Tag Archives: unaccompanied

Irish Champion Hurdle Day – Leopardstown Tips – The Return of the Fly

Good morning from the Major who sits typing on this cold frosty morning – A whiteness has descended, the plants look brittle at the edges, like they might shatter.

Hurricane Fly

It could be one of these but the Major is daring to oppose the Fly

Let’s hope racing goes ahead.

The Saturday Service was unprofitable.  While Grumeti was controversially awarded the race in the stewards room, the other mortars the Major aimed fell adrift.  Reload followers and trust in the greatest force of all, your own independent mind.

Of those other mortars, Charminster ran a race into fourth, Diamond Harry looked scruffy at the fences and surely is not suited to Cheltenham, having never raced comfortably, I would take that one straight to Aintree.

Not the best Saturday.  The Majors January profit has plunged to 13%…

January Results
Sport Stakes Profit
Racing 32 38.53%
Football 14 -42.79%
Total 46 13.78%

To Sunday and redemption….

Leopardstown Tips

 I have resolved to stop giving out footballing bets looking at the charts, they simply never pay for me!  Either that or I am going to have someone who is better at it provide them.  Mr Dipper, Mr Hill or Mr Redmond spring to mind.

I am going to concentrate more on my core subject, the sport of Kings.  Leopardstown hold a sumptuous banquet of a card today, how I wish I was there.

Let’s tackle the Grade 1 races first…

Leopardstown 1.25 Arkle Chase

The market is hugely focussed on the leading three chances, Flemenstar, Notus de la Tour and Blackstairmountain; 14/1 bar.

The Major also thinks the winner is in there and with just seven runners, I feel opposed to finding each way value, even though Gift of Dgab and Baily Green both look overpriced to me. 

I also find some merit in the claims of Lucky William whose second in a Grade 2 at Punchestown is not disgraceful.

The truth is that Bog Warrior seems to have held all of these Irish novices and looks the far better horse. 

The closest I can get to that in here is Flemenstar.  He chased Bog Warrior to within 7 lengths earlier in the season and seems to have improved over fences since.  The trainer / jockey strike rate is impressive and I think it is a reliable choice.

I will admit that Mullins is in tremendous form and it is hard not to get on Blackstairmountain but overall, my tip Flemenstar at 2/1, feels better value. 

2.30 Leopardstown – Irish Champion Hurdle

I love racing because I love stories.  Hurricane Fly is a tremendous example of a racing story that makes the sport great.

This horse has suffered a few setbacks and it was not until last March that we finally got him to Cheltenham.  His hurdling record ahead of that was sensational.  In total, Hurricane Fly has started thirteen races and has lost just two.

The first was a summer hurdle in France, probably not his season, where he finished second by two lengths without his usual sparkle.  The last loss, seven races ago, to Solwhit was in bottomless ground and the Fly simply did not show up.

Yet this horse has had many doubters.  Five of those wins since 2009 have been against Solwhit, the critics argue this is not strong.  He is also a fragile horse, he has suffered several setbacks over the years, including this campaign, where the Major believes this is the Fly’s third intended start.

There is no doubt the horse is a mercurial talent but is he fit?

If he is, is there credible opposition?

Well, yes is the answer to the second question.  Last years Triumph form has worked out very well.  The mare that finished second that day, lines up this afternoon and is in receipt of a handy 9lbs mares allowance.

Unaccompanied is surely the one if any, to give Hurricane Fly a scare.  In receipt of 10lbs, she beat Thousand Stars relatively comfortably last time out and is entitled to be better yet.  She is still 5 and so improvement is expected.

Strictly that form is probably not good enough to get to the Fly but then there is the first question, the really tricky one, is Hurricane Fly at 100%?

A further complication in the Majors mind is that there is no obvious front runner in a field of five.  I am pretty sure the versatile Thousand Stars out of the same stable as Hurricane Fly will take the job but we are not assured of a strong pace.  This could be very tactical.  This is also more solid ground than the Fly is used to, that should not be a problem but the combination of those two factors does make me wonder if the Fly’s usual turn of foot, so devastating, will be seen to the same effect.

This promises to be a cracker so where should you put your money?

The Major believes the Fly is the best horse.  The Major also thinks that 1/2 is plenty skinny enough.  There is no doubt that Mullins would not race him unless he was ready, they think too much of him and have held him back plenty of times, even when the trainer knew it would be an unpopular decision.

I still think that making a seasonal debut in this hot race against an unexposed potential wonder-mare in receipt of a sack full of weight….

Maybe I will look stupid later but Unaccompanied 4/1.

I was going to look at the novice hurdle that follows the Irish Champion Hurdle but thought I would throw a slightly different arrow at another that caught the eye.

Ffos Las – 2.55 Handicap Hurdle

The Welsh ground is heavy and for the Major, I always appreciate an extreme of condition, it helps create value.

