Saturday, 30 May 2015

Boy To Come Out On Top at Nottingham

Dragon Fei was disappointing enough in the finish today, but she did travel fairly well and was short of room for the best part of two furlongs. She didn't find much when the gap did eventually come however, and perhaps the trip of 12f stretches her.
Today's selection is a confident one.Top Boy landed a lovely punt for me this time last year at York, and I had a nice wedge in storage, ready to back him again on his return to the Knavesmire this year. However, his current mark of 84 ended  up being just one measly pound below what was required to get into the race at York, so he travels to Nottingham instead.
There can be little doubt that Mr Shaw will have this horse in tip top shape, as he was more than likely being aimed at the race at York on Saturday which he won last year. He ran poorly enough on his last start at Chester, but he had a poor draw that day, and I am always willing to forgive a horse a poor run at that track. He is better judged on his previous run on the all weather at Chelmsford (RPR 92), where his 2nd place has been well advertised by the winner, and the horse he dead heated for 2nd with, since.
He gets to race off a mark of 84 today, three pounds lower than the mark he won off at York last year. This race is nowhere near the standard of the York heat either, and I think he could have too much class for most of his opponents. There are showers forecast through the night, and before racing tomorrow, which should ensure the ground is perfect for Top Boy, and the presence of a number of confirmed front runners should mean he will get the fast pace he loves to be delivered late off. At his current odds of 16/1 he looks well worth supporting each way.

Selection: 3.45 Nottingham: Top Boy 16/1

An Overpriced One At Haydock

As is usually the case on a Saturday there is no shortage of quality fare on offer, and today's fancy goes in the Group 3 Pinnacle Stakes at Haydock. The horse I like is Dermot Anthony McLoughlin's Dragon Fei, and there are a couple of factors that I believe giver her a decent chance. 

Firstly, the rain that has fallen in the last 48 hours are in this mares favour, and the underfoot conditions will suit her better than quite a few of her opponents. She has form on fast ground too, but her last couple of runs, which were the best of her career so far, have come on good or softer, and with today's going described currently as good to soft there can be no excuses on that front. 

On the ratings she has a lot to find, with her official mark of 89 some way short of the more fancied ones in this field. Talmada is rated 110, so theoretically Dragon Fei has almost 20lbs to find with this one. I am not sure about this rating though, as I feel her  last run, when she has beaten just 1/2 length by Curvy when conceding a stone in weight, surely deserves to be marked up considering Curvy went on to win the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes next time out, earning a rating of 108. She is bred to be a black type mare, with her dam being a half sister to the likes of G Force and Lajooj, and I think her current odds of 25/1 are far too big. She looks well worth supporting each way in a wide open race. 

Selection: 2.00 Haydock  Dragon Fei (25/1) each way.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

A Possible Improver

The Nutcracker did exactly as expected, and ended up winning at the insane price of 10/1! A superb ride by Lynch, (as much as it pains me to say it!) and a welcome winner for Tom Gibney, who has hit the crossbar on a number of occasions in the last couple of months. Hopefully the good run can continue for the blog today, and the selection is a horse that has caught my eye during his last couple of runs, and is bred to appreciate the step up in trip he gets this afternoon.
Hookergate Grammar's form figures of 09-47 do not look too attractive when you first look at them. Sometimes all is not what it seems though, especially in this game, and it was his penultimate run, his last run in a maiden, that has sparked my interest in him today. He was ridden by Paul Mulrennan(back on board today) and was tenderly handled, meeting trouble in running and stayed on well in the closing stages over a mile on fast ground at Redcar, still looking as green as grass. Everything about this run suggested a step up in trip would suit, but it seemed that 9f was not enough, as he got outpaced before staying on well again in the final furlong under tender handling (again) on his handicap debut.
The handicapper has generously dropped him 2lbs for that effort, and he gets to race off 62 today. His pedigree suggests that this mark could be lenient over this sort of trip (12f).He is a gelded son of Yeats, and 3 of his 4 siblings have won already, including a half brother by Elusive City that scored over 12f. off a mark of 73. His dam is a daughter of Peintre Celebre, and out of  the group 1 Japan Cup(12f) runner up Ode. This is a seriously well bred horse and at some stage he is going to make a mockery of his handicap mark. The step up to 12f could mean that today is the day, and at the best current odds of 14/1 he looks well worth a little each way support.

Selection: 4.20 Haydock: Hookergate Grammar 14/1

Monday, 25 May 2015

Thrown In?

After a torrid run for the blog Pleascach finally ended the drought with a superb win in the 1000 Guineas yesterday. With Jack Dexter going close on Saturday too hopefully our luck has changed and today's selection is a confident one from Ballinrobe.

The horse that is of interest is Tom Gibney's mare The Nutcracker, who takes her chance in the 7.30. She has run extremely well on her last two starts and was particularly unlucky last time out, when young Jonathan Moore dropped the reins and she failed by a head to beat Space Ship, who I know is very highly regarded by connections. Now admittedly she was receiving a fair chunk of weight from the winner, but he went on to frank the form in no uncertain terms when he hacked up in a rated hurdle at Limerick next time out. The fourth home that day, Whatsforyouwontgobyu, also went on to win next time out, beating a good horse of Des McDonagh's by 6 lengths in a maiden in Sligo.

Her previous run, when she finished 2nd to Credo Star, has also been franked with that horse going on to win on her next start, another rated hurdle. The Nutcracker was given a fairly uninspired ride that day too by Andrew Lynch, who is back on today, and I am sure he will try to hold onto her longer than he did on that occasion. This mare is a quick jumper (bar her mistake at the final fence on her last run) and seems to be suited by tight right handed tracks with her two standout efforts coming at Wexford and Down Royal. Those two efforts were on good ground too, and she gets those conditions again this evening.

 The handicapper has decided to give her a mark of just 106, and judging by the strength of her form I believe he has underestimated her ability in a big way. I was flabbergasted when I checked her price on Sunday night and can't believe she can be backed at 7/1. In my eyes she should nearly be favourite, and I can't see that price lasting too long.  Hopefully she can bring her run of seconds to an end and get the win she deserves.

Selection: The Nutcracker (7/1)

Sunday, 24 May 2015

A Couple From The Curragh

Gleneagles managed to win yesterday in the big race of the day, but it wasn't easy and he showed great toughness and bravery as well as a nice turn of foot to hold off the late surge from Endless Drama. My selection Tombelaine travelled well, but was tapped for toe at the business end and could only manage 5th. Yesterday's other selection, Jack Dexter, was extremely unlucky in the Temple Stakes with a fast finishing 2nd after having a troubled passage throughout the race. There will be some nice races for him later in the season once he gets his preferred ground conditions and it looks like Mr. Goldie has found a worthy successor to his other star sprinter Hawkeyethenoo. 

