Archive for the ‘ totesport ’ Category

16 May
2014

Saturday’s £10m Scoop6 £2 Straight Line

Six races, three venues, only two pounds!

There’s also the not insignificant matter of one enormous win and bonus fund rollover that forms the basis of a Scoop6 Saturday which is causing unprecedented levels of interest…

Estimated at around a total of £10 million once the pool has been swelled by this weekend’s stakes, organisers Betfred are offering 4/9 that the bet is landed at long last!

Standing in our way are six tricky but hopefully not insurmountable legs, so here goes with a £2 straight line to try and grab a life-changing fortune:

LEG 1 – 1.45 Newmarket – Joe Breen And Sarah Morris Memorial Handicap

Six years on the bounce this race has gone the way of a four-year-old, and an obvious starting point among that contingent is Jeremy Noseda’s top weight Evident.

A beaten favourite on his final two outings of 2013, he has to prove he’s ready to go after a yawning 207-day absence, and with that in mind preference is for the fit and bang in form Shaolin for Seamus Durack and Dane O’Neill.

Shaolin has won two of his last five (both on the All Weather at Kempton Park), is only three pounds above his last winning mark, and reverts back to his favoured seven furlong trip after a creditable third over a mile on his most recent outing.

LEG 2 – 2.40 Newbury – Betfred Astronomical £10m Scoop6 Today Handicap

We head to Newbury for the second leg of this history making Scoop6, where 2012 Cambridgeshire winner Bronze Angel re-surfaces in preference to last weekend’s even tougher Victoria Cup.

It’s not an absolute given that a drop in trip is what will help him to return to winning ways, while top weight Morache Music will be hoping for better luck than when all dressed up with nowhere to go at Haydock last Saturday.

Despite running in a six horse race he was repeatedly denied a run in the latter stages, and was practically dancing on the spot as time ebbed away for him to make a meaningful challenge.

Compensation may await, but he’ll have to be sharp to give weight to another one who has perhaps been a shade unlucky in recent times – Andrew Balding’s Modern Tutor.

Not once but twice the five year old was mugged on the line in his final two starts of 2013, firstly at Ascot and then at Haydock Park, but they were both over a mile, and Balding has cleverly opted to drop him in trip to seven furlongs on this occasion.

What’s more, he’s snapped up the services of ace apprentice Oisin Murphy to take three pounds off an already handy looking racing weight, and Modern Tutor could be the one to help us make it intact into leg 3.

LEG 3 – 2.55 Newmarket – Tamdown King Charles II Stakes

The 111-rated Parbold is sure to be a popular pick here based on his lofty rating, but he’ll have to be a good deal sharper than when only fifth of six of the Free Handicap on his reappearance last month after an eight month absence.

John Gosden’s Dorothy B will be another who potentially has a big say based on the figures, but although she benefits from the fillies’ allowance she’ll need more luck than when beating only one home in the Nell Gwyn.

Rated significantly lower than either of those two is Roger Varian’s Toofi, who’d be a real threat if able to build on his solid Newmarket second last month when just held in a valuable sprint.

However, we mentioned Parbold could only manage fifth in the Free Handicap, and two places ahead of him that day was the strong finishing Ed McMahon-trained Aeolus, who flew home after being denied a clear run.

Aeolus was an eye-catching winner of a two year old handicap at York last year, and then ran second to subsequent 2,000 Guineas winner Night Of Thunder in a listed contest at Doncaster.

The stage looks set for a huge run from Aeolus.

LEG 4 – 3.25 Thirsk – Happy Birthday Mike Wood Handicap

We head to North Yorkshire and Thirsk for leg four, with a field of 15 declared to do battle in a 0-85 sprint over the minimum five furlongs.

Veteran Yorkshire trainer Mick Easterby (7 winners in the last 15 days) won this 12 months ago with an 18/1 shot and is represented by Hoofalong, while five of this field met over course and distance a fortnight ago, with Declan Carroll’s Lastchancelucas leading home 12-years-young Tax Free, Oldjoesaid, Bronze Beau and Tumblewind.

All five could again be involved, but perhaps more exciting is Keep It Dark for Tony Coyle and Barry McHugh.

The handicapper was impressed by what he saw when Keep It Dark bolted up at Catterick 11 days ago, putting him up a whopping nine pounds to a revised mark of 79.

That said, if he turns up in the same mood then it might not be enough to stop this Invincible Spirit gelding from going in again.

LEG 5 – 3.30 Newmarket – coral.co.uk Sprint Trophy (Handicap)

Twice previously trainer Roger Charlton has won this valuable handicap, and he holds a strong hand in the shape of progressive and hat-trick seeking Stomp, who is joined by hugely promising Sea The Stars filly Stars Above Me.

Stomp was shunted up eight pounds for his most recent success at Lingfield, but his shrewd trainer alleviates a big chunk of that with the help of the five pound claim that comes with talented apprentice rider Joey Haynes.

For her part, stablemate Stars Above Me narrowly failed to concede weight to the re-opposing Nova Champ over course and distance on Guineas weekend.

Both will have their fans, but lurking towards the bottom of the weights at bigger odds is the Clive Cox inmate Fear Or Favour, a fast ground specialist who will relish the drying conditions.

This is far harder than the races he’s been winning at Bath, but he’s bang in form and clearly gets on well with Ryan Tate (who won on him last time out), and on just his fifth ever run he looks well worth a shot at a big prize like this.

LEG 6 – 4.00 Thirsk – Marion Gibson Brown Memorial Handicap

Little can the Thirsk racecourse management have suspected such interest would be focussed upon their fourth race on the card when they sat down to discuss this weekend’s fixture earlier in the month, but with my employers at Channel 4 Racing sportingly agreeing to televise the sixth and final leg of the monster Scoop6 if there are still live tickets at this stage, that’s exactly the scenario that awaits as we head back to Yorkshire for the hopefully decisive final leg.

A field of 14 are declared, and Alan Swinbank’s Eutropius is sure to be in demand as he chases a third win on the bounce to add to recent strikes at Musselburgh and over course and distance at Thirsk.

Richard Fahey is two-handed, with top weight Lord Aeryn dropping in grade, alongside stablemate Justonefortheroad who obliged in selling company at Beverley on his most recent spin.

We must mention the old boy of the field Al Muheer, who took this race from a four pounds lower mark back in 2012.

