Friday, February 16, 2018

Feeling snookered

For a while now I've been looking at Mrs Tips and thinking to myself she could use a rest so, as a Valentine's day treat, I took the plunge and booked a table.

First shot she went in off a red - and then the table lights went out. Give me a break.

If that isn't a cue for a tip that's going to fill the pockets and provide a much-needed financial cushion, then I'm not sure what is - Black Ivory should make the frame in Haydock's 3.50.

Look, I'd be the first to admit that so far this year the horses have left me feeling all snookered. That said, in snooker as in racing, I like to try a long shot but I'd baulk at the idea of saying there's a lot in common between the two...

Snooker and racing - they're chalk and cheese really. Here's a piece of Lancashire.

Blaklion currently heads the market for the Grand National in two months' time and he heads the market for tomorrow's Betfred Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at Haydock.

In receipt of six pounds Vieux Lion Rouge beat the Nigel Twiston-Davies inmate last year; this year Vieux Lion Rouge contests the Keltbray Brinley Chase (2.25 Ascot) while Daklondike, in the same ownership, was set to start in the Haydock race but was declared a non-runner earlier this afternoon.

Blaklion has been asked to concede a minimum of thirteen pounds to all his opponents on heavy ground over a trip of three miles four and a half furlongs.

The handicapper currently rates Blaklion 161. A slight digression but for comparison purposes here are the ratings of the market leaders for next month's Cheltenham Gold Cup:

Might Bite 162; Native River 166; Sizing John 170; Killultagh Vic 153; Road To Respect 163; Coney Island 158; Definitly Red 159; Our Duke 167; Total Recall 147; Edwulf 152; Minella Rocco 161; Djakadam 165; Outlander 163.

Over the years Twiston-Davies has tended to pursue an aggressive approach when making entries for his horses, so, in a very open year, I don't quite see why he hasn't opted for the Gold Cup route with Blaklion. Nigel states:

"The Gold Cup is very tempting but we'll probably go straight to the National after Haydock on Saturday."

In contrast Willie Mullins has taken the totally opposite view with Total Recall. And four weeks today we'll know the name of the Gold Cup winner...

Digression over.

Of the eight in the field only two haven't won at Haydock previously - Wild West Wind and Sir Mangan.

The Dutchman from Colin Tizzard's yard looked good winning the Peter Marsh Chase here four weeks ago (Yala Enki fourth); stable form is improving, albeit at a slower rate than the handler might prefer.

Six weeks ago Silsol finished fifth behind Raz De Maree in the Welsh National with Wild West Wind falling at the twelfth when racing prominently and Mysteree pulling up soon after.

Previously Wild West Wind beat Alfie Spinner and Milansbar in the Welsh Grand National Trial at Chepstow. The form reads well with Alfie Spinner second behind Raz De Maree and Milansbar running away with Warwick's Classic Chase last month. That said, he took a nasty fall last time and there's little value in the price at around 4/1.

I've seen Three Faces West tipped up in a couple of places. He fell here in the Tommy Whittle just before Christmas; the form of Philip Hobbs' yard remains a cause for concern and regular pilot Richard Johnson rides at Wincanton.

Paul Kealy makes a cogent case for Silsol in the Weekender; I see where he's coming from and I'm dithering but Mysteree is also of interest.

Michael Scudamore's inmate failed to fire on his seasonal debut in the Welsh National but this time last year he won the Eider at Newcastle and then finished second behind Chase The Spud in the Midlands Grand National. The yard sent out Twenty Eight Guns to win at Fakenham earlier today.

That leaves Yala Enki and Sir Mangan.

Yala Enki is talented but temperamental and he needs to get to the start unruffled; provided there are no problems, he'll race from the front and on these terms is certainly entitled to finish a lot closer to The Dutchman than when they met here last month.

The balance of Sir Mangan's form is better since his move to Dan Skelton in September 2015. I'm not convinced he'll stay this trip on this ground.

I've had my fingers burned with Silsol in the past so, on balance, I'll play safety and take an each-way interest in Mysteree, a 10/1 shot with William Hill and bet365 at the time of writing.


Anonymous said...

The Grand National Trial looks a competitive affair, let’s hope there is no fluke about the result.

Black Lion looks a bit short in the market, so I’ll take a chance on Silsol (the overnight 14/1 has gone but 11/1 is still available). He put in a decent effort in the Welsh Grand National off 3lbs higher [Brony Frost claimed 5], has some top handicap hurdle form off 12lb higher, ground & trip should be fine and looks to be brought back in a measured way from a long absence and might just frank his claims for the big race today.

170,SIR MANGAN(IRE),7.17
173,YALA ENKI(FR),4.73

Away from the green baize of Haydock Park I have to take a speculative EW punt on Martin Keighley’ Solstice Star (SS) at Ascot at 28/1. Whilst a horse beaten 66L, 33L and 54L in it’s last 3 races is not a usual candidate for my money I’m going to make an exception here. I do not think SS really took to fences so I’m prepared to forgive his tamer efforts in that sphere, a handicap hurdle over 2 ½ miles on soft ground look ideal, this is his 2nd run back from a wind op, he is down to a mark of 128, Harry Stock [9 from 57 this season, 16%, £10.38 level stakes profit] claims 7lb and the yard is in good form. He must have chance of making the frame.

170,DIEG MAN(FR),33.02
161,FIXE LE KAP(FR),5.75
164,LE PATRIOTE(FR),5.02

Good Luck


GeeDee said...

Money for Silsol and Solstice Star, TW.

Silsol 9s and 8/1 in places; Solstice Star generally 16/1.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Well done, a nice place return with Mysteree.

Martin Keighley’ pre-race ITV comments pretty much sealed the fate of Solstice Star before the off and Silsol fell at the 1st……..I’ve had better days.


GeeDee said...

A brutal renewal of this trial run on heavy ground. The runners started to fall away like flies and halfway round the second circuit only four of the eight remained.

At the end of the back straight Mysteree (9/1) was struggling to keep tabs on the front three, Yala Enki (8/1), Blaklion (9/4f) and Wild West Wind (9/2) and it looked for all the world he was about to be pulled up.

Adrian Heskin sent Wild West Wind on to win his race three out but Tom George's charge stopped as though he'd been shot before two out and then refused, allowing Yala Enki to stroll home 54 lengths ahead of Blaklion. Meanwhile Robbie Dunne had continued his leisurely hack round at a suitably sedate pace and he stayed on gallantly to claim third place, some 74 lengths behind Blaklion.

Of course it feels like a fluke and, to be honest, I feel half guilty collecting my (meagre) winnings... ;) Still, that's racing as they say. Onwards and upwards.

Postscript: Noted today, a couple of editorial issues at the Racing Post.

Earlier in the day a headline talked of Alan King's Elgin taking his chance at Ascot (Elgin won Wincanton's Elite Hurdle) and then at 15:37 Keith Melrose filed a report on Haydock's Grand National Trial in which he said only two runners had finished. That copy was still online at 17:45 but had been revised by Colin Russell before 18:10 to record the fact that three had completed (even if Mysteree was some 128 lengths behind the winner.) It's what known in the trade as a 'poor third'.