The best of today's action comes from the Curragh, with the 1000 Guineas the main event. With 18 runners going to post, and no odds on shot in the field, it is a very open race. There are a number of extremely well bred fillies in there, as one would expect, but the pedigree that really catches the eye has to be Kissed By Angels for Ballydoyle, who is a daughter of Galileo out of the stables superb Coronation Cup winner Lillie Langtry. This filly made an encouraging debut under hands and heels on quick ground at Limerick, before stepping up on that in a big way when taking the Guineas Trial at Leopardstown in taking fashion, travelling well and quickening away nicely. That was on heavy ground admittedly, but her pedigree suggests that today's underfoot conditions will suit her even better. Joseph takes the ride today, with Found looking like connection's number one and being ridden by Ryan Moore. Found is already proven at Group 1 level. so it is not surprising that Moore is on board, but Kissed By Angels could easily improve again returned to quicker ground, and is worth considering at odds of 7/1. 
The other horse that catches my eye in the race is Jim Bolger's Pleascach who absolutely hacked up in the group 3 Blue Wind stakes at Naas last time out. That was over 10f, and there are worries that the drop back to a mile might not suit. I can remember the same being said about David Wachman's Legatissimo before the English equivalent, and look how that turned out! She is a daughter of the outstanding sire Teofilo and is out of a Bolger trained mare who ran her best race in the Derrinstown Guineas Trial over a mile on good ground. Bolger also saddles another two in the race, presumably to ensure it is run at a true pace, and if that is the case it should set things up nicely for Pleascach whose stamina is assured.  Jim Bolger hasn't tasted success in this race since Finsceal Beo won in 2007, but this filly could bring the winless run to an end today, and at odds of 9/1 is worthy of consideration. 

Selections: Kissed By Angels (7/1) Pleascach (9/1)

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Super Saturday

An absolutely cracking days racing in store today, and the two races I will be looking at are the Irish 2000 Guineas from the Curragh and the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock. Gleneagles looks to hold all the aces in the Irish heat, and should prove difficult to beat. In Haydock speedball Goldream will be looking to follow up his extremely impressive win on his return to action in the Palace House, but there are no shortage of potential challengers and it should prove to be an exciting race as always.


Aidan O'Brien has dominated this event in recent years, providing 5 of the last 7 winners. Kingman broke his hold on the race last year for John Gosden, but Ballydoyle look to hold all the aces today with the winner of the English equivalent Gleneagles a very short priced favourite. Ivawood, 3rd at Newmarket 3 lengths behind the winner looks to try and turn the tables today but to be honest it is difficult to see him reversing the form.
The fact that Gleneagles is a best priced 2/5 means that unless you are a big hitter, the way to appraoch the race is to look for something at a big price that might run into a place. Tombelaine is an interesting contender given that he got to within 3/4 lengths of the favourite when they met last year on fast ground over 7f at Leopardstown. He failed to get his head in front for the rest of the season, but he reappeared with a decent win here on  heavy ground over 7f and the return to a mile and better ground should help his cause today with his sire First Defence's progeny showing a distinct preference for a decent surface. He could be one to run into a place at 18/1.

Selection: Tombelaine (e/w) 18/1


A very open race this year with last years hero Hot Streak back to defend his crown. It is a huge pity that Sole Power won't be there but there are still plenty of challengers that will  be doing their utmost to wrestle the crown from the Kevin Ryan horse. He will be hard to beat however, with the good to soft ground in his favour and with the brilliant Oisin Murphy keeping the ride for Qatar Bloodstock who have three horses in the race this year.
The one I like at a price is Jack Dexter, for Northern raider Jim Goldie. This horse has been a standing dish in all the top sprint races over the last couple of years, and while he hasn't won since Nov 2013 he has a string of consistent efforts to his name. This year he has been improving with every run and he just failed over 6f at York in the Clipper stakes last time out beaten just 1/2 a length by shock winner Glass Office.His best form has come with cut in the ground and the going is described as good to soft today which is ideal. Jim Goldie's horses have been hitting form this week, and the evergreen Hawkeyethenoo ran an absolute cracker for him a couple of weeks ago in the Victoria Cup. At his current odds of 16/1 he looks to be worth a small each way interest in a wide open heat.

Selection: Jack Dexter (e/w) 16/1

Friday, 22 May 2015

Cocked Hat Stakes Preview

Today's feature comes from Goodwood, a listed race run over 1m 3f, and with a number of Derby entries taking their chances it promises to be an intriguing contest, with some regally bred horses on show. Best Of Times looks like he will be the likely favourite for Godolphin, but there is no shortage of potential challengers in the field and below is my preview of what I think is an open race.

4.00 GOODWOOD COCKED HAT STAKES (Listed) 1 Mile 3 Furlongs (Good Ground)

1. BEST OF TIMES James Doyle/Saeed Bin Suroor

The current favourite and available to back at 2/1 with a couple of bookmakers at the time of writing. This colt holds entries in all the big group 1 races throughout the summer, and according to his trainer was only 85% fit when making a winning reappearance in a listed contest at Newmarket last month, just lasting home and scoring by half a length.
This son of Dubawi is bred to be useful, and there is no shortage of black type in his pedigree with his dam being related to St Leger winner Nedawi among others. The step up to 1m 3f should be no problem to this horse on breeding, and his trainer has mooted him as a possible derby horse (currently priced up at 33/1). Today will tell a lot about his prospects for that race, but as regards his chances tomorrow it is difficult to know as others look to have stronger form in the book.
He won his maiden at Goodwood last season, so at least he will handle the track, but at 2/1 he looks a bit skinny to me given what he has achieved so far, and I think he is best watched today.

2.PRINCE GAGARIN Ryan Moore/Ed Dunlop

Non Runner.

3. GLAN Y GORS Jimmy Quinn/Gay Kelleway

One of the most memorable moments of the season so far for me came on Good Friday at Lingfield in the all weather championships, when Gay Kelleway's Lightscameraaction took the  3yo sprint conditions stakes and struck a blow for smaller yards everywhere.
She looks to have another useful type on her hands here, and he is pitched in at the deep end after winning impressively on debut despite going off at 25/1. Whilst the 2nd in that race disappointed on his next run, the 3rd came out and won a maiden by 6l at Newcastle.
He has a lovely pedigree, being a son of High Chapparal, and his dam is a half sister to Group 3 winner Wharf and Docklands, who produced Arc Hero Rail Link. This is a big step up in class today, and on the figures this horse has a lot to find. However, there is every chance that he can improve and I think Ms.Kelleway is right to have a go at this race today.
The bookies are not convinced though, and currently have this one priced up at 28/1, the outsider of the field. He has to prove he belongs at this level, so the price is understandable, but a big run wouldn't surprise me in the slightest.

4. GREAT GLEN Pat Dobbs/Ralph Beckett

Another son of High Chapparal this horse has yet to get his head in front after two starts in strong maidens. His first run was excellent, a close 4th behind subsequent Racing Post Trophy runner up Aloft, with today's rival Storm The Stars two short heads in front of him in 2nd. That was over a mile, and on his reappearance he was stepped up to 10f, reversing the form with Storm The Stars and finishing 2nd, over 2 lengths ahead of him.
His dam was a listed winner over 10f on soft ground and was a close 3rd in a group 2 contest over 12f, which suggests that the extra furlong today should pose no problem. The bookies currently have this one priced up at 11/1, which seems very generous seeing as they have Storm The Stars way shorter  at 3/1. Their form would indicate that there is very little between them, and in my opinion they should be much closer in the market too. This one has a derby entry, and is currently priced up at 100/1 for it. His trainer is in decent form, and at his current price he definitely represents the best value in the race.

5. MEDRANO Richard Hughes/David Brown

Archipenko colt, who took three goes to get his head in front in maiden company. However, has left those efforts well behind, and has generally run with credit since being upped in class and distance without actually winning. Was a good second to Celestial Path on his first run in listed company, beaten by 2 lengths over a mile on good ground.
Subsequently he was well beaten in the Royal Lodge on his next start, but the ground was rattling fast that day and that run can probably be excused. He was sent to France on his seasonal reappearance, presumably in search of softer ground, and he finished a reasonable 2nd to the potentially very useful Karaktar, who holds an entry for the Irish Derby. He then went on to finish 3rd behind Silverware in a group 3, again in France on heavy ground, before returning to domestic action at Chester with a creditable run in The Vase finishing 3rd with Storm The Stars half a length ahead of him in second.
His dam was pretty useful, being a listed and group 3 winner, but much like her son, she liked cut in the ground and that has to be the big worry for this horse today.
The bookies have this one priced up at around 18/1, and given that the ground is good, and there is no rain forecast it is probably an accurate reflection of his chances. One to be interested in when he is returned to soft ground.

