Monday, 27 March 2017

Carpenter Could Carve Them Up In The Lincoln

The flat returned in Ireland on Sunday, and on Saturday it is back in the UK. The first big race of the year is the Lincoln Heritage Handicap, and this is a race that has thrown up plenty of generously priced winners down through the years. It has been hard work for favourite backers, with none of the last 6 winning, and the winning starting prices since 2010 were 16/1, 25/1 20/1 x 2 and 12/1 x 2.
Master Carpenter looks well treated for Saturday.
That suggests that it pays to look for each way value, and at odds of 40/1 with Bet365 I believe Master Carpenter is massively overpriced. Rod Millman’s stable star had just the one start in handicap company last season, and it came at the end of a long hard season over 10f (soft) at Sandown off 102.

He had been running in pattern company all season, and his best run came over a mile behind the very smart Convey at Pontefract on good to firm ground. He was denied a clear run in that Listed contest and he was only 4L behind the 111 rated winner. His last win came in a 10f handicap at York in 2015 off 104, and he had previously gone very close at Sandown off the same mark (8f gd/fm).

His very best form came when winning a Listed heat at Sandown (8f sft) and a 9f Group 3 at Chantilly (9f gd/sft), and over Saturday’s trip of a mile he is best with a little bit of juice in the ground. With showers forecast this week and the ground currently described as good to soft, conditions should be right up his street at Donny.

Due to Master Carpenter’s winless season in 2016 he has slid back down the handicap, and he will race off a mark of just 99 at Doncaster. Lulu Stanford will take off a further 5lb, and she has 3 wins and 2 places from 10 rides for Millman. She got to know Master Carpenter when riding him at Sandown on his final start of last season, and her claim means he effectively races off 94.

That is 10lb below his last winning mark, and another positive is that he has placed form here so we know he handles the track. Master Carpenter has also won on all sorts of ground, but the current description of good to soft looks ideal. Stakes should be kept low as his fitness has to be taken on trust, but he can be backed at odds of 40/1 with Bet365, and at that sort of price he is well worth chancing each way.


STEVOS’ SELECTION: LINCOLN HANDICAP-MASTER CARPENTER E/W @ 40/1 B365

Oak Could Bounce Back To Form At Hexham

We were out of luck with It’s Jennifer on Saturday, but it wasn’t a run totally devoid of promise. She could never muster a challenge, and she didn’t jump anywhere near well enough to land a blow. In fairness to her, she did actually stay on past a good few in the home straight to finish 9th, and she was only 6 or 7L off the fourth placed horse. Given that she is from the family of a Grand National winner, there could be more to come from her upped further in trip.
Ryan Day in full flight on Runswick Royal.
Tuesday is rarely a day chock full of quality, and tomorrow’s cards are no exception. However, one horse at Hexham appeals as being potentially overpriced and he goes in the 2m 4f handicap chase at 14.30. Ann Hamilton has her string back firing after a slow few months, and now that she has hit form it could be worth chancing her 7yo son of Fruits Of Love, Oak Vintage.

This lad has been desperately disappointing since opening his account at Sedgefield this time last year (20f soft), but he could bounce back to form back up in trip after a trio of runs at 2 miles. His form in general this season has been awful, but that could be said about the majority of the Hamilton horses until the last few weeks. It seems they have turned the corner, and as a result of their barren spell they have plenty of well handicapped horses to go to war with.

Oak Vintage was handed an opening mark of 112 for his hurdle win, and he did manage to finish a well held 4th off 110 at Kelso over 2 miles back in October. It has been downhill since then, but every cloud has a silver lining and he is now rated 22lb lower off a mark of 88. Ryan Day takes off another 5lb, so off an effective mark of 83 surely Oak Vintage is capable of getting involved in what looks a poor race.

