Archive for the ‘ Bluesq ’ Category

05 Jan
2013

Tea Party The Most Likely Outcome In Chepstow Marathon

It may be some nine days later than originally advertised, but the weather has relented and Chepstow’s Welsh National is good to go, with a field of 17 likely to line up for today’s extended 3m 5f test, live on Channel 4 at 3.20pm.

It’s a race which holds good memories for me, with my own family’s runner Le Beau Bai seeing it out best in mud up to his ears to win the race under Charlie Poste 12 months ago.

Sadly injury means a he’s unable to defend his title a year on, but all being well he’ll be back in December to try and reclaim the crown from this weekend’s hero.

So who will it be in his absence?

There are some quality challengers attempting to snaffle this season’s £51,255 winner’s prize, but surely none more so than clear favourite Teaforthree.

Trained in Wales by the ever improving Rebecca Curtis, Teaforthree did this column a mighty favour when taking the four miler at the Cheltenham Festival 10 months ago, and that very blend of stamina combined with a love of testing ground could make him hard to beat.

First of all the negatives regarding Teaforthree:

1. The stats are not great for horses that run in the Hennessy and then bid to win a Welsh National, but those doubts are countered firstly by AP McCoy not being overly hard on him when his chance had gone at Newbury (finished sixth, beaten 27 lengths by a horse who’s now Gold Cup favourite), and secondly by the fact the aforementioned weather delay has played directly into Curtis’s hands, granting her valuable extra time to help him recover between races.

2. The price: at the time of writing the 7/2 available with William Hill is the best in the village, though this may be taken on when the firms stage their weekly Saturday morning price war from 8.30am. It might not be a flashy double figure quote, but in light of the ensuing list of positives, perhaps it’s understandable!

3. Two runs this season have resulted in comprehensive defeats at Cheltenham (8th) and Newbury (6th), with an aggregate beaten total of 67 lengths. However, Curtis has been quick to defend those, suggesting this is a horse who has always needed a couple of runs to bring him to concert pitch. Do the stats back this up? Emphatically yes…season 2010/11 saw his first win of the campaign arrive on his third run. Season 2011/12 saw his first win of the campaign arrive on….you’ve guessed it….run number three.

More positives:

1. His form figures in four career starts at Chepstow read: 2,3,1,1.

2. The presence of Across The Bay means Teaforthree will carry a more attractive racing weight of 11st 3lbs.

3. AP McCoy is on board.

4. Stamina is assured.

5. He is proven on Heavy ground at Chepstow.

Given the likelihood of improvement from Newbury now he returns to his favourite track, plus the extra gap between races, he really does appear to be the most likely solution.

Granted it’s not the boldest of selections, but among the opposition the admirable Giles Cross is now 11 and hasn’t seen the track since April, whilst his trainer has openly admitted he’d have loved him to have managed a prep race. Victor

Dartnall was desperately unlucky to see his string hit by an outbreak of equine herpes, and he’d be a hugely popular winner here the veteran with Giles Cross, but his string that have been in action in recent days have mainly been in need of a run, so he is passed over.

Alfie Spinner heads to Sandown Park, Sona Sasta has to prove he stays beyond three miles, Master Overseer pulled up in this in 2011 before winning the Midlands National, but never runs two races alike, Universal Soldier has done well for Charlie Longsdon but has twice been well beaten by Teaforthree, Across The Bay has been in brilliant form and loves the ground but faces a Herculean task under 11st 12lbs, while Monbeg Dude faces a hike in class.

I’ll be there to help saddle a really tough and hardy sort in the shape of Incentivise, a horse who’s returned to form this time around with wins at Bangor and Fontwell.

He’s a few pounds out of the handicap proper, but young Killian Moore can do the weight and takes seven off, meaning he’s only a pound wrong.

One of Incentivise’s owners is a proud Welshman from Cardiff, a massive supporter of the sport who has always wanted to have a runner in the race.

His horse will be far be disgraced if his home work is anything to go by, and will enjoy the ground and is in really good shape, but being realistic if he could bag a place we’d all be elated, though don’t be too surprised if he does exactly that given how he managed third in a Classic Chase at Warwick in 2011 off a higher mark.

However, they might all be playing for places behind the exciting nine year old Teaforthree, and it looks like the bookies have got it spot on in making him their 7/2 market leader.

Elsewhere around there’s some decent sport around the country, and Joanne Foster’s Peaks Of Fire can return to winning ways in Newcastle’s two mile 0-115 Handicap Hurdle at 1.05pm.

A winner for Tim Vaughan at Uttoxeter in the summer, he loves this ground and was only just found wanting when his stamina ran out over 2m 3f at Market Rasen on Boxing Day.

A return to the minimum trip and Sam Drake’s seven pound claim could be just what’s needed, especially as he’s up against an odds on favourite who probably didn’t win a great race last time – Nicky Richards’s One For Harry is a 10/11 shot overnight, but only won a handicap at Sedgefield where the second, third, fourth and sixth places horses have all run since and been beaten.

For that reason alone the value lies in the 7/2 about Peaks Of Fire with Paddy Power or BetVictor.

Lastly, I can pass on a good word for John Francome’s runner Poet in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown Park (2.25pm).

This is a stern test of his Cheltenham Festival credentials against some potential top notchers, but he’s guaranteed to act on the ground, did it well on his hurdling debut, and was useful on the Flat.

