Friday 25 January 2019

Saturday Racing Tips For 26th January: City to Light up Our Evening

We have a proper mixed bag of racing on offer this week around the world with temperatures of 21 degrees expected in Florida for the $16million Pegasus World Cup races, while at home we see the jumpers take centre stage on Cheltenham’s Trials Day in what will no doubt be rather more bracing weather.

Cheltenham perhaps requires a watching brief for the most part with the admittedly fascinating great action there not always profitable to bet on, although we do have one confident selection on the card.

With money on our minds then we look far and wide, including in the States with these five runners trusted to deliver us some value for money:

12.55 Doncaster (Class 4 Handicap Hurdle) – ALWAYS RESOLUTE

There are a number of questions regarding runners in this race; how much more has the lightly raced Defi Sacre got to offer?  Can Its’afreebee get back to former glories now going back over hurdles? For us though we stick with one that is, well, resolute.

Jockeys on Friday reported the going at Donny to be softening up just a tad and with that in mind Ian Williams’ horse should be back to his best this weekend.  Having flown home in a similar contest at Wetherby back in November Always Resolute has been raised 9lbs in the handicap but in a weak race he may still have the measure of his opposition.

Six-year-old Present From Dubai has proven consistent so far in his fledgling career and ran easily his best race around this track albeit in heavier going, though on all known evidence he shouldn’t get past the selection though can be backed for a place.

2.25 Cheltenham (Cotswold Chase – Grade 2) – FRODON

There’s a feeling among some trainers that this race, despite being thought of as a trial for the Gold Cup, is hard enough in its own right to win and so those taking part are likely to have the shine stripped off them before the Festival comes around.

Just be mindful therefore that whatever wins this, for various reasons, shouldn’t really be thought of as a live Gold Cup contender but in terms of today only we should see an admirable and improving horse take one more decent pot in what has been a terrific season.

Frodon has already landed the Old Roan and the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup this term as well as only having been beaten by a very well-treated Baron Alco in the BetVictor Gold Cup and what’s more, he is still getting better.

He loves running round Cheltenham and this step up in distance shouldn’t deter his bid for Grade 2 glory, Nicky Henderson’s Terrefort and Minella Rocco probably being the main dangers.

3.40 Lingfield (Class 3 Handicap) – AL JELLABY

Some decent, in-form types go to war here for an inconspicuous but potentially reasonably informative winter handicap and while some have questions to answer having shown form on a different all-weather surface, we should expect a career best from Clive Cox’s 4yo Al Jellaby and so he gets the nod.

Having run very solidly in fast ground turf races at places like Ascot at Doncaster last year, the recently gelded son of Exceed And Excel started this campaign with a fine third at Kempton Park to put him spot-on for this race and it wouldn’t surprise me if there was strong money for him in the ring near post time.

The surface at Kempton wouldn’t have been to his liking, nor was the fact that he was a little fresh having not raced since August and he can prove himself to be well-handicapped now and will take his share of races before the turf campaign starts again.  Adam Kirby rides.

9.57 Gulfstream Park (Pegasus World Cup Turf – Grade 1) – AEROLITHE

A brand new race on the world calendar this year is the Pegasus World Cup Turf, something that has meant a split in the $16million purse for this invitational series.

This race alone is worth over £2.3million to the winner and it’s a surprise Europe hasn’t supported it more right from the off, though it seems that despite having a great chance it may not be Aidan O’Brien and the Coolmore team who win it with Magic Wand and rather another mare with a very generous allowance in the shape of Japan’s Aerolithe.

Given the firm ground (although rain could arrive) and the trip there are questions for most runners to answer but not so the American-bred of Takanori Kikuzawa’s yard who is getting fully 12lbs from favourite Yoshida.  That one looks the best of the home team but it’s Aerolithe who is value to take the inaugural running.

10.36 Gulfstream Park (Pegasus World Cup – Grade 1) – CITY OF LIGHT

The aforementioned split in the purse at Gulfstream has meant that this race is no longer the richest in the world after just two years at the top, the Dubai World Cup once again taking over, but at $9million it is still a huge prize and one which Accelerate is a strong favourite to grab.

His Breeders’ Cup Classic victory was not unexpected and he is top class, but with little to no improvement to come overall at this stage and a feeling that he needs every yard of a mile-and-a-quarter to be seen at his best he’s definitely vulnerable over this quick 1 mile, 1 furlong trip.

Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner City Of Light on the other hand just seemed to get better the further he went back at Churchill Downs and this extra furlong on a similar surface looks right up his street, making him on balance the most likely winner on the books.

Audible shouldn’t be so quickly forgotten at this level and he represents a danger of sorts to the principals, however watch out for top class rider Javier Castellano grabbing the lead from his inside gate and attempting to make all on City Of Light.

Saturday 19 January 2019

Saturday 19th January: Colonial a Dream Each-Way Bet at Ascot

Ascot and Haydock are our headline acts this weekend with the Peter Marsh Chase and the Clarence House featuring Altior to look forward to, though with no real betting opportunities there for us we turn our attention to the support races and also get a little help from the Flat card at Lingfield too.

We have some big priced outsiders who look set to go well later on in the day, but we kick off with a quality Grade 2 at Ascot and what should be a sure thing at Lingfield Park on the all-weather:

1.50 Ascot (Warfield Hurdle – Grade 2) – MAGIC OF LIGHT

Jessica Harrington is a crack trainer of all types and if she is sending this mare over to Ascot from Ireland having previously won a chase event at Newbury (Listed) then I think we should sit up and take notice.

Looking back at what level she reached over hurdles back in 2017, she started off at a broadly similar rate over the larger obstacles but has improved no end in recent times, culminating in her very easy win at Listed level in December giving her a completely different look now she’s back over the timber.

From starting to write this article to finishing it off, this mare has gone from a general 7/2 shot to an 11/4 joint-favourite so it appears there is definitely some confidence behind her!

Assuming her improvement is overall and not just when going over the larger obstacles, she looks good value to take care of If You Say Run of Paul Nicholls, who may not be that straight forward yet remains of interest, and Jester Jet who is on a run of second places and perhaps needs a bit of luck.

2.00 Lingfield (Class 2 Handicap) – REDICEAN

While it’s true that this is a handicap and in theory handicaps can be won by anything in the field, it would be a major surprise if this Redicean isn’t head and shoulders above the others in this mile-and-a-half contest all things considered.

Having gotten his act together as a decent hurdler over the winter, his overall invigoration positively affected his Flat form too when he bolted clear to score over this course and distance last month and there is no way he is handicapped to his best in the conditions.

He’s been given four weeks off which is such a professional thing to do and so we can expect another top performance at this level under Martin Harley, a jockey fully capable of guiding him round this track.

Primero may prove to be best of the rest but will need Alan King’s horse to do something wrong, while Seafarer has decent form and may also be booked for a place under Martin Dwyer.

2.05 Haydock (Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 2) – ESPRIT DU LARGE

I would never use up words on these pages to boldly suggest such a heavy favourite as Mister Fisher can’t win as of course he can, there’s no doubt that he can.  But at these odds there is tons of value in Evan Williams’ horse who scored easily on his hurdling debut the other day and there’s just no telling how much more there is to come from him.

His overall form, what little of it there is, is not far behind the two protagonists in this race so with lots more to come from our boy and a 3lb pull at the weights too, prices like 9/1 on Friday just look huge and so he should be backed, albeit to small stakes.

Bright Forecast has won two in a row and has drawn plenty of support in the betting but is probably a few pounds behind the favourite and in a similar league to our horse, though only around a quarter of the price.

2.25 Ascot (Handicap Hurdle – Grade 3) – COLONIAL DREAMS (E/W)

Based on his most recent form you’d be right to discount Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville’s runner from this race in all honesty, but that is not what to judge him on in my opinion and a deeper look at his form reveals something much better.

Every season so far this horse has started slowly but with a run under his belt and going into the second start of the season he seems to come into his own, so with that in mind I’d rather judge him on his course and distance maiden win in March on soft ground.

That performance, along with natural improvement of course, would see him have as good a chance as any in this race so at a general 10/1 going into Friday evening and with ¼ odds 1-2-3 available an each-way chance should be taken on him.

His best form at the weights matches up nicely with Thosedaysaregone who looks like going off favourite along with Ballymoy, neither of whom can claim to be anywhere near as good value as our horse.

Friday 11 January 2019

Saturday 12th January: Brace Yourself for a Duel at Dawn

As we creep closer to the Festival, and Trial’s Day for that matter, we need to put up with some rather quiet days but this week both Kempton and Warwick are keeping the flame lit for jumps racing and we have some cracking value selections at both venues.

