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Royal Ascot Wednesday

Ascot Grand Stand, by Florian Christoph

Royal Ascot is upon us…. and I missed day one. Just returned from a three week long trip around Australia, work was calling on Monday right away and left no room for any form study, neither yesterday. Without a proper study I don’t throw bucks on the nags and rather enjoy the replays of the big races.

None bigger than the curtain raiser on the opening Tuesday which is the prestigious Queen Anne Stakes – somehow in my mind  the World Cup final for milers!

Maybe because I call myself Paco Boy’s Nr. 1 fan. His triumph in 2009 was such a special, memorable, eye-catching and simply beautiful performance – it left a lasting mark on me.

So of course I was keen to see who’d get up in this years renewal. Ribchester the big favourite after landing the Lockinge in superb style. Not quite as impressive this time, but in the end with authority, the Godolphin inmate ran all his rivals down.

Only one of many brilliant performances on the day. Lady Aurelia bolting up in the King’s Stand and Barney Roy got his first Group 1 win under the belt, while Churchill found this possibly one too many a race.

……

2.30 Ascot: Jersey Stakes, Group 3, 7 furlongs

A hot race that will inevitably end up in a split of the field I believe – pace drawn close to both sides of the rails should ensure a fair enough contest…. hopefully.

It’s hard to make a call what site to favour and what eventually happens in this race, but on pure form you have to very keen on French raider Le Brivido, runner-up in the French Guineas. Drawn in ten he will have every opportunity to make a choice but might early on and no doubt with only two starts to his name he looks bound to improve.

However I fancy second favourite Dream Castle a lot. Drawn in 19 could be a problem, but doesn’t have to be. Fact is this son of Frankel is riddled with talent as he showed on debut when winning impressively, followed up by an incredibly eye-catching performance in the Greenham.

He was argubly unlucky in the 2000 Guineas subsequently and clearly is better than the bare results suggests. He pulled in the first half of the race, was then hampered and a clear run denied at a crucial stage, yet finished strongly.

He has had only three career starts, so there is every chance for more to come as the fast ground and the drop to 7f won’t be a problem, in fact a fast race over this sort of trip should be ideal.

Selection:
10pts win – Dream Castle @ 4/1 Bet365

……

4.20 Ascot: Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, Group 1, 1m 2f

Despite the trip possibly short of his optimum, Highland Reel from the front over 10f on fast ground at Ascot could be difficult to peg back, I feel. He a high-class individual and bounced back to his best in the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

I feel his biggest challange won’t come from Jack Hobbs, who got the better of him in Dubai because the drop in trip in combination of quick ground is a much clearer disadvantage for the 2015 derby runner-up in my mind at least.

Most likely to enjoy these conditions is Sir Michael’s classy Galileo colt Ulysses, though. His seasonal reappearance at Sandown was pleasing and the form franked by runner-up Deauville.

He’s yet to score at the highest level however had his fare share of problems which means after eight career starts he might still be able to find a bit of improvement. I’m slightly concerned about him being too far off the pace in this race, on the other hand – but that’s the risk to take.

Selection: 
10pts win – Ulysses @ 4/1 Bet365

Friday Racing Tips

2.30 Musselburgh: Maiden Stakes, 5f

This shapes like a two-horse-race with slightly more experienced Faithful Promise heading the betting at the moment, closely followed by Fahey’s colt Shobrom.

The filly was arguably unlucky the other day when an agonisingly close runner-up. However she goes against boys now for the first time and it won’t be any easier.

Shobrom ran well on debut in a decent Newmarket maiden that already works out okay and should have decent potential for improvement. Richard Fahey’s form with two year old maidens at Musselburgh is quite tremendous over the years, so Shobrom’s chance is enhanced in my book.

Given both, Faithful Promise and Shobrom, ran to pretty similar form the last time rating wise, you would hope that the colt has more upside given he achieved it first time out.

Selection:
10pts win – Shobrom @ 13/8 Paddy Power

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3.40 Lingfield: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

This looks like an ideal opportunity for Mark Johnston to follow on from his tremendous record as this track with fine sprinter Highly Sprung. The four year old ran with plenty of credit at Leicester when last seen and remains on his last winning mark too.

However he drops to 5f, a trip he only ran twice over in his career. With his early pace and a decent draw this could suit perfectly here at Lingfield, where Zebedee offspring has a sensational CD record.

Given Highly Sprung ran numerous times to higher RPR’s than his current handicap rating and having been rated 10lb higher only back in September 2016, there is a pretty good chance that he has a bit in hand with conditions very likely to suit.

