Friday, 15 November 2019

Saturday 15th November 2019: Lily Could Be Just Magic for Punters at Lingfield

Cheltenham returns this Saturday with the all-important November Meeting taking place, but given Friday’s cancellation and the headache of very heavy ground to contend with it could simply be a glorious watching brief at Prestbury Park rather than a big betting mission.

So, while contenders are emerging for the Cheltenham Festival in March over in Gloucestershire and that’s something we all should keep a keen eye on, there may be better punting value to be had elsewhere on Saturday.

This week we have a mix of flat and National Hunt tips with both the UK and Ireland in focus, beginning at Uttoxeter with a right old slog of a handicap chase: 

1.20 Uttoxeter (Handicap Chase) – PETITE POWER

While hoping to have more success a little closer to home on the heavy ground at Cheltenham, Fergal O’Brien sends just this one horse across to Uttoxeter and a look at the ten-year-old Petite Power’s profile suggests the trip could well prove to be worthwhile for both him and us.

Despite his age he’s only run 11 times over fences and possibly hasn’t reached his peak quite yet, so that fact allied with the information that he won very well last time out (suggesting he could be well ahead of the handicapper just now), as well as the fact that some of his better form has come on very soft ground, he has an outstanding chance at the weights.

Once rated 125 and coming into this race still 5lbs short of that figure despite going up for his latest win, he can see off a field here that includies place contenders Goodnight Charlie and especially Diger Daudaie, who is probably his biggest challenger based on my ratings but who with luck should be a few lengths short when it counts.

1.25 Punchestown (Craddockstown Novice Chase – Grade 2) – MOON OVER GERMANY

There is plenty of representation here from controversial Gigginstown Stud, however their fleet aren’t necessarily fancied to take this important Grade 2 race with Henry De Bromhead’s Moon Over Germany highly thought of and prepared to go in again here.

While having the benefit of being more experienced than the rest of this field it seems, Moon Over Germany also ticks the box of being an improver while his best form to date has been on soft ground and that bodes very well indeed for this contest.

Of the others in the line-up Éclair De Beaufeu and Mount Pelier look to be the best challengers, though with the popular Rachael Blackmore on board some attention (and no little money perhaps) will be heading the way of Notebook too before the off.

2.10 Lingfield (Gillies Fillies’ Stakes – Listed Race) – MAGIC LILY

These end of year races on the all-weather are still given somewhat of a bad reputation by punters, but the dark days of poor quality horses taking up space in such events are surely long gone and in the case of this particular Listed event, there could be at least one horse who still has Group race ambitions after the turn of the year and so it is important to keep an eye on.

The horse in question is the Group 1 placed Magic Lily for the Godolphin operation and, despite her injury and fitness problems, she can still figure at the highest level perhaps over in Dubai during the Carnival early next year with trainer Charlie Appleby very adept and winning out there for Sheikh Mohammed’s team.

Third to Laurens in the Fillies’ Mile two seasons ago when not beaten far at all, Magic Lily returned from a long old layoff when only just beaten at Listed level in France in early October, a performance only around 10lbs lower than her previous best at Newmarket.

With that run under her belt she can go on now, the daughter of New Approach promising to reach at least Group 3 level very quickly if not higher and so unless she has a distinct hate for this sort of surface, we should see a high-quality performance here.

Aidan O’Brien runs Simply Beautiful in this and we can never ignore one of his coming across the Irish Sea, the highlight of fully 13 runs this season probably being her third behind Fanny Logan.  She is solid, but we probably know her level now while there could also be strong performances from Scentasia and the overpriced and undervalued Maid For Life.

3.15 Lingfield (Golden Rose Stakes – Listed Race) – SOLDIER’S MINUTE

Lord North takes his chance again in the middle of Lingfield’s three Listed races and it would be great to see him win again as he climbs the racing ranks for John Gosden, but he is not a betting proposition at all at a best priced 4/6.

But, in the last of the Listed events over the quick six furlongs, we may see a big performance from Keith Dalgleish’s Scottish raider Soldier’s Minute and it seems he has been overlooked somewhat by the odds compilers, very much to our advantage it seems.

At prices reaching right up to 8/1 on Friday, the son of Raven’s Pass is great value having recently run easily a career best at Kempton over this trip when winning a fair handicap when well backed.

He can improve again from that performance and again has the assistance of the excellent Joe Fanning up top, and as a horse apparently getting quicker as he gets older moving from Kempton to Lingfield may well be another advantage for him leading to perhaps a new career high.

Likely market leader Gifted Master remains a solid proposition having run second over seven furlongs at this track recently, while the competitively priced three-year-old Leodis Dream of David O’Meara’s yard could also land a blow having done well to score over five furlongs across at Chelmsford recently.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Saturday 9th November 2019: The Last Day to Secure the Wedge at Aintree

With the flat season finale at Doncaster called off owing to monsoon-like conditions in South Yorkshire, we really have jumped head first into the wintry murkiness of the National Hunt season.

