Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Return To Sligo Could Do The Trick For Chips

Swaheen ran a poor race in the Vase and his run summed up my weekend of betting in a nutshell. I went to the Curragh for Derby Day and had an absolute disaster of a day from a punting perspective. Apart from the gambling it was a good day out, and it was good to see the Derby horses in the flesh. Harzand is a really impressive sort and he proved his class with a hard fought win from Idaho. He probably had more in hand than the winning distance suggests and the Arc beckons for the son of Sea The Stars.

It has been tough for the blog in recent weeks and though we had a nice winner at Epsom it has generally been slim pickings for the last month. It would be easy to try and tip up a few at shorter prices to try and get a winner on the board, but I am going to stick to my guns with my 25/1 e/w selection for Tuesday at Sligo. The horse I like is Chips Are Down and he runs in the 6.5f handicap at 7.00.

This 6yo son of Ad Valorem was a useful sort in his 2yo days and he won two handicaps, including one over course and distance off 73 on heavy ground. There has been lots of rain in Sligo during the last few days and it would be no surprise were it to come up softer than the current description of good to yielding. The more rain that falls the better it is for Chips Are Down as he loves to get his toe in.

He obviously had some issues after his 2yo career as he wasn't sighted for almost 4 years. He turned up at Cork in a 7f heavy ground handicap and finished well beaten in 9th. He stayed down South for his second run back, this time over 6f on quick ground, and he was again well beaten. However, he was entitled to need both of those runs after such a long layoff and there was a lot more encouragement to be gleaned from his last effort at Naas just 6 days ago, off a much reduced mark of 55.

It was a fairly odd run to be honest, but he definitely showed a whole lot more than he had on his first two runs back. He seemed to break well from an inside draw and he was well up there as they completed a furlong. However, he seemed to get chopped off after 2f and he found himself trapped on the inside. He was allowed to drift back through the field by Gary Carroll and he was probably second last as they entered the last 2f.

He was switched out off the rail and as Carroll pushed him out he started to make ground pretty quickly. He again ran up the back of another horse a furlong out, and it was a troubled passage to say the least. There may be another duck egg in his form after that 11th place finish but he was only beaten 5L for the win, he was fairly close to the placed horses and, with a clearer passage, he would have gone a lot closer to nicking some place money at least.

I think his fitness is starting to return and it is no surprise Mulvany turns him out again after just 6 days. He races off a mark of just 52 in Sligo, a full 21lb below the mark he won off here as a 2yo. Now that was 4 years ago admittedly, but it is unlikely that Mulvany would persist with the gelding unless he retained enough ability to win a race. There were definite positive signs at Naas and, with the rain due to arrive, he now returns to the scene of his last victory. He looks a big price at odds of 25/1 and he is worth a few quid each way from a decent draw in stall 4.


Friday, 24 June 2016

Saturday's Selection

Apologies for the lack of selections this week but it has been manic with the Euros and Copa America. This Saturday is Irish Derby day at the Curragh and I am heading along tomorrow to see what all the fuss is about. Hopefully the rain stays away during racing and we get a nice day for it. With the rain that is due to fall overnight the tables have turned in Harzand's favour and if it comes up genuinely soft he is difficult to oppose.

However, he is a skinny price and I like the look of one in the Northumberland Vase at Newcastle at 3.40. This 2m handicap is a consolation race for the Plate but the prize money on offer is none too shabby. The winner picks up a cheque of £42k and it is no surprise that there is a big field given the generous prize money on offer. It will be run on the new tapeta surface for the very first time and by all accounts most trainers and jockeys have been complimentary about the track.

The one I like in this staying handicap is the Julie Camacho trained Swaheen, a 4yo son of Lawman who has won 3 of his 14 starts. He has won on ground ranging from good to firm to soft so all ground comes alike to him. His sire has a decent 26% strike rate on the all weather and his half brother was beaten a nose on the tapeta at Wolves, so the chances are he will handle it.

From a handicapping perspective he gets to race off a mark of 88, which admittedly is 4lb above his last winning mark of 84. That win came last October at York on his first try at 14f, and he looked as though he needed every inch of the trip. He stayed on really stoutly and he wasn't stopping when he crossed the line. That was a £31k race and Camacho had targeted it for some time.

This race is even more valuable tomorrow and it would be no surprise were this his target for this year. He returned to action with a cracking effort over an inadequate 12f at Thirsk, staying on really well on soft ground for 6th off a mark of 90. He ran flat on his next appearance at Hamilton, again off 90 (13f) but he can be forgiven that run. He was given a month off to get over those exertions and returned with a run at York (14f gd) which should have pur him cherry ripe for this.

He has been dropped to a mark of 88 and Connor Beasley, who has won on him before, takes the ride. Camacho has won 5 races from her 38 runners at Newcastle for a strike rate of 13%. Beasley is 9/85 when riding for the yard and he will be in confident mood after riding a nice winner at Hamilton on Thursday.

Swaheen will need to be ridden with confidence tomorrow as he is a horse that needs to be played late. Hopefully Beasley can drop him in and come with a customary late run. I think the step up to 16f looks sure to suit and given luck in running Swaheen could reward each way support at 33/1.


Saturday, 18 June 2016

Royal Ascot Day 5

Apologies for the lack of a blog yesterday but it has been a manic week in the day job with the Euros and Copa America. Saturday is the final day of Royal Ascot and what a day it was yesterday for one my favourite filly in training, Quiet Reflection. She overcame a lot of adversity during the race to land the Commonwealth and her turn of foot got her out of trouble. 

