Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sunday's Selections

After a disappointing effort from Houblon Des Obeaux it is back to the drawing board today. He never jumped or travelled and the writing was on the wall a long way from home. The best of today's action comes from Fairyhouse and there are a trio of Grade 1s at the county Meath course this afternoon.

I have written a detailed preview of the opening Juvenile Grade 3 which you can read here at the excellent Sportismadeforbetting blog.

The Royal Bond looks a tricky little heat and Willie Mullins holds a strong hand with the exciting Long Dog and the promising Bachasson locking horns and those two head the market. The Noel Meade trained Gunnery Sergeant looks like a viable alternative at 9/2 as he was in the process of running a big race before coming to grief at the 2nd last. If he can put in a clear round he could put it up to the Mullins pair at 9/2.

The Hatton's Grace looks a tricky heat from a betting perspective and again Mullins has the favourite with Arctic Fire. He also runs the unbeaten Clondaw Court who could represent a bit of value against the favourite at 15/2. However, at an even bigger price Snow Falcon is worth a second look. This 20/1 shot was only 5L behind Windsor Park in the Neptune at the Cheltenham Festival and is guaranteed to get the trip on what will be dire ground at Fairyhouse. He showed he was in good heart with an easy win last time at Naas and could sneak into a place at 20/1.

The handicap at 2.10 looks a very tricky heat to decipher and I have had a speculative each way bet on Coolaghknock Glebe. Christy Roche has his string in fine form and if this fella puts in a clear round he shouldn't be too far away. Some bookies are paying 5 places in this race so at 12/1 he looks worthy of a small interest.

The final Grade 1 of the day is the Drinmore and there are some very promising types due to go to post in this one. No More Heroes looks short at 11/8 for Elliott and Cooper while there is a case to be made for Monksland at odds of 9/2. However, Shantou Flyer has done nothing wrong on his last few runs and looks a progressive type. He handled the step up to Grade 2 company with ease last time and showed he handled bad ground well. At 16/1 he looks overpriced and he could give the more fancied runners something to think about.

                                              1.40  SNOW FALCON 20/1 EW
                                              2.10 COOLAGHKNOCK GLEBE 12/1 EW
                                              2.40 SHANTOU FLYER 16/1 E/W

Friday, 27 November 2015

Saturday's Selection

It is a Michelin Star quality menu of action on offer in the racing world tomorrow with a Grade 1 contest at Newcastle and the Hennessy at Newbury the main courses on what should be an exciting and informative day of action. The Fighting Fifth is the main attraction at Newcastle and you can read my in depth preview here at

The Hennessy is the big one though, and 17 are due to go to post in what looks a minefield for punters. The one I like at a decent price is Houblon Des Obeaux for Venetia Williams and Aidan Coleman. I backed him in it last year at 50/1 on his seasonal reappearance and he ran a blinder to be 2nd to Many Clouds off a mark of 157. He showed that effort was no fluke with decent efforts behind The Young Master and Coneygree on his next two starts but he faded badly on his last few appearances. He was well beaten in the Gold Cup and fell in the Scottish National.

However, every cloud has a silver lining and as a result of those poor efforts his mark has now dropped to a pound lower than he was last year. He has a run under his belt, an average effort behind Pendra at Ascot. One gets the impression that was just a pipe opener for this race, and surely this is the target after he ran such a big race in it last year. At odds of 14/1 this 8yo son of Panoramic should give each way backers a good run for their money at 14/1 with soft ground ideal.


Thursday, 26 November 2015

Siddall Could Strike For First Time With Never

An excellent run from Millanisi Boy earlier behind a horse that looks to be well above average. The front two pulled miles clear and hopefully the handicapper isn't too harsh on the Woollacott horse. There is decent action tomorrow as well, but the horse that interests me goes in a class 5 0-100 handicap hurdle over 19.5f at Doncaster and I think it is safe to say there are no potential superstars hidden in this field.