Selection: 
10pts win – Highly Sprung @ 9/2 Bet365

Dubai: Longshots of the Day

Year in year out Dubai World Cup night signals the return of the flat – at least to me personally. A great day of racing it usually is, even though not a happy hunting ground betting wise.

The question today really is: by how far will Arrogate win? He’s the red hot favourite to land the World Cup and there is zero reason to oppose him. However there are two turf races that appear much more prone for an upset – here’re my two longshots ofthe day:

2.00: Al Quoz Sprint

Ertijaal seems the right favourite but not the right price. Yes, he is unbeaten in two starts this season and clearly loves Meydan but the majority of those successes came over the shorter 1.000m trip.

If Limato can bring his A-game he’s a big danger with decent ground he relishes to play with. Is he ready? Jungle Cat stepped up to win a good 6f sprint over CD when last seen, he’s sure to give his running but is he good enough?

From the bigger prices you have to consider Hong Kong’s Amazing Kid, a speedy sort who’s better over the minimum trip but the ground and flat finish may suit him. The same could possibly be said about Medicean Man who ran really well in two starts here at Meydan this year, though over 1.000m. But at 66’s could be worth a spunt

Not quite as big in the betting but overpriced in my book is Aiden O’Brien’s Washington DC. A classy, ultra consistent sprinter over both 5- and 6 furlongs. AOB did not enjoy the best of success at Meydan in the past but brings a strong team this time around.

The now four year old is rarely outside the money and ran close in some big sprints last season. Granted he has a bit to find with some of these and his last win came over seven furlongs on the Dundalk All-Weather, this race could be ready made for him.

At least with ground to suit and a trip he’s sure to get every inch of it he is underestimated in the field.

Selection:
5pts win – Washington DC @ 16/1 PP

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3.30 Dubai Turf

This looks quite an open race to me with question marks all over aplenty of runners. That says you can make a case for aplenty of these too!

However I am surprised to see Christophe Ferland’s charge Heshem such a big price in the betting as he is. This horse is poised for a big run in my mind and according to the trainer has travelled extremely well.

Heshem is still a somewhat lightly raced individual after a fine three year old campaign Group 2 company culminating in an excellent runner-up effort on Arc day in the Prix Dollar, when he had today’s race favourite Zarek behind himself.

The fact that connections gave the now four year old colt a spin on the All-Weather in preparation of this race race seems they mean business. Tactically he’s more likely to be closer to the pace, which would make sense utilising a fine draw.

Selection:
5pts win – Heshem @ 22/1 Bet365

…….

Read also my comprehensive preview of the Sheema Classic 

British Champions Day or the end of the flat

Ascot Grand Stand, by Florian Christoph

British Champions Day is synonymous with the end of the flat season – hard to believe but the end of 2016 renewal is nearly upon us! It certainly passed me in the blink of an eye – or so it felt!

Honestly, I never really got into it. I missed out on many big days. Was just too busy with other stuff. I went to the Curragh just twice. Which is a crying shame.

Take simply: I never got emotionally involved in this season at all.

It didn’t help – I guess – my betting was brutal the first half of the season, slightly improved in the second half, though without ever coming close to making something like a profit.

Gotta to get going in the All-Weather season again, which usually works quite well if I put in the time and the effort. It’s something I enjoy. But for one last time, let’s have a look at those races of British flat season that do stand out.

Thoughts and selections are below – follow them may lead to bankruptcy. So do it on your own responsibility:

2.00 Ascot: Don’t Touch E/W @ 66/1 Coral (1/5, 5places)

Wide open race and Don’t Touch is surely not a prime chance in this competitive race, given he has yet to prove his class beyond listed level. Nonetheless he’s a speedy sort with an impressive record over six furlongs and if the first time blinkers can edge out a bit of improvement then he is in with a shout to content for the placing at least.

2.35 Ascot: Zhukova @ 5/1 Bet365

Potentially a minefield this race, but Dermot Weld’s filly has the right profile to win it.
Still not too many miles on the clock, lightly raced this year while unbeaten in 2016, she usually is not too far off the pace which I feel could be crucial today.

3.10 Ascot: Hit It A Bomb @ 25/1 Ladbrokes

Hasn’t hit the heights of last season in  two starts since his return, but may improve from those two runs and the light season could be an advantage today if he is still as good as he promised to be as a juvenile. Conditions should suit him. Of course he has a bit to find on form and the ratings with the likes of Minding and Galileo Gold.