These are the afternoons jumps fans simply love and these five punts will hopefully bring some good value to us on Saturday, beginning with a quick trip over the water to Ireland.

1.05 Naas (Poplar Square Chase – Grade 3) – DUCA DE THAIX

We have the prospect here of an odds-on favourite, or at least a short-priced one anyway, but on bare form Willie Mullins’ Cilaos Emery isn’t exactly miles ahead of this field and his low mileage, usually a good thing, is due to problems which is always a worry for a punter and a handicapper.

Ornua will challenge him at the head of the market and came into calculations as well, but the value call is Gordon Elliott and Rachael Blackmore’s Duca De Thaix.  His forecast price of 5/1 is reflective of how his season tailed off last time around, but it is not reflective of his ability.

Before he arguably went “over the top” after a long and tough campaign, he’d reached a level last season good enough to win this sort of race and he may yet get better.

1.30 Aintree (Handicap Chase) – THE LAST DAY

Potentially this is a very competitive handicap chase to be run in the mud, so jumping mistakes will need to be at a premium and stamina will come somewhat to the fore despite the two-mile trip and the flat track.

While Lillington and Solar Impulse are in with chances and Charmant looks as though he can climb the ranks a little as the season goes on, it’s Evan Williams’ seven-year-old The Last Day who appeals most after a debut chasing campaign last season that saw him take in only four races, mixing it with some good horses and eventually winning well.

We are not yet close to seeing how good this horse can be over the larger obstacles and I’d think he has improved plenty over the summer, making his handicap mark look a little generous now and this would be a good prize for Evan Williams and jockey Adam Wedge to win, so no doubt he has been prepared meticulously.

2.05 Aintree (Handicap Chase) – OLDGRANGEWOOD

Another competitive heat on the Mildmay course but again one in which we can get some decent betting value, with Dan Skelton’s Oldgrangewood potentially well-in now after a break from racing and for going down in trip to today’s two-and-a-half miles.

The eight-year-old gelding has actually reached a handicap mark of 147 over fences before, however he runs here off just 136 so having been freshened up and having had wind surgery back in September it is hoped he’s back to his best now and if so, he’ll have plenty in hand at the weights.

Both Riders Onthe Storm and Cepage have capabilities and can get involved in the contest for sure, but at prices of around 8/1 advertised on Friday the selection is very definitely worth a small punt.

2.25 Wincanton (Rising Stars Novices’ Chase – Grade 2) – LE MUSEE

While recommending lowish stakes so as to not take too much of a risk, I think it might just be worth taking a bit of a punt on this Le Musee of Nigel Hawke’s yard in Devon at what is a hugely generous 10/1 at the time of writing.

While he pulled-up at Perth in September, he’s now been handed a visor to sharpen him up and it may well do the trick.  Before that run he had reached a thoroughly good level when scoring back there in the shadow of the Scone Palace on soft ground over two-and-a-half miles, something to consider carefully here.

The ground at Wincanton will take a little rain on Saturday, Le Musee is back at what looks like the right trip and he’s only rated 4lbs lower than likely short-priced favourite Reserve Tank so all in all looks overpriced.  Colin Tizzard’s horse has had to pull out the stops to reach that level, while Le Musee hasn’t been tested yet in a race of this magnitude and so it’s possible that he may just improve.

Solomon Grey and If You Say Run look to be best of the rest, but on known evidence should not be getting past the top two on this particular shortlist.

2.40 Aintree (Handicap Hurdle) – DIOMEDE DES MOTTES

The Pertemps Hurdle Series is always fascinating, always exciting and above all always competitive so there are no freebies to be gained from a betting point of view as the series goes on.

So, while on private ratings this race naturally came out pretty tight at the weights, especially between Diomede Des Mottes and Rosy World who topped the list in that order, it’s the former who just about gets the nod and he’s set to go off at a backable price.

Challenger Rosy World, a six-year-old mare, has no weight whatsoever and has put in some good performances on rain-softened ground and so she rates very highly.  The issues are that having done her best work at Plumpton over 2½ miles, we cannot guarantee that the three miles around Aintree in a hotter race can bring out the best in her and so caution is advised.

In the case of Diomede Des Mottes on the other hand, he’s won over this trip and on soft ground meaning racing conditions should not worry him, while last time out he ran a cracker to finish fourth behind Thyme Hill in a Grade 2 race and so quality is not the issue either.  He’s race fit, good value and deserves a little support.

