Friday, 26 August 2016

Saturday's Selection

To say I was sick after Silver Gleam's run today is an understatement. The fact that she got beaten wasn't the reason, as she was a pretty chancy selection in any case (40/1 shots usually are). I was more frustrated by the fact that Easterby's other entry won it. Sometimes when you are looking for different angles in a race you can end up tying yourself up in knots, and that is what happened to me earlier.

Silver Gleam actually ran a decent enough race, and a couple of  furlongs out she looked as though she was going to play a big part in the finish. She faded in the closing stages though, and nurseries beckon for her now. She has shown enough ability to win a race and, if she gets a mark of 65 or lower, I think she can run well on her handicap debut, perhaps back down at 7f. 

Luckily the trainer of Saturday's selection only has one entry in the race, and Bergholt looks primed to run a big one back at Goodwood and upped to 12f in the 5.40. This 3yo son of Sir Percy caught my eye when running a cracker at a big price here back in May (9f), and he has had just the two runs since. 

He ran off a mark of 72 that day and Jamie Spencer was on board. He was held up out the back in typical Spencer style, and just over a furlong out Spencer asked him to quicken. Quicken he did, and he closed quickly on the leaders in the final furlong, never nearer than the 2L he finished behind the winner Bathos. 

That run suggested that he would benefit greatly from a further step up in trip, but the 10f he faced on his next two starts simply wasn't enough of a stamina test. He is bred to stay too, and his half sister Khione was a listed winner over today's course and distance of 12f (good). 

His trainer Philip Hide has had a winner and a third from his last couple of runners, so it looks as though he is coming into some sort of form. Martin Harley takes the ride, and he is a jockey I have an awful lot of time for. He is probably better known for his judgement of pace on front-runners, but he is well capable of riding hold up types too. 

I reckon Hide might have earmarked this race for Bergholt since his run here back in May, as Goodwood is a track that not every horse enjoys running at. He has been given a nice break of 78 days since his last run, and that is not a worry as he ran very well fresh on his seasonal return at Chelmsford. Hopefully he can repeat the form of his run back in May, and with an extra three furlongs to play with he could outrun his current odds of 22/1. 


Silver Could Take Step Forward On Soft At Thirsk

Last weekend was a poor one for the blog, with neither horse making the frame. We will never know how Dream Of Dream's might have got on, but the main thing is that he lives to fight another day. I didn't think Fun Mac ran all that badly in the Ebor given that he was slowly away and was forced to challenge from much further back than ideal. He kept on pretty well though, I thought, and back up in trip he will be of definite interest on his next couple of starts.

I have been struggling to find a selection worth putting up this week, and luckily enough the horses that were under consideration all ran poorly. However, there is a very interesting filly going in the fillies maiden at Thirsk at 2.20, and with the ground currently described as soft she could well take a big step forward on the form she has shown so far.

Silver Gleam is a 2yo filly by Zoffany and she is out of a Dalakhani mare that was beaten a length on her only start as a 2yo. She won on good ground over a mile at Leopardstown as a 3yo, but her best form came when placed in successive handicaps on easy ground. Her half brother was a soft ground listed winner as a 2yo (9f soft), so there is no shortage of speed in her pedigree.

Her sire, Zoffany, was a horse that handled all types of ground, but his progeny have a much better strike rate on an easier surface. He is 25% on heavy and 22% on soft, almost double the strike rates of 13% on good and 10% on good to firm. So, as you can see, Silver Gleam is a filly that is not only bred to be a 2yo, she is also bred to relish a bit of cut underfoot.

As for her two races so far, well her debut at Doncaster (7f gd/fm) was when she first caught my eye and she ran better than her finishing position suggests. First of all she was slowly away, and secondly she was green as grass and she was looking around her as Allan pushed her out inside the final furlong.

Having been held up in rear she showed a nice bit of acceleration to slice through the field, and at one stage she looked like she might challenge for a place. I think it was greenness rather than a lack of stamina that caused her effort to flatten out, and she faded into 8th.  However, Allan wasn't overly hard on her in the closing stages, as he likely had other days in mind.

