Great St Wilfred C2 6F Handicap Ripon

Great St Wilfred C2 6F Handicap Ripon August 13th 2016

Weds. 9th August 12noon

 

As cavalry charges go this one is right up with the best. Ripon is a unique track with its undulations (“more than your average BMX course”!) that doesn’t suit every horse, they will split into two groups on either rail with nothing coming up the middle and this prize is much sought after by Northern trainers.

None more so than #FantasticMrFahey but as you can see from his entries below he hasn’t got a Don’t Touch in here this year! Indeed his senior sprinters are running poorly, probably paying for last season’s success with the handicapper slow to relent.

071880                  Alben Star                           14           8                              Richard Fahey                    100        85           100

556153                  Nuno Tristan                      14           4                              Richard Fahey                    94          93           100

70480                    Tatlisu                                   21           6                              Richard Fahey                    94          67           100

6-0680                   George Bowen                 28           4                              Richard Fahey                    93          94           104

09020                    Grandad´s World              14           4                              Richard Fahey                    87          85           93

0-1803                   Khelman                              44           6                              Richard Fahey                    85          77           91

020800                  Patrick                                  21           4                              Richard Fahey                    86          76           86

I would expect Alben Star, Nuno Tristan, Tatlisu and George Bowen all to run in the main event, because they can, with the other three in the Consolation.

Betting Weds. Aug. 9th  11/1 Nuno Tristan (WH), 14/1 Alben Star (General), 20/1 George Bowen (BetFred, WH). 20/1 Tatlisu (General).

ALBEN STAR OR100 The 8yo has been a grand servant for the yard but hasn’t won on Turf for four years! Run twice over C&D finishing 7th and 8th, indeed 5/1F for this race in 2012. Just can’t see him troubling the judge.

GEORGE BOWEN OR93 Previewing the season I wrote Hugely likeable 6F sprinter who went from winning a C3 handicap at Wolverhampton off 85 to running second in the Ayr Silver Cup off 96, winning at Newmarket and the Curragh on the way. The Ayr Gold Cup would seem a logical target and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him tried over further. He appreciates Soft ground and I expect him to land a C2 handicap pot and possibly a Listed race and even Group level towards the end of the season.”

Just hasn’t had his conditions this season, a couple of duff draws, a few traffic issues, but has come down 6lbs in the process. Connections will be praying for a wet Ayr, possibly the Silver Cup and anything else they can get when the rain comes!!

NUNO TRISTAN OR94 Along with Growl he has been a useful addition to the #FantasticMrFahey sprinting squad. Both bought astutely for Dr K at last season’s Horses in Training Sales. As in form as any in the yard, winning at Redcar over 7F, fifth in the 7F C2 International at Ascot and a running on third in the Stewards Cup Consolation at Goodwood back at 6F. First look at Ripon off a career high mark is a big ask and I’m not sure Good to Firm ground brings out the best of him, especially over 6F. I expect Tony Hamilton to choose him.

TATLISU OR94 It will be no surprise to regular readers of this blog that I have been waiting for THIS horse in THIS race! He has run third in this race for the past two years, he’s never run a bad race at Ripon, he is currently three pounds below his last winning mark and this is his time of the year.

TATLISU is a two star** each way ANTE Post selection @ 20/1 (General).

On Thursday lunchtime I will go in again if he gets in, has a single figure draw and especially if Adam MacNamara is on board taking off another 5lbs. Drawn close to Kimberella, Related or both would be a bonus.

 

Stats up to 2015. (Don’t Touch was a freak 3yo 2016 winner)

Winners have been aged four (4), five (3), six (2) and seven.

Winners have carried between 8-7 and 9-6.

Winners have been rated between 80 and 100 with nine between 92 and 100 (including the last nine).

Winners have been priced between 7/2 and 20/1 with eight returned between 7/2 and 16/1.

Three favourites have been successful with a further two placed.

Winners have been drawn between 2 and 17 with nine between 2 and 12.

Five winners have been placed on their previous start with one successful.

Six winners had won a race during the current season.

Nine winners had won a race with a field size of at least 14.

Three winners ran in the Stewards’ Cup and three in the Sky Bet Dash at York.

David O’Meara has trained three of the last five winners while David Nicholls has trained two winners.

#startracking Wednesday June 22nd 3pm

ANTE POST

Still working my way through last weeks Royal Ascot meeting? Should have paid a bit more attention to my own notes, my trackers and had the b*ll*cks to stick with #SuperStoute!

There will be a blog in your inbox as soon as poss with about ten horses that I think are winners waiting to happen on the back of Ascot! However I’m just bursting to put one up, right here, right now! It is already priced up for a race on Saturday July 9th, a date you need to mark in red in your dairy! It is THAT Saturday when there is big racing at York, Newmarket, Ascot et al and there aren’t enough jockeys!!

