Sunday, 31 January 2016

Chandrayaan Looks Set For Good Run At Kempton

What a frustrating day Sunday was for the blog. There was 16 runners due to go to post for the 2.30, which would have meant 4 places for each way money. However, sod's law came into play and with the withdrawal of Grecian Tiger only 15 ran and Fine Theatre, of course, finished 4th and just out of the money. If anyone backed him in a Paddy Power shop they paid four places (in Ireland anyway) but for everyone else it was a loser, unfortunately.

Tomorrow sees national hunt action at Plumpton but with Storm Henry on the way I wouldn't be holding my breath on it going ahead. It is low quality fare in any case, and I hadn't planned on putting up a selection until I got a horse tracker alert about a John Long inmate that is running in the opener at Kempton.

This 9yo is admittedly no superstar, and he was very well beaten on his last run in a class 6 handicap over 7f at this track. However, he caught my eye on his penultimate run at Lingfield, again over 7f in a class 7, when he stayed on eyecatchingly in the closing stages under Rob Havlin, who gave him way too much to do. That run suggested he was ready to step back up to a mile, the distance at which his last win came, and he gets the step up in trip tomorrow.

Two of his wins have come under a lady jockey (Kirsty Milzcarek) and Long has turned to Shelley Birkett, who also takes off a valuable 3lb and she has also ridden a winner for the yard before. He has an excellent draw in stall 2 and everything looks right for him to run a big race tomorrow. His overall record of 3 wins from 61 starts means that he isn't one to have the monthly mortgage payment on, but at his current odds of 18/1 he looks worth a couple of quid each way in a race that won't take much winning.


Saturday, 30 January 2016

Theatre Can Take Centre Stage At Punchestown

City Supreme landed a nice each way touch for us earlier, returning at 12/1 and coming home in 4th (adv 20/1). He really appreciated the better ground at Doncaster and the first time hood sharpened up his jumping. It was his first run in quite a while so he should come on for it, and kept to better ground he could be one to follow in the Spring.

Tomorrow at Punchestown there are a few decent types on show and the match up between Felix Yonger and Flemenstar will be worth watching. However, the one I like goes in the 2.30, a 3m handicap hurdle, and Fine Theatre looks a very interesting contender off a mark of just 122. He won his maiden hurdle this time last year at Fairyhouse (20f heavy) and his trainer threw him into a Grade 2 on his next start, which illustrates the high regard this horse is held in.

He was well beaten in that race, but he was put away afterwards and wasn't seen again until November, when he was pulled up on his seasonal reappearance at Navan (23f soft). His last run, over 24f at Fairyhouse off 123, saw him run a much  more encouraging race to finish 4th, and he was well backed too. The Nolan yard was under a bit of a cloud then, but he has been in much better form the last couple of weeks and he has 2 winners and a 3rd from his last 7 runners.

He is a half brother to two very useful soft ground stayers in Joncol and Fine Article, so the 24f on soft ground tomorrow should be right up his street. He is by far the least exposed horse in the field, and with his yard in good form and Paul Townend booked he is a confident each way selection in a wide open handicap hurdle.


Friday, 29 January 2016

Honeyball Could Be Set To Strike At Doncaster

Two poor runs from today's selections and it seems that the Case yard's horses are still not firing on all cylinders. Wish In A Well looked threatening at one stage and moved into contention about three out, but yet again he flattered to deceive and his finishing effort was woeful. It was a similar story with Gamain who was up there for a long way but a mistake 3 out put paid to his chances and he also faded badly in the closing stages.

Tomorrow sees some top quality action in both Ireland and the UK and with the ground drying out in the UK there will be plenty of festival clues to be found at Cheltenham and Doncaster. I have written an in depth preview of the Grade 2 mares hurdle at Doncaster for and you can read it and find out who I fancy here. I also fancy one in the opening handicap hurdle at Doncaster which you can read about below.

18 runners are due to go to post at 12.30 in a class 4 19.5f handicap hurdle at Doncaster. It looks an open race and there are many with chances, but one horse that could run well at rewarding odds is City Supreme for the Honeyball/Noonan combination who have a 37% strike rate when teaming up (10/27). They had yet another winner during the week when As De Fer won as he liked, and there is reason to believe that better ground could bring about an improved performance from City Supreme tomorrow.

