Tag Archives: west end rocker

Saturday Sermon – Tingle Creek Sandown Tips, Chepstow and Aintree Becher Chase day too…. Shabash, courage and roll those dice

Good morning from a bright Worcestershire rural picture. The air has mellowed, dropping its aggressively cold tones and becoming thoroughly more agreeable.

Sound tracking my breakfast – Fine Wiltshire pork sausages with local free range eggs, peppered and orange juice.

Facts and stories. Which of these is the greater? To a gambling man who likes a model of statistical value, you might argue the former always trumps. The tangible can be valued, a feeling cannot. We are trying to get to truth aren’t we, no sentimentality can come into it.

Yet, through human history though, people discard reason regularly, sometimes with disastrous consequences, sometimes for good reason.

Last night, a colleague and old friend lost an earring – her distress was not related to the cost but the fact that it had been her grandmothers. Time adds value that the jeweller or insurer cannot recognise.

In the same way, evaluating a business decision or a gambling opportunity carries the same dilemma. All in life is made of two elements. Fact and story. Your ability to fathom a good and useful story is more important in life than your ability to handle data. Fact. Not time to explain why, just trust in the Major and my sermon. Do your research, calculate your pricing model and then leave the last bit to personal feeling. Add a little of what cannot be explained. Life is like that. Enjoy it.

Not much time to hang about today, let’s get down to the sports. She found it by the way.

Sandown Tingle Creek Day Tips

The opening novice hurdle will be won by Golden Hoof – OK it’s a shade of odds against but Henderson has won the last three running of this race with some decent types so all points to my tip being a useful sort.

In the 1.25, despite the unbelievable form of Team Ditcheat, I cannot be on Sam Winner. I give a squeak to Gilbarry at 16/1. Gilbarry is racing of a potentially lenient mark over the smaller obstacles having shown much better chase form. He has been backed into that price so maybe something is expected.

Captain Conan looks to have a simple opportunity to pick up a grade 1 chase in the Markel Novices. Hinterland did not look the same horse over the big obstacles and might have struggled to cope with Hendersons horse even if he did handle it.

This is a good a Tingle Creek as I can remember because both Sanctuare and Sprinter Sacre look as good as we have seen in this division for some time. I love the Tingle Creek, remember Kauto winnng it! I know Denman had a swaggering style but I loved The class of Kauto (made even more special by his ability to smack a fence when cruising!). No more proof can I give than reminding you that the great Kauto had the speed for a Tingle Creek before taking in a King George and the Gold Cup in the same season!

Although its hard to imagine a horse repeating those exploits, in Sanctuaire and Sprinter Sacre we have two that I could conceive scaling similar heights. My heart is with the Aeroplane, the way Sprinter put away Al Ferof and Cue Card who have both thoroughly franked the Arkle form is damn impressive. Sanctuaire is Nicholls highest rated novice chaser and so if ratings lead you then 5/2 is a gift. My story is different though, Sprinter Sacre might be the best chaser we have seen in a generation. Geraghty says he has never ridden anything like it.

I cannot wait for the Tingle Creek.

Navan Tips

Rule the World has a strong form line with Bonisland suggesting he should have his measure and so 11/10 is fine by me in the novice event at 1.20.

I don’t care that I am in danger of stating the obvious but Oscars Well should win the novice chase affair too. This horse was a multiple grade 1 winner over hurdles and loves heavy ground which is a question for many of these. 8/11 is not prohibitive for this.

Aintree Becher Chase Day Tips

The Becher is as wide open as usual. Join Together and Problema Tic are both young talented looking chasers and the former looks a thorough stayer which is crucial over these fences. My problem is the profile of these horses. This race suits an animal who is older and has been around the block a bit more. Proven fence experience is far more important than handicap mark. That makes the selection of last years winner West End Rocker – he slammed the opposition last year, likes conditions, loves the national fences and is only 5lbs higher than last year. 6/1 is a great price.

Cannot see why Quito de la Roque won’t win in the 1.05 at 10/11, the Kauto Stone race was a decent affair and he will be fitter today.

Chepstow Tip

In the 1.30, I am going to give a squeak to Caroles Destiny at 8/1, my tip was a decent hurdler and often shows a likeable attitude.

Such is the form of the Nicholls yard that I am tipping Royal Charm in the 2.05 – the mark is more workable these days and Sona Sasta is likely to set a good clip to aim at.

Chepstow when heavy takes a lot of getting. I would want proven form on the surface and. Get it from the progressive horse Noble Legend at 9/2 in the 3.15.

