Tag Archives: wishfull thinking

The Saturday Sermon – Racing Post Trophy Day… Aintree and Doncaster

Good evening from the Major who writes from the bed, tired and ready for slumber.  The darkened sky howls and the air froths and swirls, dancing at an ever-changing pace, gentle to furious in a rising crescendo and at once, peace again, for a passing moment.  Change in the air.  Danger.

The Major scored some winners last Saturday, including a tasty hat-trick at Cheltenham from just the three selections.  Even Martin Hill (yes he really exists) commended my changing fortune with a smile and a generous acknowledgement that is barely deserved.  That man has endured a torrent of poor fortune, all my own doing, but hangs in there, determined to the end.  I fear his lot will be like one of those collies that following the death of a beloved owner, sits above the grave, full of melancholy.  He gets his glimmers of hope, enough to string him along to the next investment and for me, I am thankful and most of all hopeful, that one day, patience is rewarded.

Of course, there is never any need to offer thanks for any winners I might find.  For a start, I am barely profitable, as advertised, so, your wins are probably hard-earned (you backed a lot of my losers too) or lucky, you dropped in on a going day.  Either way, I cannot claim credit.  What is more, I would not consider it proper to claim credit where I would not accept blame.  You see, I merely offer you the thoughts I have, the deep reaches of my mind, piecing together information in some construct that seems robust.  What you do with this is entirely your own choice.  I would not accept someone choosing how to bet my money, I do not presume to tell you how to spend yours.

Writing the sermon each week is a grounding in my hectic life.  I considered parking the blog (dark thoughts of a year ago) but find the anchor in the week a pleasant bolt hole for myself and my thoughts.  The thousand odd souls that wander in are welcome but the benefit I fear is mine.

I often wonder what a brand new reader might make of this.  Would you describe this as a tipping site?  Well if you did, it is not exactly a typical one.  For a start, I benefit from no adverts (any you see are merely those of WordPress and keep the site free for me to use).  I also make no charge, sell any service or claim any special information.

My tips are actually profitable, this may at times seem hard to believe.  If you stray into the menu, you will find two separate parts of this blogs history where I went to the effort of recording the tips given and painstakingly creating a record.  It was profitable.  Just.  Not the sort of profit that might have you jet off to the Caribbean in the company of an expensive sort, more the sort that might have you reaching for a bottle from the top shelf in Asda.

What interests me more is the reaction a new reader might have to the first part of the blog.  In a lucky week, a thought to write about occurs well before I sit to write the blog.  Perhaps, A dark night driving home, black rain-slicked roads and a distant emergency blue light, stimulate a thought, that is incubated until the anointed hour to write the sermon and out it spills, gushing with little reverence or key message, falling loosely and thence on the page, lay wasted and abused, incoherent noise.  In other weeks, my mood is dark and it tightens up my mind, as fear will, so what is written is brief and curt.

If you stray to these parts and are new, welcome.  We are a gentlemanly bunch, no riff raff need apply.  The game is afoot my friends, it is the time of the weekend where our hopes and dreams are intact.  It is time to prepare the heavy charger, sharpen the point on that lance and ready thyself for the battle.

To the sports….

Tip For The Racing Post Trophy

There has been a lot of rain in the UK but seemingly, Doncaster is only good to soft as I type.  I would certainly want to be on the side of a horse who might cope if it was a little worse than that and may well hold fire on the betting until having seen the morning weather and perhaps watched the first few races.

The Racing Post Trophy has gone to the O’Brien Ballydoyle team in three of the last four years with Kingsbarns, Camelot and St Nicholas Abbey.  Thus it is credible to argue that this powerhouse have again saved on of the best of their crop again for this late autumn showpiece.  Century won his maiden with ease, a race that they put Magician through in the year before.  I am getting on now for small stakes at 4/1 and may well top up later.

The selection is one of three O’Brien horses and since Joseph has chosen Century, I see no reason to think he is not the better of the two stable-mates, Johan Strauss and Buonarroti.  Certainly, all of O’Briens recent winners in this have been his first string.

