Tag Archives: upazo

The 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup Sermon

Good evening from the Major who writes from a Worcestershire beset in a dull grey, the sun never quite managed to rid the land of that cool malaise and as dusk fell, I felt tired.

Today was not to plan.  Annie, oh Annie.  Ruby blamed himself, he parked in behind the wrong JP horse, whichever way you look at it, More of That was impressive and a second Championship winning racehorse that AP McCoy chose not to ride!  I was involved in a major position on Annie and was quite gutted to see her not quite real in More of That who was the deserved winner.

I cannot quite describe how, since the blog had a poorer day, that I ended up in some clear profits.  Some old forgotten antepost and a dash of fortune, the war chest is prepared for the final assault.  I feel a bit dirty over some of the wins, fortuitous and unlikely would not quite cover it.  Still, I am armed – Let’s get to business.

I am expecting guests tonight and so, will discharge the dribble of my mind for your own appraisal without much of the buffer you might usually expect.  I trust you are in position too for the final assault – Ah Gallipoli, Crimea, Cawnpore – Those final stands.  Allow us to aim true, with a steady hand and a sharp eye.  Stay frosty my friends, you need to act without emotion.

Cheltenham Friday Gold Cup Tips

As per all posts this week, I will be referring back to the antepost piece I compiled a week ago, reviewing the Grade 1’s on the Cheltenham card.

We start with the Triumph… My selection last week was Calipto, 5/1 then, 9/2 now – The same logic applies, his form from beating Activial is the bit that stands out for me, Royal Irish Hussar being the next best.

We move into the County Hurdle and of high interest is Arctic Fire who while having achieved less than some of these, is the choice of Ruby Walsh and let us not forget that Mullins has won the County twice in the last five years.  He has won on good ground and is receiving support.

Hobbs has talked up the chances of Cheltenian and it is easy to foresee him going well.   Never Enough Time caught the eye, as did many, as he looks very well handicapped and this is typically a race that goes to an Irish raider.   I am having one and it is a Mullins horse but not Arctic Fire. No, If AP can jock himself off two winning rides, it is not too far removed to imagine Ruby managing to get off one too…. Upazo, gets the services of Paul Townend (as long as he is OK after a bad fall earlier today).  I think he is well handicapped and while only a tentative selection, at 25/1, he gives us a chance to really deal up a stake of pain!

The Albert Bartlett also got the Grade 1 treatment and my logic has survived another week.  First of all, I like Kings Palace and am on at some reasonable antepost prices.  Yet he might struggle to cut it from the front against this opposition – Although the ground is a massive plus for him.  Briar Hill is an obvious call, I would not put anyone off, his champion bumper left us all agog at how we managed to let a 25/1 Mullins / Walsh through and his course form and impeccable CV this year put him rightly at the head of the market.

However, Captain Cutter has done little wrong too.  He had the beating of Kings Palace on bumper form and was my antepost pick… Hmmmm… On balance, I am going to get after this particular Mullins favourite but I am going to back against Captain Cutter too.  As a rule a front runner in this sort of race would not be my thing but I am going to side with Kings Palace on two counts.  The ground and the super confident form of Tom Scudamore.

Then the big one, the Gold Cup.  We have been waiting from it, ever since last year with Conti sprawling out on the way down the hill, Sir Des Champs playing a role and Bobs Worth niggled but classy, determined and perpetual, building his run in layers, with his foes unable to respond at the death.

Again, I have already a position here where Silviniaco Conti has been my choice and this has been true since the start of the season.  Prior to his King George win, I was backing him at the fancy prices.  That said, I have been hedging in with Bobs Worth too – He is five from five on good ground.  There is something funny about him though, he does hit flat spots and I wonder how reliable he is in a fight.

Silviniaco Conti will battle, I think he is wiser at his fences and while his good ground form does not quite stack up as equal, it is impressive enough.  Go large or go home as they say.  7/2 is available but in the morning, I bet some game bookmaker, offers us 5/1.

