Monday, 28 November 2016

Love Looks A Likely Improver At Newcastle

Mad Brian ran no sort of race in the Troytown, never better than mid division and tailing off to finish last of those that completed. Empire Of Dirt hacked up for his new handler Gordon Elliott, who came away with 6 winners on the day. He has an unbelievable amount of ammunition at his disposal, and he could take the festivals by storm this season.
Empire Of Dirt hacked up in the Troytown. 
Tomorrow isn’t a day that screams quality, but there is one horse going at Newcastle in the 8f handicap at 4.20 that I can’t leave unbacked, even if the yard hasn’t had a winner for some time. Back To Love is trained by Dorset based trainer Mark Gillard, and this 3yo daughter of Street Cry caught my eye in a big way at Chelmsford last time out in a 7f handicap. She was on my radar after a decent effort on her 2nd handicap start in a first time hood at Brighton (6f gd), staying on nicely after racing widest of all.

She blew the start at Chelmsford last time out, and her jockey Milly Naseb still thought it prudent to take another pull in the first 20 yards. She consequently found herself well out the back by the time a furlong had elapsed, and she was still detached by 4L as they rounded the home turn. Naseb went for the brave man’s route up the inner and she was staying on really well, looking like she might grab a place. However, she got chopped off by the horse in front of her and she had to stop riding and snatch Back To Love up. She eventually finished 7th, beaten 6L for the win but only 2L off 3rd.

She was racing off a mark of 46 that day, and she is racing off the same rating at Newcastle (she was dropped to 45 after that run so she is a pound out of the handicap). I believe a mile will suit, both on what she showed last time out and her pedigree. Her sire Street Cry has a 44% strike rate with his runners on artificial surfaces, and a 43% strike rate from 7f-9f. Her half-brother was a Grade 3 winner over 6f on the dirt in the States, and he was beaten just 6L in a Group 1 over 8f.

Ben Curtis has been booked for the ride tomorrow, replacing Naseb, and he is a jockey I have a lot of time for. Hopefully Back To Love is more alert from the stalls tomorrow and gets away on level terms. Her draw in 13 shouldn’t be too much of a hindrance over the straight mile and, on breeding and previous runs, the trip and surface should suit.

Gillard has sent 6 horses on the near 750 mile round trip from Dorset to Newcastle before (including jumpers) and 4 of them have placed. I think Back To Love could be ready to take a big step forward tomorrow and, at odds of 33/1, she is worth chancing each way for small stakes.


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Brian Could Bounce Back To Form In Troytown

Unfortunately, Houblon des Obeaux was a non runner on Saturday and he was withdrawn on account of the ground. Native River ran out an impressive winner, and he is definitely a chaser on the up. It will be interesting to see where he goes from here, but he will be competing at the top table when Spring arrives.

Today in Ireland is Troytown day, and this famous old handicap looks as competitive a renewal as ever. It is a bit of a joke to see Elliott with 11 of the 25 runners, but unfortunately this is going to become even more common in Irish racing goig forward. The only way to combat this would be to have a limit on the amount of entries allowed from any single yard, but I am not sure the Irish racing elite would be too enamoured with a rule like that.

The one I am taking a chance on is one of the 14 that aren't trained by Elliott, and Mad Brian looks as though he has been laid out for this race by his local trainer Gillian Callaghan. He was an excellent 2nd to Cootamundra in this very race as a 7yo back in 2013, but he has failed to progress from that brilliant effort. He has obviously had his problems, and he was absent for almost all of 2014 and 2015, before returning to action in January of this year.
Mad Brian loves it at Navan.
He has been campaigned mainly over hurdles since making his comeback, and he has been brought along slowly. After a couple of moderate runs over hurdles he returned to fences at Uttoxeter back in March for the Midlands National off 138 (33.5f) and he ran well to a point before running out of gas and pulling up. He at least put in a clear round next time up at Ballinrobe (17f yld) over a trip that was always going to be on the sharp side.

He was sent off at just 14/1 for the Kerry National off a mark of 132, but he was again pulled up after an early mistake cost him a lot of ground. The bottomless conditions that day would not have played to his strengths, and he will be suited much better by the yielding surface at Navan today. It was good to yielding the year he came 2nd, and it was also yielding when he produced his best run for some time last time out over timber. He was 5th, beaten just 8L off 116 after setting a searching pace, and it was a definite improvement on what he had been showing previously.

