Archive for the ‘ Epsom Derby ’ Category

02 Jun
2016

Why Seven Could Spell Heaven At Epsom

Don’t leave the country, it’s nearly Epsom time!

Cancel all plans and settle in for one of the world’s truly iconic racing fixtures.

You have to go back to 2002 and Kazzia to find the last filly completing the Guineas/Investec Oaks double, but that’s the record Minding will attempt to usurp when she lines up in Friday’s mile and a half fillies’ Classic, the Investec Oaks (4.30pm, live on C4).

Aidan O’Brien’s star female is obviously very good, as proven by her romp in the Newmarket Guineas.

What’s more, the ground was against her when a rain sodden Curragh saw her finish second to Jet Setting 12 days ago.

The front two pulled well clear, so you can certainly argue it was two classy fillies together.

However, it’s also fair to enquire what mark that hard race had on her so close to her main target, and at odds on it might be wise to watch her win (or underperform), especially with rain in the Epsom area meaning the word Soft looks almost certain to feature in the going description.

Either way, with the market leader available at cramped odds after a hard race (in defeat) it makes sense to fish for something at what might be more appealing value…

Step forward Turret Rocks.

By Fastnet Rock, who produced last year’s shock 50/1 winner Qualify, she promises to be far better than when staying on amongst the also rans in the Guineas.

Stepping up in trip with a run under her belt, it’s encouraging to hear the master trainer, Jim Bolger, singing her praises pre-race.

Out of a Galileo mare, Turret Rocks promises to be far better over this longer trip.

Each way, she’s look very appealing.

Moving onto Saturday’s Investec Derby (4.30pm, live on C4), this has a far more open feel to it, with some bookmakers betting 5/1 the field.

Given that three of the last four winners have returned 8/13, 11/8 and 13/8, that’s a refreshing change!

The possibilities are endless, but though Guineas second Masssaat appeals at double figure odds, I’ll be splitting my stakes between a pair at slightly shorter prices.

Go back five years and you’ll find France’s master trainer, Andre Fabre, winning this race with 4/1 shot Pour Moi.

Fast forward to 2016 and he arrives on these shores with Cloth Of Stars, who has taken the same preparatory route as Pour Moi.

A defeat of Group 1 winner Robin Of Navan last time out looked good, and given the fact Cloth Of Stars crosses the Channel for this looks like a tip in itself, while it must also be significant that’s Fabre has convinced connections to part with a not insignificant £75,000 to supplement him to a wide open contest.

Fabre doesn’t tend to come to the UK with social runners, and Cloth Of Stars might well be the one.

Also to be taken very, very seriously is the Newbury maiden winner, Ulysses.

By a Derby winner (Galileo) out of an Oaks winner (Light Shift), he is bred to be a bit special, which is precisely what he looked last time out.

Albeit this is a huge jump in class, but Stoute has won this iconic race five times, and he know better than most what’s required.

If he’s happy to pitch him in then who are we to argue?

I was at Newbury for the two day Lockinge meeting in mid-May, where talk was dominated by the scorching display from Ulyssses on the Friday – he could well progress to play a big part.

Good luck!

Oaks & Derby recommendations:

4.30 Epsom, Fri – Investec Oaks – 9 Turret Rocks (each way) @ 7/1 (bet365, Betway or Ladbrokes)

4.30 Epsom, Sat – Investec Derby – 6 Cloth Of Stars (each way) @ 7/1 (bet365 or Skybet)
4.30 Epsom, Sat – Investec Derby – 16 Ulysses (each way) @ 7/1 (bet365, Betfair Sportsbook, Coral or Skybet)

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Posted 1 year, 5 months ago

05 Jun
2015

A Perfect Storm On Derby Day At Epsom

FULL EPSOM DERBY COVERAGE can be found on the Betting Directory dedicated microsite…

Derby day at Epsom, followed by a Champions League final that pits the guile and experience of Pirlo and Buffon against the twinkle-toed magic of Messi.

Golden Horn and Pirlo have both got stamina doubts to answer as it happens, but both could decide the outcome of their respective sporting showpiece.