The Foxhunters is a race in which I have another of my antepost positions built up.  On the Fringe at 4/1 is an absolute snip.  Go watch his last race, it is highly impressive.  Of course, nobody would begrudge a win for Oscar Delta and Jane Mangan after the disaster that struck last year… Can you imagine if he sails over the last, how people’s memories of last year will be in our minds, how we will cheer if he charges up the run in, incident free… Good luck @jane_mangan

If you get to the last two races of the festival and need something, you are in a world of trouble my friend.

The Martin Pipe is a wide open handicap and playing it for a big result is a very perilous affair.  My best guess is The Skyfarmer who will absolutely love being returned to a sound surface.  Yes he is a stone and a half more weighted down since his last win but he needs this surface and despite being seemingly the second Hobbs string, I hold a hope.  16/1 is available.  Vieux Lion Rouge is a suspicious looking Pipe horse but has been campaigned on heavy ground and that puts me off.

I have a simple theory for the lucky last of the Festival.  Last year, the Grand Annual, named after Johnny Henderson about ten years ago, almost fell to his son, Nicky for the second time since the renaming.  Surely he has another prepared for us?  Tanks for That is not a typical horse for me, being older but his run in an all weather bumper will have put him right and while he has two ways of running, maybe we will strike true with his 16/1 price.

Courage and roll the dice!

The Saturday Sermon – Kempton, Wetherby and Warwick

Good evening from the Major who writes from a breezy but fair Worcestershire scene where the fire crackles, the beer is cold and the good lady is preparing a king prawn curry – Ah, it is good to be alive.

There are moments, flickers, moments in the script when the sense of being alive seems inexplicably to come to the fore of your mind.  Recently, you will recall the Majors sojourn to the emerald isle.  A most satisfactory time was had.  While driving through Dublin, Daniel, number one son and heir to the Majors fortune (not that there will be a fortune, more likely a debt) spied an unusual building and exclaimed that ‘how could anyone build that?’

The simplicity of the question took me by some surprise.  It is the wonderment that made my heart skip, the sheer astonishment that as a child you can experience but as a spark from the fire diminishes as we weary.

Such spirit, waking moments, it is the reason why I refuse to lay off when on a bet.  I was drinking with my brother a few weeks back and bought him a treble, in  which the first two legs landed.  He felt uncomfortable, even before he spoke I knew it, he was rubbing the ticket and twitching at the prospect of saying something.  The thing is, the win would have been useful and the conflict he felt was talking to me about laying off.

Now, I am a humble soul and would not begrudge you or any other man your own opinion.  Yet, my own brother, a man who knows his own mind well felt an impulsive hesitancy in my company.

As it happened, he was waiting on a Kidderminster win.  He played a few safety bets and it was financially rewarding as Kidderminster failed in the last leg of the treble, rather miserably losing with ten men.

Was this right?  Was his correction emotionally as well as rationally good value?  I am unsure.  A gift, the urge to see it through, his understanding of my own reluctance to lie down in the face of a gamble – I just feel it is cheating, it is robbing yourself of the thrill you might enjoy… After all, we spin by just the once and whatever raises the heart, engages the mind, brings the lust of blood, well… it is a rarer and most beautiful thing.

Leave your chips on the table my friends, to the sports…

The Tolworth

The Liquidator looks the bet to me being 9/4 and with obvious advantages.  I must confess to not being a fan of the Pipe stable but The Liquidator carries great form into the race and unlike my other fancy (Garde La Victoire) he has proven mudlark status.  Upazo does not appeal on pure form terms to me and the Henderson yard (who are in fine form, with fewer than usual runners in the last fortnight) send out two but both are overlooked.  Of them, Josses Hill is clearly the most interesting but I do not like the form as he has had to battle to victory the last twice – That said, greenness could be a factor and I would not be outraged to be corrected.

All the dogs are barking for Captain Chris but I cannot have him.  He is not the sort I trust at all, for a start I think three flat miles on good ground is his bag and this, while shorter and on softer (thus an acceptable compromise for many) will not be his ideal conditions.  Twinlight has been talked down by the trainer but honestly, I feel he has an excellent chance, one might question why they are bringing him across otherwise – The yard seem to be in perpetual good form which is something the Ditcheat team cannot boast and Ghizao while loving the ground is short on the required form.

