Wednesday, 13 April 2016

A New Dawn

With Cheltenham and Aintree now out of the way the focus is gradually winding up with the flat and Newmarket in the spring gives you hope of warmer weather and brighter days to come.

I commenced a new chapter in my life yesterday as I took charge of the keys to the premises which will house my new shop and consequently that will mean fewer posts over the next few months.

However I will try and concentrate on the big sprints mainly on Saturdays and where time allows maybe a few other bits.

The Grand National itself was a cracking race - however a few none racing people have said to me that the whole spectacle just doesn't seem the same. Most people grew up with the BBC coverage and their iconic camera shots of the fences coupled with the timeless commentaries of Sir Peter O'Sullivan - but you have to move with the times and Aintree has done that in creating a race that still has the drama but is not too daunting for the horses. The sell out crowd and the big tv audience shows that the Nationals charm and appeal is here for a long time yet.

My own highlighted horses didn't too badly - although Ucello Conti was the only one you could have got paid out on if you had put your bet on with Victor Chandler who paid down to sixth place.
The Aintree preview came up trumps as Andy Holding's charity bet Rule The World took centre stage meaning that the Kirkby Scout and Beaver Groups were able to benefit from that as well as the charity auction.

Onto today and there is a sort of mini festival on at Cheltenham as well as the second day of the Newmarket meeting.
The conditions were pretty soft at HQ yesterday but after a dry night things have improved to Good to Soft.
There is a very poor turnout for the 100,000 Tattersalls Millions 3yo sprint with only 5 runners and the course must be very disappointed. The best race sprint wise is the 5.40 Turf TV Handicap over 5f in which 11 go to post.
There are a few in here that I've had my eye on in the past and Brando looks to be an improver off a mark of 88 for Kevin Ryan however he has to give 5lb to recent AW scorer Equally Fast who is also lightly raced. He only went up 2lbs on the ratings for his win at Lingfield and it was a race in which he really showed his will to win. His race fitness advantage and likely further improvement could give him the edge over Brando although he would prefer the going to dry up a bit more An outsider could be Soie D'Leau who gets the assistance of Sylvester De Sousa but today I'm going to go with Equally Fast in the hope that the going by 5.40 will be a bit faster and they don't have any showers.

Equally Fast - 1 point win @ 6/1 with William Hill (11/2 with Paddy Power and Bet Victor and 5/1 elsewhere)

Friday, 8 April 2016

Aintree - The Grand National

The big one is here !!

Lets get straight down to business and concentrate on the main event which starts at 5.15pm on Saturday.

Run over 4m 2f 72y this is still a test of stamina and jumping ability despite all of the changes - which mostly have been for the better as we all have the horses welfare at heart.
Forty horses all tuned to the minute in the classiest National we have ever witnessed to date - its going to take a supreme horse to win this.

I am not going to go through every contender in the race but I will just concentrate on trying to push you in the right direction as I see it. You of course will no doubt have formed your own views throughout this season and maybe even last.
The bookmakers would have you believe that there is 92 points between the fav and those at the bottom on betting points but there is in reality only 20lb between them on weights and you could make a case for any of the runners winning the race.
One thing I have noticed is the amount of headgear being worn in the race - and by that I mean blinkers, cheek pieces or hood and 21 of the 40 runners wears one of those apparatus. A few horses have won with blinkers in the past but I would consider this a negative as it usually means the horse has some sort of quirk and not straight forward.

Last years winner Many Clouds does go there with every chance again but apart from Red Rum most horses return to Aintree a little bit apprehensive about taking on the task again and I am usually keen on siding with horses that are running in the race for the first time.
Unfortunately one of my fancies just missed out and that was Knock House and he now runs in one of the other races.
Ucello Conti is probably my main fancy as he looks to have been laid out for this by Gordon Elliott. Cause Of Causes was also entered for the stable but I don't believe this was his main target as he won at Cheltenham. So Ucello Conti is the stables main contender in my view and he has some very good placed form in top Irish handicaps this season. He is a half brother to Silviniaco Conti but carries a stone less and Silviniaco Conti is considered to be well in at the weights on his recent form so you could say that Ucello Conti has plenty of room for improvement on his rating as he's only gone up 7lb in his 3 runs for the stable. He handles going on the softer side and you would hope that he would stay well. He has a change of Jockey for this in Daryl Jacob who won on Neptune Collonges and he should bring a lot more to the table than his recent rider Jacques Ricou.
Plenty of people have written off Home Farm but he was a real fancy of mine a couple of years ago but didn't get into the race. He finished 5th behind Cause Of Causes in the 2013 Paddy Power Chase having finished 3rd in the Irish National off 10-3 which was the form which drew me to him. He runs off 10-4 tomorrow and he will think he is running loose and I hope he can outrun his odds of 100/1.
Morning Assembly ran a good race at Cheltenham and he's the sort of horse who will travel well which is a big part of the outcome of this race. He's lightly raced this season and has the wise Paddy Brennan in the saddle.
Vieux Lion Rouge is another that ran well at Cheltenham in the amateur riders National Hunt Chase and the stable have booked James Reveley which is a positive sign - but he's one of the runners that wears cheek pieces.
Ballycasey also ran with credit at Cheltenham over a trip short of his best and that will have been a good warm up for this and Katie Walsh should get a good ride round on this one. The horse fell early on last season so shouldn't have too many bad memories of the place.
Black Thunder has been on my radar all season but things haven't quite gone to plan. I think he could run a big race now that the Waley Cohen's have purchased him as he gets the assistance of possibly the best jockey in terms of placings at this course in Sam Waley Cohen who is worth several pounds round here.
There are plenty of others in with big chances but I'm not mentioning them all and if you have a strong view on something I wouldn't put you off backing it - its a very close race but one you should savour because as I said at the beginning its the best we have seen to date.

Looking at the other races :
1.45 - If there's any justice in this horse racing world then If In Doubt will gain compensation for his very unlucky run at Cheltenham with Long House Hall running him close.
The next three races are all small fields so I will give those a miss as prices will be short.
4.20 - I've already said above that I was disappointed that Knock House didn't get in the National but hopefully he can get some luck here. He ran an eye catching race in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham and only the winner Cause Of Causes was going better but Knock House was given plenty to do by Nina Carberry before running on to finish 4th and she will need to be quite a bit closer to the action tomorrow.
6.10 - Bigmartre could make it a great meeting for Harry Whittington who was positive at the preview evening about his chances in this. They won't be vying for the lead this time and will be dropped in by his jockey.

Grand National - My 4 against the field
Ucello Conti 1 point ew @ 25/1 with several bookmakers
Home Farm 0.25 points ew @ 100/1 with several bookmakers
Morning Assembly 0.50 points ew @ 25/1 with several bookmakers
Black Thunder 0.25 points ew @ 80/1 with Paddy Power - 66/1 elsewhere

Other races
Knock House - 1 point win @ 9/1 Paddy Power and Betvictor
Bigmartre 0.50 points ew @ 14/1 Bet365 and Betvictor