Tag Archives: the fugue

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.

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The Saturday Sermon – Irish Champion Stakes Tip – A dash of serendipity… Leopardstown and Haydock etc

Good morning from the Major who writes from a glorious Worcestershire scene with stunning early morning light splashed across the deep green lawns.  A faint sharpness to the temperature betrays that we are at the edge of the seasons.  The jumps are coming my friends.

A few nights back, I was driving late at night across the Warwickshire countryside, the last flickering of a blood red sunset was extinguished and the peaceful nature of the empty road was in harmony with the dark sky, peace.  It was still warm enough to travel with the window open which is a ready preference to air conditioning to me.  If not for the freshness of the air then for, the rush of it over skin at high speeds, testing the resistance, very pleasant, very childlike.

While the road was fast, my mind wandered, as it will, I was able to tune into the radio in the background from time to time and what I heard, I found interesting.  The programme was concerned with Serendipity and the presenter seemed to be examining how it is created, it struck a chord.

For what it is worth, I consider your chances of enjoying your life almost entirely dependent on you and bearing no correlation to the random nature of your environment.  There are those that believe themselves governed by luck, dark forces or benevolent powerful religious deities.  Crackpots aside, I would accept that to a point, fortune is an influential factor in your happiness but not necessarily in the way you might expect.

I believe you create your own luck in one crucial aspect, by seeking it with a healthy outgoing attitude.  Finding luck in my view is one part state of mind and one part fortune.

Consider coincidence for one moment.  When something seemingly, incredibly unlikely occurs, we could consider this to be an act of a hidden hand.  Yet, I would say that it is massively unusual that incredibly unlikely things do not happen all of the time.  This is just a statistical view, after all we are involved in hundreds of thousands of interactions each day.  Some are personal, others with objects, others with technology.  Is it not reasonable that if we are engaged in a thousand activities a day, then once in every three years, a one in a million event will occur?  Since you know 500 people, it is likely that you here of a one in a billion occurrence, twice in a decade.  In other words, incredibly strange things are surprisingly common.

We don’t believe this to be the case when a coincidence occurs because we only consider the coincidence in the context of that event.  If for example, you bought a second hand car and in the boot found an old possession of yours that you had left on a train some years ago, you would consider it a fateful act.  Considering the odds of an occurence such as this in isolation it is understandable that you might seek a solution that involves some hidden hand of fate.  Yet the solution is more boring in one sense.  While you found a possession in the boot, you did not perhaps crash into an old school friend on the way home, or find that the car dealer shared the same name and date of birth with you.  In other words, coincidence happens because of the massive number of opportunities it has to occur.

More vital as to whether coincidences will occur in your life is not whether it will happen but your ability to spot them.  Your ability to live a life enabling happiness to occur in the twists and turns of lifes path.

I think there are two facets to your ability to spot the swing of fate and fortune around you.  Firstly, it is about routine, if you live a clockwork existence, you will not be exposed to as many new experiences and will not have the framework for the serendipitous events that may occur.  Secondly, I believe attitude has a role to play.  My opinion is that you need to give good fortune your permission.

Last night, returning from a long week of study, I visited my local bookmaker and found him surprisingly busy for a Friday.  Not busy enough that he would not offer me a coffee, good man.  I got chatting to a very knowledgeable chap next to me about the chances of the Godolphin good thing in the 8.20 at Kempton.  The conversation was good and as it went on, I was taken by the good mans deep knowledge and strong views.  Turns out he has a string of horses across major trainers both sides of the Irish Sea.  He gave me one to follow.  Luck finds you my friends it is intrinsic in the materials and events around us.  It is happening now, relax and turn yourself in to that beautiful music.  I do not know where it might take you as there are billions of outcomes but I urge you to dismiss bad feelings as good events are upon you, if you let them be.

It might not be the best example I can give you but if you live your life in a generous and sharing manner and are open to the possibilities that may present themselves, such things will happen.  In each generation of human existence, our lives improve.