To the football…

I like going against clubs in trouble and so 5/1 Sunderland and 11/2 West Brom will be backed. More solid claims are Swansea who should be good enough to beat even a rejuvenated Norwich. Southampton have started going and evens is a gift at home to a leaky Reading.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 Mothership is Southampton, Oscars Well, Noble Legend and Golden Hoof.

The each way Trixie is Carole’s Destiny, West End Rocker and Gilbarry.

May your dinner be in good company in a restaurant run by competent sorts.

Courage and roll those dice.

The Saturday Service – Punchestown and Sandown Tips… Changing the Guard

Good morning from a dreary Worcestershire setting with a stern breeze confirming the weathers mood as antagonistic.  Lying in bed at an early hour, I listened closely to the noise lorries were making as they passed the village on the main road, the light hissing I could make out was certain to mean a slick road surface; who says you cannot forecast the weather with your ears.

Une Artiste (bear side) is still under estimated in the markets

The Major is frankly astonished we have had racing at Punchestown this week.  Heavy isn’t close, bottomless is not adequate, bog will suffice.  I do not blame the Punchestown team, conditions are safe.  However, when you are watching two mile bumper sorts finishing strung out like they have completed a four mile course, you have to question whether it is racing as we know it.  It looks too punishing for the Major.  That said, I have right only to opinion, it is for those who have invested their resources into owning and training a horse to decide on what they should do.Today is the changing of the guard as we see off the national hunt season with the Celebration Chase and Gold Cup at Sandown as well as the Punchestown Gold Cup.  The flat season also offers treats up with Sandowns mixed discipline card giving us two Group 3 races including the Gordon Richards stakes.

Football has reached the business end of the season too.  What a game we witnessed on Tuesday as Chelsea dug deep to repel Barcelona.  There was something utterly British about the sheer will that Chelsea showed, refusing to bend.  The oft quoted Any Sunday quote regarding games been won in inches sprang to mind as Messi connected powerfully from the penalty spot, two inches lower, the ball is in off the bar and the game would have been up.  Good news for Barca fans though, the Major can confirm I have signed a contract to replace Pep.  I am planning on bringing in a traditional British centre half and centre forward, some six foot three types, plus we will be more direct.  The contract I signed is three years, paying £2m per year…… All I hope now is that Barca also sign it, I shall keep you informed.

By the way if you think that because Real and Chelsea found ways of stopping Barcelona, then football was somehow the loser…. I say to thee, codswallop.  Mental strength is as important a component in winners as is raw ability.  The Major suggests that such toil is equally beautiful too.  The Majestic pass from Iniesta is poetic as is a centre half throwing his body down in the vain hope that a full bloodied strike hits him on the full.

Last week The Major was at the Emirates and enjoyed the colourful Saturday morning carnage on the underground.  At 10am, a man so drunk he could not stand was using language as inflammatory as you can imagine.  The Major was minded to say something but did not.  Neither did anyone else.  We all just stood there while he spewed forth his inutterables.  At one point he opened a tin of a milky drink, I have no idea what the constituent ingredients were.  He poured half of it on the floor, even then, we all remained content to stay quiet and hope his attention did not turn to us.  If just one citizen had broken rank and confronted him, I am sure the crowd would have supported but none did.  Afterwards, your reluctant correspondent felt a little deflated by the whole affair.  I like to think that I do the right thing.

Imagine if I had said something.   There was the risk that accompanies confronting a drunken sort.  The Major has only fought while a schoolboy and I lost most of those encounters, soon learning where my skills lay.  Imagine though if I had done something on that tube train.  The euphoria and adrenaline, the confidence drawn.  The rightfullness.

Later in the week, news came from Birmingham of a death in the family friend network.  The funeral is Tuesday.  We all drift by the once dear readers.  Do the right thing when you can.  Grasp those moments.  They are yours alone, the tally sheet is a private affair.

Before the horseracing tips start in earnest, the Major (@tdl123) is tipping up a twitter account to follow…. Emma Louise (@EmmyKGtS) is an amateur photographer specialising in racing.  She takes requests when she goes to track and the Major has already pinched her work for the blog on previous posts.  Well worth a follow….

To the sports and let us daub our war paint.

Punchestown Gold Cup Tips

In the last two years some big price horses have won the Punchestown Gold Cup so tipping up Rubi Light at 3/1 requires some explanation.

One of the big question marks hanging over my tip is the chance that Rubi Light will not stay.  Given the conditions, it is a fair question.  The Major clearly takes the view he will and what is more I always think that unproven stayers are always well treated in the market.

Rubi Light will face Quel Esprit as main market rival and with Willie Mullins form at Punchestown alone, you would have to think his horse will be involved.  I am concerned though that the horse came out of the Cheltenham Gold Cup on the morning of the race and this one I am happy to wait for next season for this one.

