Sunday, September 30, 2007

Flat jockeys' championship

It's currently neck and neck in the Flat jockeys' championship, Seb Saunders (150 winners) edging two in front of Jamie Spencer by riding a four timer at Musselburgh today. The bookmakers seem to think the momentum is with Saunders, Spencer being quoted a 7/4 shot with Stan James this evening. Only a few short weeks ago Spencer was a long odds-on chance, the argument being he had more ammunition at this time of year. Rest assured, Saunders will fight all the way to the line.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Market Rasen tomorrow

At the time of writing the official going at Market Rasen is described as good; I'm assuming there will be no further deterioration in the ground. The juvenile hurdle due off at 2.05 looks intriguing. Soliya has the best form on offer but the word is for Alan King's Franchoek. The King stable won this last year with subsequent Triumph Hurdle winner Katchit; if this one's anywhere near as good he'll take all the beating. In situations like this I prefer the form in the book so will side with Soliya as long as there's no further rain.

It's good to see Ruby Walsh back riding in this country following his summer break. He's on Blu Teen for the Paul Nicholls stable in the novice chase at 2.40. Both Blu Teen and and Crathorne have an official rating of 132 but Blu Teen is the one with the potential; it will be disappointing if he doesn't take this on the way to better things, although the starting price is likely to be short.

Sixteen go to post in the handicap chase at 3.15. This race looks very difficult but is one to watch for future reference. Kings Brook won this last year and is in form. I'd be intersted in Boychuk if the stable were in better form and a similar comment applies to Iron Man. If pressed, Kings Brook would be the selection but I'll be sitting this one out.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot

The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes run over a mile at Ascot this Saturday looks a thrilling prospect. Some of the value has been taken out of the market with the withdrawal of George Washington on Wednesday morning. There doesn't appear to be much between Darjina, Ramonti and Excellent Art. I'm inclined to oppose the filly Darjina on the following counts: only one filly has won this in the last thirty years; rain is forecast and this may inconvenience her; she is ante-post favourite and so the value lies elsewhere. Ramonti is tough and won over course and distance at Royal Ascot in June. He then went on to beat Excellent Art a fast diminishing head in The Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. After that race several commentators felt that Ramonti's getting first run had made the difference. Goodwood is tricky; with Ascot more likely to suit, I take Excellent Art to win the prize.

Those of us waiting eagerly for jump racing to swing into gear will see Saturday's card at Market Rasen as a sign of better things to come. Nigel Twiston Davies is regularly out of the blocks quickly around this time of year; he retuns this evening from Perth's two day fixture with a haul of five winners. If you fancy one of his over the next three to four weeks the yard's website may give a clue under the 'Todays Runners' section.

I'll try to look at the Market Rasen card tomorrow evening.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A few Flat notes

At the time of writing Peter Chapple-Hyam's Derby winner Authorized is a best priced 13/8 to win the Arc at Longchamp a week on Sunday. Authorized's preparation appears to be going to plan although recently his trainer admitted that several in his string were under the weather and there are no isolation facilities at the yard. If you fancy Authorized, it will pay to monitor the stable's runners over the coming week.

Henry Cecil has given a big hint that his Oaks filly Passage Of Time will be supplemented for the same race; she has been introduced into the betting at 33/1.

Kieren Fallon and five co-defendants are set to appear at The Old Bailey a week tomorrow to face charges relating to conspiracy to defraud punters. This high profile trial is expected to last three to four months and will generate huge media interest.

I guess Alec Salmond, Scotland's First Minister, is a guy you either love or love to hate. Whatever, his banter with the regulars of Channel Four's Morning Line on Saturday was most entertaining. My father-in-law, who hails from South West Scotland, often describes him as 'silver-tongued' and you can see why. A game my (sad) drinking companions occasionally play is to name a celebrity you would choose to have evening dinner with, giving reasons for your choice and some questions you'd put to the lucky celebrity concerned. After watching his performance on Saturday, Alec Salmond is right up there on my list.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Uttoxeter and Plumpton cards

On paper the 2.50 at Uttoxeter looks between the J.P. McManus owned Levitski and the Evan Williams trained Warrior Drive. In their tissue shows on Saturday evening, both trade papers have Levistski an odds on shot while Warrior Drive is priced up at 3/1 and 4/1. On official handicap ratings Warrior Drive has two pounds in hand over Levitski and at those prices Warrior Drive looks worth an interest.

The two mile novice chase due off at 3.50 has some interesting entries. Likely favourite Ellerslie Tom was the best horse over hurdles but fell last time out and is passed over. I saw both Vivid Imagination and Presentandcorrect run two weeks ago at Stratford over two and a half miles. Presentandcorrect was disappointing on that occasion; the shorter trip may suit here but the yard is out of form. In contrast Vivid Imagination ran a decent race to finish third on his first outing since April 13th 2005. Dev and Karelian look unexposed while Sunley Shines can be given a squeak. A trappy affair - I'm prepared to take a chance with the Pipe stable's Vivid Imagination if he's allowed to take his chance. Whatever the outcome, the race will be worth noting for future reference.

