Tag Archives: swincombe flame

December 27th – Kempton and Leopardstown Tips – keep the Christmas winners rolling!

Good evening from the major who writes from the armchair of the living room, stuffed full of Christmas gammon, my body groans.

The rain is persistent and dark outside, best not venture out. Instead wallow in the digital glow of an online account bigger than twelve hours previous.

Forgive some gloating but I was fairly pleased with my King George write up. As well as tipping the winner, I strongly hinted at Captain Chris and my staking plan matched. Winners from Dynaste and Spurs helped and a late night top up on Stoke was the icing. Lovely.

Christmas is all about excess and tomorrow, our already brimming vessels will have more goodness carelessly splashed into them. I say careless because it is hard to keep up. Some of the jockeys riding today, I simply did not recognise. There was no way I was ever going to have the most rudimentary understanding of how the Sedgefield or Market Rasen cards might shape.

I am used to scanning every race, every day of the year. Often you get a sixth sense for a card you like. Sometimes the Grade 1, sometimes the class 6 £1900 Wolverhampton seller. With this many meetings, it is hard to do that which makes me uneasy.

Still, while the finest cuts are being presented at our table and I am distracting you with my own psychological flaws, you must forgive my rudeness, let us look closely at what is presented to us and rise up as one against the enemy…

To the racing.

Kempton Tips

The French listed form of Irish Saint and the Ditcheat record of handling these French imports means there is only one possible bet for me in the opener, Nicholls has a good record in this race.

I cannot find a bet in the second. Certainly the Arkle favourite Simonsig should win but in these conditions and conceding the best part of a stone to Hinterland (no mug), I can’t be on at 1/6.

In the mares handicap at 1.30, I am backing Bunglasha Lady who looks progressive. Her last run suggested she is a bit of an awkward customer but she handles soft and has a reasonable weight to lug around. Over the distance, this will take a lot of getting and if she can be switched off, I would be surprised if she was not involved. Swincombe Flame is an obvious danger as is the Henderson improver, One Lucky Lady.

The Peterborough

The 2.05 is the twice rearranged Peterborough Chase. It is an interesting and difficult race to tip because none of the horses have won in heavy ground.

For Non Stop missed his King George assignment to take part in this and he will be the stopping point for many, particularly as he tried hard to give weight away to Captain Chris last time out who went on to greater things in the King George. I have two main concerns, one is his record going right handed and the other is the heavy ground.

Hunt Balls heroics seem to be fading fast but it might be a bit early to write this one off. His soft ground form is strong.

Menorah may be stretched and is a dicey prospect. French Opera is not my type and certainly doesn’t feel the sort to be improving now.

No on balance, the Peterborough Chase tip is Hunt Ball who has form measuring close to the best with these. Having looked so straight forward last season, I am willing to draw a line through the seasonal reappearance and assume well being. 6/1 with Paddy Power.

The Desert Orchid Chase

This should be quite simple from the Majors point of view, it all revolves around the two defeated adversaries of Sprinter Sacre from the Tingle Creek and the useful if a little quirky Wishfull Thinking.

Sanctuaire finished in front of Wishfull Thinking last season and is fine on soft ground. Having recently been beaten by Kumbeshwar and now having to concede another 4lbs to that rival it might be surprising to find it is my tip for the Desert Orchid.

Kumbeshwar is probably underrated overall and probably the Tingle Creek was a very big step forward on previous form. Anyone who watched the race though knows the cost Sanctuaire paid for asking the questions of Sprinter ‘The Aeroplane’ Sacre. Much more sensible tactics will be applied here as there is no one of the Aeroplanes’ quality here. Evens…. Fill your boots and thank me later.

Other Kempton Tips

In the 3.15, I am tipping a small wager on Mister Hyde who will like conditions and showed a likeable attitude latest. Jonjo and Maguire is an interesting partnership and maybe we can expect a little more from this 11/2 shot.

In the last, my advice is, take a pin, drop it in, rip your selection out of the paper, go to a bookmaker on course, screw the paper up and set fire to it, eat any remaining ashes. Look bookmaker in the eye, about heel and leave. I just saved you some money.

Leopardstown Dial a Bet and Future Novices Grade 1’s

Two good races in Ireland for us to consider.

The Dial a Bet features Sizing Europe who is a 2/5 shot but should murder this lot. Possibly the ground is a bit slow but the shorter distance will balance. I really fancied Sizing Europe for the King George, this is a top class horse and I would be surprised if any of these can land a blow on him.

