Tag Archives: Tuesday

Race Preview: 2019 Melbourne Cup

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The race that stops a nation…. or the race that stops me sleep. Every year the same procedure: Melbourne Cup Tuesday is nearing and I am excited as a little child on the eve before Christmas. I LOVE the Melbourne Cup, it’s my favourite race.

It helps having backed the winner of the last two editions at rather generous odds, of course. While I love the spectacle of watching the race on TV at half past three in the morning with a blanket and a warm cuppa in my hands, it’s certainly has been financially rewarding as much as it’s emotionally warming – backing a winner or not.

But backing a winner is even more fun. So Let’s do three in a row?

………

This year appears to be a highly compelling renewal – certainly on paper. The field includes Cross Counter, the defending champion; the exciting Japanese rider and Caulfield Cup winner Mer De Glace; the Ebor Handicap winner Mustajeer; last years Irish Derby hero Latrobe; plus a highly competitive home team.

On the other hand, I feel this race is much easier to dissect than in years past. Sure, luck can play its part in the race. A massive field will always produce a hard-luck story…. or two, or three of those stories. Regardless, I can see only a handful of realistic contenders, to be perfectly honest.

You can cross a line through half the field easily on the grounds of the softish going, distance, weight or racing style. The ones I can’t dismiss so easily and who made it on to my shortlist are as follows:

Il Paradiso: fits the trend of recent winners. Still relatively low mileage, some classy form in the book, looks to have the right sort of relaxed attitude, appears to stay and will be fine on any softness left in the ground. His tendency to break slowly is a major negative from draw 17, though. Blinkers may help but the “may” is already reflected in the price, I’m afraid.

Constantinople: you couldn’t watch the Caulfield Cup and not be impressed how he finished despite the fact he came from well off the pace and was significantly hampered at a crucial stage. Ran twice to a 108 topspeed ratings year. Most talented horse in the race?

His racing style is not and advantage. His tendency to sweat and exert energy in the preliminaries neither. Not easy to get things right on him. Needs everything to fall right, which it may well do, but I’m happy enough to let it go for single figure odds.

Vow And Declare: Strong chance for the home team if there wouldn’t be the draw. Classy stayer, form in the book, hits peak at the right time as excellent runner-up performance in Caulfield Cup suggested. Drawn in 21 will make life tough.

Dawndraft: Quite a bit of racing under the belt yet still improving. Good performances in Ireland this summer, including career best Listed success (101 TS) albeit below standard required here.

But two good runs since arriving Down Under. Visually compelling latest victory. But that performance came only 3 days ago which is a major concern.

Mustajeer: Excellent winner of the Ebor. Has improved again this season, ran well in Group races before having the perfect race at York. From the draw to the way the race developed to a clear run: everything worked to perfection.

He is a strong galloping sort who I feel will be suited perfectly by the Melbourne Cup. Had a fine prep in the Caulfield Cup and won’t fear the ground.

But that is the point: everything went to perfection at York. Will it today? He’s uncomplicated, that’s a big plus. I think he will go close. Still, it’s going to be the Ebor 4th Raymond Tusk that my money is riding with on Tuesday morning, 4am Irish time.

Raymond Tusk: On a different day he’d have been the brilliant winner of the 2019 Ebor and would be much shorter in the betting than he is now. Drawn in the car park he was trailing the field still turning for home, a wall of horses in front, yet travelling much the best. He had to weave his way through for a clear run and the bird was flown when he finally did.

Still finished a strong 4th, not far beaten, and running to a career best 107 topspeed rating. He’s 4lb better off with Mustajeer here and has a much better draw to play with.

I have one fear that is Jamie Spencer: we know he likes to come from off the pace with his mounts. I hope the good draw will help to settle on a positive racing strategy. Interviews I heard have given me hope indeed.

Still with low enough mileage, Raymond Tusk is an improving individual, who comes here fresh, which seems to bring the best of him usually. Cut in the ground is a question mark. His best results cam on fast ground. However he didn’t have a lot of chances to race on soft. And he did win a maiden over 1 mile on good to soft. Another pointer to give hope.

Selection: 
10pts win – Raymond Tusk @ 23/1 MB

Tuesday Selections: April, 30th 2019

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3.25 Brighton: Class 3 Handicap, 1m 2f

This is quite a poor race for the class is it. A class 3 only in name, in my book. Most of these will struggle in a proper contest of this nature.

