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Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Northumberland Plate Outsiders

The Northumberland Plate, run over 2 miles and 19 yards at Newcastle, has thrown up three winning favourites in the last ten years, but also winners at 33/1, 25/1, 16/1 and 14/1 (three times) in the same period. Goodness knows what effect switching the race, still affectionately known as the ‘Pitmen’s Derby’, to a synthetic, Tapeta surface will have next year, but we’re aiming for one ‘last hurrah’.

The Northumberland Plate features 22 runners this year yet, despite betting 10/1 bar one, only one of the leading bookmakers (Ladbrokes) is prepared to offer odds longer than 33/1 about any horse in the race and, even then, only about one horse. Regular readers will be aware that we like to play devil’s advocate under such circumstances but, try as we might, we found it difficult to make a case for the 40/1 ‘rag’ Min Alemarat, so we’ll have to make do with a couple of 25/1 shots.

Resiliency (25/1) has yet to win beyond 1 mile 2½ furlongs, but ran well over 1 mile 6 furlongs when fourth, beaten 2¾ lengths, behind Elidor at Newmarket six weeks ago. Michael Appleby’s 4-year-old is 1lb better off for the half a length he finished behind Aramist on that occasion and the way he stayed on in the closing stages suggested an extra half-a-mile is within his compass. He’s not badly drawn either, in stall 10, so a decent run wouldn’t be a total surprise.

Cardinal Walter (22/1) was a fairly useful sort on the Flat prior to joining Nicky Henderson last August and, while it’s anybody’s guess how much ability he retains in this sphere, he was in decent form over hurdles during the winter. He’s by Cape Cross, sire of Sea The Stars, but stamina clearly isn’t an issue, although he’ll probably need a career-best effort to win this from stall 22.

Buthelezi (25/1) has been a winner on the Flat, at up to 1 mile 6 furlongs, over hurdles and over fences despite being a bit of a ‘monkey’. He’s another who doesn’t appear impossibly handicapped if putting his best foot forward and, although he, too, is drawn ‘out in the sticks’ in stall 17, he might just benefit from being ridden less prominently than of late. That said, he’s only 1lb lower in the weights than when well beaten in this race last year and probably isn’t one to trust implicitly.

So, in potentially the last ever Northumberland Plate to be run on turf, we’re rowing in with Resiliency (25/1 with Bet365, Bet Victor and Stan James), Cardinal Walter (22/1 with Bet365) and Buthelezi (25/1 generally available). Good luck!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Wokingham Stakes - Royal Ascot Outsiders

The annual ‘cavalry charge’ that is the Wokingham Stakes, takes place over 6 furlongs at Ascot and is, without question, the major betting heat on the final day of the Royal meeting. Two winning favourites in the last ten years is probably just about par for the course in a race of this nature, but winners at 33/1, 22/1, 20/1 and 14/1 in the same period suggest ‘tilting at windmills’ may not be an entirely fruitless process.

Dinkum Diamond (33/1) has run 39 times in a career stretching back to May 2010 but, amazingly, has never won a handicap. However, there was nothing wrong with his most recent effort in that sphere, when fifth of twenty-two, beaten 2½ lengths, behind Eastern Impact over 6 furlongs on the Rowley Mile Course at Newmarket last month. He subsequently proved no match for Tropics in a Listed race at Windsor but, with Edward Greatrex taking off a useful 7lb, he’s not badly handicapped on his best form and is virtually certain to run his race.
Poyle Vinnie (40/1) has an absence of 170 days to overcome and is used to plying his trade at a much lower level, but has officially improved 32lb since this time last year and may not have finished yet. He remains 12lb higher in the weights than when winning on the Fibresand at Southwell last November, but has shown his liking for a testing 6 furlongs in the past and could surprise some better fancied rivals. Nottinghamshire trainer Michael Appleby is 0-20 at Ascot, but there is, as they say, a first time for everything.

Related (33/1) is another who’s been campaigned on synthetic surfaces so far this season but, while he’s shown his best form on Polytrack, he made all to win a lower grade handicap, over 7 furlongs, at Goodwood last summer. His latest win, over 6 furlongs at Kempton in March, suggested a stiffer test of stamina would do him no harm and although he’s been off the course for 84 days he’s won after a similar break in the past.

