Friday, 31 July 2015

Glorious Goodwood Saturday

So close to being a good day for the blog yesterday, with The Rectifier running a big race in third, Take Cover going down by a short head and Osaila just failing to reel in the winner. Windshear also ran well in third but missed out on each way money as there was only the seven runners. Hopefully we can find a horse to go one better for us today.

2.00 Goodwood (Handicap) 6F

An absolute cavalry charge, and last year's winner Barnet Fair is back to defend his crown, and Dandy Nicholls has managed to get him here off the same mark. He has also managed to secure the services of the soon to be retired Richard Hughes, and from his draw in stall 1 a bold bid should be forthcoming. He looks worthy of each way support at 16/1,  and with a few bookies paying an extra place it is advisable to shop around before getting involved.
On the far side of the draw another horse that is of interest is David Barron's Fast Track. He was successful in a big field handicap at Newmarket last season over this trip on quick ground, and he advertised his well being with a nice run behind Red Baron over a furlong shorter at Musselburgh. He is best at this trip, and off a mark of 96 he could well make an impact at odds of 16/1.

Selections: Barnet Fair (e/w) 16/1 Fast Track (e/w) 16/1

2.35 Goodwood (Handicap) 12F

A difficult race to decipher as it is difficult to discount the vast majority of the field. A case can be made for many, and Mark Johnston fires four bullets in a race he has won three times since 2008. All of his runners are entitled to respect given his amazing record here, and it looks as if Novancia is the first string. She beat Sagaciously last time out, a horse I had tipped up, but that came on very soft ground which will be a lot different to today's conditions. She did win her maiden on fast ground, so she should be fine.
De Sousa gets the leg up on Yorkidding, a horse he has won twice on already this season. This filly has gone up in the weights as a result, but it would be folly to presume her improvement has halted altogether. At 16/1 she could run a big race.

Selection: Yorkidding (e/w) 16/1.

3.10 Nassau Stakes (Group 1)

Jazzi Top is the selection, and you can read why here in my detailed preview

3.45 Goodwood  (Handicap) 6F

A real conundrum of a handicap, and finding the winner is akin to locating a needle in a haystack. Previous course form is usually a huge advantage at Goodwood, and Take Cover almost proved that point with an outstanding effort in trying to repeat his win here last year on Friday.
Ajjaadd is a horse that has been completely overlooked by the bookies, and with form figures this year of 7709 it is probably understandable that he can be backed at 50/1. However, there is plenty of reasons to believe that he may outrun those odds for Ted Powell and Willy Twiston Davies, who, incidentally,  has been riding very well of late.
He is returning from a break, and this will be his first appearance since being campaigned without success in Meydan during the winter. However, three of his wins have come after breaks of two months or more so that is not really a big worry.
He has run well here before, and indeed he managed a magnificent second place in this very race back in 2013 off just two pounds lower than today's mark. He didn't manage to get back to try and go one better in 2014 as his mark was too low to enable him to get in, and I am sure his trainer has had this race in mind for some time. He is effective on  all types of ground, has a similar draw to when he finished runner up on his last try in this race, and at 50/1 he could well rattle a few cages for his tiny yard.

Selection: Ajjaadd (e/w) 50/1.

4.20 (Maiden) 7F

A twenty runner maiden that does not appeal as a betting proposition. Full of well bred types from the leading yards and owners. One that catches the eye is Yorkee Mo Sabee down at the bottom for the Johnston/De Sousa combination. This is a son of Teofilo related to a couple of decent types and out of a Pivotal mare who won a Listed race. Johnston has a superb record at this meeting, and this colt is a speculative choice in a race probably best watched with regards to the future.

Selection: Yorkee Mo Sabee 16/1.

4.55 Goodwood (Handicap) 7F

No strong opinion here. Perhaps Fox Trotter has been primed for this and will send Richard Hughes into retirement with a winner.

Selection: Fox Trotter 14/1.

6.00 Goodwood (Handicap 9F)

Johnston has booked the services of Michael Murphy for this race on Ifwecan and they are a potent force when combining. Murphy has an excellent record at Goodwood, as does Johnston. From the plum draw in stall 1 this horse can bounce out and make all.

Selection: Ifwecan 10/1.

Glorious Goodwood Friday Preview

A poor day for the blog at Goodwood yesterday, with none of the selections running well. There is more high quality action to come today, and below are my thoughts on the day's action.

2.00 Glorious Stakes (Group 3) 12F

Luca Cumani has a good recent record in this event, and his Connecticut is one of the market leaders in this race after hacking up by 16 lengths in a listed event at Pontefract last time out. This is another step up in class today but if he progresses again he looks to have every chance.

The Corsican is the current favourite at 15/8 for Jim Crowley and David Simcock, and he also has an obvious chance. He is unbeaten at the track, over 10F admittedly, and he ran a lovely race in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales at Royal Ascot. This is a drop in class today, but the only worry has to be this trip of 12F. He has won over it before, but his very best has come at two furlongs shorter.

At a bigger price Windshear has the ability to run well, and he went close at the meeting last year. He was tried over 20F last time out, and it proved to be a bridge too far. A repeat of his effort behind Arab Spring at Newbury back in April (12F good to firm), when subsequent Group 1 winner Pethers Moon  was in close proximity, would see this colt go very close. He is the each way suggestion for Hannon and Hughes.

Selection: Windshear (16/1) each way.

2.35 Thoroughbred Stakes (Group 3) 8F

After going so close on his last run behind Gleneagles in the Group 1 St James' Palace at Royal Ascot  (8F good to firm) Latharnach is a worthy market leader for Godolphin. He beat Time Test in his maiden, and that form was franked by the runner up in impressive fashion at Ascot. The one to beat.

Moheet could be the one to chase him home. He is highly thought of by connections, and big things were expected from him this season. However, it hasn't gone to plan and he clearly didn't appreciate the 12F trip in the derby. Dropping back to a mile should show him in a much better light, and he is of interest each way.

Convey falls into the 'could be anything' bracket, and he hacked up in his maiden last season. This is his first run since though, and whilst he is highly rated by connections there are too many inponderables for him to be considered today. Probably best watched on this occasion.

Selection: Latharnach (7/4).       Danger: Moheet (9/1)

3.10 Goodwood (Handicap) 8F

A chance is taken on The Rectifier here in a typically competitive big field handicap. He is only two pounds higher than when lowering the colours of Magic City, an impressive performance given he was conceding 7lb to the Hannon horse. He is off level weights with that rival today, although Tom Marquand takes off a handy 5lb on Magic City.
He has run well on his only previous visit to the track, he showed signs of a return to form last time out at York off this mark and is well drawn. Timmy Murphy has been booked (2/11 for yard), and a big run looks to be on the cards.

Selection: The Rectifier (25/1) each way.

3.45 Goodwood (King George Stakes) (Group 2) 5F

A tricky puzzle to solve, and a race where it has paid to side with the older horses, with only one 3yo winning since 2005. That was Moviesta back in 2013, and he returns to try and repeat the dose after going close last year too. He is an obvious starting point and Eddie Lynam's charge can currently be backed at 13/2.
Take Cover won this last year, and he has been written off by the bookies in his attempt to follow up. It would be no surprise to see a big run, even if his last effort was extremely disappointing. His run behind Goldream at the Royal meeting was not devoid of promise, and that came at Group 1 level.

 He will blast off in front and try to hold them off, and his draw in stall 9 shouldn't be too much of a hindrance once he breaks well. Could outrun his odds of 22/1 and is a tentative each way selection.

Selection: Take Cover (22/1) each way.

4.20 Goowood (Nursery Handicap) 6F

No strong opinion here. Sandahl is lumbered with top weight, but he had Tasleet in behind for his maiden win and that horse ran very well here yesterday at Group 2 level. Can prove to be better than his mark of 88 and is a decent price too.

Selection: Sandahl (15/2)

4.55 Goodwood (Oak Tree Stakes) (Group 3) 7F

Osaila is comfortably the highest rated filly in the field, and she is a confident selection having proved her well being with a last gasp victory in a quality handicap at Royal Ascot (8F good to firm).
She is already a winner at this level, beating today's rival New Providence in a tight finish at Newmarket (7F), and the only blot on her copybook is a below par performance in the 1000 Guineas earlier this season. She should take all the beating.

Selection: Osaila (3/1)

5.30 (Handicap) 11F

No strong opinion here. Darebin looks a huge price given that he went very close last time out, and the horse that beat him won a handicap off a mark of 80 on his next run. He has been allocated a mark of 78, and promising young claimer Hector Crouch takes off a handy 7lbs too. He is up against some promising and well bred types, but at his current odds of 33/1 he looks worthy of a little each way support.

Selection: Darebin (33/1) e/w

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Galway Day 5 Preview.

