Good evening from the Major who writes from the darkest Worcestershire scene where rain drifts, billows and swells, gentle suppression. I have opened a bottle of fine red wine, comfort from the tempest, in vino veritas.
The Major tipped well enough for Thursday. Oscar Whisky was second and not disgraced, Dynaste and Silviniaco Conti fought out the finish as the Major intended but I picked the wrong winner, well done Mr Fehily for an excellent ride on the increasingly quirky looking victor, friends know he is my favourite and can judge from afar as to how I felt having backed Dynaste. The New One was an obvious pick and almost a boil-over but sustained his effort in time for the line to save him and we had to wait until the last for our redemption as Doctor Harper came home at an advised 12/1. Shabash!
The Major did not sleep again last night, rest coming in gasps, sudden and inconsistent, thoughts and dreams mingling. Tonight, some good wine, a handful of pills and oblivion. If anyone expects more from me, well let them wish for it.
Anyway, there is a Friday card at Aintree to review, it is not quite as exciting as the action today but I shall cover each race. Courage friends and roll those dice.
I have a good acquaintance attending the course tomorrow, she is the sort of good northern stock applying a straight forward forgiving logic to life. She entertains her mother and I wish them the best, H, enjoy.
The Friday Aintree Card
The last two years have seen Nicky Henderson win the Friday opener with some very good horses, such as the ill fated, once Champion Hurdle ante post favourite, Darlan and the close Champion Hurdle second from the festival this year, My Tent or Yours. Thus, it would be reasonable based on that evidence to assume that Josses Hill is a novice with a strong future, n’est pas? Well, fortunately for the Major, I disagree, I like his form behind Vautour, who does not? Yet, I think there are plenty of other potential challenges in this field and he had a tough race that day. The good aspect of my position is that the expectation is baked into his overnight price of 13/8, giving the rest of the field plenty of value. As long as we can find a good one. Simple, oui.
I like Sergeant Reckless but his profile is not quite right for me, No. Instead, I am opting for a horse who has the benefit of being ridden by a high class jockey who is riding at the peak of his ability at the moment. Carberry gave Guitar Pete an absolute peach of a ride in the opener today and he might give Art of Payroll the same treatment tomorrow. The horse did not get into the County but has the benefit therefore of not having been raced at Cheltenham. 11/2 in one place (Stan James*)
*For non regulars, please note the Major does not promote, endorse or hold any arrangements with bookmakers – I am at your service as a free tipping service, a word I use very lightly as it is more of an eclectic mix of racing thoughts, Victorian military history, the fragile state of my mind, the Worcestershire weather and who you should be taking to dinner. I accept neither blame nor praise for the accuracy of my selections, I merely share them for your delectation.
The Novice Chase requires some of the best jumping skills and I think O’Faolains Boy might be the one to be on here. There is some 11/4 with Paddy Power but 5/2 generally. The RSA has a bad reputation for bottoming out horses but this Curtis inmate (surely the hottest trainer around!) is very lightly raced and has won his sole start on good ground.
Then the Melling Chase, Pepite Rose was a winner for the Major at Newbury but this looks a lot tougher for the girl. Module looked impressive providing Tom George with a new stable star. Thing is, the Melling Chase has been a race for absolute stars, Sprinter Sacre, Masterminded, Voy Por Ustedes, Moscows Flyer, Monets Garden – Do we have such a horse in this line up? It is not likely, it looks a fairly poor renewal to me, yet I have looked and found a horse that might yet be a star.
You see, if I close my eyes, I can take you back to the start of 2013, I still recall Ballynagour winning like a future superstar heavily eased but coming twenty lengths to the good over a Warwick field with good yardsticks like Golden Chieftan and Chance du Roy. He has now bounced back after a spell in the doldrums and if they have found the keys to him, this could be a top class sort for Pipe. 7s in a place with William Hill, 6s generally.
Thirty go over the National fences for the Topham. Last year, Triolo Dalene signalled his Hennessy credentials with a win and with the benefit of hindsight I should have credited that effort more highly. Why? Well he has the wrong profile, this is normally won by a nine or ten year old and one that shoulders less than eleven stone. This makes sense, it is a tough course, so experience and a light weight help. Plus, do not be put off by a price.
So, with that in mind, I state the case for Poole Master at 40/1 with Bet Bright, although that might be an oddschecker error as he is 33/1 with Stan James but most firms are 20 or 25. Now this horse is fine on the ground and many might be concerned with him trying to win on a peak mark but I think he has always had improvement in him and has needed the right headgear. He has the experience and has completed on the course before so that bodes well.
The Sefton is an absolute cracker. I love Seeyouatmidnight but at 5/2 I cannot buy, not against a field of classy improving novices. I was disappointed to see Geraghty not choose Tistory, I thought that one might be better yet and revels on good ground. I also like Giantofaman who could give Carberry another cracking chance. On balance, I am sticking with Tistory, 20/1 with Hills and B365. Second string, I could not care less.
In the Grade 3 handicap, I am backing Cheltenian to finally start coming good on his early promise, lest we forget, he was a Champion Bumper. I hope he settles, if he does, he is a danger to all.
The last requires some luck. I am going with my favourite jockey, Mr Noel Fehily who takes Hannahs Princess for a spin, he is the finest, of her, I do not know, two simple bloodless victories against poor opposition tell us little. Dangers aplenty, tread warily.
I wish you luck. Do you fancy going on Saturday? Well @eeyore94 is auctioning some tickets for his local childrens hospice, Zoes Place. What a gent. Have a look at his twitter timeline, DM him an offer by 3.30pm on Friday and he will express the tickets to you by 9am Saturday. Imagine, you are in the throng at Aintree, you have a cold beer to hand and you know that you paid good money for the pleasure, not to some faceless tout but to help children whose lives are more limited than ours my good friend. That beer will slip down well, because the destination of the money you spent was good and right. You know then, in that moment, it is good to be alive. Be generous.
Courage, roll the dice.