Friday Selections: February, 16th 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

2.35 Lingfield: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

Down to a very dangerous mark, as well as down in class on the back of an encouraging run, Van Huysen looks to be in with a major shout in this contest.

The six year old is a multiple Course and distance winner, he won of 77 and 80 respectively back in 2016 here and ran well of even higher marks.

The son of Excellent Art has been rather disappointing on a number of occasions ever since, however, dropping to a very low mark now, I thought his recent run a muddling class 3 Handicap was as good as his best.

He was left wanting in a very undesirable position once the pace increased over 3f out after the field was crawling along for most parts, that meant he didn’t really have a chance to better than the bare result – however he finished as fast if not faster the last three furlongs than those horses in front of him.

The handicapper drops him another couple of pounds and in this easier grade and bigger field things might fall a little bit more his way. If they do, he’ll be bang there.

Selection:
10pts win – Van Huysen @ 8/1 Bet365

……

8.45 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

There is no doubt in my mind that Alfonso Manana is a well handicapped horse in this race today. His penultimate form of a four pound higher mark in very competitive Chemlsford Handicap gives him a big chance here.

This four year old son of Dutch Art has only a win in a claimer to his name, however, he ran well in a handful of decent maiden races last season.

I believe you can forgive him his comeback run in early January this year and his most recent Southwell performance, but his Chelmsford run and some other performances from last season do give him a big chance, if he runs to that sort of level today, off 59 mark.

Selection:
10pts win – Alfonso Manana @ 5/1 Bet365

Wednesday Selections: February, 13th 2018

Wet Dundalk Polytrack

2.20 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

Fiery Breath won eighteen days ago over Course and Distance when I was sweet on him – and I expect a similar sort of outcome this time again. Same facts as brought forward the other day apply here:

this son of Bated Breath has a pedigree to do well on the All-Weather and the fact he is still not gelded after his juvenile season suggested there is some belief he could turn out slightly better than anything he has shown to date.

He was not disgraced in three starts in tough maidens last season where he usually travelled well but faded in the closing stages. Connections opted for a wind operation subsequently and that has worked in so far as Fiery Breath won on his seasonal debut, as mentioned before.

He travelled sweetly throughout, clearly suited by the fact pace. The imposing colt didn’t quite shake off hi rivals as easily as one would have hoped given he turn for home on the bridle.

However, first time up from a lay-off and the first run since the wind op, he was entitled find things not all that easy in the finish – he’s likely to improve for the run and the experience of knowing he can properly breath in the closing stages, though.

A 4lb hike of his handicap mark looks potentially undervaluing that performance. Fiery Breath is still very low mileage, it’ll be only his second Al-Weather- and Handicap start  and this looks not an overly strong race in general.

Selection:
10pts win – Fiery Breath @ 2/1 VC

…….

7.45 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

A female dominated field but the cock of the walk Swissie has a good chance to follow-up on his fine Newcastle success over the minimum trip.

He met some of these that day and probably would have won with a bit more in hand than the bare result suggested, if not for an awkward start and finding himself sandwiched and subsequently squeezed out at a crucial stage of the race from 2f out.

Swissie had to find his stride quickly- and go full gear again once in the clear deep in the closing stages; he got up his head in front when it mattered most – quite an impressive finish he produced.

His handicap mark has been raised by 4lb, which looks certainly fair, however, on his only fifth career start with a perfect draw to start the race from, he should have every chance to make it two on the bounce here.

Selection:
10pts win  – Swissie @ 11/2 PP

Monday Selections: February, 12th 2018

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7.40 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

I was keen on De Vegas Kid when he returned from a break at Lingfield last month. Things didn’t work out that day for him. A wide draw, a less than perfect start, he always raced wide and didn’t receive the smartest of rides challenging the pace throughout widest of all.

Given the circumstances, he ran well in a very competitive race. On the other hand one could say it fits the narrative of his career, as De Vegas Kid always finds a reason to get beat, it seems.

As noted the last time, he has ran some fine races in the past, knocking heavily on the door, more so on the flat than the All-Weather, where he was unlucky not to get his head in front.

Potentially stripping fitter now, another pound off the mark and dropping to the minimum trip might offer a way out of the misery, though. With a good draw, in a very winnable race, De Vegas Kid has no excuses today, but the best chance ever to get this elusive first victory under his belt.