5.05 Punchestown Mares Hurdle

The Major is waiting for the rest of the racing world to agree that Une Artiste is a much better horse than she is given credit for.

Having finished within ten lengths of the triumph market leaders on debut in Britain, she went on to take a festival race well before returning to Cheltenham to win pretty much on the bridle, despite a market drift.

7/4 with Betvictor is a smashing price and 2m 2f in heavy conditions will suit her down to the ground, as long as she is not over the top, I suspect she wins comfortably.

2.35 Sandown – Tips for the Celebration Chase

An intriguing contest at Sandown where many questions need answering…

Which version of Somersby will turn up? Can French Opera beat a better field to retain his crown? Has Wishfull Thinking turned a corner?

The ground at Sandown remains just soft on the chase course although heavy on the flat.  The Major is torn between the three above in this race and marginal preference is with Somersby at 10/3 (Stan James).  A horse that often looks like he needs further, I think the conditions here are perfect.  Let us not forget that this horse beat the Champion Chaser, Finians Rainbow at this venue and his best performances have all come at the minimum trip.

I think Somersby can put his best foot forward and that will be too good for most these.  Wishfull Thinking remains the chief danger.

3.10 Bet365 Gold Cup

20 runners and a near four mile trip around Sandown.  This will be a real test for the strong willed amongst the field.

West End Rocker must surely be due a bit of luck and will relish the test.  Available at 17/2 I would not put you off.

Dovers Hill was an eyecatcher winning here on his latest appearance, 5lbs up in the weights looks a very light punishment given the defeated that day went on to perform so well in the Scottish National.  My main concern with this one though is the ground where he has failed to place on four starts on soft or worse.

The other of interest is Galaxy Rock.  Jonjo would not run him if he did not feel he was up to the exertion after last weeks efforts.  Even so, it is a big ask to run well in two big assignments in the week.

Le Beau Bai is one that will be praying for more rain, it simply cannot be soft enough for him!  The likely favourite will go well I am sure but….

On balance, 17/2 West End Rocker is the one that will carry the Majors penalty!

3.45 Sandown – Gordon Richard Stakes Tips

Poet looks about as certain of a place as a bet can get given that the seven year old will thrive in todays energy sapping conditions.  This would normally be the tip but the Major is drawn to the recent history of this race which show that Sir Michael Stoute has won three of the last five outings.

His representative today and the Majors tip for the Gordon Richards is World Domination at 11/1 (Stan James).  This horse was once favourite for the Derby before disappointing twice last season.  On the last occasion he returned with an injury and so I would not be so quick to write him off.  The ground is certainly a big question but it is only an unknown not necessarily a hindrance.  All of that is in the 11/1 price in the Majors view and so have a meaty slice and thank me later.

To the football fields….

Everton to beat Fulham at home looks a nice bet at 10/11.  I cannot see many goals going in at the Albion unless Villa fold early and so nil nil at half time at 9/4 makes plenty of appeal.  Bolton are fighting for their lives and 3/1 to bring the points out of Sunderland feels fair.  Corals go evens about Sheffield Wednesday winning at Brentford and that should be backed too.

Why not dine with Tapas this evening.  It is a nice way of eating.  Take a sort that doesn’t mind getting her fingers in the food and raises a giggle as the grog flows.  Eat well and relax.

Courage, roll those dice.

Saturday Aintree Tips – 33/1 Grand National Tips and Trends

THIS IS THE 2012 POST FOR 2013 tips, click on the banner above for the home page

Good evening from the Major who prepares these dispatches to prepare my followers and those casual souls who came across the blog for the bookies busiest day….. Aintree’s Saturday Grand National card.

While the Major has been in tip-top form of late, so far, this week, Aintree has been costly. Today, Finians Rainbow and Darlan both delivered at shorter prices but the longer fancied tips did not perform.

Killyglen at 20/1 for the Major.... Enjoy National day

Finians performance was very taking and as I suspected, the step up to two and a half miles around Aintree was right up his street. I think he would be a decent three miler too, particularly if connections make less use of him in races, this could mean he is a King George animal.

Prepare your minds….. Saturday at Aintree, the big showpiece that is the Grand National; courage followers, hold on; hold on while those around you lose their nerve. As your sinews are stretched and worn, at the very breaking point, hold on. Hold the thin red line until you see their eyes. Then play, bet large, go hard or go home, leave nothing.

I have friends on course and to the Streetly crew, I bid you luck, merriment and mischief. Memories of last year are still haunting my soul.

