Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Picking up the pieces

Have you ever picked up a piece of a jigsaw and thought it was the one piece you had been looking for only to find that although it looked like it was the right shape or colour it didnt fit the gap when you've tried to put it in place. Well thats what Cheltenham form study may be like over the next few weeks and during the festival itself. We will probably find horses that we think are tailor made for their respective races only to find that they fall short of what is required to win the event. Of course you may have one or two winners along the way but we will all need a certain amount of luck on our side even to do that.

The problems in finding a winner have been compounded this year by the weather with the constant soft/heavy going that we have experiencing for a while now. This means that we dont have any current good ground form to go on and come the festival, presuming it's faster ground than now, we will either have to guess that our selections will act on the surface or use form from last season.

This last week has seen several big names out as they tune up for their big moment in March and Katenko is a fine example of a young improving horse that we have not got to the bottom of who could figure at the festival. Wyck Hill who beat him at Ascot receiving 1lb (4-6 in chases) by 4 lengths is another that could also figure although he may run in the Racing Post Chase first for which his trainer thinks he will be favourably handicapped as Katenko followed up off an 11lb higher mark at Cheltenham last time having also won at Sandown in between. The third at Ascot was Roberto Goldback who was 35 lengths behind Katenko and Wyck Hill, RG had previously won at Ascot by 9 lengths off a mark of 150 and was going well in the Hennessey when unseating his rider midway down the back straight on the second circuit off 162. On his first start of the season Wyck Hill (OR122) had beaten Sue Smith's Fill The Power (OR125) at Wetherby by half a length, WH ran off 135 at Ascot having been 5lb out of the handicap and he is now rated 140. Next time out at Doncaster at the end of December Fill The Power (OR130) finished 2nd to another improving chaser Handtheprizeover (OR108) who had won his previous two starts albeit the first was 12 months earlier. Handtheprizeover then went to Kempton in January (OR116) and was pulled up with his trainer reporting that he was visiting the well too quickly but that he should keep on improving and win again.
Fill The Power is entered for the Grade 2 Novice Chase at Wetherby on Saturday and is 100/1 for the Royal Sun Alliance at the festival although both look a step too far.

Looking back at Katenko's race over 2m 5f it was run in a time 4 seconds slower than that of the preceeding Novices Handicap Chase won by Gary Moore's 8yo Vino Griego by 19 lengths from Renard D'Irlande on his eighteenth attempt. Interestingly Vino Griego was 19lb lower in the handicap and will head back to the festival for his third attempt at winning there and maybe his new training and race tactics will pay off there also, although the handicapper has upped him 10lbs to and OR of 138.

Our Mick was another to show up for a long way with Katenko before jumping left into that rival and unseating his jockey. His trainer McCain said the following pre race "It's a very competitive race for him to be running in first time back but these are the sort of events he has to run in and he seems to be in great form at home. I am sure that the run will bring him on and he's going to be better back over 3m but he's got plenty of form at this trip and the track is no problem. There's no big plan for him down the line at this stage - it's just a case of getting this under his belt and seeing how he comes out of it". I am sure he will be heading back to Cheltenham after this promising run.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Wyck Hill team buoyed by Katenko win

David Bridgwater was delighted to see Katenko boost the form of Wyck Hill at Cheltenham over the weekend as he prepares his charge for an assault on the Racing Plus Chase.
Wyck Hill beat Katenko at Ascot from 6lb out of the handicap and Venetia Williams' French import has since won impressively at Sandown and Cheltenham, putting himself into the Gold Cup picture.
Bridgwater will see how Wyck Hill fares at Kempton before deciding on a Gold Cup challenge, although he feels the Grand National could be the race for him.
"I was rubbing my hands watching Katenko, it makes us look a very well-handicapped horse," said Bridgwater.
"I've always wanted to run in the Racing Plus Chase next and nothing has changed. He'll get an entry for the National (on Tuesday) as well.
"The Gold Cup is wide open this year so if we were to win well at Kempton, we'd probably take our chance because Bobs Worth has had his problems and I still think Long Run is the one to beat.
"I've no doubt in my mind that our horse is better than Katenko. He's improved bundles since the Ascot race and Kempton has always been the target. If we're third or fourth at Kempton, he'll probably go straight to the National.
"If he wins he'd be handicapped out of the races at the Festival, you're better off trying to get placed in the Gold Cup rather than giving lumps of weight away, like Malcolm Jefferson said about Cape Tribulation."

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Katenko to find his Spring target

CHELTENHAM will stage its Festival Trials day meeting this afternoon, with overnight rain easing the ground to heavy, soft in places.

