Tag Archives: swing bowler

Cheltenham Tuesday Tips – Its Cheltenham Eve… The Arkle and Champion Hurdle await tomorrow…

Good evening and merry Cheltenham Eve from the Major who writes from the vengeful cold wasteland of Worcestershire.  The Siberian wind swirls across the landscape whipping silent flakes of snow that land anonymously.

It is cold.  The sort of biting wind that searches every channel of clothing, driving deeply into the joins, seeking and exploiting weakness.

If you are coming to Cheltenham, dress warmly, wear layers, lots of layers.  While out earlier, I think I caught ‘Weather Tourette’s’… such is the ferocity of the Russian air, it causes uncontrollable swearing that my mother would have been ashamed to hear me exhale.

Upon Cheltenham Eve the excitement amongst the twitterati of racing acclaim is etched into their timelines.  Right now, all of our dreams are intact, all hopes remain untested, it will only remain so for a short while longer, savour this for anticipation is as good as the day itself.

The Major will take you through the Tuesday Cheltenham card.  The battle is now upon us, our forward units have been skirmishing the enemy lines for many months, we have engaged man to man with bayonets fixed and now we settle down to sort it out.

I hope you arrive with a war chest becoming the great week.  I hope coins are spilling from your wallet.  If you are one of those that believes you should bet within your means, please find yourself another blog, you are not welcome here.  If the stake matters not, then there is little point to your endeavour.  Have a little edge to your stakes… live a little, load those cannons and feel the rush of adrenaline.  This is Cheltenham, it is good to be alive and be here.

I am conscious that the blog will be receiving more than its usual readership.  If you are new to these shores, welcome, whether tourist or new follower, I wish to be a good host.  The Major is free, barely profitable and certainly unhinged… read on my friends and take what you will.  At the end I have posted a few blogs to give you some second opinions too, you see, I believe in customer advocacy.

Please consider taking part in my charity tipping competition.  I am inviting you to take on my 4 year old son who has picked his Cheltenham selections.  Full details in this post.

A note for my strategy… The first two days of the festival are run on the old course and this is well worth taking notice of.  The turn in for the old course gives a fairly short run in.  You might think that with soft ground and a hill to contend with, it gives those from the back a decent chance.  Yet, last year, the opening days required horses to be prominent and the Major will be seeking these sorts in the tips for the Cheltenham Tuesday card….

Daub thy war paint young warrior, sharpen that lance point and bring up your charger.  We shall pick them at the gallop, crying Shabash and St George.

The Supreme

The opening race of Cheltenham 2013 has been made very interesting by the decision of connections to run My Tent or Yours as opposed to supplementing him for the Champion Hurdle later on the card.  The owner, JP McManus, already has Jezki, whom he purchased for an eye watering sum earlier in the season scheduled for the Supreme and after MTOY destroyed a good Betfair field and the tragic racecourse death of Darlan, many suspected, he might pay to supplement MTOY to the Champion Hurdle.

Instead, he takes his chance as a 15/8 favourite in the Supreme.  The Major thinks that common sense has broken out here.  My Tent or Yours has earned a mark of 162 for his troubles but should be introduced to the top prizes next year.

The Supreme is not always an easy race to tip.  Novices that are still on upwards curves can show some violent form swings.   The runners that are proven on the ground are My Tent or Yours, Puffin Billy, Champagne Fever, Jezki, River Maigue and Cause of Causes.

Of them, I feel My Tent or Yours has certainly shown the best form and will not put you off a decent bet.  2/1 is generally available this evening.

Yet the tip goes to 15/2 shot, Champagne Fever.  Ruby Walsh has selected him as the best shot and I think he may have a point, he has valuable Cheltenham form having won the bumper a year ago.  What I really like about the selection is that he is a prominent racer which at least will put him in the race on the home turn, that and a love of soft ground can help him overcome a marginal defeat to Jezki from earlier in the season.

