Tag Archives: Chelmsford

Friday Selections: August, 9th 2019

Wet Dundalk Polytrack

Is it winter yet? A nice winner on Newcastle’s’s tapeta last night + the majority of my selections for today come from the Chelmsford polytrack! Who needs grass, anyway? Let’s rip the turf off the tracks and have a lovely fibresand surface everywhere…… alright, now I’m day dreaming, so let’s talk horses…..

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5.35 Haydock: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

Who’s the least bad horse in this race? Tough question. One thing is certain: Springwood Drive is a silly price. I may eat my words in half an hour, saying that, but seriously, even though she has good form in the book, she also has work to do to show she is better than what she has shown so far.

Same goes for Sarasota Bay, dropping down to 5f, she at least has match her current OR in terms of TS, but the sharper trip is a worry for me.

Intriguing is the 4-year-old Red Allure. She has work to do against her younger rivals, but there is clear indication she is knocking heavily on the door now. This filly has been a little bit unlucky so to speak. She was heavily bumped at Doncaster when seemingly finding her second wind earlier this season plus a few issues in the starting gates didn’t make life easier.

However, her latest effort in better class is a clear standout piece of form. She showed pace despite having a few issues at the start again, and she showed a lovely attitude battling hard to the line. It seems cut in the ground is what she needs and she gets it today over same course and distance once more.

Red Allure ran to a 51 topspeed rating that day too. So now of an official rating of 50 with a 7lb claimer in the saddle she should go well today.

Selections:
10pts win – Red Allure @ 8/1 MB

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7.30 Chelmsford: Class 3 Handicap, 5f

Tomily won three races in quick succession in July, until bombing out in soft ground in a very hot York handicap only three days after winning at Catterick. I think that is a piece of form to forgive.

Now back on the All-Weather and racing over the minimum trip, I feel Tomily remains of high interest and could potentially be well handicapped, in fact. That is down to the fact that he is down to his lowest All-Weather mark for quite some time. He may not quite be as good as he once was, but recent form suggests he remains a good horse, with appetite for the game.

Given Tomily  has ran to topspeed ratings of 87+ on six occasions on all surfaces throughout his career, most recently last months, it’s fair to assume, now down to an official rating of 87, he could have a bit in hand, if not enough to run to hid current mark will already be enough to win a race where little else appears to be well handicapped.

Having the added bonus of Jim Crowley in the saddle plus a good draw to operate from I feel he is overpriced in this field.

Selection:
10pts win – Tomily @ 6/1 MB

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8.35 Curragh: Handicap, 1 Mile

With rain and wind lashing against the windows for the last few hours now with not let up to be expected any time soon, the ground at Curragh will be pretty soft come race time.

There aren’t that many really suited by conditions, nor appear many well handicapped. But this years Irish Lincoln runner-up Trading Point could fall into both categories. He’s has form on fast ground but crucially his career best came at Naas with plenty of cut in the ground this March.

He finished an excellent second in a race that has provided twelve winning performances subsequently. Trading Point hasn’t been able to kick on since then, but has raced in hot contests and was not disgraced when 5 lengths beaten at Galway most recently.

Down to a 87 mark, 2lb lower than in the Lincoln, plus he has already ran to a topspeed rating of 87 this year, now with top man Colin Keane in the saddle, there could be a big performance on the cards today.

Selection: 
10pts win- Trading Point @ 7/1 MB

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9.10 Chelmsford: Class 6 Handicap, 2m

The worst for the last or the lucky last? This a shocking race. But that’s okay with me. I love them all equally. This one is intriguing to some extend though. Barca and Beau Night meet again after a recent tussle over the shorter 1m 6f trip. Barca should be the one who gets the better of the two this time round.

However, both will need to settle for minor placings because it’s the five-year-old gelding Lazarus who has a major shout tonight.

He’s been a winner at this track in the past, albeit over 10 furlongs. He has fallen steadily in his handicap rating, now below 50 which looks significant for his chances. Lazarus has been running to higher topspeed ratings in the past and his most recent effort at Nottingham over 1m 6f was a clear revival. He stayed on quite strongly, suggesting a step up to 2 miles will suit.

