Tag Archives: taghrooda

The Saturday Sermon – The King George – The Majors Lucky 15… Courage, roll the dice

Good evening from a muggy suffocating Worcester scene where a sliding grey sky in the distance and the sheer heat of the moment speak quietly of the violence to come.

Tonight I have entertained at dinner my second son, Matthew, 6.  The boy loves his racing, always pointing at JPs colours and saying ‘Dad, that’s Tony McCoy’ no matter who the pilot.  We ate at one of those buffet style places, you know the sort of joint, generous on choice, sparse on quality.  Still, he entertained me with tales of his exploits, young shaver that one.

The Major has had another of his high-octane weeks, travel, pressure, heat and many a night spent late into the evening with the soothing aid of sleep inducing wine – I am not sure it helps but I enjoy it.  The pressure in the evenings in the latent heat builds in my head, in the morning, the head dulled by the previous nights chemicals, the pressure has condensed and feels like a yoke that rolls around in my skull as I turn restlessly from side to side aching for peace which never comes.  I do wonder whether my preference for National Hunt is purely based on it being at the civil end of our annual climate.

The Major had been in scintillating form.  I had forgotten what losses felt like, then came along last weekend and the pendulum swung again, not in my favour.  Luck does seem to come in runs, yet I am conscious as I type it that my regular readers will be thinking that this is most un-major-like.  Quite right, luck is irrelevant and the idea that runs exist as some sort of fatalism is as you well know, nonsense.

Yet I do believe in runs.  Stick with me.  You see, I have noticed in my own pattern of staking that there are times when I am following an angle of profitability.  You might spot a draw advantage, a ground condition or some trainer form that has not been widely advertised to date.  By pursuing a consistent line of logic, you build your own confidence and the cycle works.

On the counter, losses building up without an understanding of why your judgement is awry is a good time to stop.  Typically that form can continue as you don’t know what is wrong to fix it.  As frustration over performance builds, your ability to analyse the issue or to make rational bets dissipates.  When on a losing run, the last 30% of my bank is typically wasted in an emotionally driven speed betting session.  You sober up, the balance reads zero and if you are like me, you learned little.

Some of my pet hates… Folk who place an accumulator and then look to lay it off when the early legs land.  What is wrong with you?  Laying a position costs money, why bet an accumulator if you would not be prepared to stake your winnings from those early legs as a straight win bet on the latter legs?

Folk who see the world in black and white.  I hate the partisan the most.  Twitter politics is possibly the blindest commentary you might ever witness.

Rude folk.  No need at all.  Manners cost nothing – Should you lack them, please leave now, your sort is not welcome here.  The Majors followers hold the door, give up the seat, offer compassion and generosity and always make her tea in the morning.

Those late nights have had me watching some good drama.  I feel a certain middle class pride in extolling the virtues of The Honourable Woman, slightly less in promoting Utopia.  The latter appeals to my dark nature, the uber violence and detachment resonate in our age.

Both programmes have characters with whom I have fallen in love.  I must confess that this is a regular occurrence for the Major.  I would say at least three times a week, my heart is stolen and each new one is the best.  If I were to line up these beautiful souls, you might struggle to find a pattern.  No, there is no formula for me, perhaps the curl of a lip, the slender angle of a shoulder, the gentle shape of a calf or the harmonious sing song quality of an uncouth accent – I cannot explain how such things work, I am merely the victim of an unstable heart which will flutter, seemingly at any combination of striking features.  A female friend once said to me, it really is not love, je ne suis pas d’accord.

Enough of my rakishness, if the good lady strays this way, she will spit out her coffee and confiscate the key to the Tantalus.  If you do not own one of these, I suggest you invest todays winnings in one.

