Archive for the ‘ skybet ’ Category

04 Aug
2012

Course Form Can Prove Key On Final Day Of Glorious Goodwood

With Tom over in Galway this week and his workload proving very demanding, he’s asked myself, Richard Smith, to step in to his shoes at the last minute to provide Saturday’s tips.

It’s been tough going finding the winners at both Galway and Goodwood this week but I’m looking to end what has been a fantastic week of racing on a winning note and as such, I will be concentrating my efforts on Saturday’s card at Goodwood.

The highlight of the week arguably came in the first Group One event of Goodwood’s five day meeting on Wednesday where Frankel obliged at odds of 1/20 to make it 12 wins from 12 starts in the Sussex Stakes, becoming the first horse in the race’s 171 year history to win twice. It now looks like Frankel’s next destination will be York for the Juddmonte International later this month, which will see the Sir Henry Cecil four year old run over 1m 2f for the first time and already the bookies are running scared, offering just 1/4 about a thirteenth straight win despite the step in to the unknown and against potential opposition of Nathaniel’s and St Nicholas Abbey’s quality.

The second Glorious Goodwood Group One contest comes in the form of the Nassau Stakes at 3:15 on Saturday afternoon where I like the look of John Gosden’s Izzi Top to fill the void made by Midday, the now retired stablemate of Frankel, who won this race three years running up until 12 months ago.

They’re certainly big shoes to fill but I am confident that Izzi Top can justify her 15/8 quote with Blue Square after it would appear the penny has finally dropped for this filly who is unbeaten on her three starts this season, all of which have been at group level, including the Group One, Pretty Polly Stakes, at the Curragh last time out where she won with something in hand.

She concedes weight to two very good three year olds in the way of stablemate, The Fugue and Aidan O’Brien’s Epsom Oaks winner, Was, but despite giving her younger rivals nine pounds, this progressive four year old can make her experience count to give her in form trainer a twelfth group win of the season.

The Stewards Cup at 3:55 looks every bit the minefield that the 28 runners going to post would suggest, however, never one to be put off by a “cavalry charge” I think there’s some value to be had by backing Goodwood specialist, Borderlescott, at 20/1 to win the race he won for the first time six years ago! That’s right, now at the age of 10, I’m still confident that there’s enough life in the legs of Robin Bastiman ‘s old boy for one last big prize.

In six career starts at the Sussex track, Borderlescott has finished in the top three on five occasions, including two wins and two further places in this race. Granted, one of those wins was his last racecourse success, coming at Glorious Goodwood in 2010 but it came in the Group Two, King George Stakes, where he beat 14 top class rivals, earning a rating of 112 in the process.

Age catches up with the best of us and as such, Borderlescott is no longer mixing it at the highest level but he is still more than capable of making his presence felt as he has shown with two seconds in stakes races so far in 2012 and has put in efforts worthy of a three figure rating, which is exactly what the handicapper has assigned him here, carrying a weight of 9-9 off a mark of 103.

There’s no doubting his love of this course as his last five runs at Goodwood have all surpassed the 103 mark and whilst age is a slight concern, I’m prepared to say he’s worth an each way bet at the 20/1 on offer with Bet365 or Skybet about making it in to the top five (both firms offering enhanced place terms).

Despite boasting only half the size of the Stewards Cup field, the 2:40, Toyo Tires Performance Stakes, has an equally competitive feel to it with bookmakers going 11/2 the field but one in which I think another horse with proven course form can do the business. The Amanda Perrett trained Roxy Flyer has two wins to her name at Goodwood and ability to handle the undulating track could prove crucial in landing the £24,000 first prize.

A repeat of the credible sixth she ran over course and distance in the Group Three, Lillie Langrty Stakes, at this meeting 12 months ago would put her bang in contention back in handicap company as she seeks her first win in 12 starts. However, three seconds from her last four outings, including a promising seasonal reappearance at Kempton in July, suggests she’s knocking on the door of the winners enclosure once again and local trainer, Perrett, may have just found the ideal race to end that sequence with more improvement likely to come. An each way bet at the 8/1 on offer with Bet Victor or William Hill looks the way to go.

Good Luck

Saturday’s Goodwood Picks

2:40 Goodwood – Roxy Flyer (each way) @ 8/1 with Bet Victor or William Hill

3:15 Goodwood – Izzi Top (win) @ 15/8 with Blue Square

3:55 Goodwood – Borderlescott (each way) @ 20/1 with Bet365 or Skybet

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Posted 6 years, 3 months 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 6 years, 3 months ago

31 Jul
2012

Weld All Set To ‘Rock’ Galway On Day Two

Different year, same story.

Dermot Weld, the acclaimed King of Galway, returned to his favourite hunting ground on Monday afternoon, rattling in a 155/1 opening day treble day together with a couple of seconds to leave punters and bookmakers alike marvelling at the Curragh handler’s ability to ready one for the unique test which is Ballybrit.

He’s still got a way to go to match last year’s staggering 17 winner haul, but he’s got the bit between his teeth and six days left to go to war, and anyone who snapped up the pre-meeting 11/8 with Paddy Power about him bagging 12 or more over the seven days is entitled to feel pretty satisfied at this stage.