Dan Skelton’s runner it is then, with Olly Murphy’s Skandiburg making the shortlist too although it appears he’ll need to improve a fair bit to actually overhaul our two, despite having the potential to go off as favourite come post time.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Tippin’ Jimmy's Jumps Horses to Follow 2019/20

Much changes in horse racing from one week to the next, but many times punters are caught out by ditching their own notebook horses after one bad run and this is something we should look to cut out.

As such, here are 20 National Hunt horses to follow for the rest of the campaign, all of whom are expected by their yards to go on and deliver success, at least between now and the spring festivals at Cheltenham, Aintree, Ayr and beyond.

Keep these names in mind, along with what their favoured conditions are, as we look to get an early betting advantage before the season gets going in earnest.

Ask Dillon (Fergal O’Brien)

Trained by the excellent Fergal O’Brien, some of his trainer’s personality traits clearly rub off on him.  He hasn’t jumped a fence yet, but as soon as he does and over a long enough trip, we should see his true talent come out.  He remains one to watch in advance of the festival.

Birchdale (Nicky Henderson)

Sent off at just 6/1 for the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival, Henderson has acknowledged since that his entry there was a mistake and that he simply didn’t stay the distance.

It’s thought now that he should be a major force over around 2½ miles and that he will yet make up into a top-class type.

Black Op (Tom George)

During an eight-race hurdling career, Tom George’s gelding reached a high level having been beaten only by Santini and Samcro en route to winning the 2018 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle.

His form tailed off, but having gone through wind surgery he returned to the track at Stratford at the end of October and simply blitzed his opposition in great style.  There’s no doubt he’s back, he will get better, and is likely to be kept at sub-three-mile trips at which he will be a major force.

Bourbon Boderline (Dan Skelton)

A look through his bare form to date wouldn’t get you too excited it has to be said, but as a full brother to the next horse on our list below, Brewin’upastorm, he is bred to be very good.

After taking a point-to-point by ten lengths he was third in a bumper at Warwick, a race he was expected to win, while this season he started off with another underwhelming performance over hurdles at Carlisle.  He’ll remain in the novice hurdle ranks and will hit his stride soon enough, so keep the faith for now.

Brewin’upastorm (Olly Murphy)

Having had a short hurdling career which culminated in a Grade 1 runner-up effort at Aintree, he’s already being sent over fences and recently battled his way to victory at Carlisle.

That was not seen as too impressive by many, but a few things went against him there yet he still scored and he’ll get a whole lot better as the season rolls on, the six-year-old being no forlorn hope for next year’s Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham.

Bright Forecast (Ben Pauling)

Despite being beaten twice when put into graded company last season, this five-year-old was improving pretty rapidly from race to race, culminating with a fine third place finish in the Ballymore Novices’ at the Festival.

His profile suggests he’ll improve again for going over fences and so look out for him moving on and up the ranks as he heads for Cheltenham, perhaps in the RSA Chase.

Champagne Court (Jeremy Scott)

Still hurdling at the moment and remaining consistent if not prolific in that sphere, he looks the perfect type to go chasing at some point and especially over three miles plus, so he should remain in the notebook for now and he’ll be of significant interest if switching codes as the season goes on.

Clondaw Castle (Tom George)

Improving very nicely for the switch to fences before being pitched in a little high in the Arkle, where to be fair he was a very good fourth on the day, he was arguably over the top when filling the same finishing spot at Aintree when beaten 23 lengths in the Maghull Novices’ Chase.

Having been freshened up he can return in much better order and off a mark of 144 would be of strong interest in a two-mile handicap, though he’ll make his mark in open races anyway as the months go on.

Fakir D’oudairies (Joseph O’Brien)

I really liked this horse’s chances in the Supreme Novices last season and, as just a four-year-old, it could have experience that got him beaten there although he ran a cracker in any case.

It goes without saying that experience will bring the best out of him, but also a look at his profile suggests more of a test will do the same and so this chap will be of strong interest if being tried out at 2½ miles or even further.

Fusil Raffles (Nicky Henderson)

The form surrounding Fakir D’oudiaires will crop up several times, and it does here.  Nicky Henderson’s four-year-old is two-from-two in Britain, has missed some time on the track due to a skinned leg and yet still took care of Joseph O’Brien’s horse by 2¾ lengths at Punchestown.

He’s one that could go for the Champion Hurdle potentially, but he will be of even more interest if turning up for the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton which I believe is a strong possibility.

Imperial Alcazar (Fergal O’Brien)

It was no surprise whatsoever to see this gelding break his maiden at Aintree having been stepped up significantly in trip to 2½ miles and he can go from strength to strength now.

That distance, plus plenty of give underfoot, appear to be prerequisites now for the son of Vinnie Roe to keep getting his head in front so do keep that in mind when checking out his future entries.

