Archive for the ‘ sportingbet ’ Category

15 Sep
2012

A ‘Lot’ To Like, Including A 50/1 Long Shot, On A Genuine Super Saturday

The golden summer of sport continues…

Olympics, Paralympics, Euro 2012, Frankel, Wimbledon and stacks of great racing, you name it we’ve been treated to it over the last three months or so, and to cap it for racing fans now a chance to see Ballydoyle’s brilliant and undefeated Montjeu colt Camelot secure the first triple crown achieved for a whopping 42 years.

You must’ve just returned from an extremely long holiday if you haven’t already read numerous accounts of the great Nijinsky’s feats back in 1970, but Town Moor will be alive on Saturday afternoon as Camelot treads the boards in a bid to emulate him.

He’s already dazzled us this summer, netting the Guineas first time up, before a romp in the Epsom Derby, coupled with a more workmanlike despatch of Born To Sea on testing ground in the Irish equivalent.

Lester Piggott says he’ll “destroy” them, Timeform have labelled him “a certainty”, and the general consensus is that this step into the unknown, a quarter of a mile further up in trip to the 1m 6f 132y of the Ladbrokes St Leger, the final Classic of the campaign, will all be taken in his stride, like the great horse that he is.

Indeed it’s hard to envisage him being beaten, but equally a fast run race against horses with guaranteed stamina in the bank poses a new challenge, even for one who looks such a natural and does everything with such ease.

It’d be a pretty unpleasant feeling to witness the petrol light flickering on empty if he were to be caught out by the trip, though huge credit must go to his connections for taking that chance and going for it, proving that even billionaires are sportsmen when the occasion demands it…

With that in mind I’ll be cheering on Camelot heartily, but where a wager is concerned the way forward has to be to take advantage of a very punter friendly each way market, one which offers some seriously good horses at each way prices you’d only normally dream of!

The likes of Main Sequence, Michaelangelo, Guarantee (has won over 1m 6f already) and Thomas Chippendale all bear close scrutiny, but at 12/1 with the sponsors I’ve got to be with Great Voltigeur winner Thought Worthy.

John Gosden runs him alongside top notch stablemate Michaelangelo and pacemaker Dartford, but the fact William Buick remains loyal when offered the choice between two of his in-form stable’s big guns swings it.

Thought Worthy was fourth to Camelot at Epsom (Main Sequence second), and third behind Thomas Chippendale in a tight finish at Royal Ascot, but he came good under an inspired Buick at York, dictating from the front and catching his rivals dosing.

Yes this is his first try beyond a mile and a half, but he sees his races out strongly, and crucially is a brother to 2007 St Leger winner Lucarno.

The ideal result would be for him to finish second to Camelot in a thriller, a mighty shot in the arm for the sport and a nice each way draw for us at 3/1 a place (Ladbrokes go 1/4 odds 1-2-3), though of course I’d take the full payout too!

Either way, if he gives his running he’ll be a strong place contender, and 3/1 to make the frame is none too shabby even if Camelot turns it into a procession.

Also at Donny, just 40 minutes prior to the main event, the big betting handicap of the day is the 22-runner Portland in which Welsh sprint wizard Ron Harris is responsible for the favourite Prodigality.

A career high mark of 90, a big field, and much the toughest opposition he has faced mean this’ll be some test for the improving four year old (who’s no bigger than 11/2 at the time of writing).

With that in mind perhaps it can pay to shop around for a bit of value, and at a humongous 50/1 surely I can’t be the only one who thinks his talented and experienced stablemate Secret Witness has a squeak each way?

Harris is still in the middle of a really productive spell, enjoying two more winners in the last seven days, and even if bookmakers have dismissed his second string I don’t think for one second he has.

This horse does appear weighted up to his best, but that’s because he’s run some crackers this summer, with a win and a pair of seconds at York the highlights.

He takes his racing really well, doesn’t have a care in the world about being intimidated in a big field, and has run some of the best races of his career at Doncaster.

Indeed his form figures at Town Moor read: 2, 2, 11, 1, 10, 15, 2, 7 – three seconds and a win from seven runs.

Ground and draw don’t appear to be an issue, and I’ll be having a small interest each way at 50’s (Paddy Power are offering 5 places each way at 40/1).

Later on the card Strong Suit can make up for lost time in a season that hasn’t really got going for him, with a win in the seven furlong Group 2 Park Stakes (4.15pm) in the offing if he can re-produce last autumn’s form.

I back this horse every time he runs, and for better or worse I’m not about to stop now – 5/2 with Sportingbet is the best price in the village.

The re-opposing Lethal Force got first run on him at Newbury four weeks ago, but with a more aggressive ride he can make amends here.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

3.00 Doncaster – Ladbrokes Portland Handicap – 2 Secret Witness (each way) @ 50/1 (bet365 & Bet Victor)

3.40 Doncaster – Ladbrokes St Leger – 8 Thought Worthy (each way) @ 12/1 (Ladbrokes)

4.15 Doncaster – Park Stakes – 6 Strong Suit (win) @ 5/2 (Sportingbet)

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Posted 4 years, 10 months ago

21 Jun
2012

Thursday’s Best Bets At Royal Ascot 2012

Lumpy bets rained down on the bookmakers like a hailstorm prior to So You Think’s win in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday afternoon, forcing the New Zealand-bred entire into an SP of 4/5 and depriving the Royal meeting of a fairytale winner, after Her Majesty The Queen’s Carlton House had loomed up on the rail seemingly full of running a furlong from home.

That valuable success clearly delighted trainer Aidan O’Brien and his team, though God help the stable cat should he ever mislay the trademark mobile phone that seems permanently welded to his ear after each and every top level victory!

He’ll be hoping for more of the same this afternoon, with another stable favourite Fame And Glory the strong favourite for the highlight of a great third day in the shape of the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup at 3.45pm, live on BBC2.

The winner of this 12 months ago (when seeing off the re-opposing Opinion Poll by 3 lengths) Fame And Glory is all about class, and will be a tough nut to crack, especially as he’s had a race to bring him on after winning on his reappearance in Navan’s Vintage Crop Stakes a month ago.

The horse he beat that day Unaccompanied has a subsequent form line with Doncaster Cup winner Saddler’s Rock, but the one I like made a massive impression on his first run of the season, beating the horse who went on to take the Yorkshire Cup with plenty up his sleeve….I am of course referring to Frankie Dettori’s mount Colour Vision.

