Tag Archives: windhoek

The Saturday Sermon – The King George – The Majors Lucky 15… Courage, roll the dice

Good evening from a muggy suffocating Worcester scene where a sliding grey sky in the distance and the sheer heat of the moment speak quietly of the violence to come.

Tonight I have entertained at dinner my second son, Matthew, 6.  The boy loves his racing, always pointing at JPs colours and saying ‘Dad, that’s Tony McCoy’ no matter who the pilot.  We ate at one of those buffet style places, you know the sort of joint, generous on choice, sparse on quality.  Still, he entertained me with tales of his exploits, young shaver that one.

The Major has had another of his high-octane weeks, travel, pressure, heat and many a night spent late into the evening with the soothing aid of sleep inducing wine – I am not sure it helps but I enjoy it.  The pressure in the evenings in the latent heat builds in my head, in the morning, the head dulled by the previous nights chemicals, the pressure has condensed and feels like a yoke that rolls around in my skull as I turn restlessly from side to side aching for peace which never comes.  I do wonder whether my preference for National Hunt is purely based on it being at the civil end of our annual climate.

The Major had been in scintillating form.  I had forgotten what losses felt like, then came along last weekend and the pendulum swung again, not in my favour.  Luck does seem to come in runs, yet I am conscious as I type it that my regular readers will be thinking that this is most un-major-like.  Quite right, luck is irrelevant and the idea that runs exist as some sort of fatalism is as you well know, nonsense.

Yet I do believe in runs.  Stick with me.  You see, I have noticed in my own pattern of staking that there are times when I am following an angle of profitability.  You might spot a draw advantage, a ground condition or some trainer form that has not been widely advertised to date.  By pursuing a consistent line of logic, you build your own confidence and the cycle works.

On the counter, losses building up without an understanding of why your judgement is awry is a good time to stop.  Typically that form can continue as you don’t know what is wrong to fix it.  As frustration over performance builds, your ability to analyse the issue or to make rational bets dissipates.  When on a losing run, the last 30% of my bank is typically wasted in an emotionally driven speed betting session.  You sober up, the balance reads zero and if you are like me, you learned little.

Some of my pet hates… Folk who place an accumulator and then look to lay it off when the early legs land.  What is wrong with you?  Laying a position costs money, why bet an accumulator if you would not be prepared to stake your winnings from those early legs as a straight win bet on the latter legs?

Folk who see the world in black and white.  I hate the partisan the most.  Twitter politics is possibly the blindest commentary you might ever witness.

Rude folk.  No need at all.  Manners cost nothing – Should you lack them, please leave now, your sort is not welcome here.  The Majors followers hold the door, give up the seat, offer compassion and generosity and always make her tea in the morning.

Those late nights have had me watching some good drama.  I feel a certain middle class pride in extolling the virtues of The Honourable Woman, slightly less in promoting Utopia.  The latter appeals to my dark nature, the uber violence and detachment resonate in our age.

Both programmes have characters with whom I have fallen in love.  I must confess that this is a regular occurrence for the Major.  I would say at least three times a week, my heart is stolen and each new one is the best.  If I were to line up these beautiful souls, you might struggle to find a pattern.  No, there is no formula for me, perhaps the curl of a lip, the slender angle of a shoulder, the gentle shape of a calf or the harmonious sing song quality of an uncouth accent – I cannot explain how such things work, I am merely the victim of an unstable heart which will flutter, seemingly at any combination of striking features.  A female friend once said to me, it really is not love, je ne suis pas d’accord.

Enough of my rakishness, if the good lady strays this way, she will spit out her coffee and confiscate the key to the Tantalus.  If you do not own one of these, I suggest you invest todays winnings in one.

Our road, like that for Wellington is long.  The odds are overwhelming.  Do you know he had just 25,000 British troops, complemented with 50,000 foreigners to fight a Napoleonic force of a third of a million.  When it was all done, after the horrors of Waterloo where 50,000 lost their lives, Wellington prayed that he had seen his last action.  He had bought down an empire – This is our aim too.  We shall bring our enemy down, like his expeditionary force, we shall fight many long indecisive days, our losses shall pile up but our resolve will see us through.  The mothership awaits at the end of the journey.  Courage friends, roll the dice.

