Punchestown Friday and a quick look at Saturday

Good news with the 14/1 e/w on Footpad in the Champion Stayers’ Hurdle and Great Field looked his best yet in his first Grade 1. As I said yesterday, this is one to look out for next season. Let’s start with a few selections at Punchestown tomorrow.

5.30 2m Betdaq Punchestown Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+)

Labaik*** is a stand out 16/1 to redeem himself after refusing to race initially and then coming in last of seven on Tuesday. This is an altogether bigger challenge but this one has so much nascent talent that he could just come good again in this one and the price cannot be ignored. The odds permit another selection so I’ll go with Cheltenham selection Petit Mouchoir** (100/30) in what should be a more suitable race. I’m also wary of Brain Power (13/2) who could be well suited by course and ground.

6.05 2m4f Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+)

Although I am a big fan of Bacardys (10/1 with Paddy Power), who was seriously inconvenienced at Cheltenham, I can’t look past Finians Oscar*** at an appealing 13/8 to maintain the Potts/Power juggernaut.

The 6.40 Hunters’ Chase provides a chance for On The Fringe to redeem himself but I can’t have the 9/4 currently on offer.

Saturday

At Sandown’s finale meeting I’m looking forward to watching Altior***** graduate from the novices with another scintillating performance. 1/3 is normally way too short for me but I’m tempted. I can’t understand why Menorah is as short as 5/2 in the Oaksey Chase and prefer Ballybolley* at 7/1. The bet365 Gold Cup is a substandard renewal and I don’t have a strong view. I think that one of my avoided horses The New One* probably has the beating of the Select Hurdle field but I stopped betting on him a while ago.

Over at Punchestown the entries for the cross country still include Cantlow (beaten favourite today over 4m 1f) and, of the more likely runners, I’m happy to take another chance with Auvergnat*, possibly the most mispronounced horse of the season!

Apple’s Jade**** is excellent value at 10/11 in the Mares’ Champion Hurdle, particularly in the absence of Let’s Dance (who runs tomorrow).

That brings us back to what was Quatre Heures‘ race (mentioned at the beginning of the week’s previews) and I’m going to hazard another go with Meri Devie* (3/1) who was talked up in all the Cheltenham early previews and looks like she may profit from a decent break since coming fourth behind Mega Fortune, Bapaume and Dinaria des Obeaux at Leopardstown in February.

As always, good luck. It’s Auteuil next for the Grand Steep weekend on 20 and 21 May.

 

 

Punchestown Thursday

Some excellent racing today and none better than the Punchestown Gold Cup. It was great to see Coneygree back to something near his best and let’s hope he has a full campaign next year. I really thought that Djakadam would collar Sizing John but that ever so slight mistake at the last undoubtedly accounted for his short head defeat by Sizing John who really didn’t look like the winner three out so due credit. My most pleasing result was to have selected Battleford and C’est Jersey, albeit in the wrong order, but a nice each way on the latter nonetheless. I’m glad I got it right in the head to head between Penhill and Presenting Percy but 14/1 Champagne Classic did for that one. I wish I’d mentioned Cheltenham selection Fayonagh for the bumper but no after timing here! On to Thursday!

The 3.40 is a 25 runner lottery and best avoided. Next at 4.15 is the “pigsback.com Nick Coen Memorial Handicap Chase”. Of course I checked the website and it turns out to be one of those discounts websites (whither Groupon?). At 4.50 we have the banks classic La Touche Cup over 4m 1f:

The four-mile two-furlong La Touche Cup at Punchestown makes the cross-country race at the Cheltenham Festival look as unchallenging as the flatter parts of Norfolk. There are banks and stone walls and fences and all sorts to be confronted as the horses criss-cross and track back all over the course.

Regular readers will know that I’m not a fan of Cantlow so the current 4/6 has no appeal. The Punchestown Festival is a quirky event as demonstrated by the declaration in this race of Trio Eile who ran just two days ago, was second in the 3m Sean Breen Memorial and now has a different jockey. If pushed I’d go for Love Rory each way at 6/1 but with no great confidence.

