Friday, October 28, 2016

Ascot's Sodexo Gold Cup 2016

A feature of this week has been the mixed messages coming from connections of Saphir Du Rheu, with owner Andy Stewart appearing to indicate the gelding was set to make his seasonal debut in Wetherby's West Yorkshire Hurdle while trainer Paul Nicholls favoured the Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot; the horse also held an entry for the Charlie Hall Chase.

Saphir goes to Ascot tomorrow (3.35) where the going is officially good, good to firm in places.

In the Weekender Andrew King writes:

'...and [Saphir Du Rheu] has looked a different horse in his work at Manor Farm so far this autumn.'

I've never really been convinced by Saphir's jumping over fences - last year's Hennessy effort sticks in the mind - and all his chase wins to date have come in fields with less than ten runners.

Feltham winner Tea For Two looks short enough in the market even with Lizzie Kelly's five pound claim while Voix D'Eau ran well on his seasonal reappearance at Chepstow but isn't guaranteed to stay the trip.

In the past ten years only three horses have carried more than 11-0 to victory: Roll Along (2008), Massini's Maguire (2010) and Houblon Des Obeaux (2013); in the same timeframe no horse has won carrying more than 11-03.

Two trainers in fine form at the moment are Colin Tizzard and Tom George with win strike rates for the season of 16.05% and 19.78% respectively.

Three weeks ago Buckhorn Timothy looked to have made progress when second at Chepstow behind Potters Cross, holding A Good Skin one and threequarter lengths (Killala Quay pulled up). Rivalry is renewed tomorrow with A Good Skin, second in the Kim Muir at the Festival in March, three pounds better off. The form was given a further boost yesterday when fifth Buachaill Alainn turned out to take the Durham National at Sedgefield.

The pair look closely matched. A Good Skin, best-priced 15/2 with Stan James at the time of writing, has the better form in the book but I am tempted by the 12/1 on offer about Colin Tizzard's inmate.

A Good Skin is the selection.

Over at Wetherby Cue Card is the one to beat in the Charlie Hall but the race makes little appeal as a betting medium while the preceding West Yorkshire Hurdle should prove informative but looks particularly trappy beforehand.

After a visit to Robin Dickin's yard last week I note the stable has two entries over the weekend - Thomas Crapper in the opener at Ascot and Dontminddboys in the 2.10 at Carlisle on Sunday.

Thomas was well behind over the smaller obstacles in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow three weeks ago where Crimson Ark finished second to Ballyoptic; I think this is probably the last chance Thomas has to race as a novice. On ratings the top five are closely matched; with Crimson Ark making his chase debut, Remind Me Later having his third chase start and San Benedeto his fourth, at around 12/1 Robin Dickin's inmate is probably overpriced.

Dontminddboys is a tall, striking grey who certainly caught my eye - a chaser in the making. He returns to action in a novices' handicap hurdle following a long lay-off through injury.

And finally, just in case you missed it, my old friend Johnny Og (PG's Tips, passim) scored at odds of 11/2 on his seasonal debut at Stratford yesterday...

Friday, October 21, 2016

Sixty not out

Sixty tomorrow.

To celebrate, Mrs Tips booked me a breakfast / stable tour at Robin Dickin's yard this morning. A brilliant insight - but I've only just finished writing up my notes.

All of which means I haven't studied form for Cheltenham tomorrow.

A birthday tip? I'm a big fan of the Wolf Of Windlesham but, in receipt of eight pounds and with a race under his belt a fortnight ago, Gibralfaro is the play against favourite Adrien Du Pont in the 3.00 race...

Friday, October 14, 2016

A teatime tip

Tesco's online customers may have struggled to get their PG Tips recently; I'm happy to report there have been no such problems here...

The continuing dry weather has meant that a number of high profile horses are set to miss intended engagements this weekend but at the time of writing the Nicky Henderson trained pair - My Tent Or Yours and Hargam - are both declared for the Listed Hurdle at Kempton on Sunday.

