Tag Archives: what a friend

The Majors Antepost Tips for Cheltenham Festival – 40/1, 25/1 and more

The time has come for the Major to reveal exactly which horses I want in my portfolio before the tapes go up on Tuesday 13th March and the famous roar echos around the Gloucestershire air.

Antepost betting can be terrific fun and equally incredibly frustrating and the Major normally would recommend getting involved in Cheltenham betting only at this stage.

Markets for the main Cheltenham races open immediately after the preceding years event has been run.  However, getting on early means you do not have the benefit of an entire years form knowledge, you do not see the improvers or judge the injury, prep or yard form; you do not know which horses are planned to be stepped up in trip or to go chasing.

Crucially, the vast majority of bookmakers have now gone non-runner, no-bet.  This simply means a refund if your horse does not make it to the start line!  Now is the time for the Major to roll out his Cheltenham antepost tips.

The festival is such a competitive betting commercial space, you also get the plethora of offers from bookies keen to get you in the habit of using their account ahead of the week.  The Major will make no bones about advising which offers you should go for.  The stand out must be Paddy Power who are offering a refund on your horse in the Arkle, if Sprinter Sacre is beaten.  That will cost them a lot of money and we should be in the queue to take advantage.

I have broken my thoughts down into each day – I am not trying to cover every race, just my main thoughts……

One horse I don’t think will turn up (unless the heavens open) and I will miss is the Gigginstown horse, Bog Warrior.  I think this is the best chaser in the making and look forward to an exciting future but his runs require soft conditions…  Lets hope Aintree or Punchestown is soft enough.

Champion Trainer and Champion Jockey

My first antepost bet of the week has to be in the top trainer market where you can get 25/1 about Alan King (William Hill).  He has a decent portfolio of chances in the handicaps and in Grumeti, looks to have a warm prospect, it can be just a handful of horses required to win a top trainer prize at the festival. 

I would also recommend a small stake on Daryl Jacob to pick up top jockey at 40/1.  If some of the Mullins horses do not travel over well or are faced by very good conditions, then I fancy getting some Mullins / Walsh mounts turned over.  This then gives Daryl Jacob a great chance of winning a few on the best alternate Nicholls rides…. just a thought. 

Cheltenham Tuesday Tips – Champion Hurdle, The Arkle….

Firstly, go to Ladbrokes and claim your free £5 bet!  You have to do it online and you have to deposit but that’s it; a completely free £5 bet for Cheltenham’s Tuesday card….

The racing – Let’s start with the Arkle.  There is no way that you should back anything unless it is with Paddy Power in this race. 

Cue Card, 8/1, has been touted by his jockey as a likely front runner, which I do not think will do him much favour.  Peddlers Cross, 9/2, is likely to line up here but may take his chances in the Champion Chase, where he is a top price 20/1, or the Jewson, 6/1.  I would put him in the Champion Chase if I owned him as I think it is a weak Champion Chase this year, more of that later.  Al Ferof at 4/1 is too short for me, although Ruby wants to oppose Sprinter Sacre with him, I am not sure there is enough in the price for a horse that has looked just short of top class.  Sprinter Sacre has been described as an aeroplane and does look top drawer, the likely winner but in a race that has a habit of turning those sorts over!

Thus, the antepost Arkle selection for the Major is Menorah at 11/1 with Paddy Power.   I cannot forget that the placed form in last years Champion Hurdle and despite the horse needing to put many excuses behind, it is entirely possible that the festival is the place to do it.  Plus with a refund available is Sprinter Sacre does go in…. well, value indeed.

In the JLT Handicap Chase, I do quite fancy Walkon at 20/1 who likes Cheltenham and has some fair class; these staying handicap chases often suit a classy horse and I want this one on my side.

The Champion Hurdle – The antepost market for the Champion Hurdle has been dominated by Hurricane Fly.  The injury prone Irish star showed all his class last year to smash his field, although on reflection, was it the strongest? 

Although Binocular was reported back to his all time best at Wincanton last time, the Major has severe doubts about whether we will see that form or what it adds up to. 

Zarkander looks good but has to overcome a serious lack of experience and 5/1 is no price. 