Live with us on Channel 4 at 4.30pm the £1.325m Investec Derby has drawn a field of 12 to the Epsom Downs, and couch potatoes have never had it so good, as as 7.45pm the eyes of the sporting world will be drawn to Berlin, as Barcelona and Juventus lock horns to decide who’ll get their hands on old big ears, the Champions League trophy coveted by Europe’s elite.

Supplemented Dante winner Golden Horn tops the market at Epsom, but his well documented stamina doubts are a concern for anyone entertaining backing him at a general 6/4.

If you were watching Channel 4 Racing last Saturday you’ll know I was looking forward to backing Zawraq, but Curragh trainer Dermot Weld will be as sick as a pig that his horse is lame and unable to run.

In his absence I’m taking a chance with a 20/1 shot, in the hope that Newmarket handler William Haggas can secure a first Derby with Storm The Stars.

At huge odds you get guaranteed stamina, some excellent form in the book, plus versatility regarding ground.

It’s six years since the mighty Sea The Stars powered to victory in this race, and he could be about to supply the 2015 winner with one his offspring.

Go back through his form and you’ll find just a neck separating him from Golden Horn at Nottingham last October.

He ran well in defeat when not entirely comfortable on the track when second to the re-opposing Hans Holbein in the Chester Vase, but enjoyed an inch perfect preparation for this when making all in Goodwood’s listed Cocked Hat Stakes 15 days ago.

He’s improving all the time, and has clearly benefitted from stepping up in distance.

Combine that with the form of the Haggas team, a meaty 11 winners from just 29 runners in the fortnight to Friday, for a stunning 38% strike-rate, and there looks to be enough ammunition to recommend an each way wager.

Elsewhere, Abergavenny trainer Dave Evans can strike with one of his two runners at Doncaster, with Wordiness primed to continue his good recent form in the 0-70 staying handicap at 2.30pm.

Evans is another man in form, winning with two of his seven runners on Thursday, and employs the services of ace apprentice Gary Mahon, who claims seven off top weight and is full of confidence having won on two of his three recent rides.

Wordiness ran well here last time, and prior to that was much improved when bounding clear at Newbury.

Mahon’s claim effectively takes him back to his winning mark, and he looks the one to beat in this Class 5 event.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

2.30 Doncaster – Ladbrokes App Handicap – 1 Wordiness (win)

4.30 Epsom – Investec Derby – 11 Storm The Stars (each way) @ 20/1 (bet365, Betfred, BetVictor or Ladbrokes)

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Posted 2 years, 5 months ago

04 Jun
2015

Fire Can Be An Epsom Scorcher On Oaks Day

The £450,000 Group 1 Investec Oaks (live on Channel 4 at 4.30pm) is the jewel in the crown of a glittering Friday at Epsom, with five of the seven races available for terrestrial viewers.

As you’d expect it’s a superb supporting card, and there’s are a strong case to be made for a wager in race two, as red-hot Mark Johnston sends a trio of runners south to contest the 1m 2f Investec Wealth & Management Stakes Handicap.

Even by his high standards the North Yorkshire-based Johnston has been in tremendous form, firing in a almost unbelievable 22 winners in the fortnight up to and including Wednesday.

Many trainers don’t have that many in a whole season, and although he’s playing a numbers game (exactly 70 runners in the period), it’s nonetheless a whopping 31% strike rate!

He had five entries for this at the six day stage, but that was fined down to last time out winners Fire Fighting and Sennockian Star, plus York runner up Master Of Finance.

At 6/1 each way the one for me in the first named of that team, Fire Fighting.

The Solider Of Fortune four-year-old arrives here off the back of a stylish and clearcut win in Redcar’s Zetland Gold Cup, for which a six pound penalty incurred leaves him three pounds ahead of the handicapper.

What’s more, he has also seen the form of his excellent second to Trip To Paris at Lingfield in April boosted, as the horse he narrowly failed to concede a stone to that day franked the form by winning no less than the Chester Cup!

Good ground will be ideal, Paul Mulrennan (who won on him at Redcar) retains the mount, and he has an excellent course record at Epsom, with form figures of 1, 3.

Any of bet365, Betfred or Paddy Power are laying the top price.