So I’ve had a serious look at three races already priced up for a fortnight Saturday.

 

YORK 4.15 John Smiths Cup 3yo+ C2 10F 88y Heritage Handicap

The horse is James Fanshawe’s ARTHENUS. He was a fast finishing fourth in the Listed Wolferton handicap at Royal Ascot on his first try at ten furlongs beaten just a length and a half by Sir Isaac Newton. Firm in the going would be a negative but there looks plenty of rain about and on the soft side of good would be ideal. I have no worries about the trip but the draw could be an issue, especially if they stick to that far rail, but as a hold up horse as long as Freddy Tylicki (or George Wood if they decide to use the stables star claimer!) can find a seam it will be fine. Arthenus won over nine furlongs at York last season beating no less than Librisi Breeze, the so close second in the Hunt Cup. He is currently Officially Rated 101 and 24th on the list of runners which would 99.9% ensure he gets in if connections so choose.

Arthenus is a two star** each way Ante Post selection @ 20/1 ¼ 1,2,3,4 with a handful of on-line companies. Big four still to price up, may wait until they do. I intend going in again as soon as Fanshawe gives any indication Arthenus is an intended runner one star* win and if declared, again on the day one star* each way at the best terms available!

 

NEWMARKET 4.35 July Cup G1 6F

My selection for this race will come as absolute no surprise to regular readers of this blog because the more I think about it the more I think that DON’T TOUCH will be ideally suited by Newmarkets stiff 6F. Beaten only the once in an eight race career, and #FantasticMrFahey suggested “he just didn’t like Ireland”, with the Greenlands blip ignored he has been nothing but progressive. As a 3yo he won the Ayr Gold Cup which is an outstanding achievement and his most recent victory beating Danzeno at Salisbury is a serious bit of form. Ben Linfoot in his most recent article on sportinglife.com reviewing Ascot asked Who wants to be a Champion Sprinter?” with the handicapper having “Profitable on 117, Quiet Reflection on 117 and Twilight Son on 117.” Don’t Touch is currently OR114 and with #FantasticMrFahey stating “the July Cup has been the plan all along” and why they missed Ascot I think it is time for Don’t Touch to wear the crown. #FantasticMrFahey has won this race before with Mayson and was third with course specialist Eastern Impact last season and he clearly holds Don’t Touch in much higher esteem.

Don’t Touch is a two star** each way selection @ 14/1 with Betfred 1/5 1,2,3

 

NEWMARKET 5.10 Bunbury Cup C2 7F Heritage Handicap 3yo+

I have had this race in mind all season for HEAVENS GUEST all season as probably his best chance of getting into the winners enclosure! My notes say he is a “Solid, classy handicapper who wants a stiff 7F such as Ascot or Newmarket with Good/Good to Soft ground.” He runs the July course well, 7F is his best trip and it looks quite possible that young Adam MacNamara will keep the ride, making use of his seven pound claim, especially having got so close at York last time. Currently OR104 and tenth on the list of entries, if healthy he runs!! Ridden prominently just off the pace, if he can get his head in front in the last two hundred yards he is a damned difficult horse to pass! Ticks every box and Heavens Guest is a two star** each way Ante Post selection @ 14/1 with PP and Betfred ¼ 1,2,3,4.

 

A £1 each way Trixie (£8) at the prices above could return over £5500!!

#startracking Victoria Cup Ascot Saturday 4.15

Thursday May 5th 5.15pm

You just can’t beat a 29 runner C2 Heritage handicap over Ascot’s straight 7F!! I think I’ve found one that fits the bill but let’s see if I can talk myself out of it over the course of this preview! Need to ask the “Golden Questions”?

GOING? Looks like it is going to be on the quick side of good and as fast as anything they’ll have raced on this year.

TRIP? A straight Seven Furlongs is a fairly specialist trip and I want horses who have proven form at it. Ascot has a stiff finish and would prefer coming down from a mile than up from six!

DRAW? You just can’t worry about it! What you need is PACE nearby to give you a tow into the race.

CLASS? You need form at C2 level to be considered.

IN FORM? A yard having winners is preferred and a jockey you trust is essential.

Is the PRICE right? We’ll cover this later as it’s a crucial part of the jigsaw.

So what do the STATS say? They suggest you are looking for a 4/5yo hold up horse rated OR92-96 carrying 8st 5lbs-8st 13lbs who has won or been placed in a C2 handicap and is returned 8/1-16/1 SP.