Our road, like that for Wellington is long.  The odds are overwhelming.  Do you know he had just 25,000 British troops, complemented with 50,000 foreigners to fight a Napoleonic force of a third of a million.  When it was all done, after the horrors of Waterloo where 50,000 lost their lives, Wellington prayed that he had seen his last action.  He had bought down an empire – This is our aim too.  We shall bring our enemy down, like his expeditionary force, we shall fight many long indecisive days, our losses shall pile up but our resolve will see us through.  The mothership awaits at the end of the journey.  Courage friends, roll the dice.

To the sports.

Saturday Racing – The Lucky 15.

I have reverted to a format of picking my favourite 4 tips for a lucky 15.  This is also therefore the Martin Hill bet – we are in this together.

2.05pm Ascot – Fillies Group 3

Two classy looking fillies go head to head here and it is easy to concentrate on just Muraaqaba and Osaila who are available either side of 2/1.

Osaila ran well in a Group 3, the Albany, on her second start and took that form into a Doncaster Novice Stakes race and won convincingly going away when asked the question.

In the blue corner, we have Muraaqaba who won her debut maiden very well indeed at HQ.  The form in behind has been mediocre but with improvement almost guaranteed, she could not have started her career any better.

My decision is to play Osaila at 9/4.  She has more experience, the Hannon yard is in better form than the Johnstone team and her last win looked better than the Muraaqaba race as she beat previous winners.

2.55pm York – The York Stakes

A nice day of racing at York, one of our finest courses.  The York Stakes is a Group 2 middle distance contest and there are a few interesting runners to focus on.

Windhoek caught my eye when winning on last years Guineas undercard at Newmarket.  He has not exactly gone on from there but has always had a touch of class and his last run was arguably his best when moving clear at his leisure in a listed middle distance race at Sandown.

Secret Gesture was second in the Oaks behind Talent, that form looked very good at the time but Talent has been my cliff horse and I have finally accepted defeat, she is not pegasus.  A bit like Windhoek, Secret Gesture has run a little bit mixed but dropped to a listed race for the girls, she came good last time.  Her allowances here as a 4yo are not that generous mind but if she is back to improving then, she is a player.

Long John is a fascinating runner starting a new career in Britain.  I am not sure he is a stayer but… hmmm….. Danadana will love the ground but lacks the class in my view.  Sharestan would be much shorter with a decent downpour but 12/1 seems generous.

In the end, Windhoek and Secret Gesture have played their hands in the top grade and been found wanting.  I am looking for something and Long John gives me that option, he has G1 winning form in the Southern hemisphere and has picked up a UAE 1,000 Guineas.  I thought his first run in Britain was perfectly acceptable in the Summer Mile.  He stayed on to place and this extra 500 yards might be just the ticket.

3.50pm Ascot – The King George

Only three classic generation beasts have won this race in the last twenty years and none of them were fillies.  Alamshar was a bit of a fly in the ointment, Nathaniel was a well deserved winner after being the bridesmaid to Frankel so many times and Galileo, well that was Galileo.

My point in raising this is that it is mighty mighty bold for connections to thrust Taghrooda into this race when a much easier option was the Irish Oaks a week previous.  This result will tell them if they have an Arc contender and for the sake of my 20/1 antepost tickets placed in the moments after the Oaks, I hope they are proven right.

Yet, winning the Arc as a three year old filly is easier than a King George.  Sound like an odd piece of thinking?  Well I just think at the height of summer with the fillies still developing, the weight allowances are far less generous.  Yet, the best 3yo fillies, like Treve last year have a great record when receiving lumps of weight in October in Paris.

The race is further complicated by the fact that the ground has been a bit changeable.  Stormy showers over Ascot on Friday caused the ground to go good to soft.  I assure you dear readers that unless more rain comes, it will go off as good at worst.  Ascot is one of the best draining tracks I know.

Telescope won the Hardwicke in some style.  As he blasted clear, I was reminded of the fine animal Harbinger who gave me a jaw dropping moment in the same race.  A definite contender.

Regulars know my feelings for Taghrooda, the time of the Oaks compares fairly well to the Derby, she would have been better with more to aim at and she could be the very best but I am making a leap to say she is.  What I saw at Epsom was enough for me to place my Arc bet.  This is a big ask.