The dream might end here, but I can’t resist throwing a few quid in his direction at 7/2 with any of Blue Square, Boylesports or Ladbrokes.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

1.05 Newcastle – Straightline Construction Handicap Hurdle – 2 Peaks Of Fire (win) @ 7/2 (Paddy Power or BetVictor)

2.25 Sandown Park – Tolworth Hurdle – 6 Poet (win) @ 7/2 (Blue Square or Ladbrokes)

3.20 Chepstow – Coral Welsh National Handicap Chase – 3 Teaforthree (win) @ 7/2 (William Hill)

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Posted 4 years, 8 months ago

23 Nov
2012

Saphir A 7/1 Sparkler On A Statuesque Haydock Saturday

Kauto Star fans need look no further than Haydock Park on Saturday, with the now-retired four-time Betfair Chase winner returning to the scene of several of his finest hours, appearing live on Channel 4’s Morning Line, before a statue of the great horse is unveiled in the company of his owner Clive Smith on the show.

Betfair Chase day is always heaving at the Newton-le-Willows venue – indeed last year’s running witnessed scenes of unbridled joy, akin to Desert Orchid’s Gold Cup win, when the then 11-year-old Kauto fended off Long Run and co – and the return of the great horse only heightens anticipation ahead of this year’s renewal.

Six go to post for the feature race at 3.05pm (live on C4), but immediately prior to that a quality field of 16 are declared for the three mile Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle, with the weights topped by 142-rated trio Trustan Times, Coral Cup winner Son Of Flicka, plus Grand National second Sunnyhillboy.

Three miles is going to take some getting with the ground riding on the testing side of Soft, but that’s unlikely to be a problem where Lucinda Russell’s mud-loving Saphir River is concerned.

Formerly housed with French trainer Carlos Lerner, Saphir River’s form across the channel is fascinating: the grey has won on Heavy at Auteuil, stays three miles, and two year’s ago got to within a head of subsequent Supreme Novices’ Hurdle second Spirit Son at Auteuil, the same Spirit Son who went on to destroy the likes of Cue Card and future Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby in an Aintree Grade 2!

The very same race saw him finish ahead of third-placed Barbatos – now with Ian Williams – a horse who last winter found only Fingal Bay too good at the Cheltenham November Meeting, and then returned there on New Year’s Day to bolt up by seven lengths in a hot race.

That’s one piece of form that provides plenty of encouragement for fans of Saphir River, but more pleasing is his recent transfer to the crack Scottish stable of Lucinda Russell.

A short spell with Michael Scudamore was promising, but the switch north of the border has clearly eked out further improvement: on debut for Russell this fella hacked up in a beginners’ chase at Uttoxeter over two miles (Soft), winning with any amount up his sleeve.

The brush hurdles and a step up in trip on his favoured surface look sure to suit, and it’s possible this young horse could be thrown in off a mark of 139.

The 7/1 available each way with any of Blue Square, Coral or Paddy Power looks perfectly acceptable in an open contest.

Just over half an hour later we’re guaranteed a new name on the trophy for the Grade 1 Betfair Chase (live on C4, 3.05pm), with 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011 winner Kauto Star happily putting his feet up in richly earned retirement.

A select field of six are due to line up to fight it out for a first prize worth a whopping £112,540 to the winner, and the betting is headed by last year’s runner up Long Run.

The 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner failed to scale the same dizzy heights in the 2011/12 season, being beaten by Kauto in both this race and the King George, before a supposed confidence booster at Newbury produced a laboured half length defeat of stablemate Burton Port, who by way of mitigation was in receipt of 10lbs, but equally was rated 22lbs inferior.

The Gold Cup itself saw Long Run sent off 7/4 jolly to secure a second win in the race, but he could manage only third to the ill-fated Synchronised, with the re-opposing The Giant Bolster improving into second.

With that in mind this represents a bit of a retrieval mission for a horse officially rated at least 10lbs superior to his five rivals (178).

What’s more, amateur pilot Sam Waley-Cohen has had only a scattering of rides since the spring, and here he pits his wits against the likes of Ruby Walsh, Tom Scudamore and Jason Maguire.

This is in no way a dig at Sam, lest we forget he’s a King George and Gold Cup winning pilot, but nonetheless it could be a factor that he isn’t coming here with the benefit of regular match practice.

The vibes in this week’s markets haven’t been great, indeed Long Run has been markedly easy to back on the exchanges, and with the ground liable to make this an attritional test, the percentage call is to fish in deeper waters for one at a bigger price.

Of the opposition Paul Nicholls must be thrilled with the way Silvinaco Conti signed off with a thumping win in a Grade 2 Novices’ Chase at Aintree in the spring, and then reappeared in cruise control when jumping accurately to take the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby three weeks ago.

He has to be a live danger, as does the fragile but talented Weird Al, who’s definitely best caught fresh and goes on the ground, but at at a really tempting price the one I keep coming back to, time and time again, is unfashionable Gloucestershire trainer David Bridgwater’s The Giant Bolster.

A winner on Heavy ground over hurdles, this six year old Black Sam Bellamy gelding did nothing but improve last season, winning a handicap at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day, and then going on to beat Long Run when sent off at 50/1 for the Gold Cup.

The form is in the book, he’s not rated 164 by mistake, and there could be even more to come from him this winter, starting here.

He’d surely be a shorter price if he was trained by a more celebrated outfit, but ‘Bridgy’ is no-ones fool, and will have his stable star fit and ready to go.