Connections of Kachy may well claim to be unlucky losers, but the ability to run straight is just as important as the ability to run fast and Quiet Reflection was the best horse on the day. It was heart in mouth stuff for supporters of the favourite, but she got the job done and that is the main thing. It is some achievement for the Ontoawinner Syndicate and it proves that you don't have to be a billionaire to have a chance of being involved in a Group 1 winner at Royal Ascot. 

Unfortunately Jet Setting ran a flat race in the Coronation and in my opinion the ground had likely become a little bit too lively for her. When you see a daughter of War Front winning (Brave Anna in the Albany) the ground couldn't have been that soft, and Jet Setting needs plenty of cut to be seen at her very best. An Autumn campaign on proper soft ground beckons and a long break will do her good. Below are my thoughts on the final day of what has been a thrilling week of racing. 


I was down in Gowran Park the day that Justice Frederick won Joseph O Brien's first official race as a trainer and I was hugely impressed by this strapping son of Lawman. He was sold earlier this week for the princely sum of £200k and he could prove to be a shrewd purchase. He looked really promising on his debut run over 5f on good to yielding ground at Tipperary, slowly away and keeping on eyecatchingly under tender handling by Donnacha O'Brien. The winner of that race, Pedestal, ran a cracker during the week in the Windsor Castle so it looks like decent form. 

He really shaped as though a step up to 7f would suit and he duly obliged at Gowran (7f gd), travelling wide and kicking on a furlong from home. The second home was trained by Aidan O'Brien and Leo Minor is a horse to look out for next time out. Justice Frederick is now in the care of Paul D'Arcy and Donnacha has been retained for the ride. He is bred to be a smart horse and his half sister Manieriee was a Group 2 winner and loved to get her toe in. 

The 6/5 favourite Churchill did look very promising on debut and the step up to 7f is sure to suit him. However, at odds of 25/1 I think Justice Frederick is overpriced and I am not sure he would be that big if he was still being trained by Joseph or Aidan. He is the each way suggestion in a competitive looking listed race.  



I think Battalion is a hugely interesting contender here for William Haggas off a mark of 107. He hasn't fired on his two turf runs this season but he has yet to encounter his favoured soft ground. The current conditions of good to soft will be ideal, though he won't mind if there is rain before racing. His career form figures when there has been soft in the ground description read 1335111.

He has been held up on his last couple of starts but he is usually most effective when racing prominently. Pat Dobbs held him up out the back at Goodwood and never left the inside rail. He was pulling hard early on and he evidently wanted to go much faster than Dobbs would allow. He travelled strongly up until around 1f from home but it was no surprise that he didn't find much when ridden given how hard he pulled early doors. 

There will be plenty of pace on here so hopefully he can break well and get a nice position up with the pace. Noble Gift will likely try and lead so Battalion should be able to settle and travel in behind him. I can see Cosgrave making his move a couple of furlongs out and fingers crossed Battalion can last home and hold off the finishers. Any more rain would increase confidence and he is the each way selection at 22/1. 



This Group 2 looks a very competitive contest and it is a race that Michael Stoute has farmed in recent years. He has won 6 of the last 10 and he is looking to win it for the third time in a row today. He fires two bullets in Dartmouth and Exosphere, and with juice in the ground the latter is preferred. However, Exosphere is just 5/2 and at much bigger odds I think Astronereus is worth a second glance. 

This son of Sea The Stars is bred to be a pattern level horse and he proved that with a commanding win on his first try in group company when taking a Group 3 on his seasonal return at Newbury (12f gd). He improved a stone last season, starting off in handicaps off 93 and ending up off a mark of 107. His only moderate run came in the Ebor at York (14f), but that wasn't his true running and he is a better horse than he showed that day. 

He is entitled to strip fitter for that comeback run at Newbury and as he has won on ground ranging from soft to good to firm the ground conditions won't bother him. However, he has been at his very best with a bit of juice so it will be perfect for him tomorrow. He should get a strong pace to aim at which will suit him well and as a 14f winner he won't lack stamina. His half brother Le Harve won a French Derby and Astronereus could be set take another step forward upped in class again. Pat Dobbs knows him well and keeps the ride. He will be hoping to give Amanda Perrett a first Group 2 win since Tungsten Strike won the Henry II at Sandown back in 2006. 



 This is my featured race of the day for Bettingtools and you can read my thoughts on the Diamond Jubilee by clicking here


I really like the chances of Jack Dexter in this big 6f heritage handicap that sees 29 runners go to post. He has yet to show anything like his best form so far this season but the return to Ascot and the good to soft ground are reasons for optimism, as is his declining mark. He gets to race off just 102 tomorrow, and he was beaten just over 3L off 6lb higher in the Ayr Gold Cup last September. He went on to win a 6f listed heat at Doncaster on heavy on his final run of the season before heading on his winter break. 

He has often run well at Ascot and he wasn't beaten far in the King's Stand last season on ground plenty quick enough for him. He has been poor on his first three runs this season, and he admittedly needs to show a lot more to get involved here. However, I think that Fran Berry is a shrewd jockey booking and his quiet and patient style should suit Jack Dexter, who needs to be held up and produced late. He has rarely run a poor race at Ascot and with the easy ground in his favour and off a much reduced mark he is the each way suggestion at odds of 25/1 with Paddy Power, who are paying out on the first 6 places each way. 



No bet for me here just one to watch and enjoy. 

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Royal Ascot Day 3

Well finally the blog got a place today after a very slow start on Day 1. Battle Of Marathon lived up to his name and fought on to finish a gallant 5th in the Hunt Cup (adv 33/1). The less said about the rest of the selections the better, and Scrutineer in particular was a bitter disappointment. Unfortunately Barroche paid the price for trying to keep up with Wesley Ward's freak of a filly and she faded into 6th. Great Page was never sighted in the finale and it is back to the drawing board for her I am afraid. Below are my selections for Day 3 and please God there is a winner or two in there.


