Tag Archives: super duty

Friday Aintree Tips.. Sprinter Sacre v Cue Card v Flemenstar

Good evening from the Major who writes from a clear and cold Worcestershire.  Turning my head to the heavens, the sky is a black blanket brightened by speckles of fiery light, it will be cold.

The Thursday tips for Aintree did not perform well.  If you are new to these parts and have arrived seeking profitable advice for Fridays racing, I issue fair warning that I am on the cold list.

Sadly, we had a lot of visitors yesterday, I hope all saw sense and choose their own way.  Only Captain Conan saved us from the whitewash, beyond that it was carnage.

The Major blunders on, lashing out like a great wounded animal, as the boxer near defeat throws punches, or the frustrated darts leave the ochey without thought; perhaps some luck is required.

Yesterday I concentrated on good ground horses and tried to find some either targeted at Aintree, or at least lightly raced or spring sorts.  I believe this to be the formula and will maintain the philosophy as I interrogate Friday’s card.  Come with me brace warrior, remain purposeful as fickle fortune weaves and wanes, our resolve to see it through is undeterred.  To the racing.

Friday Aintree Tips

My Tent or Yours is quite rightly a warm order at 4/9 in the first, not a working mans price I know but I still think it is value.  He looked the winner of the Supreme but found little on the hill over the last at Cheltenham.  That looked a warm renewal to me as this horse also had tied form with The New One who won the Neptune Novices and narrowly failed to beat Zarkander here yesterday.  Bank job.

The Mildmay is a tougher nut to crack.  Dynaste owes a big run to his followers (including your unfortunate correspondent) after failing to sparkle in the Jewson.  Go back to a flat track (Kempton) and his performance in the Feltham and you would have to say that this one had the world at his feet.  His two runs on good though have not even yielded a place, which has to be a concern, as does the hard race he had at Cheltenham.

The Major thinks a lot of Super Duty.  McCain hardly had a sparkling festival but this one certainly did him proud only just going down to Same Difference in the Kim Muir, I like the look of his spirit that day.  I think 5/1 is a reasonable price.

Rocky Creek has impressed this campaign and is a certain threat, particularly as he has not had a Cheltenham race – It is worth noting that this is the tactic employed by his Ditcheat when Silviniaco Conti won last years Mildmay and a 5/2 bet is advised.

The Melling Chase is possibly the best race of the season.  What a prospect, punters get to see the Aeroplane that is Sprinter Sacre serve it up to another two top class, yet unworthy opponents, in Flemenstar and Cue Card.  The latter is a horse I have a lot of respect for, he was a fine Ryanair winner and will test Sprinters stamina.

Some will think Sprinter may struggle to see out two and a half miles having suffered his only timber defeat over hurdles when stepped up to this distance.  I disagree with every ounce of my self.  Anyone who watches Sprinter Sacre in action can only think he will improve for the step up.  He just won a Champion Chase (Cheltenham’s undulations over 2m are worth at least 2m 2f around Aintree) hard held beating a multiple Grade 1 winner in Sizing Europe by half the hill.

Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.  It is time for us to stop thinking this horse is anything other than top draw.  I expect us to talk about his for a long time as one of the finest staying chasers of all time, even held up to the mighty Arkle.  If I am right he hoses up again here.

Flemenstar is a horse I must say something about.  Peter Casey is an eccentric trainer and great for the sport.  He seems a damn good laugh and sporting to boot.  Yet, his handling of this horse in my eyes leaves something to be desired.  Prior to the horse picking up a slight set back which precluded him from Cheltenham, connections were undecided on whether to run their star in a two mile contest (Champion Chase) or the Gold Cup.  Surely after the time they have spent with the horse and the evidence they have from his stunning top-level victories (and defeats) they should be training him with a plan in mind.  I think this is the ideal trip for Flemenstar and he should lead Sprinter Sacre into the home straight nicely.

Given my views on the National Course, articulated in yesterday’s post, there is no tip from me for the Topham.  It was an unfortunate occurrence that Batttlegroup died on the course today and while the course cannot be blamed for what seems a heart attack, the risks inherent on this course (4 fallers today in the Foxhunters) just make it less palatable for me.

The Sefton see At Fishers Cross, fine winner of the Albert Bartlett try good ground for the first time and I am not convinced he is going to act on it.  Noel Meades yard send out unbeaten hurdler Road to Riches who rates a threat even if the trainer is not on a hot streak.  The Major though is going to chance a better run from Gevrey Chambertin at 11/1.  The selection was a poor show at Cheltenham after hosing up in fine style in his debut over timber previously.  A brother to Grand Crus, there could yet be a star to emerge here.