Newcastle also race once more on their tapeta surface and it could throw out another couple of decent punts on the Flat, keeping our betting day going right into the early evening.

We start in the Midlands then with a tidy Grade 2 novices’ hurdle, once more hoping to get a rather short priced favourite beaten.

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2.25 Warwick (Leamington Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 2) – TIDAL FLOW

We have to take a slight leap of faith here that Tidal Flow’s much improved performance and brave win at Newbury wasn’t just down to the soft ground and if it wasn’t, he may actually be a few pounds better than the promising course and distance maiden winner Birchdale.

Either way Philip Hobbs’ 6yo is going the right way and is the most solid option in the race bearing in mind, just as we expected last week with Rathhill when getting him beaten in the Tolworth by our headliner Elixir Du Nutz, that maiden winners showing promise haven’t actually achieved very much and occasionally flatter to deceive.

Stoney Mountain is too big a price and ranks close up with the main two, but there appears to be quite a gap to the others further enhancing our confidence in the selection who may not have many to beat.

2.35 Lingfield (Class 2 Handicap) – ISOMER

We may benefit here price wise from Andrew Balding’s 5yo being a little up and down, certainly at a glance, but a closer look at the form reveals something a little different.

Having won at Ascot on good ground it seems that a quickish mile suits him but much more prevalent is his one run at Chelmsford back in June when winning a handicap.  It would appear this sort of surface suits much more than Kempton where he was a decent fourth behind today’s likely favourite and biggest threat Breden but he can certainly turn the tables now.

My Target is interesting at the weights based on what he can achieve, though his profile overall is one of a horse going slightly backwards and so he’s best watched.

3.00 Warwick (Classic Handicap Chase – Grade 3) – DUEL AT DAWN

There has been a shed load of money on the eve of this race for Duel At Dawn and ordinarily that may be enough to put me off, however at prices of 5/1 or above he remains good value regardless of where he’s come from in the market and he has a serious chance today.

He showed some really good form as a younger chaser on good ground and if anything began to improve recently despite softer going rather than because of it.  A win and two seconds on easy ground in small races have not shown this horse to very best effect which has really served to look after Alex Hales’ gelding’s handicap mark.

The older horses may well do well at this sort of trip and so look out for Carole’s Destrier going well, also after a warm-up Bet365 Gold Cup winner Step Back remains on a mark good enough to see him into a place though it’s possible other targets are more at the forefront of Mark Bradstock’s mind.

3.15 Kempton (Class 2 Handicap Chase) – BALLYKAN

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ 9yo Ballykan heads into this on the back of three successive chase seconds, two of them here at Kempton, and looks a rock solid challenger at the weights.

Having not won in 13 chase races he’s hardly been profitable to follow, but the trick is knowing when to dive in and given his current form and the strength of the opposition, or lack thereof, would suggest today could be the day.  Daryl Jacob take the ride.

His closest challenger may well be top weight Josses Hill at a good price while Glen Rocco will carry plenty of support from the betting ring and is feared.

5.30 Newcastle (Class 3 Handicap) – TOUGH REMEDY

This is a small race but one that may provide us with a tidy betting opportunity, so long as the price holds up.  Most money going into Friday appears to be heading the way of Marco Botti’s Azzeccagarbugli but there is nothing to suggest the 6yo is moving forwards and very little to suggest this particular surface is to his liking.

The same can’t be said for Keith Dalgleish’s 4yo Wolverhampton winner Tough Remedy who should appreciate the extra furlong he gets compared to his last visit here and with PJ McDonald on board the two should be in just the right place when others tire in order to pounce.  Ballard Down may run on for place money.

6.00 Newcastle (Class 4 Handicap) – PORTLEDGE

There’s a fuss, all be it a very small and rather muted fuss, being made about Custard The Dragon going into this weekend and I’d say that’s where the majority of the money will go in the minutes leading up to post time.

However on all known form it’s easier to see Portledge being the one that may have a couple of pounds in hand in conditions we know he likes, albeit he was a beaten favourite last weekend when the track was again described as ‘standard to slow’ after being harrowed.

The track will be riding a touch faster than it did that day and we should see PJ McDonald’s mount to much better effect this time, likely at a nice price considering this is a five-runner race.