Given this longer trip and the switch to the All-Weather, a surface he tends to prefer a little bit more with his lowly mark, I feel Lazarus has a cracking chance to win this race.

Selection:
10pts win – Lazarus @ 14/1 MB

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Friday Selections: March, 15th 2019

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  • Cheltenham Festival Selections Here
  • Cheltenham Gold Cup Preview Here 

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7.30 Chelmsford: Class 4 Handicap, 1 mile

The favourite Pheidippides could well follow up on his recent success. The hike in the weights only matches the TS rating he achieved that day. On the other hand his overall record is patchy, so at a much bigger price I take a punt on Brittanic.

The 4-year-old has class form in his book. He still managed to run a tremendous race finishing second returning from a break here over course and distance in December – a form that looks pretty strong judged through the winner and third placed horse.

Unfortunately Brittanic lost his way subsequently, hence he slipped down to a 10lb mark than back then. Obviously he’d be well handicapped now if he could regain anything of his past form.

He’s got a habit for starting slowly. This is an obvious concern. He’ll need everything going right today. At least he has a good draw and David Simcock’s Chelmsford record gives hope.

Selection:
10pts win – Brittanic @ 16/1 PP

Saturday Selections: March, 2nd 2019

National Hunt Fence

1.30 Newbury: Class 3 Handicap Hurdle, 2m 4f 118y

Nico de Boinville for Ben Pauling over hurdles at Newbury…. an interesting combination. A winning one, history tells us. They team up here with A Hare Breath. The veteran has question to answers after poor showings lately.

Nonetheless, fitted with CP for the first time, dropping significantly in the weights into an easier race, with conditions to suit, he should have on based on that a tremendous chance to win this race.

Obviously only if he is still in the mood. We probably will know soon after the start whether he is on a going day. At given prices I feel it is a fair risk to take.

Selection:
10pts win – A Hare Breath @ 6/1 MB

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3.00 Doncaster: Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, 3m½f

Danse Idol has top form in the book as runner-up in graded company. She could prove hard to beat if she takes to the trip over this fast ground.

I feel she is short enough in the betting and red hot mare Bonza Girls offers better value. 5-5 in handicaps this season, she is improving rapidly. This is a higher grade and she has to improve again.

However, given she tries 3 miles for the first time, a distance that could suit and may well eke out more improvement, given she has been very game in her races, always running well to the line, it is possible we haven’t seen her best yet.

Selection:
10pts win – Bonza Girl @ 5/1 MB

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3.35 Doncaster: Class 2 Handicap Chase, 3m 2f

Given form and ratings, Dingo Dollar offers plenty of upside and looks a shade overpriced in this race. On the surface he was slightly disappointing in the Listed Skybet Handicap Chase here at Doncaster recently, however that form as well as his run in the Grade 3 Landbrokes Chase were strong races.

This looks easier. The trip will suit. The additional furlong should be to his aid. Off 148 back in a handicap I feel there is still a bit more to come.

It’s Wayne Hutchinson’s only ride on the card also. He knows the horse well already, which is a bonus.

Selection:
10pts win – Dingo Dollar @ 4/1 PP

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7.30 Chelmsford: Class 5 Handicap, 6 furlongs

Real Estate is clearly in good form as his last performances suggest. He also remains handicapped to go close again. He may have better form over 7f, however he can be keen over that trip, and his latest runs over the shorter trip are promising.

Those races look like rock solid form, he’s also rated a pound below his last winning mark right now. There doesn’t seem to be too much pace on in this race today, so from a good draw there is fair chance he’ll be well positioned to make a break turning for home, playing out his extra bit of stamina in the closing stages.

Callum Shepherd comes here for this one ride only; let’s hope he can make this one a winning one.

Selection:
10pts win – Real Estate @ 10/1 PP

Friday Selections: February, 22nd 2019

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4.40 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 4f 

First time out for a new yard, relatively unexposed Gendarme looks significantly overpriced today. On paper he hasn’t shown too much for Richard Hannon, however a closer look shows a horse slipping down to an intriguing mark over a trip that’ll be close to his optimum.