If there is lots of rain, then The Great Gatsby comes into it, simply for being a proven swimmer.  I am sticking with the obvious though and Century to win the Racing Post Trophy.

My second bet for Doncaster is the second favourite at 11/4 in the 2.05, Night of Thunder.  This might be quite an appropriate name given the band of weather set to sweep across the UK on Monday morning, fate aside though, I think the Hannon trained juvenile can take this.  His run at Goodwood was visually stunning.  It was on slow ground and for a horse to handle the camber and come away so readily with no previous racecourse experience, really spoke volumes of the underlying ability.

Clearly Stubbs is an interesting runner.  Followers of the horse would have been left scratching their heads after the Coventry where he ran no race.  A line through that and you have an unexposed O’Brien juvenile, not something you would want to strongly bet against.  Yet, the Coventry has left a question mark and I was suitably impressed with Night of Thunder to think him a threat anyway so the choice was easy.

Aintree Old Roan Tips

The ‘Monet’s Garden’ Old Roan is a race which truly deserves its name.  I love the National Hunt season for the longevity of the horses which gives greater chance for their personal stories to develop.  Monet’s Garden was never quite the top draw but won this race three times over four years and with it, the hearts of many a racing fan.  He was a fine competitor and his white figure contrasted against the black silks stood out.

Again the Aintree turf may deteriorate from the currently advertised good to soft and I will err on that side.

Carrickboy has some ability and if you were assured of him putting his best foot forward, 14/1 might seem a decent proposition.  Indeed, he had today’s favourite, Walkon behind when winning at Cheltenham in the spring.  Yet, I am also minded that in the last fortnight, Venetia has sent out 9 runners and has not yet recorded a place.

Wishfull Thinking is not getting younger but holds some of the best form in the race.  His second in this last year was quite a distant second (nigh on 30l), that was on good ground behind For Non Stop (who I remember tipping by the way!).  Classy and cannot be ruled out./

I am not sure what to make of Edgardo Sol, he has been running well enough but does not look spectacular.  Is it possible that the step up in trip (not raced beyond 2m 1f) would improve him?  Possible but not for me.  I am also considering that if he was really fancied, then maybe Daryl Jacob would not have gone to Chepstow.

Astracad is not my sort of horse.  The Holmes quote is that once you have ruled out all impossible things, then what remains, no matter how improbable is the truth.  On these grounds, I would have nothing winning the Old Roan!  Thus I have to come back to Walkon, my 9/2 hope, whose stable are in form, has enjoyed visits to Aintree before (even if it was hurdling or on the national course) and has great form shouts.

Regal Encore was my Champion Bumper pick and while he ran second that day, I am hoping he will go one better over hurdles in the last today.

To the other sports

You will forgive me but I am too tired to start contemplating Newbury.  So a fistful of football tips and to bed.

I think Liverpool are a poor short price favourite because I fancy West Brom but shall not offer this as advice as I am prejudiced by my own support for the away team.  I do think West Ham are a massive 4/1 price to win at Swansea.  The home team had a tough game in Europe in mid-week and were deflated by a last gasp equalizer, West Ham can take advantage.  Other than that, Southampton look a banker at 6/10 to beat dreadful Fulham at home.  I would also back QPR at 15/8 away at Burnley.

The Martin Hill advice is to back an each way trixie on Century, Walkon and Night of Thunder.

To all of you, I wish you luck and prosperity.  I hope your dinner is taken in the most refined company and that the only discomfort be the wallet which digs into your ribs.

Courage, roll those dice.

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The Saturday Sermon – Betfair Hurdle Tip at 25/1 (as well as two other cheeky ones!)… What are they doing with Bog Warrior?

Good evening from the Major who writes from the comfort of his own home returning after business away.  Worcestershire is a little blustery and cold, a night to be indoors.

