Tag Archives: totalize

The Saturday Sermon on Northumberland Plate Day – Tips for Newcastle, Chester, The Curragh

Good evening from the Major who writes from a changeable Worcestershire scene where high cloud spirals with great panache reaching with ambition for the striking blue sky.  The air is cooler and the ground still kissed with the evidence of earlier precipitation.  Most pleasant.

The Major has been pounding the lanes.  You may recall that a year ago, I ran the Paris Marathon for Meningitis Trust, well a year of loose living and I am 15kg heavier, do not recoil in horror dear readers, I am merely a man of extremes.  Having shocked myself into action, I took my first tentative jog for a long time running a mile and a half last week.  The legs felt weak, the lungs ached and my head turned an angry sweating puce… I was lucky to survive and it was 4/6 that is was the last run I was prepared to make.

A two miler on Wednesday felt no better but tonight, a three-miler through the pretty village of Burlingham where the cricket club quietly rumbled in the background and the old church stood guard… it rekindled old memories.  Tingling sensations in the legs, rounding a corner to be surprised by a new view across the magnificent green rolling summer Worcestershire countryside.  Running is a magnificent pastime, it quiets the mind and expends energy converting the negative to positive, health and vitality.

I have been forced to kickstart training again because in a fortnight, I am to run in the British 10k in London for Footsteps Foundation.  An Oxfordshire based charity that is close to my heart.  You see, I have this wonderful niece, a proper ray of sunshine, who turns four a couple of days before the run.  From birth she has had developmental issues, she was a late crawler, a late walker and as yet has very limited communication skills.  Footsteps have been a fantastic support to Izzy and her family, my sister, Jenny, her husband Pete and their other children, Charlotte and Thomas.

I know you probably have charitable commitments, myself I try to support as many as I can too.  If you have a couple of shekels to spare, I would appreciate any support you can muster on my justgiving page.  As my company (part of Zurich) are doubling contributions, even a £2.50 nudge is worth a fiver.

Outside of half killing myself to shape up in two weeks, it has been a busy week.  Today I gave a leaving speech to a colleague who has been a tremendous support in the last few years.   The man has such class, I admire it and since I fear I am devoid of many of his qualities, I feel well placed to judge them in others.  I had quite the lump in my throat as I considered his wise counsel to me over the last few years.  Still, I can still swing the clubs with him from time to time.  Fare well DC.

It must be the exercise but my mind is cleaner than usual, the dark thoughts that creep under the door in the dark hours are held at bay.  So we go to the sports… Recent form is strong, Ascot played out well enough and while the Major will not be going in with guns blazing today, we shall have enough invested to at least pay for a good dinner.

The Northumberland Plate

This is not a race I have traditionally done so well with but the statistical basis of that is thin, I’ll give it another ten years before deciding this is a bogey race.  Last years winner Tominator was a bit unusual as top weights have a poor record in the race, he was also the first horse to win the Plate twice, bravo.  Typically you want a horse shouldering less than a nine stone burden.  Plots are thick in this handicap and before the off I am sure some of these will be plunge sorts.

Donald McCain has won two of the last five runnings both times with established hurdlers turning their hand at the flat.  Overturn being the first, what a fine horse he has been, keep it simple, get to front and gallop the life out of them!

The McCain runner Mawakeet does not have a promising profile although is a change of accessories sparks him to life, who knows.

There is not a lot of draw advantage in the Plate but being high is a problem for a front-runner as you have to use a lot of energy to get prominent at the first turn.  Not a problem if the plan is to drop in behind.

This race looked easy to me last week when Pique Sous was an Ascot winner for the Major in some style – If turned out again, I was ready to load a large cannon.  Therefore it is interesting that the trainer Mullins has withdrawn a couple and relied solely on Lucky Bridle one of his Graham Wylie horses.  We all know the colours, we have our memories, most recently Boston Bob, On His Own, Shaneshill and of course the one we all love, Tidal Bay.  Graham is from the North East, he made his considerable estate from the Sage Group, the accountancy software which he created himself.  He is from the North East and as a local lad, you must think that he would like to have a winner here.  His string used to be entirely held by Howard Johnson until he had a 4 year ban for all sorts of misdemeanours…. If Lucky Bridle stays, which in this trainers hands is extremely likely, then he is a contender.