Once again, the Major is looking down the list at something that might run a bigger race and the pen stops at Rock on Ruby at 14/1.  This horse will be staying on to best effect at the end of the race and I just have a feeling that things might fall in his lap rather.  It could be a fairly small Champion Hurdle field and things may get messy.

Cheltenham Wednesday Tips – The Champion Chase, The Neptune, Coral Cup and RSA Chase

This years Champion Chase looks a fairly poor renewal.  As much as I know the yard can prepare for the big run, it looks like Big Zebs best days are behind him.

This leaves Sizing Europe, a best priced 11/10 shot and Finians Rainbow at 5/1.  Now it has cost me money, but I am still of the view that Sizing Europe is very beatable and I am going to keep that instinct.  My issue is that I do not think the horse to do it is Finians Rainbow, at least not this year.

Once again the Major’s eyes are wandering down the list and I settle on Wishfull Thinking a general 16/1 shot.  Again a horse with some questions to answer but one with definite talent and not just place claims in my view.

The Coral Cup may be a handicap where we are yet to see the well weighted horse.  Therefore I am holding my judgement until after the Imperial Cup next weekend but would register an early interest in Smad Place at 16/1.

The RSA chase is all about whether Grand Crus turns up or not.  Personally I would run him in the Gold Cup.  I suspect though that connections will go for the RSA and use Kauto’s declaration of fitness (Assuming that comes) as  the decision point.  Whichever race he turns up in, I am very interested in Grand Crus who has taken to regulation fences extremely well.  9/4 therefore that he wins the RSA is a price from heaven and we should all be relieving Sportingbet of the weight of their satchel.

The Neptune is another race in which I fancy the favourite.  Now that Henderson has declared this the target for Simonsig, I think the 7/2 with Boylesports represents great value.  There is not a massive amount of quality in behind this (spare Boston Bob who may not line up) so I have no hesitation in getting on early and large.  This is an ideal antepost market to tip as it looks like the favourites price will only go one way.

If you want a tip for the Champion Bumper, you are in the wrong place!  Try @kingofbumpers on Twitter on the day!

Cheltenham Thursday Tips – World Hurdle, Jewson and Ryanair

Big Bucks is so dominant in the World Hurdle market, it is hard to find an obvious piece of value.  It is there though, in the w/o Big Bucks prices.

Oscar Whisky has been touted as a real credible threat to the champion and while the Major will believe that when he can see it, 7/4 (Hills, Power, Coral and Boylesports) is a fine price. 

Although the market says he will, I don’t think Peddlers Cross will line up ion the Jewson which makes last years festival winner, Sir Des Champs, my selection at 6/1.

The Ryanair could be a cracking race this year and while Riverside Theatre returning from injury to great form shapes the market, it is Irish raider Noble Prince who the Major wants on side.  6/1 is the price, have a big slice and thank me later.

Cheltenham Friday – The Gold Cup, The Triumph

The Triumph has been shaping up well in the last month with the principles being taking each other.  I am putting two up to back at win stakes; Pearl Swan, 8/1 Paddy Power) and Grumeti, 5/1 (Generally).  I think this is the best form line and neither will mind the Cheltenham hill, a test many others in the field are to face into yet.

The Gold Cup is hugely interesting race this year.  I am assuming that Kauto turns up, which is no certainty.  If he does, he has been racing with the mind of a six year old, clearly noone has told the great horse that he is in his veteran years!  That said, I would urge anyone who would back Kauto with money and not just heart, to rewatch last years Gold Cup and King George.  There lies all the evidence you need that despite Long Run being scruffy at fences, he will outstay Kauto.

Long Run at 13/8 with a clear round is a great price but it is the clear round that bothers me.  I also do not think this is the horses fault but rather the amateur jockey – I am afraid that the Major is in the camp that would like to see Geraghty on board and really see how great this horse can be.

The antepost tip though is two-fold and buried way down the list.  I think this years Gold Cup has got the hallmarks of a race that could go to a massive outsider.  Long Run might jump his way out of it, Kauto and Grand Crus might not be there, Burton Port might bounce.

The two I am interested in are What a Friend and Captain Chris, both at 40/1 – What a Friend ran to a place last year and is sure to be in the mix, Captain Chris has quality but has run a season of shockers.  That said, he has always looked a spring horse and so I am relying on him coming back to form.  Mainly, let’s hope that Kauto gets there and gives a good race to bow out on.

