Archive for the ‘ skybet ’ Category

14 Aug
2015

Hunger Strike At Newbury?

Friday morning at 7am in Newbury.

The ground is officially Good prior to the track’s two day feature meeting, the crown jewels of which are Saturday’s Group 2 Betfred Hungerford Stakes, as well as the same day’s Group 3 Geoffrey Freer.

A look out of the window suggests that just as Andrew Balding’s wishes are being met, fellow trainer Henry Candy’s hopes have been dashed.

Both had heavyweight names prominent in the betting for Saturday’s Hungerford (3.45pm, live on Channel 4), but while Balding wants it wet for 115-rated Here Comes When, his counterpart wanted the sun to put its hat on and scorch the turf to suit his 115-rated Limato, who sadly was declared a non-runner of Friday afternoon.

Frustratingly for Candy, though, the forecast is for it to dry up later, in Irish parlance it’s been “lashing” down for the past 24 hours and the changing ground forced the Oxfordshire based handler not to take any chances with his runner.

Both had just the one runner in Saturday’s £150,000 renewal of the seven furlong Group 2, a very strong running which had initially attracted a field of 16.

It’s chock full of possibilities, with old adversary Adaay stepping up in trip, Here Comes When steps down from this year’s usual mile, recent course and distance scorer Windfast looks to follow up, while the reliable Safety Check tries to add to his excellent Lennox Stakes placed effort at Glorious Goodwood, as fascinating contender Richard Pankhurst dips his toe into some very deep water on just his third ever start.

The original pick for this race going to be the Hugo Palmer trained Home Of The Brave but after failing to eat up at lunch on Friday, Palmer was left with no option but to withdraw the three-year-old son of Starspangledbanner, from the race.

The preference therefore is for the aforementioned Here Comes When, who has been promoted to 7/2 favourite following the omissions of Home Of The Brave and Limato. The Andrew Balding yard has enjoyed a fantastic season to date and whilst the pick hasn’t been to the winners enclosure’ so far in 2015, he’s put up some credible efforts.

The five-year-old was last seen  finishing fourth behind Solow at Goodwood last month and he was far from disgraced when finishing just under three lengths behind Night Of Thunder in the Group 1, Lockinge Stakes, at Newbury in May, whilst his best form has come over seven furlongs, boasting three wins from eight runs over Saturday’s distance. His last three victories have come with ‘soft’ in the going and as such, he’s worth taking a punt on at the 7/2 on offer with Bet365

Earlier in the afternoon the extended 1m 5f Betfred Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2.35pm) provides another enjoyable puzzle to try and unravel, with the sponsors early prices putting in last year’s St Leger second Romsdal as their 5/2 market leader, with Sir Michael Stoute’s Gospel Choir snapping at his heels on 11/4.
Neither has won as much prize money as as Red Cadeaux however, with the now nine-year-old globetrotter perched on £4.99m career earnings.

He was second in this in 2013, and fourth a year ago – a repeat of either effort would carry him through the incredible five million barrier.

He doesn’t appeal as a possible winner though, unlike Gospel Choir, who has returned from an injury layoff this summer seemingly better than ever.

Last year’s Yorkshire Cup hero got the job done in listed company at Newmarket in June, before running a mighty race when half a length and a head behind Big Orange in a Group 2 at the July Meeting.

That’s the same Big Orange who went on to win the Goodwood Cup a fortnight ago, giving the form a rock solid outlook.

In-form Frankie Dettori takes over from injured Ryan Moore, and looks like he could be on a winner.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets at Newbury:

2.35 – Betfred Geoffrey Freer Stakes – 4 Gospel Choir (win) @ 11/4 (Betfred) *Non Runner

3.45 – Betfred Hungerford Stakes – 12 Here Comes When @ 7/2 (bet365)

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Posted 2 years, 3 months ago

21 Aug
2014

Alexander A Lowther Likely On Day Two At York

The weighting game paid off handsomsely for jockey Joseph O’Brien and the connections of Australia on day one at York’s Ebor meeting, as the beanpole rider’s his much-publicised efforts to slim down to an uncomfortable 8st 12lbs to ride his pride and joy in the feature Juddmonte International came to fruition in a power packed display.

Scandinavian betting giants Unibet now make him a best price 8/15 for his likely next assignment in Leopardstown’s Irish Champion Stakes on September 13th, where opposition is likely to be limited just three weeks before the Arc.

Looking ahead to day two there are plenty more riches on display, with another ‘A-list’ superstar topping the bill in the Yorkhire Oaks (live on Ch4, 3.40pm) as John Gosden’s Epsom Oaks and King George heroine Taghrooda bids for a third consecutive Group 1 and a fifth win on the bounce in a so far unbeaten career.

The shockwaves will be something bordering on seismic were she to be bowled out today, and bookmakers will pay you no bigger than 1/4 that she emerges unscathed.

Perhaps staying-on Irish Oaks runner up Tapestry will be the one to chase her home, but earlier on the card opportunity knocks in the fillies’ Group 2 Lowther over six furlongs at 2.30pm.

It’s a contest which throws up Roger Varian’s unbeaten Cursory Glance, already a winner in Group company at Royal Ascot over today’s trip, but she could struggle to contain the private battle to be played out between old rivals Tiggy Wiggy and the Irish-trained filly Anthem Alexander.