The selection is a horse I think may go off a gamble…. Tarateeno 5/1.

It is only the third horse that Pat Murphy has sent all the way from Berkshire to Wales and he makes the long trip for a £3k contest with just this one horse in the box.

Tarateeno is racing off a mark of 90, yet just at the start of 2010, he had a mark of 124 over hurdles.  He probably did not deserve that but to tumble so far, it has taken a long consistent run of shocking performances.

Many of those performances have also been over fences rather than hurdles and his recent two spins over the smaller obstacles have been marginally better, even if they have not halted his slide.

His form on heavy ground is decent.  Three miles in this is probably just right.

Courage, roll those dice!

The Saturday Service is here! – Horseracing Tips, Premier League Tipping – Kentucky Derby, Punchestown – Die hard oh gambling warriors

Good morning from Defford where last nights storms have cleared the air.   It is remarkable how  a weather front of lightning and thunder can refresh the fauna.  Last night the Major sat in the dark, watching streaks of light fill the blackened Worcestershire skies, trees flailing, globules of rain.. splat, splat, splat, roaring thunder; nothing like a good storm.

Shabash young warriors - To the turf accountants and DIE HARD

 This morning, calm.  Ah, how apt, the Majors mind is also clear of distraction and ready to bring you the value of the Saturday sporting spectacles.  The coffee has been bubbling away for hours, the papers laid out, the numbers crunched, lines have been drawn through runners the Major considers incapable, value has been assessed for you, the loyal band of faithful warriors for whom the Majors Saturday service is an unhinged part of your own Saturday plans.

This very day, the Major plans to ride for Aston where he will watch Association Football with his brother in law and first-born son – How a gentlemen sends an invite.  Not asking if I am free but letting me know he has picked up the tab already and would be grateful if we could join, that man has class.  Young David, we shall make you a small fortune yet.

The Major mujst apologise again for if any of you like to see my results I have not updated them in 2/3 weeks, I will get around to this – I think the month is still profitable although we exploded out of the box like Frankel only to fade as the month went on. 

May is here and the Major plans on making it another profitable one.   On the Majors visit to Ascot, a fellow gambler and follower told me that he always followed my large lucky 15s because it once landed and he was not on.  Young Mr Hill, I have a feeling in my water load the cannon.

If you like a bet (if you don’t please p**s off) then you understand the blood racing through your veins, the dizzying greatness of landing a touch as well as the slog of torn betting slips.  It is hard work committing to gambling, a lifetime of lessons.  Gamblers have to be die hards.  Not of the Bruce Willis kind, I do not own a vest.  More of the Duke of Wellingtons sort, the original diehards.  The 57th foot (West Middlesex).  Next Saturday is the 200th anniversary of the day on which they got this nickname and so the Major thought a taster today and an extended piece next week.  They earned the moniker at the Battle of Albuhera, in the Peninsular war, we were fighting the French, with the Spaniards and Portuguese as allies.  The Peninsular war was bloody and it was the actions of men like Colonel Inglis who galvanised steely resistance, his position compromised and himself critically injured and his horse shot from under him, instead of seeking treatment, the good Colonel cried out Die hard the 57th, die hard’.  The battle was won.  Just one of 24 officers survived.  Just 168 of the 584 foot infantry. 

To the sports oh happy few, let us fill those goblets with bounteous wine.

11.24pm, Churchill Downs – The Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is one of Americas great races and this evenings line up is a little disappointing.  There is no star attraction, just a group of puzzles.  The Major has struggled to get lines through many of the 20.  The favourite, Dialed In, could be a class act but is lightly campaigned and in a bustling field of 20, the Major would look elsewhere.

With the chance of rain high, the Major advises Soldat.  Garcia is an animated but good jockey and if we can forgive the last run then at least the horse has shown somewhere near the remote form required.

I suggest that something will improve dramatically from the race and Twice the Appeal while lacking the form, has the connections and the draw to be of interest.

Aidan O Brien sends over Master of the Hounds.  No doubt since the Sire is a Kentucky Derby sort and the artificial surface performance in Meydan was adequate, he wants a pop, another one hard to assess but unlikely to have the minerals in the Majors view.

The advice remains Soldat, 14/1 bet like a man on the nose.

Grade 3 Swinton Hurdle – Haydock 3.40pm

23 runner handicap at the end of the season, the Swinton is an enigma. 

There are a few eye catchers at the prices.  the Major has settled on.

The first is Channinbar.  Now this horse comes with serious wealth warnings after repeatedly coming under starters orders and then refusing, leaving you in the laps of generous bookies like Paddy Power to refund your stake!  With that warning dished out, the latest second in a graded contest reads well.  He is highly tried and I would want every bit of the 28/1 being touted about.

Frankly 13/2 is a very decent price for Remember Now who holds very solid credentials.  At 6, the horse could still be improving ahead of the handicapper and with AP piloting, why would you not want a slice?

