Archive for the ‘ william hill ’ Category

28 Dec
2015

Arctic Excursion Just The Ticket At Leopardstown

It’s a wet and windy Leopardstown that’s set to welcome another big crowd for day three of the annual Christmas meeting, one which boasts the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle and Lexus Chase as its chief components, both of which you’ll see live with us on RTE2.

The three mile Christmas Hurdle (1.55pm) in particular looks set to be a thriller, pitting strong stayers Martello Tower and Alpha Des Obeaux against the classy, but stamina unproven, Arctic Fire.

Albert Bartlett winner Martello Tower is returning to the track from a 290 day absence since his Cheltenham heroics, but even so is bound to try and make this as searching a test as possible.

The same is true of Alpha Des Obeaux, who was comfortably accounted for by Arctic Fire in Fairyhouse’s Hatton’s Grace Hurdle last month, though that came over half a mile shorter than today’s trip.

Seemingly there aren’t too many chinks in 169-rated Arctic Fire’s armour, a horse available at just 8/1 for the two mile Champion Hurdle in March, though the conundrum for his trainer is the embarrassment of riches which sees him furnished with two seemingly superior options for that contest already, in the shape of the monster Faugheen, as well as Nichols Canyon.

Trying to keep them apart is no easy feat, so it makes sense to try and chisel out a new discipline for Arctic Fire, stepping him up in trip in a fascinating experiment.

Will he stay, or will the petrol light be flickering on empty?

On ratings the last season’s Champion Hurdle runner up ought to be an odds on shot, he’s proven on Soft ground, hails from a stable in red hot form, and has the assistance of Ruby Walsh.

Perhaps more importantly, he’s seen out both of his races this season powerfully, staying on well to score over two and a half miles at both Navan and Fairyhouse, a precedent which bodes well for this afternoon.

There’s no guarantee, but I expect him to win today, and his current odds of 12/1 for the World Hurdle to be adjusted accordingly.

Elsewhere, winner number 167 of the season beckons for champion jockey elect Richard Johnson, as he partners Cotillion in Leicester’s Parsley Selling Hurdle (1.25pm).

Johnson, on target for trainer Ian Williams at Huntingdon on Saturday, gets the leg up on a horse who won on the all-weather 12 days ago, and was last seen hurdling at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival.

It’ll be a disappointment if he doesn’t have too many guns for some limited opposition.

Good luck!

Monday’s best bets:

1.25 Leicester – Parsley Selling Hurdle – 5 Cotillion (win) @ 5/4 (Betfred, Betvictor, Coral or Hills)

1.55 Leopardstown – Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle – 2 Arctic Fire (win) @ 11/10 (bet365, Betway or Paddy Power)

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Posted 1 year, 2 months ago

12 Sep
2015

Can They Reel In Rank Outsider In Vintage Irish Champion?

A headline total of 27 millimetres of rain fell at Leopardstown overnight leaving the outer track, upon which today’s Group 1 QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes will be run, officially Yielding (Good in places).

Regrettably, that has to place significant doubt around the participation of four-time Group 1 winner Gleneagles (five if you count the Grand Criterium in which he was disqualified), for whom the ground needs to be Good or quicker for him to take his place in a truly stellar line-up.

All eight are winners at the top level, and it wouldn’t really be a surprise if any of the field were to rise to the top this afternoon.

For even occasional racing fans it has the look of the unmissable, and you’ll see it all live with us on RTE2 from 5.00pm.

French visitor Cirrus Des Aigles boasts a CV that contains no less than seven Group 1’s and £6.1m in prize money, Dermot Weld’s Free Eagle is rich with promise, trained specifically for this race and a dual course winner, last year’s hero The Grey Gatsby returns to try and become only the second ever dual winner of this contest, the mighty Golden Horn is in town trying to both add to his Epsom Derby and Eclipse successes and repair the minor dent to his reputation after being shot down at York last time out, while the three-year-old fillies Found and Pleascach are both carved from the sought-after material reserved for champions.

Only one can win though, and with the ground changing and some of that brigade either short of match practice (Free Eagle and Cirrus) or coming here off the back of very hard runs (Golden Horn), might it be that we could be in for an almighty shock?

In another year Aidan O’Brien’s apparent third string, Highland Reel, could very well be prominent in the betting for this race, such is the strength of his form, but in 2015 he’s dismissed as a 25/1 outsider. Crazy.

Consider that he made all in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes in America last time, displaying an impressive turn of foot to run away with the race.

However, he proved when winning the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in 2014 that he could also be ridden with much more restraint, something that gives big race jockey Emmet MCNamara options.

Second in the French Derby on Good to Soft, we know the ground won’t be an issue, and proven over a mile and a half as well there are no lingering stamina doubts.

McNamara could be gifted an easy lead, a very dangerous plan for a horse who has electric speed.

Official ratings leave him with plenty to do, but 25/1 is an insult to a horse of this proven quality, and I’ll be backing him each way to leave Leopardstown stunned.

