Tag Archives: sultanina

The Saturday Sermon – Goodwood, Galway, Motherships Everywhere – 40/1 nonsense at Goodwood – Shabash!

Good morning from the Major who writes from a light grey Worcestershire scene where all things are kissed with the cold rain and the hazy distant Bredon Hill is barely visible from the Majors bed, shrouded in an opaque blanket.

The Major skipped lessons on Friday – My apologies if you arrived in these parts seeking some sort of guidance on how to play your Goodwood and Galway hand, if you are sensible, doing not as I say.  To be truthful, I was in London on the previous day at the good business of my employer.

That involved a very distinguished lunch with a knight of the realm at Roux, Parliament Square.  I can report that like all fine restaurants, the service was impeccable, the food tremendous and the entire episode drowning in pretension.  Montrechat, marvelous; Guinea Fowl, rich, gamey and delicious; the lamb and goats cheese, very good.  The room, pristine and unexciting.  Should you spend £200 to entertain good company there, no, not for me.

The afternoon took me to meetings in the city and then I met an old chum for drinks at the close of play.  We started in St Pauls and meandered south across Blackfriars and finished in two spots that shall stay with me.  the first a pub, the Ring, appropriate as it is an old boxing ring and the decor and theme carries.  As an expert on the subject, I know a good pub when I see it, recommended.  Then next door, a Polish Vodka bar and restaurant – one vodka became many and I felt for the chap as he went about his way, homewards to a wife and two children, myself wondering what reception he might receive in his wayward state.

This goes someway to explaining why you did not get a Friday post.  Returning from London on the late train from Paddington, even if the wifi coverage functioned, my skills of deduction (limited as they are) certainly were not.

This particular chap studied (I am refusing to use the word read) history at Cambridge.  I thought I might delve into that learning for some rich material to regale my Saturday Sermon followers with.  Under a heavy ethanol influence he made the compelling case of the medieval emperor, Charlemagne, the devout Catholic whose rise to power was, he argued a modern lesson in the powerful nature of storytelling.

Born in modern-day Belgium or Germany, nobody is sure, Charlemagne enjoyed the benefits of education, being a latin speaker.  His leadership was robust, indeed, he loved a scrap, the Saxons, the Moors, the Danes, the Slavs – That is essentially some Group 1 form when it comes to 8th century battles, particularly bringing the Saxons to heel and enforcing Christianity, thus, Charlie secured his place as one of the great military strategists.  He united the Germanic people and became so powerful that in the end, he was the dominant European power.

The most interesting part of this rich history was his coronation as Emporer of the Roman Empire.  Pope Leo III had his own issues, largely that people wanted him blinded and it was Charlemagne who he turned to.   Charlemagne might have been a foreigner to Rome but he was at least a devout Christian and he had spent his cash on the church too.  Yet, becoming Emporer was something bound to upset many folk and so the act was conducted with his apparent ignorance.  While kneeling at mass, the Pope placed the crown upon his head and there, it was done.

This allowed Charlemagne to accept with reluctance the position, he had not sought it you see.  As my friend extolled, the pen is mightier than the sword.

Now my friends, enough of this ancient time, we must concentrate on our battles at hand. Accidental coronation or not, we must fight our way onto the throne with our enemy slain before us, their satchels split and spilled upon the flags.  Courage, roll the dice.

Goodwood Tips

The opener is the sort of race that goes to an older, experienced sort, trained by an astute second tier trainer.  I do not wish for that to sound harsh but there are the yards whose business it is to win the distinguished Group 1s for their owners in the Arabian Peninsular, then there are the accomplished yards who can ready a sort for the Bunbury Cup.

On the shortlist… Barnet Fair for Dandy Nicholls who has the assistance of young Cam Hardie who is proving an excellent pilot.  Nicholls has won the race in the past and I think this horse could be exactly the sort to go well.  What puts me off is the lack of Goodwood (or similar) experience.  Stepping Out is the most obvious candidate that suits my profile.  I am really impressed with Kingscote in the saddle this year, he is riding very well and this horse is improving.  It is a mighty step up and this is very different from the challenges he has faced to date but from this yard, considered.

