Thursday 29 March 2018

Easter Weekend 2018: Thunder Snow Forecast To Run A Big One In Dubai World Cup

The Easter weekend gets underway on Friday with a bang, the All-Weather Championships at Lingfield providing most of the prize money but the potentially classier horses being at Newcastle where we have two value bets.

Saturday sees the valuable Dubai World Cup Carnival reach a crescendo and we again have a pair of horses who may spring slight shocks in their respective races.

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Friday 30th March 2018

3.20 Newcastle (Betway Handicap) – ISLAND BRAVE

Newcastle have received decent support for this Class 2 race and it’s unsurprising with a cheque worth near £55,000 going to the winning connections.  Marco Botti, Ed Dunlop, Roger Varian and Alan King all send contenders but it may not be one of the big yards that goes on to win this.

Heather Main’s Island Brave could be the one to side with at a very fair price from stall 5, the improving four-year-old just about certain to be suited by the return to a Tapeta surface.  As well as a couple of placed efforts at Lingfield in between, Island Brave won three in a row at Wolverhampton on the same sort of surface he’ll get here and it seems there’ll be further improvement from him now he’s back on it.

Top all-weather jock Luke Morris is booked for the ride on Island Brave which is another positive.  He’d be an unusual winner in many ways coming from a sprinting lineage, unlike Ed Dunlop’s Amazing Red who holds an excellent chance, though he’s compromised out in stall 11.

A couple of placed efforts on the all-weather read quite well here given that he’s liable to improve, while one of Alan King’s representatives Cosmeapolitan also holds a fair place chance along with Shabeeb should he take to the surface well enough.

3.55 Newcastle (Burradon Stakes) – PURSER

Having been a conditions race last year, the Burradon now makes its debut as a Listed event worth £56,000 to the winner and has the distinction of being the last leg of the European Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Jeremy Noseda’s Grownkowski sits alongside Aidan O’Brien’s Mendelssohn on 20 points as the top European horse still nominated for the big one in Louisville, though to put it into perspective the top US horse is currently on 110 points before the major trials that side of the pond.

His price looks extremely short to me here despite his improvement and apparent liking for Tapeta and he could be outclassed by a couple including Mark Johnston’s high class filly Nyaleti.  Assistant Charlie Johnston described her last summer as the best 2yo filly in Britain and it would be no surprise to see her throw in a big run before a tilt at the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, though she too could yet be outclassed.

For me, John Gosden’s Purser is the one to concentrate on and he may well be steered into the race with two to go before showing what I believe will be a better turn of foot than the others.  Fourth in the Solario on only his second start and expected to win the Autumn Stakes (won in the end by Derby contender Ghaiyyath) he is high class and can go on to significant Group success this term.

Saturday 31st March 2018

4.35 Meydan (Dubai Turf) – MONARCHS GLEN

There’s over £2.5million on offer to the winner of this one and while I’m a fan of likely favourite Benbatl and would love to see him win, I feel John Gosden’s is a better horse and could be extremely good value for this one at more than 10/1.

He took a while to come to himself but that’s typical of a Gosden horse and in fact it’s a positive – whatever he achieved last season can be bettered now and that’s what I expect to see here.  The form of Monarchs Glen’s Group 3 win at HQ last backend puts him right in the mix here but the fact he is improving and is entered into the Coronation Cup at Epsom shows what this top yard truly thinks of him.

As well as Benbatl I’d expect the Japanese trained Neorealism to be on the premises at the business end of the race but he may not quite get to Frankie Dettori’s mount who can improve for both time and the heat on his back.

5.50 Meydan (Dubai World Cup) – THUNDER SNOW (each-way)

There’s just the £4.4million on offer for this year’s Dubai World Cup victor so it’s not too big a deal, but we’ll have a crack at it anyway and attempt to decipher whether or not the Americans can be beaten this time.

Bob Baffert’s West Coast is favourite and rightly so having finished second in the Pegasus World Cup but it remains to be seen whether or not that form lives up to expectations at this level.  Filly Forever Unbridled also has a great chance at a price while Godolphin’s main hope according to colours is Talismanic.

