Friday, 22 March 2019

Saturday 23rd March: Stone to Fufill his Destiny at Lingfield

With the Festival behind us and the excitement of the Lincoln and Dubai World Cup day still a week away, this promised to be a rather dull Saturday for betting purposes but in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

Sunday sees Ireland start their flat turf season at Naas with pattern races backing up the Irish Lincolnshire, though while those races will be fascinating to watch we cannot have a strong view on any of them at this stage.

Back in the UK, Kelso stages its Party in the Paddock race day live on TV and we have one value selection from there, Newbury’s Jumps Season Finale provides us another bet but we begin on the flat at Lingfield with one of three punts from the trouble Arc track.

2.35 Lingfield (Class 5 Novice Stakes) – MOFTRIS

Taking a glance at this race on paper wouldn’t fill you with joy and it certainly doesn’t look at a glance like a race you’d want to get seriously involved in, but just watch out should any good money come late Friday/early Satruday for this Moftris.

William Haggas’ Sheikh Ahmed colt, a well-related son of Ifraaj out of a Dubawi mare and bred by Godolphin, didn’t show an awful lot on debut but will clearly improve plenty and can leave that distant third of 4 at Chelmsford well behind now that he has the experience under his belt.

As the 15/8 second favourite he was expected to push the odds-on winner very close last time, perhaps even win on debut in fact, and assuming the normal rate of improvement along with the 7lbs he gets from leading form contenders Fields Of Athenry and Metatron he can get his head in front this time under James Doyle.

3.10 Lingfield (Class 3 Handicap) – INSURGENCE

The key piece of form here appears to be Sha La La La Lee’s win over the course and distance three weeks ago and while Tom Dascombe’s gelding has a chance of following up at these weights, conditions should be different this time in that he may not get quite as easy a lead.

On top of the fact that Sha La La La Lee might not get things his own way up front, either by being taken on at the head of affair or at least being obliged to go quicker given the larger field, James Fanshawe’s Insurgence will appreciate the faster run race and is now 2lbs better off with his old rival.

Like Sha La La La Lee, Insurgence is a four-year-old with plenty of improvement still to come so with conditions set to suit him best of all he can score under Daniel Muscutt.  Second in the key race we’ve reviewed was Family Fortunes and he is another who rates a place chance for Michael Madgwick and jockey Scott McCullagh.

3.15 Newbury (Mares National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle Series Final Handicap – Grade 2) – THE WHITE MOUSE

This is a competitive affair, as you’d expect, but the one with the form in the bag and crucially more improvement to come is Lucy Wadham’s mare The White Mouse.

We can significantly upgrade her win at Doncaster last time given that in a slowly run three-runner race the figures are never going to be exciting, but her success at Lingfield in November allied with that Donny win is a good indicator that she has the ability yet gets in here off a mark of 125 and that seems lenient to me.

Nicky Henderson’s She Mite Bite and Dan Skelton’s Etamine Du Cochet are next on the list and each have fair chances, but it may pay to go with the one with more as yet unseen ability with Leighton Aspell in the saddle.

3.35 Kelso (Class 2 Handicap Hurdle) – CAPTAIN DRAKE

Harry Fry sends up this six-year-old gelding and he’s one who’s shown as much versatility on the track of late as he has improvement.

Having won a 2m4f maiden hurdle at Uttoxeter on heavy ground back in December, quite easily I must add, he went on to win again at Southwell on good ground over three miles and as he was left clear by a faller at the last he did so in effortless fashion meaning we don’t even know what level he could have truly reached that day.

As it was he ran to a mark of around 127 or so, which is his handicap mark now, but clearly he could have pulled out another 3 or 4 pounds if he’d needed it that day, will have gone forward again since then and handles just about any ground.

He gets the vote then at a decent price ahead of Paul Nicholls’ recent winner Worthy Farm and the Gillian Boanas-trained Teescomponents Lad.

3.45 Lingfield (Class 2 Handicap) – STONE OF DESTINY

We should never lose sight of the amount of improvement early four-year-olds can offer and so while this is a tight handicap in which plenty have chances, there is some value in backing Stone Of Destiny to small stakes.

Having run third to Encore D’Or at Newcastle, third to Katchy round here over 6 furlongs at Listed level and then run second in a very valuable race in Doha his form is not in question and I’m sure given his raw pace that going down to five furlongs is what he needs now.