Both have been doing their winning at the minimum five furlong trip up ’til now, but when they clashed in Royal Ascot’s Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes it was the latter who came out on top, with the heavily backed 9/4 market leader Anthem Alexander flying home to grab Tiggy Wiggy after a sluggish start.

That was massively impressive, and the way she travelled in the latter stages of the race suggests strongly that she can only improve for a step up in distance.

Those thoughts are endorsed by the fact Dunshaughlin, County Meath trainer Edward Lynam, the man now widely known for his handling of star sprinters Sole and Slade Power, has entered her for Group 1’s in both the six furlong Cheveley Park and the Fillies’ Mile.

Furthermore, though Anthem Alexander hasn’t run since Ascot Tiggy Wiggy has, franking the form of a month earlier by making all in Newbury’s Super Sprint to win by a thumping six lengths!!

That was in a 24-horse race, yet she won by a street, in doing so paying a massive compliment to Anthem Alexander, who can be backed today at 11/4 with any of Betvictor, Coral, Skybet or William Hill.

Elsewhere on the card the 22/1 available with BetVictor looks too big an each way price about Tom Tate’s proven big field handicap hustler Prince Of Johanne in the Clipper Logistics Stakes run at 3.05pm.

Back to the mark of 100 from which he won the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot in 2012, the Coral Challenge at Sandown Park last year, plus has been second and third in the last two runnings of York’s ever competitive Hambleton Handicap at the Dante Meeting (also second in it in 2012 off 98), this horse loves races of this nature and clearly enjoys a trip to York.

Good luck!

Thursday’s best bets at York:

2.30 – Pinsent Masons Lowther Stakes – 1 Anthem Alexander (win) @ 11/4 (Betvictor, Coral, Skybet or William Hill)

3.05 – Clipper Logistics Stakes (Handicap) – 6 Prince Of Johanne (each way) @ 22/1 (BetVictor)

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Posted 3 years, 3 months ago

31 Jul
2014

An Invasion Awaits On Ladies’ Day At Ballybrit

The biggest day of the year bar none is upon us here in Galway, as the finery and splendour of Ladies’ Day collides with the staging of Europe’s richest handicap hurdle.

The €250,000 Guiness Galway Hurdle headlines an eight race card, with five of those races live with us on RTE1.

If Plate day yesterday was big then expect this afternoon’s festivities to be bigger, bolder and brighter, though perhaps not for man of the moment Shane Shortall, for whom a 74/1 double was capped off by the runaway success of Road To Riches in the big race.

Day three saw the attendance once again up, and this time by a long way too, with a total crowd of 18,766 up 4,728 on the same day a year ago.

Happily that lead to increased business for the various betting outlets too, with the betting ring turning over €1,497,455 (up €486,000!) and the Tote desks puling in €830,962 – a very healthy rise of €154,000 compared to the equivalent figures for the Wednesday of 2013 race week.

Onwards and upwards for Ladies’ Day though, and hopefully that applies to my punting too after a dismal effort up until now!

The team to drag me back into positive equity on day four at the Galway races looks like this:

Tony Martin is already among the winners this week and might be able to conjur a miracle in the big race from favourite Thomas Edison, but he’s much better with a bit of give in the ground and has a poor strike rate over hurdles, with just a solitary win from 14 starts under this code – and even that came in only a mere Bellewstown maiden more than two years ago!

These things can bite you on the backside but at 5/1 I’d be a layer seven days a week, but with a false favourite it does mean inflated prices about a stack of talented horses, not least Henry De Bromhead’s extremely useful Darwins Fox.

From the same stable that won here with Beckwith Star on Monday and supplied yesterday’s Plate fifth Lord Ben comes a talented sort who arrives off the back of a Grade 3 second at Tipperary in the Grimes Hurdle.

Proven in the hustle bustle of big field handicap hurdles this lad also boasts all important course form, and strutted his stuff at this meeting 12 months ago when second on the Flat before winning a beginners’ chase.

With that in mind we know the track holds no fears, a mark of 140 equates to a nice racing weight of 10st 11lbs, and pleasingly De Bromhead has acted fast to snap up the services of Davy Russell in the saddle.

Naturally there are dangers in this field wherever you look, but at 12/1 each way Darwins Fox could be the one.

Coral and Skybet are both top price and are offering five places each way.

Elsewhere on the card John ‘Shark’ Hanlon’s Abolitionist looks generously priced at 20/1 in the opening Beginners’ Chase at 1.50pm.

Trip and ground will suit and he positively bolted up at Bellewstown last time out.

Another at big odds who could have a say is Johnny Murtagh’s Dalkova in the seven furlong listed fillies event at 3.40pm.

It’s a race in which Dermot Weld (five winners so far this week) supplies the short priced favourite in Tested, but in stall eight she isn’t nearly as well drawn as prominent racer Dalkova, who will jump from gate two.

An easy handicap winner at Naas two runs back, she ran very well in defeat in a listed race at Killarney a fortnight ago, and dropping back in trip she could spring a surprise.

Last but not least, I have to suggest the brilliant Stuart Crawford’s Ground Invasion in the 2m 4f Novice Hurdle at 4.15pm.