In the 4.30 at Plumpton I'm interested in September Moon. This mare is not without ability but has previously demonstrated, when trained by Jonjo O'Neill, she has her own ideas about the game. A front runner, the form shown since the switch to her current yard has been consistent; recently her effort at Stratford in a higher class race was noteworthy. The Racing Post tissue makes her a 7/1 chance, The Sporting Life 14/1. With nine runners set to go to post, she looks worth an each way interest at 10/1 or bigger. By my calculations she has weight in hand over Hurlers Cross on a recent Fontwell running and the ground will suit; the three mile two furlong trip may pose a question.

Friday, September 21, 2007

McCririck thrown off chat show

When the racing is a little low key, you can always rely on John McCririck to liven things up a bit. Alan Titchmarsh threw him off his chat show yesterday after McCririck had gratutiously insulted Chris Tarrant's ex wife Ingrid, calling her 'a ghastly woman'. Further details on the Daily Mail site.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ayr Gold Cup

Let me say from the outset that ultra competitive sprint handicaps with their accompanying large fields are no forte of mine; I'll maintain a watching brief for Saturday's big race when the Ayr Gold Cup will be contested over a trip of six furlongs.

Seven weeks ago I highlighted Knot In Wood's chance in the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood. Once again there are a number of positives about this horse but they are reflected in his current price of 8/1. At Goodwood the high draw, thought an advantage at the time, turned out to be anything but as runners on the far side tacked across to the centre after one and a half furlongs, thereby losing valuable ground. In the circumstances the horse did well, finishing third in a three way photo behind Zidane and Borderlescott. The easier ground this time will suit and jockey Jamie Moriarty takes off a handy looking three pounds. Knot In Wood each way is the selection in a very tough race which I'll be watching from the sidelines.

Earlier in the week Manduro's injury sustained in winning the Prix Foy casts a shadow over this year's Arc which is just over a fortnight away. I'm still waiting (along with plenty of others) to see if Coolmore declare Peeping Fawn.

The five day declarations for Sunday's two National Hunt cards at Plumpton and Uttoxeter contain some interesting entries; I'll try to look at these on Saturday evening.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Superform Jumps Annual

I'm informed that the 2007 Superform Jumps Annual will be available from late September. Ordering directly from the publisher (01273 452441) entitles customers to £2 discount with free postage thrown in. I've purchased this annual every year since 1993.

Last year, around four weeks after my purchase, I received a note from Furlong Press apologising for the omission of ten races on the last day of the official jumps season together with a special addendum containing details of the omitted races and a page reference indicating where the addendum should be inserted into the annual. Impressive customer service indeed, which I would not have received had I purchased the volume in the local High Street.

Monday, September 17, 2007

PG miffed...

News of my displeasure at the BBC's decision to withdraw its Ceefax racing service appears to have created a bit of a stir. So much so that it's been reported on the Ceefax cricket pages...

Thirty short minutes later and, quite rightly in my opinion, the PM appears to have got involved...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ceefax racing service to be axed

Sometimes it feels like I'm the only one who hasn't subscribed to Sky. I've been holding out but there comes a point when you have to throw in the towel and admit Mr Murdoch has won. I think, right now, I'm getting pretty close to that point.

Take today, for example. BBC Two are offering cycling, MotoGP, eventing from Italy and the highlights of a 5k road race. In addition the aforementioned broadcaster informs me that it has bought the rights to American Football.

The final straw has come with the news, reported in The Daily Mail, that the BBC is to axe its Ceefax racing service at the end of the year. I simply can't believe this. I spend most Sunday afternoons watching Ceefax live betting shows, a distraction from the surrounding mayhem of the Tips' family household. What am I to do now? This preposterous decision indicates the BBC can no longer claim to be a 'socially responsible' broadcaster.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ladbrokes St Leger

On Friday Donald McCain's Ice Tea is a progressive sort running over two and a half miles in the 3.00 at Bangor. This is his first run after a break, his wins having come over further, but he looks worth keeping an eye on. With England playing South Africa in the Rugby World Cup later in the evening, Alan Lee reports that racegoers turning up for Sandown's afternoon meeting in either team's colours will be entitled to reduced admission of £10.

On Saturday the Irish and English St Leger races are scheduled to take place within twenty minutes of each other. At The Curragh Yeats will be unbackable at long odds on and he is expected to oblige.

