Friday, November 22, 2019

An opportunity spurned

Really, it can only be described as an opportunity spurned.

Earlier this week Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn went head-to-head live on national television, yet neither party leader possessed sufficient foresight to draw any parallel with the televised clash of the titans taking place at Ascot tomorrow.

Of course, comparing Altior v Cyrname with Johnson v Corbyn is the equivalent of contrasting the sublime with the ridiculous.

It's hardly surprising to hear that punters appear to have more appetite for the chasers (alcoholic and equine) than the politicians - Ascot has reported advance ticket sales up some 30% and, in any case, we all know the chasers are bound to deliver a far better spectacle, especially given that Johnson put up some three and a half stone overweight (best guess) while Corbyn struggled to see through his goggles.

I seem to recall years and years ago Margaret Thatcher telling anyone at the Newbury races who'd care to listen that everyone loves a winner. Well, that's all well and good, but what the good lady forgot to add was that when you lose, you lose alone. I should know - I've spent a fair amount of time in recent weeks talking to myself.

Altior bids for his twentieth consecutive victory tomorrow. Nicky Henderson's charge didn't look at the very top of his game last season and goes beyond two miles one for the first time. The way he jumped markedly left at this track in January must be a concern for supporters, as is his trainer's comment this week that the speed the horse has shown on the gallops at home makes him question whether his charge will stay this trip.

In case you hadn't guessed, I'm in the Cyrname camp, but you wouldn't consider a wager in this any more than you'd take 25/1 about a Labour majority.

Paul Nicholls' dual course and distance winner is officially rated one pound superior to his opponent but the stable win strike rate is currently just 10% which ranks a worry; 6/4 favourite Ecco folded tamely in the Supreme Trial at Cheltenham on Sunday (was it the shoes?) while Saint De Reve's stroll at Wincanton yesterday was the yard's first winner from 23 attempts.

'Always back the outsider of three!' is a pithy racing maxim that I first heard many years ago around the gaff tracks of the West Country during the height of the summer months.

Followers of this maxim will note that the Dan Skelton trained Solomon Grey is 100/1 with Skybet this evening; speaking from personal experience, that maxim may well be pithy indeed but it has yet to deliver the untold riches I so desperately crave.

Just three in the big race at Ascot (2.05) and only one more in the big race at Haydock (3.00),

Last year's winner Bristol De Mai seems to have been around forever but is still only eight years of age. On Racing Post ratings Frodon has just one pound to find with the favourite while Lostintranslation appears to have been well supported this evening. Another race to savour rather than bet on.

Thebannerkingrebel has enough in hand over his rivals in the opener at the Lancashire track. Ballinsker is on the radar; the gelding cost £90,000 and was three lengths to the good when odds-on shot Humble Hero came a cropper two from home at Ludlow the last day. This looks more challenging and there's no guarantee Evan Williams' charge will handle underfoot conditions.

In search of a bet I've stayed at Haydock and looked into the Betfair Best Odds on ITV Races Stayers' Handicap Hurdle at 2.25; the going is currently described as good to soft with further rain forecast. A few in the field wouldn't be guaranteed to stay.

Lisnagar Oscar beat Ask Ben, Stoney Mountain and Highland Hunter over course and distance in February before going on to finish fifth in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham (Ask Ben tenth, Stoney Mountain pulled up) and then finishing third behind Champ at Aintree.

Rebecca Curtis' charge certainly has the look of a chaser in the making but has suffered defeat twice over the larger obstacles and reverts to hurdling here; Ask Ben is weighted to finish much closer while there remains a slight question mark about the trip for Stoney Mountain.

Highland Hunter makes his seasonal debut having moved to Paul Nicholls' yard a couple of weeks ago.

Willie Mullins has brought previous distance winner Eight And Bob over from Ireland and that has the look of a recommendation in itself.

Breaking Waves finished fourth, Tedham sixth behind Duke Street over two miles five at Cheltenham four weeks ago; both sets of connections will hope the step up to three miles suits; Diomed Des Mottes and Echiquier finished fourth and fifth respectively behind Thyme Hill in the Persian War Novices' Hurdle and that form reads well.

Sirobbbie has won four at Uttoxeter over the summer and has gone from a mark of 95 to 129; his last win at the track shows he'll handle underfoot conditions.

All in all, it's a hugely competitive affair; I've picked out Acey Milan on the back of these comments from Anthony Honeyball in a pre-season stable tour:

"We weren't sure with a lot of horses who had the virus but he was definitely hit by it [last year]. He was a very good bumper horse [fourth behind Relegate in the 2018 Champion bumper at Cheltenham], and sometimes those horses do go missing, but they tend to come back and he could be very well handicapped off 126. We'll want to work our way back to that [bumper] level and, if we can, he could be a 140 or 150 horse. He'll get three miles and handles heavy ground."

With Rex Dingle claiming three and cheekpieces fitted for the first time (to the horse, not the jockey), Acey Milan is the each-way suggestion; several layers offer 14/1 and pay one fifth the odds five places.