As for the big one, I think there could be a surprise on the cards in a race which thrown up numerous big priced winners in recent times…

You don’t have to delve too far into the record books to recall 33/1 Look Here springing a shock in 2008, nor 20/1 shots Dancing Rain (2011), Was (2012) or Talent (2013) sparing the bookies’ blushes three years on the bounce.

Sariska was a winning favourite in 2009, but I had to laugh at Paddy Power’s quote regarding this year’s market leader Legatissimo:

“Legatissimo has it all to do to win the Oaks from stall one, with the last horse to overcome that berth in that race or the Derby being Oath in 1999.”

He might have a point as well, and though the 1,000 Guineas winner will be popular, I’m going to take a chance at fancy prices with the sole French representative in the field, master trainer Andre Fabre’s Al Naamah.

Fabre rarely brings his team across the Channel on a whim, and already this season managed to get Territories into the frame in the 2,000 Guineas last month.

Al Naamah will jump from stall three, the same draw that produced an Oaks winner in Talent two years ago.

She’s only run three times to date, but a win at Chantilly and a staying on second over a mile and a quarter in the Prix Cleopatre at Saint-Cloud 23 days ago provide stacks of encouragement.

She’ll surely be even better up in trip, and Al Shaqab’s £5m purchase could be ready to come good on the big stage.

At 16/1 each way in a race notable for producing long priced stunners, she looks more than tempting.

The best odds are available with any of Betfred, BetVictor, Coral, Paddy Power or William Hill.

Good luck!

Friday’s best bets at Epsom:

2.35 – Investec Wealth & Management Stakes (Handicap) – 2 Fire Fighting (each way) @ 6/1 (bet365, Betfred or Paddy Power)

4.30 – Investec Oaks – 1 Al Naamah (each way) @ 16/1 (Betfred, BetVictor, Coral, Paddy Power or William Hill)

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Posted 2 years, 5 months ago

06 Jun
2014

Boycott The Favourite & Hit The Bookies With 8/1 Geoffrey

All eyes will be on the historic Epsom Downs on Saturday afternoon, as the 235th running of the Investec Derby (4.00pm) is played out in front of a massive live and television audience.

The declared field of 16 is the biggest since 2008, and they’ll slug it out for a purse worth a total of £1.38m.

Amusingly dubbed by Paddy Power as “the sixth Ashes Test” on the heels of the cricketing white-wash, they’re headed by Aidan O’Brien’s red-hot favourite Australia, who’s bred to do the job given that he’s by 2001 Derby winner Galileo, and out of 2004 Oaks victor Ouija Board.

Third in the Guineas (which many now consider to be the key trial), he has been notably easy to back in the approach to the race, sliding to a top price of 7/4 with Unibet at the time of writing.

Betfred spokesman Andrew Griffiths got in on the act, declaring: ” Australia is about as popular as Nick Clegg at the moment!”

There are clear concerns about how he’d cope if possible heavy rain got into the ground, but he is referred to in such reverential terms by his master trainer that he has to be afforded the highest respect.

That said, the price is short given the quality and depth of the opposition, and it’s been fascinating to see heavy support arrive for last year’s Racing Post Trophy winner Kingston Hill.

Aside from Australia though, O’Brien has three more cards to play as he searches for a fifth win in the race.

Successful in 2001, he also struck in 2002 with High Chaparral, 2012 with Camelot, and 12 months ago with Ruler Of The World.

Making up his quartet this time are outsider Kingfisher, Chester Vase hero Orchestra, plus unlucky in-running Derrinstown Derby Trial third Geoffrey Chaucer.

The mount of Ryan Moore, it could be that the last named is the one to chisel out another piece of history for O’Brien, as a win here would make him the first trainer in history to win the Epsom Derby in three successive years.

Run back on Sunday May 11th, the Leopardstown Derby Trial was a messy affair, in which the re-opposing trio of Ebanoran, Fascinating Rock and Geoffrey Chaucer passed the post as the one-two-three.

Ebanoran passed the post first but had drifted to his right and bumped Fascinating Rock, and the stewards had their say and reversed the placings.

In behind, Geoffrey Chaucer was checked in his run a quarter of a mile or so from home, and was then starved of room and eased.