This is a really tricky 2yo 5f Group 2 to get proceedings underway and soft ground form is very thin on the ground. Global Applause is the market leader at 9/4 and he has by far the strongest form in the book. He beat Mehmas earlier this season and that horse went on to frank the form by chasing home the impressive Caravaggio earlier this week. However, caution is advised as his form is all on a sound surface and his dam's best form came on good ground too. However, his sire Mayson loved to get his toe in so there is a chance he will take to the ground. 9/4 doesn't appeal to me though and at the current prices I think Peace Envoy is worth chancing.

This son of Power is trained by Aidan O'Brien and his pedigree doesn't scream speed. However, he has shown plenty of it in his three race career, winning two of them including a listed heat at Naas (6f gd) when he led and made all. He still looked very green though, and it was a similar story on his debut at Naas. There is no doubt that he has progressed with every outing, and he will have learned lots from that last run. He will definitely get further in time judging by his dam line and if stamina comes into play on the easy ground it could well play to his strengths. He is an each way price at 8/1 and it is worth chancing that he can follow in his sire's hoofsteps and win a race at Royal Ascot.



This 1m 2f Group 3 doesn't really jump off the card and it is difficult to find a horse that might be overpriced. My idea of the winner is probably the O'Callaghan horse, Blue De Vega, as this son of Lope De Vega is bred to appreciate the step up in trip he gets here. There is plenty of stamina on the dam side of his family and his sire was a Group 1 winner over 10.5f on soft.

He also has some of the strongest form on offer, his stand out performance a 2L defeat to Awtaad in a listed heat at the Curragh (7f soft) on his seasonal return. Awtaad increased the gap to almost 7L when they met again in the Irish Guineas (8f yld) but it was still an excellent effort by Blue De Vega, who was only 4L behind the second Galileo Gold.  Those two horses filled two of the first three places in the Group 1 St James' Palace Stakes earlier this week so if he can reproduce that effort and improve for the longer trip he could be hard to beat, with top pilot Kieran Fallon booked for the ride.



The one that I think looks a bit overpriced here is the Ralph Beckett filly Rocaverde. There was no show from this daughter of Rock Of Gibraltar in her one race 2yo career but she looked a different animal on her seasonal comeback at Sandown (10f gd/sft). Fran Berry bounced out in front and led from pillar to post, holding off the late challenge of Shall We by half a length. That filly went on to score by 3L on her next start and she re-opposes here.

That filly is a 16/1 shot, while Rocaverde, who has presumably been held back for this by her shrewd trainer, is chalked up at 33s. Berry abandons ship to ride the more fancied Chicadoro for Beckett but he wouldn't be the first jockey to make a wrong choice. In fact, when Talent won the Oaks at 20/1 for Beckett Jim Crowley overlooked her for Secret Gesture, who was the 3/1 2nd fav. Richard Hughes was the beneficiary, landing a Classic and leaving Crowley with egg on his face. Smullen was 2/4 when riding for Beckett in 2015 and he was placed on one of those that didn't win.

Rocaverde should love the ground at Ascot as her In The Wings dam was a listed winner on heavy. Now, Rocaverde has a rating of just 86, so she needs to improve massively to take a hand here. However, Beckett doesn't usually tilt at windmills with these fillies and he wouldn't be racing here if he didn't feel she had a chance of picking up some valuable black type. If she can get away quickly there are few better jockeys from the front than Smullen and, at odds of 33/1, she should give each way players a run for their money.



I have written an in depth preview for this Group 1 grueller and you can read it by clicking here.


The one I like here is a huge price but I think he could run a massive race and possibly reward each way support. Sheila Lavery's colt Sevenleft is by top class sire Manduro and he is bred to be better than a handicapper. He took a few races to get the hang of things as a 2yo but he found his form with a vengeance on his last two runs of the season. He travelled strongly throughout  in a 6.5f soft ground maiden at Limerick and made all, forging clear in the closing stages.

He repeated the dose in a 34k auction race on his next start on quicker ground at Naas, again getting on with it out in front and never giving his rivals a chance to land a blow. He made his seasonal return in a listed race at Dundalk and he was far from disgraced when just over 5L behind former Group 1 2nd Washington DC, who is rated 113.

His last outing was an even better effort back on the turf, 3rd behind Anamba in another listed heat at Naas. He was conceding 5lb to that filly and she was an excellent 6th in the Sandringham off a mark of 104 this week. That would suggest that this fella is actually pretty well treated off 98 and he is bred to be better than that mark too.

His dam is a full sister to a horse called Proud Citizen, a top class performer as a 3yo in the States. He was a Group 2 winner (8.5f) and then was placed in Group 1s (including 2nd in the Kentucky Derby) on his next two starts, all on the dirt. However, Manduro is a  sire that has produced plenty of classy sorts on the turf and Sevenleft looks to have followed in his father's footseps. I think his price of 50/1 is crazy and though it is an ultra competitive race I think this promising colt could run a lot better than his odds suggest for his Summerhill based handler Sheila Lavery.



No selection yet. I will update on Twitter if I do find an overpriced one. Good luck today everyone. I think we are going to need it....

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Royal Ascot Day 2

It was a tough start to the week for the blog yesterday and seeing Belardo just coming up short was a sign of things to come. He bumped into one serious mare though and it is frightening to think what Tepin might do on quicker ground. Van Der Decken ran a cracker and in real time I was sure he had grabbed fourth. However, he was done on the nod and it was another hard luck story. Caravaggio was hugely impressive and if he is as good on quick ground he could be O'Brien's Guineas horse next year.

