Sunday, September 25, 2011

Eclectic quick links

Starting on a sad note with two racing obituaries... Ginger McCain, trainer of Red Rum and Michael Jarvis, 'one of the most popular figures in his sport'.

With new Natinal Hunt season just around the corner...

Betfred will sponsor the Cheltenham Gold Cup but Imperial Commander is out for the season.

Sizing Europe is set to make his seasonal debut at Gowran Park on Saturday.

Ferdy Murphy reports Kalahari King in the form of his life.

Noel Meade is waiting for the soft ground for Pandorama.

Trainer Patrick Prendergast is aiming for the Weatherby's Champion Bumper with Wandering Aengus.

Some might consider Nicky Richards' Noble Alan a winner without a penalty after the gelding unshipped Brian Harding two from home when holding every chance in the listed chase at Market Rasen yesterday.

Chris Bealby had a good word for point winner Chac du Cadran recently, describing his charge as 'capable of winning NH novice hurdles on soft ground'.

Saturday's Times Magazine (dated 24.09.11)  features an article on Leon Max, the Russian clothing tycoon and owner of the Easton Neston estate in Northamptonshire which incorporates Towcester racecourse.

Finally, those who enjoyed the collection of photographs taken by Racing Post photographer Ed Whitaker in his book  In The Frame may be interested to know a second volume, Beyond The Frame, has just been published -definitely has the look of potential Christmas present material!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Brief musings on tomorrow's Market Rasen meeting...

A decent card at Market Rasen tomorrow with 16 set to face the starter for the totepool 'Prelude' Handicap Chase at 2.50. Peter Bowen has won three of the past five renewals and saddles North Island. Two that take my eye are top weight Qulinton and Charlie Longsdon's Ostland. The former hacked up over course and distance in the Summer Plate on his penultimate run but didn't really get competitive next time out in the Galway Plate. Ostland comes from a stable bang in form (5 wins from 9 runs since 6th September). Neptune Equester has been running well on the Flat and could be a blot on the handicap but his jumping has proved a cause for concern in the past. I'll take an each-way interest in Qulinton (11/1 with Coral this evening).

I tipped Tatispout last time at Stratford but the filly was shown a clean pair of heels by World Heritage. The four-year-old faces a tough task having to give weight to most of the field at 2.20 but World Heritage looks the one to beat in the 4.35, with a decent run expected from Bedouin Bay.  The Juvenile Hurdle (4.00) is intriguing - Tim Vaughan won last year's renewal with Architrave while the year before Barizan took the spoils for Evan Williams. Both handlers have entries tomorrow; using the tissue as a guide, Captain Brown makes more appeal as a betting proposition and rates a play against likely favourite, the filly Hi Note.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Brief notes on selected Saturday races

On Wednesday evening I spent well over an hour on the phone to a fellow racegoer discussing the chances of Tom Dascombe's Misty Conquest in the 2.45 at Ayr. Regular readers will know that six furlong two-year-old sprints aren't my cup of tea at all but the point is this racegoer knows two members of the syndicate that owns the filly. Costing £5,000 as a foal, Misty has already won £20,000 in prize money and boasts decent looking form behind Lily's Conquest in the listed Empress Stakes at Newmarket and Sajwah in the listed Dick Poole Fillies' Stakes at Salisbury.

Connections were reportedly disappointed with her penultimate run at Longchamp over seven furlongs on good to soft ground. Earlier in the season she wasn't eating well but now the feed has been changed she is fine. This looks a close call with Misty Conquest two pounds behind top-rated Kohala and one pound behind Miss Work Of Art on official ratings but the former has never raced over the trip while the latter has never won at this distance although she put in an eyecatching effort at York last time; jock Paul Hanagan clearly rates Miss Work Of Art's chance. The general feeling is Misty would show better form on good ground but her third at Newmarket was on good to soft; the going at Ayr is currently reported as soft, good to soft in places. All of which makes me rather ambivalent; the tissue prices Misty Conquest at 5/1 and that price doesn't really make that much appeal...

The feature long distance race tomorrow is Newmarket's Cesarewitch Trial at 3.30 - 10 of the 18 declared have some NH form to their name; the Cesarewitch is scheduled for Saturday 8th October.