It may well be that this race proves to be the vital piece of form, and in Geoffrey Chaucer was have an exciting, non-ground dependent, contender at an attractive each way price, ridden by Ryan Moore.

He had won his only two previous starts, in the first of them conceding weight but still managing to see off Dermot Weld’s top notch filly Tarfasha.

Weld himself might have a say here, as I’m taking out a bit of insurance with a few quid each way on his Derrinstown winner Fascinating Rock.

The 14/1 looks a decent shout with the likes of bet365, BetVictor, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes, given that he obviously finished ahead of the classy Geoffrey Chaucer last time out, is on a four timer, will lap up any rain that arrives, and hails from a stable who remain in winning form.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets in the Investec Derby – 4.00 Epsom:

4 Fascinating Rock (each way) @ 14/1 (bet365, BetVictor, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes)
5 Geoffrey Chaucer (each way) @ 8/1 (BetVictor)

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Posted 3 years, 5 months ago

05 Jun
2014

Madame Can Be Leading Lady At Epsom

We’ve got a field of 17 to look forward to for this year’s renewal of the Investec Oaks at Epsom on Friday afternoon, run in memory of the great Sir Henry Cecil.

Live with us on Channel 4 at 4.00pm, the betting is headed by Irish Guineas winner Marvellous, one of three chances in the race for Aidan O’Brien.

O’Brien won this contest most recently with 20/1 shot Was back in 2012, and clearly has high hopes for his number one contender this time around, though clearly she has to prove she can handle the step up in trip to a mile and a half.

To be fair, she looked to handle the stiff mile at the Curragh with ease 12 days ago, and powered away to see off Lightning Thunder and co with plenty to spare.

That said, she isn’t generously priced in a quality field at around 7/2, and you won’t get more than half a point more about John Gosden’s runaway Pretty Polly winner Taghrooda…

She has plenty to find on official ratings, but stormed away over a mile and a quarter at Newmarket in listed company last time.

Dermot Weld’s representative Tarfasha is equally promising on the strength of her Group 3 win at Naas (also 1m 2f), while Godolphin’s Ihtimal is a big danger in the hands of Kieren Fallon.

She got within three quarters of a length when third to Miss France in the Newmarket Guineas, and it’s worth remembering she won the UAE Oaks at Meydan in February over 1m 2f by 10 lengths!

However, in an open race and available at 14/1 I’m plumping for a hugely exciting filly who is unbeaten, stays a mile and a quarter at least, won’t mind any rain that comes, and boasts the talent of William Buick in the saddle.

Step forward the David Simcock inmate Madame Chiang, who won on debut at Yarmouth in October (sent off 33/1!), and then re-appeared in style last month by netting the Group 3 Musidora at York.

Pleasingly, at the time of writing Power are not only best price in the village about her at 14’s, but also offering each way players a bonus fourth place, so they are clearly the place to shop.

Earlier in the day they kick off at 1.35pm with the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes, in which another former Irish 1,000 Guineas winner is on parade in the shape of 2013 version Just The Judge.

Trained by Charles Hills, she will be sharper for her recent run when fifth in the Earl Of Sefton at Newmarket’s Craven fixture, and could provide an emotional success for the Hills family after the loss of John Hills earlier this week.

Just The Judge had three hard races in quick succession last summer – finishing second in the English Guineas, winning at the Curragh, and then managing third in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, and couldn’t display her best form later in the year.

However, she’s had plenty of time now, plus it’s worth recalling her lifetime form figures for the months of May and June are an impressive 1,2,1,3.

Back her to win at 9/2 with any of bet365, Betfred or Unibet.

Good luck!

Friday’s best bets at Epsom:

1.35 – Princess Elizabeth Stakes – 5 Just The Judge (win) @ 9/2 (bet365 or Betfred)

4.00 – Investec Oaks – 9 Madame Chiang (each way) @ 14/1 (Paddy Power)

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Posted 3 years, 5 months ago

01 Jun
2013

On A Derby Day High As Fabre Plans Epsom Raid…

Derby day at Epsom.

One of the truly iconic dates in the sporting calendar, and with the forecast set fair one which is sure to attract a monster crowd to the Downs, all wanting to know who will be the winner of the 2013 edition of the Investec-backed event.