The other of interest and seemingly the right profile is Nicky Hendersons Higgys Ragazzo who gets a 3lb claim from the useful David Bass who rode well at Aintree yesterday.  This horse has won a couple of novice events well before leaving that form well behind at Cheltenham in a placed graded effort last time.  If still on the up, at only 4, this 14/1 shot could be a decent runner.

The staking advice is to snap up the remaining 13/2 with Hills about Remember Now on a win basis.  Then back Higgys Ragazzo at 14s each way with Bet365 who pay 5 places, very generous work from the enemy.

4.25 Punchestown Champion 4yo Hurdle

The Major apologises for offering little advice this week for Punchestown.  If it helps you, understand that I would have given you Quevega but you would have lost far more backing Tranquil Sea to a place as well as opposing Hurricane Fly.  Chester would have been barren too.

This is the race of the day for the Major.  No Zarkander, the impressive triumph winner but second Unaccompanied turns up as does the Henderson hotpot Grandouet.

The formlines are tricky at best.  The clock and the visual display makes Zarkanders Cheltenham win a very useful piece of form.  Chasing him up the hill was Unaccompanied.  She then went back out on the flat defeating a below par St Nicholas Abbey who destroyed the field at Chester this week. 

To add to the complexity, Grandouet looked to have every other horse covered when falling two out in the Aintree 4yo hurdle, that day Zarkander battled like a demon to see of the opposition, nothing like the previous form.

Mister Carter is the most intriguing, he was travelling well still when a faller in the Triumph. 

The market is behaving like Unaccompanied cannot be beaten.  While I like the horse and think the mares allowance is a very useful aid, I cannot have it at 11/10.

I am not convinced either that Grandouet does not want a bit more cut but at 7/2 that feels priced in.

Unaccompanied should win but price is on Grandouets side and so I advise backing it at 7/2.  Have a saver on Mister Apples at 25/1 because you do not know!

To the sports fields.

As mentioned the Major is at Villa Park today.  17/20 feels about right for Villa.  Wigan fought out a hard earned draw against Everton last week.  This is a classic motivation versus class argument.  No doubt, Villa are the better proposition but 4/1 Wigan?  Waiting for the team news could be crucial, N’Zogbia is an important part of the Wigan machinery.  Sitting on the fence I like the 13/5 draw, Villa looked a little off the boil at West Brom, a 1-1 feels about right.

Bolton at 10/11 look like a solid bet.  Sunderland are lacking threat without pace man Gyan, Hills are best price, take a slice.

There are some cracking games in the lower leagues as the season draws to a conclusion.  The QPR v Leeds v Palace v Forest conundrum is too much for the Major who opts for easier decisions. 

Walsall look a lively 9/2 shot to win at St Marys and complete a great escape.

May tonight’s dinner be game.  Enjoy a hearty ale with it.  The company should be fun, that flaxen-haired, hazel eyed sort who seems to know a good time and has little expectation.  Settle the bill in cash, let the quarry set her eyes on that donkey choking roll.  Shabash young warrior, it is good to be alive.

Grand National Meeting – Thursday at Aintree – Massive Fancy for the Major

The Major has an absolute thunderbolt for Thursdays opening card of the Aintree National meeting – It could not get off to a more exciting start with 3 grades ones compromising the Liverpool Hurdle, a cracking juvenile contest before the big race of the day, the Totesport Bowl.

Take a good look Champion Hurdle 2012 contenders, take a good look... Zarkander is the real deal

I want to start with the big race on day one, the Totesport Bowl.  One of the Majors thoughts when approaching the National and the Punchestown Festival meets is to look for horses that avoided Cheltenham.  So many arrive at Aintree over the top after a tough season and are expected to put it in again on better ground when their initial target was three weeks prior.

Thus the Totesport Bowl is a great opportunity for the Major to look to get Denman beat.  Although lightly campaigned this year, which yu would expect for an eleven year old, I think it is just too much to expect the old boy to put up a winning performance against some decent opposition so soon after a hard race in the Gold Cup.  Has he recovered from his exertions, it is a huge question and 11/10 simply gives you little leeway.

This is particularly pertinent when the next two in the betting did not go to Cheltenham and arrive fresher.  The one the Major likes is Punchestowns.  Henderson has always liked this horse and I think that it is the one that has got the opportunity to show progression.  6/1, take a slice, with Geraghty doing the business.

I am not sure the fences will suit Nacarat, 4/1 second favourite, not many of the others make great reading, Deep Purple could run a race.  Punchestowns for the Major to pick up a prize I think connections have expected.

The Liverpool Hurdle, the opener sees Big Bucks a strong odds on bet and after the demolition of Grand Crus at the festival, you cannot argue on the surface pricing.  Again, both of these horses had tough festivals and with Aintree just 3 weeks after their World Hurdle exertions, I would be loathed to back anything odds on.  While the class is at the top of the market, so is the doubt – The same question exists.  After being primed and then pushed to the limit in 3 miles around Cheltenham, who knows how well Big Bucks and Grand Crus are arriving at Aintree. 