I also apologise for the significant length of today’s post. I know many of you will skip the prose to get to the meat. Well you shouldn’t, it is cheating, you miss the imbalance and insanity that whirls around my dark soul. I gave you the courtesy of revealing my mind, please absorb it, or find yourself a more direct tipster, one with less references to Victorian military history, a more proprietary sort. Only a certain sort will find the following to their personal satisfaction.

If you are one, then sign up to the email service in the left hand menu of follow the Major on twitter @tdl123. I post the Saturday Service every week and top it up with other occasional posts when there is something I like. My results are always posted in the top menus. I turn a very small profit. I never accept criticism or praise – I offer my thoughts for free and encourage all to use their own minds and take responsibility for their actions!

Grand National Tips and Grand National Trends

A colleague of mine approached me today and asked if I would join the office Grand National sweepstake. I did…. twice. As I plucked out Sunnyhillboy and BecauseIcouldntsee (could have been far worse) from the bucket, he asked if I bet on the National.

That is an odd question I thought. He knows I am an incredibly succesful gambler*. He was basing the question on the fact that many regular horseracing punters avoid the national because of the sheer nature of 40 runners, carnage at the fences; is it a race that can be worked through on form or is it a lottery?

*based on The Majors sheer persistency in the overwhelming face of mediocrity

Well the reality is that the National is different to any other race in a few crucial respects.

Firstly it is a national institution and tomorrow morning, thousands of grandmothers, punters, religious nuts, weirdos, wackos, drunks, the unemployable, the toffs, the suburban sorts, the trendy set, well to do Mama’s and every other imaginable demographic of the British public will troop to their local bookie, fiver clutched in hand and back a National horse based on a number or a colour or the fact that there happens to be a Pete or Robert in the family (Rare Bob and According to Pete running tomorrow).

Families have traditions on which horses to back, people have habits. These habits form part of an identity both in the individual and in the nation. The National is a British tradition, a British Institution, we do it our own way. God bless us and protect our privilege as the greatest nation on the planet.

For one day, the general public touches the world beloved to me, horse racing. Some regular racing fans oddly resent these tourists, scoffing at the lack of knowledge. The Major welcomes all with open arms, for I too was once one of you.

If one person today backs a tip in the National and experiences that thrill of being involved, mentally jumping each fence with your horse, emotionally attached to the outcome…. well the world will be a better place. It was for me…. not that long ago either, watching Inglis Drever collect his first World Hurdle, with my money down. A formative day that.

The bookmaking fraternity use the occasion to turn a larger than normal profit….. In this army of small time punters, none will stop to think of the value they are getting from the bookmaker. The over-round charged can be as much as 150% and more. For those unfamiliar with this, it represents how much the market is in the bookies favour. Watch at 4pm as the BBC presenters (of which I am not a fan) will tell you how every horse is being backed and watch those prices collapse. It is Christmas for the bookies as pricing will not effect demand.

The Major is delighted that Channel Four take over from the BBC next year. Search the blog for Channel 4 and you will see I have been a long-term advocate of awarding C4 all UK terrestrial rights – They are there every single week, talk less nonsense, focus more on the racing and get what it is about. They also have a better team. In short, their heart is in it!

I also think that the new measures introduced to make the race safer are sensible and welcome. Levelling some of the landing areas is good, banning six-year olds is excellent as their inclusion was a recipe for fallers. Restricting the handicap improves safety as well as quality…. good cricket all round.

I digress. Back to the sweepstake and whether a tipster should play the National. Many punters do have success tipping the Grand National because the trends are quite strong. Before I discuss the Grand National trends and offer my tips for the 2012 running, a little on interpreting trends.

The key with any betting trend is to ask why it is valid, rather than accepting it blind. If a horse won every time you wore red socks, you would accept that the link is coincidence alone. Yet, many punters back football teams that have not won at a certain venue for 30 years. The Major urges you to ask, why is that relevent? If Preston have not won at QPR for 30 years, is it important? How is the football team that competed 30 years ago influencing the outcome today? Chance stats occur, it is not odd or unusual. In fact coincidences not occurring would be incredibly odd. Of all of the millions of interactions you have every year, it would be strange if at some, a marvelous coincidence did not occur. Perhaps you meet two old school friends in separate locations within ten minutes; maybe you win the lottery; something odd will happen to you soon, don’t read too much into it!

An episode of the Simpsons makes the point about specious reasoning well…. Since I have waffled enough, I shall post it at the base in italics!

Also remember that with any trends based decision, it is likely that the winner will fall down on one. Use trends only as a guide not as a rule; Bubba Watson met all of the Hearty Ploughmans key trends (see 4/5 posts ago) but did not make the final US Masters tips list because he missed on one trend by one shot…. Trends are a guide, not a religion!