At the age of four this grey son of Rainbow Quest appears to have made giant strides since finishing third in the Cesarewitch back in the autumn, going on to finish a close enough third to Fame And Glory and Opinion Poll in a two mile Group 3 on Champions Day (a three year old against five year olds), before being put away for his winter break.

That seemed to do the trick, as he finished in blitzkrieg fashion on the All Weather at Kempton, thrashing Red Cadeaux, who as I’ve already mentioned went on to frank the form at York.

What’s more, wouldn’t Frankie Dettori love to prove he’s not quite ready to vacate the stage just yet with a major winner?

Obviously Fame And Glory is the one to beat, but only three pounds separates him and Colour Vision on ratings despite a yawning gap in actual achievement, and Fame And Glory has to concede two pounds to the younger horse this afternoon, suggesting his is the value pick at five times the price of his more celebrated rival.

Colour Vision is a very exciting young horse, and will happily carry my cash at 5/1 with either Betfred or Skybet.

A little earlier on the card the Oaks second (Shirocco Star), third (The Fugue), fourth (Vow) and seventh (Kailani) are among six fillies who lined up in the Epsom Classic at the start of the month to resume hostilities in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes (3.05pm).

The Fugue looks set to go off a resounding favourite after dotting up in the Musidora and then meeting interference in-running at Epsom (finished with a rattle but couldn’t reach Was), while Shirocco Star has run two very solid races in defeat this season at Newbury and Epsom.

In the first of those she was beaten by The Queen’s horse Momentary (also runs here) in the Swettenham Stud Fillies’ Trial, but again on value grounds there’s a hugely exciting runner coming over from Ireland who is unbeaten in two starts this term and should love this step up in trip, namely Dermot Weld’s Street Cry filly Princess Highway.

She doesn’t beat the scars of a hard race at Epsom, has a number of Group 1 entries later in the campaign, and has almost certainly been kept back for a tilt at this prize.

Lest we forget her dam (mother) won this very race a few years ago, plus Princess Highway had the eventual Oaks winner Was back in third on her last start at Naas in May, a not unpleasant boost to the form I’m sure you’ll agree…

Princess Highway looks a cracking bet at 7/1 each way with Sportingbet.

Lastly, emboldened by a bit of good fortune in the Royal Hunt Cup i’ve had a stab at cooking up a solution for the 30-runner Britannia Stakes at 4.25pm, where I’m pretty confident the high numbers will again have the opportunity to dominate (watch the first four jump from stalls 1-2-3-4 now!).

Yesterday’s big handicap was played out by horses drawn 33-18-21-13, and this afternoon’s mile race can go to Ralph Beckett’s first-time blinkered Frog Hollow in the hands of Jim Crowley.

This son of Intikhab is very well drawn in stall 31, and appears entirely versatile in terms of ground requirements.

He won twice at Salisbury last year over seven furlongs, but has proven his stamina for a mile with good runs at Newmarket and Haydock, the second of which was when he was sent off 3/1 market leader for Haydock’s Silver Bowl.

He met a bit of trouble in-running that day before staying on, but he looks dangerous to me off a mark of 90, especially with his stable among the winners of the last few days.

Frog Hollow is 11/1 each way with Stan James, who happily are offering the extra place.

If there is a question mark about him it’s that he’s a hold up horse who might find trouble trying to weave his way through a massive field, and though it’s dangerous to pin your hopes on one piece of form I do think there’s value to be had in the horse who finished a place in front of him at Haydock, Mark Johnston’s consistent sort Switzerland.

Also drawn well in gate 27 he can be ridden more prominently, rarely seems to run a bad race and also won mind any change in the ground.

He perhaps isn’t brilliantly handicapped off 95, but at 25/1 each way he could easily make the frame if he puts in his usual solid display from a good draw.

Good luck!

Thursday’s best bets at Royal Ascot:

3.05 – Ribblesdale Stakes – 9 Princess Highway (each way) @ 7/1 (Sportingbet)

3.45 – Gold Cup – 7 Colour Vision (win) @ 5/1 (Betfred or Skybet)

4.25 – Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap) – 6 Switzerland (each way) @ 25/1 (Stan James)

4.25 – Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap) – 21 Frog Hollow (each way) @ 11/1 (Stan James)

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Posted 5 years, 1 month ago

16 May
2012

‘On The Hoof’ On Day One Of The Dante Meeting‏

The Classics and Classic trials are everywhere you look at present, with Chester, Lingfield, Leopardstown and Longchamp providing highlights aplenty over a five day spell last week.

This week it’s the turn of York, and on Wednesday we get a good look at a pair of fillies with possible designs on the Epsom Oaks, as a field of six line up over an extended ten and a half furlongs in the Group 3 Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at 2.30pm (live on Channel 4).

Despite the small field it’s got the potential to be an exciting contest, with Nell Gwyn winner Esentepe taking her place aongside 50/1 Cheshire Oaks victor Good Morning Star, Group 1 Fillies’ Mile fourth Salford Art, as well as 1,000 Guineas fourth The Fugue (Oaks entry).

The Fugue (out of a Sadler’s Wells mare) was doing all her best work at the finish at Newmarket 1o days ago, suggesting this step up in trip ought to paint her in a good light, but the one to leave her in the shade is a fellow Oaks entry in the shape of Aidan O’Brien’s Twirl.

She won her maiden in the manner of a very smart filly at Leopardstown in November, is entered in everything imaginable, and made a perfectly satisfactory return when second in a Group 3 at the Curragh in March.

With her stable now firing on all cylinders this daughter of Galileo might be hard to peg back now she steps up in trip, and she can book her place for Epsom in a race where Ballydoyle certainly won’t be short on firepower!

Half an hour later the feature Group 2 Duke Of York Totepool Stakes is also live on Channel 4, and it’s a race where the drying ground, drop in class, booking of Ryan Moore and return to his favourite track all mean Hoof It has a massive chance of landing this attractive prize.

A course and distance winner (one of two cd wins last summer) at this meeting a year ago, he wins fresh, and connections will have been delighted to see the weather help dry the track out to provide officially Good ground.