Friday 4 January 2019

Saturady 5th January: Elixir Our Betting Potion At Sandown

A mix of Flat and National Hunt action means a busy and entertaining enough Saturday of racing this week, unusually perhaps at this time of year the all-weather action handing us the better wagering opportunities this time.

It’s about quality over the sticks though as the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle can provide yet more Cheltenham clues and we have a juicy bet in that race against the ante post favourite, but we start with Lingfield and a couple of bets in decent winter flat races.

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1.15 Lingfield (Class 3 Handicap) – MATTERHORN

Despite the presence of Breden who, unusually for a nine-year-old, is still improving on this sort of surface Mark Johnston’s 4yo Matterhorn is the one making the greatest strides on the all-weather and should be set for another win under popular jock Franny Norton.

I’d have fancied him to some level even over the mile trip he has won his won three of his last 4 races over but the style of his victories and the fact he is a maturing type by Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Raven’s Pass suggests he’ll be even better over a mile-and-a-quarter and so he gets a definite vote.

The aforementioned Breden is next on the list ahead of perhaps the returning Shargiah who may need the run, but if coming back after 568 days to his best would take a hand in the finish for sure and in time could even be described as well handicapped.

2.15 Lingfield (Class 2 Conditions Stakes) – STRAIGHT RIGHT

Often in such races we find horses going backwards or those, as some interested parties often wrongly put it, coming into such events to get their confidence back with a win.

In this case we see a bunch of runners going about as well as we can expect of them though and so we should find an honestly run contest with one standout performer potentially still getting better in the shape of Andrew Balding’s five-year-old Straight Right.

He has won on a similar surface recently over seven furlongs but his performance in beating Gallipoli last year at Newcastle going up the hill towards the finish suggests this mile may be even better for him and he is taken to win this ahead of David O’Meara’s Salateen who continues to go well.

2.25 Sandown (Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1) – ELIXIR DE NUTZ

A quality novice race as you’d expect and the spectre of soft ground has rather thrown a spanner into the works of some tipsters and commentators this week.

The likely short-priced favourite Rathhill won a 20-runner maiden on softer going and is highly regarded, however the bottom line is that despite easing into the race nicely and scoring with something in hand, the strong pace that day in what was truthfully not a great race means his level of form just isn’t yet what some believe it to be.

In the case of hat-trick seeking Elixir De Nutz he’s won two decent races from the front at Cheltenham, certainly a better level of form than the jolly, though having done most of his best work on good ground you’d be forgiven for having doubts about him here now that the rain has come.

Even if his form were to take a dip of a few pounds he’d still be a top two fancy in this race for me and so with no real evidence that he won’t handle soft conditions these days, there is the possibility that he may continue to improve and thus prove too strong for this field.

A win here puts him on course for the Festival in March and I believe he can go there with a proper winning chance, hopefully making his odds in this look a tad silly.

5.45 Kempton (Class 3 Fillies’ Handicap) – MARGIE’S CHOICE

Plenty of all-weather horses seem to move from Wolverhampton to Newcastle or Chelmsford to Lingfield without much bother but often they do not find the same levels of form when running on Kempton’s surface, whether due to the track or for going right-handed.

With this in mind we may find the otherwise progressive Yusra back among what looks a tight pack with Pure Shores and our second choice Roman Spinner but one particular runner looks capable of comfortably besting her handicap mark and that is Michael Madgwick’s Margie’s Choice.

Rab Havlin, a quality and underrated jockey used to sitting aboard Group 1 types at John Gosden’s yard, has been booked to ride this lightly raced filly once again and he should be able to get her in a nice position before pouncing on them after the turn to record what would be her second victory in a row at this venue.

6.15 Kempton (Class 2 Handicap) – ADDICTED TO YOU

With form figures of /1UP- there may not be too many people rushing to their bookmaker to pile on their thousands on this horse, however a close look at things reveals Mark Johnston’s five-year-old gelding to be potentially very well handicapped over two miles going forward.

Having been on the improve during 2017, Addicted To You returned last May with a very easy 10-length win at Chelmsford and a look at the form of that race proves it to be no fluke.  He unseated at Newmarket and was pulled-up after a problem before being put away for the season but assuming he’s fully ready to return now his handicap mark of 95 is unlikely to prove very accurate.

Jason Hart may well attempt to dominate this race and run them right into the ground which I think he and his partner can do, with French challenger Amade on the shortlist though frankly looking to have something to find, while top weight Lord George rates as second best for place purposes.