At 13/2 with Stan James he’s a great price to prove his Gold Cup display was no fluke.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

2.30 Haydock – Betfair. Don’t Settle For Less “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle – 6 Saphir River (each way) @ 7/1 (Blue Square, Coral or Paddy Power)

3.05 Haydock – Betfair Chase – 4 The Giant Bolster (win) @ 13/2 (Stan James)

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Posted 4 years, 10 months ago

23 Nov
2012

All Or Nothing At Ascot This Afternoon

The rain which has been battering large parts of the UK (Ffos Las abandoned today) has failed to drown Ascot, and they race this afternoon at the Berkshire track on ground officially given as Good to Soft.

I’m off to Haydock and will be holding fire on Saturday’s selections until we can get a grip on how they’re getting through what are set to be very testing conditions, but no such problems apply at Ascot, and at a double figure price Gloucestershire trainer David Bridgwater’s All For Free could be worth chancing in an open renewal of the 2m 3f 0-135 handicap chase at 2.40pm.

Unlike favourite Kapga De Cerisy who is having just his second start over the larger obstacles All For Free has plenty of experience (8 starts including two wins & two seconds over fences), and is a recent course winner at Ascot.

Second favourite Royale’s Charter is heading up the weights after winning a couple of weaker events at Worcester and Taunton, whereas the handicapper has shown All For Free a little bit of mercy and dropped him a couple of pounds to 124.

That handicap mark leaves him with a perfectly workable racing weight of 11.4, and promisingly Richard Johnson is available to take the ride.

A point which certainly shouldn’t be overlooked is his new stable – David Bridgwater could be set for a pivotal weekend with The Giant Bolster capable of underlining his Gold Cup credentials in the Betfair Chase at Haydock tomorrow – and on his first chance to show what he’s done with a new recruit could well improve a horse who’s still only six years of age, but has already been through the hands of Shark Hanlon, Milton Harris and Martin Keighley.

If he has him ready to roll first time and can eke out a little bit extra from him then this is winnable – a little each way at the 12/1 available with any of Bet Victor, Blue Square, Bet365, Boylesports or William Hill might do the trick.

Good luck!

Friday’s best bet at Ascot:

2.40 – Winkworth Handicap Chase – 8 All For Free @ 12/1 (Bet Victor, Blue Square, Bet365, Boylesports or William Hill)

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Posted 4 years, 10 months ago

03 Nov
2012

Trials & Tribulations At Wetherby – Saturday’s Best Bets

Picturesque Wetherby gets a rare turn in the spotlight this afternoon, with the Yorkshire track playing host to the Grade 2 Bet365 Charlie Chase at 3.25pm, with the Channel 4 cameras in attendance for three live races.

It might be hemmed in by the A1, but this card always produces a packed crowd and a boisterous atmosphere, and it really is a cracking place to enjoy an afternoon’s racing if you’ve never been.

Ground at Wetherby today is Good to Soft (Soft in places in the back straight), and although the big race has cut up to just six runners with the likes of Weird Al, First Lieutenant and Diamond Harry not turning up, it remains a select but quality field.

Having been available at much bigger (7/2 antepost) odds earlier in the week Paul Nicholls’ Silviniaco Conti is the raging hot favourite to justify favouritism in the hands of Ruby Walsh, after the pair trounced Champion Court by a whopping 13 lengths in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree in April.

Nicholls will be hoping he can fill the departing Kauto Star’s shoes – he looks a genuine top notcher, but equally he is taking on some battle hardened campaigners first time out, and what’s more is no bigger than 11/8 in a hot race.

Philip Hobbs’ Planet Of Sound is a an obvious danger and was second on his seasonal reappearance in the Hennessy last year, plus he clearly goes very well fresh, having last been seen when failing so stay the marathon trip in the National.

Of the others Midnight Chase has a penalty to carry but might be difficult to pass if he can find his rhythm, adopting his usual bold front-running tactics.

However, at 9/2 with William Hill one who might have been overlooked is last year’s second Time For Rupert, a horse who’s always threatened to be seriously good, but perhaps hasn’t quite yet fulfilled his potential.

Still only eight years of age, this fella was sent off 7/4 market leader for the 2011 running of the RSA Chase, but endured a brutally hard race and was reported to have broken a blood vessel in the process.

That didn’t stop him running a cracker when sent off jolly for this race 12 months ago, but perhaps he was under something of a shadow for the remainder of the campaign.

He managed to get his head in front in a small field at Newbury just before Christmas, but couldn’t land a blow in either the Argento or the Gold Cup later on.

A decent summer break, a return to a more suitable track and a smaller field could be just what’s needed to get him to spark again, and the 9/2 with Hills about Paul Webber’s stable star Time For Rupert will do for me.

It’s another small field for the John Smith’s Hurdle at 2.50pm, with another shortie on offer in the shape of World Hurdle third Smad Place.

Alan King enjoyed a cross the card treble yesterday at Uttoxeter, Wetherby and Newmarket, and he’ll be hopeful his blistering form can continue with his exciting grey son of Smadoun.

He certainly is a horse to look forward to this season, but if there’s a day to try and find a bit of value against him then perhaps this is it, with Malcolm Jefferson’s Cape Tribulation poised to provide a thorough examination.

Both come here rated 158, with Cape Tribulation a notable improver in the spring after achieving a notable double when scoring at both Cheltenham and Aintree, first in the Pertemps Final, and then in the Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle.