As was mentioned earlier the Hamilton yard is going well, and their last 3 runners have produced form figures of 212. Ryan Day has ridden stable star Runswick Royal to victory on his last two starts, and he has 3 wins and 2 places from a total of 10 rides for Hamilton. She in turn has had 13 winners and 18 places from 76 runners at Hexham, so it is clearly a track she likes. Oak Vintage isn’t one for maximum faith so stakes should be kept small, but at odds of 16/1 I think there are enough positives to justify an each way bet.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: 14.30 HEXHAM-OAK VINTAGE E/W @ 16/1 

Friday, 24 March 2017

Step Up In Trip To Suit Jennifer At Newbury

We were out of luck earlier this week with Germany John, and as soon as he didn’t go to the front early on I knew our goose was cooked. He has produced his best form under aggressive tactics, and it looks as though his run on Tuesday was just a day out. Tomorrow I like the look of a French raider at Newbury, and I think It’s Jennifer could be set for a big run stepped back up in trip in the 20.5f mares’ handicap hurdle at 15.00.
Peter Carberry is a quality pilot.
This 5yo mare is by Martaline, and her Overbury dam produced her best form on decent ground, as have most of her relatives. It’s Jennifer’s only win so far in eight starts came on heavy ground at Auteuil (19.5f hvy) on her sole start beyond 18f, and she won that handicap quite easily by 5L. She hasn’t been suited by dropping back in trip in Listed company on her last two starts, and she is sure to appreciate the extra couple of furlongs at Newbury.

Louisa Carberry trains this mare in France, and she will be ridden by Peter Carberry. He is a highly talented jockey and he was riding for Nicky Henderson before he moved across the Channel. He has ridden It’s Jennifer on her last three starts and he was on board for her win at Auteuil. She won’t lack for assistance from the saddle, and he will drop her out early on and hopefully deliver her with a late challenge.

It is hard to weigh up whether this mare is well treated, and the ground is another unknown to worry about. When she was 2nd behind Golden Vision at Compiegne she had Nick Williams’ Culture De Sivola 4L behind, and those two horses are rated 124 and 117 respectively. That would suggest that a mark of 125 is steep, but I think there could be more to come from It’s Jennifer on her first run on decent ground and back up in trip. She can be backed at odds of 40/1 and at that sort of price she is worth chancing each way for small stakes.


STEVOS’ SELECTION: 15.00 NEWBURY-IT’S JENNIFER E/W @ 40/1

Monday, 20 March 2017

Germany Worth Chancing Up In Trip At Clonmel

There can be no complaints about Seskinane on Sunday, as he was there to try his best and he simply wasn’t good enough. Half a mile out he still seemed to be travelling well out in front and it looked like he might pull clear. However, the tank emptied pretty quickly in the closing stages and he faded badly to finish well beaten. Age may have caught up with him, and if he doesn’t show more next time retirement could beckon.
Donal McInerney riding Auvergnat to victory last month.
The 10k Suir Valley Chase is the feature race on the card at Clonmel tomorrow, but the one I like goes in the 2m 7f handicap chase at 16.40. Our old friend Larry Capri is the favourite, but at much bigger odds I think Germany John could be set for a bold showing returned to fences and stepped back up in trip, after a poor run here over timber last time (16f hvy). His Tuam based trainer DJ Ryan hasn’t had a winner since October 2012, but he hasn’t had many runners and this fella could end the drought on Tuesday.

This 8yo son of Germany has had more poor runs than good, and he has switched yards twice since starting out with Philip Rothwell. His only placing under rules came in a 16f heavy ground maiden behind Avant Tout at Tramore, but he couldn’t make an impact in handicap hurdles off a mark of 100, and after four poor efforts he was sent to the Cullinane yard to try his hand in point to points. His first run back saw him finish 3rd, 7L behind the very promising 8yo Sizing Chile (24f hvy).

He would fill the same position next time, and he then made no mistake at Loughrea (24f soft) making all for a cosy 3L win. He has since left the Cullinanes and he was sent to DJ Ryan to be trained for another crack at racing under rules. He was well beaten in a beginners’ chase at Galway (22.5f yield) on his return back in October, but he was a big eye catcher at Thurles in a similar heat next time (18f yld). He tried to make all, and though he was outpaced in the closing stages it still rates as a superb effort.

