Tag Archives: tiger cliff

The Saturday Sermon – #RoyalAscot Saturday… Across the card tips from the whole week

Good morning from the Major who writes from a breezy Worcestershire where taking the early morning air has been most pleasant.  The freshness is deceiving as the day is merely breaking and there is an inevitability to the raw heat that is to come.

This week I made the effort to blog each night and cover every Royal Ascot race.  Very profitable it turned out too – Well reasonably so, ‘very’ might have been accurate if the ‘Bank of Treve’ had not failed with no government intervention, I add.  From 30 pieces of advice, we scored 5 winners priced at (advised) Hartnell 4/1, Bracelet 12/1, Anthem Alexander 4/1, Muteela 8/1, The Wow Signal 7/1 and Hootenanny 11/2.  Not a bad haul, especially as we had plenty of places from the other 25 runners – Not bad, not bad but no mothership.

Perseverance.  What a shame for Channel 4 that their viewing figures were down.  By contrast, good weather and an improving product saw Ascot gate numbers swell.  So what is wrong with our TV Coverage then?  Last year, the first that they covered Royal Ascot, the numbers fell off a cliff.  This was to be expected, after all Auntie had an established proposition and being the BBC was able to advertise their product to kingdom come (as a liberal, I would be for abolishing it).  Therefore first time around, you could forgive Channel 4.

To see a further marked reduction in viewer numbers is a little perplexing and quite worrying.  I quite like the overall product.  I think the coverage is excellent, the Morning Line, followed by coverage of every race plus an evening highlights package – Bravo.  You can leave Gok Wan out for me, I am not a fashion sort you see… but even if I would not tune in for him, his segments did not dominate really, they did not distract too badly from the racing.  Plus C4 have offered innovation, the new camera angles, breadth of coverage and I particularly like getting insight into the stewards enquiries, that is excellent.

So, England are out of the World Cup.  In a way I am glad, I can stop pretending to be too bothered.  It was a shame we did not step up against Uruguay but I hope one and all treat Hodgson respectfully, the man is a gentleman – As a cad myself, I spot the real thing easily enough.

Now for a new team to follow.  I think it is going to be wine, cheese, Magret de Canard au miel et aux poires and ‘Vive La France!’ all the way. 

Step gently through the darkened brush, our prey unaware of our presence, the danger carrying on the cold air, we can land this mothership….

Do you know I have written 525 posts – My first was over five years ago, I started not long after Punjabi gave me the biggest win of my life at the time, taking the Champion Hurdle at 22/1 – The following day after that first post, I posted my first tip, Classic Contours running at Beverley.  The step up in trip of three furlongs caught my eye – It came fifth (perhaps I missed this opportunity to stop this foolish endeavour) but then CC went on to win in his next two races after stepping up a further quarter of a mile….. It finished a 46 rated beast after 29 runs with those two wins being the only to he tasted, hardly inspiring stuff but, do you know, I have a soft spot for the beast, I know how he feels you see.    525 times since I have tried for this elusive mothership and 525 failures have been recorded.  Each Saturday, rest assured, I am betting what I propose to you my friends.  I always have a small stake on being entirely right with my thinking, just a few Shekels that would pay off the mortgage.   

Have I made money over this time overall?  Well I do not know.  In two separate spells I tried recording on a register all bets and a marginal profit was the result.  (10-15%) – This is good enough considering the over-round but I haven’t made anyone rich.  I get the occasional thank you, a few drinks and bottles have been offered.  I never accept any praise though beyond a polite thank you.  You see, my philosophy is simple, I offer you my genuine thoughts, what you decide to do is your wanton right.  Your liberty is hard-fought for by our ancestors and I am unable to take it from you.  Therefore whether you bet or not based on the foolish dribble that spills from my mind is entirely your own judicious determination.  Thus I cannot accept the hurrahs and homage and neither can I the slings and arrows – As Buddha imparted his wisdom of being criticised, if you are to offer me a gift and I do not accept it, then to who does the gift now belong?

You might feel that my spirit is dented after so many written words, so many late nights finding an angle, looking for the horse that has favoured conditions, the plot, the class, the breeding… well no dear friends, yes I might feel a little jaded but just to leaf through the Racing Post brings that same childish thrill, the rising passion in my chest, a chemical injection coursing through the veins.  Yes the flame still flickers dear friends, melancholy banished…. to the sports and sharpen those lancepoints, get on parade and look the part, maybe number 526 will be our turn.

