Friday, September 28, 2012

Brief notes on tomorrow's Market Rasen card

Two listed races are the highlight of a decent card at Market Rasen tomorrow.

A couple of horses that have done this blog a favour over the summer (Smalib Monterg and Ugo) face stiff opposition against the likes of Local Hero, Kian's Delight and Absinthe in the handicap hurdle at 2.10. Local Hero had Kian's Delight one and a half lengths behind (Absinthe fourth) in the listed Summer Hurdle over course and distance back in July; since then the winner has had an outing on the Flat at Chester while the runner-up went on to take the Summer Hurdle at Perth. I fancied Absinthe for that Perth race but he was beaten fair and square by Peter Bowen's charge - Absinthe reopposes five pounds better off tomorrow so should turn the form around but I think Kian's Delight is progressive. Local Hero's jock can claim ten pounds (as he did in July) and on a strict reading of the form, he also has the beating of Kian's but Kian's Delight is my idea of the winner. At the foot of the handicap Nicky Henderson's Dubai Crest could be interesting - this evening layers appear undecided about this one with bet365 going 8/1 while Ladbrokes offer 14/1 - but in this ultra-competitve event I'm going for some each-way value and the 20/1 Stan James is offering about Kayaan, third in July's Summer Hurdle here, offers just that; Kayaan is another weighted to reverse form with Kian's Delight and is perhaps less exposed than some of the others mentioned.

I don't have a strong view on the listed chase at 2.40 but I'll keep an eye on Venetia Williams' Clouded Thoughts on his first run in this country.

On ratings Hilali is the one to beat in the 3.55 but is likely to be priced accordingly, a comment that also applies to The Romford Pele in the 4.30 - that one ran a stormer in the Cheltenham bumper to finish seventh at odds of 33/1. I'll watch Charlie Longsdon's No No Charlie in this as the trainer indicates in Mark Howard's One Jump Ahead that the gelding hasn't had the best of luck to date and is 'a very nice horse in the making'.

Another of Charlie Longsdon's, Spirit Of Shankly, is well tipped up in the aforemetioned publication and is declared for the concluding bumper; John Ferguson's newcomer Zarafshan is likely to be fit enough to do himself justice.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bits and pieces

Just a quick post this week as I don't intend to play tomorrow.

Call me old-fashioned, but three six furlong handicap sprints with 27 runners apiece, all likely to be run on soft / heavy ground - the Ayr Bronze Cup at 1.45, the Ayr Silver Cup at 2.20 and the Ayr Gold Cup at 3.30 - has the whiff of a bookmakers' benefit to me.

Barring accidents, Dvinsky will go into the record books when running in the Handicap (Div 2) at Wolverhampton this evening; the eleven-year-old gelding starts his 218th race, a modern day record. To date he has 19 wins, 34 seconds and 33 third places to his name. It's not the winning, it's the taking part that counts...

Sunday's weather looks rather unpredicatable; I'll look at the Plumpton card more closely if the rain stays away.

John Ferguson turned a few heads in his first season as a trainer - he saddles two at the track, Once More Dubai (3.00) and Haymarket (2.30). The former boasts smart Flat form and the Weekender reports the gelding has been 'intensively schooled' while it would be no surprise to see improvement in the latter, rated a more modest 69 on the level.

I considered recent winner Baily Storm in the 3.30 but his jumping record has put me off.

Four-year-olds have won six of the last ten renewals of the 4.00 race. Ugo is a hold-up horse with his fair share of weight and on balance would probably prefer a bit further but he ran well over course and distance in the spring; perhaps he was a little too fresh after a summer break last time out so he is potentially of interest at an each-way price.

Friday, September 14, 2012

St Leger 2012

Tomorrow many will be hoping for a fairy-tale ending as Camelot bids to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Nijinksy performed the feat back in 1970. The layers clearly feel Aidan O'Brien's inmate can take the 235th running of this, the oldest Classic, as they have priced the colt up as 2/5 favourite.