Today the tips at Bangor performed poorly enough.  Two winners from five is reasonable for a return if they were not 5/4 and 2/5 respectively.  Still, at least we felt the blood pumping.

It is not long until the Cheltenham festival.  The Major will continue to post his Cheltenham content here.  That feeling deep down is building, a low humming buzz.. transponders are activating, the signal from the central station is pulsating out across the land… can you hear it, bend your ear ‘and the tapes go up for the Supreme to get the 2013 festival underway…’

When I think about why I love racing so much, the word that sum it up is richness.  In my last post I lamented the loss of Darlan and crassly compared the loss of life to the beauty of the sport.  It is a harsh calculation.

The richness of racing is a beautiful thing.  In a world where entertainment output is increasingly simple and targeted at morons, racing remains a deep subject weaving form, language, art, science, human nature and luck into a fine tapestry.  When I first attended a course, amongst other basics, I craved to know what ‘off the bridle’ meant.  I do not believe the sport elitist, the answers are accessible.  Yet, there is such a depth to the sport, with time comes wisdom.

I believe it Descartes that suggested our lives were like sparks from a flame.  As children the spark is bright, we are hungry for knowledge and carry open minds. As we age, our minds gnarl, the spark dims, we long for knowledge no more.

To the sports, keep the spark alive…

Newbury Tips

The opening maiden is a classic punch up between the two top yards represented by Chatterbox 4/5 (Henderson) and Lac Fortana 7/4 (Nicholls).  Many will see the form of the former has a strong feel to it having put My Tent or Yours away and the latter is a debutante for Nicholls from a very strong novice string he has to deploy.

I am not convinced that the former has shown that much and giving more than a stone to a what is likely a very good horse in Lac Fortana might be a big ask.

The Denman Chase at 2.25 is a chance for Silviniaco Conti to cement his Gold Cup claims.  The 4/6 shot has been impressive this year and along with Long Run, he is my idea of the Gold Cup winner.  He has to put this lot away easily for me to be right.  The Giant Bolster is nowhere near good enough to take advantage off just 4lbs lighter in my view and has been over-rated since the last Gold Cup.

The 3pm is the Game Spirit and Wishfull Thinking is the current favourite, followed by Majala.  Yet neither of these have a Game Spirit profile as not many winners are nine, let alone ten.  I struggle to back Wishfull Thinking too as he has two ways of running.  Instead, I am having a slice of Edgardo Sol at 6/1 who has performed well this year and while he might prefer slightly better ground, I think it is allowed for in that price.

The big one from a punting perspective is the Betfair Hurdle.  My Tent or Yours is a 9/2 favourite and I am not a fan.  Cotton Mill is 8/1 and being backed, some popularity may have been gleaned from the Pricewise endorsement for the Champion Hurdle, I am not a fan.

Interestingly Geffen has two leading charges, one trained with Nicky Henderson and one with Paul Nicholls.  Of the two I much prefer Pearl Swan who I think has a decent chance and is freely available at 9/1 after prepping for this in a jumpers bumper, looks a plot sort – Worth noting that Nicholls won the Betfair last year with Zarkander who went straight to the Champion Hurdle… Pearl Swan also has a Champion Hurdle entry so it looks the same route.

The Betfair Hurdle tip from the Major though is a much bigger price.  Caid Du Berlais is 25/1 with Stan James and I think is worth a little punt.  Yes, the horse is 6lbs wrong but I think that could be an irrelevance   You have to ignore the collateral form from his Chepstow run and just accept that much better is expected… have a slice.  I am going to suggest a slice of Pearl Swan too at 9s and why not stick a couple of speculative quid on a Nicholls 1-2 with both?  Three tips in one race… What sort of tipster am I?  A bloody bad one is the answer and I am also suggesting you have a slice of Swing Bowler at 11/1.  The Pipe mare is out of Galileo and has been mighty impressive to date.

Leopardstown Tips

The opening juvenile hurdle can be taken by Diakala although with some other very exciting prospects in opposition,  a light interest is advised.