First of Never is a 9yo son of Systematic who remains a maiden after 22 starts under rules, not exactly a record that inspires confidence. However he has been placed in 5 of his handicap runs, and one of his better efforts came when he was a good 2nd in this race off a mark of 74, beaten just 2L on good to soft ground. His form dipped somewhat after that run though he did manage a remote 3rd here over 2m off 75.

He made his seasonal reappearance over an inadequate 2m on heavy ground a couple of weeks ago and that should put him spot on for this. He is 3lb lower than last year's runner up effort and it would be no surprise if connections have laid him out to try and go one better this year. Kennedy rode him last year and takes the ride again. He will need to be at his best to get this fella home in front as he is a strong traveller that usually finds little off the bridle and his challenge will have to be timed to perfection.

As can be seen from the above there is a lot of things that will have to drop right for First of Never if he is to win, so stakes should be kept to a minimum. However, I am convinced this fella has a small race in him and tomorrow could be the day. At odds of 25/1 he looks worthy of a little support each way.


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Woollacott's Boy Could Build On Promise Of Last Run At Newbury

After a couple of poor day's of action earlier this week there is better fare on offer tomorrow. Some decent types will be on show on both sides of the Irish Sea and the horse that interests me goes at Newbury in the novice handicap at 1.35. This 20.5f contest will be run on testing ground and Richard Woollacott's Millanisi Boy will have no problem with the underfoot conditions.

This 6yo son of Kalanisi has been brought along ever so slowly and having shown definite promise in a couple of bumper runs he was campaigned exclusively in novice and maiden hurdles over the past year. He had 6 runs altogether and although he failed to get his head in front he showed enough ability to suggest he could win a race.

He made his handicap debut earlier this month over 23.5f at Exeter on heavy ground and travelled like the best horse in the race until the tank emptied in the closing stages. That trip maybe stretches him and the drop back to 20.5f looks sure to suit. His half brother Valoroso stayed 3m but he was by Laveron, and Kalanisi's progeny usually do better over a little bit shorter.

He was raised a couple of pounds for his last effort and races off a mark of 117. Daryl Jacob, who is 9/69 for the yard, keeps the faith and if Millanisi Boy strips fitter for his reappearance he is capable of hitting the frame at a rewarding price. Another one to keep a close eye on is the Sue Gardner trained Doctor Look Here who ran well for the blog last time. He could be worth a saver at 14/1.


Monday, 23 November 2015

Ship Could Sail Home At Sedgefield

Over the last couple of months I have been reluctant to tip up any horses running in the early part of the week. The quality is usually pretty low on Monday and Tuesday, though there were some decent types in action on the all weather at Cheltenham earlier today. However, there is a horse going at Sedgefeld tomorrow that may be overpriced and his Irish trainer, Paul Stafford, has a decent record with his British Raiders.

West Ship Master goes in the 2.50 at Sedgefield, a 3m2f handicap chase and the going is currently described as soft. This 11yo son of Oscar remains a maiden over fences after 24 starts but he showed on a couple of occasions last year that he has a small race in him. He was 2nd on no less than 5 occasions last season and those efforts came on ground ranging from heavy to good. His very best form has come with cut in the ground though, and he will have his ideal conditions on Tuesday.

He has had a couple of runs since his Winter break and his last run at Tramore on good ground over 22f was a step back in the right direction, even if he was well beaten in the end. His British mark is 12lb higher than his Irish one and he runs tomorrow off 95, with a very talented claimer taking off a handy 3lb. He was beaten just 1L off 92 (24f good) back in April so I believe this mark is not beyond him.

The extra couple of furlongs should be fine too, and indeed he was 4th off 101 over 25F on heavy at Fairyhouse back in 2011. His trainer was 4/21 with his British runners last year and he had a good winner at Fairyhouse when Lorna Brooke steered Moonlone Lane to victory in the Ladies Race. West Ship Master looks a big price at 20/1 and could be set to run a big race. He looks worthy of a small each way interest in what looks a pretty open race.


Saturday, 21 November 2015

Dromnea Can Take Troytown For Mouse

It was a poor run from Low Key at Haydock earlier and even though he was hampered he was weakening at the time and perhaps he was over the top after a long season. Tomorrow's selection goes in the Troytown at Navan and will appreciate the step back up in trip.

