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Cheltenham Festival 2018: Day 4 + Gold Cup Fancies

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Delta Work (12/1) lit up the day! In a thrilling finish, driven out by brilliant Davy Russell, won the day, and the week. Back in the profit, and with less races to come than needed to erode the accumulated profit, it’s already, before the final day, a profitable week. Now the question is: is a noteworthy profit or pocket money? On to  Gold Cup Friday….

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14:10 Cheltenham – County Hurdle

The trend horse, the sexy horse…. the winner? Smaoineamh Alainn must go close. This lightly raced six year old has won all his hurdle starts and got up here at Cheltenham over this trip in December – a piece of form that has worked out incredibly well.

Eight pounds higher than that day; he seems very well handicapped. Connections opted against from running him again. It certainly protected his handicap mark.

With the track and trip not imposing any fear, the ground shouldn’t either. He’s won on very soft ground already.

Selection:
10pts win – Smaoineamh Alainn @ 16/1 Skybet

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14:50 Cheltenham – Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle

I take a swing at two pic prices: Fabulous Saga wasn’t right when last seen at Leopardstown. Leaving that form out he won a Grade 2 and Grade 3 on the bounce over this sort of trip on deep ground.

Mulcahys Hill went desperatly close in a the Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle. Can be a tricky character and bombed the next, but that may came too soon. Step up to 3m should be perfect and ground is in his favour.

Selection:
5pts win – Fabulous Saga @ 33/1 VC
5pts win – Mulcahys Hill @ 54/1 Matchbook

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15:30 Cheltenham – Gold Cup

As open a Gold Cup as I can remember in a while.  Personally I don’t trust Might Bite yet. He has to show it here that he stays professional and can get home in a competitive top class field in the noisy environment that Gold Cup Day at Cheltenham is.

That means, without a clear cut favourite, you can make cases for plenty in the field. I give Our Duke a big chance. However, he’s not a price I want to get involved in. Simply because I feel Killultagh Vic nearly double the price is much better value.

The question is how he has mentally recovered from the crashing fall in the Irish Gold Cup. We won’t find out until he runs. That says, without being able to say for sure whether he would have won, given Edwulf, the eventual winner that day, travelled strongly approaching the last fence too, it’s fair to say Killultagh Vic would have gone almighty close.

Despite his age of nine, the Willie Mullins charge has only nie starts to his name and only three over fences, of which he won two, and the other one the mentioned Leopardstown race.

That means Killultagh Vic may still have a bit of improvement left. That he is up to Grade 1 standard he showed last month. The ground is sure to be to his likening. So, if he has recovered from his fall, he must rate a huge runner.

Another interest I have is American. Not for win purposes. He’s likely not good enough, however, will relish the ground conditions. He has been supplemented for the race and his runner-up performance behind Definitely Red here in the Cotswold Chase at the end of January is a fair piece of form.

He travelled really well for most parts of the race, however might have done a bit too much too early, I felt. So there is a chance he could finish closer to Definitely Red on another day. That should be good enough to see him in the mix. He’s also one who is still open to progress.

Selections:
5pts win – Killultagh Vic @ 10/1 VC
5pts Place – American @ 8/1 Matchbook

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16:10 Cheltenham – Foxhunter Chase

Foxrock can make this a true test for the hype horse of the race: Burning Ambition. It’s true, in the past Foxrock didn’t enjoy the best of runs at this venue. However, in my mind, it was down to bad jumping. He’s older now, wiser, a better jumper and this not as good a race as those he used to run in.

Says, the ten year old is still class. He won four times in this sphere last season and had a fine reappearance at Thurles in January when runner-up behind Gilgamboa. Both jumped the last locked together, but Foxrock got very tired, as he was entitled to after his break in bad ground as it was that day.

Trip and ground conditions will be ideal for him here. Hope he can make it third time lucky – he certainly is the price of the race in my eyes.

Selection:
10pts win – Foxrock @ 8/1 WH

Thursday Selections: February, 22nd 2018

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8.00 Chelmsford: Class 4 Handicap , 1m 2f

A competitive race as it’s hard to rule any of the eight starters out completely. However, Ourmullion is the one that catches my eye for a variety of reasons.

The four year old gelding found 11- and 12 furlongs too far in his last two outings, although the Kempton run looks a solid form in general.

Down to 1m 2f again, he looks competitive in this contest. He won two on the bounce over course and distance in September, followed up in December here with an excellent effort in a red hot contest.

Ourmullion still hasn’t too many miles on the clock, particularly on the All-Weather and the 10 furlong trip. His current handicap mark off 77 is workable and from a good draw he should have not too many excuses today.

Selection:
10pts win – Ourmullion @ 8/1 Bet365

Tuesday Selections – 6th November 2017

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1.10 Wolverhampton: Class 5 Novices Stakes, 5f

After three highly promising runs, with the debut a clear stand-out, Miltia is clearly the one to beat. 5f on tapeta looks ideal with a perfect draw in a race that appears to be very much winnable.