Irish Champion Stakes Tip

Without doubt, the sporting highlight of the weekend for me is the Irish Champion Stakes.  Being run as a twilight card, it is not until ten to seven this evening but I quite like that format.  It has the look of a cracking race.  I really hope that the rain has not been too heavy to persuade John Gosden to remove The Fugue who is a key actress on the stage.

Current Irish rain radar

Current Irish rain radar

That weather looks key to picking a camp to be in.  As you can see from the radar, there are some violently bright colours which look to me to be just to the north of Leopardstown.

If the track goes good to soft or worse is the key question .  So the Irish Champion tip is based firstly on how much water they are going to get and then on which horse will cope best with a downpour or the good to firm they advertised overnight.

I am gambling on a good dousing of rain.  I think the horse most unlikely to be involved if the ground goes soft is The Fugue.  She has only placed once on anything with soft in it and has more often than not, been withdrawn in such conditions.

O’Brien is claiming that Declaration of War is a better horse on good going but the stats seem to suggest he is less bothered by soft than his trainer thinks.  He has won in heavy and soft and in fact has never put a bad run in under those conditions.  There are times where I wonder if such statements are based on the trainers preference than the horses.  If you have a top horse, you might be reluctant to want to consider it versatile.  Like a utility footballer, the suggestion is jack of all trades, master of none.  For one, I am convinced that Declaration of War will love the conditions.

Kingsbarns did his winning in the slop too and while O’Brien has stuck with Declaration of War, the belated return of Kingsbarns could be quite a story.  Off the track for so long, it is hard to interpret the signal of him being bought back in at this level.  I do have a view though.

Coolmore may have an embarrassment of riches but they like to tell good stories with their top horses.  If they felt that Kingsbarns was not ready, I am sure they would have found him an easier entry point.  As such, that does not concern me.  His inexperience does, he has only raced twice, even if one of those victories was a very good Racing Post Trophy in which Trading Leather could not lay a glove on him.

Joseph O’Brien has voted for Declaration of War.  What does he know.

Then we have Al Kazeem, one of the heroes of the flat season.  When this horse retires, I am sure my enduring memory will be of the day he truly popped Camelots bubble.  He has been brilliant this season.  I do not think that it was the ground that got the better of him at York (when defeated by Declaration of War and Trading Leather), I think it was York itself.  York is definitely a specialist track.

I could dance and dance in this race but this is my confirmed position.  Forget reason.  I want the excitement of a Kingsbarns bet in my life.  I really like Seamie Heffernan and this horse was favourite for classics before his setbacks.  He will love the ground.  My view is cemented by the opinion that both the main protagonists to my tip, Al Kazeem and Declaration of War are highly tried this season (13 runs between them).  My boy might well lack experience but he gets a generous weight allowance and is fresh.  At this stage of the season, that might be the key factor.

Lots of horses get turned over at this end of the year and post race, the trainer will be telling us that they are to be put away.  I can imagine that being the case with at least one from Al Kazeem and Declaration of War.  The Fugue, if she runs, will hate conditions and Trading Leather, needs further.  Kingsbarns may well lack experience but I want that edge in my life and at 7/1 with Stan James makes a great bet.  Watch your each way selections because without the Fugue we are reduced to 7 runners.  Pray for rain.

The rest of Leopardstown…

Free Eagle may be 1/2 but is a reliable bet for multiples in the juvenile race.  Already favourite for the Derby, this looks an exciting sort.

The Matron Stakes is the poorest Group 1 race I have seen in some time and this is underlined by the market who go 4/1 the field.  Kenhope probably has the best form in the book but I am never a fan of horses with good placings hoping to translate that well to a win at the top-level.  This race might not take much winning at all and I am interested in three.  Caponata, will not mind forecast softer conditions, while not electric, she has ability.  Lily’s Angel could easily run into a place although even I am wary of advertising her win potential, it just strikes me that 20/1 is wrong.

However, my tip for the Matron is the only truly progressive horse in the line up, Fiesolana.  She has improved massively on some OK French form and is being aimed at a race on Arc weekend.  She has placed on heavy in the past so bad weather might be OK and at 8/1 with Ladbrokes, I am a buyer.