To the sports.

Saturday Racing – The Lucky 15.

I have reverted to a format of picking my favourite 4 tips for a lucky 15.  This is also therefore the Martin Hill bet – we are in this together.

2.05pm Ascot – Fillies Group 3

Two classy looking fillies go head to head here and it is easy to concentrate on just Muraaqaba and Osaila who are available either side of 2/1.

Osaila ran well in a Group 3, the Albany, on her second start and took that form into a Doncaster Novice Stakes race and won convincingly going away when asked the question.

In the blue corner, we have Muraaqaba who won her debut maiden very well indeed at HQ.  The form in behind has been mediocre but with improvement almost guaranteed, she could not have started her career any better.

My decision is to play Osaila at 9/4.  She has more experience, the Hannon yard is in better form than the Johnstone team and her last win looked better than the Muraaqaba race as she beat previous winners.

2.55pm York – The York Stakes

A nice day of racing at York, one of our finest courses.  The York Stakes is a Group 2 middle distance contest and there are a few interesting runners to focus on.

Windhoek caught my eye when winning on last years Guineas undercard at Newmarket.  He has not exactly gone on from there but has always had a touch of class and his last run was arguably his best when moving clear at his leisure in a listed middle distance race at Sandown.

Secret Gesture was second in the Oaks behind Talent, that form looked very good at the time but Talent has been my cliff horse and I have finally accepted defeat, she is not pegasus.  A bit like Windhoek, Secret Gesture has run a little bit mixed but dropped to a listed race for the girls, she came good last time.  Her allowances here as a 4yo are not that generous mind but if she is back to improving then, she is a player.

Long John is a fascinating runner starting a new career in Britain.  I am not sure he is a stayer but… hmmm….. Danadana will love the ground but lacks the class in my view.  Sharestan would be much shorter with a decent downpour but 12/1 seems generous.

In the end, Windhoek and Secret Gesture have played their hands in the top grade and been found wanting.  I am looking for something and Long John gives me that option, he has G1 winning form in the Southern hemisphere and has picked up a UAE 1,000 Guineas.  I thought his first run in Britain was perfectly acceptable in the Summer Mile.  He stayed on to place and this extra 500 yards might be just the ticket.

3.50pm Ascot – The King George

Only three classic generation beasts have won this race in the last twenty years and none of them were fillies.  Alamshar was a bit of a fly in the ointment, Nathaniel was a well deserved winner after being the bridesmaid to Frankel so many times and Galileo, well that was Galileo.

My point in raising this is that it is mighty mighty bold for connections to thrust Taghrooda into this race when a much easier option was the Irish Oaks a week previous.  This result will tell them if they have an Arc contender and for the sake of my 20/1 antepost tickets placed in the moments after the Oaks, I hope they are proven right.

Yet, winning the Arc as a three year old filly is easier than a King George.  Sound like an odd piece of thinking?  Well I just think at the height of summer with the fillies still developing, the weight allowances are far less generous.  Yet, the best 3yo fillies, like Treve last year have a great record when receiving lumps of weight in October in Paris.

The race is further complicated by the fact that the ground has been a bit changeable.  Stormy showers over Ascot on Friday caused the ground to go good to soft.  I assure you dear readers that unless more rain comes, it will go off as good at worst.  Ascot is one of the best draining tracks I know.

Telescope won the Hardwicke in some style.  As he blasted clear, I was reminded of the fine animal Harbinger who gave me a jaw dropping moment in the same race.  A definite contender.

Regulars know my feelings for Taghrooda, the time of the Oaks compares fairly well to the Derby, she would have been better with more to aim at and she could be the very best but I am making a leap to say she is.  What I saw at Epsom was enough for me to place my Arc bet.  This is a big ask.

Telescope and Taghrooda seem to be the two obvious candidates but of the rest, one must pause on Magician.  His Irish Guineas win last year was then followed up by a Breeders Turf win and chasing The Fugue home in her ideal conditions last time was nothing to be ashamed of.

