Friday 27 December 2019

Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th December 2019: Tidal to Ensure Winnings Flow for Us

Tidal to Ensure Winnings Flow for Us

It’s time for Thyme Hill to really put his Cheltenham credentials on the line in the Challow Hurdle on Saturday, a race that along with several Grade 1’s in Ireland over the weekend will continue to help shape the ante post markets for the Festival in March.

These races are wonderful in terms of quality and I urge you to watch them all and add significant performances to your notebook, however on this occasion no betting propositions offering good enough value have presented themselves so we skip them in terms of laying down cash.

We have however got three bright wagering prospects in all sorts of races we can play on, three on Saturday and three on Sunday as a busy festive period of racing continues after the drama and heroics of Boxing Day and the Welsh Grand National.

Saturday 28th December 2019

2.40 Leicester (Leicestershire Silver Fox Handicap Chase) – EUREU DU BOULAY

Richard Hobson sends this five-year-old into battle in a decent looking chase and it could well be that he has been prepared perfectly for it.  With the trip, ground and his handicap mark all looking fine a strong run looks to be on the cards anyway, but his profile suggests a career best is coming and that should be enough for a cosy win.

His main market rivals are older than he is and have less in the way of potential for improvement, while he also prepared for today with his best hurdling performance to date suggesting he is in great form and yet at the same time has been having his chasing mark looked after.  3lb claimer Paul O’Brien rides.

2.45 Lingfield (Novice Stakes) – FIRST WINTER

There are two outstanding candidates in this field with experience; John Gosden’s Indigo Lake and Hughie Morrison’s Kipps.

Both horses made reasonable debuts, both were halted in their runs and both have a running style and breeding that suggests this mile-and-a-quarter trip should be right up their alley.

The joker in the pack however is Godolphin’s debutant First Winter and he could be great value here.  He is by Dubawi and out of a Sadler’s Wells mare called Abushenka, so while he has a middle-distance pedigree at first glance a look at the dam’s form suggests he may have just a little more toe than the others.

His main rivals did their recent work on slower tracks, so it’s thought that given the level Charlie Appleby gets his first time runners to, allied with this chap’s profile suggesting Lingfield may be better for him than them, he rates a small bet and any money for him in the morning should certainly be taken note of.

3.35 Newbury (Novices’ Handicap Chase) – TIDAL FLOW

No less than three of the selection’s main market rivals for this race were runners-up last time out, meaning this is a competitive event full of horses in good form.

Philip Hobbs’ Tidal Flow however took a major step forward on heavy ground at Uttoxeter over 2½ miles, winning ever so easily.  His 7lb rise in the weights looks nowhere near appropriate and it’s felt he is the one in the field that could be ahead of the handicapper, especially given the likelihood of more improvement to come.

Richard Johnson’s mount then is taken to score, at the main expense of Kateson and Morning Vicar.

Sunday 29th December 2019

7.20 Sha Tin (Bauhinia Sprint Trophy – Group 3 Handicap) – THANKS FOREVER

Hong Kong is a very unusual destination for us, but it’s hoped we can grab some value on this horse when betting opens online.

Last time out winners Big Party and Big Time Baby are both well fancied for this, but the combination of John Moore and Silvestre De Sousa could be a potent one and one can’t help thinking that in going down from six furlongs to five, this four-year-old could yet have a ton of improvement in him and it’s that potential that the strong and uncompromising De Sousa can drag out of horses.

A rating of 104 and a weight of 8-13 does not look too burdensome, so Thanks Forever is taken to get our Sunday off to a very early good start.

1.35 Doncaster (Yorkshire Silver Vase Mares’ Chase – Listed Race) – CASABLANCA MIX

Most of the information floating around all week has surrounded the chances of Lady Buttons and La Bague Au Roi, and while both are strong contenders its compelling that Nicky Henderson’s Casablanca Mix has eased to a mark 4-5lbs better than her rivals on flat tracks, over this distance and on similar ground.

