Friday, November 26, 2021

The 2021 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury

As I'm off to the track tomorrow, I took the trouble to tune in to Racing TV's 'Newbury Gallops Morning' broadcast a week or so ago. 

Below, abbreviated comments on those declared for tomorrow's feature, the Ladbrokes Trophy (3.00); make of these notes whatever you will.

Copperhead: Likely to need the run.

Full Back: Has not always jumped well in the past (pulled up behind Remastered in the Reynoldstown).

Demachine: Good jumper, best fresh, trip a worry; outstayed by Remastered in the Reynoldstown.

Enrilo: Cobden tells trainer the horse doesn't want to pull up!

Kitty's Light: Prefers nice ground - found ground holding in the Charlie Hall. Bids to become the first five-year-old to win; not the biggest, will be 'conservatively' ridden towards the rear in the early stages. 

Brave Eagle: First run has put him right.

Alan King tells readers of the Weekender that Potterman is a genuine good ground horse and this race has been the target all season. Canelo has 'come on plenty' for his pipe-opener at Bangor 'though he'll probably progress again for another outing'.

21 are set to face the starter; the official going is currently described as good to soft, good in places (watered). 

The Irish challenge is spearheaded by Eklat De Rire and Munster National winner Ontheropes; at the time of writing Eklat De Rire has come in for significant support and is the clear market leader. 

Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore won last weekend's feature, the Betfair Chase at Haydock, with A Plus Tard and, no doubt, are hoping to repeat the trick this weekend. Relatively unexposed, the gelding could be anything with just four chase starts to his name;  most of his racing has been on soft or heavy ground.

Trained by Willie Mullins Ontheropes has undergone a similar preparation to Total Recall who stayed on strongly after the last to collar Whisper on the run-in to collect the spoils for connections in 2017.

Enrilo heads the challengers based this side of the Irish Sea. 

Back in April he passed the post first in the bet365 Chase at Sandown but was subsequently disqualified and placed third after hanging left and hampering Kitty's Light on the run to the line. The race was awarded to Potterman in the stewards' room but, with just threequarters of a length separating the trio on the line, Kitty's Light appeared unfortunate. They look closely matched once again; Enrilo worked well in last week's gallop at the track.

Team Tizzard endured a torrid time of it last year but the operation is in rude health this term.

Fiddlerontheroof finished second behind Monkfish in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase at Cheltenham in March and looked impressive at Carlisle last month. To date Fiddler has finished in the first three on all eight chase starts.  

Last year Cloth Cap made all off a mark of 136 to win 10 lengths (The Hollow Ginge fourth, with Mister Malarky and Potterman unseating; Danny Whizzbang and Copperhead pulled up). He was subsequently sent off 11/2 favourite for the Grand National at Aintree and was bang there four from home before stopping quickly. The horse had reportedly 'choked' and four days later underwent wind surgery. Dropped two pounds after a pipe-opener at Cheltenham last month, he goes off 154 this year and his chance is respected.

Writing in the Weekender Alistair Jones highlights the importance of a good start and a prominent pitch in this race. That piece of advice strikes a particular personal chord - in recent years a number of my selections have been beaten by the time they've reached the first fence: Label Des Obeaux (2017); American (2018); and Daklondike (2019). Aye Right fared better last year in second.

Remastered would be of interest with more cut underfoot while it's possible to make a case for The Hollow Ginge and Mister Malarky. Both are inconsistent but The Hollow Ginge returned from his summer break in fine form at Cheltenham five weeks ago.

Of those at bigger prices, Brave Eagle (eighth behind De Rasher Counter in 2019 off 158) starts off a mark of 149 tomorrow and on ground that suits can run well at odds of 50/1. I'm also intrigued by Fortescue - trainer Henry Daly isn't known for running horses out of their grade.

Cloth Cap bids to join the likes of Mandarin, Arkle and Denman who have won this famous old race twice. Jonjo O'Neill's charge jumped well and won last year's renewal in a fast time; he'll encounter similar conditions tomorrow. 

Ideally I prefer a younger horse for this but at the time of writing the 14/1 on offer from Paddy Power is too much of a temptation.

Cloth Cap (14/1) is the each-way suggestion with Paddy Power paying six places.

A quick footnote to finish... 

I think two are certainly worthy of a second look in the handicap hurdle at 2.25: 

Annsam was beaten two and a quarter lengths by Calva D'Auge at Kempton last time. Isabel Williams (rode Dans Le Vent to victory in the Stayers' Hurdle at Haydock last weekend) is booked and can claim five. At the time of writing Calva D'Auge is generally 8/1 while Annsam is 16/1 with Paddy Power.