Really worth taking Hills up on their 5 places paid offer – That is an incredibly generous start to a week of superb offers from the enemy.

The Arkle

When Donald McCain recently suggested that Overturn would give the grey Aeroplane Simonsig a race in the Arkle, Henderson was quick to give his own bullish view.

I can only see the red hot favourite shortening up as the main rival Overturn has been avoiding soft conditions all winter, in his career he has only won one of his four races on ground softer than good to soft.  Overturn is admirable but I feel will be setting this up.

Simonsig is 4/6 and I grant you it is no working mans price but we all need some winners on day one.

The JLT Handicap

Fruity O Rooney may well be a popular pick here having run so close in the same race last year.  noone would deny that he would be a worthy winner and he is racing off a 1lb lighter mark here.

Only one horse in the last fifteen years has won off a weight greater than 11-2 and the tally of winners contains just one 11 year old.  These seem logical enough trends and help us profile a likely sort.  Soft ground is also a big plus.

Jonjo has taken the race twice in the last five years, not the most robust stat but clearly Merry King will have his followers.  He lost a thorough battle last time at Haydock in very testing conditions.  It showed he has talent and heart as well as a liking for the mud.. shortlist material.

Quantativeeasing owes the Major and a return to form would hurt but not be that shocking, my main concern for that one is the ground.

Pete the Feat is the Hunt Ball of the season having gone up over 40lbs for his exploits.  Last time out was bitterly disappointing and many will now be feeling he has been caught by the handicapper but the Major holds a hope.

The two I like are Monkerty Tunkerty and Loch Ba.  The former at 16/1 is reaching veteran status which is not quite the profile I had in mind but he comes with a light CV that suggests he has more to give.   The latter showed tremendous improvement to win last time at Newbury in tough conditions and a rise of nearly a stone might not put him out of the frame for this.

Please note place terms, many bookies are 4 places only but plenty are 5 places.

Tips for the Champion Hurdle

The championship race of the Tuesday is the Champion Hurdle and the 2013 renewal seems to lack a little lustre.

The absence of Darlan is a loss and reminds us how frail the boundary of delight and despair.

Hurricane Fly is the one horse that could raise the roof on Tuesday.  He will come with an army of Irish supporters who are convinced that the Fly can regain his crown.  Last year I felt he had a fair crack and could not get to Rock on Ruby and Overturn.  The talk is that he was not quite right.

Certainly he has not put a foot wrong this year, destroying fields in Ireland that, to be fair, he should destroy.  That makes a reading of his form difficult.  He is also 9 and has had to travel…. not the sort for me at 2/1.

Zarkander has not put a foot wrong too this season and his defeat of Grandouet and Rock on Ruby at the course was particularly strong.  Both of his foes that day may be able to give a good excuse but Zarkander is starting to look like a horse who knows how to get his head in front.  He has looked a lot stronger this year and remains undefeated this season.

Grandouet is of clear interest.  Losing that day to Zarkander was no disgrace given the amount of time he was off the course previously   He is obviously a delicate sort and has an interrupted preparation once again.  That was the cause of a a significant drift in his price but connections have been reassuring.  He is only 6 and entitled to improve.

Rock on Ruby has run this season as though this was the only race on trainer Harry Frys mind.  Last year when he won the Champion Hurdle (tipped up ante post by the Major at 14s!) he was technically a Paul Nicholls inmate but operating from the satellite yard ran by Fry.  He has been fitted with blinkers for the first time which comes as a bit of a surprise to the Major.  I cannot bring myself to back him again.

So it is Zarkander and Grandouet for the Major and who gets the tip of death?  At the prices now, it has to be Grandouet.  I am suggesting a win bet too.  If he performs he is entitled as any to win.  He now gets 4lbs from Zarkander which with natural fitness after that first run back should be enough to turn the tables.  Have a slice.

The Cross Country

If you can brave the cold, head out to the middle of the course for the cross country – It is a thing to behold.