To the sports and before we do, spare a thought for @limerickjfk, a regular reader and decent fella too (worth a follow), right now he is indisposed in some foreign far-flung corner of the Earth – well, lying by the pool in Thailand actually preparing his Ascot investments no doubt, choak dee na ka.

Royal Ascot Saturday – Tips Across the Card

If you have jumped to this bit, then stop cheating and head back to the top.  We only accept folk of polite virtue in these parts. 

The Chesham has only gone overseas once in the last ten years (to Ballydoyle with Maybe) but it looks likely to go again.  It could cap an excellent week again for the Irish raiders or it might be making a bigger trip across the water to the States.

We have seen the advantage a higher draw gives you on the straight course at Ascot.  Mainly the winning is done on the stands side of the track.  With inexperienced two year olds, it can be more significant in my opinion as to drop behind from the gates and track across and then take your chances in the traffic is a tricky manoeuver requiring a skillful pilot and a willing and smart accomplice, hard to achieve with a juvenile.

Kool Kompany ran without spark behind The Wow Signal earlier in the week and thus did little to boost the form of Toscanini but ignoring that and the Halford runner has a chance.  Dick Whittington has more experience in the bag and his form was given a lift when his conqueror at Naas, Capella Sansevero came second in what looks a good Coventry to me.  Yet, O’Brien, there is nothing wrong with his wins this year but it just feels a shade below their usual terrifying brilliance.

Wesley Ward has had one winner and one place from his four Ascot runners but you have to respect whatever juveniles he brings over and for me Cordero and Crown the Kitten are the ones to focus on.  Both are beautiful American breeds and they are berthed next to each other.  It is a bit alarming that my tip has the headgear on for debut but that might help and it is a more common call in the States – I like Crown the Kittens jockey, Espinoza but let’s face it, Moore is the best.  11/2 is available with Bet365 and a couple of others.  Load a cannon, this is winnable.

In the Duke of Edinburgh we have a proper race.  This is a difficult handicap to solve asyou suspect there are some very good horses in here that have yet shown their full hand.  To keep it simple, Mick Channon, who has a poor Ascot record by the way, has described Elidor as in great form and my  best chance of the week.  Elidor is on the right side of the track and has won a King George so knows his way home, every sign is that he is coming back to the boil and you suspect he has been targeted at this.  More fashionable picks like Arab Spring will keep the price honest and I suggest loading the small bore for this at a general 12/1.

I love the Hardwicke Stakes because it brings back memories of Harbinger  in 2010.  He went on to win a King George and Queen Elizabeth stakes in the July in utterly devastating style and I was securing my antepost position for the Arc when we got the bad news of his health.  Ah, the memories though, he was impervious that day and we lost him too early.  Stoute has a superb record in this race and it is surely going to be one of his two today.

Telescope is presented as favourite in the same famous Highclere garb, which by the way is probably as nice a racing silk as you can get, you will forgive if reason alone does not dictate the selection.  He was once a hot pick for the Derby but did not appear on track last year until July.  Winning a three runner conditions event easily, then failing behind David Livingstone dented the form as he looked a bit standard.  However, his final 3yo appearance was to take the Great Voltigeur at York, though it hardly looks bullet proof for a G2. 

This year he has been beaten twice by Noble Mission in softer ground.  You might argue that Frankels brother has finally shown some overdue class but I am dubious about all of this form.  Heart fluttering two-tone blue or not, I shall overlook him.

There are plenty of horses with Ascot form here and my tip and a strong one at that is Hillstar.  Pound for pound, he has more in my form book than Telescope and he won in identical conditions in the King Edward VII.  He has two excuses this season; Tapeta in Dubai and a soft ground at an unsuitably tight Chester – It is disconcerting that Ryan Moore, the aforementioned best jockey in the world, does not agree with me but seriously, what does he know?  9/2 – I think I am right.

Diamond Jubilee time and Slade Power is the warm order of the day in a field of high-class runners.  We were all hoping to see Sole Power reappear after the exploits on Tuesday but Lynam reported that he had to be lifted to bed!  I am not surprised!

So many intriguing angles… What do I really want? Draw and Ground feel like the right angles to focus on.

As this is the case, I have a line through Slade Power as he is on the wrong side.  So is Gordon Lord Byron who won a Haydock Sprint in splendid style, hard to say it but has to be overlooked.  Christ this is tough.