We were back in business yesterday with Sizing Platinum doing the business and lowering the colours of the favourite. Tested went close in the Listed race and Akira looked booked for a place until the final strides. Quick Jack obliged in the big one and Max Dynamite chased him home, so hopefully someone had the forecast! Magic Kitten was a disaster and Tiger Bay Lady a disgrace, but you can't win them all! Below are my selections for Friday at the Festival.

5.10 Handicap Hurdle (16F)

Topweight The Plan Man immediately catches the eye with David Mullins booked, and he is of huge interest off two pounds lower than when last seen over timber. He ran a big race that day in the Swinton at Haydock, a much stronger heat than today's and he warmed up for this with an outing at the Curragh a couple of weeks ago. His trainer is flying, and he is of definite interest with his jockey claiming a valuable 3lb.

To Choose is a horse I know well, and he won for the first time in a handicap last time out at Bellewstown. He has only been raised five pounds for that, and should remain competitive off that mark. He is well thought of by connections, and they would love to have a winner at Galway. However, the rain that is forecast will be no good to his chances, but if it stays dry he is of definite interest.

At a price Gambling Girl is worth a second look for the bang in form Harrington yard, and she warmed up for this with a more  than pleasing effort on the level behind Silver Concorde at Killarney. She is versatile ground wise, has been highly tried over timber and it would be no surprise to see her running well on her handicap hurdle bow.

Selections: The Plan Man 12/1 e/w, Gambling Girl 14/1 e/w.(Only If ground is good To Choose 10/1 e/w).

5.45 Flat Handicap 7F

Dermot Weld is surprisingly having a very quiet week by his standards, and normally one would be more confident about the favourite Palmetto Dunes here. At 6/5 she looks too short though.
A viable alternative could be Mick Mulvany's Prove The Point, who ran an absolute screamer on debut at 50/1. She ran a nice enough race stepped up to Group 3 level on her next start, and at her current odds of 6/1 she definitely rates as the value bet of the race.

Selection: Prove The Point 6/1.

6.15 Handicap Chase 22.5F

Aranhill Chief won twice here last year, a beginners chase followed by this race, and he returns today off a ten pound higher mark. It will be no surprise to see him run well, and he advertised his well being with a gutsy win at Roscommon off a 6lb lower mark than today's. He was tailed off last time out, but I am willing to put a line through that, and man of the moment Denis O'Regan is booked so a big run must be expected. 16s with Bet365 is huge.

Selection: Aranhill Chief 16/1(Bet365) e/w

6.50 Guinness Handicap Flat (11.5F)

Deor is the selection here at the foot of the handicap. Showed minor promise in three maiden runs, but it has been a different story since he has been sent handicapping. His form figures read 242, arguably unlucky on at least one occasion, and he was backed as if defeat was out of the question last time out at Wexford.
He is related to plenty of winners, and indeed his half brother, by Van Nistelrooy,  was a Group 3 and Listed scorer. His full brothers Hikari and Turnofthesun were rated 93 and 86 respectively, both winners over this sort of trip, so surely this fella is better than his rating of just 74.
He is unexposed, having had just the six runs, and his trainer has been in superb form of late. The draw tempers enthusiasm slightly, but I am sure connections will be out to get the money back that they lost on Deor last time out and he is a speculative each way selection.

Selection: Deor 14/1 e/w.

7.25 Flat Maiden

The Weld horse is a full brother to classy operators Labarinto and Price Tag, and surely he will prove a class above these. The Lyons horse is the danger having gone close on his last two runs.

Selection: Pictogram 13/8.

8.00 Flat Handicap (8F)

Easy Boy should probably have won last time out and his mark remains unchanged. He wouldn't want much rain to fall. Tudor City is a huge danger at the foot of the handicap for Tony Martin and Fran Berry, and has the look of a plot horse. However, his pedigree doesn't really suggest that this trip will suit, and at the likely odds I will be swerving this one.

Selection: Easy Boy 7/1.

8.30 Flat Race (13F)

No strong opinion here, Any rain will suit Weld's horse, and although he is a very short price he looks by far the most likely winner. Dark Crusader has won here before, and rates the most likely danger.

Selection: Good Tradition (11/10).

Glorious Goodwood Selections


2.05                    RACING HISTORY                   NB (7/2)
2.35                    ELRONAQ                                 e/w (16/1)
3.10                    ANGEL GABRIAL                    e/w (22/1)
3.45                    ARABIAN COMET                  NAP(9/2)
4.20                    SUNSET DREAM                       e/w (9/1)
4.55                    MY AMIGO                               e/w (14/1)
5.30                    ACCIPITER                                e/w (11/1)

Galway Day 4

1.50 Beginners Chase (22.5F)

A trappy little race where quite a number of the field can be safely discounted. As De Ferbet will doubtless be popular given the success that Willie Mullins has enjoyed in the opening races during the previous three days. However, he has already been beaten three times at very short odds, including over this trip last time out, so he is clearly not one of his top trainer's leading lights yet.

Tiger Bay Lady is obviously a bit of a madam given her antics at the start on her penultimate run, but she was very well backed that day when she refused to race, so a big run must have been expected. She subsequently finished a good third behind today's favourite on  her last run. The drying ground should suit this daughter of Flemensfirth and she could be value at 12/1. Clondaw Farmer also makes the shortlist, but he has to overcome an absence and is overlooked.

Selection: Tiger Bay Lady 12/1 (e/w)

2.20 Novice Chase (18F)

Impressive Limerick winner (17F good) Sizing Platinum should put it up to the favourite Rock The World here, and at his current odds of 7/2, in comparison to the jolly at 5/4, he is definitely worth considering. De Bromhead's horses are evidently in super form, he had the winner and fourth in the big race yesterday, and Johnny Burke's confidence will be sky high.

Selection: Sizing Platinum 7/2.

3.00 Flat Handicap (8F)

Sophies World ran well on her last flat outing behind Aussie Valentine at Leopardstown over this sort of trip, and has been kept ticking over since with a couple of runs over timber. She returns to the level off just a pound higher mark. She won here last year off 5lb lower, and is entitled to maximum respect in her bid to repeat the trick.
Sadlers Mark is extremely well treated on his old form, but this is his second run back after another long absence (only four runs since 2013) and the bounce factor has to be a worry. If he is back to something like his best though he is weighted to run well.

Selections: Sophies World(nb) 8/1        Long Shot: Sadlers Mark 22/1 e/w

3.30 Fillies And Mares Listed Race (7F)

A good quality affair, and Dermot Weld has the favourite Tested, who is currently priced up at 15/8. She has showed massive promise on  a few occasions, and went close in a Group 3 (7F good to firm) at Leopardstown on her seasonal return. She was desperately disappointing on her last run, a Listed contest at The Curragh (6F good), but she looks worth another chance today at her trainer's favourite track and back at 7F.  15/8 looks a fair price and she should go close.

At a much bigger price Akira could go well. She has run with credit on numerous occasions at Listed and Group 3 level, and got to within a length of Brooch over this sort of trip on good ground at Kilbeggan last year (Colour Blue behind). She made a perfectly respectable reappearance in a Listed contest at Killarney a couple of weeks back, and that should have put her spot on for this. She could run a huge race at 16/1.

Selections: Tested 15/8.         Long Shot: Akira 16/1.

4.05 Novice Hurdle (20F)

Mullins and Walsh again provide the favourite here with Gangster. He is odds on to follow up his win last time out and is sure to be popular with punters. Sandymount Duke takes a step up in class but he has been progressing at a rate of knots and it will be interesting to see how he fares at this higher level.

 At bigger odds Full Cry looked a useful animal on his rules debut at Clonmel (20F good) when he beat subsequent winner Theatre Flame, and the manner in which he did it suggested there is a lot more to come. His yard is flying and at odds of 12/1 he could give the favourite a fright.

Selection: Full Cry 12/1 (e/w)

4.45 Galway Hurdle Grade A Handicap (16F)

Quick Jack is the current favourite for Tony Martin, and this high class dual performer has to be near the top of any shortlist. He carries a feather weight and has obviously been kept fresh since his gallant effort at Chester on the level back in may. His third to Wicklow Brave on his last hurdling run at Cheltenham when the ground was plenty soft for him was a fine effort too, and with the patient and stylish O'Regan doing the steering he should be travelling well at the business end. The drying ground will suit too.
At a bigger price I like Max Dynamite, who will be ridden by the hugely promising David Mullins, who is massive value for his 3lb claim. This horse has flattered to deceive on occasion, but he produced an outstanding effort in the Northumberland Plate, and it is interesting that connections have opted to come here rather than targeting the flat staying handicaps across the water. He is another that carries a feather weight, and if he can reproduce his flat form he should be bang there at the finish and looks well worth supporting each way.

