Sunday, 31 March 2013

Old Vic National Key ?

I mentioned a few weeks back that one sire who has had a big influence in the Grand National of late is Old Vic as his record below shows :
2012 - Sunnyhillboy 2nd (btn a nose) (142)
2011 - Dont Push It 3rd (160)
2010 - Dont Push It 1st, (154) and Black Apalachi 2nd (153)
2009 - Comply Or Die 2nd (154)
2008 - Comply Or Die 1st (139)

This year there are only two by Old Vic in the entries for the race, last years second Sunnyhillboy (152) and the Becher Chase second Join Together (150), but the latter has to cope with the statistic that no 8yo has won in the last 10 years from 61 runners.

Breeding :

Old Vic b h 1986 Sadler's Wells (USA) b 1981 11.4f Northern Dancer (CAN) b 1961 10.5f
Fairy Bridge (USA) b 1975
Cockade Derring-Do br 1961

In days gone by I was a follower of the Dosage system when picking my National runner and you would normally have avoided the speed influence of Northen Dancer in the pedigree, but as the record above shows this is now old hat as the race becomes more and more centred on speed and quality runners.

I will be off to a Aintree preview night on Wednesday evening which is taking place in Melling Road and hopefully I will be attending at least one day of the racing.

It's been dry, sunny and bright over the Easter weekend so far here in Liverpool and you can keep an eye on going conditions by clicking on "Weather Watch" which will take you to the Racing Post pages.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Easter Saturday Sprint Action !

The going at Doncaster is given as Soft although the going stick recorded 7.3 yesterday. I'm sure it wont be long before we see the same reading on another track as being Good and it will be intersting to see how it rides in the first race. Also it's anyones guess how the draw will work out and Lincoln backers will be keeping a close eye on things.

In the opening race itself we see Colonel Mak attempt to win the Class 2 Apprentice Handicap for the second year running of a 3lb lower mark, but it's a competive sprint for so early in the campaign so no selection in that one.

The Cammidge Trophy looks set to be an early testing of Jack Dexter (1st 15/8) out of handicap company and he looks up to the task on his improving performances from last season as he is proven on soft and Jim Goldie is sure to have him spot on.

Inxile (Fin Last of 8) has a good chance of success over at Cork in the 3.10 Listed 6f Cork Stakes at Cork in which he faces 7 opponents.  Having run 4 times at Meydan recently he should have the edge on fitness and he won this race last season by 3 lengths and added to his already good record in Ireland.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Up a bit, down a bit.

There was only one race last week in terms of sprint action on the flat and that was at Doncaster on Friday which Annunciation won.

Most clockwatchers of the race put this down as an improved performance on his part and it was something that was not lost on the handicapper whose BHB blog post is below :

If someone had told me I would be spending Lincoln day digging my car out of a four foot deep snowdrift rather than taking a trip to Town Moor I think I’d have called them crazy, writes Stewart Copeland.
However my weather troubles aside, I had at least one turf race to get my teeth into on the opening day of the season, which was the 6f handicap for three-year-olds.
Richard Hannon looks to have his team fit and firing already, and it was his colt Annunciation who carried top weight to victory, making all under a positive ride from last year’s champion jockey, Richard Hughes.
Annunciation showed useful sprint form as a juvenile and had run creditably in a listed race at Chantilly the previous week. He showed the benefit of that outing and stepped up further still on that effort, showing himself as good as ever. Successful off a handicap mark of 94, I have Annunciation running to a rating of 99. On this evidence he’s well worth another chance in listed company.

Looking at the placed runners, Heaven's Guest and Smart Spender were the least experienced runners in the field so in the circumstances, with Annunuciation already having had a run at Chantilly, they did well to finish second and third. As a result the handicapper has raised Heaven's Guest a lenient 2lb to a mark of 79 but Smart Spender has been left on the same mark of 80 and both look capable of winning over the next few weeks particularly as Richard Fahey said that Heaven's Guest would improve for the run pre race.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

First day of the Flat !

Just 9 runners go to post for the first turf sprint of 2013 at Doncaster on Friday at 3.35pm, the Class 3 Park Hill Hospital Handicap. The race is over 6f and the going is soft.

At the head of the weights is the Middleham Park owned Annunciation however the race looks set to involve Richard Fahey's Heaven's Guest(gelded), although his horses may need a run as its been very cold up north of late, Intimidate, Kimberella(gelded), Shahdaroba and Smart Spender who all look capable of some improvement on previous form.