6. MR SINGH Frankie Dettori/John Gosden

Trainer has a superb record in this race in recent times, with three wins in the last six years. Today's contender, another son of High Chapparal, had only one start as a 2yo, coming late last year at Kempton over a mile.; He finished 3rd that day, but ran as if a step up in trip would suit. He reappeared over 11f at Newbury and won in  good style, form that has been boosted by a few that were in behind him that day. He should improve again with that outing under his belt, and he is another derby entrant currently priced up at 50/1 for the showpiece.
His pedigree is not quite as attractive as some of his rivals though. His dam was useful without being top class, and her best run came with a close 3rd in the Cherry Hinton over 6f on easy ground. Today is a big step up in class, but given his connection's record in this race he has to be respected. His current price of 7/2 looks a little bit skinny to me though to be honest and others have stronger form claims as well as better pedigrees.

7. STORM THE STARS Pat Cosgrave/William Haggas

Son of Sea The Stars who took four goes to get his head in front in maidens. Form ties in closely with today's rival Great Glen who he has met twice with the score currently at 1-1. Was a close second to current Derby favourite Golden Horn on his 2nd run last year which probably explains why he is so short in the betting today at 3/1. Won a weak enough looking maiden on his second start  on fast ground over 10f this season and ran fairly well next time out,  stepped up to group 3 company in  the Chester Vase finishing 3rd  behind Hans Holbein on ground that would have been softer than ideal.
Without a doubt the best bred horse in the race, with his dam being a half sister to Giants Causeway, and black type galore amongst the rest of her siblings. Unsurprisingly he has a derby entry and he is currently a 66/1 shot for it. A big run today could make those odds tumble, considering he was so closely matched to the current favourite when they met last year.
His trainer declared himself delighted with that Chester effort, and suggested that this horse would do nothing but improve as the season wore on. If he does improve again today, and back on quicker ground there is every chance he will, then this horse has a great chance. However, given that he was behind Great Glen when they last met, his current odds of 3/1 look far too short, and from a betting perspective the value definitely lies with the Beckett horse.

This race is extremely hard to decipher, with all of the runners looking to have some sort of chance. On a personal level I would love to see Glen Y Gors run a big race, as I love to see the smaller yards putting it up to the big boys. However, he has to prove he belongs at this level and as a betting proposition looks a little too risky. Without a doubt though the value lies with the Ralph Beckett horse Great Glen, who steps up in class for the first time after two very promising runs in  maidens. His form suggests there will be nothing between himself and Storm The Stars, and at 11/1 he should give punters a good run for their money. Medrano looks to need soft ground which he doesn't get today, and the favourite has a lot to prove and looks way too short in the betting for me. The fact that Godolphin felt the need to buy into Jack Hobbs as a potential derby horse suggests that Best Of Times just might not be top class and is a possible negative.

Selections: 1. Great Glen  2. Storm The Stars 3. Glyn Y Gors

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Soft Ground The Key To Endeavour?

Today's tip comes from Chepstow, where heavy rain yesterday means soft ground today. The 4.40, a class 5 handicap, sees Mad Endeavour tackle this sort of surface for the first time. The race has cut up already, with five non runners due to the going.
At first glance the selections form figures  do not make for good reading. However, on closer inspection I believe there is reason to be hopeful. He has had 8 starts so far in his career, and two of those runs came at Chepstow over 7f. These two runs have been the best of his short career, a 3rd on his second run in a maiden beaten 3l, and a 4th off a mark of 60 beaten 4l. Both times he shaped as if the 7f stretched him, and that 6f would be ideal. He races off a mark of 52 today, having been dropped 3lb after a disappointing first run of the season on fast ground over 6f at Windsor. He was hooded that day, and that combined with it being his first run back this season means he can be forgiven that lacklustre effort. 
However, what has really sparked my interest in this one today is the fact that it will be his first try on soft ground as his pedigree suggests it will suit. His sire Muhtathir's progeny seem to relish cut in the ground, as can be seen by the form of the highest rated horses he has produced, Doctor Dino and Satwa Queen. He has an overall strike rate of 17% with his offspring on soft ground.
His dam, Capefly, failed to get her head in front during her career, but she is half sister to three black type horses who all achieved their highest RPR's on easy ground. All this points to an improved performance from this horse today, and he also has the assistance of the evergreen Franny Norton in the saddle. At his current price of 10/1 this horse looks worthy of a small each way interest. 
Hopefully readers of this blog will have followed up on The Housekeeper, who I tipped up at Punchestown when she fell when still going well. She won well last night in a beginners chase up in Roscommon at 15/2, and looks to be one to keep on the right side of when sent handicapping. If Harry Kelly has sorted out her jumping she will be a force to be reckoned with this summer. I wouldn't be surprised if Galway was the target.

Selection: Mad Endeavour 10/1 e/w.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Follow The Zeeda

The opening maiden in Thirsk is a race that Tim Easterby has traditionally done well in, and his runner today, Zeeda, looks to have a good chance of extending his decent record in the race. Easterby has won the race twice since 2008, and his last four runners have finished 4th, 3rd, 1st and 2nd. This suggests to me that this is a race that Mr Easterby likes to target and last year Zeela (same owner as today's runner) went off a short priced favourite and finished 2nd.
Zeeda made her debut over 5f at Ripon on good to soft ground last month. She was up against it from an early stage as she was bumped violently at the start from her wide draw and lost a few lengths. She showed a nice bit of pace to make ground up in the early part of the race, and David Allan was anything but forceful with her in the last furlong or so, just riding her out hands and heels and finishing fourth, behind the re-opposing Richter Scale. The fast ground should suit Zeeda today, whereas on pedigree the softer ground was always going to suit Richter Scale better on their debuts. Richter Scale had the run of the race that day as well, and it will be disappointing if Zeeda cannot reverse the form with her today granted a better start from a decent draw in stall 3 and faster ground. 
The Mick Channon filly looks the obvious danger having gone very close on debut at Bath and is respected, as is the Mark Johnston filly, although her pedigree suggests this might be a bit sharp today. At the current prices I think Zeeda definitely represents the value here and at 10/1 she should leave her debut well behind and run a big race today.  

Selection: 1.55 Thirsk    Zeeda    10/1 

Friday, 15 May 2015

Listed Fillies Stakes Preview

Today's preview comes from York, where ten runners go to post for the Listed Champion Fillies Stakes for three year olds only. As the betting would suggest it is an open race, with Yasmeen currently favourite at 5/2. Only three favourites have won in the last 9 years, and the biggest priced winner in that time was last time, when Lustrous won at 20/1. Ryan Moore has won it twice since 2006, and takes the ride on Pack Together for The Queen today. Below is a quick summary bof the riders and runners and what I believe to be their chances.