CD scorer Double Reflection looks a sure thing to go well, Sweet Charity is an interesting contender.

But I feel bottom weight Ashazuri has massive chance here. With 8st 2lb only to carry, on suitable fast ground, off a handy mark, the only worry is race fitness, given we haven’t seen her this year yet.

Still, this looks a clever bit of race planning if she’s ready to go. She isn’t a mare you’d normally expect to compete in class 3 handicaps. But off a mark of 68, given she has ran to TS ratings of 68 and 72 in the past, she appears potentially handicapped to win.

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

……..

3.55 Brighton: Class 6 Handicap, 1 mile

With blinkers back on Kafeel looks interesting as he’s also returning to turf for the first time in a year. His record is 6-3-2 with blinkers on, so now down to a mark of 56, a full 12lb lower than twelve months ago here at Brigthon as well, he may be a good thing.

Kafeel appeared revived in first time visor last month at Lingfield over the slightly shorter 7f trip. He travelled supremely well but didn’t get a run until very late.

Judged on past performances and TS ratings he could be handicapped to win today, even though it remains to be seen whether he truly appreciates the uniqueness of Brighton.

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

……

4.25 Brighton: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

Power son The British Lion had little chance to show his besto n turf yet, though on the All-Weather he won a couple of races already, including a 7f handicap back in January. He’s 3lb lower than when winning that day, where he also ran to a TS rating of 71.

As this is only hith 5th start on turf, and the times before he raced over different trips and higher marks, I feel there could be still a bit of improvement to come. If not that, then certainly he has shown to be a bit better than that – if only on AW for now.

Interestingly, his sire has a tremendous record over 7f, as well as on fast ground and also here at Brighton. In a race where not much jumps out, he should have a good chance to get his head in front.

Selection:
10pts win – The British Lion @ 9/2 MB

……

5.20 Newcastle: Class 4 Handicap, 7 furlongs

I feel the short priced favourite has a bit to do to overcome a career highest mark. There are far more interesting horses in the field. Such as lightly raced Algaffaal, consistent Chosen World or course specialist Chaplin Bay.

At given prices he’s my choice today. A good year ago he won a similar race off his current mark. In fact he won twice over course and distance of 74, and was placed in two more races of higher ratings later last year.

Chaplin Bay ran well on his seasonal reappearance in a hot race nearly two weeks ago – a fair 3rd place finish off a pound higher should see him stripping fitter now.

Selection:
10pts win – Chaplin Bay @ 6/1 PP

Cheltenham Festival 2019 – Tuesday Selections

The Festival

“It’s Christmas for horse racing fans…” they said in the radio this morning. How true a statement this is! Particularly the opening  Tuesday is arguably the finest day the sport has to offer. This year is no different with the renewal of the Champion Hurdle shaping like a race for the ages.

Enjoy the sport and bet responsibly… a mantra we’ll also hear often this week. One I personally can’t emphasize enough: you don’t need to have a bet in every single race in order to love the magnificent show on offer over the next few days. In fact, you probably shouldn’t if you want to maximize your winnings.

Cheltenham is incredibly competitive. Horses are primed to run for their life. That should ensure enough opportunities to find value in the market. But: there are also plenty of races where little secrets are hidden. The never ending trail of preview nights, the mere fact that every little piece of information is chewed endless times now, means few details are still hidden from plain sight come Tuesday half past one.

It’s gonna be a much better strategy to identify those races where a few things are up in the air, where you find question marks about runners, particularly those near the top end of the betting, and where form is more difficult to judge for the random betting folk.

And most importantly: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s four days. It’s not the end of the world leaving Tuesday without a winner. A 20/1 shot in the Grand Annual could swing the pendulum right back into profit.

……..

1.30: Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, 2m½f

There is little wrong with favourite Al Dancer. In fact, he is a bigger price I would have expected. What I don’t like about him is the fact you can easily question the value of his Betfair Hurdle success. It’s his best piece of form, he did it nicely, but so would have done most in this field.

Furthermore, Al Dancer is a rather free going sort, spotting a hood the last two times for that reason. Given the nature of the Supreme, there’s a relevant question to be asked: could the occasion get to him?

