Friday, December 06, 2019

A Becher bet (2019 renewal)

After 30 years as the BBC's racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght announced yesterday he would be leaving the job next April; Rick Broadbent's piece in The Times today looks back over his career with a certain fondness.

That said, Lysaght's frustration with those in control of the sport seeps through; he affirms 'Racing does not have the same place in society as it did.'

On a more pragmatic level, he advises readers to look out for the Nick Alexander trained Craiganboy next time out; the gelding currently holds a five-day entry in the Parklands Mini Golf Handicap Chase (Northern Lights Staying Chase Series Qualifier) at Newcastle on Thursday.

That reminds me - as if I needed it - this whole week has been blighted with Rehearsal regrets.

How was Scottish Grand National winner Takingrisks allowed to go off at 20/1 in Newcastle's finale last Saturday? Why didn't I spend more time on the wretched race? The beast had blown away the cobwebs at Ayr four weeks earlier over the smaller obstacles. Three miles on heavy ground - his stamina was bound to come in to play, wasn't it? Why didn't I place a (small) speculative wager?

Unashamedly, I purloin (and adapt accordingly) a festive turn of phrase used by John Sopel in a recent TV report from America... It's beginning to feel to a lot like - I won't tip a winner this side of - Christmas.

At present, opportunities appear to abound for long distance chasers.

Belle Empress won over three miles six and a half at Exeter earlier this afternoon; there's the Becher Chase at Aintree, the London National at Sandown and the Welsh Grand National Trial at Chepstow tomorrow; on Sunday Kelso hosts the Scottish Borders National over an extended four miles.

It's the Becher for me - eighteen declared, with the going on the National course currently described as soft, good to soft in places.

Of the five priced in single figures at the top of the market, last year's winner Walk In The Mill (Vieux Lion Rouge second, Ballyoptic a faller) looks the stand-out candidate. He tries this year on a mark just four pounds higher, having finished fourth over these fences in the National in April.

Mulcahys Hill shot to prominence when only just failing to pinch the 2017 Challow from the front. His defeat of Wholestone last time reads well but prior to that he fell in the four miler at Cheltenham and this is his first try over these obstacles; on a couple of occasions he has shown signs of temperament at the start.

I've no qualms in opposing Kimberlite Candy (first time cheekpeices may help), previous National winner One For Arthur can become detached and may need further while Vintage Clouds, my tip for the Aintree showpiece in April, fell at the first before finishing sixth behind Takingrisks in the Scottish National seven days later. Shoddy jumping didn't help Sue Smith's charge at Ayr and that remains the key worry.

View Lion Rouge has a decent record over these fences but looks held by Walk In The Mill.

Joint top weights Alpha Des Obeaux and Ballyoptic come here in good nick. The latter's victory in the Charlie Hall catches the eye (Definitly Red beaten over 25 lengths conceding six pounds) but he has fallen on both attempts over these fences.

Connections of Definitly Red have stated next year's Grand National is the target but I'm not certain he'll take to these obstacles; Le Breuil has the same aim but would probably appreciate better ground.

At bigger prices both As De Mee and Wandrin Star are of interest.

The former returned from a lengthy absence with a respectable display over hurdles three weeks ago and won the 2016 running of the Grand Sefton over these fences.

Kim Bailey has been quite bullish about Wandrin Star (Lee Marvin up?) in the build-up.

This one looked booked for second the last day at Wincanton but White Moon stumbled after the final flight and Wandrin Star collected the spoils. One Of Us (fifth) subsequently beat Captain Cattistock (seventh) a neck in the Southern National at Fontwell, a piece of form that suggests Minellacelebration might just be worth a second look here.

Quoting from Kim Bailey's Straight from the Stable tour in the Weekender 20-24.11.19:

"I expect him to come on for that [Wincanton run] and he could take up his entry in the Becher Chase next month over the Grand National course. He's a fine big horse and a good jumper of a fence, so hopefully it will suit him."

Stuart Redding also makes the case for Bailey's charge in this week's Weekender.

Walk In The Mill is my idea of the winner but with several layers offering 16/1 and paying one fifth the odds five places, Wandrin Star is the each-way suggestion.


Anonymous said...

Mulcahys Hill topped my systems output but 6 & 7yo’s do not have the best of records in this and there is not much juice in his price. Mysteree was next up but the 11yo is on a career high 138 and that looks his ceiling. Third in the system output was Wandrin Star, his 4lbs rise for that Wincanton win looks fair, my concern yesterday afternoon was his ability to take to the National fences but the Kim Bailey quote in your post has tempted me in at the 16/1 EW 5plcs 1/5 odds.