McFabulous (Paul Nicholls)

Getting the obvious out of the way first; this five-year-old is a Grade 2 winner already and is trained by one of the best in the business, so he’s not exactly a dark horse.

But Paul Nicholls is very, very keen on him and there’s little doubt that as a good jumper with the right yard he will stay really well and will be targeted at something like the Supreme Novices Hurdle for which he’s a very live contender.

Montego Grey (Dan Skelton)

Fourth on debut, fifth in a hot race at Ascot and then a cosy winner at Market Rasen, it’s fair to say Montego Grey’s bumper campaign was a success but we will only see the best of him when he has obstacles to clear.

When going novice hurdling over two miles, ideally on ground not too soft underfoot, we can expect some significant improvement and we should keep in mind that he’s in the right yard and working with some very smart types, something that should bring about a further upturn in his performance level.

No Regrets (Nicky Richards)

Even allowing for the fact that he was making his first bumper start, No Regrets did not have things go his way when fourth at Ayr in April.  It’s interesting that he was sent off joint-favourite for that race though and if the money had been right, we could be talking now about a very smart prospect.

If allowed to go hurdling this term, ideally over 2½ miles, we should see some good displays and potentially at good value prices too.

Pentland Hills (Nicky Henderson)

Only a young horse, in fact one who has close form with Fakir D’oudairies who is much respected here, he could just climb the hurdling ranks very rapidly this season.

He’s so talented in fact that his chances in next year’s Champion Hurdle are not dismissed and with that in mind, should he turn up in some top two-mile races over the course of the season at value prices he should be snapped up.

Poker Play (David Pipe)

Having apparently schooled nicely before a big improvement in his form when winning his second chase at Ffos Las, his trainer is looking forward to his season and rightly so.

With a love of soft ground and probably no further than 2½ to 2¾ miles, he should win his share of novice chases and perhaps will be underestimated if going into handicap company somewhere.

Ramses De Teillee (David Pipe)

The seven-year-old has already reached a good level but has so much more left to give yet.  His trainer plans to run him in novice hurdles – he’s already won at the Showcase Meeting – before aiming him at the major staying chases, including the Grand National for which he’d be the perfect age.

He’ll need a proper test with soft or heavy ground no problem, so should any rain fall at Aintree he should be remembered regardless of what he has achieved throughout the season.

Shishkin (Nicky Henderson)

The brilliant and irrepressible Nicky Henderson could have yet another good one on his hands here.

A point winner who won his bumper very well on debut for the yard, the five-year-old will go novice hurdling now and could be one that makes the very top rank with nothing less than the Cheltenham Festival on his radar.

Sofia’s Rock (Dan Skelton)

Rated 96 on the flat for Mark Johnston, the son of Rock of Gibraltar is bound to be decent and he’s already made a good start having won two hurdles on his way to being rated 142.

He’s been dropped a couple of pounds now after his starting this campaign with an underwhelming third place at Kempton, but that was at Listed level and much is expected of him with his trainer Dan Skelton having gone on record to say he believes he will have a good year.

Windsor Avenue (Brian Ellison)

As proven by the handling of the likes of Definitly Red and Forest Bihan, Brian Ellison knows how to get the job done in National Hunt racing and his Windsor Avenue certainly looks a chaser to follow.

A 134-rated hurdler, Ellison kept Windsor Avenue local when taking him to Sedgefield for his bow over the larger obstacles and he didn’t disappoint, landing the odds by a very easy 21 lengths.  If kept over at least 2½ miles this one remains of strong interest for the rest of the season.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd November 2019: Drink to Vino’s Classic Success

It’s a real crossover weekend, with the British jumps season getting going in earnest while on the flat there is $30million in prize money to be grabbed across two days of the Breeders’ Cup in California.

This has led to a busy betting weekend, beginning with Britain’s first all-weather Group 1 on the tapeta track at Newcastle, with stakes to be kept small and shared out as appropriate.

Friday 1st November 2019

6.00 Newcastle (Futurity Trophy Stakes – Group 1) – KAMEKO

This track makes the Futurity the test it needs to be, and while there are a few in with genuine chances we stick with the selection form Doncaster, Kameko.

Andrew Balding’s colt seems almost sure to improve for this slightly more stamina draining trial, putting him at a level akin to a typical juvenile Group 1 winner.  Spectacular debut winner Kinross could yet be anything and rates a big danger, alongside Aidan O’Brien’s first-string Mogul.  The joker in the pack is Verboten, who could have gone for the Horris Hill or even a novice race on this card.

8.12 Santa Anita (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint – Grade 1) – A’ALI

While the European team is nowhere near as strong as it could have been this year, they may yet get off to a great start with Simon Crisford’s Royal Ascot scorer A’Ali.