I put up Lil Rockerfeller for last week's Silver Trophy at Chepstow but in the event Neil King;s inmate wasn't allowed to take his chance and connections have opted not to run in this Saturday's Welsh Champion Hurdle (Ffos Las 4.10).

Welsh Shadow, trained by the in-form Dan Skelton and owned by Dai Walters, heads the market and has been talked up over the summer but this is no walk in the park; Garde La Victoire may have struggled over the larger obstacles towards the end of last season but he sets a very high standard.

Regular readers will know that last season Johnny Og, after foiling a cunning plan of mine, went on to right that particular wrong by obliging at a nice price in a Newbury novices' chase.

Martin Keighley's charge held a five-day entry for tomorrow's totequadpot Four Places In Four Races Handicap Chase (Stratford 3.15), worth over £15,000 to the winner. Johnny boasts previous winning form at the course but he hasn't been declared, presumably on account of the ground.

All of which led me to take a closer look at this race.

Gordon Elliott sends over Mountain King from Ireland; this one heads the market but I've noted that four of his five wins have come at right-handed tracks (Perth twice, Ludlow and Ascot one apiece) while his Warwick win in 2013 was in a bumper.

Both No Likey and Roman Flight have been busy over the summer - Roman Flight has had no less than ten runs since early May. At the age of eleven What A Laugh is probably past his best and No Buts has done most of his racing on soft ground which leaves Mont Royale and Top Cat Henry as potential plays against the favourite.

The former, owned by Phil Tufnell Racing Limited, won a Class 3 event at Worcester the last day and as a result has a seven pound penalty to carry.

Last year Top Cat Henry won a handicap chase at Fontwell before finishing threequarters of a length second to Carrigmorna King in this race; connections have opted to follow the same route again this year.

Henry looked unlucky when being badly hampered and brought down by eventual winner Antony at Fontwell a fortnight ago; the silver lining is he starts off a mark four pounds higher than last year.

With Dr Richard Newland's current win strike rate over 24%, Top Cat Henry, generally a 7/2 shot, is the suggested play against the favourite.

In the event he obliges, the teas are on me. Every little helps.

Friday, October 07, 2016

A chance in Chepstow's Silver Trophy

After a long summer at grass I've only recently come back in; I'm a little backward at present and will be slow to come to hand this term...

After an absence of nearly four years racing returned to Hereford yesterday and was widely covered in the media. Newton Abbot's card this afternoon featured a couple of decent races (the well-touted Old Guard, sent off 1/5 favourite, sprawled on landing at the first and was immediately pulled up.)

The National Hunt season steps up another gear with Chepstow's two-day Jumps Festival on Saturday and Sunday. Until fairly recently there was an outside chance Colin Tizzard would let World Hurdle winner Thistlecrack take his chance in Saturday's totequadpot Novices' Chase - the stable star isn't quite ready yet and would probably prefer a little more cut underfoot.

Other highlights on Saturday include the Silver Trophy and the toteexacta Handicap Chase; on Sunday the Persian War Novices' Hurdle features while the opening juvenile hurdle should prove informative.

Lil Rockerfeller, beaten some 20 lengths by Annie Power in the Champion Hurdle last March, stands his ground for the totepool Silver Trophy (Saturday 4.25) with the result that six of the fifteen declared race from out of the handicap. Neil King is quite bullish about the horse in the Weekender, naming Ascot's Long Walk Hurdle and then the World Hurdle as targets.

Sefton Novices' Hurdle winner Ballyoptic is another with the World Hurdle in his sights. 

Of those carrying the correct weight, Tea In Transvaal, Forever Field and Who Dares Wins each have a recent run to their name so may possess a fitness edge. Who Dares Wins was desperately disappointing in the Triumph Hurdle - he has to be better than that - while Tea In Transvaal boasts previous winning form at this course.

All that said, Court Minstrel carried 11-12 to victory in this race last year and I'm taken by Neil King's pen-picture...

'He's had a summer at grass which has done him the power of good as don't forget he's still only a relative youngster. He was so enthusiastic doing a day's hunting last week and he filled me with optimism for the season.'    

At around 12/1 Lil Rockerfeller is the each-way suggestion.