Friday, 25 November 2022

Friday 25th & Saturday 26th November 2022: Prosch to Bosh Them

This Saturday sees the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle take place at Newcastle, part of the hurdling Triple Crown and now featuring the exciting Constitution Hill.

He is long odds on for this and, as a word of caution; just about all modern winners of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle who have remained over the smaller objects go backwards after winning that race. At least on the numbers and at least at first.

If he does that, the door could be open for Epatante who has done it all before including at Newcastle.

In any event, we begin our betting weekend on Friday at Newbury.

Friday 25th November 2022 

1.20 Newbury (Novices’ Hurdle) – RUSSIAN RULER

The official going description at Newbury is ‘good’ for Friday’s racing. Nobody has told Nicky Henderson that, clearly, as he still intends to run Russian Ruler among others.

In this novices’ hurdle the early favourite is Stay Away Fay. He won a point-to-point and has been sent to Paul Nicholls, but there’s very little to go on and what we have got doesn’t entitle him to be market leader.

That pushes Russian Ruler’s price out and he is the clear pick of those with experience over hurdles, so rates a bet on the grounds of value.

He is a winner and he was improving fast last season, being sent into Grade 2 company at one stage, and now he’s back after a break he may be tough to beat.

1.55 Newbury (Berkshire Novices’ Chase – Grade 2) – CAMPROND

When only glancing at this race you would, like many punters and the bookmakers, come to the conclusion that Stage Star is well clear and is not worth opposing. A closer look however reveals something a little different.

Paul Nicholls’ runner did win well on his chasing debut, beating West Cork by 13 lengths and he can go on from that too.

The level we expect him to reach is something around the 150-mark, which doesn’t make him unbeatable where rival Camprond is concerned.

Rated 147 over hurdles, he was second-favourite behind McFabulous on his chase debut, who won and is leaving his own 153 rating behind. He unshipped his rider at the first however. That’s not ideal, but he’s priced accordingly and it’s easy to see him getting to that 150 level or above, while his hurdle form also gives hope to him having superior pace around this track on good ground.

2.30 Newbury (Handicap Chase) – THE WIDOW MAKER

Market-wise this is a very tight handicap chase indeed and that’s something that also plays out in a lot of the numbers. Standing tall at the top of the rankings however for me is The Widow Maker and it may well be that he’s the outsider of the field.

The eight-year-old has a nice light weight to carry and is certainly better than his current handicap mark. Joe Tizzard’s horse wasn’t great on his seasonal debut, but that’s nothing to worry about at this stage.

At least he’s race fit now and before that he’d won at Exeter and finished third of six in a Grade 1 at Aintree no less. He has also shown the speed to win on good ground over two miles.

He gets the nod over Paint The Dream, Killer Clown, Caribean Boy and Beakstown though it is close in behind.

3.05 Newbury (Long Distance Hurdle – Grade 2) – PROSCHEMA 

This race could go a long way towards sorting out the pack in what looks like an open Stayers’ Hurdle race this season.

Champ is obviously quality and is second on my list, though I feel he is going ever so slightly backwards and at nearly eleven years old and making his seasonal debut, it may well be he really feels this.

Public horse Paisley Park is simply wonderful but is highly unlikely to reach his former heights on this ground, while a better bet for the forecast is perhaps Dashel Drasher.

Last year’s winner Thomas Darby is another to consider, but he was put in his place by Proschema in the West Yorkshire Hurdle last time and he shouldn’t be turning that form around.

I’ve always been a big believer in Proschema as a hurdler, and as a staying one he’s found his calling. He’s improving fast, has all the attributes needed for this event and can now announce himself as a real Stayers’ Hurdle contender with another Grade 2 win.

Saturday 27th November 2022

1.35 Newcastle (Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase) – SHANTOU LUCKY

A tight race, one that may take some getting if Newcastle do produce the proper jump racing ground that they’ve promised all week.

This is a three-miler for the novices’, one in which the Irish trained Shantou Lucky has travelled a good way to take part and he’s the best of them for me.

Based on his second at Perth behind Ubetya, allied with what was a sharp rate of progression at the time over fences, he could be pretty well handicapped in this sphere so gets the vote.

3.05 Newbury (Coral Gold Cup – Premier Handicap Chase) – REMASTERED

As always, the race formerly known as the Hennessy has attracted a very strong, very tight and very competitive field. There are all sorts of horses we could mention, but the focus should be on Remastered for betting purposes.

