Posts Tagged ‘ best bet ’

16 Nov
2013

Express To Deliver In Power Shootout

A maximum field of 20 are set to line up for Saturday’s feature £160,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham, with the Channel 4 cameras on hand to showcase the name that’ll be added to a roll of honour which boasts the likes of Our Vic, Exotic Dancer and Imperial Commander in recent times.

In search of a five star experience revellers are jetting in from all corners of the globe (mainly Ireland) to play their part on a day which always boasts a vibrant atmosphere, hoping to line their pockets with the winner of a fiercely competitive extended 2m 4f handicap chase.

The presence of Nicky Henderson’s Finian’s Rainbow off a mark of 163 has helped to keep plenty of the remainder on a more attractive racing weight, but if you fancy the top weight and 2012 Queen Mother Champion Chase winner then it might pay to remember he’s now 10 years of age, and the last winner from the double figure age bracket was way, way back in the 1970’s!

That also counts against fellow old timer Wishfull Thinking.

The Pipe team have landed three of the last nine (Celestial Gold, Our Vic and Great Endeavour) and have one of the big noises in the betting in the shape of Ballynagour.

They drew a blank on Friday, but will be hoping for better luck from a horse who came up short when sent off 7/2 market leader for the Byrne Group Plate back in March.

Racing off an identical mark of 143 you’d have to wonder if Good ground here will be his undoing – all his best form has come on a softer surface, so for that reason he’s overlooked.

Bundles of cash has arrived during the week for locally trained hope Champion Court.

Generally 7/1 overnight, he was 10/1 earlier in the week, but that price has slowly but surely contracted as bookmakers have reacted to bullish comments from trainer Martin Keighley.

He’s got three course wins to his name (including two over fences) and will be perfectly at home on the ground, but might the Ryanair fifth be vulnerable to even younger legs carrying less weight?

Eight of the last 10 winners ran at the previous season’s Festival, a stat which lends a supporting hand to anyone wanting to back Ballynagour, Champion Court or Johns Spirit.

The last named represents another local team, that of Jonjo O’Neill, but he’s up 10 pounds for winning a weaker race than this here a month ago.

For his part, John’s Spirit finished seventh in the extended 2m 4f novices’ handicap chase at the Festival in March, some 16 lengths behind game winner Rajdhani Express.

It’s already been mentioned that Nicky Henderson has influenced the weights by running Finian’s Rainbow, and one of the chief beneficiaries could be one of his trio of representatives.

Rajdhani Express has seen his Festival form boosted on a number of occasions subsequently (including by Johns Spirit, but also by Ackertac, Forgotten Gold, Klepht, Kruzhlinin, Hazy Tom and Bobowen), and followed up himself by hacking up at Ayr in April (albeit got lucky when Changing Times unseated).

His revised mark of 155 means a racing weight of 11st 4lbs in this company, but that’s before we factor in rider Sam Waley-Cohen’s five pound claim.

Rajdhani Express is a neatly weighted, improving former Festival winner with track, trip and ground to suit.

He doesn’t have too many miles on the clock – this is just his 10th run in this country – is only six years of age, and can kick start a season which has had a few blips in recent days for team Henderson.

The Seven Barrows winner producing factory last won this in 2003 with Fondmort, but for the 2013 renewal take Rajdhani Express to deliver at a standout 11/1 each way with Betfred.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bet at Cheltenham:

2.30 – Paddy Power Gold Cup Chase (Handicap) – 4 Rajdhani Express (each way) @ 11/1 (Betfred)

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Posted 3 years, 10 months ago

29 Aug
2013

Grey Soldier Back On The March At Stratford?

Just five line up at Stratford this afternoon for the extended 2m 1f John Mytton Handicap Chase (3.20pm), a race in which it could be worth chancing that Sophie Leech’s Galileo eight-year-old Grey Soldier can bounce back to his best form and take this as the outsider of five.

Dismissed by William Hill as their 5/1 fifth choice in the market, this is a horse who goes very well on summer ground, and has won off a higher mark than today’s 122 when running over timber for Gordon Elliot in Ireland.

Down two pounds to today’s mark after a disappointing effort at Newton Abbot last time out, his run prior to that when fifth at Cartmel was far more encouraging, with a seemingly winning chance only evaporating when his stamina gave way in the dying stages over 2m 5f.

That suggests today’s lesser trip is ideal, especially as Leech won with him over the distance at Cartmel in May on what was just his fourth start for the stable.

If he is to win again this looks a solid opening, on a day when he comes up against a seemingly questionable looking favourite in Jonjo O’Neill’s Temple Lord, who only got his head in front at Worcester last time owing to AP McCoy all but picking him up and carrying him!

He might win again but only does if there’s no seemingly other choice, while McCoy’s boots are filled by Richie McLernon today.

Ulis De Vassy might well prefer it softer and has yet to threaten in three tries over fences (including a start over course and distance), while course and distance winner Giant O Murchu is back to his last winning mark and hails from a team that had a winner on Monday, but equally he has shown nothing in seven starts since winning here in July 2012.