On the form book, nothing has yet looked like threatening Big Bucks unbeaten hurdles record.  What a horse. 

I am going to take an absolute flyer on Possol who has been missing for some time.  100/1 reflects the fact that wining this off such a break would be an insane ask but with likely conditions to be OK and a former 4l defeat to Big Bucks in the form book last year, I like the chances that 100/1 gives us to at least pinch a place.  Richard Johnson, a safe pair of hands rides. 

Now for the piledriver.  Set your phasers to obliterate.

Zarknder is bet of the week for the Major.  Evens about one of the most impressive triumph winners I have seen is a stand out price.  Get stuck in, load both barrels, aim, fire.  Thank me later, penalty kick. 

Why am I so confident?  Well everything points at this one being a star.  Not only was the Triumph win so visually stunning but second that day
(and the Majors 7/1 selection) was Unaccompanied.  This girl went back out on the flat, at the Curragh last week and in listed company relegated the return of St Nicholas Abbey to third, Unaccompanied is a serious horse. 

This means that surely Zarkander is the real deal, Triumph winners have a terrible record in the Champion Hurdle but the Major will make an exception, I fully expect Zarkander ton be a leading Champion Hurdle contender.  This means it really should go in at evens on Thursday, get stuck right in.  This can pay for the week!

Cheltenham Gold Cup Tips – BOOOMMM! Three Profit Days From Three for the Major – We are through the looking glass….

Punters of Britain the Major is on a high, another profit day on Thursday, with Albertas Run returning 6/1 and Big Bucks at evens.

Important news.  Regular readers will know the Major resides in the village of Defford, outside of Pershore in rolling Worcestershire countryside.  This is 20 miles north of the course and I can report some important news…. The rain has come.  The amount of rain tonight could be crucial and it makes the job tomorrow more difficult.  I have no idea what the ground will be like first thing.  I shall risk it and offer my advices but I warn all punters to freestyle if the Major was off.  For the record I am going to expect enough for good to soft, soft in places.  Perhaps dead, perhaps tacky.  Makes life tougher.

The Major does not need to be told that he rants.  For a very special and abusive friend, I have agreed to start highlighting the advices in bold for those with less time to read the analysis or reasoning.  This is a concession that may not last.

It is the day of the reckoning and the Major, though be art weighed in the balance will not be found wanting

75% of the battle is done.  We have wounded the enemy and he seems unsteady on his feet.  He has a nasty looking gash where we took his cut on the near side and then caught him with our own defensive slice.  His guard is still up though and his mind devious; in this injured state he is dangerous, on guard young man and keep a steady eye, his rapier slashes may be crude but we need dedication to the end to see this enemy dispatched to meet his reckoning.

Yet the Major is wearied from battle too.  Three days of analysis of some of the trickiest handicaps, snow blind from reading form lines, vigilance as we approach the last dear friends.  We are almost triumphant, yet ’tis many a slip between the crouch and the leap.

The Triumph

Grandouet has been put away since the defeat of Two Kisses in January.  Two Kisses is a reliable yardstick, the form is unspectacular but good.  Henderson always has a good sort for the Triumph and the jockey booking suggests this is it.

I hate to make strong statements as they can be wrong and this may mislead but I just cannot believe Smad Place is good enough, it looks over rated to me.

A Media Luz was beaten by stablemate Grandouet and although the assistance of AP McCoy will help, I cannot see it turning the tables.  At this age, the mares allowance is influential but I just do not think it will be enough in the case of A Media Luz.

Unaccompanied, another of the fairer sex and thus 7lb in, is the Irish leading fancy for the powerful Weld / Smullen team – Dangerous to ignore, particularly with the weather turning.

Zarkanda is an Aga Khan bred animal who while über impressive when defeating Molotof, is in better company here.  Molotof is the Henderson third string.  I find it interesting that Ruby has defected to Sam Winner though.

Yet Sam Winner has struggled to cope in his last race.  Looking highly capable in the heart of winter, has some of the sparkle gone.

This triumph is a classic.  The crunch decision is over the form lines you take.  Grandouet has to be respected but had been defeated by Sam Winner, who in turn was defeated by Marsh Warbler who ran poorer than expected earlier in the week.  Both may be forgiven a run but neither are rock solid.

Zarkander has been abandoned by Ruby but could be absolutely anything.

For the Major, Unaccompanied  It has the best Irish form, the Irish trainers are having a great week, this would get Friday off to a steamer.  Have an each way bet at 7/1 and hope the allowance and rain aid the cause.  Stick it in the toaster, butter, marmite, cup of steaming tea and thank me later.

The County Handicap Hurdle

The County is a puzzle hidden inside an enigma which is disguised as a rohypnol induced nightmare.