I am settling on Due Diligence.  Three year olds have been doing OK in this race of late and this American import looks very nice at Naas – New star sprinter?  Who knows but 8/1 is big enough with Ryan Moore again steering (could be a belting day for him).

The Wokingham…. want the winner? Take a pin, close your eyes, drop the pin, see where it lands, then tear up the paper, burn it and eat the charred remains.

It is a renewal that is dripping in class.  Like many, I was hoping Intrinsic would make the race as it looked like a right plot underway but in the end, no joy.  My pick is drifting like a barge but I am not put off Alben Star who I fully expect to pick up a big prize at some point.  He is well drawn, will be fine on the ground and has Paul Hanagan in the saddle.  22/1 with Bet365 (I have no affiliation by the way!)

Finally, the lucky last… I want to close Royal Ascot out with a winning tip and my choice is…. Pique Sous – Mullins is as dangerous here as he is in a bumper at Punchestown and 4/1 that he gets the better of Tiger Cliff is value.  Of the rest, I like Royal Irish Hussar if a return to the flat helps spark the revival.

Newmarket Sniper Shot

A horse I like the look of (and franked by the thoughts of @lukeelder) is in the 5.50, Dutch Art Dealer.  Gelding is always a wincing thought for us all but often has the desired effect and there are plenty of signs that this year, he might have more to offer.  8/1 with Sportingbet, 7/1 generally.  Load a cannon.

The Martin Hill Trixie is Dutch Art Dealer, Hillstar and Cordero.

I trust your dinner is Pad Thai and in the finest of company.  Allow the cold beer to sink down that gullet with the satisfaction that only a huge bulging inner pocket can bring.  The company both glamorous and sensational, the ambience perfect.

Courage friends, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon (despatched from foreign lands) The Ebor, York, Goodwood, The Curragh, Premier League

Good morning from the Major who writes from a glorious landscape of looming rocky outcrops whose towering edges are burned crimson with the rising sun and whose flanks are dressed with heavy deep green foliage.  Frankly I have little idea of the Worcestershire weather, for I am in Gods chosen country, Switzerland, the Bernese Alps to be more precise and it has been damn glorious here for the last 5 days.

While I shall try to be brief, for travellers tales bore me like no other and I imagine you the same, I feel I must file my report for your examination.  The place is magnificent.  I am writing from the Valais, a spectacular corner of the world where rocky monstrosities rise suddenly and in gangs to intimidate the senses and leave you aghast at the damn splendour of it all.  There are the snow-capped peaks, mountain forests, gulleys running fast with thundering torrid streams, neat disciplined vineyards clinging to the steep lower slopes and as much good air as your lungs can take.

For some scale, from my balcony I can take in 6 good peaks and each is in excess of 3,200 metres, perfectly ordinary for an Alpine mountain.  Snowdon just breaks 1,000m, a mere trifle.  What the Alpine folk must make of our national parks I do not know, although I defy any of them to not find our finest terrain, the lake district as at least of merit, mixing as it will such a varied palette of greens and blues.  Committed atheist as I am, my faith in science is challenged by the glory of such creation, for creation is what it can feel like because surely some planning was required in such masterpieces.

There are other compensations to my locale, the scenery is matched by the people.  Of Switzerland’s good denizens, I shall say this.  I have found them to be modest, decent and impeccably well-mannered.  Cars stop at crossings, truly a sign of a great civilisation.  The food too is excellent, I breakfast on cured meats and eggs, leave lunch for the wimps and dine on any number of the Italian or French dishes.

Yet more, the attractions run to more than polite society and good cuisine, you shall think me indelicate to raise it but I care not.  There is a certain style of Swiss woman, youthful with short dark hair, dark eyes, slender of figure and tall, smooth skinned and confident in her every move, sporting and fun.  You know me, I fall in love with each and every new one.

Oh, I could imagine a life here if it were not for a few major flaws.  Firstly, the sport, there is lots of it but I would miss too much the comforting seasonal rhythm of our racing schedule to which I am fatefully well tuned.  Mainly though, it is the costs.  The bills will bankrupt me long before I had finished the fun.

Anyway, while I have been away, York has been ploughing on regardless.  Before now, I have only seen the results and read a few brief reports, as well as catching the drift of proceedings on twitter.  So, I may be a little out of touch.