Later in the day the Group 2 mile Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes will also be run on the outer circuit (6.50pm), on ground that will enhance the chances of dual course and distance scorer Custom Cut.

This 117-rated Notnowcato gelding won’t have crossed the Irish sea just for fun, and is trained by David O’Meara, who’s operating at a 29% strike-rate in Ireland since 2010.

Custom Cut rarely runs a bad race and could have measure of his seven rivals.

Good luck!

Today’s best bets:

5.45 Leopardstown – QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes – 6 Highland Reel (each way) @ 25/1 (bet365, Betfred or Paddy Power)

6.50 Leopardstown – Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes – 2 Custom Cut (win) @ 4/1 (BetVictor, Ladbrokes or William Hill)

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Posted 1 year, 5 months ago

31 Jul
2015

Maniac On The Loose In Galway

We’ve reached day six here in Galway, where the midweek revellers give way to the weekend arrivals, joining the party alongside some weary looking seven day stalwarts.

It really is a marathon run at sprint pace, with the city’s famous hospitality being dished out at full tilt.

Anyone heading to Ballybrit on Saturday can look forward to really attractive mixed card, which enjoyed while being washed down with some rehydrating refreshments will make for a great afternoon.

Three recommendations for a wager could really help the day go with a bang, and we’ll kick off with Tony Martin’s progressive dual purpose performer Pyromaniac in the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle at 3.15pm.

This lad missed out on a place in Thursday’s Galway Hurdle by the width of a fine coat of paint, failing to make the cut for the big one.

It will have frustrated Martin at the time, but in fact could turn out to have been a blessing in disguise, as compensation may well await.

Besides, Martin had a 1-3 courtesy of Quick Jack and Ted Veale, and might even have improved on that had Thomas Edison not come down at the last.

This gives him a golden opportunity of another winner at a meeting he has increasingly targeted, following on from Quick Jack on Thursday and Vive La France yesterday.

Pyromaniac benefits from the services of Galway Hurdle winning jockey Denis O’Regan, plus he was in winning form of late both on the Flat and over hurdles, scoring at both Limerick and the Curragh.

He looks well equipped to go close here, copes with any ground, and looks a solid option at 5/1 with either Coral or William Hill.

We’ll switch to the Flat at 4.25pm, with Curragh trainer Brendan Duke’s Leath Na Hoibre the pick to land the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Nursery.

He hacked up at the Curragh on July 19th, with a subsequent six pound rise to a mark of 86 unlikely to be enough to stop him if he turns up in the same mood.

He can also improve further for a step up in trip to seven furlongs.

Lastly, row in with Another Cyclone to land the concluding bumper in the hands of Patrick Mullins at 6.05pm.

Scratched from a race on Monday he can make the wait worthwhile, building on a solid debut at Fairyhouse in April.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets at Galway:

3.15 – Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle – 4 Pyromaniac (win) @ 5/1 (Coral or William Hill)

4.25 – Irish Stallion Farms EBF Nursery – 4 Leath No Hoibre (win) @ 3/1 (bet365 or Coral)

6.05 – Ladbrokes “Your Sport Your Way”” INH Flat Race – 9 Another Cyclone (win) @ 9/4 (bet365 or Paddy Power)

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Posted 1 year, 6 months ago

30 Jul
2015

Shark Attack Feared In Galway

One of Irish racing’s best-loved and most instantly recognisable characters could be about to take centre stage at packed to the rafters Galway today, as County Carlow-based John Hanlon, far better known simply as ‘The Shark’, arrives in the wild west armed with a strong and intriguing challenge for today’s €300,000 Guinness Galway Hurdle (4.45pm, live on RTE1), courtesy of stable star Hidden Cyclone.

The 10-year-old Stowaway gelding has done his charismatic trainer proud, winning 12 races in all including five of his six outings over hurdles.

What’s more, he’s been readied for his big day with a fluent win on the Flat at Leopardstown, a smoother than smooth performance during which he never remotely left his comfort zone.

You can be 100% certain he will have to this afternoon though, as the proven quality and younger legs of the likes of Quick Jack, Diakali and Thomas Edison put it up to him.

However, the ratings case for Hidden Cyclone couldn’t be any more plain….the horse who has consistently boxed against the heavyweights over fences is rated 158 in that code, plus has as recently as February won a Grade 2 Chase.

Over hurdles however he is much more favourably assessed, seeking to exploit a mark over the smaller obstacles of just 137.

Factor in the three pound claim of Brian Hayes and you can see exactly why he’s an attractive proposition, under a feather weight, at the 8/1 available each way with Boylesports of BetVictor.

He ran well on his only previous experience of Galway (in 2013) and is one to keep on side today.

‘The Shark’ could also enjoy a dream start to the afternoon, with the richly-promising Clondaw Farmer fancied to successfully plough a successful furrow in the Guinness Dublin Porter Beginners Chase, run at 1.50pm.

Placed in a point-to-point, he won his bumper here at Galway a year ago, and then eased through his maiden hurdle at Down Royal without breaking sweat.

