Tag Archives: utopie des bordes

The 2014 Cheltenham World Hurdle Card Sermon – Forwards in courage

Good evening from the Majors abode where I write from the comfort of the lounge, shoes off, kicking back with a bottle of decent Malbec, the gentle neon glow of events in Catalonia providing a gentile fuzzy backdrop.  Outside, the evening brings a chill to prickle the skin, all pleasant, the smell of spring on the air.  The daffodils are at their brightest, the magnolia buds splendid and luxurious – Ah, it is good to be alive in England at such a time my friends – Be thankful for your lives, thankful for the incredible coincidence that created you and thankful for the wealth that life has bestowed on you.

Wednesday saw us draw blood, our sabres clashed with sparks and we drew a mark on the enemy.  Faugheen was the horse that I had lumped into and was a key part of many multiples – If we can get wins for Annie Power, Kings Palace, Silviniaco Conti and On the Fringe – Then a small mothership will have landed.

Faugheens victory appeared as though God was replicating the Supreme, trying to draw it again, only better, Ruby to set the fractions getting his beast into a lovely rhythm (although Faugheen doesn’t pay the obstacles any respect does he!) and then go for him off the turn…

On Tuesday as Ruby rousting Vautour from the bottom of the hill, I screamed like a man possessed, I was possessed…. KICK RUBY, KICK, KICK,KICK, KICK…. There was no doubt, to those within my locale as to where my money had been staked… Let me tell you, lest you not have experienced the sensation yourself, a winner under Ruby is 20% sweeter, 40% more energetic and 100% more memorable.  Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby… the crowd love it and so do I my friends, so do I.

I was working today and so have reviewed the proceedings this evening.  As such, I cannot embellish your apprehension and appreciation of the day.  I shall record this… Sire de Grugy must be one of the most popular winners of the week.  A bargain purchase, small owners (no discredit to their stature you understand!), what a dream.  I enjoyed the picture of Ryan Moore, who is himself accustomed to the splendours of Hong Kong, Japan and Ascot stood politely and in fine sartorial style, in support of the family ventures in National Hunt.

How unlucky was Katgary.  Now, you may notice that I tipped this horse yesterday and please understand, as a gentleman, I am not crowing at this misfortune, merely observing that having almost been bought down and after deciding to walk through the last hurdle, well there will be another day for that one!  Unlucky if like I, you were invested.

I was a bit miffed that Black Hercules could not hold the place but that was fair and square.  Bloody bumper, seduces me with a siren call each year.

Half way through now… and in dangerous territory.  Tomorrow, I am not going to go too hard.  The final assault on Friday requires suitable ammunition and energy, let us not leave ourselves short.  I haven’t the time to detail the 18th century exploits of General Gottfried von Clausewitzs but, I will find another sermon for that (I know…. you cannot wait), his simple words will suffice for you this evening, let them ring in your ears across the next 48 hours:

Pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination.

To the World Hurdle card, Shabash my Friends, roll the dice.

Thursday Cheltenham Tips

Once again, regular readers will be aware that I have already posted some thoughts on the Grade One races on the card which you can find on this link.  I will be referring to it throughout.

The further we get into the week, the more that good ground form is becoming a must.  With decent weather expected, we want those speedy sorts with youthful knees and plenty of healthy cartilage!

The opening race is the JLT novices, as a newly upgraded race to G1 status, I have already written up my thoughts a week earlier on the aforementioned link.

I have not really changed my mind… but I sort of have.  If you are on Oscar Whisky, I do not think you have a bad hand.  However, I am being swayed by Wonderful Charm.  Both horses have good ground form so I cannot claim it is that.  Someone quizzed my decision on twitter as to whether I had fully considered the weight allowance from their last encounter… Partly this and partly the fact that WC is less exposed has me switching allegiances…  Being proud and not recognising ‘confirmation bias’ is a fast road to the gambling poorhouse.  11/2 is available with Bet365 and a handful of others.

The Pertemps Final is a more tricky affair by nature.  If it were a girl, your mother would have warned you about her.  The Major also offers caution… I am having a slender stake on Utopie Des Bordes at 25/1.  It might be the Henderson second string but I think good ground might return the girl to good form.

