Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas jumpers

On official ratings tomorrow's Long Walk Hurdle (2.25 Ascot) looks at the mercy of last year's winner Unowhatimeanharry but his price has been steadily on the drift (out to 2/1 now) and the manner of the defeat by Beer Goggles last time has allowed room for the doubts to set in.

There's a school of thought that 'Harry', ten years old in a week or so, isn't the horse he once was.

Those looking to oppose are unlikely to be bowled over by the prices on offer.

The layers don't appear keen to take too many chances. Sam Spinner, with a record of four wins and two seconds from his six hurdle starts to date, is rated some 12 pounds inferior to the favourite yet is priced as low as 13/2 with Ladbrokes.

I like the Long Walk but this year's renewal looks difficult. Instead I've opted for an each-way chance in the concluding Racing Welfare Handicap Hurdle at 3.35.

Since the race's inception in 2001, no horse older than seven has secured victory and neither has one carrying top weight; last year Brain Power won under a burden of 11-11.

Elgin heads the handicap this year having won the listed William Hill Handicap Hurdle over course and distance at the beginning of last month (Air Horse One fourth, Verdana Blue fifth and Caid Du Lin seventh) and then following up in the Greatwood at Cheltenham two weeks later (Nietzsche sixth, Chesterfield tenth).

According to calculations I've carried out on the back of a discarded fag packet, Air Horse One is closely matched with both Elgin and, on a line through High Bridge, Charli Parcs, although the latter-named could well improve for his seasonal debut.

That said, Noel Fehily has ridden both Charli Parcs and Air Horse One; he was aboard the former at Newbury the last day and rides Air Horse One tomorrow.

Handler Harry Fry knows what's required - his Jolly's Cracked It dead-heated with Sternrubin last year (N. Fehily up) - and he should also have a decent idea where he lies with Air Horse One, Misterton finishing a neck second to Elgin in the Greatwood. Nicky Henderson has stated that both Charli Parcs and the mare Verdana Blue would appreciate slightly better ground.

Divin Bere, with Bryony Frost claiming five, warrants every respect; he has not been seen since finishing second in the Fred Winter and then second behind Defi Du Seuil at Aintree in April.

Seamus Mullins saddles two. Fergall ran a stormer to finish third in this last year at odds of 25/1 while Chesterfield came home eighth. The latter went on to win the Scottish Champion Hurdle but his comeback run in the Greatwood was a tad disappointing.

At the very bottom of the handicap Man Of Plenty has form behind Misterton, Limited Reserve (second in the William Hill Handicap Hurdle) and A Hare Breath which may suggest he could outrun his current odds of 66/1 (Betfair) but I'm conscious that in recent weeks blog selections have all been running like the proverbial drain...

I was taken with Air Horse One on his penultimate run here in the William Hill; Air Horse One is the each-way suggestion, available generally at 12/1 a quarter the odds four places.

On Boxing Day Bristol De Mai goes for the second leg of the £1 million bonus in the King George at Kempton.

His Racing Post rating of 189 is 11 points ahead of nearest rivals Fox Norton and Thistlecrack. That said, in a piece earlier in the week David Ashworth indicated the horse has shown his very best form on soft / heavy ground...

The going at Kempton is currently good to soft. Clerk of the course Barney Clifford states:

"I've two different forecasts, one with 20mm [of rain] and one with 5mm, so I have no idea... It's really volatile and sporadic - to have two forecasts so far apart, it's like the north and south pole. All I can do is tell people where we are."

Something to think about while the relatives squabble over Christmas dinner...

Season's greetings.


Anonymous said...

A nice write-up and good luck with the Air Horse One.

It's fair to say that my system generated ratings are not the most consistent and in allocating Divin Bere an unadjusted rating of 165 against his official rating of 148 serious questions must be asked. He has also drifted from an early overnight show of 10/1 out to 20/1 another negative omen. On the positive side he showed a good level of form in France, improved on this in his 3 runs for Nicky Henderson, had a racecourse gallop at Newbury's Hennessy meeting, is back with Paul Nicholls who brought him over the channel, race conditions look ideal and Bryony Frost can claim her 5lb.

On balance I have to take an e-way interest in Divin Bere at 20/1 (4 places ¼ odds).

Festive greetings


Anonymous said...

Timefomr ratings (TF Rtg) for this race are free on At The Races.

1m7½f (1m7f152y) Racing Welfare Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Class 1) (4yo+)

TF RTG,TW Rtg,Horse,TW % WC
158,179,DIVIN BERE(FR),31.65
158,163,VERDANA BLUE(IRE),6.65
155,162,MAN OF PLENTY(GB),6.15
159,160,TOP OTHE RA(IRE),4.81
157,165,AIR HORSE ONE(GB),4.32
158,164,CAID DU LIN(FR),4.29
159p,165,CHARLI PARCS(FR),4.25
161,164,MAGIC DANCER(GB),4.18
156+,160,HUNTERS CALL(IRE),4.18
164p,162,SILVER STREAK(IRE),3.89
160,164,EVENING HUSH(IRE),3.33
162,165,BLEU ET ROUGE(FR),3.03


GeeDee said...

Festive greetings, TW.

Thanks for your ratings - intrigued to see Man Of Plenty given a 6.15% chance. Together with Fergall, Man Of Plenty is top-rated on Racing Post ratings (161) yet is 80/1 with both bet365 and William Hill at the moment...

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Well my system certainly over-rated Divin Bere who raced keenly and failed to pick up when asked on the turn in.

"At the very bottom of the handicap Man Of Plenty has form behind Misterton, Limited Reserve (second in the William Hill Handicap Hurdle) and A Hare Breath which may suggest he could outrun his current odds of 66/1 (Betfair) but I'm conscious that in recent weeks blog selections have all been running like the proverbial drain..."

Man Of Plenty ran another fine race from 2lbs of the handicap proper and his 5th place finish might have produced a return if backed with the enhanced place layers. He’s really too consistent for his own good!

Boxing Day beckons……


GeeDee said...

Bah humbug. I felt at the very least I'd have a reasonable run for my money with Air Force One...

The festively-named Noel Fehily had the selection nicely settled in fifth as the leaders sorted themselves out in the early stages. However at the fourth of the eight flights Air Force One (10/1) failed to take off and put in the sort of shuddering howler that effectively meant his chance had gone in an instant.

With forward momentum stalled, he quickly went backwards to the back of the field and that's precisely where stayed for the remainder of the race, finishing fifteenth, beaten over 40 lengths.

The spoils went to Hunters Call (9/1) who won this competitive-looking event with something to spare. Silver Streak (8/1) chased him home with 5/1 favourite Verdana Blue third and Bleu Et Rouge (7/1) fourth.

A word for two in dispatches...

Man Of Plenty (40/1) ran a fine race to finish fifth while the money for Sam Spinner (9/2) in the Long Walk proved well placed - Jedd O'Keeffe's charge made all to win in some style.

Sam Spinner is now 6/1 favourite for the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham in March; bookmaking Scrooges Ladbrokes and Coral offer a miserly 4/1. Sam has won five out of seven over hurdles and has finished second on the other two starts. His two defeats have come over a trip of two miles and two miles three and a half furlongs.

I note he has never raced on good ground (or anything quicker for that matter); there's a fair chance that's exactly the sort of ground he'll encounter at Cheltenham in the spring.