She was stepped up to a mile last time out, again on good to firm at Doncaster, and Cam Hardie came in for the ride. I was surprised to see that jockey booking, and that is the reason I didn't put her up on the blog. She was ridden very differently, pulling hard and up with the pace, and unsurprisingly she finished out with the washing.

Allan comes back in for the ride today, and it is interesting that he prefers this filly to Easterby's other entry, who will be ridden by Rachel Richardson. Even more interestingly Allan rode Anythingknappen on her first two runs, and as stable jockey he surely had the pick. That filly is by Arcano, and his progeny are usually fast ground types.

The rest of the field have it all to prove on soft too, and for this reason I think Silver Gleam could sneak a place. Now obviously it could be the case that she is just out to qualify for her handicap mark, and for that reason stakes should be kept to a minimum. However, odds of 40/1 are too juicy to resist, and from a more than decent draw in stall 3 I reckon she is worth chancing each way.


Saturday, 20 August 2016

Return Of The Mac

Quick N Quirky could never land a blow on Thursday for us and ended up down in 8th place. She was only 5L behind the winner, and she didn't have a whole lot of room to make her effort, so she looks capable of being placed at least of her current mark. Today is Ebor Day, and this is a handicap that has been good to me down the years. I managed to find Litigant last year, and this year's renewal looks as open as anything. If you want to find out what I fancy in the Gimcrack at 3.25 I have written an in depth preview for Bettingtools which you can read by clicking here.

The one I like at a price this year is Fun Mac, a 5yo gelding in the care  of shrewd trainer Hughie Morrison. Morrison runs two in the race, and his other entry Vent De Force is no forlorn hope either. However, I prefer the chances of Fun Mac, though he will have to step up markedly on what he has shown so far this season.

Last year he started off in superb form, hacking up in a handicap over today's trip of 14f by 11L at Salisbury off 84. The handicapper, unsurprisingly, took a dim view of that emphatic win and raised the son of Shirocco to a mark of 94.

On his next start off his new mark he ran an absolute cracker in the Ascot Stakes (20f gd/fm), going down by half a length to Clondaw Warrior. He was conceding 7lb to that rival, and Clondaw Warrior has since gone on to show just how good an effort that was by winning next time out off 96, and he looks like heading for the Melbourne Cup this season.

Fun Mac has since showed that that run was no fluke, and he was an excellent second to The Twisler in a listed heat at Goodwood (14f soft)on his next start (conceding 12lb). He then ran an absolute cracker in the Group 2 Doncaster Cup, finishing 4th behind Pallasator and beaten just over 2L. The Group 1 Prix Du Cadran was next on the list, and he again ran a huge race (20f gd) to finish third, beaten 4L.

He was likely over the top for his final run last season, again in Group 1 comapany at Saint Cloud, when he trailed in a well beaten 8th. He has been well below par on three runs so far this season, but he showed signs of life last time out at Goodwood (14f gd/fm). That was his first start in handicap company since he ran Clondaw Warrior so close, and though he was beaten 9L by Elidor, he stayed on pretty well in the closing stages off his mark of 103.

Charlie Bennett takes the ride today and his 5lb claim could prove to be invaluable. He has ridden plenty of winners (19 to be exact) for Morrison, and if you take his claim into consideration it means Fun Mac is effectively running off 98. That is the same mark off which he ran so well behind Clondaw Warrior, so he has shown that he can be competitive off this sort of rating.

I am hoping that he comes on for his first three runs of the season, and he definitely won't mind the drop of rain that has fallen overnight. If he can reproduce the form he showed in the Doncaster Cup last season he won't be far away, and at odds of 33/1 he is the each way suggestion in a wide open looking handicap.


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Quirky Could Get Back To Winning Ways At York

Letmestopyouthere ran a cracker for us earlier at York, but unfortunately he missed out on a place by less than a length. There is nothing worse in racing than finishing one place out of the money,  but at least if you backed him with Skybet you get paid as they were going each way first five places. That illustrates the importance of shopping around before placing your bet, but I am hardly qualified to talk as I backed him with bloody Paddy Power!!

