Friday, 1 April 2016

The Lincoln Meeting

The turf season gets under way good and proper at Doncaster on Saturday with The Lincoln, Spring Mile, Brocklesby and Cammidge Trophy. The going is currently soft, good to soft in places and there is rain in the area so it may stay that way or get even softer.

The Cammidge Trophy is not a race I've had much luck in over the years and 14 runners line up for the 6f Listed race.

There was a strong wind blowing up the track last year and it paid to be held up with some cover and that suited Naadirr. None of the first three home then are back for another attempt and Jack Dexter who finished 4th is the only one of that field to have another go and he's in it for the fourth year running.

Alben Star has the most recent form having won on the all weather last weekend and this may be a race too soon for him and he's up against horses with Group race form so may struggle.

The lightly raced Gamesome is open to improvement but that's more likely to be in a handicap.

Marrek, although 9, is a decent horse when its soft and if he's tuned up enough then he should go very close to winning and he's worth a point ew at 6/1. He just failed to catch Sole Power on yielding going in the Group 2 Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh in September and he doesn't meet anything of his calibre here and he has plenty of winning form over 6f.

Suedois could be the fly in the ointment as he is another horse that David O'Meara has mopped up from France but hopefully Maarek can master him and Jack Dexter should be booked for another placed effort.

Good Luck !

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Irish Flat Season Begins!

I know I said  I wouldn't be doing any posts for a few weeks but today is the start of the Irish flat season and racing takes place at the Curragh and I just couldn't resist.
The going is currently soft, it's a great meeting and even Mr Fallon turns up in his new post-lets hope he's not too grumpy!
William Buick has been booked to ride Devonshire in the Group 3 at 3.30 and Richard Fahey tests the water and sends over 6 horses with 3 entered in the Tote Irish Lincolnshire at 4.55 and the last race on the card looks an interesting maiden. 

The one that I'm interested in though is Patrick in the 3.15 - The St Patricks Festival Handicap over 6f. He's at the top of the handicap but Adam McNamara takes off a useful 7lbs and he's the first of my sprinters to follow to run on the turf. He has already run twice on the AW so there should be no problems fitness wise and he's open to further improvement having only run 10 times and is rated 89.
He's well drawn in stall 12 of the 14 runners and hopefully he can bag a good position near the rail. He ran a good race in a decent Class 3 handicap at Goodwood in July, his last turf start, when he was a slightly unlucky 4th beaten three quarters of a length after finishing strongly under Tony Hamilton.
The time before that he had also finished very strongly at Carlisle over the stiff 5f despite running a bit green.
The next two in the betting Laganore and Katimavik having been running over a mile so they may be lacking speed in this this 6f sprint. You would have to be wary though about last years winner Bubbly Bellini off a 1lb higher mark as he's a much better drawn this time in stall 13 - stall 2 last year but that race was run at a sedate pace and this will be his 105th race and the going may not be soft enough in any event. That said he has the assistance of Declan McDonough who has steered him to his last 5 wins. Lurking down the bottom of the handicap however on a mark of 70 is Kevin Condon's Shanghai Beauty drawn in stall 14 and she could be open to some improvement although she comes here fresh and the stable haven't had many runners this year but she might be the ew value at 14/1.

Patrick - 1 point ew @ 5/1 with Betvictor

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Foxes Never Quit !

Racing at Leicester today after the track passed a precautionary inspection at 7.30am this morning and the going is heavy for the six race card.

I've had a few days off writing any posts as I continue my review of the 2015 flat season to seek out some improving talent in the sprint ranks that we can look forward to this summer.

Before that though we have the Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown NH festivals and the Grand National is shaping up to be a better race than the Gold Cup!

Paul Nicholls sends one runner to all three tracks staging NH action today at Kelso, Fontwell and Leicester - whilst the Dan Skelton team take a day off from going to the races.

There is also a good card at Meydan today and there is a top class 5f sprint handicap at 5.20 featuring a host of names that we are all very familiar with. There is also racing on the flat in the UK at Chelmsford and Roger Varian sends just One Pekan in order to continue his good run over the winter. He has had strike rates of 29%, 29%, 27% and 44% (ie 4-9 in February so far) since the beginning of November.