A three-time Point-to-Point winner, this horse has hacked up in both bumpers to date, and benefits from the assistance of Barry Geraghty for this first spin over timber.

A potential class act, the best price of 100/30 is available with BetVictor.

Good luck!

Thursday’s best bets at Galway:

1.50 – GuinnessPlus App Beginners Chase – 1 Abolitionist (each way) @ 20/1 (bet365, Boylesports, Paddy Power or Ladbrokes)

3.40 – Arthur Guinness EBF Corrib Fillies Stakes – 4 Dalkova (each way) @ 12/1 (Paddy Power)

4.15 – Guinness Novice Hurdle – 6 Ground Invasion (win) @ 100/30 (BetVictor)

4.55 – Guinness Galway Hurdle Handicap – 6 Darwins Fox (each way) @ 12/1 (Coral and Skybet)

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Posted 3 years, 3 months ago

30 Jul
2014

Join The Chorus On Plate Day At Galway

Vastonea created a slice of Galway history in Tuesday’s feature Topaz Mile, powering home under apprentice Gary Halpin to add to his 2012 victory in the same race, in the process becoming just the second dual winner of the second day feature in history after Pinch Hitter in 1981 & ’82.

The crowd was again in boisterous mood, with an extra 908 patrons compared with the same day 12 months ago contributing to a healthy figure of 19,156.

They’ll be expecting far more this afternoon though, with thetote.com Galway Plate the 22 runner feature prize scheduled to go to post at 5.30pm.

Freely available at 20/1 this time last week the Tom Mullins-trained Alderwood tops the betting for the big one, and owner JP McManus admitted on RTE yesterday that he’d had a few shillings on the market leader before the price unsurprisingly contracted.

Will he collect?

The choice of AP McCoy, Alderwood has been saved for this race but there is a danger that his absence since October will count against him, while you can also argue that the 10-year-old is a better horse racing left handed, is possibly is a more effective campaigner nowadays on Soft ground, and has only won two of his eight starts over fences.

For those reasons in a wide open race it may pay to look elsewhere.

It’s also a race within a race because the McManus silks will be carried by a staggering seven of the field – split between six trainers!

Prepared by the ultra shrewd Dungarvan man John Kiely JP also has the strongly fancied Wise Old Owl, second in this race in 2011 but only twice raced in the intervening three years.

He creeps in as bottom weight.

Among his contingent McManus also boats hat-trick chaser It’s A Gimme – one of two runners in the field sent over from Jackdaws Castle by Jonjo O’Neill – but he finished distressed after his win at Market Raspberry last time out and that would have to be a concern.

Moving away from the JP team for a while another trainer who is double handed is Dessie Hughes, who took this prize way back in 1985 with Chow Mein.

The fit again Mark Enright takes the mount on Art Of Logistics, who is chasing a hat-trick after consecutive wins at Punchestown, where he also ran a blinder at the Festival.

However, my worry for him is whether he can deliver in a big field – his four chase wins have come in field sizes of 10, 5, 8 & 4.

Also representing Dessie Hughes is Golden Wonder, who displayed his suitability for the Galway circuit by taking a course and distance beginners’ chase at this meeting a year ago.

He was second in the Irish National last time out off a six pounds lower mark, but one thing he isn’t is quick, and in a true run 2m 6f around Galway on fast ground he could well find himself getting left behind.

Paul Nicholls won this race with the heavily backed favourite Oslot back in 2008 and is represented by the five-year-old Caid Du Berlais, about whom I had a lengthy but good natured argument with the Racing Post’s ace reporter David Jennings last night.

DJ insists he’s here to win and the five-year-old is cracking value based on his second to Jezki (over hurdles) at Down Royal last November, I think otherwise in that he lacks experience after only two small field chase outings, especially as in the second of those he finished plum last, albeit in a Grade 2.

Jessie Harrington has the mare Burn And Turn, but she’s normally more effective in mares only races, plus there’s not much to suggest she’ll see out a fast run two and three quarter miles when she was all out to win her warm up over shorter at Punchestown.

Willie Mullins puts up five pound claimer JJ Burke on Balnslow, but the Thyestes and Kim Muir fourth ran a stinker at Punchestown last time, and even by the standards of WP Mullins it would be an impressive training feat to bring him back to win this.

He also fields the 2013 Irish Grand National runner up Away We Go, the mount of the brilliant Paul Townend, and the pair certainly have an each way squeak, while the same comment applies to one of the Henry De Bromhead pair Lord Ben.

I mentioned though that JP McManus has a third of the field representing him, and perhaps the most intriguing of all to me is the 20/1 shot Vulcanite.

Absolutely transformed since a wind operation early in the year, this talented seven year old son of Dubawi – rated as high as 103 when with Ralph Beckett on the Flat – is finally displaying the sort of consistent and excellent form he has long been suspected of being capable of.

Right at home on quick summer ground and with the sun on his back, we interviewed his trainer Charlie Longsdon on RTE yesterday, and he revealed this is very much the type of race that they’ve been looking forward to targetting.

Vulcanite is on a roll after wins Stratford, Market Rasen and Worcester, and with Noel Fehily over to ride him he looks well worth an interest each way.

A revised mark of 147 puts him in here with a racing weight of 11st 2lbs, while the step up in trip could see him in an even better light.