A three-time Group 2 winner, this colt’s form only dipped when going on heavy ground and it’s thought Frankie Dettori’s mount will love these genuinely fast conditions.  While he’s drawn wide, he is in fact only three gates wider than Kimari and one away from Four Wheel Drive, probably his main rivals and both trained by Wesley Ward.

10.12 Santa Anita (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf – Grade 1) – DAAHYEH

Another turf race and another Royal Ascot winner; Roger Varian’s filly should love it round here and while this is a very competitive race, she should have enough under the savvy William Buick to score ahead of fellow European runner Albigna of Jessie Harrington’s yard.  Sweet Melania is arguably best of the home bunch.

Saturday 2nd November 2019

2.40 Newmarket (Montrose Fillies’ Stakes – Listed Race) – ALPEN ROSE

While she’d have a major chance anyway based on her close up third in the Group 2 May Hill Stakes, it’s hard to believe Alpen Rose won’t come on significantly again for this softer ground and so it would be no surprise to see her bounce out from her draw right up the fence and gallop them into submission.

The opposition is plentiful despite the size of the race; Run Wild, Celestial Object and Peraceful all looking capable of landing a blow at some stage.

3.15 Newmarket (James Seymore Stakes – Listed Race) – LORD NORTH

The Cambridgeshire winner, one who also went close in the Balmoral Handicap, seems to go through this ground no problem and will relish the step up to a mile-and-a-quarter.  John Gosden is absolutely not obliged to keep this horse going but clearly feels he can win again, which he can do at the expense of Air Pilot and Indeed.

8.10 Santa Anita (Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile – Grade 1) – OMAHA BEACH

While he had other options at the meet and his rival, Bob Baffert’s Improbable, is bound to recapture his very best form at some point this Omaha Beach really should have too much for this field.

Richard Mandella’s three-year-old beat Game Winner in the Rebel Stakes over an extended mile, won the Arkansas Derby over nine furlongs (from Improbable) and beat improving Grade 1 sprinter Shancelot over six furlongs last time.  He’s versatile, classy, has a great record at Santa Anita and may have found the perfect trip.

9.36 Santa Anita (Breeders’ Cup Sprint – Grade 1) – SHANCELOT

A quality race, one in which we stick with the Santa Anita/Omaha Beach form.  Shancelot was beaten last time, but by what I believe to be a very high quality colt and given what he achieved in the Amsterdam Stakes in July, as devastating 12½-length win in a fast time, we know this three-year-old is top notch and there’s no way we’ve seen the best of him yet.

Favourite Mitole is arguably better over further while the impressive Imperial Hint is drawn wide and could struggle from that birth, unless he gets a lightning start.

11.40 Santa Anita (Breeders’ Cup Turf – Grade 1) – OLD PERSIAN

A race British and Irish horses traditionally do very well in, and while there’s no Enable this year the trophy could once again come back to Newmarket.

Anthony Van Dyck is shorter in the market than the selection, but he won a substandard Derby and hasn’t really gone on from that it could be argued.  Main American hope Bricks And Mortar is a proper horse but he’s done all his winning over a mile-and-a-quarter and is more comfortable there, leaving the value selection being Old Persian.

Charlie Appleby’s runner ticks so many boxes.  A dual Group/Grade 1 winner, he stays the trip well yet can handle a sharper test now (Dubawi’s tend to get quicker as they get older), he has the experience of a 16-race career under his belt and yet could still conceivably run a career best.  Big chance.

12.44 Santa Anita (Breeders’ Cup Classic – Grade 1) – VINO ROSSO

The $6million main event is wide open this year and so with no truly outstanding candidate, it’s hard to know what form line to concentrate on most.

Favourite McKinzie’s form doesn’t stack up when running around here compared with elsewhere, unless the focus is on speed and not stamina which it won’t be this time, while Yoshida is rock solid but has been beaten in his last five Grade 1 races.

The most interesting form line then is that of the duelling Vino Rosso and Code Of Honor.  The latter was a promoted second in the Kentucky Derby and won the Jockey Club Gold Cup last time, but only after Vino Rosso was controversially disqualified having passed the post first.

Vino Rosso is only just coming to himself, has just run a career best and can improve again, so given the value on offer and the fact that three-year-olds have a bad record in this event, Todd Pletcher’s colt gets the nod.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Saturday 26th October 2019: Odd One Out Could Take the Futurity

Cheltenham returns this weekend but it’s a little while longer yet before we see the big dogs over jumps, so with some unfinished betting business on the flat we allow Newbury and Doncaster to take centre stage this week.

1.40 Newbury (Class 3 Nursery Handicap) – VISIBLE CHARM

This, at least at first glance, is a very tight and tough to call nursery handicap but while the figures appear to show that the handicapper has very much done his job, there is one horse here who could yet improve beyond his mark.