He’s up against the frustrating As De Ferbet for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh this afternoon, and can make his winning mentality count.

Good luck!

Thursday’s best bets at Galway:

1.50 – Guinness Dublin Porter Beginners Chase – 2 Clondaw Farmer (win) @ 4/1 (bet365, Betfred, Betvictor, Coral, Ladbrokes or William Hill)

4.45 – Guinness Galway Hurdle – 14 Hidden Cyclone (each way) @ 8/1 (Boylesports of BetVictor)

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Posted 1 year, 7 months ago

16 Jan
2015

A-tac A-tac A-tac On A Nervy Day At Ascot…

A welcome befitting the return of a hero awaits the great Sprinter Sacre as he prepares to line-up in Saturday’s Clarence House Chase at Ascot (live on Channel 4 at 3.00pm), but it’ll be the ultimate nervy preparation for trainer Nicky Henderson and his team, with the Seven Barrows handler open in his reluctance to let his star name take part on ground that is deemed unsuitably testing.

Hopefully it’ll be all systems go and ‘Hendo’ will give the green light – the sport needs its marquee names, and they simply do not come bigger than Sprinter Sacre.

One person who needs little convincing is an unnamed Betfred client, who on Thursday staked an even £56,500 on him coming through his comeback outing unscathed.

He’s a braver man than me, but for the good of the sport and in support of a majestic horse let’s hope he collects.

He’ll be sweating a wee bit all the same, as his selection isn’t yet a 100% definite runner, he has to prove he’s the marvellous animal he once was, plus he’s running against the small but select band of proven quality such as Dodging Bullets, Somersby, plus confirmed mud lovers Twinlight and Grey Gold.

I won’t be getting involved but sitting back and enjoying what promises to be an enthralling spectacle, instead saving my funds for a bit of value elsewhere on the card…

The track’s extended 2m 5f Chase at 3.35pm is the sixth and final leg of an estimated £500,000 combined Scoop6, and features two chances for Venetia Williams, with hat-trick seeker Niceonefrankie, alongside Tenor Nivernais.

Both could be the answer, but at colossal odds what about giving one more chance to quirky but talented Ackertac?

Getting weight from all but one of his rivals, this horse needs a first time visor to spark a revival in fortunes, though pause to remember perhaps his best run ever was at the Cheltenham Festival back in 2013, when although sent off at 66/1 he went down by just a quarter of a length to Radjhani Express in first time blinkers in the novices’ handicap chase.

That was a phenomenal effort, and since then he’s won at Cheltenham and been second in a Sandown handicap off a mark fully a stone higher than here (147 v 133).

Out of sorts this season, his stable needs a change of fortune, but don’t write off the chances of a shock.

A jockey of Richard Johnson’s calibre doesn’t ride no-hopers, and with Soft ground not an issue he could have been totally overlooked at 28/1 each way with bet365.

A drop in trip on a course he loves might be a recipe for revival – bear in mind his lifetime form at Ascot is 2, 2, 1, P.

I love a long shot, and he could easily out-run his price.

Also at Ascot and also live with us on Channel 4 the 149-rated Carole’s Spirit looks up to defying a penalty in the Grade 2 Mares’ Hurdle at 1.50pm.

Second in this race 12 months ago, that was her only defeat up ’til now in five starts over hurdles, and her seasonal reappearance suggested she might be even better this time around, as she hacked up at Kempton Park back in November.

A win here will surely book her place in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at the Festival in March, for which she is currently between 8/1 and 10/1.

Given plenty of time between races by trainer Tim Walford, the mount of Daryl Jacob can collect at a price of 9/4 with Bet Victor.

Some 200 or so miles north west Haydock Park will have to survive an early morning inspection (8.00) if they are to get the show on the road on Peter Marsh Chase day (due to the threat of frost), but if they’re able to overcome that then follow Dan Skelton’s mud lover Toby Lerone in the big one at 3.15pm (also live on 4).

In sparkling form pre-Christmas, this lad ploughed through deep ground to win at Lingfield, a week before a fine second at Haydock over three miles in the Tommy Whittle, finding only the re-opposing Broadway Buffalo too good.

With that rival a meaty eight pounds higher but Toby Lerone getting away with just a pound extra his chance is plain to see, and a racing weight of just 10st 4lbs on his favoured bog-like ground means he looks a major threat.

The Skeltons had a big televised winner last Saturday with Three Musketeers, and at 10/1 with any of Betfred, BetVictor, Coral, Paddy Power or William Hill their stayer Toby Lerone looks over-priced to give them another.

Elsewhere, a couple of legs of the Scoop6 come from Lingfield’s All Weather card, where Andrew Balding’s recent course and distance scorer Melvin The Grate looks a horse to follow in the 0-100 mile handicap at 2.35pm.

Up seven pounds for an authoritative success at this venue 20 days ago, that made it three wins from four outings, but he’s progressing at a rate of knots and can continue the hot streak.

He’s 7/4 with bet365, BetVictor, Ladbrokes or Paddy Power.

