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Thursday, 28 January 2016

15:15, Doncaster, Saturday January 30th

The Sky Bet Chase, run over an extended 3 miles at Doncaster, hasn’t had a habit of throwing up long-odds winners in recent years, but winners at 25/1, 16/1 and 12/1 in the last ten renewals offer some cause for optimism.

The complete ‘rag’ of the 15-strong field, Distime (33/1), won a maiden point-to-point over 3 miles as a 4-year-old, so it’s interesting that the Flemensfirth gelding, now a 10-year-old, has been restricted to just one run beyond 2 miles 5½ furlongs over regulation fences. His best recent form has come over a testing 2 miles 3½ furlongs at Sedgefield, but also ran creditably in defeat over 2 miles 5 furlongs, on soft going, at Aintree in December and isn’t badly handicapped on that form. He’s 4lb out of the handicap and, of course, doesn’t come without risks, but his chance may not be as forlorn as his odds suggest.

Also down among the dead men, as far as the betting is concerned, Court By Surprise (25/1) has been absent since October, but is only 2lb higher in the weights than when second of 18, beaten 7 lengths, behind the subsequently disqualified The Young Master in the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton a year ago last November. The Beneficial gelding subsequently broke a blood vessel when pulled up in the Grand National, but made a satisfactory, if unspectacular, reappearance over this sort of distance at Chepstow. He’s unlikely to find much improvement at the age of eleven, by he appears overpriced in an open-looking contest.

Selections: Doncaster 3.15 Distime (33/1 with Bet365), Court By Surprise (25/1 with Bet365)

Thursday, 21 January 2016

15:15, Haydock Park, Saturday January 23rd

The Peter Marsh Chase, run over 3 miles and 24 yards at Haydock, has produced just one winning favourite in the last 13 years and winners at 33/1, 20/1 and 16/1 (twice) in that period. Heavy going at the Merseyside track should mean that the race is a thorough test of stamina

Presenting Junior (20/1) is 5lb out of the handicap proper and remains 13lb higher in the weights than when winning over 2 miles 4½ furlongs at Ayr last April, but has been brought along steadily this season and could be approaching his peak. The Presenting gelding has yet to win on heavy going, but was far from disgraced when third of six, beaten 8½ lengths, behind Presented over an extended 3 miles under the prevailing conditions at Ayr three weeks ago. That was his first start over fences since June andm with Graham Watters taking off a useful 3lb, he could be a shade over priced.

The other one that makes some appeal is Algernon Pazham (14/1), trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and the choice of son Sam. The Milan gelding has failed to complete the course on his last two starts, in the Becher Chase over the National fences at Aintree and the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick last Saturday, but had previously finished a promising second, beaten just a neck, behind What A Good Night over 3 miles at Ayr. He remains 7lb higher in the weights, but won over 3 miles 1 furlong on soft going over hurdles, so is another who could represent a shade of value at the odds on offer. Certainly, he’s one of the younger horses in the race and hasn’t done that much racing for a 7-year-old.

It's not long now until we have the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National to sink our teeth into. We'll be sure to try our best to find some big priced selections at that time to swell your coffers! Looking at the odds of recent National winners for instance (2012 - Neptune Collonges 33-1 , 2013 - Auroras Encore 66-1, 2014 - Pineau De Re 25-1, 2015- Many Clouds 25-1) there are certainly opportunities to be had.

Selections: Haydock 3.15 Presenting Junior (20/1), Algernon Pazham (14/1)

Thursday, 14 January 2016

15:35 Warwick, Saturday January 16th

The Betfred Classic Chase, run over 3 miles 5 furlongs at Warwick, is the feature event of the year at the West Midlands course, but hasn’t produced many long-priced winners in recent years. Nevertheless, winners at 18/1, 14/1, 11/1 and 10/1 in the last ten renewals provide cause for optimism as far as we’re concerned and, with the going at Warwick already heavy, wintry conditions could turn the race into a real slog.

Ballyheigue Bay (20/1) has yet to win beyond 3 miles, but arguably ran his best race ever over 3 miles 5 furlongs in the Betfair London National on his reappearance at Sandown, off a 1lb lower mark, and has an obvious chance on that form. Chris Gordon’s nine-year-old weakened out of contention after a mistake at the third last over 3 miles at Kempton over Christmas but, as a relatively lightly-raced horse with winning form on heavy going, he deserves a chance to confirm that initial promise.

De Kerry Man (14/1) is 3lb out of the handicap and has his stamina to prove, but is unbeaten over regulation fences and was in the process of running an excellent race when falling three out in the 0-145 handicap chase, over 3 miles 2½ furlongs, eventually won by Perfect Candidate at Cheltenham. The Westerner gelding is another with winning form on heavy going and looks a likely contender off his feather weight if lasting home.

Foxbridge (14/1) has yet to win beyond 3 miles 1½ furlongs, but won three times on heavy going at around this time last year and didn’t obviously fail through lack of stamina when fifth of 16, beaten 17½ lengths, behind Goonyella in the Betfred Midland Grand National, over 4 miles 1½ furlongs, at Uttoxeter last March. He’s run creditably in defeat on both starts so far this season and, although 2lb out of the handicap, may well appreciate the return to a marathon distance.

Selections: Warwick 3.35, Ballyheigue Bay (20/1), De Kerry Man (14/1), Foxbridge (14/1)

Friday, 8 January 2016

Coral Welsh National - Chepstow Saturday 9th 13:45

The Coral Welsh National, run over 3 miles 5½ furlongs at Chepstow, places unusually strenuous demands on horse and rider, so it’s no surprise that the has produced no winning favourite in the last ten years and winners at 20/1 (twice), 16/1 and 14/1 in that period. The going at Chepstow is already heavy so, with more rain forecast for Friday and Saturday, finishers could be few and far between.

Portrait King (33/1) is accumulating some uninspiring form figures, but is blessed with an abundance of stamina and was in the process of running a decent race when falling at the second last in the Betfred Becher Chase, over 3 miles 2 furlongs, at Aintree five weeks ago. He’s obviously not getting any younger at the age of eleven, but is only 1lb higher in the weights than when winning the Betfred Eider, over an extended 4 miles, at Ayr as a seven-year-old and has winning form on heavy going.

Allez Vic (40/1) hasn’t exactly pulled up and trees lately, but arguably ran as well as he ever has over fences when beaten three-quarters of a length by Cogry in a novices’ handicap chase, over 2 miles 7½ furlongs on heavy going, at Chepstow just over a year ago and is reasonably treated if capable of reproducing anything like that form. Evan Williams’ ten-year-old is 8lb higher in the weights, but 1lb better off with Cogry, so may be worth chancing at generous odds.

Bob Ford (16/1) is becoming the definitive ‘all or nothing’ horse, but stays all day and relishes testing conditions, so must have a decent chance if in the same mood as when winning over 3 miles 1½ furlongs at Ffos Las last month. A 4lb penalty for that success seems fair enough and Sean Bowen has an enviable 36% strike rate over fences for Rebecca Curtis.

Selections: Chepstow 1.45 Portrait King, Allez Vic, Bob Ford