Yet, I arrive for this weeks battle, freshened and relaxed, I plan on a few short and sharp incursions into the enemies positions.  No full frontal assault, no sweeping flanking manoeuvre, rather we shall skirmish in open formation, raiding the odd baggage train here, stealing the odd gun there.  To the sports.

Saturday York Tips

I used to think that York was a pretty fair course with its wide open straight opening some distance from the finish.  Whether there is much camber I do not know, whether the crowds that are attracted to the Knavesmire’s obvious charms intimidate the horses, I do not know but without obvious reason, it seems to me that it has become a specialist track and I often seek course form when appraising runners.

The York going could be the most significant factor though and this is the angle I attack with.  Early in the week, runners were being withdrawn from the Ebor with the likely fast conditions cited.  Now, after a sudden storm and further rain, we need a mudlark and since several are non runner already, you would think it gives us a chance to solve the puzzle.

Ebor day is a terrific bit of fun, the race can be a dark swirling mass of possibilities, the last 8 runnings have returned three 25/1 shots and a stunning 100/1 shocker from Mudawin in 2006.  In honesty, it is rarely a race that lasts in the memory, if I were to recall to you the recent winners of Willing Foe or Sessenta, it is unlikely that your heart springs youthfully at the recollection.  The latter was a winner for Willie Mullins in 2009 and in the subsequent year, Dirar was a winner for me, keeping the trophy Irish bound.

Recent years have seen a dominance of older horses winning as a result of the changing weight allowances for three year olds.  We shall stick to that rule and seek an older horse who likes to get a toe in.  Yet, before we arrive at the Ebor, there are other delights for us to review.

The listed City of York Stakes get the card off at 2.05 and Christoforo Colombo takes is favourite on his second start this season after finishing 5th in the 2,000 Guineas.  The Guineas form stacks up, as it should being a G! classic, and this is a significant drop in class back in listed company, he also placed n soft to heavy as a juvenile and his sire had no problem with softer conditions.  Yet, it concerns me that this is a race that O’Brien has never won and the break given to Christoforo Colombo may indicate that he has not been entirely straightforward.  Given the price, if you disagree and think the drop from the Guineas to this is the key, then I would highlight the fact that Glory Awaits finished ahead of him in that race too.

The Major is going to tip up Sirius Prospect who under normal conditions I think would not be good enough for this.  Yet he has won twice at York (important) and been placed in every run on soft ground (more important) and his trainer has an exemplary record from his select few runners at York.

The Melrose, 2.40pm, looks a tough race to call with none of the runners holding any York experience bar Dashing Star and Hawk Hill (both unplaced) but it will take some winning in these conditions.

Mister Impatience (won twice on soft) is the sort of Johnstone runner that you have to fear in this field – Is there a better trainer for peaking a handicap runner, couple that with the legendary toughness of his horses and he is a threat.  Argent Knight is a proven stayer but was withdrawn from soft ground earlier this year and I assume the same fate lies in store.  Hawk Hill probably has the measure of Ambleside on these terms.  The latter is a horse I love, he looks a talented sort that makes his own mind up as to when he puts his effort in! Hawk Hill is one I do like and is exactly the sort of quiet horse that you get more favourable prices about.

I am also fearful that Dark Crusader is not merely company in the horsebox for Ted Veale who runs in the Ebor (more of that later).  The pointer though falls favourably in the direction of Havana Cooler who represents the Cumani yard, who last won the Melrose six times back with Speed Gifted.  The yard is in tremendous nick and he looks a ready stayer, this race should suit his style of being held up, switched off and coming late… we shall see.

The Gimcrack, 3.15pm, has only attracted seven runners, yet it is a wide open 4/1 field.  Astaire has the advantage of a Callan ride, a significant benefit in my opinion, yet a 4 runner conditions event at HQ is a departure from this company.  Saayerr was a good winner of the Richmond but might find this harder and I am always wary of juveniles who are burdened with extra weight through penalty.

I find it easy to be attracted to the attributes of Parbold, a general 4/1 shot.  He has won on soft and while some of his Group form has made him look a little flat-footed, with this distance and the conditions, I think he might be just the type for the job.

The Ebor, 3.50pm has seen plenty of non runners since the conditions turned.  Tiger Cliff and Opinion are heading the market and receiving the morning support.  Their compliments are that they are both progressive as an Ebor winner is likely to be.

