Friday, November 27, 2015

Hennessy day 2015

Seventeen declared for this year's Hennessy Gold Cup (Newbury 3.00) which looks a strong renewal on paper; the going on the chase course is described as soft.

Eight of the last ten winners have been aged either six or seven and eight have carried more than 11-0 to victory; two winners have shouldered top weight and a further three 11-6. Current favourite Saphir Du Rheu is the only runner to fit the profile; at around 4/1 he offers little value.

Off a mark of 157 Houblon Des Obeaux was second to Many Clouds last year; this year he goes off 156. On his seasonal reappearance he was well beaten behind Pendra but this test of stamina looks right up his street with underfoot conditions sure to suit.

Neil Mulholland holds a strong hand with The Young Master and The Druids Nephew. Writing in the Weekender, the handler appears to favour the chance of the former whose price has contracted accordingly.  

At 14/1 Houblon Des Obeaux is the each-way selection. 50/1 about Fox Appeal looks big given that one finished well ahead of the selection at Ascot the last day but Emma Lavelle's charge isn't certain to see out this extended three and a quarter mile trip.

Only five in the Long Distance Hurdle (2.25) but it's intriguing.

I like Cole Harden who wears his heart on his sleeve and loves to race from the front; he saved my bacon at Cheltenham in March.

A wind operation contributed to the improvement that day when he had Whisper over ten lengths adrift in fifth. That's only half the story - an error by Nicky Henderson's charge four from home put paid to his chance.

Four weeks later Whisper reversed the form at Aintree; on current ratings Whisper has three pounds in hand.

Several feel that, in receipt of four pounds, Thistlecrack will give the two principals plenty to think about; the layers have priced him accordingly.

The ratings indicate Aqalim has a better chance than Thistlecrack at the weights yet he's priced 11/1 with Coral at the moment. Aqalim had the benefit of a pipe-opener at Wetherby four weeks ago and I note that connections have chosen to fit blinkers for the first time.

It's a longshot but the price is too tempting; I'll chance Aqalim at 11/1.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Haydock's Betfair Home of Price Rush Handicap Chase 2015

At Haydock tomorrow Silviniaco Conti is the form selection for the Betfair Chase at 3.00 while after his win in Wincanton's Elite Hurdle, Irving looks the one to beat in the Betfair Price Rush Hurdle; both horses head their respective markets and with the accompanying small fields make little appeal as betting propositions.

Nine go in the three and a half mile handicap chase at 12.40 which, by contrast, has a far more open look to it; at the time of writing layers bet 9/2 the field.

Rated 132 Emperors Choice was second on his seasonal reappearance in this race last year before going on to win The Welsh National. The Chepstow showpiece is his target once again, as it is for both Buachaill Alainn and Goodtoknow; HarryThe Viking holds an entry in the Becher Chase.

Current market leader No Deal doesn't have a lot of miles on the clock for a nine-year-old and hails from a yard in fine form. He receives over a stone from the top two in the handicap; his chance is respected on going officially described as soft, heavy in places.

Sybarite on the other hand is something of an enigma; he tends to find himself detached in races before staying on and making up ground at the finish. Looking at his chase form, the comment 'slow jump' appears too many times for my liking.

Goodtoknow has had trouble completing in the past but Lackamon boasts a Durham National win as well as a couple of placed efforts in that race - he will relish this stamina test. Copper Birch, third in a Devon National in March, gets in with a featherweight and is tried with a visor for the first time.

I tipped Buachaill Alainn each-way last time when he finished second to Drop Out Joe at Chepstow six weeks ago. The winner has since franked the form by adding Wincanton's Badger Ales Trophy to his haul.

Top weight on soft/heavy ground is a worry but I'm going to stay loyal to Buachaill Alainn (6/1); in April he finished second behind William Money in the Tim Molony at this track. Lackamon is rated a big danger.

Over at Ascot all eyes will be on Vautour, the current favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, when he returns to action in the Stella Artois 1965 Chase at 2.05. Thirty five minutes later Brother Tedd, in receipt of eight pounds, looks a big threat to favourite Rock On Ruby in the Coral Hurdle.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Paddy Power Gold Cup 2015

Generally the Paddy Power Gold Cup is regarded as a race with strong statistical trends.

Since 2000 only five winners have carried 11-0 or more to victory (2001: Shooting Light 11-3; 2002: Cyfor Malta 11-9; 2005: Our Vic 11-7; 2006: Exotic Dancer 11-2; 2012: Al Ferof 11-8).

What stands out about this year's renewal is that 70% of the field (fourteen of the final twenty declared) are set to shoulder 11-0 or more.

