Friday, 22 March 2019

Give The Bookies The Blues With Napoleon At Thurles


It has been a while since my last blog post here, but I have been busy with the TXODDS blog. I have already posted a fancy there for tomorrow, check it out by clicking here. My other fancy on Saturday runs in Ireland, and I think the step up in trip could be just what the doctor ordered for Napoleon Blue. This 6yo is trained by Adrian Murray and regular readers should know how much I respect his abilities as a handler.
 
Sean Flanagan winning on Bilbo Bagins.

Still only a 6yo, Napoleon Blue’s sole victory came in a soft ground point to point over 3 miles in October 2017. He has been brought along slowly under rules, but he was a massive eyecatcher on his fourth maiden hurdle run on his first try at beyond two miles. He stayed on really well from an unpromising position in that 19f contest, flying home for 4th, 11L behind the winner Heroesandvillains.

Plan Of Attack finished 3rd that day and he has since won a novice and a handicap and is now rated 122. Isle of Destiny was behind Napoleon Blue in 5th and he has since won a handicap off 107 in England. So, now off a mark of just 92, Napoleon Blue looks very dangerously handicapped on the form of that effort.

He started off this season at Galway back in October off a mark of 102 over an inadequate trip of 18f and was well beaten. He didn’t run too badly next time when beaten 11L at Fairyhouse over 20f on ground plenty quick enough off a mark of 100. He was sent off at just 7/1 when upped to 21f next time at Limerick, but he ran an absolute stinker. However, it makes sense to put a line through his last few runs as Adrian Murray’s horses were badly out of form.

He went a long time without a winner, but Sean Flanagan ended the drought on the well backed Bilbo Bagins at Navan on Monday. He is owned by the same connections as Napoleon Blue and Flanagan’s strike rate when riding in those colours is 50% (2/4). He is 3/11 overall when riding for Murray. His booking suggests that connections mean business on Saturday, and the cheekpieces are applied for the first time too. Off a reduced mark of just 92, Napoleon Blue is worth chancing each way at odds of 22/1.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: 3.30 THURLES – NAPOLEON BLUE E/W @ 22/1

Friday, 1 March 2019

Step Up In Trip Could Spark Affaire Back To Life


Brecon Hill was well beaten for us last weekend, but in hindsight I think it wasn’t as poor a run as it looked. He rallied well in the home straight to get back up for 4th and I think he might finished closer if he had been ridden a lot more aggressively from the start. He was bang there three out, but he was badly outpaced around the home turn. Maybe a step up in trip will suit and I think he could still have a bit of progression left in him.  
Affair D'Honneur looks very well handicapped.
There is a half decent card at Newbury on Friday and I can’t resist having a small each way flutter on Affaire D’Honneur. This 8yo son of Shirocco was promising in his younger days, but he must have been hard to keep right. He has had just 19 starts under rules, and he spent a long time in the wilderness since his fine 4th here in the Betfair Hurdle off 132 for Harry Whittington in 2016.  

He won his next start by 8L at Fontwell in a poor Novice Hurdle (19f soft) but afterwards his form tailed off. Affair D’Honneur ran only nine times between then and his next good run, a 2nd in a selling hurdle at Stratford (19f gd) when trained by Kevin Frost. He got 6lb and was beaten 11L by Vive Le Roi who was racing off a mark of 100. Two starts later, Vive La Roi won a valuable Class 2 hurdle at Newbury off a mark of 128.

He stayed on well to grab 2nd that day, and shaped as though stepping up in trip might suit. It surely did, and Affaire D’Honneur finally got his head back in front at Worcester (23f gd). That was another seller, but again the form looks rock solid as the 2nd and 3rd both won their next two starts. He has since moved to the Tony Carroll yard and the tongue tie on for his last two runs was discarded on his stable debut at Leicester over an inadequate 15.5f.

