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Friday 31 July 2015

Qatar Stewards' Cup, 3:45, Saturday, 1st August

The Stewards’ Cup, run over 6 furlongs, is the betting highlight on the fifth and final day of what is now known as the Qatar Goodwood Festival. A maximum field of 28 runners is set to face the starter on Saturday and, as usual, we’ve selected a few that we think could go well at generous odds.

The first of them, Poyle Vinnie (16/1), did us a favour when making all in the Scottish Stewards’ Cup at Hamilton fifteen days ago and still looks reasonably treated under a 6lb penalty. The Piccolo gelding has officially improved by 34lb since the start of last season but, judged on his Hamilton effort, may not have finished improving just yet. He’s won on soft, good and good to firm going, so shouldn’t be inconvenienced by drying conditions at the West Sussex track between now and Saturday and he’s not badly drawn to execute his usual front-running tactics in stall 4.

Basil Berry (33/1) finished seventh, beaten 5½ lengths, in the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot and ran to a similar level of form, despite being denied a clear run in the closing stages, in a 0-100 contest over 7 furlongs at Haydock four weeks ago. He’s only 2lb higher in the weights than when winning in 0-95 company at Ascot in May, has the services of Silvestre De Sousa, who’s 2-4 on him, and is drawn in the range of stalls that has produced eight of the last ten winners of the Stewards’ Cup.

So far, we’ve selected one drawn low and one drawn in the middle, so it makes some sense to have one drawn high as well. Fortunately enough, our third and final selection, Related (18/1), is drawn right on the stands’ side in stall 24. In fact, David Simcock’s 5-year-old finished two places and 2½ lengths ahead of Basil Berry in the Wokingham Stakes and is just 1lb worse off. He may not be as well drawn as Basil Berry this time, but his fourth of seventeen, beaten just 1¼ lengths, behind Rene Mathis in the Bunbury Cup, over 7 furlongs at Newmarket three weeks ago was another solid effort and he should be thereabouts once again.

So, in order of preference, our three against the field this week are Poyle Vinnie (16/1 generally available), Related (18/1 with Bet365) and Basil Berry (33/1 generally available). Good luck!

Wednesday 29 July 2015

2.05 Goodwood, Thursday, July 30

The Land Rover Stakes (2.05) at Goodwood on Thursday is a tight little heat, and not so ‘little’ either, with eighteen runners set to face the starter over the undulating 1 mile 1 furlong and 92 yards at the West Sussex track. Nevertheless, it does provide us with an opportunity for a midweek ‘tilt’ which, as regular readers know, we always find difficult to resist.

The one that immediately takes our eye is Richard Fahey’s Spring Offensive (33/1), who may have had excuses on his two most recent starts and looks feasibly weighted on his best form. The Iffraaj gelding didn’t help his chance by hanging at Sandown two starts ago and took a keen hold when only fifth of six, beaten 1¾ lengths, behind Intiwin at Ayr last month, but is just 3lb higher in the weights than when just touched off in a 0-100 contest, over a mile, on his reappearance at Musselburgh in April.

He wasn’t beaten far at Ayr and the form has already been franked by the third, Get Knotted so, provided the extra two furlongs isn’t beyond him, he could go well at generous odds. He’s actually yet to win beyond 7 furlongs, but seems to get a mile well enough, so he appears to have every chance of staying the extra distance on a course that is fairly sharp in character.

Selection: Goodwood 2.30 Spring Offensive (33/1) to win

Thursday 23 July 2015

3:15 Ascot, Saturday July 25th - Gigaset International Stakes

The Gigaset International Stakes, run over 7 furlongs at Ascot, has produced no winning favourite in the last ten years and winners at 40/1, 33/1 (twice), 25/1, 18/1, 16/1 and 14/1 in the same period, so definitely looks a race in which we have a chance of extending our recent run of good fortune.

Notably, five of the first six finishers in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket a fortnight ago reoppose but, with the exception of Heaven’s Guest (14/1), none of them have much in the way of course form, so it may be judicious to look elsewhere for this week’s selections.

The first one that takes our eye this week is the complete ‘rag’ Sir Robert Cheval (40/1). Marco Botti’s 4-year-old has yet to win on turf, but has run creditably on all three starts this season and doesn’t look impossibly handicapped on his best form. Indeed, the Green Desert gelding is 7lb better off for 2¾ lengths with Zarwaan (14/1) on their running at Newcastle four weeks ago but is, mystifyingly, available at nearly three times the price. Apprentice Marc Monaghan takes off a useful 3lb and the partnership is well drawn in stall 26, if recent results in the race are anything to go by.

