Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The Cross Country Glenfarclas Handicap Chase



This is another of those tricky races that most people who go to Cheltenham see as the time to visit the queue for the bar !
However all is not lost punters because this year the winner must surely be the french trained TOUTANCARMONT.
Trained by Madame Pacault this grey horse has shown exceptional form over the Cross Country fences in France and they look to be slightly more difficult than those at Cheltenham.
Toutancarmont dispatches double banks with ease and has a finishing turn of foot that should blow away any horses lying up with him as they turn into the straight.
Distance wise he can stay the longest race distances possible, as a 6yo he won the 4m 4 1/2 f Prix Anjou-Loire Challenge on Good to Soft in May 2013 and has won 10 cross country races in all at 3 different tracks so is adaptable course wise and when you watch him he is clever at his fences.
His jockey is Jonathan Plouganou and the only doubt to him running well is if his jockey doesn't study the course well enough and loses his bearings - other than that he will give you a great run for your money.

Selection - TOUTANCARMONT @ 8/1

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Cheltenham Preview Night - Aintree



I attended the Cheltenham Preview night at Aintree last night and the usual pundits and trainers were in attendance namely Charlie Longsdon, Ben Pauling, John Parrott, Andy Holding and John Morris.

The whole event was filmed by William Hill and this will be on their website shortly to view/listen to ?

Essentially the panel were all over the Mullins horses throughout - Douvan, Un De Sceaux and Faugheen on Day 1 and put up alternatives such as L'Ami Surge, Qewy (ew) in Supreme - Kitten Rock in the Champion Hurdle etc.
On Day 2 the two I noted in the Neptune were Windsor Park and Beast of Burden - in the RSA I noted Southfield Theatre - in the Queen Mother Hidden Cyclone(may run Ryanair).
On Day 3 in the World Hurdle I noted Monksland and Jetson(ew) and Module in the Ryanair and Day 4 in the Gold Cup there were words for virtually every runner and those that got more than others were Coneygree, Holywell and Djakadam.
But these evenings tend to cloud your judgment rather than help it and although you get some information of some use a lot of it is what you already know and I generally go to see if anyone backs up my own view.
Anyway you can form your own opinions once you have listened to what William Hill put out on their website in the next few days.
 

Thursday, 19 February 2015

More Cheltenham Thoughts



Well I am continuing with my theme on what are considered to be the fringe races at the Festival and looking at the now curiously named Foxhunter Chase.

18 of the past 24 winners have been aged nine or below and this year we have the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th all going again. The only one of those still in the age range mentioned though is 5th home Harbour Court (Best Price 12/1)who is aged 9.

Ireland had the first 3 home last year and are going for their fifth straight win in the race.

Those aged under 9 of the other possible entries listed on the RP website are - Aerial 9 (BP12/1), Current Event 8 (BP8/1), Pacha Du Polder 8 (BP12/1), Seventh Sign 6 (BP20/1) and Two Rockers 8 (BP12/1). The last two are the only Irish contenders aged 9 or under and both are trained by Adrian Maguire and were previously with Alan King.

Two Rockers is a serious horse, he won the Grade 2 Prestige Novices Hurdle at Haydock over 3 miles in February 2013 when with Alan King and in doing so easily accounted for Ardkilly Witness and Shotgun Paddy who were 2nd and 3rd of the 5 runners. However he rather lost his way a bit after that and that eventually led to him switching to Adrian Maguire and the change of codes. He was bought by Anthony Bromley back in 2012 for Masterson Holdings(owners of Balder Success) at the Cheltenham May Sales after winning a Maiden Point in Ireland in the previous month. He has always been thought to be a top class 3m chaser in the making and soft/heavy ground are ideal conditions for him and if he were to run in the Foxhunter and get his ideal conditions he would take some beating.

Of course the age range doesn't mean that those aged 10 or above will not win its just less likely. Baby Run was 10 in 2010 and Earthmover was 13 in 2004.

Salsify 10 (BP10/1) the winner in 2012 and 2013 (didn't run last year) is back to try for a third win.

The times of the last 5 years are :
2014 - Tammy's Hill - 6m 50.50s
2013 - Salsify - 7m 15.50s
2012 - Salsify - 6m 44.40s
2011 - Zemsky - 6m.37.20s
2010 - Baby Run - 6m.56s

The Raymond Smith Memorial Hunter Chase is considered the best Irish Trial. Salsify won it in the 2 years he won the Foxhunter and Tammy's Hill won it last year from On The Fringe. This year On The Fringe was second again to Prince De Beauchene and Salsify was 4th returning from his long absence. Prince De Beauchene doesn't qualify for the Foxhunter.