He ran very well at Wetherby on his only visit (second in the Towton Novices’ Chase), and crucially is tuned up for this after a recent second on the Flat at York.

Maybe that race fitness edge could prove decisive, and at 7/2 with any of Bet Victor, Blue Square, Sportingbet or William Hill he’ll do for me.

Finally, have a look at Northumberland trainer Pauline Robson’s Shanen in the opener at Ayr (1.00pm).

You couldn’t help but be blown away by his bumper win at Sedgefield in May, pulling clear in the manner of a horse going places.

He followed up at Perth 16 days later, again winning easily.

If he can jump then this maiden hurdle will be a similar demolition job.

Good luck!

Today’s best bets:

1.00 Ayr – John Smith’s Maiden Hurdle – 11 Shanen (win) @ Evs (Bet365 or Skybet)

2.50 Wetherby – John Smith’s Hurdle – 2 Cape Tribulation (win) @ 7/2 (Bet Victor, Blue Square, or William Hill)

3.25 Wetherby – Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase – 3 Time For Rupert (win) @ 9/2 (William Hill)

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Posted 4 years, 10 months ago

28 Sep
2012

Cheveton Worth A Nibble In Haydock’s Joseph Heler Cheese Lester Piggott Handicap

It’ll definitely be a case of ‘fast ground lovers need not apply’ at Haydock Park on Saturday afternoon, with the sustained recent rainfall turning it into a real test, with the ground officially given as Heavy (Sinking a distinct possibility in places).

I may have made the last bit up, but you get the picture…

A tractor is one guaranteed way to get through it, the other is to back confirmed mudlark and Haydock course specialist Cheveton in the Joseph Heler Cheese Lester Piggott Handicap at 3.15pm (live on Channel 4).

Rumour has it he wears an oxygen tank and flippers on the gallops to simulate race conditions like those he’ll encounter here!

Herefordshire trainer Richard Price has skilfully coaxed the eight year old back to form in recent weeks, seeing him finish second on Soft ground at Ffos Las a fortnight ago, and then run a cracker to be second to Jack Dexter in the Ayr Bronze Cup last Saturday.

Given that this horse won the Bronze Cup in 2010 and then won the Silver Cup in 2011 we know he saves some his best performances for Ayr, but he also relishes a trip to Haydock, winning there in three of his four career starts, including in this race in 2010.

That has to be a tip in itself – he won this off 92 two years ago, and now gets to line up off a mark 83 on a day when the conditions might as well have been purposely created for him, and he’s back in rude health and something approaching top form.

It’s only fair to acknowledge that he was well beaten in this a year ago when sent off 5/1 market leader, but that was off a mark 10 pounds higher than now, and he seems to get on like a house on fire with new pilot Tadhg O’Shea.

Drawn 11 there should be plenty of pace for him to exploit early doors, and the drop back to five furlongs should be ideal.

Granted a bit of luck in-running he’s certainly entitled to be bang there in the thick of it, and at an early price of 7/1 with Boylesports he’ll do nicely.

Down at Newmarket the terrain will be far more suited to the riches that are on display, with the Cambridgeshire Handicap and a pair of Group 1’s forming the bedrock of a brilliant HQ card.

There might be a value angle to be exploited in the opening Group 2 Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes at 1.55pm, with a field of nine top quality juveniles declared to do battle.

Jeremy Noseda’s unbeaten Fantastic Moon is no bigger than 25/1 for the 2,000 Guineas after winning his first two starts, while Mark Johnston’s Steeler is clearly very tough and takes his races well.

Bookmakers have based their marker around that duo, but the one who really impressed me in defeat recently was Sir Henry Cecil’s Al Waab.

A son of Danehill Dancer, he won his first two starts (both at Newmarket on the July Course) before coming up against Thursday’s highly impressive Newmarket winner Havana Gold.

Havana Gold would be unbeaten but for an unfortunate incident with a slipped saddle at Deauville in August, but next time up Al Waab gave him an almighty test at Haydock three weeks ago, getting to within a head and just failing to nail him on the line.

I especially like the way he saw out the mile at Haydock, and Newmarket’s stiff track could bring further improvement.

The ground will be fine and Tom Queally’s back in the saddle.

I definitely want to be with Al Waab at William Hill’s 13/2.

A little later in the day the Group 1 Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes (3.00pm) looks worth the admission fee alone, with the likes of Beauty Parlour, Siyouma, Chachamaidee, Up and Elusive Kate turning up.

Elusive Kate is obviously a very hardy filly, winning Longchamp’s Prix Marcel Boussac this time last year before an unhappy a trip to the Breeders’ Cup.

A long injury-laden spell on the sidelines followed, but she’s returned as good as ever this summer, finishing second in the Falmouth on her return, before a cracking effort to win the Prix Rothschild at Deauville under William Buick.

In form trainer John Gosden then allowed her to take her chance against the boys in the Prix Jacques Le Marois back at Deauville last month, and she didn’t disappoint, getting to within a length and half of the top draw Excelebration.

Her stable are on fire at the moment, Buick’s riding out of his skin, and she’s going to find this easier back against her own sex.