Still a maiden, but his last two runs were quite promising, in better class, over slightly shorter, on both occasions at Kempton Gendarme wasn’t beaten all that far, in races that have worked out quite well.

The most recent of those looks quite strong form. Gendarme travelled supremely well that day until the 2f marker and ran well to the line, though not having quite the speed to quicken as required against some good opposition.

Dropping down in class, an additional furlong with a bit less weight – given he has ran to consistent RPR’s around his current mark and achieved a significantly higher career highest TS rating less than a year ago, albeit on turf, suggests he may be ripe for a big run.

Selection:
10pts win – Gendarme @ 21/1 MB

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6.15 Chelmsford: Class 5 Handicap, 5 furlongs

Jack The Truth is proven class here as a course and distance winner a 3-1-1 record. He’s in fine form, having ran to a career best in January at Southwell over 6f and following up with two excellent performances over 5- and 6f respectively here at Chelmsford.

Those were hot races, and he looked like the winner entering the final furlong lto, though found the 6f a bit too far eventually. Dropping back to the minimum trip, off a fair mark, Jack The Truth appears weighted to go really close.

With not too much opposition likely to be handicapped to win, he’s a rock solid choice and should be more like a 5/2 shot in my book.

Selection:
10pts win – Jack The Truth @ 7/2 MB

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8.15 Chelmsford: Class 7 Handicap, 1m 6f

This is a long-shot quite literally, but London Glory is interesting here for a new trainer returning from a break. He has been dropping significantly in the weights and you have to hope change in scenery can revive him – he may well have lost the appetite for the game.

But of his current mark, dropping into the lowest grade, over a suitable 1m 6f trip, he’s one not to underestimate if he can find back to somewhere close of his better form.

A year ago London Glory finished a fine runner-up at Wolverhampton over this trip and his record shows he ran six times to TS ratings similar or above his current handicap mark.

Selection:
10pts win – London Glory @ 23/1 MB

Saturday Selections: February, 2nd 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

12.35 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 7 furlongs

Only one ride today, that usually is a sign of confidence if Joe Fanning makes his way down to Lingfield. His mount Port Of Leith may have a future over further, but right now offers still plenty of scope over this 7f trip also.

A cozy CD winner in December off 2lb lower in a good race, which loooks strong form through the runner-up who is now 5lb higher rated than back then, today is only his second All-Weather start.

He couldn’t follow up at Kempton subsequently but you can forgive that run. Master Fanning may be able to dictate matters in this small field today and that could be telling when it matters most in the closing stages.

Selection:
10pts win – Port Of Leith @ 6/1 MB

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6.45 Kempton: Class 4 Handicap, 1 mile

Looks a competitive race, but in reality most are in the grip of the handicapper. That leaves space for an unexposed sort. I feel Enzemble could be this. Still generally lightly raced, particularly on the All-Weather.

Gerald Mosse back in the saddle, he steered Enzemble to CD success last summer. The 4-year-old followed up with a strong runner-up performance behind a subsequent Group 3 winner and ran another nice race on Turf.

Changed yard since then, returned to the track after a small break here at Kempton last month. He finished well enough after hitting a flat spot over 2f out. He needs to improve to have a chance today.

But he should be capable of doing so. Enzemble’s mark has dropped below 80 now – given he already ran to higher RPR’s and an 80 TS rating (on turf) there is a fair possibility he is something like a mid-80 rated individual.

Selection:
10pts win – Enzemble @ 7/1 MB

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8.15 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 4f

In truth, I do not have all that much trust in the ability of Spring Ability – but in a wide open race I feel this lad has a chance to outrun a huge price tag. And there a reasons for it.

First of all, the yard has a fair spell. Furthermore trainer Laura Mongan’s charges excel over longer trips generally and her record with horses stepping up in trip is quite excellent.