He pulled clear with three horses rated 139 (Bellow Mome), 140 (General Principle) and 126 (Jimmy Two Times). Damut was 30L behind him in 6th, so it was no surprise to see Germany John sent off at just 9/1 on his handicap chase debut off a mark of 102 at Down Royal on Boxing Day. He was pulled up before the 4th last though, so something may have been amiss, and he was given a couple of months off to recuperate.

Two miles over hurdles on heavy ground was never likely to suit last time, but that should have blown away the cobwebs after his mini break. Donal McInerney takes the ride, and he nearly landed a nice touch on Stolberg at Limerick on Sunday in Seskinane’s race. He rode his first ever winner under rules over the cross country fences for Enda Bolger on Auvergnat last month, and his 4lb claim could turn out to be crucial. Germany John can be backed at odds of 18/1 with Betfair, and he is worthy of a small e/w bet in a race that may not take much winning.


STEVOS’ SELECTION: 16.40 CLONMEL-GERMANY JOHN E/W @ 18/1 

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Sesk Appeals At Limerick

Duke Street ran a lovely race earlier, and 3f out he looked to be travelling best of all as he moved into the lead. A mistake at the last checked his momentum but he kept on well to grab 4th, rewarding each way support. He will definitely be suited by stepping up in trip and he is capable of making his mark in some valuable handicaps on decent ground off his current rating.
Seskinane is handicapped to run well at Limerick.
Today I am going to chance one for small stakes each way at Limerick, and I think Seskinane could be set to return to form in the 2m 5f handicap at 3.25. He was beaten just half a length in this contest on similar ground last year off a mark of 113, and he gets in off 111 on Sunday. He has to bounce back from three poor runs so far this season, but he seems to come alive at this time of the year.

The 11yo son of Imperial Ballet is not getting any younger, but I don’t think his trainer would be persisting with him unless he thought he was capable of adding to his maiden hurdle win. He was first past the post in a Sligo handicap back in 2013 off 116, but he was demoted due to dangerous riding. He followed up his good run here last year with another fine effort at Navan off 116, and he was put away after that run.

He returned to action off that mark of 116 at Cork and he was entitled to need that comeback run. He was then run over 24f here, but that trip stretches him and he was unsurprisingly well beaten. Seskinane then headed for Gowran where he was held up  and posted wide the whole way around, strange tactics to employ with a horse whose best form has come when racing prominently from the get go.

Every cloud has a silver lining though, and Seskinane returns for a repeat bid in this race off a career low mark of 111. McMahon produced stable star Powersbomb in tip top shape to finish fourth at the festival, and hopefully Seskinane is in similar form tomorrow. The first time blinkers will hopefully perk him up, and if 7lb claimer Gary Noonan can get away to a decent start I think Seskinane could outrun his odds of 28/1.


STEVOS’ SELECTION: 3.25 LIMERICK-SESKINANE E/W @ 28/1

Friday, 17 March 2017

Duke Can Rule Supreme At Kempton

Well, what a week that was! Cheltenham is now done and dusted, and it didn’t disappoint. I found things tough after Buvuer D’Air’s thrilling win in the Champion, and Day 2 and Day 3 were a real struggle. I expected as much to be honest, as they are the two most difficult days and it didn’t help that the Mullins’ horses roared back to form.

However, despite a shaky start we finished strongly on Friday, and we ended up with no less than 3 winners and a place at odds of 9/1, 20/1, 25/1 and 8/1 respectively. I can’t complain too much about Croco Bay and he did us proud with a brave effort from the front, just missing out on the money in 5th.
The good doctor is a shrewd trainer. 
Tomorrow I like the look of one in the Silver Cup at Kempton, and Duke Street could gain some compensation after just missing out on getting a run in the Pertemps. He races off a mark of 135, and he looked in fine fettle when winning his Cheltenham prep run on the all weather at Chelmsford. He has also run well here before over timber, finishing a good second over course and distance off 133 back in November.