Then the Ryanair – Again this has been covered on the previous post and this time I stick with my guns on Benefficient.  He was 9/2 then but the drying ground and common sense has trimmed him in to a best priced 7/2.  If you wish an alternative, I would go no further than Boston Bob who is a best priced 10/1 shot which is a reflection of his poor jumping.  Yet, he was a contender in last years RSA and if he puts in a clean round, I’d be surprised not to see him get close.

The World Hurdle is also covered on my earlier post.  No change.  Annie Power is bet of the meeting for me.  She is surely only going to get even shorter.  I am in the lucky position of having done a lot of business on her when her plans were unconfirmed and my portfolio holds some juicy 5/1 slices, many in multiples, that sounds boastful…. but I’m leaving it in.

She is a best priced 6/4, I am sure some generous bookie will go 2/1 for ten minutes in the morning and good luck getting on.  I think she will shorten further, because events influence prices.  Fresh in punters memories are images of The Flys defeat on Tuesday, his aged legs unable to keep pace with the new guard.  Big Bucks, come on in, your time is up.

The two races that complete the card are viciously difficult to interpret.  The Byrne Plate is possibly the more difficult with just a single winner in the last ten years returning at under 10/1.  I cannot really find a reliable sort for the ground.  I was half interested in Shangani for Venetia but, would you want hers on a rattling surface?  Hmmmmm Colour Squadron can go well here but 8/1 is no bet in this sort of race… Jonjo has to be feared in any festival handicap (as per Holywell on Tuesday) and Johns Spirit ran a blinder in the Paddy Power… Ballynagour was one I felt confident in last year but god only knows what to expect… The pin drops onto Third Intention who may not have the splash of stardom about him, but winners of this race rarely do.  New headgear, preferred ground….  I don’t know…. ask the bloody cat for all I care, he probably has a better idea.

The finale, is a little less perplexing – Indian Castle was likely going to be my selection but Annacotty let that form down in todays RSA and so I am less warm about the favourite this evening.  Our Father once looked awesome but goes on a long list of Pipe horses that I cannot fathom.  I am taking two (still to small stakes).  The first was my original thought, Night Alliance – I have liked the way this one has travelled at times and given a break after a gruelling trial around Haydock on suitably heavy ground, I am banking on a come back.  The other is back to Jonjo – I cannot leave Twirling Magnet unbacked at 14/1 – He won’t mind the sun on his back and a speedy surface and the master may have another prepared to perfection.

Good luck my friends.

The Saturday Sermon – Ascot, Haydock, Naas and some Football thoughts – Shabash

Good morning from the Major who writes from a wet Worcestershire scene.  Gazing out across the land at first light, menacing dark glimmers hint at the temporary lakes caused by inability of the Avon to drain quickly enough.  They are ominous, glinting and dark.  As the light comes, they lose their malevolent presence becoming peaceful rippling surfaces on which wetland birds glide.

How the darkness of night is lifted, a mirror for my thoughts.

Last night, listening to heavy rain outside was thoroughly relaxing, the patter accompanied by the whirring sound of high winds whipping around the solid brick.  All while you settle in to a dose of whatever you fancy while the woodburner roars away – Peace.

The Major has had a further challenging week, one that has been largely devoid of sleep and so the 11 hours that I enjoyed last night overdue and welcome.  I would not describe myself as feeling sharp as a result, more sluggish if anything but a contentment has come and it only means one thing… winners.  I can sense the moment before the victory and this morning reeks of it.

I am keeping the Sermon short this morning due to family commitments but wish you all the happiest punting victories.  Yet this high confidence means I am invested well into outcomes today.

Last week was a right off for the racing but we landed all three football bets.  To be fair, it was hard not to win on the football last week with all of the top teams in every division securing three points.

Daub thy war paint young warriors and mount thy horses.  We shall skirmish in open formation with the lancepoints dancing in the sunlight… to the sports.

Ascot Tips

The Ascot card that lies before us is a cracker and I dearly wish I was there.  The spectacular stand, a drop of something nice.  Still even from afar, I can feel that the card is solvable – Let us plunder away!

In the opening juvenile hurdle, I can see there being a mild upset.  The Jonjo horse, Masquerading, surely needs better ground and the current favourite, Handiwork was such a poor flat horse that I am taking his improvement to hurdles with a strong suspicion.  That said, his defeat of Aalim who was a subsequent winner is clearly decent.