Lastly, we’ll try and round off proceedings with a winning football nap!

Myself and my hapless associate Lord Culcheth have got a bit of ground to make up after seeing a couple of weekend trebles chinned of late, but one team who look more than reasonably priced to take three points are Bradford City, with the Yorkshire side heading to Somerset to take on struggling Yeovil in League One.

The visitors are looking to consolidate their spot in the play-off places after trouncing Millwall in the FA Cup, whereas the hosts are welded to the bottom and have managed just one win and a measly five goals at Huish Park all season.

With that in mind the 7/4 available with either Betfred or BetVictor looks very attractive.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

1.50 Ascot – OLBG.com Mares’ Hurdle – 1 Carole’s Spirit (win) @ 9/4 (Bet Victor)

2.35 Lingfield – Ladbrokes Handicap – 4 Melvin The Grate (win) @ 7/4 (bet365, BetVictor, Ladbrokes or Paddy Power)

3.15 Haydock – Peter Marsh Chase (Ltd H’Cap) – 12 Toby Lerone (each way) @ 10/1 (Betfred, BetVictor, Coral, Paddy Power or William Hill)

3.35 Ascot – bet365 Handicap Chase – 11 Ackertac (each way) @ 28/1 (bet365)

Football – Bradford to win at Yeovil – Sat 3.00pm KO @ 7/4 (Betfred or BetVictor)

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Posted 2 years, 1 month ago

02 Jan
2015

Three Wishes For A Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

A Sandown Park and Wincanton live double-header help usher in the first weekend action of 2015 on Channel 4 Racing this Saturday, with the first-named track hosting the lucrative Grade 1 32Red Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle as the day’s feature event at 2.25pm.

Courtesy of Minella Class in 2011, Captain Conan in 2012, and Royal Boy 12 months ago trainer Nicky Henderson has won three of the last four runnings of the £40,000 prize, and he looks to hold very strong claims of making it four from five, with classy youngster L’Ami Serge odds-on to strengthen his credentials for Cheltenham in March.

Available at 12/1 with the likes of BetVictor, Ladbrokes and Unibet for the Festival’s opening Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, he’ll have to be sharp here to repel the likes of Jolly’s Cracked It and Shelford in a small but select line up (just four runners), but he has looked very slick in winning at Newbury and Ascot on his first two starts for team Henderson.

We’re not going to get rich by worrying about 1/2 shots in tiny fields though, so in search of a wager a few quid on the high class William’s Wishes in the two mile 32redsport.com Handicap Chase (run at 1.50pm) could be the way to go…

Fragile but blessed with an abundance of talent, this lad has won five of his even chasing starts to date, despite spending two separate lengthy spells on the sidelines due to injury.

It’s a credit to South Wales trainer Evan Williams that he’s managed to nurse this horse back from his latest hiccup, producing him to finish fourth of five in a hurdle race won by The New One at Haydock in November.

That obviously helped blow away the cobwebs, because on just his third spin since winning this race two years ago he was a solid sixth in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek, showing up well to collect prize money behind Dodging Bullets and company last time out.

That was a blinding effort, and back in handicap waters in a race he has taken before, he could well be ready to add to an already excellent strike-rate.

As you’d expect on a Saturday at Sandown it’s a thoroughly competitive race, and the likes of Mr Mole and Brick Red – who finished first and second in a Graduation Chase at Exeter last time out – will be looking to play a major part, but a back to form William’s Wishes could have too much in his locker for either of them.

By the time William’s Wishes leaves the paddock to do battle his stable may already have had reason to celebrate, with tough and improving mare Dark Spirit an attractive looking betting proposition in the listed 32red.com Mares’ Hurdle at 12.40pm.

She’s got a bit to do at the weights, but is proven far beyond this two and a half mile trip, a factor which could find out short-priced favourite Aurore D’Estruval.

John Quinn’s filly has bags of ability based on her win at Wetherby in November, and an even more impressive run when getting to within a length and three quarters of Irving in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle.

This is a different test though, and stepping up in trip on a demanding track like Sandown would scare me if I was considering parting with my hard earned dough, with Boylesports and Paddy offering just 10/11 about her.

Maybe class will see her through, but at 7/1 with bet365 and the two firms just mentioned you get a lot for your cash if you side with Dark Spirit.

What a certainty she must have been in retrospect at 3/1 for a seller at Leicester in October 2013!

That sparked a sequence which has seen her win four of her last five, culminating in a silky smooth handicap win at Ascot over 2m 6f.

This demands far, far more, but we know she’ll stay and is clearly improving at a rate of knots.

If Aurore D’Estruval does fail to get home then Dark Spirit could easily be the one to pick up the pieces.

Lastly, flying the flag for racing in the north of England on FA Cup third round weekend is Newcastle, where Brian Ellison’s Yorkist can bag his second win over fences with a victory in the S V Rutter Novices’ Chase at 12.30pm.