The Major is keeping it simple, Enda Bolger is the specialist in these races and Arabella Boy is a worthy favourite, have a large slice and thank me later.

The Mares Hurdle

Quevega bids for history in the Mares Hurdle, seeking a fifth straight race win.  What is incredible is that Mullins keeps this spring horse under wraps until this race each season and so she bids to do so on debut.  Does the ground hold a concern?  Not really, she seems very versatile… what a girl.

It would be an incredible achievement and she is sure to raise a fine cheer come glory or defeat.

Normally I would be getting edgy about backing a nine year old but she is so lightly raced and so well looked after that I think that the rest are playing for places.

Of them, Une Artiste is the one I would fear.  The Major has had some tasty wins with this girl, including a surprise in last years Fred Winter.  She is young, progressive but needs to be if she is going to endanger that record.

5.15 Listed Chase

If at this stage, the day has not gone to plan, I suggest a mere light interest in the last.  Save your ammunition for easier puzzles than this.

The Novice Handicap Chase is designed in the deepest darkest minds of our enemy.  A swirling vortex of factors, the inexperience of chasing, the lack of course form, the improvers and the ground… 20 runners… we stand little chance.

Hazy Tom won a good race at Warwick and was just headed at Mussleburgh, I would argue he wants to be stepped back up from the minimum distance and he catches the eye with the Majors favourite jockey Noel Fehily aboard.

Rajdhani Express is of some interest if his jumping holds together and 25/1 could look big.

Carlito Brigante as a Coral Cup winner has plenty of attractions but the going is a significant concern for the Major.  Klepht is one to watch in the market.

On balance, I am opting for Hazy Tom at 16/1.

Good luck to all of you throughout the week.  I will post Wednesdays thoughts by midnight tomorrow.  For second opinions on tomorrow, have a look at any or all of the following, they are ad free enthusiastic racing fans… Young Racegoer, Luke Elder, Good to Soft, King of the Jumps (Callum, Luke and Emma – I wish you all the best)

Courage and roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Betfair Hurdle Tip at 25/1 (as well as two other cheeky ones!)… What are they doing with Bog Warrior?

Good evening from the Major who writes from the comfort of his own home returning after business away.  Worcestershire is a little blustery and cold, a night to be indoors.

Today the tips at Bangor performed poorly enough.  Two winners from five is reasonable for a return if they were not 5/4 and 2/5 respectively.  Still, at least we felt the blood pumping.

It is not long until the Cheltenham festival.  The Major will continue to post his Cheltenham content here.  That feeling deep down is building, a low humming buzz.. transponders are activating, the signal from the central station is pulsating out across the land… can you hear it, bend your ear ‘and the tapes go up for the Supreme to get the 2013 festival underway…’

When I think about why I love racing so much, the word that sum it up is richness.  In my last post I lamented the loss of Darlan and crassly compared the loss of life to the beauty of the sport.  It is a harsh calculation.

The richness of racing is a beautiful thing.  In a world where entertainment output is increasingly simple and targeted at morons, racing remains a deep subject weaving form, language, art, science, human nature and luck into a fine tapestry.  When I first attended a course, amongst other basics, I craved to know what ‘off the bridle’ meant.  I do not believe the sport elitist, the answers are accessible.  Yet, there is such a depth to the sport, with time comes wisdom.

I believe it Descartes that suggested our lives were like sparks from a flame.  As children the spark is bright, we are hungry for knowledge and carry open minds. As we age, our minds gnarl, the spark dims, we long for knowledge no more.

To the sports, keep the spark alive…

Newbury Tips

The opening maiden is a classic punch up between the two top yards represented by Chatterbox 4/5 (Henderson) and Lac Fortana 7/4 (Nicholls).  Many will see the form of the former has a strong feel to it having put My Tent or Yours away and the latter is a debutante for Nicholls from a very strong novice string he has to deploy.

