Monday 6 August 2018

7.15 Carlisle, Monday, August 5

The all-female jockey #AmazingMonday meeting at Carlisle was held for the first time last year and, once again, looks to provide some competitive racing on an otherwise fairly drab start to the week. That said, the News & Star Amazing Lady Kerryanne Wilde Handicap (7.15) may not be as competitive as the numbers suggest, because the aptly-named Iconic Belle can race off a handicap mark 3lb lower than when winning in this grade at Epsom last Thursday.

Mick Channon’s filly has been on the go since January, but is clearly thriving at present, having won three of her last four starts. She seemingly failed through lack of stamina, having chased a fast pace, when well beaten over 1 mile 3½ furlongs at Yarmouth three starts ago, but otherwise her profile on good, or faster, going is that of a progressive filly. It’s easy to see why connections are keen to turn her out again so quickly and, while this is a more competitive race than she’s been used to of late, at least numerically, it’ll be disappointing if she can’t exploit what appears an excellent opportunity.

Apprentice Nicola Currie, who guided Iconic Belle to a comfortable 4-length win at Yarmouth in May, has ridden 62 winners, including 41 this year so, while the race conditions dictate that she can’t claim the 3lb allowance to which she’d normally be entitled when riding against full professional jockeys, the daughter of Sixties Icon should lack nothing in assistance from the saddle.

Selection: Carlisle 7.15 Iconic Belle to win 4/1

Sunday 8 July 2018

3.30 Pontefract, Tuesday, July 10

Completing a hat-trick, especially in sprint handicap company, is no easy task, but Highly Sprung appears to have an excellent chance of doing so, as he attempts to defy a 6lb penalty in the King Richard III Handicap (3.30) at Pontefract on Tuesday. Les Eyre’s six-year-old steps back up in class after two course and distance wins, in 0-70 and 0-75 company, but the manner of his most recent victory suggested he is thriving in his new surroundings. The Zebedee gelding was transferred from Mark Johnston in May and, after two fairly nondescript runs over 7 furlongs, has rediscovered his form back over his optimum distance.

He has recorded all seven career wins over 6 furlongs on good to firm going – including three over course and distance in total – so should be in his element once again and remains 3lb lower in the weights than when winning a 0-85 contest, by 5 lengths, at Yarmouth two seasons ago. He’s never won in this grade but, while his most recent form has yet to be tested, he was visually quite impressive and it’s not great surprise that connections are keen to turn him out under a penalty. He’s 4-13 under Silvestre De Sousa, who won on him last time and has a 6-19 (32%) strike rate overall for Les Eyre during the last five seasons, so the statistics provide additional cause for optimism.

Selection: Pontefract 3.30 Highly Sprung to win 9/4

Monday 25 June 2018

4.10 Salisbury, Wednesday, June 27

has won her last three starts, including one over the testing mile and a half at Leicester so, with the step back up in distance seemingly in her favour, looks to have every chance of completing a four-timer. Mark Johnston’s filly only just held on when winning a 0-90 fillies’ handicap over 1 mile 2 furlongs here earlier this month, but stayed on very gamely under today’s jockey Franny Norton and the handicapper may have taken a chance by raising her just 2lb for that narrow success.
In the Whitsbury Manor Stud Bibury Handicap (4.10) at Salisbury on Wednesday,

The daughter of Helmet has improved with every run so far, but has never won by more than half a length and appeals as the type who may continue to frustrate the official assessor for a little while yet. With proven ability of the prevailing good to firm going, no stamina doubts and her trainer and jockey in fair form of late, Burgonet has plenty going for her. She races against colts for the first time in handicap company, but off a feasible mark, she’s just the sort of progressive filly that we should be looking out for. Mark Johnston has a 7-28 (25%) strike rate at Salisbury over the last five seasons, so the statistics offer further cause for optimism.

Selection: Salisbury 4.10 Burgonet to win 3/1

Sunday 3 June 2018

5.40 Leicester, Monday, June 4

In the Betvictor’s Million Pound Bet Handicap (5.40) at Leicester on Monday.  Kachumba has discovered the winning habit since switched to turf at Brighton last month and looks to have bright prospects of completing a hat-trick. Rae Guest’s Mayson filly has been raised 2lb for winning, all out, by a neck at Chepstow two weeks, but the weight rise is more than offset by Sebastian Woods’ 5lb claim and she may be open to a little further improvement in any case. She weakened inside the final furlong on her sole attempt over a mile, at Lingfield three starts ago, but has plenty of stamina in the bottom of her pedigree, so should find this testing 7 furlongs well within her compass.

She has taken some time to come to hand, but has won her last two starts in the style of an improving filly and is, apparently, headed for the July Sales at Tattersalls. Connections will, presumably, looking to extend her winning run to maintain interest in her and this run-of-the-mill handicap appears to be an excellent opportunity to do so. Unfortunately, in a race where winning form is as scarce as hen’s teeth, she’s unlikely to escape the notice of the bookmakers but, hopefully, in a field of 18, she should at least be backable.