The stage looks set for more of the same this afternoon, with Weld’s Rock Critic primed to run a mighty race off top weight in the feature Topaz Mile Handicap at 5.35pm (live on RTE) as the great trainer chases win number eight in the race.

As the most valuable Flat prize of the seven day meeting it’ll take some winning, but Rock Critic brings impeccable credentials to the table, with track, trip and ground all in his favour – in fact, he’s a dual course and distance winner who has won three races in total at this meeting.

What’s more, fascinatingly this is a horse who has never been beaten in the month of July!

Four runs, four wins (three of them at Galway don’t forget).

With a record like that and his stable targeting this meeting with a sniper’s accuracy he’s hard to ignore!

The draw has been kind enough (stall 8) and this robust course specialist will take the beating.

Weld nominated five horses to follow across the meeting in Saturday’s Racing Post, the first two Train Of Thought and Thunder Mountain won yesterday, the third is Rock Critic.

With that in mind the 9/2 available with any of Blue Square, Paddy Power or Coral makes plenty of appeal.

Perhaps the only negative is his big weight, in that over the last 20 years only four horses have managed to carry in excess of nine stone to victory in this race, but those stats also show it can be done, indeed Weld managed it with Free To Speak in 1998, and you’re usually top weight in a handicap for a reason!

More of the same this afternoon will do very nicely indeed!

Elsewhere on the card Weld can bring up a double courtesy of the very strongly fancied Big Break in the seven furlong fillies’ maiden.

With a couple of non-runners in the race you’ll have to be quick to snaffle some of the even money, but she’s well fancied to get the job done on debut.

Very well related, her half sister Zaminast won this first time up in 2010, and her brother Famous Name hasn’t exactly brought shame to the Weld household.

Big Break is available at evens with Sky Bet, Totesport and Betfred.

Over at Goodwood German colt Girolamo has to be the value angle to upset Michelangelo and Noble Mission in the bet365 Gordon Stakes (2.35pm, live on C4).

A very close third in the German Derby at Hamburg, connections will have been over the moon to see the winner of that race Pastorius win a Group 1 at Munich last weekend to provide a tidy form boost.

If you’d backed the last top-rated German horse to target an English Group prize you’d have found King George winner Danedream, who just happens to represent the very same trainer and jockey combo of Peter Schiergen and Andrasch Starke.

They won’t have come here just for a jolly, and proven at the level Girolamo can shake up some big names on the home team.

Grab a bit of 4/1 with any of Bet Victor, Blue Square, Paddy Power, Stan James or William Hill.

Also at Goodwood, Richard Hannon goes for his third win in the Lennox Stakes in the space of just five years, and although Strong Suit goes for Sunday’s Maurice de Gheest at Deauville he fields a more than able substitute in the form of Libranno, who ran very well to be fourth in the race in 2011.

Tough as nails Libranno is in the form of his life, winning two on the bounce at Salisbury and Newmarket.

He has a pair of course wins in Group company to his name, and with Richard Hughes up he can chin the heavily backed market leader Chachamaidee.

She gets a small weight allowance, but isn’t certain to appreciate the 4mm overnight rain and doesn’t always break well.

Any hanging around here could spell curtains against one as a good as Libranno.

Given that she’s 6/4 and he’s 9/2 I’ll happily row in the Hannon team’s son of Librettist.

Back to Galway though, and the great summer festival made an electric start on day one, with the rare commodity which is the sun beating down on a crowd of 17,710 (up on last year), and bookmakers taking in a healthy €1,412,596 (up from 2011’s €1,309,926).

Although the rain has arrived that won’t lessen the party atmosphere one iota – more of the same this afternoon will do very nicely indeed!

Good luck!

Tuesday’s best bets:

2.35 Goodwood – bet365 Gordon Stakes – 4 Girolamo (win) @ 4/1 (Bet Victor, Blue Square, Paddy Power, Stan James or William Hill)

3.10 Goodwood – bet365 Lennox Stakes – 3 Libranno (win) @ 9/2 (Bet365, Bet Victor, Blue Square, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes or Stan James)

5.35 Galway – Topaz Mile EBF Handicap – 1 Rock Critic (win) @ 9/2 (Blue Square, Paddy Power or Coral)

6.10 Galway – caulfieldindustrial.com EBF Fillies Maiden – 1 Big Break (win) @ Evens (Sky Bet or Betfred)

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Posted 6 years, 3 months ago

06 Jul
2012

Twice Over Worth A Second Look In Saturday’s Coral-Eclipse

It’s alright for some!

As we battle the miserable conditions and pouring rain which has seen Friday’s card at Haydock washed away, plus Saturday’s fixtures at Carlisle and Nottingham abandoned, spare a thought for Betting Directory whip-cracker and website chief Richard Smith, as he liberally applies the factor 25 to his ordinarily pasty skin out in the sizzling heat of Benidorm.

