Tag Archives: Handicap

Friday Selections: January, 11th 2019

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Finally a winner again after hitting the post a handful of times lately – The Right Choice (11/1) was the right choice indeed! He drew clear in the closing stages to land the 6f sprint after a hectic race that saw him under pressure at the back of the field right from the start.

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6.45 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 2m ½f

Thresholdofadream looks certainly well in here of a rating of 55 after two highly promising efforts in October and November, her first tries on the All-Weather as well stepping up significantly in trip.

She was arguably unlucky not finish closer over 14f here at Wolverhampton and subsequently she should have won at Lingfield the way she finished, if not for her poor positioning way too far off the pace.

This race is in fact even weaker, so given Thresholdofadream remains unexposed on the AW and the trip as well as being still lightly raced, there is every chance for more natural improvement.

The only issue is the wide draw and her running style, which caused her to get into trouble the last two times. Drawn in 11 may see her confronted with the same sort of scenario. Thankfully top man Joe Fanning is on board.

Selection:
10pts win – Thresholdofadream @ 7/2 MB

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Thursday Selection: January, 10th 2019

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1.20 Southwell: Class 4 Handicap, 5 furlongs

Acclaim The Nation took to Southwell’s fibresand in the best possible fashion in his first try last month. He won pretty well over CD, looking comfortable, despite the tight margin. He backed up an excellent Chelmsford effort when going agonizingly close.

Southwell and its 5f trip can somewhat be a specialist situation – Acclaim The Nation looks to really enjoy this particular test and looks set for another big performance. Once again he has the aid of a perfect draw here, which should be a massive help for this pacey individual.

Only 2lb raised to a mark of 80 for the 77 TS & 87 RPR effort last time. There may well be a bit of improvement in him for his second fibresand start plus a smaller field to be dominated from pole position seem an ideal opportunity to go back-to-back.

Selection:
10pts win – Acclaim The Nation @ 7/2 PP

……..

2.25 Southwell: Class 4 Handicap, 6 furlongs

Black Salt is a skinny price for all he has done – an 8lb rise is quite something to deal with. I believe The Right Choice isn’t far behind the favourite ability wise. He’s ran a couple of really nice races on fibresand and could be able to pull out more.

His 6f success in a claimer looks pretty good as the runner-up, for all his faults, is something like a 70 rated individual. On that form, it was no surprise to see The Right Choice finish a strong 3rd next time out, only tiring in the final furlong over potentially too long 7f behind a well handicapped winner.

A return to 6f should suit, if he doesn’t blow the start. He has the aid of a good draw, so hopefully on what is only his fourth start here, he can make use of it.

Selection:
10pts win – The Right Choice @ 11/1 MB

Wednesday Selections: January, 9th 2019

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5.45 Kempton: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 3f

Distingo looks the dark horse, potentially well in here on his return to the All-Weather. But at given prices I’m even more interested in long-shot Gendarme.

Rossa Ryan, a good job jockey, has a fine record on Hannon runners, rides this lightly raced gelding for the first time on what is Gendarme’s second start after a break and gelding operation.

You can easily disregard his comeback run over too short 7f. He steps up to 1m 3f which will much more what he needs. The son of Lawman tries the AW for the second time in his career, a surface that should suit also.

On turf he ran well enough of his allotted marks; a 3¾ lengths beaten 5th in a hot 10f Leicester handicap on June is the pick of the form; he ran to TS 71 and a career high RPR of 78 – the forms holds up well.

Now down to a handicap mark of 69, the 4-year-old could be well handicapped with a good draw, track and trip likely to suit, so a big run is on the cards, and he could pay handsomely for it.

Selection:
10pts win – Gendarme @ 20/1 MB

…..

6.45 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 6 furlongs

Totally speculative but not without hope is Delagate The Lady here in a poor race. The filly hasn’t shown anything to the form book of note in five career runs. However, on her handicap debut over 7f at Lingfield recently she outran her 50/1 price tag significantly in my view.

She tracked the eventual winner and pace setter for most parts of the race – the winner wasn’t to catch, but she showed fair early speed crossing over from her 8 gate after the start and stretched the rest of the field by half a dozen lengths until turning home, still in front – bar the winner – entering the final furlong.

This daguther of Delegator drops to 6f which is a trip more to suit, her dam was an AW winner as well, and her mark is down to a lowly 48 now.

The draw isn’t ideal, but Kieren Fox makes the trip here for this only one ride. So hopefully that a good sign for the chances of Delagate The Lady today, on what is her second handicap start.