After a sickening like that there is nothing to do but dust yourself down and go again, and Thursday's selection again runs in the lucky last on the Knavesmire at 4.55, an 8f fillies handicap. Quick And Quirky is a 3yo filly by Lilbourne Lad, and she has been knocking on the door recently. I reckon it may well open for her tomorrow, even if this is a stronger heat than the ones she has been contesting recently.

She has run crackers on her last three outings after something of a quiet spell in June. In fairness to her, one of those June runs came in a Listed heat when she came home 7L behind the re-opposing Opal Tiara. They were off level weights that day, but the Easterby filly gets 13lb from her now and that could be enough for her to turn the form around.

She has already got her head in front this season, over 7f (gd/fm) off 75 at Musselburgh back in May, and she went close on her next start, just reeled in in the closing strides at Carlisle (8f gd/fm) off 78. She was beaten just a short head that day, and after her aforementioned quiet spell in June she has bounced back to form in a big way on her last 3 runs.

The first of those came here over 7f (gd) and she was beaten a half length into third, staying on well. She has had two near misses on her last two starts, and she is clearly an in form filly. She has an okay draw in stall 4, and Allan comes back into the saddle. He has been on board for her only two wins, so that has to be seen as a big positive. She races off a mark of 82 and, though this has proved beyond her in the past, she is still only a 3yo so she could easily improve another few pounds. At her current odds of 16/1 she is worth chancing each way in a competitive (but open) looking handicap.


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Evans Could Land Touch At York

It was a mixed bag for us last Saturday, and Sakhee's Return ran a poor race at Doncaster. I was really optimistic when the ground dried out to good to firm, but unfortunately the race wasn't run to suit. Sakhee's usually likes to slot in behind the leaders, but after a lightning quick break from the stalls he found himself in front. He is much better when he has pace to chase, and evidently front running doesn't suit him. He has more races in him, he just needs things to fall right for him on the day.

Hopefully some of you read my in depth preview of the Hungerford Stakes for Bettingtools, as we gained compensation thanks to a sparkling performance from Richard Pankhurst (adv 14/1). He stylishly came from last to first under a masterful ride from Rob Havlin, finally fulfilling the potential he showed when taking the Chesham in taking style as a 2yo. Home Of The Brave ran another super race back in second, but he may have reached his level. I will be writing a 'Race Of The Day' feature every Saturday exclusively for Bettingtools so keep an eye on my twitter @davestevos for updates.

The Ebor Festival gets underway on the Knavesmire tomorrow, and the highlight is the Juddmonte International. I have no strong fancy for that race, but my advice would be to tread carefully if you are considering having a bet on Postponed. He is currently a 13/8 shot, but I have noticed that there are a heap of bookies enhancing his price for tomorrow's race. That is usually never a good sign, and another negative would have to be the quick underfoot conditions. The ground has been no better than good for his last 5 wins, and when he last raced on good to firm he was beaten at Ascot in a Group 2. I would most definitely be a layer rather than a backer at his current odds.

One horse that seemed to relish the switch to quick ground on his last run was Letmestopyouthere, who goes in the concluding 6f handicap for shrewd handler David Evans. This son of Sir Prancealot was out with the washing on his debut on the all weather at Wolves back in March, but he proved that run to be all wrong with a facile win on his next start in a 5f soft ground maiden at Nottingham. He was then sent to Chester for the Lily Agnes, but he was coltish in the paddock and he blew the start.

Unsurprisingly he was gelded after that run, given a couple of months off, and he reappeared in a handicap at Haydock (6f heavy) off a mark of 75. He was always likely to need that run after his break, and he ran a very encouraging race to finish runner up, beaten less than 2L. However, the run that really caught my eye came last time out in the Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury last month (class 2). He may have finished 7th, but it was an absolutely cracking effort and a huge step forward on any form he had shown previously.

He was beaten just 4L behind Mrs Danvers, and more importantly he was carrying 10lb more than Jonathan Portman's subsequent Listed winner. He was just over half a length behind Spritual Lady, another he was conceding 10lb to, and that filly dotted up in a nursery off a mark of 78 on her next run. Letmestopyouthere was closing on the leaders all the way to the line, and he really seemed to enjoy the quick ground. He shaped as though 6f would be absolutely perfect for him, and he gets his first chance at the trip on good to firm at York.

