Tag Archives: uncle junior

Friday Cheltenham Horseracing Tips – Shabash, roll those dice

Good evening from the Major who writes with a head cold brewing, the system is slowing down, the heartbeat is louder and forced, things are aching.

The good living seems to be catching up on me yet the real heavy nights are still ahead of me, this weekend.  A combination of rigorous drinking, single-mindedness and hardcore N-(4-hydroxyphenyl) ethanamide will see me through.

Tomorrow there is racing at Cheltenham.  I was thinking of an early night but was persuaded to write-up some Cheltenham tips by a foxy piece earlier.

There I was earlier, a gentlemen mingling among acquaintances, glass of champagne in hand… when over she strolls, wanton look in her eye, not the most glamorous sort but a certain curl of the lip lets you know where her mind is running… ‘you have something I want….‘  Well well thinks I…. ‘I am racing at Cheltenham tomorrow, give us your tips’

In hindsight perhaps anything else was unlikely.

So to Cheltenham and lets daub the war paint and do battle once more….. Ms N, good luck.

Cheltenham Tips

In the opener Rebel Rebellion for the champion trainer could be interesting stepped down in class from a daunting assignment trying to tackle the hugely exciting Captain Conan.  I think he might be bumping into more useful sorts here though and would need to show a lot of improvement for the step up in trip.

Henderson, Longsden and McCain have their strings in fine order and I think it is wise to concentrate on their runners.  Hilldisvini is small but progressing nicely, might just have run into a decent field here though.  Super Duty looks decent, particularly the line through Simonsig.

Yet, boring as it seems, the Major is tipping Broadbackbob for the opener at 5/4.  The yard, ground and trip look fine and this horse was very reasonable over the smaller obstacles.

The second race is a conditional jockeys affair and in these contests, the quality of the jockey plays a bigger role than normal.  Mr Nolan has a 17% strike rate, Mr Derham, Lineham and Bellamy between 12-13% and Lucy Alexander is a top notch rider too (11%).

I do not want to look any further than Simply Wings (Nolans ride) at 7/1 – A bloodless winner of a beginners chase last time, my tip should go well for 7/1.

The 1.20 handicap is an open affair (9/2 the field) – Tom Du Lys is an easy selection at 8/1 – It looks like the horse is being backed so may go off shorter.  The reasoning is the same that everyone else will see – Henderson, Geraghty, French Import, Handicap debut slightly disappointing, put away until this season!

The Grade 3 handicap at 1.55 is the graded race of the day.  Bradley has run well at Cheltenham before and given that he handles the track, he will be a warm order.   Quartz de Thaix is a horse seemingly on the upgrade and while upped in class, might be a better horse yet.

Midnight Chase has excellent course form and is surely booked to be in the places and can take the race.

Not a race I want to be heavily involved in but I am opting for Becauseicouldntsee – If the Thurles run was a warm up then the horse will be well for this and the yard are hardly one to tilt at anything.

The cross country will hopefully get the go ahead and if so I don’t think it is worth looking beyond 3/1 Uncle Junior and 5/1 Bostons Angel.  I would back the former, despite the top weight, who has experience of this game.

The penultimate race a class 2 handicap is a quality race and again is a fairly open affair – I could make cases for quite a few.

The most appealing of a long list are Inish Island who seems unlikely on profile but won a hurdle race last time at Downpatrick nicely.  In excellent hands to try to cope with the step up in distance and the assistance of the Walsh ride.

At Fishers Cross won readily last time and while seemingly moving left across the track for pressure, still had plenty in hand.  The jumping was a bit of a concern and let’s face it, Cheltenham is going to examine that closely.

Saint Roque is interesting, bought down when getting competitive latest, but it is a worry that Ruby has gone for Inish Island.  The course experience could be important but Nicholls string seem to be going a little of the boil after an awesome run 3/4 weeks ago.

Sivola de Sivola has a big race in him but often needs a lot of encouragement and if something arrives on the hill travelling more smartly, I am not sure I would want to be on the Tom George inmate in a crisis.

Tight call between some interesting sorts.  On each you make a compromise   The compromise I am happiest with is that At Fishers Cross, can step up and make quality count.  I am hoping the slower pace of this race will enable a cleaner round of jumping.  9/2.

Eduard is the bumper tip at 9/2 after ifandbutwhynot franked the Newcastle race they competed in.

Friday Cheltenham Madness – Tips for each race….

The International meeting at Cheltenham kicks off with a decent little card and the Major will be on course aiming to pay for Christmas, once more.