The key Grand National Trends for the Major

Weight – Nearly 100 horses in the last 35 years have carried more than 11st 5lbs and none have won. In the last twenty-five years, just two horses has managed to carry more than 11st to victory. This makes sense, the National is a gruelling trial of stamina which is damned tough carrying more weight than your opponents.

French Breeding – French breds have a shocking national record but the Major chalks this down to coincidence, disregarded.

Regular Runs in the Season – All of the last ten runners had more than four runs in the current season – This adds up as you need to be match fit and plenty of recent chase experience is a plus.

Previous National Fences Experience – Eight of the last twelve winners have run over the national obstacles before – This is important to the Major as these fences are the toughest in the land.

Marathon Performers – The last time a winner of the National had not previously won a race at a distance of three miles or more, we were trading in old money! A proven stayer is a must.

Age – Experience is key; nine and ten-year olds have that, without being incumbered with tired, ageing legs. You might get away with a old-hat eight year old.

Pricing – Overall, the markets do perform fairly well in the National; three-quarters of the last two decades of winners have come from the top eight horses in the betting.

Cheltenham Form – Only one winner, in fifty years, has won a race at Cheltenham before going on to win at Aintree. This makes sense with the demands of a Grand National and the normal relative closeness in time of the Cheltenham Festival – This year it is worth noting that a bigger time gap than normal exists. In fact, of all of the last ten runners, all had a race between three and eight weeks prior to the national – Race fit but not jaded is what we want.

Classy – Of the last ten winners, all had won at class one level, with one exception who held a second in a class one race.

The Majors Grand National Tip

After a thorough contemplation of the trends, who does the Major tip in the Grand National?

Firstly I think Synchronised is the worst possible favourite. The exertions of a Gold Cup will surely tell and I am not even sure his jumping will stand up to the National fences.

Alfa Beat has experience of the fences after falling four out in last years Topham Chase. 66/1 is too big but not the main selection.

West End Rocker is a real likely sort at 14/1. He hits the profile exactly and I think is an excellent bet.

Junior is on a very lenient mark and is considered at 16s.

I would be a big fan of Cappa Bleu but he has not seen these fences before so he doesn’t make the cut.

Seabass is Irelands ‘Hunt Ball’ having been raised 61lbs for a winning sequence that goes back over two years, no National fence experience but 22/1 seems decent.

Always Right hits many trends and his Scottish National place bodes well, 28/1 and of some interest.

Killyglen was seemingly staying on and running at least into the places last year when he came down three out. In his youth, his reputation was sky-high and this season he has had a wind op. 20/1…. mmmmmm.

Grand National Tip: On balance, two of these really appeal…

Killyglen is my main selection at 20/1, I think he could run a blinder. He stays forever and if the wind op has improved him, as the evidence this season suggest, then he meets so many of my criteria and has been dropped 5lbs since last year in the National Weights….

West End Rocker at 14/1 looks a very likely type too and he also stays forever – Worth a bite!

1.45 Aintree Mersey Novice Tip

Simonsig is all the rage after his impressive Cheltenham win but backing a 1/2 shot to go in again in these different conditions is a fast track to the poorhouse in the Major’s view.

Instead I suggest a slice of Aland Island at 9/1 who has proven stamina and I think could be a threat to the favourite.

2.50 Aintree Tip

Rock on Ruby is the last of four champions of Cheltenham to appear at Aintree. Finians Rainbow and Big Bucks have already upheld their status, Synchronised is unlikely to do so in the National but Rock on Ruby looks the value of the lot at 9/4 here.

While Zarkander at 5/2 has hope of improving for distance, I have always considered the same to be true of Rock on Ruby.

I would be very surprised if he does not go in again. Granted, Oscar Whisky won this last year but I feel my horse has more scope. Strong Tip.

3.25 Aintree – Handicap

A riddle of a handicap and the Majors tip goes to Brackloon High. This one disappointed me when I put him up for his Cheltenham engagement but I am willing to give another chance.

5.05 Aintree Handicap Tip

This is another precarious handicap but my 5.05 Aintree tip goes to 12/1 Dream Esteem who looks sure to improve further. I thought Dee Ee Williams was in with a shout as well as Constant Contact and Kazlian, the latter of which was given a poor ride at Cheltenham having committed way too early.

Tips for the Aintree Bumper

On Thursday, I suggested you go to Twitter and seek advice from the @kingofbumpers for the last. He obliged with the 6/1 winner! My idea of the winner is either Population or Il Presidente at 7/2 and 16/1 – I am going to back both for wins.

In other sports……..