Dromnea is a horse I have been following ever since he lowered the colours of Champagne James at Fairyhouse back in January on bottomless ground (20f). That was the furthest this 8yo son of Presenting has won over but he has shaped on a couple of occasions that 3m would be well within his compass. There is hope in his pedigree too as his dam is a half sister to a 26f winner.

He stayed on well at the Cheltenham festival late on after being left with way too much to do (21.5f) and he again shaped as though he had plenty of stamina on his seasonal reappearance behind Rossvoss last week at Punchestown when beaten just 2L off a mark of 132.

He should strip lot fitter for that run and the fact he has had only 8 days to recover from that effort isn't too big a worry as he had only 13 days off between his two wins last season.  His effort at Cheltenham came off 138 and I believe he has the necessary ability to win off his current mark of 132. At his current odds of 12/1 he looks a solid each way bet.


Saturday's Selection

Princess Lir ran a cracker on Thursday and it looks like she bumped into a pretty useful sort in Mystra. She travelled and jumped well and the front two pulled a mile clear of the remainder. There are races to be won with her though the handicapper could tale a dim view of her effort on Thursday.

Saturday sees some decent action on both sides of the Irish sea but it has to be said that some of the field sizes are a little disappointing. Vautour takes on just 4 rivals at Ascot and barring accidents he should be hard to beat, although it will be interesting to see how Ptit Zig gets on against the Mullins hotpot.

The one I like goes in the Betfair handicap hurdle at 2.25 and looks sure to be suited by the return to soft ground. Low Key represents the David Pipe yard who have won this race 3 times in the last 5 seasons. Tom Scudamore is booked to ride his other entry, but the booking of red hot 7lb claimer David Noonan catches the eye on Low key who has had only the 7 starts over hurdles.

He has won two of them, both during the summer and on good ground at Stratford (18.5f) and Fontwell (19f). The second win came off a mark of 129 by a short head and he was beaten less than 4l off his revised mark of 135 last time out at Kempton (21f good). In between those two runs he took a class 2 18f handicap on the level off 82 on good to soft at Newmarket and followed that up with an excellent effort in the Cesarewitch off 88 on good ground.

His previous flat win came on soft over 12f and he absolutely hosed up, never coming off the bridle. It seems he is at his very best with cut in the ground and conditions will be pretty testing at Haydock. His half brother Lightning Strike won a grade 2 on bottomless ground over 20f  and with Noonan taking off 7lbs he has a light weight to carry. His 18f flat win shows that stamina won't be an issue and at odds of 25/1 he looks worthy of a little each way support off an effective mark of 128, 1lb lower than he was for his last win.


Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Murray's Mare Could Go Well At Thurles

It is a pleasure to be writing this blog today after a superb win for Balnagon Boy at Fairyhouse earlier. When I awoke this morning and peeked out from behind the curtains you can imagine my excitement when I saw it was absolutely pissing it down outside. With bottomless ground a certainty my confidence in Balnagon Boy was enhanced, and I decided to head to the track to shout him home. He was sent off at 5/1, a more accurate price than the crazy 10/1 that was available last night, and he did it well, producing a fast jump at the last and putting the race to bed.

Balnagon Boy In The Parade Ring At Fairyhouse

All the credit has to go to his trainer Tom Gibney, who is no stranger to success around Fairyhouse. This horse was out for almost 2 years having shown plenty of promise as a 5yo. To get him back to his best (if not even better) on just his second run back after such a long layoff was a marvellous training performance, and it was great to see his big white face coming home in front. Hopefully there is more to come from this handsome son of Hernando.

Tomorrow sees more decent national hunt action in Thurles, and the horse that catches my eye is the Adrian Murray trained mare Princess Lir. This daughter of Presenting has shaped with real promise on her last two runs, and her penultimate effort was particularly pleasing. It came over 20f at Ballinrobe on bad ground and she ran a cracker to be beaten less than 2L, herself and the winner finishing well clear of the 3rd. Ma Garrett was miles back and won her next two starts, although the ground was a likely factor in that one's performance.

