Friday, 4 May 2018

Boogie in the Morning!

Musselburgh stages a Class 4 5f Handicap at 2.40 today. The going is currently Good to Firm and a drying day ahead. There are 13 runners and the stalls will be on the stand side as usual.

There are a few in form horses here notably Lydiate Lady and Tanasoq but whether they can live with the pace of Fethiye Boy were he to return to his Class 3 winning Sandown form from last July is debatable. 

He's had a wind op and a change of stable since then and this is his second run since. This will be his 18th career start which leaves room for improvement and he is back on the same mark as that Sandown win where he beat a decent field which had Class 2 horses stepping down a grade rather than Class 5 stepping up. He showed blistering early pace in that and although he tired on the uphill finish he held on to win. He probably then came out to soon when running at Bath just 5 days later and he was last of eight on his next and last start the season.

He returned from a 220 day break at Wolverhampton on 24th March where he was quickly into a lead before understandably feeling the effects of his first run back. The stable have had 2 wins from their last 10 runners and it all looks set for a good show today.

Royal Brave won this race last season and has run well here on other occasions so should be in the mix under Daniel Tudhope. He has the plum draw but he will be dropped in rather than forcing the pace so it wont be of any benefit. Lydiate Lady has been on a steady upward curve since joining Eric Alston-she started her winning run off 48 in Class 6 and is now on a career high of 77 in Class 4 but on this quicker going the assured fast pace could well catch her out on this quick 5f track.

With Rapid Applause being a non runner we look at the second from that Beverley race that he won so convincingly and that is Tanasoq who came home two and a quater lengths in front of the third. Take the rejuvenated winner out of that race and he'd have looked impressive too. He's only up 2lb and is improving for his new trainer and is handily drawn in stall 12.

Fethiye Boy should give a good run for his odds of 12/1 and he is a value ew bet as he could well take higher rank than Class 4 as the season progresses.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Grand National Day 2018

I haven't got anything further to add than what I've already said in my previous posts below on the race in terms of selections.

The going is soft/heavy but nowhere near as heavy (when it should have been abandoned) when Red Marauder won. The race doesn't start until 5.15pm so the course will be drying up all day but it will still be on the softer side and those at the top of the handicap will find it tough carrying their bigger weights.

The fences may be softer but they still take some jumping and there are just as many fallers as there have always been so jumping ability is still a major priority. When the weights were published the first horse that came to my mind was Tiger Roll but he still jumps like a hurdler and although he has a lot of class it's not going to make him jump any better unless he has improved since the Cross Country chase which he won at the festival - he jumped through the last fence that day and he would'nt be able to do that here with something like The Chair if indeed he has survived that far.

There are so many views to take in and every 5 mins you hear something new that makes you think should I be backing that horse and you could go on and on and on and that is why you have to have a plan and stick to it come what may.

All that remains to say is have a good one and don't spend too much!

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Aintree Festival Day 1

I haven't got too many thoughts about todays races but it's a fairly damp feeling day in the Liverpool area so the official going shouldn't be changing that much - although there is a chance of rain, in some form, from this afternoon right through until tomrorrow afternoon.

Nube Negra will carry my ew money in the 2.20 following his good run at Aintree as will Posh Trish in the bumper who likes soft and won here in October.

Onto my two main selections - Kings Socks in the 4.40 Grade 3 Red Rum Handicap Chase over 2m which should be perfect following his very encouraging run at Cheltenham for the Pipe team and they will have learnt a lot about him there. I feel there must be some improvement to come as they could have protected his handicap mark for one of the big chases back at Cheltenham Oct/Nov.

Over the National fences for the Foxhunters at 4.05 and 22 runners go to the post so they will be cutting up the surface for later in the week. My fancy here would be Wells De Lune and I marked him down for this race after he ran at Bangor over 2m 5f in February on his first run for Mickey Bowen. Cheltenham was too far for him after he won at Ffos Las. He jumps well and leads which are good attributes to have here and his jockey knows him well so I'm expecting him at least to be placed if not win. Grand Vision is the best horse in the race and some would say that he also has the best jockey in Mr J J Codd so I wouldn't put you off backing him at 4/1 and Sam Waley Cohen has a better record than the professionals at this track so he must be thereabouts on Wonderful Charm.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Grand National 2018

Earlier in the year in February I did a blog post about my fancies for the National and provided a shortlist as follows:
Using the staying factor criteria as a starting point the ones I'm going to look at in more depth for win purposes only are Minella Rocco, Total Recall, Vicente, Tiger Roll, Chase The Spud, Seeyouatmidnight, Vyta Du Roc, Caroles Destrier, Abolitionist, I Just Know, Final Nudge and Milansbar who all have good staying form over the required 3m 2f or more in this class of race.
Most of the ones I've chosen haven't run in the National before which is an angle that I like as they wont have formed an opinion about the course in their own head yet and are therefore more likely to run true to form.