On The Fringe third in last seasons Foxhunter 3rd is best priced 6/1 to get the win this time, however Carsonstown Boy(aged 11) 2nd last year is best priced 33/1 with Coral. You may remember Carsonstown Boy leading from the off and being at the head of affairs throughout before finally being worn down by the winner. I would imagine he will be have been prepared with the race specifically in mind following his good show last season and he has his final run this weekend at Fairyhouse in preparation - a race in which Two Rockers may also be competing.

Another I like the look of is Paint The Clouds (BP 6/1), he doesn't fit any of the above trends but he was won all four Hunter Chases he has contested in good fashion since switching codes. His trainer Warren Greatrex said back in November that the Foxhunter was his main aim and that he thought he had a serious chance. He ran and won again this week and his trainer had this to say following "He is a real star and I have so much affection for him.  He jumped really well apart from 3 out and was given a race of it by Quinz going to the last before pulling away to win by 10 lengths.  It was a really pleasing performance as he had to give 15lbs to the second who was a fit horse.  I left him a little short fitness wise as I was keen that the race would improve him.   Sam was really pleased and said he was a little ‘gassy’ early on, which can be expected as it was his first run and he was happy to be back. Yesterday’s race will put him spot o for Cheltenham in just over 3 weeks’ time and let’s hope he can show what he is made of there.  He is now unbeaten in 6 starts over fences".
His connections however may have to find a different jockey as Sam Waley Cohen is likely to ride Warne if he lines up.

The current shortlist
Carsonstown Boy
Paint The Clouds
Two Rockers
Seventh Sign
On The Fringe

BUMPER UPDATE

Willie Mullins in an interview for Attheraces has said the following re his bumper horses :
 "Bumper horses: I see Au Quart De Tour is the favourite but he’s a little bit sick at the moment. To me Bordini has it all, but we’ll run as many as we can get in. Au Quart De Tour has been very good, Balko Des Flos has been good, Stone Hard has been very good. Pylonthepressure is the one who has taken us by surprise. I was going to run Up For Review at Naas and Pylonthepressure at Leopardstown but Pylonthepressure did an amazing piece of work and I switched them. To me Bordini has put in the easiest performance but that performance of Pylonthepressure at Naas was extraordinary – he ran away from a decent field.

Putting that with the interview from Patrick Mullins it looks as though the Mullins Bumper team will consist of Bordini, Balko Des Flos, Stone Hard, Pylonthepressure, Up For Review and maybe Au Quart De Tour and if you backed anything else you may have done your money. Of course those selected may be cut again depending on which horses actually get into the race.

        

 
       


 
      



       



       



      

 

       



        



        



        


 
         
 

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Cheltenham Bumper Payout !



Cheltenham is on the horizon and a race a lot of people tend to avoid is the Bumper or National Hunt Flat Race run on Wednesday.
I have had a look over the current likely runners and as this is the last race to close for the festival we are presently limited to just possible entries.
This like all festival races is run at a good tempo and I like to have seen at least some form whereby we have seen this already performed.
Willie Mullins is the master of this race having won it 8 times (4 wins in the last 10 years) and he currently has 15 possible entries(maybe more) a number of which dominate the betting with the head of the market being made up of Au Quart De Tour, Bordini and Up For Review. In fact Mullins has 8 of the first 15 in the current oddschecker best odds betting market and given that he relied on just 3 runners in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2 runners in 2011 this race is primed for some ante post value if you can be bothered to put the race to the fore of your thinking. If Mullins relies on 3 again that would leave a total of 16 possible runners at present.

However having viewed the best part of his current possible runners it is difficult to find any that have run at a similar tempo to what they will find come March save for Up For Review who led all the way and at this stage it is really up in the air as to which of his stables runners will be the main hopes and it will probably be whittled down to just one from each owner with entries in the race. Another of the Mullins contingent to have run at a good tempo is Very Much So (25/1) who won the Goffs Land Rover Bumper at the Punchestown Festival but he hasn't been seen since.