This horse’s progress last summer was amazing, with an opening handicap win off 99 followed by wins in the Sky Bet Dash and the Stewards’ Cup, before two efforts in Group 1 company culminated in a creditable third in the Haydock Sprint Cup.

That proves he can cut it at this level, and with lots in his favour he’s entitled to go close in a hot race.

Palace House Stakes one-two Mayson and Definightly head a long list of dangers, but the one they have to beat is Hoof It.

Good luck!

Wednesday’s best bets at York:

2.30 – Tattersalls Musidora Stakes – 6 Twirl (win) @ 6/4 (Ladbrokes, Stan James or Sportingbet)

3.00 – Duke Of York Totepool Stakes – 4 Hoof It (win) @ 4/1 (BetVictor or Blue Square)

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Posted 5 years, 2 months ago

28 Apr
2012

Follow The Light On Day Five At Punchestown

Saturday is here, and with it the fifth and final day of a remarkable Punchestown Festival, notable not just for plenty of the expected fireworks on the track, but also for the Herculean efforts of the management and groundstaff to keep the show on the road in the face of some truly appalling weather conditions.

Instead of pulling the plug when the elements threatened to crowbar the word ‘abandoned’ into Thursday’s itinerary, they took the brave decision to battle the elements, and the resulting pools coupon definitely reads Punchestown 1-0 Mother Nature, something everyone who was present will be rightly grateful for.

The other performance-related gongs handed out to date go to the incomparable Quevega and her rampant trainer Willie Mullins – a mare blessed with talent and guts to match, trained by a man at the peak of his powers, a man who not once but twice this week has seen his string produce 1-2-3 finishes in Grade 1 company.

We’re not done yet, and there could be plenty more to come this afternoon, especially as Wednesday’s feature event has been rescheduled as the second race on today’s six race card, with the Grade 1 thetote.com Punchestown Gold Cup over 3m 1f live on RTE2 at 3.15pm.

Despite the fact Willie Mullins has Quel Esprit arriving here on a four timer after his Irish Hennessy win in February, I’m not convinced his Leopardstown form is the strongest, in that he was allowed to dominate up front in a weak race, and got things all his own way, whole the strongly fancied China Rock flopped.

China Rock is back for more this afternoon, but has already had a hard race at the meeting this week and is over-looked given that this may come far too quickly (two race in five days).

Quantitativeeasing makes the journey across from England for Nicky Henderson, but he has to prove he can bridge the gap from handicap company to Grade 1 level.

Follow The Plan won this race 12 months ago, plus comes here off the back of a shock 50/1 success in the Betfred Bowl at Aintree, but for anyone backing him you have to consider how easily Quel Esprit beat him at Leopardstown, plus his unconvincing strike-rate.

The one to show them all a clean pair of heels is Robbie Hennessy’s Rubi Light, top rated by the handicapper on 162, and a Heavy ground specialist, one for whom conditions like he’ll encounter today appear tailor made.

He’s a classy operator who comes into his own when the mud is flying, and his second in Leopardstown’s Lexus Chase at Christmas time reads very well in light of the ill-fated winner Synchronised’s subsequent Gold Cup win.

Rubi Light has to prove his stamina will last out over this extended trip, but I think it will and he looks worthy of support at 5/2 with either Stan James or William Hill.

In the other Grade 1 on the card Dermot Weld returns to he National Hunt scene for the first time in a couple of weeks with Hisaabaat, and his speedy son of Dubawi can benefit from the application of blinkers to take the Grade 1 AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at 4.30pm.

A winner at Leopardstown in February (beating the re-opposing Shadow Catcher), he went on to be second in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, and with the headgear on he can improve further on ground that’s unlikely to stop him in his tracks.

He looks a solid option at 4/1 with Sportingbet.

Finally, he may not be Britain’s champion trainer for 2011/12 but Nicky Henderson has had a momentous season, firing in winners like an unruly child let loose with a water pistol, and after seeing Oscara Dara justify favouritism here yesterday he can cap a fine campaign with victory for Une Artiste in the Grade 3 Mares’ Hurdle at 5.05pm.

She’ll love the ground, has been beaten only once in four starts since arriving from France in January, and gets weight from everything as one of only two four year olds in the line up.

The price isn’t sexy, but providing this isn’t one race too many she is by far the most likely winner.

You can back her at 7/4 with any of BetVictor.

Lastly, for anyone looking for some clues about my own family’s runner Le Beau Bai in the old Whitbread Gold Cup at Sandown Park, I’d say I’m very hopeful but not overflowing with confidence:

If the ground was like it is in Punchestown it’d be happy days, but the official description there is only Soft (Good to Soft), while it’s well known our lad wants it Heavy bordering on unraceable.

He also has to prove he’s as good racing right-handed (has won at Towcester, Exeter and Carlisle), plus will have to cope with Sandown’s big fences, which come thick and fast for a horse as small as him.

That said, if I’m sounding slightly negative that’d be misleading – he’s a great athlete who sparkled in his final piece of work on Thursday, and is 100% fit and ready to go to war.

With Charlie Poste suspended Jamie Moore takes over in the saddle – and if we could just have the forecast rain in the Esher area from now until 3pm then his chances will increase.

An attritional big field handicap of this nature holds no fears whatsoever, his mark of 140 is workable, and this is a compact but very tough horse who won’t be giving up easily.
Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets at Punchestown:

3.15 – thetote.com Punchestown Gold Cup – 8 Rubi Light (win) @ 5/2 (Stan James or William Hill)

4.30 – AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle – 7 Hisaabaat (win) @ 4/1 (Sportingbet)

5.05 – Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association Fillies Scheme EBF Mares Hurdle – 16 Une Artiste (win) @ 7/4 (BetVictor)

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Posted 5 years, 2 months ago

03 Mar
2012

Set Fair For A Fine Pre-Cheltenham Weekend‏

The calm before the storm.

Well, at least it’s meant to be….just 11 days to go until the Cheltenham Festival, and although deep in the Preview season there’s still a stack of decent racing to get through between now and then, with Saturday’s card at Newbury just the ticket for anyone not yet ready to fully focus on those four madcap days in Gloucestershire.