Selections: Quick Jack 6/1. Max Dynamite 16/1 (e/w).

5.25 Flat Handicap (11.5F)

Bog War made hay off a lowly rating over timber with three quick wins in the Spring. He improved almost 30lbs during that run, going from 88 to 115, and his flat mark of 63 looks like one he could be well capable of exploiting.
 Magic Kitten for Weld and Smullen lurks at the foot of the handicap and is a danger to all. This colt won at 20/1 on his handicap debut, and though he was on my radar due to his pedigree I didn't back him as I thought heavy ground would be no good for him. He is a full brother to some very useful American performers who all relished decent ground, so today's conditions will be right up his street. He is a confident selection off his lowly mark of 61.

Selection: Magic Kitten (NAP) 5/1

6.00 Bumper (18.5F)

No opinion on this one. Watch and enjoy.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Goodwood Selections

Time is at a premium these days, thankfully, so below are my selections for Goodwood. Unfortunately I haven't had time to add analysis, but I have had a good look at the card and below are the horses I fancy to run well.

2.00                    TAWS                                  NB e/w (16/1)
2.35                    DISEGNO                                 NAP (6/1)
3.10                    AROD                                         e/w (8/1)
3.45                    PITY CASH                                e/w (40/1)
4.20                    DAWREYA                                e/w (8/1)
4.55                    ONLY JOKING                          e/w (11/1)
5.25                    RUN WITH PRIDE                    e/w (33/1)

Galway Day 3 Preview

Another decent day for the blog yesterday with Empresario doing the business after being well backed into 12/1 before the off. Baraweez ran a good race too, and hopefully we can find another winner or two on Wednesday.

3.00 Maiden Hurdle (2 Miles)

Deromt Weld hasn't had a winner in this race since Galileo's Choice back in 2011, and Willie Mullins won it last year with Most Peculiar at 11/2. Only one favourite has won since 2005, but there has only been one winner priced up at double figures in that time, so history would suggest it is wise for punters to stick to horses near the head of the market.
Thomas Hobson was a serious flat horse, and his last run off a mark of 96 resulted in a hard fought win at Doncaster (12F soft). He was bought by Mr Ricci with a hurdling career in mind, and he was duly sent off at 1/3 in a maiden at Listowel last month. He didn't jump well though, and ended up falling at the last. Even if he stood up it is debatable whether he would have won, and at near even money he has too much to prove for my liking.
Stuccodor is next best in the market for Dermot Weld, and he looks a far more solid proposition. He is rated over 100 on the level,and has run with promise on all his starts over hurdles so far. He hasn't been seen since May, and he looks like a typical Weld Galway winner. If Thomas Hobson wasn't in the race he would probably be 1/6, and given the Mullins' horse jumping frailties he is a confident selection at 11/8.
There are a couple priced up at huge odds that could run big races, and the most likely of these is Snaidhm at 33/1. I was down in Fairyhouse when she finished 3rd to Hostile Fire and Zafayan, and whilst she was well beaten in 3rd  she still went into my notebook. Her last run wasn't great, but this mare has ability and could reward each way support at 33/1.

Selection: Stuccodor ( 11/8) Long Shot: Snaidhm 33/1

3.35 Galway Handicap Hurdle (2 Miles)

A wide open affair. The Nutcracker is a mare I am fond of, and she is not handicapped out of things off a mark of 115. She has ability, and is in good form at home, but the big worry has to be the underfoot conditions. Sticky, gluey, drying ground will be no good to her, and she really needs genuine good ground to be seen at her best.
Annagh Haven is another horse from the Royal County with some decent form over timber, and arrives here on the back of a confidence boosting win on the level. She is versatile groundwise and off a mark of 109, with young Dempsey taking off another three pounds, she could be dangerous if the race doesn't come too soon.
Lost Book is another one to keep an eye on for local trainer Stephen Mahon, as she showed definite signs of returning to form last time out at Ballinrobe. She could be dangerous off a mark of 97, and the more the ground dries out the better her chance.

Selections: Lost Book (16/1) e/w. Annagh Haven (16/1) e/w.

4.10 Galway Handicap Hurdle (20F)

A wide open race, with a host of horses that have chances. Sir Ector is interesting off just 2lb higher than when a fast finishing 2nd over this trip on similar ground at Punchestown. He subsequently ran a huge race in a Group 3 race behind Forgotten Rules, and earned a flat rating of 103. Now he may well have been flattered that day, and he was 50/1, but it was a serious effort, and he returns to hurdles brimming with confidence. He looks to be worth a small interest e/w at 16/1.

Selection: Sir Ector (16/1) e/w.

4.45 Galway Flat Maiden 12F

No strong opinion in this race. Rightdownthemiddle has some decent form in the book and is  a speculative each way choice.

Selection: Rightdownthemiddle (16/1) e/w

5.30 Galway Handicap Chase (22.5F)

One of the most lucrative races of the festival and 25 runners have been declared. It is a minefield of a race for punters, and cannot be really considered a serious betting proposition. One that might be worth supporting each way at a huge price is Rathlin, for Gigginstown and Mouse Morris.
This former course and distance winner, who trounced Hidden Cyclone the day he won here, has slipped to an attractive mark, went close on his penultimate run over this trip,  and the talented young claimer Luke Dempsey takes off a handy 3lb. He likes the track, and could well produce a big performance on ground he will be fine on.

Selection: Rathlin 33/1 (e/w).

6,05 Galway  Flat Handicap (1 Mile)

A trappy handicap. Flannery is the each way selection. Well bred for this trip and Andy Oliver will be keen to get a winner on the board.

Selection: Flannery (18/1) e/w

6.40 Galway Flat Handicap (1 Mile)

I really like the Weld horse here, Shahzenna, who is extremely well bred. Tony Martin's Laganore sneaks in at the bottom of the handicap, but i;m not sure she is in the same league as the Weld filly, who is a good price at 6/1. I can't see it lasting.

Selection: Shahzeena (6/1).

7.10 Galway Flat Maiden.

Weld's horse looks a good thing here at 4/6. Boherbouy the only danger on form. Miss Youngs might run well at a price. She has a nice pedigree with a good jockey booking too.

Selection: New Agenda 1/2   Long Shot:Miss Youngs 66/1

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Galway Day 2 Selections

Not a bad day for the blog yesterday, with a couple of winners and a couple of places. Spacious Sky ran a shocker, fading badly, while King Of Oriel didn't get the good ground that he loves. He still ran a nice race though and i'm sure he'll be back again next year.Unfortunately I haven't got the time to do a detailed analysis today, but I will post my selections below anyway, with a quick word on their prospects.

Galway Day 2 Selections.

5.15 Novice Hurdle

Achance is taken on Adimelo here. He is unexposed and looked good on his first run over hurdles. Long Dog can chase him home.

Selection: Adimelo 6/1.

5.45 Beginners Chase

Waaheb the obvious choice for Weld but fitness has to be taken on trust and he is overlooked by Geraghty who rides Hash Brown. Empresario is the each way suggestion here. He is a horse that is highly regarded by connections.

Selection: Empresario e/w 20/1.

6.15 Flat Maiden

Should be between the Weld and Bolger horses, with slight preference for the Weld horse, who shaped as if a stiffer finish might suit on her debut.

Selection: Simmanka 15/8.

6.50 Flat Handicap

Baraweez showed signs of a revival on his last run, and his shrewd handler doesnt usually travel to Galway  just for the craic.

Selection: Baraweez 10/1

7.20 Flat Maiden

Should be another one for Weld with Valac. Has good form in the book and should be too good for this lot.

Selection: Valac 13/8

7.50 Flat Handicap

Oor Jock is looking well treated, and can run a big race tepped back up in trip at 12/1.

Selection: Oor Jock e/w 12/1.

8.20 Flat Handicap

Winter Lion lowered the colours of Modem off 8lb lower at Kilbeggan last year (conceded 4lb) and a repeat here should see him go close.

Selection: Winter Lion e/w 10/1.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Galway Day 1 Preview

It is that time of the year again, when the droves descend on Ballybrit for a week of absolute debauchery. The racing is a mere sideshow for many of the soldiers that march West, but for the horse racing enthusiast there is plenty of quality fare on the menu too, with the serious prize money on offer ensuring that all the big yards are represented throughout the week.
Dermot Weld is usually a shoo in to be the leading trainer at the Festival, and he has an outstanding record over the past two decades. Tony Martin is another trainer to note as he usually fires in a few winners during the week. Local trainer Stephen Mahon also likes to have a winner at the festival, and it is always worth keeping an eye on his runners, in the handicaps in particular.