5.30 3m Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+)

Now this is a race to savour with loads of angles. Nichols Canyon is the obvious choice to follow top but he’s not that consistent. Lil Rockerfeller** (13/2) (a superb 3/4l second to Nichols Canyon in the Stayers’ Hurdle) is hard as nails and this course should suit better. I see Sutton Place as the biggest threat, having swerved Cheltenham and Aintree, but he needs to prove that he can cope with both distance and ground. The other obvious candidate is Unowhatimeanharry but has the bubble burst? Finally, regular readers will know that I will have to have a little each way interest in Footpad* (16/1), who was fourth in the Champion Hurdle when I would have preferred to see him in the Stayers’.

6.40 2m Ryanair Novice Steeplechase (Grade 1) (5yo+)

By far his biggest challenge yet but front running Great Field**** (11/10) has shown his speed and ability and should easily see off this lot in a substandard Grade 1. However, my goodness he can clout one but is yet to fall. He has only himself to beat and could turn out to be a star next season.

By the way I’ve had a nearly 9/2 double on Anthony Joshua (rounds 4-6) at 4/1 and Emmanuel Macron (1/7).

Good luck!

Punchestown Wednesday

Djakadam

Well, Jamie Codd won the banks race, Labaik was a naughty boy, Un de Sceaux was beaten fair and square by Fox Norton who has confirmed his credentials as a top speed chaser, Rapid Escape failed to live up to the hype (but I’ll forgive him that over two miles on ground that may not suit) and Disko saved the day in terms of selections if not betting.

On to day two. Just three races to look at today.

4:20 2m 4f Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle (4yo+)

This is one of the lesser races but I have a strong preference (again) for Battleford** (7/4), one with loads of potential although we have to overlook his run in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham. Another of interest, whose Cheltenham run also has to be overlooked (at 100/1 in the Albert Bartlett and now over a better distance), is C’est Jersey* who could well run into a place at 8/1.

4.55 3m Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+)

Penhill*** (11/4) was the most inconvenienced of all with a very wide and interfered with run and last to first win in the Albert Bartlett, with Monalee a highly creditable second in a race in which both were comfortably the best. Penhill must have a hell of an engine to come from where he did and is a confident choice, particularly since he didn’t look overly exerted. Presenting Percy put in a similarly impressive performance in the Pertemps but without the same hindrances. Unlike the previous race today, both have emerged with great credit from Cheltenham and can improve but I’m siding with the Grade 1 winner who, from where he was, shouldn’t have been able to win, yet did.

5.30 3m1f Coral Punchestown Gold Cup (Grade 1) (5yo+)

Just six of them contest this but that makes it nonetheless intriguing. I’ve just watched the Cheltenham Gold Cup again. Champagne West patently didn’t stay and wasn’t in any case good enough. Djakadam** (100/30) was all over the winner when blundering at about three miles at the second last. Sizing John, somewhat bizarrely given his campaign until then, turned out to be the better stayer over 3m 2 1/2f. His only other win over a similar distance was over Empire of Dirt who has singularly failed to deliver. This race is over 3m 120y on good ground (they’re watering tonight because it was drying). It’s perfectly arguable that, even though winning, Sizing John had a less knackering race than Djakadam but I like this profile for the latter:

Travelled well most of way, tracked leaders, challenged after 4 out, narrow advantage when mistake 2 out, soon ridden and headed, kept pressing for held 2nd from last, no extra close home (op 11/4 tchd 10/3, 7/2 in places).

I’m also happy to discount Coneygree, Flemenstar and Outlander, so it’s Djakadam at a course where his recent form is 1212, two of those on good/yielding.

Punchestown Tuesday

I love the Punchestown Festival. I’ve never been but it is where Quatre Heures had his finest moment in 2006 winning the Grade 1 tote.ie Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at 9/2, ridden by Mick Fitzgerald and beating WP’s favourite Mister Hight (9/4) ridden by Ruby Walsh and Jessie Harrington’s Breathing Fire (11/4) ridden by Robbie Power.