It’s their apparent second choice I’m interested in though with Thunder Snow having been well travelled and not always successfully, but coming in here at odds of 12 and 14/1 and the potential for ¼ odds to finish in the first three he rates a great each-way bet.

His performances in the 2016 Criterium International as well as last year’s Irish 2000 Guineas and Prix Jean Prat put him right in the reckoning and as a 4yo we have not seen the best of him just yet.

Thursday 22 March 2018

Saturday 24th March: Start Of The Flat Season To Be Our Perfect Pasture

Although Newbury continues to provide great jumping action we turn our attentions to the start of the season on the level and it could get off to the best possible start for us betting-wise.

Doncaster is the focus of our attention with selections in the Listed Cammidge Trophy and Doncaster Mile backing up a handicap bet in the Spring Mile on what could be a cracking day for punters.

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1.50 Doncaster (Cammidge Trophy) – PERFECT PASTURE

Mick Easterby’s eight-year-old finished his season last year in the same grade of race, on the same track over the same trip and on similar ground so there’ll be no surprises here.  He ran his best ever race that day and was on an upward curve generally so we may expect an even better run this time.

Should that not happen he still has a fantastic chance as even running to around 5lbs lower than expected may still be enough, so we do have leeway.  Lancelot Du Lac won last time out at Wolverhampton and is race fit, though on the balance of his form I’d say he wouldn’t quite be running up to Perfect Pasture’s level with all things being equal.

The main danger may well be Mr Lupton who likes a fast pace and so in Listed company may be well suited by this affair.  Ground is not a concern to him and he may go well.

2.25 Doncaster (Spring Mile) – TAQDEER

John Gosden’s entrant hasn’t run for 692 days but the fact that a) his top class connections have kept him in training and b) they start him off topweight in a tight handicap suggest he’s better than this and could make a winning start to the season before going on to better things.

It would not surprise me if John Gosden saw Taqdeer as a potential Group horse for the summer and I wouldn’t want to miss the chance to say we’d backed him at a nice price before the secret is out.

On the handicap this is tight with Original Choice and Kynren among those who look to have a similar chance at a glance, however Taqdeer’s speed figures as a 3yo given the races he was running in are impressive and so going over the mile with a faster pace could bring out the best in him.

3.00 Doncaster (Doncaster Mile) – ZABEEL PRINCE

This race may well come down to the top two in the betting who look well clear of the rest.  Tabarrak was just ridden out to score in Listed company on his final start last season but could be close to the end of his improvement and may prove better over seven furlongs.

His 3lb penalty doesn’t help either and so the door is open for Zabeel Prince who is on an upward curve and could be aimed at Group races later in the season.  Both horses go well when fresh but only Roger Varian’s can definitely handle softer going and still show his best form so he gets the vote.

3.10 Lingfield (Handicap) – WAHASH

Frankie Dettori misses Doncaster to come here and ride two horses for his retainer at Al Shaqab Racing and this one could prove to be great value.  Having been a little disappointing towards the end of the summer, Wahash was given time off by Richard Hannon but now returns to the scene of his easy maiden win in September 2016.

Up to and including last June at Epsom he was very much an improving miler and reached a handicap mark of 98.  If anything you’d expect him to be better than that now so coming in here off a mark of 94 could prove to be easier than it should be.  My Target and Chevallier look like being the main dangers.

Friday 16 March 2018

Saturday 17th March: A Sting In The Tail For Bookies In The Silver Plate

The Cheltenham hangover starts here and for the fearless among us we go right back in against the bookmakers on Saturday with five good value bets.

Kempton and Uttoxeter host the highlights (though the Midlands track are inspecting) while there may be a couple of opportunities for us in the evening flat meeting at Wolverhampton.  Here are my best Saturday picks:

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2.05 Kempton – COPAIN DE CLASSE

Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old chaser is inexperienced but has plenty in the locker and could well just outclass them here.  His chase debut made him look better than the mark of 132 he has been given and there will have been plenty of improvement since then.