5.15 Novice Hurdle 4yo Only (2 Miles)

The opener is a race that Mr.Weld has an outstanding record in, and he has taken three of the last five runnings. Zafayan is his representative this year. Willie Mullins saddled last years winner McKinley, and the betting would suggest that his Bachasson is the main threat to the Weld horse.
The Mullins charge is a French import who was successful in two of his three runs in his home country, both wins coming in three runner fields on easy ground over 12F. He was sent off a 4/11 favourite on his hurdling bow at Sligo earlier this month and duly landed the odds in a facile manner. He is the current market leader with a couple of bookmakers, and the best price available at the moment is 13/8. His maiden win came in a weak race, and at that sort of price he is one I will be avoiding.
Zafayan on the other hand can be backed at 15/8 at the moment, and given that his flat form is far stronger than anything the Mullins horse has achieved, and also that he hails from a yard with an unbelievable record at the meeting, that looks to be a more than fair price. His 3rd in the Chester Cup off a mark of 96 was a serious effort, and having been freshened up since, presumably with this race in mind, he is a confident selection to get punters off to a flying start.
Of the remainder the one that interests me at a price is the Aidan O'Brien trained and JP McManus owned All The Answers, who will be ridden by Barry Geraghty, the man charged with the unenviable task of replacing AP McCoy. This horse has a serious National Hunt pedigree, being a son of Kayf Tara and out of a useful Mtoto mare who is a half sister to the classy Radjahni Express. O'Brien's horses usually improve for their first outing, but he can ready one too, and this horse is one to watch very closely in the market.

Selections: Zafayan (win) 15/8, All The Answers (e/w) 14/1.

5.45 Handicap Hurdle 4yo+ (2 Miles)

A typically competitive Galway Festival handicap with any amount of potential winners. There are a few in the field that look like they have been laid out for this race, and the one I really fancy to run well at a big price is Donal Kinsella's King Of Oriel.
This gelded son of Kheleyf has been on  my radar since the festival last year, when he ran in this very race. I backed him that day at 20/1, when he was ridden by Davy Russell, and he was in the process of running a huge race before a silly mistake saw him fall at the last fence. He was dropped out in rear before making smooth headway on the bridle, travelling best in fourth place approaching the last, yet to be asked for a serious effort. He got it all wrong though, and Russell had no chance of keeping the partnership intact.
He hasn't been seen over hurdles subsequently and has instead been running on the flat off a basement mark. After a string of inconsistent efforts everything finally fell into place last time out at Fairyhouse (10F) when he got up in the final stride to beat Flowing Air. He hasn't been seen since, presumably put away for a couple of months with a crack at this race in mind.
Last years effort came off a mark of 104, and this year he gets in off 101. Davy Russell is required to ride one of Weld's in the race, but the booking of Mark Enright is an upgrade in any case in my humble opinion. Kinsella's horses have been running well of late too, another positive for King Of Oriel's chances. The current ground description of yielding should be fine for him, although any further rain would be a worry as he wouldn't want it to be bottomless. All things considered he looks to be a good each way bet at 16/1, but I will be waiting to see what the weather does before my money goes down. If it stays dry and the ground doesn't deteriorate King Of Oriel should be in the shake up.
Another one of interest is the Mahon horse Rocky Court, who will be partnered by Barry Geraghty, a jockey booking that really catches the eye. As I mentioned earlier Mahon is based in Galway, and his entries during the festival demand close inspection. This horse has run well at the track before, has some pretty decent form in maidens, and makes his handicap debut off what could turn out to be a lenient mark of 105.
He has yet to face soft ground under rules, and his point to point effort on that type of ground wasn't exactly full of promise. Yielding ground should be fine, and similarly to King Of Oriel he would ideally like the rain to stay away. He is another to be interested in each way at his current odds of 14/1, and I would imagine his owner Joe Rabbitte, a Galway hurling legend, would get quite a reception if he was to win, especially as The Tribesmen will be in high spirits after their impressive win on Sunday against Cork.

Selections:  King Of Oriel (e/w)  16/1, Rocky Court (e/w) 14/1.

6.15  Flat Maiden 2yo  (7F)

A race that has been shared between Weld and O'Brien in recent years, with Weld leading 6-3 over the last nine seasons. Weld again has the most likely winner this year in market leader True Solitaire (5/4), who is a son of Oasis Dream and a half brother to the classy Carla Bianca.
Perhaps the biggest danger will come from the O'Brien '2nd string' Johannes Vermeer, who is not as well bred as his stablemate Unicorn, but who has the benefit of a previous run under his belt. Given that O'Brien's usually come on massively for their first outing he is the most likely to chase the Weld horse home.
Spader is also worth a mention, and indeed I tipped him up on his last run. It was a disappointing enough effort, but he still looked a bit green under pressure, and Keane didn't exactly throw the kitchen sink at him in the home straight. With the ground currently described as soft it should suit Spader, and he could be one to outrun his current odds of 25/1 if he has improved for his last run.

Selection: True Solitaire (5/4).    Danger: Johannes Vermeer (6/1).     Long Shot: Spader (25/1)

6.50  Flat Handicap  4yo+ (2 miles)

Tony Martin has won this race for the last two years, and he sends a three pronged attack in an attempt to complete the hat trick. Ted Veale is the shortest price of the trio, but Spacious Sky looks an intriguing contender too.
Weld has booked the services of up and coming young jockey Finny Maguire for his sole entrant Sierra Sun, who takes a huge step up in trip. This filly has basically been disappointing this year over middle distance trips after showing definite promise as a 3yo. The new distance has to eke out improvement, but it wouldn't be the biggest surprise to see a better run given her connections.
Spacious Sky appeals most of the Martin entries at the prices, and he has gone close  on a couple of occasions in the past year over this sort of trip. He ran an absolute cracker behind Weld star Silver Concorde on his last run, and he is 2lb lower than when going close in a 15F handicap at Leopardstown in November. He ran well here last year too, goes on any ground, and at his current odds of 16/1 he looks well worth an each way interest.
The top weight Awesome Star is also of interest on his close second to Pyromaniac at the Curragh off 86 back in May. He is 3lbs higher today, and has hit the frame on each of his last six runs. The John Oxx yard is going through something of a revival in recent weeks, after spending quite a long time in the doldrums, and Awesome Star should put in another solid run today. The return to an easier surface could help, he has proven he gets the trip and he has the assistance of the excellent Jamie Codd in the saddle. 12/1 looks too big for such a consistent horse, and he looks sure to run his usual consistent race and be thereabouts at the business end.

Selections: Spacious Sky (nb) 16/1 (e/w). Awesome Star (e/w) 12/1.

7.20 Flat Handicap 3yo Only  (7F)

Unusually this race hasn't been a happy hunting ground for Mr.Weld, and it has been Northern raider Andy Oliver who has taken the honours on the past two occasions. This year it looks an horrendously difficult puzzle to solve with a host of unexposed, well bred types taking their chances.
Oliver has two entries, and one of those is 2nd reserve. Both are worth keeping an eye on, as there can be little doubt that he has targeted this race in an effort to make it three in a row. Pretty Love, a daughter of Duke Of Marmalade, has shown nothing in three runs since a pleasing debut run at Dundalk when she finished 2nd. She has a very similar profile to last years winner Expensive Taste, who won on her handicap debut off a mark of 70.
 If she is pulled out and the Oliver reserve, Pretty Famous, gets in, watch the market closely. She ran her best race over 6F on easy ground in a good maiden at Leopardstown last year, and could well be Oliver's plan b for soft ground if he doesn't think it will suit Pretty Love, who has a good draw too by the way in stall 3.
Of the other contenders Laharde could also run well for the in form Marnane yard. The combination of soft ground, dropping to 7F, a tumbling mark and a first time hood could well see an improved effort from this gelded son of Dutch Art, a sire with a good record from his offspring on easy ground. Connor King takes off a handy 3lb, he has bagged a decent draw in stall 4, and at his current odds of 14/1 he is another with possible each way claims. Stakes are best kept to a minimum in this minefield of a race.

Selections: Pretty Love (e/w)/Pretty Famous(e/w) both 25/1.  Laharde (e/w) 14/1.

7.50 Flat Handicap 3yo Only (12F).

Weld has taken this just twice in the past seven years, including last years victor Timiyan. This year he relies upon Harasava, an unexposed daughter of Azamour out of a Daylami mare that was a listed winner over today's trip of 12F, and on soft ground too. Harasava has had three runs so far, starting out over 7F at this track last year, well beaten, before going close stepped up to 12.5F on soft ground on her next run at Tipperary.
She got her head in front last time out, dropped to 10.5F on good ground at Sligo, and whilst she didn't beat much she showed a willing attitude under pressure, shaping as if the step back up to 12F would be no problem. She has been awarded a mark of 75, and this could turn out to be very generous. She is extremely well bred, with black type galore in her dam line, and it will be disappointing if she can't win this off her current mark, before going on to bigger and better things in the future.