Rampant when going in a Carlisle at the end of November, his winner’s penalty is all but negated by jockey Nathan Moscrop’s five pound claim, and this former course winner over hurdles can bag a confidence boosting second chase strike.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

12.30 Newcastle – S V Rutter Novices’ Chase – 1 Yorkist (win)

12.40 Sandown – 32red.com Mares’ Hurdle – 3 Dark Spirit (win) @ 7/1 (bet365 or Paddy Power)

1.50 Sandown – 32redsport.com Handicap Chase – 2 William’s Wishes (win) @ 7/2 (Betfred, BetVictor, Coral, Paddy Power or William Hill)

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Posted 2 years, 1 month ago

28 Dec
2014

Tank Has Topaz Rivals Firmly In His Sights…

A massive crowd were treated to a Lexus Chase to savour on Sunday afternoon at Leopardstown, with a thriller going the way of Galway Plate hero and now dual Grade 1 winner Road To Riches (at an SP of 4/1).

Noel Meade’s rising star got the better of On His Own and Sam Winner in a pulsating contest, with all three threatening to grab the race by the scruff of the neck as they turned for home.

Another former well backed Galway Plate winner Carlingford Lough also looked like he might be involved, but it was Noel Meade’s seven-year-old son of Gamut who was able to assert on the run-in, rewarding those punters who’d taken overnight prices as big as 9/1 with Paddy Power, and giving owners Gigginstown House Stud and jockey Bryan Cooper a 68/1 treble on the day, adding to earlier victories for Identity Thief and Lieutenant Colonel.

Road To Riches earned quotes ranging from 10/1 to 14/1 for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, blowing a raspberry at those pundits who’d suggested he might struggle to go on the testing Leopardstown ground.

If he’s a possible Cheltenham winner in the making then what about two horses who’ve been and done it?

The fourth and final instalment of the great Christmas Festival rolls around on Monday, with old rivals Hurricane Fly and Jezki taking centre stage in the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle at 1.25pm.

Live on RTE2, the big race sees the renewal of a rivalry which currently stands at 3-2 to the older horse, with 10-year-old Hurricane Fly having beaten the reigning Champion Hurdle winner in this race 12 months ago, again here in January, and then in last month’s Morgiana at Punchestown.

Inbetween times Jezki got his own back, galloping to success at the Cheltenham Festival back in March, and then repeating the dose at Punchestown at the start of May.

The width of a fine coat of paint appears to divide them, though bear in mind 20-time Grade 1 winner Hurricane Fly is a perfect eight from eight at Leopardstown, and has won this race three times.

Enjoy him while you can, as surely even he can’t keep conjuring the big race wins forever.

It might come down to whoever gets out of bed on the right side, but with so little to split them in the betting then it’s perhaps better to attack the remainder of the card for an opportunity for a wager….

The final live tv race of the four day extravaganza in the three mile Grade 1 Topaz Novice Chase at 3.05pm, which on the strength of the 7 declared runners promises to be a humdinger.

The bookies make Gigginstown horse Don Poli – trained by Willie Mullins and a winner over hurdles at Cheltenham in March – their market leader, while in the same colours another Festival winner Very Wood could be a live danger if he can brush aside a disappointing recent effort at Punchestown.

Waterford trainer Henry de Bromhead had a Saturday to remember with a ‘cross the card’ double at Leopardstown and Kempton Park, and he is responsible for hat-trick seeker Shanahan’s Turn.

Gordon Elliott has his team in red-hot form after a treble including a Grade 1 win for Clarcam on Friday, and he goes on the hunt for more top level success with Mala Beach.

All four could be the solution, but Mala Beach is interesting as two runs back he was well and truly stuffed by the Sandra Hughes-trained The Tullow Tank at Fairyhouse.

Lining up in the familiar yellow silks and black sash of owner Barry Connell the robustly built six-year-old Oscar gelding The Tullow Tank was a big noise over hurdles, winning twice at Grade 1 level, including at this fixture a year ago.

He went on to chase home a certain Vautour back here in February in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle, and if we knew then what we know now about Vautour then it’s some compliment that The Tullow Tank was sent off at odds on (9/10) to beat him!!

Of course Vautour went on to win both the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Grade 1 Champion Novice at Punchestown, so not exactly a disgrace that The Tullow Tank should find him three lengths too good, especially when conceding a pound!

Since then The Tullow Tank has his successful chasing introduction at Fairyhouse, but then fluffed his lines in the Drinmore last month, when only fifth but found to be suffering from a minor lung infection in the aftermath of the race.

Is he being prematurely written off on the strength of one off day?

The 6/1 available with any of Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, Skybet or Unibet would appear to suggest so, but this is a horse who was right up there with the best of his rivals over hurdles, is said to be back in rude health, boasts outstanding course form at Leopardstown, thrives on Soft ground, has already won well over fences (stuffing Mala Beach who is no bigger than 4/1 for this), and comes from a stable who struck at Grade 1 level with Lieutenant Colonel on Sunday.

For all of those reasons The Tullow Tank looks a cracking bet at 6/1 to land this.

Elsewhere, the freezing weather is threatening to play havoc with the fixture list in England, with inspections planned all over the place and Newbury deploying frost covers to try and ensure they stage the Challow Hurdle card.