I am sliding down the card though to firstly Slip Sliding Away who is a course specialist and if he had shown some glimmers of form earlier in the festival (ran and disappointed on Tuesday) then I might be more interested.

However, there is a horse I am going to tip at a big price.  One that lurks down where the duck eggs besmirch the form.  Pandar can be backed at 40/1 with Betvictor (28s generally) – I like the fact he has won here before and a year ago, he was finishing in a heap with Regal Parade in class 2 races.  He has always found listed company a bit hot but as a consequence, his mark has come down from 107 in his prime (just 18m ago) to 83 which he races off today.  I am not suggesting he was ever a 107 rated beast but he might be able to do something here and Milton Bradley has booked the services of Fallon, something the present trainer has not done often, although I accept Robert Cowell had booked Fallon for the horse when at the last yard.   Have a slice.

Kings Fete is widely backed for the Jaguar Handicap at 2.40 but I see little confident reason I can offer for why he would reverse form with Second Step, a 15/2 shot (again BetVictor stand out*) – The Cumani runner a son of Dalakhani is now rated 92 and looks an improver which is a shame for the owner as he has been gelded.  That said, perhaps with his equipment in full working order, his mind was less focused on his job – Some of us are born easily distracted.

*please note that the Major has no affiliation, places no advertisements or obligations on your companionship.  I am always barely profitable, hugely unhinged and entirely free.  Address any complaints to the devil and keep any praise and gifts for yourself – It is your judgement as to how you use my thoughts and any liabilities and rewards are yours and yours alone.

Two years ago, Gosden won the 3.15 with The Fugue and last year he retained the race with Winsili, thus, you might think Sultanina might be a hot ticket this morning but instead, she is a gentle drifter out to 5s.  I quite like her, I thought her Lancaster Oaks effort was excellent although I am not sure her run there behind stablemate Pomology suggested a drop of 2f was the wide move.

I am torn.  The sensible thing to do is back Narniyn who is a French raider from the stable of Royer-Dupre.  He doesn’t send them without a chance and the form reads well in the context of this race with Narniyn achieving a 4th in a G1 in the Grand Prix Saint Cloud only a head down to Noble Mission who is resurgent, decent and a reliable yardstick.

The less sensible angle is to be looking at the less fancied three year olds.  They have a decent record in the race but it does not at first glance look the best crop, yet there is one I like and I am going to stick my neck out and back Amazing Maria at 9s with Ladbrokes.  Now, she was a total flop in the Oaks and many do flop at Epsom being like Goodwood a challenging track.  Yet, she has won twice at Goodwood and very very well indeed.  I would accept that she beat poorer animals but the style in both, particularly the second race a Group 3, which she dictated and won as she liked was decent.  In the last two years we have seen two frighteningly good stallions arrive on the scene in Sea the Stars and New Approach – Both of whom look capable of producing many years of first rate thoroughbreds but her sire, Mastercraftsmen, is also producing well and with a line through her Epsom reappearance and a drop of 2f, back at her favoured course, who knows, the Major does.

Then the Stewards Cup, 3.50… There is a touch of 5s about Muthmir but all the fun prices have gone.  He is still the one I want to be on, you can read about his York run anywhere so I shall not regurgitate the obvious, let’s move on.

The two races for two year olds follow and I am looking at some obvious answers.  Secret Brief at 4/1 and crashing could well be one of Johnstones better juveniles and so I am on.  Then in the 5pm, I think the downhill nature of the course will help When Will It End a 13/8 shot for the Hannon team and we know what riches they have in these races.

I am not bothering with the last race.  The Japanese have a point of etiquette at dinner that if your guest has finished the food, they might still be hungry.

Galway Races

The better festival days are earlier in the week but luck to all attending Galway – May your evening be forgotten in a drunken haze.