All have their chance, but I’m very keen to nominate one of two runners in the mix for Michael Dods, with his Escape To Glory the horse to carry my cash in the pursuit of this giant Scoop6.

The six-year-old finished ahead of Eutropius when giving him weight at Ayr in September, and then won easily at over seven furlongs Redcar last time out, staying on powerfully under Mulrennan.

Based on that evidence this step back up in trip to a mile looks ideal, and if he turns up in the same mood then a six pound rise may not be enough to stop him going in again.

Good luck!

Saturday’s Totepool £10m Scoop6 Straight £2 line:

L1. 1.45 Newmarket – Joe Breen And Sarah Morris Memorial Handicap – 2 Shaolin

L2. 2.40 Newbury – Betfred Astronomical £10m Scoop6 Today Handicap – 9 Modern Tutor

L3. 2.55 Newmarket – Tamdown King Charles II Stakes – 2 Aeolus

L4. 3.25 Thirsk – Happy Birthday Mike Wood Handicap – 6 Keep It Dark

L5. 3.30 Newmarket – coral.co.uk Sprint Trophy (Handicap) – 10 Fear Or Favour

L6. 4.00 Thirsk – Marion Gibson Brown Memorial Handicap – 3 Escape To Glory

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Posted 3 years, 6 months ago

20 Jun
2012

The Best Bets On Day Two At Royal Ascot 2012

With all the hysterical over-reaction to England’s workmanlike progress from a dismal Euro 2012 group he merited barely a mention on the major radio stations’ sporting bulletins on the way home from the races last night, but for anyone who was there or a huge television audience yesterday afternoon they know full well they witnessed a thing of rare beauty as Frankel turned on the style in the meeting opening Queen Anne Stakes.

Soon after the race Bet Victor’s PR man Charlie McCann was quickly on the phone announcing they were paying out on this extraordinary Galileo colt to remain unbeaten for the remainder of the season, and given that he’s unbeaten in 11 what exactly is going to beat him? A speed restriction? Tom Queally being replaced by an apprentice sumo wrestler?

With Sir Henry Cecil’s wonder horse now appearing far more comfortable in his own skin and professional in his execution of the job in hand it looks as though he’ll stay a mile and quarter standing on his head, and that of course opens up a wealth of options, but I just hope they’re ambitious and really let this lad capture public imagination and show what he can do…

What’s amazing is he actually seems to be getting better – if that’s possible – and who knows there might be even more to come up in trip, but pity 125-rated Excelebration who’d be a star in his own right but for one spectacular rival.

Looking at the wider picture it was probably about a score draw for punters and bookmakers on and off the track yesterday, though a week of huge fields mean easy pickings are few and far between.

Back on the front line for day two and early on the card I’m pinning my hopes on Roger Varian’s tough and consistent Selkirk filly Nahrain to do the business in the Group 2 Windsor Forest Stakes over a mile at 3.05pm (live on BBC1).

She’ll enjoy the fact the ground has dried up since yesterday morning (now officially Good in most places), and can resume the relentless progress last season which saw her nail four straight victories in her debut campaign (didn’t race as a juvenile) culminating in a win at Longchamp on Arc day in the Prix de L’Opera, before an ambitious tilt at the Breeders’ Cup saw her put in a mighty effort to finish a narrow second in the Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs in November.

That was her only defeat in five career starts, and though as four year old she’ll no longer be getting a weight allowance from the older horses, plus has a penalty to concede to the likes of Chachamaidee (second in this a year ago and has improved since), connections say there’s a good deal more still to come, plus the official ratings give her a huge chance.

I was enormously impressed by what Nahrain produced in both France and America, and this drop back in trip could utilise her turn of foot to best effect.

The other obvious one to mention is the favourite Emulous for Dermot Weld, she is a clear danger and isn’t used to getting beaten, winning the Matron Stakes at the Curragh back in the autumn before bagging a Group 3 at the same track on her reappearance 25 days ago.

You could argue that with the benefit of a run she’s the one to beat, but Nahrain’s the one I’ve been looking forward to seeing again, and given how easily she won first time up last year I’m with her at 4/1 with any of BetfredBlue SquareCoralLadbrokes or Paddy Power.

Later on the card I cannot resist an attack on the 30 runner Royal Hunt Cup (4.25pm, live on BBC2), a handicap so difficult solving it requires a plan so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel.

Not to be discouraged it’s worth noting that last year’s first three in this race came from stalls 24, 30 and 25, and that yesterday’s racing hinted that once again a high draw could turn out to be advantageous here.

With that in mind i’m backing Tom Tate’s Cambridgeshire winner Prince Of Johanne from stall 33 – he’s tough and consistent, knows how to win on of these big field handicaps, goes on the ground, and is in form having been just edged out by Fury at York on his return in the Hambleton Stakes last month.

He’s got plenty of weight off mark of 100, but then horses rated 102 and 105 made the first three 12 months ago, so why should that stop him?

Back him each way at 16/1 with any of Bet365Bet VictorBoylesportsSkybet or Totesport, all of whom go each way 1/4 odds 1-2-3-4-5.

I’ve also backed one drawn low given that two years ago horses drawn 2 & 5 made the first four, so step forward Marcus Tregoning’s hugely promising Boom Or Bust, drawn 3 in the hands of Hayley Turner.

Rated just a pound less than Prince Of Johanne on 99, he hasn’t been seen since last summer when winning the Totesport Mile at Glorious Goodwood (also under Turner), but if returning in the same vein of form as when last seen (won four out of five last season) this front-running son of 2005 Guineas winner Footstepsinthesand could well be in the mix, and at 22/1 with Bet Victor (five places) he’ll do nicely to keep our options covered.

Good luck!

Wednesday’s best bets at Royal Ascot:

3.05 – Windsor Forest Stakes – 2 Nahrain (win) @ 4/1 (Betfred, Blue Square, Coral, Ladbrokes or Paddy Power)

4.25 – Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap) – 8 Prince Of Johanne (each way) @ 16/1 (Bet365, Bet Victor, Boylesports, Skybet or Totesport)

4.25 – Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap) – 12 Boom Or Bust (each way) @ 22/1 (Bet Victor)

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Posted 5 years, 5 months ago

03 Jun
2011

Strap Yourself In For The One & Only Epsom Derby

Not a lot of people know this but I have an acute phobia of fairground rides.