Bookmakers are absolutely right in showing her plenty of respect in making her 5/2 joint favourite with Beauty Parlour. Win bet.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

1.55 Newmarket – Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes – 2 Al Waab (each way) @ 13/2 (William Hill)

3.00 Newmarket – Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes – 4 Elusive Kate (win) @ 5/2 (bet365, Paddy Power, Blue Square or Bet Victor)

3.15 Haydock Park – Joseph Heler Cheese Lester Piggott Handicap – 14 Cheveton (each way) @ 7/1 (Boylesports)

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Posted 4 years, 12 months ago

28 Sep
2012

The Best Bets For Friday’s C4 Live Action At Newmarket

Quite how the downpour which has drenched vast areas of the country avoided Newmarket is anyone’s guess, but they race on ground officially given as Good on day two of the Cambridgeshire meeting at HQ, and the Channel 4 cameras are in attendance for four live races this afternoon (plus one at Haydock), kicking off with the listed Fillies & Mares listed Mawatheeq Rosemary Stakes.

Those with a long memory will recall Mawatheeq himself nearly enjoyed his finest hour at this venue when a narrow second to Twice Over in the 2009 Champion Stakes, but concentrating on the matter in hand a field of 12 are set to line up in an open looking contest at 1.45pm.

The filly in form is Roger Charlton’s Thistle Bird; a daughter of Selkirk who boasts a Group 2 second and three listed wins from her last four outings on her cv, and understandably bookmakers opt to make her the general 3/1 market leader.

Sifting through her rivals I think there might be some value to be had in taking her on with one at a double figure price, and the one that caught my eye is one of the two five year olds in the race Valencha.

Hughie Morrison’s mare hasn’t won since last October, but she’s tough and consistent, and ought to be ideally suited by this step back up in trip to a mile.

What’s more she’s been clearly unlucky in-running the last twice she’s been seen, firstly when having to be snatched up twice at Salisbury, and then markedly so 15 days ago at Doncaster when mugged in the Group 3 Sceptre Stakes.

I thought she looked the winner that day when badly checked a furlong from home, and even then she came with a late burst to grab third.

Granted a bit of good fortune and a clear passage, a reproduction of that effort would see her right in the thick of it today, and at 10/1 each way with either Betfred or Paddy Power she looks a reasonable alternative.

A mere 35 minutes later one favourite I do expect to get the job done is Brian Meehan’s Most Improved in the Group 2 Joel Stakes at 2.20pm.

Yes he has a penalty to carry for his success in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, but rarely does the winner of that race turn up here, and to my eyes they should have no fear about taking on the older horses – he’s a Group 1 horse operating at a lower level, and can stamp his authority.

Forget both of his runs in France this season – not unlike me Brian Meehan doesn’t have much hair, but he must’ve been tearing what remains out in the French derby at Chantilly, where Most Improved travelled like the wrath of God, but could find space to make a run and trailed home in 14th position.

If that’s wasn’t bad enough he was then carved up like a Sunday roast at Deauville last time out, but hopefully a rather shorter journey from Meehan’s Manton base can get him back on the winning trail.

He knows Newmarket’s Rowley Mile having finished third in last year’s Dewhurst, and can get the job done this afternoon.

Ladbrokes are best price in the village at 9/2.

The feature Group 1 Shadwell Fillies’ Mile will be the centre of attention at 2.55pm, and I think it’s fair to say everyone who loves racing is looking forward to seeing how the keenly anticipated clash between Certify and Ollie Olga plays out.

Both juveniles are unbeaten on three out of three, and their respective defeats of Richard Hannon’s very smart Sky Lantern have them just half a length apart.

Certify comes out on top on official ratings (111-105), and by half a length on a line through Sky Lantern (who has paid both of them a huge compliment by winning a Group 1 at the Curragh since then), but I just thought Ollie Olga had a lot up her sleeve when beating Sky Lantern in the Prestige Stakes at Goodwood last time, and up in trip I thought she might have plenty more to come.

Certify is generally an even money chance, whereas Ollie Olga can be supported at 100/30 with either Blue Square or Ladbrokes.

For a filly who ought to relish this first attempt at the mile trip, on a stiff track like the Rowley Mile, that looks too big a price in a race that looks set to be a thrilling match between two hot properties.

Good luck!

Friday’s best bets at Newmarket:

1.45 – Mawatheeq Rosemary Stakes – 6 Valencha (each way) @ 10/1 (Betfred or Paddy Power)

2.20 – Nayef Joel Stakes – 2 Most Improved (win) @ 9/2 (Ladbrokes)

2.55 – Shadwell Fillies’ Mile – 5 Ollie Olga (win) @ 100/30 (Blue Square or Ladbrokes)

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Posted 4 years, 12 months ago

25 Aug
2012

‘Man’ On A Mission To Win The Ebor – Saturday’s Tips

If it still seems a tad unusual building up to a Saturday Ebor rather than the traditional midweek spot, then rest assured that the big betting heat of the week has lost none of its lustre, with a field of 20 all set to line up over York’s famous 1m 6f at 3.40pm (live on Channel 4).

It’s got the makings of a cracker, with some punters considering Sir Mark Prescott’s Motivado home and hosed before the race has already been run, such is the allure of seeing a horse seemingly so far ahead of the handicapper, with just a four pound penalty for his runaway Goodwood win of three weeks ago.

What bothers me with him is not his chance but his price – 4/1 in a 20 horse race isn’t great when you stop to consider the level of opposition – though Luca Cumani’s Purple Moon was another heavily backed favourite in 2007.