Slumped in a deckchair outside the Lazy Cow Beach Bar with his Preston North End Juvhel Tsoumou tattoo on display, ordering a Blue Lagoon for breakfast, he’s been busy feasting on local Spanish delicacies such as the hot and spicy Zinger Tower burger, all the while adding a sporting element to the vacation with the occasional four hour stay in the Shamrock Pub, where he’s been avidly willing on Andy Murray having sized up what appeared to be an ill-advised antepost wager earlier in the year.

If Murray beats Jo-Wilfried Tsonga later this afternoon and eventually goes on to land the Wimbledon Men’s Final he’ll probably buy himself a beachfront apartment with the proceeds, but for those of us in more inclement parts of the world we’ll have to make do with Saturday’s racing to try and navigate our way to a profit.

With Haydock losing their Friday night card and facing a 7am inspection ahead of Saturday afternoon’s sports it’s probably wise to concentrate on Sandown Park, and their big summer showpiece card upon which the jewel in the crown is the lucractive Group 1 Coral-Eclipse (live on Channel 4 at 3.45pm).

The rain hasn’t taken hold at the Surrey venue, with Good ground in store ahead of what looks an genuinely exciting seven race fixture.

First run in 1886, the 126th running of the big race is worth a whopping £241,585 to the winner, and with Ballydoyle’s So You Think forced to bypass his attempt at a repeat victory in the race it takes on a decidedly more open look.

Plenty of the declared field of 10 have got a decent squeak, not least Godolphin’s exciting four year old Farhh in the hands of Frankie Dettori.

Unbeaten before finishing third to So You Think in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, he looked more than a tad unlucky that day after rearing up as the stalls opened, getting slowly into stride after that, and then meeting problems in-running before finishing with a withering late burst.

If he’s ready to go after that then he has to be a big danger on just his fifth career outing, but in such a high quality field the 9/4 doesn’t look irresistible.

Especially when the returning Nathaniel comes into the equation for John Gosden and William Buick, a horse who hit form in the most spectacular fashion this time 12 months ago, hacking up at Royal Ascot in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes, before returning to the Berkshire track to take the King George a month later.

Again he’s possibly skinny enough in such a hot contest when Ladbrokes are only 5/2 – undoubtedly he has the talent, but it’ll be some training display for Gosden to have him at concert pitch on his first outing for 266 days.

Crackerjack King is something of an unknown quantity having joined Marco Botti in Newmarket after winning seven of eight starts in Italy (won a Group 1 at Capannelle last time out beating Luca Cumani’s Afsare), but it’s doubtful his form will be good enough in this company unless the talented Botti has squeezed further improvement from him.

Roger Charlton’s Cityscape is a horse who’s been sportingly campaigned around Europe and beyond by connections, amassing a vast prize money haul in the process (in excess of £2.5m!).

He proved his quality when he won the Dubai Duty Free at Meydan in March, and with it a cheque for more than £1.9m!

That said he was a bit disappointing in the Champions Mile in Hong Kong the last time he was seen out at the start of May, and on his first try at the 1m 2f trip he too perhaps isn’t incredible value at just 9/2 with William Hill.

It speaks volumes for the quality on display that I haven’t yet mentioned the Dante winner Bonfire – he and Cogito fly the flag for the Classic generation, but it’ll be hard for Andrew Balding’s Derby fifth to land a knockout blow against the older horses, although an 11lb allowance against his seniors will make that a greater possibility.

Aside from the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Farhh there are also a pair of Godolphin runners from the Mahmood Al Zarooni string, with shock Dubai World Cup winner Monterosso joined by stablemate City Style.

Bak on the turf on what will be his first start in the UK for nearly two years it’s hard to argue Monterosso has more than an each way chance, despite his Meydan triumph last time out.

So if it isn’t to be one of the shorter priced fancied runners, how about Sir Henry Cecil’s evergreen Twice Over to spring a bit of a surprise in the hands of Tom Queally?

Freely available each way at a juicy 16/1 there’ll be worse bets to take into an open looking contest, especially as he’s race fit from two outings this season, has track, trip and ground to suit, and doesn’t bear the scars of any Royal Ascot exertions.

At the age of seven he’s the oldest horse in the race, but with age comes experience, and for a horse who has only been out of the first three eight times in 31 starts that looks to me like a positive.

The winner of the Group 1 Champion Stakes in 2009 and 2010, this wonderful horse won the Eclipse itself two years ago, fighting off a late rally from Sri Putra and Viscount Nelson to win as the 13/8 market leader.

To disprove the theory he’s a back number he netted another Group 1 last summer when winning the Juddmonte International, a victory which was preceded by success in the Group 2 York Stakes.

Two runs early this season yielded a narrow second in the Earl Of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket’s Craven Meeting, before a grueller on ground that looked like the tide had just gone out saw him finish absolutely knackered in Sandown’s Gordon Richards Stakes during the end of April Whitbread meeting.

Cecil has wisely given him stacks of time to get over that, and on his return against a bunch who’ve either had tough races recently, or are returning after a long break this wonderfully consistent horse has a great chance of at least making the frame with so much in his favour.

Back him each way at 16’s with any of Bet Victor, Ladbrokes, Skybet or Sportingbet.