The 4.50 handicap hurdle is a puzzle from hell.  Cotton Mill has form beating My Tent or Yours which clearly rates him a chief threat.   Salubrious is the Martin Pipe conditional winner, of interest but unsure about conditions.  Broadway Buffalo , 8/1, has been unbeaten this season in lower company but absolutely tanked up last time and could be anything, bigger fields seem to have been no problem and I take him to keep improving and give the Pipe yard a quick fire double.

Four year old mares have a decent record in the bumper and The Pirates Queen is a profile I like at 8/1.  I am going a little bit longer though and backing another Pipe horse Centasia at 14/1 who looked a bit green last time and is sure to be better for the narrow defeat.  Conditions should be fine.

Courage and roll those dice.

Cheltenham Day Three Tips – World Hurdle Thursday, Ryanair, Jewson… The awesome Aeroplane and another day sober in paradise

Good evening from the Major who writes from another bitterly cold Worcestershire which sports a biting wind.  The temperature remains cold enough to numb the touch and add a dull ache to knee and ankle joints.  The only antidote is the warming effect of winners and champions.

The former I had a couple of.  Only a couple and I am in no doubt that day two belonged to the enemy.

The latter we were blessed with, in fact we saw a new legend.  Sprinter Sacre was breath-takingly good.  He beat a Champion Chase field by 19 lengths, hard held.  The commentator summed it up suggesting that this steeplechaser was sent from celestial heavens… who could argue with that.  No doubt, we have a star and let us hope he remains centre stage for many years.

On Tuesday, I left the racecourse by the bottom car park and spent 90 minutes queuing.  Thus in a planned change of operational procedure, tonight I parked in town and walked, a test and learn.  It certainly was easier and it gave me the pleasure of a post-racing stroll through Pittville and across the park to my car.  It was all most pleasant but the trappings of the festival that you witness on this journey remain etched in my mind, as these things will.

The girls handing out cards for gentleman’s clubs look very different through the eyes of a sober man.  The language is the same… the use of the word ‘guys’ in a voice straining to suggest familiarity.  They aim to make the groups of men who average twenty years their senior comfortable, as though they are conversing in normal circumstances.  That level of performance though must tire and something in their body language, the slope of shoulder, the curl of a lip hides a disdain for the work.  It is cold and you can see it in their eyes.

Do not take me as a prude by the way.  I am a believer that consenting adults are perfectly able to choose what they want to do without my views and whatever contracts are struck are for those parties alone.  In fact I am generally in favour of skullduggery.  I just prefer it a bit more refined.

Sadly for the Major, Taquin Du Seuil did not win the Neptune.  I did not pass go, I did not collect significantly more than 200.  Still, the dream itself was worthwhile.  There will be another time.

We go into Thursday with our war chest intact.  Early exchanges have been searching, exploratory forays to test defences and reactions.  I almost fell into the trap of backing Coral Cup and Fred Winter horses with conviction, pure folly and I kept my losses sensible… The enemy allowed me fancy prices about Mullins Jnr and Nina Carberry in the amateur riders…  I took them.

The next two days could be taken easily, too concerned with the fear of loss to try to be glorious.  No, not for us, we know what we must do…  Read on only if you are prepared to come with me and face the abyss.  Fearless.

To Cheltenham…. load the heavy cannons, stand broad and tall.

The Jewson

Dynaste cost me a fortune when defecting from the RSA to the Jewson and I am not sure it was a great call.  His previous Feltham win was very strong defeating Third Intention and generally looking very good.  This is also my issue with Dynaste – He has only won one of four starts at Cheltenham and we know it is a specialist track

I think the RSA field was weaker and today he faces Captain Conan, a horse I can easily forgive a more lacklustre display at Sandown when winning latest.  That day he clearly was not himself but still finished well on the hill to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.  He was not right that day and he is reported much better now – I think a 13/2 punt (Paddy Power) is in order.

Aupcharlie has looked an immensely powerful traveller who has not always found much off the bridle.  Interesting but overlooked.

The Pertemps Final

Look, let us keep this really simple.  When Paul Nicholls describes a handicap mark as a ‘gift from God’, one should sit up and pay attention.  Sam Winner heads the market at 9/2 and I think it is well worth backing.  He has won twice at Cheltenham from four visits so the track holds no fears.  His Triumph race was interesting, while only fourth, he was staying on at the end.  He has beaten Grandouet and been within half a dozen lengths of Zarkander.  That makes a mark of just 140 very manageable.. I have to agree with his trainer.

The Pertemps is often won by a more experienced handicapper.  Maybe that is a reflection of the rigours of a big field.