Paul Nicholls
Leicester - Heavy
3.55 Stilletto was one of a number of horses sent to the stable over the summer by Roger Brookhouse having been with Philip Hobbs. He returned at Haydock when in need of the outing and finished 3rd behind Rock The Kasbah. He is a big horse not short of ability and he was reported to have needed plenty of work prior to his return. He was then switched to the larger obstacles at Catterick in a Class 4 Beginners chase over 2m 3f on good to soft going and he won the same by one and a quarter lengths from Amore Alato who next time out at Ascot had a Grade 2 novice chase at his mercy when falling at the last fence - the fortunate winner of that was Nicholls Le Mercurey.
Stilletto then went to Newbury on 29/12 for a Class 3 novices limited handicap chase over 2m 92y on soft going where he finished 2nd, beaten 4 lengths, to Violet Dancer in receipt of 8lbs(he has since easily beaten Henderson's L'Ami Serge at Warwick) so the form has stacked up.
Stilletto was very keen at Newbury and he as good as sealed his own fate in being so as he had been travelling all over the well regarded winner up the home straight.
He then ran closer to home at Wincanton in a Class 3 handicap chase over 2m 4f on heavy going. He travelled well throughout and had moved up menacingly to take a narrow lead when falling three fences out when full of running when looking as though he could coast home.
He was a lot calmer at Wincanton so hopefully his trip to Leicester wont have lit him up too much and with the hood on again and 7 other runners you would hope that he should be able to switch off in the early stages of the race. He's still on the same mark of 132c which could turn out to be very fair.
This is his trial for the JLT Chase at the festival and if winning today he will go to Cheltenham with every chance of success there too.

3.05 Unioniste ran in the Grand National last spring and fell at the fifth and he heads there again this season and is set to run off an 8lb lower mark. Prior to last season's National he won a Class 2 handicap Chase at Sandown over 3m on soft off a rating of 148c. He then gave 5lb to Coneygree when beaten at Newbury in the Betfair Denman Chase.
He started this season on 158c and has been dropped to 149c following his runs at Aintree in the Becher Chase, Ascot and most recently Sandown in the Class 2 Betfred Masters handicap chase over 3m on good to soft going where he stayed up the hill for an encouraging run.
As you would expect he needs a strong stamina test and today's 3m 2f 39y on heavy at this track should fit the bill. He had been having a mixture of cheek pieces and tongue strap prior to his run at Sandown where he ran without either and that idea is maintained today.
It's not a handicap and he is reasonably in at the weights with his two main rivals Corrin Wood and Soll so if he can progress further from Sandown he has a fav's chance.

Fontwell - Heavy
2.20 Alcala was a bumper winner in France and he was fourth of eight on his debut in this country in the Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle in 2014 behind Activial(OR153), Commisioned(OR154) and stablemate Solar Impulse, He ran just the once last season in a Novice Hurdle and finished 6th of seventeen having choked. He was given a breathing operation thereafter but didn't reappear. He was said to have strengthened up having been given plenty of time when he returned to win in eyecatching style at Worcester in a maiden hurdle over 2m 4f when wearing a first time hood.
He then went to Cheltenham for a Grade 2 novices hurdle over 2m 5f on good going where he finished a running on 4th of the 4 runners a long way behind the impressive winner Shantou Village.
He then went for the Grade 3 fixed brush handicap hurdle at Haydock over 2m 7f on soft for which he had a handicap mark of 126h and he finished an encouraging 4th of 16 runners the race probably having come too soon aftre Cheltenham 8 days earlier.
Next up was his home track Wincanton on boxing day, this was in a PertempsNetwork handicap hurdle qualifier over 2m 5f 82y on soft in which he finished a disappointing 6th of the 10 runners.
He is dropped significantly in distance today in what may be a similar move to that of Rock On Oscar who successfully made all when downed is distance recently for the stable.
This is a NH novices hurdle qualifier in which he wears a first time tongue tie - he last won when wearing a first time hood so may respond again to new equipment.
He's up against a small field and the one I like the look of is Oliver Sherwood's is The Fresh Prince who may offer some value although he is drifting out in the betting.

No bets today on the Nicholls runners as all three are far too short in the betting.

Friday, 12 February 2016

That Friday Feeling !!

A great day for the blog yesterday with two winners from two selections.

It's been a while coming but the Nicholls stable is finally starting to hit it's usual heights of previous years. The stable have now equalled January's total of 7 winners from exactly half the runners (22) and we still have 18 days to go.
In February 2013 Nicholls had 22 winners from 79 runners and if he keeps up this strike rate he may even be able to surpass that.

The blog too has had a few winners over the last week following on from our 12/1 winner in the Skybet Chase :
Sonny The One - 1st - 11/4
Just Acting - PU
Stilletto - Fell "travelling strongly in narrow lead when fell three out" - 6/1
Baoulet Delaroque - 1st - 13/8(advised at 2/1)
Lifeboat Mona - 1st - 6/4(advised at 2/1)
Mister Kalanisi - 4th
Black Thunder - 6th
Rock On Oscar - 1st - 3/1
Baoulet Delaroque - 1st - 15/8

There are no runners for the Nicholls stable today - however he has 24 entered up on Saturday and Sunday and it will be interesting to see in which races some of them are placed.