1. CEASELESS   James Tate/David Probert

Ifraaj filly who was beaten twice in maidens last year before reappearing this year with a victory over 7f at Newmarket, winning in the manner of a horse that will appreciate the step up to a mile. Extremely well bred on  the dam side, being out of a half sister to Group 1 winners Oath (Epsom Derby 12f) and Pelder (Prix Ganay 10.5f) which suggests that she will get the mile no problem, and probably a bit further in time too . On her second start last year she finished 2nd,  a neck ahead of  Lady Of Dubai, who was a neck behind Irish Rookie on her next start, form that has been well advertised since with Irish Rookie running well in the 1000 Guineas and a close second in the French equivalent beaten 3/4 of a length. Harvre De Paix, who she beat in her maiden, also ran with credit in a listed event in France on her next start. On breeding this filly should turn out to be very smart, her form stands up to scrutiny, and her current odds of 20/1 look way too big to me. Drawn in Stall 6. 

2. JELLY MONGER  Dominic Ffrench Davis/Graham Lee

A winner of her maiden at 66/1 on debut, and instantly upped in class to Group 3 level, she hasn't been disgraced. On her last run, in The Fred Darling, she finished a creditable 4th, a couple of lengths behind Tiggy Wiggy, gaining an official rating of 96, the second best in the field. She is by Strategic Prince, so a mile should be fine, and her dam is a half sister to the group placed Aleutian. However, her pedigree does not appeal as much as some of her rivals, and while she should run her race I'm not sure if she is good enough to win, even though today is a drop in class. Her current price of 20/1 seems fair, and if some of her rivals fail to live up to their reputations this filly could run into a place. Should give each way backers a run for their money. Drawn widest in Stall 12. 

3. MEHRONISSA Ed Vaughan/Danny Tudhope

This filly won her maiden in good style, and had a couple of subsequent maiden winners in behind. Another by Ifraaj, she is a half sister to the useful Three Degrees, a group 3 winner  and group 1 placed  (both 9f) horse in America.On pedigree a mile should be fine, as should good ground, but the worry has to be her reappearance run in a handicap at Lingfield off 77, where she finished well beaten. Will need to step up on that in a big way to figure here, and whilst it is not impossible she can improve I think she is best left alone and watched today at odds of 66/1. Drawn in stall 5. 

4. MOTHERS FINEST Karl Burke/Silvestre De Sousa

Unraced as a 2yo, this filly made her debut last month, finishing a close second to Udododontu, who advertised the form here earlier this week. She went on to win her next start, again over a mile at Haydock, and steps up in class today having earned an official rating of 84. By Tamayuz, a big speed influence, and out of a half sister to listed (6f) and group 3 (9f) winner Coney Kitty. She holds an entry for the Irish Guineas so Mr Burke obviously holds her in some regard, but I think her odds of 7/1 are a bit on the skinny side, as she still has to prove she belongs at this level, and her form is not as strong as some of the other contenders here. Too many doubts for me and I'll be leaving this one alone for today. 

5. PACK TOGETHER Richard Hannon/Ryan Moore

Won a decent maiden in good style on her first start, and ran a cracker stepped up to listed company (7f) on her next outing, behind Alonsoa, who subsequently ran well in a group 3. By Paco Boy, and out of a dual listed (9f) and group 1 (9f) winner, so a mile should be well within her capabilities. Her trainer is well capable of readying one first time out so the lack of a recent run is not a huge worry. However, Richard Hughes, who rode on her first two starts, has opted to go elsewhere today and whilst Ryan Moore is a more than capable deputy, this has to be seen as a slight negative. Her current price of 10/1 suggests that there is not a huge amount of confidence behind her today, and as a result I think she is best watched. Drawn in stall 8. 

6. REALTRA Richard Fahey/Tony Hamilton

Dark Angel filly who looks exposed in relation to some of her rivals. Out of a useful mare who was difficult to win with (one win and seven 2nds from 18 starts) and a half sister to group 2 winner (12f) Supreme Rabbit. Has had nine runs already, and had to drop back into handicap company to get her head in front last time out, looking suited by the step up to 7f. That was off a mark of 93, so it was an impressive display, and judging by her pedigree a mile should be well within her compass. Is officially the highest rated horse in the race at 98, and sets a high standard for the others to aim at. Has a lot more experience than her rivals, and should run her race. Her price of 7/1 looks fair enough to me, but she might well have to improve again as there looks to be a few potentially useful ones lurking in the shadows. A good each way chance from her draw in stall 4. 

7, RIVE GAUCHE William Hagags/Graham Gibbons

Fastnet Rock filly, who started off with an eyecatching run on rain softened ground over 7f at the tail end of last season at Newmarket, staying on late in the day. Half brother to four time Italian listed winner Ryan (13-15f) and plenty of stamina in her pedigree. The step up to a mile should suit and Graham Gibbons has a 33% strike rate when riding for William Haggas in the last 5 years. However, probably best watched today at odds of 20/1, and one to look out for when stepped up further in trip later this season. Drawn in stall 2. 

9. SPERRY John Gosden/James Doyle

Shamardal filly, who is currently priced up at 4/1 second favourite. Won a weak maiden as she liked on her 3rd run last year at Wolverhampton (7f), and reappeared with an impressive victory over a mile in a conditions race at Ascot. Has obviously improved over the winter, and is a half sister to the useful Dunelight and Interception. This is a marked step up in class though, and the form of her last win has yet to be tested. I think her price of 4/1 is way too skinny for what she has actually achieved, and it maybe a case of the bookies pricing up on reputation of connections rather than form. On her debut she was 12l behind Lady Of Dubai, whereas Ceaseless, today's rival, was a neck in front of her when they locked horns. This piece of form alone is enough to convince me that her odds are cramped, and whilst she may well prove me wrong I think others have stronger form claims. Drawn in stall 3. 

11. VOLUNTEER Mick Channon/Charles Bishop

Outsider, by Footstepsinthesand, who won a handicap last time out off 74. Has heaps to find with her rivals today and 40/1 an accurate reflection of her chances. Plenty of black type in her pedigree though, and her dam was useful over a mile, but has too much to prove to be a betting proposition. Drawn in stall 1. 

12. YASMEEN John Gosden/Paul Hanagan

Sea The Stars filly likely to go off favourite and currently priced up at 9/4. Created a big impression on her first start last month in a maiden that has produced a couple of easy winners since. Out of an unraced half sister to the outstanding Bahri, and half sister to a string of black type animals. Lacks nothing on the pedigree front, and every chance she is good enough for this sort of race. However, at the end of the day this is a big step up in class, and the owners had a similar type supplemented for the 1000 Guineas and that didn't work out too well. The current price looks a bit too skinny for my liking given that she is not yet proven at this level. Drawn in stall 7. 

A very interesting heat, where one must weigh up whether to go on potential/reputations or to go on form in the book. The one that has both potential and form in the book is CEASELESS. She has form in the book with horses that have gone on to run well at group one level, she has a pedigree to rival any of her opponents today, and I am struggling to understand how the bookies can have her priced up at 20/1, and she looks worth supporting each way in a race that the favourite Yasmeen has it all to prove.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Infinity Stakes Preview

Today I am going to do a quick preview of the runners and riders in the Infinity Tyres Stakes Grade 2 handicap at York. It is a big field, and angles can be found for many of the runners. Northern trainers have an excellent record in this race, and Mick Easterby has won it twice since 2010. No winner has been priced bigger than 14/1 since 2005 and the last three winners have been drawn in stalls 20, 18 and 15 so while a low draw is seen to be advantageous, it is not the be all and end all. As I have said before on this blog, usually if a horse is good enough it will win regardless of the draw-(unless it's Chester of course where the best horse rarely wins! I'm not bitter I swear...)


