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Friday 18 April 2014

Irish Grand National Preview

The Irish Grand National, run over 3 miles 5 furlongs at Fairyhouse, has thrown up winners 50/1, 33/1 (four times), 25/1 and 20/1 in the last 10 years, so looks ideal for some long odds speculation on the part of your correspondent. This year’s renewal, due off at 5.00 p.m. on Monday, April 21, has attracted a maximum field of 30 runners, two-thirds of whom are available at odds of 20/1 or longer in the ante post betting, so we’ve highlighted two or three that could go well at generous odds.

Rich Revival is a horse that we’ve had an eye on for a while, but Elizabeth Doyle’s 10-year-old was pulled up on his next three starts after winning the Leinster National, over 3 miles, at Naas last March. The Welsh National was mooted as a possible target for the Turtle Island gelding at the start of the season, so connections clearly have no concerns about his stamina and, although he’d prefer softer ground, he still looks decent value at 33/1, in a place, in the ante post lists. He showed his first form for over a year when third, beaten 5¼ lengths, behind Allez Vic in a handicap hurdle at Navan last month and, although he his chase mark remains 17lb higher than his hurdles mark, he’s only 2lb higher in the weights than when last winning over fences.

Lion Na Bearnai won the Irish Grand National, off 5lb lower mark, two years ago and took advantage of some respite from the handicapper when winning a small rated chase, over 2 miles 5½ furlongs, at Fairyhouse in February. The New Frontier gelding was beaten 50 lengths when fourth of seven behind On His Own in the Grade 2 Bobby Jo Chase back at Fairyhouse three weeks later and a slipping saddle finally put paid to his chances in the Grand National earlier this month but, from a handicapping point-of-view, still looks feasibly weighted for a prominent showing. He’s unlikely to be improving as he enters the twilight of his career, but it would be dangerous to rule him out, especially at 33/1 in the ante post lists.

Once again this week, the bookmakers aren’t giving much away in terms of value, with the outsider of 30 only available at a paltry 50/1 and, even then, only in one place. Nevertheless, another one who looks fair value, notwithstanding the fact that he, too, would appreciate a drop of rain, is Folsom Blues. Conor O’Dwyer’s 7-year-old won on his one and only attempt beyond 3 miles, over 3 miles 4 furlongs at Punchestown in February, and has run creditably in defeat over shorter distances since. He remains 8lb higher in the weights than at Punchestown, but is unexposed over marathon distances and can hopefully relieve our friends the enemy of a bundle at the 25/1 generally available.

The Irish Grand National is the sort of race where you could make ten selections and still not have one in the first half a dozen but, for better for worse, our three against the field this week are:

Folsom Blues (25/1 generally)
Rich Revival (33/1 with Paddy Power)
Lion De Bearnai (33/1 with Paddy Power).

Good luck!

Wednesday 16 April 2014

1:55 Ripon - 17th April

1:55 Ripon (17th April) Micheal Dods has been in great form with his two-year-olds this season. Buccaneers Vault skipped to a narrow success at Beverley when starting at odds of 12/1. Collosium is a son of Showcasing out of a winning mare and cost 20,000euros at the yearling sales. This bay gelding has top apprentice rider Connor Beasley in the saddle, who takes off a valuable five pounds for this competitive maiden stakes. At speculative odds this horse could have fair win and place claims.

Result: Michael Dods continues in good form with his two-year-olds and Collosium ran a cracking race to finish third at odds of 16/1, beaten just over one length. This gelding may have drifted in the betting but held every chance in the final furlong denied by a talented winner in Roudee. If not suffering a slow start Collsium would have good close to winning.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

1:55 Beverley - 16th April

1:55 Beverley (16th April) A ten strong Maiden Auction Stakes over 5f on good ground. Michael Dods is a canny trainer and his two-year-old debutates can often spring a surprise when making their racecourse bow. Buccaneers Vault is a grey son of Aussie Rules out of a group raced mare and cost 16,500euros at the yearling sales. It could be case this horse will enjoy a stiffer test of stamina in time. However, a low draw is a good starting point and is priced at speculative odds could have fair win and place claims.   

Result: Buccaneers Vault won by a head at 12/1. It was easily available at odds of 20/1 on Betfair. A nice winner for Michael Dods, and a strong-looking juvenile.

Thursday 10 April 2014

Scottish Grand National Preview

The Scottish Grand National, run over 4 miles 110 yards, is the highlight of this Saturday’s card at Ayr and the presence of Tidal Bay, who concedes 19lb and upwards to his rivals, means that eighteen of the thirty runners race from out of the handicap. However, Joes Edge (2005) won at 20/1 from 5lb out of the handicap and Iris De Balme (2008) won at 66/1 from 26lb out of the handicap, so we shouldn’t necessarily be afraid of backing horses carrying more weight than that to which they’re entitled at long odds.

The first one that took our eye this week was actually the second reserve, Scotswell, who beat subsequent winner Fentara in a decent handicap chase, over 3 miles 2 furlongs, at Kelso three weeks ago and ran well when second, beaten 6 lengths, in the Scottish Borders National, over 4 miles, on the same course in December. However, even if he gets into the race, he’ll be 16lb ‘wrong’ at the weights, so even the 50/1 available generally doesn’t look overly generous. He’s actually 19lb worse off for 16 lengths with Green Flag on their running at Newcastle in November so, believe me, the bookmakers are giving nothing away.