Looking at the form of the race I would have expected Annunciation (1st 6/1) to have done a bit better than he did at Chantilly over 6 1/2 f when he was staying on 7th, and being top weight I think he will find it difficult to give over a stone to Heaven's Guest and Smart Spender who both have to overcome similar breaks but who were both staying on well when winning LTO over 5f.. Watching Intimidates last run he seemed to be struggling well before the final furlong marker when 3rd at Doncaster last season on Soft. Shahdaroba has a similar chance to Annunciation and Kimberella needs to be on a going day with Spencer up.
Overall I like both Heaven's Guest (2nd 6/1)  and Smart Spender (3rd 12/1) who have both only run 5 races between them so far. Being lightly raced they could be up to a bit more improvement than the other runners and Smart Spender could be the better value being 9/1 Stan James.

The winners enthusiastic owners had this to say after the race on their website "Annunciation took his chance in the 6F 0-95 handicap today at Doncaster under the champ Richard Hughes. We thought that going into the race he would be fit but still, carrying top weight in testing ground would be a difficult task and take a good run to win. He duly obliged and put in a fantastic performance to make all and come home nearly 2 lengths winner. Congratulations to all connections".

Any followers of Roger Charlton should click on to his website as he has his interview for Mark Howard's Ahead on the Flat in the news section.

Monday, 18 March 2013

The Cammidge Trophy Saturday

There are 16 entries for this Saturday's Listed Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster for 3yo and up which have not won a Group 1 or Group 2 Pattern race after 2011. According to latest weather reports the day may be lost to snow.
The race sees seasond performers Captain Ramius, Eton Rifles, Humidor and Our Jonathan up against improvers such as Jack Dexter and Jamaican Bolt.
There are several entries returning from duties in Dubai including Humidor and his trainer George Baker, speaking in the Racing & Football Outlook, said: "He's been an asset to our team ever since day one. He hasn't won for 18 months, but last year he put up some huge runs without getting his just rewards. His finest run was when a close fourth in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York behind Aussie superstar Ortensia.
"He needs a little give underfoot, which he should get at Doncaster this weekend where he's due to run in the Cammidge Trophy. I'm looking for a big run as there won't be any excuses about lack of fitness."
Jamie Spencer has been booked for Eton Rifles who has decent form on Soft.

Current Going : Soft
Distance : 6f
Draw Record last 5 years :
2012 - 11, 10, 12, 4 (14 ran) Good
2011 - 5, 7, 14, 11 (14) Good
2010 - 14, 10, 13, 8 (13) Soft
2009 - 6, 2, 4, 9 (13) Good to Firm
2008 - 16, 9, 17, 3 (15) Good to Soft

The previous 10 years winners are below from which it can be seen there is know trainer or jockey that has a good record, save for Barry Hills who has now retired.

2012 The Cheka69-212/1Eve Johnson HoughtonNeil Callan113
2011 Jimmy Styles79-222/1Clive CoxAdam Kirby111
2010 Inxile59-517/2David NichollsPaul Hanagan111
2009 Prime Defender59-23/1FB W HillsMichael Hills112
2008 Aahayson49-214/1K R BurkeFergus Sweeney110
2007 Rising Shadow69-513/2David BarronJimmy Quinn113
2006 Les Arcs69-215/2Tim PittNeil Callan116
2005 La Cucaracha48-1116/1B W HillsMichael Hills103
2004 Goldeva58-1140/1Reg HollinsheadTony Culhane101
2003 Red Carpet59-27/2FMichael BellKieren Fallon113

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Flat Season Begins !

This friday sees the start of the flat season with the 2yo curtain raiser "The Broklesby" and with the Lincoln on Saturday it promises to be a big end to the week.

There are 18 entries for the Class 3 3yo Park Hill Hospital Handicap run over 6f on Friday which starts the turf sprinting campaign for 2013. Richard Hannon's 95 rated Ninjago heads the weights whilst Richard Fahey has entered the 77 rated Heaven's Guest a 2 1/2 length winner at Catterick on his last and third start of the 2012 season. Having improved with every run last year the stable will be hoping he can continue where he left off.

News today that top French sprinter Restiadargent, third to Black Caviar in the Diamond Jubilee, has joined William Haggas, with Royal Ascot the target. Haggas said: "I think we'll be aiming for the Diamond Jubilee and working backwards from that."

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Cheltenham Preview

I made my annual pilgrimage to the Cheltenham Preview evening in Liverpool on Monday and it was a great evening in the company of racing folk all with the same mentality of Cheltenham, Cheltenham, Cheltenham !

Unfortunately I wasn't able to post my thoughts last night as I was at The Phantom Of The Opera at the Liverpool Empire which was very entertaining.

Ben Palling and Charlie Longsdon were at the preview along with organiser and racing pundit John Morris, John Parrott and Speed guru Andy Holding .