David Pipe’s nine-year-old, who is at a perfect stage of his career to take this on, ran in a hurdle race last year before falling when well placed to challenge in this race.

He was more impressive this time around in his hurdle prep, is a better animal now, and is very well in at the weights so can be backed at reasonable odds. Lord Accord, Le Milos and Threeunderthrufive were next on the list.

3.25 Newcastle (Rehearsal Handicap Chase – Premier Handicap) – INTO OVERDRIVE 

Representing last year’s form are Aye Right and Dingo Dollar, both horses also being race fit and in form.

Much of the talk will be about Grade 1 Cheltenham Festival winner L’Homme Presse, who missed his last engagement and comes here for better ground.

We’ve already seen Bravemansgame win the Charlie Hall and Protektorat win the Betfair, now it’s this fella’s chance to make a mark on the Cheltenham Gold Cup market.

At the weights however, I reckon Mark Walford’s Into Overdrive could be the one. The big improver in the race, the seven-year-old stays well and has won his last four chases. He may still be ahead of the handicapper.

Friday, 18 November 2022

Saturday 19th November 2022: Pro to Give It a Go in Betfair Chase

Constitution Hill makes his comeback this weekend in the Coral Hurdle which will be a fascinating watch, but watch is all we should do at the odds given.

Other Cheltenham hopefuls are also running, including returning heroes A Plus Tard and Edwardstone, with Haydock and Ascot sharing Saturday’s limelight.

As a sidenote; watch out for the betting and subsequent performances of Tagabawa and Isle Of Jura on Saturday evening at Wolverhampton, two New Approach colts making their debuts for Charlie Appleby.

12.10 Haydock (Newton Novices’ Hurdle – Listed Race) – SIZING POTTSIE

With Paul Nicholls in such rare form his Tahmuras may take centre stage in the betting, at least we hope he will. Harry Cobden’s ride won easily last time for sure, but his form isn’t exactly head and shoulders above.

Twinjets is interesting as is Snake Roll, but Sizing Potties is the most interesting runner in the field.

As an eight-year-old he has more experience than the others and he’s back in this sphere (and country) having gone chasing with Jessica Harrington.

On his return he was a very easy winner at Ayr which should have primed him to get back to his best form, a level that would be too good for the others if he can achieve it.

1.10 Lingfield (Fillies’ Handicap) – KIRILENKO

The bulk of this field is very hard to separate; Queen Of Burgundy, Granary Queen, Victoria Grove, Lady Eros, Night Battle and Thebeautifulgame all being in with place chances.

The standout is most definitely Kirilenko however, who appears to have been rather leniently treated by the handicapper.

As well as having a mark we think is a little light, Sir Michael Stoute’s filly has superior speed to the others, is well draw and has handled both quick turf and a Polytrack surface well. One last thing in her favour is the booking William Buick who flies straight back from Bahrain on Friday.

1.30 Ascot (Mares’ Handicap Hurdle) – TERRESITA

Four of the six runners in this field are relatively close together on form, something that is reflected in the overnight odds.

Coquelicot, Victoria’s Peak, Glimpse Of Gala and Terresita will all be on bet slips in a race that will knock out many a placepot coupon.

The mare that just sticks her head above the parapet however is Terresita. Aidan Coleman rides for Lucy Wadham on a mare who’s won three from seven on varying ground and who has the capacity to remain ahead of the handicapper.

2.05 Ascot (1965 Chase – Grade 2) – HITMAN

This race often proves to be very informative with chases of varying distances in the spring in mind; Wayward Lad, Red Marauder, Albertas Run, Master Minded, Al Ferof, Politologue and Cyrname having all won it.

This time around, we have a long odds-on favourite in the shape of L’Homme Presse and he has been very impressive to date.

His biggest rival is Paul Nicholls’ Hitman who is better than what he’s shown so far, and at the weights is about on a par with L’Homme Presse in these conditions.

The crucial factor is speed and I reckon he has more of it than L’Homme Presse, something that will be crucial in this race.

Hitman is entered at Haydock as well and that was to be his first preference, however there is a strong chance he will be rerouted here due to the weather and that could be a smart move.

2.25 Haydock (Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle – Premier Handicap) – COMPLETE UNKNOWN

This fourteen-runner handicap field is a close one at first glance, just as you’d expect for one of the bigger betting races of the month.

Both Wholestone and Good Risk It All are high on the list after their race at Carlisle late last month, while Brinkley can also go well. Most of the money has been for Might I who also has a place chance.