Warwick

Black Thunder won in a small field last time which might put some off his short odds but I have to admit to being impressed enough to lump on today at 4/6 in this better company.  Corrin Wood is a decent opponent but my selection won going away and Nicholls is bringing him along quietly.

I am also a fan of African Gold, yes it is deep ground, yes he carries top weight but make no doubt, he is the class act.

Wetherby Tip

At Wetherby, I am looking to have a bet on McMurrough who is back hurdling after some smart chasing appearances.  He looks well placed for a win and races off almost a stone lighter than his chase mark.  At first glance his soft ground form is not great but this is a distraction, he is certainly ground versatile and the yard is are in absolute awesome form…  I suspect this is bet of the day.  6/1 – Major stakes required.

To the football….

Southampton are a fine 20/17 to beat West Brom with the latter not yet benefiting from the new managers guidance.  Likewise, long-term team to follow this season, Wigan, are 13/15 to win at home to Bournemouth, have a big slice.  I would also be a buyer of Burnley at 19/20 away at Yeovil.

May your dinner be magnificent, resplendent in its glorious elegance both in cuisine and company.  Of the latter, I trust it is well-mannered, not too gentle, more outrageously good fun…. She may be entertaining the idea, which gets settled as your wallet falls open to settle the bill, spilling the good fortune of the day.

The Martin hill bet, sure to be a winner is doubles and trebles on all horses selected -20 bets.

Courage, roll the dice.

Sunday Racing Tips from Punchestown for the Tied Cottage Card

Good morning from the Major who writes from a decidedly cold Worcestershire scene with an overcast sky and damp floor.

Yesterday was not the Black Saturday of last week but neither was it redemption.  The Major remains firmly on the cold list and there is only one thing to do…. punt my way out.

I thought it was an odd day of racing.  McCoy seemingly had an excellent book of rides but failed to sparkle on many.  Captain Conan was all but beat before rallying and taking advantage of Third Intention tying up.  Perhaps it was the glue like conditions that saw so few horses running to their best…

Sunday sees a great day of racing at Mussleburgh and Punchestown and I shall once more daub my face in war paint.

Punchestown Card – Tied Cottage

The opener revolves around the Mullins French import Upazo who has been beaten at prohibitive odds twice already but has shown ability in both defeats.  Jennies Jewel from the latter defeat has confirmed the form to be solid going down in a reasonable manner to Glenns Melody next time up.

So Upazo is good if not spectacular so the key question is whether anything is hiding amongst this list of maidens…

Byerley Babe is the key threat – the Thurles bumper he won does not seem to be up to much but the style was impressive.

In the each way prices, I like Follow the Sign the most but feel it is best watched today.  On balance I am going to back Upazo at 5/4.

The second, 1.20pm,  is a fantastic novice affair, the Moscow Flyer Grade 2.

Don Cossack is trying to restore a once lofty reputation.  Along with Starky, Ned Buntline and Mozoltov, he will enjoy the mud he faces here.  Don Cossack fell when chasing Pont Alexandre last time and while he was never threatening the leader, bear in mind two things.  He never travelled that day suggesting something was slightly amiss and secondly, Pont Alexandre is prominent in the novice staying markets at Cheltenham suggesting that it is no mug.  You can read  the trainer Gordon Elliots thoughts here.

Back in this company and freshened up he is a big threat.  Remember he gave a good beating to Sizing Gold in a bumper and while that horse has also had a beating from Pont Alexandre, it represents a strong formline.

Mozoltov also has some form tied up with the premier horses, including being placed behind Champagne Fever.  Mullins has won this race twice in the last five years with Gagewell Flyer and Mikael D’Haguenet.  The latter was always highly regarded, the former less so.

It is hard to read Ned Buntlines form having being disappointing on his penultimate run but shaping much better winning last time.  That race has a weakish look to it but you can only beat them well.

This is a race that is hard to read.  On balance I am going with Mozoltov.  As much as Don Cossack boasts the highest reputation, Mullins is in sparkling form and I am backing him to make it three wins from six runnings of the Moscow Flyer.  Incidentally if you need a bit of cheering up as I do, have a watch of the 2007 Tingle Creek in which Azertyuiop and Well Chief fail to peg back the most awesome of two milers.