He gets in today off a mark of 130, 5lb below the mark off which he was 2nd back in 2013. He has two 2nds and a win from 6 starts at Navan, so he clearly has an affinity for the track. He is fit from a couple of spins over timber, he showed definite signs of life last time out and, at odds of 40/1, I think he could run a big race.


Friday, 25 November 2016

Houblon Can Outrun Odds In Hennessy

Quintus Cerialias drifted like the proverbial barge earlier this week, and he was just out for a spin by the looks of things. Maybe connections wanted to make sure the tongue tie worked and, on the evidence of how he finished under hands and heels after being posted wide, I think it is safe to say it did. He is definitely one to keep onside in the coming months as he is sure to pop up at a massive price.
Venetia could be smiling at Newbury.

Tomorrow is a cracking day of action, with the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and the Hennessy at Newbury. I have no strong fancy for the Newcastle race, and my only bet tomorrow goes in the big Newbury handicap. Houblon Des Obeaux goes well fresh, looks fairly treated and he will be ridden by a bang in form jockey, who takes off a very useful 5lbs.

I backed Venetia Williams' charge for this race at 50s two years ago, in the renewal won by Many Clouds, and he ran an absolutely huge race to finish 2nd off 157, just over 3L behind the subsequent Grand National winner. He obviously has an affinity for Newbury, as he was beaten just 7L by Gold Cup winner Coneygree here afterwards over 23.5f.

He came into the race last year with a prep run under his belt and off a mark of 156. Williams really fancied him beforehand, but he ran flat and finished a well beaten 9th behind Smad Place. He bounced back to form in a big way here on his penultimate run last season, smashing the Giant Bolster off level weights by 28L. He was pulled up on his final outing at Aintree, where the lively ground didn't suit.

He comes into the race this year off a mark of 153, just 1lb above his last winning mark and 4lb below the mark off which he was 2nd to Many Clouds. His lack of a prep run is more of a positive than a negative in my opinion, as until last season he had a superb record first time back. He won by 11L in 2012, 6L in 2013 and he was 2nd in this race in 2014. Charlie Deutsch is riding out of his skin right now, and the form figures for his last 6 rides for Williams read 521222.

His 5lb claim means that the 9yo son of Panoramic gets to race off an effective mark of just 148, and he is more than capable of making an impact off that rating. He loves Newbury, there is plenty of cut in the ground and Williams has had plenty of her horses run well first time up in the last month or so. This is likely the target for Houblon Des Obeaux this year, and I think he looks well overpriced at odds of 25/1. He is the each way suggestion in what should be a cracking renewal.


Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Quintus Could Rule Supreme At Kempton

The all weather surface at Southwell didn't live up to its name today, with racing abandoned due to a waterlogged track. It was a pity, because I was looking forward to seeing Indiana Dawn in action. Tomorrow I am going to chance one at Kempton and I think Quintus Cerialis, named after a famous Roman general, could bounce back to form in the 4.55.

Southwell was abandoned.

This 4yo son of Vale Of York was formerly trained by Clive Cox, and he was a course and distance winner by 11L in a weak maiden almost a year ago to the day. He was kept to the all weather on his next few starts, and as recently as March this year he was a close second at Kempton in a class 5 handicap off a mark of 74 (6f).

His form tailed off after that run, and after a couple of poor efforts on turf he headed to the sales. He was picked up by current connections for just £5.4k, and he made his stable debut in a class 4 handicap over tomorrow's c&d off 74. He never got into contention after a poor start, and he again ran poorly at Wolves next time (8.5f) off 72.

The cheekpieces (worn for his win and subsequent placed efforts) returned for his last run at Kempton and a couple of furlongs out he looked to be coming with a big challenge up the inner. However, around a furlong out his effort petered out completely, and he was allowed to come home in his own time in last place. The way he stopped suggested the jockey possibly heard a noise, and it is no surprise that connections have reached for a tongue tie.

He has been dropped to a mark of just 65, and that is a massive 9lb below the mark off which he was beaten 0.75L here over 6F back in March. His trainer and owner Karen George does well at Kempton, and she has 9 wins and 11 places from 117 runners (4/29 last 5 seasons). This fella is priced up at 33/1, which is no surprise given his form figures. However, he drops into a class 6, the tongue tie is on and he looks worthy of a small each way bet at odds of 33/1.