He may well win as he pleases, but there are plenty of others in with a squeak…..the likes of French raider Hammerfest, who might well be carrying my cash but for a stinker of a draw in stall 21, Tim Easterby’s York specialist Crackentorp who has course form since last June of 1-1-3-1-9 but also a career high mark, Dermot Weld’s mare Sense Of Purpose who’s more used to listed and Group company than the rough and tumble of handicaps, as well as John Gosden’s very strongly fancied Camborne.

The stats tell us nine of the last 11 winners were drawn 14 or higher, although the way they seem to spread across the track nowadays perhaps makes that less of a barrier than previously.

Perhaps more compelling are the stats regarding weight carrying performances: in the last 50 years only the great Sea Pigeon in 1979 has carried more than 9st 4lbs to victory, and in fact there’s been no winner since him rated higher than 104!

If we apply that rule here then in-form 8/1 shot Camborne (9st 7lbs, rated 106) is struck off the list instantly – despite having won at Doncaster and Royal Ascot the last twice.

Clearly a good horse can make a mockery of stats, but the one I believe can give them all a headache scraped in by the skin of his teeth as a reserve.

Newmarket trainer Luca Cumani boasts two Ebor wins in the last seven runnings on his CV, with Mephisto in 2004 and Purple Moon in 2007 both getting the job done, and he’ll have been elated to see Qahriman sneak in at the foot of the weights after the defection of Harlestone Times.

The big slice of luck he had in sneaking into the race could be pivotal to the outcome of the Ebor – he’s drawn one which isn’t altogether in keeping with the high trend, but there’s a huge word around for this four year old son of Tiger Hill now he takes his place, and with rain around he’s one who’ll thrive on cut in the ground.

He won over course and distance in June to prove his suitability to the track, and has been kept back for this. He got a six pound rise to take him up to a mark of 96 – just enough!

We know he goes well fresh, has barely any miles on the clock, and has only been out of the frame once in his career.

In short an in-form, course and distance winner, with Kieren Fallon on his back, hailing from a team who know every minute detail about winning this this big prize.

His half brother Afsare was second in the Arlington Million in Chicago last Saturday – Qahriman can show him how it’s done here at 6/1 with either Sportingbet or William Hill.

On the same card some top class stayers go to war in the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup over two miles at 3.05pm, and it’ll be disappointing if John Oxx’s Saddler’s Rock can’t add to his wins in both the Doncaster Cup and the Goodwood Cup.

If anything he was dossing when he hit the front at Goodwood, but with a long home straight to assert superiority he should have too many guns for the likes of Cavalryman and Ibicenco.

It’s worth noting the record of favourites in this race over the last eight years, they’ve finished as follows: 1-3-2-1-1-2-3-1.

The price isn’t much to rave about, but if all goes to plan Blue Square, Bet Victor, Paddy Power and William Hill should all be paying out after laying the 11/8.

With rain around in Yorkshire Harris Tweed fans will be hoping there’s some left to go around down at Goodwood, where the tough front runner takes a drop in class to contest the listed Windflower March Stakes over 1m 6f at 4.30pm.

William Haggas has already bagged the Lowther with Rosdhu Queen this week, and he’ll be hoping another stable big gun can oblige here.

This horse never ever seems to run below par, and on his first start outside of Group company since September 2010 can land a second win of the season.

Paddy Power are 9/4 and that might not last long given that Boylesports are just 13/8 at the time of writing!

Also at Goodwood David O’Meara’s Powerful Presence could be the answer to the big field 7f handicap at 2.45pm.

O’Meara opts to employ the services of in-form seven pound claimer David Bergin, and that could be pivotal on a horse who’s been creeping up the weights.

Neatly in towards the foot of the handicap this horse’s form figures of this trip are a sight to behold: 1-1-2-2-2-1-1-1.

We know he’s able to cope with a range of ground, so if he handles Goodwood then this chestnut son of Refuse To Bend is capable of being involved at the business end of proceedings, priced up at an inviting 16/1 with either Blue Square or Boylesports.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

2.45 Goodwood – Betfair Summer Double Second Leg (Handicap) – 16 Powerful Presence (each way) @ 16/1 (Blue Square or Boylesports)

3.05 York – Weatherbys Insurance Lonsdale Cup – 7 Saddler’s Rock (win) @ 11/8 (Blue Square, Bet Victor, Paddy Power and William Hill)

3.40 York – Betfred Ebor (Handicap) – 21 Qahriman (win) @ 6/1 (William Hill)

4.30 Goodwood – Windflower March Stakes – 1 Harris Tweed (win) @ 9/4 (Paddy Power)

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Posted 5 years, 1 month ago

04 Aug
2012

Course Form Can Prove Key On Final Day Of Glorious Goodwood

With Tom over in Galway this week and his workload proving very demanding, he’s asked myself, Richard Smith, to step in to his shoes at the last minute to provide Saturday’s tips.

It’s been tough going finding the winners at both Galway and Goodwood this week but I’m looking to end what has been a fantastic week of racing on a winning note and as such, I will be concentrating my efforts on Saturday’s card at Goodwood.

The highlight of the week arguably came in the first Group One event of Goodwood’s five day meeting on Wednesday where Frankel obliged at odds of 1/20 to make it 12 wins from 12 starts in the Sussex Stakes, becoming the first horse in the race’s 171 year history to win twice. It now looks like Frankel’s next destination will be York for the Juddmonte International later this month, which will see the Sir Henry Cecil four year old run over 1m 2f for the first time and already the bookies are running scared, offering just 1/4 about a thirteenth straight win despite the step in to the unknown and against potential opposition of Nathaniel’s and St Nicholas Abbey’s quality.