Pearl Secret ran a stinker in the King's Stand despite being heavily backed into 8/1. Profitable was a worthy winner and maintained his 100% record for the season. He has developed into a serious sprinter and the world is his oyster now. Galileo Gold proved the doubters (me included) wrong by putting The Ghurka and Awtaad firmly in their places. A career at stud now surely beckons for this classy miler who has propelled his trainer Hugo Palmer to the next level.

Totalize ran a frustrating sort of race and he was caught out wide as the front four pulled clear. He stayed on well enough but didn't make the frame and perhaps he needs a bit more relief from the handicapper. Mister Trader was backed off the boards in the finale and I was sitting pretty having tipped him up at 12/1. After Caravaggio dotted up everybody jumped on the bandwagon but the gamble went astray. He never counted but it will be interesting to see if any problems come to light in the aftermath as I believe he is a much better horse than he showed on Tuesday.

Below are my selections for Day 2.


The one I like a a big price here is Scrutineer for the hot combination of Mick Channon and champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa. This 3yo colt showed smart form as a 2yo and hacked up in his maiden at Nottingham (6f soft). He followed that up with a facile handicap win off 80 at Doncaster (7f gd/sft) so he clearly likes to get his toe in.

His first two runs this year were very respectable, 2L behind Ibn Malik at Nemarket (7f gd/sft) when in receipt of 4lbs in a listed handicap and then just behind Thikriyaat and Dragon Mall in a listed heat at Newmarket (7f gd/fm). The ground was plenty quick enough that day for Scrutineer and I think he is capable of turning the form around back on a soft surface. 33/1 looks a huge price and he is the each way suggestion in a minefield of a race.



Wesley Ward has the favourite here with another Scat Daddy filly. Tepin ploughed through the soft ground yesterday which bodes well for his filly but as a rule his progeny are usually at their best on the dirt. This really is a nightmare of a puzzle to solve as soft ground form is thin on the ground.  One filly that could possibly improve for the switch to slow ground is the Clive Cox trained Barroche. She won her maiden easily last time out on good to firm but her pedigree suggests that she might handle soft ground.

Adam Kirby will be on cloud nine after the week he has had and he takes the ride. Her full brother Bearskin won two races and there was cut in the ground on both occasions. Hopefully this filly takes to it too, though stakes should be kept to a minimum given that we won't know until the race gets underway. She is a very tentative each way selection in a minefield of a race at odds of 16/1.



This is another race for the girls and it looks an ultra competitive Group 2 contest. Usherette is clear at the head of the market for Fabre and Barzalona at odds of 5/2 and it is 8/1 the field bar her. She has yet to encounter ground anything like it is at Ascot though and she could be vulnerable. The one I am going to side with here is Devonshire, a daughter of Fast Company in the care of Willie McCreery.

This 4yo has really stepped up her form this season and she seems to relish a bit of cut in the ground. She pushed Queen Blossom all the way in a Group 3 at the Curragh on her seasonal return (8f yld/sft) and followed that with a superb win in a Group 2, beating reliable yardstick Irish Rookie by a length. She carries a penalty for that win but she is at her optimum trip on her optimum ground and she will not lack in assistance from the saddle with Buick booked. She is the each way selection at 8/1 in a race where a lot of the participants have plenty to prove on soft ground.



 You can read my in depth preview of this Group 1 here at Bettingtools.


29 runners have been declared for the famous Hunt Cup and trying to find the winner is a thankless task. Any amount of them can have a case made for them and it is difficult to know even where to start when looking at a race like this. I am going to back two for small stakes here and the first horse I like is Battle Of Marathon for John Ryan. This former Coolmore inmate is proven on good ground and he went agonisingly close at a huge price in a valuable handicap off 102 at Doncaster (8f soft) on his seasonal return. He wasn't so good over 9f next time but returned to 8f here in a listed heat last time he pushed GM Hopkins all the way (8f gd/sft). He has been raised to 110 but he handles the track, the ground and he has been aimed at the race. At odds of 33/1 he could run a big one.

Another one that appeals at an even bigger price is Boomshackerlacker for George Baker and Pat Cosgrave. This 6yo son of Dark Angel is a triple listed winner, with two of those wins coming over 8f with cut in the ground. He races off a mark of 99 today and he showed in Meydan that he can be competitive in handicaps off that rating with an excellent effort off 102 when 4th behind Forries Waltz. He has run well fresh before so the 118 day break is not a worry and with ground to suit he is worthy of a small each way bet at odds of 50/1 with Paddy Power, who are paying out on the first 6 places in this race.

                               BOOMSHACKERLACKER E/W 50/1 PADDY POWER (6 PLACES)


Another absolute battle charge finishes off proceedings on day 2 and once again soft ground form is pretty thin on the ground. One horse that could potentially improve returned to this sort of ground is the Richard Hannon 3yo filly Great Page. She showed her best form by far on a soft surface last year, including wins at listed and Group 3 level. Her only run on relatively easy ground this season was her best, behind Ibn Malik in a listed handicap off 105 at Newmarket, and the ground and trip of 6f were all wrong last time. This will be her first race beyond 7f but there is hope in her pedigree that a mile will be fine. She is 6lb lower than for that 3rd behind Ibn Malik (beaten 4L) and with ground to suit she is worth chancing each way at odds of 33/1 in a wide open listed handicap.


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Royal Ascot Day 1

Tuesday sees the Olympics of flat racing get underway at Ascot and what a week of racing there is in store. The rain has been falling over the weekend, and on Monday, and as a result the going will likely be soft for the start of racing. Many of the ante post favourites for the big races during the week are at their best on a quick surface so there could be a few shock results. Below are my thoughts on the opening day of what will hopefully be a week of racing to remember.


I have written a preview of this competitive Group 1 contest for Bettingtools and you can read it by clicking here.