Monday, 21 November 2016

Dawn Could Rise On Handicap Debut At Southwell

Western Cape hated the ground on Saturday, and he never got involved. I rarely back horses ante-post, as there are too many uncertainties. Ground is the single most important factor to consider when deciding whether to back a horse or not and, despite the forecast predicting light showers, the ones that did fall were torrential. The ground turned heavy and that spelled trouble for Western Cape. He will be a better horse on nicer ground, and he is on a workable mark.

There was an even bigger hard luck story with Pakman, who stayed on well to win the battle for third. However,the last gasp withdrawal of the Gigginstown horse meant only 7 horses took part, and that meant we missed out on each way money. We have been hitting the crossbar with a couple of frustrating 4ths, and then Pakman's 3rd, but hopefully we can get back to winning ways at Southwell tomorrow.
Robert Stephens Is A Shrewd Operator.
The one I like is trained by Robert Stephens (no relation!) and Indiana Dawn makes her handicap debut in the opener at 11.50. This 6f class 6 contest is as trappy as one would expect, and this 3yo daughter of Sleeping Indian has been handed a mark of 60 for her handicap debut after a trio of maiden runs. She ran a stinker last time out at Wolves, but I think she is better judged on her previous efforts at Bath (5.5f gd/sft) on debut and then at Windsor (6f gd/sft) on her second start.

She ran a respectable race first time up at Bath, and she finished just under a length behind Arcanista. That filly has gone close twice since in handicap company, beaten a nose off 59 next time up and then beaten 1/2L last time out off 58. The 3rd home has since won a handicap while the 2nd has gone close off 60 at Kempton.

Indiana Dawn improved for that outing next time at Windsor, running a grand race upped to 6f to finish 5th, beaten just over 2L. The form of that race hasn't worked out, but it was a nice enough run from the Stephens filly. Beschizza certainly wasn't too hard on her inside the final furlong, and she looked to finish with a little bit up her sleeve.

The hood was applied for her final maiden run, and she obviously didn't appreciate it at Wolves (5f). She was woeful from the gates, and she never raised a gallop. Beschizza didn't exactly throw the kitchen sink at her once he realised she wasn't going to be winning (around 10 yards after the start!) and she trailed home in 9th, beaten nearly 10L.

It is no surprise to see the hood dispensed with tomorrow, and she has a decent draw in stall 7. I reckon she could be a lot smarter from the gates and, hopefully, she can get a good position early on. This will be her first run on fibresand, but she appreciated easy ground on her first two runs so hopefully she should be fine on it. Stephens had one place at huge odds at Chelmsford on Monday and, hopefully, he can repeat the dose with Indiana Dawn at Southwell on Tuesday at odds of 16/1.


Friday, 18 November 2016

Pakman Looks Primed For Big Run At Punchestown

It was another disappointment for the blog today with Sahraaj, and it really is frustrating to have two in a row finishing just out of the money in 4th. He was given a great ride by Danny Sheehy and he got a dream run up the inside. Unfortunately, they didn't go as quick as I had hoped up front, and they just didn't come back to him. There is definitely another race in the son of Zebedee, and his turn is surely not far away.
Heavy ground is a worry for Western Cape.
Our ante-post selection has been declared for tomorrow, but I am very worried about the ground. It deteriorated badly today and, though Western Cape has form on soft, I am not sure he will relish heavy. However, he is definitely going to take his chance and hopefully he gives us a good run for our money at 25/1.

Another one I am interested in tomorrow goes at Punchestown, and I think Pakman is criminally overpriced in the 2.10. Regular readers of the blog will be familiar with this fella, as he landed each way money for us on a couple of occasions last season. He has had a couple of spins on the flat under his belt, and he should be at peak fitness for his return to hurdling tomorrow.

This 8yo son of Indian Haven remains a maiden after 14 runs under rules, but he has definitely shown that he has enough ability to win a race. He first caught my eye in a maiden at Fairyhouse (16f hvy) on his first run back from a break last November, running a cracker to finish 3rd at odds of 100/1. He was kept to maiden company for his next 3 starts, and he ran well again in 2 of those on heavy ground, when 4th at Punchestown (16f hvy) and 3rd at Thurles (16f hvy).