Selection:
10pts win – Delagate The Lady @ 23/1 MB

Tuesday Selections: January, 8th 2019

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4.10 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 1 mile 

Last week’s impressive winner Paparazzi returns here turned out under a penalty. In an even weaker race, and with the memories of his impressive success still fresh in mind, one can clearly see why he is favourite to go back-to-back.

He may well do so as the 6lb penalty looks a lenient “punishment” for his impressive win, albeit only temporarily once the handicapper had the chance to assess. But this is a much bigger field, the pace not be as fast, and both may not suit his running style.

So at given prices I leave him alone and rather focus on potentially well handicapped Traveller. This gelding has dropped to a tasty mark now as well, though ideally he would be drawn not as wide as he is.

Regardless, Traveller ran a series of fairly decent races, starting with a 3rd place finish off 65 over CD in November ending with his most recent effort in early December, another 3rd place over CD.

All three performances, even the low looking 8th place finish at Wolverhampton, were to some extend quite eye-catching as you could give him credit for the fact he wasn’t always in the best position or those horses finishing in front of him got a near perfect run through.

I don’t want to make too many excuses for horses, but these low grade individuals often need nearly everything going right for themselves in order to find back to the winning ways – as we saw with Paparazzi last week who got the perfect race.

Traveller was able to ran to a career highest TS rating of 62 (AW)- and also achieved a 70+ RPR (on AW) on five occasions in the past. He clearly is capable of being a bit better than his current handicap rating; recent performances suggest he is close to his best and close to get his head in front again.

During the 18/19 season the jockey & trainer combo of Hardie & Brittain has produced a positive ROI and a 50% place rate. Hardie rode this lad in his last starts already, which is another positive to see him keeping the ride.

Selection:
10pts win – Traveller @ 8/1 PP

…….

7.15 Newcastle: Class 5 , 5 furlongs

Quite a tight contest with most in it to win it but hardly anyone appears to be well handicapped. That makes the chance of Miracle Works an interesting one, dropping to the minimum trip for the first time while also dropping to a career lowest handicap mark.

Still a maiden, this big grey gelding has strong form to match anyone in this field to his name thanks to his handicap debut from July last year that came in a hot class 5 handicap over 6f. He went close to win that race – form that has worked out rather well.

Softish conditions on turf weren’t to his liking subsequently; after a break he returned at Kempton over 7f last months but clearly wasn’t in it to win it.

This is only his third handicap start, a drop to 5f may suit and of a 70 mark he looks one of the few here potentially capable of bettering that in the right circumstances.

Miracle Works has an engagement three days later over 6f. If the minimum trip proves to sharp, which it might – though sire stats are encouraging – he’ll certainly be of a lot of interest then once again.

Selection:
10pts win – Miracle Works @ 12/1 MB

Friday Selections: January, 4th 2019

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2.45 Kempton: Class 5 Handicap, 1 mile

I feel there are question marks over a range of the more fancied individuals in this race, so I happily take a chance on top weight Six Strings to finally find back some sort of form.

The 5-year-old drops to a super tasty mark, judged on past form. He’s had a number of yard changes, though, and has seen his colours dramatically lowered from contesting competitively hot class 2 Handicaps of marks closer to 90, to falling into a first class 5 Handicap on the All-Weather, off 75 now.

It has to be said that Six Strings actually ran rather decent in his starts of 2018 – the only really bad one, in my book, was his latest one, at Lingfield over a mile.

A first time stretching out that far, he had to overcome a wide draw, travelled wide throughout and never was in with a shout, nor given a serious race. Considering that he ran okayish, finishing not badly, in fact, suggesting the trip is a possibility.

Now dropping in class, getting another few pounds off the mark and having a competent 3lb claimer on board as additional advantage and a low draw to play with, I feel Six Strings could run a huge race.

The hood is off, remains to be seen what impact it will have. Here’s hoping for positive tactics anyway.

Interesting that Jack Duern on board, since down to a 3lb claim, has still been rather successfully used in similar situations by this yard before: a 12-3-5 record for horses that the betting indicates are in with a chance, when Duern has only a single ride, when this one is for DK Ivory, plus the majority of positive results came on horses with big weights, like Six Strings has to carry here.

Selection:
10pts win – Six Strings @ 17/2 MB

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4.35 Wolverhampton: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f

Was thinking a while about this one, but the fact that bar the favourite, who’s a pretty skinny price now for all he has shown, this poor race screams for an upset.

To say Epitaph is a temperamental sort is an understatement. The gelding often runs some strange races, and all the sort of headgear tried is an indication for the difficulty to get him right. An unconvincing 1-37 record tells a tale, also.