Militia’s sire Equiano has a superb record with juveniles over CD therefore the switch to the All-Weather looks more like a positive than a negative.

Selection:
10pts win – Militia @ 9/4 Bet365

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4.45 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m

This looks a race where one of the younger, lightly raced three year olds really should land a blow. Mio Ragazzo looks the pick of the lot, if this doesn’t come too soon and he can overcome a wide draw.

However I rather go with experience in this race. From the bottom end of the weights, nine year old Pick A Little looks primed for a big run. He comes here off a nice win at Brighton, yet can race off 2lb lower on the All-Weather, than he did on turf the last time.

Pick A Little is equally as good a horse on the sand as on grass, in fact his win record on the All-Weather is slightly better.

A mile on AW has never led to success, though. However he gets it well enough as seen at Brighton in desperate conditions three weeks ago.

It looks significant that Richard Kingscote takes the ride. He’s sat three times on Pick A Little and steered the gelding to success on each occasion.

Drawn in eight should still be okay and he should have not too many problems settling in a nice position not too far off the pace.

Selection:
10pts win – Pick A Little @ 17/2 VC

Sunday Selections: 10th September 2017

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Not all that often at Leopardstown you do see a horse swinging wide around the home bend trailing the field and then going on to win in impressive style. Yet Decorated Knight did exactly that….. from last to first – and in doing so landed the Irish Champions Stakes!

Hindsight is a beautiful thing. How could this lad go off at 25’s? He was full well entitled to have a big shout as the second highest rated individual in the field thanks to a Tattersalls Gold Cup success and a subsequent runner-up effort in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.

Credit to Andre Atzeni, who rode Decorated Knight to perfection, utilizing his turn of foot in the best possible way.

Odds-on favourite Churchill finished a disappointing 7th. Things got a bit messy in the home straight but that did not make too much of a difference. He was not good enough on the day. Maybe it was one race too many?

That ended the day with a rather shocking result for me punting wise too. 0 from 4, not a single one in the money. A day too forget…. albeit the brilliant performance by Decorated Knight may not be forgotten anytime soon.

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5.55 Curragh: Handicap, 1m 2f

The lucky last on Irish St. Leger day, an open contest where any more rain will not suit too many. However improving 3yo filly Jet Streaming will love any additional drop of rain over the course of the afternoon.

The lightly raced daughter of Born To Sea won impressively at the Galway Festival last month. Despite not breaking cleanly, being a bit too keen subsequently, and travelling off the pace in rear, she managed to motor home in the short straight to get up on the line.

It’s clear that Jet Streaming is crying out for a step up in trip. On pedigree this should work well too. She’s 2lb wrong in the weights, however given her progressive profile, ground and trip potentially in her favour, this should not make a difference.

With a good draw and from the lower end of the weight scale I reckon the Adrian Keatley trained filly has a cracking chance to land a big pot today.

Selection:
10pts win – Jet Streaming @ 7/1 PP

Friday Selections: 8th September 2017

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5.00 Ascot: Class 2 Handicap, 1 mile

I was keen on Big Baz when he ran a blinder in the big Logistics Handicap at York a fortnight ago. He finished an excellent sixth that day in a hot contest suggesting he’s back to somewhere near his best.

The handicapper dropped him 2lb subsequently which should give him a massive chance to outrun his price tag today given conditions will surely suit well with cut in the ground over his preferred trip.

Selction: 
10pts win – Big Baz @ 10/1 Bet365

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5.30 Ascot: Class 4 Handicap, 7f

The lightly raced favourite African Friend looks sure to go well, though I prefer the experience of Duke Cosimo who drops to a dangerous mark here.

He hasn’t won for a long time, however showed some spark at Redcar when last seen in a hot race that already works out quite well. Softish ground is no issue for him and a 3lb claimer on board should help too.

Selection: 
10pts win – Duke Cosimo @ 14/1 PP

 

 

Tuesday Selections: 22nd August 2017

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Wasn’t to be on Monday. Sacred Way ran a big race for a big price as hoped, just he couldn’t peg back the front-running winner and finished 2nd.. Perfect Symphony was way too keen early to land a blow when it mattered, unfortunately.

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5.10 Yarmouth: Class 6 Maiden Handicap, 1m 4f

Mark Prescott seems to have found yet again a superb opportunity for one of his lesser lights. Alternate Route is likely a very ordinary individual, though surely better than what we saw in three maiden runs on the All-Weather.

Handicapping was always the target with him and now stepping up to suitable 12 furlongs he could easily exploit his feather weight in a race against other winless individuals.

His sire New Approach has a sensational record at the Yarmouth venue, the fast ground should help on Handicap debut over the new trip, and a good draw is an added bonus.

Selection:
10pts win – Alternate Route @ 9/2 Skybet

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.

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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

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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