With 19 of the fastest young horses on the planet declared for this 6f Group 2 2yo contest it promises to be a thrilling spectacle. Favourites have a decent enough record in the race with 5 of the last 10 jollies obliging. Aidan O'Brien has won it three times since 2006 and he looks to have a real chance with market leader Caravaggio. The last time O'Brien won this back in 2013 he also had the market leader with 5/2 shot Stubbs, but the winner was War Command and he was a 20/1 shot. His son Joseph runs Lundy and he should not be discounted with brother Donnacha keeping the ride after a good listed 2nd at Naas (6f gd).

However, Caravaggio is a warm order for a reason and the recent rain will be of no worry to him. This son of Scat Daddy hosed up on soft ground on his first start on turf at the Curragh in a listed race, accounting for Darren Bunyan's promising 2yo Mister Trader (a horse I fancy for the finale today). Caravaggio was also too good for Lundy on debut at Dundalk and with the ground certain to suit he is a solid looking 9/4 shot if short prices are your thing. Ger Lyons also has a serious contender in Psychedelic Funk and he was mightily impressive when hacking up at Naas.

The one I like at a massive price is the Paddy Twomey trained and now Godolphin owned son of Dutch Art Van Der Decken. This fella was backed at silly prices the night before he made his debut at the Curragh (6f) and he duly rewarded support, winning easily by 2L at odds of 6/1. Godolphin brokered a deal for him so they were obviously impressed, and that win came on soft ground so the ground will hold no fears at Ascot. His trainer is convinced that he will improve on better ground but Dutch Art is a sire that often instils a liking for easy ground in his progeny. Given that this lad is already proven on soft I think it is a clear case of better the devil you know and he looks a big price at 25/1. He is the each way selection with Wayne Lordan keeping the ride.



This is another race that I have covered for Bettingtools and you can find out what I fancy by clinking here.


This is a race that does not really appeal to me as a betting proposition. For all intents and purposes it looks a match between The Ghurka, Awtaad and Galileo Gold and with a pace maker in the field it is sure to be a truly run race. The ground has probably turned against Newmarket Guineas winner Galileo Gold and he will be a better animal when he gets proper good ground. The Ghurka didn't make the track as a 2yo but he has looked very talented in winning his last two races, including the French Guineas on good at Deauville.

My idea of the winner is the Kevin Prendergast trained colt Awtaad. Prendergast is now the wrong side of 80 but he is as brilliant a handler as ever and you can see the glint in his eye whenever he is talking about this fella. He put Galileo Gold in his place in the Irish 1000 Guineas at the Curragh on yielding and he is a listed winner on soft. He is four from four since his debut defeat and he can make it five in a row today.


This handicap sees 20 go to post and stamina will be a must over a trip of 20f on ground that will probably be very soft. Irish jumps trainers have farmed this race in recent seasons and three of the last four winners have travelled over from the Emerald Isle. Willie Mullins won it last year with Clondaw Warrior and also in 2012 with Simenon. The last flat trainer to triumph was the Chapple-Hyam yard with Judgethemoment back in 2009. Only one favourite has won since 2006, Clondaw Warrior last year.

Mullins fires two bullets this year in an attempt to retain his crown and on jockey bookings it looks as though Pique Sous is the more fancied one with Ryan Moore on board. Martin Harley rides Sempre Medici and of the two I would prefer the chances of the Ricci horse as he has shown a distinct preference for easy ground. Pique Sous loves a quick surface and the rain is a huge negative for him.

The one I like at a tasty price is the Brian Ellison trained Totalize. This 7yo son of Authorized races off a mark of 95 with good claimer Callum Shepherd taking off a handy 5lb. He was on board for his last run at Chester and this dual purpose performer has been shaping as though he is crying out for this marathon trip of 20f. He has won on ground ranging from heavy to good and Ellison will be thrilled that the rain has arrived. He is still 9lb above his last winning mark of 86, but with Shepherd's claim I think he is capable of going close off his current rating.

He was stone last turning into the straight in the Chester Cup (18.5f) off this mark and he flew home for 7th. That was some feat at a track like Chester, though he did get all the gaps he needed to make his challenge up the inside. He also went close at Haydock last May off just a pound lower, staying on strongly for 2nd over 16f at Haydock. I think that 20f on soft ground will be right up his street and he is the each way selection at odds of 20/1.



I fancy Mister Trader for this race and I tipped him up earlier this week here at Bettingtools.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Margret Could Bounce Back At Haydock

Emily Bronte is famous for producing a masterpiece for the ages on the one occasion that she wrote a novel. Emilie Bronte, on the other hand, produced the exact opposite to a masterpiece at Beverley. In fact, her run was something that would be more at home in a Stephen King novel.

She broke well but was quickly behind and, unlike on her handicap debut when she stayed on late, this time she made absolutely no progress. There is nothing worse than putting in the effort of studying the form, watching replays, writing the blog and then having a bet, only for the horse to run an absolute stinker. Those are the perils when tipping up these long shots and it why I always advise to keep stakes small. Hopefully we can get a better run for our money with Thursday's tip.

Margrets Gift goes in the class 4 5f handicap at 8.45 and this 5yo daughter of Major Cadeaux is a three time winner, all coming over 5f on good ground or better at Ayr and Beverley. She managed to win two class 5 handicaps last season, the first coming at Ayr (5f gd/fm) last April off a mark of 70. Her next victory came in August off a mark of 72 at Beverley on good ground and she subsequently struggled off her revised mark of 76.

She returned to action at Southwell in April, a run that was clearly designed to blow away the cobwebs after her winter break. She ran an okay race on soft ground next time at Thirsk over 5f, beaten 4L off 74. She was sent off at just 7/1 on her return to quick ground at Nottingham last time (6f) but she was hampered at the start and was unable to recover. She has been left on the same mark of 73 and she was a decent 4th here off that mark in June of last year. She was also a good 3rd here on her only other visit so she clearly handles the track. Odds of 18/1 look very tempting to me and with trip, ground and track all sure to suit hopefully she can reward each way support.