Last Saturdays form continued the Majors mixed to shocking form but as my old gambling friends would say, even the blind squirrel finds the odd nut….. we venture on brave few unto honour.

Killyglen... could be a shocker... let's hope not for the sake of the Majors children whose Christmas is still in the balance

12.00 Novice Chase

Only 4 runners but a cracking start with Solix opposing Sam Winner and opening as slight market favourite.

The Henderson horse gets the Majors vote by slim virtue of the trainers better form and unbelievably strong credentials in these events, the horses strong form looks fine and there is decent ground which I am unconvinced that Sam Winner will appreciate.   There is rain coming down which would square it up but even if it goes good to soft, I suspect that Solix is the better horse and he edges a narrow opener.

12.35 Handicap Hurdle

Edgardo Sol, Aather and Golden Gael are the three that catch the Majors eye.

The first from the champion trainer has great credentials and Harry Derhams useful 7lb claim brings the horse down to a decent looking mark.  The latest run at Sandown looked half decent.

Aather is harder to explain at 25/1 and in terrible form.  Unreliable, off the track for some time but….. the Major has had this one on a watch list on pieces of form that date back some time.  It takes some imagination to see it winning but as Thoreau said, the world is a canvas to such imagination….

The Major however goes for a more sensible route and tips Golden Gael. Unexposed and the booking of the stables ‘go to’ jockey is enough for the Major.  8/1…. have a chunky slice….

1.10 Handicap Chase

Nudge and Nurdle is plummeting towards some tasty looking marks and money for this one would be significant but not for the Major.

That’lldoboy is of definite interest and not a bad value favourite at 2/1.  He is up 17lbs though in his last two runs and I am concerned (probably more than most will be) that he may be getting into the grip of the handicapper.

That said finding an opponent to beat him is tough.  Bene Lad at the foot of the weights might be the chief danger but comes with plenty of questions upped in class.

Overall, despite the handicap concerns I am sticking with the favourite and willing to put good money that he toils up the hill second to something implausibly well handicapped!

1.45 Handicap Chase

I am only interested in Mon Parrain and Shakalakaboomboom.

The first was a major player for the Paddy Power if the money was to be believed and the second finished last season on a career best at Punchestown and is bought here by Henderson despite having a poor record at Prestbury Park. , tough decision.

On balance I think Shakalakaboomboom is worthy of a stake at 9/2.  At the end of the day, I prefer the better form of the Henderson yard and he is capable of having this one tuned up.

Backing both feels like a shot to nothing mind.

2.20 Cross Country

Expecting a tip on the Cross Country from the Major…… I am sorry, I do not truck with witchcraft, good luck to you.  Stop looking at me like that…. Satan get behind me….

Uncle Junior and it hurts me to type it.

2.55 Handicap Hurdle

If the rain comes the Major will plug on betting on Pause and Clause, possibly through a heady mix of sheer stupidity and loyalty, who I am convinced has bigger races in him than this but I find it hard to back Emma Lavelles charge on merit.

Evan Williams is in form and so Di Kaprio is considered but surely Oscargo can give the famous Nicholls / Walsh combination another Cheltenham win here.  The third at Cheltenham last time out is probably as good form as on show here and this horse is (unlike most) entirely unexposed.  Garton King is obviously interesting too being from the same stable and unbeaten but I would take jockey booking as informative here.

So Oscargo is it…. well no.

I am after more value and Killyglen at 8/1 offers me just that.  As a younger horse, this one threatened to be better class than this.  If you accept that his seasonal reappearance was needed then he is on a decent mark and the Major is willing to stick with him, particularly as Dickie Johnson has been booked for a rare (or possible debut) stable ride.

3.30 Novice Hurdle

Darlan at 1/2 is surely one of the hottest novice hurdlers in the Henderson yard which makes him one of the hottest seasonal prospects.

The Majors suggestion is Aikideau at 16/1 who showed improved form on reappearance when entitled to need the run.  Probably not good enough but an each way shout.

Friday Cheltenham Tips – Shabash

What a superb card at Cheltenham for the opening of the Paddy Power meeting…

I have spent some time immersed in the form and my thoughts and have drawn up a series of tips.  The Major needs some winners, the last couple of Saturday Sermons have delivered misery to the masses.

Here is my whirlwind tour of tomorrows Prestbury Park card…  Good luck to those good folk I know are there.  Mr McGerr I might see you for a sneaky quick one at the close.   Krish and the gang… do some damage.