Harry Bannister rides and his record for Carroll is excellent. He has had 23 rides for the trainer with 7 wins and 6 places for a level stakes profit of +£28.00 to a £1 stake. The drop in trip was never likely to suit last time, and with the tongue tie restored and the step back up in trip sure to suit, Affaire D’Honneur looks well worth chancing each way at 50/1 (888sport) off bottom weight and a mark of just 102.

STEVOS SELECTION: 3.55 NEWBURY AFFAIRE D’HONNEUR E/W @ 50/1

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Hill Has Form To Figure In Dovecote


After Honest Vic placed at 33s on Saturday, and with Coole Cody and Ivanovich Gorbatov both placing at 50/1 the previous week, we finally got the break we deserved at Navan on Sunday. Dragon Houdini was backed all the way into 10/1 from 50s, and bar a hairy jump at the last the result was never in doubt. She can progress upped further in trip and Shane Crawley should have plenty of fun with her.
 
Brecon Hill's form looks solid. 
I have put up an old friend of the blog for the Eider Chase at Newcastle for TXODDS and you can check it out by clicking here. The Dovecote Hurdle is one of the big races of the day at Kempton and I like one each way at a massive price. Sarah Humphrey is far from a household name, and the majority of racing fans probably have never heard of her. Toby Jug is probably the best she has trained, but Brecon Hill could turn out to be the horse that puts her on the map.

This son of Arcano has improved rapidly on his last three hurdle starts, and his second behind Brewinupastorm is one of the best pieces of form in the race. He was only 4L behind him when runner up at Huntingdon (16f gd/sft) on ground soft enough for him, and his conqueror was beaten just 4L by Champ in a Grade 1 next time and fell at the last when leading in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham on his last start.

Brecon Hill proved that effort was no fluke when winning decisively at Leicester over 15.5f on his next outing. I liked how he stuck on under pressure, and he pinged the last in the manner of a good horse. I thought he showed a nice enough turn of foot too after jumping the final hurdle and it was overall a very impressive performance.

Connections have wasted no time in stepping him up in grade, and this is undoubtedly a tough race. However, if this horse was trained by one of the bigger yards, there is no way he would be as big as 40/1. Going right handed suits this fella, as do flat tracks, so he has plenty in his favour. The booking of Daryl Jacob suggests that connections mean business and at monster odds Brecon Hill is worth chancing each way for small stakes.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: 3.00 KEMPTON – BRECON HILL E/W @ 40/1

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Dragon Could Fire Now Upped In Trip At Navan


To say I was gutted after Honest Vic was beaten earlier is an understatement. The visor worked a treat, and as he jumped the last I was sure he was going to win. In my mind, there is no doubt he was interfered with on the run in and given that he was only beaten a head, I was shocked the places weren’t reversed. Still, we got our each way money at odds of 33/1 and I am reinvesting some of those winnings (wisely!) on a 50/1 poke at Navan on Sunday.
Shane Crawley and Donagh Meyler with Sassy Diva at Leopardstown.
Shane Crawley is a young trainer fast building a reputation for himself. He had a big handicap winner at the Dublin Racing Festival with Sassy Diva, and there is little doubt he is well able to train. He has had seven different horses run in Ireland this season, and four of them have won. Every single one of them has earned some prize money too, including my selection Dragon Houdini.

This daughter of Yeats, a top class sire, has shown bits and pieces of promise in her first four starts over hurdles. She has shaped as though 16f was too sharp for her in all her maiden hurdle runs, including when 4th in a maiden here at Navan (16f gd). Her handicap debut wasn’t a great effort at Fairyhouse last time, but that was again over 2 miles and today’s new 20f distance could really suit.

It isn’t just her run style that has suggested she wants further, her pedigree is all about staying power too. Her sire is an obvious stamina influence, while her half siblings Steps and Stairs and The Birdie Crowe have won seven races between them at up to 3 miles. Her dam is a half sister to 20f/24f winner Badgerlaw, so it all points towards Dragon Houdini needing a step up in distance to show her best.

