Friday, February 02, 2018

Trials and tribulations

At the moment we seem to be getting more trials than the Old Bailey.

Cheltenham last week, the inaugural two-day Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown tomorrow, and, this side of the Irish Sea, the two-day trials meeting at Musselburgh.

A number of trainers have sent their charges north, tempted by the prospect of better ground, but this evening's forecast predicts sleet and light rain for much of tomorrow; the going is currently described as good to soft, good in places.

Twelve have been declared for the bet365 Edinburgh National Handicap Chase at 3.15 run over a distance of four miles one furlong.

Top weight Delusionsofgrandeur heads the market while second favourite Missed Approach finished sixth in the Hennessy and then a respectable third behind Milansbar at Warwick three weeks ago.

Some commentators thought Warren Greatrex's inmate was a handicap snip that day off 139 but it didn't quite work out that way and the race itself turned into one almighty slog in the mud.

Missed Approach races off 138 tomorrow but if there's a snip in this particular field it might well be Southfield Theatre who finished fourth off a mark of 150 behind Present Man in the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton in the autumn yet starts off 139 tomorrow and has the assistance of Bryony Frost in the saddle who claims a further five.

Southfield Theatre wouldn't be one to trust implicitly and he hasn't come home in front for three years but he's top-rated on Racing Post ratings.

This marathon trip looks as though it could suit Bells 'N' Banjos on the back of his eighth in the Festival four-miler last March; the yard has had a quiet time of it lately but fired in a winner at Leicester on Wednesday.

Last year's renewal throws up some interesting contenders at double-digit prices - Dancing Shadow beat Gonalston Cloud, Azure Fly and Full Jack in a race where only three of the thirteen carried 11-0 or more; at the finish there was less than eight lengths between the four named horses.

This year Dancing Shadow tries off a mark four pounds higher while Gonalston Cloud is five pounds lower but has been well beaten twice this season after finishing behind Chase The Spud in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter in March.

In a Weekender stable tour just before Christmas Charlie Longsdon described Azure Fly as a 'great, fun horse' who 'needs extreme distances'. He was due to run in the Lincolnshire National at Market Rasen on Boxing Day but missed that particular engagement for whatever reason and is currently rated four pounds lower than last year.

Full Jack is an eleven-year-old but interesting nonetheless. Fourth last year from four pounds out of the handicap, he's just two pounds 'wrong' this time and Rachael McDonald can claim seven. He went on to finish fourth behind Beer Goggles at Ayr in April and then tailed off in a Veterans' Chase at Cartmel in May.

In December the gelding was moved from Pauline Robson to Sandy Thomson and on his first appearance for new connections ran a respectable trial over hurdles at this track, beaten three and a half lengths.

In 2010 owners Mr and Mrs Raymond Anderson Green won the Scottish Grand National with Merigo and, all of a sudden, I've just caught the slightest whiff of a plot. Regular readers will be well aware my capacity for self-delusion knows no limits but there's just something different about this one...

Of the others, I tipped Looking Well for the Grimthorpe last year on the back of his previous second to Ziga Boy in the Sky Bet at Doncaster; he didn't appear particularly well-named on the day, beaten some 45 lengths behind Definitly Red.

It's much too soon to give up on him completely though, although I suspect he may need the run tomorrow - handler Nicky Richards in the Weekender stable tour 18-22.10.17:

'He...had a little issue, but he's back in training now and will hopefully be out in the new year. We'll look for those good staying handicap chases...'

Rebecca Curtis brings Relentless Dreamer up from Pembrokeshire and the booking of Brian Hughes catches the eye but it has been a tough season for Rebecca this year with just six wins from 74 runs.

I'm afraid I just can't help myself.

It may be pure self-delusion but Full Jack is the each-way selection - at the time of writing Ladbrokes offer 10/1 and are the only layer paying one fifth the odds four places.

Footnote: Beeves, a head fifth behind Full Jack in last year's race, is declared in the 3.10 at Musselburgh on Sunday; he also holds an entry in the Randox Grand National at Aintree.


Anonymous said...

With odds ranging from 5/1 to 18/1 covering the whole field the Edinburgh National looks a competitive affair and you’ve, quite rightly, highlighted a case for most in your post.

The two who look to offer some value on my system are Gonalston Cloud (16/1 in places) and Mister Don (12/1 in places). But I’ll hold my fire for now and see just how much rain the course gets before post time.

155,MISTER DON(IRE),14.1
160,FULL JACK(FR),8.17
155,AZURE FLY(IRE),6.74
155,BELLS 'N' BANJOS(IRE),6.13

Leopardstown has been my focus and I cannot let Ballycasey go off at 66/1 (Paddy Power) untouched in the Dublin Chase. Third choice of the Mullins yard, Ballycasey looks to be there to ensure a decent pace and it is entirely possible he will find this 17F affair too sharp against speacialist two milers. Yorkhill is on a recovery mission, Min was all out to hold Simply Ned before losing the race and Special Tiara might find the ground a bit soft which could leave the race open to an upset.

RTG,Horse,% WC
172,SIMPLY NED(IRE),11.19

Good luck, I hope your sense of smell proves accurate……


GeeDee said...

Good luck, TW. I'll check out Ballycasey later this morning; certainly Special Tiara would prefer better ground.

Anonymous said...

The sweet smell of success….well done with Full Jack and catching the whiff of that plot.

Ballycasey … could not have got it more wrong. Race was not ran as I expected and the horse never got in contention at any stage.


GeeDee said...

The selection raced prominently throughout; coming to the home turn for the final time Full Jack (10/1) and Missed Approach (7/2f) were five lengths clear of their nearest pursuers.

Off the bend Rachael McDonald sent full Jack on to go and win his race - he started to tire, jumping out to the left three out and was passed by Looking Well (14/1) as they approached the last. However Looking Well swerved badly at the last, practically refusing and unseating Ryan Day in the process, allowing Full Jack to come home nine lengths clear of Missed Approach with Relentless Dreamer (18/1) a further ten lengths adrift in third.

A slightly fortunate win, I agree, but, hey, a win is a win and I've been in desperate need of one for some time now - I'll take that!

Reamonnt said...

Long time no check in with your fine blog. We had a big weekends racing here in Dublin but I just watched on tv as the dreaded flu has struck. I thought Joseph O Briens horse was overpriced in the first race in JP first colours at 33/1 and he duly got up to deliver the first of many shock results. I havent got my head around Cheltenham at all this year and given my poor performance over the last few years I wont be poring over the stats this year I will just be following the money! 6 weeks to Cheltenham and I feel the Irish challenge will be very strong and not necessarily from Willie.

Sandracer said...

haha nice bet. Not sure what happened to Looking Well though. v strange. I was on Relentless Dreamer, to win, small stake tho.. One of the spectator gamblers who came to watch the football at the bookie picked Full Jack too. Was still talking about his "tip" today. He liked the jockeys colours...

GeeDee said...

Hi Reamonnt,

Sorry to hear you're suffering with the flu bug - plenty of time to recover though before Cheltenham... ;)

Compared to previous years, this time I feel in a state of peculiar indecision with regard to several Festival races. In particular the Gold Cup looks very open - it's not difficult to carp the King George form. Any view on the best Irish chance in the showpiece?

Stay lucky1


GeeDee said...

Good to hear from you, Sandracer. Trust you're well.

A decent effort from Relentless Dreamer in the circumstances, I thought. One to keep in mind for the future. I'm also a fan of the green and yellow colours too - but only when they come home in front... ;)