The 2.15 is an opportunity for Champagne Fever to put his last run behind him and confirm he is a leading Cheltenham chance.  Both Champagne Fever and Waaheb have had their colours lowered by the now JP owned Jezki.  The former probably has the edge on formline and 9/4 with Stan James is too big.

In the Moriarty Novice Chase, the Major is going to opt for Boston Bob who is the obvious choice and priced at just the right side of evens.  This horse is currently second in the market for the RSA.  His Albert Bartlett win was excellent and although he won his chase this year, it did require him to dig deep.  Back up in trip, I think he will find things much more to his liking and maybe Dynaste will have something to worry about if he wins well.

I am genuinely stunned that the connections of Bog Warrior are taking on Sir Des Champs and Flemenstar.  I am in no doubt that the horse is in that class.  Well OK, there is some doubt in my mind but I just love the way this horse races, I am a long term fan so feel I can assert my strong view that he should remain hurdling.  Why we are experimenting chasing again now is a mystery, he has a fair crack if sent to the World Hurdle, what is tomorrow about?  I love him and I will back him tomorrow and I don’t care what anyone thinks.  Don’t like it? Piss off.

To the football…

Swansea are constantly under-rated and so I am happy to be backing them at 10/11 at home to QPR.  Charlton at 7/5 look a bet at home to Birmingham.  I like Tranmere at 19/10 to win at Orient too.

May your dinner be delightful in company that is exhilarating.  Courage and roll those dice.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Diakala, Boston Bob, Edgardo Sol and Lac Fortana.

Saturday Sermon – Cheltenham Tips, Doncaster Tips and the Wolverhampton Mega Buster Bet!! Merry Christmas.

Good evening from the Major who writes from a wet and breezy Worcestershire.

What a dreadful day of tips at Cheltenhams Friday meeting, from the Major. With the exception of On Fishers Cross who won nicely as I hoped for, the rest of my advice proved expensive to follow. Most simply did not get into it. Broadbackbob a particular disappointment reinforcing an old message that proven accuracy at fences is helpful at the home of National Hunt racing.

Although excuses are weak and pointless, I wrote up the tips when the ground forecast was good to soft and it soon turned soft to heavy after more rain than I expected. The way they finished the first two races, strung out around Gloucestershire, told you it was going to be a slog of a day. Tonight we are better armed with information.

My day of tipping may have been bad but breaking events in America bring some real reflection and perspective to life.

The event is horror itself, anyone would be moved by the ages of the children killed. The innocence, the pointlessness, the incomprehensibility of motive. It is the definition of tragedy.

Massacres like this are peppered through history, read King Theodore of Abyssinia. Minds so insane, so lost that even the first trigger they pull is not enough to sober up their murderous emotion, to draw back from the insane urgings.

The product is body bags, with children inside them.

The Major provides the usual Saturday Service. As usual, no charge is made, I have no service to sell. If you subscribe to the email list in the left hand column or the twitter feed (@tdl123) then I will never peddle premium tips, hotlines or even show you a single advert on the site. No strings attached, ever.

Today, I levy a small fee though. I ask you to commit one unspecified small act of decency at your discretion before sunset.

To the sports.

Cheltenham Tips

We return to Cheltenham with a score to settle. I feel aggrieved and the enemy with his dark twinkling eye will pay.

The opener looks a tasty affair. Far West won a decent Chepstow race before taking a Grade 2 at Cheltenham. While Handazan arguably improved from finishing 12 lengths behind in the Chepstow race, he might be better now too. Still a straight forecast on Far West and Handazan is my ‘double your money’ advice.

In the second, Barry Geraghty seems to have switched allegiance to Highland Lodge from Court in Motion (surely Lingfield bound?) after the latter was smashed here by the David Pipe trained Our Father. The selection is a 6/5 shot but surely still looks a value pick – This grey could be a star and I fully expect another dominant display – back it with an eye watering amount that might help get he economy moving again.