My longshot bet of the day is Woods Well [33/1 3plcs ¼ odds] in the Foxrock Handicap Chase over 2 ½ miles at Navan. WW’s last 3 runs have all been over 3 miles+ and to all intent and purpose he has disappointed having been beaten over 30 lengths twice and pulled up the other time. The handicapper has dropped him a few lbs as a result. A key line in his form is distance; he looks to run better in races under 3 miles than in races at 3 miles or greater:

< 3 mile form figures: 2,1,2,1,1,2,1,9,1,5
>= 3 mile form figures: 3,2,p,8,p,5,p,5,p,6,0,0,0,7,p,9

Back down in trip today, just 1lb above his last winning mark and in the care of top connections I cannot resist taking a chance big odds that he can bounce back in this.

Good luck!


GeeDee said...

Interesting stats about Woods Well who looks well worth the wager over that trip, TW.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Of the five priced in single figures at the top of the market, last year's winner Walk In The Mill (Vieux Lion Rouge second, Ballyoptic a faller) looks the stand-out candidate. He tries this year on a mark just four pounds higher, having finished fourth over these fences in the National in April.

Walk In The Mill is my idea of the winner...

Hey hoe.


GeeDee said...

Held up, Wandrin Star (12/1) jumped well enough in the Becher. David Bass asked the selection to make up his ground half a mile from home but the pair were unable to get anywhere near the principals to land a blow, or, for that matter, anywhere near the fifth paying place; Wandrin Star came home eighth, some 28 lengths behind the winner that happened to be my idea of the winner, Walk in The Mill (8/1). No, I didn't back the beast...

Kimberlite Candy (11/1) chased home Walk in The Mill - that's the best run I've seen from Tom Lacey's charge for quite some time - with Alpha Des Obeaux (12/1) third and Definitly Red fourth (8/1) - previously, Definitly Red had been pulled up over these obstacles behind One For Arthur in 2017 Grand National.

One For Arthur (10/1) made eye-catching late headway to claim fifth while As De Mee (12/1) weakened significantly from two out to finish sixth.

Anonymous said...

Apologies for the unexpected comment and potentially interrupting your election results party but I could not let the early 40/1 about Alan King’s Praeceps go without comment.

Of course, he has had two below par efforts this term [lost front shoe at Chepstow and perhaps Wincanton trip a bit too far?] but based on his efforts last season not least his close up 6th in the Fred Winter off 6lbs higher that 40/1 looks huge [4 places 1/5 odds].

Yard conditional Alexander Thorne takes the ride and claims a further 7lb. He is riding well, my system suggests he is currently worth 6lbs of that claim which gives Praeceps the theoretic potential to be 12lbs lower than his Fred Winter run. 4yo’s have only won this once in the last 10 yrs but if you dig deeper, they overall form is decent enough.

My system priced his fair odds at 4/1, I’m clearly missing something but had to invest anyway.

RTG Horse
154 PRAECEPS(IRE) [A 0.84]
148 MANVERS HOUSE(GB) [A 0.79]
146 OAKLEY(IRE) [A 0.79]
145 NEVER ADAPT(FR) [R 0.63]
145 FANFAN DU SEUIL(FR) [R 0.73]
141 ECU DE LA NOVERIE(FR) [A 0.84]
140 BARNTOWN(IRE) [R 0.49]
139 ROBINSHILL(IRE) [R 0.72]
138 GRAPEVINE(IRE) [R 0.68]
138 CASWELL BAY(GB) [R 0.5]
130 REPETITIO(IRE) [A 0.8]


GeeDee said...

Hi TW,

Apologies - distracted by electoral discussion, I've only just picked up your comment.

Quoting the Weekender:

"In contrast, I'm taking all the headgear off Praeceps as we go back to basics and try to rebuild his confidence...
"I've been disapponted with him this season and I'm sure he's better than he's shown."

Has to be of interest. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Alan will probably still be disappointed with him...

On to Saturday's cards.


GeeDee said...


Stumped up some shrapnel and watched this race during my lunch hour in a city centre Ladbrokes that has clearly seen better days. That's the first time I've watched a race in a betting shop for quite some time and, in a funny, theraputic sort of a way, the general drab, dingy environment helped to detract from the level of performance Praeceps put up (as well as all the recent Brexit brouhaha).

All that said, as you pointed out, the gelding has decent form to his name. I struck my wager at 13:16 (four mins or so before the off) at odds of 33/1 so I was mildly surprised to see him returned at 16/1.

Note to Mr Alan King - could you just drop me a quick line when you think Praeceps is about to stop dissapointing you?

Anonymous said...

It's a pity your Ladbrokes shop did not still have the Extel service we might have got a longer run before we knew our money was lost!

Praeceps was well backed late on and will probably pop up one day at a nice price. I tend to run with a three strikes [AKA poor efforts] and your out rule, unless there are concrete excuses, so it may not be carrying my money when it happens.


GeeDee said...


Praeceps is now on my 'to watch' list...