At the moment Dayia looks high enough in the weights and would prefer cut underfoot. My Arch won the Pontefract Cup in June and has been kept busy since. Palomar raced off a mark of 136 in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in March but doesn't strike me as the easiest to catch right. Hollins finished well behind My Arch in the Pontefract Cup but on that occasion ran as though something was amiss when losing his place five furlongs out; he has since won the Goodwood Stakes at odds of 20/1 and merits respect here. I'm finding it hard to drum up enthusiasm for Gordonsville but Mohanad was rated 129 when finishing mid-division in the Coral Cup at this year's Cheltenham Festival. French Hollow takes a step up in class but is on a four-timer after winning with something in hand at Chester the last time. Secret Tune made a belated comeback at Newbury last month while Sea Change, once with Jeremy Noseda, has his second run for current connections, having had just two tries over hurdles for David Pipe. Dark Ranger was rated 108 over hurdles  in April.

Suggestion: Hollins is interesting but I'm going to take an each-way chance with French Hollow at around the 10/1 mark.

Back at Ayr course and distance winner Chookie Hamilton makes slightly more appeal than Gogeo in the finale over 13 furlongs. No suggestion.

In the 4.55 at Catterick (14 furlongs) Danceintothelight likes to race prominently and beat Simple Jim some seven lengths here last year but the latter was conceding 20 pounds on that occasion and on revised ratings looks to have every chance of reversing the form, particularly if the ground stays good. Top weight Tropical Bachelor appeals as an each-way alternative with the jockey able to claim a handy-looking five pounds.

Suggestion: Simple Jim win (if ground good or quicker); each-way alternative: Tropical Bachelor.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Quick suggestions on St Leger Saturday

Very quick suggestions for St Leger Day...

4/1 Blue Bunting for the Doncaster Classic (3.10) has disappeared but 7/2 still represents a value play against favourite Sea Moon.

Only six go in the Irish Field St Leger; 12/1 about Red Cadeaux would have made some each-way appeal if eight had made the line-up.

Tomorrow there are two long distances races with several NH types taking part. In the 8.20 at Kempton I'm going to take a small each-way interest in Katies Tuitor. This one obliged for my 50th birthday celebrations at Kempton when in the care of Brendan Duke and won the 2008 Totescoop6 Summer Handicap Hurdle at Market Rasen when trained by Charlie Mann..He's clearly had his problems but hinted at a return to form for current connections last time out; the gelding prefers racing right-handed and the stable are going well.

In the Bath 5.00 race Waldsee has fewer miles on the clock than some of these and rates a tentative each-way suggestion.         

Sunday, September 04, 2011

West Country memories

Simon Nott's tribute to on-course bookmaker Brian Edwards in this month's Racing Ahead brought back a couple of memories. Brian, who traded as George Edwards Plymouth, died on 17th July after a long struggle with cancer. I struck a few bets with Brian at Newton Abbot and Devon & Exeter back in the early nineties, a time when I was green enough to think I might come out on top...

In particular I recall going to Newton Abbot one fine spring evening to back a horse called Biloxi Blues in the handicap chase. The grey had decent form in the book and, at a time when Mark Coton's Value Betting was all the rage, I thought I'd stumbled on a value bet and a bit more as the daily papers reported the price as 6/1. Finishing work early, I drove to the course but was more than a little dismayed to see the bookies open with Biloxi at 6/4. The price soon began to contract so, making the best of a bad job, I walked up to Brian and asked for a fiver at 11/8. Quick as a flash, he reported 7/5 to his clerk and I walked away, not quite sure whether I'd been done or not.

The race itself proved rather eventful... Dean Gallagher decided to try and make all on outsider Wimbleball and he quickly built up a lead of twenty lengths or so. Despite hitting a couple of fences fairly hard, Wimbleball was clearly enjoying himself and his lead was still intact halfway down the back straight second time around before Richard Dunwoody decided it was time to play catch-up on Biloxi. Wimbleball wasn't for stopping and had the race in the bag coming to the last but he took one last liberty with that last fence and came crashing to the ground; Dunwoody carried out a nifty piece of steering, jumped the obstacle safely and 5/4  favourite Biloxi Blues collected the spoils. Brian's face told its own story immediately after the race; a couple of punters looking to collect before the winning jockey had dismounted were given short shrift.