For those of you who can’t think of anything else there seems to be a Festival Preview in every corner of the British Isles at the minute, and I was lucky enough to be invited to join Barry Geraghty, Sam Turner, Evan Williams and Anthony Bromley at Ludlow Racecourse on Thursday night, though a chopper would’ve been handy as I was racing back from racing at Taunton and only made it there by the skin of my teeth.

For the record Bromley insisted to anyone who’d listen that 9/2 favourite Vendor would be the one to be on in the Fred Winter, I unveiled my master plan for Weird Al to make the frame at 20’s in the Gold Cup and explained why Monksland would win the Neptune, while Barry was championing the cause of Bobs Worth for the RSA, saying “if he improves as much as expected then he’s a serious player and will be on the premises”, but put Oscar Whisky’s prospects of denying Big Buck’s a fourth straight win in the World Hurdle in perspective by admitting: “Big Buck’s is different class!”.

Regular readers will no doubt also be pleased to know Trifleman was spotted, busy making notes and glancing over his shoulder for debt collectors (read last Saturday’s blog if you’re baffled by this!).

There’ll be more of the same at the luxurious Castle House Hotel in Hereford on Wednesday night – their food (included in the price) is out of this world, you get the chance to drown yourself in a vat of locally brewed Butty Bach ale (it’s Welsh for ‘little friend’ and is also included in the price), plus there’s a panel of experts and me to try and shed some light on the four days at Prestbury Park (you may well feel inclined to demand a refund).

In the more immediate future it’s a trip down the A34 on Saturday afternoon, with racing coming from Newbury with four races live on Channel 4.

One of my favourite innovations by the race planning department at the BHA in recent seasons has been the introduction of veterans’ races, and the second race on the card (2.40pm) is the williamhill.com Support Greatwood Veterans’ Handicap Chase over an extended 3m 2f, open only to horses 10 years of age and above.

Races of this nature have been a raging success; they provide openings for horses still full of racing but perhaps a shade vulnerable to younger, less exposed types.

Trainers have been open in their support for them, and I won’t be at all surprised if Philip Hobbs is singing their praises if his popular old-timer Fair Along can nail this £10,010 winner’s prize and get his head in front on a course he clearly thrives on (placed in the Aon Chase, beaten only a length by Noland a year ago).

He’s certainly no back number as he’s run some crackers this season, not least an outstanding third in the Hennessy (also at Newbury) under Nina Carberry.

I was a little surprised to see the handicapper drop him three pounds recently to 139, but I’m certainly not complaining.

He’s one of only four 10 year olds in the race (everything else is longer in the tooth), we know he goes on better ground, he’s rarely out of the frame over fences or hurdles such is his consistency, and his stable appear to have turned something of a corner in terms of recent form (three winners since Sunday).

Of the opposition there’s no clear form pick, though Niche Market is being prepared for another go at the National and will almost certainly go off favourite.

The problem with him is he hasn’t won for nearly three years, nor has he come even close to winning in two of those years! Fellow Hobbs inmate Marufo might be a danger, but he’s a fragile type who hasn’t stood much racing (has missed a year on two occasions).

At the time of writing Niche Market is 3/1, while Fair Along is 5/1 with any of William Hill, Ladbrokes or Skybet, and at that price I’m keen to back him to win.

Half an hour later I’m looking for a big run from Charlie’s Mann’s Fine Parchment under a feather weight in the feature Barbury International Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup (Handicap Chase).

Run over two and a half miles it’s contested by a field of 13 who are largely out of form and trying to rediscover a going day – step forward Fine Parchment, winner of this very race 12 months ago when rated 130, he’s back for more with a mark just a fraction higher (133), on ground he definitely acts on and with his stable back among the winners (four in the past fortnight).

His last three runs haven’t been too exciting, but they have enabled the handicapper to cut him some slack (was up to 144), and don’t he’s a course and distance winner, plus with young Gavin Sheehan able to use his entire claim he’ll think he’s got loose off a feather weight.

What’s more, his second to the progressive Hector’s Choice at Aintree in October doesn’t read too shabbily now – he was conceding three pounds and was beaten two and a half lengths when rated 135 that day – against a horse who went on to be second in the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton Park last Saturday off 147.

If he can return to that sort of form after a nice 49 day break he’ll go very close in this.

Nothing else jumps off the page, so have a stab at a horse who’s been there and done it in this race, especially when you can back him each way at 15/2 with any of Paddy Power, BetVictor or Sportingbet.

In the opener at Newbury I can’t help but think there’s more to come from Kieran Burke’s Buck Magic now the six year old gelding teams up with Barry Geraghty (2.05pm).

Burke has hit the headlines recently due to the rise and rise of Hunt Ball, and there could be more positive headlines coming his way due to this member of his small string.

Buck Magic returned from a spell on the sidelines with a promising third at Wincanton over 2m 6f behind a well supported favourite a fortnight ago, doing his best work at the finish to suggest this step up to three miles will be ideal now he’s had a run to blow away the cobwebs.

Already the winner of a Point to Point, a bumper and a novice hurdle he can gain his first win in handicap company here. Win bet.

To complete the set at Newbury try Donald McCain’s Ebanour now he tries handicap company for the first time at 3.45pm, as he lines up in the extended two mile Ladbrokes Supporting Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.

Favourite Balgarry could be anything, but either way he hasn’t run for 557 days and might need this, while Sire Collonges has also been off nearly a year, though was well beaten in this a year ago and fell on his only subsequent appearance at Aintree in April.

By backing Ebanour each way at 7/1 with BetVictor or Skybet we get a solid chance with an improving handicap debutant who looks to be on a very fair mark of 119 (which means he receives weight from horses who appear to have been assessed on reputation rather than achievement), who’ll benefit from a drop in trip, and who hails from a bang in form team.

Finally, I couldn’t help but notice the rise and rise of Lucy Alexander looks set to continue up at Kelso as her blossoming relationship with Red Tanber sees the duo favourite to win the Bedmax Handicap Chase at 3.05pm.

Red Tanber is a whopping 36 pounds higher than when he started his winning spree at the start of December, but the pair have been successful on four of the five occasions they’ve teamed up, and as long as he can be as effective going left-handed (usually wins at Musselburgh) then trainer Bruce Mactaggart has found another winnable looking opening here, and he may well still be ahead of the handicapper.