Lightly raced Angels Breath will have learned plenty from his recent Kempton runner-up performance. He is clearly talented having won a Grade 2 on his rules debut. Only two starts under his belt is a major concern, though.

The hype horse, judging the market and social media, is clearly Willie Mullins’ charge Klassical Dream. Easy to see why: he stepped up from a maiden to win a Grade 1, beating a well fancied stable mate. He’s a class act. I’ve slight reservations, though, over the likely soft ground, even though most feel he’ll be suited by it given he knows it from France. Let’s see that firsthand tomorrow.

I love the attitude of Elixir De Nutz. The Tolworth Hurdle winner goes for a four-timer. He’s a front-runner, though. It’ll be tough to make all in the Supreme.

Certainly not the forgotten horse, but the hype has slowed: Fakir D’oudairies. The only 4-year-old in the field. He looks quite forward, however, as you would expect for a French import.

He’s got experience on his side, looks physically strong, and JP McMaus took a punt on him after a 13 lengths romping over course and distance in January. He followed up on a fair maiden success at Cork, on his first start for Joseph O’Brien.

The form of both races is debatable. Nonetheless, the impression Fakir D’oudairies gave here at Cheltenham, leaving a rather decent 147 rated Adjali well behind him, is one of a significant talent. The weight allowance he gets is a massive help as well. Soft ground is sure to suit – I feel Fakir D’oudairie is the one to beat.

Selection:
10pts win – Fakir D’oudairie @ 13/2 MB

…….

2.50: Grade 3 Ultima Handicap Chase, 3m 1f

I missed the hype train, regardless, I remain firmly in the Willie Mullins camp here: Up For Review is still a tasty price at 10’s. He’s already a ten-year-old, but quite lightly raced for his age, with scope to improve over fences.

He was quite a good hurdler back in the day, given he won a Grade 2 Novice Hurdle and was 148 rated – he’s 2lb lower rated over fences currently and comes here with an incredibly strong piece of recent form to his name.

After a good 17/18 season as a novice, resulting in two wins, he made his seasonal reappearance in the Gowran Thyestes Chases. Up For Review was trailing the pace, which wasn’t an advantage that day. He jumped well, made stylish progress throughout but couldn’t match the speed of the eventual winner and runner-up, and probably got a little bit tired in the end as well.

However, a third place behind Gold Cup contender Invitation Only rates quite strongly, now returning to a handicap, with ground and trip likely to suit – even though he has slight stamina questions to answer as the last time at Cheltenham, in the 2016 World Hurdle, he was pulled up.

I’m aware Willie Mullins is yet to win this race, so that is a slight concern, whether his horses are in the right weight bracket to be successful. However it’s a new year and I strongly believe Up For Review is on a mark he’s well able to defy, as long as he gets home over 3 miles and the additional furlong.

Selection:
10pts win – Up For Review @ 10.5/1 WH

………..

4.10: Grade 1 Mares’ Hurdle, 2m 4f

Benie Des Dieux is a poor favourite here. Yes, Willie Mullins has done it before, but this mare isn’t Quevega. Quite clearly she didn’t have the preparation connections had in mind and you can know holes into her form left, right and center.

I’m feeling a little bit uneasy backing her stable mate, running the same colours as well. But on ratings there is nothing between Benie Des Dieux and Limini. On official ratings there is a single pound separating them. And that despite Limini not having been at her best lately.

However Limini’s highest RPR is a 158 compared to Benie Des Dieux’s 152. Limini will need to find back to her best. Potentially she can do that at Cheltenham where she excelled in the past. Her 4th place finish behind Presenting Percy when last seen rates fair form too, albeit over 3 miles rather than the shorter 2.5 miles.

The ground will suit her tomorrow, and in truth, the fact she ran incredibly well, in fact winning, on the flat during the summer, currently rated a 103 there, shows she is still high class.

Selection:
10pts win – Limini @ 9/1 WH

…….

4.50: Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase, 2m 4f

While I can clearly see the case being made for favourite A Plus Tard, he’s short enough in the betting. The two I favour here will both enjoy the cut in the ground while having some high class form to their name already, though, it seems less appreciated by the market.

Highway One O One is an experiences sort, who travels and jumps well, usually right up with the pace, who remains unexposed over this trip as well.