Haydock Saturday Tips

Haydock boasts an excellent card starring the Sprint Cup.  There has been a fair amount of weather related change here too.

The favourite has been a star of the season, Lethal Force surprised a fair few at Ascot but upheld that form well and looks the real deal.  However, clearly the trainer feels he likes better ground and the slight toe in conditions surely give others a squeak here.  I am slightly cautious of this view as like Declaration of War, Lethal Force has a good record on good to soft and I have seen nothing to suggest he might suffer if it is truly deep.

More than most race types, sprints I find rotate form more frequently.  These highly strung racehorses can have off days more easily than their relaxed middle distance counterparts and I am always reluctant to be on at a short price.

I am less keen on Gordon Lord Byron but you cannot rule out any sprint horse with Johnny Murtagh up.

You know what, I am sticking with Lethal Force.… That drift might be the making of us.

It seems the Haydock card has me backing favourites…. In the 2.40, Monitridge at evens looks a fine bet as Tawhid needs more than a 4lb swing to get back at him and these conditions will suit my tip.  Sir Mark Prescott delayed the start to his season but has been sensational and Pallastor at 10/3 is all the rage in the Old Borough Cup, I am in.  I also find it hard to doubt that Musical Talent 5/4 is a bad bet on handicap debut for the Queen and Hannon.

My only football tip is to give Sheffield United their opportunity in the last chance saloon.  2/1 away to Rotherham.  They might have recorded some poor results but I remain convinced there is a good team there who play nicely and will come good.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Montiridge, Lethal Force, Fiesolona, Kingsbarns

I trust your dinner to be taken in the finest company.  Eat heartily, drink well and remember… Courage, roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Racing Tips from Haydock and Sandown #crowdsourcingmultiple – Wimbledon and Lions – It is good to be alive…

Good morning from the Major who writes to you from a Worcestershire scene that is bright and damned splendid.  I was up early with the cool dawn to review the day’s sport, my company the bubbling coffee pot.  The garden is filled with a gentle golden light, the landscape here has come alive, it is souls awakening, I shall dust down the barbecue this evening.

The Major has a boss who swears by a pizza ovens’ superiority over the trusted barbecue.  I personally remain sceptical but plan one as a late summer project and shall report back accordingly.  I do like the idea of a table of toppings laid out while a tandoori-style clay oven roars aways with a small hardwood smokeless fire within.  It meets my pyromaniacal urges.

It is a good day to spend time outdoors, the sun on your skin, the fullness of summer about you.  By the time you get to dinner, whichever form yours takes, let us hope we have amassed winnings from our endeavours that bulge from our wallets embarrassingly.  Digging into your ribs, an uncomfortable reminder of the wages of sin which we relentlessly pursue.

The Major was at a family members 70th birthday last night.  At this fine age, as one might expect, the gentleman was concerned of his own mortality.  Not bleatingly morbid you understand, more considerately reflective.  We have but a short time on this river my friends… If I assume an average readership of 40 years of age, then you all have approximately 2,000 more Saturday Sermons before your demise, some less, some more…

Just think about that for a moment.  You visit another 2,000 times and then you die.  Spend this time wisely.  My advice to you, for what worth it might carry, is this – You, and only you, can be trusted to know your own mind and what you believe to be good and worthwhile.  Thus, cast off social conditioning and act accordingly, pleasure and generosity, seek harmony, judge not and allow ones heart to race with possibility.

We float by just the once, enjoy the trappings of what comes on the current… as the old Persian saying goes… lick up the honey stranger and ask no questions.

Dust, we all come together in the end.  In the meantime, I have 2,000 shots at both making you appreciate this drivel and landing you a mothership of biblical proportions.  Today, I have a real feeling that a monumental win is upon us.  There are some selections that I think have a bloody good chance so…..

Once again, daub thy war paint young warriors, sharpen that lance point and holster your curved blade, we may have to entertain the enemy at close quarters.   For they have closed their field positions and I intend us to skirmish towards them in open formation with infantry first, cavalry second, heavy horse last – There will be some warm work involved but I trust you all for it.  To the sports.