Since that date we have lost a few of those runners as they have been pulled out for various reasons and that now leaves us with Minella Rocco, Total Recall, Vicente, Tiger Roll, Chase The Spud, Seeyouatmidnight, I Just Know, Final Nudge and Milansbar. Another qualifier has emerged though in Anibale Fly.

The qualifying criteria for me is;
  • That they have been placed in a decent chase over 3m 2f or more (by that I mean something like one of the nationals or top handicaps or a grade 1 etc 
  • They have not run in the Grand National before 
  • They are aged between 8 and 11.

Another criteria I'm going to add is - days since they last ran.
24 of the last 25 winners had all run within 55 days of the race and 19 of those had run within 34 days of the race so that rules out for these purposes Minella Rocco who hasn't run for 69 days - although he has had a wind op during that time which could make him more attractive to some.

As this week has gone on the weather has thrown up plenty of rain northwards - so we can assume it will at least be soft and there could also be some heavy patches by Saturday so we have to be looking at those horses that stay and jump well in these type of conditions. The going certainly won't be as testing as when Red Marauder won when there was literally standing water on many parts of the track and only 13 were still in the race going over the Melling Road on the first circuit.

A good jockey is fine to have on your side but your selection primarily has to stay the distance and jump well for the jockey to be of any benefit come the finish.

Chase The Spud ran 49 days ago so has a lesser chance than the others above for win purposes.
Horses that ran at the Cheltenham festival are very unlikely to win here so that rules out Annibal Fly,  Total Recall, Vicente, Tiger Roll and Final Nudge-although they may well be placed.
Vicente could in any event take up the option of the Scottish National 7 days later in which he is on a hat trick of wins as he is unlikely to get his favoured spring ground here and he's very unlikely to run in both.

So that leaves us with a shortlist of Seeyouatmidnight, I Just Know and Milansbar and we need to look at those in slightly more detail:
  • SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT - 3rd in the Scottish National behind Vicente in 2016 when beaten three lengths and he is slightly better off with that runner here. Hasn't had much racing since then because of a suspensory problem and subsequent wind op. He is the only Scottish trained runner in the race and because he hadn't run for a while there is the prospect of him bouncing after his run at Newbury on 24th March when he finished 3rd. He is10 years old and has recently been purchased by Mrs David Thompson to run in the race. He has fallen once in a point to point back in 2013. He might thrive on his first run here or the whole thing may be too much to take in with little recent race experience - but he has an excellent jockey in Brian Hughes.
  • I JUST KNOW - Won the North Yorkshire Grand National Handicap Chase at Catterick over 3m 6f in January by 15 lengths putting in a relentless gallop from the front and won going away. He does just what he has to jumping wise so something unusual could catch him out but he could still be progressing. The stable have won this before with Aurora's Encore in 2013 at the rewarding odds of 66/1. I Just Know is 8 years old and is rated 145. He's been pulled up a few times but has never actually fallen.
  • MILANSBAR - He won the Betfred Classic Handicap chase at Warwick over 3m 5f on 13th January beating Cogry. An 11 years old he's run two more races since then when he was 5th in the Eider Chase over 4m and 2nd in the Midlands GrandNational over 4m 2f - so we know he stays very well. He has never fallen but has unseated once after being hampered in the Welsh National and he has pulled up a few times but not recently.
If I had to pick one of the three it would be I JUST KNOW. He could still be improving over staying distances, he's a young horse in terms of this race and his stable know what they need to win this. He was 50/1 back in February but is now only 25/1 - but that still represents great odds if he wins.

We need to keep an eye on the reserves too and they could be Road To Riches, Thunder And Roses, Delusionofgrandeur, Walk In The Mill or Vintage Clouds.
Road To Riches qualifies distance wise by his 3rd in the Gold Cup behind Coneygree in 2015 and is well handicapped off 142 here but he hasn't run for 62 days and has been out of sorts for a while it would seem.
Thunder And Roses won the Irish Grand National in 2015 and was 4th in 2017 race and has plenty of distance chase form but has fallen on his last two starts and has run in the National twice before.
Delusionofgrandeur has been 3rd in a Durham National at Sedgefield and 5th in Edinburgh National at Musselburgh and although he qualifies distance wise I'm not convinced they were good enough races to qualify on my criteria - plus he only ran 14 days ago.
Walk In The Mill hasn't run for 84 days and has not run over 3m 2f or more so fails on a couple of the criteria required by me for win purposes.
Vintage Clouds qualifies on the distance criteria by virtue of his 4th in the Welsh Grand National and he also has other big race form to his name over 3m 2f or more and he could be interesting if he were to get in the race.