He was handed a mark of 112 for his handicap debut at Fairyhouse (16f yld) and he ran a huge race at 16/1 to finish 3rd behind the well backed Dollar and A Dream. He was just over 3L behind the winner, who subsequently went close off 7lb higher at Galway. He was 2nd in another maiden at Limerick next time out (19f hvy), before returning to handicap company back at Punchestown.

He was an excellent 3rd of 25 in that 16f (yld) race off 113, 4L behind the winner Elusive Ivy. His final run of last season was poor, but he was likely over the top after a long, hard season. He reappeared in a couple of flat races last month, and you would imagine the purpose of those runs was to get him fit for this race. His trainer, Adrian Murray, is one of the shrewdest operators in town, and I think Pakman is more than capable of outrunning his odds of 25/1 with track, trip and ground all sure to suit.


Thursday, 17 November 2016

Sahreej Weighted To Go Close At Dundalk

Breath Of Blighty ran an absolute stormer for us on Thursday, despite drifting all the way out to 40/1. He put in a flawless round of jumping, and he was very economical over his fences. He saved his best jump until the last, putting in a spectacular leap and landing in the lead.

I thought he was going to go on and win easily, but the soft ground blunted his finish and he was agonisingly edged out of a place in 4th. The handicapper is likely to drop him another couple of pound for that run and, back on slightly better ground, he is well capable of winning a handicap chase.
Adrian Keatley has had a superb season. 
Dundalk has been a happy hunting ground for the blog, with Shelbe and Burning Brightly doing the business for us there in recent weeks. I like the look of another one there tomorrow and, with talented claimer Danny Sheehy taking off 7lb, Sahreej looks well capable of hitting the frame back in handicap company in the 5.30 (5F).

This 3yo gelded son of Zebedee used to be trained by Charlie Hills, but he was sold out of that yard in July and he is now in the care of shrewd Curragh handler Adrian Keatley. He made his debut for his new yard in a handicap over course and distance back in September, and he ran a cracking race under Chris Hayes to finish 3rd, just failing to get up by 0.5L off a mark of 85.

He headed to the Curragh (5f hvy) for his next start, but he didn't put his best foot forward and he finished well down the field, beaten 7.75L. Last time out he was tried in a listed heat back at Dundalk (5F), but he was outclassed in that company and he finished out the back, again beaten just over 7L. He has been dropped a couple of pounds for that effort, and he races off a mark of 83 on Friday night.

That means he is 2lb lower than for a half length defeat here in his last handicap and, as if that wasn't enough, Danny Sheehy takes off another 7lb for good measure. Sahreej is effectively off a mark of 76 and, when you consider his last win came by 4.5L off 83, he looks potentially very well treated back in handicap company.

The one negative is his draw in 12, but he will be held up for a late run and he was drawn 10 of 10 when going close here back in September. With a number of confirmed front runners in the race there should be no shortage of pace, and that should set the race up for a closer. Hopefully the gaps come at the right time for Sahreej and, if they do, I think he is capable of hitting the frame. At odds of 16/1 he is worth backing each way in what looks a very winnable handicap.


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Bilghty Worth A Bet On Chase Debut At Market Rasen

The standard of racing so far this week has been average, but as the weekend approaches the quality improves. Tomorrow I am backing one at Market Rasen, and I think Breath Of Blighty could benefit from the step up to 2m5f in the 2.35, a class 3 handicap chase. This 5yo son of Policy Maker is making his handicap and chasing debut, and he could be potentially well treated off a mark of 115.

This gelding had a couple of mishaps on his first two starts in point to points, but he made it third time lucky when winning by 4L at Barbury (20f gd). He changed hands at the sales for a cool £50k, and he didn't show much on his first three starts for Paul Webber.

Paul Webber Has A Decent Record At Market Rasen
However, he took a big step forward on his fourth start in a maiden hurdle at Huntingdon (16f gd/sft), staying on well for 2nd, 7L behind subsequent Grade 1 winner Buveur D'Air at 33/1. He was sent off at just 6/1 next time out at Warwick, but he was well beaten over 16f on good ground.