He has been raised to a mark of 83 for that run at Newbury, but judging by how the form of that race has worked out that looks well within his compass. Sam James rode him in the Super Sprint, and his services have been retained for this race. Low number draws are usually beneficial in sprint races at York, and Letmestopyouthere has a grand draw in stall 2. With the ground, trip and draw all in his favour, he could outrun his odds of 33/1 in what looks a wide open nursery handicap.


Friday, 12 August 2016

Stick With Sakhee At Doncaster

I was very disappointed with Mister Musicmaster's run earlier and he just couldn't land a blow. He wasn't able to get to the front and dictate, and he eventually finished well beaten. The big race of the day on Saturday is the Hungerford Stakes and you can read my thoughts in my exclusive preview for Bettingtools by clicking here.

Hopefully we can get back to winning ways on Saturday with a horse that regular readers of the blog will be familiar with. Sakhees's Return did us a favour on his penultimate run, when landing each way money for us at Ascot in a decent Lady Rider's handicap. He returns to his preferred ground at Doncaster and he could bounce back to form.

He has run once since that fine effort, and it is because of this run that he can currently be backed at odds of 18/1. However, the good to soft ground was never going to suit him at Thirsk, and he actually ran a better race than I thought he would. He still looked to be in good form, and as an extra bonus the handicapper dropped him a pound for that effort to a mark of 84.

This means he is now 2lb below his last winning mark, and this will be only the second time he has had his preferred quick ground this season. The first occasion was at Ascot on his penultimate start, and he ran a cracker off 86 to be 3rd of 18 behind Hawkeyethenoo.

He is 2lb lower here, Tim Easterby is ticking along nicely and had a couple of winners during the week, and Jason Hart is a top class jockey booking. This will be his first time to ride Sakhee's Return, but the 4yo gelding is an uncomplicated type so there should be no issues.

He has been 3rd on the two occasions he has raced in contests with more than 12 runners, so the big field will hold no fears. He is drawn in stall 12, so that will give Hart options at the start. Hopefully he bounces out, sits just off the lead and then makes his move a furlong out and puts the race to bed. I think he has a big chance once the rain stays away (sunny, breezy day forecast), and at odds of 18/1 he is a confident each way selection.


Thursday, 11 August 2016

Master Can Hit The Right Note At Newbury

Sunday's selection, Pick Of Any, ran a bitterly disappointing race and there were no apparent excuses. I really though he would stay on late in the day, but he was never able to land a blow. He probably needs a bit more help from the handicapper if he is to get his head in front.

Tomorrow I have my eye on a horse at Newbury, and Mister Musicmaster appeals from an each way perspective returned to the scene of his last triumph. This 7yo son of Amadeus Wolf has been a grand servant to connections and, as his 7 victories show, he knows how to win a race. He goes in the class 4 handicap at 2.50 and he gets to race off a mark of 77.

He returned to the turf this season with a fine effort at Windsor back in May (10f gd) off a mark of 81. He was beaten just a length that day and it was a super run. He went into his shell after that race though, and he was well below par on his next few starts. Every cloud has a silver lining though, and he has slipped to an attractive looking rating of 77, 3lb below his last winning mark. That win came here last summer over course and distance, off a mark of 80 and on quick ground.

He showed clear signs of life over an inadequate 7f at Chepstow last time, outpaced early doors but staying on nicely in the closing stages. His trainer Ron Hodges is a shrewd operator, and he may well have had this race in mind for some time. The step back up to 8f looks sure to suit, as his last 5 wins have come over the trip. It would be no surprise to see Steve Drowne ride Mister Musicmaster a lot more aggressively on Friday, and a fast start from the stalls is key.

Another reason for optimism is the fine record that Hodges has at Newbury. In the past 5 seasons he has had 16 runners, and 6 of those have won. That is a strike rate of 38% and he obviously likes to have winners at the track. Hopefully Mister Musicmaster can enhance that record on Friday, and at odds of 16/1 he looks well worth supporting each way.