Telescope and Taghrooda seem to be the two obvious candidates but of the rest, one must pause on Magician.  His Irish Guineas win last year was then followed up by a Breeders Turf win and chasing The Fugue home in her ideal conditions last time was nothing to be ashamed of.

This race is typically won by a colt near the head of the market and four years old.  Telescope it looks obvious and it might well be.  Yet, my heart tells me that Taghrooda is special.  Corals have 3/1, get invested and get used to the name.

5.05pm Newmarket 

When a Luca Cumani horse starts to show improvement, it is best to keep it on your side.  Such is the case with Lawman who won a Windsor handicap very well last time and that form is looking stronger now.  Ogbourne Downs who was fifth at Windsor, although fairly close up, went on to score in the week in another class 4.

2/1 is available right now but I suspect it won’t be anything like it nearer the time.  Get stuck right in.

May your dinner be taken in good spirits having landed the lucky 15 and asked the good lady where she would like to dine.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Oaks Sermon…. Epsom Friday and etched memories of Talent…

Good Evening from the Major who writes from a cooling Worcestershire scene where extremist changeable weather has delivered sudden violent sheets of water before sharply turning on a penny piece and gifting strong electromagnetic radiation strengthened by the summer season and subsequent position of the Earth on is elliptical dance.

The Major is tired after a week of excesses.  A day at the cricket turned into an all you can drink real ale saga.  An evening fine dining, rich food, to bed in the witching hour and today, a day around a golf course in great company but with an aching sorry back and blistered hands.

Last year, the Oaks gave me a tremendous thrill with me being a single winner away from £30k.  I still managed a tidy sum from my £25 stake and the centrepiece was a tremendous performance from Talent of whom I remain convinced is a first-rate filly who was a touch unlucky in the St Leger and would not have been out-of-place in the Arc.  OK, I may accept that this last thought is a little optimistic or perhaps romantic but I stand true to my assertion in the general if not the detail.

Talent was superb in the Oaks, the lesser fancied stable runner, she had won well on the all-weather, was bred for it and had Hughsie booked, I had also seen a piece where Beckett explained that he was struggling to split her from the much more fancied Secret Gesture who had been the pick of Crowley – Talent raced the first two furlongs like a fresh precocious juvenile.  She bit hard and rocked her head from side to side as Hughes fought with her to settle her – She wanted to let rip and he knew it was a mile and a half. 

Still, I thought the race was gone already, it is not often a horse fights that strongly and goes on to win, let alone as readily as she did.  Coming down the hill, she had calmed down and switched wide she came smoothly into the mid pack at Tattenham Corner.  Hughsie feeling her come to him, man and filly fused in athletic poise, the spring coiled, shouted in boyish enthusiasm ‘can you believe how well I’m going!’ I think his remark was intended at Moore but memory fails on the detail.

With just under four furlongs to home, Hughes had the audacity to take a further pull.  What was his thinking, at the time, I silently cursed, why break the momentum?  Perhaps though, Hughes intended to be the last play actor to the stage.  He may have been minded of her energy spent early in the race and felt that if he were to win it would be on the line.  However, this moment became inconsequential as he slipped the girl her reign and she simply sliced her way down the outside, eating up the ground in spite of the camber she was experiencing for the first time. 

She flashed past the line with The Lark and Secret Gesture in powerless pursuit.  Glorious – I recite this all from memory not because I care little about the accuracy, no no no my friends – I care greatly that as a voice in our wonderful sport you come to me.  I wish to give you slices of fine cuts to remind, enhance or simply share the richness of this magnificent sport.  God, those classy two-tone grey stripes, that cherry red hat…. If you won money on a lucky dip lottery ticket, these things would not remain with you. 

Tomorrow, I am being entertained.  I shall be calculating carefully the balance between polite guest and wanting to have a proper look around Epsom.  I am driving too and shall be in fine company.  Here are my thoughts though, do with them as you see fit.