The Berkshire track is marshalled by one of the best Clerks in the business in the shape of Richard Osgood, from whom I once stole a very nice golf umbrella (sorry if you’re reading this Richard, but it was raining).

If anyone can keep the show on the road it’s him, and if successful then a risky but possibly rewarding play could be Emma Lavelle’s Highland Lodge in the 0-130 Handicap Chase at 1.35pm.

Without a win for two years and partnered by an inexperienced rider in Richie O’Dea the pitfalls are plain to see, but if he’s going to return to winning ways then this could be the day.

Having slipped from 143 to a mark of just 130 he creeps in here at the top of the weights in a lesser race, but his jockey’s 10 pound claim makes this much more acceptable, and with Lavelle’s string in form (2 winners in the last 9 days) this might be the right time for a return to form.

After all, don’t forget this horse was fourth over course and distance in the Hennessy off nearly a stone higher just 13 months ago, and if he could re-produce a glimmer of that form then winning this would be a formality.

Both bet365 and BetVictor will lay us 4/1 about that suggestion becoming a reality.

Just over an hour later the Philip Hobbs-trained powerhouse Royal Regatta can make it two from two fences, with a repeat of his recent course and distance victory (2.45pm).

Good luck!

Monday’s best bets:

1.35 Newbury – Betfred Mandarin Handicap Chase – 1 Highland Lodge (win) @ 4/1 (bet365 and BetVictor)

2.45 Newbury – Betfred Novices’ Ltd Handicap Chase – 2 Royal Regatta (win) @ 5/4 (BetVictor, Coral, Paddy Power or William Hill)

3.05 Leopardstown – Topaz Novice Chase – 5 The Tullow Tank (win) @ 6/1 (Ladbrokes, Paddy Power or Skybet)

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Posted 2 years, 1 month ago

28 Nov
2014

On Cloud Nine at Newbury?

It’s a game of fine margins.

No five-year-old has ever won Newbury’s National Hunt feature, the £175,000 Hennessy Gold Cup Handicap Chase, and only two have even attempted the feat in the last 10 years.

How different it might all how been though, for horse and jockey, had the combination of Sam Thomas and then five-year-old Big Buck’s successfully negotiated the last fence in this race on November 29th 2008.

A compelling negative trend wouldn’t exist, Big Buck’s might have remained on the staying chase trail rather than winning 18 on the bounce (10 of them Grade 1’s!!) in his second coming as a hurdler, and that year’s Gold Cup winning jockey Sam Thomas might still be a dominant figure down in Ditcheat rather than planning a second career as an up and coming trainer, having seen his footing crumble at the yard of the champion trainer.

A game of fine margins indeed, but we head into this year’s renewal – live on Channel 4 on Saturday afternoon at 3.00pm – with a five-year-old as the red hot favourite to land the spoils, with Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh teaming up to try their luck with Djakadam.

This race hasn’t been a popular target for the Irish, but with this young horse talked about as a future Gold Cup type – he’s 25/1 with bet365 for March’s blue riband – could he be ready to outclass them on Saturday afternoon?

Certainly he’s been all the rage in the antepost markets, attracting huge support from punters who believe his mark of 142 significantly underestimates his obvious potential.

Go back to his run at Cheltenham in March when he fell four out in the JLT – he was still travelling that day and disputing second, and perhaps more importantly the horses that finished first and second there Taquin Du Seuil and Uxizandre are now rated 159 and 158 respectively.

On that fact alone this fella may be thrown in, but the balancing act persists…

This will be just a fourth ever run over fences, and a first ever step beyond 2m 5f.

The Hennessy is run at a punishing gallop, and is quite a day to try and prove he’s the real deal.

He may get the job done, but at prices as short as 4/1 with the likes of Boyles and Ladbrokes in a red hot 19 runner handicap it isn’t difficult to try and cook up a tempting each way alternative.

Merry King for one at the very bottom of the handicap is sure to attract support around 14/1 with
AP McCoy fit again and in the saddle, while Neil Mulholland is due some good fortune and could have the ideal sort in The Druids Nephew.

The one for me though is 9/1 shot Many Clouds.

In-form trainer Oliver Sherwood has made no secret of his admiration for this seven-year-old son of Cloudings, as he bids to give his Upper Lambourn stable a 12th winner of an up ’til now productive campaign.

An exciting, improving, second season chaser with speed, stamina and terrific athleticism, Many Clouds was outstanding on his only appearance so far this term, powering up the hill to see off higher rated stars such as Eduard and Holywell in the Colin Parker at Carlisle.

Soft ground is ideal, and when you think back to his run in the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot back in February it isn’t hard to muster further enthusiasm, given how he went down two and a half lengths to future RSA winner O’Faolains Boy when trying to concede four pounds.

This’ll be run number eight over the larger obstacles, but he looks an ideal Hennessy candidate, and can be backed at 9/1 each way with any of Betvictor, Coral, Paddy Power or William Hill.

