Friday, February 03, 2017

A Sandown slog

There has been precious little good news on these pages in recent weeks but here's some - as vegetable rationing hits UK supermarkets, lettuce, spinach and broccoli are likely to be in short supply...

A couple of races on tomorrow's Sandown card have cut up quite badly - just four contenders contest the Contenders' Hurdle at 1.50 (Yanworth a notable absentee) and five are set to face the starter for the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at 2.25.

At the time of writing there are fourteen left in the Betfred Mobile Heroes Handicap Hurdle due off at 3.00; the going is currently described as soft, heavy in places on the hurdle course, and further rain is forecast.

Browsing through the declarations a number in the field don't look guaranteed to stay this two mile seven furlong trip on heavy ground and there's a stiff climb to the winning line thrown in at the business end of the race.

With this in mind, I've decided to concentrate on those that look best equipped to survive the likely war of attrition. The six listed in racecard order are: Billy No Name; Valhalla; Rolling Dylan; Behind Time; Ballyculla and Desert Sensation.

A key piece of form is the Class 2 handicap hurdle run over a similar distance on soft ground at Chepstow on 27th December. Shantou Bob held Rolling Dylan a neck that day with Desert Sensation five lengths adrift in third and Billy No Name a further 14 lengths behind in fifth.

The handicapper has since raised Rolling Dylan eight pounds (to 132), Desert Sensation three (to 123) and left Billy No Name alone on 136 but, significantly, pilot Angus Cheleda can claim an eye-catching 10 pounds.

Valhalla, from the same stable as Billy No Name, reverts to hurdling having made his debut in a novice chase at Newbury five weeks ago.

Behind Time, owned by J P McManus and trained by Harry Fry, went off an odds-on favourite at Newbury the last day but was slow at some of the obstacles and was beaten four lengths by Solomon Grundy. There's a suspicion that wasn't his true running but on a line through the second Shantou Bob, Behind Time will struggle to come home ahead of Rolling Dylan.

Desert Sensation meets Rolling Dylan nine pounds better off than at Chepstow; the pair look very closely matched. His featherweight is an obvious plus in the conditions; he has a few miles on the clock for a young horse.

Ballyculla, fifth in the Rowland Meyrick on his penultimate start, has his first run over the smaller obstacles since April 2014. Having won off a mark of 136 over fences, he goes off 128 here and his amateur rider can claim a further seven. He's priced up the outsider of the field but heavy ground will help slow the others down; he's no forlorn hope.

A quick comment or two on runners that don't look quite so certain to stay...

Four weeks ago Daryl Jacob made the dash from Sandown to ride Fortunate George at Wincanton. The jock had a good word for Emma Lavelle's charge beforehand; in the event George ran a sound race from the front but had no answer to Kk Lexion. The handicapper has raised the winner 14 pounds - on a strict interpretation Kk Lexion will struggle to confirm placings. Having said all that, Jacob rides El Terremotto tomorrow which suggests he thinks the Twiston-Davies inmate has the better chance.

The Chepstow form seems apposite. I'm looking for a horse at an each-way price that should stay the trip and the eponymous Billy No Name fits the bill.

Quoted at 20/1 with several layers, Billy No Name is the each-way suggestion.


Anonymous said...

An intriguing race, a thrilling finish, a heart-warming result and a tragic post script. Racing in a nutshell, RIP Many Clouds.

The yard are using Angus and his 10lbs claim sparingly so you may be on to something with Bill No Name but I’ll let him run as I’m concerned about him staying the trip (only won 1 from 12 when racing over 21F+ and that was when odds on in a poor maiden hurdle on good ground) in what looks like being a gruelling race.

I am, however, following your advice on Ballyculla. There are plenty of risks with the investment not least his current form, the return to hurdles and a doubt that this race is the target. That said he is 6lb clear top rated on my ratings, conditions should not be an issue and as you note his jockey also has a very useful claim. On balance, I think he is worth a small e-way interest at 28/1 (the early 40/1 and 33/1 soon went).

Best of luck.


Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention courgettes and your other non favourites hard tomatoes, bring on the ratatouille! Having said that, your tips have not been quite on the mark so far this season!

GeeDee said...


Lord Of The Island (10/1) beat Fortunate George (10/1) six lengths with Fountains Windfall (16/1) a short head behind in third,

Selection Billy No Name (20/1) clearly had no desire to see his name in bright lights, putting in the sort of forgettable effort I've already forgotten about. He raced wide in mid-division early on but went steadily backwards, eventually finishing ninth, the last to complete, beaten some 44 lengths.

Of the remainder that looked 'best equipped' to survive the war of attrition, TW's pick Ballyculla,(25/1) fared best with a prominent run before tiring to finish fourth; Desert Sensation came home fifth, Behind Time sixth while Rolling Dylan and Valhalla both pulled up.

'Back to the drawing board' I think the saying is...

Anonymous said...

Saturday 11th Feb

As a 7-y-o carrying 11-8 Boite would not be the first pick for trend followers in the Betfair Hurdle but at odds of 33/1 (from an early 40/1) I’m happy to take a chance he can become a trend-buster.

He runs off a mark of 142 in this race and in his last 5 hurdle races he has ran to a Racing Post marks of 138,137,135,141 & 141 and given that he has only ran in 7 hurdle races that 142 mark could be well within his grasp. Couple this with his rider claiming 7lbs (my jockey tool suggests Tom is worth 4.6lbs of his claim), proven form on soft ground (ran well in the final race on the Grand National day after constant rain), the drop back to 2 miles looks sure to suit and the 1st time cheek pieces might just be the icing on the cake.

Look forward to your thoughts on the race if you have covered it.

Good Luck


GeeDee said...

Yes, I like Boite's chance, TW. Was my second selection and, after reading your thoughts, can't help feeling I may have jumped the wrong way... ;)

Good luck!