To be fair Punchestown comprises a mixed bag with the Grade 1s featuring alongside much lesser fare. We get under way over the banks with the traditional curtain raiser, the excellently named Kildare Hunt Club Fr Sean Breen Memorial Chase (For the Ladies Perpetual Cup). Father Breen, parish priest at the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Ballymore Eustace in County Kildare was known as “The Racing Priest”. He first went to the Cheltenham Festival in 1964 and watched the first of Arkle’s three Gold Cup wins. He was also a regular at the Arc de Triomphe where he would say Mass for the Irish racegoers at a local hotel, as he did for years at Cheltenham. He was a syndicate owner with which he won over £500,000. He wrote a tipping column for the Kildare Post and tipped Grand National winners Hedgehunter and Numbersixvalverde. He was also known for giving out communion at the Galway races, dressed in his vestments. His funeral in 2009 was concelebrated by 37 priests and mourners in attendance included Kieren Fallon, Dermot Weld and Jim Bolger.

This year’s runners do not include any obvious candidates so we’ll move on to the first big one.

4.20 2m Herald Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (5yo+)

So this all revolves around the Supreme Novices’ at Cheltenham. There’s no issue about recovery time because it was 42 days ago. Readers will know that Cheltenham got off to the best possible start for me with long odds winner Labaik**** showing what he can do if he consents to race. I’m happy to accept that caveat which gives us a very appealing 5/2 and, for me, represents excellent value to oppose the favourite Melon (11/10) to repeat the 1-2.

5.30 2m BoyleSports Champion Steeplechase (Grade 1) (5yo+)

Un de Sceaux**** (Evens) at two miles on good to yielding should be absolutely fine in this one. His headstrong but undoubted talent was forcefully confirmed by taking the field apart in the Ryanair and I think that he could have done the same in the Champion Chase. Like Labaik he’s another with a mind of his own but has shown that, on his day, he is virtually unbeatable.

6.05 2m Goffs Land Rover Bumper (4-5yo)

Rapid Escape* (7/4) is highly thought of, with an impressive Point win on his only outing to date at Tinahely in February. He cost a cool £240,000 after that but is taken on trust in his first bumper. Could be a bit green (he’s a chestnut but you know what I mean!).

6.40 3m1f Growise Champion Novice Steeplechase (Grade 1) (5yo+)

If the bumper horse wins, Gigginstown should follow up comfortably here with Disko** (5/4), a horse I have a lot of time for. He’s beaten mightily impressive Our Duke (winner of the Irish Grand National) and was a decent third to Yorkhill in the JLT. Two stars because he is yet to prove himself at this distance.

Good luck!

Punchestown Grade 1 and other big race entries

PunchestownSo Aintree has been and gone for another year, but the top jumps racing is far from over. Punchestown beckons from 25 to 29 April and the Grade 1 and bumper entries (published today) are full of potentially great races. WP effectively swerved Aintree so we have some real stars likely to return with the benefit of a good break. Of course the declarations may not live up to the potential but I think that this year we’ll see some real progression from Cheltenham, particularly from those that have had a decent break. For those of us at work, the Punchestown race times give us a decent chance to get home and enjoy them in the early evening. (Click the race links for the entries.) I’ve also included the other big jumps races to look forward to in the next couple of months, including Auteuil.

Tuesday 25 April

4.20 2m Herald Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (5yo+)

5.30 <strong”>2m BoyleSports Champion Steeplechase (Grade 1) (5yo+)

6.05 <strong”>2m Goffs Land Rover Bumper (4-5yo)

6.40 3m1f Growise Champion Novice Steeplechase (Grade 1) (5yo+)

Wednesday 26 April

4.55 3m Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+)

5.30 3m1f Coral Punchestown Gold Cup (Grade 1) (5yo+)

Thursday 27 April

5.30 3m Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+)

6.40 2m Ryanair Novice Steeplechase (Grade 1) (5yo+)

Friday 28 April

5.30 2m Betdaq Punchestown Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+)

6.05 2m4f Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+)

Saturday 29 April

3.50 2m4f Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Mares Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+)

4.25 2m AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo)