Worth a stunning £782,314 to the winner – a sum which would cover even my perenially extortionate phone bill for a month or two – a field of 12 are declared to do battle under the gaze of the Channel 4 cameras.

The annual ‘will he stay, won’t he stay?’ debate has been raging out of control about the runaway Guineas winner Dawn Approach, and for racing’s sake I hope he wins and we can celebrate the arrrival of another superstar, but it’s another thing entirely suggesting we part with our cash at around 5/4 when he’s not certain to see out the trip.

Especially not with plenty of quality lining up in opposition:

Aidan O’Brien has despatched four of his best from his County Tipperary base, and in Battle Of Marengo he has a first choice option (mount of son Joseph) who comes here off the back of a win in the Derrinstown at Leopardstown, the same route used by former winners High Chaparral and Galileo, who for those who like a bit of symmetry is the sire of Battle Of Marengo.

O’Brien also has legitimate claims courtesy of Chester Vase winner Ruler Of The World – he certainly doesn’t appear to have any stamina doubts, and is also a good looking son of Galileo.

But it’s not just O’Brien who could be celebrating on Saturday afternoon…

Dante winner Libertarian caused a shock for most people at York (except for his shrewd trainer), but he strikes me as a decent bet for the St Leger in three months time (16/1 to save you looking it up).

Elsewhere in the line-up Qatar Bloodstock moved fast to secure a controlling interest in German Group 3 winner Chopin after he hacked up at Krefeld in April, and Jamie Spencer rides as retained jockey.

Trainer Andreas Wohler is breaking new ground with a first German runner in the big race, but whether he’s good enough to win is open to debate.

However, the prize could very well be heading overseas, and the one I really like is French dark horse Ocovango.

Prepared in Chantilly by master trainer Andre Fabre, this son of Monsun (a very strong stamina influence) is unbeaten and certainly won’t mind a bit of cut in the ground.

Fabre won this race two years ago with Pour Moi, who took the very same prep race on his way to Epsom as Ocovango, the Group 2 Prix Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud.

I loved the way Ocovango dug in there, seeing off Bravodino in determined fashion, in the style of a good horse.

Ocovango worked neatly on the track at last week’s Breakfast With The Stars event, and has an up coming young pilot in the shape of Pierre-Charles Boudot.

There is a horror stat doing the rounds that says stalls one and two have a terrible record, with two wins from 164 attempts in races over a mile and a half at Epsom since the year 2000.

Ocovango is drawn in stall one, but he’s normally very fast away from the stalls and should have enough up his sleeve to work his way out of any trouble in that department.

What’s more, Secret Gesture (2nd) and Moth (4th) didn’t do too badly in Friday’s Oaks when drawn one and two respectively!

Bet Victor are 17/2, a figure which looks highly attractive each way.

Elsewhere on the card I think the layers have got it spot on in positioning Sir Michael Stoute’s speedball Duke Of Firenze towards the front of the market for the Dash at 3.15pm.

He’s got a perfect high draw in stall 19, the assistance of Ryan Moore in the saddle, and better still is drawn right next to the trailblazer Captain Dunne.

Captain Dunne was second in this race in 2009 and won it in 2011, but with his style of running he could very well become a sitting duck in the latter stages, with Duke Of Firenze hopefully well placed to pick him off.

The 15/2 available each way with BetVictor is okay.

The day kicks off at Epsom with a really exciting three-year-old handicap, a race in which I’ll be backing Ed Dunlop’s High Troja to come out on top, again in the hands of Ryan Moore.

Any horse good enough to beat Hillstar as he did in the London Gold Cup at Newbury last time is okay by me, and Moore will know all about him after having been beaten half a length on the runner up that day.

Moore also won on this guy at Leicester in April, and they can prove his 25/1 success last time out was no fluke.

Bookmakers bet365 offer a rather more conservative 5/1 this time!