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Emilie Looks Overpriced At Beverley

There is a bit of a lull in the flat season for the next week or so as all the top horses are well into their preparation for Royal Ascot. It is only a week until the festival gets under way and it promises to be an enthralling few days. Tomorrow's fare is not quite up to the same standard but I like the look of a filly at Beverley who should appreciate the return to 5f and to handicap company.

Emilie Bronte is trained by Yorkshire handler Chris Fairhurst and this 3yo daughter of Mullionmileanhour failed to trouble the judge in her three runs as a 2yo. Her best effort came over course and distance (good) when she was 4th on her 2nd run, beaten 7L but finishing a head in front of Sanaadh, a maiden winner on his seasonal reappearance at Thirsk.

Emilie Bronte made an eyecatching return to action on her handicap debut at Redcar (5f gd/fm) off a mark of 56 and she ran a much better race then her finishing position of 8th suggests. She was only 5L behind the winner and that was some feat considering how far behind she was at the halfway mark. She must have been detached by a good 10L but she really closed up in the final couple of furlongs under Andrew Elliott.

She flew past beaten horses in the last 100yds and if she wasn't given so much to do so she might have challenged for a place. The two horses that finished close behind her won a handicap and a seller next time out. The two that finished ahead of her, Whispering Soul and Lady Joanna Vassa, also ran crackers next time, the former beaten a short head in a handicap and the latter winning off 51. For a class 6 handicap the form actually has a pretty strong look to it.

She was stepped back up to 6f last time out on good to firm at Redcar and she was beaten out of sight. She raced much more prominently that day though and I think the 6f stretched her. I think she will be better suited by a more patient ride and Elliott is back on board in place of Fanning. If she gets a strong pace to aim at she could run a huge race. I am hoping that Bronze Beau and Roaring Rory take each other on up front and set the race up for a closer. If Emilie Bronte can stay in touch early on she could fly home late and hopefully she can reward each way support at odds of 33/1.


Sunday, 5 June 2016

Sunday's Selection

Blithe Spirit was the only selection to run respectably for the blog yesterday on a bitterly disappointing day. Harzand was heavily backed in the hours before the Derby and he stayed on well to land the spoils for Dermot Weld, showing great guts to hold off the challenge of US Army Ranger. It may well have been a different story on better ground but Weld is a master trainer and it was great to see him win the race that has eluded him for so long.

The French Derby is run today but I have no strong fancy in the race. I am sticking closer to home for today's selection and I think Tears In my Eyes is worth a second look in the 3.05 7f handicap at Listowel. This 3yo daughter of Lilbourne Lad has been disappointing since going very close in a decent maiden at Yarmouth last September (7f gd/fm). She ran respectably on her next start in a valuable 2yo race at Newmarket, again on quick ground, but she was bitterly disappointing on a trio of a/w starts before being sold and ending up with Evanna McCutcheon.

She reappeared at Dundalk with a poor effort and it was a similar story at Cork (8.5f hy) next time out. However, she has shown signs of returning to life on her last couple of runs and her penultimate effort at Leopardstown (7f hy) was a lot better than the distance she was beaten or her finishing position suggests. She fell out of the stalls that day but she made up the ground and was bang there entering the final furlong. Considering that the heavy ground was also against her it was a cracking run and she was dropped 4lb for it to a mark of 61.

She was kept to heavy ground again last time out at Sligo and she again ran a nice race without really threatening to get involved. She was a bit short of room coming around the tight turn at the top of the straight but she kept on well for 6th. I think she can take a big step forward at Listowel today with her mark down to 59 and young Leonard taking off another 7lbs. It will be her first run on decent ground since that good effort in that class 2 heat at Newmarket and if she can get away on terms from stall 5 she could run a big race at a big price.


Friday, 3 June 2016

Epsom Day 2 Selections

Well that wasn't a bad start to the weekend was it? It could have been better if Danielsflyer stuck his bloody neck out in the opener. I was convinced he had won in real time and I let a roar out of me that could be heard from miles away. However, he was done on the nod and we had to make do with 2nd place. Gold Prince did exactly what I thought he would and tried to do it the hard way. Imshivalla was the only one that could live with him and she got the better of him in the final furlong.

I though Cordite ran a lovely race and he showed a good attitude after being headed in the home straight, keeping on well for 5th. I have tipped up Examiner a few times before but he was too short for me yesterday so it was frustrating to miss out when he did win. Diamonds Pour Moi went wrong during the Oaks but she wouldn't have got anywhere near Minding. She has gears and she got the trip and it was a magical performance. Smuggler's Moon finished off the day on a high note for us with a snug win in the 5.15 and ensured that we finished the day with a healthy profit. Let's hope for more of the same tomorrow.


The one I like at a price in this race is Dark Devil for Fahey and Hanagan. This son of Dark Angel has yet to be out of the first three in four career starts and he won his maiden at Redcar over 7f on good to soft ground. He made his seasonal comeback at Chester and he ran a huge race to be 3rd behind Ian Fleming off a mark of 86 (7.5f gd).

He stayed on strongly in the closing stages of that Chester race and he needed every inch of the 7f when he won his maiden. He looks as though he is crying out for a step up in trip and he gets it here. He is not bred to be a 10f horse by any means but as Minding proved on Friday that doesn't mean he won't stay. His sire Dark Angel has a 19% strike rate over this trip so he should be fine. A bit of juice in the ground will suit him well too and at odds of 14/1 he is the each way selection.