A couple of stand out football bets for the Major – Blackburn look dreadful and I think Swansea will beat them 20/21. I also think QPR to win at West Brom is a 27/10 steal in a game they will be up for.

May your dinner be of high quality with company that matches. Tip well and have fun, we drift by the once and the items that come our way on the flow of the tide should be ceased upon. Lap it all up, enjoy it and ask no questions.

The Relevance of Trends with Lisa Simpson.

As promised, the genius of Lisa Simpson to aid the point!

Homer: There’s not a single bear in sight—the ‘Bear Patrol’ is working like a charm”

Lisa retorts: That’s specious reasoning

Homer: Thanks, honey

Lisa: According to your logic,she says, picking up a stone from their lawn, this rock keeps tigers away

Homer: Hmmm. How does it work?

Lisa: It doesn’t.

Homer: How so?

Lisa: It’s just a rock, but I don’t see a tiger, anywhere.

Homer : Lisa, while pulling out his wallet, I want to buy your rock.

Courage, shuffle those cards.

The Majors Saturday Service – FA Cup Fourth Round Tips, Betfair Chase Tips, Kingwell Hurdle Tips – Ascot, Wincanton, Gowran Park KABOOM!!!!!!!

Good morning from the outskirts of Pershore where the Major calls to prayer all brave punters of Britain.  Rejoice and be glad for it is time for the Saturday service from the Major. 

His undertaker, a man of morals, returned £2,000 found in his jacket pocket. Sir Clement would urge us to bet bravely.

Two posts for the price of one – Breaking news – A new poster who goes by the name of The Cleveland Steamer has provided some excellent analysis of the days events – Although the content deserves a write up of it’s own, I have attached it to the bottom of the Majors post today. 

The last few weeks have been tough.  A few very positive moments can be drawn.  The Sunday post which tipped two winners from two selections at 22/1 and 11/2.  The Friday selection of Pere Blanc which turned out to be the handicap snip.  However, the overall strike rate needs a lift and the Major aims to deliver with this weeks Saturday service. 

A terrific weekend of sporting action awaits us.  The Major has reviewed the FA Cup 4th Round for tips, the horseracing tipping service which is extremely profitable this month has selections from the Betfair Ascot Chase as well as a couple of other eye catchers from other courses.  It is also the start of the cricket world cup.

In one sense, seeing this set of tricky and devious conundrums laid out before me by the worst of men (my devious enemy, the bookmaker) blinds me in vitriol, should my own answer to the enemy will be violent and thunderous?

Wait, temper those thoughts, be calm, this wrath is destructive and un-profitable.  As good Chinese philosophy teaches, the mind is clouded by such vivid anger.  Thankfully for the Major, last night, an angel of the lord visited me.  She bought such soothing peace in the form of a fine home cooked banoffee pie.  All modern concerns were quickly ridden from the mind.  Where there was discord, she bought harmony.  She shall be remembered at tea time, when the enemy is vanquished once more to the shadows and the fine wines are drawn from the cellar.

Now the Major is prepared.  Strength has been restored, the vital signs are glowing and we shall approach the days sporting opportunity with the renewed vigour of a man well fed on the sort of down to earth goodness that you can see, replayed in the eyes of one on his deathbed, content in the knowledge that he witnessed a full life and in it enjoyed the wholesomeness of variety. 

The Majors personal hero is the late Sir Clement Freud who lived the fullest life as a foodie, gambler, journalist, MP, military man, nightclub owner, horseracing owner, jockey and broadcaster.  His Racing Post columns were a highlight of my week.  You can purchase a book of these columns and I would suggest that if you have a sense of the Bon Vive and enjoy racing, you do. His outlook on todays events would be one of valour.

So, to the sports fields of Britain, load the large cannon young man.  Bring your charger up, wipe that blood from your lance and let us charge once more in the Queens name into the fray.

Let us start with the tricky Grand National trial at Haydock.  With the weights out for the National, now is the time we will start to see some ‘surprising’ runs from the staying chase division as the shrewd trainers unleash their good things.

Todays 3.20 at Haydock could just reveal this very thing.  This is why I cannot have Pricewise assertions that this is likely to go to those at the top of the weights with the experience and class in the book.  The Major forms the opposite view, although does think Carruthers has a chance at 10s.  We are looking for something top class that has dropped in the weights or something featherweight, yet to show us the true form.

Haydocks heavy going is going to be mud bath status by mid afternoon and being a Grand National trial over three and a half miles, this race is going to take all the getting.  We need something that stays forever. 

West End Rocker is one that catches the eye.  An improver and one that is many people’s idea of the National winner, it has also won its sole race on heavy ground, considered.

