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Tips for the Arc – The Majors Preview – Sarafina / Workforce / So You Think / Nathaniel / Reliable Man / Galikova / Nakayama Festa

The Arc market has a great shape to it and the Major is mighty excited by the Longchamp showpiece.  The Arc is on the Majors hit list of things that must be done in the coming few years.

Freddy Head and Galikova – 7/1 Boooom she has the Majors vote

For a start, it is cheap, if you happen to be in Paris.  Entry is a fistful of Euros.  You can buy tickets on the day and it attracts a crowd of biblical proportion.  Viva Le Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

This years contest is a cracker.  Two horses would have made it possibly the best renewal ever…. if connections had successfully stepped Frankel up to a mile and a half, clearly we would be salivating – Sometimes, a dream is wonderful – You can awake wondering which reality is the truth.

I also think the Arc de Triomphe is substantially poorer for the horse the Major would have backed, Pour Moi.  The last to first run in the derby was über impressive and I had this one down as the Arc winner for some time – Alas injury means we are missing Pour Moi.

There is however quality left in abundance and the Major’s heart flutters at the prospect of this years renewal, it is good to be alive, n’est pas?

The Arc Market.

The market is 7/2 bar and this gives plenty of punting opportunity.  Workforce is the horse that some cannot make up their minds about, 5/1 to 7/1 are both available.

Horse Price
Sarafina 7/2
So You Think 5
Nathaniel 5
Reliable Man 7
Workforce 5
Galikova 7
Meandre 14
Hiruno DAmour 16
Snow Fairy 25
Sea Moon 16
Nakayama Festa 25

Sarafina 7/2 – The Aga Khan Power Mare ****

Sarafina deserves to be favourite in the Majors view.  Her win the last weekend in one of the two Arc trials was superb.   That said, the Aga Khan was lucky to keep the race in the Majors view.  The french stewards have itchy trigger fingers and there is no doubt Sarafina barged her way through a non-existent hole to win.

That is what made her trial win in the Prix Foy so appealing to the Majors eye, she had already quickened to contend and then had the nerve and the power to come away again from the leaders.

She has not raced against three-year olds which puts a slight dampener on the form but she looks the best middle distance racer in France.  Last year she may well have been a contender at the finish but for a shocking traffic problem turning for home – She almost hit the deck and rallied impressively to make third.  In one sense this also troubles the Major, is she the sort to find trouble again?  The Arc is the sort of race that needs a jockey cute to positioning and while Sarafina has the bravery, I just have this odd feeling that she might get herself into a hole again, after all she managed it on Sunday with just 4 runners!!….. instinct.

Overall, a significantly considered horse.

Workforce 5/1-7/1 – Sir Michael Stoutes Reigning Champion***

Last years Arc winner returns as a four-year old and fair play to Prince Khalid Abdullah who could easily have retired the star at the end of his classic season.  On behalf of all racing fans, thank you.

This season has been a bit of a mixed bag.  Firstly, a Sandown Group 3 on soft was won with a pleasing enough reappearance.  Then came the Sandown showdown with So You Think where the latter got the better in a decent duel.  So You Think seemed to hold Workforce comfortably that day but three vital things will be in Workforces favour on Arc day.

Firstly he has won at Longchamp.  Secondly, the ground is likely to be soft and I think that will suit Workforce.  Finally the Sandown showdown was over 1m 2f, a distance probably on the sharp side for last years Arc champion.

Workforce was also beaten in this years King George by Nathaniel.  The Major put Nathaniel up that day and was delighted to see the game three-year old hold on.  Watching that race, Workforce looked a lively threat closing to within a length before swinging wildly across the track.

I am not sure Nathaniel would have broken had Workforce stayed straight but clearly the veering was a concern.  It normally shows a horse where something is wrong.  Perhaps the King George run was not 100% Workforce.  Furthermore, the ground was a rattling good that day and I am fairly sure, Workforce will go better on soft.