My suspicion is it all goes back to an ill-fated school exchange trip to Spain circa spring-94, when leading the troops (a rowdy mob of Walkman toting 14 year olds) into battle at some dreadful theme park, I was coerced by a moustachioed Basque Brian Potter look-a-like into parting with enough pesetas to earn several minutes on Bilbao’s version of the Big Dipper.

Big Dipper – Big Mistake.

In fact, a double whammy of misfortune as I recall it……

Seconds in and quickly realising this wasn’t the sport for me, I let out a blood curdling yell of sheer, total, utter terror.

Sadly, the world’s universal theme park mantra would appear to be ‘scream if you wanna go faster!’, so cranking the beast up to near warp speed levels, El Loco Potter revelled in my misery as I was hurled around the tracks, then suspended upside down for about 30 seconds, before being plummeted towards what I thought was certain death.

What joy.

This torturous routine was then repeated. Three times.

Eventually it sidled to a halt, and trying to play the hard man I strutted off in front of my mates, only to somewhat ruin the moment by immediately falling over.

They say revenge is a dish best served cold. I’ve absolutely no idea where that absurd suggestion came from, but personally I believe it is a actually a dish best served hot, smelly and projectile, thoughts at the forefront of my mind as I then proceeded to be sick at the feet of my tormentor, El Loco Potter.

It also meant my hefty peseta investment deprived me of sufficient funds to participate in that night’s under age San Miguel session.

Schoolboy error. The 2011 vintage would never be so foolish let me tell you. Enough said.

This story was at the forefront of my mind as I arrived at Epsom on Friday, to be immediately confronted by a terrifying array of amusements and rides, all of which have clearly been deployed with the specific intention of keeping me away from the place, which is why I’m very glad to be on patrol for Channel 4 Racing at the other end of the country in the betting ring at Doncaster on Saturday afternoon.

After showing the first three races live on 4 the usual routine is to grab a perch in the Donny stable lads’ canteen and cheer home your Derby selection.

It’s been a turbulent week to say the least in the market for the big race, with the vibes about Carlton House’s possible problems apparent to exchange watchers well before the official announcement arrived.

Full Colour Epsom Derby Racecard and Best Odds

You can read chapter and verse about the merits of Her Majesty’s runner in the newspapers today, but my money is on the prize crossing the channel for the first time since 1976 with Pour Moi and Vadamar lining up for France.

Totesport bet 11/4 that Saint-Cloud’s Prix Greffulhe provides the Derby winner, and I think that’s a reasonable price with two major contenders coming here having finished in the first three in that contest.

Master trainer Andre Fabre saddles the winner of that race Pour Moi, and his bullish comments in the build up to Epsom have done nothing to dampen my enthusiasm.

By mile and a half specialist Montjeu he looks certain to enjoy the step up in trip, possesses a lightening turn of foot, and benefits from the assistance of rising star Mickael Barzalona in the saddle.

He worked really nicely at the Breakfast With The Stars event at Epsom last week, and is said to have settled in really well.

I for one wouldn’t be at all surprised if Pour Moi were to spoil what’s being built up to be the Carlton House show, and at 11/2 with any of Bet365, Coral, Ladbrokes or Paddy Power, he represents very fair value.

The same can be said of the horse he beat into third at Saint-Cloud, with the Aga Khan’s Vadamar sneaking in somewhat under the radar.

Trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre he stayed on well to be third in the Greffulhe when sent off at odds on, and looks sure to appreciate further.

He sustained a nasty cut that day which may well have hindered his chances, but a smooth prep means the 20/1 with Ladbrokes is definitely worth a squeeze each way, especially as the Magic Sign are offering 1/4 odds each way when some miserable firms are only betting to 1/5.

There might not be too much between them, but both have the class to win a Derby and I can’t back one without the other.

Up at Musselburgh the feature Totescoop6 Scottish Sprint Cup (live on C4 at 3.40pm) is wide open, and I fancy a 20/1 shot to spring a surprise in the shape of sprint king Dandy Nicholls’ charge Fol Hollow.

A previous course and distance winner who’s dropped nearly a stone from his highest mark, the six year old is lightning fast and would only have to rediscover a flicker of previous form to take this if on a going day.

As such the 20/1 available with any of Victor Chandler, Betfred or William Hill is a most generous suggestion.

As I said I’ll be at Donny, and in the opener there at 2.20pm I’m prepared to forgive Mick Channon’s Rigolleto for a squalid performance last time out when finishing last of 17 at Haydock.

The Ad Valorem colt is definitely not one for maximum confidence, but I do think he has ability and in an open race can make the frame at 14/1 with Coral.

The other bet at Town Moor comes in the Conditions race at 3.25pm, with John Gosden saddling previous course winner Buthelezi.

The Dynaformer colt has won three of his six career starts, has the edge on experience over all of this small field, and improved to finish second in a Newmarket listed race last time.

All his rivals need to improve to match the level he has already achieved, and at 9/4 with Totesport, Boylesports or Bet365 he’s expected to win.

I’ll sign off with a last word on the phobia issue though – I also suffer from a volume dislike of celery, and would honestly rather eat my own toe nail clippings than consume or even touch just one stick of the offensive green plant.

Most people who know me well are fully aware of this, which is possibly why during my best man’s speech at my sister’s wedding, column doyen Lord Culcheth thought it would be funny to throw a stick of celery at my head as I was up on the stage in full flow.

Rather like me handing over my cash to El Loco Potter, big mistake.

In fairness I think even Lord Culcheth understood this as, later in the day, he tried desperately to avoid the arsenal of empty Budweiser bottles raining down on him as he tried to show off on the nearby bouncy castle.

Enjoy the sunshine and good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

2.20 Doncaster – williamhill.com Handicap – 3 Rigolleto (each way) @ 14/1 (Coral)

3.25 Doncaster – Visit williamhill.com On Your Mobile! Conditions Stakes – 2 Buthelezi (win) @ 9/4 (Totesport, Boylesports or Bet365)

3.40 Musselburgh – Totescoop6 Scottish Sprint Cup (Handicap) – 13 Fol Hollow (each way) @ 20/1 (Victor Chandler, Betfred or William Hill)

4.00 Epsom – Investec Derby – 9 Pour Moi (win) @ 11/2 (Bet365, Coral, Ladbrokes or Paddy Power)

4.00 Epsom – Investec Derby – 13 Vadamar (each way) @ 20/1 (Ladbrokes)

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Posted 6 years, 5 months ago

02 Jun
2011

Forecast Says Mist Clearing Away For A Big Day At Epsom

A rare foray to Epsom on Friday with predicted temperatures of 25 degrees means life can’t be all bad!

