Sunday, August 31, 2008


Last weekend's running of the Juddmonte International spawned several articles in the press on team tactics during the week. Johnny Murtagh's reported words to Colm O'Donoghue, rider of Ballydoyle's pacemaker, are unequivocal: "When you get to the four marker just ease off and give me the passage through." On Saturday morning Channel Four's Morning Line programme discussed various angles; whatever your opinion, it is clear the rules of racing have been broken. Paul Struthers indicated the British Horseracing Authority would make a statement on the matter in the coming week.

The usually gruff Mel Smith (of Smith and Jones fame) was anything but as he was interviewed before the Solario at Sandown on Saturday. Mr Smith, joint owner of The Cheka, looked to have had a distinct attack of pre-race nerves. In the race itself The Cheka, who was a drifter in the betting, appeared to have the spoils in the bag going into the final furlong but he tied up ever so slightly in the closing stages and succumbed to Sri Putra's challenge. This looked a hot renewal.

A nasty incident in the Chester Handicap saw Sir Duke fall, bringing down both Cheshire Prince and Speed Gifted. Seb Saunders aboard Speed Gifted broke his leg in the incident and is out for the rest of season. Sir Duke had to be put down.

My brother has received an invite to go to Goodwood on Tuesday, lucky fellow; something of a contrast, I know, but I hope to get to Stratford on Saturday.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Newton Abbot, Market Rasen, duff football bet

Last time out Alan King's Ruff Diamond beat Karashar a half length in a novice hurdle at Bangor; the pair meet again in the opener at Newton Abbot tomorrow. At the weights Karashar should reverse the form but Ruff Diamond didn't jump particularly well on that occasion so it could be close. Ruff Diamond is well regarded but looks tricky; I prefer David Pipe's Bathwick Man. Of those making their hurdling debuts, Highland Lassie is the most interesting.

The feature race is the Lord Mildmay Memorial Handicap Chase at 3.35 with £40,000 up for grabs. Paul Nicholls' five year old Roby De Cimbre is likely to start favourite but he's inexeperienced compared to many of these and tries a trip further than two miles for the first time. Full House has done this blog a favour or two over the years but his last run on the Flat in the Chester Cup was abysmal and hinted that he may not be totally in love with the game. In a competitive heat I'll take a chance with William Butler who ran well to finsh third in the Summer Plate at Market Rasen. He's had a break since so should come to this refreshed. He's The Gaffer, rated 132 over fences, had a five day entry for this race but connections have opted to run him in the concluding handicap hurdle instead off a rating of just 93! Many will consider him a snip but at cramped odds I won't be getting involved.

At Market Rasen's evening fixture the two that interest me in the feature race at 6.30 are Nelson's Spice and Rookery Lad. Nelson's Spice has plenty of potential while Rookery Lad flagged a return to form last time out in a fast-run race. Connections have let a couple of opportunities pass by for the gelding on account of unsuitable ground; Rookery Lad is priced up at around 6/1 this evening which is tempting. I note that the opening race is named 'Wedding Fair Here 26th October Juvenile Maiden Hurdle' - scary indeed!

On the footballing front, regular readers will know that Wrexham's relegation to the Blue Square Premier at the end of last season caused considerable pain. Five games in and I'm learning, albeit very slowly. Before a ball was kicked Stevenage Borough were favourites to win the title but have started poorly, are currently one off the bottom and have a goal difference of minus eleven. By contrast Barrow, of whom moderate things were expected, have started well, and can point to a win against Mansfield among their early season exploits. The pair meet tomorrow. I'm not keen on football betting but totesport go 6/4 Barrow to win at home which looks decent enough value.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Forward planning