If you like one at a price, Ely Brown at 20/1 does look a tad tasty.  Sam Winner for me.

The Ryanair

The quality of the Ryanair is superb this year as the Aeroplane scared people into stepping up half a mile in trip.

First Lieutenant is favourite and most argue that his form finishing in a heap with Flemenstar, Sir Des Champs and Tidal Bay is also key to the Gold Cup.  The Major remains unconvinced.  It is the presence of Tidal Bay that bothers me.  First Lieutenant is a top horse, he was a superb hurdler beating Rock on Ruby and showed promise as a novice hurdler.  Yet his last win was 9 starts back.  I know he has not been disgraced in any run since but I am always nervous with horses with bad strike rates no matter what their form lines.

Most people will be a fan of the favourite because of the stamina doubts of Cue Card based on a poor King George effort.  I don’t think that day had anything to do with stamina, I think he just had a bad day… it happens.

Champion Court has a lot of plusses but for me lacks the requisite je ne sais quoi.

No… Cue Card.. 7/2… smash it.

The World Hurdle

Reve de Sivola and Oscar Whisky are surely the key starting points in the World Hurdle.

Many had the latter down as a non stayer but I was never convinced about that and his last run at Cheltenham surely put pay to it.  I think he will be fitter for the effort and on much much better ground, he will have the measure of Reve de Sivola in my opinion.

My betting strategy is going to be clouded by the presence of Bog Warrior.  He is my favourite horse in training.  Top hurdle form looked like it might transfer to fences but some major jumping errors have seen them convert the horse back to hurdles and he has been awesome ever since.  If you want to see why I love the horse so much, have a look at the Drinmore he won on Youtube.  His style is head in chest, bowling along… How can you not love him?  He will carry a significant sum of the Majors wedge for that reason alone…

Yet my advice to you all is Oscar Whisky at 7/2.

The Bryne Group Plate

Sorry to be boring but I cannot get away from Ballynagour, 4/1.  The performance it put in suggested that we have missing a lot while he has been lightly raced.

Hunt Ball is eased back into handicap level and his mark may well be passable.  He won this off just over a stone lighter last year but is a class horse.

I cannot get away from the Pipe horse though… Join the money train.

The Kim Muir

The stakes here must be kept to a minimum as the puzzle is vast and the traps numerous.

There are only 5 horses in the vast field though that have won at Cheltenham and that is not a bad angle to take into this.  Super Duty, Prince of Pirates, Swing Bill, Galaxy Rock and Alfie Sherrin should all cope with the decent ground.

I put a line through Swing Bill because although some of his form is working out well, he is 12 and I do not like it.  Jumping puts me off Prince of Pirates but a clean round equals danger for all in my view.

The Major struck well in the John Oaksey by suggesting that the jockey in these amateur races is vital.  This brings other horses into contention too including Vesper Bell and Romanesco.

Class horses have no problems lumping weight around the Kim Muir so Super Duty and my selection should be fine if they have the minerals.  I am sticking with the boy who got the job done for us on Back in Focus…. Patrick Mullins is aboard Vesper Bell.. That one has placed form at the top level and the Irish National trial he competed in has worked out OK.  There is every reason to be excited about 16/1 so have a large slice and berate me later for being so interested in a horse in a ridiculously tricky handicap.

The Cross Country

Go back two days to see the reasoning for Arabella Boy to win the Cross Country.

Courage, roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Wetherby, Sandown and Ffos Las Tips

Good Evening from a rural Worcestershire where the lukewarm and damp day hastily retreats to the advancing coolness of the night.

One follower has been adding some detailed comments to the Cheltenham Antepost pages.  I recommend a read of the comments left at the bottom of this page by Mr Freer…. rather insightful, much more than the Major’s recent contributions, in fact…

Why are you here?  Seeking tips?  Are you feeling OK?  It is only fair that, if you have stumbled here for the first time, that you are warned of recent fortunes.  Mala tempora currunt.

Last weekend the Major experienced a Black Saturday.  I managed to get two odds on shots beaten in The New One and Irish Saint as well as coming down on the wrong side in the Reve de Sivola v Oscar Whisky battle and generally blundering, in person,  around Cheltenham racecourse like some wounded blinded beast, wailing and waving fistfuls of notes randomly in some vain failed attempt to find something meaningful to ease the pain.

Instead losses rolled on relentlessly, remorselessly… trundling on, irrespective of any remedial actions, I was  merely the incidental cost, the beast cares not.

I hope you avoided the clutches.  Sadly 400 innocent civilians read those tips I posted last week, let us pray that each attained salvation by abstention.

