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Thursday 22 May 2014

Silver Bowl Preview

Over half of the runners in the Silver Bowl Stakes (3.45) at Haydock on Saturday, May 24 are available at 14/1 or longer odds in the ante post lists, so it looks just the type of race in which we can find two or three that could go well at huge prices.

The first one that leaps off the page is Almargo, trained by Mark Johnston, who can be backed at ludicrously generous 40/1 with Betvictor and Coral. The son of Invincible Spirit completed a hat-trick on the Polytrack at Kempton, Lingfield and Wolverhampton earlier in the year and again ran well when fourth of twelve, beaten 5¾ lengths, behind Bilimbi at Musselburgh in April. He’s 12lb better off with the winner this time around and the return to faster underfoot conditions should suit him much better than the soft ground he’s encountered the last twice. He has a sprinting pedigree and weakened inside the final furlong at Musselburgh, so it’s possible that stamina is an issue, but at such long odds it’s a chance worth taking.

Another who appears generously priced in the ante post lists is Pupil, trained by Richard Hannon, who is available at 25/1 with Bet365 and Coral. The son of champion first-season sire Mastercraftsman has been quite highly tried since winning his maiden, over a mile, at Doncaster last September, but his subsequent third, beaten 1½ lengths, behind Pinzolo in a small conditions race at Newbury makes good reading in the context of this race. The winner is now officially rated 104, which suggests that Pupil is far from overburdened off a mark of 92 on his handicap debut. Stable jockey Richard Hughes has bigger fish to fry on the other side of the Irish Sea but, in his absence, Jim Crowley is a more than able deputy.

Mawfoor, trained by Brian Meehan, has also tried and failed at Group level, but there wasn’t much wrong with his reappearance at Ascot last month and, with plenty of stamina in the bottom half of his pedigree, promises to be even better over a mile. He could only keep on at one pace over 7 furlongs at Ascot, but is entitled to improve for the run, his first since last September and looks feasibly weighted. Hamdan Al Maktoum’s retained jockey, Paul Hanagan, understandably prefers Zarwaan, but that may not prevent Mawfoor from going well at the 25/1 generally available.
The Silver Bowl promises to be an exciting and informative contest and, because outsiders is what we’re all about, our three against the field are, in order of preference

Almargo 40/1 with Betvictor and Coral
Pupil 25/1 with Bet365 and Coral
Mawfoor 25/1 generally.

If those three fill the first three places, you may not be hearing from us for a while. Good luck!

Thursday 8 May 2014

Victoria Cup Preview

The Victoria Cup, run over 7 furlongs at Ascot, has thrown up winners at 25/1 (twice), 16/1 and 14/1 in the last 10 years, so appears to be just the sort of race we’re looking for. Indeed, this year’s renewal, due off at 3.50 p.m. on Saturday, May 10, has attracted a maximum field of 29 runners, 19 of whom are available at 20/1, or longer, in the ante post lists, so the prospects of a turnup are quite high.

Your correspondent is still smarting, to some degree, at having rowed in with the ‘wrong’ outsider trained by Richard Hannon is last week’s 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket but, anyway, here goes.

The first one that takes the eye, towards the foot of the handicap, is Capo Rosso, who is actually chasing a hat-trick, but is available at 25/1 in several places in the ante post lists. In fact, the Red Clubs gelding recorded arguably a career-best effort when staying on well to beat Gworn by 5 lengths over 1 mile 141 yards at Wolverhampton last month so, although 2lb higher in the weights, warrants further inspection. He’s by a Haydock Sprint Cup winner and his sole win on turf came over the sharp 7 furlongs at Warwick, but he’s unlikely to fail through lack of stamina if his Wolverhampton effort is anything to go by. Indeed, a testing 7 furlongs could be right up his street at this stage of his career and he could fare much better than when well beaten in the Britannia Stakes, over a mile, on his last visit to Ascot.

Carrying the same weight as Capo Rosso and, coincidentally, available at the same price, is Boots And Spurs, who could only finish sixteenth of twenty-five, beaten 26 lengths, behind Brae Hill in the William Hill Spring Mile at Doncaster, but looks far from impossibly handicapped on his form over 7 furlongs last season. He races off the same mark as when third, beaten 1 length and a short head, behind Magic City and Intransigent in the valuable Betfair Cash Out Stakes at Goodwood last August and, subject to the vagaries of the draw, a reproduction of that form should see him in the shake-up. William Twiston-Davies takes off a useful 3lb, so he’s arguably well-handicapped.