He was sent off a well backed 9/4fav on his last run at Fontwell but ran a stinker to finish 5th, beaten over 40L. That was off a mark of 105, and he has been dropped just 2lb for that run which, on the face of it, won't be enough to see him win. However, the volume of money that came for him last time suggests that connections consider him to be better than his current mark, and Noonan takes off another 5lb.

His half brother Boyoboy produced his best form on good ground and his only win came on a sound surface. City Supreme has had only one run on ground better than soft, and he wasn't disgraced off 109 at Fontwell back in May (beaten 11L). He is effectively 11lb lower tomorrow on his first run  on decent ground since then, and hopefully the rain stays away overnight. If it does then hopefully City Supreme will relish it and reward each way support at odds of 20/1 (Betfair Sportsbook).


Thursday, 28 January 2016

Get On The Case At Doncaster

Mister Dick wasn't disgraced earlier on when he finished 5th of 8. He managed to keep pace with the principals until half a mile from home, but when the screw was turned he just couldn't go with them. I think he showed a glimmer of promise again though and he could pop up in a handicap later on this season, perhaps on better ground.

Tomorrow at Doncaster I have decided to go back to the well for one final time,  with Ben Case's Wish In A Well in the opening 19.5f handicap chase. He landed each way money for us on his last outing, though I was pretty disappointed with the run at the time. However, the Case yard had been under a bit of a cloud when he last ran, and things are looking a lot better for the yard the last week or two. Tricky trainer Case has had a winner and a 2nd from his last 5 runners, and there was a big market move for his only runner today, Themanfrom Minella, who unseated his rider before the race had really taken shape.

Wish In A Well did his usual trick last time out of travelling exceedingly well and then finding nothing when asked for his effort. However, the ground was desperately bad last time, and the good to soft ground might help him last home better tomorrow. He has been dropped yet another 4lbs after his last run, and I think the big field and strong gallop could help him. At 16/1 he is worth a small interest each way with his stable on the way back to form.

Case has another interesting runner later on at Doncaster with Gamain taking on 13 opponents in a 3m handicap chase at 14.00. This 7yo son of Gamut has had just the 3 chase runs and after a poor debut he has placed 2nd and 3rd on his last 2 runs. His last run was bitterly disappointing as he was beaten 25L but the ground was bottomless that day, and even though his only hurdle win came on soft and he handles an ease, it seems as though the heavy ground was no good to him.

His penultimate run, when runner up to Newton Thistle at Towcester (24.5 soft) was much more like it, even if he was beaten 14L at the finish. He jumped well that day and also proved that the trip was no problem. He is a pound lower today off 113, and he is just 4lbs higher than his winning hurdling mark. His yard is in much better form now than when he last ran, and it would be no surprise to see a big run at odds of 16/1 tomorrow. I have backed both in small e/w singles but also combined them in a tiny e/w double, just in case the improbable happens and they both win! Here's hoping......

                                              14.00 DONCASTER- GAMAIN 16/1 E/W 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Tricky Dicky Could Outrun Odds At Warwick

Thursday sees some decent action on both sides of the Irish Sea, and hopefully the meetings go ahead. That wasn't the case at Bangor today when  the meeting fell foul of the horrific weather we have been having the past couple of nights. Warwick should be fit to race tomorrow, and the horse that looks interesting to me is Jonjo O' Neill's Mister Dick in the opening 2m Juvenile Hurdle.

The ground is forecast to be soft at Warwick tomorrow, and with only a few showers forecast before the action is due to start it shouldn't change too much. Mister Dick had his first run on easy ground on his second UK start over course and distance early last month and he seemed to appreciate the underfoot conditions with a decent effort in 4th. He had previously shown ability in his former life on the flat in France, staying on well on a couple of occasions over 10.5f without managing to win.

He is a 4yo son of Japanese sire Great Journey whose most famous offspring would be the classy Willie Mullins trained Max Dynamite. He is out of a dam called Lyric Melody who was a 4 time hurdle winner on soft ground in France at 18f, including a listed race. It is a very interesting pedigree and it would be no surprise to see further improvement from Mister Dick tomorrow.

Patrick Cowley takes the ride and, very interestingly, he is 2/5 for the owner and +11.50 for a £1 stake. The owner is 1/3 at Warwick and it seems that when they do get winners they are usually at rewarding prices. Now it will be hard for this fella to win today as the two market leaders set a fairly high standard to aim at. However, I think he has every chance of getting 3rd, and if there are any mistakes from the front 2 he should be in position to capitalise.

