Friday, August 31, 2012

Chester tomorrow

I fancied a wager in the listed Lord Mildmay Memorial Handicap Chase this weekend but Newton Abbot has already been called off due to a waterlogged course...

Market Rasen stage a humdrum jumps card; Toshi, trained by Jim Goldie, hinted at a return to form last time out and may be worth a second look at a price in the Christmas Party Day 6th December Handicap Hurdle at 6.55. As it's a bit too early to be thinking about Christmas, I've quickly 'skimmed' the two long distance events at Chester; the going on the Roodee is currently described as good to soft.

My selection for last week's Ebor, Icon Dream, is another stabled in Jim Goldie's yard and he reappears in the listed handicap at 2.30; the gelding ran no sort of race at York last Saturday and has plenty to find with both Area Fifty One (fifth) and Tominator (eighth). I think he's better than that run - the handy inside draw should be to his advantage around Chester's tight turns. The top one catches the eye; Rebecca Curtis strikes me as a trainer who knows the time of day - her strike rate for the season is 28.89% (13 wins, 45 runs). Meganisi is suggested as an each-way wager at 10/1 or bigger.

In the 4.55 Los Nadis (Jim Goldie yet again!) is a dual purpose horse I like. Rated 135 over hurdles, he has a good draw in this but goes off mark of 78 which looks quite high. Priced at just 6/1 in the tissue, I'm going to watch from the sidelines...

Friday, August 24, 2012

From the sublime to the ridiculous

This week we've seen the sublime and we've seen the ridiculous.

Frankel barely had to engage second gear to take Wednesday's Juddmonte International at York; writing as Thunderer in today's Times, Stephen Pollard informs us the great horse '...has achieved perfection.'

In marked contrast bookmakers Betfred have incurred the wrath of most by refusing to pay out on a grandmother's 200/1 Olympic medal wager; Sam Oldham won team bronze in the gymnastics but Betfred have refused a payout as the medal was won in a team, rather than an individual, event. Hmmm.

For the final day of the Ebor meeting here are a couple of tips which, come five o'clock on Saturday afternoon, you're likely to consider ridiculous rather than sublime...

The feature race is the Ebor at 3.40. In the past I've leant towards horses with some NH form for this event; this approach has proved decidedly unsuccessful over the years but I'm past caring. Four qualify this year - Steps To Freedom, Crackentorp, Royal Diamond and Blue Bajan.

Top weight Steps To Freedom looks up against it - only Sea Pigeon (1979) has carried more than 9-4 to victory in the past 50 years. At the age of ten, Blue Bajan appears to face a similarly stiff task; Sea Pigeon was aged nine when recording his victory - since then no horse older than six has come home in front.

In the past nine renewals the winner has come from of a double-digit stall on eight occasions - Royal Diamond doesn't appear to have the best of draws (stall 2) and his tendency to race from the front could leave him vulnerable up the long home straight.

Crackentorp has a better draw (17) but, on stats, can't win at the age of seven and last time out put in a slightly disappointing performance behind Mount Athos. Mount Athos has gone in again since and now heads for the Melbourne Cup, so perhaps I'm being a little harsh there... Previously Crackentorp finished second to Ile De Re in Newcastle's Northumberland Plate run on heavy ground. That day Icon Dream was third and tomorrow's favourite Motivado thirteenth.

The two I'm interested in at a price are Crackentorp and Icon Dream; on Northumberland Plate running there's little between them. Crackentorp is 16/1 with most layers while Icon Dream is 25/1 so I'll take a small each-way interest in Icon Dream (drawn 19) - most layers are paying a quarter the odds four places.

