Tag Archives: Handicap

Thursday Selections: 30th June 2022

3.00 Haydock: Class 3 Handicap, 7f

A field full of question marks. None more so than behind Monsieur Jumbo after his recent seemingly disappointing effort at Beverley. However, if you can forgive him that particular run you see a pretty consistent horse that ran quite a bit better than bare form suggests.

I think there is good reason to show leniency and forgive the Beverley performance. Beside his customary poor start, he simply didn’t seem to enjoy the sharp, turning track in combination with the fastish ground. He didn’t get the best of runs home, either, and didn’t seem to stay the 8.5 furlongs in its entirety.

Even though the jury is still out whether he really gets home over a mile or slightly above, given on pedigree that looks possible; though at Nottingham before, even though seemingly staying on, he simply slowed a little bit less than some very tired horses in front of him.

In any case 7 furlongs is fine and I imagine ease in the ground may help as well to slow things down just a little bit. Haydock is an easier track and should suit, given Monsieur Jumbo ran really well at similar type of tracks, including once here as a juvenile.

He was only a neck beaten on proper soft ground over 6 furlongs at Ayr in his final start last year. He came back and won quite well over 7 furlongs at Newcastle. He ran with credit in all subsequent races – bar the latest Beverly performance. And was seriously eye-catching at Wolverhampton in May when third coming from behind in a race dominated by the front-runners.

The handicapper hasn’t been lenient at all. Dropped him only a single pound since Beverley. But the Wolverhampton runs suggests he could be better than this mark, especially if he can find a bit of improvement for the trip in these conditions with cheek-pieces on again. It’s Tom Eaves only ride on the day, which may or may not bear any significance too.

It’s obviously a massive price, which doesn’t make any sense from a form perspective. He’s got form that ties in with Skittlebombz, who’s a 11/2 at the time of writing.

He’s got an entry days later. I have an inclination for what might be going on and that may mean I won’t get a run for my money. But this is a silly price for a horse clearly with a much better chance if allowed to run on merit.

10pts win – Monsieur Jumbo @ 20/1

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3.30 Haydock: Class 4 Handicap, 7f

Any additional drop of rain will be of benefit to Cold Stare. The 7-year-old is more than ready to win, especially as he now gets suitable ground conditions and drops down to class 4 where. The last two times he raced in this grade (last season) he won both times off 85 and 87 marks, including over course and distance and ran to topspeeds 88 and 91.

He’s now down to 85 again, after meeting better opposition lately and not rarely having softish ground conditions. He caught the eye last month over this CD, too, when there was a tiny bit of ease in the ground as he made significant progress from the back of the field in a hot contest before tiering late.

He was a massive eyecatcher at Doncaster on his seasonal reappearance as well when multiple times hampered and short of room in the closing stages. Six pounds lower today than at the start of the season it’s clear Cold Stare is handicapped to win, especially over this CD on softish ground.

He’s got to carry a big weight but that shouldn’t stop him, given he’s the class act in this field and ran incredibly well off heavy weights in the past.

10pts win – Cold Stare @ 11/2

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7.11 Epsom: Class 3 Handicap, 6f

Papa Cocktail makes tons of appeal dropping down to 6 furlongs in first-time blinkers. He caught the eye a number of times lately, but gave the indication he wouldn’t mind this drop in trip.

It should be a pretty fast race but stamina more than speed may be the decisive factor in the end. Bowman and Dubai Hope will probably go out hard. All this should suit Papa Cocktail who often travels quite well but was found out over a mile and a bit unlucky last time at Newmarket when short of room at a crucial stage. I reckon that particular piece of form is really strong.

Off a mark off 78 he offers a bit of upside I feel. He ran to topspeed 75 the last time, to 79 in April. He’s still quite unexposed over 6 furlongs. Two runs, both better than the bare form suggests.

Blinkers should help him to focus especially towards the end of the race. Given he stays further but has enough speed for the trip looks an ideal combination for this race.

10pts win – Papa Cocktail @ 9/2

Wednesday Selections: 29th June 2022

Make that three days three winners on the bounce. Ideal Guest stormed his way up and down the Brighton 7 furlongs today. There was no pace on, nobody wanted to get on with things other than Ideal Guest. That was a concern, but it didn’t matter in the end.

Tom Queally is a good pilot and was an even better passenger here. He didn’t fight to be the boss. Ideal Guest was firmly in charge and had the field off the bridle approaching 3 furlongs from home going a thousand miles an hour. Any doubts that he may die up the final hill to the finish line were quickly put to bed.

