Tag Archives: Wednesday

Cheltenham Festival 2020 – Wednesday Preview

DSC_0723

A winner?! A feeling I forget exist: enjoying one of my selections crossing the line in first.

I can’t quite remember the last time this happened – it’s been a while – even though it looked like coming when Abacadabras traveled like a dream through the Supreme, despite a slightly awkward start, and getting hampered by a faller, he looked like the winner turning for home…. only to be denied on the line. Of course!

Thankfully Honeysuckle ended my incredibly brutal losing run, beating Benie Des Dieux in a brilliant finish. It was a superb ride by Rachel Blackmore, who continues to prove female jockeys certainly can be at the very top of the game.

I could do a with a few more winners now. Have a lot of catching up to do in order to get 2020 back into the green. The second day of the Festival is a tasty one, although again a tricky puzzle to solve as usual. All selections are big prices which increased the chance for a blank day on the winners front.

………..

1.30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, 2m 5f

On paper Envoy Allen looks the banker of the day. He may well be. If he can continue to improve he’s hard to beat. Will he, though?

You can argue he didn’t have to be pushed to the limits in his last two starts. There is a good chance he can pull out more. At the same time, at least on the rating front, Envoy Allen is good but not overwhelmingly brilliant. RPR’s and TS ratings are to be taken with a pinch of salt in jump racing, yet have some merit.

On that front, second favourite Sporting John is a highly intriguing rival. All the time improving, his Kempton performance was simply stunning and looks excellent on the rating front too. Unfortunately I am too late to the party: the juice is out of the price. Factoring in his general inexperience, having never raced on these terms, I have to leave him alone.

Brings to my selection: a rare each-way one: Easywork appears to be a massive price. I believe he’s harshly judged by his runner-up effort – albeit a long way beaten – behind Asterion Forlonge, who didn’t run too badly in a super competitive Supreme today btw..

Relativally decent ground over two miles was clearly against Easywork that day. Stepping up to 2m 4f with plenty of juice in the ground is much more to his liking. He showed his talent already this season winning three on the bounce, in pretty good style, all of these victories came on soft or heavy going.

Selection:
5pts e/w – Easywork @ 22/1 WH

………

2.10 RSA Chase, 3m½f

What a competitive renewal: the betting says it all with four horses heading the market with less than two points between them. I personally think there a few behind them that can’t be discounted either. Certainly form wise the first five, six in the market are rather closely matched anyway.

Certainy overpriced is Battleoverdoyen. He probably would right in the mix at the top of the market if not for an usually poor showing in Flogas at Leopardstown. He was effectively beaten before falling at the last.

That’s a big question mark obviously. He was apparently pretty sore and 50/50 running at the Festival, only a fortnight ago. That’s a reflection of his price tag.

Nonetheless, even taking that into account, he remains an exciting prospect. Battleoverdoyen was classy hurdler, although twelve month ago was disappointingly pulled up in the Ballymore.

The big, rangy gelding was always a chaser in the making. And he took well to fences, winning three on the trot, including a small-field Grade 1 over Christmas.

Three miles om soft ground won’t be a problem. The fact Battleoverdoyen usually travels strongly and is a good jumper will count for a lot in what could well turn out to be a war of attrition. That sort of race could easily put Copperhead at an advantage, who has been quite impressive as well, and would be my most likely winner.

At given odds, even with the risk of the recent fall attached, Battleoverdoyen is clearly one who’s much bigger than he should be.

Selection:
10pts win – Battleoverdoyen @ 14.5/1 MB

……..

2.50 Coral Cup, 2m 5f

In a tricky affair where in-running luck will play a role Protektorat stands out to me. His style of running, and the fact he can b a quirky sort, adds to the risk of needing things to fall right. On the other hand he ticks a lot of boxes which outweigh the risk given the price.

The five-year-old is an improving individual, having ran well here at Cheltenham already, will enjoy the ground and will stay the trip. He ran with plenty of credit finishing third under a penalty when last seen here, following from a Listed victory at this venue, if not for a demotion post race.

A mark of 144 gives him a really nice weight in this contest where few make appeal on that front. French bred with speed – and Protektorat has shown to have a bit of speed as well as staying ability – tend to do well in this race.

Selection:
10pts win – Protektorat @ 16.5/1 MB

………..

3.30 Champion Chase, 2m

With absence of Altior this race is wide open, despite two seemingly clear horses leading the market. There is little in the betting between Defi Du Seuil and Chacun Pour Soi, even though personally the potential improvement that can still come from Willie Mullins’s charge would sway me to believe he is the one to beat today.

Nonetheless this race is wide open for the fact that both these star names have actually never ran to speed figures that are mind blowing. Not yet at least. That is in contrast to Altior or other top class Champion Chasers of the past. Defi Du Seuil and Chacun Pour Soi may still be the best of the rest today and for that reason land a Champion Chase, but I firmly believe they are not as much clear of the other four runners.