I notice this horse has a speculative entry for the Jewson at the Festival, though at 250/1 he’s not a name I’ve heard mentioned so far on the preview trail!
Good luck!
Saturday’s best bets at Newbury and Kelso:

2.05 Newbury – Betfair Supporting Greatwood Handicap Hurdle – 9 Buck Magic (win) @ 4/1 (Ladbrokes)

2.40 Newbury – williamhill.com Support Greatwood Veterans’ Handicap Chase – 4 Fair Along (win) @ 5/1 (William Hill, Ladbrokes or Skybet)

3.05 Kelso – Bedmax Handicap Chase – 1 Red Tanber (win)@ 7/4 (BetVictor)

3.10 Newbury – Barbury International Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup (Handicap Chase) – 12 Fine Parchment (each way) @ 15/2 (Paddy Power, BetVictor or Sportingbet)

3.45 Newbury – Ladbrokes Supporting Greatwood Handicap Hurdle – 8 Ebanour (each way) @ 7/1 (BetVictor or Skybet)

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Posted 5 years, 4 months ago

28 Jan
2012

Blackstairmountain A Step Ahead In Sunday’s Leopardstown Arkle

There’s no doubting the headline act at Leopardstown on BHP Insurance Champion Hurdle day, as the covers come off reigning Champion Hurdle winner Hurricane Fly at 2.30pm, live on RTE2.

Granted he hasn’t been seen since his majestic win at Punchestown in the Rabobank Champion back in May (268 days ago), but this is a horse with a proven record when fresh and although the history books will show he was beaten first time up back in November 2009, and red hot trainer Willie Mullins will surely have left plenty to work on pre-Cheltenham, defeat remains hard to envisage on Sunday afternoon.

It won’t be a cake walk with improving mare Unaccompanied in opposition getting weight and boasting the advantage of race fitness, especially given her display in the Istabraq Festival Hurdle here at Christmas time, but she receives nine pounds from the favourite when if this was a handicap she’d be getting 16!

Put another way, she was just a length and a half superior to Hurricane Fly’s re-opposing stablemate Thousand Stars at Christmas time in receipt of 10 pounds – the same Thousand Stars who has been soundly thrashed by his more illustrious Closutton neighbour each time they’ve met.

Unaccompanied might give him something to think about, but it’s a likely a seventh Grade 1 lies in wait for Hurricane Fly.

You won’t get rich backing him at the top price 4/7 available with any of Bet365, Paddy Power, Sportingbet or William Hill, so i’ll be sticking him in a double with another Mullins inmate Blackstairmountain, as the improving seven year old bids to give Ruby Walsh the first leg of a lucrative Grade 1 double at 1.25pm.

Mullins could barely have his string in better form, and following his course and distance win in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase at Christmas time Blackstairmountain is strongly fancied to maintain his 100% record and make it a hat-trick over the larger obstacles.

That high profile Leopardstown win came chiefly at the expense of David Pipe’s Notus De La Tour, and he once again makes the journey from Somerset to team up with Robbie Power, though it’s hard to make a case for the form being reversed.

Perhaps Peter Casey’s eyecatching Flemenstar will be a bigger danger, but on Yielding ground he might not be such a potent force unless the heavens were to open, and Blackstairmountain rates a confident selection.

The price isn’t flash, but the 7/4 with Victor Chandler should pay dividends.

The double pays around 100/30.

Good luck!

Sunday’s best bets at Leopardstown – win double the following:

1.25 – Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase – 2 Blackstairmountain (win) @ 7/4 (Victor Chandler)

2.30 – BHP Insurance Champion Hurdle – 1 Hurricane Fly (win) @ 4/7 (Bet365Paddy PowerSportingbet or William Hill)

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Posted 5 years, 5 months ago

09 Dec
2011

A Dream Day At Cheltenham – Saturday’s Best Bets

What could be finer than unexpectedly plotting up in a Brewers Fayre pub near a saturated stretch of the M6 slap bang during the middle of rush hour on a Friday night?

Fortunate not to be killed by a stray bread roll – launched by someone with particularly bad eye sight or possibly someone particularly angry after Always Bold was beaten on Friday having been napped on the blog – during an impromptu food fight that erupted among the accountants department of a nearby firm’s office party, your correspondent is braving a world of two meals for £10 and the apparently ‘world famous’ all you can eat ‘Chip Shop Buffet’ to bring you Saturday’s predictions for the best route to a profitable day at Cheltenham and beyond.

I haven’t yet availed myself of either of the aforementioned offers, thought the gentleman next to me definitely has, possibly more than once in recent times judging by his rippling physique.

He won’t be doing 10 stone any time soon it’s fair to say, though his third piece of battered carp does look incredibly good.

Other positives that come with my temporary surroundings include complimentary wireless broadband and an endless supply of ice cold, reasonably priced lager. I’m a fan.

I’m also a fan of Join Together’s chances at Cheltenham on Saturday afternoon (12.45) as he bids to make it two from two in Cheltenham Novice Chases this season, having seen off Teaforthree and Restless Harry at the November fixture.

The way Teaforthree franked that form as he won at Chepstow last week was spectacular and means Join Together must be quite a sort to beat him, and with doubts about his main rivals here he can allay any fears about his ability to act on a faster surface, at the expense of Mossley (jumping) and Champion Court (stamina).

There’s a whole heap of possibilities in Cheltenham’s two mile handicap chase at 1.20pm, but though Havingotascoobydo makes plenty of appeal at 4/1 from towards the bottom of the weights I also like a horse at twice the price with valuable experience on the track, namely Dave’s Dream who’s hard to predict but definitely capable on his day.

The drop back in trip and quicker ground will be a huge boost, and though Barry Geraghty rides stablemate Tanks For That it does open the door for Jeremiah McGrath to take five pounds off and relieve some of the burden of his mark of 147.

He won easily at the November Open Meeting in 2010 off 137, and though well beaten over further in the Paddy Power might have been wrongly overlooked by those bookmakers prepared to lay him each way at 8/1 with any of Blue Square, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power or William Hill.

It certainly doesn’t get any easier at 2.30pm as the feature handicap on the card now run as the Spinal Research The Atlantic 4 Gold Cup rolls round.

AP McCoy gets down to 10 stone 4 pounds in order to take the ride on Sunnyhillboy, a phenomenal achievement in itself for a man in his 19th season riding, and he’ll be a danger to all on a horse who’s twice made the frame in ultra competitive company on this track (including this race 12 months ago).

