Archive for the ‘ stan james ’ Category

11 Jul
2013

The Heat Is On At Newmarket – July Meeting Day 1 Tips

Four live races on Channel 4 Racing this afternoon, as they kick off day one of Newmarket’s ever popular July Meeting. Sandwiched on the calendar in between Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood it’s a card chock full of angles, not least in the opening Group 3 Bahrain Trophy, where Brian Meehan’s Testudo could easily run a big race in a contest which features an appetizing eight runners for each way purposes.

Sixth on debut behind the classy Remote and today’s rival Dare To Achieve at Newbury, he built on that when scoring well at Sandown Park a month ago.

With that in mind in an open contest I’m keen to have an each-way interest at a widely available 12/1, especially as Kieren Fallon has twice previously enjoyed success in this race courtesy of Spanish John and Anousa.

The second race on the card is the Group 2 July Stakes in which Royal Ascot’s Coventry Stakes third and fifth Sir John Hawkins and Jallota come up against a field of unexposed Maiden winners. Runners coming on from the Coventry do not have a great record in this, and the one I like is Godolphin’s once-raced course and distance winner Figure Of Speech. He could be anything, but really caught the eye first time up.

The biggest pot of the day is reserved for the Group 2 Princess of Wales’s Stakes in which Japanese connections of Lady Cecil’s runner Wild Coco will be hoping for a big run, having stumped up just short of a million guineas for the mare in December. However, she will have to go some to peg back Mark Johnston’s rugged and consistent Universal. He went into the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal Meeting on a four-timer, and despite having to settle for third in a messy race, he’s expected to return to winning ways this afternoon.

Thursday’s Best Bets:

1.40pm Newmarket (July) – Bahrain Trophy – 7 Testudo (each way) @ odds of 12/1 (Bet365, Betfred, Bet Victor, Stan James, Ladbrokes)

2.10pm Newmarket (July) – July Stakes – 6 Figure Of Speech (win) @ odds of 9/2 (Bet365, Betfred, Bet Victor, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, Coral)

2.40pm Newmarket (July) – Princess of Wales’s Stakes – 2 Universal (win) @ odds of 7/2 (Bet365, Betfred, Bet Victor, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, Coral)

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Posted 3 years, 7 months ago

27 Apr
2013

Luna To Eclipse Sandown Rivals in Final Day Dust Up

Outstanding racing on both sides of the Irish sea today, with the final day of the National Hunt season going right to the wire for jockeys Davy Russell (103 winners) and Ruby Walsh (99) on the fifth and sadly last day of a brilliant Punchestown Festival.

We’ll come to that later, but first up at Sandown the 12/1 with any of bet365, BetVictor, Stan James or Ladbrokes looks too big about the rapidly improving Galileo gelding Leo Luna in the opener at 1.30pm.

He won without even knowing he’d had a race when given a true peach of a ride by Jamie Moore at Bangor last Saturday, a run necessary to qualify for a handicap to enable shrewd connections to have a tilt at this more valuable prize.

It’s a hot contest, but this lad has loads of boot and won’t mind the quicker ground.

Jamie Moore was unlucky not to win on Ubak at Punchestown yesterday, but this might be one in the onion bag for another of his father’s promising inmates.

Sticking with Sandown Park it looks wise to stick with course specialist Sanctuaire in the Celebration Chase at 2.40pm.

The Paul Nicholls trained seven year old seems to reserve his best for the Esher track, careering away with this race by 17 lengths a year ago.

He’s been no match for Sprinter Sacre in three attempts this season, but with the undisputed heavyweight champ safely tucked up in his box after Tuesday’s Punchestown exhibition, the coast looks clear for Sanctuaire to get back to winning ways at 7/2 with any of bet365, BetVictor, Coral, Ladbrokes or William Hill.

Back here in Punchestown it’s a book of five rides for Ruby Walsh and four for Davy Russell as the former bids to pull off a spectacular smash and grab final day heist on the jockey’s title.

In all likelihood he’ll fall just short, but a couple of a ‘R Walsh’ ridden winners look likely nonetheless…

The prices are nothing to get the juices flowing, but they will be more than acceptable for anyone playing them up in multiples, as 4/6 shot Tarla looks a clear pick in the 2m 2f Grade 1 Mares Hurdle at 4.25pm.