Yet, the Major is smelling the mood in the camp and opting for Ted Veale at 9/1 with Stan James.  To win a poor Bellewstown race and then step up to the Ebor is an unlikely achievement but exactly the sort of thing that Tony Martin would pull off.  Ted Veale will love the conditions, will stay for ever and having got in from a penalty in the Irish race, looks well handicapped to do the business.  Fran Berry has made the effort to come over and I am all aboard.

The Roses Stakes, 4.25pm is the last interest I have in York and there are a number of very interesting youngsters.  Hot Streak won on debut and beat winners too but that was on fast ground and I am not sure the Ilfraaj colt will excel in this ground.  Outer Space looked a good prospect when turning over the Haggas odds on shot Jacobs Pillow but Hannon has not won this race and you would suspect he has much better in the camp.

Instead, the Major focuses on the much more highly used runner, Excel’s Beauty.  For a start, we are blessed with Callan, of whom I have extolled enough virtue.  The horse though has much merit, he was runner-up in a Newbury listed event having looked the winner only to idle slightly in front.  The horse that beat him (Wind Fire) has since placed in the Lowther and my selection has also strong form from beating Lilbourne Lass.  Experience can tell.

Goodwood – Celebration Mile

A cracking contest in order on the downs as Afsare, Premier Loco, Thistle Bird and Trade Storm come together to contest this Group 2 race.

Premier Loco won the race a year ago but it was not a clean running and there is doubt over that form.  Thistle Bird was amongst the defeated foe in that race but has improved significantly since and almost won a Group 1 last time out but could not match the turn of foot that Winsili produced (had first run).

Educate has his fans, myself included but surely is a handicapper at best.

All of them could be put away by the Major’s fancy, favourite Afsare at 9/4.  The Cumani runner was pretty dominant in G3 company last time out at Salisbury and I think the main risk is that the gelded son of Dubawi does not handle the Goodwood camber (never raced here before).

I also will be backing Mount Athos at Goodwood who is a horse of considerable talent.

The Curragh

There is a most pleasing card to be had at the Curragh and I would advise a bet on Dutch Masterpiece in the 3.10pm.  Moore has made the effort to go overseas and I suspect he was after the softer ground.  Had he known, he may have stayed home.  Yet, this boy has a live chance, he is hugely progressive and has O’Brien in the saddle.

It is the 4.20pm though that I want to tune in to, if I can find a way from these shores.  In it, War Command, returns swiftly to the action after disappointing me so bitterly in the Phoenix.  There was not an obvious reason for the flop and the Coventry form is now looking more suspect but I cannot deny the evidence that my eyes tell me from that race… This might be my cliff horse but I am all in even at evens.

To the football.

I fear for my West Brom team this year as we are significantly weakened.  8/13 that Everton beat us is a gift.  Villa should not be 7/2 to beat Liverpool either.  I also think that 4/5 Stoke to beat Palace is a bet.  I think Wigan have bought well and 5/6 that they win at home to Middlesborough is a bet and despite their poor start, I still feel Sheffield United are a team who could do well this year in League One – They are 2/1 to beat Bradford away and I would want to be involved.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Sheff Utd, Afsare, Parbold and Havana Cooler.

May your dinner be delectable and in the finest of company.  Courage and roll those dice.

Royal Ascot Tuesday Tips…. the madness begins, what to trust? which stories to unfold?

Good evening from the Major who writes to you on Royal Ascot eve from a dusky Worcestershire whose cool air belies the season.

The Major must confess to not mustering quite the Cheltenham heights of fervour on Ascot eve.  Yet, we gaze down as Generals on the scene below with the battle about to be joined.  Our artillery are firing Armstrong shells which are bursting brightly above the enemies damn business like looking lines.  Our forward infantry is skirmishing in open formation and the heavy cavalry with lance drawn are bristling to get involved.

What orders shall we send?  What combination of factors does our reason, experience and instinct favour?  Are they right?

Shall we dig in grimly like the Warwickshire’s at Rorke’s Drift, firing our Martini Henry rounds until the enemy is upon us and we entertain them with bayonets drawn and twenty rounds per man?