Another ‘rag’, Nakuti (40/1) appeared to put up something approaching a career-best effort when winning the Listed Pipalong Stakes, over a mile, at Pontefract earlier this month and looks fairly treated under a 3lb penalty. The fourth at Pontefract, Rekdhat, was only just touched off in a 0-100 fillies’ handicap last Saturday, off a mark of 91, so there is reason to believe that Nakuti, who had 6¼ lengths in hand, has been underestimated by the bookmakers. Her three career wins have come on good or softer going but, with persistent, heavy rain forecast for Friday afternoon, she could well be in her element.

Veteran Hawkeyethenoo (22/1) was, unsurprisingly, taken off his feet over 5 furlongs at Musselburgh when last seen six weeks ago, but his previous third of twenty-six, beaten 2¾ lengths, behind Speculative Bid over course and distance in May suggested that he may have a major handicap victory left in him. Jim Goldie’s 9-year-old is 8lb better off with the winner this time (and 8lb lower in the weights than when winning the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood three seasons ago), so you ignore the old boy at your peril!

So, in summary, this week’s selections are, in no particular order, Sir Robert Cheval (40/1 with Bet365 and William Hill), Nakuti (40/1 with William Hill) and Hawkeyethenoo (22/1 with Stan James). Good luck!

Wednesday 22 July 2015

20:00 York, Friday, July 24

In the Novus Stakes (8.00) at York on Friday, Chiswick Bey has been beaten, but not disgraced, on both starts since winning in 0-90 company over 7 furlongs at Musselburgh last month and remains feasibly weighted for a return to the winners’ enclosure. Indeed, the Elusive City gelding in just 1lb higher in the weights than at the East Lothian track and, while he has yet to win over a mile, has shaped as if a step up in distance might do him some good on recent starts.

His two most recent wins came under apprentice Samantha Bell, who rides stable companion Simply Shining, but he might just benefit from the stronger handling of stable jockey Tony Hamilton, who’s riding quite close to his minimum weight of 8st 7lbs. The Knavesmire isn’t always the easiest place to execute hold up tactics, but Chiswick Bey was placed on both previous visits (albeit a few years ago) and the fact that he’s (presumably) Tony Hamilton’s choice of Richard Fahey’s three runners speaks strongly in his favour.
Selection: York 8.00 Chiswick Bey to win

Saturday 18 July 2015

Three huge priced Outsiders in four posts!

We've had a great couple of weeks here at Outsider. On July 11th Rene Mathis was highlighted as an outsider in with a shot in the Bunbury Cup at 25-1. It ended up winning at an SP of 16-1. Then on Friday at the 17:40 Hamilton, Poyle Vinnie was presented as our only outsider pick and it romped home at an impressive SP or 22/1. Today Lathom was one of our picks for the 15:45 Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury finishing first at 28-1 SP.

Be sure to keep an eye on our selections next week too. Hopefully we'll continue our winning run!

Thursday 16 July 2015

Weatherbys Super Sprint (15:45, Newbury, July 18)

The Weatherbys Super Sprint, run over 5 furlongs and 34 yards at Newbury, has produced three winning favourites in the last ten years, but also winners at 100/1, 25/1 and 20/1, such that the average starting price of the winner in that period is approaching 18/1. This year, Tim Easterby saddles four runners, Richard Hannon saddles six and Richard Fahey saddles seven, so the race presents an intriguing puzzle for punter to solve.

Mark Johnston, who has plenty of strength in depth in the juvenile division this year, saddles just one, the twice-raced Royal Applause filly Hawatif (12/1). The winner of the Haydock maiden in which she finished fourth, beaten 2 lengths, on her debut in June, Blue Bayou, has since been beaten a nose and a short head in the Group 2 Duchess of Cambridge Stakes and Hawatif herself has since won her maiden at Carlisle by 6 lengths. She obviously takes a significant step up in class, but Silvestre De Sousa has a 7-28 (28%) strike rate on Mark Johnston’s juveniles so far this season, so the partnership must be feared.

Tony Hamilton has ridden more juvenile winners for Richard Fahey than any other jockey this season, so his mount Lathom (28/1) seems the natural place to turn for the pick of the Musley Bank trainer’s septet. The son of Compton Place was well beaten, but not entirely disgraced, in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, but his earlier second, beaten 1¼ lengths, behind subsequent winner First Selection (now rated 95) in a conditions stakes race at Beverley in May suggests his chance may not be as forlorn as his odds imply.

Quick And Quirky (20/1) could make no impression on Gifted Master in the closing stages at Newcastle, over six furlongs, last month, but the winner had previously been beaten just three-quarters of a length, at level weights, by subsequent Coventry Stakes winner Buratino, so there was no disgrace in that. The drop back to the minimum trip is something of an unknown but, even so, this outsider and daughter of Lilbourne Lad may be worth a punt.