Finally, I can't sign off without a quick word for Potters Corner, rated a 66/1 rag by the layers. This one fell two out when in with every chance in the Eider last February and then claimed the Midlands Grand National next time at odds of 20/1. The trip won't pose any problems tomorrow but the hurdles just might; part-owned by Welsh rugby international Jonathan Davies, the gelding also happens to hold an entry in the Welsh Grand National...


Anonymous said...

Positive words from Anthony Honeyball, I hope Acey Milan runs well.

I like that Persian War form you mentioned. Diomede Des Mottes looks to be the yard’s second string but at 20/1 (4 plcs 1/4 odds) he looks a nice enough bet for a horse that has already ran three very good races this term and where William Marshall’s 7lb claim might just be enough to make the difference today. Echiquier, at 33/1, is riskier but it might be bit too soon to write him off and I’ve had a smaller saver on him as well.

I’ll be a spectator rather than investor for the Betfair Chase but I do think Paul Nicolls has a case when he states:

Frodon has a lot in his favour. It's a small field, he's had a run which we wanted him to have and at the end of the day he won a Ryanair and a Cotswold Chase last season.

He's a good horse, I think he's been underestimated a little bit. Would you have said Lostintranslation would have won a Cotswold or a Ryanair last season, or even Bristol De Mai.

I think it's an interesting, tight little race. I know Bristol De Mai is always brilliant there and if he turns up in the form he was last year then he'll be very hard to beat, but it's a hot race. I know Lostintranslation was good as a novice, but I still think he's got it to prove. He won a soft race the other day where he had an easy lead, but now he's in against the big boys so it will be very interesting to see.

13/2 about Frodon might look big post-race.

Over at Ascot The Last Day [TLD] may well cope with his 11lb rise following his facile LTO win at Aintree but at best odds of 7/2 I’m happy to take him on.

Imperial Presence looks to be at least twice the odds he should be here and no doubt his last two form figures [P,F] have something to do with it.

Winding the clock back he looked a progressive chaser during 2018, he then probably ran his best race thus far when finishing 4th at Cheltenham in April 2019, his first run since the previous September, looking likely to be involved in the finish before losing momentum when hitting two out.

Back to those PF form figures; he was pulled up after losing his action and finishing lame at Newton Abbott in May and then was still going very well when pecking on landing at the 7th on his seasonal debut over course and distance at the beginning of the month. I’m happy to forgive both those efforts in the hope he can be competitive here in a race that, notwithstanding TLD, looks open enough. With the place terms in the layers favour I’ll stick to a straight win at odds of 28/1.

Fascinating dual between Altior and Cyrname and not one I’d like to call.

Good luck!


GeeDee said...

Frodon certainly looks the value in the Betfair, TW.

Your comments on Imperial Presence noted. Caid Du Lin won last year's renewal off 139 beating Speredek (151); perhaps the former is in the grip of the handicapper now. Diego Du Charmil had both in arrears last time and is up six pounds for his trouble - I'll watch with interest.

Good luck!

Sandracer said...

Not quite talking just to yourself Geedee. I had noticed for the last couple of weeks another reader has been winning all the dough though..

The world seems to be with you on Acey Milan atm, the best price I can see is 8's. Some folks got 20's on the exchanges last night. Missed the price, and no I wasn't watching the politics. When I saw Farage wasn't on the panel I watched Mars on Netflix. Ignoring Farage hasn't gone well for these people. When will they learn.

cheers ;)

GeeDee said...

Good to hear from you, Sandracer; trust you're keeping well.

Not had the best of starts this season. I'm not saying it's desperate but I'm wondering whether to chance 300/1 a Lib Dem majority... ;)

Anonymous said...

Well done, a cracking selection. Backed down to 7/1 from your advised 14/1, Acey Milan looked the winner most of the way up the Haydock straight until Stoney Mountain arrived late.


Sandracer said...

That thing came home like a porsche to deny you the win Geedee. I thought it was all over.. #nightmare

GeeDee said...

Plenty of money for selection Acey Milan (7/1) who raced up with the pace throughout.

Given a coupe of smacks by Rex Dingle as they entered the home straight, Acey was just about in front at the last and there I was thinking he'd managed to hold off his only serious rival Ask Ben (10/1) when Tom O'Brien and Stoney Mountain (16/1) turned on the burners to fly past the two leaders in the final 75 yards and go on to win by two and a quarter lengths.

I'm not sure I'll be able to get any sleep tonight. In the preview I'd said: '...there remains a slight question mark about the trip for Stoney Mountain.' Well, not any more; for the record Tedham (5/1f) passed Ask Ben on the run-in to claim third.

Still, that place return represents the best I've managed since the beginning of October... Tell me, why oh why is that run-in so long on the hurdle track at Haydock?

Cyrname (5/2) won the clash of the titans with Altior (1/3f) never really threatening to pass his rival. Immediately after the race, Henderson told viewers Altior had finished 'very tired' but this evening there's fighting talk coming from the yard with talk of a re-march, possibly in the King George.

Lostintranslation (5/4jf) will head to the King George after battling well to beat Bristol De Mai (5/4jf) in the Betfair Chase.

Current BetVictor prices for the King George (26th December):

5/2 Cyrname
3/1 Lostintranslation
9/2 Clan Des Obeaux
7/1 Altior
14/1 bar