Other notable races:

16 April Fairyhouse

4.15 2m4f Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Steeplechase (Grade 1) (5yo+)

17 April Fairyhouse

5.00 3m5f BoyleSports Irish Grand National Chase (Grade A) (5yo+)

17 April Auteuil

Prix Du Président De La République (Grade 3)

22 April Ayr

3.55 4m (3m7f176y) Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5yo+)

29 April Sandown

3.30 3m5f (3m4f166y) bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5yo+)

21 May Auteuil

Race 6 Prix Ferdinand Dufaure

Race 7 Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris (entries 12 May) (French Gold Cup)

11 June 2017


Race 3 Prix Alain du Breil – Course de Haies d’Été des Quatre Ans (French Triumph Hurdle)


Race 4 Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil (French Champion Hurdle)

Here’s some more information about the iconic Temple of French Jumps Racing.

We are far from done and there’s lots to look forward to!

Aintree 2017 – Saturday

Just about time for quick selections this afternoon.

1.45 3m½f (3m149y) Gaskells Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Class 1) (4yo+)

No Hassle Hoff** (4/1) should win this but I’ll also have a small interest in Rons Dream (45/1).

2.25 2m4f Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo+)

Brio Conti* (9/2) and La Bague Au Roi (22/1).

3.00 2m (1m7f176y) (Mildmay) Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (5yo+)

San Benedeto** (8/1)

3.40 3m1f (3m210y) (Mildmay) Betway Handicap Chase (Listed Race) (Class 1) (5yo+)

Value At Risk* (10/1)

4.20 3m½f (3m149y) Ryanair Stayers Liverpool Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo+)

Supasundae* (6/1)

5.15 4m2½f (4m2f74y) (Grand National) Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1) (7yo+)

Vieux Lion Rouge** (16/1) and Ucello Conti* (25/1)

6.15 2m½f (2m103y) Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle (Conditional Jockeys’ And Amateur Riders’ Race) (Class 2) (4yo+)

So Celebre* (13/2)

Good luck!

Aintree 2017 – Friday

Well it was a middling day overall – a princely £9.40 up. I couldn’t have been more wrong about the first race but order was restored with the forecast delivering nicely in the second. Cue Card would have won handsomely were it not for the impressive performance of Tea for Two, which I would never have called. I’m sorry that Empire of Dirt was found to be lame but, as I said, he couldn’t have been my choice anyway. Buveur d’Air duly delivered. On The Fringe made a serious blunder at The Chair and Parsnip Pete made a mistake in the back straight which cost him any chance in the next. I’m convinced I’m not alone in thinking that Theinval was all over the winner in the Red Rum Chase, only to be nabbed on the line by the heavily supported on the day Double Ws. I’m glad I mentioned Dame Rose for the bumper and she duly obliged at 14/1 (although sadly I wasn’t on).

I have to pay respect to Silviniaco Conti who has run his last race today and served me very well in his illustrious career. It took about half his time for racing people to pronounce his name correctly and some never quite got it. Happy retirement my friend.

Now on to Friday which is, overall, much more difficult.

1.40 2m4f Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Class 1) (4yo+)

I don’t have a strong view about this race because the ones I was interested in when the entries were announced have not turned up. Nicky Henderson could well take this one with Thomas Campbell or Rather Be, both at the head of the market. Although he’s not lived up to initial expectations I still think that course and distance winner Clondaw Kaempfer* has a good race in him and is worth a go with Skybet for a first six each way at 22/1. However this is my least confident selection of the day.

2.20 2m½f (2m103y) Crabbie’s Top Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo+)

We’re back to the Grade 1s although you might not know it from the field. I’m firmly against Moon Racer and equally firmly in favour of River Wylde*** to take this one. People have crabbed the Supreme form, mainly because (unlike me) they thought that Labaik was a freak winner. I disagree and I think that this is an ideal opportunity for him to follow up on his valiant third in that race with a comfortable win here at a shortening 5/2.