This race is typically won by a colt near the head of the market and four years old.  Telescope it looks obvious and it might well be.  Yet, my heart tells me that Taghrooda is special.  Corals have 3/1, get invested and get used to the name.

5.05pm Newmarket 

When a Luca Cumani horse starts to show improvement, it is best to keep it on your side.  Such is the case with Lawman who won a Windsor handicap very well last time and that form is looking stronger now.  Ogbourne Downs who was fifth at Windsor, although fairly close up, went on to score in the week in another class 4.

2/1 is available right now but I suspect it won’t be anything like it nearer the time.  Get stuck right in.

May your dinner be taken in good spirits having landed the lucky 15 and asked the good lady where she would like to dine.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Newbury and some other bits!

Good evening from the Major writing enveloped in the cool evening air of Worcestershire where high clouds pass over at speed and closer to the earth, the air scurries around, droplets of dirty water thrown in the gusts.

The Major writes from a peaceful home, the endeavours of Dundalk and Wolverhampton playing out jovially in the background, a cool beer is at my side, it is good to be alive.

The week was another in which the Major slept in snatches, stop-start nights, with consciousness existing in short fraudulent periods.  When drifting from the real, into the darkness, there comes sharply focussed dreams, involving vast cavernous places, dimly lit and full of danger.  I have no idea what these portend, in many of them I am climbing, sometimes with other people, often in silence.  The vividness fools me into thinking it is authentic life, as Zhuangzi, I dreamed I was a butterfly and now I am uncertain whether I have awoken or am a butterfly dreaming I am a man.

I know of folk who seem entirely normal, thoroughly so, every move precise, each action measured.  You know the sort, living lives that exist in childs books, Ikea or Channel 4 property documentaries.  I am never sure whether it is a veneer covering a seething ocean underneath, or indeed whether such a state of utter normality is abnormal in itself, it is hard to tell.

I prefer the former thought, I think such folk are terrified of letting it slip and slide, lest the mask fall further.  Yet I would say this, as Freud pointed out, the ego, our survival tool fashions what we see, it fashions it in our own image – We perceive everything as we wish and what terrifies me is that an uneven keel might be so unusual.  We are not masters in our own house, please let it be so.

Oscar Wilde described the condition well during his time spent in Reading Jail.  He was serving time for indecency, unkind and unfair times you would agree.  While a resident, Wilde penned some of his darkest works and they are well worth your time.  In describing the abuses he caused to himself which ended with his spell incarcerated, he used the line, I ceased to be lord over myself,  I was no longer the captain of my soul.

This was a line he borrowed and inverted from the oft quoted poem Invictus by Henley, of which the final stanza…

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul

To be in charge of our future or to be washed about on the tide.  I might want us all to be touched by madness but in the case of ascertaining destiny?  Well, I am for the former, read Frankl Mans Search for Meaning – He more than most men knows how to find purpose in the deepest recesses of existence.

I embrace my beating heart when I awake from my active sleep, I can’t describe the dreams themselves as pleasurable, they do serve to remind me though that I am alive.  In the night, I may not be master of the house, come the day, I retain captaincy of my soul, for now.  The night world and the day world remain separate.

To the sports.


It is not the best day of racing we are going to witness.  While I might throw a few thoughts in regarding the Lingfield listed races, I am going to have a closer examination of affairs at Newbury.

The card is to be run on good ground and we must seek out the fair spring horses that prance across the surface!

In the opener, it looks a penalty kick for Signs of a Victory who think will go off at 8/13.  I quite liked the chance of Shes Late who will go well on the ground but oddly, jockey booking (McCoy on Matripajo) suggests the other Jonjo horse .  All this is irrelevant – Henderson had three bullets at Newbury on Friday and hit the bullseye each time.

I like two at bigger prices in the 2.20.  Grandads Horse ran respectably at Cheltenham until belting a fence and letting his chances slip.  He has a good strike rate on the ground and in general – 11/1 is OK.  The other I like is Pepite Rose – She is unusual in the Venetia yard, being a horse that favours decent surfaces.  Her last two runs may not be sparkling but she gets her surface here and with plenty of others not guaranteed to act, she is worth a squeak at 12s.