He was found out in graded company, but ran a massive race on handicap debut over course and distance here back in January. He made all from the front, setting a strong gallop while jumping for fun and was only caught with two out by classy Kildisart who is now a leading JLT chance.

Red Indian is the other one who appears overpriced. H seems harshly judged on his latest effort when unseating his rider as a 1/4 favourite. True, it’s not an ideal preparation; on the other hand he showed plenty of promise earlier, as his 4th place, albeit a good deal beaten, behind La Bague Au Roi, Topofthegame and Santini, leaving a subsequent Grade 2 winner a long way behind him, also.

He drops in trip here and it remains to be seen whether he has the pace. Every inch of rain will be appreciated, that is for sure. Nonetheless his 131 TS rating is the best on offer here, so at the price it’s worth to take the risk.

Selection:
5pts win – Red Indian @ 22/1 MB
5pts win – Highway One O One @ 13/1 MB

Tuesday Selections: January, 29th 2019

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6.15 Wolverhampton, Class 5 Handicap, 6f 

At given prices I feel it’s worth siding with Kirby mount Big Time Maybe. The 4yo races second from a break and wind OP and is significantly below his last winning mark. He won of 5,- 11,- and 12 pounds higher in the past – albeit over 5f.

He’ll need to stretch out over this additional furlong, but there is reason to believe he can. His comeback run gives certainly hope he’ll improve from it. A fair race and effort, the winner, travelling at the back of the field, won subsequently. Big Time Maybe set a fair pace and only faded late.

He’s got a good draw today, so should be able to be up there, may even dominate and set a pace that suits him most. With fitness assured and the breathing fine, hopefully, he may be able to take advantage of a slipping mark.

Selection:
10pts win – Big Time Maybe @ 12/1 MB

Tuesday Selections: January, 22nd 2019

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7.15 Newcastle: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

The British Lion won off 5lb higher over course and distance twelve months ago – that form looks strong and has been franked. He never went quite close ever since, though ran a few fair races in better grade and off higher handicap ratings.

The 4-year-old gelding has dropped significantly in his mark, despite two okayish efforts in his last two starts, which came after a break.

He Johnston yard is in fine order right now and The British Lion has another engagement next week Monday – so here are more than a few hints that a big performance can be expected today.

Selection:
10pts win – The British Lion @ 13/2 MB

……

7.45 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 6 furlongs

The drift in the betting is a worry but I feel there is a strong case to be made for Bobby Joe Leg here.

First time blinkered, dropping down to class 6 for the first time, a 1lb below his last winning mark, even though he also was successful off 4lb higher, a CD scorer who has TS and RPR ratings that give him a top chance if he’s anywhere near that today.

The jockey booking isn’t inspiring, which is a concern – but James Sullivan only comes here for this one ride – let’s hope he make it count.

Bobby Joe Leg usually goes from the front. This looks to be a fast race. He stays a bit further as a strong 7f effort here at Newcastle last year proved. He may the answer to a tricky race.

Selection:
10pts win – Bobby Joe Leg @ 18/1 PP

Tuesday Selections: January, 15th 2019

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7.45 Kempton: Class 5 Handicap, 7 furlongs

Today is the day the handbreak comes off for Six Strings. I was already keen on the 5-year-old the last time here at Kempton, but as it turned out he was rather on pacemaker duties for a well-fancied stable mate that day, going from the front like a lunatic.

Number One jockey Robert Winston is on board this timeand Six Strings has fallen another 3lb in the handicap mark for the latest effort – a mark he seems certain to be well handicapped of, judged on past form.

What applied on the 4th of January does aply very much today also:

Six Strings had a number of yard changes and has seen his colours dramatically lowered from contesting competitively hot class 2 Handicaps of marks closer to 90, to falling now down to class 5 Handicaps on the All-Weather, rated 72.

It has to be said that Six Strings actually ran rather decent in 2018 despite all of this – the only really bad runs, in my book at least, were the two most recent efforts, both over a mile.

He drops to 7f today, a trip that’s more what he wants, most likely. His only success came over 6f to date but the additional furlong looks a real possibility, particularly if there isn’t too much pace on and he can either set the temp himself or track a modest pace.

Selection:
10pts win – Six Strings @ 4/1 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

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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