On the other hand, he has also been 13 times in the money. Mostly on Southwell fibresand. But interestingly, his performances at Wolverhampton have been promising as well.

I thought Epitaph ran a fine race when last seen at the end of December over course and distance – certainly better than the bare form would suggest, if watching the replay of the race a couple of times. Inexplicably he slowed dramatically down between four to three furlongs out, but then ran on again, finishing well enough, in fact.

Obviously this lad is a long-shot in its true meaning. But, given he won- and has consistently well of much higher handicap marks in the past, I feel with a good jockey on board there is a fair chance he can outrun he price tag this time.

Selection:
10pts win – Epitaph @ 18/1 PP

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6.15 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 7 furlongs

I feel Aljunood has been desperately unlucky a couple of times lately and now dropping down to a mark of 56 could be potentially seriously well handicapped on his first fair crack over the 7f trip.

In saying that, I disregard shamelessly the lasted effort at Southwell. It’s fibresand, he didn’t take to it. Enough said.

However the three starts before of falling marks at Wolverhampton are of great interest. The start was a 8.5f Handicap in October, where he got lit up early after the start, marched forward and wasn’t to be reigned in by the jockey. He ran his race approaching the 3f marker.

Next time, a particularly eye-catching performance, given he was bumped early on and was a bit too far off the pace, maybe the winner also simply too good on the day; regardless, Aljunood ran on strongly to finish second. The third of those interesting efforts came the next time when he was badly positioned again, had to fight for position and angle out to get only late into the clear.

Aljunood has finally found his level I believe, after an early career maiden success in Ireland resulted in an unrealistic opening mark and took a while to get down to something more realistic. He’s now in a position to win. Given he’s a son of Bated breath, the drop to 7f should suit.

Selection:
10pts win – Aljunood @ 13/1 MB

Wednesday Selections: January, 2nd 2019

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5.45 Newcastle: Class 5 Handicap, 1 mile

A wide open contest but I feel Paparazzi ticks a lot of boxes today. He is second up after a break. It was a decent reappearance over course and distance a fortnight ago, given he was not in positioned well enough to challenge in a race where they absolutely crawled for five furlongs.

The four-year-old drops to a tasty mark, having won off higher in Ireland in the past, but also having performed with plenty of credit in many more starts on both All-Weather and turf of higher marks. He was placed off 69 and 66 in early 2018 at Kempton over a mile.

This is the poorest opposition Paparazzi will encounter for quite some time. If a slow start doesn’t see him falling back too far too early he should run a huge race today.

Selection:
10pts win – Paparazzi @ 12/1 MB

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6.15 Newcastle: Class 5 Handicap, 7 furlongs

Bottom weight and long-shot Admiral Rooke looks a hopeless sort judged by his 0-18 record. However, taking into account he’s been in the money seven times coming close to finally getting over the line, and the situation appears slightly different.

Whether today is the day, remains to be seen. He has an engagement next Monday over 9.5f also. Today, a simple straight 7f at Newcastle could be a perfect test, though.

Admiral Rooke is second up after a break, ran okayish in a lightning fast Southwell Handicap on his fibresand debut. He drops to a career lowest mark of 61 now. Given, at least on turf, he was placed over 7f off 67, running to a TS 64 rating, suggest he can be better than that.

His dam was an All-Weather winner. So I wouldn’t be too quick to discount his chances here judged on a fibresand and maiden race. At given prices this is well worth a shout for a yard in red hot form.

Selection:
10pts win – Admiral Rooke @ 20/1 MB

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6.45 Newcastle: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

Despite a seemingly disappointing effort as beaten favourite last time here at Newcastle, Athollblair Boy looks ripe for another victory. Already a 3-times course winner, with a 6-2-2 CD record, he had a fruitful winter campaign last season here and subsequently ran more often than not decent enough on turf through the flat season as well.

On his return after a 126-day-long break over CD in November, he ran perfectly well in a hot class 3 Handicap, that has worked out quite well in the meantime, despite missing the break and losing ground at the start.

The next time, the aforementioned beaten favourite effort, Athollblair Boy pulled incredibly hard for half the race, and had a race already ran when it really mattered. Sections show he ran well enough, nonetheless.

A drop down to a 73 mark now, with a fair 7lb claimer on board who’ll have learned plenty from the last two rides where he also steered Athollblair Boy, given the gelding is CD winner of a 3lb higher mark, this should be a fine chance to add another success to the list today.

Selections:
10pts win – Athollblair Boy @ 17/2 MB

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

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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