Selection:
10pts win – De Vegas Kid @ 5/1 Bet365

Saturday Selections: February, 10th 2018

DSC_1062

4.35 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

Open contest that might see Ed Walker’s reappearing Dream Farr return to form. Walker has an excellent record in these big handicaps for older horses and Dream Farr certainly has a lot going for himself today.

The five year old son of Dream Ahead goes well fresh, he’s proven the last couple of years, but more so is he down to a dangerous handicap mark.

He won off 70 and 74 respectively last season. He ran to time speed ratings of 70 and 77 in these two races, which is a good indicator that he’s likely to be capable of running to this type of mark, if not even a bit better.

Luke Morris takes the ride. That suggests Dream Farr is not here for a public gallop. Morris is one who always tries to win, leading the AW Jockey Championship at the moment, and the Morris/Walker combo has been a pretty successful one in the past, too.

It’s probably fair to believe that Dream Farr could have a couple of pounds in hand today and therefore should go close in this contest.

Selection:
10pts win – Dream Farr @ 9/1 Bet365

Thursday Selections: February, 8th 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

2.40 Newcastle: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 4½f

Small but ultra-competitive field. Paddypley drops in class and went close the last time; he’s sure to have a big shout. French recruit Stonific is an interesting contender for David O’Meara. His opening mark looks very workable. Recent CD scorer Theglasgowwarrior may not be stopped by a 5lb hike in the mark.

Yet, The Resdev Way seems to be the forgotten horse in the race, certainly in the betting. The five-year old gelding, however, has a sensational course and distance record. From five runs he won three and was placed in two others, while his last CD effort, back in 2016, when he finished third off 4lb higher than his current handicap mark, is quite a strong piece of form as well.

Things didn’t go to plan for quite a while afterwards. Neither on the flat nor over hurdles did he show anything, until he returned to his beloved Newcastle mid-January, then over 2 miles – he travelled strongly, looked like the winner when approaching the final furlong, though, he bumped into a well handicapped individual who found more when The Resdev Way tired in the dying strides over a trip probably stretching his stamina.

Still, a fine piece of form, given the winner has won subsequently again. The Resdev Way returned ten days later at Chelmsford over 1m 5½f, without landing a blow. I wouldn’t judge him too harshly on that, as clearly here at Newcastle he seems to be an entirely different beast.

Finally he returns to Newcastle over his optimum trip; with Paul Hannagan booked for the ride, I feel The Resdev Way is overpriced in this race, despite its competitive nature.

Selection: 
10pts win – The Resdev Way @ 14/1 VC

…..

9.00 Chelmsford: Class 5 Handicap, 1 mile

Gala Celebration returns from a break for a new yard. He has shown in the past he can win fresh; in fact 11 months ago fresh reappearing from a 156 day-long break, he got off the mark in a 7f Handicap at Lingfield, putting up a near freakish performance from the front – in the context of the class of the race and level of the horses involved – when overcoming a wide draw and coming home strongly totally unchallenged.

He didn’t strolled along that day, he set good fractions, yet nothing in the race could get by him, he ran them totally into the ground.

He was pretty on and off in all his next starts. However, now back from a break and 2lb lower in the mark than for last year’s Lingfield success, he seems dangerously weighted in this contest.

That says, Gala Celebration needs to stretch out to a mile, a trip he has tried twice before. He didn’t run too badly on turf in softish conditions and certainly it looks possible on pedigree.

Interesting jockey booking with Jamie Spencer taking the ride on what is Ian Williams’ sole runner on the night. Both enjoy an excellent strike rate together and with the additional aid of a good draw it looks likely that Gala Celebration is ready for a big run.

Selection: 
10pts win – Gala Celebration @ 9/2 GB

Opinion: ATR Out? RUK In!

RacingUK-01.png

So, it’s finally out in the open. Officially, that is. Been an open secret, heavily discussed on social media, for a number of days already – now Racing UK confirmed it will, indeed, broadcast Irish Racing from 2019 on while At The Races loses the rights.

A big blow for ATR. They also lose Chelmsford at the same time. Probably affordable to lose this particular All-Weather track – affordable in the wider context, given the fact it was Irish Racing that’s been the big deal for the channel.