Interestingly Barry Geraghty opted for the J P McManus owned Blazer in the Betfair hurdle at Newbury on Saturday as opposed to Nicholls Modus and the McManus second string is surprisingly to be ridden by Nick Schofield and not Sam Twiston Davies who partners Willie Mullins Buiseness Sivola.

Dan Skelton runs three today - one at Kempton and two at Wetherby where Harry Skelton travels to and I will just concentrate on those tow today as I'm off to get a haircut shortly.

Wetherby - Heavy, soft in places on home bend and straight
1.20 Cobra De Mai is said to be an interesting prospect for the season and is a chaser for the future. He started his campaign for team Skelton at Warwick in a juvenile maiden hurdle over 2m on soft where he was said to have been too keen and fresh when 5th of 12. That was a slightly disappointing return and a better run was probably expected next time out at Newbury in a Class 4 juvenile hurdle over 2m 69y on soft going - however he came up against a useful recruit from the Nicholls stable in Clan Des Obeaux who won and has since run well in the Grade 2 Triumph Hurdle trial at Cheltenham and has been allocated a hurdle rating of 144h and John Ferguson's Jaleo who has also won since.
Cobra De Mai drops down in grade here to Class 5 in this 5 runner field and he should be difficult to beat.

3.35 Walking In The Air joined the stable after winning a point to point in Ireland. He then won a bumper at Warwick in a good fashion. He is a scopey horse that could be anything. He prefers soft going and the stable seemed quite excited by his prospects prior to his return at Exeter in November in a Class 3 NH novice hurdle over 2m 5f 135y on good to soft going. In that race, after being hampered early on he was ridden approaching three out but was soon beaten and finished last of the 5 finishers which must have been disappointing. He drops down 2f in distance today following his 101 day break and he also drops down to Class 4. Hopefully the stable will have ironed out the problem that he may have had and he should be capable of putting up a bold show.

Both horses should run well today - however they are just too short in the betting to get involved for blog purposes and I look forward to the weekend runners.

Good Luck !

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Some welcome winners ?

You may or may not be pleased to know that I've started compiling a list of horses to follow for the for the fast approaching flat seasons sprint races. I've been trawling through the form from last season in order to unearth some potential improver's as well as some old favourites.

Today Wincanton stages a 7 race card and the going is once again heavy - whilst up at Towcester the going is soft.

The best race of the day is at Clonmel - a Grade 3 hurdle over 2m 6f and one who might go off at the backable odds of 5/1 is Dermot Weld's lightly raced Don't Tell No One who is 2-2.
He's a horse with a lot of ability that stays well according to his trainer and he steps up another 2f today following his latest comfortable win over 2m 4f.
He was bred by tv pundit Brian Gleeson and his half brother Go All The Way finished 4th to Cheltenian in the 2011 Cheltenham Festival Bumper.
An injury kept him off the track for a while between his wins so although 8 he probably has a fair amount of improvement still to come and he may relish a stronger run race with Last Encounter likely to lead the way at a good clip.
It's a race Willie Mullins has won 5 times in the last 10 years so both his runners demand respect, although Brian Cooper will have had the choice of the three Gigginstown runners.

I'm getting a bit demoralised with the form of the Nicholls stable and no doubt he is too. I can't believe it's all down to the heavy going and the fact that he has a bunch of moderate novices this season and no doubt something will come out once he gets a fair run of winners on the board. That said he's had just the 1 winner in the last 14 days and it's been a miserable start to the year and to coin a name he's been "Dodging Bullets" !
The battle continues though and he sends 5 out at his local track and I'm hopeful that a few can get him back on the winning trail today.

Paul Nicholls
1.30 Lifeboat Mona was a winning Irish pointer - she contested 4 bumpers last season winning the first two at Warwick and Huntingdon with the latter being a listed event. She was then third at Sandown in another listed bumper before being over the top when running at Aintree. She has had problems with her wind and was therefore operated on over the summer. She is a nice exciting prospect that will appreciate jumping and the mares hurdles are an attractive proposition for her.
She was heavy odds on when she returned in a Class 4 mares maiden hurdle at her local track recently and duly obliged as expected. 
She then took her chance in a Listed mares hurdle at Taunton over 2m 104y on heavy and she was pulled up having weakened quickly after 3 out. She was reported after the race to have had a breathing problem - although she had an op for a wind issue during the summer and always wears a tongue strap in any event so the stable will be hoping that ailment doesn't manifest itself again today.
That said given the stables aspirations with her previous entries you would hope she would be up to winning this Class 4 event.