The thing that gives me hope of an angle is the ground.  Very often this race is run on soft ground, only twice in the last ten years has firm appeared in the going description.  As a consequence, trainers often have good to soft sorts in the race and not many of the runners are true top of the ground specialists.  It might be a tenuous thread but it is the one I have decided to play.  As such a few horses come under the microscope… Sir Ector, Boite, Noble Silk, Big Thunder, Van Percy, Totalize and Suegioo.

I am going to put the line through Big Thunder (weight and a watching brief on the yard), as well as Sir Ector and Suegioo on the grounds of weight.  Boite has a very very interesting piece of form in the Queens Vase when third to subsequent Gold Cup and Leger hero Leading Light which taken literally means he wins.  It is a bit concerning we have not seen the son of Authorized since last July and so we are relying on the skills of Chapple-Hyam to get the boy ready, 40/1 is wrong.

Noble Silk is unexposed as although has won over the distance on the all-weather, he may have improvement back on grass.  Not sure.

The three on the shortlist are Totalize 14/1, Van Percy 10/1 and Boite 40/1.  Totalize is running for Ellison under the guidance of the strong Robert Winston.  Off the low-end of the weights, I am definitely interested in a horse who may well love these conditions and could be a plot.  Van Percy I like a lot.  Oisin is down to a 3lb claim but it is still a superb 3lbs.  The horse looks like he is going to revel in these firm conditions and finally Boite whose case I have made.  For once, I am going to suggest you back them all as singles and have a cheeky reverse forecast on the three and even a reverse tricast, just in case! Three darts to turn my plate form around.

The Irish Derby, The Curragh 5.30 – Australia meets a group of opponents he conquered at Epsom plus one outsider. I can make absolutely no argument for why the form of this brilliant colt should be reversed. I accept it is only a price for multiples and only put it in because I did not want to stay silent on the best Group One Irish Classic.

In the Railway (4.50), After the Qataris stepped in with an eye watering £1.3m for Capello Sansevero, it will be hoped he can start to pay off some of that investment here.  I do not see any reason why his Coventry form cannot be upheld unless War Front responds to a new array of headgear. (They’ll try a top hat soon) and proves better than currently shown.  In these cases, I find it best to stick to the proven case and that means a chunky investment on Capello, 5/4.

Chester 2.45 – I like the work of Richard Kingscote in the saddle.  He is having a first ride here for Hills on B Fifty Two.  The horse is fine on the ground and is adaptable in running style, 5/1.

Chester 5.05 – I am back in on a Dascombe horse, this time he is riding for Manor House and in a race where the old Holmes adage prevails:

Eliminate the impossible dear friends and whatever remains…..!

There are lots of these I cannot see winning and while Cherowee does not bowl me over, I am left with him as the logical choice.  11/2 looks a very decent price where the other market principles are inappropriately drawn.

The Martin Hill Trixie is Cherowee, B Fifty Two and Van Percy.

I trust your dinner is taken in fine company, fine fish, steamed fresh vegetables adding colour and a crisp white wine.

Courage friends, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – MOTHERSHIP SCOOP 6 – The Curragh for the 2,000 Guineas, Haydock and Goodwood

Good evening from the Major who writes weary from a breezy Worcestershire where torrents of unrestrained and ungovernable precipitation from the heavens pool in still cold accumulations until the high winds and dry air, vanquish them, leaving a desolate earth and an unsettled Major.

I could never hope to describe what ails me.  Restless mind, palpitating heart; I think my state is the natural product of many years of debauchery.  I know nice people, lots of them.  The sorts whose essence is virtuous, an integrity they were born with.  I think I spot these traits so well in others because I know myself to be neither nice or normal.

As I lie in the dark hours, doubts aggregating, skin tingling, mind racing, heart speeding; I can fathom not the cause.  Many thoughts trouble me, some rooted in reality, many fantasies.  Fixating on each new thought as the greatest trouble, I know, at last, that the fear and anxiety is wasted, yet in the moment, it is indiscernible.

Feel no sorrow for me, I am sure I deserve some burdens to bear, I know plenty of those nice and normal people undeservedly encumbered.

I like where I live.  I am a few miles into country from Pershore and there is plenty of interest.  I am close to a huge dish pointing at the skies – part of the Jodrell Bank array.  Pershore and Upton are ancient towns steeped in history, particularly the former with an abbey of the finest order dating back over a millennia.  The civil war was active in these parts, most notably Tewkesbury but we saw some local action, indeed, the matter was settled in Worcester and we reap the benefits today, such as those enshrined to the people to freely vote UKIP, god help us.