At four years old, trained by Andrew Balding, ridden by James Doyle and drawn in stall 2 there are no other obvious negatives against him and at 4/1 or above he looks a fair prospect.  Royal Birth is next on the shortlist while we can’t ignore Corinthia Knight who keeps trying hard around this track and whose day will come.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Saturday 16th March 2019: Sam’s Adventure to End with Success

After the drama, emotion, sadness and unbridled passion and joy of the Cheltenham Festival comes what has to be said is a run of the mill Saturday of racing, save for the Midlands National should it definitely go ahead, but always there are betting options placed on the table and we have a handful of them

We reach a turning point in the racing calendar now as over the next few weeks the National Hunt game will have one last hurrah at Aintree before fully handing over the limelight to the stars of the flat and while ours aren’t stars, we have a couple on the level who look very backable in Wolverhampton’s evening meeting.

We start with Kempton’s Silver Cups day and a couple of big value bets in both the feature races:

2.40 Kempton (Silver Plate Handicap Hurdle) – TOWNSHEND

This is a very tight handicap with at least four of the runners very hard to separate, namely Mahlervous, Honest Vic, My Way and Crystal Lad who all have place chances.

The competitive nature of the race should ensure that it is fairly run and will mean this Townshend, improving with every run this season and acting well for conditional jockey Joe Anderson after a wind op, should be able stay on past them in the last furlong or so.

Despite his latest runner-up effort at Wincanton he was put in at a crazy price on Friday afternoon, a general 10/1 shot on the first showing, and is worth chances now that he has seemingly got his act together for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.

3.15 Kempton (Silver Bowl Handicap Chase) – VALUE AT RISK

There could be plenty of value, appropriately you’d say, in Dan Skelton’s Value At Risk who despite some sketchy form has the ability even at the age of 10 to see this lot off from his current handicap mark.

Two outings ago at Market Rasen in January, the Kayf Tara gelding ran close to his career best when scoring off a mark just a pound lower than he gets in here off and with plenty of question marks next to his rivals he may be the one at a big price.

Both Brother Tedd and Kayf Blanco are in a similar position and can run into the money, but at the odds bandied about on Friday Value At Risk could be one worth chancing to small at stakes with perhaps even room to take him each-way to play it safe.

3.45 Newcastle (Northern Staying Novices’ Hurdle Series Final Handicap) – SAM’S ADVENTURE

Confidence can’t be sky high with this one given that, having shown good improvement over his first three hurdle starts, he ran poorly in these conditions over the course and distance last time out leading some to believe he doesn’t act around Newcastle.

He was a little keen that day though and wasted a fair amount of energy so assuming that was the reason for his failure and that it has been eradicated, he should be able to improve past this field to score at a level he’s more than capable in.

Brian Ellison loves a winner in his home town so I’m sure the son of Black Sam Bellamy will have been prepped to perfection too, just watch out for any strong money coming for him late on Friday or early on Saturday as if the stable are very confident the price is in danger of collapsing.

Lord Du Mesnil and Stop Talking, the latter seeking a four-timer in this race, are probably next on the shortlist and can fight it out for the places.

6.15 Wolverhampton (Class 3 Handicap) – SALUTE THE SOLDIER

This is another tight looking race but crucially the selection has, on the balance of things at least, more chance of progressing from where he is right now than the others do and rates a fair bet to go one better than when last seen 105 days ago.

Before his break he had won two on the bounce before losing out only to the battle-hardened and progressive Original Choice who has since tried his luck in Dubai.  All of these runs were on different all-weather surfaces too which proves his versatility though it seems his best may be saved for the Tapeta.

The quality combination of trainer Clive Cox and jockey Adam Kirby may be the ones to follow here with David O’Meara’s solid yardstick Ballard Down next on the list ahead of Tough Remedy, who perhaps would have had a better chance if had he been a little better drawn.

7.15 Wolverhampton (Class 3 Fillies’ Handicap) – TIGER EYE

In fillies’ handicaps such as this the form is often sketchy but the trick is usually to find a young filly who is improving, or at the very least hinting at improving.

James Fanshawe’s four-year-old filly Tiger Eye is moving up the ranks nicely and fits the profile after winning easily at Lingfield Park last time and, perhaps even more pertinently, scoring over the course and distance in a novice race back in January proving that she acts on this surface.

She’s been given an opening handicap mark of 83 which seems pretty generous to me, so while she won’t be a huge price in the market come Saturday evening she can be backed pretty confidently to secure a third win in four starts under jockey George Wood.