More realistically, perhaps, last year’s winner Godsmejudge is available at 18/1, in a place, in the ante post lists and clearly has a chance of landing a notable double. Alan King’s 8-year-old was a promising fifth, beaten 4½ lengths, behind subsequent Grand National fourth, Alvarado, on his seasonal reappearance at Cheltenham in November, but was pulled up on his next two starts. He reportedly suffered a setback on his latest start at Doncaster six weeks ago but, if fully recovered, he can make his presence felt off a handicap mark just 6lb higher than last year. The ability to hold a prominent position is a definite advantage around the twists and turns of Ayr and, in that respect, Godsmejudge makes no little appeal.

At longer odds, last season’s Durham National winner, Lackamon, fell on his belated seasonal debut over 2 miles 4 furlongs at Ayr last month, but has had a couple of runs over hurdles in the last fortnight to put him right for this and appears to have a decent shout at 28/1. He remains 9lb higher in the weights than when winning at Sedgefield in April and Ryan Mania, who won on him that day, prefers Fill The Power, but he’s only 1lb out of the handicap and clearly stays all day.

Even at 50/1 with a run, Scotswell appears to have little or no chance at the weights but, bearing in mind that we could’ve said the same thing about Iris De Balme a few years ago, it would be folly to leave him out of calculations on that basis alone. So, in summary, our three against the field this week are, in order of preference:

Godsmejudge (18/1 with Sporting Bet)
Lackamon (28/1 with Sporting Bet)
Scotswell (50/1 generally)

Thursday 3 April 2014

Crabbie’s Grand National Preview

The quality of the entries for the Crabbie’s Grand National has risen in recent years, such that fifteen of the runners in this year’s renewal, due off at 4.15 p.m. on Saturday, are officially rated 147 or higher. However, the increase in quality hasn’t prevented horses at 33/1 (twice), 66/1 and 100/1 from winning the Aintree marathon since 2004, so we’ve thrown our hat into the ring with three or four we think could go well at fanciful odds.

Of course, Sue Smith won the National last year with the now retired Auroras Encore, but the West Yorkshire trainer has realistic chances of landing a notable double with Mister Moonshine (50/1) or Vintage Star (50/1).

Mister Moonshine is the choice of last year’s winning jockey, Ryan Mania and, although pulled up four out behind stable companion Auroras Encore in last year’s National, can reasonably be expected to do better this time around. He stayed on well from the elbow when third, beaten 2¾ lengths, in the Becher Chase, over 3 miles 2 furlongs, on the National Course in December and has won two of his three starts since. He’s gone up 16lbs in the weights as a result, but the way he rallied when second in the Premier Chase, over 2 miles 7½ furlongs, at Kelso last month suggests he remains competitive off his revised handicap mark. He has his stamina to prove, but likes to race on, or close to, the pace and should go well for a long way.

Stable companion Vintage Star weakened in the closing stages when only sixth, beaten 13½ lengths, behind Mountainous in the Welsh National, over 3 miles 5½ furlongs at Chepstow in December on his one and only attempt at a marathon trip. However, that performance came on heavy going and, unlike Mountainous, he’s also won on good and good to soft going, so he may be capable of better granted faster underfoot conditions. Like Mister Moonshine, his stamina for the extreme distance of 4 miles 3½ furlongs is a complete unknown and he comes into the race on the back of a fall, which isn’t ideal but, at 50/1, he may be worth chancing.

It’s disappointing that, of forty runners (forty-four, including reserves), not one is on offer at odds longer than 100/1 in the ante post lists. However, One In A Milan is available at 100/1, in a place, so by way of cocking a snook at the skinflint bookmakers, we’re putting up Evan Williams’ 9-year-old as our third and final National pick. In fact, the Milan gelding ran well when fourth in the Welsh National and should be spot on for this after two ‘sighters’ over hurdles at Chepstow, so is by no means a forlorn hope. Vale of Glamorgan trainer Evan Williams saddled Cappa Bleu to finish second in the National last year and fourth the year before so, even on ground probably faster than ideal, One In A Milan is worth including, if only for pure devilment.

In summary, our three against the field in the Grand National are, in no particular order, Mister Moonshine (50/1 with Boylesports and Ladbrokes), Vintage Star (50/1 with Boylesports and Sporting Bet) and One In A Milan (100/1 with Boylesports). Fill your boots boys.

Wednesday 2 April 2014

2:55 Lingfield - 3rd April

2:55 Lingfield (3rd April) BOOKMAKERS.CO.UK MEDIAN AUCTION MAIDEN STAKES (CLASS 5) (2yo) Winner £2,727 10 runners 5f Standard

Johnny Sorrento made a poor start to his racing career when finishing last on debut when competing at Doncaster in the Brocklesby Conditions Stakes. This son of Zamindar was backed from 25/1 - 16/1 just before the off but a slow start put pay to any chances. Tim Pitt (pictured) rather tempted fate saying the horses wouldn't finish last and connections were clearly expecting much better at Town Moor. This American home bred colt has been described by his trainer as ''an honest little colt who keeps stepping up to the plate in his work''. He was sent to Wolverhampton the Tuesday before the Brocklesby and had stalls work on the Wednesday as part of his pre-education. The stable were disappointed to returned from Doncaster with a duck egg after his name. A quick return to the course suggest there is better to come. Many two-year-olds run poorly on debut and it is sometimes a strange factor that the worse they look the better they go second start. Experience counts for a lot this time of year and Johnny Sorrento could well put that first race behind him. Better is expected today at huge odds. For more trainer websites, quotes and insider information visit Horse Trainer Directory.

Result:  Johnny Sorrento was backed from 25/1 - 10/1sp with bookmakers, after touching 40/1+ on Betfair. Ran a great race, finished second behind easy winner Cheerio Sweetie.