Sunday 29 March 2015

Monday Preview – Take Pride!

In the Local Parking Security Ltd Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (2.20) at Warwick on Monday, Old Pride got off the mark for Alan McCabe at the first time of asking at Doncaster in February and can defy a hefty 17lb rise in the weights. The lightly-raced seven-year-old is entitled to improve significantly for that run, his first for 18 months, notwithstanding a win in a maiden point-to-point at Cottenham in December, and he remains something of a proverbial ‘dark horse’.

The Old Vic gelding had previously been campaigned in Ireland, without success, by David Loder and Tom Taafe, but had shown signs of ability on more than one occasion and is far from fully exposed. His best efforts so far have come on good and good to firm going but, while his two attempts on soft and heavy going proved a little inconclusive, he may not be inconvenienced by slightly slower underfoot conditions.

Alan McCabe is, of course, better known as a Flat trainer, but Nico De Boinville is 2-3 (67%) for the yard overall, and 1-1 (100%) over hurdles, so Old Pride looks one to follow until beaten.

Selection: Warwick 2.20 Old Pride to win

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Lightentertainment Under the Spotlight Again

Lightentertainment has won a couple of times on good going, so testing conditions aren’t a necessity and he can make his presence felt in the Apollobet Mobile Games Handicap Hurdle (3.15) at Haydock on Wednesday. Chris Gordon’s 7-year-old drops back into 0-135 company after finishing tenth, beaten 23 lengths, in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month. The way he stayed on strongly to beat Dell’ Arca over 2 miles 1 furlong on his previous start at Cheltenham in January suggested a return to 2 miles 4 furlong would suit him and he is just 4lb higher in the weights this time.

The King’s Theatre gelding was unlucky not to complete a six-timer, winning five of his six starts between May and January and going down by a nose on the other. He’s already gone up 33lb since his winning run started, but appears to face an easier assignment than he has on his last two starts and can return to the winners’ enclosure. Interestingly, Chris Gordon hasn’t had a runner at Haydock during the last five seasons, so the fact that he’s sent Lightentertainment to the Newton-le-Willows track may be significant.

Wednesday Selection: Haydock 3.15 Lightentertainment to win

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Cheltenham Gold Cup Preview – No Third Time Lucky for Conti

As anyone who suffers from triskaidekaphobia will be all too well aware, the final day of this year’s Cheltenham Festival falls on Friday the 13th, also known as Black Friday. In keeping with the luckless theme, we’ve decided, for once, to highlight a horse at short odds that we think is one to oppose.

Silviniaco Conti has won all three of the other Grade 1 staying chases run in Britain – the Betfair Chase (twice), the King George VI Chase (twice) and the Betfred Bowl Chase – but has failed on both attempts in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

To be fair, Paul Nicholls’ now 9-year-old was a close third, and travelling well, when falling at the third last in 2013 and was only beaten 1¾ lengths into fourth place last year, despite wandering on the run-in. The Dom Alco gelding officially has 6lb and upwards in hand of his rivals, which accounts for his market position, but the fact remains that all three attempts at Cheltenham have ended in defeat.

He once again faces Lord Windermere, On His Own and The Giant Bolster, who filled the first three places last year, and Bobs Worth, who finished fifth, plus a whole raft of plausible alternatives, so his task is no easier this time around. Coneygree, Djakadam, Many Clouds and Road To Riches are just four of those who could also have a say in the finish, so Silviniaco Conti will have to be at the very top of his game if he’s to make it third time lucky.

Selection: Cheltenham 3.20 Lay Silviniaco Conti (5.1 on Betfair)

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Wednesday Preview – Sabre Rock Looks Solid Again

Sabre Rock was still a maiden after 14 starts for John Best, but has really taken off since joining Julia Feilden in November. The son of Dubawi has repeatedly defied the handicapper, winning four from four over 1 mile 2 furlongs on the Polytrack at Lingfield in recent months, and may be capable of doing so again in the Best Odds Guaranteed on Racing Handicap (5.00) on Monday.

The 5-year-old faces arguably his toughest test ever, stepping into 0-75 company off a handicap mark of 74, but he won with plenty in hand on his last visit here in January and may yet have more to offer. The progeny of Dubawi typically progress well, so now that his trainer has, belatedly, found the key to him, he could ultimately prove better than this grade.

His trainer certainly thinks so, because she’s entered him, rather optimistically, in the Group 3 Winter Derby. Whether he’s up to that class remains to be seen but, in the meantime, he’s been given time to freshen up and is reportedly “progressing brilliantly” in his preparation for this race. Certainly, at 3/1 in the early price lists, he looks one to have on our side.

Selection: Lingfield 5.00 Sabre Rock to win