Grab the 20’s with any of Coral, Ladbrokes or Skybet, all of whom are offering five places each way!

Elsewhere on the card one thing the great man David Jennings and I do firmly agree on is the chance of the Mags Mullins-trained Ballychorus in the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle at 3.35pm.

She likes to bowl on and force the pace which will suit her here, and her opening rating of 116 looks extremely lenient based on her bumper win at Killarney and her maiden hurdle strike at Roscommon.

Available at 6’s last night she still looks fair value at the generally available 9/2.

Finally, a massive thank you to the 200 or so punters who came to support last night’s Injured Jockeys fund big race preview night at McHughs Pub in Castlegar near the racecourse, and thanks also to guests Niall McCullagh, Marietta Doran, Shark Hanlon and Hayley O’Connor for giving up their time to support a great cause.

Good luck!

Today’s best bets at Galway:

3.35 – Downlaod The Tote Mobile App EBF Mares Handicap Hurdle – 3 Ballychorus (win) @ 9/2 (general)

5.30 – thetote.com Galway Plate (Handicap) – 5 Vulcanite (each way) @ 20/1 (Coral, Ladbrokes or Skybet)

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Posted 3 years, 3 months ago

29 Jul
2014

Galway On The Up As Byrnes Bids For Chase Domination

Only in Galway during race week could you encounter a very well known, instantly recognisable celebrity at the reception desk of your hotel first thing in the morning, enquiring as to whether or not the shoe that they dropped out of their fourth floor window at 3am had been handed in!

Clearly honesty and integrity aren’t in short supply in these parts – the errant footwear had indeed been returned, and was handed back to its grateful owner.

Also pleased at how things have gone so far are the racecourse themselves, as the opening day brought a very healthy crowd of 18,938, a rise of nearly 1,000 people on the comparative figure for 2013.

Figures in the betting ring were up too, with a total of €1,241,109 wagered across the six races, while the Tote kiosks did a brisk trade too, taking in €738,940, a big leap of around €130,000 on 12 months ago.

Anyone who joined the surge of cash for Tony Martin’s Quick Jack in the big one will have been well chuffed, as the favourite surged clear to justify heavy market support in the night’s big race.

The show must go on though, and it’s another evening card on day two headed by the €115,000 Topaz Mile at 6.40pm, live on RTE2.

Tom Segal’s Pricewise column hit the bullseye in the feature event yesterday, suggesting Quick Jack at 7/1.

He’s gone to the well again today, putting forward Dermot Weld’s first-time blinkered Defining Year, for whom the cash has predictably arrived this morning, with the initial 10/1 available with Boylesports and Coral quickly evaporating.

Weld got on the scoresheet late in the day on Monday, striking with easy winner Timiyan in the mile and a half handicap.

Defining Year needs to improve on his recent form, but won on the All Weather at Dundalk earlier in the year, and ran okay when sixth in his warm up race at Leopardstown, and also when sixth in the Irish Lincoln at the Curragh back in March.

The headgear could spark a huge improvement, and he looks to have been laid out for this test.

That said, in a maximum field of 18 there are no shortage of dangers, and four British-trained runners will fancy their chances of at least taking home some prize money.

Kevin Ryan’s Pintura is back for more after being second in this in 2012, while George Baker’s Jack’s Revenge ran a cracker at Royal Ascot when fifth over a furlong shorter in the Buckingham Palace Stakes.

Brian Ellison sends over top weight Balty Boys, and also the in-form Baraweez.

The grey Vastonea won this off 89 two years ago and returned to be third off 96 in 2013 – he’s on the same mark today but aided by young Gary Halpin’s seven pound claim.

If successful Vastonea would become just the second ever dual winner of this race after Pinch Hitter in 1981 and ’82.

The one I like though is David Wachman’s big improver General Brook.

Up five pounds for winning over 1m 2f at Leopardstown last time out, that was his second win in three outings this season, and beautifully drawn in stall two he can benefit from a fast pace over this stiff mile as he drops back in trip.

Further encouragement comes from his stable’s form – of his last 16 runners Wachman has seen no less than 12 make the first three, and that’s all we need if we back General Brook at 14/1 each way with any of BetVictor, Coral, Ladbrokes or Skybet.

Elsewhere on the card the chase track is set for a good workout with a field of 12 declared to go to post for the 2m 6f Latin Quarter Chase at 5.35pm.

Trainer Charles Byrnes looks set to be rewarded for sidestepping the Galway Plate with Royal Ascot winner Domination by seeing him take this instead.

As opposed to lugging a big weight in a hotter race the 141-rated multi-talented seven-year-old is firmly suited by the conditions of this event, and after a solid sighter over the bigger obstacles when second at Killarney a fortnight ago he can go one better.

Already a winner over fences at Limerick in March this horse has becoming something of star stayer on the Flat, but is also a four time hurdles scorer too.

In a first-time visor with Davy Russell up top today he is very much the one to be on.

Boylesports and BetVictor both offer 15/8.

Finally, it’s last call for tonight’s Injured Jockeys Fund Plate and Hurdle Preview at the well known McHughs Pub in Castlegar, less than two kilometres from the racecourse itself.

Kicking off at 9.30pm I’ll be joined by trainer John ‘Shark’ Hanlon, top jock Niall McCulagh, Hayley O’Connor of Ladbrokes, plus style guru Marietta Doran.

