Friday, February 26, 2016

The Betfred Eider Chase 2016

Back in February 2014 I wrote:

"Many will concentrate on Kempton tomorrow but rather than put up half a dozen short-priced losers on that card, I've chosen to exercise a modicum of self-discipline and restricted myself to putting up one bigger-priced loser at Newcastle."

I'm going to adopt a similar approach this evening as on that occasion I tipped Wyck Hill for the Eider and, bless my old boots, David Bridgwater's charge obliged at odds of 9/1, having been as big as 16/1 the night before.

Afterwards, in what can only be described as a severe state of shock, I wrote:

"I haven't bothered to go back and check the fine detail but, in very broad terms, I manage to pull a stunt like this roughly once every ten years..."  

Wyck Hill goes again in tomorrow's Eider (Newcastle 2.50) but he fell at the sixth in last year's renewal and at the age of twelve it's hard to drum up confidence - he was pulled up on his last racecourse appearance in the 2015 Grand National.

Last year Miborough beat Summery Justice a length and a half with Woodford County eighteen lengths adrift in third (Portrait King ninth, Beforeall tenth, Shotgun Paddy UR and, as discussed, Wyck Hill F).

Of the first three home, at the age of nine Woodford County makes some appeal off a mark just two pounds higher. This term he has won over three miles six at Exeter in December and finished fifth behind the Kerry Lee trained Mountainous in the Welsh National, beaten just a neck for fourth spot by Saroque who claimed second in the Devon National earlier today.

Kerry Lee, enjoying a rich vein of form in this type of race, saddles likely favourite Russe Blanc but the grey has been raised a stiff-looking twelve pounds following a facile victory in Warwick's Classic Chase six weeks ago.

12/1 at the time of writing, Woodford County is the each-way selection; most layers pay a quarter the odds four places.

In an effort to manage unrealistic expectation, allow me once again to draw your attention to my comment following Wyck Hill's 2014 victory: 'I manage to pull a stunt like this roughly once every ten years...'

Friday, February 19, 2016

Rendlesham wranglings

The Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock (2.05) has me in something of a quandry and, looking at the prices marked up, the bookmakers too; at the time of writing the best price book is underround betting to 98%.

I'm a Reve De Sivola fan and connections appear fairly bullish about his chance tomorrow but the gelding looked to have a hard enough race here four weeks ago in the Peter Marsh Chase where he finished fifth - he practically came to a standstill jumping one up the home straight.

The horse's preference for the smaller obstacles has been well-documented and we know how difficult he is to pass out in front but he has to concede eight pounds to all; at his best you could be confident but...

This evening his price is 11/4 in places (William Hill and Betway) which suggests some layers think they can get him turned over. He may be the oldest horse in the race but that still represents a value play.

On official ratings At Fishers Cross wins but connections have said the course doesn't suit and Rebecca Curtis' yard has been quiet of late.

Silsol (9/2 generally, 13/2 with Paddy Power) reverts to hurdling after struggling over fences and Foxcub (50/1) has plenty to find which leaves One Track Mind (5/2 Stan James, 100/30 bet365) and Deputy Dan (9/2 William Hill, 6/1 Boylesports).

The former steps up from handicap company while the latter has some twelve lengths to find with Reve De Sivola on Long Walk form in receipt of eight pounds.

Both One Track Mind and Deputy Dan come to this fresher than their rivals; the former has not won beyond two and a half miles so Deputy Dan gets the nod with Reve De Sivola feared.                        

Friday, February 12, 2016

An each-way chance in the 2016 Betfair Hurdle

Plenty of small fields at Newbury and Warwick tomorrow...

I've decided to look for an each-way chance in the Betfair Hurdle (3.35 Newbury) - the only race on the 'Super Saturday' card with more than eight set to face the starter.

The last horse older than six to win was Geos in 2004 and, with the prevailing going described as soft, heavy in places, those towards the top of the handicap are likely to have their work cut out.

Philip Hobbs saddles three with Richard Johnson riding course and distance winner Sternrubin. This one ran an exceptional race from the front in the Ladbroke at Ascot last time; headed narrowly on the run-in, he fought back bravely to secure the dead-heat with Jolly's Crack It trained by Harry Fry.

Zarib, another course and distance winner, was beaten just under seven lengths in sixth that day; Dan Skelton's charge  wears cheek-pieces for the first time here and, with the benefit of his rider's five pound claim, appears to have a chance of reversing that form.

Over the years the Pipe stable have targeted this race. They have clearly taken their time with Starchitect, one of the horses owners Paul and Clare Rooney took out of Donald McCain's yard in the autumn; the Sea The Stars gelding makes his debut for the Pipe operation sporting blinkers and a first-time tongue-tie.

Blazer and Modus both have obvious chances but are a little short in the market for my liking in such a competitive event.

Agrapart likes to race prominently but was well beaten behind Yorkhill in the Tolworth while Affaire D'honneur hails form the in-form Harry Whittington yard which currently boasts a 30% strike rate for the season and a profit of £37.37 to a £1.00 level stake. The chestnut gelding is less exposed than several in the field and connections feel there is more to come.

My copy of the Weekender informs me the Ladroke has never provided the winner of this.

Sternrubin will be popular at around 8/1 but priced 18/1 at the time of writing with both Coral and Paddy Power, Zarib is the each-way selection; both layers pay a quarter the odds five places.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Heavy going for the Ffos Las feature

I'm considering a wager in the West Wales National at Ffos Las tomorrow (3.15) but at the back of my mind I can hear Sir Anthony McCoy OBE saying something along the lines of  'there's heavy and there's Ffos Las heavy'.

And the weather forecast looks decidedly grim too.

Rebecca Curtis fields four of the seven declared; last year her Bob Ford finished in splendid isolation to collect the spoils at odds of 16/1 with eight of the nine opponents failing to complete.

There are some notable differences to take into account for this year's renewal: Bob Ford is set to carry top weight and is currently priced up favourite; the gelding looked to have a hard enough race and had probably come to the end of his tether when falling four out in the Welsh National at Chepstow last month; the distance of the race has been shortened by three furlongs.

Stablemate Red Devil Lads doesn't jump well enough for my liking while Audacious Plan would prefer better ground (and has the Kim Muir as his target) which suggests connections may consider Minella On Line their best chance of a repeat victory.
Cogry failed to fire when sent off favourite for the Welsh National; if you can forgive that particular effort, he has form in the book - his two and a quarter lengths fourth to Sausalito Sunrise at the Cheltenham Open meeting catches the eye. He has won on heavy ground before - but this is Ffos Las heavy. And he did appear to get stuck in the mud last time... 

5/1 Minella On Line is tempting but Jamie Bargary can claim five on Cogry; Cogry (3/1) is given another chance.

It's unusual to see two top-notch novice chases within twenty minutes of one another. On paper Sandown's Scilly Isles Novices' Chase (2.25) looks between Tea For Two and Bristol de Mai but the Towton Novices' Chase at Wetherby (2.45) is a far more open affair.

Definitly Red did well to finish so close to Black Hercules at Warwick the last day as he was persistently out-jumped by the winner. Blaklion is a horse I like who will be suited by the step back up to three miles here but Native River was slightly disappointing behind Tea For Two in the Feltham - connections felt Kempton's right-handed track didn't suit their charge. Harry Fry's mare Bitofapuzzle fell last time over in Ireland but poses a serious threat to all.

Back going left-handed, Native River (7/2) is the selection.