It is a day of shorties and could well be one for the bookies to forget.  I cannot bring myself to bet in the opener as I dislike odds on favourites in novice hurdles, especially on tracks like Galway.  That might tempt me into an outsider but I cannot see any sensible horse to oppose with.  Barring accidents (entirely possible hence no bet) the favourite should win.  Confusing enough position?

I will put (both prices BetVictor again):

Spyrt, 11/10 –  (will improve surely from Listowel)


Call Vinnie, 5/4 – (tad unlucky earlier in the week)

into a powerful double that shall keep my Galway interest sensible.

Other Racing….

Newmarket, 2.55pm.  The dogs are barking wild for Enlace who has been backed all the way down from the sensible prices to a stinging 6/4, no thankee sir.

This is a nursery and I want one that has been campaigned with that in mind.  I think I have the answer too…. Who might prepare a horse for such a maiden?  A good yard, let’s say someone like the Faheys.  Plus what about the sponsor, Cheveley Park Stud, would they not want to advertise their credentials in their own race? That is why, I am backing Lacing at 16/1 – The daughter of Equiano has not shown the form yet but might improve now entering a nursery.  Watch yous slips there… lacing, enlace, easy mistakes to be made!

I trust that your dinner is made the better for the presence of a solid roll of notes digging into your ribs.  The company comfortable and the pretension at zero.

The Martin Hill bet, has some aggression about it.  Pandar, Muthmir and Lacing – Trixie.

Courage friends, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – The Majors Lucky 15…. All aboard Sandown, Haydock and Belmont

Good Evening from the Major who writes after a substantial unashamed early evening nap.  A hectic week conducted at pace with the Major ricocheting around the country from the refined bars of the city to a party in the wee hours in glorious Cheltenham to pounding the raw streets of the northern ancient textile town of Bolton, the Major has seen it all.

It is pleasing to returning to Worcestershire, visiting my turf accountant on the way to home.  Parking in the Georgian market town of Pershore, a child of around 12 crossed in front of the car sporting a cap with a cannabis logo emblazoned in a lurid fluorescent green.  Towing a family that might think this an appropriate attire for a child, I catch on the air a line from mother to father as my car door opened, it remarked, in the finest English, on how she might break his expletive neck, direct don’t you think, she sounded like she surely would too.

To stop and look around once a while is an enlightening experience.  Propping the bar in the latest fine addition to Cheltenham’s finer establishments, the 131, I overheard a couple of the young vibrant staff, clearing down the last remnants of the party discussing the details of being young and having fun.  There a line nearly had me choking on my Mint Julep, well thinks I, you won’t hear that on the 7.48 to Paddington.

Shortly afterwards, striding to my hotel across the town centre, my wooden heels, proudly naked of a leather muffling are snapping sharply against grey paving slabs which were still releasing some ambient warmth absorbed from the day.  The harsh cracking  sound, rebounding off the imposing walls of the architecturally exceptional building that houses the council municipal offices.  The late night neon plays wonderfully onto the light regency walls, the ionic pilasters providing a depth in the facade.  On the floor in front of me, a lonely old-fashioned wooden chip fork, cast alone on the sea of concrete.  A sole taxi driver mans the rank, there is a peace and an understanding between the people of the night, a quiet begrudging respect that we are all here, in this never-world, this non-existence, it is about as peaceful and calming a moment as I can recall.

Almost no one shares this scene with me and sometimes these moments I encounter stay with me, as they will.  Somehow this all really makes me think about death.  A connection I have yet to rationalise, rare are the comforts in our uncertain world.

The Saturday Sermon takes a new form today.  I am going to supply you with a lucky 15.  My goal, you ask…. To win…. all four legs, quiet simple.  The Major has been in good form so load your cannons my dear friends, four of the Saturday best tips coming right up.

The Saturday Sermon Lucky 15 Tips

Leg 1: The Lancashire Oaks – Haydock, 2.55pm

Group Two action for the girls up north and the apple of my eye turns up, Talent.  Regular readers will know of love affair with this girl.  In my heart I chalked her up as the Arc winner after watching her fight vigorously, burning early energy in her Oaks, before Hughsie got her settled and straightening off Tattenham to use her gigantic stride to powerful effect down the outside in the straight.