1.10 Amateur Riders Handicap Chase

£10k is not bad prize money for this handicap chase for amateur riders and highlights the sheer decency of this card.

I am always a fan of backing horses with good amateurs up and since we have the Gold Cup winning jockey riding an unexposed chaser, I expect Time for Spring to start clear favourite.  A capable hurdler, his debut and breeding suggest he will go on as a chaser.  That said his round of jumping at Carlisle was not perfect and Cheltenham will provide the usual searching test of jumping accuracy so overlooked.

You have to respect the Pipe yard targeting ten-year old Swing Bill back at this but I would be surprised if he can cope with his mark.  He needs an upwards surge in form to be involved.

In second place on the selection stakes is in a field of potentials is the horse making the trip from County Cork, Barel of Laughs.  This 7/1 shot is another who seems to be significantly on the improve and who knows if the best part of a stone up in the weights is enough to stop him.  Joint second would be co-favourite Stewarts House whose last race was probably the best recent form on offer.  Tim Vaughan is in decent touch with his string and 6/1 seems reasonable.

The tentative selection though is Bescot Springs who acts on most goings.  He is one of those that the handicapper also has applied a prohibitive rise to on last running.  I still think he is a very interesting 12/1 shot.  His Kelso win was worth at least the 13lb rise and he had been performing well in novice events over both obstacles.  He has some very interesting form in the book including a two length defeat to Mad Moose.  Very interesting, make an investment.

1.45 2m Handicap Chase

Some great familiar names take part in this 2 mile handicap chase.

The race revolves around whether Crack Away Jack can return to old form.  In his earlier days he looked top class but after a season on the sidelines, he seemed to have lost the plot last year.

I have lost track of the Nicholls inmates that have risen back to glory following the magic wind op and if it has the trick, 7/2 could be the best value you see for the rest of this year.  The ground is in his favour and given he is shooting for a £25k pot, perhaps we should take the hint and invest.  He is one of the old favourites of the Major but on balance best watched.

I am opting for second favourite Haventascoobydo at 8/1 though who is also suited by conditions and is surely a horse on the significant upgrade.  The slight concern is his jumping has let him down on occasion and that is a trait in a horse that would normally get the Majors red line at Cheltenham but I am willing to give this one a chance on his third chase start.

Money for Oh Crick could be significant.

1.45 Cross Country

If you are there, get yourself over to the middle of the course, the cross country is a special watch from there.  I am not a massive fan of the cross country but it is a decent spectacle up close.

The day Garde Champetre retires is the day he will stop being a thorn in the Majors side, I relentlessly back against this one but each time it is a folly.

Here I go again though…. At 12, he is knocking on.  I also think Uncle Junior has decent enough form.  Sod it 6/1 here I go.

2.55 Novice Hurdle

Steps to Freedom is a 6/4 hot favourite and the Major had a fantastic day at Aintree on Grand National Da when this raider won the hurdle at 12/1.  He looks a very useful sort having proved his worth over obstacles already but there is a magic formula to follow here….

Novice Hurdle = Nicky Henderson.

I am all about Ericht at 5/1.  It looked a decent Champion Bumper and so 6th in that sphere reads well.  From a stable with an embarrassment of riches in the novice hurdle stakes, it is telling that Henderson lines this one up for the Grade 2 feature of the opening day of the Paddy Power.

Have a chunky slice and send me the postcard.

3.30 Conditional Jockeys

Henderson has a fine record in this race and so Semi Colon has to be respected on that alone.  The lightly raced mare will come into it on previous Cheltenham form, highly respected.

The Paul Nicholls Tigre Daron is also a danger to all and the Ditcheat team are in splendid form.  Probably no fun in the price though in a race like this.

There are reasons that I believe Architrave is a well priced 25/1 and trainer form is one of them.  For those that like a price, take a slice.

As tempted as I am by Architrave, it is 16/1 shot Suburban Bay I like the most.  Stopped on a hat-trick bit at Worcester, I think there is still more improvement to come.  He will like conditions and generally is a sound jumper.  Alan Kings season has started fine….

4.05 Steel and Plate Novice Chase

They have saved the best for last.  Cue Card versus Grand Crus… fascinating.

Is it a two horse race?  Well Champion Court is a decent shout but given the way he walked through a few fences in the small field at Aintree latest, you would have to question the suitability of Cheltenham.

The only other runner of appeal is the entirely unexposed Dualla Lord who is bought into a race Nicholls once targeted with Denman.  Dualla Lord would have to be very fine to take this though and is over-looked.