Sandown Tips

I love Coral Eclipse day – The race that pits the classic generation against their elders, the new pretenders versus the established stars.  We shall come to that…

In the opener, Plover looks the most enticing proposition having won a Kempton maiden well and run well on debut previously on Newbury turf, thus we can assume that the surface holds no problem.  The Oasis Dream filly is the likeliest winner but I am not confident enough to get too lumpy about the 13/8 branded about this morning.

The Major is even less enthusiastic about the second race which is a sprint.  The baton of success is handed from one horse to the next through the summer in these sorts of contests – Who knows – In the Crowd Sourced Multiple (a collection of tips from twitter) below, someone has suggested Kingsgate Native coming back to form after disappointing last time – Maybe?  No tip from me.

When horses fade late on in a race, the trainer often reaches for the ‘didn’t stay’ comment as a comfort.  This is what has happened with Windhoek who is now stepped back 400m in a hope to get back on winning form and fulfil earlier promise.  I like the horse and have fond memories of his win on Guineas day but often these trip changes mask an underlying issue… the horse is not good enough.  I remain here, ready to apologise personally to Windhoek and the fine Mr Johnston if proven wrong.

I do like Wentworth who is the subject of very positive mutterings from Richard Hughes.  I like Hughsie, decent sort, always gives an honest view – I am planning on doing a piece on my favourite jockeys soon and he is in the mix.  That said, I would say the weakest part of his race riding, to my amateur eye, is his positioning.  Over confidence or judgement gets him into some tight spots and Wentworth is drawn very wide today so this particular facet of his riding will be sternly tested.

No, I am having a small stake on Rockalong – He was a big disappointment on his penultimate start but was put away for a small break afterwards and then returned with a sharp runners up run at Salisbury – Could still be more to come and 11/1 gives us a sporting bet.

In the 3.15 is one of three ‘bets of the day’.  I am surprised that bookies are going 4/1 about Integral who looks to be a filly with a lot of opportunity.  Sir Michael Stoute trains the horse and this is a tried and tested route for some of his better horses… (3 winners in last 10 years).  Auction strikes me as the chief danger but I urge you all to load the heavy cannon here.

The Coral Eclipse is extremely fascinating if not the highest calibre renewal of the race.  Al Kazeem has proven a revelation as a five year old and is a deserving favourite.  As well as showing some class when putting Camelot (fallen from a lofty position), Al Kazeem showed grit at Royal Ascot.  I would not put you off, particularly if you are quick and get some of the 3/1 available.

In the last 16 years, there have been 5 winners of the Coral Eclipse that are in their classic years.  If ‘trip’ is oft the mask for a fundamental lack in equine quality, then unlucky in running is another… That brings us to Mars.  The only three year old in the Eclipse fits this description after disastrous poor luck in the Derby and in the Prince of Wales.  I like him but I don’t trust him.

The Major is plumping for The Fugue who in a poor Eclipse gives us an excellent chance.  She was a very good Nassau winner and her exploits in America were very good – The Prince of Wales was her seasonal debut which allows us room for further improvement… 9/2… come on girl.

Caucus has excellent tied form with Estimate which would put several of these opponents behind and looks the easy selection at 2/1 in the Marathon.

No tip in the last at Sandown.

Haydock Racing Tips

I was originally tipping just two horses at Haydock, Tumblewind and Albasharah but the Major loves nothing more than the request of a well heeled looking sort and Nicola (@madgecarlton) asked me to complete the card…. so….

There is a great bet in the opener at Haydock in 6/1 Tumblewind who I thought was very impressive last time and forms the second leg of three in my ‘bet of the day’.  A half stone rise is unlikely to stop that progress…. Boom get involved!

I think Dubawi Sound is the best of an uncertain bunch in the 6f sprint.  I have always liked Masamah who has the ability to break well and lead them a merry dance but the extra furlong is probably not to his liking and my selection

Albasharah looks a must bet 9/4 (Bet365) in the Lancashire Oaks and completed the ‘bet of the day’ set – She was as unlucky as you can get at Royal Ascot and this is one I am happy to extend the generosity of a second chance to!  De Sousa has been riding really well this year and is a plus.