I am not convinced that the former has shown that much and giving more than a stone to a what is likely a very good horse in Lac Fortana might be a big ask.

The Denman Chase at 2.25 is a chance for Silviniaco Conti to cement his Gold Cup claims.  The 4/6 shot has been impressive this year and along with Long Run, he is my idea of the Gold Cup winner.  He has to put this lot away easily for me to be right.  The Giant Bolster is nowhere near good enough to take advantage off just 4lbs lighter in my view and has been over-rated since the last Gold Cup.

The 3pm is the Game Spirit and Wishfull Thinking is the current favourite, followed by Majala.  Yet neither of these have a Game Spirit profile as not many winners are nine, let alone ten.  I struggle to back Wishfull Thinking too as he has two ways of running.  Instead, I am having a slice of Edgardo Sol at 6/1 who has performed well this year and while he might prefer slightly better ground, I think it is allowed for in that price.

The big one from a punting perspective is the Betfair Hurdle.  My Tent or Yours is a 9/2 favourite and I am not a fan.  Cotton Mill is 8/1 and being backed, some popularity may have been gleaned from the Pricewise endorsement for the Champion Hurdle, I am not a fan.

Interestingly Geffen has two leading charges, one trained with Nicky Henderson and one with Paul Nicholls.  Of the two I much prefer Pearl Swan who I think has a decent chance and is freely available at 9/1 after prepping for this in a jumpers bumper, looks a plot sort – Worth noting that Nicholls won the Betfair last year with Zarkander who went straight to the Champion Hurdle… Pearl Swan also has a Champion Hurdle entry so it looks the same route.

The Betfair Hurdle tip from the Major though is a much bigger price.  Caid Du Berlais is 25/1 with Stan James and I think is worth a little punt.  Yes, the horse is 6lbs wrong but I think that could be an irrelevance   You have to ignore the collateral form from his Chepstow run and just accept that much better is expected… have a slice.  I am going to suggest a slice of Pearl Swan too at 9s and why not stick a couple of speculative quid on a Nicholls 1-2 with both?  Three tips in one race… What sort of tipster am I?  A bloody bad one is the answer and I am also suggesting you have a slice of Swing Bowler at 11/1.  The Pipe mare is out of Galileo and has been mighty impressive to date.

Leopardstown Tips

The opening juvenile hurdle can be taken by Diakala although with some other very exciting prospects in opposition,  a light interest is advised.

The 2.15 is an opportunity for Champagne Fever to put his last run behind him and confirm he is a leading Cheltenham chance.  Both Champagne Fever and Waaheb have had their colours lowered by the now JP owned Jezki.  The former probably has the edge on formline and 9/4 with Stan James is too big.

In the Moriarty Novice Chase, the Major is going to opt for Boston Bob who is the obvious choice and priced at just the right side of evens.  This horse is currently second in the market for the RSA.  His Albert Bartlett win was excellent and although he won his chase this year, it did require him to dig deep.  Back up in trip, I think he will find things much more to his liking and maybe Dynaste will have something to worry about if he wins well.

I am genuinely stunned that the connections of Bog Warrior are taking on Sir Des Champs and Flemenstar.  I am in no doubt that the horse is in that class.  Well OK, there is some doubt in my mind but I just love the way this horse races, I am a long term fan so feel I can assert my strong view that he should remain hurdling.  Why we are experimenting chasing again now is a mystery, he has a fair crack if sent to the World Hurdle, what is tomorrow about?  I love him and I will back him tomorrow and I don’t care what anyone thinks.  Don’t like it? Piss off.

To the football…

Swansea are constantly under-rated and so I am happy to be backing them at 10/11 at home to QPR.  Charlton at 7/5 look a bet at home to Birmingham.  I like Tranmere at 19/10 to win at Orient too.

May your dinner be delightful in company that is exhilarating.  Courage and roll those dice.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Diakala, Boston Bob, Edgardo Sol and Lac Fortana.