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

1.35 Epsom – Investec Out Of The Ordinary Handicap – 5 High Troja (win) @ 5/1 (bet365)

3.15 Epsom – Investec Specialist Bank Dash (Handicap) – 9 Duke Of Firenze (each way) @ 15/2 (BetVictor)

4.00 Epsom – Investec Derby – 11 Ocovango (each way) @ 17/2 (BetVictor)

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Posted 4 years, 5 months ago

31 May
2013

Sweet On Banoffee For Friday’s Investec Oaks

All roads lead to Epsom this weekend, and we kick off on Friday afternoon with a seven race card featuring the third Classic of the season in the shape of the Investec Oaks, live on Ch4 at 4.00pm.

All corners of society are on display on the Epsom Downs on Derby weekend, and fingers crossed we can unearth a winner or two to get things off to a flyer…

Devon trainer Stuart Kittow’s Resurge simply loves the place, and looks worth following 1m 2f Investec Wealth & Management Handicap at 2.10pm.

It’s a race he won off a three pounds higher mark in 2011, and he arrives here this time around as an eight year old who hails from a small stable in decent nick.

Kittow has advertised the form of his string with two winners from seven runners in the past fortnight, and this lad boasts excellent form figures at the track: 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 5, 7, 7, 2.

Any ease in the ground – officially Good to Soft at the time of writing – is no concern whatsoever, and Neil Callan is riding really well at present, with six winners on the board so far this week.

This is a tight handicap but Resurge has gone well fresh in the past and looks feasibly weighted, so a bit of the 7’s available each way with either Paddy Power or Ladbrokes will do for me.

Just 35 minutes later we get a look at another horse who goes very well at Epsom, with Richard Hannon’s Producer my fancy in the Group 3 Diomed Stakes over a mile at 2.45pm.

A son of Dutch Art, he’s a perfect four from four at the Surrey venue, and also has the brilliant Richard Hughes on board.

We know he’s fit, the ground should be okay, and I really liked the way he dug in to see off Aljamaaheer in listed company at Leicester last time out.

The obvious question for anyone taking the 4/1 with any of bet365, BetVictor, Betfred, Ladbrokes or William Hill is can Producer be as effective up in trip at a mile?

I expect Richard Hughes to ride him very positively – this horse is maturing all the time and has a bit of class, and to be fair he saw out the mile okay at Kempton in November and Meydan in February.

Last but not least it’s the big one at 4.00pm, in which we could be in for a treat, with Ralph Beckett’s mightily impressive Lingfield Oaks Trial winner Secret Gesture (best at 9/4 at the time of writing) up against the likes of Aidan O’Brien’s Guineas third Moth (7/2), Musidora scorer Liber Nauticus for Sir Michael Stoute and Ryan Moore, and perhaps best of all at the prices – 8/1 shot Banoffee.

Supplemented by connections at a cost of £30,000 after her Cheshire Oaks win 23 days ago, she looks the value in the hands of Kieren Fallon, as the Irishman chases a fifth Oaks success.

No ground worries, plus an explosive finishing burst and plenty of stamina (by Arc winner Hurricane Run) mean she looks very attractive at twice the odds of any of the aforementioned fillies, though I was very taken by Liber Nauticus at York.

Even so, Banoffee was eye-catching when winning under Richard Hughes at Newbury in April (1m 2f), before stepping into listed company at Chester in a hot enough race in which she didn’t get a clear run, but still won cosily enough.

That latest piece of form has since been boosted with the fourth and seventh placed horses winning, and Banoffee can repay the faith of connections and land the fillies’ Classic at 8/1 each way with any of bet365, Boylesports, BetVictor, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes or William Hill.

Good luck!

Friday’s best bets at Epsom:

2.10 – Investec Wealth & Management Handicap – 6 Resurge (each way) @ 7/1 (Ladbrokes or Paddy Power)

2.45 – Investec Diomed Stakes – 5 Producer (win) @ 4/1 (bet365, BetVictor, Betfred, Ladbrokes or William Hill)

4.00 – Investec Oaks – 1 Banoffee (each way) @ 8/1 (bet365, BetVictor, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes or William Hill)

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Posted 4 years, 5 months ago

01 Jun
2012

Kailani To Keep It In The Family In Friday’s Investec Oaks

Unlike the Derby there’s a distinctly open look to Epsom’s Friday feature Group 1 Investec Oaks, with only three of the 14 runners immediately struck off as having not a prayer.