Ben Palling said about My Tent or Yours(2ND) in the William Hill Supreme Novices that he needs a fast pace and if he gets that he will be difficult to beat....Well I've never known a race at the festival that doesn't have a fast pace so there should be no problem there. He also said that River Maigue could not be ruled out.
On speed ratings Jetski and Un Atout were at the top of the list with Charlie Longsdon suggesting Melodic Rendevous as the ew value.

In the Arkle BP was full of Simonsig(1ST) and went as far as to say that he had more natural ability than Sprinter Sacre, however CL was not convinced that Simonsig had been tested this season and was of the opinion that Overturn needed a flat track to show his best as he is all about speed.

The Champion Hurdle is looking like a cracking race and CL said that both Rock on Ruby and Zarkander stay well but that Hurricane Fly (1ST) will be kept more closer to the pace this time around. I thought it was interesting that BP didnt really push the chances of Grandouet in the same way as My Tent or Yours or Simonsig.

The Neptune Investments Hurdle on Wednesday started with what could finish second to Pont Alexandre with Mullins having commented that he will be even better on good ground. CL though reminded us that Nigel Twiston Davies is of the opinion that The New One(1ST) is the best horse that he has trained and he was my idea of a likely winner of this when he won at Cheltenham in October. On speed he was also mentioned as having shown an unbelievable turn of foot when winning at Warwick in January. Tarquin Du Seuil was another to get positive noises with his second to My Tent or Yours at Ascot whilst it was thought that Pont Alexandre would take all the beating. BP brought the chances of Chatterbox to our attention saying that he was desperate that he should run in this event and he also reminded us of his defeat of My Tent or Yours and told us that he had been working well at home. This is a really hot race and one to savour next week

The RSA and CL highlighted Dynaste and Boston Bob as horses that will stay, whilst BP said that Dynaste was his idea of a fantastic future star and Gold Cup horse. On Hadrians Approach he thought he would suffer from his lack of concentration in a race as he is apt to make a mistake or two. On speed fifures we were reminded of the chances of Lord Windermere (1ST) EW and Lyreen Legend EW.

The Champion Bumper we were told that the Paul Nicholls/John Hales Fastcno Rustico had been working sensationally on the gallops recently and there was good chance that Ruby Walsh would be riding.

In the Jewson BP put forward Captain Conan as the likely winner as did speed ratings who was also keen on Mullins Hey Up Charlie.

Onto the Ryanair and BP wasn't overly keen on Riverside Theatre reading between the lines and speed ratings went for First Lieutenant(2ND) and Menorah EW and we were reminded that Mouse Morris had been asked pre Hennessy about his prospects and he had said that he didnt have a chance and was a spring horse and FL went to run a cracking race and finish third to Bobs Worth and Tidal Bay, so with everything geared towards the festival he must go close.

The World Hurdle and BP reminded us of Oscar Whiskey stamina issues and John Parrott mentioned Smad Place a s a good EW bet.

Our Conor(1ST) in the Triumph was speed ratings nap of the week with Far West(2ND) and Rolling Star mentioned as the best of the English and we were told not to forget the chances of John Quinn's Kashmir Peak and Hidden Justice. BP was positive about Rolling Star and said that he couldn't wait for the race.

The Albert Bartlett and CL went for Superior Quality EW, whilst BP was keen on NTD's African Gold(2ND) and reminded us that he had beaten there Close Touch(1ST)(ent Sandown Saturday) at Doncaster last time out which he thought was good enough to make him difficult to beat here.Speed ratings put up At Fishers Cross(1ST) and Road To Riches as the two to watch out for.

In the Grand Annual we were reminded of the solid form of the race won by Tome George's Rody at Warwick last time out with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th all going on to win their following race, the time of that race was also highlighted.

The Gold Cup BP told us that Long Run will be wearing cheek pieces and that he had taken well to them at home and we were reminded that Bobs Worth(1ST) was 4-4 at the track. On speed it was Silviniaco Conti who recorded a good time at Warwick but the fact that he hasn't run at Cheltenham was a negative

Charlie Longsdon was asked about his horse chances in the Handicaps but was able to duck the question by stating that it was up to JP McManus were they ran and as yet he didn't know which races they were running in..He did have a good word for Brassick as a horse for next season.
Ben Palling was asked about other horses at the stable and their chances, he mentioned Forgotten Voice as a big horse who has speed to burn, jumps well and would take a lot of beating in the County Hurdle, Ericht and Tour D'Argent Martin Pipe Cond Jockeys Hcap Hdl, Une Artiste Mares Hdl EW, Nadiya De La Vega (cheek pieces first time) Byrne Group Plate and in the Johnny Henderson Petit Robin was back to his best.

Other snippets, we were told that Paul Nicholls was personally keen on both Sam Winner and Wonderful Charm, but we were also reminded that he wasn't a good tipster.