Tilting at windmills we may be, but our three against the field this week are Dinkum Diamond (33/1 with Ladbrokes and Coral), Poyle Vinnie (40/1 with Totesport, Betfred and Coral) and Related (33/1 generally available). If we had to pick one, it would be Poyle Vinnie, who’s arguably the most progressive of the trio and may prove handily drawn in stall 16. Good luck!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Scottish Sprint Cup Outsiders

Regular readers will remember that we previewed the Scottish Sprint Cup last year and, while Dinkum Diamond (20/1) could do no better than third for this column, the raft of fancy priced winners in the last 10 years remains a cause for optimism.

The one that immediately springs from the page is the 2013 winner, Kingsgate Choice (25/1). Connections may have been a little carried away by that success, subsequently running the Choisir gelding in a succession of Listed and Pattern races, including the Group One Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp, but he’s not badly handicapped as a result and has the best of the draw in stall one. He could finish only thirteenth of twenty, beaten 6 lengths, behind Monsieur Joe on his reappearance at York two weeks ago, but is entitled to improve for that run, his first since August. Indeed, Monsieur Joe wasn’t beaten far under a penalty at Epsom last week, so the form looks worth following.

Perfect Pastures (25/1) could make no impression, from a high draw, in the same York contest, eventually finishing nineteenth, 11 lengths behind the winner, but is only 2lb higher in the weights than when winning at Southwell in January. His turf form has yet to measure up to his all-weather form, but it would take a brave man to suggest that it won’t, eventually, and he could potentially fare much better this time from his single-figure stall.

Masamah (16/1) may have lost some of the lightning speed that was his trademark is his heyday, but Marco Botti’s now 9-year-old did well to finish second in this race last year and, notwithstanding Tom Marquand’s 7lb claim, is 14lb better off with last year’s winner, Demora. The Exceed And Excel gelding was in fair form on the all-weather earlier this year and could improve a little for his return to turf at Chester last month. He’s on a losing run of twenty, but is consequently 1lb lower in the weights than when winning at Ascot two seasons ago, so a decent run would be no real surprise.

Obviously, we need to take a few things on trust, but our three against the field this week are, in order of preference, Kingsgate Choice (25/1 with Totesport, Betfred and Stan James), Perfect Pastures (25/1 with the same three bookmakers, plus Bet Victor and Betfair Sportsbook) and Masamah (16/1 generally available). Good luck!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Epsom Derby Outsiders

With four winning favourites in the last ten years and no winner longer than 7/1 in that period, the Derby, held on Saturday 6th June,  shouldn’t really be one for us. Nevertheless, the Derby is the Derby, so rather than hold our ‘manhoods cheap’, we’ve rowed in with a couple that we think should give us a run for our money at long odds.

Aidan O’Brien, as usual, makes life difficult for punters by saddling Giovanni Canaletto (7/1), Hans Holbein (16/1) and Kilimanjaro (20/1), but the last-named is 2-2 since stepped up to middle distances this season and may have been underestimated by the bookmakers. The son of High Chaparral has 15lb or more to find with the likes of Elm Park, Golden Horn and Success Days on official ratings, but has already gone up 15lb in the weights, courtesy of his defeat of Magic Dancer and the Christophermarlowe (rated 109) in the Betfred.com Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield four weeks ago, and may have more to offer.

Success Days (16/1) is another who’s unbeaten as a 3-year-old and took the step up in class and distance in his stride when winning the Ballysax Stakes and the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes – both Group 3 contests over 1 mile 2 furlongs at Leopardstown – in recent months. He’s earned a 17lb rise in the weights since the start of the season, which means he has little or nothing to find with most of these on official ratings. He’s done all his recent winning on soft or heavy ground, which he won’t encounter at Epsom unless the scattered thunderstorms forecast for the South East on Friday are worse than expected, but he also won on good to yielding going at Gowran Park last season, so may not be entirely ground dependent.

Last, but not least, Moheet (50/1) has been abandoned by Frankie Dettori – who, unsurprisingly, prefers the unbeaten ante post favourite Golden Horn (13/8) – but Richard Hannon’s colt probably needed the run on his reappearance in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket in April and reversed the form with the winner, Kool Kompany, in the 2,000 Guineas, despite suffering a nightmare passage through the race. The High Chaparral colt has yet to race beyond a mile, but middle distances could be the making of him and if there is a ‘dark’ horse in the race, he’s it!

Selections: Moheet (50/1 with Bet465, Stan James and 888Sport), Kilimanjaro (20/1 generally available) and Success Days (16/1 generally available).

Good luck!