That horse is Godolphin’s Visible Charm on the basis that in six consistent runs this season (one win), he is arguably yet to race in truly favoured conditions.

Finding himself going a little too far early doors, the more comfortable good ground six brought about some improvement when he won at Nottingham before he was once again stepped up in trip on unsuitably fast ground.

He continues to get better and put up his best run yet when third last time on soft ground, though once again that was over seven and so running on rain-softened ground once again but over this reduced trip should mean he pulls out a few pounds extra, enough to beat Shammah and Smokey Bear.

1.45 Doncaster (Doncaster Stakes – Listed Race) – ART POWER

This is another close race on paper, at least among those with enough form to analyse making the likes of Aberama Gold, Troubador and perhaps Aidan O’Brien’s Hong Kong much of a muchness.

The interesting one however is Tim Easterby’s colt Art Power, the least experienced in the field.  That fact of course means he is unexposed and potentially has more to give, a thought backed up by his easy win on soft ground at York last time.

While the opposition he beat wasn’t much, his time figure marks him out as potentially the best of this bunch so over the extra furlong but on a similar track, he gets the nod at a nice price.

2.20 Newbury (St Simon Stakes – Group 3) – ROYAL LINE

There are various angles to take here and a number of variables; do we treat last time out winner Morando as a genuine improver, or as a six-year-old with a few miles on the clock this term who may have flattened out?

Do we judge Young Rascal on his excellent three-year-old form, especially at this track, or as the horse who lost his form badly and who simply won’t be the same again?

Using official ratings for this one given that all the leading fancies are capable over the course and distance and in the conditions, Young Rascal still has a mark of 115 but has back peddled slightly.  Should 113 be more appropriate and taking into account the 3lbs he gets from the top two, that puts him on 116 at best.

Morando is now rated 118 after his Cumberland Lodge win at Ascot, but given the look of his profile overall and remembering that at 2/1 favourite a win was expected, he may have been inflated slightly with 116 being a little more appropriate.

Royal Line on the other hand, our each-way selection last week in the Long Distance Cup, retains potential and can yet improve further.

Rated 111 after his November Handicap win last term, he went on to improve when winning a Group 3 at Kempton but had his mark unchanged.  His third place behind Kew Gardens and Stradivarius was another step forward and he’s been raised to 113, but it is felt the two miles was too much for him and still more is expected.

John Gosden doesn’t run them quickly unless they’re absolutely bouncing and by now, to be considered for races as good as the one he was third in last week, he needs to be up at around the 118 level at least and it’s felt that’s truly where he belongs.  Should he manage that here, it appears he may be a couple of pounds too good for the field and is a nice price to boot.

2.50 Newbury (Horris Hill Stakes – Group 3) – KINROSS

We’ve seen many times before that juvenile performances that look spectacular aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be, but in the case of Kinross’s positively striking debut win at Newmarket it’s fair to assume he’s the real deal.

The 10/3 third-favourite was floundering back in third and the 5/2 jolly was miles back in second, meaning he beat the right horses easily and the clock backed up the visual impression he made.

Given the level I’d expect Year Of The Tiger, Surf Dancer and Boccaccio to get to Ralph Beckett’s charge should have too much and he can enter the classic picture with a win in a race taken by Mohaather last year.

3.25 Doncaster (Futurity Trophy Stakes – Group 1) – KAMEKO

This is the final Group 1 race of the season and one that many called a farce when it was revealed that Aidan O’Brien held eleven of the 12 entries at the five-day stage.

He’s not to blame for that of course, although he is now under pressure as having five of the final field of 6 under his care and still losing the race would be a cause for a little embarrassment, but lose it he just might.

His top two appear to be Mogul, the likely odds-on favourite, and Innisfree.  The former won a Group 2 at Leopardstown last time while the latter is a heavy ground Group 2 winner and is rated only 1lb behind.

Andrew Balding’s Kameko having had, like his rivals, three runs, is rated their equal officially but could have more to give.  Second in the Royal Lodge last time, Kameko was beaten by another O’Brien horse of a very similar standard to this pair.

Based on Roaring Lion though, for the same ownership and also by sire Kitten’s Joy, he may actually relish these softer conditions and it’s felt that he has as much if not more improvement in him than his challengers here so at prices up to 6/1 at the time of writing, he is the value call.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Saturday 19th October 2019: Ben to Battle to QEII Win

With only Champions Day at Ascot really in focus this weekend, we’d have been forgiven for thinking that we would have to keep bets to a minimum.

However, with all six races providing very viable betting opportunities despite the heavy going, we can attempt to go right through the card at the Berkshire track.