Remember this is only my criteria for picking the winner you may have other thoughts or prefer to agree with someone else who has different views again. It's all a matter of opinion but generally I think things usually follow a pattern over time and that is what I am looking to do here.

I will be back on Friday afternoon with another blog post of my late thoughts for the big race.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Cheltenham Festival Review Day 4

Cheltenham Festival Review Day 4

Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle
This is a race I've had quite good fortune in over the years but unfortunately I'm currently only in a position to be able to watch racing.
In years gone by there used to be a famous girl singing trio called the Andrews Sisters. In the racing world we have our own equivalent of the Andrews Sisters in the talented Bridget and Gina Andrews and this years County Hurdle went to Mohaayed ridden by Bridget. Trained by Dan Skelton it became his second winner of the race in the last 3 years.
The first 6 home pulled 7 lengths clear of Brelade and the rest as they came up the hill but Mohaayed was well on top at the line as he was pulling away from Remiluc and Whiskey Sour.
Behind the front three were Chesterfield, Lagostovegas and Spiritofthegames(another Skelton runner ridden by his brother Harry). The stable may have had suspicions about the going for the winner but there were none in the staying department.
Whiskey Sour and Spiritofthegames both came with strong runs from poor positions having jumped the second last and the latter probably had more traffic problems. Chesterfield had commenced his run earlier and was better positioned turning for home.
I think the first 6 home can all be followed as the going and the sterner test obviously had a bearing on the result as it did in all races at this years festival.
Gordon Elliott ran three here and the best of the result wise was Brelade who finished 7th - he lost his right hind shoe and would have preferred better going so perhaps he is another to keep onside. Duca De Thaix was reportedly the best of the Elliott three but weakened before the last and could only finish 19th – last of the finishers.
Tigris River and Le Richebourg also both lost shoes during the race.
Handicap Ratings Update
Mohaayed - Up from 139 to 146
Remiluc - Up from 144 to 148
Whiskey Sour - Up from 141 to 143
Chesterfield - Up from 140 to 141
Lagostovegas - Remained on 146
Spiritofthegames - Remained on 139
Brelade - Down from 141 to 140
Duca De Thaix - Down from 136 to 135

Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
Turning into the home straight Fabulous Saga was several lengths clear and you were thinking how far was he going to win by but he almost immediately fell into a hole and dropped away into 7th in a matter of strides-if the race had finished at the top of the straight he'd have been getting an 7lb rise in the weights but as it is he remains on the same mark – at least in the UK.
The winner Kilbricken Storm was handily placed as they went onto the second circuit and by Oscar out of a Supreme Leader mare he possessed the staying ability to pick up the lead and draw away on the run to the line. Staying on behind were the oldest horse in the race OK Corral, Santini, Ballyward and Tower Bridge with Santini and Ballyward coming from the rear on only their 3rd hurdle starts so room for further improvement over hurdles and fences.
Behind the 7th home there were 14 lengths back to the 8th so it's probably best that we concentrate on the first 7 home for future engagements and looming chasing careers.
Following the race, the Veterinary Officer reported that CHEF DES OBEAUX (FR), which was pulled up, and ENNISCOFFEY OSCAR (IRE), unplaced, both lost their right hind shoes and CHRIS'S DREAM (IRE), unplaced, MULCAHYS HILL (IRE), which was pulled up, and PAISLEY PARK (IRE), unplaced, all lost their left fore shoes.
Handicap Ratings Update
Kilbricken Storm – Up 143 to 149
OK Corral – Up 144 to 146
Santini – Remains on 150
Ballyward – Uo 142 to 143
Tower Bridge – Remains on 142
Robin Waters – Up 138 to 140
Fabulous Saga – Remains on 145