Shall calamity strike us, like Lord Cardigan, with Raglans orders, charging his Lancers, Dragoons and Hussars into, to quote Tennyson, into that valley of death, sluicing through Russian positions at awful cost; shall we be done the same way? Discharging our bets, each greater than the last seeking glory to shadow past loss but finding none.  Shall our utter defeat be glorious and draw awe from our friends.  As the French General Bosquet famously said; c’est magnifique mais c’est ne pas guerre.

or.. dare we dream, shall our Ascot be akin to Sir James Hope gloriously marching to Beijing, sweeping far numerically superior foe before him, punching his great fist of heavy horse through those ranks of elite Mongol warriors and bringing the Qing forces to heel in glorious style.

At this moment, we can savour the uncertainty, our preparations are made, our strategy of bets laid out.  I wish you luck in the field, my friends.

Royal Ascot Tuesday Tips

The opening day of Royal Ascot is my favourite.  The St James Palace, The Kings Stand and the Queen Anne; not to mention the Coventry, the delights are laid before us, we must eat slowly as not to gorge.

The Queen Anne

The Queen Anne gets us off to an absolute flyer with a single question race… Will Animal Kingdom run to form on his first British start.  If you could answer that with a solid yes then you surely have the winner of the race.  After a number of high-profile defections, the 2011 Kentucky Derby and 2013 Dubai World Cup winner is the star of the show.

He has not raced in Britain, he has not raced over a straight mile.  He has not encountered an uphill finish… cause for concern?

None of these factors seem to bother Graham Motion, UK born trainer of Animal Kingdom.  He has been housing the horse in Lambourn since his travel from Dubai.  Animal Kingdom has had plenty of time to acclimatise and has spent some time at Ascot too as part of his induction.  Having handled the heat and pressure of his former exploits, surely the opening crowd of Ascot won’t effect him…

Motion states his main fear is the ground.  Currently good but with rain forecast, the horse does not want it too soft.

On balance, the other factors bother me less too.  Animal Kingdom is an impressive looking specimen and has a world-class jockey on board.  I would expect those facets to more than cover the unusual course and finish.  The ground is a concern… maybe worth waiting for…

The contenders include Sovereign Debt who was runner-up at a massive price to Farrh in the Lockinge.  That form holds up and he loves Ascot, Sovereign Debt won’t mind the rain either, in fact I dare say that Michael Bell is currently praying for the heavens to open.

Of the John Gosden pair, clearly Elusive Kate is the favoured sort.  I think this is a big ask against the big boys on seasonal debut and I would be more interested in Gregorian who look very pleasing when hitting the front last time out at Epsom on Oaks day.

O’Brien saddles Declaration of War who has something to prove but is in the finest of hands to do it.

On balance, the balance of this race is going to come down to the ground.  I am hoping it stays fairly sound and plan on taking every available bookie offer to supplement the current evens price of Animal Kingdom in the morning.  Coral are going 2/1 for £25 and I am sure there will be more.  The thing that convinces me most is class….. the recent history of the Queen Anne reads like a who’s who of Group 1 racing… Goldikova, Frankel, Canford Cliffs….. Animal Kingdom, feels right n’est pas?

Kings Stand Stakes

Another Group 1, another international star, this time it is South Africa and Shea Shea, as well as Aussie representative Shamexpress.  Prohibit, Sole Power, Kinsgate Native, Swiss Spirit and Reckless Abandon make this an absolute mouth-watering renewal.

Prohibit won the Kings Stand two years ago and can be backed at 40/1, I seriously would not put you off, even if it does not appear, at first glance, to be best in his yard yet alone best in the race.  His stablemate Kingsgate Native, a sterling warrior, back to form last time out is from the same yard and while he will have his fans, if he ever wins again, he won’t be carrying my money.  Kingsgate Native has misbehaved at Ascot before so caveat emptor.

Shea Shea is clearly a leading talent and had Sole Power well beaten twice so must be the form pick  Again we are dealing with an international star traveller who we must take on trust has settled into British life.  Given his globe trotting success, it makes sense to assume he is OK with it.  He is sometimes a bit lit up though and will be ponied to the start.

The other raider, Shamexpress, troubles me as connections have clearly stated that firm going is preferable.

I like Reckless Abandon and three years olds have a great record in this sprint.  He has every chance of reversing form with Swiss Spirit and winner Kingsgate Native as he raced on the wrong side and did not have a lot go his way.  He also gets a shift in the weights to his advantage.

Something tells me to get after Shea Shea.  With the top sprint horses often getting turned over as the season develops, I would never want to be on something that short in the Kings Stand.  That is my strategy.

On balance, I think Reckless Abandon is the most solid option.

