Friday, October 31, 2014

An Ascot sensation?

Silviniaco Conti, the form choice for Wetherby's Charlie Hall at 3.15 , is priced accordingly and I'm fast running out of reasons to oppose.

So far this season Paul Nicholls' runners have tended to need their first outing but Silviniaco had a racecourse spin last week - connections see this race as a prep for Haydock's Betfair Chase in three weeks' time.

On official ratings Taquin Du Seuil, in receipt of five pounds, still has ten to find with the favourite while Menorah comes form a stable bang in form but has had his share of jumping problems in the past.

In the previous two renewals of this race Wayward Prince finished second (beaten 11 lengths by Silviniaco in 2012 and a  neck by Harry Topper last year) and would have made some appeal as an each-way wager had eight been declared...

In search of better value I've been drawn to Ascot's Byrne Group chase at 2.20.

Only nine go to post but the layers bet 4/1  the field.

Michael Scudamore's Next Sensation was well tipped up for the Grand Annual at Cheltenham in March and the gelding looked to have the spoils in the bag when three lengths clear at the last but he was headed in the final 100 yards and finished fourth, beaten a neck to third by Claret Cloak; the latter named finished down the field at Cheltenham a fortnight ago but is sure to have gained some benefit from the run.

Back in March Manyriverstocross beat Bellenos a short-head over course and distance - Alan King's charge is two pounds better off but Dan Skelton's six-year-old looks less exposed while course and distance winner Ulck Du Lin is not readily dismissed with Sean Bowen able to claim seven.

A tight handicap but I'm swayed by confidence shown by Michael Scudamore in midweek.

With the trainer's brother Tom in the plate, Next Sensation gets the nod (4/1 William Hill, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power).       

Friday, October 24, 2014

Chepstow trio

The Old Roan Chase is the highlight on Aintree's card tomorrow where Barry Geraghty has been booked for the ride on favourite Uxizandre following the fall of Wayne Hutchinson from McCabe Creek at Southwell yesterday.

I've decided to concentrate on the Chepstow card; champion jockey Tony McCoy returns from a spell on the sidelines with two rides, Son Du Berlais in the Persian War at 3.35 and Regal Encore in the Silver Trophy at 4.10.

McCoy's last ride was well over a week ago aboard Goodwood Mirage at Wetherby but he can still boast 151 wins so far this season and a strike rate of 32.9%; he appears on course for 300 winners, injuries permitting.

Writing in the Weekender, Andrew King has a bullish word for course and distance winner Sausalito Sunrise in the novice chase at 2.25 and I'm not inclined to disagree. That said, both Mosspark and Leo Luna are closely matched with Philip Hobbs' charge on hurdle ratings. 

Sausalito Sunrise is the selection.

Those contemplating a wager on Jackies Solitaire in the totescoop6 The Millionaire Maker Handicap Chase at 2.55 should note Anthony Honeyball's comment in this week's Straight From The Stable article:

"She's definitely better over hurdles than fences but we will probably mix her over the two disciplines."

McCoy's mount Son Du Berlais has had the Persian War as his target for some time - four-year-olds have a good record in the race and the favourite has obliged on five occasions in the past ten years - but there are other interesting runners who offer better value including Blaklion, withdrawn from the race won by Vicente at Cheltenham a week ago, and course and distance winner Restless Dreamer while The Pirate's Queen receives a stone from the top two and hails from a yard bang in form although six of her seven rivals all have the benefit of a recent run.

Blaklion was market leader when withdrawn on veterinary advice at Cheltenham yet he's priced up at 11/2 with Paddy Power this evening - I'll chance Blaklion.

The Silver Trophy looks very competitive.

In complete contrast to the previous race just two of the twelve have a recent run under their belts and they can both boast course and distance winning form - Boondooma and Shelford.

A win for Garde La Victoire (2.00 Aintree) may point to the chance of Vieux Lion Rouge as David Pipe's charge was just six lengths adrift conceding four pounds when the pair met at Aintree in April.

L'unique is a game mare who perhaps shows her best in the spring but course and distance winner Aubusson is one I like. Nick Williams' gelding really was impressive when beating Regal Diamond at Cheltenham on New Year's Day with Ballyalton fourth - Ballyalton subsequently finished second  to Faugheen in the Neptune at the Festival.

Priced at 10/1 with both Ladbrokes and BetVictor this evening, Aubusson is worth an each-way wager.

Finally a couple of races that may have passed you by in the past week...

On Friday 17 October Cambridge beat Oxford in the inaugural running of the Varisty Horse Race over Newmarket's Rowley Mile.

At Plumpton the following Monday Gemma Pallett (aged 13) won the Shetland Pony Gold Cup on Galloping Goring. Little Bucks, possibly in the same ownership as Big Buck's, finished down the field...

Friday, October 17, 2014

October Cheltenham chances

Heavy ground may appear a distinct possibility for tomorrow's Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot but at Cheltenham the going is described as good, good to soft in places.