In the past, seven-year-olds have fared best, followed by six-year-olds; previous course form is a marked advantage and the market has proved a reasonable guide,

The Pipe operation regularly targets this meeting; if not sent off favourite, Kings Palace will be near the head of the market. A smart performer on his day, this one has disappointed twice at Cheltenham on the big occasion - he fell when a short price in the 2014 running of the Albert Bartlett and then faded into sixth in the RSA Chase last March. Both those runs were over three miles so tomorrow's step down to two and half may well help the cause.

Of those near the top of the handicap, I respect the chance of Irish Cavalier and have a soft spot for course and distance specialist Johns Spirit - he won the 2013 renewal and was just pipped on the line by Caid Du Berlais last year. Present View was sent off 5/1 favourite that day, finishing third, but stable form is now a concern; Buywise came home fifth and looked to have a good prep run in the Old Roan three weeks ago while Shanpallas was sixth but unseated in the Munster National last time and needs the rain to stay away.

Boondooma jumps well but may find it difficult to dominate and I can't help but feel Oscar Rock is quite high in the weights now.

Annacotty, a Feltham winner, has his first run for Alan King while I noted Double Ross showing his best form for some considerable time when making up ground to finish second behind Pembra at Ascot a fortnight ago.

You pays your money and takes your choice.

Those who like to use stats to guide their selection have just three seven-year-olds carrying less than 11-0 from which to choose - Shanpallas, Present View and Generous Ransom; stable form of the last two named is a worry.

At the time of writing 12/1 Johns Spirit looks reasonable each-way value but the last horse to carry 11-10 or more to victory was Bradbury Star in 1994.

I'll take an each-way interest in Buywise on the back of a decent seasonal debut in the Old Roan; he hasn't always been the best of jumpers but his overall track record reads 5-1-5-4. At the time of writing he's priced 14/1 at William Hill and Skybet with both layers paying a quarter the odds five places.  

 Blaklion runs in the novice chase at 1.15. He finished fourth on his chasing debut behind Cocktails At Dawn (runs in tomorrow's Gold Cup), As De Mee (second today beaten by More Of That in the Steel Plate And Sections Novices' Chase ) and Native River (won since at Exeter). Here he receives weight from four of his five rivals; on hurdle form he has some 11 pounds to find with David Pipe's likely market leader Un Temps Pour Tout. With the Pipe horse making his chase bow, at around the 9/2 mark previous course and distance winner Blaklion rates a play against the favourite.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Wincanton fireworks?

Thirteen have been declared for Saturday's Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton due off at 2.05.

Paul Nicholls has won the showpiece at his local track on seven occasions, three times in the last ten years. Tomorrow he saddles The Ould Lad and Benvolio with the former likely to start favourite, tipped up by Paul Kealy in the Weekender as a potential 'handicap blot'. I don't share that view; his chance is respected but there isn't much value in the price.

The handicapper doesn't appear to have done Drop Out Joe too many favours by raising him ten pounds for a win at Chepstow last month. The Rebecca Curtis trained Doing Fine was beaten under five lengths in that race and now re-opposes on eight pounds better terms.

Two declared for Tom George - Forgotten Gold and A Good Skin. The market suggests the former is the principal fancy on the back of an easy course win thirteen days ago but the jockey booking suggests the latter is the one to be on. I'm confused.

Wilton Milan wouldn't be certain to see out this trip so I'll take an each-way interest in Colin Tizzard's Theatrical Star. Fifth in a Cheltenham handicap chase a fortnight ago, he was only beaten four and a quarter lengths - further rain won't compromise his chance. At the time of writing he's 9/1 with several layers.

Last year Polly Peachum did me a good turn in the mares' hurdle at 2.40; this year I'm hoping Henry Daly's Tara Mist can repeat the trick but I'm more hopeful than confident.

Eleven are declared with the bottom two racing from out of the handicap.

Tara Mist held a five day entry for last week's listed mares' hurdle at Wetherby. Daly ran Bantham there; this race looks better suited.

A key piece of form is the listed mares' novices' finale at Newbury last March; in receipt of two pounds Kalane beat the selection some seven and three quarter lengths on that occasion but this time Daly's charge receives nine pounds.

Most of the market leaders are making their seasonal debuts - any hint of ring-rustiness is likely to be exposed by race-fit Kayf Willow who beat Lady Of Longstone with something in hand at Newton Abbot last month.

I received a tip for Tara Mist in a Ludlow hostelry some two weeks ago. Henry Daly's mare is the selection; she is currently priced at 5/1 with both Paddy Power and Stan James.