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Thursday, 26 January 2017

8.15 Newcastle, Friday, January 28

In the absence of early prices, I can’t honestly say whether Whispering Wolf will fall into the ‘outsider’ category but, with just one win, in a lowly Class 6 selling stakes at Ripon 18 months ago, from 18 starts, 1lb out of the handicap and trained by an unfashionable trainer, she really ought to. That said, the daughter of Amadeus has run creditably in defeat on her last two starts on Tapeta, including over course and distance on her penultimate start, and isn’t totally without hope. On her last visit to Gosforth Park, she was outpaced with two furlongs to run, but rallied well to finish within 1¼ lengths of Novabridge, who reopposes on 3lb terms.

In truth, she looks as if a return to 6 furlongs would do her no harm but, with Novabridge and the aptly-named Fuel Injection likely to take the field along lickety-split, she might just have the end-to-end gallop she needs to be fully effective at the minimum trip. Interestingly, jockey Barry McHugh is riding somewhere close to his minimum riding weight in the last twelve months, at 8st 6lb, so he may be able to deliver her fast and late to lift the spoils.

Selection: Newcastle 8.15 Whispering Wolf to win

Monday, 23 January 2017

Champion Hurdle Preview

The Champion Hurdle is the premier 2m hurdle race on the national hunt calendar and is the feature contest on day one of the Cheltenham Festival. This year’s race is a fascinating betting event at this stage as the top two horses in the ante-post market have not been seen yet this season due to setbacks. Therefore, it could be left open for an outsider to cause a surprise in the race.
If Faugheen returns before the Festival and looks like the horse who won the 2015 Champion Hurdle, he is clearly going to take all the beating. However, backers of the ante-post favourite are doing so on trust at the moment.
Apple’s Jade (20/1) is a horse who should not be forgotten about for the Champion Hurdle. Gordon Elliott’s runner finished second last season in the Triumph Hurdle where she was denied by Ivanovich Gorbatov by less than two lengths. A month later, though, she reversed that form in spectacular style as she won the Juvenile Hurdle at the Grand National Meeting at Aintree by 41 lengths.
Steven Cargill via Twitter
This season hasn’t quite gone to plan for connections. She made her seasonal reappearance at Down Royal in the Grade Two WKD where she was beaten by Rashaan in a four horse race. The mare also finished second later that month at Newcastle in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle where Irving held on by a nose in a close finish.
Elliott would have been delighted with the way his horse bounced back though at Fairyhouse in a strong running of the Grade One Hatton’s Grace Hurdle. She beat a quality field which included Willie Mullins’ Vroum Vroum Mag, Shaneshill and Ivanovich Gorbatov. If she produces that sort of run at Cheltenham, she has to be in the mix for the Champion Hurdle and therefore looks a big price, especially if you take advantage of the Bet365 signup offer where they will match your opening deposit up to £200.
Nichols Canyon (33/1) was third in last season’s Champion Hurdle behind Annie Power and My Tent or Yours and there is a strong chance that neither of those two horses who finished ahead of him will run in the race this year.
Given he is from a Willie Mullins yard which is full of superstars, Nichols Canyon has never quite earned the credit he deserves. He is a seven-time Grade One winner and still the only horse to have beaten Faugheen under rules.

Racing Post via Twitter
The seven-year-old should be entering the peak of his career shortly and he might just find his best run to date at the Festival this year which may give him a strong chance of winning the race.
Nichols Canyon started his campaign in the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle back in November where he scored by an impressive 12 lengths. Unfortunately he was turned over at odds of 2/5 last time out at Leopardstown in the Ryanair Hurdle but if you can forgive that last run, he looks a huge price in the Champion Hurdle
Selections: Apple’s Jade (25/1 with bet365), Nichols Canyon (33/1 with Sportingbet)

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Betfred Classic Chase Preview

The Betfred Classic Chase (Saturday 3.35), run over 3 miles 5 furlongs at Warwick, has thrown up winners at 20/1, 18/1, 14/1 and 10/1 in the last ten years and this year’s renewal will, as ever, provide a thorough test of stamina and jumping ability.

Goodtoknow (40/1) has only won four of his 27 starts under Rules, but has won over 3 miles 4½ furlongs, revels in testing conditions and is reasonably weighted on his best form. He hasn’t shown a great deal in two starts this term, but he should be fighting fit and has dropped back to his last winning mark, so isn’t one to dismiss out of hand. He probably needs a career-best effort to win this, but the step back up in distance on soft going is in his favour, particularly if first-time blinkers have the desired effect.

Kingswell Theatre (33/1) has yet to win beyond 2 miles 7½ furlongs, but has recorded three of his four career wins on soft or heavy going and has only been tried beyond 3 miles twice. He made a respectable return to action when third of 14, beaten 17 lengths, behind Lamb Or Cod in the Welsh National Trial at Chepstow in December and lost a shoe when pulled up over 3 miles 2½ furlongs at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. Clearly he has risks attached but, like Goodtoknow, is back on his last winning mark and could belie generous odds with a forward showing.

Selections: Goodtoknow (40/1 with Coral), Kingswell Theatre (33/1 generally available)