That is it, the full Cheltenham portfolio.  Whatever you do, bet an amount that makes you nervous, else you won’t enjoy it as you should!

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

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

At 6am, the bowl of Coffee is a must

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

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The Saturday Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the sports fields of Britain….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Double your money last weekend – The Major says repeat prescription

 Good morning from fine Pershore where the Major prepares for another fine weekends sporting action in usual fashion.  Good coffee has been bubbling away since 6am and the Major has been hard at work on your behalf securing you some of the finest value available.  The world that a sporting gentleman occupies thrusts utterly relentless opportunity towards us.  We have to navigate this torrent of golden reward and devious trickery with composed skill and a deft touch. 

Significant profits like last week are always based on fine decision.  The next layer of the onion contains losses, we were so close to losing, but we did win.

So today, celebrate this balance, this tightrope, this dance.  Get involved, bet large, bet like a man, bet for the excitement, bet for the thrill, the interest, bet for no reason, bet with style, just make sure you take a bet and allow the tide to take you.

To recap The Majors last week, we had some tasty winning action and more than doubled our stakes (table below shows results to level stakes).   The Major never gloats and never allows despondency.  What else can we do though but celebrate last weekend, I hope you were involved.  This has been a good few months and today we will take the enemy back to the schoolyard and once more spank his insolence from him.  Enough, lets gamble.

Today is Betfair chase day, coupled with some fascinating premier league clashes and the eggball autumn internationals in full swing and the Major is a contented gambler.

I am going to start, as is custom on the Football Association pitches.

Last week we drew money from the Majors belief that Liverpools form was not a permanent fixture and that their win over Chelsea was an exaggerated piece of collateral form.  I go into today looking at their home fixture with West Ham as equally precarious for them.  They can ill afford to lose Gerrard and with Lucas also out and the non firing Joe Cole also absent, they are wholly over reliant on a touch of class from Torres in my view.  13/2 about West Ham with Victor Chandler would be my advice – Even with Scott Parker missing, the key to this fixture is what there is to lose.  West Ham can play uninhibited, Hodgson could put himself under intense scrutiny if he loses.

Chelsea who visit St Andrews could desperately do with a win.  The Major had this one right when suggesting there was something amiss at Stamford Bridge and although Alex makes a surprise and welcome return to bolster the centre back position, who knows if the issues are put to bed.  This one is a watching brief only.

My favourite football bet of the weekend is Wolves to win at Blackpool.  I have already given my view that Holloway would be best to focus on galvanizing his resources.  I suspect the train will come of the tracks at Blackpool as a result of histrionics – Yes they will be unlucky, yes they will be unfairly treated, they probably won’t deserve it but I think Holloway is starting to line up his excuses.  Mick McCarthy on the other hand remains utterly focussed on the job and feels like a proper leader.  If Matt Jarvis doesn’t overcome injury then it is a huge absence but I fancy Wolves to take it anyway so 2/1 is a tasty betting proposition.  Blackpools poor home form is also a factor – as is their inability to take Wolves effectively down the right flank where possibly the worst left back in the Premier League presides.

Shrewsbury will beat Southend and I am majorly shocked by the evens available.  I thought this would be a strong odds against bet.  Southend are injury ravaged and the noises muffling away inside Roots Hall are not good.  Ten points already separate these outfits and with Robinson a good outlet for the Shrews, surely they would win this 3 times from 5 so evens is a super bet.  Load the large cannon for this one.

I am tempted to put West Brom up to beat Stoke but was surprised at the pricing and so no bet advised.  However, with Jara returning after the horror tackle that earned him a three match ban, I fancied the Baggies.  Stokes recent win at home to Liverpool was shouted up by the Major as part of our superb last weekend but there shocking away form makes them vulnerable to an Albion outfit who play good football and will resume winning ways again if they discover that touch.  Tempting but betting on your own team is one of the Majors fastest routes to the Poor House – Put the revolver hammer back gently.

Arsenal are a nice price to beat Spurs too in my other no bet.  With key Spurs centre halves missing at the Emirates I would have fancied the Gunners to take advantage of a Kaboul / Gallas partnership that is less than ideal; particularly with Huddlestone out too.  However, 4/6 about a team that can turn up in one of two minds, not for the Major thank you.