Alazari who picked up the Imperial Cup and is hunting the £75k bonus is an obvious threat but in a field of 28 and having run in the last week, I am unsure it is wise to invest at 8/1.

Dirar is sitting favourite and you can see why.  Stable form and profile mean it should be involved, interesting.

The Major advises you though to bet sensibly, this is an insanely difficult prize.  I would proffer a few thoughts as follows.

Snap Tie a pound off top weight loves Cheltenham and has been dropping to a very handy mark.  Having not run since October 2009 it would be an almighty training performance but Hobbs can do it and Dickie Johnson in the saddle is a huge boost, 14/1 is it enough?

Salden Licht gets the burden of an extra pound, thus is the top weight and despite making a couple of errors when chasing after Recession Proof in the Totesport is on the Majors considered list, particularly at 25/1, not out of it.

Get me out of Here is also extremely well treated if the tongue tie has the desired effect, I would not put you off, personally 16/1 is an OK price but not what I am after.

Soldatino looks held unless there were excuses last time.  Dee Ee Williams more so.

Alaivan comes into it if the rain has been significant. 

Ski Sunday is a bit of an unknown.  The January run with subsequent winner Skint behind has a classy look about it.  It was only rated 66 on the flat but is a much better hurdling prospect, hmm.

Final Approach would not be 12/1 had Call the Police performed solidly on Wednesday.  Ruby and Mullins 12/1 in this sort of handicap, interesting.

Zanir at 33/1 could run a bigger than expected race too.

The Major has not ruled too many out of the County.  I have a shortlist of a few.  The most interesting of which is Snap Tie.  A Cheltenham horse, a mark that has dropped from two years off, 14/1 is as tight as I would want it but I just fancy the trainer and jockey if they have the horses confidence back.  It goes against many of the Majors principles, after all the time off the track is a significant downside before competing in such a big field.  I just have a sense that Johnson can turn him off and nurse him through, letting class do the rest.

The Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle

Some time ago the Major put up a piece about Moonlight Drive which had been tipped to me antepost.  It definitely wants the rain which is coming and is a threat still but the softer the better.  Certainly the stable hold it in good regard it seems and as Recession Proof is a stablemate then they have a decent yardstick with the Totesport Trophy winner.

The hope was that Bobs Worth would defect to the Neptune and since that has not happened, it has to be a major threat in this given the ease of the Grade 2 success last time out.

The other horse of interest and the one I settle on to advise tonight is Champion Court.  At 10/1, I hope they have sorted the issues which caused the horse to hang so badly when it looked like it might get involved in defeat to Bobs Worth last time out.  The previous form has some depth, Bobs Worth could well be too good but with Henderson not enjoying the best week, I oppose with Champion Court.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup

The Major has a strong fancy in the Gold Cup this year which is odd because it is as open as any I can recall.  I would go as far to say it is the best Gold Cup in many years, it will be a privilege to watch the interwoven strands of form, story, conjecture and magic unfurl.

It is not so much a case for the Major of picking the winner, it is more a case for finding the least likely reason any of the main protagonists will fail to lose.  That is not to say the quality is poor, quite the opposite.

The highlight of our national hunt year is solved by answering these questions correctly:

1. Does Kautos small bleed excuse his poor King George run and is he capable of pulling his old school form out when it matters? (He would go down not only as the only horse to have regained a Gold Cup but to have done that twice, wow)

2. Is Denmans third to the non runner Diamond Harry, giving best part of 2 stone away, in the Hennessy a decent bit of form?

3. Is the ground soft enough for Pandorama, the Majors ante post tip for the gold cup?

4. What does the Kempes Irish Hennessy win form add up to?

5. How ripe is Imperial Commander and how good was last years Gold Cup?

6. Is Midnight Chase a credible threat?

7. Is it time to change the old guard?

8. Who wins?

The Majors view: 1. No, he looked shot in the Down Royal opener, I know Nicholls will not have had him wound up for that but I think he is on a slide.  2. This is better form than anything Kauto has done but only entitles him to place form in the Majors view.  3. Probably not but if the rain keeps coming, too early to tell 4. Nothing 5. The Major is unimpressed on both counts.  6. Not really, if he were mine he would go straight to the National. 7. Yes.  8. LONG RUN.

I am aware that the stats for 11 year olds are shocking and so are the stats for 6 year olds.  Here is the advice.  If the ground gets good to soft, soft in places, then go Pandorama.  If it remains any better than that, stick with Long Run. 

I am going to believe that his 6 year old status is offset by the fact that he has had an awful lot of racing.  This was probably the reason that he lost last festival.  I was standing by Nicky Henderson that day (not that I know him!) and it did not look like the expected script was followed.  After being on the go all of the previous summer in France and then all winter, I think Long Run was already over the top at the festival.  The way he demolished the King George field suggested he is a different prospect to me.  He should stay, he won’t mind conditions, he is inexperienced but…. 5/1 Hills (who offer £20 bet on the race and a free £10 at the weekend to all customers), Paddypower and Coral – Have the biggest slice your wallet allows and send me the postcard.