2.50 3m1f (3m210y) (Mildmay) Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (5yo+)

Would you take 4/7 about Might Bite who was wildly erratic when just winning the RSA by a nose from Whisper who is 11/4? All week I was going to say yes but I have a nagging feeling that Aintree and, in particular, the run from the second last to the last, might just find him out. Frankly, I think that the horse is a bit mad and the price is just too short. There’s also a good case for avoiding RSA runners who were in the mix at the finish because there is a trend for them not to follow up. However, I can’t have any of the others so I’m going to go for the value and my thought that the course will suit better and side with Whisper** at 11/4 to reverse the result last time out.

3.25 2m4f (2m3f200y) (Mildmay) JLT Melling Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (5yo+)

I may be taking loyalty a bit far but I have a feeling that Uxizandre** (7/1) may have bounced in the Ryanair. If I’m right he can take this over 2m 3 1/2f. Fox Norton gave his all in the Champion Chase, in which God’s Own made mistakes. I see Sub Lieutenant as the biggest threat.

4.05 2m5f (2m5f19y) (Grand National) Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5yo+)

Above all I’m just looking forward to watching this race with a maximum field of 30 taking part in another spectacular event.

There are lots of reasons not to like a number of these runners so we can thankfully whittle down the field a bit. My candidates are third in the Festival Plate Bouvreuil and the excellent Grand Sefton winner As de Mee**, both for Paul Nicholls. I prefer the latter at an appealing 10/1 each way (first 5 at 1/4 the odds with Bet365). I think that Go Conquer is a talking horse and I’m unconvinced that Gold Present will finish his race in the particularly testing Grand National course run in. The Munir/Souede NTD runner Ballykan is another each way interest at 33/1.

4.40 3m½f (3m149y) Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo+)

Initially this looks challenging but it boils down to a three horse race and, ultimately, only one winner, albeit with a live outsider for an each way stab. We can’t have West Approach after he was pulled up in the Stayers’ Hurdle and didn’t seem right. Constantine Bay overcame trouble in running to come fourth in the Albert Bartlett but The Worlds End*** (5/2) is my horse to take out of the race. He fell at the second last and knocked Constantine Bay seriously out of his stride but, having watched the replay four times, I’m convinced that he was going better at the time.

Debece* is the each way selection, currently varying from 10/1 with SkyBet to 16/1 with BoyleSports. He’s had a nice break (35 days) and could go well. Having said that Timeform have him nearly 20lbs behind the leading candidates. Bet365, Coral and Ladbrokes lead the offers with 1/4 the odds first three.

5.15 2m1f (2m209y) Weatherbys Private Bank Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Grade 2) (Class 1) (4-6yo)

Another bumper, but perhaps a better one!

Money doesn’t always talk but Black Op** (7/2jf) cost a cool £210,000 and backed up a point to point win with a taking first bumper win, beating the ludicrously named Claimantakinforgan at Doncaster in February by a little over 2 lengths. They were well ahead of the rest. Having watched the replay, the selection was green and could come on a lot for that race, albeit that the runner up was conceding 7lbs.

I’m not confident enough to take on the Placepot on this card

Grand National

I don’t have a strong view this year but, for what it’s worth, Vieux Lion Rouge** (12/1) is my idea of the winner with Ucello Conti* (20/1) worth an each way bet to equal or improve on his 6th last year (BetVictor 1/4 the odds first six and Paddy Power 1/5 the odds also the first six if, like me, you can’t bet with the former!)

Good luck!

Aintree 2017 – Thursday

Aintree is such a good meeting these days. Of course there is a split of targets between this Festival and Punchestown (25-29 April) and there is also an increasing tendency for some trainers to look at the big meetings at Auteuil in May and June. That said, we have a good selection of Cheltenham runners back for more here and, of course, the stark difference provided by both the Mildmay and Grand National courses means that others have better chances here, as well as providing some with better options, e.g. the Aintree Hurdle over 2m 4f. Add to that the horses that have been saved and are fresh for their opportunities here and we are provided with a feast of top racing.

