Friday, August 26, 2011

Cartmel considerations

After a very quick glance at tomorrow's Flat cards, the only entry I can see with NH form running over more than 12 furlongs is Drunken Sailor in the opener at Goodwood. Back in 2008 the bay took a Gowran Park maiden hurdle and has gone on to considerably better things since. Luca Cumani's course and distance winner has an obvious chance in the small field but at around even money doesn't make much appeal as a betting proposition.

So, here are some brief notes on the jumpers at Cartmel, where the going is currently reported good to soft, good in places.

Only four in the first which on paper looks a match between Stonethrower and Sara's Smile. The two trainers concerned have exceptional strike rates in the past fortnight - Tim Vaughan (Stonethrower) - 16 wins from 41 runs (39.02%); Donald McCain (Sara's Smile) - 6 wins from 15 runners (40%). Stonethrower's jock claims a handy-looking seven pounds but the gelding has done most of his racing over further...

The highlights are the class 3 Cavendish Cup, a handicap chase, at 3.20 and the Cartmel Cup, a handicap hurdle, at 4.15 . Only four declared for the chase in which course and distance winner Foxesbow will be an odds-on chance. Seize sports first time blinkers but was beaten a distance here by Foxesbow in July. The handicap hurdle looks an altogether more competitive affair. Front Rank bids to take this for the third consecutive year but at the age of 11 faces a stiff task. Jockey F. Keniry has won twice on The Tiddly Tadpole in recent weeks; five pound claimer Henry Brooke gets the leg-up tomorrow while Keniry rides Gary Moore's Guy D'Arnac. I'll take a small each-way interest in The Tiddly Tadpole if priced up 10/1 or bigger.

Finally, trainer A E Jones' two runners, Temple Place and Murfreesboro, catch the eye in the finale, having made the journey up from Timberscombe, Somerset.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Notes on some of Saturday's runners...

Horses with previous NH form running in Flat races over a distance of more than one and a half miles this Saturday...

York 3.05 Lonsdale Cup (2m):
Blue Bajan, Bergo, Elyaadi.

Blue Bajan, beaten a head and a neck into third in the Goodwood Cup (Bergo a couple more lengths away in fifth), is three pounds better off with winner Opinion Poll who took this event last year. The mare Elyaddi, second in the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot, will appreciate cut underfoot, a comment that also applies to Harris Tweed, but has plenty to find on official ratings. That was a fine effort by Bergo on his seasonal reappearance but the 'bounce' factor is a worry and he's shown his best form on top of the ground.
Suggestion: Blue Bajan win.

York 3.40 Ebor Handicap (1m 6f):
Salute Him, Cill Rialaig, Investissement, Hillview Boy.

As you'd expect, an ultra-competitive handicap. This race has seen some big-priced winners in recent times - Mediterranean 16/1 2001; Hugs Dance 25/1 2002; Saint Alebe 20/1 2003; Mudawin 100/1 2006 and Sesenta 25/1 2009. In the past decade no horse over the age of six has won the event. Irish runner Salute Him, an eight-year-old, was fifth in this last year and makes some each-way appeal at 25/1 but Hillview Boy hasn't been seen since finishing ninth last year - are connections plotting a cunning coup? Investissement may have been a little flattered when finishing third behind Petara Bay at Goodwood the last time and doesn't look the easiest of rides. Cill Rialaig has an Exeter bumper over 13 furlongs on soft ground to her name so Hughie Morrison's mare should stay the trip here. Both Betfred and totesport pay five places on this race.
Suggestion: Salute Him each way.

Chester 4.10 Chester Stakes (1m 5f):
No qualifiers.

Chester 5.15 (1m 7f):
Amazing King, Lastroseofsummer, French Hollow, Calisto Moon, Hallstaff

Amazing King ran well at this course last time and should appreciate both the going and the step-up in trip having previously won a Southwell beginners' chase over two miles. Lastroseofsummer is a front-running mare who is in very good form at the moment while French Hollow won at 66/1 on his penultimate run and has gone in again since but is one who likes to come from off the pace. Callisto Moon has tried his luck with several trainers and has plenty of miles on the clock but Halstatt is eight pounds better off with French Hollow and was hampered in running in that race. An open event which has seen four of the last five winners carry more than 9-5 to victory - I'll chance Amazing King.
Suggestion: Amazing King each-way (8/1 or bigger).