John Gosden and William Buick are looking for a hat-trick of their own, having won the previous two runnings with Arctic Cosmos (12/1) in 2010 and Masked Marvel (15/2) last year. This year Gosden saddles three, Dartford, Michaelangelo and Thought Worthy; the first-named is quoted at 300/1 and will act as a pacemaker. Buick thought long and hard before eventually opting to ride Thought Worthy; Dettori picks up the plum ride on Michaelangelo. The stable jockey explains his choice in today's Times - Michaelangelo has bags of potential but Thought Worthy has the form in the book and in the past has shown a willing attitude when push comes to shove.

A quick look at what happened in the Great Voltiguer is 'de rigueur'. Thought Worthy won that day but many feel Buick nicked the race from the front and will fancy Main Sequence to turn the tables - Encke was third that day and Thomas Chippendale fifth.

Thomas Chippendale would prefer cut underfoot and there's a suspicion the same comment applies to the improving Ursa Major.

Four favourites have obliged in the past decade but none since Sixties Icon obliged at odds of 11/8 in 2006. With Camelot such a short price, I'm going with Buick - Thought Worthy is the each-way selection at 11/1 (William Hill). At the time of writing the following bookmakers are offering each-way terms a quarter the odds  - bet365, Sky Bet, Boylesports, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes.   

Friday, September 07, 2012

Suggestions for Stratford

The passing of Lord Oaksey earlier in the week has brought many affectionate tributes including this one from The Daily Telegraph, a newspaper he started to work for in 1957.

In my mind's eye he belongs to an era of TV racing coverage where the presenter sat in front of camera sporting a trilby which was invariably doffed to viewers in the most polite fashion before the first race; Oaksey was second only to the great John Rickman in that respect.

If I have one single thing in common with The Noble Lord it's my ability to tip losers; Oaksey was not renowned for his skill as a tipster but he carried on regardless and in that sense proved a personal inspiration - this brief post before the 2006 Derby acknowledged the fact.

On the streets of Stratford last Satruday I saw some trilbies together with some tweed (that's Stratford-upon-Avon, you understand, not Stratford, East London), a sure sign that autumn is just around the corner when the jumping game moves up a gear or two.

Tomorrow's feature at the Warwickshire track is a race carrying a misleadingly pedestrian name -the Walls And Ceilings International Handicap Hurdle. This Class Two event over two miles and half a furlong has attracted a very competitive entry of sixteen, is likely to be run on good quick ground and is worth over twelve and a half thousand to the winner.

Recent winners Monte Cavallo, Laudatory, Hes Our Lad and Gay Sloane are all likely to prove popular while the bottom five run from out of the handicap.

Donald McCain fields two - on RP ratings Star In Flight should be thereabouts; the handler will have an idea of the gelding's capabilities through stablemate Absinthe who was second in the Scottish Summer Hurdle at Perth three weeks ago. Two from that race contest this - His Excellency and Smalib Monterg. The former hasn't been with the Pipe outfit long, having run in the Galway Plate previously - it would be no surprise to see him come good here - while the latter was tipped each-way by the blog for Perth and ran into a place. In a very competitive event, I'm going to stick with Smalib Monterg - a previous course winner -  who will represent reasonable each-way value if the tissue price of 14/1 is available on the day.

In the past I've done better than I had any right to expect by opposing favourites at this course so, for the brave, course and distance winner Papadron represents a play against Ballybough Gorta in the trappy-looking 4.20; Allerford Jack has been busy clocking up a four-timer over the summer but he unseated last time and there has to be a query about Sagredo's ability to last home.

However I'm not really inclined to oppose the short-priced favourites in either the 2.40 or the 3.15.

At 2.40 Rebeccas Choice and Tough Talkin Man don't really make much appeal against Geneva Geyser although that one hasn't been foot perfect in his first two chase starts.

One Term has to concede at least a stone to his rivals at 3.15 including newcomers Planetoid (rated 85 on the Flat), Good Boy Jackson (82 on the Flat last autumn, although it looks as though McCoy prefers to ride the favourite) and Danehill Dante (68). Having said all that, it's difficult to get away from Rebecca Curtis' charge who has made all to win his last two and could well repeat the trick in this.