The only other alternative is Anthony Middleton’s Tri Nations, who is now four pounds higher than when taking a softer race over course and distance here last month.

The other issue is he’s shown next to nothing in three starts in-between times, so that only leaves the prominently ridden Grey Soldier, who could well bounce back to winning ways in the hands of Paddy Brennan.

Back him to win at 5/1 with either bet365 or William Hill.

Good luck!

Thursday’s best bet:

3.20 Stratford – John Mytton Handicap Chase – 1 Grey Soldier (win) @ 5/1 (bet365 or William Hill)

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Posted 4 years ago

06 Apr
2013

National Fever! Saturday’s Selection For The John Smith’s Grand National

The distance may have been cut by a furlong to try and reduce the speed of the maximum field of 40 charging towards the first fence, but there’s no mistaking the identity of the race which will hold not just the nation but millions of punters worldwide in its grip, shortly after 4pm on Saturday afternoon (live on Channel 4).

Worth a staggering £547,268 to the winner, the John Smith’s Grand National will command a vast television audience, as well as a monster crowd here at a sold out Aintree Racecourse.

The standard of the race seems to creep higher and higher year on year, but the quality on display in 2013 is not to be argued with:

2013 Grand National Selection:

12. Join Together – Track, trip and ground could be ideal for a couple of contenders in this year’s race, none more so than the Paul Nicholls trained Join Together. He acquitted himself very well over the big fences back in December in the Becher Chase, and can go one better on the day that counts. Nicholls has had to endure a frustrating campaign watching chief rival Nicky Henderson sweep up many of the major honours, but this exciting eight year old could well land a sizeable blow for the Ditcheat team.

Back Join Together each way at 20/1 with Paddy Power, all of whom are offering each way punters a quarters of the odds down to five places.

Best odds for all 40 runners from leading bookmakers at

http://grand-national.betting-directory.com/odds.php

_________________________________________________________________________________

Here’s a summary of the rest of the field…

1. Imperial Commander – Nigel Twiston-Davies – Sam Twiston-Davies

Off a mark of 158 he has to shoulder top weight, but bounced back from a 22 month absence with a powerful display when second in the Argento at Cheltenham. Forced to miss the Gold Cup last month, but that could be to his advantage here. Won the 2010 Gold Cup. Foolish to rule out, especially as Neptune Collonges scored under 11st 6lbs a year ago.

2. What A Friend – Paul Nicholls – Sam Thomas

Won Betfred Bowl at this meeting in 2010, but out of form this year and hard to envisage him winning the National. Would be a shock winner.

3. Weird Al – Donald McCain – Timmy Murphy

A dazzling novice in his days with Ian Williams. Nothing seems to have gone right for him lately though, and fell in this race four our in 2012. Has been known to break blood vessels.

4. Quel Esprit – Willie Mullins – Paul Townend

Won Irish Hennessy in February 2012 but stamina doubts and sometimes makes jumping errors. Opposable.

5. Big Fella Thanks – Tom George – Denis O’Regan

Hardy veteran who gives his all. However, form figures of 6, 4, 7 in three previous assaults on this prize suggest he doesn’t quite get the marathon trip. Place prospects at best.

6. Seabass – Ted Walsh – Katie Walsh

Third a year ago when sent off a gambled on 8/1 joint favourite. That was from a 5lb lower mark, but has shaped well over fences and hurdles in the interim, and must be considered a major threat. Trainer won the race with Papillon back in 2000.

7. Roberto Goldback – Nicky Henderson – Barry Geraghty

A sixth run for current trainer after transferring from the care of Dessie Hughes. Acts on better ground and proved there’s still fire in his belly when taking Ascot’s United House Gold Cup in November (off 4lb lower). Could be involved.

8. Sunnyhillboy – Jonjo O’Neill – Richie McLernon

Connections clearly believe his is feasibly handicapped off 152 given he hasn’t jumped a fence in public since finishing second by a nose to Neptune Collonges 12 months ago (off 142). Prior to that he won the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival, and deserves maximum respect despite the fact AP McCoy shops elsewhere. Trainer won the race in 2010 with Don’t Push It.

9. Ballabriggs – Donald McCain – Jason Maguire

The McCain family enjoy an indelible assocaition with this race, not just for the exploits of the great Red Rum, but also for this wonderful horse’s victory in the 2011 renewal. Managed sixth a year ago, but pulled up in the Becher Chase here in December, and perhaps the years could be catching up as he’s now a 12 year old. That said, he’s now only two pounds higher in the weights than when winning.

10. Teaforthree – Rebecca Curtis – Nick Scholfield

A first taste of Aintree for this dour stayer who did this column a mighty favour when grittily landing the four miler at the Cheltenham Festival 13 months ago. Second in the Welsh National in January and stable on a high after the win of At Fishers Cross at Cheltenham. Acceptable racing weight, big chance. No Welsh trained winner of the race since 1905!!