Elsewhere on a top, top quality card the 0-140 Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase can go to another trainer enjoying a fine season, with Somerset based Philip Hobbs the man behind 11/2 chance Royal Regatta.

Chasing was always going to bring out the best in this strapping son of King’s Theatre, and he looks worth chancing on his first try over fences.

Soft ground might not be ideal, but if his master trainer is happy to let him line up that’s all the encouragment we need.

This is a hot race for the money on offer, but Royal Regatta may well turn out to be very well handicapped on a mark of 130.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

12.50 Newbury – bet365.com Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase – 4 Royal Regatta (win) @ 11/2 (Ladbrokes)

3.00 Newbury – Hennessy Gold Cup Chase (Handicap) – 8 Many Clouds (each way) @ 9/1 (Betvictor, Coral, Paddy Power or William Hill)

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Posted 2 years, 2 months ago

24 Oct
2014

Park And Ride On Racing Post Trophy Day

Bullish comments from trainer Andrew Balding have done little to dampen the enthusiasm felt by many punters about this weekend’s red hot favourite for Doncaster’s Group 1 Racing Post Trophy – Elm Park.

Live with us on Channel 4 Racing at 3.50pm, it’s a thumping five years on the bounce this race has gone the way of the market leader, with the punter-friendly group including 13/8 poke St Nicholas Abbey in 2009, 2/1 Casamento in 2010, 10/11 chance Camelot in 2011, Kingsbarns at 15/8 in 2012, and finally 7/2 shot Kingston Hill just 12 months ago.

Some of that group went on to achieve worldwide acclaim, fame and fortune of course, with ‘St Nick’ going on to win a staggering three Coronation Cups, a Breeders’ Cup Turf and a Sheema Classic among an eventual prize money haul of just under five million pounds, Camelot kept his part of the bargain by bagging both an Epsom and an Irish Derby, while this year Kingston Hill has stepped up to run a mighty race in defeat in the Derby, before taking the St Leger and managing a gallant fourth in the Arc.

So what of this year’s jolly?

Official ratings make Elm Park very much the one to beat, putting him at least nine pounds clear of his seven rivals on the figures, positioned as he is on a mark of 111.

That of course doesn’t factor in the untapped potential lurking among his rivals, with Aidan O’Brien (going for win number eight in the race) putting the bookies in a spin by relying not on the previously suggested pair of Royal Navy Ship and Giovanni Canaletto, but instead on the once-raced High Chaparral colt Jacobean, alongside the twice-tried son of Galileo, Aloft.

Neither of his representatives has yet displayed Elm Park’s undoubted star quality though, with Balding’s star pupil on a four timer after wins at Newbury (Soft), Salisbury (Good) and Newmarket (Good to Firm).

Four weeks ago the Kingsclere trainer was standing next to me in the Newmarket betting ring taking a heavy drag on a Silk Cut gasper, as the horses made their way to the start for the Group 2 Royal Lodge.

Nods were exchanged and words to the effect of ‘I think you’ll win this Andrew’ were met with a totally honest riposte ‘I hope you’re right, I’m very worried about the ground’…

The record books now tell us he needn’t have been – Elm Park fell out of the starting stalls and then took his time getting to terms with the idiosyncracies of Newmarket’s famous dip, but when the penny dropped he left the rest standing, allaying any fears about his ability to operate on a range of going.

Based on that compelling evidence everything else will have to improve to trouble him, and Sir Mark Prescott’s Celestial Path could be completely snookered if further rain turns the ground Soft.

I was at Haydock Park on Betfred Sprint Cup day when Celestial Path ran away with a listed race, but although that was visually dazzling he has to take a fair jump in class to compete here, while Elm Park has already proven he can keep climbing the ladder, progressing fluently from maiden, to listed, to Group company.

Four more winners in the past fortnight prove Balding’s team remain in good heart, and there looks to be a strong chance both Paddy Power and Ladbrokes could be trimming their top price quotes of 33/1 about Elm Park for the 2015 Investec Derby come 4pm on Saturday.

Four times since the year 2000 the Racing Post Trophy winner has gone on to Epsom glory, and though the price isn’t flashy Elm Park looks rock solid at 7/4 to complete his own first half of that illustrious double.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bet at Doncaster:

3.50 – Racing Post Trophy – 4 Elm Park (win) @ 7/4 (bet365, Betfred, BetVictor, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power or William Hill)

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Posted 2 years, 4 months ago

17 Oct
2014

In The Best Kompany On Future Champions Day

Many a furrowed brow has been raised in the run up to what is a massive weekend for British Flat racing, with the positioning on the calendar of Champions Day in relation to Ireland’s Champions Weekend, The Arc and the Breeders’ Cup provoking plenty of coverage, along with the foul weather, and the absence of equine heavyweights such as Australia, Kingman and Taghrooda fuelling many a newspaper column and online blog…

What isn’t in doubt though is the quality of the three Group 1’s on Friday at Newmarket, which form the backbone of the newly styled Future Champions Day on the Rowley Mile, before the circus rolls on to Ascot for the Champion Stakes and QEII on Saturday.

