Friday, December 15, 2023

A Doncaster distraction at Christmas

This year I've asked Santa for a copy of 'From Bicycle to Bentley, A Bookmaker's Story: by Stephen Little', written by Rupert Mackeson, in the forlorn hope of stumbling across the odd helpful hint or two.

Speaking personally, I'm still at the bicycle stage myself, although I haven't been seen out on it for quite some time - I picked up a flat six months ago and can't afford the repair.

Anyway, Santa's little helper has indicated she's having a spot of bother laying her Christmas mittens - rather prettily adorned with yuletide kittens - on a copy of the desired tome; I'm tempted to resubmit the request, ask Santa for a Bentley, and be done with the matter.

In the meantime, apropos of nothing in particular, the book I'm currently working on, 'From Cyclist to Pedestrian', is scheduled for publication late next year.

Attempting to boost my flagging festive finances, I've fudged the Cheltenham Christmas meeting card - whatever happened to the International? - and taken a diversion to Doncaster instead where the going is described as good to soft, good in places on the hurdles course. 

Rare Edition's seven length defeat of Rubaud at Kempton on Boxing Day last year is a piece of form that catches the eye in the handicap hurdle at 2.40 but it's the bet365 Handicap Chase at 3.15 that has piqued interest with a couple available at double figure prices. 

At the time of writing three are bidding for favouritism - Forward Plan, Mister Coffey and Sail Away.

Conceding a stone Sail Away beat Forward Plan 11 lengths in the Novices' Champion Handicap Chase at Ayr in April; the grey likes to race prominently and, generally speaking, jumps well. 

In the autumn Dan Skelton indicated they were considering a stab at the Charlie Hall or the Sefton with this horse but he made his seasonal debut at Newbury just two weeks ago where he finished fifth behind Kandoo Kid.

Forward Plan, not a big scopey type, was held up in rear before weakening out of contention in the Badger Beer won by stablemate Blackjack Magic last month.

Mister Coffey has yet to win in ten starts over fences.  

Whistleinthedark made the odd error in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last time and nearly came to grief four out; he eventually finished eighth behind Stage Star. Placed twice in three mile points, this represents his first try at this trip under rules. 

There are two previous course and distance winners in the field. 

Twoshotsoftequila was second to Some Scope at Catterick last time, looks unexposed, and is just one pound higher here. 

Manofthepeople tends to race prominently but his jumping isn't always foot-perfect. 

At Ascot three weeks ago he looked a little unlucky, unseating Connor Brace at the fourth after Emir Sacree appeared to jump left-handed into his path. Fergal O'Brien's charge has been the subject of market support this afternoon.

Castle Robin hasn't had a run since coming to grief behind Midnight River in the Freebooter at Aintree in April. He has gone well fresh in the past; the defeat of Laskalin at Sandown in February is respected.

Ciel De Neige, formerly trained by Willie Mullins, has some interesting bits and pieces of form including third in the 2019 Boodles, sixth in the 2021 County Hurdle and sixth behind Ash Tree Meadow in the Galway Plate in August. This is his first run for Ben Haslam.

Ben Pauling saddles two.

Nestor Park was third in a veterans' race at Aintree last time while Slipway finished ninth behind Malina Girl at Cheltenham.

I've watched a replay of the Cheltenham race - Slipway ran well for a long way and seemed to enjoy himself up front before fading out of contention from three out over an extended trip of three mile three furlongs. 

To my mind that run, his first following wind surgery in the spring, was the best we've seen from him since he won the Southern National at Fontwell just over twelve months ago. 

Luca Morgan was in the plate that day; his brother Beau takes the ride tomorrow and claims five while Kielan Woods, who was aboard at Cheltenham, rides Nestor Park. 

Last week's selection, Minella Trump, missed the Becher at Aintree on account of the heavy ground and turns up here instead. 

Donald McCain's charge boasts a decent record over the larger obstacles - placed in 11 of his 13 chase starts to date - and has won off this mark previously. 

He was beaten a long way (77 lengths) on seasonal debut in a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham four weeks ago but the yard boasts a win strike rate of 21% over the past fortnight and sent out Wholeofthemoon to win the novices' handicap hurdle at Doncaster earlier today at odds of 80/1.

Betfred, Sky and bet365 are paying four places this race; at the time of writing both Minella Trump and Slipway are 20/1 with Betfred and sponsors bet365.

Sail Away makes most appeal of those at the head of the market; in a race where there will be plenty of pace Slipway is the each-way suggestion, priced 20/1 with Betfred and bet365. 


TW said...

SAIL AWAY (FR),159,0.2
NESTOR PARK (FR),156,0.1
SLIPWAY (IRE),150,0.05
CIEL DE NEIGE (FR),150,0.04

The system is quite keen on Sail Away but on balance a race I'll sit out.

Good luck!


GeeDee said...

Thanks for providing your ratings, TW.

See Twoshotsoftequila is now favourite.

TW said...

Virgin Bet December Gold Cup

MONMIRAL (FR),176,0.14
IL RIDOTO (FR),176,0.13
FUGITIF (FR),173,0.09
GRANDEUR D'AME (FR),172,0.07
FRERO BANBOU (FR),171,0.07
DO YOUR JOB (IRE),170,0.06
SO SCOTTISH (FR),168,0.05

Fakir D'Oudairies drift in the market (now 12/1 [4plcs 1/5 odds]) has been enough for him to become my Saturday bet. He has to lump 12-00 around 2 1/2 miles of Cheltenham but conditions suit and he has a great record when fresh.


GeeDee said...

Good luck!!

Sandracer said...

20/1 front runner? Sounds like my kind of bet.

Last one of those I had come in over the jumps was Beau, 16/1, @ today's C&D funnily enough. 23 years ago.. Can you say Millennium bug.

GeeDee said...

There'll be plenty of pace, Sandracer... :)

GeeDee said...

The sun may have been shining in Doncaster but it led to an unsatisfactory renewal of this race with just 10 fences jumped.

At the start Slipway (20/1) didn't look quite as keen as he had at Cheltenham and Beau Morgan needed to use up quite a bit of petrol to get to the front.

The selection raced prominently with Mister Coffey (9/2) but as they turned into the home straight for the final time, the jumping completed, he was quickly swamped by the field, eventually beating just one rival home in tenth, some thirty lengths behind winner Forward Plan (6/1).

Held up, Antony Honeyball's charge made ground to pass Mister Coffey at the omitted third last but had to face a renewed challenge from that rival as they ran to the line.

Well supported in the market, Twoshotsoftequila (11/4f) pipped Whistleinthedark (9/1) for third in the shadow of the post.