Deep ground is right up her street, Ruby had the pick between her and improving stablemate Glens Melody, plus she has upwards of 10lbs in hand on each of her four rivals on official ratings.

Also in Grade 1 company, the first-time hooded Diakali ought to prove up to netting the AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at 5.00pm.

The Triumph Hurdle fourth is only 5/6 with the likes of Coral or William Hill, but with no Our Conor on display he can see off three stablemates plus Stocktons Wing and One Fine Day to take the bragging rights.

After all, he is a course and distance winner who operates on this deep ground.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

1.30 Sandown – bet365 Josh Gifford Handicap Hurdle – 2 Leo Luna (each way) @ 12/1 (bet365, BetVictor, Stan James or Ladbrokes)

2.40 Sandown – bet365.com Celebration Chase – 5 Sanctuaire (win) @ 7/2 (bet365, BetVictor, Coral, Ladbrokes or William Hill)

4.25 Punchestown – ITBA Fillies Scheme EBF Mares Hurdle – 5 Tarla (win) @ 4/6 (general)

5.00 Punchestown – AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle – 2 Diakali (win) @ 5/6 (Coral or William Hill)

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Posted 3 years, 10 months ago

24 Apr
2013

Klepht-omaniacs In Circulation At Punchestown

A brilliant first day at the 2013 Punchestown Festival was seen by a record crowd of 18,607, with betting turnover in the ring unsurprisingly up on 2012, with a total of €1,136,900 wagered in comparison to €993,454 the previous year.

Plenty of that bumper intake through the turnstiles turned up to see Sprinter Sacre write his name into the history books in the Boylesports Champion Chase, becoming the first horse since Istabraq back in 1999 to complete the Festival treble, with wins at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown in the same season.

Immense stuff; the locals here certainly know a thing or two about horse flesh, and they lapped it up accordingly, with Sprinter Sacre and his connections afforded a heroes welcome.

There was also the sight of a resurgent Jezki getting his revenge for Cheltenham by putting Champagne Fever firmly in his place in the Grade 1 Herald Champion Novice Hurdle, as well as Mount Benbulben finally delivering on his abundant promise to put his stamp on the other Grade 1 on a lucrative card, the Growise Champion Novice Chase.

This afternoon’s sport is no less exciting, with a seven race card kicking off at 3.40pm (live on RTE from 4.00pm).

It’s a tough card for punters, but aside from the feature tote.com Punchestown Gold Cup at 5.30pm there could be an opening in the two and a half mile Guinness Handicap Chase at 6.40pm…

The presence of Ruby Light off a mark of 160 means the rest of the 15 runners get in with under 11 stone, and that could assist the Tom Mullins-trained Klepht in his search for a second career success over fences.

The trainer’s three runners all performed with credit at the meeting yesterday, and his stable appear in good nick.

They didn’t bother with hurdles for this guy, sending him directly over the larger obstacles after four placed efforts in bumpers (also placed in all three Point to Points).

He’s done okay so far in seven tries over fences, winning over 2m 3f at Wexford in October (Good) alongside three placed efforts, the highlight of which was a quality third at Leopardstown in January over 2m 5f (Heavy), in which he had to give plenty of weight to the two that finished ahead of him.

This afternoon he races with just 10st 1lb on his back and Davy Condon up for the first time.

The track ought to suit him, the trip is his optimum, and the ground certainly holds no fears.

In a race that might fall apart his hold up style could lend itself well, and if he is to win again this might be the perfect opportunity.

Nadiya De La Vega looks an obvious danger, but Klepht nonetheless apeals as each way value at 12’s with any of Paddy Power, Stan James, Ladbrokes or William Hill.

Earlier in the day the feature race is the Gold Cup (5.30pm), which despite the absence of Bobs Worth has the makings of a cracker.

Cheltenham Gold Cup second and third Sir Des Champs and Long Run are back for more, Betfred Bowl winner First Lieutenant has posted a string of top notch displays this season, Captain Chris has found his way into the Pricewise column and will love the return to a right-handed track, while Quito De La Roque needs to improve again but has come in for eye-catching each way support overnight.

A very good renewal looks assured, but for me it has to be Sir Des Champs.