The third is a Pertemps qualifier and Colbert Station is an obvious call on recent form, beating a big field in his latest assignment.  His earlier runs behind Roi du Mee are strong too.  His chase mark is two stone bigger than this hurdle mark so the chances are clear.  Technically his record on heavy is dubious but many of those runs were credible.

Sizing Europe looks to have another penalty kick in the fourth.

The Cross Country is a bit of a specialist event for both the horses and the punters!  While Bostons Angel looks the most talented horse in the line up, I am never confident about backing with confidence a cross country horse.  If I feel like an interest I will go with the equally obvious call of Arabella Boy, 7/2, who represents Enda Bolger, the specialist yard for these contests.

In the 3.20, I am opting for Corals 16/1 about Beeverstown.  There are more obvious calls for Lambro and I also like Quiscover Fontaine who while tackling a distance too short for him is the most proven of these in the mud.  My tip though has shown some good novice ability and I think his jumping will stand up to this. He comes with a health warning as he often fails to complete and even unseated at the start last time out.

In the 3.50, spare a thought for Vesper Bell who has to shoulder a stone and a half more than the rest of the field.  I am not a fan of Arbor Supreme who these trips on this ground must be a real labour at the age of 11.  On balance, while having to shoulder a big burden over a staying trip, Vesper Bell gets my vote on class.

I am opting for The Ramblin Kid in the bumper, Nina will get us out of trouble!

Good luck to us all.

Thursday Gowran Tips… Racing losing fixtures to the frost…

The ice, the cold, it bites at your skin… trees are frozen, still statues, alien to their swaying past.  The act of freezing, the temporary suspension of life.

Everything is so beautiful in the morning, all is white.  Crystal formation on twigs, hazy freezing fog hugging the earth, the sound deafened to a whisper, life exists but only beyond vision, masked by the blanket of cold.  I love it.

Racing fixtures are being abandoned to mother nature.  A shame, there were a couple I fancied at Leicester today.

It is a shame to see Kauto Star’gate’ continuing in such public fashion.  Surely the parties involved could act with a bit more class.  If you are able in life to accept that you are wrong a lot of the time then confrontation diminishes.  If you can accept no thing, please leave, your sort is not welcome here.

To Gowran…

Gowran Park Tips – Thursday

The opener is a juvenile contest in which all attention will be on my tip, the Mullins trained Dougal Philps.  No market is open yet, bar Betfair of course which suggests 5/4.  That would be generous as I think this is a weak field and this selection is in the right hands.  His Ballinrobe flat form is average but nothing has much better.  Well placed I suspect even though it is hard to be majorly enthusiastic about any three year old tackling hurdles.

Upazo and Umpact are the two that will surely between them produce the winner.  Mullins is obviously going to be the favoured trainer for this race.  So Young the half brother to Upazo is a good advert for the 1/2 favourite who won a nice bumper .  Umpact also won a nice race in similar French conditions and the placed horses have done just as much to advertise the quality.  On balance 2/1 Umpact gets my nod.

Misca Musca and Treat Yourself seem the two to concentrate on as they both seem on the upgrade with last time out wins.  I tip the latter on the basis of jockey prowess with Davy Russell, one of the best, riding with a 25% yard strike rate – That surely suggests the best part of a stone increase since Treat Yourself won might not be enough to stop the horse.

In the 2.05, again there are two clear market principles to try and differentiate.  Mozoltov is going to be a warm order for Mullins having placed in Grade 1 bumper company.  However, Sizing Gold, gets the Majors tip after some highly useful placed form behind the exciting Don Cossack.  Experience of hurdling will be a massive plus so the current 11/8 is fine.

The 2.35 looks a tough call between Lough Roe Lady and Sherika with the former looking good to go in again with extra distance a plus.

One of the most painful horses to follow in racing runs in the penultimate race.  Champagne Agent deserves a win and this looks the easiest chance yet.

I literally have no view on the bumper.

I am aware that these Gowran Park selections are all short prices.  That is unusual for the Major but I suggest a number of multiples to spice it up for you.

Courage, roll those dice.