He produced a much more encouraging run on his final start of last season, again in a maiden hurdle, at Kempton. He finished 3rd, beaten just over 7L for the win, but less than 2L behind subsequent Class 3 novice winner Cultivator (rpr 130), and 15L ahead of Tour De Ville, a horse that hosed up by 7L in a handicap off 100 on his last start.

Breath Of Blighty was sent off at just 7/2 on his seasonal reappearance in a maiden at Stratford (16.5f gd), but he was badly outpaced as the race took shape and he was left behind in 5th, beaten 12L. He should strip a lot fitter with that run behind him, and his pedigree offers hope that he will benefit from the step up in trip.

He is a half-brother to the very useful Paul Nicholl's trained staying chaser Virak and he is a Grade 2 winner over 24f. His sire, Policy Maker, was operating in France but he now stands in Ireland. His best known jumper would be useful chaser Art Mauresque, and he has shown his best form at around 21f.

Richie McClernon has been booked for the ride, and his quiet style could suit this horse. He has won on 7 of his 61 rides for Webber, placing on another 11 (30% strike rate of hitting the frame). Webber has had 119 runners at Market Rasen, with 19 winners and 18 places (31%).

Breath Of Blighty can currently be backed at odds of 20/1, and that price looks a bit too big to me. If he follows in the hoofsteps of his half-brother Virak, he could reward each way support off bottom weight in an open looking handicap chase.


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Go West At Haydock On Saturday

Buywise landed each way money for us in the big one on Saturday, advised at 18/1. The nap of the day finished like a train for 3rd, but a couple of slow jumps cost him. That has been a recurring theme with the Evan Williams horse, and he will surely put it all together one of these days. It would be no surprise if that day came at the festival in March.

Millanisi Boy ran an absolute stormer for Richard Woollacott at advised odds of 50/1, and you should never underestimate any of his Cheltenham runners. Millanisi Boy was up there all the way, and he travelled strongly like he usually does. He kept on really well in the closing stages for 3rd and, given that it was his first run back of the season, there should be plenty more to come from the strapping son of Kalanisi tthis season.

Millanisi Boy Jumping The Last At Cheltenham.
It shouldn't be too long before Woollacott lands that elusive Prestbury Park winner, and Millanisi Boy might be the horse to do it. Seamus Mullins was another trainer that had one run well at a big price on Saturday, and Song Light was spotted as a potential contender by the eagle eyed Tom Segal. He was backed at fancy odds into 16/1, and he ran a massive race to finish 3rd, beaten less than 2L.

Mullins has another interesting horse entered in the big handicap hurdle at Haydock this Saturday, and I think Western Cape looks overpriced at odds of 25/1. This 5yo son of Westerner cost £84k at the sales, and he has shown on a couple of occasions that he could be well worth the outlay

He was 2nd to Monbeg Notorious in a point to point on debut, before hacking up by 8L in a Southwell bumper (15.5f gd) on his first run under rules at 10/1. He was beaten on his first run over timber at Lingfield (19.5f sft), but he showed his true colours a month later in a novice hurdle at Ascot (21.5f sft). He prevailed by 3.75L from King Kayf, and the 4th and 5th home in that race have gone on to win since.

Western Cape stayed over the same course and distance for his next run, under a penalty in another novice hurdle, and he was no match for the highly rated Hobbs horse Duke Des Champs. However, he finished miles clear of the rest and the 4th home that day (23L behind Western Cape), What A Moment, hacked up in a handicap chase off 127 for David Pipe at Cheltenham last Friday.

Western Cape ran a poor race on his final start of last season, but he made a very pleasing return to action at Worcester last month (23f gd). He ran off a mark of 128 and he just failed to beat Herbert Park in a driving finish, having travelled like the best horse in the race. Herbert Park went close off 132 (7lb higher) next time out, so the 5lb rise for Western Cape looks fair.

He should strip a lot fitter for that return to action, and he will hopefully be cherry ripe for Saturday. Big handicap hurdles like this are more often than not run at a frenetic pace, and that should play into Western Cape's hands. He is a strong traveller and, as he has shown with both his wins, he enjoys big fields. He won't mind what the weather does and, off his new mark of 133, I think he is worth backing each way in the ante-post market for the Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday.