Long Run makes mistakes and has nearly three lengths to find on Gold Cup running, First Lieutenant was due a win but has had a string of gruelling races, Captain Chris is held by a nostril by Long Run on King George form, and everything else bar the out of sorts Riverside Theatre has it all to do on the ratings.

Top rated Sir Des Champs on the other hand has had a nice break since Cheltenham, loves Punchestown (won here 12 months ago), comes from a stable who continue to fire in the winners as though they’re going out of fashion, has no concerns about the ground or trip, and has no Bobs Worth to beat.

The bookies are spot on making him favourite, and he can oblige at the 2/1 available with any of Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power or William Hill.

Good luck!

Wednesday best bets at Punchestown:

5.30 – tote.com Punchestown Gold Cup – 8 Sir Des Champs (win) @ 2/1 (Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power or William Hill)

6.40 – Guinness Handicap Steeplechase – 8 Klepht (each way) @ 12/1 (Paddy Power, Stan James, Ladbrokes or William Hill)

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Posted 3 years, 10 months ago

15 Feb
2013

A ‘Grey’ Day In Store For The Nation’s Bookmakers?

Plenty of good racing to get our teeth into this weekend on what is a traditionally strong Saturday afternoon, with UK jumps racing coming from Ascot, Haydock and Wincanton.

There’ll be a good crowd at Haydock Park, and it’s at the Newton-le-Willows venue that I’ll be heading to take in the thrills and spills of a card that features both the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle and the Grand National Trial.

Fingers crossed we can hit the bullseye early on the card, with Emma Lavelle’s Kentford Grey Lady a confident pick to do the business in the three mile Rendlesham Hurdle at 2.20pm (live on Ch4).

Rated-142, this grey seven year old daughter of Silver Patriarch has been in good nick of late, winning at Sandown Park on her seasonal reappearance in December, before a slightly muted effort when third at the same venue last month.

It was much more like it last time out though, with a fine effort to plug on for third in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham, getting to within six lengths of top notch duo Reve De Sivola and Oscar Whisky.

On this occasion she’s favoured by the figures, benefits from a handy mare’s allowance, Lavelle’s horses are running okay (25 winners so far this season), she will have no issues with the testing ground, and can take this at the expense of the likes of Trustan Times and Cross Kennon.

Back her at 9/4 with Stan James.

Just 35 minutes later a field of 14 are declared for the Betfred Grand National Trial, a battle that’ll take some winning with three and a half miles on Heavy going lying in wait…

On paper it looks wide open, but I just cannot resist a few speculative shillings on a wonderful old horse who’s been there and done it and knows precisely what it takes to win one of these…

I might be way off the mark with this, but I do know that staff at crack Scottish trainer Lucinda Russell’s Perth & Kinross base have been pretty pleased with the way old stager Silver By Nature has returned to his work after nearly two years off the track.

Twice he’s run in this event, twice he turned it into a procession, thundering home miles clear under Peter Buchanan in both 2010 and 2011.

Yes that’s a long way back in the memory banks, indeed he’s been off the track for a whopping 679 days since finishing in 12th in the 2011 Grand National, plus he has top weight, but even so I can’t resist a little tickle when he’s just three pounds higher than last time he won the race.

Modern training methods are such that horses can and are nursed back to health after long spells on the sidelines.

It would have been much easier to recommend any of the more obvious candidates such as Teaforthree, Giles Cross, Cannington Brook, Rigadin De Beauchene or Monbeg Dude, but it wouldn’t be a total shock were Silver By Nature to run a big race.

Track, trip and ground are all tailor made for him, so the 22/1 available each way with Stan James is the place to shop.

Meanwhile, down at Ascot the Reynoldstown and the Grade 1 Ascot Chase are highlights of a very valuable card, but perhaps the best recommendation for a wager comes in the day’s opener at 1.30pm, where the Philip Hobbs trained Sausolito Sunrise can get the day off to a flying start for his Somerset stable.

He’ll need to run a big race here to justify his entry in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but he was desperately unlucky to be worn down close home at Ludlow 17 days ago, and compensation could be on the way.