His sole win over timber came at Newbury in a class 2 handicap on good ground (19f) last April off 125, and he showed he could be competitive off his revised mark of 137 when a decent 6th behind Wolf Of Windlesham at Sandown over an inadequate trip. He ran poorly on his seasonal reappearance at Aintree, but he was much better on his last two hurdle starts in November.

He was a good second to a big improver here off 133 (21f good) and he bumped into another good one in Oscar Rock on his next start at Market Rasen, beaten just a length in second, again off 133. He was sent off on a mid winter break and he returned with a narrow victory in a 16f flat handicap at Chelmsford off 83. I think there is more to come from this 5yo son of Duke Of Marmalade, and he is worth supporting each way at 14/1 with trip, track and ground all sure to suit.


STEVOS’ SELECTION: 14.40 KEMPTON-DUKE STREET E/W @ 14/1 SKYBET

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Ballycross Looks A Proper Stayer In The Making

Well, only two more sleeps to go until the action begins, and students of the form everywhere are getting the last of the research done as the ground conditions are now more certain. The rain has stayed away, and it looks like being a dry week with the racing surface currently described as good to soft.
Ballycross looks as though he will stay all day. 
The National Hunt amateur rider’s chase, named after JT McNamara, is run over 4 miles and it takes a horse with serious stamina to figure at the business end. Staying power is key, and this is a race where official ratings can go out the window. Class helps, but 4 miles around Cheltenham requires a special sort of horse, and Nigel Twiston Davies knows what it takes to win it.

He won with a 6yo called Tricky Trickster back in 2009, and he went into that race with a rating of just 129. Ballycross is also a 6yo, and if you put a line through his last run he had previously shaped as though he was crying out for further when 4th and then 3rd at Chepstow over 23.5f on good and then good to soft ground.

He was beaten just 2L when 4th behind Sykes on the first occasion, and he did well to finish that close after losing his place as the pace lifted down the back. He was nearer last than first when they jumped the last, but he finished like a train and he was only really hitting top gear as the race was nearing its end. He was just 2L behind last year’s festival winner Ibis De Rheu next time when 3rd, and once again he was doing all his best work at the finish.

This horse would be very interesting if he managed to get into one of the handicap chases, but unfortunately that looks unlikely off a mark of 133. However, it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise if this trip suits as much as I believe it will. He is by King’s Theatre, a top class National Hunt stallion, and his dam is by Garde Royale, the sire of classy stayers like Royal Auclair and Garde Champetre.

His pedigree screams stamina, as do his race track performances, and perhaps the run came too soon last time when he was pulled up at Warwick just 17 days after running well at Chepstow. He has been freshened up, and Nigel Twiston Davies is sure to have him in tip top shape on Tuesday. He may well also run Calett Mad, but I can’t see him staying and I would prefer the chances of Ballycross. He can be backed at 40/1, and a small each way bet at those odds is advised.

STEVOS’ SELECTION: 16.50 CHELTENHAM (TUE)-BALLYCROSS E/W @ 40/1

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Coal Looks A Lively Outsider In The Leinster National

Marino Marvel ran a cracking race on Friday night, and only for interference down the back he would have placed. He just failed to get up for 3rd by a short head, and it could be that he will stay even further. He could be one to watch out for if sent hurdling, as his dam is from a family that has produced quite a few winners over jumps.
Sizing Coal looks overpriced at Naas.
Sunday’s selection goes in the Leinster National at Naas at 16.50, and Sizing Coal looks an interesting contender for the Dreapers, who won this race last year with Venitien De Mai. The Dreapers have a proud tradition of producing classy staying chasers, and this fella showed plenty of promise in some good races in the last couple of seasons.

Things haven’t quite gone to plan this term though, and he has fallen and been pulled up on his last two starts. However, his mark has slipped as a result and he is now rated 133, just a pound higher than when a cracking third to Fletchers Flyer in a valuable handicap at Punchestown last April. He can also boast a placed effort in the Irish National (2015), so on his day he is clearly a talented performer.