11. Across The Bay – Donald McCain – Henry Brooke

Mixing regulation fences & hurdles has run well here in the past on more than one occasion. Loves testing ground. Has had a wind op. Unlikely to be good enough.

12. Join Together – Paul Nicholls – Daryl Jacob

Bindaree in 2002 and Party Politics in 1992 are the last eight year old winers of this contest, but this guy has stamina to burn, handled these fences with aplomb when second in the Becher Chase back in December, and hails from the stable that won the race 12 months ago. A mark of 150 means he is reasonably weighted with 11st 2lbs, and you can out a line through his prep run when pulled up at Doncaster having been badly hampered. Avoided Cheltenham specifically to target this prize, and looks primed to deliver a big challenge as Daryl Jacob searches for a repeat win in the saddle. Not too much mileage on the clock and loves decent ground.

13. Colbert Station – Ted Walsh – AP McCoy

The Walsh family hold a very strong hand in the race, with Ted saddling both Colbert Station and Seabass, while son Ruby rides favourite On His Own. Colbert Station is the choice of champion jockey AP McCoy, and hails from the strong staying family of Witness Box. Winner of the valuable Paddy Power Handicap Chase at Leopardstown at Christmas time, he followed up with a win over hurdles in a Pertemps Qualifier at Punchestown in February. In the form of his life, and this will be just his sixth appearance over fences.

14. Forpadydeplasterer – Tom Cooper – Andrew McNamara

Won over three miles at Thurles in November, but major stamina doubts have to be the prime concern for the 2009 Arkle winner. His odds of 66/1 would appear to be an accurate reflection of his chance.

15. On His Own – Willie Mullins – Ruby Walsh

A faller in this race 12 months at Bechers second time around. Prior to that he was a facile winner of the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park in January 2012, but could a lack of experience count against him? He’s three from seven over fences, but bounced back from the injury suffered in this race a year ago by scoring in Navan’s Boyne Hurdle
in February. Short price appears to be based on that run and the formidable team he represents – they were successful with Hedgehunter in 2005.

16. Joncol – Paul Nolan – Robbie Power

No win since November 2011 but bags of experience over fences, with six wins from 18 outings. Won the Irish Hennessy in 2010, but not guaranteed to stay and also not in the best of form.

17. Balthazar King – Philip Hobbs – Richard Johnson

Nicely weighted and stays all day, as proven by his Cross Country win at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival. Drying ground a plus and definite each way squeak.

18. Cappa Bleu – Evan Williams – Paul Moloney

Strongly fancied 11 year old from top Welsh stable. Races off a mark of 145 despite running on strongly to grab fourth in this off 2lbs higher a year ago. Ground no problem and trained all year with this in mind. Good warm up second to Vino Griego at Ascot. Promising.

19. Oscar Time – Martin Lynch – Sam Waley-Cohen

Second to Ballabriggs in the 2011 renewal off an identical mark. Missed a year after that and yet to show similar level of form this term, plus is now a 12 year old. Would appreciate rain.

20. Always Waining – Peter Bowen – Tom O’Brien

Comes alive over these unique fences, bagging the Topham in 2010 (off 128), 2011 (133) and 2012 (138). Has eaned a bash at the big one, but is 12 now and rated 144, plus there has to be a massive stamina concern.

21. Tatenen – Richard Rowe – Andrew Thornton

Sent off a 100/1 outsider when unseating at fence eight a year ago. Sixth in the Grand Annual latest and unlilely to figure prominently.

22. Treacle – Tom Taaffe – Andrew Lynch

Fell in this a year ago but goes well in big field handicaps, hasn’t been over-raced for a veteran, will like the ground and won his prep race. Not written off.

23. Lost Glory – Jonjo O’Neill – Mark Walsh

Won four of his last five, striking at a lower level at Uttoxeter, Southwell, Stratford and Chepstow. Another big step forward required to get involved here.

24. Swing Bill – David Pipe – Conor O’Farrell

A winner of four of his 30 chase starts, this inconsistent old horse is capable on his day and likes these fences. Made it home in 10th a year ago, and showed up well when fourth in the Becher in December. Also fifth in the Topham of 2011. Might be booked for another mid-division finish.

25. Saint Are – Tim Vaughan – Dougie Costello

Not the best in the jumping department (one from 11 over fences) but scored over hurdles in Grade 1 company at this meeting two years ago, and followed up over regulation fences last season. Ground a plus and lightly weighted.

26. Chicago Grey – Gordon Elliott – Paul Carberry

Bit of a character and takes the odd chance with his jumping. Was unlucky to be brought down at the fifth in last year’s race (went off 20/1), but can now race off a nine pounds lower mark. Has had a wind op since then, which presumably contributed when he popped up at 25/1 to win his prep race at Navan.

27. Quiscover Fontaine – Willie Mullins – David Casey

Out of form of late over shorter trips, and wasn’t exactly flying when he fell in this race at the 17th last season. He did however run well to be fourth in the 2011 Irish National (3m 5f).