Now, there is a lot of speculation, a lot of unanswered questions so far. It’s hard to know what’s the true reasons for this change. Money? Most likely. Though, there must be more to it. Horseracing Ireland can’t be so naive to believe it’s a good thing if their product vanishes behind a paywall. Or can they?

An expensive paywall that is. A hefty 30 quid in Ireland racing fans have to fork out in order to add Racing UK to their existing TV bundle. That says, ATR isn’t entirely free either. You need to have a TV bundle in place, too. However, you pay one subscription fee and that’s that. RUK requires a secondary fee.

Would At The Races have gone down the paywall route as well in the future? This rumour made the rounds. HRI will need to do some explaining if it wants to justify this change and even more so if it wants to change the course of public sentiment on it – which is incredibly negative at this point in time.

My personal view is pretty simple: I am no ATR fanboy by any stretch of the imagination. Poor picture quality, their coverage hard to take serious more often than not – it is a different, more casual approach than the one the much more serious, sometimes stiff and definitely not funny RUK offers.

I do prefer the factual, serious, analytical coverage RUK provides, no doubt. On the other hand, credit has to be given where it’s due: At The Races has done a pretty damn good job if it comes to covering Irish Racing. It’s like ‘free’ PR for the sport in this country, given many have a TV subscription where ATR is a standard feature.

ATR has put tremendous effort into the promotion of Irish racing. One only has to look back at the most recent example, the Dublin Racing Festival. Furthermore, the channel does cover the smallest of meetings and gives proper air time when speaking to trainers, owners and jockeys – the small ones and the big ones.

Irish Racing is the main thing on ATR. And you feel that in anything they do. Also, to have the ability to watch full replays of each race only couple of minutes after races finished, without the need to see the result in first place, is an excellent service.

As for Racing UK: I was a subscriber for a number of years. I can afford the 30 quid, no problem. It’s not so much about the money as more about the fact you have to pay 30 quid for 1! single channel. Let that sink in.

A channel that does allot of good things. A channel, however, that shows half the day replays on the loop, also. Replays you can find online for free. There seems to be more original content produced these days. New shows, more analysis, decent pundits. Still, it is not enough to warrant €30, in my opinion, at least.

Put that in context: I subscribe to Watch AFL. A year-long subscription worth €149 gives the ability to see every game of the AFL/WAFL season – live or on demand, whenever you want, plus access to the 24h Fox Footy channel and of course you can watch all the excellent live shows they produce (you might miss because of time zone difference) on demand too. That is value for money!

Now, I don’t want to go into detail regarding how Racing UK will accommodate all the additional racing from Ireland in their already incredibly busy schedule, particularly during the flat season. You can read it all in this Q&A.

Let me say only that: the answers provided to the questions are hardly satisfying. To be fair, though, we need to give Racing UK time to figure out how they gonna do it. We got to give them a chance and who knows what plans they’re going to pull out. Maybe it all turns out great….

From the outside, certainly, this move does seem odd and far from encouraging. The danger is a lack of visibility for Irish Racing moving forward. So let’s hope for the best, shall we?!

Wednesday Selections, February, 7th February 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

6.25 Wolverhampton: Class 3 Handicap, 7f

Hot race, with plenty of established form on offer, even though many are well exposed, which leaves the door open for relatively low mileage gelding Mickey.

The five year old returned to the racetrack in December at Lingfield from a 15 months long absence. He was well backed in a tough handicap, however, bottled his chances at the start. He travelled well, though wasn’t really asked for a big effort turning wide and was looked after in the closing stages.

He drops 2lb for the effort, now second up after the long break, also the second run after being gelded, he might well be better for it. He’s got a decent draw which should ensure a good position in midfield with cover, as long as he starts better this time.

Mickey has only eight starts under his belt; he won quite impressively over course and distance as a three year old in maiden company, and followed up with two fine runner-up efforts the same year.

Off his current mark, Mickey could be well handicapped given he promised to be a bit better before his lay-off. Additional positive signs for his chance in this race: the Dascombe yard seems in rude health at the moment and sire Zoffany has a fine record on Wolverhampton’s Tapeta, particularly over the 7 furlong trip.

With all this in mind, I feel the price Geoff Banks offers at the moment is out of line, and offers tremendous value for this horse, taking int consideration the upside Mickey theoretically possesses.

Selection:
10pts win – Mickey @ 15/2 GB

Horse Racing Around The Globe

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