Selection: Harasava NAP (win) 2/1.

8.20 Bumper  4-7yo (2 miles)

With no entries from Weld or Willie Mullins this race will give some of the smaller operations a chance to get themselves into the winners enclosure. Another Cyclone, a full brother to stable star Hidden Cyclone, is the current 2/1 favourite for The Shark, and there was plenty of talk about this fella before his debut run at Fairyhouse in May, when he could only manage fourth. It wasn't a bad effort though, and he is sure to improve for the run. It will be interesting to see what price he goes off at, as it would be no surprise to see The Shark having a wedge on if he fancies him.
The booking of Finny Maguire for the Pat Fahy trained Lord Wickham really catches the eye, and this son of Kris Kin is out of a half sister to the useful Publican, who won his bumper at this track on heavy ground.
Last years winning yard is represented by Matchaway, who ran a lovely race in finishing second on his only run so far on good ground at Punchestown. Jamie Codd takes the reins again, and he is a half brother to  four time winner Ballyallia Man who has a distinct preference for easy ground, which suggests that Matchaway should be fine on today's surface, At his current odds of 4/1 he looks to be the main threat to the favourite, and it would be no surprise to see him coming home in front.

Selections: Matchaway (win) 4/1 Lord Wickham (e/w) 16/1.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Cadeau Could Be Magnificent At Ascot

I am still smarting over Sagaciously yesterday, who went down by the narrowest of margins. She really ploughed through the soft ground, and she looks one to keep onside the next time she faces similar conditions. 
Today's selection is another horse that has shown his best form on soft ground, and he goes in the 2.40 at Ascot. Cadeau Magnifique is trained by Richard Fahey, who is having a super season so far, and he is a son of Dutch Art, a sire whose progeny have an excellent record on rain softened ground. He failed to get his head in front as a 2yo, but reappeared this year with a much improved effort on his handicap debut off a mark of 74 on soft ground over 8.5F at Nottingham, very similar conditions to what he will face today.
That was his first run on soft and he looked as though he truly relished it. All but one of his four rivals that day have gone on to win since, so the form of the race looks decent too. 
His next start saw him returned to fast ground and upped in trip to 12F at Musselburgh off his new mark of 78, and the combination of the new trip and the quick conditions proved his undoing, as he trailed in towards the rear of the field, well beaten. Next time out he was dropped back to 10F at York, again off 78, and he put in a much improved performance to finish fifth, beaten less than three lengths. The ground was good that day, with a little bit of juice in it, and the drop in trip seemed to help too. 
He is dropped back to a mile today, and encounters soft ground for the first time since his win. The handicapper raised him a pound for his last effort, so he races off a mark of 79 today. His sire has a good record on soft as was stated earlier, and his dam is by Cadeaux Genereux, another sire with a good soft ground record. His breeding and his form both suggest today's trip and ground will be perfect, and at his current odds of 10/1 he looks worth supporting each way off bottom weight. 
I also have a strong fancy in the Juddmonte at 2.05, and you can find a detailed analysis and selection here 

Selection: 2.40 Ascot Cadeau Magnifique 10/1 (each way). 

Friday, 24 July 2015

Sagaciously Could Be A Shrewd Bet At Newmarket

A bit late with the selection today, but it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise given the rain that has fallen during the day. Owner Occupier looked like winning at one stage yesterday but faded out of it rather disappointingly in the end. He will be worth looking out for when dropped back in trip and returning to chasing.
Today's selection is Sagaciously in the 8.10 at Newmarket. They have had their fair share of rain there today, and it has got into the ground according to the jockeys who have been in action. This should suit the selection in a big way, as her best run by far came last year on rain softened ground here behind Irish Rookie, who has gone on to perform with credit at the highest level this year. 
She finished fourth on that occasion, going down by less than three lengths, and she had Toujours L'Amour 3/4 of a length behind her, a filly that has since gone on to win at Listed level. 
She made her seasonal return on fast ground over this trip off 89 in a handicap at Ascot, and she didn't pull up any trees in  finishing seventh of eight. However, given that it was her first run of the year, and the fast ground likely didn't suit I believe she is worth giving another chance to this evening back on more forgiving ground. 
She is a daughter of classic winning sire Lawman, whose progeny can usually handle soft ground, and is by a 12F winning mare who is out of Peintre Celebre, another sire who can produce soft ground winners. Her pedigree and form suggest the ground today will be ideal, and at her current odds of 7/1 she is worth another chance to prove her run behind Irish Rookie wasn't a fluke. 

Selection: 8.10 Newmarket-Sagaciously (7/1) 

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Owner To Strike At Worcester

Dovils Duel was a late non runner earlier, but at least it wasn't a loser! Hopefully some of you backed Azure Amour in the first race instead, who was Mr Millman's only other runner on the day, and who was given a brilliantly aggressive ride to win by Steve Drowne, a jockey who has been amongst the winners quite a lot in recent weeks.
Tomorrow's selection comes from Worcester, and returns for another crack at a race in which he finished runner up last year. Owner Occupier goes in the finale, a 23F amateur handicap hurdle, and he will be partnered by Sarah Kelk, who takes off a handy seven pounds.
This horse is better known as a chaser, and indeed he is yet to win over the smaller obstacles. He does have a few runner up placings to his name though, and he has also managed to win three chases, the last victory coming  this month back in 2014. That win came off a chase mark of 79, and with his riders claim his mark is effectively 68 today. Now he obviously has a lower hurdle mark for a reason, seeing as he has yet to win over them, but there is no denying the fact that he is potentially well treated  and he has won off as high a mark as 100 in the past.
Now obviously he is not the same horse now as he was back in 2011 when he won off 100, but he is still more than capable on his day, especially off tjis sort of mark. His two runs at Worcester have resulted in a good 2nd in this event last year (off 74), and a decent 4th last time out over fences (off 87), which was his third run since returning from a summer break. It should also be noted that his win last year came on his 4th run back after his break (today is also his fourth run back), so this aligned with his liking for the track are two major positives for his chances.
He faces a field chock full of horses that are either badly out of form or that have yet to show any form at all, and I was shocked to see him priced up at 15/2 when I had a look this evening. He surely should be capable of reaching the frame in this weak contest, and at his current odds rates a rock solid each way bet.

Selection: 5.55 Worcester- Owner Occupier 15/2.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Millman's Magic Run To Continue

Louis Oosthuizen so nearly did the business for us at St. Andrews on Monday, agonisingly losing out to Zach Johnson in a three way playoff. He looked to have the momentum after draining three crucial putts on the last three holes, but alas he must have used up all his luck as his putter went cold when the chips were down in  the playoff. Zach Johnson on the other hand sank a couple of beauties, and his win was well deserved in the end.
Back on the home front Kerry ran out comfortable winners against Cork down in  Killarney and did nothing to shake my faith in them as potential All Ireland champions. Aidan O' Mahony was a rock at the back, Anthony Maher and in particular David Moran were outstanding in midfield. Some of Moran's kick passing was a joy to behold, and he really has unbelievable skill for such a big lump of a man.
Sheehan looked comfortable at centre half forward and his prowess from dead balls is a serious weapon in Kerry's considerable armoury. James O'Donoghue ran himself into the ground and gave his marker a torrid time, and The Gooch made an instant impact from the bench with a superb quick free kick that set up the crucial Kerry goal that was finished by Geaney. Paul Galvin also made a fleeting appearance, and with Tommy Walsh yet to be unleashed Kerry certainly look to be in a very strong position to challenge for honours. The 4/1 about them to retain Sam Maguire is long gone, but I wouldn't put anyone off taking the 5/2 that is still available. They will be hard to beat.
The losing run has continued unabated for my racing selections recently, and a change of luck is way overdue. Regular readers will be familiar with Rod Millman, who trains Master Carpenter, a horse I have tipped up here before. He has a couple of entries at his favourite track, Bath, tomorrow, and both look to have decent chances. The one I like is the bigger priced of the two (no surprise there!) and goes in the 5.5F handicap at 3.10.
Dovils Duel, a 4yo gelded son of Clodovil, has been relatively disappointing given the high regard he was held in as a 2yo by his shrewd trainer. Sent off favourite for the Brocklesby, he could only manage 5th, and didn't manage to win a maiden at all. He eventually got his head in front off a mark of 60  in a class 6 handicap at Leicester (6F Good to Firm), and followed up off 4lb higher over a similar trip on quick ground at Lingfield a fortnight later. He was then upped in class, to no avail, and must have had a few problems as he only ran twice last season.
He returned this summer with a couple of tame efforts over 7F and 6F, but as a result his mark dropped accordingly. Dropped to the minimum trip at Newbury at the end of June saw an improvement in form, as he went down by a couple of lengths in 3rd place off a mark of 64 in a class 5 handicap. His last run, over 6F in another class 5 event at Salisbury, was admittedly a pretty disappointing effort, but he wore a first time hood and it is no surprise to see the headgear abandoned today.
He has been dropped another couple of pounds to 62, the trip and ground should be perfect, and Ted Durcan, who has already ridden a winner for the yard  this season, takes the reins. He is also dropped back into class 6 company for the first time since his last win, and it will be disappointing if he can't trouble the judge today with his yard firing in the winners.