The real eye catcher that for the Major could be well in is Le Beau Bai.  This has been sliding down the weights and has been weighted to get competitive with West End Rocker.  It is also a mudlark, striking 33% wins on heavy (raced 9 times) and placing 6.  The stable is in fine form with ten runners in the last week, 3 winning and 7 placing. 

The other chief threat could be the Twiston Davies horse, Major Malarkey.  I suspect this one could have a lot more to come at marathon distances.  It looks well treated today off 10 stone 8 pounds and son Sam takes a further 3lb off.  This is a step into the unknown with the horse but they know what they are doing and 10/1 at Stan James may look ridiculous later on.  Raced once on heavy and not seen at its best, the ground is a slight concern but a decent strike rate on soft gives hope.

The advice is to back both Major Malarkey and Le Beau Bai.  10/1, Stan James and 9/1 are generally available.  Rule out West End Rocker at your peril but we have to follow value relentlessly.

The preceding race at Haydock is a Grade 2 hurdle, the Rendlesham.  I find the outsider of the field interesting.  Kayf Aramis has been poor this year finishing tailed off behind Bensalem at Cheltenham in the latest outing.  I wonder if the headgear coming off could spark life into this one.  Kayf is still young enough to leave a mark on a race like this and last years second was pretty good.  Probably nothing beats Bensalem in normal circumstances but with the rain forecast to continue all morning, I wonder if a chance should be taken on Chief Dan George.  14/1 is a great price if this turns into a mud battle.  Go for the win bet, each way slices the value up too much in this 6 runner contest.

At Ascot we have some fine races.

The 2.25 is an interesting contest with french trained Royal Tune coming over to have another pop at a listed race.  Last seen at Ffos Las, it could have won carrying my own considerable frame around!  The Major is the first to say that 16lbs of uplift in the weights may not be anything like the amount needed to halt this one.

9/4 is available, have two slices, send me a postcard….. this looks mustard.

The Betfair Ascot Chase at 3pm is the race of the day.  The market has it down to the first two, with Riverside Theatre and Pride of Dulcote, 7/4 and 5/2 respectively.  Riverside has been a horse of profit for the Major, successfully finishing second when selected as the 14/1 ante post tip for the King George, solid form.  Paul Nicholls though has always had a huge amount of respect for Pride of Dulcote who has shown mixed form, beating Punchestown which initially looked super impressive but subsequently let down by the losers following runs.  This is a difficult race to pick. 

Tartak has always been a horse that the Major felt had a big run in and at 8, still has the opportunity.  Big Fella Thanks wants the rain to pour down and this looks too short.

On balance, the favourite, Riverside Theatre at 7/4 looks the value selection.  No bet advised though as Pride of Dulcote could clearly have Gold Cup aspirations.

The 3.40 at Gowran Park is a three runner event, which is insane given the 26k Euro prize pot.  Fenton has chosen this as the comeback route for Dunguib, the former star novice hurdler who B T O’Connell gave a confident ride to at the festival, upsetting many backers when failing to close down the lead.

The Major has always thought that this horse is a bit special.  20/1 for the Champion Hurdle might not be a bad bet.  Certainly the young jockey will appreciate not being quite so prominent in the build up.  8/11 is skinny enough but I would have a slice.

The Kingwell Hurdle (3.45 Wincanton) is a cracking prep race for the Champion Hurdle.  Several market players are out today and it is the second best race of the day. 

Mille Chief is the favourite following a seriously good handicap effort last time out.  The Major could be wrong (he often is) but I feel this one is short of top class.  This makes 5/4 about his chances a bit skinny.  The Major has had previous success plowing the furrow of Silvianco Conti.  Some would be disappointed about his latest third but come on!!  It was behind Menorah and Cue card.  The big question is whether 2m is his best trip.  The track record of Dicheat sending horses toWincanton though persuades the Major that the master trainer Nicholls has few concerns.  7/2 available, load the large cannon and allow its noble roar to be heard across the mild and fine Somerset fields.

Uttoxeter was abandoned.  I wonder if that relates to the racing or just a general comment about the town.

The Majors leaves the horseracing cards of today with a final tip at Gowran Park.  4.10 the Maiden hurdle.  The Major wants form in the book, nearish the head of the market, good jockey booking, lenient price….. let’s see.

On balance I settle for Dibella.  Hopeless in a couple of novices, now in a handicap (already arouses the instincts!) rated a fair 83 on the flat, racing off 10-10 when you take the jockeys claim into consideration, no-one has a market yet, which is not surprising, but the 10/1 forecast SP in the Racing Post, I think will be 16/1.  At that price have a win bet.