Newmarket might be having to make do without the Champion Stakes, but they have got the Middle Park, Fillies’ Mile and the Dewhurst, and with all three live on Channel 4 on Friday they’ll be well worth settling down for.

It could be a truly great day for trainer Richard Hannon – bookies Betfred make him just 14/1 to train the winner of all three of the aforementioned races, and in his press release their ever-sharp PR man Andrew Griffiths quipped: “Richard Hannon has a black belt in training juvenile winners!”

He’s got odds on favourite Ivawood as well as Kool Kompany in the Middle Park, second favourite Marsh Hawk in the Fillies’ Mile, and another strong favourite Estidhkaar in the Dewhurst – quite a squad for the Wiltshire martial arts expert!

What is a fascinating aspect is the rain softened ground, and what effect it might have on results.

Kicking off with the Middle Park at 2.55pm, Hannon runs unbeaten Ivawood – who is no bigger than 8/1 favourite for the 2015 Guineas.

A perfect three from three to date has seen him win on debut at Sandown, before progressing to take the Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket, before an equally impressive victory at Glorious Goodwood in the Richmond Stakes.

Richard Hughes has been open in his praise for this horse, and the stats endorse his confidence:

Since 1990 a total of seven horses have come into this race unbeaten in three or more starts – six have done the business and landed the Middle Park!

What we don’t know for sure though is how Soft ground will be dealt with by Ivawood…

He’s won on Good to Firm the last twice, and at no bigger than 5/6 at the time of writing about the market leader, you just wonder if it might be worth exploring the options.

Another leading stat tells us that eight of the last 10 Middle Park winners had already landed either a Group 1 or a Group 2 race – aside from Ivawood the only qualifiers are Gimcrack winner Muhaarar and Prix Robert Papin scorer Kool Kompany.

Muhaarar was impressive at York and had the beating of the re-opposing Jungle Cat that day, and also arrives off the back of a trial that has supplied four winners of the Middle Park in the last 20 years – from just 14 runners!

The problem with him is Ivawood comfortably had his measure in the July Stakes.

Ivawood has also twice accounted for Jungle Cat so it looks like we can discount him for win purposes.

Of the remainder Charming Thought is trying to make a huge and highly ambitious leap into this grade after wins at Lingfield and Leicester, while it’ll be quite a surprise if Aidan O’Brien can net a record fifth Middle Park with big outsider The Warrior.

Soft ground will really suit the other Irish-trained runner Capella Sansevero, who arrives here after winning the Group 3 Tower Stakes at the Curragh.

He also has Group 1 placed form to his name after his third in the Pheonix Stakes at the same track back in August, and merits serious respect.

The one that perhaps has been ignored though is Ivawood’s stablemate Kool Kompany.

Ryan Moore is some substitute for Richard Hughes, and for the first time he gets onto a horse who has the most experience of any of the field with eight starts, adores Soft ground, is already a dual Group 2 winner in his own right, and who has placed form at the highest level.

Punters have short memories, but Kool Kompany was sent off 8/11 favourite for the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh.

What’s more, if you like Capella Sansevero then surely you must like this horse – the score to Kool Kompany is 2-0 based on the two occasions the pair have clashed this year (including the Phoenix).

Also, look out for a talented horse called Strath Burn in the preceeding Cornwallis Stakes at 2.25pm – he was runner up behind Kool Kompany at Maisons-Laffitte in the summer, and a win for him would be a timely hint towards the chances of his conqeuror.

Ivawood may yet to be top dog, but at the prices and with the ground testing, I’m too tempted by the 10/1 with Bet Victor about Kool Kompany causing an upset to let it slide.

Either way, Richard Hannon will be delighted!

The other Group 1 races on the card could well both go the way of favourite backers, and I’ll be playing in the first of them…

The Dubai Fillies’ Mile at 3.25pm hasn’t been a great race for outsiders in recent times, with seven of the last 10 winners coming from the front two in the betting.

That man Hannon supplies the second favourite Marsh Hawk, but she could have an uphill battle trying to repel Jim Bolger’s Lucida.

Biggest at 13/8 with the likes of bet365, Betfred, BetVictor and William Hill, she is unlucky not to have already won a Group 1 after a narrow miss in the Moyglare at the Curragh last month, before staying on strongly over seven furlongs here at Newmarket three weeks ago to win the Group 2 Rockfel with a powerful display.

A winner on yielding ground back in Ireland, she should handle conditions and love the step up in trip.

Lucida is currently no better than 12’s for the 1000 Guineas – that could well be a thing of the past shortly after 3.30pm.

Good luck!

Friday’s best bets at Newmarket:

2.55 – vision.ae Middle Park Stakes – 5 Kool Kompany (win) @ 10/1 (Bet Victor)

3.25 – Dubai Fillies’ Mile – 4 Lucida (win) @ 13/8 (bet365, Betfred, BetVictor and William Hill)

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Posted 2 years, 4 months ago