So far, we’ve considered Capo Rosso (drawn 9) and Boots And Spurs (drawn 22), so it would make sense to find another likely contender drawn right in the middle, just to cover all the angles. Spiritual Star (drawn 14) contested the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes as a two-year-old and started his three-year-old campaign with a handicap mark of 109, only to prove disappointing as a three-year-old and four-year-old. His two recent runs over a mile on the Polytrack at Lingfield seemed to suggest that 7 furlongs is on the short side for him these days, but there’ll be no hanging about and a fast pace may bring his stamina into play late on. If it does, the Soviet Star gelding is much more realistically handicapped off a mark of 91 as a five-year-old and could belie the 33/1 currently on offer ante post.

So, my three against the field for this week are:

Capo Rosso (25/1 with Bet365)
Boots And Spurs (25/1 with Sky Bet)
Spiritual Star (33/1 generally).

Good luck!

Monday 5 May 2014

1:30 Bath - 5th May

1:30 Bath (5th May) 

A median auction maiden stakes over 5f 11y on good going. Eve Johnson Houghton doesn't have many debut winners but knows a fair horse when she sees one. Aevalon is a daughter of Avonbridge and an early starter for this stable who have a decent strike rate at this course for two-year-olds. It is interesting that this March foal has been entered for a Stakes races, which gives hope this bay filly has some potential. Have have claims at speculative odds and could be gambled. Ivor's Rebel is another horse which should improve from debut and at huge odds could hit the frame. 

Result: A fantastic result for outsider today with Ivor's Rebel leading all the way to win at odds of 9/1, after being available at 20/1 on Betfair. Aevalon was sent off at odds of 20/1 with the bookmakers and over 30/1 on Betfair and ran on well to claim second place. A good-looking filly, she will improve a good deal for this first start. The EX (Exacta paid £202).  

Thursday 1 May 2014

2000 Guineas Preview

The first Classic of the season, the 2,000 Guineas, is not renowned for throwing up long-priced winners, but Makfi (33/1) and Cockney Rebel (25/1) have been successful since 2004. All but five of the entries for this year’s renewal, due off at 3.50 p.m. on Saturday, May 3, are available at odds of 16/1 or longer in the ante post lists, so an upset is not totally out of the question.

The first of those at longer odds to take the eye is Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner, Outstrip, who is available at 28/1, in a place, in the ante post lists. The Exceed And Excel colt has 2¾ lengths to find with War Command on their running in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket last October and a neck to find with Toormore on their running in the Veuve Clicquot Vintage Stakes at Goodwood earlier last season, but both those races were over 7 furlongs.

Despite being sired by a sprinter, the Rowley Mile promises to bring out the best in him and, considering that both Toormore and War Command are available at single-figure prices, he looks massively overpriced. Indeed, The Grey Gatsby, whom he beat by 3 lengths in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last September, finished second, beaten just 2 lengths, behind Toormore in the Craven Stakes over course and distance on his reappearance at Newmarket.

Lester Piggott’s son-in-law, William Haggas, has never won the 2,000 Guineas, but has trained 12 3-year-old winners from 32 runners already this season and probably knows that 3-year-old form as well as anyone. Bearing that in mind, it’s perhaps a little surprising that his Oasis Dream colt Ertijaal can be backed at 40/1 in places.

Admittedly, he would be an unusual 2,000 Guineas winner insofar that he has yet to win a Group race of any kind and he has only been workmanlike in winning both starts over 7 furlongs on the Polytrack at Lingfield so far this season. He is currently officially rated 17lb inferior to Toormore, despite having been beaten just a neck by Richard Hannon’s charge in a maiden, over 6 furlongs, at Leicester on his debut last May, so probably needs to improve. However, that’s by no means out of the question after just four career starts and he’s another for whom a realistic case can be made at generous odds.

It’s been 23 years since Mystiko completed the European Free Handicap – 2,000 Guineas double, so the statistics don’t favour Shifting Power, who won the former race in a bunch finish on the Rowley Mile. He also appears to be Richard Hannon’s third string, if the ante post market is to be believed, but the one bookmaker offering 50/1 about an unbeaten, well-bred colt may be taking a chance.

Of course, any one of the front five in the market could win and the chances are that one of them will, but that’s not what this column is all about. Our three against the field, in order of preference, are:

Outstrip (28/1 with William Hill)
Ertijaal (40/1 with 888 Sport)
Shifting Power (50/1 with Bet Bright)

Win or lose, enjoy the race and good luck!