2.00 The Brock Again hadn't run for 418 days when he returned at Taunton in the Bathwick Tyres Class 3 handicap hurdle on 13/01 where he finished 6th of the 10 runners over 2m 3f on heavy going. The reason for his long absence had been a combination of wind issues and a leg injury which are now all clear. He should have no problem with the heavy going as both his wins in France on the flat came in similar conditions and the stable will be hoping that he improves for his first run back and is more competitive this time in this his first foray into a novice limited handicap chase over 2m.

2.30 Crin Au Vent has come from France and is said to be a big scopey chasing sort. He won at Auteuil on his most recent start on 26/09 beating the now Nicky Henderson trained Consul De Thaix who finished a good third in the Triumph hurdle trial at Cheltenham on Saturday and for that bit of form he's odds on. However he wears a hood for the first time so might be a bit quirky - but you would hope this would be a penalty kick.

3.05 Baoulet Delaroque was purchased by Anthony Bromley and he thinks this might be a dark horse to keep on the right side of. He ran an eye catching race at Enghien in April even though he was still babyish and immature. He was said to have come on a fair bit over the summer and he started reasonably well for this stable at Chepstow when 4th in a Class 5 maiden hurdle. He then went to Doncaster for a race of a similar type and beat the well regarded Divine Spear although he may have to a certain extent sealed his own downfall there but franked the form yesterday. 
Baoulet Delaroque could do no more than win and that is what he did. He's been given a mark of 124h, which seems fair to me, and Nicholls tries him out in a Class 3 handicap hurdle and the 9/4 available is backable as he's one of the few that hasn't blew a gasket up the home straight for Nicholls..

3.40 Stilletto is one of a number of horses sent to the stable over the summer by Roger Brookhouse this one having been with Philip Hobbs. He returned at Haydock when in need of the outing and finished 3rd behind Rock The Kasbah. He is a big horse not short of ability and he is reported to have needed plenty of work prior to his return. He was then switched to the larger obstacles at Catterick in a Class 4 Beginners chase over 2m 3f on good to soft going and he won the same by one and a quarter lengths from Amore Alato who next time out at Ascot had a Grade 2 novice chase at his mercy when falling at the last fence - the fortunate winner of that was Nicholls Le Mercurey. 
Stilletto then went to Newbury on 29/12 for a Class 3 novices limited handicap chase over 2m 92y on soft going where he finished 2nd, beaten 4 lengths, to Violet Dancer from whom he received 8lbs.
He was very keen there and he as good as sealed his own fate in being so as he had been travelling all over the well regarded winner up the home straight. 
Even if he calms down here he has a job on his hooves as this is a fair old field to overcome, but 6/1 is a good price on this step back up in distance and he should go close if Twiston Davies can switch him off in this bigger field of runners.

1 point win Stilletto @ 6/1 with several firms
1 point win Baoulet Delaroque @ 2/1 with several firms
1 point win Lifeboat Mona @ 2/1 with several firms
Given the form of the Nicholls stable you may well get bigger odds as they day goes on so it's a difficult decision to make as to when to step in.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Big Win for the Blog!

Although I didn't do a post for Saturday the blog had a big winner in Ziga Boy in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster. In my post last Tuesday I said the race was one that I was keen on and in my review of the race I said the following :

Alan Kings Ziga Boy strikes me as the likely winner having won easily at the track during Christmas week and although up 15lb for that he is still a 7yo on a mark of 132c and Tom Bellamy who claims 3lb is already down to ride. If the weights do go up he would be on about 10-2/10-4 which is a handy weight to have in this race for an improver.

As it happened Brendan Powell took the ride in the end and because Holywell ran the weights didn't go up as I expected and Ziga Boy was therefore 1lb out of the handicap - however he still won and at the time of my post he was available at 12/1 generally.

It was a great day for Alan King as he had 5 winners all ridden by different jockeys and he must be looking forward to Cheltenham.

Plumpton is on today but with going stick readings of 3.5 and 3.9 on the hurdle and chase tracks conditions will be dire.

There are no runners for Paul Nicholls and Dan Skelton today - Nicholls drew a blank all last week and Skelton didn't run any over the weekend. 

If Taunton passes an inspection tomorrow then Nicholls could run a few but Skelton won't have any runners until Wednesday at the earliest.

So all being well I will do a post tomorrow morning.