1. OUT DO         David O Meara
     Non-Runner today.

2. BLAINE         Kevin Ryan/Amy Ryan

A family affair here, with Amy Ryan riding for her Dad Kevin on a horse that really has an exceptional record at this track. He has three wins from four attempts, with his only defeat coming in this race last year on ground that was way too soft (all wins on good or better). He produced a career best later in the season, again at York, when getting up in the final strides in another high class handicap back on decent ground. Today he races off a mark of 103, only 3lbs above what he won off here last year. The ground is drying out all the time, Amy Ryan gets on well with him, and if he can deal with his wide draw out in stall 18 he must have a great chance. His first two runs this year haven't been the best, but the return of Amy Ryan and going back to York are two huge causes for optimism. Capable of a bold show off top weight. 20/1.

3.  PIPERS NOTE  Richard Whitaker/George Chaloner

Superb so far this year, with a 100% record from two starts. His last run was a career best, and he had a few of today's rivals behind him too. He has been raised 4lbs for that win, and races off a mark of 103 this afternoon. All his six wins have come at either Beverley or Ripon, and this will be his first start at York.  Good ground or better will be fine for him, and he has a decent draw in stall 3. There is no doubting the fact that he will need to improve again though, and it would be no surprise to see Algar Lad reversing the form from last time out, as he looked slightly unlucky beaten less than 2 lengths, and is 4lb better off  now. Enough doubt there for me to leave him alone today. Best price of 20/1 at the moment and drawn in stall 3.

4 POLYBIUS  David Lanigan/Ted Durcan

One of only three four year olds in todays race, which is a positive in itself given that they have won  6 of the last 10 runnings, Won his maiden and a handicap off 83 at Windsor last year, on fast ground, before signing off with a superb effort behind Intransigent in a listed contest at Lingfield on his final start, earning today's mark of 102. His dam showed her best form as a 4yo, winning a group 2, so on pedigree he should have improved over the winter. However, he has yet to race in a field with more than 10 runners, so he might lack a bit of experience of the rough and tumble that goes on in these sort of handicaps in comparison to some of his rivals. It is also a tough ask on his first run of the season. Could turn out to be a group horse in disguise, but at the skinny enough odds of 10/1 I think he is best watched today. Drawn in stall 17.

5. ANOTHER WISE KID  Paul Midgely/Graham Lee

7yo, who has eight wins to his name, but seven of those have come over 5f, which is a worry for today. Ran a lovely race on his only second visit to the track last October, beaten 3l off a mark off 99 into 3rd. That was over 6f, as was his stellar effort behind Pipers Note in 2nd last time at Ripon. However, has crept up the handicap without winning, and faces a tough task today off his new mark of 101. Should run his race, and has the considerable assistance of Graham Lee in the saddle so might sneak a place, but I find it hard to see him getting his head in front. Current price of 20/1 looks fair enough. Small e/w chance from a good draw in stall 5.

6. HOOF IT Mick Easterby/Kieren Fallon

8yo now, from a yard that has an excellent record in this race, and this horse won it  in 2011 as a 4yo. Has not shown his true colours for quite some time, and hasn't won since Goodwood in 2011 (Fallon rode that day too). His mark has dropped accordingly though, and he is now 10lb below his last win, and 4lb lower than when winning this in 2011 off 105. Has run well fresh in the past, has the assistance of Fallon in the saddle and at the current odds of 20/1 he looks to be a lively outsider if Easterby has him fully wound up for today. Drawn out in stall 16.


Non Runner.

8. BALMONT MAST Eddie Lynam/Adam Kirby

Irish raider who has been highly tried in recent times, running mainly in group company over the past year or so. Dual listed winner, at Dundalk and The Curragh, the latter on good ground. Was a poor enough 8th on his previous run, but that can be excused due to soft ground, and is probably best judged on his comeback run at Dundalk, where he was a good 2nd to Russian Soul. The return to good ground will suit, but has to get back to something like the form he showed when winning at The Curragh to have an impact here off a mark of 101. Drawn out in stall 19 he is probably best watched today, but it wouldn't be the biggest surprise to see him run well. Lynam's UK runners always need to be respected, as his 34% strike rate with his raiders shows. 22/1 at  the moment and could outrun those odds.

9. KICKBOXER Saeed Bin Suroor/James Doyle

Trained by Mick Channon last year and picked up by the boys in blue over the winter. The second 4yo in the race, his best form has been on good or softer. Won a class 2 handicap at Haydock off 93 last summer, before running with credit upped in class to listed comapny with a decent 2nd behind Justice Day. Ran well enough on his sole visit to York at this meeting last year, finishing 3rd over 5f staying on well. The 6f should be fine today and  has a good draw in stall 2. However, was well beaten off a mark of 101 on his final handicap start last season on ground that would have been ideal and is only 1lb lower today. The drying ground will probably be against him too, and for those reasons I think the 12/1 available looks a bit skinny to me, and he is best watched.

10. BARRACUDA BOY Tom Dascombe/Richard Kingscote

Five time winner, including three on turf, on ground ranging from good to soft to good to firm. Steps back into Class 2 company today after picking up a couple of class 3 events at the tail end of last year. Races off a career high mark of 99. Managed a 3rd place off 89 in class 2 company at Yarmouth last year, but ran a terrible race on his next start in that grade off today's mark on the all weather at Lingfield in December. Has run well on his seasonal return before so the lack of a run shouldn't be a factor. His mark does look too high though, and will be doing exceptionally well to reach the frame today from his draw in stall 12. His current price of 40/1 an accurate reflection of his chance.

11. ARCTIC FEELING Richard Fahey/Sam Bell

A winner over 6f at Newcastle last time out in a class 3 handicap off 93, a career best display. Won two here last year, but those heats were nowhere near as strong as today's race. Been raised 5lbs for that win, and will need to improve again if he is to get his nose in front today off 98. Should run his race, but hard to see him winning  upped in class, Decent draw in stall 6 and best priced at 25/1. Small each way chance.

12. MASS RALLY Micheal Dods/Paul Mulrennan

Admirable 8yo who loves it here and whose last two wins have been over c&d. Good or softer is fine, and won this race back in 2013. Ran in the group 2 Clipper Stakes at this meeting last year and finished a good 4th behind Maarek, Ran a lovely race on his comeback at Pontefract behind Out Do off 98, giving the impression that he would come on for the run. Been dropped a pound for that effort, and todays mark of 97 is 2lbs below what he won this race off in 2013. The drying ground would be a bit of a concern, but once there is no firm in the description he should be fine. Drawn in stall 9, which should be no problem, loves York and been given a right chance by the handicapper. Everything points toward a good run today, and should be there or thereabouts at the business end. Currently heads the market at a best priced 8/1.

13. TATLISU Richard Fahey/Ryan Moore

Looks to be the so called 'first string' of the Fahey quartet, with Ryan Moore booked, and is priced up at 10/1. Beaten less than a length by Pipers Note on his last start he has been raised a pound for that effort to a career high mark of 97. The worry for me would be that he had no real excuses last time out, and his jockey Jack Garrity was claiming 5lbs too, so he is effectively 6lb higher today. For this reason I think the 10/1 is way too short, and is a price based on the trainer jockey combination rather than his actual form chance. Has a great draw in stall 1, but for the reasons outlined above I think I will be giving him a wide berth today.

14. FAST SHOT Tim Easterby/Rachel Richardson

Been a super servant for the Ontoawinner syndicate, a great bunch of lads who love their racing and struck gold last year with their group winner Toocoolforschool. This horse has been mostly very consistent over the past few seasons, and showed he retained all his old ability with a superb run on his reappearance off a mark of 94 at Newcastle behind todays rival Arctic Feeling. Fast Shot would have needed the run that day, and followed up with another solid effort at Ripon on ground that would have been plenty quick enough. Has run in this race twice before,2nd in 2012 and an excellent 4th last year off a mark 2lb higher than today's. Good ground is fine, his trainer is hitting form at the right time (a double on Monday) and it would be no surprise to see this horse running a huge race from stall 7. Gets on famously with Rachel Richardson too, so no worries on that front either. 28/1 way too big a price and has a serious chance of making the frame.