We’ve got a very strong card featuring a pair of Group 1’s with both the Oaks and the Coronation Cup to look forward to (both live on BBC2), plus a number of strong shoulder races which should ensure the Surrey track’s first of two monster days begin with a genuine sizzle, as befits the balmy summer temperatures.

The Investec Oaks arrives at 4.05pm, and with 13 fillies due to line up it’ll take a bit of winning, not least owing to the presence of Newmarket Guineas winner and favourite here Blue Bunting for Godolphin and Frankie Dettori, facile Cheshire Oaks winner Wonder Of Wonders, impressive Lingfield Oaks Trial winner Zain Al Boldan, Sir Michael Stoute’s Havant, John Dunlop’s improving Beatrice Aurore, plus three-time Group 1 winner Misty For Me.

Three of them lined up in the English Guineas, with Blue Bunting winning well under a brilliant ride from Frankie, previous Group 3 winner Havant back in sixth, and Aidan O’Brien’s Misty For Me failing to land a blow and trailing in in eleventh.

However, it’s the last named I’m very keen to be on the right side of come Friday, especially in light of the way she bounced back in the Irish Guineas 12 days ago, mounting a very strong challenge close home to see off stablemate Together to bag an Aidan O’Brien big race one-two.

The obvious question here is will she stay now that she’s stepped up to a mile and a half on a very different track?

I’d answer that in two ways: first up look back at the tapes of her Group 1 wins – in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh last August, at Longchamp in the Marcel Boussac on Arc day, and of course back at the Curragh less than a fortnight ago.

Each time she runs on very strongly to finish her races in the highest company, suggesting an extra half mile ought to be well within her compass.

Secondly look who she’s by, none other than in form sire of the moment Galileo, himself a winner of both an English and Irish Derby, plus a King George at this very distance.

She goes on pretty much any ground, she has the most experience of any of these having run seven times already, her stable are in wonderful form, Seamie Heffernan sensibly keeps the ride after steering her to both of her Curragh Group 1 wins, and although she faces stiff opposition I’m very happy to back her each way at 7/1 with Sportingbet.

Elsewhere on the card a small but select field of five are set to go in the Investec Coronation Cup at 2.45pm, and I’m keen on the idea of this being the first leg of a Group 1 double for Aidan O’Brien, as he saddles the rejuvenated St Nicholas Abbey in the hands of Ryan Moore.

One upon a time the raging favourite for the 2010 Derby, he was only seen once as a three year old, running sixth in Makfi’s Guineas.

I think everyone remembers his blitzkrieg performance in the 2009 Racing Post Trophy, when he spreadeagled a field of quality two year olds with dismissive ease at Doncaster.

On the back of an easy win in Chester’s Ormonde Stakes at the May Meeting four weeks ago you’d have to say all the old ability appears to be there, and if he’s over his problems then it’s going to take a serious one to beat him.

The obvious one is five-time Group 1 winner Midday, as she bids to win a contest her trainer Henry Cecil remarkably has yet to taste success in.

Twice runner up here in two visits including to Sariska in the 2009 Oaks, she’ll have plenty of fans in receipt of the three pounds mare’s allowance, but if St Nicholas Abbey is on song then she may well once again have to settle for second best at Epsom.

Her form is magnificent, but only once has she run against the opposite sex in 17 career starts, and that was when she went down to Debussy at Epsom a couple of years back.

For those reasons I’m a backer of St Nicholas Abbey at 10/11 with any of Totesport, Paddy Power or William Hill.

Lastly, don’t miss Godolphin’s Antara as she bids to repeat last year’s win in the meeting opening Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes at 1.40pm.

This is her first run of the season, but don’t forget she took this first time up in 2010 so a lack of a run is unlikely to be a hindrance.

Following that win she was campaigned at a very high level as a four year old, finishing third in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, a head second to Stacelita in the Group 1 Darley Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville in August, plus second in an Italian Group 1 on unsuitably soft ground at the tail end of last season.

With a bit to spare on official ratings she can get back to winning ways here.

Good luck!

Friday’s best bets at Epsom:

1.40 – Princess Elizabeth Stakes – 1 Antara (win) @ 11/8 with Stan James

2.45 – Investec Coronation Cup – 3 St Nicholas Abbey (win) @ 10/11 (Totesport, Paddy Power or William Hill) – Bet365 have gone a stand out 11/10 on Friday morning.

4.05 – Investec Oaks – 9 Misty For Me (each way) @ 7/1 (Sportingbet) whilst Ladbrokes have made her a best industry price 8/1 on Friday morning.

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Posted 6 years, 5 months ago

14 May
2011

Turpin Poised To Swipe Lockinge Honours

As with most things in life a quick scan of the appropriate Wikipedia page, and hey presto you’ve got instant access to reams of often completely inane information about your chosen subject, in this case the 18th century highwayman Dick Turpin.

According to them Turpin was a “deer thief, poacher, burglar, horse thief and murderer”, all noble and worthwhile professions I’m sure you’ll agree, but why such roles never seem to crop up any more in the Racing Post jobs section on a Saturday is beyond me.

Much like a modern day Premier League footballer getting caught out for sending picture messages of inappropriate parts of their anatomy, Dick’s “true identity was revealed by a letter he sent to his brother-in-law, from his prison cell, which fell into the hands of the authorities”.

You could say things took a mild turn for the worse at this point, as “On 22 March 1739 Turpin was found guilty on two charges of horse theft and sentenced to death”.

It’s a shame he isn’t around now; I currently own two hugely expensive racehorses which are depreciating in value at a rapid rate of knots, and would be absolutely delighted if he could take one or preferably both off my hands.

That notwithstanding, let’s hope his equine namesake is fully focussed on the job in hand on Saturday afternoon, as Richard Hannon’s hugely exciting Arakan four year Dick Turpin lines up to try and get his hands on the Group 1 JLT Lockinge Stakes, live on Ch4 at 3.45pm.