1.35 Ascot (British Champions Sprint Stakes – Group 1) – HELLO YOUMZAIN

A frightfully competitive renewal of this Group 1 sprint, it’s one in which a number of horses on the forecast going are potentially within a pound or two of each other allowing for improvement or regression.

The likes of Make A Challenge, Frankie Dettori’s popular mount Advertise, One Master and the hugely overpriced each-way option Forever In Dreams are possibly all in with a shout of landing this £330,000 prize but the one who stands out a little for me is Kevin Ryan’s Hello Youmzain.

Only a three-year-old with just seven runs under his belt, naturally he has more to give and boasts a record of two Group 2 wins and a Group 1 success.  He’s done it on very soft ground, finished a close third over the course and distance at this level and will be staying on when others have given up making him the value call under James Doyle.

2.10 Ascot (British Champions Long Distance Cup – Group 2) – ROYAL LINE (w/o favourite) 

This race, indeed the whole day for the organisers, has been about Stradivarius and the brilliant dual Stayers’ Million winner keeping his scoring run going.

On ratings, all things considered, I only get him marginally above his improving stablemate Royal Line though and so at 4/7 and 11/2 respectively at the time of writing, super little Strad is not a betting proposition.

Backing Royal Line in the without the favourite market could be the call, as he may win anyway or could just be good enough to follow his more illustrious pal home.  Should John Gosden walk the course and find that it’s too soft for Frankie’s intended mount also, then he knows he has a very able deputy to take his place and at that point I’d have Royal Line a couple of pounds clear of Mekong.

2.45 Ascot (British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes – Group 1) – STAR CATCHER

A high quality event and one in which we could see big performances from Tawnawa and Fleeting plus an expected improved showing from outsider Sun Maiden.

Seeking a four-timer and a third Group 1 win is John Gosden’s Star Catcher and she is the selection.  Having done it round here on the outer course in the Ribblesdale Stakes before winning the Irish Oaks in some style, she is a filly of great promise for next year and could get the better of stablemate and dual Group 1 winner Anapurna who I get very close on paper.

The final piece of the puzzle is that, despite this being the thoroughly capable Anapurna’s last racecourse appearance, Frankie Dettori has once again plumped for Star Catcher over the Oaks winner and he rarely gets it wrong so while she’s not a huge price, she remains the percentage call.

3.20 Ascot (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes – Group 1) – BENBATL

There has been strong money all week for French raider The Revenant on account of the heavy ground on the straight course, this being because the son of Dubawi has won his last six and seems to excel on rain-softened surfaces.

While he is a Group 2 winner and his form is improving, he is no superstar and he may yet be vulnerable in this sort of company, albeit there have been stronger QEII renewals.

Guineas winner Magna Grecia clearly has another big performance in him but it would have been interesting to see where Mohaather would have finished in the classic had he not been injured, his trainer reporting him in fine form now.

King Of Comedy is still of interest at Group 1 level although it remains to be seen whether or not he can truly handle this ground, which brings us to the horse who slammed him at Newmarket and that is Benbatl.

A Derby and King George fifth, a Royal Ascot winner, runner-up to Winx and a three-time Group 1 winner in his own right, the Godolphin horse ran probably his all-time best when taking the Joel Stakes by five lengths last time out and regardless of the ground he may just outclass this field under champion jockey Oisin Murphy.

4.00 Ascot (Champion Stakes – Group 1) – ADDEYBB

This is not the strongest Champion Stakes and trainer of second-favourite Addeybb, William Haggas, has even admitted that his charge is not really proper Group 1 class.

There are doubts about whether the ground will even be soft enough for him on the round course too but this being the third race to be run on the day around it, I’d say it’ll churn up plenty and he’ll be seen to his very best effect.

Crack filly Magical has put in some excellent performances but it’s been a long season and she has hit her highest ratings when chasing proper types like Enable and Crystal Ocean home, something she won’t be doing here.

Mehdaayih is overpriced for place money I feel, but Addeybb has so much in his favour that it’s hard to ignore his chances and he may yet be a thoroughly backable price.

4.40 Ascot (Balmoral Handicap) – LORD NORTH

If our bets are to be successful then this won’t be the Frankie Dettori whitewash many are expecting, though he may yet finish on a high.

Lord North took the Cambridgeshire in good style at Newmarket and with the ground perhaps not holding too many fears, he is still well enough handicapped to wrap up another big event before the season is out from his high draw.

Course form could be important and so the likes of Kynren and Clon Coulis enter calculations, however our boy remains a Group horse in a handicap and can win again.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Friday 11th & Saturday 12th October 2019: Quad to Motor Past Fillies’ Mile Rivals

The star draw on a busy weekend of flat action is undoubtedly Pinatubo, the highest rated juvenile in many a year, but at 1/3 he is not a betting proposition for us.  We have three value bets from each day of the meeting at HQ, beginning with a classy Group 2: 

Friday 11th October

3.00 Newmarket (Challenge Stakes – Group 2) – LIMATO

A fascinating Group 2 race with challengers coming from different generations and having won over varying distances.