The two-mile trip and the soft ground are fine so I wouldn’t mind taking a reasonably short price about Sam Twiston-Davies’ mount in ready preference to Kayf Blanco and Vocaliser.

2.40 Kempton – JUST A STING

Harry Fry and Noel Fehily are a quality combo and they team up here with handicap debutant Just A Sting looking to take advantage of what looks a pretty lenient opening mark.  True, he’s been a beaten favourite on all three hurdle races so far, but he has never really put it all in I don’t think and he can improve now encouraged by better company and looks good enough to take this Silver Plate.

Graasten has been kept off the track over a month since scoring easily at Plumpton and could be primed for a big run, though I’m not certain his form will hold up really that well while Kildisart needs to bounce back from a slightly disappointing run at Ascot last time out.

3.15 Kempton – BUN DORAN

With the market leaders looking relatively weak in these conditions there may be an opening for the one solid in these conditions when allowed to run in them, Tom George’s Bun Doran.  He’s been running well enough over shorter of late but a look at his wider profile seems to suggest this 2m4f trip on soft ground is ideal for him and he’s great value.

Irish recruit Bentelimar and Nicky Henderson’s Kilcrea Vale are two who can run into a place and hold fair chances but its Paddy Brennan’s mount who holds sway in the Silver Bowl.

6.15 Wolverhampton – THEGLASGOWWARRIOR

Jim Goldie’s improving four-year-old went for the hat-trick on a similar surface at Newcastle last time and did well enough in defeat when edged out of it going up the hill.  Importantly he has been well handled, kept off the track for 37 days and will no doubt have improved again at home since then.

The handicapper hasn’t really got to him yet I feel and he looks good value to scoot away from this field and score well ahead of Tidal Watch and Cape Banjo who can fill the places in behind him.

7.45 Wolverhampton – ROSE BERRY

Chris Dwyer’s four-year-old filly was just caught here over six furlongs last time but I think she’ll improve a little for the step up to seven in this fillies’ handicap and may in the end have just too much for the likes of Bint Arcano and Ifubelieveindreams.

Rose Berry’s overall profile is one of an improving horse on the all-weather and she could be heading for a rating somewhere in the 90’s in good time, this therefore may be simply another stepping stone for her.

Friday 9 March 2018

Saturday 10th March: Call Me Lord The Betting Saviour In The Imperial Cup

With the Cheltenham Festival and the start of the Flat season just around the corner this weekend tends to be one of the quieter ones in the schedule, though with betting banks to boost before Tuesday we go in with some cracking value bets on Saturday.

There’s a Listed contest on the all-weather at Wolverhampton but the best action is over the jumps at Sandown where we have a good shout of a win in the Imperial Cup.

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1.50 Sandown – THE DUBAI WAY

Despite being unbeaten in his four rules races to date, The Dubai Way may as yet have been underestimated and he looks a fair price to take another step forward to win this valuable Grade 3.  His wins at Hexham and Sedgefield can be upgraded as they were better than the bare form suggests while he stayed on nicely to win over what is now seen as an inadequate 2m1f at Warwick last time.

Notre Ami and Sam’s Gunner are both cracking value and both hold solid each-way chances at around the 20/1 mark, the former having won easily in a small race here on heavy ground last time and the latter improving slowly but steadily and being sure to appreciate the return to a longer trip (2m4f).

2.25 Sandown (Imperial Cup) – CALL ME LORD

Nicky Henderson’s 5yo Call Me Lord can still improve and as a course and distance handicap winner knows his way around.  A fair third in Grade 2 company last time out further emphasised his quality and despite his tender years he’s one of the more hardened competitors in the field.

Likely favourite Whatswrongwithu holds chances for the same yard having won very easily in a novice race at Newbury last time out but it’s hard to know how well handicapped he is while Silver Streak is a fair price to carry on his improvement having unseated at Newbury last time out.