Cowley takes off a handy 7lb so he will be getting a stone from the Henderson trained favourite, while he will also be carrying 7lb less than the King filly. He showed he handled the track here last time and he has been given plenty of time to get over those exertions. Once all 8 runners go to post he looks worth a small interest each way in what could potentially be a very interesting race.


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Barton Can Bounce Back At Bangor

The money came for Aerlite Supreme on Saturday and after waking up to read Evan Williams comments in the Racing Post ("I think he will run well. I fancy him") my hopes were high for a big run. A mistake just as the race was developing seemed to knock his confidence, and his jumping fell to pieces in the closing stages. It was an underwhelming effort and it will be interesting to see where he turns up next.

Wednesday sees some decent action on both sides of the Irish Sea, and the horse I am interested goes in the 3.55 at Bangor in a 19.5f handicap hurdle on heavy ground. This is a 0-130 contest and Barton Rose sneaks in right at the bottom of the handicap off a mark of 112. This 7yo mare is a daughter of Midnight Legend and she joined her current handler Michael Blake back in November. Her previous trainer Neil Mulholland managed to get 3 wins out of her in handicaps from 16f-20f, and her last win came at Lingfield on heavy ground just over a year ago off a mark of 108.

She has failed to get her head in front in 8 runs since that triumph, though she managed a couple of placed efforts off her revised mark, including a decent 3rd behind Rouquine Sauvage off 119. She has failed to pull up any trees in four runs this season, and the last two have come for her new trainer. However, her mark has dropped accordingly and there is little doubt that she is capable of going close off 112. Very promising young claimer Harry Cobden takes off another 7lb so she is effectively 3lb below her last winning mark.

Cobden rode her on her first start for Blake, and in 3 rides for the trainer since he has had 2 wins and a place from 3 rides. She faces 7 rivals on Wednesday, and having looked at their form it is questionable whether the bottomless ground will suit some of them. There are no doubts about Barton Rose on that front, and she could be set for a good run at odds of 16/1. She looks worth chancing each way in a race that could become a real war of attrition on the heavy ground.


Friday, 22 January 2016

Aerlite Could Rule Supreme At Ascot

My Murphy ended the blog's lean spell in style with a scintillating round of jumping in the Thyestes at Gowran Park. A couple of people have asked me how I could tip up a horse that has been pulled up on his last run, but I have learned over the years that some runs should be taken with a pinch of salt and My Murphy's overall profile suggested that he was laid out for yesterdays race. He was held up at Leopardstown, and as I explained yesterday he is at his best when he races prominently throughout. He was never out of the first four on Thursday and he repelled the late challenge of Mala Beach to score in style.

Saturday's selection goes in the feature race at Ascot, the Bet365 chase (2m5f), and the horse that I like the look of is Aerlite Supreme for shrewd operator Evan Williams. This 9yo son of Gold Well used to be trained in Ireland by Michael Hourigan, and he showed decent form when beating As De Ferbet in a novice chase at Thurles (18f soft) back in November 2014. He was highly tried in the grade 1 Drinmore next time out, when he was pulled up, and again ran poorly on his next run in a grade 2 heat at Limerick. He was subsequently sold and Williams forked out 30k for him at the sales back in May.

He has been running solely over hurdles this season, and he ran a lovely race on his 2nd start for the yard at Haydock (19f soft) back in November after a poor seasonal reappearance here in October. He finished runner up at Haydock and he was kept to the smaller obstacles in two quick runs over Xmas. His last run at Wincanton (21.5 soft) wasn't as bad as his finishing position suggests (beaten only 8L), and he has been given a month off to freshen him up for his belated return to the larger obstacles.

He gets in off a mark of 132 and it would be no surprise if he proved to be better than that over fences. He has won over 20f on heavy at Limerick, so he should get the trip, and he has also won on good ground which illustrates his versatility. Adam Wedge takes the ride with Paul Moloney still out injured, and he knows him well having ridden him to be 2nd at Haydock. At his current odds of 28/1 he looks worthy of a small each way interest in a very open looking Bet365 Handicap Chase.


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Murphy Worth A Look In Thyestes

Day Dream Boy could never land a blow earlier on at Fairyhouse and it looks as though old father time has caught up with Eddie Cawley's charge. Hurricane Ivan ran a decent race to chase home what looks a very well handicapped winner, and at least salvaged something for the day.

