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Monday, 5 December 2016

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Thursday, 1 December 2016

Becher Chase Preview

You might expect that a valuable handicap chase over 3 miles 2 furlongs and the National fences would throw up a few long-priced winners and the Becher Chase has done just that over the last 10 years. Winners at 25/1 (twice), 20/1, 14/1 (twice) and 10/1 in that period are more than enough to whet our appetite so, as usual, we’ve come up with a few that could go well at rewarding odds.

Highland Lodge (16/1) won this race last year, on soft going, off a 5lb lower mark and, while he hasn’t been seen in public since pulling up in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr in April, would appear to have a decent chance of a repeat if fit and ready to do himself justice after an absence of 231 days. James Moffat’s 10-year-old has won a couple of times on the prevailing good to soft going and has won, or run well, on his seasonal reappearance a few times in the past. In any case, his trainer reports him in ‘tip-top form’ ahead of this year’s renewal.

Saint Are (16/1) could only finish seventh, beaten 32 lengths, behind Highland Lodge in this race last year, but is only 1lb higher in the weights than when winning at Doncaster in February and should be spot on after two runs already this season. He has plenty of experience over the National fences, having been placed in this race and the Grand National, itself, in the past and the drying conditions forecast for North West England between now and Saturday are very much in his favour. Regular partner Adrian Heskin is at Sandown to ride God’s Own in the Tingle Creek Chase but, in his absence, Brian Harding is a more than able deputy.

Milborough (33/1) has yet to tackle the National fences, but is usually a fairly sound jumper and, having won the Eider, over an extended 4 miles, at Newcastle in 2015, shouldn’t fail through lack of stamina. Ian Duncan’s 10-year-old is just 1lb higher in the weights and ran creditably on his seasonal reappearance when fourth of 12, beaten 13 lengths, behind Carrigdhoun over 3 miles 2 furlongs at Carlisle in October. He needs to improve to win this, but that’s not beyond the realms of possibility on just his second start since April and he’s undeniably well handicapped on his best form.

Selections: Highland Lodge (16/1), Saint Are (16/1), Milborough (33/1)

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

World Cup of Golf, Thursday, November 24

I bit of a change of tack this week, with an outsider golf tip, instead of our usual horse racing offerings. 

The World Cup of Golf gets underway at the Kingston Heath Golf Club, in Melbourne, Australia on Thursday and, although the Wales pairing of Bradley Dredge and Stuart Manley is hardly the most fashionable, odds of 125/1 in a field of 28 are just too tempting to resist. Key to Welsh success could be the Kingston Heath, one of Melbourne’s sandbelt courses, which should suit both players, and the vagaries of the inconsistent and cool Melbourne spring, which are likely to keep temperatures in the high teens at best.

Dredge, ranked 89 in the world, demonstrated his liking for “firm and fast” conditions when finishing tied for eleventh in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last month. Dredge won the World Cup of Golf alongside Stephen Dodd in Portugal in 2005, when the final round was abandoned, so is no stranger to coming in ‘under the radar’ in the 72-hole stroke play event. Manley, ranked 873, arrives in Australia having secured his European Tour card at the Final Qualifying Stage at the PGA Catalunya Resort, under difficult conditions, and should not be underestimated in an event in which he finished tied eighth, under extraordinary circumstances, at Royal Melbourne Golf Club three years ago.

Selection: Wales (125/1 with 32Red or 888Sport)