Selection: Leicester 5.40 Kachumba to win 11/4

Selection: Leicester 5.40 Kachumba to win 11/4

Thursday 3 May 2018

8.05 Newcastle, Friday, May 4

The Foundation of Light Handicap (8.05) at Wolverhampton on Friday evening may not be as competitive as the numbers suggest, especially as Tigerwolf escapes a penalty for winning an apprentice handicap over 6 furlongs at Wolverhampton last week. The Dream Ahead gelding took a few runs to find his feet after being transferred from Mick Channon to Daniel Mark Loughnane in November, but has won two of his last three starts and was only headed in the final strides on the other.

His two previous attempts on the Tapeta at Wolverhampton were not without promise, although his chance was hindered by a slipping saddle on the first occasion and trouble in running on the second. Nevertheless, he travelled strongly into the race and ran on well to win under Ryan Holmes back at the West Midlands track last Saturday and, if in similar mood, must take some stopping. The second and third that day, Seprani and Kamra, had both been placed in better races at Kempton and Wolverhampton, respectively, on their previous starts, so the form appears to have some substance.

The only other recent winner in the field, Independence Day, was returning from a 130-day break when winning comfortably at Chelmsford last month in March, but steps up in class off a 13lb higher mark and is untried on Tapeta, so is probably best watched on this occasion. None of the others make much appeal so, hopefully, Tigerwolf can follow up.

Selection: 8.05 Newcastle Tigerwolf to win 4/1

Monday 5 March 2018

4.30 Lingfield, Wednesday, March 7

Somerset trainer is better known for his exploits in the National Hunt sphere, but his 6-year-old mare Miss Minuty is 3-5 on the Polytrack at Lingfield since returning from a three-month break in December and still looks feasibly weighted in the 4.30 at the Surrey course on Wednesday. The daughter of Verglas has won three times over course and distance and finished strongly when third, beaten 1½ lengths, behind Tom’s Rock in a similar race, again over course and distance, 19 days ago.

She reopposes the winner and the runner-up, Dutch Uncle, on 3lb and 1lb better terms for 1½ lengths and three-quarters of a length, respectively, so appears to have every chance of reversing the form. 
Furthermore, Lingfield suits her closing style so, if promising 7lb claimer Jason Watson can keep her marginally closer to the pace this time, she may be able to deliver a telling challenge late on. The John Best-trained pair Berrahri and Ourmullion both like to race on, or close to, the pace, so there should be no hanging about. The race could be run to suit Miss Minuty and she remains just 3lb higher in the weights than when winning over a mile here two starts ago.

Selection: Lingfield 4.30 Miss Minuty to win

Monday 26 February 2018

Cheltenham Festival Champion Day Preview

We are now just a fortnight away from the most important National Hunt meeting in the calendar and excitement among punters is palpable. They will join celebrities and royals in descending upon the west of England for the Cheltenham Festival and it promises to be another exhilarating meeting. It begins with Champion Day on Tuesday, March 13, when fans can look forward to no fewer than four Grade 1 races. Considering there are only 40 during the entire season, to have a tenth of them clustered on just one day ensures that Champion Day is a revered event.
Last year we witnessed a fascinating Day One as The Greatest Show on Earth returned with a bang, packed full of drama and intrigue, heroes and villains. Nicky Henderson’s Buveur d’Air beat stablemate My Tent Or Yours to win the feature race of the day, the Champion Hurdle. That gave owner JP McManus a record 50th win at the Festival, and vindicated Henderson’s insistence on switching Buveur d’Air back to smaller obstacles. It was also a glorious day for Irish trainer Gordon Elliott, who won three of the seven races that take place on Champions Day.

Elliott landed the first race of the meeting, the Grade 1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, through 25/1 shot Labaik. He doubled up when Apple’s Jade claimed the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle and then saw Tiger Roll win the JT McNamara National Hunt Chase at 16/1. 

Elliott was named leading trainer at last year’s March Festival. He and Irish rival Willie Mullins both claimed six winners, but Elliott enjoyed more places and ended Mullins’ four-year winning streak. Their supremacy ensured Ireland also secured a record Prestbury Cup win over Great Britain.

This year, Mullins, Henderson and Elliott are the three frontrunners in the betting lines to be named leading trainer, and each man will be desperate to get off to a strong start on Day One. It should be another great day for Henderson as the seemingly invincible Buveur d’Air is the heavy favourite to win the Champion Hurdle once again. The French-born seven-year-old bay gelding extended his winning run to nine when he seized the Listed Contenders Hurdle at Sandown on February 3. He is well in front in the betting to win the Champion Hurdle, and is widely expected to win it ahead of Faugheen, My Tent Or Yours and Yorkwell. Henderson also saddles the favourites in the Gold Cup and Queen Mother Champion Chase and his runners are sure to attract a lot of attention in the horse racing spread betting.