15. ALGAR LAD David O Meara/Sam James

Campaigned mainly at 5f during his career, and has 5 wins to his name at the trip, all on good ground or better. However, stepped up to 6f on his last run and proved he could get the trip with a slightly unlucky 4th behind three of today's rivals at Ripon. Crucially though his mark has been left alone and he meets those rivals on better terms today, so it would seem he has every chance of reversing the form. For this reason I think he is overpriced, especially in relation to Tatlisu who was just ahead of him on his last run but who has to carry a lot more weight today. Drawn in the middle in stall 11 and  his current price of 14/1 looks more than fair to me for a trainer on the up. Solid each way chance.

16. BOGART Kevin Ryan/Jamie Spencer

Very speedy type, who likes to bounce out and make all. Struggled in this race last year, but has dropped a fair way in the handicap since then, and showed he was in good heart on his reappearance at Beverley over 5f last month, beaten less than 2l off the same mark as today's.Will be suited by the step back up to 6f and is now 3lb below his last winning mark. Has won at the course before too, so has plenty in his favour, and his draw in stall 8 shouldn't be too much of a hindrance. His price would suggest that he is the 'first string' from the Kevin Ryan yard, as would the booking of Spencer. However, hasn't won since August 2013 and is prone to running the odd stinker for no apparent reason.As a result his price of 10/1 looks a bit short for me, and I would rather be with the '2nd string' Blaine at the current prices.


Non runner.

18. BOY IN THE BAR Richard Fahey/Robert Winston

The third of the Fahey runners and Robert Winston keeps the ride again, having won on him at Pontefract last year when trained by David Barron. Moved to the Fahey yard for this season, and ran well on his seasonal bow beaten less than a length in a class 3 handicap off 92 at Ascot. Has won on ground varying from good to soft, so today's conditions shouldn't be a problem once it doesn't get too firm.Still only a 4yo, so has time on his side and could easily improve again. Needs to though, and his current best price of 10/1 looks short enough for a horse that has to prove he belongs at this level and can handle big fields too. He could easily do it, but my money won't be down. Drawn in stall 14.

19. KIMBERELLA Dandy Nicholls/Adrian Nicholls

Three time 6f winner, including two last year and goes on any ground. Behind a good few of these on his seasonal reappearance, and has been dropped a pound to a mark of 92. That is still 3lb above his last winning mark though, and he will need a career best to come out on top today. However, Dandy loves his big field handicaps, and is not averse to winning them with horses at silly prices. His close second off 94 at Ripon last year would give him a chance, and could be a dark horse in a wide open race. Drawn out widest of all in stall 20.

20. MEHDI  Richard Fahey/Paul Hanagan

In years gone by this horse would be perceived as the Fahey '1st string' due to the fact that Hanagan rides. However, times have changed, and since Hanagan took the Maktoum job it is harder to read the significance of the jockey bookings from the yard. Once rated 102 and placed at group level back in 2012, there is no doubt that this horse has plenty of ability. However he hasn't won since 2011, and couldn't win a handicap last year off a mark of 87.  He runs off 89 today.For a horse that hasn't won a race in almost 4 years his price of 12/1 looks very skinny to me, and I will be keeping a watching brief for now.  Has a good draw in stall 4.

As can be seen from the above this is a tricky puzzle to solve. Blaine makes the shortlist due to his course record, and Algar Lad looks to be well treated in relation to his re-opposing rivals. However the one I like best at a big price is FAST SHOT, and I think he can run a big race today for each way backers at 28/1. Kimberella is a bit of a dark horse and could also run into a place. Arctic Feeling looks to be the pick of the Fahey quartet at the prices.Hoof it should not be discounted either for a yard with a super record in this race.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

A Day For Mudlarks

One thing I learned this week is to never ever tip up a horse running at Chester again! It is just such a tricky track, and far too much good fortune is required if you are to win. Once a horse is  trapped out wide it is more or less game over, and it doesn't matter how good the jockey is or even how good the horse is, if you don't get the luck you won't be winning. Hopefully today's selections run better. 
The first horse to catch my eye today is Kleitomachos, who runs in the 3.35 at Nottingham for Stuart Kittow and Liam Keniry. Watching the racing at Nottingham last night it was obvious to see the ground had turned very soft.  With more showers forecast after racing last night it is very doubtful that the ground has improved, and it is for this reason I can see Kleitomachos running a big race today. Both his wins have come on soft/heavy ground (12.5f and 16f) and today will be the first day he has had those conditions back on the flat since his last victory, back in 2012. He ran off a mark of 77 that day and is 4lb lower today. Another encouraging sign is his run over c and d last April, beaten only 3l on ground plenty quick enough again off a mark of 77. That shows that he should be fine on the course, and with major doubts about the majority of his opponents handling the underfoot conditions Kleitomachos looks well worth supporting each way at the generous odds of 8/1. 
The other horse I like goes at Hexham for one of my favourite trainers, Sandy Thompson. This horse has been badly out of form this year, but there is reason to be optimistic today. Firstly his mark has dropped to 78, 3lb below his last winning mark. Secondly the ground and trip should be perfect for him today, and he has already tasted victory at the track. Thirdly the booking of Brian Hughes is another plus, he won on the horse on his only previous ride. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, the horse has won three times in his career, a point to point and two races under rules. These three wins all came in late April and May, which suggests that this horse comes to hand around this time of year. The small field will be fine, as this horse can make the running, and hopefully this hardy little grey can do a job on his rivals today.

Selections: 3.35 Nott Kleitomachos e/w 8/1
                   4.25 Hex The Shrimp 7/2

Friday, 8 May 2015

Blue Is The Colour At Chester

After a shocking run from the last selection at Chester I was wary about putting another one up from the same track today. However, after the flurry of non runners in the first race due to the testing going, there is one remaining that I feel has to be worth an interest at the prices.
This horse is the Irish trained Colour Blue, who takes the trip across the Irish Sea after quite an impressive win last time out at Tipperary, where she accounted for a Weld 4/11 hotpot in gutsy fashion. In that race she was headed in the final furlong, but battled back gamely in the last 75 yards and was going away at the finish. Two of her three wins have come at Tipperary and Kilbeggan, both on soft ground, but what stands out most about her form, in relation to today's race, is that both these tracks are sharp, tight left handed tracks, which is exactly the sort of track that Chester is.
She is a filly that has to be ridden aggressively too, and her jockey, the excellent young Connor King. not only knows her well but also takes off a handy 3lb. Her draw in three should permit her to make a bold bid from the front, and the currently available 6/1 looks to be a very generous price. With doubts about the suitability of soft ground for a few of her seven remaining rivals, she looks to be a solid each way bet for Willie McCreery, who has a 21% strike rate with British raiders in the last five years.