It’s a compelling contest, not least because to do so he has to overcome his much vaunted stablemate Canford Cliffs, the odds on favourite for the race after three straight Group 1 victories last season landed him big fish: the Irish Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes and Sussex Stakes.

Not seen for 290 days since the Sussex at the end of July Canford Cliffs is a mighty obstacle, and beat Dick Turpin into second at Ascot in the St James’s Palace, but what’s interesting is that although Richard Hughes remains loyal to him he doesn’t have the benefit of a prep run, and he was beaten into second by Dick Turpin here in the Greenham first time out last year.

Ryan Moore gets the leg up on Dick Turpin, and he too blossomed last year, progressing from Newbury to winning his own Group 1 at Chantilly, as well as enjoying a creditable third to Goldikova at Longchamp.

What’s more the pair also met in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, a race in which Dick Turpin (2nd) again finished ahead of Canford Cliffs (3rd). What a day that would have been for team Hannon if French raider Makfi had been able to read the script.

Both Hannon horses go on Good to Firm, and both come with a lofty reputation, but at the prices – with Canford Cliffs odds on across the board at a best price of 4/5, and Dick Turpin available as a 7/2 shot, I think there’s very little between them and in the circumstances you have to try and bag a bit of value.

Especially when, as I said, Dick Turpin has already run this season albeit in lesser company than this, but it was some run as he bolted up in the Group 2 Bet365 Mile at Sandown at the end of April.

It’s more than possible he’s improved further over the winter to bridge the small gap between them, and given that he’s beaten his illustrious stablemate twice already I’m happy to put my confidence in Dick Turpin to repeat the feat at 7/2 with any of Bet365, Paddy Power, Totesport or William Hill.

The 10 strong line up does boast more than two stars, with Eclipse and Champion Stakes hero Twice Over dropping back in trip to a mile.

My reservations there would be that he comes off the back of a disappointment when sent off 2/1 favourite for the Dubai World Cup, but more so I’m not convinced he’ll have the boot to serve it up to the specialist milers at the trip.

Premio Loco is also a horse I greatly admire and is an each way price alright, but whether or not he’s quite up to this herculean task is open to debate.

Either way it’ll be a race to savour, and my cash rests firmly on the honest shoulders of Dick Turpin.

When that’s done it’ll be in the car and up the A34-M40-M42-M6 for a dose of National Hunt evening action Uttoxeter style.

That drive isn’t quite as alluring as the Med-hugging basse corniche which links Nice and Monte Carlo, but on the plus side it does have Stafford Services, where column regular Lord Culcheth once got trapped in a toilet cubicle, and had to be freed by a kind man called Jeff from Burnley (true story).

What no-one has yet considered is that Uttoxeter Racecourse could resemble the Berlin Love Parade if Stoke have beaten Man City in the FA Cup final earlier in the afternoon.

Imagine the scene, racing delayed as delirious, boozed up Stokies do the conga round and round the hurdles track for two hours solid.

It’ll be massive for them if they can pull it off, but either way let’s hope they can back a winner with Kim Bailey’s Charles the selection in the 0-95 Excloosive Event Hire Handicap Hurdle (7.30pm).

This will only be the seventh time this son of Loup Sauvage will have seen the racecourse, but he already boasts a course and distance win here on his handicap debut, as well as a debut bumper second on faster ground.

Charles strikes me as the type caught reasonably fresh – he flopped when trying to follow up his Uttoxeter win with a quick reappearance at Hereford, but has now had a much more suitable 37 day break, and sneaks into this race with a mark of 95.

The excellent Jason Maguire is booked to do the steering in the weak contest, and apart from Ian Williams’ Cluain Alainn potentially finding vast improvement for first time blinkers on his first try in a handicap, I’m struggling to identify much credible opposition if Charles is on song. Win bet.

Also at Uttoxeter, do not miss Beneficial Reform in the Novices’ Hurdle at 6.55pm.

If you were at Ffos Las last month when he won you’ll know exactly what I mean – County Wexford handler Dermot Day prepared him to beat a potentially very good horse by five lengths, he hung right on the flat but won cosily, and now in the care of James Ewart he can concede weight to all comers in the manner of a promising horse.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

3.45 Newbury – JLT Lockinge Stakes – 5 Dick Turpin (win) @ 7/2 (Bet365, Paddy Power, Totesport or William Hill)

6.55 Uttoxeter – Barbara Grisenthwaite Novices’ Hurdle – 1 Beneficial Reform (win)

7.30 Uttoxeter – Excloosive Event Hire Handicap Hurdle – 1 Charles (win)

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Posted 6 years, 6 months ago

13 May
2011

Now For Friday At York & Aintree

It’s a case of two down, one to go here on the Knavesmire, and after two cracking days here in York which have produced a new noise in the sprinting ranks in the shape of Delegator, plus a Royal favourite for the Derby in Carlton House, I’m looking to round things off with a winner early on before shooting across to Aintree for their evening card.

The main focus of today’s card is the Emirates Airline Yorkshire Cup at 2.30pm (live on Ch4), a contest chock full of quality with a heap of good stayers on display.

If you held a gun to my head I’d be a backer of Henry Cecil’s Native Ruler, the five year old son of Cape Cross who returned with a flourish in the Jockey Club Stakes just under a fortnight ago following a 20 month absence.

That performance strongly suggested he’d stay the extra quarter of a mile, but what we don’t know is how much that epic and ultimately unsuccessful struggle with Dandino took out of him, or if the so-called ‘bounce’ factor will be in evidence…..

For those reasons I’m going to divert my stake money elsewhere, namely in the opening race on the card, a listed Juvenile Filles’ Sprint at 1.30pm.

There’s a totally lopsided market here, with Queens Revenge a non runner, leaving Miss Work Of Art odds on after her shock defeat of Coventry hopeful Magic City at Ascot.

While you have to say Miss Work Of Art is the most likely winner I wouldn’t touch her with a bargepole at 4/6, not when Magic City failed to give his true running when sent off 1/4 that day.

There are endless possible improvers here at this tender stage of these filles’ careers, but I’m having a small each way interest on a 40/1 shot, namely David Evans’ Redair in the hands of Cathy Gannon.