Yet also remember that failure teaches us more than victory.  In the throes of splendour we seldom seek the truth.  It is more likely that we accept our spoils without questioning the logic of whether they were earned or garnered through wind of fortune.

Yet losses invoke a different emotion, one that demands self-examination.  For example, why did you ignore the fact that AP McCoy was slimming down for the ride on Mr Watson?  Why indeed….

So, some good comes from the loss, as Milton would say, a silver lining to our sable cloud.  Losses keep us sharp, they are our gambling friends.

What, I hear you cry, that’s just something failed tipsters say… You are probably right.  Yet, you are also here, drawn back to the light, hungry for the elixir, joining me to find the mothership.   Do you lack logic or do you have an abundance of loyalty?  I hope it is the latter, have faith that we will be rewarded. Adeste Fideles.

To the sports, and let us be rewarded today – We need victories in these battles to pad our Cheltenham War Chests.  We have taken the Queens salt, we will suppress the mutiny… miles gloriosus

2.05 Ffos Las – Welsh Champion Hurdle

The Welsh version of the Champion Hurdle is a limited handicap over two and a half miles and so bears little resemblance to the Cheltenham show-piece in just six weeks time.

Oscara Dara arrives looking a danger to all having won the Lanzarote last time out for Henderson.  Off top weight, this will take some getting but the calamitous hurdling at the last at Kempton suggested that a mere stone raise in the weights might be no problem with a clean round of jumping.  There to be shot at.

Balder Succes has excuses for some of his runs and has potentially more to give. Yet I am not certain heavy ground will bring out the best in this one.

Double Ross is arguably in the handicappers grip now but if you overlook the last run over a trip that was too short, then his earlier form was impressive.  An each way consideration now back up in trip.

The Major though is going to tip Tanerko Emery for the Welsh Champion Hurdle.  He handled a hefty burden when winning across the Irish Sea over two miles.  That day he gave the impression that further was needed and he gets the extra distance here.  He is two from two on heavy ground and the ownership needs noting too.  Dai Walters owns both the horse and the track and you have to think this was the plan all along with Tanerko… have a slice at 7/2, meaty enough to tickle your sense of adventure, tempered enough to acknowledge the danger of Oscara Dara.

3.10 Novice Chase Ffos Las

The early price of 9/4 about Benheir seems a bit of value in this four runner affair.  My tip has always run pretty well at Ffos Las and while he failed to impress in a graded race at Warwick, he made a terrible mistake in the early hustle and never recovered, easily forgiven.  Curtis and McCoy team up for the owners of Teaforthree, have a slice.

3.20 Wetherby – The Towton Novices

The last twelve runnings of the Towton have gone to short price horses, bar the victory of 14/1 Heltornic in 2007.  Ian Williams has won the last two runnings but has no runner today.

This race is wide open and with just seven runners, feels like one the Major can crack.

Super Duty has one of the most impressive pieces of form with a second to the Arkle dominator Simonsig.  He is in good hands.

Fourjacks is taking a sizable step up in trip and grade and is highly interesting.  Brian Harding has an excellent record for the yard too.

Houblon des Obleaux is an unlikely runner.

Goulanes though looks the fly in the ointment for all.  This horse is crying out for proper fences to jump but has made a decent hurdler none the less.  Decent points experience and a flat course on proper chasing ground is likely to be exactly what he needs and he gets the Majors vote at a general 3/1.

Sandown Tips

Sandown host a card of chases including the Scilly Isles where Captain Conan faces a penalty kick ahead of his main seasonal objectives at Cheltenham.

In the 3.35, Brackloon High is well fancied by Mr Freer but although I see the attraction, I prefer the chances of both Summery Justice and Keppols Hill.  The latter will be all the rage sporting the fancy connections but I think his jumping might not stand the test of the track as well in this company.  My tip has a slightly shaky profile having been off the track for some time but he is being entered back at a level suggesting that Venetia Williams has high hopes.  There is a risk he goes to Ffos Las.

To the football…

Charlton are overpriced at Palace in the South London derby, 7/2 is too big in a game that will be closer than that.

Watford are a shade odds on to beat Bolton at home and I am a buyer.  Watford have been my money train team and despite a derailing at Bristol City, I am still all aboard.  In the week, Zola rested six first team players including the talisman up front, Vydra… get stuck in.

QPR are also a shade odds on to beat Norwich at home.  This is a decent price as Arry starts to work his magic again.  Whatever you think about his style of management and propensity to drain resources from overwhelmingly generous owners, he gets a team playing.