Friday, 11 November 2016

Buywise Looks Overpriced At Cheltenham

Runyon Rattler ran an average race earlier, but I was worried as soon as I heard the jockeys describing the ground as being on the 'easy side of good', 'hard work' and 'dead' after the opener. I thought it would be genuine good ground, but a combination of watering and showers meant it was anything but. He never landed a blow, and he finished down the field in 8th.

I am sticking to Cheltenham for Saturday's selections, and my main fancy of the day goes in the Gold Cup at 2.25. This 20f handicap chase is a cracking renewal this year, and I think Buywise looks massively overpriced at odds of 18/1. He had a lovely prep run for this race at Aintree (20f good) three weeks ago in a handicap hurdle, and that will have blown away the cobwebs for a tilt at this race.

He was an excellent second to Annacotty in last years edition off 148, beaten just half a length, and this 9yo son of Tikkanen looks as though he has been trained with this race in mind. He has an excellent record at Cheltenham, and he has form figures of 515424 around here, including a good 4th at the festival in 2015 behind Darna. The ground will suit, the trip is ideal, Evan Williams is in good form and he is proven at the track. Hopefully he can go one better than last year, and he is worthy of each way support at odds of 18/1 off just 2lb higher.

Later on, also at Cheltenham, I can't resist having a small each way bet on the Richard Woollacott trained Millanisi Boy in the 3.35. Regular readers of the blog might remember me tipping up this lad last season at huge odds, and he ran a cracker to grab a place. He subsequently went on to win a novice hurdle at Chepstow (19.5f hvy), and the form of that race has worked out pretty well.  The 2nd, 4th and 5th have all come out and won races since, and the 5th was beaten just 5L in a handicap off 128.

Millanisi Boy's mark remained at 125 after that novice hurdle win, and he admittedly ran poorly on his final two starts of the season when upped in trip at Newbury (24f) in February and Exeter (23.5f) in April. He was dropped 3lb for that final run, and he returns to action at Cheltenham off a mark of 122. Harry Cobden takes off another valuable 3lb, and though his trainer Richard Woollacott has yet to train a winner around here, he has had a couple go very close. He had one come 2nd at 25/1 earlier on this week and, at odds of 50/1, I think Millanisi Boy could sneak his way into the first four.

                                         3.35: MILLANISI BOY E/W 50/1. 

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Runyon Can Rattle Them At Cheltenham

Shelbe got the job done nicely for us at Dundalk on Wednesday, and as soon as I saw her bounce out of the stalls I knew we were home and dry. Hussey settled her behind the leaders, and she travelled like a dream throughout the race. Hussey could even afford to take a pull as they rounded the home turn, and when he gave her the office 2f out she responded instantly and put daylight between herself and the rest of the field. The closers couldn't get to her, and she came home well to score at 14/1 (adv 22/1).

For those who have just started following me on Facebook, I would just like to warn you that it isn't always this easy! I recommend that stakes be kept small on my selections because, as Oak Vintage showed, sometimes they run stinkers. Tipping up horses at big prices can be difficult, and losing runs are inevitable. However, the blog is well ahead after a year and half or so, and hopefully it stays that way going into the future.

The one I fancy goes tomorrow at Cheltenham, and I think the key to this fella is good ground. Runyon Rattler is trained by the ultra shrewd Philip Rothwell, and he has won just 2 of his 13 starts. However, crucially, both of those wins came when the ground was on the firm side, and both those wins came in very impressive fashion.

He won his bumper on his 3rd start, hosing up by 31L at Kilbeggan in what was a pretty moderate contest. However, the 2nd home went on to win a maiden hurdle at Galway subsequently, so at least there is a small bit of substance to the form. Rothwell's charge ran well in a number of races after that easy win, and his form figures of 33423 are all the more creditable seeing as they came on unsuitably soft ground.

He ended up having a total of 8 maiden hurdle runs after that bumper win, and it wasn't until his 9th and his return to good ground that he managed to regain the winning thread. He was sent off a 15/8 fav at Wexford back in July (16f gd) and he absolutely hosed up by 9L from Henry Howard. He was handed a mark of 113 for that run, but it wasn't his rating that beat him on his handicap debut at Kilbeggan, it was the yielding ground in my opinion. He still managed a 2nd place finish, beaten 5L by Rocongo. It was again soft last time at Ballinrobe, and he finished a decent 2nd, beaten 7L.