According to the market, the opener at the Cotswolds' track is between In The Rough and Vivaldi Collonges. On New Year's Day the latter-named trailed in last of six over two and half miles and was well beaten at Warwick the next time but when upped in trip he won a Class 3 handicap hurdle at Ayr with some ease; on official ratings Paul Nicholls' charge has five pounds to find with his market rival.

Last year Johns Spirit won the 2.35 off a mark of 129; tomorrow he tries to repeat the trick off a rating of 147. A tall order but we should remember Jonjo O'Neill's charge went on to take the Paddy Power Gold Cup four weeks later (Champion Court seventh, Astracad eleventh) and had Champion Court, Bennys Mist (would prefer more cut) and Sew On Target behind when finishing fourth to Ballynagour in the Byrne Group Plate at the Festival.

Several will be using the race as a stepping stone to the Paddy Power - Johns Spirit (13/2 Stan James) is the suggestion although it's worth noting that Astracad is over 20 pounds better off for a five length defeat in last year's running.

Triumph Hurdle form is on display in the 3.10 with Festival winner Tiger Roll set to give Calipto (fourth in March) four pounds; the latter-named was beaten over eight lengths but that only tells half the story as Daryl Jacob lost his irons two from home that day.

Many will fancy Nicholls' charge to reverse the form - it's not a race I'll get involved in.

Ainsi Fideles (5.00) is something of rarity - a four-year-old who has taken well to chasing.

He has the beating of Splash of Ginge on recent Perth form but David Pipe's charge looked a tad fortunate to collect that day with Howwoulduno (beaten five lengths by Court Minstrel earlier today) idling in the shadow of the post. Splash Of Ginge is expected to strip fitter for that Perth run.

Finally some interesting sorts in the concluding bumper. In April Moon Racer won a Fairyhouse bumper on his racecourse debut at odds of 50/1 for handler Michael Ronayne; the gelding is now with David Pipe and unlikely to start at anywhere near those odds tomorrow. Chezzy is a mare who impressed at Carlisle on her debut while How About It won an Irish point-to-point in the spring.

Warren Greatrex and Gavin Sheehan are a combination worthy of note. The stable has done well in this type of event in the past and I don't think Going For Gold would be entered if connections felt he was going to be outclassed.

I'll take a small each-way interest provided the price is 12/1 or bigger.

Friday, October 10, 2014

One chance at Chepstow

It's taken me 5 attempts to log on,,,

Popped up? Of course I am.

Over the years the form of the Nicholls runners has been key to this Chepstow meeting.

At Newton Abbot earlier today Wonderful Charm obliged but Arenice Et Pictons (even money favourite ) was pulled up while Solar Impulse (8/11f) was beaten by Llittle Jon.

Southfield Theatre looks the answer to the 3.40 but will be no price and isn't guaranteed to take to fences.

The market tells us the 4.20 is between the three horses allocated 11-2; Nicky Henderson's Dawalan wasn't the best at his hurdles last term while  Brian Ellison's Manhattan Swing has no more than a Market Rasen novice hurdle to his name in this country.

In the circumstances a chance is taken with Nicholls' Dormello Mo (7/2 or better).


Friday, October 03, 2014

Small fields at Fontwell

Small fields at Fontwell today and the same applies tomorrow - the recent dry weather has meant trainers have decided to keep their charges under wraps until the rains arrive.

Of course small fields don't necessarily make picking winners any easier; 10/1 chance The Wallace Line beat odds-on favourite Mercouer in the opener today while 1/5 favourite Salubrious held Drum Valley (9/2) a neck in the novice chase.

Finding a value play on tomorrow's card at the Sussex track looks a challenge - I intend to keep my powder dry.

In the opener (2.15) Anthony Honeyball's mare Lily Waugh has decent form to her name. She finished third in a mares' listed handicap at Newbury in March and was far from disgraced when eighth behind Polly Peachum next time out at Cheltenham; the Honeyball stable boasts three wins from three runners over the jumps in the past month.

A reasonable showing from Lily Waugh might point to the chance of another mare, One Lucky Lady, who goes in the Class 2 handicap hurdle at 3.20; Nicky Henderson's inmate finished some 13 lengths behind Lily in that Cheltenham race won in some style by her stablemate Polly Peachum. Workbench won a Class 2 handicap chase at the track this afternoon but is also declared in this - it would be a surprise to see connections allow their charge to take his chance over the smaller obstacles.

Kim Bailey's yard is in excellent form at present - seven winners from fifteen attempts in the past four weeks. Up For An Oscar (3.55) has been running in novice chases of late with a fourth behind Drum Valley (beaten a neck by Salubrious earlier today) sandwiched between two wins at Worcester.

Just six face the starter but this is a trappy event - as I indicated, I'm going to keep my powder dry and wait for the rain to arrive.