For me, Thursday is the top racing day of the meeting with no less than four Grade 1s in succession to set us on our way, plus the amateurs over the Grand National course (29 runners this year so a real competitor for the excitement of the National on Saturday), plus a Grade 2 and a Grade 3. What a card! I flagged up the notable entries when they were published last week so it’s particularly interesting to see which ones have stood their ground.

After watering the going is good, good to soft in places on the Mildmay and hurdles courses (going stick 7.0/6.9) and good to soft, good in places on the National course (6.2). Based locally I take the view that it will be be more good than good to soft all over and drying all the way until the National at 5.15 p.m. on Saturday.

1.40 2m4f (2m3f200y) (Mildmay) Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (5yo+)

Last week: Interesting entries: Balko des Flos Cloudy Dream Frodon Politologue Road To Respect

This has to be one of the easiest Grade 1s of the season and the betting is all about Top Notch**** (5/4) and Cloudy Dream (3/1). Top Notch should win this comfortably but I’m less convinced about Cloudy Dream over this distance and ground. He ran beyond my expectations at Cheltenham and may not reproduce the same form. I see Frodon following Top Notch home at £80.95 to a £10 forecast stake. You could also do worse than take a look at the tricast (Top Notch, Frodon and Cloudy Dream) at 18/1.

2.20 2m1f (2m209y) Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo)

Last week: Interesting entries: Defi du Seuil Dinaria des Obeaux Divin Bere

Defi du Seuil**** is by some way the best juvenile hurdler this season and I think that the course will suit. He should win this easily but is not a betting proposition at 1/3. I’m therefore looking at the forecast again, this time with the well-regarded Divin Bere, my selection and a neck second to Flying Tiger (receiving 5lb) in the Fred Winter, at 6/4. It’s 11/1 bar so it’s reasonable to take these two as leading the field home.

2.50 3m1f (3m210y) (Mildmay) Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (5yo+)

Last week: Interesting entries: Bristol de Mai Cue Card Empire of Dirt Outlander Sub Lieutenant

This is the race of the day and there have been rumours swirling round that this is Cue Card‘s *** (15/8) last race. Many people have noted that he fell at the third last in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2016 and followed up by easily winning this and again fell at the third last in the Gold Cup this year so… The difference is that in 2016 he was a potential Gold Cup winner whereas this year he wasn’t. Nonetheless he has repeatedly shown the ability to bounce back and his Aintree form is 1221. I think that he’s the winner. I refuse to give up on Bristol de Mai (6/1) whose previous wins at Haydock (twice) and Sandown suggest that this course will suit him. In a seven runner race 32Red are offering a remarkable 1/3rd the odds first two which is very appealing. The only worry is that the ground may be too fast for him. By the way, I can’t have Empire of Dirt who, for me, is a horse that doesn’t quite come up to scratch and put in a poor effort in the Ryanair.

3.25 2m4f Betway Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo+)

Last week: No confirmed entries yet but favourite is Buveur d’Air (8/15) and 8/1 bar so we know where that one’s likely to go.

The absence of Yanworth and Apples Jade leaves this one as a penalty kick for Buveur d’Air***** (2/5) and 8/1 bar. I’m not interested in any of the opposition, all of whom have good reasons not to win. One to watch.

4.05 2m5f (2m5f19y) (Grand National) Randox Health Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase (Class 2) (6yo+)

Last week: Interesting entries: Balnaslow On The Fringe Pacha du Polder

The market says that this is about On The Fringe** (7/4), Pacha du Poldeur (4/1) and Balnaslow (9/1), 16/1 bar. Notwithstanding that there are 29 runners this race has a tendency to revolve around the favourites with a big emphasis on the best amateur jockeys. 19 of these are 25/1 or more with 12 100/1 or more. When previewing Cheltenham I pointed out that On The Fringe had an easy and very encouraging first time out this season at Leopardstown in February and I’m going to forgive him the reasonable fourth in the Cheltenham Foxhunters’. He thrives here and I have no problem with a good 12yo in this type of race. Balnaslow is good for a place and, this time, Bet365 have the best offer at 1/4 the odds for the first four.