Well I’m delighted to say my selection unsurprisingly ticks every damned box and he is Sir Michael Stoute’s GRAND INQUISITOR. He has won on Good to Firm, indeed he beat My Dream Boat, the G3 Gordon Richards winner and now OR117, over Sandown’s stiff 7F at level weights! His form over the trip is 136 and the 6 was first time out this season on ground too soft and given a ride by Ryan Moore that suggested this mark was being looked after! Last season he was 5th over Ascots mile beaten just four lengths by Portage when he was slowly away on softish ground. Sir Michael Stoute has had his best start to a season for yonks and is 11 from 47 on turf with 12 seconds! Ryan Moore goes to Lingfield for Coolmore and the Classic trials so Ted Durcan gets the ride and he’s already had three winners for the yard this season. Grand Inquisitor is drawn in stall 19 and with likely pacesetter Majestic Moon in 25 I am sure there will be plenty of speed on the stands side.

So Ted, it’s don’t miss the break, get into a rhythm then fast and late please!

I make GRAND INQUISITOR a three star*** each way selection, but when do you back him? He is currently a strong 12/1 ¼ 1,2,3,4 but I think Friday teatime or first thing Saturday morning 12/1 will still be available and there will be an extra place available!

Small conspiracy theory – He is owned by Sir Alex Ferguson and Peter Done, brother of Fred Done and guess which only major bookie go 10/1, two points shorter? Got it in one….BETFRED!!

Scottish Grand National 2016

Thursday April 14th 6.30pm

Always an interesting race the Scottish Grand National run over a flat four miles and this year it looks like being on Soft ground. The 2016 version is spiced up by the closeness of the Trainers Championship with Willie Mullins saddling the favourite, Measureofmydreams, as Gigginstown try to add a third National to their Gold Cup this season and Paul Nicholls, in attempting to retain his title, fires just one arrows at the £120,000 target in the shape of Sam Twiston-Davies mount Vicente.

This is a race I’m quite happy to take on the top weights (11stone and above) as well as opposing the novices (7yo and less). Something in form, goes on the Soft and has a chance of seeing out the four miles is what I’m after. I’ve whittled it down to four, three win only and an each way selection.

Royale Knight             one star win* @ 14/1 general

Dr Richard Newland was unlucky to have Pineau du Re and Royale Knight both balloted out of the Grand National but they get their chance at a big pot here in Scotland just a week later. The latter interests me most as the trip and ground are ideal, he has been well supported in the past fortnight and my only concern is whether he is classy enough.

Heathfield                        one star win* @ 14/1 general

Tony Martin knows all about getting one ready for the big stage and Heathfield hacked up over hurdles just a fortnight ago and he ticks all the required boxes and carries just 10st 7lbs.

Shotgun Paddy             one star win* @ 25/1 general

I backed him in the Welsh National and I backed him in the Eider and he placed in both races. I can’t just let Shotgun Paddy go unsupported here.

Masters Hill                                two star** each way @ 40/1 @ Coral (¼ 1,2,3,4)

However my main selection is trained by the all-conquering Colin Tizzard whose yard is in fine form and he has booked one of the best judges of pace in the weighing room, James Reveley, for Masters Hill. Perhaps this horse has too often been the bridesmaid but I think that with the trip, ground and a solid recent third to Shotovodka all good that Masters Hill might this time make it to the altar!

#startracking AntePost RSA Chase

Wednesday February 10th 6.30pm

The 3m RSA Novices Chase, the second race on Wednesday is a race that some trainers are wary of because it can really bottom out a young horse but it didn’t stop the likes of Bobs Worth and Lord Windemere going on to win Gold Cups! I had in my mind that Grade 1 Drinmore winner No More Heroes was a good thing, a Final Furlong Podcast fuelled opinion and today was the first time I had a good look at the race.

Plenty of quality young staying chasers quoted but five, possibly six, make the shortlist.

The fifth, possibly sixth, are the Mullins pair Roi des Francs and Pont Alexandre who were first and second in the G2 3m Navan novice chase. The market suggests through Paddy Power that Roi des Francs will run here and not the NH 4m chase despite being in the same ownership as No More Heroes but despite being beaten Willie Mullins has plenty of faith in Pont Alexandre and that was just his second run after 998 days off. The trip was too short and the ground was a “gluepot” in the G1 Flogas and if he lines up in the RSA on Spring ground with Ruby Walsh on board I think he is a serious player.

There is not a lot of Blaklion but he’s all guts and tenacity. He’s a course and distance winner and has won at Grade 2 level but could just come up short in a Championship race but it won’t be for not trying! He was beaten at Cheltenham in the 2m 5f Dipper by Seeyouatmidnight whose 6th in last year’s World Hurdle reads well. He was a real small stable springer last year and outside of the top two he has the best credentials.