Tomorrow at Gowran sees one of Ireland's premier national hunt steeplechases with the Thyestes Handicap due to go off at 3.10. The ground is going to be hard work, and stamina will be a key requirement for the winner. It is a race that older horses have done well in (3 of the last 5 have been 10yo+) and Liam Burke's My Murphy looks to have the necessary credentials to run a big race.

This recently turned 10yo son of Presenting was my fancy for the Paddy Power back in December at Leopardstown after a lovely comeback run over an inadequate 20f at Navan. He ran no sort of race though, and as soon as I saw he was going to be held up I knew it wasn't going to be his day. He is best when racing prominently, just as he did when he chased home Djakadam in this race last year.

He has run well on both previous visits to Gowran and he has long been talked about as an Irish Grand National horse by handler Liam Burke. However, the ground is always a big question mark when it comes to targeting him at that prize, as he needs it bottomless to be seen to best effect. He gets to race off 139, the same mark as he had last year, and Robbie Power keeps the faith. He was almost a good 20L ahead of the 3rd home last year, Goonyella, and a repeat performance would see him in the shake up tomorrow. At odds of 20/1 he looks well worthy of an each way bet.

Across the water in England I also like the look of a horse in Wincanton for tricky trainer Sue Gardner. She has three runners there tomorrow, and though Rafafie makes some appeal in the 3.20 due to his ability to run well fresh, the one I like is Tea Time Fred, who goes in the opening handicap hurdle at 1.35.

This 7yo son of Kayf Tara has plenty of ability, as he showed in his runner up effort here last year off 94 (21.5f soft beaten a short head), before following up off 103 by 10L in a class 4 handicap at Chepstow (19.5f soft). He was stepped up in class on his final race of the season at Cheltenham (3m good) and again ran well, despite enduring a troubled passage, off his revised mark of 113.

He returned to action back in November with a below par effort at Chepstow, and he was heavily backed on his next run at Uttoxeter, sent off at 13/8. He ran no sort of race and was found to be lame afterwards, but the handicapper has left his mark alone at 110. I believe he has the potential to be better than that mark, and if he is 100% tomorrow he could be set for a big run. At odds of 16/1 he is worth an interest each way, but stakes should be kept to a minimum just in case he needs the run.

                                              1.35 WINCANTON- TEA TIME FRED 16/1 E/W

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Day Dream Worth Believing In At Fairyhouse

Okotoks was a late non runner on Sunday, but I suppose at least it snapped the blog's losing run (!) after a poor effort by Tara The Tiger on Saturday, who was never put in the race by Reveley and trailed home a well beaten 6th. She drifted like a barge in the betting and looks to be one for handicaps a bit further down the line.

Tomorrow at Fairyhouse the main horse I am interested in goes in the 2m7f handicap hurdle at 3.35. Eddie Cawley is a trainer that has been in super form (3 wins from last 5 runners) recently and he sends out Day Dream Boy in an attempt to win the race he took back in 2014 off a mark of 102. He hasn't reached the frame since, but his mark has dropped as a result and he should strip a lot fitter after two moderate outings so far this season.

He gets to race off a mark of 101 tomorrow, a pound below his last winning mark, and young claimer Chris Timmons (2/3 for Cawley) takes off a very handy 5lbs. He is a previous course and distance victor, is likely to have been targeted at this race and his trainer has been amongst the winners. He isn't getting any younger having turned 11 this year, but he could turn back the clock at Fairyhouse tomorrow on ground that will suit, especially if the first time blinkers sharpen him up. He looks well worth supporting each way at 20/1 in a wide open looking heat.

Another horse that is starting to look very well treated is the Sammy Wilson trained Hurricane Ivan, who goes in the 1.15, a 2m5f handicap chase. This 8yo last tasted victory back in May 2014 on his first start for Wilson, hacking up over 20f on soft at Perth off a mark of 98. He had previously won over 21f, again on soft, for previous trainer Fergal O'Brien and he will relish the trip and ground at Fairyhouse tomorrow.

Jody McGarvey, who was on board for the Perth win, takes the ride and when his 3lb claim is considered Hurricane Ivan gets to race off an effective mark of just 86. He showed clear signs of returning to form when 4th behind the re opposing Witness of Fashion last time at Down Royal, and he is now 15lb better off with that rival (who won his next start too) for a 15L defeat. He has been given a few weeks off since that run and should be cherry ripe for Fairyhouse tomorrow. He also looks worth supporting each way at odds of 14/1 in a winnable looking race.