3.00 Sandown – QUEENS CAVE

David Pipe’s 5yo mare won just as expected on her rules debut and for me that put her up at the level of those in this contest who’ve run two or three times already, so with natural improvement to take into consideration she looks great value at around 5/1 overnight to win this.

Likely favourite Queenohearts could be the main danger after her easy December win at Towcester while Urca De Lima can’t be discounted despite a year off the track since a debut win at Uttoxeter.

3.15 Wolverhampton – SECOND THOUGHT

The likely favourite may well be a short price but he doesn’t have many chinks in terms of the surface, the distance or racing when fresh so really should be too good here.  Ryan Moore riding for William Haggas means we can’t expect much in the way of value but the 4yo should be a safe bet in the Listed Wulfruna Stakes.

The now gelded Masham Star may be the main danger at a nice price while Salateen should improve no end now that he’s back from Dubai and those three should be filling the places.

3.35 Sandown – TANIT RIVER

Tim Vaughan’s eight-year-old won very nicely over course and distance last time out and he’s not stopped yet.  Alan Johns’ mount arguably ran to a higher level than that a year ago and so progress from his last race to this isn’t guess work, he is just about sure to take a step forward and should outstay his rivals to score.

Lucy Wadham’s top weight Shanroe Santos looks like the main danger although the 9lb rise for a win at Carlisle could be enough anchor him while Horatio Hornblower may run into a place at a reasonable price.  Fancied Fourth Act has the profile of a regressive horse since wind surgery and may not live up to expectations.

Friday 2 March 2018

Saturday 3rd March: Poetry In Motion In The Betting Ring

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The all-weather tracks, true to their name I guess, are the only fixtures on Saturday to have survived the Beast from the East with Lingfield in particular handing us some fairly decent betting opportunities in the live TV races.

There’s some cracking value to be had on the Polytrack along with a couple of rock solid favourites which may well do the punters on course a big favour.  Here’s the best of the action:

1.45 Lingfield – POET’S SOCIETY

Mark Johnston’s 4yo was narrowly beaten by the improving Humbert two outings ago and that one is on a four-timer here in the one-mile handicap, though things may be more in our horse’s favour this time and his expected price of around 10/1 is simply crazy.  At the very least he’s a great each-way bet but winning this £7,000 prize is well within his compass.

2.20 Lingfield – YENSIR

This is a low grade affair over 1½ miles but something has to win it.  Olly Murphy is making a really big impression on the sport and he could land another winner here with his Yensir.

Murphy has booked top all-weather rider Luke Morris for this one and that alone may make the price just a tad skinny, especially for a horse coming off a 172-day break, but if Murphy can coax this horse back to its best on this sort of surface let alone get more improvement out of him then he is well weighted and should score.

Hopefully there will be money on course for the Gary Moore/Ryan Moore combo with Iballisticvin meaning ours may be better value.  The 5yo also comes off a long break and has every chance over this distance and it’s easy to see these two fighting out the finish.

2.55 Lingfield – GEORGE DRYDEN

We narrowly missed out last week with Encore D’or in the Listed Race and he must go close again here back in a handicap, however Charlie Wallis’ 6yo George Dryden is improving hand over fist on the all-weather and has better recent speed figures than Robert Cowell’s horse.

6/1 or better would be huge value for a horse who looks capable of going on to a mark of 100-plus, especially as favourite Atletico has weaknesses and only ran five days ago.  Our horse has been off 28 days and should be primed for this task.

6.45 Chelmsford – KEY BID

There’s a reason Key Bid carries the first colours of Godolphin ahead of last time out winner Ocean Of Love and that is because the potential Charlie Appleby’s horse has over this sort of trip means he could in theory be very well-in for this 1m6f handicap.

James Doyle takes the ride on the 4yo gelding who ran arguably his best race as recently as two outings ago at the back end of last season, despite being a beaten odds-on favourite, and it’s anticipated that he will have improved enough to land this £10k prize.

Archie Watson has booked Oisin Murphy for Snowy Winter and he rates as the main danger after his easy win in December showed what he can do.  He’s had a 48-day break since slightly disappointing back at Southwell last time out and holds every chance.