The third race is a wide open listed mares limited hurdle.  As such, we have some decent sorts turning up.  There are a lot of progressive sorts in the field – Fairytale Theatre looks one that will come in for support, being a Nicholls horse and showing great improvement – Her last two wins coming on heavy temper my enthusiasm.  Down Ace will like the ground and a line through her effort in the Mares hurdle at Cheltenham which was a huge step up in class and you can see her chances.

Free Thinking goes in the Long Run colours and given my advertisement for Hendersons form, she has to be considered.  To amplify that, his record in this specific race is impressive too having won it with Polly Peachum, Line Freedom, Ryde Back and Karello Bay in the last ten years.  Considered.

Yet the Major settles on an unfashionable runner up in Joanne One who is going to love the ground and since I don’t trust the form of jumpers bumpers in relation to proper hurdling, I see her as a danger.  Yet, I cannot help but be taken by Massannie at 16/1 (14s generally) for the Pipe team.  She has not been the same since a heavy fall but Pipe persists and a return to form puts her right back in this.  She won thrice from three on good to firm, so let the sun shine.

Having had entries for the race in the name of his stable, Alan King has withdrawn them all… odd.  It is darn hard to find a winner in this, Bucks Bond makes up his own mind but is a threat if going for it.  It is dangerous opting for a front runner in such a big field but despite having an instinct that he might set the race up, I am going to back Highland Retreat with a small fun stake as I have always admired him and on a going galloping day, he is good.  Newbury from the front just might suit him and he may have a number of these at it turning to home.

I love Newbury.. Its straight is as fair as they come, long, flat, tough jumps – The best horse wins.

Aldopicgros looks the best choice in the 4.05 – He won’t mind the ground and up half a stone for the defeat of a very progressive rival should be fine.

That is it for Newbury.

The Lingfield races are not my area of specialism – In the big one, the Winter Derby, Vodkata looks interesting making the trip from France.  Rebellious Guest loves the all weather, Grandeur boasts solid claims but has a hell of a draw – I am going to throw a dart at the popular former Johnstone horse Windhoek (13/2) – He has some tapeta form and there is no reason to think the surface will be an inconvenience.  De Sousa is a jockey I like and 13/2 is available with Hills – Have a slice.

Vicky De L’Oasis is a penalty kick 4/5 shot at Gowran.  Her form is easily the best and I see no obvious reason to oppose.

In the football Newcastle are 17/20 to beat Crystal Palace and that should go in.  Man City -2 at evens is in too – I think they are coming back to the boil.  I’d have Derby to beat Forest at 23/20.  The add a dash of Wigan at just the right side of evens…

The Martin Hill bet is Windhoek, Aldopicgros, Vicky De L’Oasis and Wigan in a Yankee, straight.

May your dinner be excellent, with a fine accomplice, her raven hair flowing down onto bare shoulder – Tip well, it is good to be alive.

Courage, roll the dice.

The Saturday Sermon – Racing Tips from Haydock and Sandown #crowdsourcingmultiple – Wimbledon and Lions – It is good to be alive…

Good morning from the Major who writes to you from a Worcestershire scene that is bright and damned splendid.  I was up early with the cool dawn to review the day’s sport, my company the bubbling coffee pot.  The garden is filled with a gentle golden light, the landscape here has come alive, it is souls awakening, I shall dust down the barbecue this evening.

The Major has a boss who swears by a pizza ovens’ superiority over the trusted barbecue.  I personally remain sceptical but plan one as a late summer project and shall report back accordingly.  I do like the idea of a table of toppings laid out while a tandoori-style clay oven roars aways with a small hardwood smokeless fire within.  It meets my pyromaniacal urges.

It is a good day to spend time outdoors, the sun on your skin, the fullness of summer about you.  By the time you get to dinner, whichever form yours takes, let us hope we have amassed winnings from our endeavours that bulge from our wallets embarrassingly.  Digging into your ribs, an uncomfortable reminder of the wages of sin which we relentlessly pursue.

