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Friday 29 May 2015

2.55 York, 30th May

The Spring Sprint, run over 5 furlongs at 2:55 30 May in York, has thrown up seven winners at double-figure prices in the last ten years, so it’s the perfect race for us to get our teeth into.

Low drawn horses tend to have an advantage in large fields on the straight course when the going is good, or faster, while the opposite is true when the going is on the soft side. The going on the Knavesmire is currently good but, with showers forecast for Friday and overnight, it’s hard to predict what the prevailing underfoot conditions will be by mid-afternoon on Saturday.

Willbeme (16/1), drawn 13, remains weighted to her very best after two highly creditable efforts in defeat in Pattern and Group company towards the end of last season. Neville Bycroft’s 7-year-old mare could only finish fifth of fifteen, beaten 3 lengths, behind Out Do over course and distance on her reappearance earlier this month, but is entitled to improve for that run, her first since August. She’s also 5lb better off for 2¾ lengths with the runner-up Red Baron, so appears to have every chance of reversing the form. She’s won on good to firm, good and good to soft going and her prominent racing style should be an asset on the Knavesmire.

Astrophysics (16/1), drawn 14, nearly caused a shock when only beaten a head, at 50/1, by Beacon in the Polypipe Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster last September, only to be turned over, at 1/2, in a match at Salisbury on his only subsequent start. The son of Paco Boy, who’s made a good start with his progeny, is effective on good to firm and good going, but is untried on softer. He’s yet to actually win over 5 furlongs and has an absence of 241 days to overcome, but remains a sprinter of no little potential after just five starts and looks reasonably treated on his handicap debut.

Kingsgate Choice (20/1), drawn 4, looks extraordinary value for a horse that ran in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp in 2013. Ed de Giles 8-year-old raced just three times, without success, last season, but is consequently 1lb lower in the weights than when winning the William Hill Scottish Sprint at Musselburgh. Just about all ground comes the same to him, too, and he has the ability to run well at a huge price.

Our three against the field, this week, are Willbeme (16/1), Astrophysics (16/1) and Kingsgate Choice (20/1). All prices are will the sponsors, Titan Bet. Good luck!

Monday 25 May 2015

4:30 Leicester, May 26

Finding selections that we expect to go well at rewarding odds is tricky, especially during midweek, but the Coronation Fillies’ Handicap (4.30) at Leicester looks an above average contest for the grade and might just be ripe for a turn up.

For a filly who ran creditably off higher marks in two nursery handicaps over 7 furlongs on the Rowley Mile Course at Newmarket last autumn, Conjuring ran too badly to be true when only eighth of eleven, beaten 30 lengths, behind Lahayeb at Nottingham earlier this month and deserves another chance. She’d handled soft ground well enough at Newmarket and was ridden along at Nottingham long before the 1 mile ½ furlong would’ve been an issue, so it’s reasonable to assume that she just wasn’t fit enough to do herself justice.

If that was the case, the daughter of Showcasing looks attractively handicapped and should be suited by dropping in class and distance on good to firm going. Win or lose, she looks extraordinary value at 33/1 with Bet 365 and Ladbrokes in the early price lists.

Selection: Leicester 4.30 Conjuring to win

Thursday 21 May 2015

3:45 Haydock, Saturday 23rd May Tips

The Temple Stakes, a group two race run over 6 furlongs at Haydock racecourse, is a little less competitive, at least numerically, than some of the races we typically analyse. Indeed, the race has thrown up four winning favourites in the last ten years and just one winner, Celtic Mill (16/1) in 2005, at double-figure odds in that period.

However, the defection of ante post favourite Sole Power has given this year’s renewal an open look and there are one or two in the field that we think could belie generous starting prices by running well.

Jack Dexter (20/1) hasn’t won for 18 months and has done most of his winning over 6 furlongs, but, with the going at Haydock already good to soft and patchy rain and drizzle forecast for Thursday and Friday, he could have his ideal conditions for the first time this season. He finished fifth of nine, beaten 4 lengths, in this race last year, but was denied a clear run throughout the final furlong on that occasion and would certainly have finished much closer with a clear passage. Helpfully, he’s also 8lb better off with the winner this time, so coming here off a narrow defeat in the Group 2 Duke of York Stakes, over 6 furlongs, at York ten days ago, he looks monstrously overpriced.

Justice Day (16/1) could finish only eleventh of fifteen, beaten 5½ lengths, but it’s interesting to note that his best recent form has been over 5 furlongs, rather than 6, so the return to the minimum trip could show him in better light. He has 1¼ lengths to find with Goldream on their running in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket earlier this month, but has done most of his winning with cut in the ground, so should be better suited to the prevailing underfoot conditions than Robert Cowell’s six-year-old.

So there you have it, Mesdames et Messieurs. A little shorter and sweeter than usual this week, but our two against the field in the Temple Stakes are, in order of preference, Jack Dexter (20/1 with Ladbrokes and William Hill) and Justice Day (16/1 with William Hill). Cheer on these or your selections on Saturday 23rd at 3:45 . Good luck!

Tuesday 19 May 2015

7.50 Southwell, Wednesday, May 20

In the 18 to 30 Golf Membership £210 Handicap Hurdle (7.50) at Southwell on Wednesday, Band Of Thunder proved a revelation on his first start for Mark Tompkins at Plumpton ten days ago and seems sure to be popular under a 7lb penalty. However, the six-year-old hasn’t stood much racing in recent seasons and may not be especially robust.

The handicapper may also have caught up with Follow The Tracks, who remains 18lb higher in the weights than when winning comfortably at Taunton three starts ago and appeared to be beaten fair and square at Fontwell last time, so a ‘surprise’ result doesn’t look entirely out of the question.