28. Rare Bob – Dessie Hughes – Bryan Cooper

Brought down at the fifth when sent off at 40/1 off a six pounds higher mark 12 months ago. Did however show up well for a long way when fifth in the 2011 Becher Chase over these obstacles. Ridden by man of the moment Bryan Cooper and a back to for third in the Leinster National at Naas last time out. Not dismissed.

29. The Rainbow Hunter – Kim Bailey – Aidan Coleman

Scored in May at Southwell and again after a break at Ascot in November, but couldn’t cope with Heavy ground at Chepstow in December, and well beaten at Ascot in February. Hard to say how he’ll adapt to these fences and others preferred.

30. Becauseicouldntsee – Noel Glynn – Martin Ferris

A towering horse having his third run in the race. Two falls haven’t put connections off trying to make it third time lucky, but he didn’t make it past fence two in 2011, and fence eight in 2012. Was a fair fifth in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival 23 days ago, but it’ll be a big shock if he can pull this off.

31. Harry The Viking – Paul Nicholls – Ryan Mahon

Best known for being in the part ownership of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, this lightly raced eight year displayed his ample stamina by finishing second to Teaforthree in the 2012 National Hunt Chase. Out of form in four starts since, most recently in the Kim Muir, but not impossible to envisage a resurgent display here.

32. Mr Moonshine – Sue Smith – Peter Buchanan

Without a win since November 2011 but solid and consistent and performed well to finish second to Cape Tribulation at Wetherby at Christmas time. Surprising if he’s good enough to figure here.

33. Mumbles Head – Peter Bowen – Jamie Moore

Twice a winner at Perth last summer and third here in a veterans’ chase in October, but fell at the first in the Becher Chase and then pulled up in the Tommy Whittle at Haydock Park three days before Christmas. Hard to fancy.

34. Ninetieth Minute – Tom Taaffe – Slippers Madden

Just one win from 11 starts over fences for this 10 year old son of Old Vic, that sole success arriving in a beginners’ event at Fairyhouse in February 2012. Warmed up for this with a second to stablemate Treacle at Down Royal last month. Difficult to imagine him winning.

35. Auroras Encore – Sue Smith – Ryan Mania

Won a handicap hurdle here at this meeting in 2008, and beaten a head in last year’s Scottish National. That said, three runs this year have seen him beaten 46 lengths to finish a tame fifth in the Classic Chase at Warwick, fall at Doncaster and then beaten out of sight at Kelso. Slim chance unless something can spark a revival.

36. Tarquinius – Gordon Elliott – Wilson Renwick

This’ll be run number 14 of a packed season for Tarquinius, one which has yielded wins at Punchestown, Leopardstown and Fairyhouse. Solid and consistent and sneaks into the weights with 10st 2lbs. Trainer won this race six years ago, but doubt whether this horse is good enough to repeat the feat.

37. Any Currency – Martin Keighley – Ian Popham

Gets in here flush off 10 stone and has bags of stamina. Will like the ground and won over 3m 4f at Wincanton in November. However, unseated in the Becher Chase on only attempt at these fences, and could only manage ninth in the Cross Country at the Cheltenham Festival.

38. Major Malarkey – Nigel Twiston-Davies – Tom Scudamore

Lively outsider but very infrequent visitor to winners’ enclosure – last victory December 2010. Stacks of experience at marathon trips though, including narrow second in 2012 Midlands National.

39. Soll – Jo Hughes – Mark Grant

Two pounds out of the weights but lightly raced and has potential to improve. Formerly with John Quinn and then Willie Mullins, but recorded first win for current trainer when making all on Heavy ground to win off 132 at Sandown Park last month. Could be more to come.

40. Viking Blond – Nigel Twiston-Davies – Adam Wedge

Hard to make a convincing case for….crashed out at the first in this a year ago, and though he goes well at Cheltenham this is surely too big an ask.

Good luck!

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Posted 4 years, 5 months ago

01 Apr
2013

Panther Primed For Attack On Ladbrokes Irish National

The possibilities are endless as a field of 30 prepare to line up for this afternoon’s Fairyhouse feature, the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National, live on RTE at 4.50pm.

A massive crowd will be heading out to the picturesque and homely Meath venue, and all will be trying to unravel a puzzle which has yielded no less than four 33/1 winners in the last decade, with the likes of Granit D’Estruval (for UK trainer Ferdy Murphy), Hear The Echo, Niche Market (also for the UK’s Bob Buckler) and Lion Na Bearnai leaving bookmakers purring.

It’s the presence of another English trained horse – 156 rated Junior for David Pipe and Conor O’Farrell – which gives this year’s renewal a slightly slanted appearance, in that his presence compresses the weights and leaves everything else to carry 10st 11lbs or less.

The first seven home in 2012 carried no more than 10st 9lbs, but clearly that carries far less significance on this occasion than would otherwise be the case.