One man who’ll feel like the race has a distinctly closed feel is Godolphin’s world famous rider Frankie Dettori, for whom of an Oaks without a ride will represent a severe blow given that his principal employers hold a major shout of winning the race in the shape of the unbeaten Mahmood Al Zarooni-trained Kailani, a daughter of 2002 winner Kazzia (in the hands of none other than L Dettori).

With Frankie overlooked Godolphin’s rising star Mickael Barzalona is charged with taking control from the flight deck, he of the memorable last to first ride on Pour Moi in the Derby a year ago, plus the even more memorable fist pumping celebrations while standing up in his irons as he crossed the line.

Inbetween times he’s ridden Monterosso to win the Dubai World Cup, so no-one can argue he isn’t a man for the grand occasion, despite being just 20 years of age.

His mount in the big race (live on BBC2 at 4.05pm) has yet to race over the one and a half mile trip, but won the sole start of her juvenile campaign over a mile at Yarmouth, and built on that 26 days ago when demolishing a field in listed company (winning margin of seven lengths to the second) at Newmarket over a mile and a quarter.

You could argue that the opposition there wasn’t the strongest, but second placed Hazel Lavery had finished a length and a quarter second to Irish 1000 Guineas winner Samitar on her previous outing, while in the same race Kailani beat Salford Art more than 10 lengths, the same Salford Art who was within eight and a half lengths of The Fugue in York’s Musidora in mid-May, yet Kailani is 9/1 while The Fugue is 3/1 joint favourite. Go figure…

What’s more Kailani can only beat what’s put in front of her, and so far that’s precisely what she has done.

She’s well bred to do this job – as I mentioned her dam won the race 10 years ago, and there’s further encouragement from her sire Monsun, who has already produced strong staying horses of the calibre of Manduro and Stacelita.

At 9/1 each way with any of Blue Square, Paddy Power, BetVictor or William Hill she represents fair value.

Of the opposition Maybe is the number one on jockey bookings among Aidan O’Brien’s six runners in the race, but she has to prove she can handle this step up in trip, plus was unspectacular when third and beaten a long way at Newmarket in the Guineas, the form of which was let down at the Curragh at the weekend.

John Gosden’s The Fugue is also prominent in the betting after her Musidora win, but as I’ve already mentioned it’s hard to get a grip on how highly that piece of form should be rated, and perhaps the one from that race ought to be another of the Ballydoyle sextet Twirl.

Her reputation took a battering as she flopped at York, but watch it again and you’ll see how early she was taken on for the lead which certainly didn’t help, and i’d be hopeful the step up in trip will show her in a better light.

At 40/1 with a couple of the firms I’ve had a very small bet to try and get her in the frame.

Vow has to be respected on what she produced at Lingfield, while Kissed may well not run if the ground is deemed to quick, but overall i’m happy to be holding each way slips for 9/1 Kailani and 40/1 Twirl in a wide open contest.

The race before the Oaks is the Investec Mile Handicap at 3.25pm, a heat which can go the way of Ralph Beckett’s still feasibly weighted Moone’s My Name.

Tough and consistent (out of the first three just twice in nine starts), this grey Intikhab filly has won going right and left handed, and will love this return to quicker ground after the Soft going at Ascot blunted her speed last time out (still finished fourth).

A big run here might set her up for a tilt at the Royal Hunt Cup, and although she won a bit too well at Windsor the time before last (a winning margin of four lengths saw her bumped up nine pounds to a mark of 88), there still appears to be more to come.

The highest draw of all in 17 isn’t ideal, but she proved how tough she is on just her second career start when winning a 17 horse race (after a stewards’ enquiry), and with a bit of luck in-running can take this televised handicap at a decent price for her Hampshire stable (who won the Oaks four years ago with Look Here).

The other bet on the card comes in the Group 3 Diomed Stakes at 2.50pm – a race in which Sir Mark Prescott’s Italian recruit Worthadd can justify favouritism in the hands of Mirco Demuro.

Sir Mark got hold of this son of Dubawi after veteran Italian trainer Vittorio Caruso retired this year, and promptly won a Group 3 at Baden Baden with him on his first run of the campaign.