There’s also Paddy Power winner and Hennessy fourth Great Endeavour, plus David Pipe’s Salut Flo who’s returning from two years off.

Winners of this race certainly don’t come easy, but the one to disappoint AP and company might well be the talked up West Country hopeful Roudoudou Ville for Victor Dartnall and Andrew Glassonbury.

He is unexposed, sharply progressive, goes on quick ground, travels like a dream, and promises to improve still further around Cheltenham’s left-handed circuit.

His trainer is no stranger to big race winners, and the 10/1 available each way with any of Sportingbet, Boylesports or Paddy Power represents a cracking wager.

If that isn’t enough to get you excited then a truly vintage renewal of the Bula Hurdle (run as the stanjames.com International) should do just that at 3.05pm, with a staggering wealth of talent strutting their stuff.

I’ll be a candidate to throw myself under a fast moving nearby bus if Overturn wins and he isn’t carrying my cash, and with the faster ground in his favour this remarkable horse should put up a bold effort at extending his winning sequence to four.

I firmly respect his principal rivals, but this is a horse who genuinely could make the frame in the Champion Hurdle itself, and with him displaying the form of his life it wouldn’t be a shock if he were to reward us by storming up the Cheltenham hill at a top offer of 4/1 with Boylesports.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

12.45 Cheltenham – Ryman Stationer Novices’ Chase – 1 Join Together (win) @ 100/30 (Victor Chandler)

1.20 Cheltenham – Jenny Mould Memorial Handicap Chase – 3 Dave’s Dream (each way) @ 8/1 (Blue Square, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power or William Hill)

2.30 Cheltenham – Spinal Research The Atlantic 4 Gold Cup (Handicap Chase) – 10 Roudoudou Ville (each way) @ 10/1 (Sportingbet, Boylesports or Paddy Power)

3.05 Cheltenham – stanjames.com International Hurdle – 2 Overturn (win) @ 4/1 (Boylesports)

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Posted 5 years, 7 months ago

25 Nov
2011

Frogs Need Not Apply With Prince Primed To Enjoy Hennessy Spoils

The old saying goes something along the lines of ‘you have to kiss a few frogs to find a prince or princess’, but hopefully we can save ourselves plenty of of time, effort and expense by cutting out that period of haphazard trial and error, and instead investing in the chances of Ian Williams’ Wayward Prince for Saturday’s three and a quarter mile feature from Newbury – The Hennessy Gold Cup, live on Channel 4 at 3.10pm.

I traveled down to Newbury on Thursday for day one of their three day Sportingbet Hennessy Festival, and it looked like punters were doing pretty well at not wasting too much excess saliva on costly stray amphibians, with five of the seven races falling to horses that were either clear or second favourite.

The obvious highlights for yours truly were another impressive display from Grand Crus – the papers on Friday suggested he was perhaps a little bit workmanlike, but what more do they want than a flawless jumping display over stiff fences, especially with a potential top notcher giving dogged pursuit but never able to really get the hazard lights flashing, with runner up Sonofvic a former point-to-point winner who’ll clearly take high rank himself – I thought Grands Crus emerged with enormous credit, and if all goes to plan he’ll head for the RSA (for which he’s biggest at 5/1 antepost with Ladbrokes) with a clear chance, and no Big Buck’s in the way this time!

You also had to be hugely impressed with the returning Empire Levant in the conditional riders’ handicap hurdle, he won in little more than a hack canter under young Harry Derham, who conducted himself with aplomb when interviewed afterwards. Rather like Grands Crus, neither horse nor pilot put a foot wrong.

Something unusual also happened on Thursday, when I found myself face to face and in conversation with Sky Sports’ Spanish football guru Guillem Balague.

Life is full is tough and complicated decisions: one second you’re standing there contemplating the moral dilemma of whether it’s right or wrong to invest in a second £6.80 Farmyard Deluxe with bacon and cheddar from Mega Burger, the next you’re standing on the lip of the paddock engaged in a deep and meaningful discussion with a man who, on Sunday nights at least, when you’re absorbed by Racing Santander against Tenerife, assumes the kind of reverence normally reserved for Barack Obama, Sienna Miller or Channel 4’s Accounts Department on pay day.

So many questions to ask, so little time….in times of emergency is Pepperami a viable substitute for chorizo when making a paella? If I give you a tenner can you get me Georgie Thompson’s mobile number? Why are Villarreal performing like a pub team in this season’s Champions League?

Sadly i’m no further to answering any of the above, but I am happy to report he’s a thoroughly good guy, on his first ever trip to the races with his parents in tow as guests of Sportingbet.

Meeting people you only ever see on the box can be a demoralising experience on occasion, but this was quite the opposite, even if I think his nose grew at least an inch longer as he politely told me he regularly tunes in to watch The Morning Line…

Back to the future though, and the small matter of the 18 runners comprising the field for the 2011 Hennessy.

Stacks are in with chances in an open looking race, but I think plenty will quickly find the end to end gallop too hot to handle.

It’s a race which often goes the way of a second season chaser on a sharp upward curve, and as I’ve already mentioned the one I like is Ian Williams’ Wayward Prince, an exciting seven year old Alflora gelding who should be ideally suited by the track and Good ground, won first time out in 2010, is nicely weighted with 10st 8lbs, boasts a 60% strike rate having won three of his five starts over fences, and already has big game experience after finishing third in the RSA behind Bostons Angel in March.

There’s been plenty of money for him in recent days, and jockey Dougie Costello knows him inside out.

His trainer was dealt a cruel blow in the summer when stable star Weird Al was transferred to Donald McCain – they’d done absolutely nothing wrong with him, but promptly had to stomach it as their former flagbearer instantly won the Charlie Hall, and then ran a creditable third in last Saturday’s Betfair Chase.

Williams certainly hasn’t let it get to him though, banging in plenty of winners of late, including a double courtesy of Kickahead and Drumlang on Thursday.

His good form can continue with this major prize, and an each way slice of the 8/1 available with plenty of the firms (including Bet365, Boylesports, Paddy Power and William Hill) fits the bill.

