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Month: April 2014

Sandown and the Scoop 6

So we arrive at the last proper day of jump racing in Great Britain for quite a while. Thank goodness that Sandown has dropped the mixed card which was neither one thing nor the other so that we have a decent jumps card. I understand that the flat horses found it hard going today but, for the jumpers, the forecast is for good to soft, good in places for the chasers and good to soft for the hurdlers – ideal!

So, on to the races.

2.05 Juvenile Hurdle Class 2 2m 110y
It’s surprising that these are still juveniles but they all have a decent amount of form in the bag. I think that Dolores Delightful is very interesting, notwithstanding the lowly rating compared with some of the others. Lots of improvement to be expected.
Dolores Delightful 9/1 ***

2.40 Chase Class 1 2m 6f
I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking about this one. Having done so I’m against Menorah, Maggio and Gullinbursti and I’ve settled on Rolling Aces. I think that this is ideal for him and I can’t have Hunt Ball on the basis that the relatively new owners are looking for possibilities rather than wins.
Rolling Aces 3/1 **

3.15 Grade 1 Chase Class 1 2m
I’ve tried to find reasons to oppose Sire de Grugy (pictured) and I can’t find any. The Moores have campaigned this horse like in the old days and have achieved the highest level in doing so. I think that the course will suit and while the price is unappealing he must be included in combinations.
Sire de Grugy 2/5 *****

3.50 Grade 3 Chase Class 1 3m 5f 110y
Now this is a real betting challenge! The soft ground is a player in itself and a guaranteed stayer is required. I can’t have Roalco des Farges after his last outing (I was on him so possibly biased). I’m with the good doctor again with Ardkilly Witness (10/1) and a saver with Same Difference, second in this last year and comfortably better off in a no more difficult race.
Ardkilly Witness 10/1 **

4.25 Listed Hurdle Class 1 2m 6f
This is a very interesting race. At the start of the season Clondaw Kaempfer and Clerks Choice would have been considered well ahead of the rest but not in my reckoning. Polly Peachum will win this and continue an upward curve.
Polly Peachum 5/2 **** (include in combinations)

5.00 Handicap Chase Class 2 2m 4f
Another race that presents a proper dilemma on the last proper day (although I’m still looking forward to the hunter chase finals, let alone Ireland and France!). The breeding of all the runners suggests handicaps so I’m going on the horses themselves and their performances and, therefore, the choice is the Skelton’s Ballincurrig, a properly progressive horse.
Ballincurrig a tasty 6/1 ***

5.30 Handicap Hurdle Class 2 2m 4f
This is a horror and needs a brave call. That call is L’Unique, a Grade 1 winner but this is a classically tough hurdle with every chance of o long odds winner.
L’Unique 17/2 *

I can’t conclude this preview without paying attention to the extraordinary Scoop 6 on offer this weekend with a potential £4m on offer! These are my selections:

Leg 1 (2.05 Sandown): Dolores Delightful (9/1)
Leg 2 (2.20 Haydock): Sir Reginald (6/1)
Leg 3 (2.50 Ripon): Fast Shot (12/1) – This is the one that’s been put in to mess up things so choose as many as you can.
Leg 4 (3.25 Haydock): Gabrial’s Kaka (5/1) – Bear in mind that this one really should win but include Foxtrot Romeo and Brae Hill if you can
Leg 5 (3.30 Ripon): Thank God, this one is easy! Bayan (3/1) is thrown in and will win.
Leg 6 (3.50 Sandown): As you already know my selection is Ardkilly Witness (10/1). If you’ve got this far you might also add Houblon des Obeaux as a cover.

Good luck!!

Punchestown plans for Mullins

So, the furious culmination of the NH season in GB is at its effective close after Cheltenham, Aintree and an above average Ayr so, before attention turns to Auteuil (very interesting this year) we have the Easter weekend at Fairyhouse including the Powers Gold Cup and the Irish National and then the far more interesting Punchestown Festival. The latter has developed in recent years to stand equal with the rest and W P Mullins’ plans have guaranteed the best yet.

Let alone his 100 plus winners at this Festival in previous years, this renewal has the potential to be his best ever, reflecting his dominance in the Irish National Hunt racing. Whether that is a good or bad thing is for another day. What matters now is that there are some superb races in prospect.

Let’s start with On His Own in the Punchestown Gold Cup (a declared target):

Boston Bob has come out of his Melling Chase win in good shape and he will more than likely run in the Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup where he could take on his stablemates Prince De Beauchene and On His Own.

We are hopeful that On His Own can gain compensation in the race for his short-head second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He ran a cracker there, is in excellent shape and we are really looking forward to running him at Punchestown.

All three are likely runners for owners Andrea and Graham Wylie, who love going to Punchestown. They always like to bring a nice team there.”