In the Old Newton Cup, there are a few eye catchers as you might expect.  The Major has always been a fan of Sir Graham Wade who I am surprised did not go on to develop into a group class animal.  Although largely disappointing of late, I still hold the candle.  Yet, the Major shall leave those thoughts for another day.  Instead I would back Franciscan who clearly has been laid out with this race in mind.  A poor run last year in this contest belied the yards excellent record at targeting the Old Newton.  In the last ten years they have won the race three times with Zeitgeist, Alkaased and Mad Rush and they have ‘hit the bar’ on several other occasions.  If you put last years disappointing run in this race from this horse down to the deep conditions, then we have a live plot spreading out before us beautifully… get involved!

I would agree with Andy (see #crowdsourcingmultiple below) that Jive is the best chance in the 4.05 and 11/2 is a tasty price.

Shebebi has a style of running that is likely to set the race up for a closer but I am still going to give Dane O’Neill a chance to judge his ride from the front and make his ride last home at 8/1.

What a disappointment only three make it to post in the lucky last – Broughton the evens favourite gets my vote.

Good luck Nicola and remember, the Majors tips are akin to acts of god, who knows…. Inshallah.

The Lions will lose to Australia.  Murray will lose to Djokovich.  Easy double… Looks to me like Mark Carney, our new Bank chief has ordered up some more Quantitive Easing!

#CrowdSourcingMultiple

The Major has requested the best NAPs of the day from his Twitter colleagues…..  I shall be putting these selections into a multiple, using the power of crowd thinking to gain glorious riches….  I would also suggest all of these fine folk are worth following on Twitter… (the Major is @tdl123 by the way):

@lukeyboy1325 – Based in Canada (or was, hard to keep up with these digital sorts), Luke likes most sports, holds an opinion and is a generous tweeter:  Pique Sous at Bellewstown 🙂 double it up with Al Kazeem in the Eclipse

‏@Spinitg – Seanie is a must follow on twitter – He is as immersed in Irish racing as you can be.  7:20 Sylvian Mist 9/4 #nap

@a_p_l_77 –  Andy is a Liverpool fan and huge Racing aficionado – Prefers his National Hunt but I’ve known this shrewdie land a few pots…. Jive in the 4.05 at Haydock….

@boilberg – I must confess to not knowing Ben as well, yet…. NAP tomorrow is 2.55 Albasharah 2/1

@onedeswalker – Mick loves racing and always has a tasty priced multiple he is working up! …. I won’t insult you with the optimism of the treble but Kingsgate Native at 6-1 is best bet tomorrow. Forgive last run, would be 3s.

Finally in traditional style, the Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Integral, Tumblewind, Albasharah and Caucus.

May your dinner be fine and the company both engaging and beautiful.  Courage, roll those dice.

Wednesday Ascot Tips – Bookies 1 Major 0

Good evening from the Major who writes from a Worcestershire country scene where the heavy air settles uncertainly around me.

Tuesday was not a good day.  Losses are one thing but the way I decided against 20/1 winner War Command on the mere whim of Coventry winners being generally a lot shorter in the market… it sounds as daft as it looks now typing it.  Still, below I have prepared the Wednesday card and absolutely, one hundred percent, without question or hesitation, guarantee you nothing, nothing at all, other than the inner most thoughts of the swirling dark vortex of my mind.

War Command was the most exhilarating display of Tuesday simply blasting clear from the field, SHABASH! and coming home in glorious isolation – He is 10/1 for next years Guineas with Ladbrokes.  Yet for me, as eye-poppingly sexy as that performance was, it plays second fiddle to the return to the top of Dawn Approach.

His win lacked the spike of adrenaline one feels from a horse, clearly superior, surging clear of a defeated field… no, it was for rather different reasons that I thought it was a rather famous Royal Ascot performance.  Like the derby, Dawn approach pulled hard and I feared the worst but unlike the derby, he did finally settle.  There was some interference that effected Toranado slightly more than Dawn Approach but the two of the settled down to a traditional eye to eye, nostril searing, lung bursting battle to the post.  Dawn Approach prevailed.