So, from that perspective, seeing Spring Ability, who has only his second handicap start, stepping up to 12f after doing most of his races over a mile, until his latest 10f bout at Lingfield, a second run after a long break, gives a bit of hope.

Spring Ability looks quite a big and scopey individual. He’s related to a couple of 12f winners, so clearly bred to go this distance, and you can pretty much draw a line under anything he has done so far.

Whether today is already the day to let the handbreak off, I don’t know. Price suggests no. Mark is still high enough. But then, it seems significant to me to see him running 3rd time after a break, 2nd handicap, for the first time over “his” trip with a good jockey in the saddle also. And not to forget, Spring Ability’s best career run came at Kempton.

Selection:
10pts win – Spring Ability @ 100/1 MB

Thursday Selections: January, 24th 2019

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2.55 Southwell: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 4f

Michael Appleby has a 22% strike rate in handicaps at Southwell with horses running for the first time for him, so that makes High Command an interesting contender.

The latest performances are concerning, though. A long beaten 5/2 four of five in claimer at Wolverhampton is the latest of below-par performances. One has to bank on Appleby’s magic hands.

On the other hand, what also could lead to a change in fortunes is the return to the Southwell fibresand. High Command is 2/2 here, including a CD success and dropped 2lb lelow his last winning mark.

From a good draw, a horse who likes to go forward, he may use his stamina to stretch the field and make use of the good mark, if rejuvenated by the change of yard.

Selection:
10pts win – High Command @ 7/1 MB

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6.25 Chelmsford: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

New headgear combination for Fink Hill. How that works remains to be seen. He’s drifting in the market, so that’s a negative. He also has an engagement in a couple of days, which is interesting. So is that jockey Charles Bishop comes here for this one ride only, which is a positive.

Since winning a 5f sprint at Southwell in hands of Bishop, Fink Hill has been on a downward curve. A subsequent 6th, 3l beaten at Wolverhampton under a penalty was still a fair effort, but he was a long way down the field the next three times.

A return to this course and distance is interesting: arguably his best career performance came here in a few years ago, when 3rd of a mark of 70, running to a TS rating of 61.

So, dropping down to a mark of 60 over this CD in a weakish class 6 Handicap a return to form isn’t out of question today.

Selection:
10pts win – Fink Hill @ 22/1 MB

Opinion: Racing’s Problems bigger than ATR vs RTV

The TV landscape has changed and we’re now well within the first week of these new times.

Racing UK has taken over the rights to show Irish racing (as well as Chelmsford), while At The Races, the long-standing television partner of Irish racing, is gone from the scene there – they’ve bagged themselves the prestigious courses of Ascot and Chester in turn.

There is a rich history of why the rights have moved in first place – you can dig into all the wonderful details here.

I’m more interested in how this first week went and what it means or doesn’t mean for the future of racing.

From all what I could gather up until this Saturday it was a pretty unspectacular change. The horses still ran at Fairyhouse, Tramore and Dundalk – in fact the evening coverage of the County Louth track on Friday was fairly good with the likes of Gary O’Brien and Kevin O’Ryan providing insightful thoughts and analysis.

Today, the first Saturday of the new year, I had the chance to watch the now re-branded Racing TV throughout a complete day – a busy enough day, where they showed live racing from Kempton, Sandown, Wincanton and Cork.

Apparently there was a bit of moaning going on after Racing TV’s New Year’s Day coverage, which was equally a busy day, where it all was put to the test for the first time. And I can see why, as today was probably not a different experience to the one RTV viewers were treated to last Tuesday.

It was race after race after race. Bang, bang, bang. A little bit of analysis squeezed in before and after some of the races, mainly around Sandown, to a lesser extend Wincanton, where commendable Lydia Hislop did her magic with the little time she had – as she usually does!

In truth, this sort of experience isn’t anything new, compared to the busy days on the flat throughout the summer. What is different now: Irish racing. It has to be squeezed in as well.

And that is a bit of a problem. Simply because there was little to no time to squeeze any sort of meaningful analysis of the Cork races in. Certainly not before their respective off. At least afterwards we got to enjoy a few words from the guys in the studio.