The second Glorious Goodwood Group One contest comes in the form of the Nassau Stakes at 3:15 on Saturday afternoon where I like the look of John Gosden’s Izzi Top to fill the void made by Midday, the now retired stablemate of Frankel, who won this race three years running up until 12 months ago.

They’re certainly big shoes to fill but I am confident that Izzi Top can justify her 15/8 quote with Blue Square after it would appear the penny has finally dropped for this filly who is unbeaten on her three starts this season, all of which have been at group level, including the Group One, Pretty Polly Stakes, at the Curragh last time out where she won with something in hand.

She concedes weight to two very good three year olds in the way of stablemate, The Fugue and Aidan O’Brien’s Epsom Oaks winner, Was, but despite giving her younger rivals nine pounds, this progressive four year old can make her experience count to give her in form trainer a twelfth group win of the season.

The Stewards Cup at 3:55 looks every bit the minefield that the 28 runners going to post would suggest, however, never one to be put off by a “cavalry charge” I think there’s some value to be had by backing Goodwood specialist, Borderlescott, at 20/1 to win the race he won for the first time six years ago! That’s right, now at the age of 10, I’m still confident that there’s enough life in the legs of Robin Bastiman ‘s old boy for one last big prize.

In six career starts at the Sussex track, Borderlescott has finished in the top three on five occasions, including two wins and two further places in this race. Granted, one of those wins was his last racecourse success, coming at Glorious Goodwood in 2010 but it came in the Group Two, King George Stakes, where he beat 14 top class rivals, earning a rating of 112 in the process.

Age catches up with the best of us and as such, Borderlescott is no longer mixing it at the highest level but he is still more than capable of making his presence felt as he has shown with two seconds in stakes races so far in 2012 and has put in efforts worthy of a three figure rating, which is exactly what the handicapper has assigned him here, carrying a weight of 9-9 off a mark of 103.

There’s no doubting his love of this course as his last five runs at Goodwood have all surpassed the 103 mark and whilst age is a slight concern, I’m prepared to say he’s worth an each way bet at the 20/1 on offer with Bet365 or Skybet about making it in to the top five (both firms offering enhanced place terms).

Despite boasting only half the size of the Stewards Cup field, the 2:40, Toyo Tires Performance Stakes, has an equally competitive feel to it with bookmakers going 11/2 the field but one in which I think another horse with proven course form can do the business. The Amanda Perrett trained Roxy Flyer has two wins to her name at Goodwood and ability to handle the undulating track could prove crucial in landing the £24,000 first prize.

A repeat of the credible sixth she ran over course and distance in the Group Three, Lillie Langrty Stakes, at this meeting 12 months ago would put her bang in contention back in handicap company as she seeks her first win in 12 starts. However, three seconds from her last four outings, including a promising seasonal reappearance at Kempton in July, suggests she’s knocking on the door of the winners enclosure once again and local trainer, Perrett, may have just found the ideal race to end that sequence with more improvement likely to come. An each way bet at the 8/1 on offer with Bet Victor or William Hill looks the way to go.

Good Luck

Saturday’s Goodwood Picks

2:40 Goodwood – Roxy Flyer (each way) @ 8/1 with Bet Victor or William Hill

3:15 Goodwood – Izzi Top (win) @ 15/8 with Blue Square

3:55 Goodwood – Borderlescott (each way) @ 20/1 with Bet365 or Skybet

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Posted 5 years, 1 month ago

03 Aug
2012

Gatewood Set To Provide That Friday Feeling At Glorious Goodwood

A cracking renewal of the 1m 4f Group 3 Coutts Glorious Stakes (live on C4, 2.00pm) gets Friday’s Glorious Goodwood card underway, and favourite Gatewood can oblige in the hands of William Buick.

This contest represents a big up in class, but favourable reports of this Galileo colt’s home work, allied to rapid progress which has yielded wins so far this campaign in handicap company at York, Epsom and Royal Ascot mean he is the one to beat.

Already rated 104 he has the Godolphin pair Dubai Prince (116) and Songcraft (112) to beat, but make no mistake this is a serious horse, and it’s likely whatever beats him will win.

Bookmakers Boylesports, Blue Square and Paddy Power make John Gosden’s charge no bigger than 15/8, and that can pay dividends.

Stablemate Gregorian is set to go off market leader for the Group 3 RSA Thoroughbred Stakes at 2.35pm, but on the back of some gruelling races (French Guineas, French Derby, St James’s Palace) it can pay to oppose him.

Roger Varian’s Aljamaheer has only had four runs, but looks set to be ideally suited by this step up in trip to a mile, and on the back of a cracking run in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot looks a hint of value at 9/2 with any of Bet Victor, Blue Square or William Hill.

Here in Galway they kick off proceedings with a tricky looking 2m 2f amateur riders handicap hurdle, but I can pass on a good word for Michael O’Hare’s Presenting gelding Special Bar in the hands of the talented Declan Lavery.

Not knocked about at Bellewstown last time out, he might be quite well handicapped, has been saved for this, and hails from a stable bang in form.

The celebrations will be memorable if he can oblige for connections – Coral’s 7/1 looks fair value each way.

Good luck!

