Tag Archives: Wednesday

Cheltenham Festival 2019 – Wednesday Selections

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1.30: Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, 2m 5f

Will Champ honour his name? He’s certainly got every chance to do so. He’s top rated, 5lb ahead of his nearest rival. Has achieved the highest RPR of anyone in the field so far and comes only marginally second in TS ratings.

The one thing you can question is the merit of his forms, though: they aren’t worth a lot, despite two graded successes this season. On that basis, at given prices, he’s one to oppose.

The Irish talk is all about Battleoverdoyen. He won the Lawlor’s Of Naas in impressive style. He’ll be an amazing chaser next season, you’d reckon. In my eyes, even now, he seems like crying out for a step up in trip and his jumping isn’t really all that efficient over the smaller obstacles either.

The runner-up from Naas, Sams Profile, is an interesting contender. He didn’t quite get the best of runs that day and should have plenty of improvement left.

Nonetheless, the one I quite fancy, despite not having graded form to his name yet, is City Island. Unbeaten over hurdles, he had enough speed to win a 2 miles national Hunt Flat race last season as well as a Leopardstown Maiden Hurdle this season, dispatching smart Dallas Des Pictons easily.

That form looks a strong piece of form judged through the runner-up. Not as impressive form-wise, more so visually, was City Island’s most recent success at Naas- a good preparation for Cheltenham.

The fact he has had the speed to win over shorter than the Ballymore trip, despite clearly having a future over further, already having shown form with cut in the ground and running to a relatively fast TS rating plus the second highest RPR tells me he is still underappreciated in the market, even though he is shortening.

Selection:
10pts win – City Island @ 10/1 Coral

……..

2.50: Grade 3 Coral Cup Hurdle, 2m 4f

I’ve been sitting for a long time over this race, much longer than usual. Ultimately, even though shortlisted, I do not trust big weights Vision Des Flos and William Henry to be good enough to overcome their high marks in this ultra competitive renewal.

Ruby Walsh on favourite Uradel is the likeliest winner in my book. His reappearance last month at Leopardstown was eye-catching and he comes here with a nice weight. But he is a skinny price.

Not a skinny price, but also catching my eye was Tully East. A horse I’ll be forever grateful for as I backed him at big odds when he landed the Close Brothers two years ago.

That was over fences. This is over hurdles. Significantly, Tully East’s hurdle handicap mark is eight pounds lower for this race than his current chasing mark. One can make the argument that he is a better chaser than hurdler. In my book it’s marginal and a rating of 138 by the British handicapper gives him a tremendous chance in this race.

As mentioned, Tully East caught the eye on his latest run, which was a second after a 148-day break. He was well beaten in the end, but was buried in the pack for the majority of the race, travelled nicely, made a bit of stylish headway turning for home, when short of room, which eventually ended his race.

Trip and ground are a non-issue. He’s been here before, done it – I’m sure connections had this in mind all season long. He’s a much bigger price than I would have anticipated.

Selection:
10pts win – Tully East @ 22/1 MB

…….

3.30: Grade 1 Champion Chase, 2 miles

Altior isn’t to beat, so much is for sure. He’s the class act of the festival and baring a disaster he’ll win another Champion Chase.

It’ll be all about the places behind him. Obviously Min has the strongest claims. He’s got the form in the book this season with his latest Leopardstown success. On ratings he’s closely matched with Politologue. A mere pound separates them.

When these two met the last time, albeit at Aintree over 2m 4f, there was only a neck between them as well – Politologue got the better that day.

As I am eyeing the place market here, I struggle to make even a remotely good cases for anyone else in this field, so both Min and Politologue should have excellent chances to fill second and third.

In saying that, I feel Politologue is overpriced in the place market. Yes, it’s not all that long ago he was a leading fancy for the King George, but truth is also his form over 2 miles is quite good as well, particularly with cut in the ground.

Whether Cheltenham is his track is another matter. The jury is still out for me. Fact his, finishing a tired 4th last year in this very race may not quite be a fair measuring stick given he was hampered by a faller four out and found himself suddenly in front – way too early.

I’m sure Politologue will be conservatively ridden for a place this time. Given he’ll find perfect conditions tomorrow I feel he’s worth a bet to fill second or third behind the almighty Altior.

Selection:
10pts place – Politologue @ 7/2 MB

…….

4.50: Grade 3 Fred Winter Hurdle, 2 miles

Th French grey Coko Beach has shaped much better in his two Irish starts for Gordon Elliott than the bare form suggests. Steadily ran races on good ground is highly unlikely to bring the best out of him – he is related to to horses that all showed their best on soft.

Coko Beach will make a nice chaser over further in the future. But he jumps his hurdles nicely and an opening mark of 134 could underestimate him, given he should improve dramatically from the Leopardstown runs.

On the positive side, he already has won a Hurdle in France on soft ground, albeit over slightly further, dispatching a next time out winner easily with Arverne who, on his UK debut, was pitched right into Grade 1 company.