King Charles was on the retreat in 1644 from Oxford, his rearguard harassed and skirmishing, the enemy with the taste of blood, mercilessly raking forays against the isolated; the Royalists sought safe camp to regroup.  Crossing the Avon at Pershore, Charles saw the opportunity and ordered the destruction of the bridge.  The job was botched and with the enemy closing, the close warm work saw the deaths of 40 men, mostly drowned under the cool oaks in the dark brown still waters of the summer Avon.  The same that I gaze upon.

The retreat continued and in finality, the first stage of the war ended with small pockets or Royalists holed up in North Wales and Cornwall.

Charles himself may have exuded poor judgement at Pershore Bridge, but you might conclude, that time served him for his deeds, well enough.  He was executed after the second phase of the war, beheaded.

I have no idea of what I live in fear of.  The irrationality beguiles me, paddle folks, keep your head above the waterline and seize the moments of ecstasy as they present.  Courage, roll the dice.

To the sports, Saturday racing….. Haydock is a challenge, am I meant to work on the forecast firm ground or interpret the weather?  I am playing good to soft.

Scoop 6

At 7/1 the field, I can see a lot of our dreams being made extinct in leg one.  Alas.  For a free share of this stake, make a comment, or retweet the blog before the first race starts and on good faith, I shall cut you in.  I long for the mothership and perhaps, just maybe.

2.05 – Bear Behind – In highly competent new hands and watch out!

2.50 – Henry The Aviator – Will kill some tickets! May yet have more to come.

2.55 – Penny Drops – The penny has dropped

3.10 – Perfect Blessings – Pray for rain

3.25 – Khelman – At least is in form, a vulnerable pick

3.45 – What About Carlo – Going to revel in the rain, improving


Now to the real picks, the ones I choose, rather than the contests thrust upon me.

Ah, the pressure is greater.

The Temple feels like a solvable race this year.  I am banking on good to soft, which is a subjective view based on the forecast.  Such a thought brings Pearl Secret and Jack Dexter right into it.  That precipitation will also end the chances of Sole Power who is a proven top class athlete in these muscle sprint events.

There is a worry that Jack Dexter has done his racing and so I side with progressive soft ground loving Hot Streak – 5/2.

The 2,000 Guineas (Irish)

Kingman is all the rage and there is every reason to be a fan.  In the English version, I felt he was lonely and unlucky in the dying stages and his lofty reputation equals odds-on.  Yet I feel, there is value afoot….

and the pick for the Major is War Command – The Coventry, not always the greatest guide but this one remains in my mind.  My selection had such an incredible turn of foot, yet flopped in the Guineas.  Put off? No, why? Well, I am reminded of that juvenile performance and I would put Roderic O Connor forwards as a Ballydoyle Epsom to Curragh improver, in which template, War Command might follow.


With rain, I trust Totalize to give us a run at 6/1.  Over timber, performances have been perfectly fine overall and I think this might turn into a gamble…. I get Ellison wrong a lot, just a warning.


The Championship final can often go to the disciplined over the moral winner, yet I still feel compelled to back the youth of Derby over the well-drilled QPR.  Just on principle, never a good betting calculation factor.   I also will be backing more goals that anticipated in the Champions League final.  I know how well Atletico press, high up the pitch, I know how that will kill creativity, I know that no team will want to lose…… yet +3.5 goals is a siren call to me, 3/1.

The Martin Hill bet is a Hot Streak, Totalize and War Command trixie.

I trust your dinner is taken while you are in good spirit.  The lady on your arm presses gently against you, the mild skin contact racing the pulse and the softened warmness maddening your senses.  Order well, shellfish, in spite of the bible.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – National Hunt Feast from Cheltenham, Doncaster and Leopardstown – A splash of FA Cup Magic too

Good morning from the Major who writes from the bed gazing serenely across a brightening Worcestershire dawn.  Once again the land is waterlogged, the brook over my road and down 50 metres has flooded, the temporary lake resting with the confidence of permanence.

The Major caught rest in snatches through the night, the time between filled with a headphone in one ear, dreamily listening to the World Service, drifting in and out of concentration.  The words and stories came to me as images, patchy and alarming.  Two dead building World Cup stadiums in Brazil, one fell from a roof.  Syrian refugees.  A bomb, half a ton of high explosive in Cairo destroying the oldest Islamic museum in the world, thousands of artefacts dating to before the time of Christ.