Some 15 years later I was at Exeter with two brothers-in-law for the 2004 New Year's Day meeting. We hadn't been that successful but my companions had compensated by indulging in several of their favourite beverages. Waiting for the free bus home, my colleagues asked for an opinion on the concluding bumper. Philip Hobbs' Supreme Serenade was odds-on but I ventured they might want to consider opposing with Paul Nicholls' Alexanderthegreat; this conversation took place outside a couple of ptiches, one of which belonged to Brian. Brian appeared to be in conversation with his fellow layer but as soon as he heard me mention Alexanderthegreat, he immediately marked the horse out from 5/1 to 11/2. I started to smile but these subtle nuances escaped my inebriated colleagues who then demanded an explanation. I tried but it was proving hard work and at the end of it all one brother-in-law walks straight up to the layer offering 5/1 and strikes his bet...

In the event, Nicky Henderson's Copsale Lad (3/1) won impressively from Alexanderthegreat. Copsale Lad did me a couple of favours after that and some three years later popped up at Newbury at odds of 14/1. Unfortunately on that occasion I'd bid more than I should have for a day at the races with The Times' Alan Lee and he'd tipped me the second, Minella Tipperary...

R.I.P. Brian Edwards.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Two tentative suggestions for Musselburgh, one for Stratford

Tomorrow two Musselburgh races will be run over one mile five furlongs with several horses boasting some sort of NH form; the Scottish Racing Stayers' Consolation Handicap at 4.45 precedes the Scottish Racing Stayers' Final at 5.15. The going is reported as good, good to soft in places.

In the Consolation Handicap, the following runners have some previous NH form:
Ananda Kanda, Pokfulham, Stags Leap, Amir Pasha, Grand Daimond, Grandad Bill, Dane Cottage, Red Skipper.

Ananda Kanda, rated 67, appears to like cut underfoot and was a staying-on third in a Market Rasen novices' hurdle on her penultimate run. Earlier this year Pokfulham won a Perth intermediate hurdle over two and a half miles before finishing out with the washing in the Swinton at Haydock; the bay gelding disappointed last time but the visor, left off on that occasion, is refitted here so Jim Goldie's charge is of interest. Stags Leap has shown better form on his last two runs for this yard although the fact he was walked to post last time suggests he's not entirely straightforward. Amir Pasha has won a Carlisle intermediate hurdle and has form behind speed merchant Santa's Son but was worn down at Redcar just two days ago. On his penultimate run Grand Diamond, another from the Jim Goldie yard, finished second to Peter Bowen's well regarded mare With Grace who has won six of her thirteen starts. Jim Goldie also trains likely favourite Grandad Bill who won on the Flat at Ayr last month before finishing behind Los Nadis in a class 3 handicap hurdle at Perth. Dane Cottage was beaten on the all-weather last time but Red Skipper bounced back to take a Market Rasen seller at odds of 15/2. Grandad Bill is respected in a competitive affair but the suggestion is Pokfulham each-way at around 8/1.

In the Final the following horses have NH form:
Meetings Man, Jewelled Dagger, The Galloping Shoe, Los Nadis, Mason Hindmarsh, Jonny Delta.

Meetings Man was rated 122 when unseating Graham Lee in the Scottish Triumph Hurdle here in February; he races off a mark of 78 and the jockey can claim another five pounds. Course and distance winner Jewelled Dagger likes to race from the front but disappointed at Doncaster the last time. The Galloping Shoe has better form over shorter trips but Los Nadis is a horse I like - I was annoyed to have missed his last run in a Perth handicap hurdle where he won with Grandad Bill well behind in third. After winning a juvenile hurdle at Aintree Mason Hindmarsh didn't cut the mustard in a Triumph Hurdle trial at Cheltenham won by Sam Winner; he would be of some interest at a price, a comment that also applies to Jonny Delta whose seventh in the Aintree bumper in April reads well - some well-regarded types were behind on that occasion.
Suggestion: Jonny Delta each-way 14/1 or bigger.

A very quick note on Stratford's opening novice hurdle. Course and distance winner Tatispout carries penalties but this filly sets a reasonable standard with a rating of 130. Last year Russian George took this off 117, beating Saltagioo (128) a short-head. Later tonight I'll check ratings for other recent winners but at this stage Tatispout is of interest coming to this fresh; on her last run she finished down the field in the Swinton at Haydock.