Next time up over the same trip at Clonmel she was no match for the promising winner, but she was just 3L behind Blazing Tempo who she conceded 5lb to. That form was franked when Blazing Tempo won a maiden next time out, and what looked a pretty moderate effort at the time looks a lot better now. The Mullins horse will be a short priced fav, and he had a double at Fairyhouse earlier today. However, Princess Lir is fit, is guaranteed to like the ground  and she is bred to get the trip (her half bro Master Neo won over 24f soft). I think 11/1 is a huge price and Murray had one placed at 100/1 in the opener at Fairyhouse earlier. She is a confident each way selection in what looks a pretty poor race.


Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Balnagon Can Fire At Fairyhouse For Gibney

With the low quality of fare on offer early this week it has been difficult to find a horse worth backing. Thankfully things improve tomorrow, and there is a horse at Faryhouse that has caught my eye.

The Thomas Gibney trained Balnagon Boy goes in the Novice Chase at 2.45 and he looks to have a serious chance. He reappeared after a long injury layoff with an extremely promising run behind Arkle bound Sizing John at Punchestown. It was his first run in 22 months and he travelled supremely well for a long way.

He is a former point to point winner so chasing was always going to be the eventual plan, and he didn't disappoint with his jumping at Punchestown on his chase debut. He was low and quick over the majority of the fences, bar a couple on the far side when he missed a stride. He pinged the last two, which is always good to see, and with that experience under his belt he will hopefully jump even better on Wednesday.

He is a previous course and distance winner over the smaller obstacles and the recent heavy rain will be right up this son of Hernando's street. His best runs have come on a rain sodden surface and he will relish the conditions at Fairyhouse. The same can't be said for some of his more fancied rivals, most of whom have shown their best form on decent ground.

The trip is perfect, the ground will suit and he showed he retains plenty of ability with his comeback run. The only worry is the dreaded 'bounce' factor which can often occur when a horse is having its second run back after a long layoff. However at odds of 10/1 I am willing to take that chance and if he shows his best form it is difficult to see him finishing outside the first three. He looks well worth supporting each way in what looks a very winnable race.


Saturday, 14 November 2015

Sunday's Selections

A decent day yesterday with Cogry running a cracker in 4th and Buywise just failing to get up in the big one. His usual couple of slow jumps cost him dearly and is testament to the huge engine he clearly has that he managed to get so close to Annacotty.

There is another quality day of action in store tomorrow with some quality horses to run on both sides of the Irish Sea. It is Morgiana day at Punchestown and Faugheen makes his eagerly awaited reappearance. Wiclow Brave, Nichols Canyon and Identity Thief also run, and it is a cracking little race. I won't be having a bet on it but I'll definitely be watching.

The Shloer Chase will get under way at 2.10 at Cheltenham and though the field is small it is stuffed with quality. Old boy Somersby is a fantastic horse and his form figures first time back read 131316 so he is capable of running well fresh. Sprinter Sacre just simply isn't the horse that he once was and I couldn't touch him at 3/1. Croco Bay has the benefit of a recent run and could run a huge race at big odds. Savello, the highly regarded Simply Ned and Mr. Mole complete the line up and if I had to give a selection I would take a chance on Croco Bay at a big price. He ran well here at the festival and loves soft ground.

The Greatwood looks as competitive as ever and looks to be a minefield for punters. The each way suggestion is Olofi, who won it back in 2012. He is a 9yo now and isn't getting any younger. However, he had been plying his trade at graded level in the main last season, and his run behind The New One here last December showed he still has a bit of ability. He ran poorly last time out off 134 but he would have needed it and the handicapper has dropped him to 132. He won the race off 136 so with his jockey Jamie Bargary taking off another handy 5lb he is effectively 9lb below that winning mark. He won't mind the ground and under more patient tactics he could run a big race at 33/1.