It’s free to get in and they’ll even send a free burger your way – throw and euro or two in the bucket for the IJF and everyone’s a winner.

Hope to see you there.

Good luck!

Tuesday’s best bets at Galway:

5.35 – Latin Quarter Chase – 11 Domination (win) @ 15/8 (Boylesports and BetVictor)

6.40 – Topaz Mile Handicap – 12 General Brook (each way) @ 14/1 (BetVictor, Coral, Ladbrokes or Skybet)

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Posted 3 years, 3 months ago

24 Jul
2014

Godolphin At The (Each Way) Double On King George Day

Saturday’s best bets:

2.55 York – Skybet York Stakes – 7 Long John (each way) @ 7/1 (Skybet)

3.50 Ascot – King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes – 6 Trading Leather (each way) @ 14/1 (BetVictor or William Hill)

An exciting eight race mix of Ascot and York forms the backbone of Channel 4 Racing’s televised fayre this Saturday afternoon, with four races a-piece races from the two premier tracks topped off by the £1m King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at 3.50pm.

Added fascination comes from Sir Michael Stoute’s bid to become the winning-most trainer in the history of the big race – alongside Dick Hern and Saeed bin Suroor he currently sits on five successes (Shergar 1981, Opera House ’93, Golan 2002, Conduit ’09 & Harbinger ’10) – but a victory for runaway Hardwicke Stakes scorer Telescope would put him out on his own.

If his runner here turns up in the same mood as 35 days ago when running away with his Group 2 prize at Royal Ascot then Sir Michael could well be heading for a celebratory Pina Colada in the Owners & Trainers bar, and Telescope is 99.9% certain to get the fast surface he adores.

You can surely forgive his early season twin-defeats to Noble Mission on Soft going at Sandown Park and Chester, and he looked very much the real deal at the Royal meeting.

That said, he’s probably the right price at no bigger than 9/4 at the time of writing, and this is a red-hot renewal, and he isn’t even the top rated horse in the field.

That particular honour goes to Prince Of Wales’s Stakes runner-up Magician (rated 124), who last year was successful in both the Irish Guineas and the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

The step back up in trip looks the right thing for him, but he’s only won once in four starts since his trip to America, and might find one or two too good once again.

Also afforded plenty of respect by the official figures is the William Haggas-trained five year old Mukhadram, a horse who has enjoyed some massive pay days this year, with the second in the Dubai World Cup far more valuable than even his win in the Coral-Eclipse three weeks ago.

He was a surprise winner at Sandown, and is far from guaranteed to see out the mile and a half trip on his first attempt at the distance.

Racing in the very same Hamdan Al Maktoum silks as Mukhadram is the Oaks winner Taghrooda, re-routed here from last weekend’s Irish Oaks to take on both the opposite sex and the older horses.

She could also create some King George history, as you have to go way back to Pawneese in 1976 to find a three-year-old filly taking this prize, but she’s more than capable and in receipt of 15 pounds from the majority of her rivals looks a big danger.

However, this is a different ball game to Epsom, though you have to applaud the daring initiative from John Gosden and his team.

The same trainer (runs three in total) also fields Royal Ascot’s highly impressive King Edward VII Stakes hero Eagle Top, though there is a danger he might lack a bit of vital experience at the very top level at this stage.

If it’s a blend of experience, stamina, quality and an ability to operate on fast ground you want then look no further look no further than the Jim Bolger-trained Trading Leather.

One of two runners for the stable (they are also responsible for massive outsider Leitir Mor), this horse participates almost exclusively at the very highest level, and simply doesn’t know how to run a bad race.

In the frame in 12 of his 13 career starts, he was second in this race behind Novellist 12 months ago, and since then has been placed in a Juddmonte International, an Irish Champion Stakes and the Eclipse!!

Granted he doesn’t win too often, but he’s a former Irish Derby winner who is fully effective under Saturday’s conditions, and who is almost guaranteed to run his race.

Mukhadram was a surprise winner when beating Trading Leather in the Eclipse, but back up in trip he’s attractively priced at 14/1 each way with either BetVictor or William Hill.

He’s had a nice break between races (21 days), and Bolger continues to fire in the winners – another seven in the fortnight up to and including Wednesday’s racing.

Godolphin haven’t won this race since Doyen did the business in 2004, but with Trading Leather they’ve got a genuine contender at a big price.

York also host a really strong televised card, and on the Knavesmire another horse carrying the famous royal blue silks of Godolphin running in a valuable middle distance Group race will form the first part of an each way double for your correspondent….

Charlie Appleby is the man in charge of preparing the former Australian-trained Street Cry gelding Long John, and they’ll have high hopes the horse who used be under the care of Aussie trainer Peter Snowden can gain a first success on UK soil, as he prepares to line up in the Group 2 Skybet York Stakes at 2.55pm.

He stayed on nicely to take third in Ascot’s Summer Mile two weeks ago, unable to make much progress at the half way stage but then finishing strongly to suggest this step up in trip to an extended 1m 2f will be perfect.

A winner of the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas in Australia back in October, he also struck in Dubai in February when securing the UAE 2,000 Guineas on his first outing for Appleby.