Donagh Meyler has been on board for all of her runs so far and he rode Sassy Diva to victory for Crawley at Leopardstown. Dragon Houdini has already shown a glimmer of ability at Navan, while the forecast good ground shouldn’t inconvenience her either. This looks a pretty weak race, and off a mark of just 94 Dragon Houdini is worth a small each way interest at odds of 50/1.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: 4.30 NAVAN – DRAGON HOUDINI E/W @ 50/1

Visor Could Do The Trick For Vic At Ascot


It has been a while since my last blog post, so hopefully my selection for Saturday is worth the wait. The one I like goes at Ascot in the handicap hurdle at 1pm and in a first time visor, Honest Vic looks  a massive price. Henry Daly’s son of Kalanisi has been sent off favourite on his last two starts and has failed to deliver. However, neither run was devoid of promise and if the first time visor has the effect that is hoped, he could outrun his odds of 33/1.
Richard Patrick winning on Happy Diva at Ascot.
This 6yo is still lightly raced over hurdles and he has had just 10 runs during his career so far (2 in bumpers). He got off the mark over timber on his second try when hacking up in a 16f good ground Novice at Stratford in November 2017. He was beaten under a penalty next time in another Novice Hurdle at Ludlow, but he was a lot better next time on his handicap debut in a class 2 heat at Cheltenham.

Honest Vic ran an absolute cracker off a mark off 122, beaten less than 2L for the win finishing 5th of 22 over 20.5f on good ground. He had plenty of subsequent winners in behind, including the likes of Brelan D’As, Mahlervous, Carlos Du Fruitier and Verni. He may well have been over the top for his final run of the 2017/18 season, and he was entitled to need his comeback run in October.

He was well beaten on both those occasions, but he did run well on his penultimate start at Ludlow (21f sft). Off a mark of 120 he was only 4L behind Burrows Park (conceding 10lb) and that horse won off 7lb higher by 9L next time before going on to be beaten 4L by Ballyandy off an 17lb higher mark than when he beat Honest Vic. He is also the 7/2 favourite for the Pertemps Qualifier at Haydock today, so in hindsight it was a super run by Honest Vic.

He raced lazily at times in that race and his jumping was a bit sketchy too, and that was also the case last time at Wincanton (21f gd). The application of a first time visor could really help Honest Vic brush up in both departments and he will be ridden by a talented jockey in Richard Patrick, whose 3lb claim negates the fact that Honest Vic is 1lb out of the handicap.

Interestingly, Patrick has done well on his rare forays to Ascot, with two winners and three top four finishes from just 9 rides. Henry Daly has a fine record there too, 15 winners and 29 top 4 finishes from 98 runners. Taking everything into account, Honest Vic looks a huge price at odds of 33/1 and if he can get back to the form of his handicap debut he could give each way backers a good run for their money.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: 1.00 ASCOT – HONEST VIC E/W @ 33/1

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Leopardstown Dublin Racing Festival Day 1 Tips


Race 1

The opening race on a card dripping with quality on Saturday at Leopardstown is a 22f Grade 1 Novice Hurdle. 16 will line up at the start and the ground is forecast to be good to yielding on the hurdle course. At a nice each way price Defi Bleu looks interesting for Elliott, Russell and Gigginstown.
Defi Bleu scoring in good style at Navan.
This 6yo son of Saddler Maker ran a cracker in defeat behind Derrinross at Limerick last time on ground softer than ideal. I think the return to better ground will suit him at Leopardstown, as will the slight drop back in trip. Four of the horses behind him at Navan (20f gd) when he won his maiden have won since. 16/1 looks a nice price and Defi Bleu is the each way pick.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: DEFI BLEU E/W @ 16/1 NB

Race 2

Apple’s Jade is all the rage for the Irish Champion Hurdle after her exhilarating performance here last time out. However, that was over 3 miles and she may not get such an easy lead today. The drop back in trip has to rate as a huge worry and her last run over 16f in 2016 saw her beaten by Rashaan. At odds of 11/10 she looks too short.