The 3.15 is another absolute minefield and any amount of them have chances. The horse I think could run well at huge odds is the Jeremy Scott trained Daveron, who will be partnered by talented 3lb claimer Matt Griffths. This 7yo son of Winged Love has won twice at Taunton and has yet to score anywhere else. However, he caught my eye in this race last year and he travelled well for a long way. The front four pulled well clear but Daveron stayed on nicely enough up the hill for 8th. If he can manage to stay a bit closer to the front rank in this years heat he could surprise a few people with a big run at 40/1.

                                            2.40- OLOFI E/W 33/1
                                            3.15- DAVERON E/W 40/1 

Friday, 13 November 2015

Saturday's Selection

Another cracking Saturday of racing in store this week as the action moves to Cheltenham for the Paddy Power Gold Cup. With plenty of other intriguing races to be held at the meeting too it promises to be a hugely informative meeting and no doubt there will be more than one festival winner in action on the day.

I have done an in depth analysis of the big race of the day and you can find it and my selection here at As regards the rest of the day it is a pretty difficult looking one from a punting perspective. The opener has some very interesting types with some powerful connections represented. I have no strong fancy but I was very impressed with Wolf Of Windlesham when he won on his hurdling debut and I will be eager to see how he gets on here.

The one I am backing tomorrow goes in the 1.50, a 27f handicap chase. Nigel Twiston Davies is a trainer that loves to have a winner around here, and he has a couple with live chances in the big one later on in the day. The one I like though is Cogry, who returns to action after his summer break off a mark of 136. This son of King's Theatre was highly tried when hurdling, running in Grade 1 heats at both Cheltenham and Aintree after winning two novices on heavy and soft ground.

The forecast rain will be right up Cogry's street, and his absence is no worry. Twiston Davies can get them fit first time up and indeed this gelding won on his first run of 2013 after a similar break. He won a handicap chase last year at Chepstow on desperate ground over 24f and he needed every inch of that trip. He ran with credit at the festival here in the 4 miler and was bang there until his stamina gave out in the last couple of furlongs.

Today's trip could well turn out to be perfect and there is a few hours of rain forecast before racing which will be in this fella's favour. His jockey, Ryan Hatch, is superb value for his 3lb claim so Cogry will be effectively only 4lb higher than he was for his last win. If he has strengthened up over the summer there could be a lot more to come from him, and if the rains arrive in time he will be there or thereabouts. At 14/1 he is a confident each way selection once the ground is at least soft.


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Another One To Keep An Eye On At Lingfield

Looking through the cards again tonight another interesting horse caught my eye. Kelsey is trained by Tom Lacey, whose horses have been running very well lately (at big prices too). This son of Robin Des Champs is out of a half sister to the super mare Mariah Rollins, whose son Pendra won a nice race at Ascot just a week or two ago.

Kelsey made his rules debut at Chepstow on good ground over a trip similar to today's and ran a poor enough race. It seemed he didn't really enjoy the good ground, and his action, as well as his pedigree, suggest he will relish plenty of give in the ground (as so many of Robin Des Champs progeny do). He was rather deliberate at some of the hurdles, but hopefully the first time cheekpieces can sharpen up his jumping. He was beaten a distance but was eased after a mistake two out once his chance had gone.

The ground will be heavy at Lingfield tomorrow, and it can get extremely testing at that particular track. Plenty of these are having their first outings after a summer break, and their fitness will be well and truly tested on the sodden turf. Kelsey has the benefit of a run under his belt and looks sure to improve for the different underfoot conditions. Interestingly enough he was entered at the sales last January and went unsold with an asking price of £50k. It suggests he must be pretty well thought of by his owners.

Now he is far from a confident selection, and stakes should be kept to a minimum for this bet. He is a massive price though, and Lacey's last 4 runners have form figures of 1263. The winner was a 14/1 shot and the 2nd and 3rd were 16s and 20s respectively. At 66/1 hopefully Kelsey can continue his excellent run tomorrow.