Elsewhere on the card another previous course and distance winner available at an attractive double figure price is Pat Chamings’ Diktat gelding Directorship, as he prepares to line up in the 1m Coral Challenge Handicap at 2.40pm.

Not at all badly drawn in stall six, this horse loves Sandown and goes on most ground – his mark of 92 still looks okay, and this step back up in trip ought to suit given that he was doing all his best work late on over seven furlongs when sixth at Royal Ascot last time out, when meeting interference in-running.

You can take the 10/1 each way with any of Bet365, Blue Square, Boylesports or Coral.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets at Sandown Park:

2.40 – Coral Challenge (Handicap) – 8 Directorship (each way) @ 10/1 (Bet365, Blue Square or Coral)

3.45 – Coral-Eclipse – 8 Twice Over (each way) @ 16/1 (Bet Victor, Ladbrokes or Skybet)

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Posted 6 years, 4 months ago

22 Jun
2012

Moonlight The Only Cloud That Can Rain On Black Caviar’s Parade

Ascot racecourse had a weighty dose of the Friday feeling on the penultimate day of the Royal meeting, with Newmarket trainers enjoying a clean sweep with wins in all six races on the card, the fifth of which prompted emotional scenes with a win for Her Majesty The Queen’s impressive Estimate in the Queen’s Vase, which was promptly followed by the winning owner receiving her prize from an ecstatic looking Prince Philip as the crowd lapped it up.

The Berkshire track’s PR people couldn’t have dared dream of such a perfect outcome, even if it prompted one wag to question whether our monarch might be tempted to unveil a Nicklas Bendtner-esque Paddy Power logo from beneath her coat.

He may have cracked the Euro 2012 defences, but even Paddy couldn’t pull that one off.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s action it’s a whopper of a card, and one which has seen the racecourse hoist the sold signs well in advance in at least some of the enclosures, and there’s absolutely no doubting which horse tops the bill with Australia’s pride and joy Black Caviar preparing to light up the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at 3.45pm, live on BBC1.

Unbeaten in an extraordinary 21 race sequence this amazing mare has already amassed more than £3.5m in prize money, and according to official ratings has at least eight pounds in hand on all of her 14 rivals (and that’s before you take into account the mares’ allowance!).

The obvious question marks are how she has acclimatised on the other side of the world, and how she’ll handle our take on Soft or Good to Soft ground.

Hopefully she’ll win in the style of a champion, but just in case something doesn’t click (her draw isn’t ideal) i’m going to cover the situation with a bit each way on French trainer Freddie Head’s Moonlight Cloud as she drops back in trip to six furlongs.

Although perhaps not on a par with Black Caviar you have to acknowledge Moonlight Cloud is a top level operator in her own right, she has prior experience of Ascot, goes on Soft ground, and hasn’t had to endure anything like the journey of her more celebrated rival.

She looked mightily impressive when winning her prep race at Longchamp, and having strengthened up over the winter she should be well paced to pounce if anything is amiss with the favourite.

Look at it another way, at a quarter the odds we’re getting 6/4 about Moonlight Cloud finishing second or third – ratings suggest she’ll do exactly that – while Black Caviar is no bigger than 1/4 to win the race.

Therefore the strategy is enjoy the Black Caviar show and try and pinch some place money into the bargain, with a cosy 6/1 safety net if something goes awry for the Aussie mare.

A little earlier on the card the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes (3.05pm) has the makings of a cracker, with Sea Moon taking on Aiken, Dunaden, Red Cadeaux and Memphis Tennessee for the £113,420 winner’s purse.

After they banged in a hat-trick on Friday afternoon (Newfangled, Fallen For You, Gatewood) it’s not hard to think John Gosden and William Buick may have cause to believe they can topple top-rated Sea Moon, with their sharply progressive Selkirk colt Aiken thriving on his racing.

Whereas Sea Moon looked rusty when having to pull out all the stops to see off inferior horses on his seasonal reappearance in listed company at Goodwood four weeks ago, Aiken is a mud-loving course and distance winner who’s in the form of his life, and hails from a stable practically fizzing with achievement and health.

Aiken has something to find on ratings, but has now won six on the bounce including three this season, the latest a Chantilly Group 2 just 20 days ago.

He’s improving all the time, and at 4/1 with any of Bet Victor, Ladbrokes or Paddy Power might well be able to add this big prize to his growing cv.

There’s a proper old-fashioned cavalry charge in store at 4.25pm as this year’s renewal of the Wokingham rolls around, and as i’ve alluded to in recent days it’s still unclear whether it’s best to be drawn high or low.

With that in mind I’m going for a bit of the best of both worlds, with Robert Cowell’s bang in form Lui Rei (drawn 28) and David Barron’s Colonel Mak (drawn 5) carrying my each way cash at big prices.

Lui Rei loves Soft going and has won two of his four races this season since being gelded over the winter, and pleasingly his in-form trainer opts for a decent apprentice who has also been among the winners to take seven pounds off his back.

He looks a much better horse this season, and has what it takes to get involved at 20/1 each way with any of Bet Victor, Boylesports or Paddy Power, all of whom are offering five places each way.