Granted a run under his belt and time to acclimatise to UK racing then a huge performance could be on the card here.

At the time of writing the race sponsors will accommodate you at 7/1 each way.

Lastly, if you’re heading west to Galway next week and are around on Tuesday night then come and have a beer or two and support the Injured Jockeys Fund at the same time.

For the third year running a panel consisting of trainer John ‘Shark’ Hanlon’, jockey Niall McCullagh, fashionista Marietta Doran, bookie Paddy Power and myself will be running the rule over the Plate and the Hurdle for an hour or so, but this year we’ve got an extra large amount of giveaways, prizes and charity bets, plus there are even free burgers to help soak up the Guinness!

It’s at McHugh’s Pub, a brilliant place two minutes away from the track if you’re in a taxi, run by a racing fanatic and which on the big night 12 months ago was packed to the rafters.

Kick off is 9.30pm on Tuesday, and entry is free – optional donations of any amount to the IJF.

Good luck!

Galway Racenight 2

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Posted 3 years, 3 months ago

02 May
2014

Punchestown Bookmakers Enjoy A Road To Riches

High profile defeats for a string of heavily backed horses in the shape of Ned Buntline (11/4f), Duke Of Lucca (9/4f), Quevega (9/10f) and Champagne Fever (5/4f) left Punchestown bookmakers purring after a tumultuous day three at Punchestown, a day which ended with confirmation that ‘Queen’ Quevega has seen the racecourse for the last time, departing with a gallant defeat at the hands of Jetson in the World Series Hurdle.

The great thing about Punchestown though is the racing just seems to get better and better as the week goes on, and it’s straight back into the fray for a day four featuring stars such as Hurricane Fly, Jezki and Vautour to name just three!

Hurricane Fly leads Champion Hurdle winner Jezki 2-1 in meetings this season, and boasts Punchestown form figures of 1,1,3,1,1,1,1,1,1.

He is also the most successful hurdler of all time, with a staggering 19 Grade 1 wins to his name, but today has the feeling of a decider as he once again clashes with Jezki in the three runner Racing Post Champion Hurdle at 5.30pm, live on RTE1.

It’s the smallest field in the history of the event, but it’ll be fascinating tactically as the 10-year-old ‘Fly’ takes on the new kid on the block, six-year-old Jezki (half-brother to yesterday’s World Series Hurdle winner Jetson).

Speaking of new kids on the block, the anomaly is that even though that pair are winners of three of the last four Champion Hurdles, in the race immediately after them we get another glimpse of the awesome talent who is shorter than either of them in the antepost markets for next year’s Cheltenham day one highlight – Vautour.

Simply awesome at Cheltenham, Vautour is as short as 5’s for next year’s Champion Hurdle, while reigning the champ is 7/1 and Hurricane considered past it and 20/1.

Those looks to be races to admire rather than get involved, and for anyone looking for a bet on the card we’ll try and strike early on the card in the Aon Novice Handicap Chase at 4.20pm, also live on RTE1.

In an open looking race I was highly encouraged to see the money that materialised overnight for top weight Road To Riches.

Running in his first handicap off a mark of 145, trainer Noel Meade has opted to employ the services of ace conditional jock Ger Fox, who comes with a seven pound claim that might well prove vital.

Fox has been in great form in the last eight days, riding winners at Tipperary and Limerick, before delivering in style live on the box yesterday when driving home 25/1 shot Jacks Island to spring a surprise in the La Touche.

It’s notoriously difficult for jockeys to find rides in an ultra competitive Irish racing scene, so consider this: in the last fortnight Ger Fox has ridden for 18, yes 18, different trainers!

Here he teams up with a bang in form horse who is a course winner over hurdles, and who returned to winning ways when scoring in novice company at Fairyhouse last week.

That form has already been impressively franked here at Punchestown, with Mallowney (who he saw off by nearly four lengths at level weights) winning off a mark of 139 in a very tricky handicap here yesterday.

That’s more than enough encouragement to persuade me to divert a euro or two in his direction this afternoon – Road To Riches is 8/1 with any of bet365, Betfred or Skybet.

Elsewhere, my good friend James Griffin takes hat-trick seeking Sudski Star to Bangor-On-Dee for their extended 2m 1f Novices’ Handicap Chase at 6.50pm, and he rates a strong fancy to get the job done.

Any further rain that arrives will only boost his chances, and this looks an excellent opportunity for the follow up after he motored in at Kelso and Hexham.

Finally, for anyone interested in where I do my Christmas shopping, here’s a piece we filmed for RTE this week which was aired on the show on Wednesday – go to 32 mins and 50 seconds into the programme…

http://www.rte.ie/player/ie/show/10278457/ (only viewable to readers in Ireland)

Good luck!

Friday’s best bets:

Friday’s best bets:
4.20 Punchestown – Aon Novice Handicap Chase – 1 Road To Riches (each way) @ 8/1 (bet365, Betfred or Skybet)
6.50 Bangor – 2 Sudski Star (win) @ 15/8 (bet365)
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Posted 3 years, 6 months ago

25 Apr
2014

Telescope Has Sandown In His Sights

The great and the good of the Flat racing world descend on Sandown Park on Friday afternoon, for a card which boasts four races live with us on Channel 4, before the National Hunt brigade take centre stage for the final day of their season and the feature bet365 Gold Cup on Saturday.