The only one of these to have had three runs already, this daughter of Redback has already won a race on the All Weather at Kempton, finished a running on second at Doncaster, plus netted a creditable third in the Lily Agnes at Chester’s May Meeting.

She has the edge on experience, comes from a yard who have plenty of two year old winners (93 in the last five years), and is clearly tough and able to take her races on a variety of tracks.

Bizarrely, Bubbly Ballerina, the filly who was second to her on her debut at Kempton, is currently a 14/1 chance for this afternoon’s contest. Go figure!

In a nine horse race I’ll happily invest a few quid each way on Redair at 40/1 with Bet365, especially as the Stoke firm are also going 1-4 odds 1-2-3.

On to Aintree then, and a card I’m thoroughly looking forward to – it’s a brilliant racecourse, and just a shame it isn’t used more often, or perhaps ways found to incorporate a flat track somewhere into the mix – can you imagine the attendances?

I really like the complexion of the 0-135 two mile one furlong handicap hurdle at 7.05pm, with front running top weight A Bridge Too Far attempting to run a good field ragged under Jason Maguire.

Donald McCain’s charge was just picked off in the dying strides at Haydock on his handicap debut, and I think it might be more late heartbreak for the five year old here.

In my mind the one to ruin the party for one of Aintree’s favourite sons will be one of only two four years olds in the race, with hat-trick seeking novice Kai Broon heading south of the border for in-form Lucinda Russell.

Kai Broon is already on the receiving end of nearly two stone from A Bridge Too Far before age allowances, and then you have up and coming conditonal Grant Cockburn’s 10lb claim to factor in as well!!

All in all, if Cockburn (who has two winners over hurdles to his name) can ride at 9st 4lbs, they’ll have 36lbs less to carry than the front running favourite, a brutal example of the handicapper setting horses a challenge.

Of course there is a chance Kai Broon will be outclassed stepping up from a 0-115 at Newcastle to a 0-135 at Aintree, but it looks a risk worth taking given that’s he’s clearly improving and has won in some style the last twice.

By Marju, I think Aintree will suit him down to the ground, and at 6/1 each way with Totesport he’s the way to go under his feather weight.

Nigel Twiston-Davies hasn’t had a winner for a couple of weeks, and in the penultimate race on the card (8.10pm) I’m keen to take a on a shortie from his stable Jaunty Journey in the Jockey Club Catering Handicap Hurdle.

A 7/4 shot at the time of writing, the eight year old makes plenty of mistakes and is not easy to win with over hurdles or fences.

Perhaps the booking of AP McCoy can galvanise him, but he’s up five pounds for a gruelling defeat at Perth last time, and in any case there’s one I’d much rather back at a much bigger price….

That ‘one’ is Kim Bailey’s Lion On The Prowl on his handicap debut; hugely progressive, never out of the first three in seven career starts, and indeed only one defeat from three starts over hurdles when a narrow second to the useful Basford Bob at Kempton.

Off the back of a four week break to freshen him up Lion On The Prowl is a confident selection at 4/1 with any of Boylesports, Paddy Power, Stan James or William Hill.

Good luck!

Friday’s best bets:

1.30 York – Langleys Solicitors EBF Shirocco Filies’ Stakes – 7 Redair (each way) @ 40/1 (Bet365)

7.05 Aintree – Hilton Liverpool Handicap Hurdle – 11 Kai Broon (each way) @ 6/1 (Totesport)

8.10 Aintree – Jockey Club Catering Handicap Hurdle – 1 Lion On The Prowl (win) @ 4/1 (Boylesports, Paddy Power, Stan James or William Hill)

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Posted 6 years, 6 months ago

11 May
2011

The Best Bets On Day One Of The 2011 Dante Meeting At York

It’s great to be back in York for what is always three good days on the Flat calendar.

Arriving as it does hot on the heels of Fairyhouse and Punchestown it feels like there’s barely been time to draw breath, but with Frankel’s Guineas blitz the one outstanding moment of the new campaign to date, hopes are high one of Seville, World Domination and Carlton House can produce another one, and in doing so claim outright favouritism for the Derby by stamping their authority on Thursday’s Dante.

First though there’s Wednesday’s seven race card to enjoy, with the first four races live on Channel 4.

The second of those is a seven furlong 0-100 three year old handicap at 2.00pm, and the one they have to beat is Barry Hills’ Shropshire, a three times raced son of Shamardal.

He won his maiden at Haydock in some style back in July, and was then pitched into deep water with an ultimately disappointing tilt at the Gimcrack.

That was it for his debut season, but he re-emerged with an impossible task when a staying on third to Frankel on his first try at this trip in no less than the Greenham 25 days ago.

This is a much easier assignment, and despite top weight he may prove to be a cut above this opposition.

Get on at 9/4 with any of Bet365, Totesport, Coral or William Hill.

The feature race on the card is the Group 2 Duke Of York Blue Square Stakes over six furlongs at 3.00pm, and among the 14 who line up are some very talented animals, not least Haydock Sprint Cup winner Markab, Dalghar on his first start for Andrew Balding, this season’s Abernant winner Genki, plus Dandy Nicholls’ Maurice De Gheest winner Regal Parade.

The one I’m keen to back though is a horse having his first run at the trip, and that’s Delegator for Godolphin and Frankie Dettori.

Blessed with loads of speed he strikes me as the type who could turn out to be a revelation at sprint distances.

Second in Sea The Stars’ Guineas he has a lot of high class form in the book, and at a standout 8/1 with Coral (who are betting 1/4 odds not 1/5) he’ll do nicely each way.

West Country jumps fanatics down at Wincanton will no doubt take great delight in ignoring everything going on at York, and if you’re of that persuasion have a good look at David Pipe’s Businessmoney Judi in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at 2.20pm.

She showed plenty of signs of inexperience but nevertheless got the job done done on her debut for Pipe at Towcester last month, form which has since been franked when the horse she beat The Strawberry One went in at Towcester on Monday.

She certainly won’t be one of her stable’s leading lights but can pay her way over the summer months, and should have improved since the last day.

Her principal market rival is Alan King’s American Lady, a mare who seems to have made a speciality of finding one too good, although she did manage to win over hurdles at the sixth attempt in a pair of first time blinkers at Fontwell last time.

Of the pair Businessmoney Judi gets the vote.

Good luck!