Selection: 3.10 Bath- Dovils Duel (each way) 14/1.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Erica Could Improve At Cartmel

Gold Chain ran a shocker on Saturday, even though she was very well backed. She halved in  price to 11/2, but ran like a 200/1 shot. I have decided to return to the scene of the crime for today's selection, Erica Starprincess, who goes in the 2.45.
This horse caught my eye all the way back in 2013, when she was a fast finishing third in a juvenile hurdle at Sedgefield over 17F on good to soft ground at odds of 100/1. She was admittedly receiving a fair chunk of weight from some of her rivals that day, but it was a decent effort, and she shaped as if a step up in trip would definitely suit.
However, she obviously must have had a few problems at home since that run, as she didn't see a racecourse for 18 months, before returning with a couple of low key efforts on the level at Catterick and Ripon. She made her return to jumps over today's course and distance on good ground in a maiden hurdle, and was in the process of running a decent race when unseating Joe Colliver four out. It was too early to say whether she would have been involved at the finish, but she jumped well in the main until unshipping Colliver and looked as if she handled the quirky track.
Her next run, again in a maiden hurdle on good ground, saw her dropped to 20.5F at Southwell, and today's jockey Richie McClernon took the reins for the first time. She was dropped in, and after getting outpaced half a mile from home McClernon simply pushed her out under hands and heels, and she came home fifth, well behind the principals but keeping on pretty well. She jumped nicely, and it was an effort that would have rebuilt her confidence after unseating on her previous run.
Her next start, again in maiden company over today's course and distance, was another eyecatching effort. She was dropped out well in rear again, but made rapid headway on the wide outside after the eighth fence to move almost upsides the leader. She did weaken pretty quickly, but it was fast ground that day and the fact she had to travel so wide  to make up the ground meant it was inevitable she would blow up in the closing stages.
She makes her hurdling handicap debut today, and she gets the same sort of ground on which she had the best run of her career so far. Richie McClernon heads to Cartmel to renew acquaintances with the daughter of Bollin Eric, and interestingly it is is only ride of the day. It will be disappointing if she can't show some sort of improvement off what could turn out to be a generous mark of 83.

Selection: 2.45 Cartmel- Erica Starprincess (16/1) each way.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Chain Could Be Golden At Cartmel

Louis Oosthuizen has played well so far in The Open, and hopefully the wind stays away tomorrow morning when he ventures back out to complete his 2nd round. He is in prime position, just three shots off the lead, and hopefully will go on to do the business for us on Sunday.
The last few equine selections have been running terribly, unfortunately, but sometimes that is just the way it goes, especially when trying to find bigger priced winners. The run of Camillas Wish at shortish odds represented a new low however, and the only consolation is that things can hopefully only get better.
Saturday's selection is Gold Chain, who goes in the lucky last (5.30) at Cartmel. This is a mare that has been out of form for quite a while. As a result she has dropped down the handicap, and with her current mark of 109 she is four pounds lower than she was on her last run over timber. She is trained by Dianne Sayer and will be ridden by her daughter Emma, who takes off a valuable three pounds and who also knows Gold Chain inside out.
Cartmel is a quirky old track, and is the type of course that a horse will either relish or downright hate. Gold Chain seems to fit into the former category, and has run well here on two of her three visits. This includes a win and a second, and she was staying on well when unseating at the last on the other occasion.
The win came in a seller, which was admittedly a weak enough contest, and she then finished second in this race on her next start here, off a mark of 105. She also won at Perth in September in a Class 4 handicap hurdle, and that came off 108, just a pound lower than today's mark. She won easily that day, and subsequently ran a decent race at Musselburgh to be third off a mark of 115.
She has a  clear liking for the track, is on a mark she has shown she is capable of winning off, and showed signs of a return to form on her last run on the flat(over too far a trip) a couple of weeks ago after a short break which should put her cherry ripe for this. Hopefully she can go one better than last year and emerge victorious. At her current odds of 11/1 she looks well worth an interest.

Selection: 5.30 Cartmel: Gold Chain (11/1).

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Kerry A Crazy Price For Sam

The Provincial Championships are nearly complete, and the All Ireland Series is but a couple of weeks away. It has been an entertaining summer so far, and there has been plenty of exciting matches on offer, as well as the usual few snoozefests. The highlight so far has to be the cracking contest between Westmeath and Meath, a truly ding dong battle that featured some excellent attacking football, as well as some questionable defending, a combination that usually guarantees a thrilling spectacle.
Cork and Kerry was another exciting, high scoring game, and Kerry were lucky to escape with a draw thanks to an unbelievable last minute point from Fionn Fitzgerald, one that his namesake Maurice would have been proud of.
Dublin have predictably swept all before them in Leinster again, and they have looked as slick an attacking force as ever in disposing of their opponents with ruthless efficiency. However, they still seem to be lacking a lynchpin type figure at centre half back, and there has looked to be plenty of open space in front of the full back line at times. There is no doubting that more accomplished outfits will target that space, as Donegal did so brilliantly last year, and it remains to be seen whether Dublin have learned from that shock defeat.
Although Kerry could only manage a draw against Cork, I believe they are by far the most likely winners of this years All Ireland. They still have the vast majority of last years wining squad, and they also have Colm Cooper back from injury and Tommy Walsh back from Australia. Cooper has been used mainly as an impact sub so far, and seems to be slowly working his way back to full fitness. Surely the plan is for him to peak for late August/September, and if he does it is doubtful he will be left on the bench.
Tommy Walsh is an interesting one, as he has yet to be used at all in this years championship since returning from an unspectacular stint down under. Some have suggested that he may be struggling to re-adapt to Gaelic Football, but I'm not too sure about that argument. He played football his whole life, and only spent a couple of years in Oz. There is no way he would have forgotten how to play in that short a time. Who knows why he hasn't featured, but when he does he will be some weapon for Fitzmaurice to call upon.
Fitzmaurice is as cute an operator as they come, and seems to be an extremely tactically astute manager. When Kerry win they can do so in a number of different ways. They can turn on the style and play open attractive football with the best of them, and they can also win ugly when needed, as they did in the Final last year against Donegal. Most teams have their way of playing, be it blanket defence, sweepers, two man full forward line or a quick hand passing game.Kerry have all these strings to their bow, and they look well equipped to mount a serious challenge this summer.
Dublin on the other hand seem to have stuck to the blueprint that failed so spectacularly against Donegal in last years semi final. Tyrone showed in the League that they were still vulnerable to a defensive, quick counter attacking system, and it remains to be seen whether Jim Gavin has a Plan B up his sleeve.
 McCaffrey and McCarthy are still both bombing forward from wing back, and there have been a couple of different lads tried at centre half back, Cian O'Sullivan the latest against Westmeath. He is essentially another attack minded player though, and has a tendency to drift forward. Dublin desperately miss the presence of Ger Brennan  in this position. He had no problem sitting and letting the wing backs do the attacking, and any counter attack through the middle was met with steely resistance (Just ask Declan O'Sullivan!). He is a typically tough, no nonsense Dublin centre half back with excellent distribution, and reminds me of Keith Barr in many ways. Dublin are a poorer side without him, and unless they plug the gap he has left they will remain vulnerable.
Jim Gavin looked like a genius in his first year as manager in 2013. Dublin won the All Ireland with the minimum of fuss, and did so playing an all out attacking brand of football with a flair and flamboyance that drew praise from many quarters. However, his laissez-faire style of management looked to backfire in 2014 when Donegal came up with a plan to halt the unstoppable Blue Machine. Gavin has often claimed that his input at half time in matches is minimal, and he leaves the players to sort things out among themselves. I always found this to be a strange philosophy, as no matter what level of the game is involved players need guidance and instruction before they go out on the pitch, both before the match starts and at half time. If his claims are indeed true, the players did not find the answers during the interval against Donegal, and capitulated tamely after the Northeners had weathered the early  Dublin storm.
 In the second half The Dubs half backs continued to bomb forward, and Donegal picked their way through an exposed full back line with consummate ease. It really was shocking how naive Dublin looked both tactically and defensively, and their current price of 10/11 looks extremely skinny given that they have yet to be tested this year. Westmeath exposed the gaps in their defence on a few occasions in the Leinster Final, but just lacked the quality in their team to capitalise. The likes of Kerry, Donegal and perhaps even Mayo will be looking forward to meeting that defence later this summer, and their forwards definitely have the class and ability to make hay if the opportunity arises.
Kerry though look the strongest outfit left in the competition, and 4/1 is truly a head scratching price. Fitzmaurice is a shrewd operator, and he will have this team peaking both mentally and physically at the business end of the championship. They are a confident selection to go all the way.