Master Hobday, if you are reading, it already carries a £20 from the Majors wallet for you, the man, the legend.

The Foxhunters

The two races after the Gold Cup are surely designed as a bookies benefit to drag in any remaining cash. 

Gone to Lunch could be dangerous if showing the best of old form.  Baby Run is a worthy favourite, nothing wrong with betting that.

For value though the Major plumps for On the Fringe.  Probably too young, where Baby Run is starting to wear.  9/2 (Hills) On the Fringe for the Major.

The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys

Conditional jockeys riding make this one of the most trappy handicaps of the festival. 

That said, there is one that stands out like a beacon to the Major in King of the Night.

This horse gets to race off a mark of just 139 despite having lost by a nose to Sprinter Sacre (now rated 145) when giving a full stone away.

From the champion trainer, plenty of scope.  11/1, the best the Major can come up with.

The Lucky Last – The Grand Annual

Christ, if you need a win here you are in trouble.

I might have the long priced answer too.  The Major has always had an eye for Sports Line.  OK, he gets way to frisky in his races and is often fighting for his head but when he does settle he looks classy.

What catches the eye is the switch to Timmy Murphy, I think they plan on burying him away in the field under the best rider at the last to first tactic.

33/1 is the sort of price to get you out of any trouble.

The Cheltenham Festival Summary

I hope you have had a terrific week.  The Major has taken not given and this is a refreshing change to last year.

In not many hours from now, the point in the year that National Hunt fans aim at is the furthest from us.  Thank god that the 2012 antepost markets are already open. 

Let us draw blood once again tomorrow.  I hope the racing is glorious, your victory magnanimous.

Gold Cup night deserves the best french cuisine.  Have some duck in the country fashion seared and with green peppercorn sauce.  A good Bordeaux.  Tip well, this is right.  Be upstanding for the Queen at midnight.  Find a nice girl from Cork whose sing song voice shall last with you for many days.

This Gold Cup, I hope you have every reason to be glad in your heart.

Saturday Service – Horseracing Tips (Newbury, Leopardstown), Football Tips – Welcome to the Majors Saturday

Good morning from Pershore where the inky morning sky parallels the Major’s deep calm calculation of risk and reward as he prepares us for another weekends sporting battle.  I hope you were on the handicap plot horse identified on Fridays Kempton card – Well done Ash, Nikki, Martin, Mark et al. 

At 6am, the bowl of Coffee is a must

Pere Blanc returned 10/3 after being advised at 5/1 with Victor Chandler – Apologies it was a late night post, I had half a dozen email, texts and pigeons and 4/1 seems the best price anyone got for this one. 

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The Saturday Service

Let me set your mind…. allow a moment of calmness and reflection, it is important to allow your sentient conscience to flow like a river, bending and winding around stubborn rock in our splendid onward journey relentlessly rolling on, roll on and on dear friends inexorably without rest, no quarter shall be given and none asked.  Be peaceful now, the Major has posted, your anguish can be settled, bet like men (and women… you know who you are) and be at rest.

The coffee bubbled away from the earliest of ungodly hours and the Major has enjoyed several bowls already as we prepared delectable selections for your own perusal, I trust a couple may make it to your betting slip. 

Drinking coffee from a bowl is a pleasure first introduced to the Major in Hemmingways ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’.  For those followers who have not read it, I urge you to do so for the haunting manful description of the Spanish Civil War through the eyes of Robert Jordan, the American protagonist and probable self-portrait…… guerrilla warfare, hiding up in the mountains…. Bowls of coffee, cheese, hung meat, skins of wine, strong tobacco, living under canvas, starry nights, snow-covered slopes, warfare, love, death and sacrifice….

Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today. It’s been that way all this year. It’s been that way so many times. All of war is that way.

For Whom the Bell Tolls is almost Hemingways finest book, which in the Majors view is ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ which the Major intends to read on the night before his marathon run. 

The bowl of coffee has merely assisted concentration as the Major prepares us for battle once more.  We are in profit, substantial profit and the enemy wants it back.  He will use his vast resources to come from all fronts.  We shall respond with measured discipline.  To the sports fields and tracks of Britain and Ireland….

What wonderful racing we can enjoy today, nine graded races, Leopardstown (Heavy), Newbury (Good to Soft) and Warwick (Good to Soft).  As you browse the cards, producing horseracing tips is difficult, an embarrassment of riches, a target rich environment that is fraught with trap doors.  Trying too hard, betting too frequently, lack of research, feeling you should….. fast ways to the poorhouse.  We tread carefully in our search for value…

I love the Grade 2 Kingmaker which goes at Warwick – It usually throws up a nice Cheltenham sort.  This year, Finians Rainbow seeks to dominate a small field for the third time in three chase starts this season.  I expect he will and that’s why he is 1/3.  I am happy to let this one go as I plan on getting after him in the Arkle when I think his unchallenging preparation might cost him.  No bet advised but for those who must, Stagecoach Pearl for the wonderful Sue Smith at 8/1.