Next is the Racing Post Champion Hurdle on Friday 2 May in which Hurricane Fly may put in his valedictory run:

Hurricane Fly will run in the Racing Post Champion Hurdle and he is in good shape. I’m not certain where we will go next with Un De Sceaux – if he goes to Punchestown, he will run in the Racing Post Champion Hurdle as well.

Then there is possibly the very best NH horse of recent years, Quevega:

Although Quevega is in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders’ Fund Mares Champion Hurdle on the Festival’s final day, she normally goes for the stayers’ race, the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle, and we would love to win it again with her for a fifth consecutive time this year.” I see no reason why he will depart from his previous plans and she will win!

So, what about Annie Power. In my view she lost nothing in defeat in the World Hurdle and surely a winning run is guaranteed:

Annie Power is entered in the Racing Post Champion Hurdle, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Champion Hurdle and the Ladbroke World Series Hurdle and we will have a look at the entries closer to the time. She came out of Cheltenham well and is in good form again going into Punchestown

That’s a pretty good team to aim for the Festival but we haven’t even started when you think of the novices! As WP has said: “We have as good as, if not the best team of novices we have ever put together so they are something to look forward to.

So, what about Cheltenham winner Vautour:

Vautour will run in the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle on the opening day of the Festival. He came out of Cheltenham in great shape and we are looking forward to running him back at Punchestown, where he won a Grade 2 earlier in the season

You can then add Faugheen (Champion Novice Hurdle) and Don Poli:

Don Poli is entered in both the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle and the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle but the chances are that he will run in the latter race over three miles on the Wednesday. He is very, very well in himself right now.

Then there is Champagne Fever:

Champagne Fever ran his heart out in Cheltenham only to go down by a head on the line. He has emerged from the Arkle in good shape and he is in all the novice races at Punchestown. It is possible he might run in one of the longer races so the Growise Champion Novice Chase is looking a likely target at this stage. We’ll probably have a good crew in that race and it’s possible that Djakadam, who like Champagne Fever is also owned by the Riccis, will take him on.

An unbelievably strong team and probably very short odds for most of them but if, like me, you just want to see superb horses at their best, a treat is in store.

Sources: and

Ayr selections

Well, Grand National day at Aintree went well and I hope that you were with me on Pineau De Re (in the middle), my early selection. He was my first winning selection of the National since Comply Or Die (10/1) but last Saturday’s 30/1 on Betfair was very welcome.

I’m very much more circumspect about tomorrow’s card at Ayr. I haven’t seen today’s racing but I know that there is a tendency for the ground at Ayr to be much faster than is found over most of the season even if, as today, it’s officially good to soft. Anyway, on to the selections.

1.30 Class 3 Hands and Heels Hurdle 2m 4f
The conditions say it all. I don’t know the horses and I’ll go with Silsol just on the basis of the yard.
Silsol 4/1 *

2.05 Grade 2 Class 1 Chase 2m 4f
Now this is a lot more straightforward. Valdez is miles better than the rest. The increase in distance is a positive.
Valdez 5/4 **** (bet of the day)

2.40 Grade 2 Class 1 Hurdle 2m
On the face of it My Tent Or Yours is miles ahead of the rest. However Nicky Henderson thinks that he doesn’t settle in his races so he’s wearing a hood. I’m with Montbazon even though he’s technically out of the handicap (only by 1lb).
Montbazon 6/1 *** (next best)

3.15 Listed Class 1 Chase 2m
I’m being very biased with this one. Valco de Touzaine was beaten by Balder Succes (horse of the year) at Warwick so, in this company, that’s a win really. However that was on heavy ground and that could be the decider so I’m cautious.
Valco de Touzaine 9/2 **

3.50 Scottish National Grade 3 Class 1 4m 110y
So, here’s the big one, at least from a betting perspective. Recent runnings have been bookies’ benefits so caution is required. Tidal Bay’s participation has seriously messed up (translation of what I was going to type!) the handicap so that, without him, all are running within 7lbs of each other and the vast majority are on 10st. Incidentally credit to all those jockeys making the weight (assuming that they do) including P Carberry, the Moore brothers, Scudamore, Choc (10st 1lb) and Johnson. Of those, and taking that compression of the handicap into account, the outstanding candidate is Dickie Johnson on Roalco des Farges. For the record I don’t fancy Green Flag (most people’s choice). I think that Trustan Times is nailed on for a place (look for first five). I’ve been a big fan of Sam Winner over a couple of seasons but I want to see him him stay this distance before betting on him. If he does, there are big opportunities next season.
Roalco des Farges 12/1 ***

Of the remainder watch out for Brother du Berlais (4.25), Tony Star (5.00) and watch and enjoy the bumper.

I understand that there is some serious flat racing at Newbury as well. I’ll watch but, as those who know me are well aware, that’s just a filler. I’m delighted that several UK trainers are targeting Auteuil, let alone Punchestown – NH is far from over!!

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