David Mullins is an interesting jockey booking and the last time he rode Sizing Coal was for that excellent Punchestown effort. Sizing Coal’s last win came at this trip in a rated chase at Sligo on heavy ground, so the testing conditions tomorrow will be ideal. He holds an entry for the Aintree National this year, and he will struggle to make the cut unless he goes up a few pounds.

That should mean it is all systems go tomorrow, as he won’t have many more chances to get the rise in the weights he needs to get in at Aintree. He is on a workable mark, the ground will suit and his last win came at tomorrow’s trip of 3 miles. He has been freshened up with a 74 day break since his last run, and hopefully he comes back with a bang tomorrow. He is worth chancing each way at odds of 20/1 in an open looking Leinster National.


STEVOS’ SELECTION: 16.50 NAAS-SIZING COAL E/W @ 20/1 

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Marino Looks A Marvellous Bet At Dundalk

Shuil Teacht Aniar was well backed last Sunday, but unfortunately the handbrake wasn’t let off. He was given one of the strangest rides I have ever seen by young Robinson, and at one stage he was a good 20L last. He stayed on strongly late on to finish 5th, but he was given far too much to do and his jockey’s reluctance to push him into the last few fences cost him dearly.
Dermot McLoughlin is a shrewd trainer.
It has been a quiet week this week, but we are back in action with a 33/1 each way fancy at Dundalk. Marino Marvel is a huge price in the 12f handicap at 21.00, but there is reason to believe he can do better back up in trip off a lower mark than last time. He stayed on well over 10f last time, and this lightly raced son of Kodiac looks sure to benefit over the extra distance on Friday.

Wayne Lordan took the ride last time, and he dropped Marino Marvel in at the back of the field. He switched him wide as they turned for home, and a couple of furlongs out he was nearer first than last. However, Marino Marvel responded to Lordan’s urgings in the final furlong and he stayed on well to finish a never nearer 8th, 6L behind the winner Ligeti and 4L behind Free State.

He takes Free State on again today, and he is 4lb better off with him I think he would have got closer to him over further, and yet back at 12f he is eight times the price of that rival. He is also 4lb better off with Queloz, who was 2L ahead of him, and all things considered I think Marino Marvel is overpriced at 33/1. He is worth chancing each way for small stakes in a winnable looking race.


STEVOS’ SELECTION: 21.00 DUNDALK-MARINO MARVEL E/W 33/1 

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Tommy Could Gun Them Down In Martin Pipe

Having trawled through the handicaps today, one horse that sticks out like a sore thumb as being overpriced is the Paul Nicholls' trained Tommy Silver in the Martin Pipe Conditional's race. Nicholls has won this twice in the last four years and he sent out Ibis De Rheu to win it last year.
Tommy Silver could be chucked in.
Tommy Silver, a 5yo son of Silver Cross, caught the eye in the Triumph Last year, lacking the pace to get involved at the finish, but staying on nicely up the hill for 7th. He again shaped as if in need of further when a close 3rd behind Wolf Of Windlesham off 138 at Sandown, and after that run he headed on his summer holidays.

He returned to action with a couple of very poor efforts at Ffos Las and Newbury, both over 2 miles, and he was rested for the months of December, January and almost all of February. He looked a different animal back from his mini break at Taunton last time, easily seeing off useful yardstick Bertimont under a cool ride from Stan Sheppard off 134.

He won going away at the finish, and the way he travelled in the closing stages was mightily impressive. The winning distance of a length could have been a lot more, and I am amazed that the handicapper has only seen fit to raise him 6lbs for that cosy victory. Stan Sheppard will likely keep the ride, and he is a pilot with lots of potential.

The form of that Triumph Hurdle has worked out really well. The likes of Apple's Jade and Footpad are rated in the 150s, Let's Dance is now rated 147 and Clan Des Obeaux has won a Grade 2 and is rated 150 over fences. Now that Tommy Silver is back on form, and most importantly up in trip, I think there could be a lot more to come and at odds of 25/1 he has to be backed each way.

STEVOS' SELECTION: MARTIN PIPE HURDLE-TOMMY SILVER E/W @ 25/1