Epsom Friday – Oaks Card Tips

In the opener, Thistle Bird returns to the race she won on the card last year, bless her, since none of the other runners have won at Epsom, this win brings her right into consideration.  Yet, against her, you can argue that this is a stronger renewal and she has looked a bit ‘found out’ at times. 

Now when I say you can argue that the renewal is stronger, I have mixed feelings.  For example, Just the Judge, an Irish Classic winner has hardly looked reliable since but is trading at 9/2.  This is a challenge in the race… No horse running has been placed in their last two races, the volatility is concerning.  Arguably Mango Diva is the most reliable but although it is a hard race to call, I am drawn all the way back to Thistle Bird.  Epsom form you see…. 11/4. 

Air Pilot is a very interesting runner in the second race.  My best friend Beckett runs a handicap debutante against highly experienced and highly competent company.  Very interesting but on the bare face of the form, work to be done – Of course rapid improvement might come but I prefer my dishes in this race to be served hot.  As such, Sennockian Star the Johnstone runner gets my nod.  He has course form and clearly more was expected last time when a well beaten favourite… 12/1 in a place… 10/1 generally.

Just like Thistle Bird, Gregorian returns to try to retain his Diomed Group 3 crown and he does seem to go well on his seasonal debuts – Definitely considered.  Highland Knight is a talented sort of old but his legs are probably weary although the course is none  Graphic is improving and has Moore to help from the saddle – I have that feeling.

It looks like Abseil versus the field in the Investec Mile Handicap at 3.20 and his main competition in my eyes is Dance and Dance as well as Vainglory.  I probably would prefer the former of those two as he did very well at Newmarket and knows his business around Epsom.  These are all good reasons to back any of the above but the Major is drawn to a horse I fear will be something of a profit drain for me…. Henry the Aviator.  He was my selection in a monster Scoop6 race and did let me down but I still feel there is more to come and you can back the tip at 28/1 if you are selective.

Then the big one.  I am not going to stand on parade, I am just going to unleash my considered view.  I do not trust the market in the Oaks very much, the Derby has an issue too and it relates to the track bias which I have already alluded to.  Now with the colts, their talent often overcomes it but it strikes me that on the feminine side of the ledger, they are more vulnerable to trappy undulating tracks that imbalance and change the rhythm regularly.   None of this field have run at Epsom.

The race has been less dominated by O’Brien as some of the other classics.  It has also been claimed by 20/1 winners in the last three years…..

It is worth considering the horses whose connections have shelled out £30k to run.  Anipa – £30k means nothing to that owner but the horse has merit, a damn fine turn of foot and a stable speaking highly.  Marsh Daisy – This one is more interesting indeed, has won at Goodwood and in good style – That course has similarities.  Lily Rules is a strange addition to the race as I see little to suggest she might place despite her improvement.  Finally , for the latecomers, Honour Bound who has been a madam for the handlers runs at 20/1.  She is in the hands of my Beckett Oaks Training hero and won the same trial at Lingfield that Secret gesture won last year.

Sea the Stars has a building sire reputation and it would be wonderful for him to claim a first Group 1 and with Taghrooda.  This one is bred from the blue stuff as is a cross with the Sadlers Well line…. Unbeaten too…. Shortlist.

In summary, I would not put you off Taghrooda at 9/2 (only in a place), that is value.  I feel compelled to have a small saver at 28s on Honour Bound too.  Yet, I am drawn to Marsh Daisy who can be backed at 12s with Skybet.  The Major is an old romantic and if Jimmy Fortune were to win the Oaks given his recent personal tragedy, there will not be a dry eye in the house.  Go on Jimmy.

Parbold disappointed me last week and so in the penultimate, I side with That is the Spirit at evens.  Then for the lucky last….. and God alone knows we need it… Art Official 14/1 – Hannon Buick…. something to do with the ground and … I am so tired.

Good night.

Courage and roll the dice.