Last season’s Cesarewitch Aaim To Propser hasn’t set the world alight in two tries over timber to date, so though Up And Go is respected I’ll happily throw my lot in with the potentially exciting Sausolito Sunrise.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

1.30 Ascot – Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle – 7 Sausolito Sunrise (win)

2.20 Haydock Park – Betfred Rendlesham Hurdle – 6 Kentford Grey Lady (win) @ 9/4 (Stan James)

2.55 Haydock Park – Betfred Grand National Trial H’Cap Chase – 1 Silver By Nature (each way) @ 22/1 (Stan James)

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Posted 4 years ago

29 Dec
2012

‘Bak’ For More On Heavy Ground

What a race and what a spectacle! I’m still reeling from the conclusion to Friday’s Lexus Chase at Leopardstown….simply stunning.

The ability and timing of Ruby Walsh to coax a winning effort from the oh so quirky Tidal Bay was a joy to watch, and that from a horse who turns 12 in three days time!

If you haven’t seen it it’ll be a couple of minutes of your life well spent doing precisely that, and the in-running figures neatly explain the excitement and drama of what unfolded out on the Foxrock track: the winner traded as high as 94/1 during the latter stages, Flemenstar looked to have it sewn up with a magnificent round of jumping and was as short as 1/12, First Lieutenant came there powerfully with what appeared to be a winning hand and was matched at 1/5, and even Sir Des Champs was done at even money.

Amazing scenes, and that on a day where in the Grade 2 Christmas Hurdle previous races Zaidpour was 2/5 and winner Monksland could’ve been snaffled at 80/1, and in the Grade 1 Novice Chase eventual second Aupcharlie hit 1/100 for more than £8,000.

Bananas!

Perhaps things will be easier to predict this afternoon, but a couple of decent openings for a wager arrive at Newbury, where the ground will be a real test.

One horse that’ll suit more than any other is Alan King’s Bakbenscher, who did this column a big favour by sluicing through the mud to score at Haydock Park last Saturday.

He re-appears with a six pound penalty in the 2m 5f Handicap Hurdle at 3.15pm (live on C4), putting him officially a pound well in after the handicapper saw fit raise him seven when the revised handicap list was printed on Christmas day.

This is a significantly stronger race than last week, with the likes of the unexposed Salubrious and bang in-form African Gold among a long list of dangers, but Bakbenscher has never been beaten on ground officially termed as Heavy, with his record standing at four wins from four attempts.

What’s more, the presence of Any Given Day topping the weights off 155 mean that three of today’s field have to race from out of the handicap, and also Bakbenscher benefits from an attractive racing weight of 10.6.

Wayne Hutchinson keeps the ride, and the pair will be a real handful.

Back him at 9/2 with any of Bet365, BetVictor, Paddy Power or William Hill.

On a card chock full of quality I also thought Paul Nicholls’s Bury Parade looked worth following in the two and a quarter miles Novices’ Chase at 1.35pm.

He has only recently joined the Ditcheat operation for £100,000, but prior to that was a novice hurdler of real promise for Borders trainer Robert Bewley, including a Hexham win on Heavy ground.

His chase debut saw him jump really well at Carlisle to see off a very good horse in Super Duty, who has since franked the form by finishing second in a hot race at Haydock, and then winning with any amount in hand at Cheltenham.

If Nicholls can carry on that upward curve then he’ll go a long way over the larger obstacles.

The 11/4 available with any of Bet365, BetVictor, Blue Square, Paddy Power or Ladbrokes looks okay.

At Donny, have a look at Jennie Candlish’s runner Barafundle in the three mile 0-145 Handicap Hurdle at Doncaster at 2.25pm.

He didn’t take up his engagement last weekend, but could be well handicapped on a mark of 133 judging by his form of a couple of years back.

There’s money around for him this morning, and he could be the solution to an open contest at 100/30 with any of Paddy Power, Stan James or Coral.

Lastly, revellers will be flocking from all corners of the globe for an end of an era Channel 4 Racing closing party at a venue in Newbury tonight.

The new regime kicks in on New Year’s Day at Cheltenham with IMG at the helm and a new look production, so the changing of the guard calls for a healthy knees up to celebrate what’s been an absolute pleasure to be part of under the Highflyer Productions umbrella.

Some truly fantastic people are part of that programme, doing technically skilled jobs you’d never imagine existed unless you saw the inner workings of the show, dedicated troops who week in week out are up in all weathers at 5.45am to prepare Morning Line studios and the like.