St James Palace Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters Chase
I'm not particularly going to review this race but one interesting point concerned Foxrock who came to the attention of the stewards and their report is as follows:
The Veterinary Officer reported that a kit bag search of Alan Fleming, the trainer of FOXROCK (IRE), revealed possession of Pro-Dosa Boost Oral Paste, an electrolyte trace element replacer. The trainer, the Equine Welfare and Integrity Officer and the Veterinary Officer were interviewed. The explanation of the trainer that it was unopened and had not been used was noted. Being satisfied that the gelding had received only normal food and water by mouth on the day of racing, the Stewards allowed FOXROCK (IRE) to run and the gelding was routine tested. They further confiscated the substance, ordered that it be tested, and referred the matter to the Head Office of the British Horseracing Authority.
You may or may not remember that this Foxrock has previously courted his fair share of controversy in the past as once when in the care of Ted Walsh he lost his two front shoes at Punchestown in December 2014. This was subject to an enquiry that was later reopened and it was somewhat of a mystery as to when, where and how Foxrock had lost both his two front shoes. As a result of the enquiry Ted Walsh was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Referrals Committee.
Wells De Lune was probably over a trip too far this time having run well at Bangor earlier in the season and the Aintree foxhunter should suit him better being 5 furlongs shorter and a proper jumping test over the big obstacles. He was another to lose a shoe.

There have been more shoes lost at this years festival than at the blind mans ice rink!

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle
This produced another winner for the “Gordon Elliott Cheltenham Winning Machine” that he has apparently invented back at his stables! This time it was BLOW BY BLOW, a previous Grade 1 winner, who led the field throughout at a steady pace and was able to hold them all up the straight to win by 5 lengths. He'd gone well in blinkers on his previous start and Elliott thought he'd be well suited to Cheltenham and would like the going. He looks to be a good staying chaser in the making as he just keeps grinding it out and he could be back for the 4 miler or even the Gold Cup in time.
Second home was DISCORAMA who ran an unusual race as he was still last three out and at the top of the hill. He made steady progress coming down the hill but having turned for home he was still in 14th position but managed to keep his run going towards the far side to get into second at the line. He'd beaten the winner in a maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse at the beginning of December when he was 66/1 but this was his first handicap and only his 6th start so he looks open to progress for a trainer who plots them up.
Third home was Early Doors who'd been near the front throughout and this too was his first handicap and he's been running in Grade 1 races.
Sire Du Berlais was 4th for Elliott and running on up the hill. He'd only had the one run this season and that was after a year out so he did well in the circumstances to be placed in such a competitive race.
Flawless Escape was considered by Elliott pre race to be developing into a very smart individual and went off fav but he hit a couple and weakened after two out. This was only his 5th rules race and 6th in total and he's been dropped 4lb for this run so is one to watch.
An enquiry was held by the stewards into the running and riding of Dream Berry who was held up before making progress from the rear up the straight. It was his first start for 321 days but he's been 3rd and 2nd at last seasons Aintree and Punchestown festivals so clearly has an engine.
Hendersons Diese Des Bieffes (5th) and Pipe's Mr Big Shot (10th) are others to keep on the right side of.
Melrose Boy was struck into.
Handicap Ratings Update
Blow By Blow – Up from 144 to 152
Discoramma – Up from 136 to 138
Early Doors – Up from 142 to 143
Sire Du Berlais – Down from 144 to 142
Diese Des Bieffes – Up from 137 to 138
Lough Derg Spirit – Remained at 137
Dream Berry – Down from 143 to 142

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase
Paul Nicholls saved the best for last by winning this handicap with Le Prezien having earlier in the afternoon won the Hunter Chase for the second year running with Pacha Du Polder.
I had Le Prezien on my radar when he ran well here back in November in the Bet Victor Gold Cup behind Splash Of Ginge as he made relentless progress on the leading pair. He didnt run so good the next time and foolishly I deserted him here - Needless to say the stewards enquired into his improved showing in this.
Gino Trail ran a cracker for Kerry Lee from the front jumping well and leading them a merry dance for his age and in third was Top Gamble in first time cheekpieces also for Kerry Lee who was a little unlucky as he didnt get the greatest passage through the race and when it mattered.
Fourth and fifth were Theinval and Three Stars and in 6th was Paul Henderson's only runner at the meeting Doitforthevillage who was given an exaggerated hold up ride and was virtually last at the top of the hill so did well to run on as he did.
Rock The World bled from the nose, Three Stars lost his left hind shoe so did well to finish 5th and Townshend lost his right fore shoe
Handicap Ratings Update
Le Prezien – Up from 150 to 157
Gino Trail – Up from 152 to 153
Top Gamble – Up from 149 to 150
Theinval – Remained on 141
Three Stars – Down from 144 to 141
Doitforthevillage – Remained on 139

So there we have it another Cheltenham Festival concluded and we now begin the long search for next years gems!

Good Luck!