Overall there are too many questions about Workforce to allow the Major to back him.

So You Think – 5/1 Ballydoyle’s Aussie Import **

So You Think is tentatively one that the Major rules out at this early stage.  This might seem harsh given the Aussie import, touted as one of the worlds best horses has had a terrific season and done little wrong.  He is also a lovely looking dark horse.

His only defeat in Europe was in the Prince of Wales at Ascot where Rewilding, hardly the sort that the worlds best horse should be beaten by, got up close home to defeat So You Think.  Ryan Moore was generally lambasted for the ride.  He did send So You Think off pretty far from home to bring the bacon in and I am sure he would have held onto him for longer if he had the chance again.

Last time out, So You Think knuckled down incredibly well to see off a rampant Snow Fairy.  What is not to like?

Well two things make him an uncomfortable proposition for the Major.  Firstly, he has had a long season, the Arc will be his 6th race and a couple of them, including the last have been hard work.  The second related fact is that I prefer my Arc horse to have had an entire season pointing at Longchamp.  It was only today that connections of So You Think finally committed to the race.

This last issue prevails for the Major.  It has not been a superb season for the Ballydoyle team, I suspect that they wanted other viable Arc candidates from the likes of Recital but have ended up with just one horse that has shown the likely form.

Reliable Man – 7/1 Prix de Jockey Club Champion **

The first three-year old to review and for that reason alone a plus.  This years classic generation have been simply superb, it has been a good year indeed.

This horse has to be taken incredibly seriously in the Majors view.  The Prix Niel Arc trial Group 2 win last weekend was impressive for two reasons, firstly it is always a terrific pointer to the big day and secondly, Reliable Man was eased at the finish.  Impressive.

This winner stamped himself as a star when taking the Prix de Jockey Club which to be fair was probably not the strongest renewal.

Positives include the fact that ground will not be a problem if it gets soft and a likeable attitude.

The factors that put the Major off tipping Reliable Man are that his form is not very well tied into the leading British horses or older french horses.  I am also unsure that this one has quite the turn of foot required to win an Arc, he has not shown a Sarafina type turn of foot.  He is gritty though.

Overall, I find his price short enough and so cannot tip him for the Arc.

Nathaniel – 5/1 The Improver *** 11/2

On the 13th August 2010, a maiden was run in which Nathaniel finished second .  I do not have enough superlatives to describe Frankel but suffice to say it was the only time he has ever gone off at odds against!  7 wins later, we know that maiden in the warm early evening light of Newmarket was a remarkable affair even if the good denizens of HQ did not fully realise at the time!

Nathaniel has hardly done the form any harm himself!  A second runner up spot in his juvenile year hardly pointed to the horse being world class but whatever happened over the winter, Nathaniel landed in the spring of 2011.

He took his first race a class 5 Haydock maiden in eye-catching style.  Then a runner-up in the Chester vase, a course I am not convinced would have suited him.  If the result looked OK, it was franked firmly when the horse that got the better of him.

Treasure Beach, went on to be runner-up in a brave run in the Derby only defeated by the flashing Pour Moi and the exuberant teenager Mikael Barzalona.

Nathaniel missed the Derby and went straight to Group 2 handicap company at Ascot.  The way he won that day makes you wonder if connections wish they had supplemented him for the derby.

Then came his real day of glory.  The King George is a flagship race and his beating of Workforce and St Nicholas Abbey in receipt of 12lbs was still impressive.  As mentioned above, Workforce may not have been at his best that day, on Arc day he will be in receipt of a slightly less generous weight for age allowance.

It is insanely difficult to overlook Nathaniel as a credible threat as this years three-year olds have consistently proven their elders wrong.  Above So You Think, Nathaniel has been aimed at Longchamp for some time.

Considered.  Should I tip him for the Arc?  No.  Would I put you off him, no.

Galikova – 7/1 Freddy Heads Special Filly ****

Galikova enriches the race bringing a touch of Goldikovas class but she is there on utter merit.