All Ireland Winners Outright: Kerry 4/1.

Rain To Suit Spader

This afternoon and evening in Dublin the rain has been pelting down, and as a result the ground has already eased at Leopardstown. With this in mind, I believe there is an overpriced horse in the second race on the card, Spader, trained by Ger Lyons and ridden by Colin Keane.
This horse has had two outings in maidens already, and has yet to trouble the judge, finishing fifth on both occasions. The first outing came at Dundalk over 5F, a trip that was never likely to suit. He showed arguably better form stepped up to 7F on his next run, and finished fifth again. A couple of horses that ran in the race have since come out and run well, and the form looks pretty decent on paper. Antelope Canyon was 5L behind in last place but came out and beat Escondida on his next run, who also goes today. Spader is more than twice the price of the Bolger horse.
However, it was good to firm that day, and today's ground conditions are sure to prove more to Spader's liking. He is a son of Jeremy, whose progeny usually relish soft underfoot conditions. His dam is by Sadlers Wells and is a  full sister to triple listed winner Pouvoir Absolu. Two of those listed wins came on rain sodden turf, so there is every chance that Spader will improve on the surface he will face this evening.
He has also been gelded since his last run, which can often help to eke out further improvement in a horse, and with doubts about the suitability of the ground for a good few of his rivals Spader looks worth a small each way interest from a good draw in stall 3.

Selection: 6.25 Leopardstown- Spader (each way) 12/1.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Louis Looks Likely At St.Andrews

The less said about Camillas Wish the better. It was a lifeless effort and well below what she showed last time. The way the horses have been running lately I am delighted to be able to change sports for this post, and below is my view on the upcoming Open Championship.
The British Open this year has already lost some of it's lustre  with the withdrawal of Rory McIlroy due to an ankle injury picked up in a kickabout with his mates. However, it will still make for a fascinating tournament and the current favourite, Jordan Spieth, will be the choice of many to emerge victorious. He can currently be backed at a best price of 7/1 (Ladbrokes), but if you want to play safe and back him each way there are a number of bookmakers offering each way terms on 7 places. It pays to shop around.
There are a number of likely challengers in the field available at more generous prices, and chief among them is the previous course and distance winner Louis Oosthuizen. He came out on top the last time The Open was held at St Andrews, and he has hinted that he is returning to that sort of form again this year.
Back in 2010 Oosthuizen didn't just win, he absolutely demolished the field and cruised home by a seven shot margin on -16. He took control on the 2nd day and never looked like relinquishing the lead for the remainder of the tournament.
This year his form has been patchy as he has come back from a fairly serious back problem. He has seemed to reserve his best form for the majors though, and after a respectable T-19th place finish at Augusta in the Masters he arrived at Chambers Bay for the US Open full of hope as the course looked likely to suit. However, he had an absolute nightmare opening round, and carded a 77. His two playing partners, Woods and Fowler also played terribly and it seemed that they dragged eachother down during the round. Little did we know what was to come next!
He bounced back in a big way, and his new putting technique started to reap rewards as he closed with three rounds of 66,66 and 67 to finish a mere shot behind winner Spieth.
Surely Oosthuizen will be gutted that such a poor first round cost him what surely would have been an easy victory, and he will be out to make amends at St Andrews. He has spoken during the week about his liking for the course and how happy he is with his form. At his current best odds of 25/1 he looks to be well worth an each way bet.
From an Irish perspective Shane Lowry looks the most likely to challenge, and he also had a great US Open. He was right in the mix until a pretty average closing round saw him drop out of contention, but even still it was a hugely encouraging tournament for the Offaly man. He has a super record at St Andrews and on links courses in general. He played well in the first two rounds of the Scottish Open last week and showed that he remains in decent form. The 50/1 available from Ladbrokes looks too big, and if the wind gets up and the weather turns nasty he could be well worth a saver at those sort of odds.
The last player I would like to mention is a young Englishman that caught my eye during the Irish Open. 23 year old Tyrell Hatton hasn't been a pro all that long and only joined the main European Tour in  2014. He has already had some good performances though, including a 2nd in the Joburg Open last year, as well as a good fourth in The Scottish Open at Aberdeen. He played well again there this year, T-22nd (closing with a 66), and also claimed 4th at the Irish Open at Royal County Down.
His strong performances at both The Irish and Scottish Opens would suggest he has a liking for links golf, and there is every chance St Andrews will suit him. Admittedly it is only his second Major Championship as a professional, and he missed the cut last year at Royal Liverpool. However, he definitely looks to have something about him, and it wouldn't be a massive surprise to see him play well this weekend. A small interest at his current best odds of 350/1 mightn't be the worst idea in the world!

Main Fancy: Louis Oosthuizen (25/1)

Small Stakes Savers: Shane Lowry (50/1) Tyrrell Hatton (350/1)

Monday, 13 July 2015

Camilla To Relish Step Up In Trip

Due to other commitments I have been unable to update the blog for the last couple of days. Reckless Lad continued the superb form of Pat Martin in Kerry earlier this evening, and hopefully some of you were on him.
Today's selection runs on home soil (kind of!) in a handicap hurdle up at Downpatrick. Camilla's Wish was the subject of a bit of a gamble last time out across the water and although she finished 2nd, beaten by the narrowest of margins, that was only because Kentford Heiress fell with the race at her mercy. In fact it looked as if Johnny Burke had accepted his fate on the Dreaper horse, and only decided to really go for it once the leader fell.
She was badly outpaced in that race, and looked in need of a proper test of stamina which she gets today. From a handicapping point of view she looks well treated too as she races off a mark of 86 despite the fact she went so close last time in England off a mark of 89. Young Jonathan Moore takes off another valuable 7lbs too, and he is a useful pilot on his day (bar one mess up on The Nutcracker which I will forgive him for if he does the business today!). With his claim she is effectively racing off a mark of 79.
She has already run well at the track, with her highest RPR of 92 coming here over this sort of trip. That was on soft ground though, and she was beaten almost four lengths on the day off a similar mark to today's. She is by Presenting, and showed in England that decent ground holds no fears, so today's ground conditions should be fine. I was surprised to see her available to back at 11/2 (Betvictor) at the time of writing, and at that sort of price she looks an outstanding bet. The Elliott horse looks to be the one to beat, but I believe he might struggle to concede a stone in weight to the Dreaper horse, and Camilla's Wish is a confident selection.

Selection: 5.45 Downpatrick Camilla's Wish (11/2)

Friday, 10 July 2015

Rogue Too Big At Ascot

Saturday's selection goes in the 3.55 at Ascot, a Class 4 handicap with 14 runners. As one would expect it is a very open heat, and the current favourite is the unexposed  Great Fun for Brian Meehan at 5/1, who returns to the turf for the first time since his debut win. His chance is obvious, but the one I like at much juicier odds is the Timothy Jarvis trained Rogue Wave, a horse that has only tasted success once in 14 starts.
On the face of it he looks to be fairly exposed, but there is reason to believe he can put in an improved performance today. He won his maiden last year over this trip as a 3yo  at Thirsk on good ground after a fruitless 2yo campaign, and he earned himself a handicap mark of 80. He has failed to win a handicap so far, but a couple of his runs suggest that he is more than capable off today's mark of 78.
He twice went close off this mark last year, at Kempton (7F) and Newcastle (8F) going down by narrow margins on both occasions, but his from tailed off on his last couple of runs and he was put away for the Winter. He made a low key reappearance at Kempton (8F) in April, not beaten all that far, and today's jockey Jordan Vaughan rode him on his second and last run at Haydock (8F) which was a much improved effort.
He drops back down to 7F today, which on all the evidence available should suit, and Vaughan takes off a handy 5lbs, meaning he basically races off 73. Those two runs over a mile should have put him cherry ripe for today, and the Jarvis stable has really hit form in the last couple of weeks. He can currently be backed at odds of 16/1 and this looks to be way too big. He looks well worth supporting each way in a typically open handicap.

Selection: 3.55 Ascot-Rogue Wave (16/1) each way.