The two I think have a chance to get much closer than there odds suggest are the runner-up and third of the 2019 Champion Chase.

Look back at the reply of what as hugely exciting race, that produced strong ratings and see how both Politologue and Sceau Royal had the almighty Altior off the bridle and hard working two from home. In fact Sceau Royal traveled much the best!

This was a career best performance for both horses. However, they have proven in the past – at leas on ratings – to be on par with the two market principles. Both are proven in Championship races.

Sceau Royal was beaten by DDS this season, however that was on his seasonal reappearance. In his next two starts he has shown himself in good nick, including a fine second behind Altior in the Game Spirit Chase. He’s likely to run his race today, and if he does run to form then he’s a much better chance than 25/1.

Politologue has already been beaten twice by DDS this season. He was a close enough runner-up on his comeback run but bitterly disappointing in the Tingle Creek. That wasn’t his true showing.

He will need to bounce back and there is risk attached to a 9-year-old with so much racing under his belt already.If he can bounce back he’s in it with a fair shout, having run well at Cheltenham in the past.

Selection:
5pts win – Politologue @ 19/1 MB
5pts win – Sceau Royal @ 26/1 MB

……….

5.30 Champion Bumper, 2m½f

Willie Mullins could have another winner in this one with Appreciate It who is a rock solid favourite in my book. Nonetheless he is a short enough price to look what’s further down the market in what appears otherwise an open race.

Ask A Honey Bee is one that catches the eye with his three bumper wins, particularly as he defied a double-penalty when last seen! I also appreciate the fact the six-year-old has plenty of experience, as beside those 3 NHF races, he also has ample point-to-point experience.

Further to this Ask A Honey Bee clocked a solid topspeed figure on his penultimate run, which can’t be said for many in this field. He is a fine each/way shout.

Selection:
5pts e/w – Ask A Honey Bee @ 44/1 WH

Wednesday Selections: January, 22nd 2020

DSC_1062

1.10 Lingfield: Class 5 Fillies’ Handicap, 7f

Even though she hasn’t been running badly, Chloellie has fallen 5lb below her last winning mark. Granted the majority of her victories came at Kempton, though I don’t see a reason why she shouldn’t perform at Lingfield as well.

The mare had a small break before returning in early January, performing with credit at Southwell. Now back on poly, and down to a 64 handicap mark against her own sex, she is a major player of a decent draw.

As recent as October she matched her current OR with a 64 topspeed rating, having ran to 67 in spring 2019 also.

Selection:
10pts win – Chloellie @ 7.2/1 MB

………..

3.55 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

Roundabout Magic looks vulnerable of his current mark. Surely a contender, but not one who’s desperately well-handicapped.

Warrior’s Valley in contrast drops to a tasty mark while back on polytrack with a good draw over the minimum trip should help see him find back to form.

The five-year-old gelding hasn’t been at his best at Southwell in his last two starts, though before that – particularly his final run in 2019 at Lingfield – were decent efforts.

He’s 2lb lower today than than the aforementioned Lingfield race. That’s six pounds lower than his last winning mark while he ran three times in 2019 to topspeed ratings of 68+, including twice over this course and distance where he also produced his career highest RPR.

Franny Norton on board today is another plus. In a race where the favourite is vulnerable and the rest of the field hardly frightning this appears to be a super opportunity for Warrior’s Valley to find back to the winning ways.

Selection:
10pts win – Warrior’s Valley @ 15/2 WH

Wednesday Selections: January, 1st 2020

DSC_1062

3.40 Southwell: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

Only two that appeal: Zapper Cass has potentially more to offer on this surface and has backed up twice in 2019 that he is capable of running fast enough to win off his now lowered handicap mark. Recent form isn’t on his side, though, and he is short enough in the market.

Warrior’s Valley is fine alternative. He also has shown a few times that he is potentially faster than his current rating suggests, having equaled or exceeded a 67 topspeed rating on three occasions in 2019.

He enjoys the minimum trip on the fibresand having run his best races over this CD in the past. A 67 handicap mark gives him a fair shout as the gelding also seems to hit form after a decent effort at Lingfield when last seen.

The draw could be lower in an ideal world, but I hope he jumps as well as he usually does, gets to the front and draws the field to his tail where he’s then tough to catch once in front.

Selection:
10pts win – Warrior’s Valley @ 6/1 MB

Wednesday Selections: November, 20th 2019

DSC_1062

7.40 Kempton: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 3f

This really isn’t a strong race hence a long-shot can upset the market. Pempie is the one I quite like, even though there are obvious negatives as well.

