animal.  As a juvenile he was awesome and making his debut in the 1,000 guineas, he ran a freak of a race, bursting from the stalls to blaze his own pace maker and destroy the field.  It was a bizarre race to watch, he went off so quickly.  Most of his rivals tried to stay close and could not.  In the closing stages, opinion was divided, some believe he idled slightly but was fine, some like me feel he struggled to maintain the pace.

Crucially for the Major, Frankels time was not as phenomenal as the visual impression.  He caught them out.

Frankel should win.  2/5 gives little room.  Maybe I will regret this, maybe tomorrow night I will wonder why I didn’t back the banker that many believe Frankel to be.  I just feel that he may be a bit temperamental and he is against top class opposition.

What do I think will win?  Rerouted is 200/1 – Last time as Frankels pacemaker, he never got a foot in front!  Remember that this horse has one a group 3 in soft ground and 200/1 looks big, if Frankel shoots off again, this one could finish closer than many think.  Michael Hills will aim for a best finishing position if allowed.

The two I fancy are Grand Prix Boss and Wooten Bassett.  Grand Prix Boss at 20/1 is a bit of an unknown quantity.  If he has travelled well (Japan) then he could be better than many in this field and will come with a Far Eastern fan club.  Of interest.

Wooten Bassett was a well used quality juvenile.  While his reappearance run was poor, this is probably been the target and at 16/1 I give him an each way squeak.

Overall, I am going to risk Grand Prix Boss.

4.25 Coventry Stakes

This is the last race the Major is looking at on the opening day of Royal Ascot.  It is a Group Two and worthy of a tip!

The Coventry Stakes is a high-class sprint race for two-year olds where a lot is taken on reputation, trust and breeding which are factors that provide more evidence than form at this stage.

Gatepost 8/1 beat a host of subsequent winners at York but there are so many smart prospects that I want a bigger price.

The ones that interest the Major are Brocklebank 20/1, Campanology 33/1, Italo 16/1 and Trumpet Major 14/1.

Rather than make a case, I suggest Italo at 16/1.  This American raider made light work of a decent Longchamp field and although even more of an unknown quantity than most, will carry the Majors each way money.

Good luck for Royal Ascot