Toy Theatre, the top weight who is on a hat-trick, and four-year-old Treasure Me who much the like the selection can improve in the early part of 2019, are next on the list.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Saturday 9th March: First to Get the Imperial Winnings Flowing

We have one last chance to build our Cheltenham betting banks up and while we have a good value shout in the ultra-competitive Imperial Cup at Sandown, the bulk of our betting opportunities come some 4,000 miles away in Dubai as Super Saturday takes place in advance of the Dubai World Cup day on March 30th.

It’s an early start so make sure you’re on the ball, and be on the lookout for World Cup winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic third Thunder Snow making his comeback in the Maktoum Challenge at 2.55 though he’s not always at his best first time up after a break.

We start with the Listed race at Meydan however and a filly who should be seen to good effect back in Britain at some point over this coming summer on the turf:

12.35 Meydan (Al Bastakiya – Listed Race) – DIVINE IMAGE

She’s taking a little bit of time to get used to things in Dubai having started off in Britain, perhaps specifically the dirt surface at Meydan which catched some newbies out, but having made such a wonderful debut at Chelmsford it’s clear this daughter of Scat Daddy has a very big future in the game.

Having blown her chances in the race completely before staying on for second place in an unsatisfactory running of the UAE 1000 Guineas, Charlie Appleby’s filly took her time once again to get going in the Group 3 UAE Oaks before winning on the line last time out and she gets into this race without a penalty.  More significantly perhaps, major improvement is expected now.

Fellow Godolphin runner Estihdaaf carries the first colours for trainer Saeed bin Suroor and jockey Pat Cosgrave having won the UAE 2000 Guineas but he’s drawn wide and arguably doesn’t have as much improvement in him as the filly who gets the nod to get us off with a flyer.

1.45 Meydan (Burj Nahaar – Group 3) – AXELROD

Phoenix Thoroughbred, known for not being slow to shift their horses around when needs be, had this American-bred solely trained in the States as a two and three-year-old where his form stands up very well in the context of this race.

They have ambitions to win with him on Dubai World Cup day and so despite perhaps needing the run, we can expect Axelrod to be no bit-part player in this race and this Group 3 level is well within his compass.  His form with McKinzie last year puts him way up around the 120 level if his improvement has continued and that would be more than enough to win today.

Doug Watson keeps improving his horses and his Muntazah knows his way around here, so if still in the same form as when winning at Meydan three weeks ago he rates as the obvious danger but the value lies with Axelrod for connections who also have the former Jeremy Noseda runner Gronkowski performing later on the card against Thunder Snow.

2.20 Meydan (Dubai City of Gold – Group 2) – OLD PERSIAN

Godolphin’s domination of these races looks set to continue and last year’s vastly improving Great Voltigeur winner Old Persian can kick his belated carnival form off with another Group 2 win under star man William Buick.

Charlie Appleby’s four-year-old Dubwai colt went off well fancied for the St Leger at Doncaster following wins at Ascot and York last backend but this trip is his ideal and its thought this race could put him spot-on for the big day in three weeks’ time.

David Simcock sends 7yo globetrotter Desert Encounter for this as well and he could be a little overpriced given his overall profile, rating as the main danger ahead of the improving Spotify.

2.25 Sandown (Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle – Grade 3) – FIRST FLOW

There are plenty in with winning chances as you’d expect in this race but Kim Bailey’s First Flow, despite the long absence, is the one who stands out as having the most speed between markers in these specific underfoot conditions and as a seven-year-old with just four hurdles under his belt he could have plenty more to give yet.

He did precious little wrong last season before his Cheltenham off-day in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, pertinently mostly on soft going which he’ll also encounter here, the highlight being his Grade 2 novice win at Haydock where he smashed a horse who has gone on to be rated 157 over hurdles whereas he gets in this race off a mark of just 144.

His rivals are numerous, the best of them all things considered probably being likely favourite Monsieur Lecoq for Jane Williams, in-form Paul Nicholls’ Malaya and the returning runner-up from 2018 Call Me Lord from Nicky Henderson’s yard.

3.30 Meydan (Jebel Hatta – Group 1) – WOOTTON

It rather went under the radar when Godolphin purchased this son of Wootton Bassett over the winter and when winning his French 2000 Guineas trial last spring for Henri-Alex Pantall he looked the real deal.