Saturday, 6 August 2016

Sunday's Selection

Sheila's Treat was a disaster last week and his performance neatly illustrated the danger in following market movers. I put him up at 16/1 the night before the race, and I was pleasantly surprised to see he had been 'backed' into half that price when I awoke from my slumber the next morning. The 'support' continued in the run up to the off, and he was sent off an 11/2 shot. While I thought he was a bit overpriced at 16s, I equally believed that 11/2 was way too short.

He ended up running an absolute stinker, and I don't think the ground was soft enough. I always advise keeping stakes relatively small on my big priced selections, and I would urge anyone who reads this blog not to be tempted to increase your stake if the price has shortened. The markets are the biggest influence that bookmakers hold over punters, and I follow a policy of treating the vast majority of market moves with a pinch of salt. I learned the hard way that following so called gambles blindly is a sure fire way to end up in the poorhouse. Ground, judgement and form (in that order) are much more important when it comes to finding winners.

It was Shergar Cup day on Saturday at Ascot and it is not a format I am a fan of. It is a chance for a chosen few jockeys to have their day in the sun, but 10 runner fields are not my cup of tea. It was the first Saturday in I don't know how long that I didn't have a bet, but I will be going back to the coalface tomorrow at the Curragh with a Sheila Lavery trained son of Zoffany that looks sure to appreciate the quick ground at the Kildare venue.

Sheila Lavery is a trainer I have a huge amount of time for, and she places her small string to excellent effect. She has been amongst the winners in the last couple of months, and she fired in four winners during July. Pick Of Any goes in the 4.35 at the Curragh on Sunday, a 7f handicap, and this 3yo gelding comes here after a below par run at Galway last time out. However, the ground was soft out West that day and he is better judged on his previous two runs, in a 5f maiden (gd/yld) at Naas and then over 6f on good on his handicap debut at Navan.

That maiden in Naas over 5f was the first time that this gelding showed any real sign of ability, and he stayed on really well late in the day for 5th after looking well held coming into the last couple of furlongs. It was a similar story in Navan when he made his handicap debut off a mark of 68. He dwelt, looked held and then once switched wide he stayed on eyecatchingly and ended up almost snatching a place.

He really seemed to relish the decent ground in Navan and it was no surprise to see him struggle on soft ground last time at Galway. I think he is capable of making his presence felt off 2lb lower then he was for a 1.75L defeat on his handicap debut, with the return to quick ground and the 7f trip both in his favour. He carries a feather weight of just 8st 8lbs thanks to his 3yo weight allowance, and Michael Hussey takes the ride (only previous winner for Lavery was a 16/1 shot). He has a grand draw in stall 3 and at odds of 16/1 he is the each way selection in a competitive looking handicap.


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Forecast Rain Could Work A Treat For Sheila At Bath

Vincentti was the subject of a big market move before the off at Salisbury and his odds tumbled from 12/1 to 11/2. As per usual he dwelt at the start, so his decent draw turned out to be a hindrance rather than a help. Da Silva stuck to the inside, and though Vincentti travelled well it was apparent a couple of furlongs from home that he had no hope of getting a run up the inner. Da Silva pulled him out widest of all, but by the time he found his full stride the winner had flown. He stayed on really well to grab second, but it was frustrating because with a clearer passage he surely would have gone a lot closer.

Wednesday's selection goes at Bath, and I have been keeping a close eye on the weather forecast for the Somerset track. There has been plenty of precipitation around during the last 24 hours, and there is a fair bit more due before the start of racing on Wednesday. The ground is currently described as good, but the chances are it will have eased significantly by the time of the 5.00 tomorrow. I reckon all the rain will suit Sheila's Treat, a 3yo gelded son of Frozen Power who was a two time winner on the all weather last year.

This fella improved dramatically after three non-descript runs in maidens at the tail end of last season, and he scored on his first two handicap runs. He made a mockery of his initial mark of 60 in a class 6 at Wolves (8.5f st) at odds of 20/1, and the 2nd and 4th home that day have gone on to win 5 races between them. He followed up next time out at Kempton (8f) in a class 5, again on the all weather, this time prevailing by a short head off 67.