Don’t ignore Bear’s Affair* (25/1 ->16/1), formerly with Nicky Henderson and currently 20/1 for the Ladbrokes Gold Cup (formerly the Hennessy).

4.40 2m (1m7f176y) (Mildmay) Betway Red Rum Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5yo+)

Last week: Interesting entries: Alisier d’Irlande Bun Doran Le Prezien Parsnip Pete (place) Romain de Senaim San Benedeto Theinval Zamdy Man

Theinval*** was my selection for the Grand Annual (at 20/1 -> 9/1 SP) and was a creditable third. He is currently 6/1, having been joined as favourite by Dandridge and remains a confident selection. Perhaps even more interesting here for a place is Parsnip Pete*, an Aintree and place specialist at great odds of 18/1 (first three 1/4 odds) for a place.

5.15 2m 1f Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Grade 2)

Last week: Interesting entries: Cap Soleil Dame Rose Martello Park Petticoat Tails Redhotfillypeppers

This race has, somewhat surprisingly, not delivered the quite exciting field that might have been expected with likely favourite Cap Soleil an absentee. Nonetheless it’s a decent conundrum to finish the day. I’m going to focus attention on those I identified as interesting entries when first published (as shown above). I was uncomplimentary about Dame Rose last time out but 25/1 (in from 50/1) is too big a price. Sweetlittlemystery (7/1) has attracted support in the last 24 hours but is not for me. I identified Petticoat Tails (3/1f) as a candidate when viewing the initial entries but I’ve plumped for Mountain Path* at 14/1. This one is a 4yo having her first outing for Jonjo O’Neill and her second race with Aidan Coleman on board, having beaten Shearling on good to soft at a winning price of 25/1 in January. A tasty price to end the day.

Placepot

  1. 6 Top Notch
  2. 2 Defi du Seuil
  3. 2 Bristol de Mai
  4. 1 Buveur d’Air
  5. 19 On The Fringe, 2 Bear’s Affair
  6. 3 Theinval, 8 Parsnip Pete

Good luck!

Incidentally, I picked up another tip from my shopping at M&S this evening. Domaine de Beauregard Bergerac white: normally £8 per bottle and currently two for £12 with a 25% discount for six. A guaranteed winner!

Ready for Aintree

After an expensive Gold Cup day at Cheltenham, attention now turns to the increasingly prestigious Grand National meeting at Aintree.

The importance of this meeting over all three days should not be underestimated. Thursday features four successive Grade 1s, plus the Foxhunters’, a Grade 2 and a Grade 3. Every single race on Friday is graded (four Grade 1s, one Grade 2 and two Grade 3s including the Topham over the National fences). Saturday is, of course, the biggest racing day of the year for the general public featuring, in my view, the most exciting race of the year, notwithstanding the necessary changes to the course. Take it for what it is: an adapted race which attracts better horses and just as much excitement. The card for the big day is much improved with three Grade 1s and two Grade 3s (including the National itself because it is a handicap).

To get you in the mood here are some great pictures from the best racecourse in the world with, of course, the obligatory Champions music:

It’s too early to make selections but I recommend a visit to Rigbys in Dale Street, Liverpool, next Monday at 7.30 p.m. for the best preview with Paul Ferguson and Dan Kelly:

Cheltenham 2017 Friday selections

A mixed day today with Un de Sceaux delivering in scintillating style and Let’s Dance winning easily in the end, both under superb Ruby Walsh rides. Yorkhill turned out to be a reformed horse and was a very impressive winner of the JLT while Unowhatimeanharry was beaten fair and square. Overall, slightly up for the day.

Now on to the big finale and two big selections! If you want them without reading the rest they are Charli Parcs**** and On The Fringe****. It’s worth mentioning that not one of my selections has been chosen by Pricewise!

Triumph Hurdle

New Choice: Charli Parcs**** 9/1 -> 7/2 (over the last two weeks). I am resolute that I will not give up!

One to watch: Coeur de Lion (33/1 -> unchanged -> unchanged -> unchanged -> 40/1) …remains of interest for a place.