In the Future Novices, Waaheb and Sizing Rio both have plenty of potential, with the former a very exciting sort. However, Jezki is possibly the best Harrington prospect for some time and I think this one is set for the top, I am backing it at 5/4 and in a quick fire double with Sizing Europe.

Good luck and roll those dice.

Thursday Tips for Cheltenham, plus Craven Tips – Newmarket…. Some big price selections….

Good evening from the Major.  Wine flowing, mind calculating; preparing for battle at Prestbury Parks temple of National Hunt racing.

Tomorrow is business and pleasure as the Major hosts high performing colleagues.  Much fun will be had in glorious company and the Major relishes the opportunity to enhance his reputation as a barely profitable lunatic.

Cheltenhams Thursday Card…..

2pm Novice Hurdle (Listed)

£5 each way is not a huge stake but applied to a huge 54 tote returned festival winner and many hundreds of pounds flow your way!  Une Artiste was tipped by the Major for a Sandown race (which she failed in) and then backed on the day during the festival… glorious.  I do not feel the need to apologise for this gloating.  Those who know my gambling realise I have earned the moments in the sun whether fortuitous or engineered through deep analysis.

Will the girl go in again?  Well she carries a Grade 3 winning penalty after her Fred Winter win but as a four year old boasts a weight allowance and a progressive profile.

In all honesty, the way she finished up the hill, I think odds-against is a terrific bet and I suggest a hefty slice.  Swincombe Flame is an obvious danger but the 5/4 about the tip, Une Artiste is way too tempting.

2.35 Cheltenham Tips – Novice Chase

The Major has also seen the favourite of the second race win when Take of Shoc’s went in at Stratford.  Having fallen in love with Rebecca Curtis I am tempted to back it blind but for you, my faithful followers, I shall put my personal feelings to one side.

Indeed, I avoid Take of Shoc’s who steps up in grade on a hat trick bid and that might find the animal out.  Instead I tip, Back Bob Back.  Last time out, the horse won well at Chepstow and looked entitled to a hefty rise in the weights.  7lbs was more than reasonable.  There were some previous runs that were of dubious quality, one of which a valid heavy ground excuse can be made.  On balance, 5/1 is a fair price.

3.10 Listed Mares Handicap Hurdle

Both Kells Belle and Ixora are respected after running reasonable races in the Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham.  However, they meet a horse in Tante Sissi who is on the rampant upgrade and is sure to improve further for distance.  4/1 may be generous.

Silver Gypsy showed a bit of promise on her Bangor run last time out.

3,45 Cheltenham Handicap Chase Tips

A very trappy affair.  Exmoor Ranger throws himself at fences at times and is far from foot perfect.  He has returned to some sort of form in the Kim Muir, notably that run was in behind Sunnyhillboy who was desperately unlucky not to pick up a Grand National.

Also interesting is Bradley who went in at Haydock recently by half a dozen lengths and looks very interesting having been a former winner at Cheltenham in 2010 on hunter chase evening.

A good round of jumping from Ashkazar would be lethal to all concerned as his chase mark is 20lbs+ below his hurdle mark.  2 runs over the bigger obstacles have wielded one win and the yard are in good touch.  6/1 seems big and so the tip is Ashkazar…. load the cannon.

4.20 Cheltenham Handicap Hurdle

Seventeen runners in a difficult to solve handicap.  There is an obvious standout candidate in 6/1 shot Allthekingshorses who was only raised 4lbs for his last win in a race in which he really showed some inexperience.  If he has learned from that, then he would be entitled to go close but the Major looks elsewhere.


I have long been a fan of Pause and Clause who I simply have to stick with through thick and thicker.  16/1 is a damn fine price if a good run could be guaranteed, which is far from likely.  Join me in the insanity realm if you like…. 16/1 tip, Pause and Clause.

4.55 Cheltenham

Wester Ross is the 11/4 (Bet365) selection because although a visor is fitted, Cheltenham will definitely suit the hold up style.  Simple, never complicate the beautiful, allow it to breathe.

5.30 Tips for the Bumper! Endsleigh Insurance Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race

A mares bumper sponsored by the Majors employer.

I work for Endsleigh running the Broker side of the business which specialises in commercial insuranceunoccupied home insurance and financial advice.  With many colleagues there who know my passion for the sport, this race more than any will be an intense fire of pressure to find a winner.

