Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday night thoughts

In recent weeks rumours have been rife in racing and the national press concerning an ongoing investigation being conducted by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). Earlier today the result of that investigation was made public as the BHA charged four jockeys and one ex-rider with breaking the rules of racing by conspiring to commit a fraudulent or corrupt practice in ten separate races run between January and August 2009. The four jockeys were named as Paul Doe, Greg Fairley, Kirsty Milczarek and Jimmy Quinn; former rider now trainer Paul Fitzsimons faces similar charges, as do two licensed owners and six other persons. The date of the hearing has been set for Thursday 20th October; unsurprisingly the jockeys charged, who can continue to ride, have vowed to clear their names. Unfortunately episodes such as this have become all too familiar in recent years.

Regular readers will know that I've decided to focus on horses with form over the sticks running in races over further than one and a half miles this Flat campaign. Nicky Henderson's Oasis Knight goes in the 3.10 at York; this one won a two and a half mile novice hurdle at Aintree a fortnight ago sporting first time blinkers. The gelding's second to subsequent Supreme Novice winner Al Ferof  in February reads well enough and the blinds remain on here but on official ratings he has enough to find with two or three of these. Palomar was third in the Lanzarote at Kempton last January but has ten pounds more to find and makes little appeal.

In Chester's 4.35 Cotillion, Bollin Felix and Comedy Act have all collected over hurdles this winter. Both Cotillion and Bollin Felix probably prefer cut while Comedy Act is of some interest. Formerly with Sir Mark Prescott this one sold for 125,000 guineas at the Newmarket sales and at one point was quoted a 25/1 chance for the Triumph Hurdle. He's not lived up to expectations - connections try cheekpieces for the first-time here. He represents nothing more than an each-way longshot but has a decent draw next to the rail in stall one.

Nicky Henderson's First Point is rated 140 over hurdles yet races off a mark of 70 in Newbury's 8.15; the booking of  Kieren Fallon catches the eye and the yard has had five wins from 26 runs in the past fortnight. In the same race Gunslinger looks an outsider but Ian Williams' Rebel Dancer boasts decent form with a second to Tocca Ferro to his name. He failed to get competitive in the Swinton at Haydock the last time but I'd forgive that effort and the quick ground shouldn't pose a problem.

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