Given that she won three in a row and is younger than the big two in the market, we cannot say with confidence we’ve reached the bottom of her yet and so there’s no logical reason not to throw her in as the most likely winner, despite potentially being third-best in the betting market which could bode well for us as punters.

2.45 Doncaster (Handicap Chase) – BOLDMERE

Caroline Bailey’s six-year-old carries a fair weight for one of the less experienced horses in this line-up, but he fairly bolted up on his second chase start and first in handicap company at Leicester and still looks pretty well-off in the handicap to me.

Sean Bowen takes the ride this time and it’s expected that he’ll get a good tune out of this horse, one who with a clean round of jumping shouldn’t have too many problems in dispatching the likes of Slanelough and Lithic who rate next on the list.

Saturday 21 December 2019

Saturday 21st December 2019: Attack the Bookies on the Blind Side at Ascot

The Grade 1 Marsh Hurdle, known to many as the Long Walk Hurdle, is run at Ascot this Saturday but unfortunately, it’ll have to be a watching brief for us.  Paisley Park looks rock solid at 1/4 but more pertinently it is too close to call between three in behind fighting for one each-way place for us to get involved.

There is some great value to be nabbed elsewhere on the card though, along with bets at Haydock Park and on the all-weather at Lingfield so it may yet prove to be a rather fruitful day and a chance to boost the Christmas coffers.

1.00 Haydock (Abram Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle – Listed Race) – EARLY MORNING RAIN

We’re set for heavy ground at Haydock Park and so these mares will certainly be feeling things by the end, especially given that those in with a shout are moving up in trip today to two miles, three furlongs.

While Flow Away has won two in a row now and much is expected of bumper winner It’s Probably Me being thrown straight into Listed company, I reckon this race comes down to Deja Vue and her old rival Early Morning Rain.

Anthony Honeyball’s Deja Vue is on a hat-trick after two incredibly easy wins at Ffos Las, and to be fair we have no idea where and when her improvement may stop.  She’s won on heavy ground which goes in her favour, but sometimes it’s better to stick with the simple evidence right in front of you and that leads to Early Morning Rain.

While Deja Vue was favourite, Jamie Snowden’s mare did beat her when they met at Fontwell in November over 2m1½ furlongs and in fact it could be the distance that tells once more.  This horse has done arguably better than her main rivals over slightly longer trips, while her own facile win at Lingfield recently showed her too to be a horse going places.

1.15 Ascot (Graduation Chase) – ON THE BLIND SIDE

There are a few ifs, buts and maybes regarding this five-runner field and so whatever you go for you’d be taking a slight chance on to a degree.  At the forecast prices however, Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old On The Blind Side looks good value in receipt of weight from the rest of the field and he gets the nod.

He should handle this sort of ground, especially over this 2m5f trip, had already reached a mark 2lbs higher than his hurdle ranking after one less run and could have been coming into this race a strong favourite had things gone as expected in the Ladbrokes Trophy.

He pulled-up there which was not his real form, but at 8/1 he was expected to have finished right in the front rank and if he had, he’d be coming into this rated around 154 and level with top one Double Shuffle who now gives him 7lbs.

He was said to be never travelling at Newbury and his master trainer wouldn’t bring him out now if there were problems at home, so his quality may just tell today with Riders Onthe Storm favoured for second.

1.30 Lingfield (Fillies’ Conditions Stakes) – LUCYMAI

These rather middle of the road seven-furlong conditions races are often trappy affairs and are usually to be largely ignored for betting purposes, but purely on the numbers there is something that can’t be ignored here and that’s the potentially sizeable advantage Lucymai has on private ratings.

Dealing with the challengers first; 3yo Visionara looks no better than an 80 horse and probably shouldn’t be 5/1 which she is overnight, 6yo Emily Goldfinch looks to be around the same level and is just 7/2 while likely favourite Rock On Baileys is rated 92 now but is by no means certain to run up to her best over this course and distance today.