Wednesday’s best bets:

2.00 York – Download The Blue Square Iphone App Stakes (Handicap) – 1 Shropshire (win) @ 9/4 (Bet365, Totesport, Coral or William Hill)

2.20 Wincanton – Bathwick Tyres Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle – 2 Businessmoney Judi (win)

3.00 York – Duke Of York Blue Square Stakes – 3 Delegator (each way) @ 8/1 (Coral)

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Posted 6 years, 6 months ago

05 May
2011

Form An Orderly ‘Que’ At Punchestow?n’s Payout Window

The advice has to be to keep it simple here at a windswept Punchestown this afternoon, with one of the crown jewels of the Irish National Hunt scene making just her second appearance of the season in the ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle at 5.30pm, live on RTE1.

I am of course talking about the brilliant Quevega, the hard as nails mare representing champion trainer Willie Mullins (who also saddles Mourad and Mikael D’Haguenet).

For me she represents maximum bet material: she hacked up in this event a year ago, and comes here off the back of an ideal preparation having won her third David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with contemptuous ease.

On official figures today’s opposition have it all to do, and that’s before you factor in her 5lb mare’s allowance.

There’s no shortage of quality lining up to take her on, but in my mind the likes of Voler La Vedette are playing for places behind a genuine class act.

I’d love to know how much of the evens was available with Totesport or Hills first thing today given that she’s never been matched bigger than 1.99 on Betfair, but the 5/6 available with Totesport remains realistic. Full win bet.

It was a bloodbath for punters here yesterday, with bookmakers euphoric after a run of results they wouldn’t have dared script for fear of being laughed all the way down the Naas road.

It looks like revenge might be a dish best served with lashings of wind and rain thrown in this afternoon though – punters will fancy their chances of benefitting from a few winning favourites, one of which is Charles Byrnes Kerry National winner Alfa Beat in the three mile Naas Court Hotel Handicap Hurdle at 6.05pm.

Off a mark of 117 over hurdles (29lbs lower than his chase mark!) pilot Davy Russell will be confident of clawing one back in the jockey’s title race, though he’s running out of time despite leader Paul Townend’s season ending collarbone injury (Towend leads by five with three days left).

The seven year old fell in the Topham at Aintree last month, but prior to that had been in sizzling form. Track, trip and ground all suit, and at 4/1 with Victor Chandler he rates win bet material.

Also at Punchestown the concluding bumper can go the way of unraced Revoque gelding Saint Gervais for father and son team John and David Kiely.

A steady trickle of cash has seen Ladbrokes cut him from 10/1 to 7/1, a price which should be taken as he’s only 13/2 on the exchanges at the time of writing.

At Goodwood Richard Hannon bloods an exciting looking Acclamation colt Crown Dependency in the six furlong maiden (2.40pm).

The choice of Richard Hughes (stable also run Airborne Again) – he can make a winning debut. Dip your toe in at 3/1 with Coral or Boylesports.

My last bet of the day comes at Newton Abbot where Lucy’s Perfect can build on last week’s firm ground win at Exeter by following up under a seven pound penalty in the 3.05pm.

Due to go up 10 pounds in future races she should make all and win under Johnny Farrelly. Get on at 11/2 with Stan James or Sportingbet.

Good luck!

Thursday’s best bets:

2.40 Goodwood – EBF Goodwood Maiden Stakes – 4 Crown Dependency (win) @ 3/1 (Coral or Boylesports)

3.05 Newton Abbot – Emma Handicap Hurdle – 4 Lucy’s Perfect (win) @ 11/2 (Stan James or Sportingbet)

5.30 Punchestown – Ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle – 10 Quevega (win) @ 5/6 (Totesport)

6.05 Punchestown – Naas Court Hotel Handicap Hurdle – 21 Alfa Beat (win) @ 4/1 (Victor Chandler)

7.15 Punchestown – Irish Sun INH Flat Race – 16 Saint Gervais (each way) @ 7/1 (Ladbrokes or Boylesports)

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Posted 6 years, 6 months ago

04 May
2011

Super Mario Kempes To Net Guinness Gold Cup

Mario Kempes, the great Argentine striker widely known as El Toro and El Matador during a goal laden career spanning more than 20 years, is represented by his equine namesake Kempes in this afternoon’s Guinness Gold Cup here at Punchestown (5.30pm, Live on RTE1).

Up against the might of Paul Nicholls’ Kauto Star the official ratings say he has it all to do later today, especially in light of his miserable showing in the Gold Cup, the very same Gold Cup where two time winner Kauto Star rolled back the years to run a gallant third to Long Run.

Despite that there’s still plenty of scope to construct an argument for backing him here, even with the likes of Nacarat and Tranquil Sea also jostling for the 96,000 euro first prize.

This is a meeting his trainer Willie Mullins has targeted with surgical precision in recent seasons, bagging 12 winners in both 2009 and 2010, and he was off the mark with Johnny McGeeney yesterday.

Kempes was long though a suspect stayer until he saw off China Rock by 3 lengths at this meeting 12 months ago, over today’s 3m 1f course and distance in the Grade 1 Growise Champion Novice Chase.

That’s the very same China Rock Kauto had to work hard to beat four lengths and a neck at Down Royal in November on his latest trip to Down Royal.

Granted that was his first run of the season, but even so on a line through China Rock there might not be as much between the two horses, one who’s an eight year old in his prime and one who’s a wonderful but gently declining eleven year old, as the eleven pound differentiation of official figures might suggest.

Indeed, Florida Pearl back in 2003 was the last horse older than eight to win the race!

There is something of a leap of faith required here if you view Kempes’ last performance in isolation – he never jumped a twig at Cheltenham and was pulled up before four out. However, Cheltenham is different in that jumping those fences at championship pace often finds horses out – miss one and it’s almost impossible to find a rhythm.

Go back to his previous run and you find a 1 against his name in the Irish Hennessy on ground he’d have hated.

This afternoon’s surface will be much more to his liking – don’t forget as a decent flat horse Kempes won an Ulster Derby on ground officially termed as Firm so we’ve no fears on that score, whereas both Kauto Star and Tranquil Sea would prefer to get their respective toes in a bit more than will be the case here.

So we know Kempes will stay and that he’ll love the ground, but what of bold ten year old grey Nacarat for Tom George and Paddy Brennan? Encouragingly both previous winners of the Totesport Bowl to come on here and run have doubled up, but his best form is undeniably on flatter tracks, and although he’ll relish the ground he did run (and win) at Aintree, whereas Kempes comes here the fresher horse off a 47 day break.

