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.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Horse Racing Tips: Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd February - Vinndication to Prove Too Good

Although it’s now a massive meeting in its own right, this weekend’s Dublin Racing Festival provides what may be the most important clues yet for Cheltenham.  For betting purposes though it looks like Sunday is the best of the two days and we have a couple of great value selections then.

Before that there is top class jumping action in England on Saturday along with a good flat meeting at Lingfield where once again we’re hoping to get an odds-on shot beaten, though we start at Sandown with a solid looking bet in the Grade 1 Novices’ Chase.

Saturday 2nd February 2019

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2.25 Sandown (Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase – Grade 1) – VINNDICATION

Realistically there are only three in this and in such a situation value is usually rare, but given the presence of Lostintranslation who many fancy to go well it seems the price on our horse is holding up quite well.

Vinndication is unbeaten in his six runs, two over fences, and has to come a cropper at some stage but I do not believe it will be this weekend.  Having won easily at Carlisle, Kim Bailey’s 6yo stayed on well to score at Ascot in better company in December and I feel that performance has been underrated slightly.

Runner-up Jerrysback was a beaten favourite next time but in truth Vinndication had another gear to get into and we should see that this time at the expense of the aforementioned Lostintranslation and Defi Du Seuil.

2.55 Lingfield (Winter Derby Trial Stakes – Listed Race) – COURT HOUSE

Although this is a trial it’s a strong enough race on its own, but at the prices it could be worth taking a chance on the apparent Gosden second string rather than the odds-on jolly Wissahickon.

Frankie Dettori is at Lingfield for this and he has chosen the Cambridgeshire winner, the truth is though that he couldn’t really not choose the 4yo gelding who’s now won six of his 8 races but while his form is rock solid and he is obviously the main danger I’d say our horse has been slightly underestimated.

Wissahickon got an official rating of 117 after winning at Newmarket and followed up nicely in a course and distance Listed race, but winners of the Cambridgeshire often find that they peak in that race given that the herd drags them along and in a quieter race they simply can’t go at that pace or reach that level.

Court House has won two from two at Lingfield and hasn’t shown us his best quite yet unlike his stable mate.  Rab Havlin is an excellent jockey and has a good rapport with this chap who I think is of a very similar level of ability to the favourite but gets a 3lb pull in this race, potentially making all the difference.

3.00 Sandown (Handicap Hurdle – Grade 3) – CASKO D’AIRY

Having whittled this race down to those who truly look as though they want this trip in soft ground, the value in the race looks like solid contender Casko D’Airy from the bottom of the weights for Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden.

Having made an inauspicious start to his career over hurdles, he sprung to life at Ascot when scoring easily at 16/1 in similar conditions to this and it seems that in starting from a low base he has much more improvement to come than most in this field.

True he’s gone up to a mark of 127 from 113, but that still doesn’t get close to reflecting what mark he could reach and so it appears he may have a few pounds in hand, more so than Ballymoy and Keeper Hill at the top of the handicap who look solid prospects for place money.

Sunday 3rd February 2019

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1.15 Leopardstown (Spring Juvenile Hurdle – Grade 1) – GARDENS OF BABYLON (each-way)

It’s always preferable on a day-to-day basis to just back your selections on the nose, but at the risk of looking like we’re chickening out somewhat here we only get to give you this information once a week and it would be awful if this was only just beaten at such a tasty price!

Joseph O’Brien’s 4yo has had the two runs, more than the two market principals and so many think that there’s more improvement to come from them rather than him.  The level he got to a Fairyhouse though when running second is some way above Sir Eric and Tiger Tap Tap reached when they ran 1-2 here in a maiden hurdle and given that there were 28 runners that day, they’ll have had to put in a good enough shift and won’t go on as much as people think.

If anything Coeur Sublime, another at an attractive price, could be the one to chase the selection home if all goes well but at prices of around 10/1 at the time of writing and with ¼ the odds available on the first three, ours looks like a rock solid each-way shout.

3.35 Leopardstown (Irish Gold Cup – Grade 1) – BELLSHILL

Noel Meade’s Road To Respect is the likely favourite here after winning the Christmas Chase last year, running fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and starting this campaign with an easy success in Grade 1 company.

The fact is though that on a look at his overall profile we know what level he’s at and there probably isn’t any more for him to show us in terms of improvement, especially on this ground which is probably a little quicker than ideal.

The chances are then that we should concentrate on Willie Mullins’ two runners and, while we have successfully gone for a Mullins second-string before, Ruby Walsh has probably had too much stick in recent times and remains a great rider who knows how to pick the right one.

With that in mind we side with him and Bellshill over Al Boum Photo, the 9yo being the type to get much, much better as the season goes on so rather than judging him on his 9-length fourth to Kemboy it’s possible a repeat of his Punchestown Gold Cup win, bearing in mind he could even better that, would be enough to take this prize.