Only Betfair pricing available this evening but Glorious Twelfth and Tickety Bleue look the two to be on after their Newbury battle.  The likely favourite is the latter who is entitled to improve and overcome a 1olb turnaround in the weights.

However, the Major wants to highlight three that could outrun likely massive odds.

Firstly, Susan Nocks runner, forecast 33/1, is a rare runner for the yard in a bumper but is out of Kayf Tara and that is an advert in itself.

Two other newcomers catch the eye in Maid of Oaksey and Old Dreams.  The latter earns the vote at a likely 14/1 as an Old Vic offspring for a trainer that knows how to ready a bumper sort.

Finally Newmarket Tips – The Craven

Hannon often is unsure of his best runner and the Major opts that Crius is the best of his three in a tight call.

Most Improved is second in the Guineas market as I write but that is based on placed form in a Dewhurst which although clearly classy…. is placed form.

On balance 9/1 Crius for a win bet.

Kabooom Tipping Form Continues … 13/2 winner – Now to Navan

The Saturday Sermon served up a (13/2 adv, 9/2 returned) winner in the shape of Swincombe Flame. Shabash, thats 12/1, 8/1 and 13/2 in the Majors last six tips.

Swincombe taking the top of the last hurdle to hand the advantage momentarily back to Featherbed Lane

The Major did not realise at the time of tipping that this was going to be the Pricewise horse which did nothing for readers who were to join the bet later in the day.  As Pricewise selections will, the value contracted the closer we got to the race.

Swincombe Flame took the Lanzarote in a thrilling finish.  She was scruffy at the last two fences handing the advantage to Featherbed Lane but the selection battled back under a strong ride to get upsides at the post.

For his troubles the jockey picked up a ban after striking the horse ten times.  This was widely criticised by fans of racing online who felt that in such a thrilling race it was harsh for Will Kennedy to emerge with a ban and the loss of his share of the prize money (c£2,000).

The Major does not take this common view.  While I understand the frustration of the jockey, the rules on whip usage are simple and right.  For those that criticise, the Major would ask, what system is better.  This one has flaws.  I do not think that Will Kennedy is a harsh jock and I can see that in the heat of the moment he had a momentary lapse.

However, we have seen some horrendously harsh rides in the past and we have had stewards making decisions based on a subjective view or a ride.  This system is simple and jocks understand where the line is. 

I offer this opinion knowing full well that the Major would not have found the winner, without that forceful drive.  

I do not think the mare was handled too roughly (even though his last strike was in the wrong place) but we have to have some rules and these boundaries are simpler than many others.

Thank you to those who thanked me for yesterday’s post.  The maths around probability and odds seemed to go down well.  I think the calculation to work out whether something is a value bet by using the odds and probability calculation should be taught in schools!

Sunday – Navan Grade C Chase 3.30

Having given a glimpse of how I personally price up markets, I thought a practical example today would be useful.  I wanted to include the full chart showing how I assessed each horses chance on ground, trainer form, recent form, best form, ground, distance and trainer jockey strike rate.  Sadly the blog does not give enough room.

I have however, shown the total I arrived at and the price I therefore applied.  Then I have shown the market pricing and you can instantly see what is worth backing in the Majors book.

To add some context I think Jake the Bus is the bet.  Priced at 3/1 generally, I think it has a better chance.  His recent form, the form of the jockey for the stable and the overall quality is enough for the Major.  He is the grand old age of 12 but still seems in great spirits. 

This is not the strongest of Grade C chases and I maintain that Jake the Bus is the one to be on. 10/3 is your best price with Ladbrokes.

OUTCOME My  Probability in 100 The Majors Odds (Decimal) Market Odds
Jack the Bus 40 2.5 4.3
Kakagh 5 20.0 6.0
Silent Creek 8 12.5 4.5
Four Chimneys 8 12.5 17.0
Prince of Leisure 5 20.0 9.0
Jewel of the West 5 20.0 21.0
Wicklow Lad 21 4.8 4.5
Welforth 8 12.5 34.0

The Saturday Sermon – The Lanzarote, Premier League Tips

Good morning from the Major and the compacted frozen fields of Worcestershire.  The hard earth is covered in a whiteness that defies racing to go ahead and the constitutional stroll was in an air crisp and cutting.