The favourite at a general 5/2 is No More Heroes who should have won the Alfred Bartlett Novice Hurdle last March but Bryan Cooper went for a gap after the last that didn’t exist up the Cheltenham hill! This season No More Heroes is unbeaten in three novice chases of which the last two have been at Grade 1 level but how strong is the form. Not one horse No More Heroes has beaten this season has gone on to win another race! Those two wins were on heavy, winter ground He needs some cut and the rain had got into Cheltenham by the Friday of last year and despite it all in his favour he still didn’t win a pretty poor “potato race”. It may have been jockey error but it’s likely it will be Bryan Cooper in the saddle again this year!

At the beginning of last season I backed MORE OF THAT to win the Gold Cup after his impressive beating of Annie Power in the 2014 World Hurdle, the world was his lobster (D.Trotter). However his first and only run of last season was a well beaten 3rd in the Long Distance hurdle at Newbury behind Cole Harden when he looked a shadow of his real self and he was off for almost a year but he has returned this season unbeaten in two novice chases including at Cheltenham. Indeed that 3rd at Newbury is his only defeat in an eight race career and includes four wins at Cheltenham, we know he acts on better ground, we know he gets the trip, we know he comes up that hill and in light of my concerns with the opposition and all the boxes he ticks MORE OF THAT is a four star**** selection @ 9/2 with William Hill and Ladbrokes. He is due to run this weekend probably Kempton on Friday or Newbury on Saturday and a decent winning display could easily see that price contract further.

#startrackingAntePost Update February 9th

#startracking Ante Post Cheltenham Fri. Feb. 5th

Leopardstown 3.40    ROAD TO RICHES A major player in Noel Meade’s absent army? I wroteMultiple grade 1 winner but I’m not sure he gets a yard over three miles. As a 9yo if he’s ready to go you would have to imagine 2016 would be his last real go at a Festival big one.” I can’t recommend him at odds on although he would seem the most likely winner. The recent vibes have been very positive from the struggling Meade camp and just in case he does something special we will put him up as a one star* each way Ante Post selection for the Cheltenham Gold Cup @ 12/1 general NRNB ¼ odds 1,2,3.

#startracking Ante Post Cheltenham Sat. Feb. 6th

I feel I need to add another two horses to our Cheltenham Festival Ante Post portfolio.

SCEAU ROYAL You al know how much I admire Alan Kings slick jumping juvenile and having receivede the Pricewise stamp of approval midweek he is a one star selection for the Triumph Hurdle at 12/1 general. If Ivanovich Gorbatov happened to have a bad day at Leopardstown this price could tumble!

I wanted to put up Onenightinvienna for the 4mNH chase but connections have decided a 7yo novice is going to win the Grand National and he’s not even entered at Cheltenham!! So it will have to be the next best thing!

LOCAL SHOW Ben Pauling is an exciting young trainer who having studied under Mr Henderson should know what it takes to get a Festival winner and this horse jumped beautifully when just holding off Onenightinvienna at Kempton over 3m. Here’s what the trainer had to say about the 8yo son of Oscar, “I am very pleased with this lad and he went up 13lb for winning at Newbury. His jumping has improved dramatically and we will look at a novice chase at the end of the month and then possibly the four miler at Cheltenham.”

Three points about the 2016 4m NH chase. Firstly we want to take on favourite Black Hercules who has been beaten in the Bumper and the Alfred Bartlett at the past two Festivals. Secondly Ratings. As the wonderful Mike Gault points out18 from last 24 win and place rated between 127 and 139.  But not the last four winners at 146, 150, 146 and 151 respectively.” Local Show is OR147ch. Thirdly Age. Again Mike Gault tells us “ Tricky Trickster 2009 the first 6 yr old to win since ‘there’s only one’ Boraceva in ’89.  13 from last 16 aged 7 or 8.“ That raise doubts over leading fancies Native River and Southfield River.

Local Show is a one star* win selection for the 4mNH chase.

 

Betfair Hurdle Newbury Sat. Feb. 13th                                                                                              

STERNRUBIN                   2 stars** each way @ 16/1 (1/4 odds 1,2,3,4)    

Current Price   10/1 general

ZARIB                 1 star* each way @ 20/1 (1/4 odds 1,2,3,4)                                

Current Price  20/1 general

MODUS                              1 star* win @ 8/1                                                                                      Current Price    6/1 general

 

Cheltenham Tuesday 15th March 4.40 4m NH chase

LOCAL SHOW                 1 star* win @ 16/1                                                                                        Current Price 16/1 WH + Skybet only

 

Cheltenham Friday 18th March 1.30 Triumph Hurdle

SCEAU ROYAL             1 star* win @ 16/1                                                                                          Current Price 8/1 Coral+WH

 