To the fields of sporting chance…

Last week, I suggested West Brom were shocking value at home to the Hammers who could be backed at 3/1.  At half time, I was eating humble pie.  At full-time I felt confident once more that it was the correct bet at the prices.  It seems the bookmaking fraternity still oppose my view that Albion are simply too weak in defense to present a good bet and they go 18/5 (Victor Chandler) that Wolves can win at the Hawthorns in tomorrows televised game.  Wolves are more organised than West Ham and a Geordie girls hen night in Blackpool is more organised that West Broms back four.  On that evidence, I suggest you load both cannons, fire, reload and repeat until your turf accountant concedes.

I am going to stick to my quality assertions about the FA Cup and suggest you should back a double for West Ham (evs) and Stoke 7/10 against Burnley and Brighton respectively, both Premier League clubs at home.  This is a return of £68 to a purple one – These prices are both with Hills who are bets priced about both outcomes.  Thank me later.

Equally Birmingham should not go unbacked at the short but very fair 7/10 with Victor Chandler.  Sheffield Wednesday are poor enough and even with players rested, Blues will surely be too strong.

The Cricket World Cup kicks off today and Le Grand Fromage, a guest poster has already put up his tips for, world cup top wicket taker and world cup top scorer.  The Major will not add to these selections, instead suggesting you read the expert selections.

This evenings fare will undoubtedly be game.  I am going to suggest a Chateau Lezongar to compliment.  Don’t forget to tip like a man who had £50 on the nose on a Le Beau Bai win and now has an uncomfortable wedge of notes tightly wrapped and held by a money clip inside your jacket.  If the wedge is not there, tip the same, this is only right.  At midnight be upstanding and toast the Queen.  Pure of heart, simply pleasures, the joys of being an Englishman in this the finest of times. 

Todays Nap is hard.  I love the Wolves bet.  It has to be (sorry Mr Hill).

For those who like the lucky 15, I suggest Royal Tune, Wolves, Silvianco Conti and Birmingham.  For the brave, substitute Birmingham for Major Malarkey!

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The Cleveland Steamer – Guest Post

The Majors is delighted to introduce a new guest blogger, The Cleveland Steamer who has written the following assessment of the days value.  Please note that any selections are those of the guest blogger and not the Major who only records his own selections in his betting records.  To see all of the Majors selections, you can see a full record of all  February tips here.  All of this is available in the top menu. 

Morning sports fans! With the onset of the FA cup value bets seem few and far between today in the great fields of the UK today. Crawley to win at 48/1 or draw at 8/1 seems far too short for my liking. Scanning the remaining fixtures no value springs out. Even Brighton 4/1 away would not yield the necessary.

However, hope springs internal in the form of the Premier leagues poorer and distant cousin: the Championship. The unpredictable nature of this gladiatorial battle ground means risk savvy punters steer away from this hot bed. Men are men in this league and the bets reflect the fact that only Preston are dead and buried. But there are two games that deserve a steamer.

Leeds vs Norwich

This will be an epic match and in normal circumstances one to avoid. Two heavy weights going at it can often be poor as a spectacle with managers ensuring they do not lose points rather than gain. Leeds are strong and with the Elland road faithful blowing a fearful breeze 6/4 seems reasonable for a home win. Combine this with Norwich under strength at the back and missing their influential centre back 6/4 seems good odds. But the bookies are not taking into account one thing: Paul Lambert. Delias boys have been a revelation under this man known as their answer to Jose Mourniho. He is a leader and has cemented himself as  the prince of East Anglia- only second to King Alan Partridge. 23/10 is superb value for a team who never say die and a definite steamer for this afternoon. For those who like even more heat from their chillis look to the winner being scored 75 mins to the end of the match. Norwich have scored after 90 twice in last month. Surely a sign of the never say die attitude the fierce scot has bred into these contenders. Have a stroke and watch the ire of the bookie rise.

Scunthorpe vs Derby 

On paper this is a Derby demolition. Scunthorpe having struggled this season. Derby have Old big heads offspring in the big chair and have seasoned veterans throughout the team. Even without home advantage the Rams are 6/4 to win. However, two key factors make a Scunthorpe win at 17/10 a tasty bet. Form: Scunthorpe took out Derbys neighbours, Forest, 1-0 during the week. Some would say a freak result but the confidence and belief this will bring will be visible on the field of dreams. The second is Derby. The steamer watched with interest when Derby were destroyed by Leicester a week or two ago. Leicester are a strong team but Derby rolled over and had the bellies ticked. They looked lost and without a leader. An early goal, a deflection or a set piece for Scunthorpe the belief will drain from this Derby side. For those who like the odd extravagant punt check the odds out on Clough leaving after a Scunthorpe defeat. Stranger things have happened.