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

…….

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

Melbourne Cup Preview – Here’s You’re Winner!

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The race that stops a nation…. or the race that disrupts my sleep. Yep, it’s back – the one and only Melbourne Cup!

Thankfully only once a year. Getting up at 3.30am on a regular basis is probably not recommended. Nonetheless, Tuesday morning I will. All in the name of my favourite race on this beautiful planet!

Not because I’ve ever been particularly successful finding the winner. I have not. But because the build-up. The atmosphere. The enormity of the whole event. It’s special.

One day I gonna be there. To see it with my own eyes. Wide awake and alert. Unlike tomorrow morning. When I watch on with red eyes.

As close as I ever came to the mecca that Flemington is: I drove passed it with a rental car earlier this year on a trip to Australia.

Let’s talk about the actual race: off at 4am Irish time. Here’s hoping my neighbours are prepared for the screams of joy when Rekindling strolls over the line as the winner of the 2017 Melbourne Cup!

You see I get right into it. No dwelling. A full take on every single horse can be found in this excellent guide. I’ve already made up my mind and tell you why.

I’m all in on Rekindling. In past years I always backed multiple horses in the race. Didn’t do me any good. Only the bookies were smiling. This year I pin all my hopes on the Joseph O’Brien trained three year old colt.

But let’s move all the negative factors out of the way first: no doubt there are a handful of good reasons why this lad won’t get anywhere near the money tomorrow morning. Some smarter people than I am are probably right if they say Rekindling had a long season, the Cup is a mere afterthought on the back of an excellent Ledger performance and therefore he’ll find this really tough.

Rekindling is not a particularly imposing individual in terms of physical presence either. He didn’t have a prep run Down Under. And he’s a galloping sort who might not enjoy the start-stop nature of the race.

All fair points. However at 14/1 I am prepared to take a chance on Rekindling, fully aware I will likely go back to sleep at roughly 4.30am after yet another Cup disappointment.

But hold on, let’s hear for all the good reasons why Rekindling will win the 2017 Melbourne Cup:

Weight, Class and Ratings. He’s a classy 116 rated individual, a multiple pattern class winner and was only 2 lengths beaten – and in my view unlucky not to get closer – when 4th in the English St. Leger.

He gets into the Cup with a featherweight thanks to WFO, however on Aussie terms is actually a four year old. He’s got as little as 8st 2lb to carry. He’s third highest ranked in terms of time speed and Racing Post Ratings. Granted, the merit of these ratings is questionable for obvious reasons – it still is another little piece in the puzzle.

The draw. It could hardly be any better. Stall 4 gives every opportunity. Not allot of energy needs to be wasted early on, as long Rekindling breaks alright. Which he should.

Form. An  impressive winner of the Curragh Cup, and an equally as impressive 4th in the English St. Leger. A performance I rate particularly highly. That is because he came from a long way back that day, trailing for most parts, and when travelling strongly on the bridle over three furlongs out, he did not get a clear run and lost valuable momentum and ground as a consequence.

Yet he produced the joint fastest sectionals for the last four furlongs and finished in fourth, only 2 lengths behind Capri. That form in its own right is strong, but has already been franked multiple times.

I also don’t subscribe to the fact Rekindling would not be suited to the start-stop nature of the Melbourne Cup. In fact this lad is not a mere galloping sore who travels strongly and grinds things out. No, he has pace and a turn of foot. He showed it quite clearly when producing a superb effort over 10 furlongs in the lowly ran Ballysax Stakes earlier this year.

Now, I do really love the chance of this horse. I understand why people compare him to Bondi Beach in last years Cup. However I feel Rekindling is a different animal altogether.

I strongly believe he’s more for than against him – with one only concern: he’s usually held up. Here’s hoping Rekindling will be utilized to full effect from his positive draw and does not settle farther off the pace than midfield.

I readily admit that it is a huge ask, nonetheless. And the field is incredibly competitive. I do not quite buy into the hype of Marmelo and find it hard to see Almandin doing it all again – however Red Cardinal would be my absolute prime chance in this race – if not for the wide draw.

Now this must not be a problem necessarily given he’ll settle off the pace anyways, regardless of the draw. Still, he’ll be too far back I fear. Max Dynamite, if fully fit – and he looked good during his comeback run – is another one to like a lot. The runner-up of 2015 has even less weight to carry this time round.

Tiberian, despite a wide draw, might be able to cross over as there seems not too much early pace here. If so, he’s a dangerous horse. Hugo Palmer’s Wall Of Fire had the perfect preparation – he’s a major player.

Nonetheless, it’s Rekindling or nothing for me. And what a story it would be. Joseph O’Brien in his first season as a trainer winning the Melbourne Cup – a feast his record breaking father never achieved? Go son, go!

Selection:
20171107flm040022 10pts win – Rekindling @ 14/1 William Hill

2017 Breeders’ Cup – Selections

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The juggernaut that is the Breeders Cup is nearly upon us! In fact it’s only a couple of hours away. The pinnacle of the US racing season also brings down 2017 for many  of the European equine superstars too.