                                              1.15 FAIRYHOUSE- HURRICANE IVAN 14/1 E/W 

Friday, 15 January 2016

Weekend Selections

Devilution very nearly ended the blog's poor run during the week, missing out on a place by the narrowest of margins. The winner looked a very well handicapped horse, and it seems as though Devilution could benefit from a further step up in trip given how he travelled and finished.


There is some decent action tomorrow, particularly at Warwick, and the feature race is the Betfred Classic Chase at 3.35. This 3m5f marathon looks a very tricky puzzle to solve and cases can be made for the vast majority of them. De Kerry Man is unexposed, gets in off a feather weight and hails from a yard in excellent form. Connections are expecting a decent run and if his unlucky fall last time hasn't left a mark he could well be the answer at 9/1.

However, the one I will be backing tomorrow goes at Wetherby in the opening maiden hurdle to be run over 2m3f at 12.25. Tara The Tiger is trained by Northern handler Tim Easterby and this 5yo daughter of Kayf Tara comes here on the back of a below par effort on terrible ground at Carlisle (17f). A repeat performance would give her no chance here, but the return to this track and the step up in trip could bring about an improved showing. She was sent off at just 9/2 last time, so connections obviously believe she has a bit of ability.

She showed some of that talent on the two occasions she has run at this track, finishing 2nd both times and running races full of promise. On her debut (ridden by Reveley) in a bumper here (12.5f  good to soft) she ran a lovely race to be 2nd, staying on very nicely in the closing stages once the winner had flown. Her next run at Doncaster (16f good to soft) was another decent effort and she again stayed on late in the day to finish 4th.

She came back to Wetherby (16f soft) for her hurdling debut after a few months off, and on proper soft ground she ran a lovely race, jumping nicely and keeping on well in the closing stages for 2nd, albeit over 10L behind the winner. She was given just 18 days to get over those exertions before her last run at Carlisle back in December and she ran a flat race, suggesting that she needed a bit more time to recover.

She has been given over a month off since, she returns to a track she likes and she showed she handles soft ground on her last run here. She gets a handy weight for sex allowance from her male rivals and Reveley comes back in for the ride. At odds of 18/1 she looks worth chancing each way for a trainer who has had 10 winners at Wetherby in the last 5 years.


There is top class action at Leopardstown on Sunday and the Coral Hurdle is a fascinating race. It looks an absolute minefield for punters but there is a horse at the foot of the weights that looks well worth chancing each way on his handicap debut for the shrewd Tony Martin, who runs 4 in total. Okotoks, owned by Malcom Denmark, is the lowest rated of all those entries, but he looks a very interesting contender dropped back down to 2m.

He is a 2m bumper and maiden winner, on yielding and soft ground respectively, and he was stepped up to 20f on his last run in a Grade 2 novice hurdle at Navan. He wasn't disgraced in 4th, 17L behind the winner Falcon Crest, and he has been given a nice 56 day break since that run.

He previously landed a maiden hurdle down in Cork back in November (16f soft) and he won that race in the manner of a pretty useful horse. A couple of the horses in behind him that day have since gone on to go close in maiden events themselves, and it looks to be pretty solid form.

 His hurdling debut came at Leopardstown over 20f back in Dec 2014 and he was only 8L behind Snow Falcon and Identity Thief. If you consider that those two are now rated 145 and 158 respectively, and also that the 20f trip would have stretched Okotoks, he looks potentially well treated off his opening handicap mark of 125. Denis O'Regan, who is 8/40 for Tony Martin (20%), comes in for the ride and he will be sweating up hard to make the weight of 10st 4lbs. At 25/1 he looks a live contender and he looks well worth a little each way support in a wide open race.


Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Shaw Can Continue Good Run With Devilution

Another no show from today's selection Midnight Target, who jumped poorly and never got into the race. Handicaps look to be her best chance of making an impact and she is best left alone until earning her mark.

Tomorrow at Kempton Devilution is of definite interest for the red hot Derek Shaw yard in the lucky last at Kempton. This 4yo son of Bluegrass Cat is currently rated just 45, but he has shown on more than one occasion that he is capable of winning a small race. He is bred to be useful and he is related to 4 different winners, including Menokee who was placed at Listed (8f) and Group 3 (10f) level.