I have also done an in depth preview of the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket today and it can be found here

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Belated Step Back Up In Trip To Suit Beckett's Charge

Staccato Wolf was disappointing yesterday and could only manage 6th after being well positioned entering the home straight. He had no excuses and looked to be a fairly tricky ride too. He may well be one to look out for after he has been gelded.
The July meeting starts today at Newmarket, and the feature race today is the Group 2 Princess of Wales Stakes. Eight horses go to post and the current favourite is the unbeaten John Gosden trained colt Mahsoob, who steps into Group company for the first time after taking the Wolferton last time out. However, worryingly for favourite backers, only one jolly has obliged since 2005.
Michael Stoute has won five out of the last ten runnings of this race, with Ryan Moore on board for four of those victories, and he is doubly represented today, with Moore on board Gospel Choir and Ted Durcan taking the reins on Hillstar. Neither horse can be written off with much confidence and both are previous winners at this level. Second Step, a winner over course and distance in the Jockey Club Stakes (Group 2) last time out, carries a 3lb penalty as a result and needs to prove that wasn't a fluke as his opponents on the day ran well below their best.
The horse I like at a price is Ralph Beckett's Niceofyoutotellme, who will be ridden by James Doyle. This 6yo gelding, a half brother to Jack Hobbs, has stepped into Group comapany this season after proving himself a serious handicapper, and his first run of the season at this track (Group 3) was an effort filled with promise. It came over 9F, and he was slowly away and stayed on nicely at the finish to finish 4th, beaten less than 2L by the useful French Navy.
 He stepped up to 10F on his next outing, again at Group 3 level, and ran an absolute cracker in 3rd just behind Arab Spring and Western Hymn, outpaced early in the home straight before gaining on both again on the run to the line. Both of these efforts have suggested a step up in trip might suit, and indeed he won over 11F as a 4yo. He did have one go over this trip back in 2012, but it came on easy ground so his poor run can be excused on that front.
His last effort, in the Listed Wolferton Handicap at Sandown, saw him face today's favourite Mahsoob, who won nicely, but Niceofyoutotellme was only a couple of lengths behind and was carrying 2lb more than the Gosden horse, so he is 2lb better off with him today. Although the Beckett horse finished in eighth place he wasn't beaten all that far, and he stayed on well late in the day in a manner that again suggested a crack at this sort of trip was in order. I would imagine the sight of Jack Hobbs hacking up in the Irish Derby might have convinced them to have a go at 12F again too!
James Doyle's booking is another positive, as he has form figures of 2124 when riding this horse, and an overall strike rate of 7/39 when riding for Beckett. The return to Newmarket is also sure to suit, this son of Hernando, who has form figures of 10124 when running at the track. At his current odds of 16/1 he looks worthy of a little each way wager, and hopefully he will be staying on late in the day when others have cried, enough!

Selection: 3.15 Newmarket- Niceofyoutotellme (each way) 16/1.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Wolf To Emerge From Pack At Naas

The less said about Grissom yesterday the better! Conditions were perfect at a track he loved, he was  off a winnable mark and there looked to be a few bob around for him but alas he ran a stinker, and he looks to be one to avoid until he shows a bit more. 
Today's fancy comes from Naas, and is for a trainer that has already done this blog a favour when Red All Star was placed for us a couple of weeks ago. Martin has remained in magnificent form, with both Easy Boy and Versilia Gal tasting victory for him in recent weeks. 
Today he only has one entered, and that is Staccato Wolf, a three year old colt that is a son of Amadeus Wolf. and his dam is a half sister to top sprinter The Tatling. 
He started off in maidens over 7F and 8F as a 2yo, before being dropped to 5F for his final 2yo start, also his handicap debut. He was only beaten by less than 3L off a mark of 57, and he was then put away until February, where he ran with credit behind Showcard over 7F at Dundalk, finishing 4th off a mark of 49.
He was given another spin over 7F at Gowran, finishing 5th of 15 off a mark of 49 and shaped as if the trip slightly stretched him. He was given another couple of months off, and reappeared over 6F at Fairyhouse last week, where he was slowly away and on the face of it did well to finish 5th.
 Tom Madden rode him for the first time that day, and keeps the ride today. He creeps in to the race off bottom weight on a mark of 47, and it will be very disappointing if he can't make an impact today for a trainer that remains in smashing form. 

Selection: 7.30 Naas Staccato Wolf (11/1) each way.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Kiko To Be A Reality Check For Quigg

Kiko Martinez, a boxer who is no stranger to playing the role of pantomime villain, looks brilliant value at 7/2 (Boyles) to upset the apple cart against Scott Quigg on July 18th in Manchester. Quigg is a best price of 2/7 to emerge victorious, but I believe the bookmakers have massively underestimated the Spanish fighter.
Quigg goes into the fight unbeaten, with two draws and 28 wins from 30 bouts. However, his quality of opponent has to be seriously questioned. Yaoandris Salinas was probably his hardest opponent on paper, and he only managed a draw against the Cuban. Salinas has since gone on to lose to a journeyman with a 15/7 record, so in hindsight he wasn't all that his undefeated record made him look to be, and Quigg was lucky to get the draw against him.
People will point to the fact that Quigg made short work of Rendall Monroe, who beat Martinez twice, easily on the second occasion, back in 2008/9. However, the truth is that Monroe was in his pomp back in those years, and the Monroe that Quigg beat was a shadow of the fighter that boxed the ears off Kiko and just fell short in his world title challenge in Japan.
Quigg has also faced the likes of Munyai, Silva and Jamoye, none of whom are exactly household names. In fact both Munyai and Silva went on to lose their subsequent fights after facing Quigg too, further exposing the lack of quality opponents he has faced so far. He has been very well protected by Eddie Hearn, but Kiko Martinez will be a different animal to anything he has encountered in his career to date.
Martinez has a serious pedigree, and it is hard to believe he is still only 28 as it feels like he has been around for decades. He burst onto the scene in 2007 with a devastating knockout of Bernard Dunne in front of a stunned home crowd, and it was a shock to everybody bar Kiko's entourage, who had a tasty wager on the first round ko at tasty odds if my memory serves me correctly.
He has fought Carl Frampton twice, and lost heavily both times, but there is no shame in that. Frampton is without doubt the real deal, and Rigondeaux is the only man he has to fear in the division. After his first defeat to Frampton Martinez was written off again, but he answered the critics with a shock knockout victory over the useful Colombian Jhonatan Romero, when he took the IBF title. He defended successfully twice, before Frampton put him in his place in their rematch.
Martinez has no fears of fighting on foreign soil, as he has illustrated repeatedly during his career. His biggest wins came in the USA and in front of a partisan and passionate Irish crowd, so he seems to relish silencing the boo boys. I can see him flying out of the blocks and going for the kill straight away. If he manages to connect with one of those booming overhand rights early on it could spell trouble for Quigg. Once Martinez gets his opponent on the back foot the pressure is relentless. The jury is well and truly out on whether Quigg will be able to handle that. For my money it will be a bridge too far for the Bury boxer and Martinez will emerge victorious, with an early stoppage the most likely result.

Advised bets: Martinez (win) 7/2

                       Martinez (Method of Victory by ko/tko) 5/1.

                       Martinez (Round 1) 50/1, Martinez (Round 2) 40/1.

Forecast Rain To Be Right Up Grissom's Street

After a short sabbatical I hope to return to action with a bang this week! Hopefully some of you managed to catch Master Carpenter, who I had tipped up when he was withdrawn from his previous intended run. He ran a stormer on Saturday at 20/1, just failing to reel in the winner, and there are more races to be won with this fella when the ground turns soft at the end of the season. 
The weather has began to turn slightly this week, after an extended period of glorious sunshine and sweltering heat, and one horse that will appreciate the rain forecast for this evening and before racing at Pontefract tomorrow is the Tim Easterby trained Grissom. 
This 9yo gelding has not won since July 2012, but he has shown that there is life in the old dog yet with a number of creditable recent runs. His last run, over 7F at Ayr on good ground was a shade disappointing admittedly, but he still managed to finish 4th beaten four lengths off 82. His previous two runs, at Haydock (6F Good) and Newcastle (7F Good to soft) were much more like it when he finished second and fourth, beaten less than two lengths for the win on both occasions. 
He races today off a mark of 81, and his last win came off a mark of 90, so he is well treated, but the handicapper hasn't exactly been overly generous seeing as he hasn't won in so long. It is not just the weather that has come in Grissom's favour either though, as the return to Pontefract is another big positive. His three runs at the track have yielded a 1st and 2nd (the other occasion was a seasonal return which can be excused) and his trainer has spoken in the past about the gelding's liking for a stiff track. 
With juice in the ground likely, and a return to Pontefract sure to suit, Grissom looks well worthy of each way support at his current odds of 8/1. 

Selection: 3.40 Pontefract Grissom (8/1) each way