It might be a long drive to Haydock tomorrow.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

1.35 Newbury – Betfred “The Bonus King” Novices’ Chase – 1 Bury Parade (win) @ 11/4 (Bet365, BetVictor, Blue Square, Paddy Power or Ladbrokes)

2.25 Doncaster – Bet At Bluesq.com Handicap Hurdle – 3 Barafundle (win) @ 100/30 (Paddy Power, Stan James or Coral)

3.15 Newbury – Betfred Goals Galore Handicap Hurdle – 3 Bakbenscher (win) @ 9/2 (Bet365, BetVictor, Paddy Power or William Hill)

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Posted 4 years, 1 month ago

25 Dec
2012

The Best Bets For A Heavyweight Day On The Racing Calendar

Heavy!

That’s the word that perfectly encapsulates what we can expect at the vast majority of Boxing/St Stephen’s Day’s 11 remaining scheduled turf fixtures, with only Leopardstown reporting Soft going for one of the major days in their calendar.

As for the remainder, if they all survive to welcome the bank holiday crowds then Down Royal, Ffos Las, Fontwell, Kempton Park, Limerick, Market Rasen, Sedgefield, Towcester, Wincanton and Wetherby are all set to race on predominately Heavy ground, a determining factor which could make or break many a punting strategy over the festive period.

Chepstow’s Welsh National card has already had to be shunted back nine days from its slot on the 27th into the new year, such have been the monsoon like conditions which have left the track submerged in places, though reports that a dolphin was sighted jumping the last flight of hurdles on Christmas Eve are yet to be confirmed.

I’ll be hopping on the first flight over to Ireland for the full four day festive stretch in front of the RTE cameras at Leopardstown, and you can be absolutely certain the Dublin track will be rocking for the entire Christmas meeting.

Their’s isn’t the easiest card to unravel on Wednesday, but back in the UK there are some tempting looking openings for a wager, not least at West Wales track Ffos Las, as long as another deluge don’t leave them needing dinghies to get from the paddock to the weighing room.

Make no mistake, it is going to be bottomless there, so much so that I wouldn’t rule out a north sea rig being installed midway through the afternoon, following the lucky discovery of a few barrels worth of crude oil under the back straight!

As long as it does survive (no inspection planned) I will definitely be helping myself to a slice of the price on offer about David Pipe’s delightfully handicapped seven year old Beneficial gelding Kusadasi in the second race on the card – the Walters UK Handicap Hurdle – at 1.10pm.

Yet to really show his form over here since making the switch from Irish trainer Dusty Sheehy back in the spring, this is a horse who has seen his handicap mark tumble quicker than Ashley Young in the penalty area in recent times, meaning that having begun his career over here off a mark of 129, he now gets to compete off just 96.

Most encouragingly this is a horse who has won on Heavy before now, and also has several pleasing runs on testing going in the book.

He bounced back to form last time out when second to Bathwick Brave at Uttoxeter over five furlongs further, the form of which looks okay given how well Bathwick Brave then ran when second in a stronger race at Aintree.

His front running tactics will be ideal for Ffos Las, and a positive ride on this ground can help offset the drop in trip to two miles.

Judging by the ride he gave Home Run when winning at Taunton 13 days ago young Kieron Edgar is cracking value for his 10lb claim, and that also means a more than acceptable racing weight of 11 stone.

Quapriland looks to be the danger amongst his nine rivals, but it’s totally unclear how he’ll handle the ground, so stick with mud-lover Kusadasi to get the day off to a flying start.

Remaining at Ffos Las, another who’s been there and done it where Heavy ground in Ireland is concerned is Evan Williams in-form five year old Firebird Flyer, who lines up under top weight in the 0-120 Cotts Farm Equine Hospital Handicap Hurdle at 2.20pm.

A recent second at Chepstow and January’s Maiden Hurdle win at Tramore suggest he won’t turn at hair at the sight of a bit of mud – indeed Williams has only had him this season, with three runs culminating in a win over fences at Ludlow most recently.

It makes perfect sense to return to the smaller obstacles, given that he’s six pounds better off in this discipline (a mark of 119 as opposed to 125).

What’s more, second placed Ballyoliver franked the Ludlow form when subsequently scoring at Newbury, and with conditions favourable we can expect a big run from Firebird Flyer.

The Channel 4 cameras will be garrisoned at a sure to be packed out Kempton Park, where they get going at 12.50pm with a top quality two mile Novices’ Hurdle.