Defi du Seuil is the justified favourite. I started by supporting Charli Parcs**** for the Supreme and Defi du Seuil for this one but, having heard what Nicky Henderson has said throughout and particularly this week, I’m keeping the faith with the former. The last race has to be written off. There’s no doubt that he wasn’t running well before falling but I think that this will be his day, and the first of many top level wins. He’s a confident selection and, although the times were slow today, the ground will be better tomorrow.

I still like Coeur de Lion for a place at a very attractive 40/1. He was second to Defi du Seuil at Cheltenham on good to soft over the same distance last December and, based on that form, the price is too big.


County Hurdle

Two weeks ago: Too early but interested in Ivanovich Gorbatov** at 20/1 ( -> 10/1).

It’s worth bearing in mind that Ivanovich Gorbatov** won last year’s Triumph Hurdle over the same course and distance and in doing so beat Apple’s Jade, Footpad and Let’s Dance. His subsequent form of 2333433, while campaigned at the highest level, makes him a nailed on each way selection.


Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

Two weeks ago: No clear choice at this stage but interested in Augusta Kate** at 10/1 ( -> 17/2 -> 5/1).

Everyone wants Death Duty*** (5/2 -> 2/1) and Wholestone (13/2 -> 6/1) is another popular choice.

Many people’s choice of the week is Death Duty*** and I’m torn between this one and the tough mare Augusta Kate**, who was giving Death Duty a real race when falling last time out. I’m absolutely 50/50 about them and I’ll wait to see what Gordon Elliott says about the favourite on tomorrow morning’s Opening Show on ITV4 before making my final decision.


Gold Cup

Choice: Cue Card*** (7/2 -> 3/1 -> 4/1 -> 9/2)

I’m still hanging on to the hope of Bristol de Mai (25/1 -> 20/1 -> 25/1) running into a place.

I was on the verge of switching to Djakadam while watching this afternoon’s racing. However, with the benefit of a little more reflection I’ve decided to stick with Cue Card***. He comes to this on the back of a season including two spectacular 15 length victories in the Betfair and Ascot Chases and appears to have lost none of his ability and enthusiasm notwithstanding that that this is his 36th outing since his debut in January 2010.

Djakadam has age and an ideal prep on his side and I understand the support for Native River, but it remains to be seen whether his form is good enough and the ground won’t play to his advantage.

I will certainly be having a decent each way bet on Bristol de Mai* at a very appealing 25/1 (with Paddy Power who are offering first four).


 Foxhunters’ Chase

Choice: On The Fringe**** (6/4 -> unchanged -> unchanged -> 7/4)

No reason to change this selection.

I made my mind up about this one after his second to Foxrock at Leopardstown a month ago. He was not exerted with a hands and heels ride from jockey Jamie Codd and it’s his best preparation yet. 12 years old is not too old for a hunter and it’s worth remembering that his form in this race is 311. This is my second big selection of the day and he will be around evens at the off so get on as soon as possible. My bet is placed with relish.


Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle

Two weeks ago: The Storyteller (9/2). If Gordon Elliott is right this one is nailed on.

Battleford** (10/1 -> 7/1) is one to watch for this one.

Unfortunately The Storyteller has not taken his place in this one and would have been my selection. My reserve is Battleford**, another that has progressed well from his bumpers (beaten by a nose by Ballyandy in last year’s Champion Bumper with Bacardys third and second to Bacardys with Ballyandy in the Aintree bumper). He is the class of the field with the right connections (Mullins/Wylie).


Grand Annual

Theinval (16/1 -> 12/1) is just the sort of horse for this one. Under the radar.

By this time I’ll be disappointed if the champagne and dancing have not taken over so I’ll get this bet in early. Rarely out of the places and returning after a break, having won last time out.


Placepot selections

1 – 2 Charli Parcs; 3 Coeur de Lion

2 – 3 Ivanovich Gorbatov

3 – 6 Death Duty

4 – 3 Cue Card; 1 Bristol de Mai

5 – 16 On the Fringe

6 – 22 Battleford


Lucky 15

Charli Parcs

Death Duty

Cue Card

On The Fringe

 

Good luck!!