Those are: you have to trust a combination of second run since a wind OP and off a break see him finding back some form. Also he will need to start much better than when dwelling on his recent Kempton run. That performance over a mile included, since his Salisbury victory in May Pempie has regressed.

On the other hand, the 3-year-old is still lightly raced, has clearly had issues which may have been rectified with the wind OP, he will strip fitter for the comeback run and will respond positively to the first time tongue tie today.

Also the step up in trip looks clearly in his favour, so is the drop of 2lb in his handicap mark, bringing him down to a rating of 69.

When winning at Salisbury in May Pempie won of a 71 handicap mark and also ran to a topspeed rating of 71, suggesting he could be handicapped to go close today. As a full-brother to Sky Eagle, a two times All-Weather winner over 12 furlongs, currently rated 82.

Selection:
10pts win – Pempie @ 19/1 MB

Wednesday Selections: October, 9th 2019

DSC_1062

6.40 Kempton: Conditions Stakes, 6f

Marnie James is clearly the class act in this field and will be hard to beat if he can stretch out to 6 furlongs. He remains unexposed on the All-Weather were he’s one win from one start, but more importantly has proven this season a couple of times his classy speed, particularly compared to what he encounters in this field.

Hi second and third place in big handicaps at York over shorter are tremendous pieces of form as he ran to topspeed ratings of 97 and 99 on those occasions. The latter one over 5.5 furlongs in fact, where he didn’t stop, suggesting another half a furlong may not be that big a deal.

Let’s not forget Marnie James has tried 6 furlongs only three times, the last time in September this year, finishing third in the listed Garrowby Stakes. Not exactly shabby form.

He’ll certainly have superior speed to the rest here if they will dawdle and should this end in a sprint finish.

Selection:
10pts win – Marnie James @ 10/3 WH

…………

8.10 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

This looks a wide open race given the favourite drops to a trip that looks on the sharp side for him. There aren’t too many one can have on the shortlist for this poor contest, but Alba Del Sole features highly on mine, that’s for sure.

The mare isn’t a frequent winner, however is a course and distance winner and has dropped to a really tasty mark. Twelve months ago she was still a 70 rated individual, is now down to 52, though hasn’t ran all that badly this season, actually. Since switching yards this August her last two performances at Wolverhampton were decent enough, particularly her debut run for the Charlie Wallis yard was rather promising.

The fact Alba Del Sole has ran 8 times to topspeed ratings of 53+ is also encouraging in that context, suggesting she may be quite well handicapped now. Add the 7lb of useful apprentice Sean Kirrane who takes the ride – his only one on the card -and you have a competitive chance in this race.

The draw isn’t ideal, which really is the only negative, beside the obvious point that one has to trust the mare still has the appetite for the game.

Selection:
10pts win – Alba Del Sole @ 15/1 MB

Wednesday Selections: September, 18th 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

1.50 Sandown: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

Leo Minor has fallen a long way in his handicap mark since finishing 2nd at Leicester twelve months ago off a 89 mark and running to a 88 topspeed rating that day.

The gelding hasn’t come close ever since but hasn’t ran so badly as the dramatic 22lb drop in OR suggest, in my mind.

The lowered mark and grades he raced in have seen Leo Minor produce a number of fair performances this season, as when last seen of his current 67 rating, a decent runner-up at Bath.

He also ran to a 68 topspeed rating this summer already, backing it up with near similar TS ratings this season a a number of occasions, suggesting he is weighted to win soon of his current handicap mark.

A first time tongue tie is tried today. Possibly that’ll help. Certainly the booking of 3lb top apprentice Cieren Fallon helps. From the plum draw he hopefully can steer Leo Minor to a prominent position grabbing the rail leading to victory this afternoon.

Selection:
10pts win – Leo Minor @ 17/2 MB

Wednesday Selections: August, 21st 2019

DSC_1062

2.50 Bath: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 2f

Champs De Reves may have a bit of work to do on WFA terms against some better fancied three-year-olds in this field, but I feel the younger rivals are hardly anything to be fearful of. So giving a few pounds away to them is probably not a big deal.

Still a maiden, but Champs De Reves has shown a bit of promise on a few occasions, most notably over this course and distance in May when only beaten by a neck of his current handicap mark. He ran to a topspeed rating of 72, a career best, which isn’t too far off his previous best, 68 when 3rd at Salisbury over 10 furlongs last summer.

He followed up with a fair performance over CD, but despised the cut in the ground when last seen at Newbury. He was a non-runner a couple of times to to soft ground. It is obvious judged on his best he needs good to fast ground, which will be provided today at Bath with a mild, sunny day forecast.

I really like the addition of excellent 5lb claiming Megan Nicholls here. It gives Champs De Reves a fair chance to run a big race and certainly be a better chance than the odds suggest.

Selection:
10pts win – Champs De Reves @ 15/1 MB