I think that Apple’s Jade is worth taking on with last year’s Champion Hurdle runner up, Melon. He has yet to reproduce the form of that run at Cheltenham since, but he didn’t shape badly here over Xmas. That was his first run back so he should be a lot fitter now and this is his optimum trip. At odds of 11/4 Melon could upset the applecart and he is the pick.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: MELON WIN @ 11/4

Race 3

A big field of 19 horses will go to post for this ultra competitive 16f handicap hurdle. Charles’ Byrnes progressive 7yo Wonder Laish is the current market leader at odds of just 9/2. He has won his last two, but he is up to a mark of 144 now and if connections are planning a trip to Cheltenham they won’t want his handicap mark getting another bump. One horse who could do with going up a couple of pounds to guarantee a run at Cheltenham is Ivanovich Gorbatov.

Ivanovich Gorbatov is extremely well handicapped.
This 7yo has failed to fire so far this winter but he has become a dangerously well handicapped horse. Now rated 134, he is 4lb lower than when beaten a neck at Killarney back in August. He was only beaten 3L off 150 at Cheltenham in 2017 and soft ground was against him there in 2018. Surely all roads lead back there for this former Triumph winner but he could struggle to get in off 134. A hike of 5 or 6lb would nearly guarantee a run, so I reckon he will try his best and at odds of 50/1 (6 places) he is the each way pick.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: IVANOVICH GORBATOV E/W @ 50/1

Race 4

No opinion on this bumper. No bet.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: NO BET

Race 5

The unseasonal good weather and quick ground means that only six will line up for the 17f Grade 1 Dublin Chase. It is a stacked field though, and a case can be made for most of them. Min is the hot favourite at 4/7 and he should win. However, he isn’t always the most reliable and I wouldn’t be steaming in at such a skinny price.
Min and Simply Ned lock horns again.
Yet again the bookies have underestimated Simply Ned. He edged out Footpad in a thriller here over Xmas and that was arguably a career best. He loves Leopardstown and has never run a poor race here. It is a pity it is only two places for each way bets, but at 15/2 Simply Ned is without a doubt the value in the race and he has to be chanced each way at those odds.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: SIMPLY NED E/W @ 15/2 NAP

Race 6

The Irish Arkle Novice Chase over 17f is the penultimate race on the card at Leopardstown. This has attracted a field of 8 runners so at least this one will be three places each way. Le Richebourg impressed a lot of shrewd judges with the manner of his win here last time and he is a worthy looking favourite at 15/8. English raider Knocknauss chased home the mightily impressive Master Dinos last time and he could be a danger at odds of 11/4.

However, I am keen on the chances of a 16/1 shot for each way purposes and Articulum could go well for Terence O’Brien and David Mullins. This relatively lightly raced 9yo has taken a while to show his best, but he was very impressive when beating Campeador easily last time. He will enjoy the ground and though he is a 9yo there could be more to come now his trainer has found the key to him. At odds of 16/1 Articulum is the each way pick.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: ARTICULUM E/W @ 16/1

Race 7

The closing race on the card is a 17f handicap chase with a field of 15. The one I like in this is R’evelyn Pleasure for Sean O’Brien and Donagh Meyler. This fella has been transformed since going chasing and he has won two of his last three over fences. He lowered the colours of Agent Boru last time and he beat Monatomic by 3L two starts back.
Chasing has been the making of R'evelyn Pleasure.
A mark of 127 looks more than fair to me and both Monatomic and Poker Party (9L behind) have won since. Poker Party’s win came in a handicap off a mark of 119 and he won by nearly 6L. That says to me that there could be some wriggle room in R’evelyn Leasure’s opening chase mark and he could go well for each way players at 14/1.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: R’EVELYN PLEASURE  E/W @ 14/1

Monday, 21 January 2019

Diablo Looks A Devilishly Good Each Way Bet In The Thyestes

The Thyestes Chase is the biggest race of the season at Gowran Park Racecourse. This 25f handicap chase has been won by some seriously good horses over the years. Hedgehunter, Djakadam and the great Arkle are on that exclusive list, and Mr Diablo could join the club on Thursday.