7/1 was a huge price. In the preview I said Ideal Guest could have up to 10lb in hand and will win if he settles. He didn’t settle but had too much in hand with the fast conditions and the drop in trip doing wonders too. It’s good to get it right once in a while.

Back in healthy profit for June. I can’t fathom how quickly this game can turn. I must confess I gave it a good fist bump when Ideal Guest passed the line. Never too high, never too low should be the mantra of any aspiring punter who wants to make a long-term profit. It’s never about the now and always about the later.

However, sometimes it’s very much about the “now”. It’s only a few days ago that I was writing about experiencing one – if not the – worst slump of form in the last five years or so. Was it bad luck or were my methods broken? I wasn’t sure other than I knew something did go badly wrong. It started already in May. perhaps I gonna write another time in more detail on the lessens learned from these last four weeks. There was plenty learned. And that is always a good thing.

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7.50 Bath: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 3.5f

Small field but competitive field. Yet it looks significant that the Johnston team travels to Bath with Franny Norton in the saddle for this single race. They have a strong record here, even though not as many runners lately. Norton has been quite selective with his Bath rides, too, it seems.

That gives me added confidence that Cavendish is ready to strike. He looks to be running over the right trip and showed more than the bare form suggested the last couple of runs, especially as the form of those races looks pretty solid.

He fared best of the leaders at Yarmouth when setting a fast pace and I quite liked the way he kept going pretty much right to the end after being heavily challenged over three furlongs out. The runner-up has already won in the meantime, giving this form a good look.

Next time Cavendish was up in trip to what looked on paper ideal, but he raced wide and inefficient for the most part, and hadn’t much left in the home straight.

He dropped another 3lb in the meantime but is still pretty unexposed over these sort of distances. His dam was a smart handicapper and winner over 12f furlongs and 13 furlongs. So there’s every chance Cavendish can improve over the trip.

He ran to topspeed 49 at Yarmouth, that ties in well with his current mark. Any bit of improvement will see him go very close.

10pts win – Cavendish @ 4/1

Tuesday Selections: 28th June 2022

4.10 Brighton: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

There is no doubt that King Of War looks potentially well in under a penalty given top apprentice Benoit De La Sayette takes five pounds off. He may well be hard to beat. On the other the overall record of the horse doesn’t give total trust in him backing this latest performance up at a short price.

In any case one who I feel can be perhaps even better handicapped is Ideal Guest. Still a maiden after ten starts and only one place to show. Yet I couldn’t have envisaged a better scenario for this lad. How can that be?

In my mind this son of Shalaa hasn’t been helping himself very much, often pulling incredibly hard and throwing races away as a result. However, his form this season is quite competitive. He ran fine races at Windsor in April, and Yarmouth the last two times – both strong forms.

Last time out over a mile he didn’t stay the trip in softish conditions after fighting for his head for the first half of the race. If I look back to his penultimate run at the same venue over 7 furlongs, though, that specific piece of form is quite strong and he only went down late as the field entered the final furlong.

The handicapper gives Ideal Guest a tremendous chance now. Having dropped him to 56, a whopping 7lb lower than at Yarmouth in May. He also drops down to 7 furlongs again, which can only help. Fast ground should suit.

The key question is always: can he settle? I reckon if he can hen can he is potentially 10lb better than this current mark. The way the pace looks in this race will do him a huge favour. Nearly everyone likes to get on with things.

I don’t think he has to lead. He often lead because he pulled his way to the front. With plenty of other runners keen to move forward, he might find a good pace to chase this time, and that in turn can help him settle. If it does he wins this.

Obviously the recent yard and jockey form are rather poor. But over the last twelve months Margarson/Queally had an 18% strike rate and with tough Royal Ascot this month impacting their form I am not overly concerned.

10pts win – Ideal Guest @ 7/1

Monday Selections: 27th June 2022

2.15 Pontefract: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

Lady Celia looks ready to roll. She ran a lot better the last two times than the bare form suggests. Two back at Ayr she finished the last three furlongs the fastest. That piece of form looks strong thanks to the winner having franked the form in no uncertain terms in the meantime.

She backed up over 6 furlongs at Hamilton eleven days ago when prominent, up with a strong pace and she just went down fighting in the closing stages in what was a hot contest.