Coming awake is like leaving another world behind.  I need a shower to leave that night world where it belongs.  To delineate properly the border, reinforcements are needed to stop it seeping into the day world.

This week, Barney Curley landed a mothership.  Now, enough has been said for me not to bore you with my opinions but safe to say I love the skullduggery of racing as much as the next man and the suggestion it puts people off is a nonsense.  People are attracted to the richness.  It helps that I managed a touch on it myself.  I saw the Eye of the Tiger gamble and got 7/2 overnight, thanks to @yahwey I caught one other too, Indus Valley which I got at 10s.  Attractive prices but oh, how I wish I had gotten wind of the other two…

Cheltenham races today – Trials day.  I would be present but for the birthday of number one son, Daniel, he eight – Under ideal circumstances I would have taken him but at the age, the Science Museum and friends and family seems more attractive to him… He is a long term project, give me time.

Last week showed well, we travelled into the Sermon perfectly with a 6/1 winner and hit the mark with Melodic Rendevouz – I still managed to make the weekend a losing one after piling in most my bets to multiples including Wigan… They lost three nil at Doncaster.  The misery piled up in sedimentary layers… I saw they went one nil down… Then we went live to the Keepmoat for a goal update and it was two… The energy for the weekends punting seeping away, rapidly draining.

The same was true yesterday, after lunch I tuned in to see that Noel Fehily had won in the opener at 12/1 – What a start to the day… My Fehily multiple was looking in fine order.. It was to be the last winner he had – In fact, I did not manage another placed horse.  Disappointing.  Still, there will be many a false dawn before our own Curley sized mothership.  Indeed, you may have time to grow an oak from an acorn or you may be planning the spending tonight… who can tell.

Daub thy warpaint young warriors, we shall ride flank to flank, tight formation, with lances raised awaiting the order…. To the sports..

Cheltenham Card

No surprise, Cheltenham has gone heavy overnight so we are looking for some horses who can take it.  Out goes, The Giant Bolster (never liked him anyway), in comes Restless Harry (loves heavy and is Pricewise).

Goodwood Mirage is one of the most expensive national hunt recruits you will find, reaching 380k for his services, you would expect a lot.  Yet, price does not buy success in racing, particularly national hunt and the memory of Un Temps Pour Tout, who tempted me in with his 450k price tag (most expensive ever by the way) and failed.

Nick Williams has not had many runners but has Le Rocher who held Kentucky Hyden on heavy at Chepstow – On that form he is of clear interest and proven on the ground, hmmm.  Then the favourite, Vincezio Mio – Clearly Nicholls thinks a lot of him.  Ronaldinho is not a forlorn 20/1 shot if you read the list of horses the trainer has won this race with in the past – Katchit, Franchoek, Walkon and Grumeti.  Plus a 100/1 shot took this in 2010.  His Newbury race might not be that bad and although he was well beaten, he was prominent until after the last – He may be a non stayer, he may have needed it – We should certainly afford him the same flexibility we might afford Goodwood Mirage or Vincenzo Mio on those grounds.

It is a difficult race to make a call on.  Nicholls thinks a lot of Vincenzo Mio but he has not traditionally aimed his top guns at this.  I have to support Le Rocher over Kentucky Hyden but Nick Williams has not had many runners lately.  Sod it, I am sticking with the money… Goodwood Mirage  gets the tentative nod at 5/1.

Dark Lover has both course and ground form and so gets the nod in the second race which is a trappy handicap.  I considered the chances of Samingarry and Renard D’Irlande who both could go well, the former having the measure of subsequent grade 1 winner, Annacotty who I struggle to see overhauling him on these terms.  Anyway, 9/1 is available about my selection, with 10s in a place, if you have ever heard of Unibet!

I am not convinced that genuine heavy ground will suit Double Ross and so with an 8lb rise to contend with, I am going against the improver who I backed last time out.  Cedre Bleu is a horse I have followed and I like his chances but I am sticking with Venetia Williams and Aiden Coleman, a combination that is having a great season.  Shangani was a good festival runner and should be OK in conditions.

The Argento Chase market is led by Rocky Creek who is decent but at the prices, I am overlooking.  The same combination I liked in the previous saddle up with Houblon Des Obeaux, who has a number of fans.  Pricewise beat me to the punch with pointing out the chances of Restless Harry who loves it this soft and came back with a bang last time out.  The Giant Bolster needs good ground and Harry Topper is ridiculously burdened with the most weight of all.  No, regardless of ones thunder having been stolen, I am with Restless Harry too.