Up at Newcastle it seems amazing to think snow and ice forced the abandonment of their Fighting Fifth card this time 12 months ago, but fast forward to 2011 and it’s all systems go at a sunny Gosforth Park for the stanjames.com sponsored feature, live on Channel 4 at 2.20pm.

Only five line up, and barring mishaps it’s a three horse race, with Nicky Henderson’s Binocular looking to make it third time lucky in a race where he’s twice come unstuck as an odds on jolly.

Perhaps this is his best opportunity to land this particular race, but at a top price of 5/6 I won’t be going near him.

Two years running Henderson has come out post race and made his excuses, suggesting he’d be better for the run and that he’d left something to work on, and indeed that was the case on both occasions with wins in the 2010 Champion Hurdle and 2011 Christmas Hurdle providing ample evidence.

Binocular on top of his game would win this with something to spare, but there remains something inescapably brittle about this horse, especially if you think it’s three years since he’s achieved any victory in his pre-Christmas campaign (last year’s Christmas Hurdle was run in January due to the bad weather).

Realistically that leaves us with Celestial Halo and “Duracell Bunny”, Overturn.

In a 29 race career, Celestial Halo has never managed to win two in a row, so even though he got the job done in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton three weeks ago (would’ve been beaten if Grandouet had stood up), I won’t be rushing to back him at 7/2.

By process of elimination that means it has to be one of my favourite horses in training; Donald McCain’s Overturn, a star for connections since he was bought from Walter Swinburn’s stable for £70,000 in October 2009.

McCain managed to get the better of Binocular in this race with Peddlers Cross at Newbury in 2010, and he can repeat the trick here with a horse who hurdles with exuberance and loves a scrap.

For my money he’s equally effective back at the minimum trip, we know he’s in top form after running a blinder against Oscar Whisky in the Coral Hurdle last Saturday, and he can get them on the stretch and produce another Fighting Fifth to forget for Binocular.

Based on Christmas Hurdle form we know Binocular ought to be good enough, but he’s a moody horse who disappointed at both Aintree and Punchestown, has a patchy win record at this time of year, and doesn’t have the benefit of a prep run.

At much bigger odds Overturn provides a serious alternative, and by taking the 100/30 with William Hill we’re guaranteed a run for our money.

Before any of that drama takes place there’s the small matter of decent Friday card at Newbury to take in, and the one I really like is Jonjo O’Neill’s Caddie Master in the extended three mile handicap hurdle at 2.45pm.

I was at Ffos Las a couple of weekends back to see him finish a narrow second in his bid for a four-timer against the re-opposing Frontier Dancer.

Caddie Master is only a five year old but is already improving dramatically, and having had a suitable break is now weighted to reverse that form (beaten a short head that day conceding a pound, he now receives three).

The handicapper only put him up two for that excellent effort, but it was a race which more that most highlighted the sheer folly of the new whip regulations.

AP McCoy has ridden him in his last six races and clearly knows him well, so must have been enraged at being unable to offer his mount sufficient encouragement in a battling finish (and even then was deemed to have hit him one time too many) – I absolutely guarantee he would have won that race if riding under the old rules.

Anyway, looking on the bright side it’s possible the assessor would’ve been tougher than to hand out just a two pound rise if they’d won, and amends can be made this afternoon, and the 13/2 available each way with either Bet365 or Sportingbet is a sensible price.

Good luck!

This weekend’s best bets:

2.45 Newbury (Fri) – Pertemps Handicap Hurdle – 7 Caddie Master (each way) @ 13/2 (Bet365 or Sportingbet)

2.20 Newcastle (Sat) – stanjames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle – 4 Overturn (win) @ 100/30 (William Hill)

3.10 Newbury (Sat) – Hennessy Gold Cup Chase (Handicap) – 8 Wayward Prince (each way) @ 8/1 (Bet365, Boylesports, Paddy Power)

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Posted 5 years, 8 months ago

28 Oct
2011

Harry A Diamond Bet To Reel In Wetherby Rivals In Charlie Hall Chase

For many fans of the winter Jumping game, myself included, this weekend signals the start of the National Hunt season proper with the Grade 2 Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase attracting a high class field of eight runners to Wetherby.

It’s a track and in particular a race that’s been kind to me in recent seasons, with the likes of Ollie Magern, State Of Play and Deep Purple all netting this column a healthy return in what’s often a thriller.

A left-handed galloping circuit with pretty stiff fences, their feature event is run over 3m 1f at 3.20pm on Saturday (live on Ch4), and on this occasion hopes are high that the one to be on is Nick Williams’ 2010 Hennessy Gold Cup winner Diamond Harry.

Attempting his sixth straight win on seasonal reappearance this is clearly a horse who always goes fresh, and although connections would surely have preferred the heavens to have opened in North Yorkshire, he should get away with it on ground that’s given as genuinely Good all over at the time of writing.

Hills, Ladbrokes and Sportingbet are all offering 11/4 about the market leader, a price which becomes more attractive when you factor in the stats regarding favourites in this race; the last seven have finished either first or second, while nine of the last ten winners were priced 6/1 or shorter.

This is a horse who has a real touch of class about him, something you’ll surely agree with if you saw him hack up in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle three years ago.

A winner of three of his four starts over fences perhaps a lack of experience is the only other concern apart from the ground, but any horse who can see off a Hennessy field in the fashion he did is okay by me.

Another one in the field who lacks experience in the field is a horse with huge potential in Time For Rupert, with only three starts over the larger obstacles to his name, but he wasn’t right when disappointing in the RSA last time out (bled) and I prefer Diamond Harry.

Of the remainder I really like Poquelin and fear him as the main danger, he’s become something of a Cheltenham specialist and is the highest rated in the field, but has questions to answer upped in trip (races beyond 2m 5f for the first time ever), while Nacarat nailed this race last season (three of the last 10 winners had previously won at the track), but has a good bit to find at the weights.

Weird Al is a former course and distance winner making his first start for the powerful Donald McCain team, but in my eyes they’ve got it all to do to beat Diamond Harry, and a win bet at 11/4 will do nicely.

There’s also a belting Grade 2 staying hurdle on the card at 2.45pm, a race in which I’m going to risk a more speculative investment on the capable but unpredictable Ashkazar for David Pipe and Timmy Murphy.

He blazed onto the scene in the 2008 Sunderands Imperial Cup, narrowly failing to net the sponsor’s bonus in the Fred Winter six days later at Cheltenham when second to Crack Away Jack.