Course and distance winner Dorking Boy won last time out, enjoys a fast pace and is considered best on a flat, galloping track. Early in the week Stan Sheppard was jocked up for the ride but I see he has opted instead for Dorking Boy's stablemate Glory And Fortune (beat Dans Le Vent four lengths in the Welsh Champion Hurdle and then finished a respectable sixth in the Greatwood). With conditions to suit, Dorking Boy might be overpriced at 18/1.

Friday, November 19, 2021

The 2021 Betfair Exchange Stayers' Handicap Hurdle at Haydock

From the business section of my paper today: PG Tips sold for 4.5 billion euros. Funny that, no one has been in touch - and Christmas is just around the corner too.

Earlier this week I was asked what I'd like for Christmas this year. Reflex reply: a 20/1 winner; after some further consideration: a 33/1 winner.

Or perhaps a copy of Victor Chandler's biography Victor Chandler - Put Your Life On It: Staying At The Top In The Cut-Throat World Of Gambling by Jamie Reid.

Tomorrow's Betfair Chase at Haydock looks a particularly strong renewal but I've spent / wasted my time looking at the Betfair Exchange Stayers' Handicap Hurdle due off at 2.25. Sixteen have been declared with the going on the hurdle course described as good to soft, good in places.

Last season Emmet Mullins made a number of successful raids this side of the Irish Sea (think The Shunter and Cape Gentleman) so perhaps it's no surprise to the well-named Rightplacerightime at the head of the market. Rated 108 over hurdles in Ireland, the gelding races off mark of 125 tomorrow after winning a three mile beginners' chase at Fairyhouse 'easily' by seven and a half lengths.

The Charles Byrnes trained Doctor Duffy looks more feasibly treated. With Irish ratings of 147 (chase) and 137 (hurdles), he starts off 139 tomorrow; the majority of his recent runs have been at right-handed tracks. 

Orbys Legend (13/2) is well fancied after winning the Silver Trophy at Chepstow six weeks ago (beat Didtheyleaveuoutto a length) - that race has been a good pointer for this in the past - but, as Maddy Playle points out in the Weekender, Martinhal had Orbys Legend over 13 lengths in arrears at Exeter in February yet David Pipe's horse is currently quoted at 33/1 in places for tomorrow's race.

Prior to that run Martinhal gave Gladiateur Allen five pounds in a maiden hurdle at the Devon track and won three lengths; Mrs Jane Williams' charge is 16/1. 

I'm not sure I quite understand what's going on - little new there - but I'm assuming layers think underfoot conditions won't suit Martinhal.

And look at this... 

Winningseverything finished a neck ahead of Riggs at Aintree last time yet Riggs is 13/2 while the Harry Fry inmate is 40/1 in places. Admittedly, Harry Skelton may have overdone waiting tactics at Aintree over the shorter trip yet Winningseverything lost two places near the finishing line. Wind surgery carried out in the summer seems to have helped the Fry horse; connections fit a tongue-tie for the first-time tomorrow.

Bass Rock won well on seasonal debut at Carlisle three weeks ago for a yard whose runners generally improve for their first run. The handicapper has raised him seven pounds; this will be his first try at this distance.  

Isabel Williams certainly overdid the waiting tactics when finishing second on Dans Le Vent (trained by her father) in a strong-looking renewal of the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las last month. This one was quoted at 18/1 yesterday but is much shorter now.

Stoney Mountain collared my selection Acey Milan to win this race two years ago and I still haven't quite got over it. 

Now with Jamie Snowden, Stoney showed his current well-being by winning a Pertemps qualifier at Newbury 16 days ago, beating Didtheyleaveuoutto three quarters of a length. 

Clearly Nick Gifford's charge is in excellent form this term; after two creditable second places the handicapper has raised him seven pounds.

The Pipe stable has a decent record in this race having collected the spoils on four occasions since the first running in 2005: Grands Crus (2010); Dynaste (2011); Gevrey Chambertin (2013); and Main Fact (2020). I prefer Brinkley to Martinhal; he looks less exposed than a few in the field although all his winning form has come on soft or heavy ground. 

There has only been one winner older than seven - the Philip Hobbs trained Kruzhlinin aged nine in 2016.

Ask Dillon finished sixth behind Mrs Milner in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham in March (reversing Exeter form with Brinkley in twelfth and Chepstow form with Storm Arising in fourteenth). 

His fourth behind Main Fact in this race last year reads well (led two out, headed approaching last) but this season novice chasing plans appear to have gone awry and he was subsequently beaten a fair way out in the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby three weeks ago. With jockey allowances taken into account he effectively starts off a mark one pound lower than in last year's renewal. 

In a competitive renewal a couple seem overpriced by my reckoning but the two on the short shortlist are Didtheyleaveuoutto and Brinkley. 