The Major was at a family members 70th birthday last night.  At this fine age, as one might expect, the gentleman was concerned of his own mortality.  Not bleatingly morbid you understand, more considerately reflective.  We have but a short time on this river my friends… If I assume an average readership of 40 years of age, then you all have approximately 2,000 more Saturday Sermons before your demise, some less, some more…

Just think about that for a moment.  You visit another 2,000 times and then you die.  Spend this time wisely.  My advice to you, for what worth it might carry, is this – You, and only you, can be trusted to know your own mind and what you believe to be good and worthwhile.  Thus, cast off social conditioning and act accordingly, pleasure and generosity, seek harmony, judge not and allow ones heart to race with possibility.

We float by just the once, enjoy the trappings of what comes on the current… as the old Persian saying goes… lick up the honey stranger and ask no questions.

Dust, we all come together in the end.  In the meantime, I have 2,000 shots at both making you appreciate this drivel and landing you a mothership of biblical proportions.  Today, I have a real feeling that a monumental win is upon us.  There are some selections that I think have a bloody good chance so…..

Once again, daub thy war paint young warriors, sharpen that lance point and holster your curved blade, we may have to entertain the enemy at close quarters.   For they have closed their field positions and I intend us to skirmish towards them in open formation with infantry first, cavalry second, heavy horse last – There will be some warm work involved but I trust you all for it.  To the sports.

Sandown Tips

I love Coral Eclipse day – The race that pits the classic generation against their elders, the new pretenders versus the established stars.  We shall come to that…

In the opener, Plover looks the most enticing proposition having won a Kempton maiden well and run well on debut previously on Newbury turf, thus we can assume that the surface holds no problem.  The Oasis Dream filly is the likeliest winner but I am not confident enough to get too lumpy about the 13/8 branded about this morning.

The Major is even less enthusiastic about the second race which is a sprint.  The baton of success is handed from one horse to the next through the summer in these sorts of contests – Who knows – In the Crowd Sourced Multiple (a collection of tips from twitter) below, someone has suggested Kingsgate Native coming back to form after disappointing last time – Maybe?  No tip from me.

When horses fade late on in a race, the trainer often reaches for the ‘didn’t stay’ comment as a comfort.  This is what has happened with Windhoek who is now stepped back 400m in a hope to get back on winning form and fulfil earlier promise.  I like the horse and have fond memories of his win on Guineas day but often these trip changes mask an underlying issue… the horse is not good enough.  I remain here, ready to apologise personally to Windhoek and the fine Mr Johnston if proven wrong.

I do like Wentworth who is the subject of very positive mutterings from Richard Hughes.  I like Hughsie, decent sort, always gives an honest view – I am planning on doing a piece on my favourite jockeys soon and he is in the mix.  That said, I would say the weakest part of his race riding, to my amateur eye, is his positioning.  Over confidence or judgement gets him into some tight spots and Wentworth is drawn very wide today so this particular facet of his riding will be sternly tested.

No, I am having a small stake on Rockalong – He was a big disappointment on his penultimate start but was put away for a small break afterwards and then returned with a sharp runners up run at Salisbury – Could still be more to come and 11/1 gives us a sporting bet.

In the 3.15 is one of three ‘bets of the day’.  I am surprised that bookies are going 4/1 about Integral who looks to be a filly with a lot of opportunity.  Sir Michael Stoute trains the horse and this is a tried and tested route for some of his better horses… (3 winners in last 10 years).  Auction strikes me as the chief danger but I urge you all to load the heavy cannon here.

The Coral Eclipse is extremely fascinating if not the highest calibre renewal of the race.  Al Kazeem has proven a revelation as a five year old and is a deserving favourite.  As well as showing some class when putting Camelot (fallen from a lofty position), Al Kazeem showed grit at Royal Ascot.  I would not put you off, particularly if you are quick and get some of the 3/1 available.

In the last 16 years, there have been 5 winners of the Coral Eclipse that are in their classic years.  If ‘trip’ is oft the mask for a fundamental lack in equine quality, then unlucky in running is another… That brings us to Mars.  The only three year old in the Eclipse fits this description after disastrous poor luck in the Derby and in the Prince of Wales.  I like him but I don’t trust him.