The one to be on at the odds however is Complete Unknown. Paul Nicholls is in great form and his terrific season can continue in this valuable race.

Complete Unknown has low mileage and is improving. He is ready to head back up to this three-mile trip, but the most crucial point is that he has shown the most toe in genuinely soft ground which will count for a lot with the forecast the way it is.

3.00 Haydock (Betfair Chase – Grade 1) – PROTEKTORAT

Backing anything in this field against last year’s winner and Gold Cup hero A Plus Tard requires Henry De Bromhead’s star to underperform.

That remains entirely possible however and he is still long odds-on at the time of writing, creating opportunities elsewhere.

It was thought during the week that he may not run if the ground gets too soft and the rain has in fact arrived. His performance may yet still be good enough, but it’s likely to be some way behind his Gold Cup winning level which opens the door for Protektorat who should love underfoot conditions.

3.15 Ascot (Hurst Park Handicap Chase) – THYME HILL

Thyme Hill is properly on track in his chasing career now after winning a good race over course and distance three weeks ago.

He won that with more authority than the distance suggests, his overall profile being sufficiently upward in its trajectory for punters to be able to go in with confidence again.

His main rival is probably Boothill, though Thyme Hill has more speed, while Third Time Lucki, So Scottish and Arkle winner Edwardstone were all considered too.

3.35 Haydock (Handicap Chase) – FONTAINE COLLONGES

At around 5/1 at the time of writing, Venetia Williams’ seven-year-old Fontaine Collonges looks good value in these tough conditions to continue what was some sharp progression and win her seasonal debut.

She’s been off the track a while but should be OK to go now, she gets through this sort of ground very well and there’s lots in her profile to suggest she is very well handicapped.

She can get the better of Houston Texas who is another moving up the ranks, while in behind Lord Du Mesnil and JP McManus’s Easysland and Musical Slave may be battling on.

Friday, 11 November 2022

Saturday 12th November 2022 - Boilshoi Ballet to Dance All Over Them

The main focus this weekend is Cheltenham’s November Meeting and there some nice opportunities there. It’s Paddy Power Gold Cup Day which is huge business, but here we concentrate on matters elsewhere round the country.

Lingfield hosts a good Flat card featuring a valuable handicap and two Listed races, all of which we’re involved in, while up at Wetherby over the jumps there is also some fine action.

We have three selections from each track on Saturday beginning with a novice event in Yorkshire.

12.43 Wetherby (Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase) – MORIKO DE VASSY 

Having been considered a potential graded horse over hurdles not long ago, should Moriko De Vassy jump well enough on his chasing debut then it would seem he’d have a little in hand on the handicap.

Daryl Jacob’s mount will be loving conditions at the Yorkshire track and is very good value in what is a small field, with Notlingtillmay also capable while Zacony Rebel and Minella Plus may vie for favouritism.

1.18 Wetherby (Handicap Hurdle) – ONAGATHERINGSTORM

Cheltenham trainer Fergal O’Brien has sent Onagatheringstorm to Wetherby and he was also quick to book top man Brian Hughes for the ride. The combination may well be very popular but at the time of writing are surprisingly not favourites to win this event.

On his return after a wind op and a break (off since February), Onagatheringstorm should have finished second at Cheltenham in October but ran out of steam and dropped to third going up the hill. That still represents good form in truth.

He will be all the better for that run now and can beat not only that finish, but his past performances too which makes him a strong prospect in this event.

Rafferty’s Return provides some good opposition if he’s fit enough first time up this season, while young hurdler Iroko is of course of interest but at the moment he doesn’t look that well handicapped coming out of juvenile races, although time will naturally tell on that score.

2.00 Lingfield (Handicap) – MONTATHAM

Although it could be close between the three-year-old Tacarib Bay, Hafeet Alain, Excel Power and Montatham, the speed that the last-named horse is capable of could be the deciding factor on this track.

Already taken into account is the slight regression that is possible overall for Montatham’s form given his age, though it speaks volumes that during an era in which Shadwell have sold so many horses they chose to keep this one on at six years old and as a gelding too.

After a year off the track, William Haggas’ runner returned last month on softer than ideal ground and ran well enough, putting him spot-on for this task. He has the speed and the class to take this down and is value to do so.

2.28 Wetherby (Introductory Hurdle) – MATATA

This race is all about possibilities, progress and untapped potential so it would be unwise to try to base your selections too much on recent form of any kind.

Fruit N Nut’s form is best for what it’s worth, but he’s been away for over 400 days and won’t necessarily be better than some of the younger hurdlers he now comes up against.