Selection: 
10pts win – Coko Beach @ 15/1 MB

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Wednesday Selections: February, 27th 2019

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7.30 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 3f

Monsieur Fox is still a maiden, but the gelding has outran in half of his lifetime starts his SP, and therefore market expectation, quite considerably. He did so in January running to a career best 3rd place finish here at Kempton as well as a 44/1 BSP chance.

Consistency is the question: can he back up the latest performance? Monsieur Fox didn’t only outran his price tag but also the track bias that day, as the 10f trip at Kempton heavily favours the speed horses. He, though, was held up and turned widest home, finishing strongly eventually.

That form looks strong with the runner-up winning subsequently a race that has also worked out well already.

This will only be his 4th All-Weather start, he also remains on the same 55 handicap mark, with a better draw and a trip over a fairer course and distance, with champion jockey Luke Morris in the saddle, there is a good chance for a repeat performance which could be enough to see Monsieur Fox go close.

Selection:
10pts win – Monsieur Fox @ 14/1 MB

Wednesday Selections: January, 30th 2019

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7.45 Wolverhampton: Class 7 Handicap, 8.5 furlongs

As my rotten run continues I don’t have high hopes to change that today. How can you when backing a 50/1 shot?! I’ve been incredibly keen on Blue Harmony the last time she ran at Kempton, though – before finishing a 27 lengths beaten eleventh.

As a consequence the handicapper has dropped her another 5lb. down to 48 now and the filly will contest in the lowest grade for a first time. There is a plot thickening here and it could well be the case Blue Harmony is “gone”.

Nonetheless, for this time, pretty much all I liked about her chance the other day applies today also – with the added benefit of a lower grade and lower mark! So let’s pull out the arguments from the 5th of January again:

“I’m excited as heck because I feel Blue Harmony could be supremely well handicapped in this race!

The equation is a simple one: the filly has been dropped dramatically in her handicap mark, mainly on the basis of a string of poor showings which – in my view – came on the back of marks too high as a result of her maiden win and a couple of subsequent decent handicap efforts. It took a while to get the weight down.

But now, third start for a new yard after a bit of a break, she drops to a more realistic distance plus got another few pounds off thanks her most recent 7th place finish at Wolverhampton.

Looking back at that race, for the first time of a rather realistic mark, but probably a trip still too far, things didn’t go to plan early on when the inexperienced apprentice jockey removed the hood way too late, the filly bumped into a couple of horses and was lit up.

She dropped over the next furlongs back in the field, finding herself turning wider than ideal for home and when attempting to make a run, she lost her footing, stumbling, losing all momentum.

She still managed to finish 7th in quite a hot contest – the form has worked out rather well for that type of low grade race.

Now down to a mark of 53, one has to remember Blue Harmony has been running to a TS 69 rating in the past and to RPR’s over 53 on on six out of nine occasions on the All-Weather.

Even more significantly she gets the assistance of competent 5lb claimer Megan Nicholls and has the additional aid of a good draw. The price on offer is way over the top I feel given how well this filly could be handicapped.”

So, the same 5lb claiming apprentice is on board, but the handicap mark is 5lb lower and the race an easier one. I feel I rarely had a better 50/1 shot.

Selection:
10pts win – Blue Harmoney @ 50/1 MB

 

Wednesday Selections: January, 23rd 2019

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7.45 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 4f

Still a maiden after 18 starts, but Caracas has shown a bit of life here and there, both on turf and the All-Weather. He drops in trip, a somewhat unfamiliar one, as only twice did he contest the 12f distance.

Form wise his 5th from last March over 2 miles at Chelmsford rates a pretty strong piece of form. He came agonizingly close a few months later at Nottingham when only a head beaten. Consistency, though, isn’t Caracas’s game.

Second up after a break today in a poor race, he has a highly successful 3lb claiming apprentice in the saddle – Joshua Bryan comes here for this one ride only today, which looks significant.

Of a mark of 52 Caracas looks rather well handicapped if he can put his best foot forward over this trip that on pedigree should suit.

Selection:
10pts win – Caracas @ 21/1 MB

Wednesday Selections: January 16th 2019

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6.00 Kempton: Class 5 Handicap, 6 furlongs

Another chance for Miracle Works after his recent third place finish at Newcastle over 5f. I was keen on him that day and that hasn’t change ever since, as he is stepping up to 6f again today.

The minimum trip was a bit too sharp as it turned out, nonetheless this imposing grey ran a fine race in a competitive race, finishing strongly to claim third.

Even though he continues to be a maiden, this is only his fourth Handicap start and the fact remains his handicap debut last year over course and distance off 2lb higher rates super form in this field.

Now the third time running after a break as well, after a pipe opener and the recent excellent performance, up to what appears to be his optimum trip off a mark he could still better – Miracle Works has a fine opportunity to get finally off the mark today.

Selection:
10pts win – Miracle Works @ 8/1 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

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

……..

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

……..

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