He was put away after that win in December and made his seasonal reappearance at Ascot on quick ground over 7f off his new mark of 72 in a class 4 handicap. He ran a perfectly respectable race, finishing 7th of 17, and the horse that finished less than a length ahead of him in 6th has gone on to score off 85. He wasn't as good over 10f at Sandown next time out, but the trip likely stretched him and he also pulled hard in the early stages.

The run that made me interested in Sheila's Treat came on his penultimate start in a class 5 handicap at Newbury. It was his first time to encounter soft ground, and I thought he ran a cracking race off a mark of 67. He travelled really well and looked the most likely winner 2f out. He just seemed to tire slightly in the closing stages and he had to settle for 4th, just under 6L behind the winner. However, the form of that race has been boosted by the 3rd and the 6th both going on to win since.

Last time out in another class 5 at Windsor Sheila's Treat was sent off at just 9/2, but Oisin Murphy had a day to forget in the saddle. He seemed to break perfectly well from his decent draw in stall 3, but somehow he ended up nearer last then first. He was then switched wide to make his challenge in the closing stages, and at Windsor those tactics rarely end well. Every cloud has a silver lining though, and he returns to what will hopefully be a softer surface off a mark of just 63,

I think his run at Newbury was very promising, and off 4lb lower he should have a much better chance of sustaining his effort until the finish. He also drops back into class 6 company for the first time since his handicap debut win, and this race doesn't look anywhere near as strong as those Newbury or Ascot heats. Murphy retains the ride and he has a more than decent record of 7 wins from 44 rides for Coakley. Sheila's Treat can currently be backed at odds of 16/1, and at that sort of price he is worth a couple of quid each way.


Vincentti To Relish Return To Easy Ground At Salisbury

The holidays are over and we are back in action with a tasty 12/1 shot at Salisbury this afternoon. I am feeling refreshed and reinvigorated after a week away in Galway, and despite the rain it was a really enjoyable trip. A few days camping in Connemara meant I didn't even have a bet during the week, though a trip to the Galway races on Saturday more than made up for the lack of gambling action. Unfortunately it was an unmitigated disaster from a punting perspective but, apart from the betting, it was a really enjoyable day out.

Glassilaun Beach Connemara.

Instead of following the throngs into Galway City after the racing, I decided to take a less trodden path. Tuam is where I ended up, and I discovered an absolute gem of a pub that has remained unchanged for over a century. McDonagh's Bar is based on Shop Street in the town, and if you want to experience an authentic, old style Irish bar then this is the place to go. The pints were flowing freely and, even though I don't drink it myself, I was reliably informed that the Guinness is of the highest quality.

The locals and staff couldn't have been more welcoming, and there was no shortage of information (both good and bad!) for the following day's racing floating around. The music was top class and the craic was absolutely mighty. If you are planning a visit to the Galway Races next year and you are looking for an alternative experience to the usual madness in Galway City, take a chance and pay a visit to McDonagh's bar in Tuam instead. You won't be disappointed.

Anyway, enough about my holiday experience and back to the serious business of racing! Today's selection goes at Salisbury in the 15.00 and his trainer Ron Harris will be delighted with all the rain that has fallen. The ground is now described as soft and that will be right up Vincentti's street. This 6yo son of Invincible Sprit has been hard to win with down through the years, and he has only got his head in front three times from 45 starts.

He has had just four runs this season, and only once has he had his preferred easy ground. That was at Bath on his penultimate run (5.5f soft) and he finished runner up to Showmethewayavrilo (beaten 1L) off a mark of 71. He is 3lb better off with that rival today so he is weighted to turn the form around. He followed that up with a moderate effort at Chepstow (6f gd/fm) off a pound higher, but the quick ground was a valid excuse for his poor run on that occasion.

He has been dropped back down to 71 for today's race and that is 1lb below his last winning mark (6f gd/sft Brighton). His form figures for his last 5 runs when there has been soft in the ground description read 13042, and the 3rd came at Goodwood on soft off a mark of 78 (beaten under 2L). He likes to finish fast and late so he needs a strong pace to be seen at his best. There are plenty left in the field that like to get on with things out in front, so Vincentti should get the race run to suit. I think he looks well overpriced at 12/1, and he is the each way suggestion in a handicap that looks there for the taking.