He has been handed a mark of 124 for his British debut and, on the face of it, that looks harsh. However, the ground is forecast to be good at Cheltenham, and that will be right up Runyon Rattler's street. The booking of Paul Townend catches the eye, and he is 6/53 for Rothwell in the last five seasons. The weather forecast is good, Runyon Rattler has won by a combined total of 40L his sole starts on genuine good ground and, at odds of 20/1, he has to be worth a small each way interest in a wide open looking handicap.


Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Shelbe Could Give Quinn First Flat Win At Dundalk

Oak Vintage put up a poor performance earlier, and his price drifted alarmingly in the run up to the race. He ran accordingly, and the writing was on the wall a long way from home. Edmund also ran below form, even though he finished third, for the Hamiltons earlier on the card and it looks as though their string hasn't hit top form yet.

Tomorrow I fancy one at Dundalk, and Shelbe, a 3yo daughter of Big Bad Bob, is interesting upped in trip back at the track where her most promising run came. This filly has had just the 5 starts, and she was beaten a total of 51L on her 3 maiden runs. The handicapper still somehow handed her a mark of 58 and, after a three month break, she headed for Dundalk to make her handicap debut over a mile.

Billy Lee was on board and she was sent off a 33/1 shot. She fell out of the stalls, and Lee took a while to get her organised out the back. She was making ground up the inside after a couple of furlongs, but Lee thought it wise to take a couple of pulls and keep her out the back.

As they rounded the home turn he switched inside, travelling sweetly, then in the home straight he switched her again to the wide outside. Interestingly he never once showed her the whip, but she kept on nicely under hands and heels for 6th of 14, beaten 8.5L for the win but just over 2L off 3rd. She looked as though she had plenty left in the tank, and with a more vigorous ride she might have finished even closer.

She was given a month off after that run, and she reappeared at the start of October in an easy ground 8f handicap at the Curragh. This time she blew the start completely, and she resembled a bucking bronco more than a racehorse as she left the stalls. In the circumstances she did well to finish 5th beaten 16L, after losing at least that amount at the start.

She shaped as though the step up to 10f would suit on her last run at Dundalk, and there is no shortage of stamina on the dam side of her pedigree. Ger Lyons has had plenty of success with Big Bad Bob's progeny around here, so that is another positive.

Obviously the big worry with Shelbe is her woes at the stalls, and for that reason stakes should be kept to a minimum. However, she has definitely shown enough ability to win a race, and with her mark dropped 7lb since that handicap debut run I think she is capable of hitting the frame, granted a decent start from stall 8, at odds of 22/1.


Vintage Worth A Wager At Sedgefield

Queen's Royale didn't find anything like the improvement I expected for the switch to faster ground on Saturday, and she faded out of contention in the closing stages. She was given a pretty tender ride from Winston, and she could be one for handicaps next season.

Tomorrow I am interested in one at Sedgefield, and Oak Vintage takes his chance in the closing race at 3.45, a 20f handicap hurdle. This 6yo son of Fruits Of Love has only won one of his 7 career starts under rules, and that win came over course and distance on soft ground in a class 4 novice hurdle here back in March.

He was running a big race, but looked held by the 4/9 fav Ryedale Racer as they approached the 2nd last. However, the fav unseated his rider and Jamie Hamilton kept Oak Vintage up to his work and held on well for a 6L win. He was handed a mark of 112 for that effort, and he was pitched in to a hot class 2 handicap on his next start, again over 20f on soft at Sedgefield.

He was pulled up in that race, and he was found to be lame afterwards so he can be excused that effort. He was put away after that, and reappeared at the start of last month in a 2 runner class 4 race at Kelso (21f gd/fm). He was well beaten in that heat, but he showed a little bit more last time when 4th of 10 in a class 4 handicap, again at Kelso off a mark of 110.

He was beaten almost 30L in that race, but the trip was on the sharp side and he looked as though he would come on again for the outing. The Hamilton yard do well at Sedgefield and they get plenty of winners from limited runners. They are 5/25 here in the last 5 seasons, and they are 2/4 here this year.

Oak Vintage looks sure to benefit from the return to 20f and, as he showed with his win here back in March, he likes the track. he will hopefully be in tip top condition after two runs to blow away the cobwebs, and the handicapper has generously dropped him to a mark of 106.