As a half-sister of Goldikova, the wonder mare who races for identical connections, it is delightful to see her turn out, a class act of her own, she has looked top draw several times in her classic year.  Goldikova has been a reliable top class mare.  Who says Galikova will not have her day in the sun.

Her french Oaks (Prix de Diane) second looked better when she defeated the winner last time out in her Arc trial.  On a strict line of form with the yardstick Colombian, Reliable Man is under her thumb, we shall see about that on the day but she certainly has nothing to prove with regard to her right to an Arc stall..

I thought her Arc trial was a superb visual result.  She still raced keenly, perhaps wanting to get on with things and still had the energy to put the field to bed.  Given that was on soft ground, it is quite impressive.

Freddy Head will have left a bit off for the Arc too, it is not unreasonable to expect improvement, strongly considered.

Nakayama Festa – The Majors Lively 25/1 Outsider

Nakayama Festa is the final horse I offer to you under the spotlight.  The Japanese raider surprised many when second in the race last year at a tasty 22/1.

That day showed a couple of things…. firstly he is a top class animal and secondly he is fine in the usual deadening french autumnal ground.

Back in the Far East he was probably over the top when trailed off in a Japanese Group 1 last November.

Since then he has been under wraps until Arc Trial day on Sunday.  He went down fourth of four to Sarafina which is a less shocking result when you consider he led, setting himself up for the closer.  While he is versatile, his best performances have come from off the pace and so it was, in one sense, surprising to see him bowl along in his Arc trial.

A few things strike me.  Firstly, that a few lengths defeat to Sarafina is not in itself a terrible result.  Soft ground presents no problem.  I very much like the fact that Nakayama Festa has been entirely aimed at the Arc this year.  He has had the french prep run and that is his lot.

More should come on the big day and at 25/1 there is plenty of value in this runner.

Summary My Tip for the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe

Class horses win the Arc.  You have to look for those you genuinely think have the utter quality.

I also want a horse that was always aimed at Longchamp, not one that may have had other options.

My conclusion is that Galikova represents the best value.  Sarafina certainly was beautiful on the eye but I worry she might find more trouble.

In a year where three-year olds have dominated, I want one on my side in the Arc and I am going for the headlining result of Galikova doing the business with all of her allowances.  Ground is not a problem and the Major thinks a general 7/1 is utterly reasonable.  8/1 is available with Corals – Have a slice and thank me later.

Remember the Major had this right with Workforce last year, it is one of my favourite races, understandably.

If you fancy a lively price, I would tip up Nakayama Festa who is 33/1 with Hills.

Sarafina and Nathaniel are evidently the others I considered putting up as my Arc tip.  So You Think and Workforce are the two I consider over-priced.

One final horse I have not run a deeper profile on in this post is Sea Moon.  This one was so fancied in the run up to the St Leger but ground went against.  On the day I thought he had a chance of catching Masked Marvel with a clear run, he did not get one.  At 20/1, he is considered but has not shown enough.

Courage and shuffle those cards.

The Saturday Service – shortened – Workforce to win the Eclipse!

Workforce winning the Derby, have people forgotten how good he is?

Good morning fair punters of this land from a muggy Birmingham where the Major recovers from a boozy day at Headingley yesterday.

Last week I struck lucky, something that does not happen often in any of our lives.  On Twitter (the Major is @tdl123), the fine people at Sportingbet.com were inviting guesses at total runs in Englands 20/20 with Sri Lanka.  The Major threw a dart at it and hit the bull.  Well to be fair I was one run off but this was close enough to pick up a pair of Headingley tickets!  Great day, brilliant weather, great Jaya performance, cracking atmosphere – Thank you to Sportingbet.com

Headingley only have one international all year and that was it.  This is causing some consternation in Yorkshire who would be used to a greater share of the ODI / 20/20 and test matches against India and Sri Lanka this year.  I do not know how the ECB choose their venues but if it has anything to do with the speed at which a venue can dish out beer to a madding throng, then Headingley are lucky to have one.  40 minute beer queues, incredible a major sporting venue cannot get that sorted.