Bolton can beat Newcastle who are less organised.  HAve a small slice at 6/5 odds against at home – Coyle knows his beans and this will be tough for the toon.

On the eggball fields, I fancy two in the handicap.  Don’t say the Major is nothing but fair tipping up Englands return to form recently.  Today I don’t think the 21 point handicap for Samoa will be enough – The pack will win it well before half time, 11/10 lovely.

Doubling that up with the All Blacks in their -14 handicap makes sense – A tasty rugby bet advised on the double.  Nearly 4/1 that.

On track, I fancy Imperial Commander, especially as his price continues to drift.  Pricewise plums for What a Friend and why not, this Nicholls horse has had a wind op (often the key at Ditcheat) and loves to go fresh.  Imperial though is reported further forward than last year when he lost by a hair; although he was given a stone by the the mighty Kauto.  It is interesting that Nicholls runs here given that as a Hennessy horse, What a Friend would carry one of the most lenient marks, take from that what you will.  Nacarat was tipped up two weeks ago and won nicely for us, I don’t think he is capable of a repeat but wouldn’t put you off an each way slice on the big white hope.  Chief Dan George has superb form in the book and if he found it again 66/1 would be huge, especially as he has a victory over Imperial in his locker.  Tidal Bay equally could make 40/1 look absurd on one of his good days.  The Major however sticks with the Commander.  Let’s be honest he has all the form.  His price will be honest because of two factors, Pricewise plumbing for What a Friend and the fact that apart from a novice hurdle at Newcastle, Imperial has done all of his winning at Cheltenham.  Major followers understand this – Trends are there to be scrutinised, not trusted.  I can accept that Imperial is a better horse going left-handed (conditions he has today), I could also accept that some horses are course specialists (Mr McGoldrick at Wetherby as a case in point) but not top class horses.  Watch last years Betfair Chase, It was Kauto a dubious first; Imperial Commander second and fresh air all the way back to the trailers.  There were good horses behind that day and today it is off level weights with the form in the book on the favourites side……. the prosecution rests and advises a strong Imperial bet but leave it until an hour before the off, or take Paddy Powers online price guarantee as you the advantage of the predicted drift.

Another Nicholls horse, another wind op, will Masterminded win on debut, hmmmm.  It is incredible to think this horse is just 7 given his achievements.   I believe he is back and will destroy them all bar Albertas Run who although class in his own right, is not the same – there you go, simples….  evens again.

Zaynar is the other hot fancy to rock up in the hurdle on debut.  I thought it was interesting to hear Henderson talk about this as a World Hurdle horse which gives me concerns that today’s trip might not be enough on this seasons debut – Why is he also in cheekpieces for his last two runs, is he really going to give it the best on reappearance, might be wrong but I am staying clear.  I do like Zaynar for future Grade 1 success but am going to stick with Silciniaco Conti who was an impressive winner when tipped up by the Major at Chepstow a few weeks ago.  This Nicholls / Fehily team (36% strike rate this year!) have the unexposed horse and with Lough Derg in the field, they will go at a fair clip, small stake advised.

Great listed all-weather action today for hardcore fans.  Hitchens to win the 3.40 at Lingfield is a decent bet with many of the other market leaders needing to prove they go on the poly.  5/1 is available with Laddies and Sportingbet.

One that was given to the Major by a master of the dark arts was James de Vassey in the Haydock 2.50, 13/2 is around, take a piece each way and I shall thank the tipster for you.

May this evenings fine dinner be Italian with a hearty Barolo to wash it down with.  Tip generously, its what the Commander wanted as he pinged the last.

THE MAJORS ADVICE LAST WEEK
Bet Stake Returns
Hearts to win at St Johnstone 6/4 £2.50
More than 3 goals West Ham v Blackpool 8/11 £0.00
Norwich to win at Reading  16/5 £0.00
Stoke to beat Liverpool 3/1 £4.00
Haye to win in the third 9/1 £10.00
Haye to win in the fourth 9/1 £0.00
Haye to win by stoppage 1/3 £1.33
Long Run to win the Paddy Power 7/2 £0.00
Berties Dream to win 9/2 £0.00
Sam Winner to win the Cheltenham Novice Hurdle 9/2 £5.50
Serious Drinking in the last at Wolverhampton 10/3 £0.00