Martin Malone

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Month: December 2012

Round Up and Leopardstown Friday

Belated greetings to all. Christmas Day is great but it’s only a precursor to excellent racing on Boxing/St Stephens Day. I was on Cue Card for the King George and I’m not put off by him in that unusual ground. All credit to Long Run for a gritty win based on his staying which is all that he’s about (but maybe bottomed out). Darlan was great but he won’t be my selection for the Champion Hurdle and I suspect that he won’t be Nicky Henderson’s either.

Dynaste won his race in a faster time than Long Run and don’t believe those who say that it rained in between: that made the ground easier!

It was difficult to keep up with all the races but all credit to Carruthers for a dominant win at Ffos Las.

Irish Saint did what he should have in the first at Kempton today but there are too many others in the mix to do anything with that. Obviously no bet option there but the 2.38/1 I posted on Twitter for a double on Simonsig and Sprinter Sacre does look like a serious option. My only bet today was on Jezki and, based on that performance, it was a gift. Can’t oppose that one in March and the stand out 8/1 from Ladbrokes must be taken. At half the odds I’d think him a good price.

I’m annoyed that I didn’t notice the 3/1 about Prince de Beauchene at Limerick (hurdle), particularly when the stewards rejected the jockey change to allow Patrick Mullins to ride him. 16/1 across the board is a good price for a few quid ante-post on the National (20/1 with Ladbrokes).

It was interesting to see Guillaume Macaire taking a couple of runners to Wetherby but the win for United Park (wouldn’t have won) was marred by the horrible fall of Little Hercules and the inability of RUK (probably not their fault) to let us know the outcome. I suspect the worst.

So, at last, we move on to what is undoubtedly now the most exciting day of the Christmas jumps. Unlike the last couple of days, all the focus is on Leopardstown and the card is, well, pretty moderate other than the big races. Let’s get the support events out of the way. Zaidpour will win the 1.25 and 5/4 is a big bet. The 1.55 is one to avoid but get all over Back In Focus at 6/4 in the 2.25 – I expected him to be serious odds on.

The Lexus Chase is a take your pick between Sir des Champs and Flemenstar. Putting aside all the media hype about Peter Casey I think that he has a Lexus winner and quite possibly a Gold Cup winner. I have no doubt about him staying and he’s my choice at what could turn out to be a very easy 6/4.

So I finally got round to my selections. Good luck!

Saturday Racing 8 December

I have a streaming cold but I’m off to Aintree tomorrow and looking forward to a few decent races in a mixed bag.

Aintree

The first notable observation is that the going for the National course is heavy (4.0), no surprise after the local deluge over the last few days. The Mildmay course is soft, good to soft in places (5.2) and the hurdle course is soft, heavy in places on bends (4.7). It’s not raining at the moment (which makes a change after about 48 hours of pretty uninterrupted rain). No further rain is expected until 2.00 p.m. tomorrow.

I’m doing this preview without the benefit of looking at any others on the basis that I’ve been put off horses to my cost over the last few weeks so here goes. I’ll check the odds when I’ve finished.

12.00 2m 1f Maiden Hurdle

I make this one between Oscar Magic and Celtic Abbey. Oscar Magic was second in a Class 4 at Lingfield about a month ago on soft over 2m 3f. Overbury (sire of Simon, Ballyfitz and Missed That) gives Celtic Abbey a better profile on his hurdling debut after reasonable Irish bumper form.

12.35 2m 1f Juvenile Hurdle

Probably the most difficult race on the card. A lot of flat transfers but L’Unique ran well in September on very soft at Auteuil and has presumably been purchased for a big yard for a reason.

1.05 3m 1f Chase

Any of these could win. I’ll dismiss (hesitantly) Calgary Bay on the basis of a last poor run on heavy ground. I expect that Quito de la Roque will be favourite but I’ll go with Across the Bay on the basis of the trainer and two good wins on heavy in the last couple of months. He’s well placed for this one.

1.35 2m 4f Handicap Hurdle

I really like Master of the Sea in this one. Just two days since his last outing but I’ve watched his Hereford race and the penalty should be fine. He wasn’t overly exerted.

2.10 Becher Chase 3m 2f

The first thing to note is the heavy ground. Which horses are being aimed for this and which for the National? On that basis I discount Ballabriggs notwithstanding his tendency to run well fresh, but not at this level. West End Rocker won last year on heavy but I’m not sure that he’s the same horse and Hello Bud’s Cross Country performance at Cheltenham tells me he’s just too old. Minella Theatre and Any Currency might place but my choice is Join Together on the basis of the trainer choice and a big assumption that he will take to the Aintree challenge.

2.45 2m 4f Handicap Hurdle

Bear’s Affair is comfortably ahead of the rest of them. Second race back to hurdles (win) and will win.

3.20 Grand Sefton 2m 5f

This is a valuable race and has attracted a decent field (at least at the top end and based on what they have done rather than what they might do). It seems to me that Tranquil Sea is here rather more in hope than expectation. Nacarat was great but I doubt that the front running form is still there. Gansey has foiled many of my mid-winter bets but I’m still not persuaded. I’m forced to go for Little Josh on the basis that he can, notwithstanding his diminutive frame, jump these fences well and he’s had a good break.

Sandown

I’ll just pick out the TV races for this soft ground meeting.

1.55 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase 2m

This is one of my favourite races of the year and nearly always provides a Cheltenham favourite. I can’t imagine that Captain Conan will be beaten but, as seen as Exeter today, heavy odds-on shots don’t always oblige. I think that this one is a safe bet.

2.30 2m 110y Handicap Hurdle

I like Petit Robin off top weight but not with a lot of confidence. I think that he might be just too good for this lot.

3.05 Tingle Creek Chase 2m

This is the NH race of the new season and will no doubt be highly relevant for next March. Sprinter Sacre is the undoubted star of the season and should win but, as I tweeted earlier this week, I think that the difference in price between them is too much. I won’t be surprised if Sanctuaire takes the lead in this race (Ruby’s done this quite a lot recently) and in softish going that may be significant. However, Sprinter Sacre will win.

3.40 London National 3m 5f+

It’s a bit ridiculous that this is called the “London National”. I noticed it was named this a few years ago when I called it the “moderate stamina handicap before Channel 4 go off air and hopefully they’ll fit it in handicap chase”! I’ve included it only to make that comment. If pushed, it’s interesting that Donald McCain has a Southern runner for Trevor Hemmings in the shape of Lively Baron so he’s my choice.

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Summary

So, having made my selections, I’ll now check the betting as it currently stands (could look a bit stupid!)

Aintree

12.00 – Celtic Abbey: 11/2 (about right)

12.35 – L’Unique: 6/5 (disappointing)

1.05 – Across the Bay: 7/2 (OK)

1.35 – Master Of The Sea: 4/1 (OK)

2.10 – Join Together: 6/1jf (OK)

2.45 – Bear’s Affair: 13/5 (great)

3.20 – Little Josh: 11/2 (too short)

Sandown

1.55 – Captain Conan: 8/15 (good value)

2.30 – Petit Robin: 9/1 (excellent value)

3.05 – Sprinter Sacre: 4/9 (massive value)

3.40 – Lively Baron: 11/4 (moderate value)

Good luck!!

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