Taking weight-for-age into account as well as the handicap, Lucymai was a good 5lbs or so better than Rock on Baileys when they were first and second at Chelmsford in August last year and she is one capable of running right up to her best now.

Having made a low-key return in October, Dean Ivory’s 6yo improved greatly in late November and is expected to take another significant step forward here which should make her top dog, something the overnight odds are not necessarily reflecting.

2.00 Lingfield (Quebec Stakes – Listed Race) – DUBAI WARRIOR

We won’t get an earth-shattering price about John Gosden’s favourite here, but he does rate as a very confident bet in this 1m2f Listed event.

The top trainer is well versed in winning races over this distance at Lingfield, farming such events last year with Wissahickon who on two occasions had stablemate Court House in behind and he is in this field today.  A solid type, he is still only a four-year-old but he’s coming back off a 246-day absence and isn’t guaranteed to be at his very best.

Anything Mick Appleby runs on the all-weather should be noted and his Kasbaan is not without a chance in this heat after his steadily improving performances over this distance both here and at Chelmsford, though it has been in defeat including behind Dubai Warrior.

Dubai Warrior was thought of as a Derby horse earlier in the year and may have even made it there but for a setback, but since getting back on track over a mile in August he has improved nicely.

His win last time against Kasbaan was simple enough and he can only get better in ideal conditions, while on private ratings he is comfortably clear of Court House and with the second on this list being his stablemate and not the choice of Rab Havlin, there is even great confidence garnered.

At the time of writing only two bookmakers had released odds, putting up Dubai Warrior at 5/4 and 6/4, the latter making him backable and even more so should his price go up due to lack of interest which remains possible.

Friday 13 December 2019

Saturday 14th December 2019: Balding to Knock Out Bookies with Straight Right

Day two at Cheltenham is the highlight of the day, but while the racing is top class not every event offers us value and so we head elsewhere on the lockout for profit.

Doncaster is our jumps venue where we have two horses who should each make quite a splash, while Newcastle’s decent looking flat card on the tapeta surface has attracted some notable runners including one who promises to come right back to form on his favourite surface.

12.50 Newcastle (Conditions Stakes) – FUNNY KID

Solid runners such as Mildenberger and Dubawi Fifty can make their mark and will undoubtedly be popular in the ring, while Raymond Tusk would be an obvious favourite considering his last assignment was in the Melbourne Cup.

That run in Australia just a month or so ago will have taken plenty out of him though, as will the travelling, so preference at fair odds is French raider Funny Kid.

With the exception of a nothing effort in the Group 1 Prix du Cadran, Funny Kid as been in good form all year and in fact his best performance arguably was on another tapeta surface when he was second at Wolverhampton before he went on to win £93,000 at Lingfield in the all-weather championships.

1.35 Doncaster (Handicap Hurdle) – SPEED COMPANY

Alan King’s Scarlet Dragon has been the one for money this week and that one rates as my next best in this contest ahead of Blu Cavalier of Ali Stronge’s, but the most intriguing one in receipt of a ton of weight is Ian Williams’ runner Speed Company.

Having been improving towards the end of last season, he resumed this year on the upgrade too with a very cosy win at Chepstow that sent him storming up the handicap, but even off a new mark of 126 having been beaten last time when things didn’t go his way, he remains capable of more and so now that claimer Charlie Todd takes handy 7lbs back off him, he looks good value to go and score once more.

2.35 Newcastle (Novice Stakes) – SPECTRUM OF LIGHT

On paper this is a low-grade, low prize money race full of juveniles we know little about, so it’s not too exciting for those who aren’t in the know.

However, in reality it’s a fascinating race with youngsters representing top owners and trainers, some of them being very much expected to go on to much better things next year.

The Queen has two runners here, both trained by John Gosden, with Rab Havlin’s choice Desert Flyer appearing to be the best of them.  A daughter of Shamardal who just keeps getting better at stud, she makes her debut here for a yard that loves to send a good one to Newcastle, as they’ve done with the likes of Stradivarius, Enable and Without Parole.