Therefore I am investing in the French recruit to the Walford yard, Astre de la Cour,  6/1, which translates as Star of the Court.  The trainer has not had an Ascot runner in a long time and has booked Aspell (1 from 2 rides in the last year for the yard) – I suspect they are hoping for good things!

I skip to the first graded race, the 1.50, a 3 mile mares hurdle.  It is a nicely shaped race where Mickie, 11/8, is the present favourite.  She finished well ahead of Utopie Des Bordes at Kempton and I see little reason for a reversal of that form.  I was surprised to see a drift on the horse and think the main danger would be Highland Retreat who gets the assistance of the magnificent Noel Fehily.

In the 2.25 ( a limited handicap) – I am a big fan of The Skyfarmer who can be backed at 5/1 in a place and 9/2 generally.  What attracts me is the form of Lyvius who my selection beat at Cheltenham.  Lyvius was a winner off his revised mark at Kempton over Christmas and that is a good sign that the higher mark for The Skyfarmer is manageable.  It is worth noting that the pair put a lot of daylight between them and third at Cheltenham.  Irish Saint has been a bit of a disappointment and I suspect he will come good one day.

The 3pm handicap chase is a race in which I can make an argument for several so I will be leaving my stakes light on Grandioso who I hope has not suffered too much from his fall last time out.

The comes bet of the year so far… Sire de Grugy has been a significant improver and quite rightly has the crown of 2m horse to beat (while Sprinter is absent).  You can make a case for Somersby on course form but I simply think that he is very vulnerable to a genuine top class horse.  All you then have to decide is whether Sire de Grugy is that and I do!

Haydock and Naas

You know the tale, so I do not need to explain why I am backing Taquin Du Seuil, 5/6, in the 1.30 at Haydock.  His jumping experience and bare form should give him the measure of these.

I am putting Taquin in a Haydock double with another hottie, Un Temps Pour Tout.  There is a big expectation on this French import having cost the best part of a cool half million.  He was placed in the Grade 1 hurdle that Ptit Zig won at Auteuil having previously won a Grade 3 at the same track – Both efforts in the mud.

In the big race, 2.40, I have every hope that we can get Ptit Zig turned over mind with Melodic Rendezvous, 9/4 – I think this is a classy classy horse and his Newcastle effort was not the right run – I think the ground was key that day and we might see an entirely different prospect here.  The way he picked up Far West at Wincanton was extremely eye-catching and I am having a chunky one.

No bet on their big chase but I think Katenko is the likeliest participant.

Is that what you came here for?  Two odds on tips and a second favourite?  Did you come for tips?  Madness, the Major reminds you once again, that this is barely profitable and always unhinged – My readers are typically regular and expect nothing more than an attempt to land the mothership.

At Naas, we have a great card and Dunguib returns to the racecourse for the first time in three years.  He was once the great new hope, winning his hurdle races so easily he was the Irish hotpot at the opening day of the festival.  He only managed a place that day and a bubble was burst.  I hope keeping him in training is for the right reasons but I cannot find myself tempted to backing him at this price.

No, I wait for the 1.35 and a 11/8 on Sizing Gold.  He looks good, this is a confident selection.

In the football…. I must highlight a good opportunity.  Now the Major has no sponsorship from any firm and never has.  Yet, I would suggest you take Ladbrokes up on their offer to give a free bet to £25 if both teams score and your main bet loses in the Chelsea v Manchester United game.  I fancy Chelsea for this anyway so the 4/5 they offer is decent and my thinking is that for the bet to lose it is either nil nil or Manchester United have to score.  Thus, as long as Chelsea score at some point, the bet pays or you get a free bet.  Shame they do not let you have it in multiples but it is generous enough!

I also like Newcastle to win at West Ham, 8/5, who are poor, do not be fooled by their Cardiff result.  Wigan to win at Doncaster 5/6 and QPR to win at home to Huddersfield 7/10.

The Martin Hill bet is a L31 on Wigan, Chelsea, Sire de Grugy, Sizing Gold and Melodic Rendezvous.