The Totesport Trophy, 3.35 Newbury is arguably race of the day.  It is a terrific puzzle to solve as a horseracing and gambling fan.  There are quite simply ten left in my calculation after putting lines through many – Even the top jockeys don’t know which of their stable prospects to ride.  It is formidable, unsolvable to most and I probably include myself.  Which evidence to use and which to discard…  21 Grade one potential Champion Hurdle sorts, this race is often used to unleash a stables prospect for the big one at Cheltenham.  How does the Major see it?

I tipped up Walkon at 12s for his Ascot run when headed by Tiger O Toole.  I think this race will be too much too soon and a potential bounce so I shall ignore the tempting 8/1 and look for better value. 

This could be a very sticky good to soft given that we are on new ground (although it will have taken some racing by then) and there has been a downpour in Newbury overnight.  It lends itself to a seasoned horse who arrives in good fettle.  One targeted at the race rather than Cheltenham perhaps.  The seasoned description though contradicts my view that we need a seasoned campaigner, how to resolve that balance?  Upstart heading for the Champion Hurdle or horse with the know how who has 20 races under his belt and won’t get over excited!

If you want experience, it rules out Solix who the Major is very excited about seeing on a UK track.  This french import for Henderson could be anything, the French form is hard to read but this horse is apparently (public knowledge, the Major has no one whispering in his ear, more is the pity) very impressive in his work at home.  I cannot have him out of my thoughts.

Get me out of Here, the McManus and McCoy horse is right in the frame if he repeats last years efforts even though this might be a hotter field – The recovery from injury which has probably been responsible for below par runs is plausible but repeating the dose on a 15lb higher mark is a big ask.  I am sure he will be tuned up but not for the Major. 

Rebel Dancer looks an interesting sort but I think despite being a likely plotter for this race, it will find one or two simply too classy. 

Tell us Willie, how good is Final Approach??? While you are at it, what wins the Champion Bumper??

8/1 the field gives us plenty of each way value.  Make sure you bet well.  SEVEN bookmakers are offering quarter odds terms and five places, make sure you are with Bet365, Skybet, Totesport, Boylesports, Bluesq, Paddypower or 888.

The Major has decided on the following as the main contenders.  Solix, for reasons given, Final Approach – This Mullins sort picked up the MCR at Leopardstown, now raiding this valuable hurdle race, it has to be respected.  I suggest taking both, Solix is best priced 14/1 with Paddy Power who go the 5 places, have a slice.  Final approach can be backed at 10s with Coral and William Hill but is available generally at nines with those paying the 5th place.  Personally I would take the tens.  As you can see the Majors view settled on upcoming superstar rather than experienced old hands.  Pricewise went for Soldatino, cannot argue on its novice form….. 8/1 but not the Majors selection.

The Aon Chase is a less complex affair (2.25 Newbury) and it looks like it boils down to the top two in the market.  Riverside Theatre, a horse the Major has followed and tipped as a successful each way 14/1 prospect in the King George ante post market, now goes off as favourite at a price of evens.  While I like the horse, I think Nicholls has been patient trying to find the key to What a Friend and I would prefer his chances at 2/1 (Victor Chandler and Paddy Power).  Some don’t like the form of his Hennessy and Lexus runs and class them as easier Grade 1 performances, the Major would prefer it at twos than Riversides evens.  I just think What a Friend potentially has more upside.  Small stake advised.

3.00 The Game Spirit throws up a slightly below par field this year.  I am interested in Sports Line who may settle better with Timmy Murphy – His Punchestown third to Captain Cee Bee at the festival is as good as anything on show – If they have found the key to him then he could be a danger to all.  McCain has won a third of his races in the last fortnight which adds to the sense that a decent run is on the cards.  A chance is taken with Paddy Power or Bet365 at 7/1 (win stake).

Persian Snow looks the likeliest to win the bumper at Newbury but no bet advised.

At Leopardstown, there are some hugely interesting contests in this card which was moved from the original Hennessy day.  The Irish Hennessy is simply one of the greatest Irish races of the year and it is a shame that the Nicholls raider, Pride of Dulcote has been rerouted in his preparation.  There are other interesting challenges on the cards though.

The Grade 1 juvenile hurdle opener is a small stakes race as per the Majors betting resolutions.  That said I like Indian Daudaie who has improved with racing and the heavy ground is likely to be a big plus to his chances.  I prefer the experience of the three races under the belt over the impressive maiden winner Unaccompanied who is at the top of the market on potential alone.  10/3 my selection with Victor Chandler, have a slice.