Monday, 9 November 2015

Katie Worth A Punt On Pedigree

Jer's Girl did the business on Sunday with the minimum of fuss. While it was hard to believe she could be backed at 12/1 the night before the race, it was still a shock to wake up on Sunday morning and see her at 4/1. The yard obviously shared the same confidence as I did, and she was sent off a 5/2 favourite. She won in the manner of a useful type and connections should have plenty of fun with her this season. Gavin Cromwell is a brilliant trainer and any runner from his yard is worthy of respect.

Tomorrow's selection is not quite as confident a one as Jer's Girl, but at a huge price she looks worthy of a little support each way. Katabatik Katie goes in the 6.40 7f maiden at Wolverhampton for Ilka Gansera Leveque. Now while this trainer may not be well known to the casual racing fan she is well capable of readying one to win at a huge stats.; A pound on each of her runners in the past 5 seasons would see you with a healthy +£92 profit. When they win they win at big prices, and this vet turned trainer is yet to get a win this season.

Katabatik Katie has a really eye catching pedigree and her half brother Dasho won on debut over course and distance. She is a daughter of Sir Percy who has a 35% strike rate on the all weather and a 29% strike rate with 2yos. Her dam is a half sister to G3 7f winner Glowing and G2 placed Glaring, while their dam is a half sister to the brilliant Beat Hollow. It is a serious pedigree and at her current odds of 33/1 she looks worthy of a little each way support.


Saturday, 7 November 2015

Cromwell's Filly Can Score At Limerick

Barwick never landed a blow in the big race yesterday, but it was nice to see old friend of the blog Litigant prove his Ebor win was no fluke. Tomorrow's fancy goes in the opening maiden at Limerick and looks to be way too big a price.

Jer's Girl is trained by Gavin Cromwell in Navan, County Meath and this 3yo daughter of Jeremy is of interest on the form she showed on her flat debut on heavy ground up in Sligo. She was sent off an unconsidered 33/1 shot that day, but she belied those odds with a cracking run in 2nd, less than 2l behind Xebec and closing all the way to the line.

Xebec has since gone on to score in a handicap off 84 and is now rated 87. Torcedor was a head behind her in 3rd and has gone on to win a handicap off 97 and was beaten a head in a listed heat at Leopardstown. He is now rated 101. The 4th home was subsequently 4l behind Curvy in a group 3 and is also rated 100.

Looking at that form it was disappointing that Jer's Girl couldn't make more of an impact on her next start at Navan, but the ground was good that day and she needs plenty of cut to be seen at her best. She gets that at Limerick tomorrow, and Cromwell looks to have found a very winnable race for her on her hurdling debut. She is highly thought of by connections, and at 12/1 looks well worth supporting in the hope that she can rediscover the form of her debut run back on a more suitable surface.


Friday, 6 November 2015

Barwick Can Bounce Back At Doncaster

A cracking effort from Empresario at Musselburgh on Friday. He was available to back at 28/1 with some firms during the day which was very surprising as I believed 14s was too big! He was eventually sent off at 20s and he was taken on for the lead by the eventual winner (he looks a serious horse by the way) after about a mile.

They went lickety split from the outset, and the front two had the vast majority of the field in trouble a fair way out. He was passed for 2nd in the final furlong but kept on well to hold 3rd. With an easier lead he can win off that mark, but the winner, Village Vic, looks a very exciting prospect.

Tomorrow sees some top class jumps action at Aintree but the horse that has caught my eye goes in the big flat race of the day, The November Handicap at Doncaster. Barwick gets in off a mark of 87 with talented claimer Tom Marquand taking off another handy 3lb. He went close off this mark on his penultimate run at Ascot over 12f. He ran arguably even better off 89 at Epsom back in June in a class 2 handicap when, with a clearer run,  he would have surely finished closer than the 3L he was beaten by in the end.

Soft ground holds no fears, as his last win came at Epsom over 12f on heavy. He has been lightly enough campaigned this year, and looks as though he might have been laid out for this race. He was stepped up to 14f last time out but that trip is too far and a line needs to be put through that poor effort. He was put away after that and has been freshened up with a nice 85 day break. This will only be his 6th start of the season and at odds of 33/1 he looks worthy of a little each way support.