I trust that your dinner is taken in good order and in good company.  May the wine be expensive and plentiful and paid for from merely a few of those larger red notes bandily taut around a core of purple.

Courage, roll those dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Grand National day tips at Aintree, just none in the National!!

Good evening from the Major who is residing in Birmingham for the night at the in-laws. The Aintree Saturday post is necessarily brief as a result.

The morning brings a flight to Paris for marathon weekend, your reluctant athletic correspondent shall report on those exploits next week. For now, all I ask is some sympathy between the hours of 8.00 and 12.30 on Sunday morning.

Warning to anyone new who has not visited the blog or read my twitter feed in the last few days. There are no Grand National tips on this blog. There are tips for each of the other races at Aintree.

I wrote two days ago about why I do not support the race. Without labouring the point for regular readers… the National is racing’s shop window but it is a travesty to think that it represents the sport I love. 30% of the horses in the National are likely to fall. A horse is likely to die.

It makes me furious when uninformed folk suggest that the venture is monetarily driven and that connections care little about their horses. I would suggest if you proffered that opinion to the Twiston-Davies family after the tragic loss of Little Josh earlier today then you might get punched, you would deserve it.

Yet, despite me knowing that risk is inherent in all national hunt racing (and living with it), the percentages involved in the national make sobering reading and it is not for me. Unique fences, 40 horses, the longest race in Britain… a unique cocktail that despite safety improvements will always make the race a risky one.

Saturday Aintree Tips

The opener sees Dodging Bullets taking on Up and Go. The former was starting to look decent but seemingly was found out in the Supreme. The latter, a McCain inmate has only run in soft conditions. Utopie des Bordes has set some decent early form in Britain and her French form is excellent, she has won on good ground but may be to better effect over longer.

Eduard is not dismissed but I suspect that one will come better in the future.

On balance I am going for Up and Go – He is likely to try and make all but I think he can get away with it. He gets the assistance of Jason Maguire who I like to see at the front of affairs, dictating things…

The Up and Go partnership would be hoping for a quick fire double with Overturn in the second. To tip this one, I have to look beyond the chances of Alderwood who has just won the Grand Annual. That form is excellent – The Grand Annual is such a competitive handicap that I always think you will see multiple winners coming out again for the Aintree and Punchestown handicaps. It is telling that Alderwood is going straight to Grade 1 level and it is hard to ignore but Overturn is a horse you cannot help but like.

He is as flexible as you like, gives his all and has a touch of class. He would not have enjoyed conditions in his Arkle and his earlier chasing form, while not in top class events, certainly was visually stunning. Overturn or Alderwood, Alderwood or Overturn….. Alderwood... Have a slice.

In the Liverpool Hurdle goes my bet of the day. I think the World Hurdle form is suspect at best. Celestial Halo is not a horse I trust, Solwhit is also a bit beyond prime and the fact the two battled out an exciting finish, well it just served to say there was a lack of class to that. Against them both, I am going to suggest African Gold at 9/1 – At Fishers Cross did everything to boost the form of the Albert Bartlett in which African Gold was a solid second.

In the listed handicap, I am going to pick good ground specialist Problema Tic at 14/1 – Pipe can ready this one who looks likely to come back now the spring is here.

In the 5.10, I am more interested in the jockey than the horse. Trying to solve the latter is a mystery as there are simply so many who are seemingly well handicapped. Finding a good jockey is down to three factors, win %, experience and what my eyes have told me! Corbett, Mahon and Brooke are my three to focus on.

Ranjaan is the mount of Mahon and may be seen to better effect on good ground but Nicholls is not in the best touch this week in my view. Brooke rides Local Hero was well beaten in the Elite by Zarkander but has been given plenty of time to recover and arrives very fresh. Meganisi is the Brooke ride and has won a couple of nice handicaps this term.

I am suggesting a small pop at both Meganisi and Local Hero.

If the Twiston Davies team had a horrible day yesterday with the loss of their stable pet, I am backing a fine double with a winner in the bumper in the shape of Pure Science at 9/1. He conceded a lot of ground racing wide in the Champion Bumper but still came in 6th and I feel a decent run will see him involved.

Outside of Aintree, I feel a 6/5 punt on Rupert Lamb is in order.