On the other side of the track sprint specialist David Barron saddles Colonel Mak, a five year old gelding by Makbul who has really found his form in recent weeks, and also has a good apprentice up top he remove some of his weight burden.

He won at Doncaster at the start of April, and then finished third in a well contested race at Newmarket won by the re-opppsing Maarek, with Alben Star a length and a quarter back in fifth.

Another good run could well be on the way from this tough horse who won the Ayr Silver Cup two years ago, and went on to finish fourth on Soft ground in the Ayr Gold Cup last September.

Colonel Mak is also a 20/1 shot, with Skybet and Stan James the places to head for the extra place.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets at Royal Ascot:

3.05 – Hardwicke Stakes – 1 Aiken (win) @ 4/1 (Bet Victor, Ladbrokes or Paddy Power)

3.45 – Diamond Jubilee Stakes -12 Moonlight Cloud (each way) @ 6/1 (Bet365, Boylesports or Ladbrokes)

4.25 – Wokingham Stakes (Heritage Handicap) – 6 Colonel Mak (each way) @ 20/1 (Skybet or Stan James)

4.25 – Wokingham Stakes (Heritage Handicap) – 15 Lui Rei (each way) @ 20/1 (Bet Victor, Boylesports or Paddy Power)

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Posted 6 years, 5 months ago

22 Jun
2012

Astrology The Clear Pick On A Day When Winners May Prove Elusive

From a punter’s perspective arguably the hardest of the five days of the Royal meeting arrives on Friday, with a card that throws up variables and teasers aplenty, changing weather conditions, as well as some confusion as to whether it’s better to be drawn high or low in the concluding Buckingham Palace Stakes in light of events in the big field handicaps of the last two days, in both the Royal Hunt Cup (high dominated) and Britannia Stakes (low dominated).

Side-stepping the opener (Newfangled is the obvious one though I do have good mark each way for The Gold Cheongsam) i’ll fast forward to the King Edward VII Stakes at 3.05pm (live on BBC1), and with it the reappearance of Epsom Derby third Astrology for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore.

Dropping in grade here to Group 2 company this 115-rated big gun is the one they all have to beat, and rightly so given how he strode around the bends at Chester when pulverizing a small field on Soft ground in the Dee stakes back in May.

This strapping son of Galileo then stepped up his game to finish third to stablemate Camelot in the Derby, only losing second in the dying strides after being committed for home fully a quarter of a mile out.

His form that day with second placed Main Sequence brings John Gosden’s Shantaram into the picture, in that prior to Epsom Main Sequence had beaten Shantaram three quarters of a length in his warm up race in the Lingfield Derby Trial, so on a line through Main Sequence there might not be as much between Astrology and Shanataram as the official ratings suggest (11lbs).

Both of them are proven at the 1m 4f trip and might do the job for forecast purposes, given that of the other notable contenders Noble Mission attempts this distance for the first time, Thought Worthy has six lengths to find with Astrology on Derby form, and Thomas Chippendale makes a gigantic step up from mere handicap company.

To be fair I liked the way Thomas Chippendale won last time at Newmarket, and he could well go on to better things, but Astrology ought to be too good here with a proven ability to handle the ground, plus a minimum of five pounds in hand on all his six rivals on official figures.

At a general 5/4 the price isn’t one to get the pulse racing, but I do like this horse’s touch of class and attitude, and think he’ll get the job done.

Some forty minutes later I think you could ask half a dozen different trainers, jockeys or pundits what they think will happen in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes and get six different answers, with the winner of the English Guineas Homecoming Queen taking on the winner of the Irish Guineas Samitar, Samitar’s recent Group 2 winning stablemate Laugh Out Loud, the filly Homecoming Queen beat at Newmarket Starscope, plus William Haggas’s wildcard entry – the once-raced Barathea filly Cardigan.

All have claims, so which one will it be?

In fact possibly none of them, as John Gosden runs two more in the race (apart from Starscope), with May Hill second Fallen For You joined by former Group 1 winner Elusive Kate on her seasonal debut.

She progressed rapidly as a juvenile, winning four times (three in France) and a mountain of prize money into the bargain, culminating in a thrilling win in the Prix Marcel Boussac on Arc day at Longchamp.

That earned her the tag of the joint best two year old filly in Europe last season, a reputation which saw her sent off 100/30 favourite when finishing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs in November.

A supremely strong traveller she has proven form in the book with a bit of cut in the ground, and just because this is her first outing of the season I fail to see why this top level performer is being overlooked in a race where everything else seems capable of taking turns to beat one another.

On value grounds Elusive Kate really appeals to me each way at 8/1 with any of Bet Victor, Paddy Power or Skybet.

Those are my two bets on the card given that the Wolferton Handicap might as well mean there are land mines dotted indiscriminately around the betting ring, such is the level of competition with an incredible 12 horses rated at least 100 lining up.

Joint favourites Mijhaar (for whom the rain is a blessing) and Gatewood are both strongly fancied by connections, but anyone backing them ignores the danger posed by the closely matched pair Danadana and Qaraaba – it is red hot and best simply watched and enjoyed where I’m concerned.

Good luck!