The youngest of the principles, Kempes faces a home game here against rivals who’ve had to make the arduous ferry journey across the Irish sea, and what’s more he’s the one who still has vast scope for improvement if he’s on a going day.

At 7/2 with any of Totesport, Stan James or William Hill I’m backing Kempes to win the Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup.

A little later on in the open looking two and a half mile Guinness Handicap Chase at 6.40pm I’d give an each way squeak to Dessie Hughes’ Lenabane – the nine year old was very highly tried on his introduction to the chasing ranks a couple of years ago, collecting prize money in a pair of Leopardstown Grade 1’s in 2009/10.

Not a prolific winner he has finished in the money on five of his seven career visits to Punchestown, goes on a range of ground, and now makes his handicap chase debut with a lovely low racing weight to shoulder.

Said to be working well he comes back from a long break as a horse who has gone well fresh here in the past, plus is a course winner over fences.

At 20/1 I’ll be having a small slice of the action each way with Stan James.

Over at Chester Channel 4 kick off their coverage of the three day May extravaganza on the Roodee, and I’m firmly in the Overturn camp for the feature race at 2.55pm.

Handed a plum draw in stall 1 local trainer Donald McCain can add yet another big race to his rapidly expanding cv, as his heart on the sleeve front runner bids to add another big flat handicap to last summer’s Northumberland Plate win at Newcastle.

Good luck!

Wednesday’s best bets:

2.55 Chester – totesport.com Chester Cup H’cap – 9 Overturn (win) @ 5/1 (Bet365, Sportingbet or Stan James)

5.30 Punchestown – Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup – 3 Kempes (win) @ 7/2 (Totesport, Stan James or William Hill)

6.40 Punchestown – Guinness Handicap Chase – 9 Lenabane (each way) @ 20/1 (Stan James)

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Posted 6 years, 6 months ago

13 Apr
2011

Best Bets For Wednesday’s Cheltenham & Newmarket Double Header

With the ground firming up and not much rain around there aren’t stacks of runners at Cheltenham this afternoon, but a two day outing to Jump Racing HQ is a welcome distraction nonetheless, and it’s down the M5 for me later this morning.

What’s more I think I’m due some luck after my good deed for the year occurred yesterday, as I was wending my way home from Ffos Las the night before.

Imagine my surprise then when driving down a secluded country lane I was confronted by a rather agitated large white calf slap bang in the middle of the road, said panicked beast clearly having worked himself up into a frenzy after breaking out of his field, only to realise he had no idea how to gain re-entry, and with it be re-united with his mates who were all happily grazing away just over the hedge.

Empathy is a wonderful thing, and if like me you live in a modern apartment block with a meaty security door, you’ll no doubt be that familiar sinking feeling experienced when returning from a night out three sheets to the wind having consumed a number of refreshing beverages, only to discover you’ve forgotten your access card and are now trapped outside your own premises, deprived of access to what is rightfully yours as a direct result of your own carelessness.

Summoning memories of such traumas I knew I couldn’t abandon the isolated outcast in his hour of need, so parked up and engaged in a game of cat and mouse (well, man and calf really), flailing my arms around in a pathetic attempt to get the young fella to head towards the appropriate gate.

What’s needed when things aren’t going to plan is improvisation, so I sacrificed the remaining half of my Ginsters cornish pasty, snatching it from my passenger seat and using it as bait to lure my bovine chum towards the intended target.

Bingo! Catching a whiff of the tempting snack on the breeze almost immediately in he trotted with a moo of appreciation, though thank goodness he’s not yet old enough to be a little more discerning in his eating habits.

With that selfless act fresh in the memory surely a winner must be forthcoming this afternoon?

I’m looking forward to putting the theory to the test in the Cheltenham Collection Handicap Hurdle at 3.20pm – the one I’m interested in here at a double figure price is Tasheba having his first run for an ultra shrewd new stable.

This is a hot race, but that means we’re getting an inflated price about a classy animal with proven form in the book, a horse who’d just lost his way a little for Nicky Henderson, but now joins David Pipe and has AP McCoy on board to try and get a tune out of him.

My hope is that as so often happens a change of scenery can spark a revival.

It’s not as though this son of Dubai Destination is in a terrible slump anyway, rated 152 just 14 months he’s slipping down the weights (now 141) after a quiet season, already has plenty of experience of running in big field handicaps, and lest we forget is still a comparatively young horse at the age of six.

A winner over hurdles at this meeting two years ago we know he handles the track and the ground, plus Pipe now tries him in a first time tongue tie to aid his breathing at the business end of the race.

After a nice break of 53 days to freshen him up he could easily bounce back to winning ways here, and at 12/1 each way generally he looks decent value.

My other fancy on the card comes in the squareintheair.com Novices’ Chase at 5.05pm, a race in which I fully expect Balthazar King to justify favouritism in the hands of Richard Johnson.

A good second to Wayward Prince here back in November at the Paddy Power meeting he’ll relish the quicker ground, and can see off just 4 rivals to make it two wins in a fortnight.

Elsewhere, it is of course also the return of action on the Rowley Mile as the Craven meeting kicks into gear at Newmarket, and the one to be on in the European Free Handicap (3.35pm) is Barry Hills’ chestnut colt Rerouted.

A course and distance winner (of a Group 3) as a two year old back in September we know for certain he’ll handle pretty quick underfoot conditions, and was even considered good enough for a tilt at a French Group 1 in October (picked up more than £12,000 prize money in the process).

Hills has won this race an extraordinary three times in the last four runnings, and shouldn’t be ignored here with is only runner available at a juicy 7/1.

Good luck!

Wednesday’s best bets:

3.20 Cheltenham – Cheltenham Collection Handicap Hurdle – 2 Tasheba (each way) @ 12/1 (Bet365, Boylesports, Ladbrokes or Totesport)

3.35 Newmarket – Bet At bluesq.com European Free Handicap – 3 Rerouted (win) @ 7/1 (Bluesq, Boylesports or Skybet)

5.05 Cheltenham – squareintheair.com Novices’ Chase – 2 Balthazar King (win) @ Evens (Paddy Power or Stan James)

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Posted 6 years, 7 months ago