A 33/1 shot for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in March Nicky Henderson’s River Maigue will be all the rage for this one, after finding only Dodging Bullets too good on his hurdling debut at Cheltenham 40 days ago.

There’s also John Ferguson’s Champion Bumper second New Year’s Eve, as well as the hugely talented Spirit Of Shankly.

It’s a hot race alright, but one who might have been overlooked at big odds given how testing the ground will ride is Gary Moore’s Flat recruit Asker.

A thunderstorm on Christmas morning saw the ground changed to officially Heavy, and that could well lead to an upset or two, though given his proven ability to handle deep ground it’d be no great surprise were Asker to plough through the mud and claim a couple of notable scalps.

Formerly with Marcus Tregoning, this is a horse who twice own on Heavy going last summer.

A switch to Gary Moore will mean he’ll have been expertly prepared and schooled for this debut over timber, and with 2008 Gold Cup winning jockey Sam Thomas booked to take the ride we can be confident he won’t lack for guidance in the saddle.

At 10/1 on this kind of ground Asker is worth a flutter each way on his hurdling debut, especially as he’s bred to be a hurdler and also has a bumper win in the bag under AP McCoy towards the end of 2011.

There is of course also the small matter of the William Hill King George VI Chase, with Kempton’s feature coming to the boil at 3.10pm.

There’ll be no Kauto Star this year, but we should still be in for a treat courtesy of 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run and co, who also took this very race two seasons ago.

Second to Kauto on this day last season, it’s hard to say exactly what it is that has meant Long Run hasn’t quite been hitting the bullseye, but Sam Waley-Cohen’s mount has only won once in 21 months since his Gold Cup triumph, though he has maintained a very high level of form.

Even so, whether it’s the hard race typically involved in winning a Gold Cup or something else, I’m totally against the idea of backing Long Run at no bigger than 2/1.

He was no match for Silviniaco Conti in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park, and this is another blistering hot race.

Cue Card will be a threat if his stamina holds up, The Giant Bolster has to be a live danger given how he finished in front of Long Run in the Gold Cup, plus Grands Crus could easily improve following an operation to help his breathing.

However, to my eyes the biggest danger to Long Rn lurks within his own stable, in the shape of tough as nails Kempton specialist Riverside Theatre.

Five career starts at Kempton Park have yielded an extraordinary four wins, and the only occasion he didn’t win was when second to Long Run in this race!

Riverside Theatre is frighteningly consistent, travels powerfully on Soft ground, wins first time out, and has Barry Geraghty on his back.

Rated just two pounds inferior to his illustrious stablemate, he has to be value at 11/2.

The obvious question is stamina and his ability to see out a fast run three miles, but I’d counter that by suggesting he’s an older and more mature horse now, plus he sees out 2m 5f at Cheltenham without a bother.

If he can do the same here then the King George is there for the taking.

Good luck & a very Happy Christmas!

Wednesday’s best bets:

12.50 Kempton Park – William Hill No.1 Downloaded Betting App Novices’ Hurdle – 2 Asker (each way) @ 10/1 (Bet365, BetVictor, Paddy Power or Stan James)

1.10 Ffos Las – Walters UK Handicap Hurdle – 3 Kusadasi (win)

2.20 Ffos Las – Cotts Farm Equine Hospital Handicap Hurdle – 1 Firebird Flyer (win)

3.10 Kempton Park – William Hill King George VI Chase – 9 Riverside Theatre (win) @ 11/2 (Betfred or Coral)

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Posted 4 years, 2 months ago

23 Nov
2012

Saphir A 7/1 Sparkler On A Statuesque Haydock Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

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

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

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Posted 4 years, 3 months ago

20 Nov
2012

Mine’s A Treble On A Busy Night Of Midweek Football

Switching attention from a packed racing calendar there could be an opening or two on the midweek football coupon tonight, with the fifth round of Champions League matches sandwiched in alongside a full lower league calendar.

Starting with Europe’s elite competition: Portuguese side Braga look the value to return from their trip to Romanian champions Cluj with all three points.

Both teams retain hope of making it to the knockout stages, but Braga will have a whiff of revenge in their nostrils after going down 2-0 at home in the first meeting between these two sides, despite dominating possession to an almost embarrassing extent.