Quality claimer Jamie Hamilton takes off another handy 3lb, and with showers forecast tonight and tomorrow the ground should be perfect. At odds of 16/1 I think Oak Vintage looks to have plenty in his favour, and he  is worthy of each way support in a moderate looking handicap.


Saturday, 5 November 2016

Royale Could Relish Quick Ground At Doncaster

Rake's Progress got the job done nicely for us on Tuesday, bouncing out and making all with the minimum of fuss under an aggressive ride from Jack Mitchell. I was hoping that he would be dropped in off a strong pace, and that his stamina would come into play in the closing stages. However, connections obviously didn't want to risk the race becoming a crawl, so they decided to take the bull by the horns and use the horse's stamina from the front. They obviously landed a nice touch, as he was sent off at just 9/2 (advised at 14/1).

Having pored through the cards I have decided to stick to the level for this Saturday's selection, although Bailey's Concerto very nearly made the cut. I think he is overpriced for the in form Dianne Sayer team at Aintree. He has a fitness edge on 5 of his rivals, who are all back from a break, he will benefit from the drop back down to 20f and he is on a mark off which he can be competitive. At 12/1 he has to have a solid each way chance.

However, at almost treble those odds I think there is a filly worthy of a small each way bet in the 12.40 at Doncaster. Queens Royale looks criminally overpriced  at 33/1, after a lovely debut run at odds of 66/1 when finishing 4th to a Godolphin horse that won a class 2 conditions race next time up. That race was run at Nottingham on good to soft ground (6f), and there is every reason to believe that Queens Royale can take another step forward on the forecast good to firm ground at Doncaster.

This daughter of Stimulation is a half sister to Sakhee's Return (rpr 93), and that gelding has won 3 of his 18 races for Tim Easterby, including a 6f maiden second time up on quick ground at 20/1. Her other half sister Be Royale has won 6 races, so she is out of a mare that has proved she can produce winners.

The booking of Robert Winston catches the eye, as he is 1/2 on 2yos for Appleby, and 3/24 overall (with 9 places for a 50% strike rate of hitting the frame). She gets a 5lb allowance from the boys, she has a grand draw in 3 and, at odds of 33/1, she is worthy of a small each way bet in a competitive looking maiden.


Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Rake In The Profits With Progress At Kempton

After Burning Brightly's big win on Friday, we were brought back down to earth with a bang with Tullinahoo's tame effort on Saturday. He was slowly away, and he got outpaced. He did threaten to stay on up the outside, but he took a very wide route and there was simply nothing left in the tank. If they can sort out his woes from the starting gates he is capable of winning races, especially if his mark is dropped.

I am sticking to the all weather tomorrow, as the jumps season is still taking shape. The one I like goes in the 1m nursery handicap at 5.40 at  Kempton, and Rake's Progress looks a surefire improver on handicap debut returned to a mile and back on the all weather. This gelded son of Sir Percy was sent off at 16/1 on his debut over 7f at Lingfield, and he was given a really odd ride by Luke Morris.

He was away quickly enough, but Morris seemed to rein him back and he soon had him tucked away on the inside. He looked to be pushing and shoving after around 3f, but the horse responded every time and Morris seemed to pull him back again. He was right up the arse of a couple of horses as they rounded the turn into the home straight, when he still looked to be travelling pretty well.

However, he again was steered in behind another rival, and when Morris did eventually give him a smack the leaders had flown and it was game over. He had his next two runs on easy turf over 8.5f and 10.5f, and it was worth a try seeing as he is a full brother to classy turf performer Lady Tiana. His other brother is a Kempton winner too. Rake's Progress looked to appreciate the synthetic surface at Lingfield, and hopefully it is the same scenario again at Kempton.

His trainer Heather Main is far from a household name, but she is more than capable of getting one ready. She had a winner here a couple of weeks ago with Bluegrass Blues at 11/1, and she has had 10 winners from 81 runners at Kempton. Jack Mitchell has had 2 rides for Main, and he was placed on one of them. With trip and track likely to suit I think Rake's Progress might be underestimated off his opening mark of 59 and, at odds of 14/1, he looks well worthy of an each way interest in an open looking nursery.