Personally I much preferred the mixed format of two days split between the two codes, but what can’t be argued is the depth of quality on display on both cards.

Day one kicks off with an Esher Cup featuring the highly touted Sacred Act for the red hot John Gosden team, an Oasis Dream colt who holds an entry in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in a few weeks time.

He’s up against Irish Derby entry End Of Line as well as a couple of other highly promising sorts, but I’ll keep my powder dry ’til race two on the card when we get another look at Great Voltigeur winner Telescope in the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes (2.10pm).

Unpenalised in this company as that Group 2 York win came before the end of August, Telescope hails from the yard of Sir Michael Stoute who landed this race three years on the bounce in recent times, with Ask in 2008, Tartan Bearer in 2009, and Glass Harmonium in 2010.

This will only be Telescope’s sixth lifetime start, but his trainer specialises in developing his sort, and already has his eye on greater targets with entries in the book for the Curragh’s Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup, as well as Epsom’s Coronation Cup.

Ryan Moore is available to ride, and the pair can hold off Godolphin’s French Derby third Sky Hunter, making his stable and UK debut.

Just 35 minutes later a really competitive renewal of the Group 2 bet365 Mile gets underway, in which I’m hoping the 117-rated Garswood can give Ryan Moore a quick fire televised double.

A little older and more mature now, the big hope is that Garswood’s stamina doesn’t ebb away in the latter stages, but if that can overcome then this is a horse who handles the ground, wins first time, has bags of potential and a jockey who can squeeze every last ounce of effort from him.

A winner of the Free Handicap at Newmarket first time out last season, he was only seventh in Dawn Approach’s Guineas, but bounced back to win over seven furlongs in a Group 2 at Glorious Goodwood.

His final ran of the season was a cracker, staying on strongly to take third in the Prix De La Foret on Arc day at Longchamp, suggesting that he next run ought to be over a mile.

This is a hot edition of this race, with the winner from 2012 (Penitent) and 2013 (Trumpet Major) back for more, plus the proven quality of Montiridge and the rapid improver Top Notch Tonto, but if the petrol can be conserved then Garswood is the one they have to beat.

Good luck!

Friday’s best bets at Sandown Park:

2.10 – bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes – 6 Telescope (win) @ 13/8 (BetVictor, Sky Bet or William Hill)

2.45 – bet365 Mile – 2 Garswood (win) @ 7/2 (bet365, Betfred, BetVictor, Coral & Ladbrokes)

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Posted 3 years, 6 months ago

15 Nov
2013

Gamble Gets The Nod To Come Out On Top At Cheltenham

Star names and no shortage of intrigue wherever you look on day one of the Paddy Power Open Meeting, with four races live on Channel 4 from Prestbury Park.

A chase debut for star hurdler Oscar Whisky, plus Badger Ales Chase winner Standing Ovation going for a fifth straight success in the opening amateur riders’ handicap chase are just a couple of the talking points, and the curtain raiser at 1.05pm is where we’ll kick off…

It was only October 10th when Standing Ovation scrambled home by a neck at Exeter off a mark of 94, but a trio of subsequent wins over the sturdy Wincanton fences (off marks of 99, 110 & 120) paint the picture of a meteoric rise for the six-year-old who gamely represents the Bravo Partnership, friends of the late David Johnson.

He’s getting better (fast) too, as demonstrated by Saturday’s latest Somerset romp.

Six pounds well in under a seven pound penalty (due to race off 133 in future), his opportunity here looks too good to be true, but it’s a different track, new fences, a new rider, and just six days since he was last in action.

His trainer has won the last two runnings of this contest and to an extent has to run here, but there is a risk this’ll come too soon, and it’s also interesting to see one of Ireland’s finest trainer’s Tony Martin sending over Galway festival winner Victrix Gale.

She by contrast has enjoyed a 57 day break since her last spin at Listowel, and prior to that scored with ease over hurdles at the summer Ballybrit jamboree, and now goes back over the bigger obstacles with a top pilot booked.

Formerly with Nicky Henderson, better ground and return to a stiffer track could well see a big run, and even if Standing Ovation earns his title she looks hard to keep out of the frame at 6/1 with any of Betfred, Coral, Paddy Power or William Hill.

Just 30 minutes later a wide open two mile handicap chase follows, and one that might have been ignored at a massive price is Mick Easterby’s useful second season chaser Shadows Lengthen.

With the exception of his well beaten second at Haydock back in March this fella is slightly unlucky not to be the holder of an almost untarnished record over fences, though wins at Sedgefield and Bangor suggest he’s very good going left handed and handles any ground.

This is tougher, but he signed off last season with a 12 length romp at Bangor over 2m5f, and now finds himself on a mark of 132.

In form Jake Greenall takes three off, and it’s worth remembering this horse has had a spin at Wetherby two weeks ago to blow away the cobwebs.

It’s easy to make a case for the likes of fancied runners Eastlake and Renard, but Shadows Lengthen is no slouch and was being muted for a possible tilt at the Grand Annual after his Sedgefield win back in January.

Now he’s made it to Cheltenham eight months later than hoped, and at 5/1 a place with either of the firms offering the best price in the village 20/1 (BetVictor or William Hill) he looks worth an interest to resume progress.