Thursday, 5 November 2015

Irish Raider Looks Interesting At Musselburgh

Barenice was supported in the market yesterday and was sent off at just 10/1, He didn't make the frame though and looked badly in need of the run. He travelled well for a long way and it certainly wasn't a run devoid of promise. One for the notebook and another day.

Tomorrow there is some decent national hunt action in the UK, and the horse that catches my eye is Empresario, a 6yo gelding I tipped up to win at the Galway festival (here) at a very nice price. That was a brilliant display, and the form stands up to scrutiny.

Guitar Pete was 2l behind in 2nd that day (in receipt of 4lb from Empresario), and he subsequently got to within a nose of Shadow Catcher, who ran well behind P'tit Zig last weekend in the Grade 2 Powers Chase at Down Royal. Hash Brown was a further 6l back (off level weights) and he won a handicap off 121 last week.

On a literal reading of the Guitar Pete form Empresario looks to be a few pounds well in (Shadow Catcher earned an Official Rating of 133 for that Down Royal Run) off his British mark of 128. Now admittedly he hasn't run well on his two runs since Galway, but the first run came on soft and he is much better on decent ground, which he gets today.

He is reunited with Mark Enright for the first time since that Galway win and Matthew Smith had a runner go close at Musselburgh on Thursday. He has been given a nice little 41 day break since his last poor run in Navan. He has won one and been placed on four of his eight chase starts, and as a 6yo he surely has scope for further progress over fences. If the rain stays away and the going remains good then Empresario looks sure to make a bold bid to give his young Co.Meath trainer his first overseas winner.


Hales Could Strike At Towcester

Well after the run from yesterday's selection surely things can't get any worse today. Shaft of Light ran a stinker, and my hopes that he would love the ground proved way off the mark. Let's hope today's selection puts up a better show.

The horse that has caught my eye is Barenice, trained by Alex Hales and ridden by Daryl Jacob. This French bred gelding is by Red Denham (sire of Ouzbeck among others) and is out of a half sister to the very useful but ill fated Pride of Dulcote. His half brother Sarenice has won a couple of hurdles on varying ground, while his sister won in France. There is plenty of hope in his pedigree and he has already shown he has ability in his point to point run (2nd sent off 7/4 fav).

He was bought by Tom Malone at the sales for £22k and he has an excellent eye for a horse.  Alex Hales has been tasked with training the gelding for his new owners, and he is a trainer well capable of readying one first time out. Jacob was 2/6 for the yard last year and rode Gilzean to win on his seasonal reappearance last December for Hales. His fitness has to be taken on trust, but if Barenice is revved up and ready to go he could well run a big race at rewarding odds.


Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Light Could Shine At Nottingham

A cracking run from yesterday's selection Doctor Look Here (adv 16/1) at Exeter to finish runner up. He perhaps got there a little bit too soon under Lucy Gardner, but he was travelling so well it is difficult to blame the jockey for making her move when she did. He loved the ground and he is well capable of winning off a mark in the low 100s.

Tomorrow sees national hunt racing action at Chepstow, Warwick and Fairyhouse, but the horse I like is going on the flat at Nottingham. Shaft Of Light is a 4yo gelding trained by Derek Shaw and he is a brother to stable star Top Boy.

He has only had the one win in 13 starts, on the all weather back in December of last year, and he looks pretty exposed on that surface. However, he has had only two starts on turf, which is rather puzzling given his brother's exploits on soft ground. He has had only one start on turf this year, all the way back in April on his penultimate run on good to soft over 5f at Catterick and he shaped with definite promise.

He was very slowly away and was a good 4 lengths behind the field coming into the final 2 furlongs. He stayed on strongly though and ended up 7th of 15, just 5L behind the winner. He was given a break after that run, and claimer ridden he was very slowly away and never counted on his return at Wolves. However, Tony Hamilton has been booked this time and his record of 5/24 (3/12 this season) for Shaw suggests a better run is expected at Nottingham on Shaft Of Light's first ever run on properly soft ground. If he is anything like his brother he'll love it and he is worth chancing e/w at odds of 22/1.