He went on to finish fourth in the big race behind Olmedo in what was a messy event before running a creditable third in the St James’s Palace Stakes, 3¾ lengths behind Without Parole at Royal Ascot who was given a rating of 119.  Judging by the way he ran on his first start for the boys in blue, it seems plenty of improvement is needed, but crucially it is expected.

He was never in the Zabeel Mile in truth though he ran on well towards the end but William Buick takes over in the saddle now and since he’s a little more used to things and he gets the extra furlong to chase down, he can finally prove that he is a Group 1 performer with fellow Godolphin runners Dream Castle and Loxley expected to give him most to do.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Saturday 2nd March 2019 - Mercian a Regal Bet at Newbury

We have very much a mixed bag this week as British National Hunt and all-weather flat racing meet, while the Road to the Kentucky Derby gets going in earnest over in the States.

Kelso’s seasonal highlights are run on an afternoon when, despite great prize money, none of the big yards other than Paul Nicholls have supported the card and it would be great to see both he and Bryony Frost rewarded with a win for Black Corton, while Newbury hosts its Greatwood Charity Raceday and it’s there we begin with a juicy looking bet in the Grade 3 handicap chase:

2.40 Newbury (Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase – Grade 3) – MERCIAN PRINCE

There are plenty in with chances on the book as you’d expect in such a competitive handicap chase, but in Amy Murphy our selection is trained by an underrated handler and with plenty of improvement expected after what was an easy and impressive win at Kempton Park this Mercian Prince may have too much despite a 10lb rise in the weights.

The eight-year-old dominated that four-runner event last time on decent ground and, even though he of course faces tougher opposition this time, he won with such ease we have no idea where the bottom of him is.

Dan Skelton’s ten-year-old Value At Risk is probably overpriced too after his recent success while Dr Richard Newland can no doubt coax more out of lightweight Dustin Des Mottes who himself looks a very backable each-way price.

2.50 Lingfield (Class 2 Handicap) – CORINTHIA KNIGHT

We went for this chap last week over the course and distance and while once more it didn’t work out for him seven days ago, his time will undoubtedly come and he once again has conditions to suit this weekend.

Despite the weight turnaround, Archie Watson’s four-year-old has a great chance of reversing last week’s form with Royal Birth from the Listed race while Gracious John’s form is close to Corinthia Knight’s on the book and so he can go close as well.

With a strong pace and a little luck in running, this Corinthia Knight should eventually truly show what he can do back on the same handicap mark he was on when scoring nicely here back in December.

3.20 Lingfield (Class 3 Handicap) – INSURGENCE

This is a very tight one-mile handicap at first glance and on the book anything could win it, but in James Fanshawe’s four-year-old Insurgence we have one horse in particular who may improve significantly given his age and mileage and that makes him a backable prospect.

His level of form in finishing second to Mr Scaramanga last time out is higher than the others for me and given that he didn’t get the ideal trip round last time, it’s thought he can go one better now.

Despite that race being very much one to blow the cobwebs away, it was comfortably his best performance to date showing that he’s improved nicely from three to four so off a mark 3lbs lower than the heights he reached last year the race could be his.  Chevallier and Family Fortunes look to be the best of the rest and can fight it out for place money.

3.50 Lingfield (Spring Cup – Listed Race) – FANAAR

We’re taking a slight chance here and going for the one horse with no all-weather form in the shape of William Haggas’ Fanaar, though it is very much expected that this surface will suit him.

His overall form, especially in defeat behind Arctic Sound last season, seems to put him a couple of pounds ahead of the field for his seasonal debut at a level he can handle with Don Armado expected to do well now going over this trip with Oisin Murphy on board, perhaps therefore reversing Newcastle places with Deep Intrigue.

Fanaar doesn’t have any fancy entries at this stage but it was always felt last year he could reach triple digits in the ratings and go for some low grade Group races; Saturday will help determine that.

6.30 Chelmsford (Class 3 Handicap) – TECHNOLOGICAL

We could be set for one at a very tasty price here in the shape of George Margarson’s Technological, a four-year-old with plenty more to give despite the fact he’s already run four times since the end of December.

A close look at his form suggests this surface will suit him much more than Kempton and Wolverhampton did, though he’s remained in decent form the whole time while the step up to one-and-a-quarter miles and the booking of the globetrotting Oisin Murphy are also positives for him.