In the preceding Lonsdale Cup (3.05) I haven't totally written off Willie Mullins' Simenon. This one finished sixth behind Saddler's Rock in the Goodwood Cup last time but was only beaten four and a half lengths. On ratings he has plenty to find with several of these and on a literal interpretation can't reverse form with Saddler's. Having said that, I'm re-reading Ruby Walsh's autobiography at the moment and Ruby's comments about Willie Mullins make me think the great man wouldn't send his charge over if he didn't think the gelding was in with a shout. Simenon was done for toe in the final furlong at Goodwood; priced up early at 16/1 with William Hill, I'll bet Simenon each-way - any rain at the track will aid his cause.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Summer Hurdle at Perth

Flat fans appear to be waiting for next week's Ebor meeting at York so I thought I'd take a look at tomorrow's feature at Perth, the Summer Champion Hurdle (4.15) run over two miles and 110 yards.

Gordon Elliott has an outstanding record at the track and sends over the likely favourite Cause of Causes from Ireland; the four-year-old is top-rated by the Racing Post but I'm always wary of young horses having to concede weight to more experienced rivals.

Nicky Henderson sent up his fancied First In The Queue to Scotland yesterday; connections are looking for a good run but point out the gelding wouldn't want a lot more rain.

The Peter Bowen trained Kian's Delight had Absinthe and Mao Chinn Tire behind when finishing one and a half lengths second to Local Hero in the listed Summer Hurdle at Market Rasen four weeks ago - as usual that race was a very competitive affair and this time round Absinthe has a three pounds pull for under two and a half lengths. Timmy Murphy rode Absinthe that day but he rides the favourite here and I just wonder whether Donald McCain's stable jock Jason Maguire may be tempted to make more use of Absinthe who was staying on in fourth at the finish.

David Pipe saddles two, His Excellency and Hunterview. The former, formerly trained by Gordon Elliott, was beaten over 80 lengths in the Galway Plate earlier this month and has been known to 'swish the tail' during races. The latter is one I've fancied at biggish prices in the past but he's never quite lived up to expectations.

I always think it pays to race near the pace at Perth so course form can be considered worthwhile. Dianne Sayer's mare Cool Baranca has course and distance winning form to her name but this looks a tough ask while I'm guessing connections of Smalib Monterg will have a better idea of what they have on their hands after this race.

A competitive race for decent prize money given the time of year. At the time of writing there are no prices chalked up so, working from the tissue, Absinthe looks a play against more fancied market rivals at around 13/2 while I'd consider an each-way wager on Smalib Monterg if priced in double figures - both suggestions should not be unduly inconvenienced by further rain at the track. 

Friday, August 03, 2012

From Olympic golds to Newton Abbot

Last week's post on The Times' virtual medal table generated some interest, so I thought I'd follow up seven days on.

The supplement published with The Times on Thursday 26th July printed a virtual table for each day of the Olympics. At the close of business on Thursday August 2nd Team GB were predicted to have three gold medals whereas in actual fact they had five in the bag. If that advantage is maintained to the end of competition, Great Britain will finish with 21 golds, two more than predicted.

For those who may be interested in taking a position, I thought it would be useful to list the GB golds as predicted by The Times, starting from today.

Kath Grainger / Anna Watkins, Women's double sculls

Saturday, predicted to be Team GB's best day:
Helen Jenkins, Triathlon
Men's Four, Rowing
Women's Team Pursuit, Cycling
Mo Farah, 10,000 metres

Ben Ainslie, Sailing

Jason Kenny, Men's sprint cycling

Tuesday, predicted to be the second best day:
One of the Brownlee brothers, Triathlon
Victoria Pendleton, Cycling individual sprint
Sir Chris Hoy, Cycling keirin

No golds

Savannah Marshall, Women's boxing
One other, not listed

Sarah Stevenson (not selected on form)

Sprint canoeing x 2
One other not listed

No golds

You pays your money and takes your choice...

Personally I still think this looks a big ask, so instead I'll consider placing my money on Present To You in tomorrow's 2.35 at Newton Abbot.

The selection was beaten seven lengths by likely favourite Giant O'Murchu six days ago at Stratford over a distance just shy of two miles two furlongs. The shorter trip here appears in his favour, he now races on seven pounds better terms and connections have opted to try a visor for the first time. If the tissue price of 8/1 becomes available, David Bridgwater's charge looks reasonable each-way value.