Perhaps a couple of more telling stats tell us favourites have a stinking record in the race – Liz Doyle’s exciting novice Rich Revival is shading the battle to go off as market leader from Marasonnien in some lists at the time of writing – with only six managing to force their way into the first three home over the last 20 years!!

What’s more, no winner in the past decade was rated above a mark of 136, something which would count against the fancied Gigginstown duo of Sweeney Tunes (140 and the choice of Davy Russell) and Magnanimity.

Russell would ordinarily have the choice of all five runners in the predominately purple Gigginstown colours, but in this instance was restricted to just two, as he can’t get down to the feather weights required to ride any of Romanesco, Start Me Up and Panther Claw.

He might live to regret that as well, as the one carrying my cash is one of the Paul Nolan-trained trio in the field, Panther Claw.

Nolan got a visit from Ted Walsh and the RTE cameras in the run up to the Fairyhouse Festival, giving a fascinating insight into his training operation which you’ll be able to see on the show this afternoon.

The likeable County Wexford trainer is preparing to saddle Carloswayback, Sweeney Tunes and Panther Claw, and it’s the last named who could be the one to trouble the judge.

He’s a stamina laden, lightly weighted, improving novice, who’s bang in form and has valuable course experience.

A seven year old grey son of Old Vic, Panther Claw is already the winner of a Point to Point (at Rathcannon) and two chases (at Punchestown and Navan), and will love the ground and attritional test of stamina posed by this afternoon’s race.

His length and a quarter second to favourite Rich Revival at today’s venue in December and subsequent Thyestes Chase third at Gowran Park look good pieces of form now, and that’s before you factor in his two wins.

The second of those was a fortnight ago, and earned the seven pound penalty required to clamber into this race near the foot of the weights.

Nolan has snapped up Katie Walsh to guide him through this afternoon’s test, and the combination look fair value at 14/1 each way with bookies BetVictor.

They’re doing the right thing and offering punters the extra place each way (1-2-3-4-5), and that fits the bill as it’s the kind of race where you need everything in your favour and a huge dollop of good fortune.

Money has come overnight for the likes of fancied duo Home Farm and Carlingford Lough, neither of whom would be in any way a surprise winner (Carlingford Lough could be the one for the Galway Plate in four months time), while at far bigger odds the likes of Away We Go and Blazing Beacon are outsiders being backed.

However, none of that detracts from the case to be made for Panther Claw, and he’ll do nciely.

Good luck!

Monday’s best bet:

4.50 Fairyhouse – Ladbrokes Irish National – 20 Panther Claw (each way) @ 14/1 (BetVictor)

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Posted 4 years, 5 months ago

09 Mar
2013

Mr Mole The Pick To Pursue Cheltenham Bonus With Imperial Cup Victory

The countdown to the first day of the Cheltenham Festival is well under way and with just three days to go, I’m busy putting the finishing touches to my selections for day one, which will be on the site in the next 48 hours, ahead of Tuesday’s kick off.

In the meantime, I’ll be looking to bolster the Cheltenham kitty by having a bet in Saturday’s Imperial Cup at Sandown Park, where I’m keen on Mr Mole to embark on a £75,000 bonus trail by picking up a quickfire double, starting at the Surrey track on Saturday afternoon. In addition to the £70,000 prize money up for grabs in the two mile handicap hurdle, race sponsor’s Paddy Power are dangling a tasty carrot worth an extra £75,000 to the winner of the race should they go on to win any race at next week’s Cheltenham Festival!

It’s not everyday that you see a runner that brings together the combination of Champion jumps trainer for the past seven years, Paul Nicholls and 17 times Champion jockey AP McCoy, wearing the colours of  leading owner JP McManus, but Mr Mole does just that. Winner of three from four starts, the five year old was an impressive winner on his handicap debut last time out when landing the spoils at Taunton in February, for which he was handed an official rating of 138.

That mark sees Mr Mole shoulder 11-9 towards the top of the handicap in the Imperial Cup but with further improvement likely, he could well be some way ahead of the handicapper and despite skinny odds of 7/2 in a big field, it is worth an investment to find out just how much more this exciting prospect has to offer.

Holding an entry in Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle at Cheltenham for which he is a 10/1 chance, victory today would see Mr Mole head straight to Prestbury Park on Friday in a bid to land the bonus.

Good luck

Saturday’s best bet at Sandown

3:15 – Paddy Power Imperial Cup – 2 Mr Mole (win) at 7/2 with Bet365, Bet Victor or Ladbrokes

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Posted 4 years, 6 months ago

01 Mar
2013

Harry Poised To Top The Premier League At Kelso

Cheltenham’s loss is Kelso’s gain.

To be fair, there’s probably enough going on at Prestbury Park the week after next for the absence of a fast improving young staying chaser to be shrugged off, but even so Kelso will be delighted to have attracted a horse of the calibre of Kim Bailey’s 154-rated Harry Topper for their listed Premier Chase (4.15pm, Saturday).