Swincombe for the Lanzarote in the Majors eyes

The Major had a bit of a turn around this week, putting up an 8/1 and a 12/1 winner from four selections since Sunday.  Let us see if we can find an angle into the days sports to reap reward from the soulless enemy who awaits our arrival with his devious book.

The key to all gambling is forming an opinion and understanding how that relates to the bookmakers price.  You must base your opinion in research because myth pervades the media and other people.

Thus, opinion may be better expressed as knowledge.  To be a good gambler you need to question perceived wisdom and form your own line of knowledge.  Your ability to do this dictates your profitability.

For example, I have been backing Spurs for some time thinking that behind Manchester City they have been the second best team in the league.  Bookmakers have taken time to catch up to that view and this has given me a price advantage during that time.  Sadly, no longer! 

A good bet should not be struck solely on probability, it should be taken as a combination of probability and price.  You have to mercilessly seek out advantageous knowledge that allows you to make better judgements as to where you think pricing is wrong in a bookmakers market. 

How do you do this?  My advice is always to price your own market up based on your research and then compare it to the bookmakers prices.  This ensures that you do not follow the crowd and perceived logic but instead compare what you actually think to what is available.  This process will also train you to be better at pricing and weighing up probability.  

Most gamblers go on a hunch, think of something they could conceive and then look for a best price.  Not many people back 100/1 shots but you should if it really is a 50/1 shot. 

It is perverse to start with a price and then see how you feel, first you need to understand what you think the price should be and then seek better, so the advantage is with your knowledge and opinion. 

The Saturday Lesson – The Mathematics of Bookmaking

Reading from the Major Chapter 3, versus 12 -18….

To calculate your price, write down the possible outcomes that could occur in an event (3 in a football game) and then write down all of the factors you think should influence that outcome.  This is the research stage.

For football as a minimum you should consider injuries, form, squad quality and home/away form, but add in any factors you like.  

Next you need to calculate the probability of each outcome, as you see it.  The easiest way to do this is to allocate points out of a hundred as to how likely you see an outcome.  I often find a useful question at this point is ‘If this game were to play a hundred times, how often would I expect each outcome’.

Here is an example.

If I consider the Chelsea v Sunderland today, I am taking into account Chelsea’s squad troubles (I do not think all is that well in the camp), Chelsea while having a much stronger squad have won only half of their last ten home games.

Sunderland have now managed five wins in seven, revitalised under a new manager.  Chelsea are without Drogba and Kalou who go to Africa while Malouda is unlikely.  They will have Terry and Sturridge.  Sunderland are missing Brown.

On balance I score it Chelsea 50 Draw 30 Sunderland 20.

So how to calculate odds?  Well, you need to use the formula that the Major has adapted.  Take the probability that you worked out (expressed as a number of occurrences from one hundred) and then apply this formula..

 Odds = 100-(probability/(1-probability))

So for example, I think Chelsea will win, in todays conditions, 50 from one hundred times thus 100-(50/(1-50) = 1 or expressed as a more familiar bookmaking odd evens. 

To show this works in an easy context, consider the same market with all outcomes equally likely.  Therefore your probability (from 100) is 33.3.  In my calculator, the odds of each outcome is 2 commonly expressed as 2/1.  Thus a pound on each outcome would always get your money back in that market. 

Crucially, a bookmaker will not price this way, they need to make a profit.  Thus, they will have an extra step which will be to reduce the number by around 10-25%.  This is called their overround and is designed to ensure they make a profit.  Instead of offering 2/1 in my example, he might offer 7/4, slightly shorter on all three outcomes.  This is why it is always hard to find genuine good value in any punt.

It is useful to be able to calculate how high the overround is, it shows how greedy the market is!

The formula to calculate the probability back from the bookmaker odds then first convert the odds into a probability.  To do this, take the odds and apply the following denominator/(numerator+denominator)… so 2/1 becomes 1/3 or 33% and 4/5 becomes 5/9 or 55.6%.  Then add them together and subtract a hundred

So, in our case of three 2/1 shots, each priced now at 7/4, then we need to add three lots of 4/11, which is 36.4%, thus three times that minus a hundred is 9.1%.  To check that works, consider placing a pound on all three outcomes.  Your return is £2.75 and therefore you lost 25p from £3.  25/300 = 8%.  This is slightly short of the overround which calculates on a round basis so for example, to get £3 from 7/4 you need to stake £1.0909.. 