Friday’s best bets:

2.00 Goodwood – Coutts Glorious Stakes – 4 Gatewood (win) @ 15/8 (Boylesports, Blue Square or Paddy Power)

2.35 Goodwood – RSA Thoroughbred Stakes – 2 Aljamaheer (win) @ 9/2 (Bet Victor, Blue Square or William Hill)

5.10 Galway – Guinness (Q.R.) Handicap Hurdle – 11 Special Bar (each way) @ 7/1 (Coral)

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Posted 5 years, 1 month ago

31 Jul
2012

Weld All Set To ‘Rock’ Galway On Day Two

Different year, same story.

Dermot Weld, the acclaimed King of Galway, returned to his favourite hunting ground on Monday afternoon, rattling in a 155/1 opening day treble day together with a couple of seconds to leave punters and bookmakers alike marvelling at the Curragh handler’s ability to ready one for the unique test which is Ballybrit.

He’s still got a way to go to match last year’s staggering 17 winner haul, but he’s got the bit between his teeth and six days left to go to war, and anyone who snapped up the pre-meeting 11/8 with Paddy Power about him bagging 12 or more over the seven days is entitled to feel pretty satisfied at this stage.

The stage looks set for more of the same this afternoon, with Weld’s Rock Critic primed to run a mighty race off top weight in the feature Topaz Mile Handicap at 5.35pm (live on RTE) as the great trainer chases win number eight in the race.

As the most valuable Flat prize of the seven day meeting it’ll take some winning, but Rock Critic brings impeccable credentials to the table, with track, trip and ground all in his favour – in fact, he’s a dual course and distance winner who has won three races in total at this meeting.

What’s more, fascinatingly this is a horse who has never been beaten in the month of July!

Four runs, four wins (three of them at Galway don’t forget).

With a record like that and his stable targeting this meeting with a sniper’s accuracy he’s hard to ignore!

The draw has been kind enough (stall 8) and this robust course specialist will take the beating.

Weld nominated five horses to follow across the meeting in Saturday’s Racing Post, the first two Train Of Thought and Thunder Mountain won yesterday, the third is Rock Critic.

With that in mind the 9/2 available with any of Blue Square, Paddy Power or Coral makes plenty of appeal.

Perhaps the only negative is his big weight, in that over the last 20 years only four horses have managed to carry in excess of nine stone to victory in this race, but those stats also show it can be done, indeed Weld managed it with Free To Speak in 1998, and you’re usually top weight in a handicap for a reason!

More of the same this afternoon will do very nicely indeed!

Elsewhere on the card Weld can bring up a double courtesy of the very strongly fancied Big Break in the seven furlong fillies’ maiden.

With a couple of non-runners in the race you’ll have to be quick to snaffle some of the even money, but she’s well fancied to get the job done on debut.

Very well related, her half sister Zaminast won this first time up in 2010, and her brother Famous Name hasn’t exactly brought shame to the Weld household.

Big Break is available at evens with Sky Bet, Totesport and Betfred.

Over at Goodwood German colt Girolamo has to be the value angle to upset Michelangelo and Noble Mission in the bet365 Gordon Stakes (2.35pm, live on C4).

A very close third in the German Derby at Hamburg, connections will have been over the moon to see the winner of that race Pastorius win a Group 1 at Munich last weekend to provide a tidy form boost.

If you’d backed the last top-rated German horse to target an English Group prize you’d have found King George winner Danedream, who just happens to represent the very same trainer and jockey combo of Peter Schiergen and Andrasch Starke.

They won’t have come here just for a jolly, and proven at the level Girolamo can shake up some big names on the home team.

Grab a bit of 4/1 with any of Bet Victor, Blue Square, Paddy Power, Stan James or William Hill.

Also at Goodwood, Richard Hannon goes for his third win in the Lennox Stakes in the space of just five years, and although Strong Suit goes for Sunday’s Maurice de Gheest at Deauville he fields a more than able substitute in the form of Libranno, who ran very well to be fourth in the race in 2011.

Tough as nails Libranno is in the form of his life, winning two on the bounce at Salisbury and Newmarket.

He has a pair of course wins in Group company to his name, and with Richard Hughes up he can chin the heavily backed market leader Chachamaidee.

She gets a small weight allowance, but isn’t certain to appreciate the 4mm overnight rain and doesn’t always break well.

Any hanging around here could spell curtains against one as a good as Libranno.

Given that she’s 6/4 and he’s 9/2 I’ll happily row in the Hannon team’s son of Librettist.

Back to Galway though, and the great summer festival made an electric start on day one, with the rare commodity which is the sun beating down on a crowd of 17,710 (up on last year), and bookmakers taking in a healthy €1,412,596 (up from 2011’s €1,309,926).

Although the rain has arrived that won’t lessen the party atmosphere one iota – more of the same this afternoon will do very nicely indeed!

Good luck!

Tuesday’s best bets:

2.35 Goodwood – bet365 Gordon Stakes – 4 Girolamo (win) @ 4/1 (Bet Victor, Blue Square, Paddy Power, Stan James or William Hill)

3.10 Goodwood – bet365 Lennox Stakes – 3 Libranno (win) @ 9/2 (Bet365, Bet Victor, Blue Square, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes or Stan James)

5.35 Galway – Topaz Mile EBF Handicap – 1 Rock Critic (win) @ 9/2 (Blue Square, Paddy Power or Coral)

6.10 Galway – caulfieldindustrial.com EBF Fillies Maiden – 1 Big Break (win) @ Evens (Sky Bet or Betfred)

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Posted 5 years, 1 month ago