Devilution has gone agonisingly close on a couple of occasions, including when beaten by a head at 33/1 over 5f at Southwell last February.He stayed on really well that day, suggesting he would benefit from a step up in trip. He has had a number of efforts at 6f since, and his only start at Kempton came over that trip back in December. He endured a troubled passage that day, hampered and switched, and he did well to finish less than 5L behind the winner.

The way he finished his race that day suggested that another furlong might be ideal, but he has been kept to 6f since. His last run at Southwell was pretty disappointing, but he had to be switched a couple of times in the home straight and he was again doing most of his best work in the closing stages.

The first time visor used that day has been removed, and he steps up to 7f for the first time in his career. His pedigree says it should suit, and  the way he has been finishing his races suggests it will suit too. At his current price of 12/1 he looks well worthy of supporting each way in what looks an eminently winnable race.


Target Could Be Suited By Step Up In Trip At Ludlow

It has been a poor start to 2016 for the blog and the winless run was extended with another couple of poor runs from Saturday's selections. Bertie Boru just never got into the race under Tom O'Brien and was pulled up before 3 out in what turned out to be an attritional race. Mountainous was a deserved winner for Kerry Lee and it seems her Dad has left her with a load of well handicapped horses to start off her training career. Little Boy Boru ran a slightly better race at Kempton but he was well behind the principals in 5th and it looked a much deeper race than last year when he finished 3rd. He is one to look out for in a weaker race later on in the season.

Plenty of meetings have fallen foul of the inclement weather conditions on both sides of the Irish Sea but thankfully Ludlow are raceable tomorrow. The ground will be bottomless and one horse that should handle the conditions well is Midnight Target, one of two runners for locally based John Groucott, who is 3/13 with his runners at Ludlow.

This 6yo daughter of Midnight Legend first caught my eye on her 2nd run in a soft ground bumper here back in December. She was given a shocking ride by her novice jockey, charting the widest route of all, but she stayed on very pleasingly in the closing stages, suggesting that a step up in trip would be ideal. Her next run, in another bumper on heavy ground at Uttoxeter, was another promising effort and she just missed out on 3rd by a neck, keeping on well again after getting outpaced as the race hotted up.

Her pedigree suggests that she will appreciate the step up in trip too, and she is related to a couple of 20f and 25f winners. Her dam is out of a half sister to useful 24f soft ground winner Rathowen and there is definitely plenty of reason for optimism regarding the step up to 21f today. Her sire, Midnight Legend, has a 16% strike rate with his runners on heavy and she already showed that she handles cut on her last two outings.

Kyle James, who rode her last time out, takes off a handy 3lb and she also carries less weight than the geldings in the race. She is fit, she has shown she handles the track and ground and her pedigree offers hope regarding the step up in trip. At odds of 33/1 she looks worthy of a small each way bet but stakes should be kept to a minimum due to the fact she has never jumped a hurdle in public before. Hopefully she takes to the game and ends the blog's barren run in style!


Friday, 8 January 2016

Saturday's Selection

Unex Modigliani ran an absolute stinker for us earlier this week but it looked like the ground had deteriorated badly before he ran and he clearly hated the ground. He will be one to look out for back on a better surface and I am still convinced he is well treated over timber, once he gets his preferred conditions.

A cracking day of racing action is in store tomorrow with top quality action at both Kempton and Chepstow. The Lanzarote Hurdle should be a competitive contest at Kempton and you can read my detailed and in depth preview and find out my selection  here at

The main event of the day is without a doubt the postponed Welsh National at Chepstow, and 20 runners are due to go to post in a typically wide open heat. A low weight is usually the order of the day when the ground is heavy at Chepstow, and stamina is key for this gruelling test.

One horse that looks to tick both those boxes is the Philip Hobbs trained Bertie Boru. Tom O'Brien takes the ride and he gets a good tune out of this 9yo son of Brian Boru and he has been on board for 2 of his 3 wins. He had a very encouraging 2nd run of the season over 29f at Sandown last time out behind Caroles Destrier off 132, staying on extremely encouragingly late in the day after a troubled passage and some poor jumping. He shaped as though he was in need of an even greater stamina test.