Cheltenham Friday 18th March 3.20 Gold Cup

VAUTOUR                         3 star*** win @ 10/1                                                                 

Current Price  9/2 PP

 

Cheltenham Friday 18th March 3.20 Gold Cup

ROAD TO RICHES       1 star* each way @ 12/1 (1/4 odds 1,2,3 NRNB)                                     Current Price 16/1 general

 

Aintree Grand National Sat. April 9th

DON POLI                          2 star** win @ 25/1                                                                                 Current Price 25/1 general

#startracking antepost SkyBet Ch Betfair H

Thursday Jan. 21st 12noon

The weights are out for the SkyBet Chase at Doncaster on Sat. Jan. 30th and the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Sat. Jan. 6th and are just too tempting to resist!!

 

SkyBet Handicap Chase Doncaster  Sat. Jan. 30th

You know my modus operandi by now. I am looking for an in-form improver who has had the race on his agenda for a while. Course form helps and Doncaster’s flat 3m is probably more about speed than stamina and probably suits a second season chaser. I think Charlie Longsdon’s COOLOGUE fits the bill.

COOLOGUE was a creditable second to Southfield Royale over course and distance last time out after which his trainer wrote on his website NO WINNER, BUT A FINE 2ND BY COOLOGUE. We could not get a winner on another important Saturday, but Coologue ran his heart out to be second in the Grade 2 Novice Chase at Doncaster. It was the first time he had stepped up to 3 miles and he jumped like an old pro and was still just leading at the second last where he just drifted left into the upright of the fence while jumping, knocking him sideways and also losing his rhythm. To be honest it looked at that stage he would have been second anyway, but it would have been far closer without the mistake. He will now have a small break and I can see him heading back to Doncaster at the end of January for the Skybet chase…….”

COOLOGUE has an official rating of 139 and if either of the current topweight’s, Sam Winner or Ballynagour, stood their ground he would carry just 10st 5lbs.

He is a one star* each way selection @ 20/1 with Paddy Power. We’ll top up the win side nearer to race time if necessary.

 

Betfair Handicap Hurdle Newbury Sat. Feb. 6th

Love this race!

Prior to last year’s contest the Sponsors through Simon Rowlands (Timeform) gave us the following information.

As with many jumps handicaps, younger has tended to be better.

Last-time winners have performed well. Eight of the last 10 winners have been five-year-olds or six-year-olds.

There is also no clear effect regarding absences, but that in itself may be regarded as useful information. Horses returning from absences of more than 60 days have won four of the last 10 Betfair Hurdles from just 22.7% of the total representation while being almost bang on par in terms of % Rivals Beaten. Recent form is not the positive it might be imagined to be. 

Of the 19 jockeys with more than 12 rides in all handicap hurdles at Newbury since 2009, four stand out in terms of % Rivals Beaten. These are: Tom Scudamore (30 rides, 61.6% Rivals Beaten); Ruby Walsh (15, 57.5%); Aidan Coleman (27, 57.2%); and Richard Johnson (44, 57.0%). Meanwhile, Paddy Brennan (25, 44.6%), Brendan Powell (14, 41.7%) and Daryl Jacob (16, 36.2%) have fared worst by that measure.  “Horses for Courses” is a well-known dictum, but a jockey’s ability to understand how to ride a given course – including when and where to make a move – may still be underrated. 

 

My first observation is that I’ll be amazed if more than a couple come over from Ireland as they are dreadfully handicapped. Take our favourite #startrackingAntepost horse, De Name Escapes Me, he had 134 in the Coral.ie hurdle at Leopardstown last Sunday but he has 143 in this race!! Wouldn’t be surprised if Desoto County came for Gordon Elliott and the Rooneys but he’s up 17lb since being well beaten in a C2 hurdle at Newcastle for Donald McCain less than twelve months ago. Not with stolen money!

Age and form seem to be the key and looking at this race three weeks out I have a short list of seven.

You have to start with the blatantly obvious in MODUS. He looks a plot and a blot!! Second to Moon Racer in the Cheltenham bumper, third to Bellshill in the Punchestown bumper is classy Championship form. He’s won two C3 novice hurdles including over course and distance and most recently was third over 3F further on ground he would have hated. He is good in big fields, helping him settle, and as a son of Authorised he has gears! He beat Charmix a neck and is 6lbs better off!! Owned by JP McManus, assured of a racing weight he can’t go unbacked. So Modus is a one star* win selection at the general 8/1 and we will build a portfolio against that.