Andrew Balding showed that his string are in good form with a win for Tullius in the Diomed and I think he has another live chance with Merry Me in this 8.5f Group 3 fillies and mares contest. This 5yo daughter of Invincible Spirit has won just 2 of her 15 starts but she has run some massive races in defeat. She failed to get her head in front last season but she earned some black type which is hugely important for a mare. The fav will be hard to beat here but I think Merry Me can run her close.

She ran poorly on her seasonal comeback last season before going very close here in a course and distance handicap off 92 (gd). She followed that with a cracking effort in a Listed heat at Ponte, chasing home Nakuti in second, beaten a length. Better was to come in a Group 2 in Germany next time when she was 2nd again, beaten 5L in 2nd and a head in front of a subsequent Group 2 winner. She was poor at Lingfield on her comeback run this term but she will be a lot sharper today. With track, trip and ground to suit she has to have a great chance and she looks well overpriced at 14/1.



Postponed is all the rage for this Group 1 contest (12f) and it is not hard to see why. He goes on any ground, he is already a Group 1 winner and he was hugely impressive in Meydan earlier this year. He is consistent, he is well ahead on the ratings and if he turns up at 100% he will be very hard to beat. With 8 runners due to go to post there might be better value to be found in backing something each way, and at odds of 16/1 Arabian Queen is a good alternative if, like me, short priced favourites aren't your thing.

This filly caused one of the biggest upsets of  last season when she turned over Derby hero Golden Horn at odds of 50/1 in the Juddmonte at York 10.5f. She is a previous course winner, taking the fillies Group 3 at this meeting last year (8.5f gd). Just like the favourite she is versatile regarding ground, she is already a Group 1 winner and she will not lack in assistance from the saddle with De Sousa on board. She ran a cracker on her seasonal reappearance in a Group 2 at Newmarket (9f gd) and if the fav doesn't bring his A game this fabulous filly could be the one to capitalise.



The dash is usually a very difficult race to decipher and Duke Of Firenze looks to hold every chance from a super draw, but at 7/1 in a 20 runner race he is too short for me. The one I like at a price is Blythe Spirit for Eric Alston with John Egan on board. This fella is a real trailblazer and he hasn't got a bad draw at all in stall 14.

He is running off a mark of 90 and he has proven in the past that he is capable of winning off that rating. He was a close 2nd at Haydock off 91 last season for example, and his last win came off just 2lb lower at Chester last June. He has also won off 89 so he is on a mark that he can go close off. He has won on ground ranging from soft to good to firm so he won't care what the weather does. If he can ping the start he is capable of making a bold bid at odds of 33/1.



The highlight of the day is the Derby and you can read my in depth preview here exclusively for Bettingtools.co.uk.


Hubertas is definitely the one I like in this 12f handicap and the claim of top young pilot George Wood could make all the difference for this 4yo son of Lord Of England. He has been expensive to follow this season, twice a beaten favourite, but he has been improving with every run and he went agonisingly close at Haydock in a class 4 last time off 81.

He was beaten a head by Sign Manual that day and he was unfortunate not to win. He has already won over this trip, a handicap on good ground at Leicester off just 67, but he has also run some cracking races on easy ground. With Wood's claim he is essentially a pound lower than for his head defeat last time and at odds of 16/1 this consistent gelding is the each way selection.



No strong interest in this battle charge that finishes off proceedings. One I'll be simply watching and enjoying.

Epsom Day 1 Selections

Indigo ran a poor race for us earlier this week but there was a valid excuse for the performance. There was definitely some juice in the ground and that was never likely to suit Mark Usher's charge. It is frustrating when you tip up a horse when the ground is reported as being one way and it changes before the race starts. She remains unexposed on turf and on rattling quick ground she can prove better than her current mark.

Below are my thoughts on Day 1 of the Derby meeting and there is plenty of action to get stuck into on the Downs. The soft ground will be a hindrance to lots of the runners so horses that handle an ease (or that are bred to handle an ease) could be the order of the day.


Two of the leading fancies in this 6F Listed race are by Distorted Humour, and while there is no denying his quality as a sire, there is also no denying that his progeny have a decidedly average record on easy ground. The one I am interested in here at at price is the David Barron trained Danielsflyer. He was beaten on debut at skinny odds over 5f at Southwell but he stumbled at a crucial time and that may well have cost him the race.

He was stepped up to 6f in a similar heat at Ayr (gd/sft) and those who followed him again recouped their losses. He managed to win despite a whole lot going wrong, squeezed for room at the start and again at the midway point in the race. He took all the misfortune in his stride though and he showed a nice turn of foot when he felt the warmth of the whip for the first time. Hyperfocus looked exciting when winning his maiden by 5L and his trainer really likes him. The form of his win has been let down though, and at the current odds I would much rather be with the Barron horse. He is the each way suggestion at 14/1.



10 go to post for this 10f handicap and there are is no shortage of horses with course form in the book. Dark Red has won 3 on the trot, including here over course and distance on soft, but he is up to a mark of 95 from 75 and that could be a bridge too far for him. Felix De Vega pushed him hard at Chester but he looks handicapped up to the hilt too.

The one I like at a price is the Sylvester kirk trained son of Nayef, Gold Prince, a two time winner on ground ranging from heavy to good to firm. He won over a mile off 83 last August but his form nosedived afterwards. However, he showed that the winter break did him the world of good by reappearing with a cracking effort in 2nd behind Interconnection at Newmarket (10f gd/fm).

He has been raised to a career high mark of 90 after that run but he is bred to be better and his half sister was a Group 2 (12.5f) and Group 3 (10f) easy ground winner in France (rpr 113). He is drawn to attack in stall 4 and if he can ping the start and dictate the pace he could be a tough nut to crack in the closing stages. He is put forward as the each way selection at odds of 11/1.