Was he the better horse? Yes.  Wait, I hear Toranado fans cry, Major, we must object, you have already ceded that Dawn approach suffered less bumping and won by a nose, surely there is a moral victory for Toranado?

Well no.  You see, when it gets to fight time, when the bell rings, talent and running fast is one thing but I have no doubt that Dawn Approach worried Toranado out of it.  Well done, Dawn Approach, you gave us a race that shows off the magic of our sport, the backstory, the talent, the raw athleticism and, in the end, the heart.  To quote Kipling;

And so hold on when there is nothing in you, except the will which says to them ‘Hold on’!

Wednesday… the Major needs to tip some winners, I know.  I rely on your good will.  All I can promise are a few simple truths that hopefully you can carry with you during our barren runs.  I always follow what I write up.  I have no deals with bookmakers, there are never any affiliate links, or adverts – I get offers from time to time but this blog is just for us.  What I ask from you is that you act like gentleman, if you cannot manage that, please leave.

To Wednesday and the tips of glory.

Wednesday Ascot Tips

The Jersey Stakes

The Jersey Stakes is a bit of a consolation prize in many ways.  Not that anyone would bemoan or underestimate the value of a Group 3 prize but these horses are the ones that are not quite top draw.

Tawhid has been travelling already with the Godolphin horse contesting in Germany – of some interest.  Gale Force Ten competed in the French 2,000 guineas and I am a bit surprised he is being dropped in trip, I won’t be on the favourite.

Garswood was the great northern hope in our guineas but disappointed a bit after being supported.  The trainers comments suggest he was still a baby and might be seen better here.

My eye settles on two.  At a massive 20/1 price, Ajraam looks a real likely sort having won the Wood Ditton and then beating a very useful looking sort in Henry the Aviator.  My second selection is the French raider Mutin – Surely to goodness, this horse has made the trip with victoire in mind and I want to be on at 15/2.  If you want one, go with our Gaelic friend.

The Duke of Cambridge Stakes

Duntle is very unlucky not to have a Group one to her name after losing the Matron Stakes to a stewards decision.  She looks likely to go off favourite here.  She did win the Sandringham last year and has clearly been upgrading since, of serious interest.

I think we can get her beat though and I am looking at Thistle Bird, Dank and Chigun.  This lot have raced each other twice already and it is a score to Dank, a score to Chigun and a blank to date for Thistle Bird.

I like Thistle Bird but think the other two edge it.  The problem then is I cannot split Queally and Moore easily… I mean if push come to shove, I prefer Moore but they are both class pilots.

The fine balance though falls in favour of Dank on grounds that when beating Chigun, she was giving 3lbs.

Prince of Wales Stakes

Then the one we have been waiting for.  Al Kazeem versus Camelot.  I have to admit that I was caught out by Al Kazeem giving a good beating to Camelot last time out.  There were no obvious extenuating circumstances, in fact, Al Kazeem was the one with something in hand so it is surprising to see them again jostling for position at the head of the market.

To be honest, that is where my search starts and finish for the winner of the Prince of Wales.  I mean, you can make a case for the French one, Maxios who has looked good at Longchamp this term.  I think the main threat is The Fugue, the Nassau was amazing

I was very taken with Al Kazeem and he is reportedly Arc bound, all being well – His trainer has always thought the most of him and I think 9/4 is a tremendous price.

Royal Hunt Cup

If you get to the Royal Hunt Cup and are in need of a winner, you know you are in trouble.

Stirring Ballad will be the first port of call for many ships in the Ascot maelstrom.  Trainer Balding declared him his best chance of the week and given that man knows how to win a handicap like this, many have taken a keen interest.

I am going to take a risk on there being a story in it’s own right.  I am backing Burke’s Rock at 16/1 with Frankie Dettori, to rise like a phoenix and remind us of some of his former Ascot exploits.  This filly has a good draw and while you cannot be too confident in the Royal Hunt, I shall have a slice.