The St James Palace

What a beautiful renewal of the St James Palace – For me, this is worth the entrance fee alone, if only I were lucky enough to be present.

First of all, you have to assess Dawn Approach.  When winning the 2,000 guineas, he looked like Pegasus, powering away from the bushes.  His derby run is best described as unexplained.  He broke fine but after half a furlong, something went click and he lit up like a wild bear.  Kevin Manning fought for control, no doubt with his shoulder sockets burning but half way down the hill, no matter who was to win the Herculean struggle for supremacy between man and horse, the race was gone.

Much was made of whether Ballydoyle got the horse beaten with a muddling pace while Bolger had no pacemaker… That is remedied tomorrow with Lettir Mor surely in there to ensure his stablemate has a hare to aim at.

My concern is the mental effect of the Derby on the horse, the whole affair must have at least confused the horse and for me, he is a watch animal for now.  I am a bit surprised they have not sought distance with Dawn Approach to recuperate.  I cannot have been the only punter watching the whole affair unfold to consider the wonder and fortune with which the late Sir Henry Cecil drew the best from Frankel.  Such a comparison is unfair, I draw it not to criticise Bolger – After all Sir Henry will have made his own mistakes at times… Rather it highlights the fine judgements and simple luck needed in managing this top quality precocious youngsters.

Clearly leaving Dawn Approach out of calculations is a big call because his previous form as an unbeaten star is impeccable….. yet it is decided.

I am not keen on horses sub 5/1 with excuses last time.  Toranado may well have had good reason but solving it does not make him value.  What I specifically mean is that to think that it represents value, you have to think Toranado had a great chance of beating Dawn approach anyway.  I did not.

So Magician then… surely.  Well…. there is a horse with a disturbed preparation and that bothers me too.  This horse otherwise would be my pick.  He has won a  2,000 guineas and that is the route that Henrythenavigator, Rock of Gibraltar and Mastercraftsmen all took on the way to their successful St James Palace stints.

So, we have one horse with potential mental issue, one who needs to get over a palate / breathing issue and one that needs to overcome a setback from kicking out in his box.

Of the shorter horses, I fancy Magician.  I trust O’Brien to have him OK after his knock and I think he has a solid winning chance.

Then there is Mars.  Like many, I was very surprised to see Mars stepped back to a mile after doing his best work at the finish in the derby.  I think the course will suit him much better, he got going late at Epsom on a course that doesn’t suit many horses.  There is  going to be a lot of pace on in the St James Palace so a closer might be a good idea.  12/1 is available, I suggest a win bet.

The Coventry

Two lines strike me in the Coventry.  Firstly there is the tale of Sir John Hawkins, after his Curragh win, Sir John Hawkins was supplemented for this race.  That process cost connections £45k, they are plenty fluid enough to have a pop at any race they fancy but my view is that to do so at a later stage when they have a stable of other live chances… well, connections must think there is a decent chance of winning.

The second line of enquiry is Richard Hannon.  He has won this race with Canford Cliffs and Strong Suit, the latter racing in the colours of Championship.  Interestingly, those horses also took in the Newbury maiden which Championship won too… interesting.

If the Coventry was more open, I would definitely be betting War Command.  It is hard to split that one from Sir John Hawkins.  Yet this race favours those at the head of affairs and I am going to stick with Ryan Moore who I rate the superior of the jockeys on my fancied sorts.

Ascot Stakes

I am minded to have a pop at two in this for win bet purposes as there are two I am struggling to be drawn on.

Tiger Cliff would bring the house down winning for the recently widowed Lady Cecil.  Sir Henry said that he thought this was the winner of the race prior to his sad parting and 11/2, I want to be on – Even if it is just to be a part of the emotion of this horse winning.  There will not be a dry eye in Ascot.

The other I want on my side is the Phillip Hobbs trained Big Easy.  There are so many of these jump horses that transfer well back to the flat and Hobbs is pretty decent at it, I still have memories of Detroit City performing well reverting back to the flat.  12/1 is plenty for me to take an interest.

The Windsor Castle

If the twenty runners in the penultimate race provides a conundrum, the twenty-eight due to post in the finale make life insanely tough.

I want one in a high draw and I am opting for last years winning trainer and jockey combination in Ryan and Makin.  Sleeper King is 16/1 in a few places and that is where my pin landed.

Best of luck to you.  For the Major, after a mammoth post, it is to bed.