Del Mar it is this year –  a change from Santa Anita for once, though with that we do stay in California. Racing starts on Friday with ten races on the card. Historically I haven’t done overly well from a pure betting point of view, though I immensely enjoy watching the event on NBC. The TV coverage is all class.

I keep my bets to a minimum this time. Three selections – that is all!

…….

Friday 9.25: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, 1m

Without the shadow of the doubt Aiden O’Brien’s Happily is the form horse in the field. She won two major Group 1’s on the bounce, including the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere when beating the boys.

Granted, she had a long season with six starts and coming here at the end of the year isn’t easy – if she reproduces anything close to her recent form, she is hard to beat, though. On paper that is.

Question marks are over her pace in the early stages of the race. She has got a perfect draw but will Happily be able to utilize it? Ryan Moore will want to have her settling close to the speed in an ideal world.

She appeared a bit outpaced early on in France the other day, and had trouble catching up with the leaders in the home straight. She grinded it out, more than anything. Fast ground at Del Mar will be not forgiving, if she does not gets quickly out of the blocks.

That says, on pedigree the ground should suit. She’s got more experience now and you would think that Ran Moore, given the clear disadvantage settling off the pace, will be a bit more vigorous pushing her forward, if needed.

Happily should not lack stamina, so once moving, she will keep moving for as long as it’s needed.

There is juice in the price in my mind. I expected her to be good deal shorter, given the opposition in the field is not as good as what she faced in her last two starts.

Selection:
10pts win – Happily @ 4/1 PP

……

Saturday 11.37: Breeders’ Cup Turf, 1m 4f

One last hooray for Highland Reel. He’ll go to stud after this – a race he won last year. Or shall we say stole? He got away under a perfect ride by Jamie Heffernan that day.

The globetrotter had another productive season in 2017. Winner of the Coronation- and Prince of Wales’s Stakes. When he gets his preferred conditions Highland Reel is clearly tough to beat.

I feel that’ll be the day here. Trip is perfect, fast ground is what he loves, a perfect draw will enable him to be up with the pace, if not even attempting to make all. The tight, turning track poses no problem to him either.

Main threat is obviously the superb Ulysses. Though the trip is probably slightly on the far side for him and the track configuration may not play to his strengths either.

Best chance for the home team is multiple grade 1 winner Beach Patrol. A wide draw isn’t ideal as Highland Reel, once in front, is unlikely to stop.

Selection:
10pts win – Highland Reel @ 9/4 Bet365

……

Sunday 00.25: Breeders’ Cup Classic, 1m 2f

It’s already past midnight when they’re off in the Classic! The question many ask: can Arrogate find back to his best? Since his return from Dubai in two subsequent starts he never looked the same horse that was crowned best in the world in 2016.

Can Gun Runner outgun him? Well, he’s been bloody impressive in his last three wins and deserves the favourite tag. However he never won over the 10f trip and was comprehensively outstayed by Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup.

The answer must lie somewhere else: West Coast? Maybe. Won two Grade 1’s on the bounce. Landed the Travers. Not much wrong with that. He stays the trip, has the right form in the book and is an interesting price.

You can, if you want, knock the form, though. None of those beaten behind him would be fancied to go close in Classic at all. In fact, Travers runner-up Gunnevera is considered a 50/1 shot!

Improving Collected won the Pacific Classic, beat Arrogate that day. So he stays the trip and is still a progressive sort. The wide draw is a concern but he should be thereabouts.

Aiden O’Brien tries his luck once more. He throws Churchill into the ring. It’s unlikely the dual Guineas winner will enjoy this test on dirt I suspect, but I can see why “the lads” do it.

If he runs well if will enhance his commercial value as a stallion. If he doesn’t perform it won’t devalue anything he did the last two seasons.

The seemingly second string is War Decree. A much more interesting case, I feel. From a pedigree perspective he is bred to act on dirt and is a half-brother to Declaration Of War who came quite close to win the BCC some years ago.

Nonetheless the immense test this race is may still come as a shock to the system. Until he runs we don’t know whether he really acts on the dirt or not. It’s more likely he won’t. However I love a couple of facts if it comes to War Decree:

He’s still lightly raced and had a significantly lighter season than most in the field. He demolished a fair field in a Dundalk Group 3 when last season, travelling like a really good horse. Of course he meets different class and a different surface here – still War Decree looks in tip top form.

Taking it all in, he’s no 50/1 chance in a Breeders’ Cup Classic field that is wide open in my mind. With the places paying at 1/4 odds, this looks a tremendous bet.

Selection:
10pts win e/w – War Decree @ 50/1 Bet365

Wednesday Selection: 18th October 2017

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A nice winner with Mutafarrid (6/1) got the week rolling on Monday, although the other two selections on the day ran stinkers. Well, it would have been too nice, I guess. There was not much to like on Tuesday, but thankfully the next day is just around the corner…

…….

2.20 Lingfield: Class 5 Novice Stakes, 5f 

The two fillies at the head of the market set a fair standard, however their form is nothing to shout about and while experience counts for quite a bit in these races I side with a completely unknown quantity.