Mr Diablo looks a likely sort in the Thyestes.
I tipped up this fella for the Troytown Chase at Navan on the TXODDS blog a couple of months back and he ran a huge race. He belied his odds of 50/1 to finish a clear 2nd behind Tout Est Permis off a mark of 133. That horse franked the form at the weekend, winning a Grade 2 chase at Naas.

Mr Diablo ran well enough on his next start, again at Navan, but over 4f shorter. He just doesn’t have the toe for 20f now and he could only manage 5th that day. The step back up in trip here looks sure to suit, as will the underfoot conditions. 

The ground is currently yielding at Gowran and that won’t bother Mr Diablo. He has won on all sorts of ground, including yielding, but the better the ground is the bigger his chance will be. It was good ground in the Troytown and he has won twice on that sort of surface.

He is only 4lb higher than when beaten 4.5L by Tout Est Permis, who was running off 138. He is now rated in the mid 150s so it shows how unlucky Philip Dempsey’s charge was to bump into such a well handicapped horse. Magic Of Light was 6.5L behind Mr Diablo that day (off 136), and she is now rated 150 after wins at Listed and Grade 2 level in the past month.

Mr Diablo last won at Leopardstown off 133 and he is racing off 137 in this.  On the strength of his Troytown run he definitely looks well handicapped. The 10yo son of Presenting is lightly raced for his age and I think that there could be a bit more improvement in him at 3 miles plus over fences. 

This is usually a race that suits prominent racers, My Murphy and Champagne West being two recent winning examples. Mr Diablo looks way overpriced given his racing style and recent form. Once the ground isn't bottomless he is well worth chancing each way for the Thyestes Chase at odds of 20/1.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: 3.00 GOWRAN PARK - MR DIABLO E/W @ 20/1

Sunday, 20 January 2019

New Trip Could Be The Road To Success For Side At Ayr


Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for Marino Marvel at Fairyhouse earlier this week. I have no complaints either, as he was ridden how I hoped he would be. He just didn’t finish as well as I thought he would and he is best left alone until showing a bit more spark.


Beneficial's progeny usually like decent ground.

On Sunday I like the look of a mare at 20/1 at Ayr and I think the combination of decent ground and a slight step up in trip could work the oracle for Side Of The Road. This 7yo daughter of Beneficial has yet to trouble the judge after 9 starts, but it is early days and she has showed a modicum of ability on more than one occasion.

The fist time she caught the eye was at Ayr on heavy ground over 20.5f in a maiden hurdle back in November 2017. She was beaten 17L by the winner, but she stayed on stoutly from well back under a considerate ride. She has had four runs in handicaps since starting out off a mark of 99 and she is now rated just 82.

However, although her mark has plummeted she showed definite signs of life last time at Sedgefield. Dropped out in rear throughout, she made ground in the final half mile and only for being hampered she would have got a lot closer than a 28L 5th of 12. She jumped nicely and got outpaced, but she was doing all her best work in the closing stages over the 20f trip.

The step up to 21.5f should really suit Side Of The Road, as should the nicer ground. Beneficial’s progeny usually thrive on decent ground and on pedigree, this test should be right up her street. Stakes should be kept small, but at odds of 20/1 I think Side Of The Road is well worth chancing each way.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: 4.10 AYR-SIDE OF THE ROAD E/W @ 20/1

Monday, 14 January 2019

Step Back Up In Trip Could Suit Marino At Fairyhouse


Unfortunately, my last tip on this blog over a week ago was a massive disappointment. He Rock’s was always in rear and never looked like figuring. He will no doubt bounce back at some stage, but my money won’t be on. We get the rare treat of a Tuesday card at Fairyhouse on Tuesday and while the fare is mediocre at best, I do think there is one worth backing at nice odds in the 20f handicap hurdle at 3pm.