Six-year-old Mustashry of Sir Michael Stoute’s heads the betting and it’s hardly surprising given his form this year.  After taking the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes in May over a mile, he came back to form when running a fine fifth behind Enable in the Eclipse over 1¼ miles so this drop to seven furlongs is an intriguing move.

3yo Shine So Bright has a good future ahead of him and he’s already a Group 2 winner, however it means that just like Mustashry he is penalised for this and so he may find things tough on this ground.

The solid one over the course, distance and ground and who escapes any weight penalties though is crack top-level seven-furlong performer Limato and he is good for one more win.  He was as lively as ever when winning the Criterion Stakes over on the July Course this summer and retains enough ability to take care of these rivals at the weights.

3.35 Newmarket (Fillies’ Mile – Group 1) – QUADRILATERAL

The Irish challenge is strong for this Group 1 with Jessie Harrington’s Cayenne Pepper and Aidan O’Brien’s Love both very capable, however they may struggle ultimately to keep up with the latest star off the Juddmonte production line.

Roger Charlton’s Quadrilateral was not fully fit for her debut but won well nonetheless, while she took a huge step forward to score at Newbury last time by nine lengths and a look at the form of her rivals that day suggests that at 103 she has been underrated.

More improvement is to come and her connections have stumped up a lot of money to supplement her here, so it’s thought she’ll be too good for this field with her relatively wee classic odds for 2020 no doubt about to be shortened further.

5.20 Newmarket (Pride Stakes – Group 3) – FANNY LOGAN

There is a strangely busy overseas challenge for this card-closing mile-and-a-quarter fillies’ Group 3 with runners from France and Ireland looking likely types.

Of them the best look to be Pia Brandt’s Queen and Aidan O’Brien’s Simply Beautiful, but while the race remains competitive in nature, they really shouldn’t be getting to Fanny Logan with all being well.

John Gosden’s former Oaks candidate has really picked up since July, winning three off the bounce on all different types of ground and all at Listed level.

She stays well, is improving and if anything put in her best performance on soft ground so wouldn’t mind more rain.  That day at Salisbury she ran to a level that would make her a place contender in a typical 3yo fillies’ Group 1 and a repeat of that would be enough to win here.

Saturday 12th October 

2.20 Newmarket (Zetland Stakes – Group 3) – VOLKAN STAR

Godolphin could have a very good weekend on the track to compliment the amazing time they’ve had in the Tattersalls sales ring this week, and while we can’t have any of the brilliant Pinatubo at his perfectly understandably restrictive odds in the Dewhurst Stakes, we can grab some value with their Volkan Star.

Having outclassed and outstayed his rivals over a mile to win easily last time out, the Sea The Stars colt should really appreciate this extra test of stamina.

He has achieved just about as much as his main rival Mythical, though he’s had more time off the track to fill out and improve and will appreciate this race distance more than most of the field.  Miss Yoda is another to consider for minor honours.

2.55 Newmarket (Autumn Stakes – Group 3) – MOLATHAM

Arrangements for the Coolmore horses have been fascinating here, with John Gosden training Cherokee Trail who looks their better candidate and that leading to him being ridden by the world’s best jockey in Frankie Dettori.

Ryan Moore however rides, as he usually does, for Aidan O’Brien aboard Persia who therefore carries the team’s first colours but it may simply be that neither of these two are good enough to land this race.

The two to take against the field are probably Al Suhail of Godolphin and Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Molatham.  The former was a good third behind Positive in the Solario Stakes and is clearly improving, however the latter’s win at Doncaster meant it seemed he was on course to tackle this one-mile trip at the top level back there in the Futurity Stakes.

This level is a little easier and if we take his winning form ahead of Wichita literally, not that we necessarily are, then he’d be a stone better than this lot so he gets the nod.

5.20 Newmarket (Darley Stakes – Group 3) – CROSSED BATON

There are the usual solid Group types in this race including Dolphin Vista and Mark Johnston’s consistent all-weather star Matterhorn, but the one who has been weirdly underestimated is Crossed Baton.

Trained by John Gosden, ridden by Frankie Dettori and once seen as a classic contender, you’d have thought this son of Dansili would have gone off favourite but that is not looking likely at the time of writing.

He had wind surgery in the winter, ran poorly on his comeback and was then gelded before another uninspiring performance at Epsom back in August.

But, he’s already reached a level at three to show himself capable of winning this and, more pertinently, he’s been working alongside Enable in order to get her fit for her recent engagements and will no doubt have been improved a tad by that as well as being much more match fit that some would care to realise.