Friday, February 27, 2015

A Grimthorpe outsider

At this time of year Cheltenham, less than a fortnight away, proves something of a distraction and this year the distraction is compounded by the fact this is A P McCoy's valedictory Festival.

To my mind the champ has never quite left his mark on the meeting in the way, say, as Ruby Walsh has in the past. I can still recall his anguish when Gloria Victis fell fatally two from home in the 2000 running of the Gold  Cup won by Looks Like Trouble.

Along with the rest of us, McCoy will want a winner at the meeting but in recent days equine partners have proved particularly unhelpful with More Of That (World Hurdle) and Aurore D'Estruval (Mares' Hurdle) both declared out of the reckoning.

McCoy goes to Doncaster tomorrow but doesn't have a ride in the feature Grimthorpe Chase at 3.45.

Last year's winner Night In Milan tries to repeat the trick this year off a mark ten pounds higher.

With Cheltenham taking up a lot of time, I haven't done much work on the race.

Two who come to this relatively fresh are Super Duty and Samingarry. The former caught the eye in a Wetherby hurdle last month - his first racecourse appearance for over a year - while the latter ran well for a long way at Carlisle the last day; both are likely to appreciate better ground.

At the prices Samingarry (12/1) makes more appeal as an each-way wager; handler Nigel Hawke has the Scottish National as the target for his charge.     

Friday, February 20, 2015

Kempton considerations

Sixteen were originally declared for tomorrow's  feature at Kempton, the BetBright Chase (3.45), but with What A Warrior now a non-runner, most layers have reacted by offering each-way terms a quarter the odds three places; at the time of writing Betfred / totesport and BetVictor were paying four places.

In a race that often goes the way of a younger chaser, I'll take no more than a small each-way interest in Le Reve (9/1) - he won well the last day at Sandown.

On the balance of probabilities one of the top three in the market will take the Pendil at 2.35.

That said, both Gods Own and Irish Saint have questions to answer. The former looked something special when winning the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter and I tipped him for the Tingle Creek the next time but his jumping was awful; the latter proved disappointing in the Scilly Isles at Sandown three weeks ago, having no answer to Willie Mullins' Gitane Du Berlais.

All of which leaves Melodic Rendezvous. This one is a very smart hurdler but he doesn't have a lot of experience over the larger obstacles (rated roughly 10lbs lower over fences) and the yard hasn't recorded a winner since December. Connections thought long and hard about going to Chepstow to take on Sire de Grugy in receipt of plenty of weight but they've opted for this instead.

On ratings Gods Own wins but in receipt of seven pounds Melodic Rendezvous has just two to find. The layers aren't taking any chances (best-priced 5/2 this evening) but Melodic Rendezvous gets the vote.

Nicky Henderson saddles Days Of Heaven in the Dovecote (3.10) and Bivouac in the Adonis (2.00).

The former hasn't been entirely straightforward in the past yet I prefer him to Vago Collonges; he's no betting proposition.

At the five day stage Henderson had both Top Notch and Bivouac amongst the entries for the Adonis. It looks as though Top Notch now goes to Cheltenham without a prep while Bivouac is priced up favourite here.

He's the form selection but the pricing suggests the layers think they can get him beat with one of the more unexposed types. Beltor didn't appear anything special on the Flat but is clearly fancied to build on his Ludlow defeat of Arabian Revolution (winner since) while All Yours looks tempting at around 4/1...

All Yours is the suggestion. Primogeniture and Jeanpascal are interesting debutants in this country; Jeanpascal and Russian Bolero go here following the abandonment of Warwick earlier today due to waterlogging.

Finally I've been waiting a while for Warren Greatrex's April Dusk who ran a fine race against the more experienced Foryourinformation in a Ffos Las maiden at the turn of the year.

The gelding held a five-day entry for Newcastle's 3.30 but the handler obviously changed his mind during the week and decided that particular event wasn't part of the plan...   

Friday, February 13, 2015

Haydock's Grand National Trial 2015

Perhaps I'm getting old but it seems to me this game isn't quite what it used to be.

Ascot, Haydock and Wincanton race tomorrow but the scourge of small fields remains evident.

And to cap it all, Tony McCoy has decided to retire.

The champ rides market leader Monbeg Dude in Haydock's Grand National Trial at 2.55. In previous races Michael Scudamore's gelding has been ridden from off the pace; that tactic wouldn't suit this particular track and I'm wondering whether McCoy will decide to position his mount more prominently.

Thirteen have been declared but Ballyoliver's first preference is the listed Weatherby's Hamilton Chase at Ascot, a race in which Venetia Williams' stable jockey prefers Shangani.

Assuming Ballyoliver goes to Ascot, this year's renewal looks a little lop-sided in that just two of the twelve will carry less than 11 stones - Loch Ba (10-9) and Harry The Viking (10-2 taking the claiming rider's allowance into consideration).

Top weight Benvolio appeared a trifle unfortunate when collared on the line in the Welsh National last time (Monbeg Dude fourth, Benbens fifth, Gas Line Boy and Mountainous pulled up) while Samstown was all out to hold Benbens a neck in the Peter Marsh four weeks ago and now races off a mark nine pounds higher.

Ms. Williams saddles last year's winner Rigadin De Beauchene but the gelding has been markedly out of form this term and is probably best watched.

Broadway Buffalo took the Tommy Whittle at this track on his penultimate start before ruining his chance with a howler at the tenth in Wetherby's Rowland Meyrick Chase; I'd certainly forgive that effort.

At the prices I'm interested in Richard Lee's 2013 Welsh National winner Mountainous. This one ran no sort of race in this year's Welsh National but connections are more upbeat coming into this and the stable in better form.

Generally available at 14/1, Mountainous is the each-way suggestion; the concern is they go half a stride too quick early on and he becomes detached.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Very brief notes for Newbury's 'Super Saturday' card 2015

I have other commitments this weekend so these brief notes on Newbury's 'Super Saturday' card have been written before the final declarations are known...

As always, the Betfair Hurdle looks extremely difficult. I tipped Swing Bowler, third in this race in 2013 and fifth last year, for the Ladbroke at Ascot six weeks ago but David Pipe's mare ran no race whatsoever - she was beaten after a furlong. She showed a little at Kempton and I see connections have chosen to fit blinkers for the first time but Tom Scudamore has opted to partner Balgarry. Balgarry led two out in the Ladbroke before fading - he represents no more than a whimsical each-way selection (14/1 with bet365 and Skybet who both pay a quarter the odds five places).

Sire De Grugy returns from injury in the Game Spirit; if he's at his best, he wins. Mr Mole is the play against the favourite; he hasn't always appeared straight forward but has shown good form this term. I'm guessing connections will be particularly keen to win this and book their place at Cheltenham. Uxizandre isn't certain to line up but he beat Dodging Bullets (Tingle Creek and Clarence House winner since) over Cheltenham's two miles on soft ground in November. Vibrato Valtat looks more likely to run in the Kingmaker at Warwick.

The Denman Chase is trappy. Last year's winner Harry Topper has been out of sorts, a comment that also applies to Holywell although his third behind Many Clouds over an inadequate trip at Carlisle looks much better since Oliver Sherwood's charge has gone on to win the Hennessy and the Argento. Rated 163 Holywell has been talked of as a Gold Cup horse; he'll need to jump better than the last day at Aintree but Holywell is the suggestion. Of the market leaders, Unioniste won well at Sandown five weeks ago off a rating of 148 but has more to find giving weight to most of his opponents; Houblon Des Obeaux appears to represent more of a threat.