Marino Marvel (middle) was just beaten by Turasoir at Clonmel.

Marino Marvel remains a maiden after 29 starts in both codes and his recent form figures are far from awe inspiring. However, he has demonstrated he has sufficient ability to pick up a weak race at some stage on more than one occasion, and they don’t get much weaker than this low grade handicap hurdle.

His best run over timber so far came when Conor Maxwell was on board at Thurles off a mark of 87 (16f yld). He was beaten by a short head by 93 rated Turasoir who had a 7lb claimer on board. She is now rated 107 after winning easily off 98 since. Marino Marvel has now dropped to a mark of 85, and his last run at today’s trip was his best for some time.

He may only have finished 7th at Clonmel last month (20f yld) off a mark of 90 but he was only 2.5L behind the 4th home, All About Alfie, and he came out and won on his next start. He earned an RPR of 97 for that run, and on better ground I think he can improve on that effort.

His last two runs were poor but they can be excused, especially the last one at Punchestown over 16f. For a horse that likes to race in the first half of the field at the very least, it was strange to see him dropped out the back. He charted a very wide course too and it was no surprise that he didn’t feature at the finish.

I am hoping that he is ridden more prominently at Fairyhouse and it is interesting that the usual cheekpieces are discarded. Conor Maxwell rides regularly for McLoughlin (20 wins from 320 rides) and he is on Marino Marvel, with Robbie Colgan (1 win from 37 rides) taking the ride on his other runner, Glendaar’s Warrior, who is shorter in the betting.

Marino Marvel is now rated 5lb lower than when running well at Clonmel last month and 2lb lower than when beaten by Turasoir. Dermot McLoughlin had a couple run well in a handicap hurdle at Punchestown on Monday and Waitaki ran a cracker at Dundalk on Friday, so his string is still in decent shape. I think Marino Marvel has it in him to run a big race on Tuesday, if he is in the mood, and at 25/1 a small each way interest is advised.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: 3.00 FAIRYHOUSE-MARINO MARVEL E/W @ 25/1

Monday, 31 December 2018

Rock’s Could Bounce Back Returned To Fairyhouse


The old saying ‘horses for courses’ served us well at the end of 2018 and hopefully it gets us off to a flier in 2019. The Irish action on New Year’s Day comes from Fairyhouse and my each way fancy goes in the 25f handicap chase at 3.15. He Rock’s has been badly out of form recently, but the return to the County Meath track could spark him back to life.
 
He Rock's has run well on two of his last three visits to Fairyhouse.
This son of Beneficial has not fired on his last four starts, beating just two rivals home and failing to complete twice. In fairness to him, he was in the process of running well when falling two starts back at the Galway Festival. His other three efforts left a lot to be desired but in his defence, he was running over trips that are probably too short for him nowadays.

As a result his mark has now tumbled to 120 and if he is at his best he is capable of winning off that rating. His last two runs at 3 miles plus at Fairyhouse saw him produce two of his best runs since winning at Roscommon in 2016. He was badly hampered at the last when 3rd to Presenting Percy here on soft in December 2017 off 125 over 29f.

He Rock’s ran a cracker when 2nd 5L behind White Arm off the same mark on good to yielding in April 2017 over today’s course and distance. He was conceding over a stone to the winner that day and he was 11L clear of the 3rd. 

Three different jockeys have been on board for his three wins, so hopefully Robbie Colgan can add his name to the list. He has ridden five winners for Mahon in the past and he was 4th om Double Portrait for the yard just before Xmas. Stakes should be kept small due to He Rock’s poor recent form, but there are enough positives to justify a modest each way interest at odds of 28/1.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: 3.15 FAIRYHOUSE-HE ROCK’S E/W @ 28/1