Only a brief post today.  The Major promises to do a bit more work.  A friend has asked me to assess the Chepstow card on 8th July which I will do in full.  I will also get around to updating the stats too – Today is a busy day though and I have reconciled myself to just a few titbits to circulate.

The Eclipse – Workforce v So You Think

This really is a mouthwatering prospect.  So You Think the Aussie superstar in the Ballydoyle camp and Workforce our own superb 2010 derby winner who went on to win an Arc.

In all honestly, I would be 5/4 the pair.  Both have shown absolutely terrific form.  So You Thinks recent Royal Ascot defeat to Rewilding was probably more to do with tactics than ability and I am sure that connections (Heffernan gets the ride today) think the same, reverting back to Seamie who has won on the horse earlier in the season.

Workforce won his Grp 3 reappearance in satisfactory yet unspectacular style, he is entitled to strip much fitter for that.  Stoute who was on the cold list, struck yesterday with Class is Class to put some fear of his recent form to bed.

On balance, I have to be on Workforce at 7/4.  I was advising on the twitter feed to back at 2/1 two days back and the slight contraction in price is not enough to double up my recommendation. 

It promises to be an absolute cracking renewal of the Eclipse.  Sri Putra may not be too far off at fancy prices.  It seems to me that this one runs better, the better the quality of the opposition.  If there were an eight runner field then you might be tempted.

As for the market, well I cannot understand it.  OK, So You Think is a class act and it is hugely exciting to have him in Europe for the season.  I think we are getting carried away though and Workforce is his match in my view.  Workforce is equally top class and  would not be surprised to see him win a second Arc.  9/2 is his current price for that but that might be a distant dream if he beats So You Think well today.  I hope he does and then I would like to see both Pour Moi and Workforce settle down with 300 yards to go on a lovely crisp Parisien afternoon in October!

Andy Murray

If I say that I shed no tear over Murrays semi final defeat, then you know which side of the fence the Major sits on this marmite man – I was supporting our Andy, all the way to the Semi Finals!  Nadal was always the class act, as I tweeted t’other week, 9/4 was the time to back Nadal like men.

Lancashire Oaks

2.50 Haydock – I have settled on Dorcas Lane to win the Lancashire Oaks at 15/2.

The only three year old with a squeak, the weight allowance looks handy.  I think the Royal Ascot form was rock solid and the bare result does not tell the whole tale.  After breaking poorly, she hung in the closing stages but still forged a clear third with some decent sorts well behind.

Win bet.

Just a short post today, apologies if you were expecting more.  I suggest beans on toast for dinner, you can see how busy I am.

Roll those dice.

Cracking Sporting Weekend – Superb Target Rich Gambling Environment

Well good morning from fine Pershore where the leaden sky carries the weight of the Majors thoughts.  Last time out, we had a couple of horse winners but overall recorded a loss, with a particularly poor set of football bets, amends shall be made, the record will be set straight.

The coffee has been consumed, the research conducted and now it is decision time concerning the opportunities to give that duality of an existence, our friend and enemy, the turgid bookmaker; a good tanking.

I was pleased to see Mancini as short at 9/4 for the next manager for the chop.  This was advised at 25/1 by the Major in the post Triumph and Disaster.  Manchester City are not a good outfit.  Their best player wants to go and they seem incapable of fielding their best side and motivating them to put a shift of work in.  It would not surprise me to see West Brom beat them on Sunday and the 25/1 advice turn into a tasty little winner.

There is such a fantastic plethora of sporting opportunity this weekend for the Major.  On track we have the Breeders Cup (will Workforce go?), Hanagan versus Hughes,  and Kauto Stars run at Down Royal (Hurricane permitting!) – Some tidy looking premier league games, rugby, cricket warm up matches….. let’s start with the fussball.

