Tag Archives: Newcastle

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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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 

Friday Selections: October, 19th 2018

Wet Dundalk Polytrack

5.10 Newcastle: Class 5 Handicap, 1M 4F 98Y

Gerald Mosse is a master to handle tricky customers, and the filly he rides in this race is clearly a tricky one. Arendelle has a bit of talent, she already won at Sandown earlier this season over a mile quite impressively.

Subsequently, also striding out over further, she found live tougher off marks around 70. Her running style leaves her vulnerable and despite not beaten far mostly she found a way to get into trouble.

As happened the other day at Sandown when sixth at Sandown over 10f. Arendelle steps up another couple of furlongs now which should suit. Also trying Tapeta for the first time may eke out improvement as her sire Camelot has gotten quite a few winners over middle-distances here already. Dropping to 66 handicap mark gives her a big chance if Mosse can steer her clear trouble.

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

Wednesday Selections: October, 17th 2018

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5.05 Bath: Class 5 Handicap, 1m3½f

The form that Doctor Knox has produced in three starts looks underappreciated as he steps into handicap company for the first time. Both his final start as a juvenile and most recent performance in a Novice race at Kempton are way better than the bare form suggests, in my mind.

Both times he was a long way beaten, however in front of him a few excellent individual, and those forms work out quite well. On his comeback run last month Doctor Knox made a bold move from a wide draw right from the start to challenge for the lead.

He paid the price for it behind two superior horses that where also up with the pace. The eventual winner has franked the form with a credible effort in Listed company already, and the runner-up was behind high class performers in previous starts also.

Doctor Knox kept going, though, and held on for third place. Now in his first handicap, a mark of 70 looks potentially underestimating him.

Selection:
10pts win – Doctor Knox @ 9/1 MB

……..

7.15 Newcastle: Class 6 Nursery, 6f

Gainsborough Hat looks a likely improver on his first handicap start. He didn’t set the world alight in three starts so far, but an opening mark off 64 doesn’t look too far fetched given he is well bred.

The son of Exceed And Excel should be well suited to the All-Weather as his sire has an excellent record on the sand, particularly over sprint distances, plus he is out of a Listed placed and All-Weather winning mare.

Selection:
10pts win – Gainsborough Hat @ 9/1 MB

Saturday Selections: June, 30th 2018

Newmarket July Course

3.30 Newmarket: Class 3 Handicap, 1m 4f

Lightly raced Gather gives the impression of a filly with plenty more to offer. As an April foal she is likely to come into her own right now, and after showing excellent promise as juvenile in her final start in 2017 when 3rd in a red hot Kempton maiden, she followed on from there on her seasonal debut when running out a gutsy win over 10f at Goodwood.

That looks a fair performance, albeit more is required today, no doubt. She steps up to 12f for the first time which looks possible on pedigree. The quick surface is an unknown.

With an opening mark off 81 Gather could be undervalued judged on her last two performances. Wit that in mind, in this wide open contest I have her closer to the market leader.

Selection:
10pts win – Gather @ 7/2 VC

………

3.35 Windsor: Class 3 Handicap, 1M 3F 99Y

An open and incredibly competitive little handicap, though few appear to be well handicapped. A fair case can be made for relatively lightly raced favourite Humble Rock. But he is short enough in the betting.

I can entertain the thought of Majeed to return to form, though. Anything close to what he ran to on his seasonal reappearance at Newmarket in a similar contest when runner-up should see him in with a big shout.

Now an eight year he isn’t the force of old, however of a mark off 94 he is dangerous in a contest like this. The fast ground is fine, the trip ideal and the fact he ran 14 times in 32 career starts to RPR’s higher than 94 means he is well capable of living up to his current mark.

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

…..

7.45 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

The only colt in the race Roundabout Magic has an excellent chance to continue his superb run of form. His latest run at Brighton was a slight disappointment compared to how well he performed in weeks before, however after pulling incredibly hard for half of the race his jockey didn’t beat him up in the closing stages. He still was less than 3 lengths beaten.

He was a bit unlucky twice before, at Lingfield on the AW in a hot class 4 contest when finishing super strongly after having his momentum coming to an abrupt end by a slowing horse in front.

Arguably a career best performance came on Lingfield’s 5f turf track five days earlier when again running into a bit of trouble but finishing with a burst of speed on the inside. He ran to a career best speed rating and RPR that day, which came on the back of a fine win at Brighton a fortnight ago.

Roundabout Magic is in superb form, he may hold little secrets from the handicapper, but judged by the last efforts, he may still overcome a career highest mark in a race that looks not too strong on paper.

Selection:
10pts win – Roundabout Magic @ 7/2 MB

Thursday Selections: March, 1st 2018

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A day vanished in the snow…. when I woke up this morning looking outside of the window and saw all this white stuff in the garden it was only a matter of time before the message would transpire of Newcastle being abandoned, as not only has Ireland’s east been hit by the snow chaos, so has been the UK. Let’s see if things go differently on Thursday…

5.15 Newcastle: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

If the race goes ahead then I am really keen on Rich Again. He drops down to a really tasty handicap mark, given he won off 3- and 7lb higher respectively last winter. The question whether he is still that good is easily answered: yes.

His 3rd place finish, when one lengths beaten over CD last month of a mark of 80 – so 3lb higher than today – when he ran to a time speed figure of 80 very much confirms this.

He was a long way beaten last time out, however that was over 6f, and there is no doubt that Rich Again is a different animal over the minimum trip.

This is a highly competitive race, and he will have to run to the sort of form he ran to when winning last year. That says he is still as good as ever and with a 50% strike rate over this course and distance he must be a live chance.

Selection: 
10pts win – Rich Again @ 11/1 VC

Wednesday Selections: February, 28th 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

6.45 Newcastle: Class 7 Handicap, 1 mile

As poor a race as you would expect for this lowest of classes which looks. Nonetheless Optima Petamus should have a cracking chance dropping down to a mile.

The six year old has, despite an overall poor strike rate, a pretty fair record on the All-Weather, and has been running to time speed ratings in the past suggesting anything close to those past forms will see him being hard to beat.

Optima Petamus has shown good form in the last couple of weeks. Most importantly on his most recent outing, when third at Newcastle over 10f. He was keen early on and was up with the pace, looked like winning but got tiered as the eventual winner stayed on from far back in the field.

Rhe drop to a mile should help now. A better pace should ensure he settles better and the fact remains Optima Petamus’ only win came over the mile distance. With a competent 7lb claimer in the saddle this looks a golden opportunity for Optima Petamus.

Selection:
10pts win – Optima Petamus @ 9/2 VC