Venetia Williams believes Katenko could develop into a contender for both the John Smith's Grand National and Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The seven-year-old went onto every punters hot list when winning a staying handicap chase at Sandown in good style earlier this month.
Venetia says "He was bought as a horse we could have some fun with. I persuaded Andrew (Brooks, owner) this could be a good horse for him to have as his rating was such that he could just get in the Grand National and now that is a very serious option. The handicap rating he's got at the moment (147) doesn't suggest he's an obvious Gold Cup contender, but if he goes and wins his next race, whatever that might be, that could bring him into the 150s or early 160s. A few years ago we ran Mon Mome in the Gold Cup. He finished third and the prize for that was £50,000 and there is no reason to think Katenko couldn't come into that bracket."
He's 9/2 fav for the Murphy Group Chase at 1.15pm and that looks a good bet.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

All change at Aintree !

There a lot of changes in line for the Grand National meeting this year and next, this year sees a new TV channel presenting, the distance reduced, the core of the fences changed to plastic, the prize money increased, the race programme changed and a new managing director in John Baker who reveals in an interview in the Liverpool Echo that his Aintree love affair started many years ago

Baker recalls: “I remember my grandad sitting me down in front of the TV when I was about five and said we are going to watch this race. He said it’s got horses and I’ve got 10p for you. You pick a horse and put 10p on it.
“I picked Red Rum – I can’t remember why. I just liked the name. So he put that on for me. I think it was 9-1 but I wasn’t thinking about that. I didn’t really know. And then to see Crisp so far in front and seeing them jump those fences – I thought it was amazing.
“The colours of the jockeys and just this horse miles out in front and the drama of seeing him as he jumped the last you could just Red Rum starting to catch him. Crisp was obviously out on his feet.
“I don’t think it was the fact that I had 10p on it – that was a bonus. It was the fact that I had followed him through the race and saw him catch him on the line. I thought that this was just the greatest thing ever. Looking back now, you look at poor Crisp and feel so sorry for him. But at the time I was thinking that it was amazing. It was the best thing and I wanted to know what it was all about. I wanted to know more about the fences, how high they were and I just loved racing from that day on.
“I said to my granddad when is it on again. It was stupid, but I had fallen in love with it.
“Almost from that day it has been a dream to be involved in the Grand National.
“And I am delighted I’m here now and really looking forward to it.”
After studying at Essex University Baker embarked on a career in racing which has landed him his dream job at the end of September last year.
He said: “I didn’t actually start to go racing regularly until I was much older and I had been to university.
“My first job after I left was at Weatherbys helping compile the jockey club formbook – designing the pages, checking the comments that come in from the race readers, that sort of thing.
“Then I got a job at the racecourse association where I started to go to racecourses regularly as part of my job – doing racecourse announcements, dealing with sponsors and that sort of thing. That was when I really got involved and wanted to be involved at racecourses.”

Sunday, 13 January 2013

AW sprinting

Well the blog had a couple of winners yesterday (1/2 advised at 11/10 Fri Eve, and 5/1 adv 6/1).

AW sprinting has been chugging along through the winter months and a couple of races that caught my eye in the latest Weekender results section were numbers 3 and 78.
In the first of those Woolfall Sovereign beat Dorback by a neck and in doing so they took 0.43 seconds off the 5f 20yds track record.
In the other race at Lingfield Farmleigh House beat the fast finishing Whaileyy also by a neck with a length back to the good AW performer Piscean in third.
Willie Martin, his trainer, said afterwards "It was a 14-hour trip from County Wexford on Thursday and he didn´t eat up yesterday, but this is a very good horse - he broke the track record at Dundalk and we missed getting him into Dubai by a month. This was a step up after giving lots of weight away to horses round Dundalk. He will be coming back for the Listed race in February instead". 
"He´s done it well and his work at home has improved all the time. He is getting stronger and his work earlier in the week was very good". - Niall McCullagh, jockey

Thanks for reading my blog to all visitors and I hope that you have enjoyed and learnt something from it. If you do have a couple of winners on the back of what you’ve read here then please dont be shy and make a contribution by clicking on the donate button above as an expression of your goodwill.
Please tell others of my blog and dont forget to add it to your list of favourites and if you let me know of yours I will do likewise.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Morning Line

I thought this mornings programme was very good, plenty of information, lots of outside interviews with trainers and jockeys and the pinpointing of key races in the form of the big players in todays feature races.
The only downpoint, apart from the stupid "guset test", was after saying the Aintree fence changes had slipped under the radar with most of the press they then themselves only donated about 30 seconds to the story and in addition Mick Fitz dropped one of his usual verbal clangers. This was a dissapointing aspect as this is a "major" change by Aintree Racecourse in replacing the core of the fences to every jump and the Grand National, which is supposedly going to be one of the flagships of this new racing venture for Channel 4, cannot afford to be let down.