A highly unlucky second in the Leger denied her a second classic – although I am probably tinted in my view, as even if she had enjoyed clear passage, at the key time, she may never have gotten to subsequent Gold Cup winner Leading Light, although you must confess, that form looks good now doesn’t it.  Yet, after her latest flop, I promised not to do this again…. Here I am.  Conflicted.

See, I can draw you in to my dark world.  The vortex swirling around, the madness of it all.  Is this tipping, or is it affection stirred by emotion… rational analysis or wishful, heartfelt urging.  I maintain Bog Warrior has been the most ill-used best staying hurdler of his generation, head in chest, bowling along all ungainly gangly action and perpetual momentum building.

Loyalty is not necessarily a quality I admire.  It leads to blind poor quality judgement.  Yet my loyalty is based in affection and in what my eyes have seen.  She was one of the better horses of last years crop.

Haydock is due to see rain as I type but the sun shall be out at 1pm, according the accurate short-term forecasts of our meteorological friends. I am guessing that the ground will be genuine good ground benefiting from just a tiny bit of give.

Hmmmmmm.  The Italian import, Charity Line, is hard to get a read on.  Italian Group Ones are not a reliable form line but she is consistent and has to be respected now racing for the excellent Botti yard.

Lustrous could be considered.  Her listed win looks OK and she confirmed promise when a closing runner-up in G2 company at the Royal meeting.  Three year olds get a very handy pull and their record is patchy so she would have to be a bit better I think.

Gosden, who has won two of the last three renewals, has two unexposed runners in Pomology and Sultanina – Both lightly raced, both hard to assess.  Narrowly I like Pomology of the two but Sultanina has the benefit of recent race experience.  I prefer Lee to Havlin in the saddle as well and so a narrow nod of the two to Pomology at 8/1 with BetVictor.

Pomology, Seal of Approval or Talent? You do what you want, but I will never forgive myself if Talent wins and does not carry my ticket.  Go on girl, flash that tail all you like just give us a bit of that long action in full stretch, expertly bringing the blade to take a cut on the forte before running your enemy through the torso.

Leg 2: The Coral Distaff – Sandown, 3.15pm

Preceding the Eclipse, the listed fillies race is a small runner field that has an interesting clash.

Essentially, the obvious candidate is Queen Catrine who was desperately unlucky not to record a win at Royal Ascot in the Sandringham, just failing to get up after being badly hampered.  A reproduction of that and she is the obvious candidate.  However, The Major is concerned that she may well not reproduce her best as she has proven inconsistent to date.  What is more, this race is likely to be an entirely different proposition, her sort is best served by a true gallop and who is to say she will get it here.  That said, I respect the fact that Moore takes over and he is the best jockey we have.

The Major though is going to add Belle D’or for the Gosden yard.  Hugely unexposed, my tip has done far less than the market favourite but is in fine hands.  Her breeding might not look so familiar being out of Medaglia D’Oro who might have not yet scored a British Group winner but has produced such fine athletes as Rachel Alexandra and Marketing Mix, true stars over the pond.  7/2 and being backed, join the queue quickly.

Leg 3: The Coral Eclipse – Sandown, 3.50pm

This is one of my favourite races of the flat season.  The first serious opportunity for the new upstarts, fresh from their classic exertions, to be measured against those classy more experienced elders.  Always a debate about the quality of the generation we have just witnessed, perceptions; not just of these participants but by nature, by connectivity of form lines, the current classic crop will either be endorsed or tarnished.  Make no mistake, this is a judgement on Kingman, on Australia, it is a team game today.

In the blue corner today we have the Derby runner-up Kingston Hill and the Guineas winner Night of Thunder.  In the red corner, super-mare The Fugue spots them 8lbs, good girl.  Trading Leather is a big price for an Irish Derby winner but then he has not seemingly found that form again yet.

If a classic horse wins, it is normally a damn good horse.  The three that have made the achievement in the last dozen years have been Sea the Stars, Hawk Wing and perhaps the exception, Oratorio.  Can we suppose that quality exists here?

