Tag Archives: Handicap

Fighting Fifth Hurdle Preview

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2.05 Newcastle: Fighting Fifth Hurdle, 2m½f

Feels odds throwing my hat into the ring at a race at Newcastle that isn’t run on the sand…. as much as I love watching the spectacle that is jump racing, betting wise it’s no good to me – at least on a day to day basis.

Today isn’t an ordinary day, though. It’s the Fighting Fifth, the first huge Grade 1 of the season that gets the pulls raising. All the hot Champion Hurdle contenders are here – an early-season clash that’ll give us an indication if Samcro can justify the hype, after two runs that saw him a faller and then a beaten odds-on favourite.

I think, on that evidence, given the short price today again, I’m certainly inclined to take him on. Sure, the 6-year-old will come on for his recent run, but somehow that performance lacked the usual zest you would associate with Samcro, and looked more concerning to my eyes than simply being a pleasing pipe opener yielding in plenty of improvement. We shall see….

There is no doubt Buveur D’air is the one they all have to beat. He’s the defending champion in both the Champion- and the Fighting Fifth Hurdle. He’s the one who ran to the highest time speed rating of all of these, by a country mile.

Granted, this is an important early-season target, I bet Buveur D’air will not be fully wound up today. A Champion Hurdle hat-trick is the main objective. March is a long way from here.

I’ also intrigued by the “routine wind op” he has undergone during the summer. Is there really such thing as a “routine operation”? Possibly. I don’t know enough about it. Nonetheless, it puts enough doubts in my mind, compared with the bigger fish to fry for Buveur D’air later the season, to oppose him at short odds.

The obvious alternative is Summerville Boy. The reigning Supreme champ, also on his seasonal debut, obviously – with his own question marks. Around trip – too sharp? Ground – not soft enough? Talent – good enough?

He was an impressive winner at the Festival for obvious reasons, but the fact he seems to have issues with concentration, in a race that’ll likely be about speed and accurate jumping, whereas he strikes me more like a grinder, is a big question mark. Will he be ready for today? I bet so! If you want to gauge how Summerville Boy measures up against the top guns you got to be ready for the fight today.

Connections are pretty bullish. On the evidence on form and ratings he has plenty to find to Buveur D’air, but not a lot to Samcro – in fact his all-time best TS is a pound better than Samcro’s. Whether that’s of significance, is up for debate. Certainly, on evidence, the six-year-old has plenty scope for improvement, if he gets his act together in the later stages of the race.

Given my doubts about pretty much any of the main principles in the race, and not having a lot of confidence in the other two in the field, at given prices Summerville Boy looks a superb bet.

I feel this race is more important for him than for the favourite. I believe, at this stage, he’s likely as good as Samcro. There are plenty of positives vibes around him as well – so I allow myself a crack at this hugely exciting renewal of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle!

Selection:
10pts win – Summerville Boy @ 6/1 MB

……..

5.15 Wolverhampton: Novice Stakes, 5f

Vee Man Ten looks a decent colt after showing promise in two starts on turf earlier this year. He looked like winning on debut at Beverly but was squeezed out eventually to finish third while only ridden hands and heels – this form looks strong judged through the winner in particular, but also the runner-up.

He blasted out of the gates at Haydock less than two weeks later, setting a brutal pace that wasn’t sustainable, particularly over 6 furlongs. However, the early speed he showed was impressive.

Now the bit wiser, first time on the All-Weather and dropping to 5f, it could be third time lucky. On pedigree this should suit, his sire has a fine record on the sand over the minimum trip, particularly with juveniles.

Vee Man Ten has a hood fitted for the first time, which may not be a disadvantage, a good draw and jockey KT O’Neill making his way here for this one ride only – strong chance.

Selection:
10pts win – Vee Man Ten @ 4/1 Sky

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Friday Selections: November, 30th 2018

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11.20 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 5 furlongs

Less than a handful of horses appear to be in with a shout here – Decision Maker is one of them – if he is ready to go after a break and his breathing won’t prevent him from finishing strongly.

That clearly been an issue in the past, as tongue tie and wind surgeries suggest. He’s been off since June after a poor showing on turf. A 3l beaten 6th at Nottingham prior, though, looks pretty strong form, so do some of his placed efforts here at Southwell in early 2018.

Decision Maker drops to a handy mark, that should see him being potentially well handicapped. Blinkers first time fitted is interesting; a decent draw should help too.

Selection:
10pts win – Decision Maker @ 17/2 MB

…….

3.15 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 1 mile

A fortnight ago I wrote about Sooqaan as he was about to run in a similar type race:

“Reasons why I like this lad allot are plenty; a simple reason why I’m wondering is: there is fair chance this isn’t the race to let the handbreak off. 

Sooqaan is handicapped to win on his best form. He won off 64 over course and distance earlier this year. However, he was on a roll at that time, completing a hat-trick, kicking it off wit a CD success of a mark of 54. So I can see why connections would want to lower his current rating a bit, still.

On the other hand Sooqaan could find an excellent chance to score, despite the competitive nature of the race. 

The fact that is: in class 6 over this course and distance he is 4 from 4! So, it looks significant that he drops down to this grade for the first time since he last win, coming back the his happy hunting ground all the while.” 