Jump jockey Robert 'Choc' Thornton may look good on the back of a novice chaser, but modelling items of clothing for The Cheltenham Collection appears a rather different proposition altogether; I'm afraid I'm not convinced. The reason I bring this to your attention is that I received a selection of promotional literature from Cheltenham racecourse in today's mail. I was intrigued to discover, for example, that there are several 'Cheltenham festivals', covering topics such as jazz, science, music and literature, none of which I have even the slightest inclination of attending, you will be pleased to hear. The racecourse's main brochure is exquisitely produced, incorporates some spectacular photographs of the track and welcomes readers to the new season with the words 'The excitement mounts'. It's whetted the appetite. Alan Lee writes in today's Times 'Most people only go racing if they have had the outing in the diary for months ahead...' and how right he is; with rising gas and electricity prices, it takes that amount of time to save up enough for a couple of small bets (useful tip - child benefit payments can be legitimately used to boost betting funds if necessary). I shall just have to do more forward planning. In the meantime, Saturday is Variety Club Day at Sandown but, with all this talk about the jumping game, I simply have to focus on the cards at Newton Abbot and Market Rasen over the weekend.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Goodwood and Newmarket

In today's races which were rescheduled from York's abandoned meeting, Lush Lashes (evens) won the Oaks, Borderlescott (12/1) the Nunthorpe and Enawin (25/1) the St Leger Yearling Stakes at Newmarket. Over in Berkshire Shaweed (16/1) won the Gimcrack and All The Good (25/1) the Newburgh Heritage Handicap, created as a substitute for the Ebor.

Tomorrow the Lowther (1.25) and the Juddmonte International (3.35) will be staged at Newmarket while Goodwood host the Great Voltigeur (2.10).

I'm sticking with New Approach to win the Juddmonte; drier ground will suit favourite Duke Of Marmalade. Let's hope we see a race to remember.

At Goodwood I'm going to take a chance on Meydan City turning over Patkai in the Voltigeur. Patkai showed an exceptional turn of foot at Royal Ascot but I'm not certain he'll be able to display it on the softer ground he encounters here. Meydan City handles the going and offers value against the odds-on favourite.

In the Windflower March Stakes Luca Cumani's Sandbuch is the top-rated horse and gets the vote, while Raven's Pass deserves a Group 1 and can collect the Celebration Mile. He's likely to start long odds-on and consequently is no betting proposition but if the rain comes there may some value by opposing him with Bankable.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Knavesmire quagmire

Following today's noon inspection, the remaining two days of York's flagship Ebor meeting have been abandoned. The Cambridge Advance Learner's Dictionary describes quagmire as 'an area of soft wet ground you sink into if you try and walk on it'. That just about sums up the Knavesmire at the moment.

Of course, every cloud has a silver lining. Several work colleagues had planned on attending today and, unwisely, had asked me to mark their card. Now they stand to lose just their pre-booked train fare - come this evening, they'll think they're quids in.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It never rains but it pours...

Today's card at York's flagship Ebor meeting has fallen to the weather and so has Wednesday's. Judging from this photo on the Sporting Life website, racing on Thursday must be in serious doubt - an inspection takes place at noon tomorrow.

All dressed up with nowhere to go? Time to get out the Escalado!

Monday, August 18, 2008

York Ebor meeting - Tuesday

It seems unbelievable yet you half expected it - heavy going on the opening day of York's Ebor meeting and the prospect of more rain to come. Duke Of Marmalade will be allowed to take his chance in the Juddmonte International even though connections have indicated the ground won't suit. New Approach looks the obvious alternative but no longer offers much value from a betting perspective. At the time of writing Ladbrokes go 5/4 the Duke 6/4 New Approach.

The Great Voltigeur looks trappy too, given that the current St. Ledger favourite, Patkai, isn't certain to handle conditions; he showed an impressive turn of foot on firm ground in the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot. Alessandro Volta has better form but may also find the testing ground unsuitable. It's all so devilishly tricky, isn't it? I think I'm going to watch these races without getting involved...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Byte-sized bits

York's Ebor meeting starts on Tuesday, the first day's highlight being the clash between Duke Of Marmalade and New Approach in the Juddmonte International. Last night Victor Chandler went out on a limb by offering 7/2 New Approach. Twenty four hours later, New Approach is a best-priced 5/2 shot with Coral, and as low as 7/4 with Boylesports.

Paco Boy's turn of foot looked exceptional as he destroyed a decent field in yesterday's Hungerford Stakes at Newbury. It was interesting to hear Ryan Moore say afterwards that the horse's best trip is seven furlongs.