IVAN GROZNY This is one Irish horse that Mullins may send over. He was a classy 4yo winning a Fairyhouse Grade 3 race but was then off the course for close to two years before running well for a long way in the Coral.ie hurdle on Sunday off OR145. He gets the same mark here and could well pick up a big pot this season but I’m ducking him for two reasons. Firstly he could ‘bounce’ on his second run back and Willie Mullins has adreadful record at Newbury, 0-17 in the last five seasons and 0-6 over hurdles. (Top price 50/1 with PP suggesting he won’t run!)

NABUCCO A classy beast for John Gosden on the Flat, rated OR109 at best, he has won three of his five goes at hurdling including a Listed race at Ascot. His jumping mark of OR136 is competitive and could he be the horse to win a big handicap for John Ferguson and the Godolphin/Bloomfields experiment? Two concerns, firstly put firmly in his place when playing with the big boys in the Great wood hurdle and only a pound less and secondly I always thought he kept a bit for himself on the Flat. (Top price 33/1 with Ladbrokes and Coral, that has a ring to it?)

ZARIB At the start of the season I had Dan Skelton’s classy youngster down as a major player in the 2m handicap division but he was really disappointing in the Elite at Wincanton behind Irving when he had loads in his favour. The only other time we’ve seen him this season was in the Ladbroke at Ascot before Christmas when he was a nearest-at-the-finish 6th. So he stays on OR134 and should sneak in with a low weight and his regular pilot, brother Harry, can get down to 10st. Zarib is a one star each way selection at 20/1 general.

SIGN OF A VICTORY In days gone by my first port of call for this race would have been Seven Barrows and the Nicky Henderson entries. Peace and Co has been given top weight and although he may settle better at the guaranteed fierce pace I think the horse is mentally brittle and I can’t have a 4yo giving weight to the whole field! However Sign of a Victory also has a Champion Hurdle entry and if he won this off OR153 he would be worth his place at Cheltenham. He has had an unusual prep in finishing fourth to Nabucco, then winning a maiden on the Tapeta at Wolverhampton and then last of five to Faugheen in the Christmas Hurdle, going well to two out, then eased off when beaten. If he runs he will probably have top weight but he could simply be the best horse in the race. (Currently best price 33/1 with PP and Coral)

WAR SOUND On only his fifth run over hurdles he won the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock under claimer Cairan Gethings off OR140 last May but we haven’t seen him since. In his Racing Post Stable Tour back in October said “Unfortunately he’s got a bit of an issue with the bone above his fetlock joint” whilst adding “he won’t be running until January, so the Betfair Hurdle might be a suitable target.” He gets in here off OR148 and has been the subject of strong early market support from 20/1 to 10/1 general.

STERNRUBIN The more I look at this race the more I’m drawn to Sternrubin and I’m certainly more positive than the owner Terry Warner who told At The Races “We always thought that he was a nice horse, but if I told you I thought he’d win a Ladbroke at the start of the season I’d be lying. He was a bit of a head-case last season, but has calmed down now and Philip has done a good job with him – it was great to see him battle back at Ascot. The intention is to run at Newbury and then go to Cheltenham, but for what, I’m not sure. He’s still a novice, don’t forget, so the Supreme could be an option if he runs well in the Betfair. He’ll also be in the County Hurdle, but to win two major handicaps is very hard. I think he’ll run well at Newbury as he’s still progressing, but it might be clutching at straws expecting him to win another big one.”

Bought off the Flat from Peter Chapple-Hyam on his first three runs over hurdles they tried to get him to settle by holding him up and he didn’t get home. As soon as they put him in handicaps and let him have his hooded head his form has been 22111 and the only horse to have beaten him is Lil Rockefeller who is now rated OR151 having finished second in the Graded Relkeel hurdle. When Sternrubin won the Gerry Fielden hurdle over course and distance he went 10L clear, they got within 2L at the third last but he pulled away again. Violets Dancer showed last year that is hard to reel in a front runner and it was the Hobbs/Johnson team who got closest with Cheltenian. I must confess to having backed Sternrubin already for the Coral Cup at Cheltenham as I think he will stay that far. If Richard Johnson gets his fractions right, as in the Lanzarote, he could have plenty of these out of their comfort zones and as he has shown previously he’s a hard horse to beat. Sternrubin is the two star** each way selection at 16/1 general.

#startracking antepost Thyestes Ch BET365 Ch

Wednesday Jan. 20th 5.15pm

Thyestes Handicap Chase Gowran Park 3.10 Thurs. Jan. 21st

This is a tough 3m1f handicap chase run on winter ground on a searching right hand course and is targeted by the biggest yards with their high rolling owners so not surprisingly of the eighteen declared runners there are five for Gigginstown, four for Gordon Elliott, four for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh is on Ballycasey for the Ricci’s.

Let’s get one thing straight, there is no Djakadam in this field! Think Grand Nationals not Gold Cups!