Friday’s best bets at Royal Ascot:

3.05 – King Edward VII Stakes – 1 Astrology (win) @ 5/4 (Bet365, Bet Victor, Blue Square or William Hill)

3.45 – Coronation Stakes – 3 Elusive Kate (each way) @ 8/1 (Bet Victor, Paddy Power or Skybet)

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Posted 6 years, 5 months ago

21 Jun
2012

Thursday’s Best Bets At Royal Ascot 2012

Lumpy bets rained down on the bookmakers like a hailstorm prior to So You Think’s win in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday afternoon, forcing the New Zealand-bred entire into an SP of 4/5 and depriving the Royal meeting of a fairytale winner, after Her Majesty The Queen’s Carlton House had loomed up on the rail seemingly full of running a furlong from home.

That valuable success clearly delighted trainer Aidan O’Brien and his team, though God help the stable cat should he ever mislay the trademark mobile phone that seems permanently welded to his ear after each and every top level victory!

He’ll be hoping for more of the same this afternoon, with another stable favourite Fame And Glory the strong favourite for the highlight of a great third day in the shape of the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup at 3.45pm, live on BBC2.

The winner of this 12 months ago (when seeing off the re-opposing Opinion Poll by 3 lengths) Fame And Glory is all about class, and will be a tough nut to crack, especially as he’s had a race to bring him on after winning on his reappearance in Navan’s Vintage Crop Stakes a month ago.

The horse he beat that day Unaccompanied has a subsequent form line with Doncaster Cup winner Saddler’s Rock, but the one I like made a massive impression on his first run of the season, beating the horse who went on to take the Yorkshire Cup with plenty up his sleeve….I am of course referring to Frankie Dettori’s mount Colour Vision.

At the age of four this grey son of Rainbow Quest appears to have made giant strides since finishing third in the Cesarewitch back in the autumn, going on to finish a close enough third to Fame And Glory and Opinion Poll in a two mile Group 3 on Champions Day (a three year old against five year olds), before being put away for his winter break.

That seemed to do the trick, as he finished in blitzkrieg fashion on the All Weather at Kempton, thrashing Red Cadeaux, who as I’ve already mentioned went on to frank the form at York.

What’s more, wouldn’t Frankie Dettori love to prove he’s not quite ready to vacate the stage just yet with a major winner?

Obviously Fame And Glory is the one to beat, but only three pounds separates him and Colour Vision on ratings despite a yawning gap in actual achievement, and Fame And Glory has to concede two pounds to the younger horse this afternoon, suggesting his is the value pick at five times the price of his more celebrated rival.

Colour Vision is a very exciting young horse, and will happily carry my cash at 5/1 with either Betfred or Skybet.

A little earlier on the card the Oaks second (Shirocco Star), third (The Fugue), fourth (Vow) and seventh (Kailani) are among six fillies who lined up in the Epsom Classic at the start of the month to resume hostilities in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes (3.05pm).

The Fugue looks set to go off a resounding favourite after dotting up in the Musidora and then meeting interference in-running at Epsom (finished with a rattle but couldn’t reach Was), while Shirocco Star has run two very solid races in defeat this season at Newbury and Epsom.

In the first of those she was beaten by The Queen’s horse Momentary (also runs here) in the Swettenham Stud Fillies’ Trial, but again on value grounds there’s a hugely exciting runner coming over from Ireland who is unbeaten in two starts this term and should love this step up in trip, namely Dermot Weld’s Street Cry filly Princess Highway.

She doesn’t beat the scars of a hard race at Epsom, has a number of Group 1 entries later in the campaign, and has almost certainly been kept back for a tilt at this prize.

Lest we forget her dam (mother) won this very race a few years ago, plus Princess Highway had the eventual Oaks winner Was back in third on her last start at Naas in May, a not unpleasant boost to the form I’m sure you’ll agree…

Princess Highway looks a cracking bet at 7/1 each way with Sportingbet.

Lastly, emboldened by a bit of good fortune in the Royal Hunt Cup i’ve had a stab at cooking up a solution for the 30-runner Britannia Stakes at 4.25pm, where I’m pretty confident the high numbers will again have the opportunity to dominate (watch the first four jump from stalls 1-2-3-4 now!).

Yesterday’s big handicap was played out by horses drawn 33-18-21-13, and this afternoon’s mile race can go to Ralph Beckett’s first-time blinkered Frog Hollow in the hands of Jim Crowley.

This son of Intikhab is very well drawn in stall 31, and appears entirely versatile in terms of ground requirements.

He won twice at Salisbury last year over seven furlongs, but has proven his stamina for a mile with good runs at Newmarket and Haydock, the second of which was when he was sent off 3/1 market leader for Haydock’s Silver Bowl.

He met a bit of trouble in-running that day before staying on, but he looks dangerous to me off a mark of 90, especially with his stable among the winners of the last few days.

Frog Hollow is 11/1 each way with Stan James, who happily are offering the extra place.

If there is a question mark about him it’s that he’s a hold up horse who might find trouble trying to weave his way through a massive field, and though it’s dangerous to pin your hopes on one piece of form I do think there’s value to be had in the horse who finished a place in front of him at Haydock, Mark Johnston’s consistent sort Switzerland.