The Major is plumping for The Fugue who in a poor Eclipse gives us an excellent chance.  She was a very good Nassau winner and her exploits in America were very good – The Prince of Wales was her seasonal debut which allows us room for further improvement… 9/2… come on girl.

Caucus has excellent tied form with Estimate which would put several of these opponents behind and looks the easy selection at 2/1 in the Marathon.

No tip in the last at Sandown.

Haydock Racing Tips

I was originally tipping just two horses at Haydock, Tumblewind and Albasharah but the Major loves nothing more than the request of a well heeled looking sort and Nicola (@madgecarlton) asked me to complete the card…. so….

There is a great bet in the opener at Haydock in 6/1 Tumblewind who I thought was very impressive last time and forms the second leg of three in my ‘bet of the day’.  A half stone rise is unlikely to stop that progress…. Boom get involved!

I think Dubawi Sound is the best of an uncertain bunch in the 6f sprint.  I have always liked Masamah who has the ability to break well and lead them a merry dance but the extra furlong is probably not to his liking and my selection

Albasharah looks a must bet 9/4 (Bet365) in the Lancashire Oaks and completed the ‘bet of the day’ set – She was as unlucky as you can get at Royal Ascot and this is one I am happy to extend the generosity of a second chance to!  De Sousa has been riding really well this year and is a plus.

In the Old Newton Cup, there are a few eye catchers as you might expect.  The Major has always been a fan of Sir Graham Wade who I am surprised did not go on to develop into a group class animal.  Although largely disappointing of late, I still hold the candle.  Yet, the Major shall leave those thoughts for another day.  Instead I would back Franciscan who clearly has been laid out with this race in mind.  A poor run last year in this contest belied the yards excellent record at targeting the Old Newton.  In the last ten years they have won the race three times with Zeitgeist, Alkaased and Mad Rush and they have ‘hit the bar’ on several other occasions.  If you put last years disappointing run in this race from this horse down to the deep conditions, then we have a live plot spreading out before us beautifully… get involved!

I would agree with Andy (see #crowdsourcingmultiple below) that Jive is the best chance in the 4.05 and 11/2 is a tasty price.

Shebebi has a style of running that is likely to set the race up for a closer but I am still going to give Dane O’Neill a chance to judge his ride from the front and make his ride last home at 8/1.

What a disappointment only three make it to post in the lucky last – Broughton the evens favourite gets my vote.

Good luck Nicola and remember, the Majors tips are akin to acts of god, who knows…. Inshallah.

The Lions will lose to Australia.  Murray will lose to Djokovich.  Easy double… Looks to me like Mark Carney, our new Bank chief has ordered up some more Quantitive Easing!


The Major has requested the best NAPs of the day from his Twitter colleagues…..  I shall be putting these selections into a multiple, using the power of crowd thinking to gain glorious riches….  I would also suggest all of these fine folk are worth following on Twitter… (the Major is @tdl123 by the way):

@lukeyboy1325 – Based in Canada (or was, hard to keep up with these digital sorts), Luke likes most sports, holds an opinion and is a generous tweeter:  Pique Sous at Bellewstown 🙂 double it up with Al Kazeem in the Eclipse

‏@Spinitg – Seanie is a must follow on twitter – He is as immersed in Irish racing as you can be.  7:20 Sylvian Mist 9/4 #nap

@a_p_l_77 –  Andy is a Liverpool fan and huge Racing aficionado – Prefers his National Hunt but I’ve known this shrewdie land a few pots…. Jive in the 4.05 at Haydock….

@boilberg – I must confess to not knowing Ben as well, yet…. NAP tomorrow is 2.55 Albasharah 2/1

@onedeswalker – Mick loves racing and always has a tasty priced multiple he is working up! …. I won’t insult you with the optimism of the treble but Kingsgate Native at 6-1 is best bet tomorrow. Forgive last run, would be 3s.

Finally in traditional style, the Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Integral, Tumblewind, Albasharah and Caucus.

May your dinner be fine and the company both engaging and beautiful.  Courage, roll those dice.