The minimum trip is her preferred distance, though. Off bottom-weight with the added bonus of 5lb claimer Oisin McSweeney in the saddle she is a major chance given that all her wins came from the lower end of the weight scale.

I have some reservations about the fastish ground and hope the showers this morning can take a bit of sting out of it. In any case Ponti’s stiff finish should suit this mare and she looks overpriced given the favourite takes up a lot of space in the market.

Possibly rightly so, but another 6lb hike and a 10-3 weight is no easy task for Elegant Erin.

10pts win – Lady Celia @ 8.5

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8.00 Musselburgh: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

Chant For More ran really well over this course and distance in April, finishing much the strongest and was probably a bit unlucky not to get his head in front.

He’s got starting issues as on show the last two times. Although Catterick can be ignored given he also stumbled badly when it looked he may come with a run. He ran an interesting race at Redcar last time, doing a lot in the middle part, proving speed isn’t an issue, more the need for a solid start.

There is a clear danger he messes up at the break today. However, he will come from off the pace in any case. He’s on the same mark as in April, but meets Waverley Star who was 2nd that day , and won in the meantime, at 5lb better handicap terms.

In addition 5lb claimer Ryan Saxton takes the ride for a yard in form and will give Chant For Me every chance to win.

Some unexposed sorts are in the field. Most notably the O’Meara runner. While Hugh Taylor tipped Sheikh Maz Mahood here. There are dangers, ther are risks to Chant For More’s chances.

At the same time two competitive horses are already out. So all in all Chant For More is clearly well handicapped today I feel, and all it needs is first a half decent break and then a clear run.

10pts win – Chant For More @ 4/1

Saturday Selections: 25th June 2022

I am currently going through the worst slump of “form” in the last half a decade or so of my serious “betting career”. It starts to become farcical. Even though the first three months of my 2022 betting year (March, April, May) were all green, June wears me down.

It’s just not working. Or something of the process isn’t working. The initial stage of video analysis and identifying potential horses for future opportunities works extremely well. The eye-catchers perform as well as never before, actually. But I don’t back them. It seems right now I have lost the touch for making good decisions.

Some days I am too conservative, others not patient enough. There’s the odd winner here or there, but they don’t offset the losing days. Their prices are too low, or more the fact of the matter is I don’t get “value”.

I never had a high strike rate, often back bigger prices. It’s inevitable that you have dry spells. But if things go so badly wrong for an entire month as they do right now it’s not all down to “bad luck” or variance. It’s down to poor decisions too. Not sure how to rectify this at the moment.

Hopefully things will turn around. But hoping is fearing. And I somehow fear I lost it. I see this also reflected in how the prices I take compare to ISP and BSP. Doesn’t make for good reading. I used to beat them regularly with my selections in the past. Doesn’t happen at the moment.

That’s a little ramble I had to get off the chest. Well, it’s Irish Derby Derby. I am excited going down to the Curragh no matter what. The race looks a compelling edition. Although I stay away from it betting wise. Here’s hoping those betting decision I have made for Sturday will turn out to be good ones, though.

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3.30 Newcastle: Class 2 Handicap, 2m

Bandinelli shaped a lot better at Ascot than the 6.5 lengths beaten performance suggested. He was clearly minded in the closing stages after it became obvious that he couldn’t win.

From a wide draw he moved across quickly to chase the pace but was caught wide around the first bend. He raced wide for the majority of the race. He made a good looking move into the home straight but wasn’t able to sustain it.

Back over two miles on the All-Weather he looks dangerous. Still rather unexposed over the trip, his excellent record on the sand gives him a better chance than the price if he can only find a tiny bit of improvement, which is far from impossible.

A good draw will ensure he can find a good early position somewhere behind the leaders, in fourth or fifth perhaps. I think he will run a massive race and is undervalued in the market.

10pts win- Bandinelli @ 22/1

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2.35 Curragh: Listed Celebration Stakes, 1m

The arriving rain makes this interesting, otherwise this listed contest would be quite a dull and poor renewal. It is a near certainty – unless they absolutely crawl – that Straight Answer doesn’t stay a mile, certainly not up the stiff Curragh finish.

The two standout horses in the field are 4-year old Raadobarg on one side. The more rain the better for him. He’s clearly a rock solid miler at this level and especially dangerous with significant ease in the ground.

At this point in time it’s not quite clear how soft the going will turn out. There’s a status yellow rain warning live for then next 20 hours. It sounds more like some isolated showers are coming, that’s for sure.