Swansea continue to be grossly underestimated.  23/10 to beat West Ham is a big price.  I thought Swansea were very unlucky not to take all three points from Sunderland who held on grimly.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is: Swansea, Goulanes, Tankerko Emery and Benheir…

May your dinner be glorious, in a small restaurant, run by people who care about the service they give.  A small but select menu of delights, clean crisp white table cloths and a river running close by.  Ah, I can picture it vividly in my mind.

Courage, roll those dice. memento mori.

Friday Cheltenham Horseracing Tips – Shabash, roll those dice

Good evening from the Major who writes with a head cold brewing, the system is slowing down, the heartbeat is louder and forced, things are aching.

The good living seems to be catching up on me yet the real heavy nights are still ahead of me, this weekend.  A combination of rigorous drinking, single-mindedness and hardcore N-(4-hydroxyphenyl) ethanamide will see me through.

Tomorrow there is racing at Cheltenham.  I was thinking of an early night but was persuaded to write-up some Cheltenham tips by a foxy piece earlier.

There I was earlier, a gentlemen mingling among acquaintances, glass of champagne in hand… when over she strolls, wanton look in her eye, not the most glamorous sort but a certain curl of the lip lets you know where her mind is running… ‘you have something I want….‘  Well well thinks I…. ‘I am racing at Cheltenham tomorrow, give us your tips’

In hindsight perhaps anything else was unlikely.

So to Cheltenham and lets daub the war paint and do battle once more….. Ms N, good luck.

Cheltenham Tips

In the opener Rebel Rebellion for the champion trainer could be interesting stepped down in class from a daunting assignment trying to tackle the hugely exciting Captain Conan.  I think he might be bumping into more useful sorts here though and would need to show a lot of improvement for the step up in trip.

Henderson, Longsden and McCain have their strings in fine order and I think it is wise to concentrate on their runners.  Hilldisvini is small but progressing nicely, might just have run into a decent field here though.  Super Duty looks decent, particularly the line through Simonsig.

Yet, boring as it seems, the Major is tipping Broadbackbob for the opener at 5/4.  The yard, ground and trip look fine and this horse was very reasonable over the smaller obstacles.

The second race is a conditional jockeys affair and in these contests, the quality of the jockey plays a bigger role than normal.  Mr Nolan has a 17% strike rate, Mr Derham, Lineham and Bellamy between 12-13% and Lucy Alexander is a top notch rider too (11%).

I do not want to look any further than Simply Wings (Nolans ride) at 7/1 – A bloodless winner of a beginners chase last time, my tip should go well for 7/1.

The 1.20 handicap is an open affair (9/2 the field) – Tom Du Lys is an easy selection at 8/1 – It looks like the horse is being backed so may go off shorter.  The reasoning is the same that everyone else will see – Henderson, Geraghty, French Import, Handicap debut slightly disappointing, put away until this season!

The Grade 3 handicap at 1.55 is the graded race of the day.  Bradley has run well at Cheltenham before and given that he handles the track, he will be a warm order.   Quartz de Thaix is a horse seemingly on the upgrade and while upped in class, might be a better horse yet.

Midnight Chase has excellent course form and is surely booked to be in the places and can take the race.

Not a race I want to be heavily involved in but I am opting for Becauseicouldntsee – If the Thurles run was a warm up then the horse will be well for this and the yard are hardly one to tilt at anything.

The cross country will hopefully get the go ahead and if so I don’t think it is worth looking beyond 3/1 Uncle Junior and 5/1 Bostons Angel.  I would back the former, despite the top weight, who has experience of this game.

The penultimate race a class 2 handicap is a quality race and again is a fairly open affair – I could make cases for quite a few.

The most appealing of a long list are Inish Island who seems unlikely on profile but won a hurdle race last time at Downpatrick nicely.  In excellent hands to try to cope with the step up in distance and the assistance of the Walsh ride.

At Fishers Cross won readily last time and while seemingly moving left across the track for pressure, still had plenty in hand.  The jumping was a bit of a concern and let’s face it, Cheltenham is going to examine that closely.

Saint Roque is interesting, bought down when getting competitive latest, but it is a worry that Ruby has gone for Inish Island.  The course experience could be important but Nicholls string seem to be going a little of the boil after an awesome run 3/4 weeks ago.

Sivola de Sivola has a big race in him but often needs a lot of encouragement and if something arrives on the hill travelling more smartly, I am not sure I would want to be on the Tom George inmate in a crisis.

Tight call between some interesting sorts.  On each you make a compromise   The compromise I am happiest with is that At Fishers Cross, can step up and make quality count.  I am hoping the slower pace of this race will enable a cleaner round of jumping.  9/2.

Eduard is the bumper tip at 9/2 after ifandbutwhynot franked the Newcastle race they competed in.