A couple of no bets for me are Stoke and Fulham.  Sunderland were shocking in their derby game and I was very tempted to put Stoke up at 3/1 but for three factors.  One, Bruce is a decent manager who will have read the riot act to his players, Gyan is making his debut and looks decent to me and Stoke are crap.

Fulham could beat Villa who are winless in four and are missing their main three strikers in Carew, Heskey and Agbonlahor.  However, Fulhams own form is shocking, they have not won in five fixtures which included West brom, West Ham and Stoke….. I’ll sit that out too although a draw at 23/10 could be the result.

Lets have a look at some I will back.  Spurs at Bolton is a tight call but I think pricing Spurs at 6/4 gives enough incentive to follow Harrys boys.  I have no qualms about the Inter effect as Tottenham have rebounded from all of their European exploits well this season.  I am more concerned about Boltons organised outfit starving a decent Spurs team, particularly in the absence of Van der Vaart who I have been advising as 1st goalscorer to anyone that will listen, small bet advised on a spurs win.

A larger chunk of your role should be placed on Birmingham beating West Ham.  West Ham are missing one of their two influential midfielders in Noble and may also be without Upson.  This is quality they cannot afford to lose.  Birmingham have Jerome returning who will link up with the giant Zigic well and they should create chances through Hleb and Beausejour.  21/20 is available from Hills, evens is the general price, load the big guns.

Chelsea also look a good bet at Liverpool at a price of 11/10.  Let’s face facts, Chelsea would be clear odds on if Liverpool had not recovered to win 3-1 in midweek.  That game showed Liverpool for what they are, poor but with a world-class centre midfielder.  With Torres looking shoddy, I cannot imagine a scenario in which Liverpool win.  I accept that spirits may have been raised by two wins in a row and I know that Chelsea are not playing their best stuff either but I do fancy the boys in blue to raise their game in the Anfield clash tomorrow, confident suggestion.

Aidy Boothroyd is doing a great job at unfashionable Coventry and I would fancy them to win their third league game on the trot at home to a travel happy Leeds outfit.  7/5 represents a decent price.  It is no fluke that Coventry are fourth and although Leeds are just 4 points off them – Coventry won nicely at Sheffield United last time out, a price of 7/5 suggests Coventry would only win this five times out of twelve clashes, I think the numbers are in our favour. 

East Fife have appointed a new boss and the bounce back factor could make 15/8 a tidy price as they entertain a decent Alloa – Stick this in your multiples.

The Autumn internationals of the eggball sort see England entertain the All Blacks today at Twickenham.  I think the 11/2 for home victory may be a shade generous.  OK, you must fancy the All Blacks but there is reason for hope.  Sheridans return will bolster a front line and the England team seemed to be improving as the six nations developed.  It is a long way back to the last England defeat of New Zealand but allow yourself a patriotic one on this with a little touch of hope.

On track today, there is an awesome line up.  Let’s start Stateside with the always superb Breeders Cup meeting.  8 races, 6 Grade 1, 2 Grade 2!

Last night Midday failed to get up to win, finishing second in what I thought was Britains best idea of a Churchill Downs winner on the card.  Tonight, Sir Michael Stoute is still to decide about the participation of Workforce.  What a fuss he is making over the firm conditions.  Why he does not state his position I am unclear.  All week he has complained about the track and put forward that workforce is an uncertain runner without offering certainty over what conditions he sees fit to run his star.  It would be a travesty if Workforce did not run and I believe he will.  Sir Michael is lining up his excuses in my view but I am hoping he does not need any.