A perfect three from three since sent over fences, this son of Sir Harry Lewis has made it all look pretty easy so far; seeing off RSA possible Rocky Creek at Exeter in October, then Irish Arkle winner Benefficient at Newbury in November, followed by an impressive 12 length romp back at Exeter last month.

The temptation to take up his sole Festival entry in 12 days time in the four mile National Hunt Chase must have been enormous, but instead Bailey opts to come and possibly use this race as a stepping stone to Aintree next month.

A strong stayer in great form, he jumps fences like a natural, is versatile where ground is concerned, and benefits from the services Timmy Murphy (who won on him at Newbury) on board.

There’s some strong opposition, but Bold Sir Brian (also on 154) has to prove he can overcome a crashing fall at Cheltenham last time out, plus Lucinda Russell’s horses have been unusually quiet of late, while 12-year-old Ballabriggs will forever be remembered for his 2011 Grand National win, but perhaps he’ll struggle to serve it up to a horse half his age.

With that in mind the 11/8 with Betfred about Harry Topper making it a perfect four from four makes plenty of appeal.

Earlier in the day at the borders track it’s likely we’ll be seeing Mick Easterby’s Shadows Lengthen grace the winners’ enclosure for the second time in 50 days, with this unexposed chaser poised to add to his impressive January win at Sedgefield in the 2m 1f Cyril Alexander Memorial Novices’ Chase (2.30pm).

An emphatic display last time out, beating Granville Island and Highway Code, had connections considering a tilt at the Grand Annual, but they’ve been patient and should be rewarded with a second success over fences.

If they’d made more use of him on his chasing debut at Catterick he surely would’ve won (finished third in a three way finish after being held up), but they’ll have taken plenty of heart from getting the job done with a bit to spare last time out, and in-form Jake Greenall (won on Arctic Ben at Newbury on Friday) can guide him home in front on this occasion.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets at Kelso:

2.30 – Cyril Alexander Memorial Novices’ Chase – 3 Shadows Lengthen (win)

4.15 – Totepool Mobile Premier Chase – 2 Harry Topper (win) @ 11/8 (Betfred)

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Posted 4 years, 6 months ago

05 Feb
2013

‘Knock’ On Course To Defend 100% Carlisle Record

If Carlisle can beat an 8am inspection then we’ve got two cracking midweek National Hunt fixtures to enjoy on Wednesday afternoon, with Ludlow also primed to stage a seven race card.

The likes of New Year’s Eve at Ludlow (25/1 for both the Supreme Novices’ and the Neptune) and Vulcanite at Carlisle are probably the headline names, but perhaps the race of the day comes later in the day at the Cumbria track, with a field of 10 due to go to post for an intriguing looking 3m 1f Pertemps Qualifier at 4.05pm.

Hat-trick chasing Jonjo O’Neill inmate Shutthefrontdoor tops the overnight market at around 5/2 on his handicap debut (rated 135), while equally in-form fellow handicap debutant Green Flag is put in next best at 3/1.

Both command huge respect, as do the likes of Corrin Wood and Kent Street, but perhaps the solution rests with the old man of the field – 10 year old Knockara Beau.

Northumberland trainer George Charlton’s pride and joy is unbeaten at Carlisle, with two wins from two visits, including in this very race in 2011.

Promisingly that was off a 3lbs higher mark (148), and saw him lug top weight in bottomless ground.

This year’s performances would strongly suggest he is far from a back number despite being two years older – in 2011 he came into the race off the back of a second to Grands Crus in Cheltenham’s Cleeve Hurdle, this time around he arrives fresh from a fourth in the Cleeve behind the likes or Reve De Sivola and Oscar Whisky.

He won over fences at Kelso in November to prove he still has the fire in his belly, and nowadays has Paddy Brennan as partner.

In light of his penchant for Carlisle’s undulating right-handed circuit, the 11/2 available each way with either Ladbrokes or William Hill looks the way to go in a hot contest, with Knockara Beau dropping in class to a handicap from Grade 2 company.

Good luck!

Wednesday’s best bet:

4.05 Carlisle – Pertemps Handicap Hurdle (Series Qualifier) – 2 Knockara Beau (each way) @ 11/2 (Ladbrokes or William Hill)

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Posted 4 years, 7 months ago

02 Aug
2012

Oh Boy! F-Lex Your Muscles On Guinness Galway Hurdle Day

The assault on the senses which is Guinness Galway Hurdle day is upon us, and Galway is well and truly alive.

First time visitors to the annual assault on the senses would be well advised to pack not just your drinking legs, but possibly a reservoir come septic tank to cater for the large volumes of the sponsor’s product which may or may not be imbibed during the course of the day!

Clearly an appropriate level of hydration is considered a necessary part of every day life during the famous races week, but I’ll be raising a glass or two if Donald McCain’s Lexi’s Boy can strike a blow for the four year olds, by landing the feature race at 4.50pm, live on RTE.

Memories of the brilliant Overturn sprinting up the hill in the same colours carried by Lexi’s Boy in 2010 are still vivid, and though Lexi’s Boy will have some way to go to emulate the subsequent achievements of his better known stablemate, he’s already established a decent following with some taking front-running displays.