Since then he’s displayed patches of excellent form (mainly over hurdles), winning at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day in a handicap off top weight and a mark of 152.

If he brought his ‘A’ game to the table i’d struggle to see him out the three, with Fair Along (won this 2009 & 2010) having to concede plenty of weight, and Coral Cup victor Carlito Brigante trying to recover from a recent stinker on the All Weather at Dundalk.

A little nibble of the 6/1 available each way with the Magic Sign fits the bill, especially as they are betting a quarter the odds a place.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets at Wetherby:

2.45 – John Smith’s Hurdle – 4 Ashkazar (each way) @ 6/1 (Ladbrokes)

3.20 – Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase – 2 Diamond Harry (win) @ 11/4 (William Hill, Ladbrokes and Sportingbet)

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Posted 5 years, 9 months ago

10 Sep
2011

Finger On The Pulse At A Wet And Windy Curragh

Jessica Harrington made her much deserved Group 1 breakthrough 12 months ago when Pathfork did the business in the Group 1 Goffs National Stakes, and at 3.15 this afternoon (live on RTE2) I’m expecting a bold show from her Futurity Stakes winner Dragon Pulse, as her fast improving son of Kyllachy bids to join an elite cluster including his aforementioned stablemate, Hawk Wing, Teofilo and New Approach, all of whom have netted the Futurity-National Stakes double.

There’s no telling how good this colt could turn out to be, but with track, trip and ground certain to suit I’m expecting a very bold show, and the 11/4 with any of Stan James, Coral or Boylesports looks worth an interest, especially as Power (beaten last time out) has questions to answer regarding both the step up in trip and the underfoot conditions, while Talwar was visually impressive at Sandown but beat nothing of note.

The 33/1 about Dragon Pulse for the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket next May might well be a thing of the past come 3.20pm.

There’ll be huge interest in a first racecourse appearance for Born To Sea, a half brother to both Sea The Stars and Galileo no less, as he makes his debut in the Blenheim Stakes at 2.40pm.

He even races in the Christopher Tsui silks made famous by Sea The Stars, with Tsui best known for passing out in the winner’s enclosure after Sea The Stars had done the business at Sandown Park in the 2009 Coral-Eclipse.

He’s one to watch as they surely won’t knock him around on his debut in a very competitive race, but perhaps this will be used as a stepping stone to the Beresford Stakes later in the month.

He’s not a bet, but keep your eyes peeled.

At 3.50pm the Group 1 Irish Field St Leger is our other feature race live on RTE, and although Ballydoyle horse Fame And Glory is a best priced 5/6 with Hills as he bids to emulate both Kayf Tara in 1998 and Septimus in 2007, both of whom completed the Ascot Gold Cup/Irish Leger double, I fancy one of the English travellers to put it up to him….

Aidan O’Brien won this race in both 2007 and 2008, but if there is to be an upset to prevent him from claiming a third then perhaps Mark Johnston’s globetrotting Jukebox Jury can provide it.

Fame And Glory got turned over at 1/3 by the re-opposing Fictional Account in his prep race for this, and though we can expect him to be much sharper this afternoon he’ll have any kinks in his armour exposed by a very good horse in the shape of Jukebox Jury, who seemingly has had more holidays than Judith Chalmers with trips to Canada, the UAE, Germany and France featuring among the 20 races on his cv.

While deteriorating ground would be one factor which could count against English raider (he has won on Good to Soft at Newmarket this season) you had to be impressed by his win at Deauville last time out, seeing off Kasbah Bliss by three lengths in Group 2 company over nearly two miles, with Red Cadeaux (who runs here) down the field, as was Melbourne Cup winner Americain.

Jukebox Jury definitely stays, takes his travelling like water off a mallard’s back, is in top form, has had a nice break since winning last time out, and hails from a stable who made a successful trip to Leopardstown last Saturday, as Below Zero hacked up in the Premier Handicap.

Perhaps Fame And Glory will prove to be the absolute class act, but at 5/1 with either Ladbrokes or Sportingbet I feel Jukebox Jury represents a bit of value against a short priced favourite who let down odds on backers last time out.

Across the Irish sea there’ll me a mammoth crowd on Town Moor for the fourth and final day of the Ladbrokes St Leger meeting, and hats off to Clerk of the Course Jon Pullen and his team for working wonders with the ground given the state it was in six months ago following a brutal winter.

Dansili juvenile Entifaadha should have too many guns for them in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at 2.05pm – he’s unbeaten and should remain so in light of the three pounds he gets from chief danger Red Duke.

The 5/4 with either Coral or Chandler is the best price in the village.

I can’t sign off without a tip for the Ladbrokes St Leger at 3.10pm – the exchanges are speaking firmly against runaway Great Voltigeur winner Sea Moon, with the Betfair market offering Sir Michael Stoute’s Beat Hollow colt at rates as big as 3.05 this morning.

The chief doubts are obvious, with the quickening ground a major concern, as well as the wretched form of the Stoute team, who find themselves in danger of emulating the 1999 campaign when they failed to bag a single Group 1 prize.

It’s an enthralling renewal, with definite chances afforded to several of them including Census, Masked Marvel, Seville and Brown Panther, but as usual where she is concerned I’m more than happy to place my confidence in Godolphin filly Blue Bunting, a dual Classic winner who loves the track (won a maiden here last August), strikes me as 99% certain to stay, goes on any ground you throw at her, and is thriving on her racing.

A three pounds filles’ allowance will help, and she can become the first female since User Friendly in 1992 to take the Leger, in the process giving Frankie his sixth win in the race.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

2.05 Doncaster – One Call Insurance Champagne Stakes – 4 Entifaadha (win) @ 5/4 (Coral or Victor Chandler)

3.10 Doncaster – Ladbrokes St Leger – 8 Blue Bunting (win) @ 7/2 (Paddy Power, Boylesports or William Hill)

3.15 Curragh – Goffs National Stakes – 2 Dragon Pulse (win) @ 11/4 (Stan James, Coral or Boylesports)

3.50 Curragh – The Irish Field St Leger – 3 Jukebox Jury (win) @ 5/1 (Sportingbet or Ladbrokes)

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Posted 5 years, 10 months ago