It looks significant that Silvestre De Sousa is on board of newcomer Baileys Excel. That is because the colt is quite well bred and his sire does incredibly well at this track over this trip, particularly with two year olds.

Now the jockey booking is even more so significant as this yard’s record in these type of races with young horses isn’t good. However the record for SDS on Dwyer inmates, particularly 2yo’s is excellent.

From a good draw where the door is wide open for an upset, Baileys Excel might be the one who is good enough on debut to win this.

Selection:
10pts win – Baileys Excel @ 10/1 Bet365

Monday Selections – 16th October 2017

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2.40 Yarmouth: Class 5 Nursery, 7f

Owen Burrows’ Mutafarrid appears to be potentially well handicap on his nursery debut. The Dark Angel colt ran well in his last two races in maiden company – in his second career start he used allot of energy from a wide draw to be up with the pace, yet he finished a good fourth in a hot race that worked out well.

Last time at Wolverhampton he missed the break, got bumped into right after and never settled over too sharp 6f. Still he finished with credit in fifth and this athletic type should enjoy the simpler experience that is 7f at Yarmouth.

Judged on collateral form the opening mark of 69 is more than fair and he should be a bit better than that, I reckon.

Selection:
10pts win – Mutafarrid @ 5/1 Bet365

……

2.50 Musselburgh: Class 2 Handicap, 7f

Big Tour is a progressive three year old colt with few miles on the clock. He won the last two in good fashion, though looked really home over 7f with a good pace on softish ground at Yarmouth last month.

He appears to be progressive and can easily have more to offer. A 6lb hike is reasonable but may not be enough to stop him.

The slight concern is the wide draw for a horse that likes to be close to the speed at a course where your chances rise and fall with track position. At the price I’m siding with him, nonetheless.

Selection:
10pts win – Big Tour @ 7/2 Skybet

……..

4.10 Yarmouth: Class 6 Handicap, 10f

Very weak contest and that opens the door for a surprise package. That could be handicap debutante My Name Is Jeff. He didn’t show an awful lot in three maiden starts, as you would expect. However he bumped into some decent horses along the way too.

This is way easier and ground and trip could suit perfectly. The dam was a sprinter but there is a bit stamina down the lines plus sire Mount Nelson has a fine track record over this trip with his offspring.

A lowly opening mark gives My Name Is Jeff a fair chance to improve dramatically from anything he has shown to date.

Selection: 
10pts win – My Name Is Jeff @ 12/1 Bet365

Photos: 2017 Birdcatcher Day at Naas

A few of my images from the Birdcatcher Day at Naas, featuring the similarly named Premier Handicap plus two Listed contests with the Garnet & Bluebell Stakes.

Been a wet day. Desperate conditions made it hard work for horses and jockeys. Still some good performances. Most notably the ones of team Lyons/Keane. Trainer and jockey teamed up for a hat-trick on the card.

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Sunday Preview: Naas

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La Coronel did the job in the QE II – wire to wire as they say over there. 6/1 – finally a winner again!

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On the menu today, Naas! For the first time since moving to the county Kildare town I have the chance to go racing as a local! Really looking forward to it. Always enjoyed coming here in the past, but of course it’s even sweeter if you just have to walk to this beautiful track, instead of slogging through Dublin’s traffic.

Selections for Naas, 15th October 2017:

1.20: Lost Treasure @ 9/2 Bet365

Superbly bred as expected bred from this yard and might have advantage over most here as an early January foal.

1.50: Cheering @ 9/1 Ladbrokes

From family of derby winner Pour Moi, so trip is short enough. However could easily be good enough on debut in an open field.

2.25: Zeb City @ 12/1 Bet365

Bottom weight who looked progressive in maidens. Now handicapping off fair mark with top jockey in the saddle could see him go close.

3.00: Cocohulababy @ 14/1 Bet365

Excellent run on second start in hot Leopardstown maiden when turning widest but finishing well. Put experience to good use at Dundalk last time and won well. More to come.

3.35: Pocketfullofdreams @ 16/1 Ladbrokes

Well exposed and does not strike as a likely winner. However if the better fancied horses fail to strike, he could be there to pick up the pieces given ground and trip should be fine and he has some fine form in the book from earlier the season, which gives him a chance.

4.10: Remembered Joy @ 22/1 Skybet

Still a maiden after five career starts, however goes handicapping for the first time now and that might make a difference. A lowly opening mark gives her a chance over trip and ground possibly to suit. It is a poor race that does not take allot to win.

4.45: Giorni Felice @ 13/2 Bet365

Nicely off the mark at Roscommon, overcoming all sorts of trouble. He may have looked impressive because he beat poor opposition and therefore an opening mark off 80 is stiff. However there is not allot in the race to fear here and conditions should suit.

5.20: Jet Streaming @ 8/1 Bet365

Superb win at Galway when overcoming near impossible circumstances. Cried out for a trip and not disgraced when five lengths beaten in a big Curragh Handicap subsequently and when fifth in a Group 3 at Newmarket when last seen. This is easier – she remains with potential.

Horse Racing Around The Globe

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