Bottom weight Temur Khan as well as Marcus Tregoning’s Seafarer can also present big challenges, but on a day when his star riders arrives here for three rides with this being the most valuable of them, Technological may just be the one.

10.32 Gulfstream Park (Fountain of Youth Stakes – Grade 2) – HIDDEN SCROLL

The race to grab a place in the Kentucky Derby field truly takes a step forward this weekend when Juddmonte’s outstanding January debut winner Hidden Scroll makes his second appearance at Gulfstream in Florida.

In dancing away to score by an easy 14 lengths during the Pegasus World Cup meeting Bill Mott’s colt made a huge impression and earned a similar speed rating to last year’s Triple Crown hero Justify, and given that his sire and damsire are both Kentucky Derby runners-up it seems he is bred for the job.

It was very interesting to note that one prominent UK bookmaker priced this horse up at 7/4 on Thursday before bringing him in to 6/4 very quickly, but with some American watchers not yet convinced about Hidden Scroll given that he went on a sloppy track last time (which can actually ride faster) and with his morning line odds set at 9/5, there is hope we can get a decent price on the night.  Signalman and Code Of Honor look the main dangers.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Saturday Racing Tips: 23rd February 2019 - None Shall Pass the Knight at Lingfield

We’ve a busy day on Saturday with competitive action over the jumps as well as on the all-weather at both Wolverhampton and Lingfield, the latter being where the latest Winter Derby is run.

Kempton hosts a brilliant card with four graded races taking place and we have value bets in two of them, starting with a fine Novices’ event at 1.50:

1.50 Kempton (Pendil Novices’ Chase – Grade 2) – CASTAFIORE

In a race that has cut up badly we’d have considered ourselves lucky to maintain it as a good betting proposition, but my fancy during the week was always the improving Castafiore and he stands his ground at a thoroughly backable general 4/1 going into the weekend and so must be supported.

Charlie Longsdon could do with a winner after what has been a quiet period but it’s hard to even accurately measure the levels of improvement this horse could reach as on each of his three chase starts so far he’s thoroughly left his previous form behind.  Likely favourite Bags Groove is the most likely danger to the selection.

2.05 Lingfield (Hever Sprint Stakes – Listed Race) – CORINTHIA KNIGHT

This Corinthia Knight hasn’t exactly set the world alight recently but a close look at his form perhaps reveals that at no stage since winning over course and distance in December has he had ideal racing conditions.

Four runs ago in a handicap here, Archie Watson’s 4yo gelding bounced out and scooted home to record a good performance but has since been tried at Wolverhampton and Kempton where the surfaces arguably didn’t suit.  He did race here last time, but over an inadequate six furlongs in a race during which he met nothing but trouble and the same problems can’t be legislated for today.

With a clear run he should have too much for this field, the usual suspects of Encore D’Or and Gorgeous Noora perhaps being the most likely place candidates.

2.35 Lingfield (Class 3 Handicap) – COSMEAPOLITAN

I’d expect that the majority of money in the ring will be for Nick Littmoden’s Fearsome, the five-year-old coming into this looking to land a five-timer.

He has done little but improve recently and won ever so easily last time out over the course and distance but didn’t have much to beat in truth and it has to be said that one way or another his run will come to an end soon and we must be ready to pounce.

Enter Cosmeapolitan of Alan King’s who will have improved of late and now gets a go over the track and trip he seems to like.  Having raced here in December the 6yo beat Caspar The Cub comfortably before not really kicking on over a mile-and-a-quarter next time, but over this trip he should put in a career best on the flat which should be enough to win at a fair price.

3.15 Lingfield (Winter Derby – Group 3) – COURT HOUSE (each-way)

I can’t stress enough that we are backing each-way here as, assuming a fair fight, this really should go to John Gosden’s Wissahickon who with natural improvement could even put in a Group 1 sort of performance in this and that’ll be quite something to watch.

The return from Dubai of William Buick to ride his other horse Court House though could be significant and so at the likely odds (14/1 and 16/1 at the time of writing) we can attack this from a couple of angles.

Court House did not show his best when being swept aside by Wissahickon last time in the trial but is improving overall.  He looks very definitely the best of the rest in this field and so, even with only two places to fight for, he looks a good price to grab that runner-up spot.

It also means that if Wissahickon does do something wrong or there is trouble in running, the win is very much still an option so at these odds he’s worth a go at small stakes.