It’s a race with a wide open complexion – Willie Mullins goes to war with Drive Time, Blazing Tempo and Rattan, and it’s Drive Time who tops the market and is the choice of Ruby Walsh after the form of his Killarney Flat win 16 days ago was given a weighty form boost by runner up Kallelshan hacking up earlier in the week.

Drive Time will love the ground and is a huge danger, but don’t discount last year’s Plate winner Blazing Tempo.

Admittedly she probably isn’t as good a hurdler as she is a chaser, but that is offset by the fact her mark over timber is some 22lb lower than over the larger obstacles.

There’s also Grimes Hurdle winner Rebel Fitz – he has a clear each way chance based on that run, plus last year’s winner Moon Dice, while like Drive Time last year’s fifth Princeton Plains also saw the form of his most recent Flat win boosted, as the horse he beat that day Vastonea won at Galway on Tuesday.

What’s more, the record of the younger generation in this race is not great – only five times in the last 50 years has a four year old prevailed.

Perugino Diamond was the last to do it in 2000, but prior to that no four year old had struck since 1988.

That said, backers of Lexi’s Boy get a fair dollop of encouragement and a seriously good four year old for their money:

– He’s an aggressive racing front-runner on a track where prominent tactics are frequently rewarded, and those trying to come from too far off the pace can be stranded

– He boasts a record of four wins from seven starts over hurdles (only out of the frame once)

– It’s unlikely connections have spent time and money bringing him over merely to make up the numbers

– The rain which arrived on Tuesday will have done nothing but enhance his chances

– The four year old weight allowance can only help

– An attractive racing weight of 10.6 – n.b. only three horses in 30 years have carried more than 11.0 to victory in the race, a stat which if effective today would rule out eight of the 20 runners (40%)

– He’s fit and well from the Flat, and has had a nice 26 day break to freshen him up since finishing sixth in the Old Newton Cup

Lexi’s Boy is essentially still a novice over hurdles and it’s a big ask, but Galway should really suit him, the rain as arrived, and in an open looking contest he can buck the trend of frustrated four years olds, and give Donald McCain a second win in the race.

Lexi’s Boy is an 8/1 shot each way with Paddy Power, with the Dublin firm offering an extra place 1-2-3-4-5.

Good luck!

Thursday’s best bet:

4.50 – Guinness Galway Hurdle – 17 Lexi’s Boy (each way) @ 8/1 (Paddy Power)

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Posted 5 years, 1 month ago

01 Aug
2012

Right About ‘Now’ In The Galway Plate??

Who says race preview nights are dull?

It’s probably not a view shared by the 200 or so revellers who turned up at Bodkins Bar in Galway last night in support of the Injured Jockeys Fund, to see RTE’s Tracy Piggott, legendary trainer Shark Hanlon, Paul ‘Caveman’ Binfield of Paddy Power, local celebrity John ‘The Carver’ Kelly (so called for his knack of carving up bookmakers) and myself dissect the big races at the great summer knees up/meeting over the next couple of days.

In short, it made London Riots look like an OAP’s coffee morning.

The IJF will be getting a rather nice cash injection in the near future thanks to some very generous donations, and the beleagured Binfield may soon be visiting his local job centre after being harangued into quadrupling the size of the charity bets available to the panel.

In the unlikely event they all hit the target Paddy Power may well be bankrupted, but hats off to the Dublin firm for getting behind the event and putting their hand in their pocket in very generous fashion.

You can run a big race early in the week in this town, especially when the Shark is in clanking good form and suggests it might be a good idea to have a couple of drinks.

On the plus side sleep is considered optional as opposed to necessary in Galway, plus the Shark was persuaded to give us his best chance of the week: Betting Directory readers would do well to keep on the right side of Mart Lane when he makes his handicap debut at Galway on Saturday afternoon.

Looking ahead to this afternoon and one horse for whom the ground will matter not a jot after yesterday’s rain is Edward O’Grady’s seven year old Muroto gelding Out Now, a tough and consistent sort who can be considered a shade unlucky not have snared on of these major prizes already this season.

It’s a race with a somewhat unusual complexion in that former Grade 1 Guinness Gold Cup and Betfred Bowl winner Follow The Plan tops the field off a mark of 160, compressing the weights for everything else.

That could open the door for plenty of these, with market leader Blackstairmountain generally a 6/1 chance for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh.

Mullins won the race with Blazing Tempo a year ago, and today’s contender will be popular with punters to follow suit after winning the Grade 1 Novice Chase at Leopardstown at Christmas time.

He warmed up with a win on the Flat, but I just wonder if the preferred hold-up tactics and lack of experience might count against him?

Similar concerns apply to Dermot Weld’s principle hope Daffern Seal – this is his first handicap and only his sixth run ever, and though the King of Galway can work magic like few others at Ballybrit, I wouldn’t be charging in to back the creature at no bigger than 9/1 – especially when he’ll be overbet having been made the Pricewise selection.