Monday, 2 November 2015

Doctor Worth A Look On Handicap Debut At Exeter

There is some surprisingly decent fare on action for a Tuesday tomorrow, and the Haldon Cup at Exeter has been well supported by some powerful yards. Sire De Grugy makes his seasonal reappearance off top weight and it will be very interesting to see how he jumps. I don't see much value in the markets for the race and I am planning on just watching and enjoying.

One horse I do think looks a tad overpriced is Doctor Look Here in the concluding handicap. This son of Dr Massini is making his handicap debut having shown plenty of promise in his outings in bumpers and in maiden hurdles. He has stayed on well at the finish on a couple of those runs and the testing 2m2f at Exeter should suit him well.

His run in a Wincanton bumper last December was his best effort by far,and the subsequent efforts of horses he finished ahead of that day suggest he could be well treated off an initial mark of 100. He was a length ahead of Do We Like Him who has since won a handicap off 103, and Miss Serious was almost 4L behind the selection (in receipt of 2lbs) and she has won two novice hurdles and followed up in a handicap off 123.

He also has a bit of form at Exeter, and he showed he handled the track well behind Sternrubin back in May. That effort came on good ground, and pedigree suggests that Doctor Look Here will come into his own on a softer surface, which he gets today. Lucy Gardner takes off another handy 3lbs and if the horse is fit and ready to go it will be disappointing if he can't make an impact in a race that looks pretty low on quality. At 16/1 he is worthy of a little each way support.


Melbourne Cup Selections

In the early hours of Tuesday morning (4AM UK time) the race that stops a nation will be run at Flemington in Australia. The Melbourne Cup is a Grade 1 Handicap that trainers across the world dream of winning. Dermot Weld was the first European to make the trek down under with Vintage Crop back in 1993, and he repeated the trick with Media Puzzle nine years later. Weld was a trailblazer and now it is the rule rather than the exception for some of Europe's top stayers to take their chance in this hugely valuable race. 

This year there are plenty of challengers from this side of the world, with Willie Mullins, Aidan O'Brien, Ed Dunlop, Michael Stoute and Saeed Bin Suroor all sending horses to take part. There has been a bit of rain around and the ground at Flemington is currently described as good to soft. One horse that will definitely appreciate a bit of cut in the ground is the Godolphin owned and Bin Suroor trained Sky Hunter. 

This son of Motivator was last seen in a Group 3 at Newbury when he produced an excellent run over 11f to finish 2nd to The Corsican. He was beaten less than 2L but was giving his rival 8lb in weight so it is a run that deserves to be marked up. His previous run, in Meydan, saw him land a Group 2 over 12f, and previous to that he absolutely hacked up in a Group 3 on soft over the same trip at Newbury. 

He has yet to score at further than 12f, but his only try over further came on really quick ground and the surface today will suit him a lot better. He carries just 8-7 for this race and will feel like he is running loose after carrying a stone more last time out. His dam was best over 12f, but her half brother won over 16f on the flat and his own half brother Highest was second in a St Leger. He should stay, the ground is perfect and he has an excellent draw in stall 7. At 40/1 he looks well worthy of a little each way support. 

Another horse that has caught my eye at a huge price is the less fancied of the two Japanese runners. Hokko Brave has form in some of Japan's best staying races, and wasn't all that far behind likely favourite when they met in Kyoto back in May. Fame Game was runner up and Hokko Brave came sixth, just over a length behind Fame Game. That race was run off level weights though, and Hokko Brave gets 4lb from that rival today. 

The worries are the ground as he is unproven with cut, and his draw could definitely been better than stall 20. However, top Aussie pilot Craig Williams has been booked and the forecast suggests that the ground might dry out a little bit before the race gets under way. His connections are bullish about his chances and seemingly he has been working very well at his Australian base. He will need a lot of luck in  running from his wide draw, but if Williams can work his magic then Hokko Brave could run a big race at odds of 40/1. 

                                                                                    HOKKO BRAVE         E/W 40/1