Selection: Colour Blue 6/1.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

A Chance At Chester

Today's action comes to us from Chester, and the horse I like, What Say You,  goes in the Chesire Oaks, a trial for the big one at Epsom later this year. This horse is trained by the man with the midas touch when it comes to fillies, Rae Guest, and is ridden by the champion jockey Richard Hughes. 
She was beaten into 4th on debut, before winning her maiden as she liked on her next start, making all and leaving a host of decent horses trailing in her wake. Behind her that day was Lady Of Dubai, who won next time out before finishing a close 2nd to Irish Rookie, who ran a fine race in the 1000 Guineas on Sunday. 
She was stepped up in class to the Rockfel over 7f on her next outing, and finished 6th of 9, beaten 7 lengths. In front of her that day were the likes of Lucida and New Providence, who have both gone on to prove themselves capable of useful form. On pedigree today's trip should suit and  the ground should be fine. Her full brother Martin Chuzzlewit  has a place to his name around this quirky track on soft ground so the tight turns shouldn't be an issue. His best run came over this trip too.  Her draw in 5 should be ok  as long as she doesn't miss the break. The current price of 8/1 looks overly generous to me, and this horse has serious claims if ready to go after her winter break. 

Selection: What Say You 2.40 Chester 8/1. 

Friday, 1 May 2015

2000 Guineas Preview

The first big flat race of the year on this side of the pond, and unusually  there is no real stand out contender. Aidan O'Brien saddles the favourite, Gleneagles, and having had four of the last ten winners any runner from his yard deserves the utmost of respect. Below is a summary of the runners and riders and a quick outline of what I believe to be their prospects.

1. BOSSY GUEST   Mick Channon/Charles Bishop
Outsider, currently available to back at 100/1. Probably aiming a bit high here. Did his winning at       6f last year and  reappeared this year over that trip and won again. Yet to conclusively prove he gets a mile. There is a decent chance he will, as there are bits and pieces of stamina in his pedigree. Even if he does stay though it is difficult to see him troubling the very best of  these.

2. CAPELLA SANSEVERO  Ger Lyons/Oisin Murphy 
Irish raider who won four last year at up to 6f, including a listed race and a group 3. Came up short though with ground conditions in his favour in the Middle Park behind Charming Thought. Also found wanting behind Kool Kompany on fast ground at the Curragh. By exciting young sire Showcasing, who's first crop have made a big impression so far. The dam line suggests that a mile should not be a problem, but I think this horse would perhaps have had a better chance if there was some give underfoot. Odds of 66/1 an accurate reflection of his chances, unless the heavens open overnight.

3. CELESTIAL PATH   Mark Prescott/Luke Morris 
An intriguing contender, who finished third behind today's adversary Elm Park over a mile on soft ground  in the Racing Post Trophy. Had previously won a maiden (7f) and a listed race (8f) in taking fashion on a sound surface. By Footstepsinthesand, a previous winner of this race, and closely related to  group 1 winner Chachamaidee (8f) and group 3 winner J Wonder (7f). Bred for the job, has the perfect draw in 1 and ground conditions in his favour. Everything points toward a big run from this fella and looks overpriced at 25/1.

4. CODE RED  William Muir/Martin Dwyer
Outsider currently priced up at 150/1. Listed winner (6f, soft) last season, but looks out of his depth here.

5. DUTCH CONNECTION  Charles Hills/William Buick
Maiden and group 3 winner (both 7f fast ground) who came up short on his final 2yo start behind today''s opponent Gleneagles when stepped up to group 1 company at the Curragh. His full sister Dutch Romance had a similar 2yo season but didn't progress as a 3yo, and that has to be the worry with this horse. Should have no problem getting a mile on pedigree (dam half sister to useful hurdler Baltimore Rock) but I think the 20/1 available is too short and he will struggle to reverse that form with Gleneagles, even over this extra furlong.

6. ELM PARK  Andrew Balding/Andrea Atzeni 
Four time winner last year, including the group 1 Racing Post trophy on rain sodden ground at Doncaster. However, had shown that fast ground holds no fears with victory in the Royal Lodge over this course and distance on fast ground on his previous start. Students of pedigree will be scratching their heads with this one, as black type is difficult to find. His form can't be faulted, and he is the choice of stable jockey Andrea Atzeni over Qatar bloodstock's other runner Capello Sansavero. Should stay further than a mile, but still respected none the less as his form is among the strongest on offer. 12/1 a fair price.

7. ESTIDHKAAR  Richard Hannon/Paul Hanagan 
Dual group 2 winner (7f good, good to soft) who made a very encouraging reappearance in the Greenham a couple of weeks ago behind Muhaarar, beaten half a length and keeping on strongly giving the impression that he would come on for the run, and also that a mile would be no problem. Half brother to the stable's Toormoore, who was well fancied in this last year and was beaten less than 5 lengths by the stable outsider Night Of Thunder. The choice of Paul Hanagan of the Maktoum pair. Respected and at 8/1 will be the pick of many. Decent draw too in 6.

8. GLENALMOND  Karl Burke/Kieran Fallon
Full brother to fellow Northern hero Wootton Bassett, a group 1 winner at 2. Doesn't look to possess the same ability though, and with stamina doubts and holes aplenty to pick in his form his current price of 66/1 looks justified. The potential fly in the ointment is the booking of Kieran Fallon, who has an excellent record in this race, but he will have to pull something special out of the bag if he is to get this horse home in front.

9. GLENEAGLES Aidan O'Brien/Ryan Moore
From a yard that always has to be respected in this race, and that has been showing signs of a revival after their characteristically slow start to the season. Unsurprisingly this horse is regally bred, being a full brother to 1000 guineas winner Marvellous out of a full sister to Giants Causeway. On the track he has been unbeaten since his first run, bar a harsh disqualification on his last run of the season in the grand criterium when he was first past the post. This race has been the target, the inimitable Ryan Moore rides and the 11/4 currently available won't last. I can see punters latching onto this one and he is a worthy favourite. One possible negative could be the draw as he is out wide, but usually if the horse is good enough it'll win anyway, and he won't lack for assistance from the saddle.

10. HAIL THE HERO  David O'Meara/Danny Tudhope
Ballydoyle cast off, who wasn't disgraced behind Kool Kompany in the Craven here after winning a weak Doncaster maiden (7f) on his previous start. An awful lot to like about his pedigree, as he is by Galileo and out of Mauralakana, an absolute superstar of a mare (multiple group and listed winner from 6-10f  on ground varying from heavy to firm) he is certainly bred to be useful, but on form he has an awful lot to find with the principals here. Might prove to be a shrewd purchase in the future, as his dam did nothing but progress throughout her career, and could be one to outrun his odds of 125/1 for his up and coming trainer. Drawn in stall 9.

11. HOME OF THE BRAVE  Hugo Palmer/James Doyle
Very impressive winner on his seasonal return, but it must be remembered it was a only a listed handicap and off a mark of 102. Had run respectably behind Burnt Sugar in a group 3 on the all weather previously.This will be a very different test, and he will have a lot more on his plate, as is reflected in his odds of 33/1. By Starspangledbanner, so stamina could be an issue, but on the upside there is plenty of it in the dam line. Has a fair few pounds to find with the principals here and needs to improve a lot if he is to figure. Probably one for another day. Drawn out in the car park too in 17.

12. INTILAAQ  Roger Varian/Dane O'Neill
The unknown quantity of the race and the Maktoum "second string". Beaten as a 2yo in a maiden at the tail end of the year, that form would give him no chance in a race like this. However, one couldn't fail to be impressed by the manner of his maiden win on his return, making all and quickening away in the manner of a very smart horse. His dam was also beaten as a 2yo, before going on to taste victory at the highest level as a 3yo (8f Good to Firm). Paul Hanagan chooses the owners other runner, but that could turn out to be a blessing for Dane O'Neill, who gets the leg up on this one and  is a more than capable replacement. It wouldn't be the first time that a jockey has chosen the wrong one, and it certainly won't be the last. Drawn in stall 11.