Also drawn well in gate 27 he can be ridden more prominently, rarely seems to run a bad race and also won mind any change in the ground.

He perhaps isn’t brilliantly handicapped off 95, but at 25/1 each way he could easily make the frame if he puts in his usual solid display from a good draw.

Good luck!

Thursday’s best bets at Royal Ascot:

3.05 – Ribblesdale Stakes – 9 Princess Highway (each way) @ 7/1 (Sportingbet)

3.45 – Gold Cup – 7 Colour Vision (win) @ 5/1 (Betfred or Skybet)

4.25 – Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap) – 6 Switzerland (each way) @ 25/1 (Stan James)

4.25 – Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap) – 21 Frog Hollow (each way) @ 11/1 (Stan James)

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Posted 6 years, 5 months ago

20 Jun
2012

The Best Bets On Day Two At Royal Ascot 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck!

Wednesday’s best bets at Royal Ascot:

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

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

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

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Posted 6 years, 5 months ago

24 Apr
2012

A ‘Realt’ Good Way To Start The Week At Punchestown

No sooner has Ayr’s bumper Scottish National fixture finished than we find ourselves on another lengthy road trip, this time for what, to me at least, rates as the best week’s racing of the entire year, with the 2012 Punchestown Festival providing five days of genuine top class National Hunt action at the scenic County Kildare venue.

If you were taking someone racing for the first time it’d have to be high on the list of where you’d choose to get someone hooked on the sport – top facilities, equine stars wherever you look, a beautiful setting and a proper Irish welcome. Unbeatable in my book.

I arrived via the slow boat to China (Dublin Port if truth be told) yesterday afternoon and immediately headed to walk the track, as tradition dictates.

To say I was taken aback by how much rain has fallen here would be an understatement, and what’s more the forecast for the week is atrocious.

It’s going to be a serious test, especially on the bend heading into the back straight, down the back and racing off the final bend where the ground is at its softest.

Credit to Clerk of the Course Richie Galway and his team – they’ve produced the track to look like a billiard table, with perfectly presented hurdles and fences and the ideal grass cover, but clearly the one thing they can do nothing to control is what falls out the sky, and though it’ll be lovely ground for anyone taking a fall, it might also throw up some peculiar results.

Bear in mind many of the chief protagonists are arriving here off the back of hard races in Cheltenham or Aintree (or both!), and while we don’t know who’s over the top and who’s coming nicely to the boil for the end of season spectacular, we also cannot underestimate what toll the heavy ground on the far side of the track will take.

On day one alone there are three odds on favourites to weigh up, with all the Grade 1 events (live on RTE) featuring oustanding candidates.

Trifolium is no bigger than 4/7 for the Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle (run over 2m at 4.20pm), and rightly so given his outstanding run at Cheltenham when third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, plus his proven course form and ability to handle Heavy ground.

His closest rival would appear to be County Hurdle winner Alderwood, but he had a hard enough race inbetween when winning a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse, and so might be lacking the edge in terms of freshness.

What’s more, on a line through the Willie Mullins horse Allure Of Allusion, Alderwood has close on six lengths to make up on Trifolium if you interpret their respective runs against him in the strictest terms.

Later on there’s also 1/4 shot Sir Des Champs in the Growise Champion Novice Chase over 3m 1f at 6.40pm.

Although he’s never run at Punchestown it looks like we’re clasping at straws trying to find a chink in his armour – he too is proven on Heavy, is unbeaten in four starts over fences, and looked a monster when easily winning the Jewson at the Festival back in March.

Bookmakers already make him no bigger than 6/1 favourite for next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, and though he isn’t running against trees today it’d be a major shock if he’s beaten.

Possibly the best of his rivals is Mossey Joe, but he hasn’t been sighted since June and has overcome serious injury problems, but in a sense it’s been a triumph for his patient trainer Declan McNamara just to get him back on the track, and what’s more he won’t be at home on ground this deep.

So if Trifolium and Sir Des Champs have the appearance of odds on bankers, what of the third leg of the treble?

A- list star Sizing Europe is 1/2 to win the boylesports.com Champion Chase in the hands of Andrew Lynch, and though he’s a top class horse and can get the job done, you might want to think twice before blindly following him at that grim price:

– he clearly prefers better ground than he’ll encounter this afternoon
– arrives here off the back of a very hard race in Cheltenham, where lest we forget he was defeated
– beaten in this race in 2011
– beaten in this race in 2010
– Big Zeb, who beat him here 12 months ago, re-opposes
– trained specifically for Cheltenham, and this might be a bridge too far
– only 2 of the last 15 winners were aged in double figures (Sizing Europe is 10)

Despite all of those factors he can operate on Heavy ground, has a massive edge on official ratings (10lbs and more), and has seen the form of his unlucky Cheltenham defeat handsomely franked.

Even so, I would also say there might be one to put the wind up him at bigger prices, and though Pricewise has wrecked the price by nominating Realt Dubh, I really think he might be on to something in suggesting Noel Meade’s eight year old son of Beneficial.