He will get that at Chepstow tomorrow where the ground is reportedly bottomless, which will further place the emphasis on stamina. He has won on heavy ground before, back in January 2014 over 21f at Wincanton, and his latest win came off a mark of 129 at Newbury over 22.5f on soft. He races off a mark of 132, which is 3lb higher than his last winning mark,but he showed last time that he is capable of running a big race off that mark and at odds of 20/1 he looks well worthy of each way support in a wide open looking race.


Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Shaw's Charge Looks Overpriced At Huntingdon

Outlaw Josey Wales was a bitter disappointment and he ran no sort of race. Maybe the soft ground didn't play to his strengths as none of the promise he showed on his debut was evident. Hopefully tomorrow's selection  can run a better race at Huntingdon!

Unex Modigliani is a very interesting runner and this 7yo son of Hurricane Run finally makes his handicap hurdle debut in the 2.40 at Huntingdon, a 15.5f heat that will be run on soft ground. This gelding finally earned a mark of 110 with a more than decent effort on his first hurdle run for well over a year on good to soft ground in a 2m class 4 novice event at Leicester last time (15.5f good to soft). He jumped very well and wasn't given too hard a race in finishing 4th.

He is of huge interest on his first maiden hurdle run over tomorrow's course and distance, back when he was trained by Dan Skelton. That day he was a close 2nd, beaten by less than a length on good to soft ground, and it is no surprise to see connections returning to Huntingdon for his handicap debut. The horse that beat him that day, Speedy Tunes, hasn't done much for the form but  he had Shubaat in behind, and he won a class 2 handicap by 7L off 130 back in August as well as a maiden and two novice events.

He has been freshened up since his last run and his yard was among the winners last week with Stun Gun hosing up at 20/1 in a flat race at Southwell. Mr Shaw's horses have mostly been running well and hitting the frame and he has shown already with Polarbrook this season that he is just as capable with national hunt horses as he is on the flat. The worry would be the ground if it was to come up very testing, but there is very little rain forecast and soft or better should be fine. James Davies keeps the ride having rode him last time out, and at his current odds of 33/1 he looks worthy of an each way interest returned to the track he ran so well at on his hurdling debut.


Saturday, 2 January 2016

Josey Can Gun Down His Rivals At Ayr

Seeyouatmidnight put in a superb round of jumping at Cheltenham yesterday and I was delighted to see him win. The only worry as regards his festival chances is the fact that he is so ground dependent and he is unlikely to get his preferred soft/heavy conditions in the Spring. He doesn't really appeal as an ante post bet and I'll be waiting until a lot closer to the start of the festival and seeing how the weather looks before backing him.

Only Gorgeous went out like a light on the ground and seemed to hate conditions at Exeter yesterday. He was eventually pulled up and though his pedigree said he might handle the ground he obviously didn't. In other words I got it badly wrong!! At least he will be dropped a pound or two for that effort and he is one to look out for when he gets better ground.

There is no racing in Ireland today and Sandown and Ayr host the the jumps meetings in the UK. The horse I like caught my eye when he ran on his debut at Musselburgh last month and Outlaw Josey Wales looks overpriced for his second start today. This 5yo son of Jeremy was sent off at 40/1 at Musselburgh and considering how well he ran it is a surprise to see him priced up at 20/1 today.

His trainer, R Mike Smith, is not known for training bumper winners but this well bred gelding could run a big race for him today. His Invincible Spirit dam won on soft ground and she is related to a couple of black type performers on the level and to a couple of jumps winners too. Jeremy's progeny usually go on easy ground so the soft conditions at Ayr should be no problem (it was good to soft for his debut run).

Brian Harding rode him last time but he will be riding for his boss Nicky Richards here on the well fancied Reivers Lad. Callum Bewley, who has ridden 6 winners for the yard (+£15 to a £1 stake) takes off a handy 5lb and he is great value for his claim. He is a more than capable jockey,

The selection was held up in rear at Musselburgh and made rapid headway pushed along under hands and heels about 2f out to chase the leader. Harding administered a crack of the whip and as soon as he asked for a maximum effort the horse wandered and looked very green. He was swamped in the closing stages and dropped to 6th, but he was beaten less than 6l and he should be a lot wiser today with that experience under his belt.

Now there are a number of debutants in the race that could be anything, and Sandy Thomson's Spirit Of Kayf  ran a lovely race on debut. There are a couple of point to point winners too so there are obviously quite a few dangers. However, there was a lot to like about the selection's run at Musselburgh and at 20/1 is he worthy of a small each way bet? I reckon so...