Since then they’ve hit some decent form, including when posing Manchester United more than a few problems a fortnight ago, and in lanky frontman Alan they harbour a potent goal threat on the break – something United keeper David de Gea will testify to!

Contrast their upsurge in fortunes to the dismal current form of their Transylvanian counterparts – Cluj have lost four of their last five at home – and it’s not hard to see why the value lies in the away win.

Closer to home League One table toppers Tranmere Rovers can get the job done against Walsall.

Tranmere have already found the net 18 times in nine games at Prenton Park, and will be looking to re-enforce their position at the top of the pile after a rare blip against MK Dons last time out.

Finally, in-form Burton Albion look a cracking bet at around evens to see off Aldershot at the Pirelli Stadium.

The Brewers sit sixth in League Two, with confidence high after they got the better of a five goal thriller against Dagenham & Redbridge at the weekend.

More of the same will do nicely, and hopefully they can complete a lucrative win treble, one which pays just over 15/2 with Stan James.

Good luck!

Tuesday night’s football treble:

Braga to beat Cluj
Tranmere to beat Walsall
Burton to beat Aldershot

Pays 7.65/1 with Stan James

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Posted 4 years, 3 months ago

02 Nov
2012

Rhubarb Set To Make Uttoxeter Rivals Crumble

Jonjo O’Neill’s season has to spark into life at some stage, and this afternoon’s card at Uttoxeter could be a good starting point, with Hernando mare Wild Rhubarb ideally situated to grab her third win over timber in the three mile mares’ handicap hurdle at 2.55pm.

A first time visor is worn by this Soft ground loving course and distance winner, and with key danger Coronea Lilly missing from the line up, she can mop up at 5/2 with any of Bet Victor, Coral, Stan James or Sky Bet.

She ran at Worcester nine days ago, when finishing behind today’s rival and favourite Kindly Note (Emma Lavelle), but that was over two and a half miles when she was more aggressively ridden.

A return to a track where we know she acts, plus the vital step up in trip on ground she’ll love means more conservative tactics can be employed by Maurice Linehan (who removes 7lb from the burden of top weight).

Expect her to be held up and produced much later this time.

With the benefit of a run under her belt to blow away the cobwebs Wild Rhubarb can reverse Worcester form with 2/1 jolly Kindly Note, and see off five other rivals this afternoon.

O’Neill enjoyed a much needed success at Bangor on Monday, and an upturn in fortunes could continue here.

Good luck!

Friday’s best bet at Uttoxeter:

2.55 – Leslie Gilman Memorial Mares’ Handicap Hurdle – 1 Wild Rhubarb (win) @ 5/2 (Bet Victor, Coral, Stan James or Sky Bet)

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Posted 4 years, 3 months ago

21 Sep
2012

Cooking Up A 25/1 Storm At Newbury…Just Add Fennell

A day of frenzied activity awaits in the betting shops, with Ayr staging the Bronze, Silver and Gold Cups on Saturday afternoon, with Heavy ground an added headache for punters attempting to unravel the secrets of a trio of 27 runner handicaps.

Frenzied activity of a different variety awaits the television cameras at Newbury, with a massive crowd expected as a result of both the high quality racing, plus maybe just a few Lionel Richie fans added into the mix, with the veteran crooner booked to provide a bit of post-racing entertainment for the Berkshire masses.

Prior to the great American signer and songwriter letting rip with such classics as Hello and All Night Long I’m hoping we can follow up last weekend’s big price each way success with Secret Witness in the Portland, by letting rip with another value strike in the 17 runner 0-105 Dubai Duty Free Handicap at 3.10pm (live on Channel 4).

It’s a race in which the stats show Luca Cumani has enjoyed great success in recent times, bagging four of the last eight renewals, including with the tough Forte Dei Marmi in 2010.

Here he relies solely on top weight Kirthill, a course and distance winner at the track last October, but nine of the last 10 favourites were beaten in this race, with the winner returning at an average SP of bigger than 12/1.

Kirthill vies for overnight favouritism with Amanda Perrett’s Blue Surf, but trends also show that Kirthill has to defy the fact nine of the last 10 winners carried no more than 9st 4lbs (Forte Dei Marmi being the exception on both counts).