In the football, Reading must be feeling a bit desperate and Southampton continue to show spark, 13/10 for an away win is worth it. On Sunday, I feel Tottenham at 5/4, home to Everton is a gift from god. Hull at 5/6 is a must buy.

 

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is African Gold, Rupert Lamb, Alderwood and Tottenham.

Courage and roll those dice.

Friday Cheltenham Gold Cup Tips – The Major is Chasing, JT McNamara, The Triumph… last chance for glory

Good evening from the Major who writes from an overcast Worcestershire scene that is positively balmy compared to recent conditions.

The Major is tired.  Three days of battle cling to my clothes and skin and there is a certain stench of defeat about it.  Today we scored a magnificent win with Cue Card, whom I gave a strong indication to load the cannons on, but there ends the success.

Should you feel  disappointed  I hope it eases your mind to understand that the Major was significantly invested in Sam Winner, Ballynagour and Oscar Whiskey all of which floundered hopelessly at one stage or another.

Twitter is alight with thoughts and prayers for JT McNamara who suffered a fall on Galaxy Rock in the Kim Muir, the consequence of which was him suffering a severe neck injury.  Powerful barbiturates were used to induce a coma and the racecourse medical team flew with him on the air ambulance to Bristol.  My own losses become inconsequential.

A bitter taste was left by that turn of events which unfurled as the racecourse team were dealing with Matuhi who suffered a fatal fall in the previous race.

This all followed the surprising news that Davy Russell had suffered a punctured lung, although the cause remains a mystery.  He is stood down and tonight there remains a mystery as to who will ride Sir Des Champs in the Gold Cup on Friday…

The Major kept good company today and included in the group was a chap whose methodology involved selecting horses on a theme from current events.  He selected the papal election and so used that when reviewing each race.  To build my own knowledge of what is likely to transpire in the 2013 Cheltenham Festival championship races, I have invested hundreds of hours following national hunt racing.  You know already what happened.  He selected the winner of the first two races at 25/1 and 20/1 before following up with some rather tasty each way places including Celestial Halo (of course) at 40/1.  Good on him, I wish every man his good fortune, I just hope our own enterprise is rewarded tomorrow.

Today was a critical day and it swung things in the bookmakers direction.  We need winners.  We have just one day remaining.

Stick with me, it is darkest before the dawn.  As Roosevelt (Theodore) said it is better to be faithful than famous.  Either that, or pick a theme and knock yourself out!

The Triumph

Our Conor is going to give Ireland a terrific chance of winning a Triumph, not a traditionally strong race for the raiding team.  He has already had the measure of many of his Irish rivals this winter including Stocktons Wing and Diakali.

On the home team, the probable best chance is Rolling Star who beat Irish Saint  on British debut on heavy ground and could be anything.  That win was at Cheltenham and mighty impressive.  Henderson has won three of the last twelve Triumph hurdles and so clearly he is to be feared.

Complicating the scene is the ground / weather.  The rain is likely to not be serious until later in the afternoon and so this will be a good ground race.  That brings in some serious questions for Rolling Star and Our Conor, neither of whom have raced on good.

Lac Fontana has an interesting profile having not disgraced himself against better horses in novice company and now stepping down to juvenile grade for this.  Jockey booking suggests Far West has the measure of him at home.

On balance, Our Conor is getting the line – I am not convinced the yard is in the best shape, the horse has done better in smaller fields and he has the travel to contend with.

Both Far West and Rolling Star have won at Cheltenham.  I cannot split them but will do so on trainer form at the festival which means that Rolling Star gets the nod.

The County Hurdle

The favourite in the County is Cotton Mill, well thought of by Pricewise, enough to make him his antepost Champion Hurdle pick.  The County is a much less ambitious target.

Cotton Mill may have some class but the County is often won by a springer from lower in the weights and that is the Major’s angle into the race.  Age 5/6, Mullins horses particularly interesting…

This leads us straight to Tennis Cap at 12/1 who I think has an excellent chance.  Ranjaan has been the selection of Ruby which is an advert in itself but with Ditcheat not showing their usual swagger this week, I prefer Paul Townend aboard my pick

The Albert Bartlett

I am not sure how the Albert Bartlett will feel tomorrow after we witnessed the rise of equine and jockey stars Brindisi Breeze and Campbell Gillies and their tragic deaths last year.  I am sure the course will have some moment planned to commemorate them.