But what can you really analyse if you’ve got the maximum lengths of four of five sentences to say before it’s off to somewhere else, because the next race is waiting in line?

It’s a tough spot for RTV on days like this, so I wouldn’t knock them for the coverage. They tried their absolute best. Ultimately we were able to watch all the races. At least that!

In saying that: you do not need a proper TV channel (an expensive pay-TV one that is) for a glorified live stream of all the races. The expectations on a TV channel, particularly a specialist channel like Racing TV, is one that does provide expert commentary, meaningful insights and proper analysis to all the races it shows.

I wouldn’t say that’s always what you got on At The Races in the past. But of course Irish racing was a premium product for ATR, so they gave it ample airtime – even during the busier days.

This is where Irish racing and Irish racing fans do miss out, if the setup remains as it is right now: i.e. all on one channel. I don’t think as negatively about the fact that RTV is behind a paywall, though – I did so in the past; not anymore.

Yes, ATR is much easier accessible as it comes with your standard TV bundle in most cases. But that doesn’t mean its audience figures are anything to shout about.

Anywhere between an average of 40-70.000 people turn in for ATR’s most viewed weekly shows with a paltry average viewing time of 1 minute (weekly, per person) according to BARB figures. Racing UK in contrast has about 50.000 subscribers.

So the notion that there’ll be much less eye-balls on the Irish product may not be totally wrong, but is probably exaggerated at the same time.

Least we forget that, at least in Ireland, the biggest race days and Festivals are shown on RTE. That’s not to say the “accessibility” issue is a non-issue. It’s real and in truth makes it more difficult for someone to discover racing zapping through the channels.

I would argue the problems of the sport of horse racing in general and Irish racing in particular are bigger than that, though. Because in earnest, those who already have an interested in the sport will find a way to watch the races regardless. Either subscribing to RTV, or by watching the ‘free streams” bookies offer if you have a bet in a race.

In fact, I have a few friends who live outside of the UK and Ireland and therefore have zero access to either channel on TV. Guess what? They still find ways to watch the races they care about as well as ATR and RUK. It’s not that difficult if you want it.

In my view the currently (still) ongoing discussion doesn’t tackle the real problems at all. The situation with the TV channels appears to be simply a ‘nice’ distraction. Something to talk about that anyone can have an opinion on even though in reality it isn’t really changing all that much that radically and certainly won’t impact the sport in such a negative way as some commentators want to make us belief.

There are issues, though, that do have a very real impact on the sport in the long run:
race day experience for race goers and owners or the changing public perception against racing horses – accompanied by a lack of public knowledge/education on things like the whip – which is directly in line with the most fundamental questions:

How to attract a younger audience?
How to create a steady flow of (new) racing fans moving forward?
How to create a better betting product?
Which in turn is also about this point: the availability of more data for punters and racing fans. Sectional times, as one example.

These are real issues. Or at least question marks. The problem of the future isn’t whether Barry in Newbridge can watch the 6.45 from Dundalk on his TV for ‘free’. Because he’s watching it on his mobile in the DART on his commute home anyway.

Now, coming back to Irish racing on Racing TV – I actually do trust RTV to figure out how to give Irish racing proper airtime, even on busier days. Maybe a second channel? Potentially a digital one?

Who knows. Times are changing. TV isn’t everything these days. Sport goes digital as well. In a few years, Terrestrial TV won’t have anywhere near the importance it still has at this moment in time.

One thing that Racing TV and all the relevant stakeholders involved have been rightly criticized for this week: the replay shambles!

Come on, you guys had months and months time to sort this out! It shows a general disregard for racing fans. The fact historic (prior to 1st January 2019) replays of Irish racing + Chelmsford are gone right now is not acceptable in this day and age. In any other industry heads would roll for this type of stuff.

At least, so it seems, light is at the end of the tunnel and a temporarily solution has been found.

With that, I am moving downstairs again to enjoy the rest of the Kempton card. A rather sedated experience with only one race every half an hour to prepare for, compared to the frantic pace of the early Saturday afternoon.