Onto the racing and there are some good quality fields this afternoon at Warwick and Kempton. I've only been to Warwick once when racing and that was with my brothers too many years ago to remember when the great Docklands Express was just begining his career and needless to say he won.

In the Lanzarote at Kempton one of the horses C4 didnt touch upon, which they should have, is Loose Chips who I was impressed with when he won last time out here at Kempton. Okay he's gone up 12lb as a result but he is an improving horse who wont stop galloping and 14/1 is a sporting ew chance in a race in which there are 4 places up for grabs.
His trainer said recently "He's gone up 20lb as well for his two wins and it's going to be mighty tough, but he won nicely last time and this is the realm that he's in now, he's got to run in these races and that's where we have to go. I'd rather he's not on the radar, to be honest, he seems to run better when they don't think he's a threat."
The Morning Line seemed to stick with the big two in Henderson and Nicholls but these characters arent the beginning and the end of everything in racing and neither will they win every big race in the calendar.

In the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick Rigadin De Beauchene(6/1) is ridden by his regular pilot in R T Dunne who claims 3lb and this is an improving horse for a trainer in very good form(29% strike rate this month so far) who has a real grasp on the handicap chase form and is astute at placing her horses and this one should take all the beating provided he doesnt make too many jumping errors.

Finally thanks for reading my blog to all visitors and I hope that you have enjoyed and learnt something from it. If you do have a couple of winners on the back of what you’ve read here then please dont be shy and make a contribution by clicking on the donate button above as an expression of your goodwill.
Please tell others of my blog and dont forget to add it to your list of favourites and if you let me know of yours I will do likewise.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Friday round up

It was a facile win by My Tent or yours today and he was clearly a class above the opposition and I wouldnt get carried away too much by his reduction in price for his intended Cheltenham target The Supreme Novice where the opposition will be a whole lot hotter than today.
With the Betfair Hurdle an option next Henderson said after today's race  "He's in there, he's had his three runs over hurdles and we did the same with Darlan last year. It's an option. He has got a lot of natural and raw talent, he just needs to learn how to use it. I worried a bit after his run on heavy ground at Newbury the other day but it's good to get him back on track. He still needs to relax a bit more, but he'll learn."
He is now 9/2 for the Newbury contest next month.

The New One bids to make it three wins in as many starts over obstacles in the Grade Two Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Warwick tomorrow for which he is a best priced 11/10 fav.
Nigel Twiston-Davies' charge was a wide-margin winner on his hurdling bow at Newton Abbot last October and followed up at Cheltenham later that month.
The trainer said: "We're very pleased with him and hopefully he will win it. He's done nothing wrong so far and everything should suit him, the distance, the conditions and the track. Hopefully all goes well and then we will see where we are."

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Fly me to the Moon !

The dream grows for connections of Coral Welsh National winner Monbeg Dude after he was handed an entry for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup on Wednesday.

Trained by Michael Scudamore for a syndicate that includes rugby union stars James Simpson-Daniel and Mike Tindall, Monbeg Dude saw his rating climb by a further 10lb to an official mark of 138 following his Chepstow triumph, having also gone up 7lb for his victory at Cheltenham in November.
With Gold Cup winners having an average official rating in the 170s over the past decade, Scudamore admits Monbeg Dude requires significant further improvement to earn his place in the field, although a satisfying performance in the Haydock Grand National Trial next month could result in his Cheltenham entry being taken up.

Should Monbeg Dude head for the Gold Cup on March 15 - for which he was a 66-1 shot with the sponsors on Wednesday - he would be attempting a double, although not necessarily in the same season, completed by Synchronised last year and also in the last 30 years by Burrough Hill Lad, Cool Ground and Master Oats.

Scudamore said: "It's probably very, very speculative and he'll have to go to Haydock next month and be very impressive there. We're probably getting carried away and dreaming but if he was very impressive at Haydock and it came up very soft at Cheltenham we'd be disappointed that we didn't spend £600 to put him in. We'll keep all doors open for now."

A total of 40 entries were made for the Gold Cup, and following a pounding from the weather over the last few months, a few days of sunshine has helped Cheltenham’s ground stage a recovery.