Zaynar seems in permanent decline although a glimmer of hope could be taken from the last run.

Of the two market favourites, I am going to opt with Cue Card. Grand Crus would be staying hurdle champion if it was not for the might Big Bucks, there is nothing wrong with that form!

Known chase form is a boost though for my selection Cue Card.  Of the two, he is also the one probably to prefer the ground.  6/4, go large, go long and drink hard!

Good luck to all of you at Cheltenham tomorrow.  I hope the tips pay off or at least give you some excitement.

Cracking Wednesday Cards – Three Superb Races – Tips for the Kerry National (Listowel), Fortune Stakes (Sandown) and John Musker Trophy (Yarmouth)

Good Evening from the Major who writes to you with tips for the three big Wednesday races.  We have the Grade A Kerry National as well as two listed races at Sandown and Yarmouth.  Shabash, let us win money and eat well.

Celestial Girl (former ownership) – 33/1 for the Yarmouth listed race

Let us start in Ireland with the Kerry National.

4.10 Listowel Kerry National

This sort of big race handicap in Ireland always looks the most incredible puzzle to solve but actually there are plenty of clues.  Hourigan, Mullins and McNamara have all targeted the race in the past with strong entries and they are always a great place to start.

Both the Mullins wins were with his fancied horses.  Uncle Junior is of obvious interest on this criteria but at 10, simply does not match the profile of the likely winner, with no ten-year old winning in the last 15 years and so the Major goes elsewhere.

Blazing Tempo is the really fancied Mullins horse and is a fit with Walsh on board but surely the rise for the last win makes life tougher.  That said you cannot knock the spirit of this mare and I am sure a place is on the cards and at 6/1 that is a profit.

At 10/1 in the market, you find Dancing Tornado – Hourigan has a great record in this race and it is interesting he sends this one back for more.  Once again though, I feel it likely that there is a better younger horse.

The two the Major has been wrestling with are Charles Byrnes runner which has been evidently pointed at this, Bideford Legend…. and the Thomas Mullins runner, Dr Whizz.

The case for the 9/1 main selection is simple.  Charles Byrnes won this last year and in setting out the path for Bideford Legend, it looks like another raid is planned.  Bideford legend matches much of the required profile for the Major and in a couple of Killarney wins, he has shown himself an accomplished jumper.

The second case is a little harder to make out.  Particularly as many will think dr Whizz has little chance of seeing out the trip.  The trainer, Mr T Mullins, fears not stamina issues and i think this is key.  He is lightly raced, a potential improver and one I feel a 25/1 price is a touch too generous, have a slice.

Back both.

4.05 Sandown Fortune Stakes – Listed

King Torus was a recent 9/2 winner for the Major and having been a proven Group winner, has to be respected.  That said, he has a style of running that is less than ideal, coming off the bridle early before asserting late last time out.

For the major, there are not at lot of reads into this race and so the winner comes from either King Torus or the Andrew Balding runner Laytime at 6/1.  This one has finished his last race well, which would be a concern given the better ground tomorrow.  If he is not caught for toe, I expect his earlier form where he looked a progressive sort to carry on and from the bottom of the card given his lack of big race wins and classic year status, I think there could be a decent run from the Andrew Balding runner.

Back both!!

3.20 John Musker Fillies Stakes

There is a great shape to this particular race from a punting perspective.  The market offers you two likely winners in the shape of Modeyra and Principle Role with the field 7/1 bar.  Of the two I much prefer Modeyra but that is priced into the market already.

The Major though has spotted a 33/1 chance that I am willing to risk a wager on in the hope that significant improvement occurs.

Celestial Girl is a Hughie Morrison runner at 33/1  that is on a hat-trick bid.  Sounds good until you consider that she was competing off a mark below 80.  Granted that form is unlikely to put her in the frame but there are a few things that the Major considers to be clues to a better run to come.

Firstly, her last Epsom run was in a reasonably competitive handicap and she came from off the pace.  Those sorts of runs often hide a better handicap mark.

I am also attracted to the jockey booking.  Chris Catlin might not be a star name but is an effective jockey who, like Seb Sanders, gets a fair amount of winners from a no-nonsense riding style.  Morrison has booked him ten times in the last two years, 3 wins, 5 places.

7 of Morrisons last 19 runners placed and so I offer no hesitation in suggesting the step up in class for Celestial Girl might not be overwhelming.

Courage and shuffle those cards.