As always I’m looking for an improver with a racing weight, in form connections who may have had this race in mind for a while and I have a strong fancy in the shape of Gordon Elliotts MALA BEACH.

I would have put him up earlier but I was still a little nervous after the recent Sizing Gold/ De Name Escapes Me experiences and I didn’t think it would be much shorter than 10’s after the final declarations plus I wanted to see big race jockey Davy Russell in the saddle.

Gordon Elliott said in his most recent Boylesports blog “Mala Beach actually won the Galway hurdle a couple of years ago on this very card. He has a bit of class, won a few Graded races, and he could be the dark horse (Gordon’s words not mine!!) in the Thyestes. I was happy with his performance at Ascot, the ground was a bit quick but he galloped the whole way and we were happy with him.”

So he’s won over 3m, goes on the ground, has run in the best company and could easily have the requisite 10lbs in hand racing off just OR142 and I make MALA BEACH a three star*** win selection @ 8/1 with Betfred or William Hill (7/1 general). Paddy Power may go five places in shop tomorrow for you each way thieves.

This race will have plenty of future winners taking part and I will have an eagle eye on SUNTIEP who has sat in my horse tracker for close on two years ever since he flew up the hill at Cheltenham to finish 3rd in the 2014 4mNH Chase. Not Patrick Mullins finest hour! He only had Midnight Prayer and Shotgun Paddy in front of him come the line but overtook the likes of Foxrock, Shutthefrontdoor, Living Next Door etc. sprinting to the line! Love to know what David Mullins pre-race instructions are? Ruby Walsh had this to say on the race on Racing UK,Ballycasey is also going to run in the Goffs Thyestes Chase, a race in which we have a string hand. I’m on Ballycasey but Danny Mullins is on Boston Bob, David Mullins is on Suntiep and Paul Townend rides Urano. The Thyestes is a stamina-sapping contest in which you have to stay to win, especially on the heavy ground at Gowran at the moment. Ballycasey is working well and has a good record fresh. He has never won over the trip but I think he will stay.”

It may be January but it’s time to be on the “ Beach”!!

 

BET365 Handicap Chase Ascot 3.35 Sat. Jan. 23rd

I think the improver here may actually be towards the top of the weights in ROYAL REGATTA trained by Saturday king Philip Hobbs. I have always liked this horse who was a classy novice hurdler but has taken time to mature and now I think they have finally worked him out. He needs 2m 4f away from Cheltenham, he needs blinkers to help him concentrate and the recent tongue tie seems to have got rid of the “plugged on” comments.

When he won at Doncaster this time last year Hobbs’ wife, Sarah, said: “He’s a nice horse who is going the right way. What he needs is a strong two miles, he doesn’t get two and a half yet but he will do in time. He’s still big and gangly and is still filling out.” Sporting Life My notes said “Jumped really well and Richard Johnson was able to dictate the race.”

I was heartened to see he has a RyanAir Festival entry which suggests connections think he could still improve and on Saturday with Richard Johnson/Tom O’Brien having him racing prominently if not actually from the front I think he will be hard to beat.

As for the bet he is a two star** win selection @ 5/1 with race sponsors Bet365 if you can get it. If not back him as a two star** selection on Saturday morning at best odds guaranteed.

#startrackingAntePost Leopardstown Sunday January 17th

Posted Wednesday 6th January

#startrackers get your coat on and hotfoot in down to Paddy Power ASAP or stay indoors, download their App, open an account De Name Escapes Me is in the Coral.ie Hurdle (used to be the Boylesports) and PP have him at an industry best 14/1!! He is a strong three star*** each way selection.

He was our three star*** bet for Sunday December 27th when I wrote ““If the handicapper puts him up say 10lb at worse he could be interesting in one of the 2m Christmas handicaps..WELL the handicapper has put him up 11lbs but he IS in a Christmas handicap! The jockey who has had the most rides and winners for Noel Meade this season is Ger Fox and he can claim 3lbs. This could be our Christmas Cracker!!but no wonder he has been kept for this 60K euros Grade B event.

In Noel Meade’s ATR Stable Tour on October 8th his trainer said “The first day we ran him he just took a hell of a strong hold and was too free to give himself a chance of getting home. It was two-and-a-half miles that day, so we’ll drop him back to two miles next time and hopefully that will suit him better. I think he’ll appreciate soft ground, maybe not heavy ground, but I do like him and I think he will do well.” After his last win I found this on Twitter “Irishracing.com Live ‏@IrishRacing365  · Nov 28  “Likes soft ground but I think he’s better over 2m. Plenty of boot” Noel Meade.