The late David Johnson, a great friend and supporter of National Hunt racing, may already have had a winner if Standing Ovation can oblige at 1.05pm, but the David Johnson Memorial Intermediate Handicap Hurdle run at 2.40pm could very well go to the stable who supplied him with his greatest success as an owner – Comply Or Die’s 2008 Grand National victory – with David Pipe’s Top Gamble likely to be primed to the minute for this.

“Obviously this is a race we would like to win” is the quote attributed to his trainer in today’s press, and you can be certain the dual Ffos Las winner will be ready to go first time.

He’s got far more on his plate than previously, but strong market support has arrived for him this morning, and punters are taking note.

New ground, a new track and far better opposition all lie in wait, but even so Pipe has been fulsome in his praise for this horse’s development, and he can make a winning reappearance.

Nip in to grab the remaining 4’s with bet365 before it evaporates.

It may well seem there’s a something of a Pipe-theme running through today’s column, but the final thought is this: his stable jockey Tom Scudamore goes all the way up to Newcastle for two rides on the opening day of a significant Cheltenham fixture.

As ever, it may be putting two and two together and getting five (neither Standing Ovation nor Top Gamble are his ride and Pipe has no other Cheltenham runners), but nonetheless surely that suggests he needs a winner to help pay the diesel money?

The one that fits the bill is his Welsh National winning brother Michael’s Next Sensation in the 0-120 two miler at 1.45pm.

He’s up a meaty 13 pounds for bolting up at Plumpton on his handicap debut, but is open to plenty of improvement and travels a long way for a winning opportunity.

The 9/4 with Coral looks worth taking.

Friday’s best bets:

1.05 Cheltenham – Opus Energy Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase – 8 Victrix Gale (each way) @ 6/1 (Betfred, Coral, Paddy Power or William Hill)

1.35 Cheltenham – Paddy Power Handicap Chase – 7 Shadows Lengthen (each way) @ 20/1 (BetVictor or William Hill)

1.45 Newcastle – Quicksilver Slots Get Up To £200 Handicap Chase – 2 Next Sensation (win) @ 9/4 (Coral)

2.40 Cheltenham – David Johnson Memorial Intermediate Handicap Hurdle – 6 Top Gamble (win) @ 4/1 (bet365)

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Posted 4 years ago

12 Apr
2013

Saturday’s Racing Tips from Doncaster and Kempton

Tom’s having a lie down in a darkened room following all the excitement of Cheltenham and Aintree, but in his absence we once again call upon the services of his Channel 4 Racing colleague Nick Lightfoot who takes the reigns for this Saturday’s tips…

After all the build-up, Cheltenham and Aintree didn’t disappoint, with fantastic exhibitions  from Sprinter Sacre and co thrilling the racing world. But even though Channel 4 racing will still broadcast National Hunt racing from Ayr and Sandown in the coming weeks, it’s clear that we need to don the ‘flat caps’ as the first classics of the season draw closer.

We’re double-handed this afternoon on 4, based at Kempton Park [where the car park resembles a lake] and bringing in the best of the action at Doncaster.

Richard Hannon’s Chandlery is something of a forgotten horse in the listed mile at Doncaster. The last time we saw him in racing action was a victory at Glorious Goodwood in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes, but that was in July 2011 and it remains to be seen whether the horse retains the ability shown two years ago.

With that in mind, it could pay to back known form, and Highland Knight aside, few have stronger claims than Gabrial. Richard Fahey’s 4yo posted one of the most impressive handicap performances of the whole season last year when romping to victory in the Silver Bowl at Haydock in May. That day he was talked of as a real Group-class horse and two valiant efforts in Group 1 company subsequently did little damage to his reputation. His turn of foot is a potent weapon and might well make him the one to beat.

Later in the card, the 20-runner 6f handicap looks a tricky early season puzzle to solve. Jack Dexter is clearly the pick on form. His recent defeat of last season’s Ayr Gold Cup winner, Captain Ramius, over the course and distance was a real eye-catcher. He quickened very stylishly and won with a bit in hand, but today faces a tougher task off of a 7lb higher mark. A value alternative could be Our Jonathan, who was only a length and a half behind Jack Dexter that day. His mark hasn’t altered, and it shouldn’t be forgotten that he won the Ayr Gold Cup off the same mark two seasons ago. Races early on in the season are usually the best time to catch him, and his recent yard switch to Tim Pitt’s looks to have worked the oracle having left behind his dip in form at the end of last season.

Solar Deity’s relentless improvement is unlikely to come to a halt in Kempton’s 3.50.  The step-up in trip to a mile should suit perfectly and Marco Botti’s charge has already defeated the likes of George Guru and Atlantis Crossing, who re-oppose today. With very little recent winning form on offer it should pay to side with Solar Deity, even at short odds.

Good luck everyone, have a great day of punting.

Nick

Saturday’s Best Bets
2.20pm – Doncaster – Gabrial [win] @ 4/1 (Betfred, Bet Victor, Ladbrokes)
3.30pm – Doncaster – Our Jonathan [each way] @ 14/1 (Skybet, Betfred, Bet Victor)
3.50pm – Kempton – Solar Deity [win] @ 15/8 (Coral)
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Posted 4 years, 7 months ago