3.35 Kempton (Handicap Chase – Grade 3) – GLEN ROCCO

There’s a feeling that Nicky Henderson’s Rather Be should now be ready to show what he can do and as a horse that was sent off favourite for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham over the winter he’s bound to be popular and as such any significant money for him on Saturday should be noted.

He may simply not have as much to give however as Nick Gifford’s Glen Rocco over this trip with the added bonus being that his best form has come recently, over this track and trip and on similar ground so he could take some catching all being well.  Talkischeap is another big danger.

6.30 Wolverhampton (Maiden Fillies’ Stakes) – LADY COSETTE

A low grade maiden fillies’ stakes in an evening meeting at Wolverhampton is not usually a race we’d play in but on this occasion, as long as any sort of price holds, it could give us a decent betting opportunity to round off the day.

Lady Cosette, on the balance of her consistent form for Jeremy Noseda last season, should win this race at these weights anyway but the point is that having been campaigned at shorter distances it’s fair to say we haven’t yet seen the very best of her.

After moving to Harry Dunlop’s yard she has been put straight up to a mile-and-a-half at the start of her three-year-old season and on breeding that looks to me like a smart move.  Her better runs last year as a juvenile came over a mile or over seven furlongs on a slow track so it seemed even then that she needed a bit of a stamina test to be at her best.

Being by Wootton Basset, who despite his mile form gets plenty of 1m2f types as a stallion, as well as bearing in mind she’s not the classiest and so needs time to get going, this move up in trip could prove to be a shrewd decision.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Saturday Racing Tips: 16th February 2019 - Reikers Island to Put the Bookies in Jail

If one good thing has come from the equine flu outbreak, and we’re not aiming to belittle its effects on the industry, it is that we now have an absolute bumper Saturday as the UK racing industry plays catch-up.

There is a nine-race card as Ascot alongside some fine racing at Haydock and Wincanton, backed up on the flat by Lingfield and Kempton where we have found a couple of good value evening punts.

Saturday sees a belated Betfair Hurdle and a quality Grand National Trial at Haydock too, but we have no less than six gambles to sink our teeth into, starting with a fine novice prospect down at Ascot:

1.35 Ascot (Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase – Grade 2) – TOP VILLE BEN

Mister Malarky has been the one for money in this field during the week by all accounts, but while his Newbury handicap win was no doubt impressive he doesn’t quite match up to Top Ville Ben at level weights for me.

Philip Kirby’s representative has only had the two chase starts so far, roaring away at Wetherby last time to score by 46 lengths and there is undoubtedly a lot more to come from him against better opposition.

In winning at the Yorkshire venue and more so at Hexham, his form may have been slightly undervalued by most watchers and in fact he should probably be going off as a very solid favourite rather than going into the weekend as a joint-favourite at best.  Yalltari of Venetia Williams may even prove to be the main danger ahead of the aforementioned Mister Malarky.

2.10 Ascot (Swinley Chase – Listed Handicap) – REIKERS ISLAND

While the likes of Black Corton and especially 2015 Gold Cup winner Coneygree on their day could of course annihilate this field, they both have limitations for varying reasons and so may be best swerved this time, though I can’t deny it would be great to see the latter return to proper form.

Despite Coneygree’s excellent third on his reappearance though, his overall profile is still that of a horse going backwards which could pave the way clear for the ‘here and now’ horses, namely Art Mauresque who is overpriced for this rice and much more prevalently this Reikers Island who is the fairly confident selection.

Philip Hobbs’ 6yo will be having just his fourth chase start and should be way further ahead now than he is, something which can prove to have benefitted his handicap mark I hope.

I say that as, having won easily at Wincanton, he didn’t really go forward when favourite at Newbury having jumped right and almost unseated his rider at one point but with a clearer round this time we should find that he’s moved on and up now making his mark of 140 look a little lenient.  Champ Richard Johnson takes the ride and will no doubt give him a confident steer.

2.20 Wincanton (Betway Mares’ Chase – Listed Race) – ATLANTA ABLAZE

Several of these have been on the go for some time, so while Atlanta Ablaze unseated last time and will be having her 10th run in under 10 months, she for me sets a standard in this that I believe the others can’t reach as long as she puts her best foot forward.

Henry Daly’s mare has done little but improve so assuming no ill-effects from her blunder at Doncaster she can take this ahead of the likes of Molly Childers and Marienstar and hopefully at a nice price.