The Grade A 60K euros 2m 5f Coral.ie Chase on the same day has a great field and one caught my eye instantly. An old friend of 49SimpleSimonSays…MasterList Fine Rightly, he has always looked classy, has kept strong company and I was interested in what his shrewd trainer Stuart Crawford had to say in Dave Keena’s Talking Trainers article on 27th November 2015 “He ran at the weekend and I thought he’d run better than he did but he was very fresh in himself. That run might knock the freshness off him so he’ll go back over fences at Navan in a couple of weeks’ time. I had thought about the Paddy Power, but I’ll aim him instead at the Leopardstown Chase in January. He does stay well but he isn’t a slow horse and I thought two miles and five around Leopardstown might suit him better. I’d still be very hopeful that there is a good race to be won with him.” I love a man with a plan, they tend to line up, trained to the minute and with the right bloke in the saddle! He is a 2 star** win selection at a top price 10/1 (Boylesports, Yippee Barry and SkyBet) We may go in again nearer the race for the each way.

#startracking Ante Post Sunday December 27th

Posted Tuesday 22nd December 11am

GOING FOR GOLD 

Sunday December 27th Chepstow 2.35 Welsh National 3m 6f

The going is currently Heavy (Soft in places) and looking at the forecasts I can’t see it changing too much. So we will need a horse proven in the ground, whose middle name is stamina, has possibly run at the course before and from a yard in form.

I’ve always believed two factors will get you through heavy ground. The first is a natural ability to run on it and the second is class. So the first horse to be considered has to be the classiest one and that is O Faolains Boy. Here’s what the Racing Post reported, “The Gold Cup is certainly in the thoughts of Curtis, although a quick return to action over Christmas is not being ruled out either. “He’s back to his best, hopefully,” said Curtis. “He should come on again for that considering it was his first run back – you can forget Ascot. After the RSA we hoped he’d be a Gold Cup horse so we can go down that route, although I think he’s on a nice mark for the Welsh National. If he happened to be very fresh next week we’d think about that, then there’s the Denman [Chase] back here and he’ll definitely get a National entry – his jumping was very good.” He could run and jump these silly or he could bounce. I think this tough race is too soon and I think the Classic at Warwick or the Denman at Newbury would be a better fit.

Top British trainer of staying chasers is Paul Nicholls although they are just not firing this season. He has two entries, top weight Black Thunder who was running well behind Sausalito Sunrise at Cheltenham when an error two out put paid to his chances and he broke a blood vessel the race before? The other is Benvolio. Off the same mark he was beaten just a short head in this race last year by Emperors Choice when first time blinkers were key, they haven’t had the same effect since. His conqueror that day is 10lb higher and was impressive winning at Haydock on his only start this season and has plenty going for him.

My selection also ran in this race last year and carries 4lb less this time around. Shotgun Paddy ticks a lot of boxes. I backed him in this race last year when he somehow gave them all a start, then clouted the 2nd fence and was never involved (“after the nightmare at Chepstow with him missing the break and then galloping into the second fence” Emma Lavelle) and he carried my money in the 2014 4m NH chase when he was 2nd to Midnight Prayer, another who has to be a player. For Shotgun Paddy the ground, the trip, the trainer, his official rating are all plusses. He’s a clumsy horse but IF he puts in a clear round he must go close.

Ante Post- Shotgun Paddy one star* @ 10/1 (general)

I have every intention of going in again on Shotgun Paddy Sunday morning looking for five places with one star*e/w at top odds.

 

Sunday December 27th Leopardstown 2.55 Paddy Power Chase 3m

Two types of runners here. Firstly, those who have done it before, got the T-shirt and the weight to go with it. These include Gilgamboa, First Lieutenant, Grand Jesture, Living Next Door etc. I would prefer to look at the second group and that is the improvers. Those that have got a racing weight and the possibility they have 10lbs in hand. I am going to put up two who I think could find that improvement but for two very different reasons.

Sizing Gold is an 8yo but with very little mileage on the clock as he was off the course for nineteen months and he showed enough on his recent return when third to Sumos Nuvios and Empire of Dirt at Punchestown. He had classy Graded form before his injury and if the astute Henry de Bromhead can conjure up improvement for the run and the extra two furlongs, off 135 he could be thrown in.

The second selection is Minella Foru trained by Eddie Harty for JP McManus who will no doubt be mob handed but there does seem to have been market interest in this one. The improvement will supposedly come from the 4f step up in trip and does have the profile of a bit of a plot. Currently off 138 he should get a racing weight come Sunday.

Both of these horses have been four points shorter with Paddy Power than the rest of the bookies for the past week and now the market has evened out to PP’s position. I’m taking the hint!

Ante Post- Sizing Gold one star* @ 10/1 (general)      Minella Foru one star* @12/1 (general)

I have every intention of going in again on Sizing Gold Sunday morning looking for five places with one star*e/w at top odds.