However one shouldn’t forget they have had a hard and long season that started quite early as well, so they may well run not to their true form today. A bit improvement from HIAB and a bit regression from the key contenders, and the 25/1 looks a huge price.

3.45 Ascot: Jack Hobbs @ 14/1 Ladbrokes

It’s probably a stupid bet trusting a horse that has been pulled up when last seen over half a year ago, running after a long lay-off in a race as deep as this is. But regardless, I feel the price is too big. In theory Jack Hobbs should be getting better the older he gets.

Now more mature after a summer off, John Gosden can get his horses ready first time out and Jack Hobbs won FTO in the past – I like the fact that he should be in the right spot when they turning for home, given he is usually right up with the pace, so does not need in-running luck, which will inevitably play a role today for some of the more fancied runners.

4.05 Catterick: Machine Learning @ 5/1 Bet365

Fine winner on penultimate start, probably should have won under penalty the next time. Still on a fair mark and now heading to Catterick for the first time. Michael Bell has an excellent record here, even better with those he brings here for their first run at this odd track. Fine Apprentice is booked, trainer and jockey enjoy some success together – from bottom weight Machine Learning must have a big chance.

The Curragh: A piece of history

Irish Thoroughbred

Like any old storyteller The Curragh Racecourse bares the wrinkles and ravages of time. However, she wears them with pride, a pride in knowing that she has been telling her enthralling story for a very long time.

The word “Curragh” itself means place of the running horse, and as early as the 1700’s racing as we know it was taking place on The Curragh. Now, approaching the twilight of the 2016 racing season The Curragh is preparing to pull on her surgery gown in preparation for the sixty-five million Euro face lift many have longed for.

Having grown up to two miles from The Home of the Classics I have always seen the Curragh as a place  of wonder and mystery. What champion of the future will make its stage entrance on the hallowed turf? What great of the now will fight to hold its reputation as a true champion?…

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Monday Betting: All-Weather

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2.30 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Nursery, 1m 141y

Favourite Ripoll could still be on the up, but at a much bigger price Monday Club is an intriguing contender as he finished only one place behind Ripoll when the two met the last time here at Wolverhampton – form that looks very strong and is franked through Ripoll, who was subsequently a runaway winner at Kempton.

Monday Club had the widest draw to overcome in that race, travelled well but was briefly off the bridle over 4f when trying to close the gap to the leading pack, which seemingly slipped away. He came back on the bridle, travelling strongly into the home straight, though seemed to hang a bit to his left then and wasn’t helped by shifting horses who prevented him from a clear run.

He probably was a tired horse at that stage anyway, so the slight drop in trip should suit perfectly. He gets 2lb off his mark and has a decent 3lb claimer on board today. From a handicapping perspective he must have strong claims in my mind.

Working against him will the unkind draw – again widest of all. He will have to get all the brakes and need to be well in to overcome in a race like this, but at a huge price is certainly worth the gamble.

Monday Club @ 25/1 Coral – 5pts Win

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5.20 Kempton: Class 4 Handicap, 7f

I firmly have my eyes on Loyalty who seems underestimated here. His last run in much better class 4lb out of the handicap at Chelmsford wasn’t a bad one, but I thought he was most eye-catching over course and distance on his return when he made all from a wide draw and just tired in the final furlong, probably in the need of a run.

He’s got a decent draw and is on a fair mark at the moment, although the trip could be on the sharp side. However he has won over 7f in the past and loves Kempton. Given he’ll make this a stamina test from the front again he could be primed for a big run today.

Loyalty @ 18/1 William Hill – 5pts Win

Fairyhouse Betting: Grade 1 Action

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Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)

Willie Mullins holds the keys in his hands to the outcome of this race. Exciting Long Dog might be hard to beat but stable mate Bachasson can’t be underestimated.

The French import is unbeaten in four starts in Ireland and landed a good Grade 3 Hurdle in excellent style when last seen. He’s also receiving some weight from Long Dog.

Bachasson @ 7/2 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

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Hatton’s Grace Hurdle (Grade 1)

If Arctic Fire runs to his best he’ll be probably running away with this. However he’s fallen short to prevail on the highest level up until now and is one I’m prepared to take on.

Receiving 4lb from all his rivals, French gelding Gwencily Berbas is an interesting alternative. He probably would like it a bit softer but has won on yielding ground here at Fairyhouse over 2m on Grade 3 level earlier this month.

Still lightly raced, he is unexposed over the 2 1/2m trip, which on pedigree should very much suit.

Gwencily Berbas @ 10/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win