A course and distance winner without too many miles on the clock, he was off the track for 10 months before returning in satisfactory fashion in the Champion Chase at the Festival, a reappearance which should have brought him forward considerably.

His aptitude for handling Heavy ground is a massive plus, and he ran a blinder when a narrow second to Arkle winner Captain Chris at this meeting 12 months ago.

If there is to be a shock then Realt Dubh has the perfect profile to provide it, and he can be backed at 8/1 each way with any of Bet365, BetVictor or Ladbrokes.

Perhaps all the shorties will go in, but bear in mind anyone at home wanting to roll up these supposed ‘good things’ into a win treble is looking at an average of around 1.94/1, or in more conventional terms not even 2/1, and only just a whisker bigger than 15/8.

At the end of a gruelling season, with the ground officially Soft to Heavy you’d have to be out of your mind to take that price, a bet bookies will be falling over to lay in offices all over Britain and Ireland this morning – just one faller, an unlucky unseating, a horse hampered or running out from three selections and you’ve done your cash. Madness.

With conditions as they are a little bit each way on Realt Dubh at a working man’s price seems a far better way to go, and while you are it have a peep at the unraced Bishopslough in the concluding bumper.

Tony Mullins is widely acknowledged as a man who can get one ready when the occasion demands, indeed his team boast an 11% strike rate in races of this nature since 2007.

This lad is meant to be working like a decent sort, and at 25/1 each way on a tricky opening day he might send us home with a few bonus euros to spend at the bar while watching Chelsea try and smother Barcelona this evening.
Happy Punchestown & Good luck!
Tuesday’s best bets at Punchestown:

5.30 – boylesports.com Champion Chase – 5 Realt Dubh (each way) @ 8/1 (Bet365, BetVictor or Ladbrokes)

7.15 – Finlay Motor Group INH Flat Race – 3 Bishopslough (each way) @ 25/1 (BetVictor, Paddy Power or SkyBet)

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Posted 6 years, 7 months ago

17 Mar
2012

Saturday’s Best Bets At Uttoxeter & Ffos Las‏

The calm after the storm, and as tough a Thursday and Friday for punters at Cheltenham as I can ever recall, with yours truly considering trying to persuade a tramp to lend me some spare change for the bus fare home, such was the damage wreaked by a string of bookmaker friendly results.

“We’ll have a job counting it all now!” came the quip from one delighted layer immediately after the Gold Cup, and you can well imagine there’ll be a few turf accountants with sore heads on Saturday morning, such was the delight among the on course bookmaking fraternity at the end of a Gold Cup day where punters were taken to the cleaners and then some.

Happily Saturday’s cards don’t look quite as hard to unravel, and with Channel 4 showing six races from Uttoxeter and Ffos Las, there’s plenty of opportunity to repair some of the damage.

One that caught my eye in the 2.45 at Uttoxeter (live on Ch4), a 0-135 Handicap Hurdle run over an extended two and a half miles, was a 22/1 outsider of 15 in the shape of Evan Williams’ Phidippides.

He’s the rank outsider in a reasonable sized field after a couple of disappointments over fences this season, but his record over hurdles is excellent – two wins from just three starts, and with his yard in form and a drop in grade possible due to his falling handicap mark, now could be exactly the time to catch him at huge odds.

Only a year ago he was a 140 rated chaser being sent off at evens to see off the subsequently progressive Hector’s Choice, 12 months on he’s dismissed by bookmakers as a no hoper in a race where he can be competitive, especially as a return to the smaller obstacles could be just what’s required to spark a revival.

You can get on each way at 22/1 with BetVictor or Skybet.

Meanwhile, at the far end of the M4 and beyond they race at Britain’s newest racecourse, with a decent card at Ffos Las to get stuck into for those of you who haven’t had your fill…

There’s an opening in the three mile 0-135 Handicap Chase at 3.35pm, with a favourite who could easily get chinned by another available at a value price.

Anthony Honeyball’s Victor’s Serenade tops the market at 11/4, and although he’s a bang in form, recent course winner, he’s also rising up the weights and facing others who bring solid credentials to the table.

One of those is Welsh trainer Tim Vaughan’s Definite Article gelding Definite Dawn, never out of the frame in six starts over fences and a confirmed operator on a range of ground.

He faced a very stiff task in novice company racing at level weights against horses rated 132 and 138 last time out, but prior to that was a good second to subsequent Festival winner Balthazar King at Cheltenham.

What’s more he’s re-united with five pound claimer Michael Byrne tomorrow – Byrne has only ridden him twice and both occasions have resulted in a visit to the winners’ enclosure.

He too appeals as a value investment at 7’s with either BetVictor or Paddy Power.
Good luck!
Saturday’s best bets at Uttoxeter & Ffos Las:

2.45 Uttoxeter – Betfred “The Home Of Goals Galore” Handicap Hurdle – 1 Phidippides (each way) @ 22/1 (BetVictor or Skybet)

3.35 Ffos Las – Betfair. Don’t Settle For Less Handicap Chase – 4 Definite Dawn (each way) @ 7/1 (BetVictor or Paddy Power)

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Posted 6 years, 8 months ago

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