Wise Old Owl was second in the race a year ago but hasn’t set foot on a racecourse since, while Carlito Brigante has only two starts over fences to his name.

What of the top weight Follow The Plan?

On the positive side he’s a dual top level winner running in a handicap, but if you’re wanting to back him bear in mind that in the last 20 years only three horse have carried more weight than he’ll shoulder this afternoon to victory in this race.

What’s more he was beaten in a handicap at Gowran Park in March off 150, so on what grounds should he win a more competitive race off a 10lb higher mark?

With that in mind this looks set up for a grandstand performance from Out Now, a strong stayer who should be ideally suited by the nature of the track given how well he operates at the likes of Clonmel.

He goes well fresh, and the hustle bustle of a big field handicap suits him down to the ground.

A second to Ted Walsh’s oustanding Seabass at Leopardstown in January provided plenty of evidence to that effect, a run which preceded a gallant second to Lion Na Bearnai in the Irish Grand National at Fairhouse at Easter time.

He was travelling like the winner for a long time there, only to be outstayed by the eventual winner.

This sizeable drop back in trip to 2m 6f this afternoon should be just the tonic to go one better in the hands of Barry Geraghty – the 8/1 with any of Betfred, Coral, Sky Bet or William Hill is just the ticket, though Sky Bet are paying the extra place each way 1-2-3-4-5.

Good luck!

Wednesday’s best bet:

5.25 Galway – www.thetote.com Galway Plate Handicap Chase – 10 Out Now (each way) @ 8/1 (Sky Bet)

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Posted 5 years, 1 month ago

13 Oct
2011

Take Aim With Gunship At Wincanton

This is more like it! A wet and overcast Thursday in October is precisely the sort of day that should be spent plotting up in the West Country, with a couple of good chances to back a winner over the sticks at Wincanton included into the bargain.

I love Wincanton, not least because they have an amazing sandwich shop on the nearby high street called Fernstrom and Farrell, the type of gaff you pop inside wanting nothing more than a humble bacon sandwich, but emerge 25 minutes later staggering under the weight of a five gallon drum of 14% proof flat local cider, a cornish pasty proudly boasting it contains only locally murdered stoat, squirrel and badger, a jar of chilli paste so hot even a 90 year old curry taster from Calcutta would run a mile, plus a sliver of Somerset cheddar so expensive it could be mistaken for a rare Italian truffle (not Ferrero Rocher).

Just make sure you’ve got a creative accountant who can put it all through as expenses. Priceless.

As for the sports I definitely wouldn’t put you off taking a chance on a senior citizen in the 2m 5f 0-110 Handicap Chase at 2.50pm, that’s the 10 year old Gunship for Dorset handler Cathy Hamilton and regular pilot Mark Quinlan (who claims three).

Getting weight from all his five rivals off a mark of 97 this front running son of Needle Gun knows where the winning post is, having won five over fences to date.

Granted he can occasionally have his own ideas about the game, such as when waving the white flag over hurdles last time out at Worcester back in July.

Hopefully a bit of TLC and a 99 day break will have repaired any dents that display created, and if he can reproduce the form of his second to Marigolds Way at Newton Abbot in June (off an identical mark) then he ought to be right there in a race that lacks depth.

He isn’t a star, but this Philip Hobbs cast-off will get them all on the stretch if we catch him on a going day, a small field on fast-ish ground could see him to best effect, and at 13/2 in a six horse race it looks a risk worth taking.

Especially as you can pick holes in all his opponents; you couldn’t touch the other 10 year old in the field Surfboard after the stinker he ran at Exeter last week, The Darling Boy usually finds one too good, Sadler’s Star had been hard to win with and only beat three finishers when winning at Fontwell, a victory for which he went up eight pounds, Petito remains a maiden in 37 races, and the only one I’d fear despite being a 25/1 shot is Foreign King, who has been in desperate form but is capable when in the groove and might be rejuvenated back over fences off a tumbling mark.

Given that Gunship receives weight from that lot I can resist a slice of the 13/2 on offer with Boylesports. Win bet.

Later on the card a pair of recent winners clash in the 2m 0-110 Handicap Hurdle at 4.20pm, and I’m firmly in the Giant O Murchu camp as the seven year old attempts to follow up his facile Towcester wins of eight days ago under Harry Skelton.

Now that Lawney Hill has had some time to work her magic there should be plenty more to come from this ex-Irish point-to-point recruit, and I can’t see a seven pound penalty preventing a bold bid, and the 7/2 with several of the firms looks worth a squirt. Win bet.

Good luck!

Thursday’s best bets at Wincanton:

2.50 – Bathwick Tyres Yeovil Handicap Chase – 6 Gunship (win) @ 13/2 (Boylesports)

4.20 – Bathwick Tyres Handicap Hurdle – 4 Giant O Murchu (win) @ 7/2 (Boylesports, Paddy Power, Victor Chandler or William Hill)

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Posted 5 years, 11 months ago