Shooters Wood has a superb record at Cheltenham being 2 from 2 and the Paul Nicholls charge might handle the rise in weights he is allotted. Not the strongest pick though on balance and instead I am chancing my arm that Garynella at 4/1 is on a generous mark – His french form is hard to read but the ground will help and Pipe might be throwing a decent novice at this race.

The 4th is a split contest between some up and coming decent sorts and some experienced old hacks. In the young corner we have Coneygree and Boyfromnowhere, two decent looking sorts. Mon Mome leads the elder horse charge and the Grand National winner looks a forlorn hope aged 12 but may well be staying on late up that hill over this distance which is way too short! On balance, Coneygree looks like the real deal and will surely appreciate going to three miles…. unoriginal but get stuck in.

The Ironspine Charity Gold Cup is the feature race of the day (not necessarily the one I am most looking forward to) and Walkon adds sparkle to the line up. I was looking at this race on an antepost basis earlier in the week and was struggling to find many confirmed mudlarks (I was working an angle that it might be heavy and wish I’d followed it though with a bet). Cristal Bonus was one that fitted the bill and his price has halved in recent days. Walkon also won’t mind the cut. the other two I like are Quantativeeasing, Golden Chieftain and Wishfull Thinking.

Nicholls and Henderson have bagged five of the last ten runnings and there is a strong trend towards six and seven-year olds in the race (12 from last 15 years).

It really leaves me with Cristal Bonus and Quantativeeasing. At 6/1 and 18/1 we can afford to load two cannons. I do like their chances although before he tapes go up, all our dreams are intact.

Cristal Bonus went to Ireland and won nicely in this seasons debut and Quantativeeasing is a little forgotten about after a flop in the Paddy Power but let us not forget he won this last year.

The 3.05 is the race I am waiting for. This is a simmering hot race with the reigning Champion Hurdler, Rock on Ruby, taking on the best Nicholls has in that division, Zarkander and the frail but talented Henderson horse, Grandouet.

There was a feeling that the Champion Hurdle was not the strongest – A bit bitchy if you ask me, what has Rock on Ruby done wrong?

Nevertheless, Rock on Ruby seems in a vulnerable position and Nicholls will fancy a pop with Zarkander who looked all the better for a summer of sun on his back when reappearing in the Elite Hurdle.

Grandouet is my tip. It is a dicey one in some senses, his price probably does not reflect the stuttered build up to here. He missed several assignments, including the Champion Hurdle. Yet, I have always felt that Henderson really fancies this one and the most eye-catching form was when winning this race last year, smashing Overturn…. Have a thick slice, pour on the custard and thank me later.

Oscar Whiskey has a penalty kick in the last race, he will love conditions. and won this last year. If this is the day that Crack Away Jack proves top class, it would not surprise me as I have finally given up backing him, less my burden, he will probably scoot up.

The Wolverhampton MegaCard

Can you believe Wolverhampton have a racecard with 14 events on it, all for a tenner. On one hand it is value, on the other, it is like a large fish and chips, serves a purpose but too voluminous.

Every race bar one is sub £3k winners pot so do not expect much quality – My tip comes in the one race of reasonable merit, the 8.50pm. Forest Edge gets the assistance of Adam Kirby who is having a fine season. He gets a 4lb hike for his Lingfield win but the manner of that victory looked more impressive to me – 4/1 is a gift from the gods.

If you have the stamina for every race then all power to you!

Doncaster Grade Two Tip

By the time, the favourite Vasco Du Ronceray goes off at Doncaster, we will have the manner of Key Wests performance to provide comparative clues as their form is well tied. This is a graded race though and the apprentice aboard the favourite cannot make his claim which effectively penalises the horse.

I am going to chance a tip on Kashmir Peak each way at 8/1 – This one might have more to offer even if this represents a significant step up from the Market Rasen run.

To the football….