At the same meeting Johnny Murtagh managed to get Sixties Icon up in the shadow of the post to win the Geoffrey Freer, much to the relief of favourite backers. Murtagh, the Coolmore number one, is having a wonderful season, but not everyone is a fan - Mike De Kock was furious with the jockey's ride in last week's Arlington Million that effectively prevented his Archipenko from collecting the spoils.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Some Newbury selections...

The only horse I've seen this week is a pommel horse (and that looked rather dull in its coat). Very quickly, some suggestions for Saturday's Newbury meeting...

2.10 Whispering Angel - course / distance winner that should handle soft ground.

2.40 Sixties Icon in a competitive race; Donegal looks a big threat with the weight allowance.

3.15 I fancied Major Cadeaux for this, but he doesn't run, so I won't get involved.

Over the jumps at Bangor, the 4.15 and 4.50 look decent races for the time of year, provided they don't cut up. If declared, The King Of Angels will be worth a second glance in the 4.50; I'd expect to see McCoy in the plate.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Ascot's Stayers and Haydock

Nobody seems to know for certain what happened to Shergar all those years ago and, in similar vein, nobody seems to know for certain what happens at Ascot's Shergar Cup meeting. One thing for certain is that racegoers will get the chance to see two jockeys, Jorge Ricardo and Russelll Baze, both of whom have ridden over 10,000 winners, ride in this country. Mick Fitzgerald, who announced his retirement from race-riding today, will no doubt be envious.

The race I'm interested in is The Stayers which is run over two miles and is due off at 2.55. This looks a tight handicap. Nicky Henderson's Caracciola is just the top-rated horse but at eleven years old is likely to be vulnerable. The changeable weather forecast means I've concentrated on horses that will handle cut in the ground. Highland Legacy has been out of sorts this term and was unplaced when sent off favourite for the Northumberland Plate. Bogside Theatre, third in that race and then placed over course and distance last month, looks the percentage call. Desert Sea is feared if the rain doesn't materialise.

Over at Haydock, I'm tempted to take on likely favourite Multidimensional with either Smokey Oakey or Flying Clarets in the Rose Of Lancaster Stakes. Both will handle cut in the ground. Flying Clarets has been on the go this year while Smokey Oakey comes to this fresh and is marginally preferred.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

I've had a tip...

I've had a tip, and I don't get many. Regular readers will, quite rightly, take the view it surely can't do any worse than most of the beasts recommended here every week. A colleague I go racing with has told me connections of Five A Side think the horse has an each-way shout in the 4.00 at Newton Abbot tomorrow. It looks a competitive race. As with any tip, you can either take it or leave it - the choice is yours...

Friday, August 01, 2008

Saturday at Glorious Goodwood

Coming to the end of the Glorious Goodwood meeting, those who have been prepared to bet odds-on will be on good terms with themselves - victories for Conduit (1/2), Henrythenavigator (4/11) and Yeats (8/15) are obvious examples.

As usual, Saturday's Stewards' Cup, run over six furlongs, is intensely competitive. If you're brave enough to try and find the winner, you might be interested in the fact that over the last ten years a four or five year old has won on nine occasions. Finding the winner of a three runner novice chase is often beyond my capabilities, so two each-way selections against the twenty eight runner field are Knot In Wood and Protector. Knot In Wood, priced up at 12/1, is fancied and is a favourite of mine - he finished third in this last year. Protector, formerly with Gay Kelleway, is a big horse who looks to have been aimed specifically at this race. He has something of an unexposed look about him and boasts decent enough form with Knot In Wood. At the time of writing Corals go 66/1 Protector which is too big. Both selections would appreciate some rain before the off.

On form the Premier Stakes at 2.40 looks between River Proud and Stubbs Art. I prefer Paul Cole's River Proud as David Elsworth's stable has been rather quiet recently. Previously River Proud has played up at the start - on balance, it looks a chance worth taking. I should add that on Friday afternoon The Racing Post reports that Stubbs Art will only run if the ground is suitable.

In the Nassau at 3.15 Lush Lashes is the form selection and I'm not tempted to go chasing value elsewhere.