Cumani certainly is a man to upset the applecart where stats are concerned, but nevertheless they do suggest it might pay to shop around at bigger prices in a race that carries a distinctly open feel.

The likes of Mister Music, Hajras and Expense Claim will all undoubtedly have their followers, but at a whopping 25/1 I’m very happy to have a few quid each way on a horse who at first glance, certainly if the bookmakers are to be believed, is Mark Johnston’s third string in a hard to solve contest.

I’ve already mentioned the talented three year old Hajras, plus he also runs Licence To Till, but at much bigger odds what on earth is wrong with his other runner Fennell Bay?

Still only rated 91, he was the winner of a three year old handicap at Royal Ascot back in June off 85, and since then has shown hints of real ability scattered among some low key efforts.

I mentioned the strongly fancied joint favourite Blue Surf earlier on, a horse who’s been on something of a roll, netting a race at Windsor, an excellent third in a Glorious Goodwood handicap, another win Goodwood, plus an unlucky effort at Ascot when he was hampered and unable to recover.

Which horse did he beat by a nostril at Goodwood when finishing third? Fennell Bay, who was conceding six pounds to him!

Since then Fennell Bay has been running over a mile and a half, and received a bump at Ascot last time out when travelling kindly a quarter of a mile out.

If he can reproduce his Goodwood run then he has a massive chance now he drops back in trip to 1m 2f – the in-form Michael Murphy is booked to ride (four winners this week and a five pound claim!), meaning he’ll carry just 8st 1lb.

If he can get to within a head of Blue Surf conceding six pounds, what might he do now he’s getting eight from the same rival?

What’s more, the winner of that very Goodwood race franked the form by winning at Newbury on Friday afternoon, and Mark Johnston is a master at squeezing more out of his horses.

With a feather weight and the drop in trip this could well be the day to catch him, and at 25/1 each way in a race without an obvious solution there’ll be worse ways to spend a few shillings.

The best price is available with any of Sky Bet, Stan James or Ladbrokes.

Also at Newbury, the Dubai Duty Free Arc Trial (2.05pm) is an Arc warm up in name only, but the five runner event can go the way of favourite Cameron Highland.

With his three year old allowance he comes out best on the figures, and is clearly improving after a fruitful summer which has yielded a second in a valuable Newmarket sales race (worth £36,885 for finishing second!), plus wins the last twice at Epsom  and Windsor.

Roger Varian’s Galileo colt definitely looks worth his place in Group company for the first time, and at 11/8 with any of bet365, Paddy Power or Bet Victor he should get the job done.

Come rain or shine there’ll be a massive crowd up at Ayr, where Dandy Nicholls could be in luck in the Bronze Cup at 1.45pm.

He runs a staggering seven in the race, but son Adrian chooses old campaigner Tajneed, which has to be an indication of where stable preferences lie.

Tajneed won at the track in July (over further), goes on Heavy ground, and has run some fine races on this day in previous years, notably when second in the Gold Cup in 2008 (on similar ground).

The fact Stan James are 22/1 and offering five places each way only makes him more enticing, as well as the fact he was ninth in the Gold Cup off 103 a year ago – here he runs off just 83!

The Gold Cup takes centre stage at 3.30pm, a contest in which last year’s winner Our Jonathan has been well backed to repeat last year’s success (12 fr 20 earlier in the week).

However, favourites have only prevailed once in the last 30 years, and at a big price one who also handles testing ground and might have been ignored by the layers is Eve Johnson Houghton’s The Cheka, a horse who’s more accustomed to Group 1 company of late, having finished second in the July Cup and third in the Maurice de Gheest.

Trip and ground hold no fears for this classy son of Xaar, and at 18/1 each way with the sponsors he’ll do nicely.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

1.45 Ayr – William Hill Ayr Bronze Cup Handicap – 5 Tajneed (each way) @ 22/1 (Stan James)

2.05 Newbury – Dubai Duty Free Arc Trial – 4 Cameron Highland (win) @ 11/8 (bet365, Paddy Power or Bet Victor)

3.10 Newbury – Dubai Duty Free Handicap – 13 Fennell Bay (each way) @ 25/1 (Sky Bet, Stan James or Ladbrokes)

3.30 Ayr – William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Handicap – 2 The Cheka (each way) @ 18/1 (William Hill)

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Posted 4 years, 5 months ago