The former brings strong recent form to the table, stays, and will handle underfoot conditions. He's priced around the 12/1 mark. 

Tom Scudamore is on record saying ideally connections would want more cut underfoot for Brinkley but at the time of writing this one is quoted 20/1 with Sky Bet who pay six places.

Brinkley is the each-way suggestion. 

Friday, November 12, 2021

Cheltenham November meeting 2021 - Paddy Power Gold Cup

Last year, despite slipping badly after the fourth, Coole Cody went on to win an extraordinary renewal of the Paddy Power Gold Cup (run over the Old Course) with a display of jumping I described at the time as 'hairy'; that day Spiritofthegames finished second, Al Dancer third, Simply The Betts sixth with Aso the last of the 16 runners to complete in seventh.

Four weeks later Evan Williams' charge jumped right on occasions when finishing sixth behind Chatham Street Lad in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (run over the New Course) with Midnight Shadow second and Al Dancer ninth. He subsequently finished fourth behind The Shunter in the Paddy Power Plate at the Festival and fourth behind Manofthemountain over the New Course in April. 

Quite clearly dear old Coole Cody loves the place - as his prep last month he raced over the hurdle track and was headed by Guard Your Dreams on the run up the hill - and tomorrow he tries to repeat last year's victory off a mark four pounds higher. The layers rate him a 16/1 shot but even at the age of ten it would be foolish to discount his chance.

Twenty go to post; the going is described as good, good to soft in places. 

This evening there appears to be a three-way fight for favouritism between Lalor, Protektorat and Al Dancer.

Lalor last won a race in 2018, underwent wind surgery in July and has only recently moved from Kayley Woollacott to Paul Nicholls.

Protektorat won the SSS Super Alloys Novices' Chase over course and distance twelve months ago and last time out beat The Shunter at Aintree. Only three six-year-olds have come home in front in the past 20 years: Celestial Gold (2004); Exotic Dancer (2006); and Johns Spirit (2013). 

Sent off 5/1 favourite last year, Al Dancer finished four and a half lengths third behind Coole Cody off a mark of 154; he races off 149 tomorrow and has recently moved to Sam Thomas' yard.

Top weight Simply The Betts is another to have undergone wind surgery in the summer and then move to Paul Nicholls' yard. I think I'm correct in saying that the last top weight to oblige was Bradbury Star in 1994.

Galahad Quest had a pipe-opener at Wetherby a fortnight ago and bids to become the third five-year-old winner after Cyfor Malta (1998) and Caid Du Berlais (2014).

After a promising start Caribean Boy didn't really live up to expectations last season but Spiritofthegames has decent form at the track - second in the race last year and a head second behind Warthog in the 2019 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup - while Manofthemountain jumped well to win the Ballymore Silver Trophy in April (Coole Cody fourth). 

Five weeks ago Paint The Dream beat Manofthemountain nine and a half lengths in the John Ayres Memorial Handicap Chase at Chepstow; on revised terms the former looks weighted to confirm that form but still looks to have his fair share of weight.

Here's the heads up - I've had Midnight Shadow pencilled in for this since that second behind Chatham Street Lad last December; his third behind Allmankind in the Old Roan last month looks an excellent preparatory run.

Going back to New Year's Day 2020, Sue Smith's charge somewhat fortuitously beat Paint The Dream one and a quarter lengths in the Dipper after Champ came a cropper two from home; the Alan King trained Deyrann De Carjac was a further threequarters of a length behind in third.

After reading Alan King's bullish note about Deyrann De Carjac in the Weekender, I looked through the form. Not to beat about the bush, he's had his problems in recent times but two years ago he won a Huntingdon novice chase with the likes of Pym, Whatmore and El Presente in arrears. 

The handler tells us his charge is 'not badly treated off 137 judged on his best form' and states:

"His preparation has been great and he seems to have put behind him the niggles that hindered him last season. He schooled on Monday and seems in good order. He is a good-ground horse..." 

At the time of writing Midnight Shadow is generally a 10/1 shot while Deyrann De Carjac is 33/1 - and Sky Bet are paying seven places.

Temptation, it's a terrible thing... Deyrann De Carjac is the each-way selection, 33/1 with Sky Bet.

To finish, a quick footnote for the fastidious...

The 'Straight from the Stable' feature in this week's RP Weekender features Donald McCain's Bankhouse stables in Cholmondeley, Cheshire. 

I don't know what the editors were up to but, untypically, the copy is littered with typographical errors and in places reads as though it was dictated over a mobile phone with poor reception:

Of See The Sea (7 b m Born To Sea - Shahmina):

"It could be a case that she could shoulder a race (sic) in a higher class race."