Over at Doncaster it doesn't appear quite as clear cut. On Racing Post ratings Honolulu and Lucarno are some way clear of their rivals. In my eyes Lucarno's fourth in the Epsom Derby and subsequent victory in the Great Voltigeur at York read better than Honolulu's recent second in the Ebor. To muddy the waters a little, the O'Brien stable reports Honolulu has thrived since York, whereas John Gosden doubts the additional two furlongs of this race will suit Lucarno, despite the formbook stating the horse 'stayed on strongly' in the Great Voltigeur. Indeed the trainer describes Raincoat, his other runner, as the 'forgotten horse' of the race. You pays your money and takes your choice. In a race where the favourite has won eight of the last ten runnings, I'm prepared to risk Lucarno, currently priced at 4/1, and Raincoat each way at 10/1 or bigger, as both some offer value.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Some snippets...

Mark Howard's annual publication 'One Jump Ahead' is now available in bookshops priced very reasonably at £6.99.

The St Leger is set to take place at Doncaster on Saturday but it looks increasingly unlikely that Peeping Fawn will run in the Arc. Saturday's Racing Post informed readers that Ladbrokes have not quoted the filly in their Arc lists but will give punters 10/1 if they ask for the price. The view at The Magic Sign is Peeping Fawn will be aimed at next year's race. Julian Muscat, writing in today's Times, comments 'She [PF] certainly merits her place, but for the Coolmore syndicate which owns both her and Dylan Thomas, the filly beating the colt would amount to economic folly.'

Staying with the Arc, Manduro tries twelve furlongs for the first time on Sunday in the Prix Foy; the outcome should prove conclusively whether or not the horse stays the trip.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Guest blogger - Mrs Tips

On certain well read blogs it has become fashionable to 'invite in ' a guest blogger. I thought of approaching Tony McCoy, Richard Johnson and the likes but in the end I went for the easy option and plumped for Mrs Tips. Here's her account of our day at Stratford races on Saturday...

Picnic packed, we headed off to Stratford on what was, to begin with, a rather coolish afternoon. This did not detract from what was a jolly good outing for The Tips family and friends. This is the first time I've been racing since Mr Tips took me to Chester races when we were 'courting' all those years ago! Mr Tips is a dab hand when it comes to taking a lady out for a romantic sporting occasion, is he not? I still think Wimbledon wins by a furlong!

The atmosphere was busy, quite a few folk about, although I expect it can get busier. Thankfully it didn't or we wouldn't have been able to get to the toilet! Woefully inadequate facilities for ladies I felt.

It was difficult to actually see the races in action, if truth be told. We did have a good view of the big screen but most of the time you couldn't see any real action until the horses just went zipping past.

You'll be pleased to hear that I didn't let myself down and won on the first race with Colourful Life and tipped the winner of the second, Left Hand Drive ( I let Baby Tips have that one). I had a couple of seconds in the third and fifth races too. Not bad for someone who doesn't study form.

The highlight of the day was spotting Tony McCoy giving his autograph to someone before going on to win the fourth race on The King of Angels.

It was a good day out although a lot of standing and then walking back and forth to collect our winnings really tired us out!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Stratford selections

Ten go to post at 3.45 for the Walls and Ceilings International Handicap Chase. The field contains a number of unexposed sorts including The King Of Angels, Ronald Jack (pictured in the lead at Towcester last time out), Baodai and Once A Brownie; my interpretation of the bare form is that, of these, Jonjo O'Neill's The King Of Angels has the most improvement to come. Richard Johnson is in the plate as Tony McCoy rides the J.P. McManus owned Once A Brownie which, in my book, stood a better chance in the 2.45 race. Miss K. Marks is double handed with the lightly weighted Rash Moment and Liverpool Echo; the latter named is not easy to catch right but likes Stratford. An open event in which I'll have an each way interest in Liverpoool Echo at odds of around 12/1.

The market has proved a reliable guide to the 4.15 in the past, with the winner coming from the top three in the betting on the past nine occasions. The top weighted Bureaucrat gets the nod.
In the 3.15 Soliya is the form choice. Feasible alternatives include Silmi, Strikeen and Callisto Moon. I'm going to this meet - I'll side with Soliya if priced 2/1 or bigger, otherwise I'll oppose with Silmi.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

This married life

Writing in today's Times, Oliver Kay headlines an article 'Beckham's life was "never the same" after he tied the knot'.

To which I have just one thing to add.
Mr. Beckham, welcome to my world.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A Stratford picnic

Never mind your Rugby World Cup or the Euro 2008 qualifiers, this Saturday we're thinking of taking a family picnic to Stratford races.

Parents should view such occasions as an A1 opportunity to win back pocket money from their offspring. It's slightly more sophisticated than an old trick of mine - creeping into the kids' bedroom in the middle of the night with a blunt knife to try and extricate money from their piggy banks (without waking them up) - and, to boot, there's the added illusion (for the children) that the whole thing is such an enjoyable experience.

Less than two short months ago Stratford racecourse was under three feet of water, with the steeplechase fences practically hidden from view.

The BBC report that the repair bill is likely to reach more than £1 million. Still, electricity is likely to be restored and the toilets back in use for this meeting, so all we want now is some decent racing and reasonable weather...