Of course he is not the only Irish trainer to have a winner in this race in the past and last years winning trainer Dermot Weld runs Vigil, who finished 5th in the race last year to his stablemate Silver Concorde.
Gordon Elliott has a couple in the betting, namely Tombstone and General Principle. Tombstone wont be going to Cheltenham according to his trainer and his comments in the Weekender re General Principle are as follows  "He is another with a bright future. He had his first run in a Kirkistown point-to-point in November when he won by eight lengths. He improved in leaps and bounds for that and it was no secret how much we regarded him as he was sent off at evens on his debut under rules at Punchestown this month, although it was still a pleasant surprise he did the job in such style, winning by 22 lengths. He is in very good form and, although he has the makings of a lovely chaser in time, he has bags of speed. He will go to Cheltenham for the Champion Bumper".(20/1 bet365)

The home team have had a couple of recent winners of the bumper in Cheltenian and Cue Card so it's not beyond the realms of possibility of seeing a home win again although the Irish team scuppered one of our best chances of winning when the Potts clan bought Supasundae out of Andrew Baldings yard and transferred him to Henry De Bromhead.
De Bromhead has confirmed Supasundae will be going straight to Cheltenham. He had beaten a competitive field with authority that contained 9 previous winners at Ascot back in December (3 min 49.80s) and the Potts family clearly liked what they had seen.
He is by Galileo out of a half-sister to Nathaniel and with his classy pedigree it wouldn't be the biggest surprise if this Flat bred ran on the level at some point.
His win at Ascot was gained at a good tempo and the chances are he will improve further on better going. Barry Geraghty said post race "He did it well. He picked up well from 4f out. I´ve never sat on him before, but he´s run on well and I´m delighted with that". Rio Treasure who had won two bumpers for Willie Mullins was 13 lengths back in third

There are still one or two of the home team that have a chance of collecting the prize so don't give up hope just yet and for me they are  David Pipe's Moon Racer, Philip Hobbs Wait For Me and Emma Lavelle's See The World.

Moon River, who was purchased by his connections for 225,000.00 after winning a bumper at Fairyhouse back in 2014 was the impressive12L winner of a bumper at Cheltenham in October. It was a race which contained a number of previous winners and his connections, despite temptations to run in other races at the festival, have stated that this race will be his target. You couldn't fail to be impressed by the manner of his win at Cheltenham, leading for all but the first furlong at a good tempo before powering away to win easily and at 12/1 with most bookmakers he is a fair price for this as I cant see him being out of the first 3.

Wait For Me, like Supasundae won at Ascot, only Wait For Me was on his debut against 7 previous winners and he was the only unraced horse in the field of 10 a feat only previously achieved in this race by Sprinter Sacre. Only a tenth of a second separates Supasundae and Wait For Me's two Ascot times with Wait For Me recording the marginally slower at 3 min 49.90s. Hobbs may be dreaming of further Bumper glory having won with Cheltenian.

See The World won at Wincanton at the end of January and if you haven't seen this race then get onto your replays and have a look as this horse ran an extraordinary race when winning and this clip is a definite for Question of Sports "What happened next". He is currently 16/1 and he is more of a speculative wager as we don't know if he is an above average horse or that the other runners were just poor - the second Lincoln County for instance was well beaten on Sunday.

Current Shortlist
Moon Racer - Martin Pipe
Supasundae - Henry De Bromhead
Wait For Me - Philip Hobbs
Up For Review - Willie Mullins

 

Monday, 16 February 2015

Go Zac Again ??



A few weeks ago I selected Zac Brown to win at Southwell and follow up his easy Chelmsford success on 11th January- however I didn't take into account his poor draw which he was unable to overcome, as many fail to do at Southwell, and he finished 4th beaten 3L to Perfect Pasture. 
Today he runs in the 4.10 at Wolverhampton over 5f. It is a Class 2 Handicap for a decent prize of £28k.
David Barron also runs Long Awaited and Graham Gibbons presumably had the choice of the two and opted for Zac Brown. Long Awaited came up against Royal Bajan and Megaleka last time out so you would think that Graham Gibbons is convinced that he has the better of  that form.
Boom The Groom brings some solid all weather form into this and Masamah is very good on his day but returns after a break so may just be found wanting today.
The one that could give Zac Brown most to do in my view is Basil Berry who was only just denied by Trojan Rocket last time out over 6f at Chelmsford when he was returning from a 4 month break. He travelled really well in that race and Steelriver and Mappin Time finished 3rd and 4th.
The draw often plays an important role here and Basil Berry is drawn 4 and Zac Brown is in 9 and that may just tip the balance in Basil Berry's favour and he can be backed at the ew price of 6/1 with most firms.