Of Bannixtown Glory (7 b m Fame And Glory - Me Auold Segosha):

"I understand Dan Skelton has Molly Ollys Wishes targeted at the same race, but it's grand a chance to add more black type to her broodmare page."

Of Chti Balko (9 br g Balko - Ina Scoop):

"A grand old horse who simply wants Haydock on very deep ground and when he comes ready and the conditions are right we will."

For the record, my own editor, a lugubrious individual who drones on incessantly about the old days, is usually to be found in a battered shed at the bottom of our garden, surrounded by empty bottles of craft ale.

Friday, November 05, 2021

The 2021 Grand Sefton Handicap Chase

Owen Paterson may have been in the supermarket yesterday when he learnt of Boris Johnson's latest handbrake turn -  at this stage it's unclear whether Mr Paterson was in the middle of a big shop down the Asda or picking up a few bits and pieces in the local Nisa - but how about this for an unexpected item in the bagging area: they've brought the Grand Sefton forward four weeks. Whatever next?

Fourteen have been declared for tomorrow's renewal which is usually run when we're all supposed to be doing our Christmas shopping; the going on the National course is currently described as soft, good to soft in places.

I've checked it out - just four of the fourteen have jumped the National fences before and a couple on the list look decidedly short on chase experience, including the well-touted manager's special, Midlands Grand National winner Time To Get Up; the concern is the trip may be on the sharp side for the J.P.McManus owned runner.

Cat Tiger showed a liking for these fences when finishing third behind Cousin Pascal in the Foxhunters' Chase run over course and distance in the spring while Senior Citizen finished seventh in last year's race and then a highly creditable third behind easy winner Livelovelaugh in the Topham (Sir Jack Yeats fifth).

Alan King's inmate swept down the home straight in the manner of a well-oiled trolley to win at Market Rasen last month (Francky Du Berlais 31 lengths adrift in sixth) and this race is his autumn target. In the RP Weekender the trainer states:

"He just doesn't want really soft ground as he doesn't quite get home." 

Jamie Snowden's two runners are certain to attract the attention of punters. 

Hogan's Height won the 2019 renewal 16 lengths and had a pipe-opener over hurdles at Newton Abbot last month.

Thomas Macdonagh has only contested five steeplechases to date but, in his 'Straight from the Stable' tour (RP Weekender 29.09.21 - 03.10.21), Snowden says:

"His final run of last season was a very good one when second to Informateur at Haydock off a mark of 131. He is a decent hurdler (rated 136) but has the potential to do even better over fences (130). He will be at his best on deep ground and the plan is to go for the Grand Sefton Chase at Aintree. I think a good gallop over 2m 4f will be ideal for him and he could be a very interesting contender."

Francky Du Berlais was impressive when winning the Market Rasen Summer Plate in July. 

The handicapper didn't give Peter Bowen any change after that, raising his charge ten pounds; he subsequently relented, dropping the gelding two after he came home well beaten behind Senior Citizen last month. Every little helps. On that form Francky will struggle to reverse placings.

Peter Bowen's other runner, Mac Tottie, has decent form on display and, despite the price, wouldn't be immediately discounted.

Spyglass Hill is worth another look on the back of his fifth behind Ontheropes in the Munster National last month - Ontheropes is quoted a 7/1 chance for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in three weeks' time. 

After that race trainer Henry de Bromhead said connections thought 'that maybe the drop back in trip might suit him.'

After a quick scan I see that Five Star Getaway finished a long way behind Paint The Dream at Chepstow and doesn't have that much experience over fences, in marked contrast to The West's Awake and Via Dolorosa. The latter moved to David Pipe's yard last month so this looks an intriguing first run for new connections, although Tom Scudamore is aboard Time To Get Up.

Dr Richard Newland won last year's renewal with Beau Bay; he saddles Al Roc this time who has his third run in this country and second following wind surgery in January. The run over hurdles at Warwick last time should ensure he won't be left on the shelf. 

I always prefer one that has jumped the unique National fences previously for this and Sir Jack Yeats fits the bill. 

He finished second last year from three pounds out of the handicap, leading to the elbow before being passed by Beau Bay. 

Sir Jack races off the same mark tomorrow (126) with a weight of 10-6. 

Earlier in the week I'm sure seven pound claimer Angus Cheleda was jocked up but I'm pleased to see handler Richard Spencer has used his loyalty card and put James Best up; James was aboard last year and in the Topham as well. 

Last season the gelding came into the race with a couple of warm-up runs under the belt so I'm taking fitness on trust; I'd expect to see him racing up with the pace.

At the time of writing Paddy Power offer 14/1 and pay one fifth the odds five places; Sir Jack Yeats is the each-way suggestion. 

I should point out that, in the event of a disappointing performance, in line with stated policy no refunds or exchanges can be given.