The best horse with experience is Roger Varian’s Dublin Pharaoh but his level of form it seems makes him a little vulnerable to a good newcomer, which brings in Godolphin’s hopeful Spectrum Of Light.

His grandsire is Shamardal, which is encouraging, and he is by Golden Horn which lends weight to the fact that he may see this tough enough mile out better than most while the final two nails are the fact that Charlie Appleby tends to get these decent juveniles ready for a big run first up, unlike some trainers, and chosen jockey Kieran Shoemark has been riding this track very well and knows how to get the job done.

2.45 Doncaster (Summit Juvenile Hurdle – Grade 2) – NAVAJO PASS

Back to the jumps now and we’re taking a little bit of a chance here on a horse who has been quoted at everything between 4/1 and 10/1 on Friday, Navajo Pass.

Firstly, what we need to do is get the favourite beaten and that’s why we’re taking a slight chance here.  French recruit Tombee Du Ciel of Nicky Henderson’s yard follows the same path as some pretty impressive horses to have gone before, so naturally a lot is expected of hers, but he is going first time up in Britain and her level of form in France doesn’t scream top-class just yet.

Donald McCain’s runner Navajo Pass on the other hand has proven himself to be decent and he’s now on a track that will suit him.  Having easily won on his hurdling debut, he was turned over narrowly when favourite at Newcastle last time out, but this is flatter and easier and it’s thought he will reach a new level this time, something that makes him value to small stakes against the jolly I feel.  Lord Lamington is next on the list.

3.10 Newcastle (Handicap) – STRAIGHT RIGHT

Towards the end of this decent all-weather card at Newcastle is a relatively valuable seven-furlong handicap and it has attracted one or two decent ones.

The names of Muntadab and Pinnata are instantly recognisable to flat racing fans, along with two dangers to the selection in the forms of Above The Rest and Intisaab.

The former is eight years old now but finished third as recently as October on this course over six furlongs, so should his 1lb drop in the handicap and the extra furlong make a difference he can be thereabouts.

Intisaab will be very popular in the ring for David O’Meara having been second at Lingfield last time but that was on a very different surface to this one, although in fairness this horse was second in a Group 3 Chipchase Stakes here a couple of years ago so it shouldn’t hold any fears.

The wildcard however has to be Andrew Balding’s Straigfht Right and he is the one to be on.  With form figures of 22700 this year he won’t be the choice of those browsing the morning paper, but he hasn’t enjoyed his turf runs at all and wasn’t even totally comfortable on the faster surface at Lingfield.

At Newcastle over seven furlongs though things are different; in February 2018 he won a valuable handicap here before returning almost a year later to finish second off a 7lb higher mark.  He’s back down another 7lbs now and in conditions he loves, meaning he should prove to be well-handicapped.

Saturday 7 December 2019

Saturday 7th December 2019: Betting Science Points to Politologue in Tingle Creek

It’s all about Sandown Park and the Tingle Creek Chase this Saturday, but so rarely do we get the chance to have a punt on a real value type in these big Grade 1 events, though things appear different this time around.

It’s all about quality rather than quantity for us over the jumps this week though, with bets only in the two Grade 1 events on the card, however we have some nice information for the all-weather meeting at Wolverhampton on Saturday evening with a little Brucie Bonus from the States later on to help supplement what hopefully will be a profitable day.

1.50 Sandown (Henry VIII Novices’ Chase – Grade 1) – SUMMERVILLE BOY

Favourite Torpillo of Nigel Twiston-Davies’ yard is of obvious interest, especially as his two wins this season from three runs have come away from Cheltenham where it’s felt the track beat him as much as the opposition, while he is already two from two here at Sandown and that has contributed to his skinny price.