The rain brings Irish 2000 Guineas 4th Wexford Native into the equation too. He’s probably best with some ease in the going too and still offers some upside with more improvement to come.

He could be the sort that thrives on racing, given he has improved nearly with each race this season. You can put a line through the Royal Ascot performance. His cause was lost after the first furlong.

After an impressive debut win in March, he was comprehensively beaten by Buckaroo in Listed company, although he ran on well, even after being short of room over 1f out.

In the 2000 Guineas he tracked the pace, got closer with each passing furlong and fought gamely, still challenging Native Trail entering the final furlong. He tired but fared much the best of those closer to the pace and that performance can be marked up in my view.

Wexford Native can be quite keen and fighting for his head. I hope that with experience and maturity he can settle better. He will probably be close to the pace again, given he doesn’t have a turn of foot and looks more a grinder. Probably ridden sooner than most rivals he should be able to grind his way to the line making it a proper test. He has enough class to win.

10pts win – Wexford Native @ 4/1

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4.20 Curragh: Group 3 International Stakes, 1m 2f

Mac Swiney can give Jim Bolger a double on the card. He drops significantly in class here. He was a long way beaten in the highly competitive Tattersalls Gold Cup but that was his comeback run and I would expect him to improve,

He won the Irish 2000 Guineas last year, was a credible 4th in the Epsom Derby, although perhaps not quite staying the trip, and finished a fine 3rd in the Champions Stakes. He’s a proven top level performer.

The rain will surely aid his chances. The more the better, of course. Even if doesn’t turn properly soft, he simply looks a class above the rest in this field.

10pts win – Mac Swiney @ 10/3

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7.15 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f

Gold Charm took well to the step up in trip to 12 furlongs the last time at Thirsk. She finished the strongest after being briefly flat footed over 2 furlongs out

With that performance she confirmed the promise she showed in her Handicap debut at Lingfield a few weeks earlier. She caught my eye that day when she travelled stylishly into the home straight and finished much the best.

She has plenty of stamina in her pedigree, and matching that with the visual impression of her last two races it’s clear the 1m 4f trip doesn’t pose any problems. The return to the Lingfield polytrack is a positive and this in combination with the trip can unlock improvement.

10pts win – Gold Charm @ 9/2

Friday Selections: 24th June 2022

2.10 Doncaster: Class 5 Handicap, 1m

Thrave shaped really well a number of times ever since being rather unlucky at Beverley in May. He ran well on three subsequent occasions, and his most recent run at this track over the shorter 7 furlongs suggested he’s ready to win.

That day he found himself in a tight spot and squeezed out soon after the start, then relegated to the rear of the field. He weaved his way through as the only one truly coming from off the pace, and finished much the strongest.

He’s clearly well capable of winning off 65 over a mile, particularly in this slightly easier race. He goes really well over this course and distance, having gone close off 3lb higher last September, running to topspeed 67 too then.

10pts win – Thrave @ 9/1

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3.55 Doncaster: 1m 6.5f

Interesting little race that should be a solid stamina test given the pace chart. I think that will really suit handicap debutant Havaila who ran really well earlier this month in a strong maiden over 12 furlongs.

He was quite green in his first two career runs but showed more professionalism at Salisbury. He’s not one who does things quickly, though. Nonetheless he stuck to the task nicely behind two solid horses in first and second.

He ran to topspeed 75 that day, so his opening mark of 76 provides a good opportunity if he can progress for experience and distance.

The step up to this new trip will surely suit. The visuals are backed up by the pedigree as he’s out of Waila who was a smart mare over 12-14 furlongs.

10pts win – Havaila @ 3/1

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8.20 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

By Your Side could still be well handicapped after recent turf exploits now back on the All-Weather, but the drop to 7 furlongs is a concern. Hence a proper alternative is Key Look who shaped the last time at Catterick like a winner in the making.

That day Key Look was one of the slower starters, settled in rear, travelled pretty okay, but had still only one rival behind turning for home.

She made excellent progress on the inside in the home straight until short of room about 1.5 furlongs from home. As a consequence she lost momentum, had to regain full effort, which she didn’t quite manage, but also wasn’t ask to do so. Yet finished nicely under hands and heels giving impression there was more left in the tank.

She ran well a number of times in defeat in recent weeks. Now a pound below her last winning mark she makes plenty of appeal, especially as her last victory came over the Newcastle CD. Having a solid 5lb claimer in the saddle is an added bonus.

10pts win – Key Look @ 11/2