A cursory glance at the pricing for Chelsea versus Sunderland shows that 7/2 is generally available about the draw, 8/1 is available about a Sunderland win and Ladbrokes are best price Chelsea at 9/20.  With these prices the overround =  2.2% – It is lower than it would be with any one bookmaker but we are taking advantage of best odds in the marketplace.  If the overround ever drops below 100% then you can make money without risk using the right staking strategy.


To calculate an easier version to use when pen and paper are not handy, use

Value = (odds x probability)/100

Express  odds as a decimal and probability as a number from 1 to 100.  If the number exceeds 1 then it is a value bet, simple.

Again the probability is you own thinking so for example, the odds for Villa to win at home today are 6/4 or 2.5 (expressed as decimal odds) multiply that by your probability, mine is 50 ( I would fancy them to win half of these encounters v Everton ) so 2.5*50 = 125.  Divided by 100 = 1.25 A VALUE BET.

My Chelsea example would be odds 1.4 * probability 50 = 70 DEFINITELY NOT A VALUE BET.

So if anything can be drawn from this mathematical look at odds remember to convert odds to decimals, multiply by the possibilities of the event occurring in a hundred and divide by a hundred.  Over 1, get stuck in like a lunatic, below 1, leave it for the sheep.

There, you can now price your own markets and talk more knowledgeably about why you want to back an outcome.  If someone tells you something is a ‘good price’, ask them in their view how many times from a hundred they think the outcome would occur.  Then calculate the value based on the odds and their probability and see if they are right!

To the Racing

2.25 Punchestown – Juvenile Grade 3 Hurdle

Clearly Ut de Sivola is thought of in magnificent terms because the 1/3 price when the only Irish or British form is winning a Clonmel maiden looks frighteningly skinny.

Ok that run was in Heavy but you have to be brave taking odds on prices on these juveniles. 

My money on this will always be on One Cool Shabra.  He lost a Grade two last time out by half a length after making an error at the last.  He has a superb attitude and seems to take his racing well, even when in soft conditions.

10/1 does not reflect the chances, have a slice.

The Lanzarote – 2.50 Kempton

There is still some doubt as to whether the Lanzarote will go ahead.  Assuming we get past the inspection then we have a decent little contest on our hands.

 This is the sort of handicap I like to apply trends to, but there is a complication.  This race has been moved to Carlisle for two years and seen two distance changes from 2m to 2m5f, via 2m 1f.  Therefore it is comparing apples and pears.  That said, 6 year olds under eleven stone have a good record which brings to the fore; Drumshambo, Sincombe Flame, Timesawastin, Eastlake, Decoy and Lightening Strike.  Act of Kalanisi and Ohio Gold just fall above the weight marker.

Of them, Ohio Gold looked a great horse with the superb teenager Brendan Powell taking off a further 5lbs (he won’t have that claim for too long!).  Sadly I think this horse needs to get his toe in and so overlooked.

Swincombe Flame will handle the ground and is no doubt well handicapped.  Being introduced at this level is an advert in itself.  13/2 seems very fair and whats more impressive is the record in winning in big fields which is highly impressive.

At a bigger price I like Eastlake too who may continue improving and at 14/1 seems fairly priced.  Timesawastin could run a big race if on a going day, he is one that has hung and reared before now!

I am going to suggest backing both of my main fancies each way.  While Skybet and Bet365 go five places, the prices do not warrant backing them there.  Take Swincombe Flame at 13/2 with Sportingbet and Eastlake at 16/1 with Victor Chandler or William Hill.

Send me a postcard.

To the football…

If you bothered to read the mathematical betting education above then you would know that I am all about Sunderland getting something at Stamford Bridge.  Of all the markets, I think backing, straight, the draw at 7/2 and the Sunderland win at 8/1 gives best value.  2/5 Chelsea is not how I see it today.

The only other bet for today for me is at Ipswich where I expect Blackpool to take the spoils.  The Lancashire team are mounting their promotion charge while Ipswich, whom I fancied early in the season, don’t seem to be firing.  6/4 is more than fair.

May your dinner be Italian, a broth of clams and mussels with Swordfish perhaps, much like the Major enjoyed this week.  Take a voluptuous sort with flaxen bountiful hair and a smile to match.  Tip well and be discreet as your wallet thuds to the table.  Her eyes widen just the tiniest amount and you know the game is won.

Courage and shuffle those cards.