Bath 8.10 (1m 5f)
A poor grade 6 handicap in which several runners have previous NH form. Michael Scudamore's Red Current would be worth a second look but only at a price.
No suggestion.

Those waiting for the return of the jumpers may want to note Perth's 3.45, the Scottish Hydro Summer Champion Hurdle, for future reference. Overturn takes his chance but he's likely to have a fight for the lead with Paul Webber's Australia Day in the line-up. Irish course and distance winners Brave Beauty and Now This Is It catch the eye - the latter finished second in a race at the Galway Festival but isn't certain to be suited by the step back in trip.   

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Holiday happenings

A short post after a wet week's holiday in west Wales...

Howard Johnson has been banned from racing for four years following a BHA disciplinary inquiry; quoting Alan Lee in Saturday's Times, Johnson was judged ' have shown "reckless disregard of equine welfare" in running a horse, Striking Article, eight times after an operation to desensitise a leg.' The decision spells the end of the trainer's career. Johnson's main owner Graham Wylie had previously moved six horses to Paul Nicholls' yard and has indicated he will consider his involvement in the sport over the weekend.

Comedian Jarred Christmas may have played The Queens Hall, Narbeth, but a couple of racing connections popped up while I was perambulating in Pembrokeshire... I discovered that famous author and jockey Dick Francis was born at Coedcanlas, Lawrenny, while a number of racing-related  items are to be found on the walls of The Cresselly Arms at Cresswell Quay. This hostelry wouldn't necessarily be everyone's cup of tea but its lack of pretence and accompanying memorabilia were right up my street. In recent years several horses have carried the name Cresswell (including Cresswell Quay), many of them owned by Mr Bruce McKay and trained nearby by Keith Goldsworthy. I was particularly pleased to come across a picture of Hills Of Aran (McCoy up) as I tipped this one at Cheltenham's New Year's Day meeting in 2008 and managed to avail myself of 14/1 offered by Fred Done. In the ensuing three and a half years I have tried on several occassions to repeat the stunt - but with no further success.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Brief notes on Saturday's stayers

Four Flat races over more than twelve furlongs on Saturday; brief notes on runners with some NH form to their name...

Ascot 1.25 (Shergar Cup Stayers Handicap, 2m.)
Both Dayia and Phoenix Flight ran well at Royal Ascot but both finished last on their next run so caution is advised. Woolfall Treasure is taking time to come to hand this term; in contrast La Vecchia Scuola hinted at a return to some kind of form in the John Smith's Silver Cup at York. Dayia won't want conditions too quick but the mare has been dropped four pounds for her latest effort and would make some each-way appeal if the rain arrives. Suggestion: La Vecchia Scuola each-way.

Newmarket 4.50 (Red Lion Foods Handicap, 2m.)
Having won a Fontwell handicap hurdle in May, Lastroseofsummer has been in sparkling form, taking two Flat handicaps in July and she bids for the hat-trick here. Rae Guest's mare is likely to head the betting while Philip Hobbs' grey Zakatal, owned by Mr Terry Warner, will be challenging for favourtism. I'm tempted to take an each-way chance on the only other runner with NH form, Ambrose Princess. Michael Scudamore's mare was well in contention when coming to grief in a Worcester novices' chase last time but prior to that won over three miles at Southwell. Suggestion: Ambrose Princess each-way.

Redcar 5.10 (1m 6f.)
Half the field have some jumps form to their name (Zefooha, Heart Of Dubai, Spahi, Strikemaster, Seven Stars, Lisbon Lion, Haka Dancer and Carmelia Maria) but this looks a poor race. No suggestion.

Ayr 8.10 (1m 7f.)
Course and distance winner Tillietudlem has been busy of late; although the grey gelding finished sixth of the seven runners three days ago, he was beaten under two and a half lengths and merits respect in first time cheekpieces. Stablemate Circus Clown really catches the eye, having run well in the past in Class 3 handicap hurdles both here and at Perth. Rated 113 over the sticks, he must surely have a chance in this off a mark of 47 with jockey Shane Kelly able to claim an extra five pounds. The worry appears to be underfoot conditions as all his best form is on soft / heavy ground. Terenzium has plenty of miles on the clock but has been running well of late while Morning Time hasn't won in 11 attempts since coming over from Ireland a year or so ago. Clueless last won in 2005 and Ancient Times remains a maiden. Suggestion: Circus Clown win.