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.

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