Maybe Lizzie Kelly will prove a great jockey, maybe it is the folly of love (she is the daughter of the trainers wife, who is also the owner – follow?) but I am surprised that a jockey with just ten rides to her name gets a ride on a horse with a live Grade 2 chance.  That said, she has won 4 starts, including twice with this horse, last time on New Years Day at this course.  Not for me.

No, I shall focus on the two market leaders, Red Sherlock and Rathvinden, both of whom are proven in the mud.  I am readily behind Red Sherlock who has been winning lesser races effortlessly.  His preparation is one that suggests the stable (although not my favourite yard) hold him in high regard and I am minded that he at least has the course form.

Then the big one and the big question – What remains of the incredible ability of Big Bucks?  He is only eleven but is bidding to win having been off the course for over a year.  If he was not so talented, passing him over would be easy.  His age and these injuries mean are hard to overcome and there are a couple of progressive horses lining up against him.

In these staying races, age can play less of a part as speed is less important than class.  Yet, the age does trouble me.  Big Bucks has occasionally looked like a horse that is not straight forward.  He has lost the jockey that really understood him too.  It is enough for me to look elsewhere.  I may well look very foolish come 3pm but my prediction is… pulled up.  I really hope that he comes home OK – Nobody wants to see a champion humbled, let alone injured.

I was a big fan of At Fishers Cross coming into the season but you have to be tempered by his performances.  I am not sure what has happened there but he looks one to pick up again after he has had a summer on his back.  Mind you, a return to form would be dangerous for the field as he is unbeaten at Cheltenham in three starts.

Reve de Sivola is a horse I have backed on a few occasions but never quite get right.  He seems better than ever now back in staying hurdles and my thinking is torn between his proven class and the potential of the Mullins raider Boston Bob.  Reve de Sivola causes me some consternation about Cheltenham having won twice from twelve starts…

Sod it, 9/1 is too big – I am hoping, it is hope, that At Fishers Cross has whatever issues behind him and can bring back the magic.  Surprise!

It could be that throughout the card I have not scored a single winner.  On the other hand, we could be holding that mothership ticket going into the last.  Seeing a Brian Ellison horse being backed (Totalize) is a signal but I am thinking that the handicapper may have taken a chance with Lac Fontana who is 7/1 generally and 8s with 888.com ironically.

Doncaster Tips

Is the drop in trip for Annie Power going to inconvenience her… no.  Is 1/5 a backable price… probably – She has been dominant in her races and looks a top class prospect.  It certainly looks like this is a signal that she is heading for the Champion Hurdle, which makes the Pricewise (third time I have mentioned him this morning!) 14/1 advice very sound.  Reading between the lines, I cannot understand why the yard would want to do it and have come to an unfounded speculative conclusion that Mullins himself would go to the stayers race but that Ricci wants a Champion Hurdle runner and ultimately, it is the owners horse.

Anyway, the two horses I am interested in at Doncaster are Caid Du Berlais who I want a lumpy piece of at an incredible 9/2 with 888.com (generally 11/4).  That price may be wrong and I am happy at 11/4 if I cannot get on.

I find Mart Lane an interesting runner in the Sky Bet Chase and his last run looks interesting.  Unioniste is no doubt a very good stayer but I am concerned that his exploits in Ireland both expose his limitations at the top level (Still excellent in this context) and more troubling, may have taken a physical toll – It was a tough race.

Alas, I am following a horse that will enjoy conditions and may well have some more improvement – Kruzhlinin.  He can be backed at 11s… Have a slice.


Paul Townend has suffered the effect of Ruby being at home more weekends this year but gets a chance today on the Mullins first string in Ireland.  I rate him as a jockey and think he can take the Grade 2 Novice Chase on Djakadam.   Only 6/4 but I think this one will make a better chaser than hurdler and although less experienced and younger than his rivals, he gets some handy weight too.

Will Quick Jack keep up his relentless rise through the weights… Yes.

FA Cup action continues and my usual aim is to find overpriced Premier LEague teams away at Championship of League one clubs.  Swansea 21/20 at Birmingham City, Hull 10/11 at Southend and in League 1, Walsall at 7/5 and Wolves at 10/7.

The Martin Hill bet is a yankee including Quick Jack, Caid du Berlais, Red Sherlock and Wolves (if he can keep his breakfast down).

May your dinner be extravagant and in the best of company, with her wanton eye telling you to where her mind runs.

Courage friends, roll those dice.