I think it is fair to expect Kingston Hill to come out unless a sudden shower eases conditions.  Now the forecast shows plenty of rain to fall so as I write in the wee hours, it is a hard judgement to make, I am going to assume that we have him as a live contender on good to soft.

Night of Thunder ran a cracker in the Guineas when straying across the track but still holding Kingman and Australia, form stamped by god since.  The strict authenticity of the superiority it showed over those two blue bloods has been dismantled.  What we are left with is a clearly highly talented horse that is not quite as good as either Australia or Kingman as the St James Palace showed us.  This is not just a step up in trip but also a searching test.  He looks the sort to me that might show better yet in these middle distances.

The Major needs an angle of attack and this is it.  I love the Fugue, she is a remarkable and lovable horse but I cannot pretend that giving weight to this good-looking crop of classic juniors will be easy.  With the threat of rain easing conditions, I am going to take now a price on that she might get beat.  This is a hard call because her last run was superb putting Arc winner Treve away and showing us that exhilarating burst of athleticism we know she has.  The thing is, fillies tend not to do so well in this.  The younger ones are not as forward as the colts and the older ones may not be getting enough weight advantage.  All in all… and this pains me, we could get her beat on anything remotely tacky.

It is a tough track, knowing that I am risking my hand on the weather forecast, I am opting for Kingston Hill.  The risks I am taking are priced into his 9/2, clipped in by the ‘shrewdies’ who gobbled up the 5/1 back at the respectable hours.  I do like the way he chased Australia home and given that one, in my view, could be a real star and a live Arc contender, maybe a length and a quarter defeat will prove to be plenty good enough in this.  Put your bet down and speak to whichever deity you regularly commune with for as much rain as he can spare over Surrey.

Leg 4:Belmont Derby – Belmont Park, USA 9.34pm

Get yourself ready for a twitter storm as British raider for the magnificent Jamie Osbourne yard, the superbly and knowingly named Toast of New York attempts to follow his Meydan exploits with another globetrotting success.

What factors are in play.  Well, the horse is going to run on Lasix for the first time and that could be a significant issue.  Not all British horses have been known to adjust to the drug which is banned in the UK racing industry.  His UAE victory on tapeta was an unbelievable achievement and he has captured the hearts of racing fans. Perhaps it is his modest $60k cost, perhaps his white socks and streaky white blaze face, something about him is exciting and captivating.

I saw Toast at the excellent open day at Lambourn – A popular attraction, we all swarmed around him and the stable glowed with the outpouring of love.  What chances?

The Belmont Derby Invitational is a big deal, it has a $1.25m purse and perhaps the biggest challenge for Toast in his career to date as he is going to be on Lasix and is also returning to turf for the first time since his racing debut at Leicester when he flopped in a class 4.  If you follow his career, he went down in grade to Kempton and hit second spot before starting his winning runs.  At Wolverhampton in a class 5, he quickened away as he liked and then returning there he repeated the dose in another class 5.

Excellent performances but some way from a Meydan Derby horse you might think.  The market was unsure how to treat the form and his win was returned at 11/1, a tidy price for the niche army of fans the horse was building up.  There is no doubt now, that the Belmont race offers Toast and Osbourne and Spencer (aboard for three of his five wins) a chance to consolidate that success, a chance to change any lingering perception that he has been lucky.

Dance with Fate is no slouch having won the Blue Grass which is a synthetic surface Group 1.  I think that is a good 10/1 alternative.

Once again we are in the position of assessing value versus desired outcome.  Dance with Fate would be my pick but I cannot imagine how I would feel if Toast of New York went in and was unbacked as the glorious last leg of our Lucky 15.

I trust your dinner arrangements are taken late as you wanted to see the mothership land.  Perhaps a straight forward curry in boisterous company, racy conversations at high volume accompanying full throttled frivolity. That’s the medicine.

The Lucky 15 tips also represent the components of the Martin Hill bet.  We are all in this together.

Courage friends, roll the dice.