The next meeting at Cheltenham takes place on Saturday, January 26, with fresh ground to be opened up for the Festival in March afterwards.

Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said on Wednesday: “I’d probably call the ground soft, good to soft in places and it’s recovered well. Up until New Year’s Day we averaged an inch a week for nine months and had the best part of three inches in the ten days before we called it off. It took five days to dry out to a stage where it was raceable.

“The forecast for next week is a bit colder and I’m sure at some stage we’ll get more frost that the one week we had in December. The ground we race on between October and January is different to that we use in March which is behind rails and hasn’t been used since.

Racing Post

Another interesting entry is Venetia Williams improving french bred gelding Katenko. Following his good win from John's Spirit at Sandown last weekend he has been raised 11lb to 147 - He is currently available at 66/1  with Bet Victor for the Gold Cup and he could be anything.
"He gallops and jumps and he´d maintain that gallop all day. I´m sure the National will be on his agenda one day, and although he´s only seven he´s very sure-footed and you would swear he had been doing it all his life". - Aidan Coleman, jockey

Tom George is in great form at the moment with sevearl wins in the last 14 days and his Gold Cup dark horse Mail De Bievre (66/1) could reappear at Newbury next month. The eight-year-old was a high-class performer in France but has not been seen since running over hurdles in September 2011.
Tom George said in arecent interview: "Mail De Bievre has been with me for a couple of months. He came over from France a year ago and did his pre-training with Chloe Roddick before joining me. He is a very exciting horse to have in the yard. He had an injury but touch wood hopefully he has got over that. We are just taking things one step at a time with him. So far, everything is going according to plan. The plan is to go for the Denman Chase at Newbury with him as that looks a good place to start. You don't know with horses until they run, but he looks right and is showing us all the right signs. Newbury will tell us where we are with him. His form in France is the best. I asked the handicapper just out of interest what his mark would be and they said as his last mark in France was 175, they would now rate him 160 due to the time he has been off the track."

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Cue Card ducks Gold Cup

Cue Card is set to line up in either the Queen Mother Champion Chase or the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival after trainer Colin Tizzard ruled out a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The seven-year-old was a hugely impressive winner of the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on his seasonal reappearance in early November, but three miles in testing conditions proved beyond him as he finished a well-beaten fifth in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

While Tizzard is not ruling out a return to three miles at some stage in the future, Cue Card is set to come back in trip on his next start, but the trainer is unsure where his star turn will head in preparation for the Festival.

"He came out of the King George fine, he looks really well and is back in fast work now," said Tizzard.

"I'm going to speak with the owner next week to decide where we go next, but hopefully he'll be out in the first couple of weeks in February somewhere.

"We've entered him in the Queen Mother and the Ryanair at Cheltenham, but not the Gold Cup.

"In the King George, running over three miles on heavy ground against those horses found his stamina out.

"He made a mistake at the first, which didn't help, and maybe if he had had a clear round he might have lasted until the second-last.

"I'm not saying we wouldn't try three miles again some time, but on that particular day it found him out."


Saturday, 5 January 2013

Coral Welsh National

Having watched the Morning Line and read the Racing Post you would think there was only 1 horse in the Welsh National - Teaforthree, but there are 17 other runners and 3m 5 1/2 furlongs and a number of fences to negotiate.
Jumping is one of the main reasons put up for the favs chance but with a couple of the fences to be ommitted on each circuit that may equal up any advantage he has in that sphere. He has been trained for the race and the champion jockey is up but I think there maybe some value to be had with others particularly as there are 4 places to be filled.
Soll ran a good race on his first start for Jo Hughes in the Hennessy on only his seventh start and that is just as good form as the fav who was only 2 places in front of him in that race and 12/1 is better than 5/2. He is sure to come on from that run as his trainer comments in todays RP that he wasnt 100% fit plus he will have no problem with the heavy going and it's all down to whether he will stay the marathon trip. On that front Mullins had him in the 4m at Cheltenham when he was brought down and Jo Hughes says he is an out and out galloper so it looks like that wont be a problem either.
Across The Bay is owned by The Scotch Piper in Lydiate just up the road from me and it would be a fantastic achievement if he could win off 11-12. He is another out and out galloper and I'm sure he will be up at the front all the way and he could easily pick up some place money at an ew price.

Over at Sandown in the Tolworth I'm going with Hendersons Royal Boy who should be able to turn the form around with Melodic Rendevous on his way to Cheltenham.

Fruity O'Rooney 7th In the Hennessy will find the 3.40 at Sandown much easier and he can dominate from the front.