One of those is four-year-old Matata and we have no idea what level he can reach. Bought by top connections after a taking point-to-point win, he led all the way on his hurdling debut four weeks ago and was never troubled at all.

The numbers tell us that it was a 7½-length win and we can guess at what handicap mark he’d be given but in reality, it was a light training session for him as we was never challenged at all and he’s capable of very much better.

He’s the one with the most potential so gets the vote at reasonable odds, ahead of the aforementioned Fruit N Nut.

2.35 Lingfield (Golden Rose Stakes – Listed Race) – LOGO HUNTER 

This isn’t the most valuable race you’ll see on the Flat, but it is a Listed event and also a fast-track qualifier for the very valuable All Weather Championships Finals at Newcastle next April.

Some of the main contenders here are rock-solid, but they are somewhat old timers now. There may not be a whole lot to choose from nowadays between Harry’s Bar, Summerghand and Judicial in fact but they’ll all have their supporters which should balance the betting market nicely.

The four-year-old Logo Hunter on the other hand is just getting going. One of his better performances was when he chased home the very good Manaccan last time over five furlongs at Dundalk and he’s on the up.

It seems on that and other evidence that he’ll stretch out much better over this extra furlong, so with the trip seen as ideal and the fact he is proven on Polytrack he has an obvious winning chance.

3.10 Lingfield (Churchill Stakes – Listed Race) – BOLSHOI BALLET

Another Listed race and another fast-track qualifier, this time over a mile and a quarter.

Of the two John & Thady Gosden horses I like Forest Of Dean more than Harrovian now he’s not penalised on the all-weather which has been his undoing before.

Algiers was impressive at York but he’s been good so far on dirt and on softer ground so this may prove to be a bit quick. Missed The Cut is capable of winning this, but I’m not convinced by Quality Road progeny on this surface, especially with Sea The Stars in his pedigree.

Aidan O’Brien’s Bolshoi Ballet could be the one. Famed for going off 11/8 favourite for the 2021 Derby, he is still a colt at four and could be seen as valuable by Coolmore.

He’s had his problems but he’s also put in some big performances, especially abroad in group/grade races and he wants it quick so this could be the perfect scenario for him.

Friday, 4 November 2022

Friday 4th & Saturday 5th November 2022: Breeders’ Cup Special

Though there’s Flat and jumping domestic action, the main focus for us is the 2022 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland, one of the homes of horse racing.

Friday 4th November 2022

7.00 Keeneland (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint – Grade 1) – MISCHIEF MAGIC

Home runners American Apple, Lady Hollywood, Tyler’s Tribe and Speed Boat Beach could be competitive, while Wesley Ward’s Love Reigns is probably the best of them and has experience against UK runners.

The Platinum Queen has been admirable but isn’t much better than her fellow British runners and is drawn out wide, while Persian Force is consistent but not massively progressive.

Dramatised can be feared for the Karl Burke team from the 4 gate, but way overpriced next door in five is Charlie Appleby’s Mischief Magic.

He’s been really impressive at times this season and was fancied to win the Group 1 Middle Park only for the race not to suit.

7.40 Keeneland (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies – Grade 1) – CHOP CHOP

Raging Sea, Leave No Trace and Grand Love are drawn wide and it appears the form of the Alcibiades Stakes over course and distance is the line to concentrate on.

In that race, the consistent Wonder Wheel made all but only just held on from the fast-improving Chop Chop who had to come from the back. She can continue her sharp upward trajectory and land this race for Brad Cox.

8.20 Keeneland (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf – Grade 1) – MEDITATE

With form, speed and breeding all taken into account this does look like a good opportunity for Aidan O’Brien’s filly Meditate to score despite being parked in gate 10.

She’s already stayed seven furlongs at the Curragh so I’ve no issue with going an extended mile around these bends, while she also possesses the pace needed to kick on when necessary.

Her form is simply better than that of the others and she can win ahead of Spirit Gal and Midnight Mile.

9.40 Keeneland (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf – Grade 1) – SILVER KNOTT

Charlie Appleby has an excellent record in this race, winning it with Modern Games last year who we’ll see in the Mile.

His Silver Knott is a proper type. This year’s impressive Solario winner got the better of a very strong Autumn Stakes field last time out and if not receiving bad luck, should take care of this bunch no problem. Victoria Road is next on the list.