Consistent and accomplished at this level, he has to concede weight to all but Chester’s Huxley Stakes winner Marcret, but given that he chased home Canford Cliffs in the Lockinge a year ago he ought to be well up to the task.

This is his time of year, and with a clear edge on ratings he should get the job done.

Good luck!
Friday’s best bets at Epsom:

2.50 – Investec Diomed Stakes – 2 Worthadd (win) @ 5/4 (William Hill)

3.25 – Investec Mile Handicap – 11 Moone’s My Name (each way) @ 8/1 (BetVictor)

4.05 – Investec Oaks – 5 Kailani (each way) @ 9/1 (Blue Square, Paddy Power, BetVictor or William Hill)

4.05 – Investec Oaks – 12 Twirl (each way) @ 40/1 (BetVictor, Stan James or William Hill)

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Posted 5 years, 5 months ago

18 May
2012

Times On Our Side In Friday’s Yorkshire Cup‏

Epsom Derby hopeful Bonfire (now as short as 5/1) and the unerringly consistent filly Izzi Top stole the headlines at York on day two of the ever popular Dante Meeting, and we head into the final day of this great fixture with the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup run over 1m 6f the feature race, live on Channel 4 at 2.30pm.

The 11/4 favourite among the eight scheduled to go to post is Ed Dunlop’s admirable Cup horse Red Cadeaux, who positively thrives on his racing, and last calendar year alone competed at Chester, Hamilton, Pontefract, The Curragh (twice), Goodwood, Deauville, Flemington (Australia!) and Sha Tin (Hong Kong).

He finished in the money in six of those nine races, winning a fortune in the process, with an unlucky nose second in the Melbourne Cup to Dunaden worth £588,000, and a third to the same horse in Hong kong in December worth another £254,000!

He showed all that old sparkle was present and correct with a pleasing return behind Colour Vision in the rescued Sagaro Stakes on Kempton’s All Weather at the start of this month, and with possible engagements at Epsom (Coronation Cup) and Royal Ascot (Hardwicke Stakes) to follow he’ll be a danger to all here.

Perhaps if you wanted to pick holes in this six year old son of Cadeaux Genereux you could argue he isn’t an especially prolific winner (5/26), plus he has never run at York.

There’s also the front-running Harris Tweed for William Haggas and Liam Jones – he came up short here in the Lonsdale Cup here in August when only fourth, but won on his reappearance at Newbury in April, making all to win the John Porter unchallenged.

My one fear about backing Harris Tweed is that his attacking style might set this race up for one of the hold up merchants, and for that reason I’m plumping for one at juicier odds.

As a former St Leger winner Arctic Cosmos has to be seriously considered and merits great respect, especially hailing from John Gosden’s red hot team, but equally it’s hard to forget what a wretched race he ran when sinking without trace in the aforementioned John Porter, and because of that he too is passed over.

The mare Be Fabulous could be exactly that, and having joined Godolphin from Andre Fabre they’ll have high hopes for her in races of this nature.

She signed off her time in France with a Group 1 strike in the Prix Royal-Oak at Longchamp, completing a hat-trick in the process.

On the downside she has a penalty to overcome, plus the Godolphin battalions aren’t yet firing on all cylinders.

There’s last year’s second Blue Bajan, but his two runs this time around haven’t been very exciting, and you’d wonder if this might be a bridge too far at the age of 10.

Passing up the opportunity to back all of those good horses, at bigger prices perhaps it can pay to side with a former course and distance winner who might be ready to cause a minor upset in the hands of Eddie Ahern.

John Dunlop’s Times Up has run very well when fresh in seasons gone by, goes on all types of ground, and is rarely out of the frame.

He won three times last summer, including a Listed win at this trip on the Knavesmire at the Dante Meeting.

He hasn’t got to improve much to play a major part in this, and at 13/2 I’m backing him each way in an open looking contest with either Stan James or William Hill.
Good luck!
Friday’s best bet at York:

2.30 – Sportingbet Yorkshire Cup – 8 Times Up (each way) @ 13/2 (Stan James or William Hill)

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Posted 5 years, 6 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