That still holds true. Sooqaan didn’t go close that day, but it was a fair enough performance. He’s now 3lb lighter, which is an added bonus, as surely that makes him a well handicapped horse today.

An additional 3lb claim by the competent apprentice in the saddle, in a less competitive race and a decent draw to start from – Sooqaan should have a massive chance today.

Selection: 
10pts win – Sooqaan @ 17/2 MB

Wednesday Selections: November, 28th 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

6.45 Newcastle: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

Second start for new trainer Robert Cowell, Becker is an interesting candidate after a fair effort in what was also his first run after a summer break.

The son of Delegator ran pretty well earlier this year, winning twice on the All-Weather and backing up those performances with fair efforts subsequently. Despite that he drops down to a handy mark again as the handicapper gives him a chance, or so it seems.

Becker was a winner off 69 and 73 over 5f at Kempton and Chelmsford in the first half of the year, so having the opportunity to race off 71 now could be dangerous, even more so as those runs held up well form wise.

Selection:
10pts win – Becker @ 11/1 MB 

Tuesday Selection: November, 27th 2018

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1.40 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

Seven-year-old Coiste Bodhar appears to be a superbly well handicapped individual, if he could reclaim some of his better form. Dropping below 50, the last time he did that he was a winner at this very same venue.

In fact Coiste Bodhar loves the Southwell fibresand. A five-times course winner and a three-times course- and distance winner, he’s done so off marks ranging from 49 to 60. Now down to a mark off 48, with the added benefit of a solid 5lb claimer in the saddle, looks nearly too good to be true.

He was disappointing in his last two runs, most recently over CD, certainly. Though, still back in October he was a close third in a pretty decent Nottingham Handicap; so, it appears that on his day Coiste Bodhar can still run really well.

It’s interesting that he has an entry for Friday here as well – more often than not that suggests, particularly with these type of horses fallen so low, that good back-to-back efforts are hoped for by connections.

On the negative: Coiste Bodhar didn’t looked like a horse in splendid form a fortnight ago, but then, the 3lb drop in the mark, the eye-catching jockey booking and multiple entries – I’m happy to give this boy a big chance.

Selection:
10pts win – Coiste Bodhar @ 15/2 PP

Saturday Selections: November, 24th 2018

Wet Dundalk Polytrack

12.50 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

Despite a winless record of 0 for 15, Jeopardy John dropps to an intriguing mark here. This is a competitive race, so a tough assignment on that front, but off 59, judged by past performances, this 3yo gelding has a shout.

He was placed off 69 in the past, and on turf off 71 earlier this year. He also ran to TS rating of 63 and 64 on turf and AW. A recent 3rd place finish at Kempton was a solid performance, suggesting he isn’t too far away from going really close.

Another pound off the mark today and a step up to 7f – a trip that should be close to his optimum on pedigree.

Selection:
10pts win – Jeopardy John @ 17/1 MB

…..

2.00 Lingfield: Novice Stakes, 6f

The odds-on favourite looks to have a lot going for herself: an impressive winner on debut, she will be hard to beat. However, time wise she didn’t do a lot that day and as we head into winter, fillies are generally vulnerable.

Newcomer No Nonsense is out of a juvenile A–Weather winner and has a good draw to play with on debut. Gerald Mosse is unlikely to come to Lingfield for a nice day out with the family on what is his sole ride.

Mosse and Elsworth have a 3 for 5 record on the All-Weather this season – so you bet the colt is ready to go on day on day.

Selection:
10pts win – No Nonsense @ 12/1 MB

Friday Selection: November, 23rd 2018

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8.45 Kempton: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f

Rossa Ryan doesn’t have too many rides at the moment, nonetheless it looks significant the jockey comes to Kempton for this one ride of Richard Hannon’s Sotomayor: hockey and trainer enjoy quite a successful partnership over the last two years.

The three-year old colt Sotomayor has his fair share of issues as the amount of headgear and a wind op shows. He’s second up from a break and the surgery, so he may be better for this most recent run over CD when – albeit in a hot race – well beaten.

Sotomayor is a distance winner off a pound higher than his current handicap mark – he also ran to some significant time speed ratings, including a 74 earlier this year.

Whether he can find back to this form and getting the wind done has any positive impact remains to be seen. It’s worth a nibble for me, with this jockey booking, anyway.

Selection:
10pts win – Sotomayor @ 25/1 PP

Wednesday Selection: November, 21st 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

7.20 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 9.5 furlongs

This is a poor looking race, hard to fancy anything with confidence. It screams for an upset – this could be the Rae Guest trained filly Woosh.

The four-year-old hasn’t shown anything in three maiden starts. She looks like a late bloomer, given her June birth date. Now stepping up significantly in trip to something that should be more comfortable for the first time in a handicap I can see how she’d be one to upset the odds.

Her daddy Nathanial has produced a fair share of winners on the All-Weather, particularly with older fillies over longer trips. Woosh fits the profile. Her wide draw is a concern, but then she has the added bonus of Martin Harley in the saddle. He enjoys tremendous success on Rae Guest horses, especially in handicaps.

Selection:
10pts win – Woosh @ 17/1 PP/MB