A 25-runner sales race for juveniles probably warrants minimum stakes, but for anyone who fancies a ‘tilt’, our three against the field this week are Hawatif (12/1 with Paddy Power), Lathom (28/1 with Bet365) and Quick And Quirky (20/1 with Sky Bet and Stan James). Good luck!

Wednesday 15 July 2015

7.40 Hamilton, Friday, July 17

Here's hoping that some of you lumped on our Bunbury Cup selection last week. It's always good to find a nice priced winner!

The John Smith’s Scottish Stewards’ Cup (7.40) at Hamilton on Friday, is always well contested, as might be expected of a sprint handicap worth in excess of £20,000 to the winner. Sixteen runners are set to face the starter, but we’ve had our eye on one that we think should go very close at a decent price.

Poyle Vinnie officially improved 18lb on turf last season – plus a further 12lb on Tapeta and Fibresand during the winter – and has run creditably on both starts since returning to action at Newmarket last month. His latest fifth of sixteen, beaten just 1 length, in a 0-95 contest over 5 furlongs at York last week suggested his turn wasn’t far away and he may be capable of winning in 0-105 company for the first time.

The Piccolo gelding has yet to win on going softer than good but, while the going at Hamilton is currently good to soft, dry, bright weather is forecast for Strathclyde for Wednesday and Thursday, so he may well have his favoured conditions. In fact, notwithstanding a poor run on heavy going on his seasonal reappearance at Beverley last season, there’s no evidence that some cut in the ground would, necessarily, harm his chance in any case. All three of his career wins on turf, including one over 6 furlongs, have come on testing tracks, so he should appreciate the severe hill to the finish at Hamilton.

Selection: Hamilton 7.40 Poyle Vinnie to win

Thursday 9 July 2015

3:10 - Newmmarket, Saturday 11th July - Bunbury Cup Outsiders

The Bunbury Cup, run over 7 furlongs on the July Course  at 15:15 Saturday 11th at Newmarket, is a specialists’ event that often attracts the same horses year-after-year. In fact, the last two winners, Heaven’s Guest (16/1) and Field Of Dream (25/1) are among those who return for another crack at the £120,000 in guaranteed prize money. Neither should be dismissed out of hand, but for our selections this week we’ve turned to a couple of runners who like to race on, or close to the pace, which is often a desirable characteristic on the July Course.

Rene Mathis (25/1) has recorded both his career wins on turf on the July Course, including over course and distance last May and although well beaten in the Wokingham Stakes, over 6 furlongs, at Ascot three weeks ago he ran equally dismally in the Buckingham Palace Stakes, over 7 furlongs, at the same meeting last year. He’d previously only given best in the last half a furlong or so when fifth, beaten 3½ lengths, in a similar race at York and, back at Newmarket, he appears to have an obvious chance off the same handicap mark.

Sirius Prospect (33/1) has been campaigned at or around a mile so far this season, but all his career victories on turf have come at 7 furlongs or shorter and he races off a handicap mark just 3lb higher than when last winning a handicap on turf, at York two years ago. He was ridden very aggressively in the Royal Hunt Cup, over a mile, at Ascot three weeks ago, but weakened with a furlong to run and eventually finished out with the washing. His regular jockey Robert Winston remains absent through injury but, if his new partner Hayley Turner adopts the same positive tactics, he could go well over this shorter distance.

With the possible exception of the aforementioned Heaven’s Guest, who looks a shade high in the weights and could probably do with a drop of rain in any case, it’s difficult to enthuse about anything else that falls into the “outsider” category. So, for this week, our three against the field are Rene Mathis (25/1 with Bet365, Sky Bet, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes), Sirius Prospect (33/1 with Bet365, Sky Bet, Ladbrokes and William Hill) and Heaven’s Guest (16/1 with Bet365, Sky Bet and William Hill), with preference very much for the first named. Good luck!

Wednesday 8 July 2015

3.45 Newmarket, Friday, July 10

It’s not too often we have a “Heritage Handicap” to get our teeth into during the week, but the Betfred Mobile (3.45) at Newmarket on Friday is just that. Henry Candy’s progressive, unbeaten 3-year-old Twilight Son is likely to prove popular once again, so we should have plenty of room for manoeuvre at the other end of the market.

Squats is 10lb better off for the 3¼ lengths he finished behind Twilight Son at York last time and, while he’s by far the more exposed of the pair, the way he kept on in the closing stages at York suggested that the final hill on the July Course would play to his strengths. The Dandy Man gelding hasn’t won since edging out Profitable in a nursery handicap, over 5 furlongs, at Ascot last September and remains 9lb higher in the weights, but shouldn’t be underestimated.