4.10 Haydock (Prestige Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 2) – GEORDIE B

At the time of writing there is no firm position from the bookmakers on what sort of price this Geordie B should be, though forecasts look pretty generous so here’s hoping for something very juicy to get stuck into.

True, in a race of this nature we are left comparing horses based on potential more than proven ability, but at these weights I see no greater potential among this bunch than with the Venetia Williams and Aidan Coleman runner after his comfortable Lingfield success 43 days ago.

The point about this horse is just how much he’s improved race by race so with another large step forward expected this weekend, he could prove to be a good few pounds better than a clutch of other horses including Ask Ben, Kateson and Stoney Mountain.

7.15 Kempton (Class 2 Conditions Stakes) – GREY BRITAIN

Let’s hope Grey Britain is less a post-Brexit forecast and more a symbol of a very successful betting day for us, and John Ryan’s runner certainly has the credentials to add to the coffers for us during the evening meeting.

On the numbers he didn’t really go forward last time out having previously been very progressive, but in coming from behind in a slowish 4-runner race he did well to score on a surface quick enough for him at Lingfield and so returned to this sort of track we’ll see an even better run now.

Redicean, a previous favourite of ours who remains of interest, and the tough Mark Johnston runner Watersmeet are likely to be the main dangers but the latter’s inclusion may just mean a very strong pace setting things up for our boy.

7.45 Kempton (Class 2 Handicap) – CASPAR THE CUB

Alan King’s 4yo’s form at Kempton from the autumn reads 31111 and while that alone is not a reason to back him, he carried on doing well when switched to Lingfield in running second and third in December and January and it’s possible that track didn’t fully suit him.

With that in mind, many may wrongly feel as though the handicapper has simply caught up with him now, but he’s ready to return and, while of course he has gone up the weights, we should see his progress resumed now switched back to this track and as such he should have too much for the likes of Lexington Law and Count Calabash.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Irish Racing Tips: 9th February 2019 - O’Brien to be the Show Stealer at Naas

With the UK’s equine flu outbreak threatening to restrict action for a number of weeks, punters’ attention turns to other parts including Ireland and even Dubai for the next week while and as such our betting options remain as open as ever.

Naas then is our focus this Saturday as the cameras turn to the County Kildare track for an eight race card, four of which we think provide thoroughly decent punting opportunities all staring with a division of the Maiden Hurdle at 1.40:

1.40 Naas (Maiden Hurdle) - ALL FOR JOY

Having a touch of seconditis would put many a player off, but this horse is still among maidens and in this company All For Joy represents good value for the (hopefully) well named Keep the Faith syndicate and trainer Oliver McKiernian.

Despite not having won since his point to point days, this 7yo gelding has kept on improving and his seconds at Punchestown and Leopardstown read pretty well in the context of this race so he is taken to score in this contest at the main expense of Advantage Point and Royal Thief.

2.40 Naas (Novice Hurdle) - KONITHO

Joseph O’Brien looks capable of cleaning up in the racing game as a trainer; whether that happens within National Hunt or the flat scene remains to be seen, and while this horse may not be one we look back on with extreme fondness as one of his superstars he can at least bag us some profit this week.

Konitho showed great improvement to win his maiden easily last time out and although there may not be a ton of improvement to come from him he should have more than enough to score in this race.

The presence of Band of Outlaws means it could easily be a 1-2 for the County Kilkenny man too with Coko Beach also feared for place money.

3.10 Naas (Handicap Chase) - VELOCITY BOY

This is a tremendously competitive handicap chase, but one that may well provide us with a cracking value bet in the shape of Velocity Boy who has shown great versatility if nothing else and who may, on the balance of things, be the most likely winner.

Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown Stud as always are a threat and they have Roaring Bull in this who could give the selection most to do, but all things considered our boy looks good value to score for the first time since February 2017 at Punchestown albeit small stakes are advised.

3.40 Naas (Handicap Hurdle) - LEAVE YOUR MARK

If our last handicap was competitive then this one is on the impossible side of difficult, a veritable bookies’ benefit, or so we’re led to believe at least, but we think we have a cracking bet in the shape of a horse representing quality connections in trainet Joseph O’Brien and owner JP McManus.

Leave Your Mark ran well enough when third at Thurles last time out but it’s his form and ability overall that takes the eye in this race and off a mark of 107 he seems well enough placed to land a blow at the main expense of Empire Burleque and She’s Made It.