Queen Mary

Reroute is both the Pricewise horse and my own selection after recording an eye-catching time on racecourse debut last Friday at York.  Much of the early evening value has gone but 8/1, you want to be involved, you know it!

The Sandringham

The Sandringham is another head twisting puzzle, a mass of horses coming down the straight course,

You would do better than simply to back Bracing Breeze who is sent over y the Weld team.  His Ascot runners are small in number but high on success and Pricewise has already suggested this as a likely winner.

Zurigha would have been high on my list but has to contend with draw 8.  The middle stalls are OK but lower middle is definitely a hindrance, Bracing Breeze is next door so both have some work to do.

The Major is opting for Mango Diva, 6/1 who is the best drawn of the horses I fancy.  Ryan Moore does the steering and like many of those lining up, has plenty of potential improvement.

Courage, luck and I hope we have a better day two.

Thursday York Tips – Yorkshire Oaks Day – All races covered…. Shabash

Good evening from the Major who writes from the comfortable position of a man who has drunk good wine and eaten pork belly.

Tomorrow is the Yorkshire Oaks day and the Major writes with tips aiming to win us valuable ground on the enemy positions.

2pm York – Yearling Stakes

This is a very difficult contest with pretty much every animal contesting it progressive.  I am favouring the higher draws and seeking trainer credibility, form, experience (can be over-rated) and breeding.

The Major cannot dismiss 5/1 shot Blessington on that evidence.  While he messed up his debut chances with a tardy exit from the gates, his subsequent win at Glorious Goodwood had a lot of promise.  That day he had a couple of winners in behind as the Racing Post points out but… they were not that close to him that day – It might prove a hot race…. not convinced enough for 5/1 despite the good impression that the Goodwood win left.

The Major instead opts for terrific value 10/1 shot Body and Soul – Clearly a decent juvenile, she has won on a range of ground types – The trainer has a good record in this stakes race having won it twice in the last ten years.  The Super Sprint win would have hardened her up and is as good a piece of form as the Major can recognise in the field….. Great Chance.

2.30 York – Lowther Stakes

It is hard to make any argument against Newfoundland at evens – She is surely the best juvenile we have yet seen.  While her wins have been on softish ground, there is no reason to assume that she will not mind the firmer York conditions.  The filly, out of New Approach, is my NAP of the day.

3.05 York – 1m Handicap

These major handicaps can be hard to tip but there is an obvious over-priced candidate here for the Major in Navajo Joe at 16/1.

My selection is a past winner (and placed) off this mark, if you take into account the apprentice claim – That could be a concern but I do not know of a better 7lb claimer than Michael Murphy.  The tip seems to like York and I am sure that the last run simply stretched the selection on distance – Have a slice.

The Major must point out the gamble on Strictly Silver whose earlier 33/1 prices have evaporated and the ever contracting 16s, 14s bandwagon seems to be an act of perpetual motion.

3.40 Yorkshire Oaks

It is hard to discount the form of Arc second Shareta – While she has not won in 7 races, each has been a top class affair and she is never beaten far.  In the Majors’ mind it is a battle between that class and the fact that she often finds herself beaten… on balance I am just against on the balance that she travels…

This leaves me with The Fugue – The Major was wrong to suggest Izzi Top was the better of the two mares when they met earlier this month.  Buick got that choice wrong too so no disgrace their but it seemed to me that The Fugue finally had a clear run and showed us the class.  Why would that change today?  Confident tip for the Fugue.

4.15pm – Galtres Stakes

The Queen seems to have an excellent chance of taking the Galtres with her runner, Sequence – The last Newmarket win was very good and Her Majesty has a favourites chance.

Many of these are handicappers stepping up in class.  That sort often struggles to win, despite the (again Queens horse) victory of Set to Music last year.

I have to take the Weld raid with Pale Mimosa very seriously at 3/1 – The Galway win was something special and the aiming at this race, significant (a very rare York raid)… a confident selection.

4.50 York – Tips for the EDF Stakes

I cannot believe that Boylesports are currently 16/1 about last years winner Shesastar who has won off a higher mark since.  This must be the target and everything points to a major run.

Courage, roll the dice.