The Group 3 Diomed Stakes is the third race on the card and Arod is a warm order after his solid seasonal reappearance run at Ascot (8f gd/sft). He could only manage 3rd in that Listed contest but he showed last year that he was capable of mixing it at this level and higher by winning this race last year and going close at Group 1 level. The ground was good last year though and the runner up that day, Custom Cut, will be much better suited by today's conditions. He still has to concede 5lbs to Arod and that could be too big an ask.

Sea Of Flames runs for the same connections as my selection in the previous race, Gold Prince, and they are actually related. This son of Aqlaam is out of a two time winning half-sister of Gold Prince, and it is a family that relishes cut in the ground. This 3yo has been campaigned to good effect on the all weather and he has won 4 from 5 at Lingfield, including two Listed heats. He has had just two runs on turf and was well beaten on both occasions, but both efforts came on rock hard ground. This will be his first run on soft and as a 3yo he only has to carry 8st 7lbs. De Sousa is back on board and he has a 100% record on Sea Of Flames (2/2). He is drawn to attack in stall 2 and at odds of 25/1 he is a speculative each way selection.



This valuable 8.5f handicap looks a fiercely competitive contest and a case can be made for plenty of them. Alcatraz is an interesting contender at the foot of the handicap and he has a good draw in stall 2. He will appreciate the drop in trip and he will strip much fitter for his comeback run at Windsor (10f gd/sft). However,the value has gone from him now at odds of 7/1 and as he has yet to prove he can win off his mark of 83 I am going to leave him alone today.

At a monster price the one I am going to take a chance on is Cordite for on fire trainer Jim Boyle. This 5yo son of Footstepsinthesand has been in the doldrums for quite some time but he showed some very smart form as a 3yo for Mick Appleby. He was highly tried after his easy maiden win (7f soft) and he ran some cracking races at Group 2, 3 and Listed level. He has shown his best form with cut in the ground and his best effort came in a class 2 handicap at Leicester (8.5f) when beaten less than a length off 104.

It has been downhill since then though, but he showed definite signs of a return to form on his penultimate run at Brighton (7f gd/sft). The first time hood seemed to spark him into life and he was beaten under 2L off a mark of 85. He is a pound lower here after a moderate effort at Lingfield but the return to soft ground and step back up in trip give cause for optimism today. If he can get back to anywhere near the form of that run off 104 he is thrown in off 20lb lower. At odds of 33/1 he is worth a small each way bet for a trainer whose last two runners have won.



The Oaks is the highlight of the day and you can read my thoughts and find out my fancy here at Bettingtools.


This Listed 7f contest is a cracking little race and there are a number of highly promising sorts in the field. Haalick is a warm order for Varian and Atzeni after an eyecatching run at Goodwood (7f gd) last time out in a handicap off 101. He shaped as though he wanted at least a mile though and it was a similar story on his previous run over 8f at Lingfield.

The one that I am interested in here at a price is the Brian Meehan trained gelding Smuggler's Moon. This son of Danehill Dancer is out of a half sister to Strategic Prince so he is bred to be a smart horse. He was well beaten on his only run as a 2yo but he was never right and he looked a different proposition on his return to action this season.

He stayed on powerfully to claim a 7f maiden at Newbury (7f gd/sft) and the trip looked to suit him perfectly. The runner up has since won a handicap off 77 so it isn't bad form. His trainer nominated the Group 3 Jersey Stakes as a target after that win so he obviously considers him to be a lot better than his official rating of just 79. He is completely unexposed having had just the two starts and while he has an awful lot to find on the figures he could outrun his odds of 16/1.



Nothing appeals as being overpriced in this handicap and I will be keeping my powder dry for Derby Day. Check back on Saturday morning for my Derby Day selections. You can read my in depth preview of the big race here .

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Indigo Could Outrun Odds At Nottingham

Pray For Paris looks as though she might need divine intervention to win a race judging by how she ran on debut. She was well backed the night before the race but it was a different story on the day. She drifted out to as big as 66/1 with a couple of firms in the hours before the off and she was even bigger on the exchanges when the race did get underway.

She ran accordingly and looked as green as grass. That is what happens sometimes when you take a chance on backing a horse first time out but at least Mininggold saved some face by finishing 3rd. Tim Easterby has his string in superb form and any of his runners are worth keeping an eye on at the moment.

Another trainer that is flying at the moment is Berkshire based handler Mark Usher. He had a number of horses run well last week, including Maramjuke Bay winning impressively at nice odds. He also had a horse called Bayston Hill go close at odds of 50/1, and that fella's half sister is the filly I am interested in today.

Indigo goes in the 3.00 at Nottingham, a class 4 (0-80) handicap that will be run over 8f on good to firm ground. This 3yo daughter of Medicean showed her best form as a 2yo on synthetic surfaces, her two wins coming in class 6 contests at Kempton (7f) off 59 and then at Chelmsford off 62. She signed off last season with a more than creditable effort off 69, again at Chelmsford, beaten just a length in 2nd on her first run in a class 5.

She was kept to the all weather on her seasonal return at the start of this month and she ran a lovely race off 69, this time upped to class 3 company. Considering it was her first run back of the season it was a fine effort,and she returns to turf off the same mark, with Josephine Gordon taking off a handy 5lb. She drops back down into a class 4 and this will be just her 3rd run on turf.

She was well beaten on debut at Windsor (5f good) and then her only other start on grass came on her handicap debut at Newbury (7f good to firm) off 61, when she ran a grand race to be 3rd, beaten just 2L. She has been very consistent in handicaps and she has only been out of the first three once. With her stable flying and fast ground to suit I think she looks far too big a price at 28/1 and at those sort of odds she is definitely worth chancing for small stakes each way.