The four-year-old is a little inexperienced though and remains vulnerable in top-class company even with the weight concession, coming out very close on private ratings with Grandy Sancy of Paul Nicholls’ but rated even higher than him, no fluke at all in my eyes, is the nicely priced Summerville Boy.

Tom George’s runner reached an official mark of 156 over hurdles and, having had a wind operation before switching to fences, is expected to be even better over the larger obstacles as the season progresses.

He started his campaign with a very nice win at Uttoxeter and he is sure to go on significantly from that, making him look great value in this race and at around the 7/2 mark at the time of writing he seems to be terrific betting value as well under jockey Jonathan Burke.

3.00 Sandown (Tingle Creek Chase – Grade 1) – POLITOLOGUE

Naturally this is an extremely high-quality race and one in which the angles are numerous.  For example old-timer Un De Sceaux remains very solid but is unlikely to get any better, while Janika’s rating suggests he can be very competitive yet his history in handicaps sheds some doubt on his quality as far as Grade 1’s are concerned.

Waiting Patiently is a fascinating contender now that he’s moving down in trip, and while he’s undoubtedly a top-class animal this is essentially a trial for Ruth Jefferson to see if her charge has the pace for this division in the absence of Altior, therefore making him a poor betting prospect with no proof as to his speed or lack thereof.

The likely favourite is Defi Du Seuil, a horse who appears to be heading for the top, who beat the selection last time and who has close form with Gold Cup market leader Lostintranslation which all reads well at a glance.

There’s nothing not to like at first look but as the JLT Novices’ winner, something that supplements other key pieces of evidence, you’d have to wonder whether he wants more of a test than this race will provide.

The opposite could be true of Politologue though who, after a closer look at his profile, may well just be getting quicker and so without the Cheltenham hill to climb over this two miles, he just might tap his old rival for toe here and claim a huge Grade 1 win under Harry Cobden at a thoroughly backable price.

6.20 Wolverhampton (Conditions Stakes) – AUCHTERARDER

Auchterarder is an eye-catching contender for the great Mark Johnston in a contest where we should see plenty of support instead for Raaeb, the Godolphin runner likely to go off favourite unless there’s a huge drift.

The latter named looks to have some genuine quality about him, but perhaps prefers a quicker surface than this while Johnston’s filly, despite having to contend with a wide draw, could get to the front and gallop the finish out of her rivals in conditions that look absolutely ideal for her.

Her win here over five furlongs shows she likes this surface, while the style of her victory there as well as the one she put up on debut at Beverley, would suggest she can pull out more if needed especially over a longer trip and so her performances can be upgraded somewhat.

Even on the numbers the filly seems to have been given a very fair chance; rated 4lbs below Raaeb but in receipt of a 5lbs allowance, so she gets the nod ahead of the aforementioned Raaeb, Dancin Inthestreet and Maystar.

7.20 Wolverhampton (Handicap) – PATHS OF GLORY

There are some very good yardsticks here who perhaps just have too much weight based on their current or recent form, whereas two of this field could yet do better and therefore may be well-handicapped.

Clive Cox’s three-year-old Getchagetchagetcha could come back to himself now he’s been gelded and may be dangerous off a mark of 98, though for me the recent form shown by Paths Of Glory is the best on offer here and he still has more to give which is always crucial in a handicap.

While doing well twice at Newcastle on a similar surface to this, I’m not convinced the finish up the hill there was fully to his liking and so it’s his win against the talented El Misk around here that reads much better, the feeling being that he can improve a fair bit from that particular run, making him the pick this time.

9.16 Aqueduct (Cigar Mile – Grade 1 Handicap) – MAXIMUM SECURITY

While Whitmore and Spun To Run have put in some good performances recently, they are possibly not ready to peak for the season on Saturday night and may already have run their best for the year, unlike rightful Kentucky Derby winner Maximum Security.

For me, the star of Jason Servis’ barn is a mid-120’s horse over this sort of distance and so he is a pretty confident choice in this race having seen the weights, as long as he is available at 5/4 or bigger.