13. IVAWOOD  Richard Hannon/Richard Hughes 
Represents last years winning stable, which has four bullets to fire this time around. Gauging their best hope through jockey bookings is impossible, as both Moheet and Estidkhaar will be ridden by retained jockeys. You would imagine Hughes had the pick of the other two, and he has plumped for this one. I would imagine it wasn't an easy decision after seeing what Kool Komapny did on his seasonal return, but this horse was one of the best 2yos of 2014 and i'm not surprised Hughes has kept the faith. A mile should be fine on pedigree, if not guaranteed, but I'm not sure if he has the class to win this race. Odds look a little cramped to me at 12/1 and there is better value to be found elsewhere.

14. KOOL KOMPANY  Richard Hannon/Pat Dobbs
Another Hannon inmate, this horse caused a surprise  in the Craven on his seasonal return when lowering the colours of his well touted stablemate Moheet, who re-opposes today. Disregarded by Hughes, Pat Dobbs takes the ride, and this horse needs to improve again if he is to take a hand. He is unexposed at the trip though, and is a tough customer who won't shirk a battle. Hannon won this with a 40/1 shot last year so at odds of 28/1 Kool Kompany could ruffle a few feathers from his decent draw in 7, and give each way value seekers a run for their money.

15. MOHEET  Richard Hannon/Frankie Dettori
There was some amount of talk about this horse in the run up to his reappearance in the Craven. He could only manage third behind his unfancied stablemate Kool Kompany, but looking back at the race again he didn't run too badly, and Frankie wasn't exactly over aggressive with him either when he realised he couldn't win. He stayed on nicely enough,after missing the break, and you would think if he starts better he has every chance of reversing the form with Kool Komapny. His dam is very well related, while not being overly talented herself, and this son of High Chapparal should not be discounted lightly at a big price. Drawn out in stall 15.

16. OL MAN RIVER  Aidan O'Brien/Joseph O'Brien
The second of the two O'Brien entries, with his son Joseph taking the reins. Bred to be good, being by Montjeu and out of Jim Bolgers 100 Guineas winner Finsceal Beo. Dotted up in what looked at the time a weak group 2 on paper, but the form was at least given a boost with Convergance  subsequently winning a listed race on his reappearance this year at Dundalk. At the prices he would look to be the stable second string, but on paper they are very hard to split. On the bare figures he only has a couple of pound to find with his stablemate, so at the current price of 15/2 he definitely represents value. Great draw in stall 2.

17. RIDE LIKE THE WIND  Freddie Head/Maxime Guyon
I am no expert on French form, so i'm not going to pretend that I am. I do know that Freddie Head is no mug, and he wouldn't be travelling over here unless he believed he had a realistic chance. Beautifully bred, with plenty of black type in his pedigree, but worryingly a lot of the best form on offer in it is on easy ground. He won't get those conditions tomorrow and it would be a surprise if he had the speed for this sort of test on fast ground. Currently priced up at 33/1 looks to have only an outside chance. Well drawn in 3.

18. ROOM KEY Eve Johnson Houghton/Jimmy Fortune
Only rated 103, and on all known form should be set for a struggle here. Will probably be of more interest later in the season stepped up in trip.

19. TERRITORIES Andre Fabre/Mikael Barzalona
Last but not least we have French raider Territories, the sole representative for the boys in blue Godolphin and trained by the French master Andre Fabre. Impressive on his return in a group 3 at Longchamp, after a near miss at the highest level on his final run last year. The big worry for me with this one is the ground, as both his form and his pedigree say that he would be best with a bit of cut in the ground. The current price of 6/1 looks way too short to me, as he is drawn widest of all too.

As can be seen from the above, picking a winner in this is no easy feat. The two O'Brien runners make the shortlist, as does Moheet from the Hannon yard from an each way perspective. The two Maktoum horses both have solid claims too, particularly Intilaaq. However, the one I like at the prices and that looks a solid each way bet is CELESTIAL PATH for the Prescott/Morris combination. Unbeaten on fast ground, bred for the job and the plum draw, this horse has plenty in his favour and will hopefully run a big race tomorrow.

Selection: Celestial Path each way 20/1.-
Daithi MacStiofain

A Chancy Friday Fancy

Shabras Bertolini unfortunately failed to deliver the goods yesterday, and it seems my fears about the jockey booking proved to be well founded. First of all he missed the start, which was a disaster, as on all the horses best runs he has raced in a prominent position. When he did try to move into position in the back straight he ran into the back of a couple of horses, and a few those behind him swept by, as he got shuffled right back to the rear of the pack as they turned into the home straight.When he did eventually find daylight it was all to late, and he stormed through the field in the home straight to finish an unlikely ninth, gaining about ten places in the last 250 yards. Definitely one for the notebook, and well capable of making an impact off his current mark once the jockey issue is addressed.
Friday is, in the main, unappealing from a punting point of view, with Faugheen looking a mere formality in the big race of the day. The hunter chases, the novice events and the bumper also look best left alone, and the race I have found an angle in is the mares handicap chase.
The horse I like the look of in this heat is not one for the faint hearted. In fact, if you are currently on medication for any cardiac related ailments I would recommend you stop reading now...
However, if you are a fan of base jumping, skydiving or any other adrenaline inducing activity then this is the tip for you. My use of base jumping and skydiving as examples is not by accident either, as this horse is prone to try to defy gravity too, and the jockey may be well advised to pack a parachute down the back of his britches.
Anyway, as you might have guessed by now, the horse I like tomorrow, The Housekeeper, has had jumping issues. Some pretty serious ones in fact.  However, if she manages to put in a clear round today I think she has the ability to go close. Despite the obvious negatives, there are some glimmers of light breaking through the clouds. Chief among them is her mark of 116. I would imagine her very shrewd trainer was doing cartwheels when he heard that news. My reason for thinking this is that it looks very lenient on the back of her decimation of a couple of useful types in a hurdle race last year in Down Royal. She had Taglietelle 10l behind her that day,in receipt of 7lbs, and  he has since won a top quality handicap hurdle at Aintree off 145 and also placed at Cheltenham. Quickasyoucan was a further 10l behind, and has since won a handicap off 122. The 4th that day has also won since off 115. The case from a handicapping point of view is compelling. Her trainer declared after the race that 'she'll be some mare to jump a fence'... Hopefully they are not famous last words!
I do have hope for her jumping though.She took a crashing fall on her chase debut when holding every chance, and then was given a break.  I was there at Navan  the day she had her comeback run and finished sixth behind Vautour beaten 44l. However, it was over 2 miles, which is too sharp, and she tried to go with Vautour early on. She followed him a few lengths behind in a clear 2nd up until about half a mile from home. She actually jumped pretty well that day considering the pace she was going and bar one or two sticky jumps I thought it was a very encouraging run. She looked out on her feet when coming to grief on her last chase run, and had jumped well up until that point.
She has been given a couple of runs over the smaller obstacles since, both around Punchestown interestingly, and was never sighted at massive prices both times. I would imagine these runs over hurdles were designed to restore her confidence and sweeten her up before returning to exploit her lenient chase mark in handicaps. She has had a break of 72 days, which is also a positive, given that her best runs have come when fresh.  David Harry Kelly knows how to ready one, the trip looks right, the drying ground is in her favour so IF her jumping holds up I can see her running a big race. Perhaps the faller insurance offered by some bookmakers mightn't be the worst idea if you are considering backing her. Paddy Powers are paying first four places e/w too.

Selection: The Housekeeper e/w 25/1 (1st 4 places Paddy Power)