Crystal Palace have some talent and I would fancy them to win at St Andrews at 9/5. Bolton are strong but I like 3/1 Charlton who have a very strong squad. Leicester are a tip, they can beat Millwall away (7/5) to make a nice away trixie.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Coneygree, Our Father, Grandouet and Forest Edge – That can pay for Christmas.

I hope your dinner is unhurried, relaxing and in fine company.

Courage and roll those dice.

Saturday Sermon featuring Aintree, Newbury, Doncaster and Chepstow plus football tips

Good morning from the Major who writes from the ancient Devon wool town of Chudleigh. The sky is bright, painfully so, the air is sharp. They gritted the high roads last night. Winter arrives. It is the Majors favourite time of year.

The chances of sunburn (a significant risk for my northern skin) have gone, insects are dying, and good riddance, or making home for the winter. National Hunt racing is awakening from its deep restful slumber, slowly at first lumbering into action like a mighty machine, creaking and groaning yet we know that soon it will be in full swing, delivering heart stopping action all the way to Prestbury Park where our pulses will race and dreams will be made and shattered.

Channel 4 has shuffled the pack and overall I think they have it right. Gina Bryce is a great addition (has the Majors heart in her icy grip). John McC and John Francome, while loyal servants are not right for the sports coverage. They make too much light of the sport and that is not helpful. I understand they want to make racing accessible but you can combine expertise with an understandable presentation style.

Clare Balding achieves this blend well enough although the Major would have not have picked her. As for Rishi, well that’s a bad call in my view.

The greatest losses are those of Mike Cattermole and Alasdair Down who have genuine expertise and racing fans will miss them.

If it were my call, I would have left Balding and co and recruited instead Matt Chapman who would have added some real lustre to proceedings. Overall though, it will remain compulsive Saturday viewing.

Just 4 weeks ago the Major ran the Berlin marathon raising money for a fabulous cause Whizz Kidz… I was quite surprised to see a race in their name today at Newbury but indeed, Worthington have kindly sponsored a tasty looking race and the Major is having a charity bet in the same race

Last weeks blog produced some tasty winners and decent advice and represented a welcome return to form. I often wonder who the people who turn up to this club are each week. Some of you I know because you tweet me (@tdl123) or I know you outside of this environment. Most of you though are strangers.

Welcome, one and all. Membership is free, in fact, there is no membership. Just an agreement that certain behaviours and standards exist.

My advice is amateur. I am profitable… But only just. I make lots of errors. My research and thinking does take time and I come here to offer it for free. Sometimes I offer you a slice of Victorian military history or a piece of ancient philosophy in addition to some sporting thoughts. I am afraid you have to accept the wanderings of my damaged mind as it weaves and meanders between the sporting advice and other thoughts, some interesting, some dark, all a swirling vortex. I enjoy writing it, it feels like a release, as though these unhinged thoughts could builspans turn my head into an evil pressurised vestibule, the Saturday Sermon is my release valve. So feel good, by reading you are helping my mental health and probably keeping me from greater ill.

All I ask is that you come in the same spirit, unbridled enthusiasm for life and well aware of the finite nature of what we are given.

It is time to enter the field of battle again so please, don thy heavy leathers, polish that lance point and have your groom bring up the heavy charger. We shall meet the enemy at full tilt, he with that wicked deception, let us enter the violent swirling mess of war and be triumphant. Tonight we eat steak and drink good wine.

To the sports….

Doncaster Racing Post Trophy Tips

The Racing Post trophy has been fertile feeding grounds by Ballydoyle of recent years. Camelot, High Chaparral and Camelot all went on to win the Derby after taking in this late season Group One.

It is understandable then that the moves O’Brien and co made this week were a huge advert for the chances of Kingsbarn. At the 5 day stage they had a number of representatives including Battle of Morengo, one of the market favourites. They then supplemented Kingsbarn and duly removed all else. Clearly he is the one that has been doing the best work at home.