Another Grade 1 is hot on the heels at 1.45 with the Dr P J Moriarty Chase (What a card) Mikael D’haguenet has the form in the book and he has been the apple of Mullins eye.  I do like the chances of Magnanimity at the prices though as the race is likely to be run to suit and I suspect this one is still strongly on the upgrade and a likely Cheltenham sort.  11/2 with Hills and Power, I might be wrong but I suspect he may come in.

The 2.15 looks impossible but I would note Run for Sol who has a touch of the plot horse look about him.

2.45 and back to the Grade 1 action!  The Deloitte Novices is a great guide to the Supreme Novices at Cheltenham and this year it is truly a terrific line up.  Surely Mullins has been treating Zaidpour gently (when beaten by the Major!) and I fancy it has the measure of Hidden Universe in normal conditions but the Heavy I think will suit Hidden Universe more than Zaidpour.  My advice is to take a slice of the 4/1 generally available.  I think if this gets dirty, McNamara might get after the Universe in a way that Townend won’t, they have a longer term goal.  Oscars Well is an interesting runner but breeding suggests better ground to the Major.

The Hennessy 3.15 Leopardstown pits the reliable Irish chasers against each other again.  Sadly the stars are not there and it is a case of picking the best of the ‘Europa League’ players.  Trafford Lad was the Majors advice when well beaten – I should know when I am done but I maintain this horse had decent younger form and could still one day reproduce it – Perhaps today is the day…… Anyone else coming in at 40/1 with Hills?  The waters warm…..

OK – That is all the major races covered as best as the Major can, we have already got through 2,000 words and plenty of advices and research.  What a feast of racing action from todays graded races.  The Major is all about that and also all about the 3.20 at Ayr…. why??  Not many people woke up this morning thinking about Reindeer Dippins chances.  The Major however likes a couple of things about this one.  It will have needed the recent run following a break, McCain is in fine form and it is going its preferred way at Ayr, needing to race left-handed in the Majors view – Have a slice a 7/1 Boylesports, Paddy Power or Skybet.

To the sports fields of Britain….

The Manchester derby on paper is mouth-watering but going on the park the bus attitude applied by Mancini in similar circumstances I suggest both low scoring and no scoring games are in store for us, even if Smalling is a potential chink in the United armour.   For the Major it is nil nil at half time…… A little known outfit called Unibet go 37/19 beaten only by the equally low profile Red32 who go 79/40….. 2/1 in old money, less a pittance!

I like the chances of Sunderland at home to Tottenham – No bet advised at the prices.

West Ham surely have a good chance of taking the bacon home from my beloved Hawthorns.  Dispassionate betting is a must in the pursuit of profit and I cannot have it that West Ham are 3/1 – Di Matteo got fired largely because he could not get us defending well.  Hodgson may be the right or wrong manager but what can have changed in that space of time to tighten us up??  3/1 have a piece, a great bet – Albion have lost all but a couple of their last ten games, West Ham have 4 points from 6 on the road.

Villa are an advised bet to bag the points at free-falling Blackpool.  5/4 is reasonable.

Arsenal have lost some valuable points at the Emirates this season and I suspect Wolves may give them more problems today.  14/1 is not a bad price for a well organised team.  Arsenal will come out firing, I have been impressed with the way the gunners leave the traps but if they don’t score in the first twenty five minutes then they might find it tougher and tougher.  The Emirates crowd can be impatient, they have seen it before, petulance is often visible on the pitch when the gunners don’t get their way – 3/1 half time nil nil is the bet for the Major.

Ladbrokes go -3 Scotland in the handicap at evens which I think is a great price.   Wales look devoid of spirit as they extended their barren spell.  Scotland on the other hand played well against the usual french flair.  This is a great bet, have a piece.

There we are, the advices are in.  I am aware that this is a long list, probably the biggest post in the Majors record.  Thank you for reading it all.  If you cheated and came to the bottom to read my nap, go back to the top young man and do it properly.

The NAP is a West Ham win at 3/1.  I am sorry Mr Hill, it had to be.

My lucky 15 is West Ham, Indian Daudaie, Scotland -3 and Magnaminity. 

Let us accept our enemy from whichever angle he chooses to attack.  The turf accountant is a devious fiend, pricing markets with delicate balance. 

At tonight’s dinner, I imagine you will order the Lamb, gently cooked in a Moroccan style.  A nice gentle red from Begerac will pair well.  Have a Pastis beforehand to clear the palate.  As you await your evening carriage, remember to tip the man well.  The moon may well be shining, you see a man in a cloak in the dark shadows, his look is sinister.  The church bell chimes the midnight hour as he approaches you.  You see he has a satchel, he is the beaten enemy, your turf accountant.  Tell him ‘Oh enemy, do not ask for whom the bell tolls…. It tolls for thee’, then see him home, it is the right thing to do.