The other Grade 1 races on Champion Day are the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Arkle Challenge Trophy and the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle. Apple’s Jade has been magnificent since her Cheltenham heroics last year, winning four out of four, including the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown last time out. She is the odds-on favourite to deliver more joy for Elliott in the Mares’ Hurdle, but must contend with Mullins’ Let’s Dance. Last year Altior won the Arkle for Henderson and he is now the favourite to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase this time around. Another Mullins charge, Footpad, heads the betting for this year’s Arkle after a strong Grade 1 win ahead of Petit Mouchoir at Leopardstown earlier this month.
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle looks wide open once again, despite Getabird’s status as the heavy favourite, and it might be worth looking at some longer shots. Sharjah has attracted a lot of attention at 20/1, as has Claimantankinforgan at 16/1. Racegoers can also look forward to the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase, another contest with a really open field and the possibility for plenty of interesting each-way shots. Presenting Percy is the favourite for the National Hunt Chase, but it might be worth taking a look at Mall Dini, a 16/1 shot who is taking plenty of action. The day closes with the Close Brothers Novice Handicap Chase, which also has no clear favourite and plenty of runners clustered around the 10/1 to 16/1 mark. McManus’ Movewiththetimes is an interesting 20/1 shot in this race.
Overall, it promises to be another spectacular day, replete with merriment, drama and magnificent hats. After a 12-month wait, it will be spine tingling to hear the Cheltenham Roar once again, and it will surely usher in another exciting Festival.

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Top 10 Most Liked Winners At The 2018 Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest meeting of the year in national hunt racing and one in which racing fans look forward to the most. Here is a list of the 10 most likely winners at this year’s meeting next month.
10. Willoughby Court – JLT Novices Chase (5/1)

Last season’s Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle winner Willoughby Court has made a strong start to his chase career with three victories from his open four starts. His only defeat over fences came on heavy ground which he did not enjoy. He can avenge that loss on Good going at the Festival next month.

9. Burning Ambition – Foxhunters Chase (9/2)
Burning Ambition is the 9/2 favourite in the Oddschecker ante-post comparison page for the Foxhunters Chase. The seven-year-old has shown excellent form in Ireland this season and looks to be the horse they all have to beat here.
8. Apple’s Shakira – Triumph Hurdle (7/2)
Nicky Henderson’s four-year-old hurdle has won all three of her starts this season, all of which have come at Cheltenham. The combined length those of victories is over 26 lengths therefore it is easy to see why she is many people’s best bet of the Festival.
7. Might Bite – Cheltenham Gold Cup (3/1)
Last year’s RSA Chase winner has demonstrated this season why he is good enough to score in the Blue Riband event of the Festival, with the highlight of campaign being his victory in the King George VI Chase.
6. Un De Sceaux – Ryanair Chase (11/4)
Un De Sceaux is a two-time winner at the Cheltenham Festival and goes into the Ryanair Chase as the defending champion. The Irish chaser should be too quick for his rivals in this 2m5f contest.
5. Laurina – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (2/1)
Willie Mullins has been so dominant with his mares in recent years at the Festival and it looks like he has another potential superstar on his hands here with Laurina.
4. Altior – Queen Mother Champion Chase (8/11)

2017 Arkle winner Altior is 7 from 7 over fences and it hard to see his 100% record going in the Champion Chase where the challenge against him does not look very strong.
3. Samcro – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (4/5)
There has been a lot of debate over with race Samcro should line up in at the Festival where the betting points to the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. Whichever contest he features in, he should win as he is a class above the novice hurdlers.
2. Apple’s Jade – Mares’ Hurdle (4/7)
Apple’s Jade won the Mares’ Hurdle in 2017 in a hot race. This time around the task should be easier for the Irish raider.
1. Buveur D’Air – Champion Hurdle (4/9)
The banker of the Festival this year is Buveur D’Air who is bidding to defend his title in the Champion Hurdle. There is nothing we have seen in the division this season to suggest the 2017 winner will not be able to prevail again.
Enjoy the racing at the Festival and good luck if you are having a bet.

Thursday 1 February 2018

Favourites at Cheltenham

Taken from Cheltenham 2016 over the 15th to 18th March period, the above info details the successes and failures of favourites at the Cheltenham Festival over the years. The take home is that is you just so happened to be a fan of favourites during the 2016 Cheltenham Festival you'd be sitting pretty, but if you took that tack in the following years, who might have wishes you'd left your wallet at home, rather than taking it to the course!

Tuesday 16 January 2018

5.40 Kempton, Tuesday, January 16

Makaarim was a beaten favourite at Lingfield in December, but did make eyecatching late headway to finish fifth, beaten 2 lengths, behind Shyron – who again ran well in better company back at the Surrey track last Friday – and may be able to make amends in the Matchbook VIP Handicap (5.40) at Kempton on Tuesday. Still lightly raced for a 4-year-old, the son of top class miler Tamayuz has recorded both wins on Tapeta, but a couple of narrow defeats on Polytrack, including at Kempton, suggest he’s equally effective on the surface and he races off the same handicap mark as at Lingfield. The form of his previous win, at Wolverhampton, has also worked out well, with the second and third winning since, so he has plenty going for him. Richard Kingscote, who won on him at Wolverhampton – and is 2-9 for the yard on the all-weather in recent years – replaces Fran Berry and the partnership must have every chance of maintaining its 100% record.

Selection: Kempton 5.40 Makaarim to win    2/1