That said, there’s plenty of ‘dead wood’ in the race, so finding a likely winner from beyond the front pair in the market is no easy task, either. Storm To Pass (14/1) ran a promising race on his first start for nearly a year, in a better race than this, at Fakenham last April and was far from disgraced over a seemingly inadequate 2 miles 3½ furlongs at Towcester last May on his only subsequent start.

The Overbury gelding has another lengthy absence to overcome and has his stamina to prove conclusively, but he’s only 2lb higher than his last winning mark and has the services of talented conditional jockey Bridget Andrews, so he could be the solution in a race that may not take as much winning as the numbers suggest.

 Selection: Southwell 7.50 Storm To Pass to win

Thursday 14 May 2015

3.45 Newbury, Saturday, May 16

Six favourites and three second favourites have won the Lockinge Stakes in the last 10 years, so it hasn’t been a great race as far as this column is concerned. However, a new sponsorship deal with Al Shaqab Racing has resulted in increased prize money and more runners than ever before in the 57-year history of the race, so we live in hope!

The first one, and possibly the only one, that takes our eye this week is Tullius (25/1), who attempts to become the oldest horse ever to win the Lockinge Stakes. That isn’t totally beyond the realms of possibility because Andrew Balding’s 7-year-old has just a length to find with the favourite, Night Of Thunder, on their running in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot last October, is 3lb better off at the weights and possibly holds a fitness advantage over Richard Hannon’s charge, who has an absence of 210 days to overcome.

By contrast, Tullius has already run twice this season, winning the Listed Betway Doncaster Mile Stakes in workmanlike fashion on his reappearance in March before failing to stay 1 mile 2 furlongs (not for the first time in his career) in the Group 3 Bet365 Gordon Stakes at Sandown last month. The son of Le Vie Dei Colori is officially rated just 4lb inferior to Night Of Thunder and, while all his wins on turf have come on good or softer going, he finished second in this race last year on good to firm going, so he should run his race whatever the weather in the South East.

The statistics are firmly against him, in terms of age, class and odds but, in the fervent hope that he doesn’t read this column, Tullius is just too long to resist at 25/1 with Bet365, Boylesports, Sporting Bet and Stan James.

Selection: Newbury 3.45 Tullius (25/1) to win

Sunday 10 May 2015

7.20 Windsor, Monday, May 11

The Ladbrokes Royal Windsor Stakes (7.20) on Monday essentially revolves around Richard Hannon’s 4-year-old Shifting Power, who has 5lb an upwards in hand of his rivals, according to official ratings, and is 11/8 favourite in the early price lists to win the £20,983 first prize. However, it would be fair to say that the son of Compton Place has become slightly disappointing since finishing fourth in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and second in the Irish equivalent at The Curragh last May. He’s been a beaten favourite on his last three starts and, although this represents his easiest assignment since winning the European Free Handicap at Newmarket last April, he may be worth opposing at a very short price.

Without him, the field is much of a muchness, in terms of official ratings, and there’s plenty to like about Sirius Prospect, who returned from a fruitless spell in Dubai with a decent third, beaten half a length and a neck, in the Bet365 Doncaster Mile last month. Dean Ivory’s 7-year-old is an infrequent winner these days, but still quite capable when on song, as he proved when running on strongly to win a Class 2 handicap over 7 furlongs at Kempton in November. He’s 6lb better off for the 3 lengths he was beaten by Intransigent at Ascot in October and, unlike Andrew Balding’s charge, has won previously won over a mile.

Selection: Windsor 7.20 Sirius Prospect to win

Friday 8 May 2015

Swinton Hurdle Preview

The Pertemps Network Hurdle, registered as the Swinton Hurdle, has thrown up winners at 25/1 and 16/1 (four times) in the last ten years, so it’s definitely one of our favourite races at this time of year.

Rayvin Black (14/1) has been found wanting over 2 miles 3½ furlongs at Ascot and 2 miles 4 furlongs at Sandown in recent months, but has shown progressive form at, or around, 2 miles. Back at the minimum trip on a flat track, the Halling gelding promises to be a different proposition and is just 4lb higher in the weights than when beaten three-quarters of a length in the Imperial Cup, over 2 miles ½ furlong, at Sandown two starts ago. Underfoot conditions are likely to place the emphasis on speed, favouring those who race on or close to the pace, so Rayvin Black is definitely one for the shortlist.

Lexi’s Boy (25/1) has evidently had his problems, which have restricted him to just four runs over hurdles in the last three seasons, but he ran better than his finishing position suggests when ninth of twenty-one, beaten 19 lengths, in a similar race over 2 miles 4 furlongs at Aintree last month. The Verglas gelding only weakened between the last two on that occasion and, if he can build on that effort, looks far from impossibly handicapped. All four of his career wins have come at the minimum trip, on good, good to soft and soft going, so he looks another to keep on the right side.

Fergal (20/1) is an interesting contender insofar that he’s run in a novice chase at Plumpton, a maiden at Lingfield and 0-100 handicap at Chelmsford on his last three starts. He finished last of four in the former and last of seven in the latter, but won by 9 lengths at Lingfield, so probably isn’t badly handicapped off a mark of 141 if you consider he finished eighth of twenty, beaten 8¼ lengths, in the valuable Galway Hurdle last July off a mark of 143. Furthermore, he attempted to make all on that occasion, so a return to forcing tactics could show him in better light here.

Selections: Rayvin Black (14/1 generally available), Lexi’s Boy (25/1 with Bet365, Paddy Power and Coral) and Fergal (20/1 with Paddy Power).

Good luck!