Primrose Valley has just a single win, in a 0-75 nursery handicap, over 5 furlongs, at Newcastle last August, to his name on turf, so his improvement over the winter could simply be due to the switch to synthetic surfaces. However, the fact remains that he’s officially improved by 11lb since last October and is almost certainly better than he was able to show over 5 furlongs at Lingfield in April, when trapped wide on the track for most of the way. He, too, remains 7lb higher in the weights than when last winning a handicap but, if he can translate his all-weather from back to turf after 98 days, he could go well at decent odds.

Selections: Newmarket 3.45 Squats, Primrose Valley

Thursday 2 July 2015

Coral Charge Outsiders - 14:05, Saturday, July 4th

The Coral Charge, registered as the Sprint Stakes and run over 5 furlongs at Sandown, has produced three winning favourites and just one winner at a double-figure price in the last ten years. However, with two strongly fancied contenders, Waady and Mecca’s Angel, at the head of the betting for this year’s renewal, we think there’s some room for manoeuvre further down the list.

Son Of Africa (20/1) is officially the lowest rated horse in the field, but recorded a career-best effort when beating Union Rose by 3 lengths in the Diamond Dash Handicap at Newmarket two weeks ago, despite being denied a clear run in the closing stages. The previous week, Union Rose had finished sixth of nine, beaten 6¾ lengths, behind Waady in the Listed Scurry Stakes over course and distance so, if the form is taken literally, Son Of Africa has over 6 lengths to find with John Gosden’s charge.

However, it’s reasonable to assume that Union Rose improved for his seasonal appearance in the Scurry Stakes, his first run since last September, and Son Of Africa was attempting the minimum trip for the first time in his career at Newmarket. His juvenile form over 6 furlongs was far from shabby – he beat last Saturday’s Criterion Stakes winner Markab by half a length, in receipt of just 2lb, in a nursery at Goodwood last August – but 5 furlongs could be the making of him.

Harry Bentley, who rode him at Newmarket, stated afterwards that the son of King’s Stand Stakes winner Equiano relished the drop back in distance and that a step up in class would be perfectly justified. Veteran trainer Henry Candy has achieved his best results in recent years with highly talented sprinters, including Airwave, Markab, Music Master and, of course, Limato, to name but a few, so it’s interesting that he’s decided to bypass Heritage Handicaps and Listed Races and go straight for a Group race with Son of Africa.

Dutch Masterpiece (66/1) is in danger of becoming the proverbial “forgotten” horse, having been restricted to just three runs in the last two seasons. However, it wasn’t that long ago that he was winning the Group 3 Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh and on his way to contest the Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp. The Dutch Art gelding has clearly had his problems and his two starts this season have done little to inspire confidence in him, but connections deserve credit for their perseverance and, if anywhere near his best, he could give all of these a fright. Someone at Bet365 is frightened; the firm is offering just 25/1, half the price of anyone else!

Anyway, for richer for poorer – and we know which side our bread’s buttered, thank you – our two for a spot of wild speculation this week are Son Of Africa (20/1 with William Hill) and Dutch Masterpiece (66/1 with William Hill). You can even back ‘em each-way if you like! Good luck!!

Wednesday 1 July 2015

8.55 Epsom, Thursday, July 2

It’s fair to say that Outer Space, who began his career with Richard Hannon Sr., has become disappointing, but he’s still only a 4-year-old and there are reasons to believe that he retains significantly more ability than he showed when only seventh of thirteen, beaten 10 lengths, behind Musaddas on the Rowley Mile in May. The form of that race has worked out very well in any case, but the bare form may not tell the whole story.

The Acclamation gelding was 3lb better off for three-quarters of a length with the winner on their running over 7 furlongs at Kempton last November, but was never really put into the race by Timmy Murphy (who was riding him for the first time and retains the ride). He may still have needed the race, on just his second start since December, but the way he stayed steadily in the closing stages to pull 8 lengths clear of the horse that finished eighth suggested that he had plenty left in the tank. If that was really the case, the handicapper may have taken a chance in dropping him 2lb in the weights.

Outer Space didn’t appear to be crying out from a drop back to 7 furlongs at Newmarket, but drops back into 0-85 company for the first time since winning at Kempton last August, so has plenty going for him despite some uninspiring form figures. He’s available at 14/1 with William Hill and Betfair Sportsbook in the early price lists but, frankly, looks like a gamble waiting to happen.

Selection: Epsom 8.55 Outer Space to win