The most exciting horse in the world runs in the Breeders Cup Classic (10.45pm) and I think everyone will want Zenyatta to win her toughest ever test.  She has won 19 from 19 in her amazing career to stretch this to 20 on a surface she is unproven on against the colts is a big ask but then thats what the superstar equine performers do, perform miracles.  My heart pleads for Zenyatta the machine to win (Trainer of Lookin at Lucky Bob Baffert said: When you see her go by horses, its like watching a killer whale play with seals).  However, my head says Quality Road may do it from the front.  He will be ridden aggressively and all I can hope is that Zenyatta comes hard at him in the straight and overpowers him for victory, it is all she deserves but 8/1 each way Quality Road for me.  Zenyatta could be vulnerable, it is famously more difficult to suit her style of finishing kick with the dirt surface that just gives horses slightly less traction…. I hope my gambling instinct is wrong.

In the preceeding race, Workforce is 7/4 to win the turf race which I think is a vulnerable price.  Al Khali at 14/1 is preferred.

Another cracking match bet in the 8.40 where two great rivals meet again – Who would tip Paco Boy to finally have an overdue and deserved victory against Goldikova?  At 6/1 an each way steal is available (Laddies), have some of that. 

While the flat world stars of Zenyatta, Workforce (my Arc winner), Goldikova and the like star at Churchill Downs, Kauto makes his usual debut at Down Royal in the JNwine.com.

4/6 on is not a bad price for Kauto who, as long as the Cheltenham form has not damaged his confidence and as long as he retains a half of his ability, should win comfortably – That said, I would want to see the weather conditions first.  There are some interesting competitors and I make Sizing Europe an awful 4/1 shot.  Killyglen, I suspect may still come good and China Rock at 13/2 is certain to put in a decent run.  Come on Kauto, put the pretenders to bed early and then lets see you next at Kempton on Boxing Day for a famous punch up with Long Run. 

As an early season race, I like the Badger Ales run at Wincanton (3.20pm).  Todays contest has some tasty runners and I like the chances of i’moncloudnine for Mulholland.  He is not my selection though.  After considering the Package who is a worthy favourite, my eye wandered to the pleasing sight of Meanus Dandy.  Nicholls loves taking this race and Meanus has had a sharpening spin already.  OK, it is a concern that he goes for headgear but a worth claimer in Popham talking 5lbs off an already handy 10s 2lb puts him right in it.  8/1 is available in many places.

The 2.10 Elite Hurdle at Wincanton has a host of potential winners in my view.  No doubt Australia Day has excellent claims and Ashkazar who won well for me at Cheltenham in April could be in the frame on one of his going days.  There is a horse I like in this race though that will be suited by the style it will be run.  There are so many front-runners (like Barizan) that pace is certain – This could set it up beautifully or the closing Nearby who can be found offered at 7/1 with our friends SportingBet.

Doncasters big November handicap offers a puzzle with 23 potential winners.  I plum for a wonderfully priced Lethal Glaze at 22/1 – TAKE THIS WITH SKYBET WHO OFFER 5 PLACES.  Lethal Glaze has been kept racing and I think new connections may get the best from a horse that shows glimpses of being decent.  I would advise a saver on Senate who at 6/1 with Ladbrookes will be a big threat for a stable that likes to compete for this £62k handicap.  

The Nap is a double on Chelsea and Birmingham City.  May your weekend be made more joyous with the uncomfortable bulk of a large roll of notes dispensed by your turf accountant – If he cries, tell him to man up… this is merely the start, you are one of the Majors s and we shall return.  May your dinner be french and good, something gamey.  Why not have a nice Brandy as an aperitif and a digestif too, surely that’s what Jesus would do.

Workforce wins the Arc

Apologies to followers last weekend – Ipswich could only draw after I stongly advised the 6/4 price and the other advised bets didn’t do much better. 

The Major is nothing if not reflective at these times and my advice is to get on Workforce for the Arc and bet like a man with bullet proof kahunas.

Workforces derby win was a record time and the fifth in the King George was too bad to be true.   Connections reactions demonstrated that it was not a fair reflection of ability on the day.

Conditions will be fine and this is a poor Arc.  It is a poorer race for the loss of a few horses, none more than Harbinger. 

 Surely Workforce could show his true colours on Sunday.  13/2 is the best price available at this moment with VC Bet – Have £20 and thank me later!!