Saturday 5th November 2022

12.50 Doncaster (Wentworth Stakes – Listed Race) – ART POWER

At five and as a full horse, Art Power is still getting better. He doesn’t put his very best in every single time, but he’s saved it for this sort of ground including when demolishing a good Group 3 field at the Curragh.

Some haven’t taken that at face value, the official handicapper certainly hasn’t, and this horse is penalised too, but using certain metrics and on a line through the horses he beat, that was a Group 1 performance. He may be too good for Commanche Falls, Rhythm Master and Chipstead.

1.30 Doncaster (Gillies Fillies’ Stakes – Listed Race) – LIFE OF DREAMS

A good number of these may appreciate the very wet ground, but it should also present no problems for Charlie Appleby’s Life Of Dreams who is heading the right way and should be a sound middle-distance Group filly. Sweet Believer and Moon De Vega are next best.

3.13 Doncaster (November Handicap) – ISRAR

This is a very competitive race. With all things taken into consideration, Nathaniel Greene, Metier, Cemhaan and First Officer are pretty hard to split. Israr however stands taller.

The London Gold Cup produces so many future Group winners and I still think Israr will be one of them.

Not only is he of that ability and certainly better than his current mark of 106, but he actually won ever so easily over this course and distance two weeks ago and in heavy ground too, so there’s nothing not to like.

3.50 Keeneland (Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint – Grade 1) – GOODNIGHT OLIVE

As a three-year-old Echo Zulu remains capable while Slammed, Obligatory and Ce Ce have all shown terrific ability.

The selection however is Chad Brown’s Goodnight Olive. She’s unbeaten in five now, has reached a level good enough to be competitive and crucially is still improving unlike many others.

4.29 Keeneland (Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint – Grade 1) – CREATIVE FORCE

Despite the level of attention placed upon the wonderful Highfield Princess and likely favourite Golden Pal, this is actually a very competitive sprint race.

Flotus still remains capable of landing a big one while Wesley Ward’s Campanelle is also a contender. Charlie Appleby’s Creative Force and Naval Crown have been hard to split over the past couple of years, both when you take a close look continue to improve in fast conditions and both are capable in this race.

With Naval Crown stuck out wide, William Buick riding Creative Force and him still being a double-figure price, he is the one to be with.

5.10 Keeneland (Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile – Grade 1) – LAUREL RIVER

Bill Mott and Godolphin’s Cody’s Wish is well fancied, but although his trainer may not be the most popular winner here, Laurel River looks top class and may edge this one. Bob Baffert’s four-year-old Juddmonte colt has been outstanding out in California and may just be too good for them.

6.30 Keeneland (Breeders’ Cup Sprint – Grade 1) – ALOHA WEST

Connections of Jackie’s Warrior will be looking for him to go out on a high, but the odds-on favourite was well beaten in this race last year, is arguably regressing and is drawn a little wide.

Wesley Ward’s runners are often overrated by British bookies and I think that’s been the case again with Kimari, while American Theorem has excellent form with Laurel River and this is his trip.

Strangely last year’s winner at Del Mar, Aloha West, has been overlooked and is very good value to win it again having recovered his form with a Listed win at Churchill Downs.

7.10 Keeneland (Breeders’ Cup Mile – Grade 1) – MODERN GAMES

Kinross is admirable but the mile and his wide draw are against him. Annapolis can be very good so is a danger, but Modern Games is head and shoulders above this bunch as long as he hasn’t had too challenging a season.

What he did in the French Guineas, the French Derby and the QEII are all bonuses. This is really his territory. He was a classy winner of the Juvenile Turf at last year’s meeting and was scintillating in the Woodbine Mile in September.

7.55 Keeneland (Breeders’ Cup Distaff – Grade 1) – MALATHAAT

The last two fillies to have won the Kentucky Oaks for us, Malathaat and Secret Oath, are in the line-up and both can go well.

Malathaat wasn’t ready for this race last year as a three-year-old but she sure is now. She’s less flashy than Nest, but gets the job done and is still improving. Nest is a danger, as is old rival Clairiere.

8.40 Keeneland (Breeders’ Cup Turf – Grade 1) – NATIONS PRIDE

This race marks the end of a fantastic and high-earning career for Mishriff. Aidan O’Brien sends Broome and Stone Age while War Like Gossess is the best of the Americans. Despite having no Adayar, Yibir or Hurricane Lane, Charlie Appleby still has the top two in the market!

Don’t underestimate Rebel’s Romance, but Nations Pride is a genuine Group 1 horse and can win this under William Buick. He was my fancy for the Derby at home and has gone from strength to strength in North America.