Kingsbarn once supplemented was a magnet for money. 12s, 10s, 8s, 6s and all the way down to a current 5/2 best price Hills. I think he will go off at 13/8, call me mad but I think the story is compelling enough to attract money all day and if Kingsbarn obliges then the enemy will not enjoy their dinner.

It is times like this that the Major is cautious – Work at home may not translate to being the best horse here. I am guessing a bit but I reckon Kingsbarn himself has no idea he is the hot favourite! His maiden form is insignificant, you are betting on reputation – clearly he is hugely talented but when the market moves like this, the value call is to swim against the tide and tell yourself a different story.

Andy Oliver is hardly a fashionable sort for these races. This is his second attempt at a Racing Post Trophy and his last attempt was a disaster! That said, his representative today has what I would argue is the best form on show.

Therefore my tip for the RP Trophy is First Cornerstone at 12/1 with Paddy Power. He is more experienced and will love underfoot conditions. Have a slice.

Aintree Tips – Old Roan Chase Day

I am so glad that Monets Garden had his name added to the Old Roan, some horses strike a chord not because of what they achieved but because of their character and the joy they bought. On the advice of the late Sir Clement Freud I had a chunky bet on Monet once for the King George. Sir Clement was a personal hero of mine (may your life be as rich and varied) but his tipping was not his forte. Still it was the start of a relationship with Monets Garden.

Wishfull Thinking has cost me a lot of money over the last two years and while the horse has a chance of settling that debt today, too much has gone before and it will be a hell of a training feat to return the love of the game to this animal.

Gauvain is very interesting catching him first time out, he has won many a seasonal appearance before going on to achieve less. At ten, sold into a new yard for a fairly light sum, I am interested but not convinced.

A far more likely sort is the Majors Old Roan tip, For Non Stop. My selection is 6/1 with Betfred and is one of the more progressive profiles in the field. His Cheltenham form behind the now Gold Cup favourite Sir Des Champs was good and he is a grade one winner already. Noel Fehily is one of my favourite jump jockeys and this rates a strong piece of advice. Go lumpy.

In the 4.35 at Aintree, it comes down to Unioniste and Carlito Brigante. The former is well related and looks another fine French raid by Paul Nicholls. The latter is a Coral Cup winner and with form in the book, the Majors tip at 2/1.

Cape Express looks to have a great chance in the opener too…

Chepstow Tips

Aintree is not the only track with decent jumps action, Chepstow also has some tasty action and I am taking a chance on 12/1 Return Spring in the Grade 2 novice hurdle. Hobbs targeted this race last year and this entirely unexposed sort can play a part.

Arthurian Legend is sure to be targeted at the Silver Trophy, a handicap he win last year and 6/1 is very nice. Salubrious could be anything but I will take experience over potential here too.

Newbury Tip

Just the one tip from Newbury (plus the charity bet) and that is Camborne (7/1) in the Group 3 St Simon Stakes. If there is one trainer to fix the errant mind of a wild sort, then I would place my faith in Gosden (well I suppose Johnstone too!). Anyway, the Royal Ascot win was eye catching and I expect Cambourne to be doing the best work at the death!

This years Horris Hill is in honour of an incredibly worthwhile cause Whizz Kidz. I have raised money for them over the last couple of years and am happy to spot a tenner charity bet in their race today. My selection is the Dettori ridden Tahwid at 7/1. If you fancy supporting a great cause why not make a small donation yourselves. They are also worth a follow if you are on Twitter…

To the football….

Wigan often look nice in defeat but with home advantage I am taking style to beat function and 11/8 they beat West Ham is a bet.

I think Chelsea will beat Manchester United even without Lampard. They look threatening this year and I am not sure this is a better united team. 6/4 is a lovely price.

Cardiff can be backed at 4/5 and that is a smashing price, I would be hugely surprised if they do not keep up form at home to Burnley.

May your dinner be voluptuous and may that apply to the company too. We go round the once, make sure your doing it in the presence of like minded souls.

Courage, roll the 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.