What a great advert The New One gave for At Fishers Cross in his demolition job in the Neptune on Wednesday.  That Cheltenham race now looks key to this.

Utopie des Bordes has some experience which is an advantage but I am not sure it is good enough.

Ballycasey lines up to have a pop at At Fishers Cross where Inish Island failed.  Neither I think will get to the favourite.  All evidence to me says that At Fishers Cross is very very classy and has a great attitude.  If the rain is not soaked in by the time of the Albert Bartlett I would not be too concerned as the tip is an Oscar bred animal and should be fine under firmer conditions.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Tips

The 2013 Gold Cup has a decent feel to it with a number of potential winners and a great story to unfold.

At this point last year, I was convinced Sir Des Champs would go on to be crowned 2013 Gold Cup winner but he seems to have a lost a little edge.  That said he has improved with each run this year, looks a thorough stayer and clearly likes Cheltenham.  Yet, the standing down of Davy Russell is a final negative for the Major.

I cannot have the Giant Bolster.  Won’t place.  Neck on line.

At 10/1 Captain Chris would be a consideration having run Long Run so close in the King George but rain might put pay to his chances.

Bobs Worth, Long Run and Silviniaco Conti are harder to split.

Silviniaco Conti has two negatives that put him out of the picture for the Major.  Firstly, he has no Cheltenham win to his name and while he has looked mighty impressive this term, he has yet to face this sort of challenge.  Secondly, I alluded earlier to the fact that Ditcheat just look a little short of sparkle this week.

That leaves me with a Henderson 1-2.  The order is the tricky thing.  The trend of not regaining a Gold Cup (with the exception of Kauto Star) does not bother me.  Long Run picked up his at a very tender age and there is no reason why he cannot win another simply because others have not.  He probably was not on full song when Conti beat him on seasonal debut, his King George win was brave and overall the Major is not against him at all.

Bobs Worth won a Hennessy and showed he had staying power doing so.  He has 4 course wins from 4 starts, including an Albert Bartlett and an RSA.  The Hennessy makes me slightly nervous because Tidal Bay is a yardstick that I think over-rated.  I might be the only person to think this but it makes me concerned about the Irish Hennessy form too, a view supported by the trouncing Cue Card gave First Lieutenant.  A further concern would be deteriorating conditions with Bobs Worth only experience incredibly being on goodish ground.

That leaves me with Long Run.  11/2 is available and I think it is well worth a decent wedge even if we are hampered by the Amateur Jockey.

The Foxhunters

Jockey booking is essential and after that, horse quality is required.  I think Salisfy can defend his title but 11/4 is not much of a price, particularly as the ground is going to be getting away from him.

I much prefer the 10/1 about Cottage Oak available with Corals.  The more rain he better for this one whose price accounts for the talented looking but inexperienced rider.

The Martin Pipe

After Dynaste went down in the Jewson, Ballynagour seemed to empty fast in the Byrne Plate and it seems hard to trust Pipe horses at the head of affairs.  This puts Gervey Chambertin in a little doubt.

It is only a little doubt though and I think it telling that the Pipe yard are having a pop at the race named in honour of their own with just this entrant.  He is a full brother to Grand Crus and could have been entered in several of the novice hurdles.

Solix is not a 66/1 shot in my eyes and if Ian Williams has him firing, he could make a mockery of that price.

Bourne has shown some class and rates a credible winner if we get more rain, 20/1 is workable.

The Major is opting for the fantastic festival of Willie Mullins to continue with a big run from the unexposed Make your Mark at 12/1 – Clearly he has been well thought of at various stages and if he arrives here in form, perhaps we will see it happen in front of us!  A saver on the Pipe horse is recomended.

The Grand Annual

The former race is named after the Pipe yard and the Grand Annual also carries the name of a famous yard, the Hendersons.  Rather than take one good shot at the prize, the team have lined up six darts to throw and there are cases for many of them.

The yard had a one-two in the race last year but this year they may struggle to cope with the Tome George trained Rody (8/1).  The race has a tendency towards featherweights and Rody carries 10 8 – Have a slice.

Courage, roll those dice.