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Tuesday 27 December 2016

This Year's Big Outsider Win

It's been an interesting and lively sporting year but surely the biggest and most shocking outsider win of them all was none other than Leicester City who managed to clinch the 2015/16 Premier League at mind boggling odds of 5000-1. Most punters, even Leicetser fans, didn't actually see the bet through to its conclusion, instead cashing out early, though there were a handful of punters who did manage to win a pretty penny! While Leicester's performance this season is more in line with what you'd have expected last year, perhaps the most surprising part of this whole achievement was that the team won the league by a clear ten points (81 to their nearest rivals Arsenal at 71 points).

I feel that we'll be waiting a good while until we find another Leicester level premier league win. It's a once in a lifetime win! Still, let's hope that 2017 offers up a handful of huge priced outsiders for us to take advantage us, whether on the nags, football or another sport!

Friday 9 December 2016

What do you buy a horse that has everything?

When your horse has nice cosy bedding, a top quality saddle, a warm coat and new shoes every 6 weeks it’s hard to think what else you could get them besides more carrots and feed.

This Christmas we have compiled the top Christmas gifts for any spoilt pony. These are the most unique and fun gifts for riders and owners. Although, your horse might not agree….

Whatever your budget these present suggestions will have your horse racing around the paddock with excitement.

  1. Gold Label Treats

This is one gift your horse will love you for. This stocking available on Ebay contains a selection of quality treats in apple, herb, carrot and mint flavours.

  1. Santa? Nay….

Your horse might not pass as Santa but it can play dress up as a reindeer if only for Christmas Day. This novelty outfit available online includes a rug with a fleece lining for extra warmth, cosy fleece leg wraps trimmed with white fur and antlers. 


  1. Your little helper

The full Santa outfit might be a tad OTT, so calm it down a little and choose this cute little elf hat!

These mini hats are available in a number of designs and styles perfect for a little Christmas cheer.

  1. Carrot countdown

They make an advent calendar suitable for every diet nowadays. Even your horse has their own calendar even if they need help counting down the days. This advent calendar contains carob and peppermint flavour treats behind each door.

Buy it here

  1. Jolly Good Fun

Keep your horse or pony entertained with this staple stable favourite, the Jolly Ball. It stays inflated even when punctured and comes in various sizes and colours.

Buy it here

  1. Tongue Twister

If it’s a tad to frosty to let the horses out into the yard keep them entertained until the ice melts with this Lickit! Attach to the stable wall and it provides hours of entertainment.

You can buy this here

  1. Tongue Twister

If you really want to spoil your best friend this Christmas then why not buy this Equilibrium Therapy Massage Pad.

At £290 plus it really is a treat for your horse. The pad, which fits to your horse and helps to improve flexibility, and stride strength, comes with a rechargeable battery and charger.

Thursday 1 December 2016

Becher Chase Preview

You might expect that a valuable handicap chase over 3 miles 2 furlongs and the National fences would throw up a few long-priced winners and the Becher Chase has done just that over the last 10 years. Winners at 25/1 (twice), 20/1, 14/1 (twice) and 10/1 in that period are more than enough to whet our appetite so, as usual, we’ve come up with a few that could go well at rewarding odds.

Highland Lodge (16/1) won this race last year, on soft going, off a 5lb lower mark and, while he hasn’t been seen in public since pulling up in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr in April, would appear to have a decent chance of a repeat if fit and ready to do himself justice after an absence of 231 days. James Moffat’s 10-year-old has won a couple of times on the prevailing good to soft going and has won, or run well, on his seasonal reappearance a few times in the past. In any case, his trainer reports him in ‘tip-top form’ ahead of this year’s renewal.

Saint Are (16/1) could only finish seventh, beaten 32 lengths, behind Highland Lodge in this race last year, but is only 1lb higher in the weights than when winning at Doncaster in February and should be spot on after two runs already this season. He has plenty of experience over the National fences, having been placed in this race and the Grand National, itself, in the past and the drying conditions forecast for North West England between now and Saturday are very much in his favour. Regular partner Adrian Heskin is at Sandown to ride God’s Own in the Tingle Creek Chase but, in his absence, Brian Harding is a more than able deputy.

Milborough (33/1) has yet to tackle the National fences, but is usually a fairly sound jumper and, having won the Eider, over an extended 4 miles, at Newcastle in 2015, shouldn’t fail through lack of stamina. Ian Duncan’s 10-year-old is just 1lb higher in the weights and ran creditably on his seasonal reappearance when fourth of 12, beaten 13 lengths, behind Carrigdhoun over 3 miles 2 furlongs at Carlisle in October. He needs to improve to win this, but that’s not beyond the realms of possibility on just his second start since April and he’s undeniably well handicapped on his best form.

Selections: Highland Lodge (16/1), Saint Are (16/1), Milborough (33/1)

Tuesday 22 November 2016

World Cup of Golf, Thursday, November 24

I bit of a change of tack this week, with an outsider golf tip, instead of our usual horse racing offerings. 

The World Cup of Golf gets underway at the Kingston Heath Golf Club, in Melbourne, Australia on Thursday and, although the Wales pairing of Bradley Dredge and Stuart Manley is hardly the most fashionable, odds of 125/1 in a field of 28 are just too tempting to resist. Key to Welsh success could be the Kingston Heath, one of Melbourne’s sandbelt courses, which should suit both players, and the vagaries of the inconsistent and cool Melbourne spring, which are likely to keep temperatures in the high teens at best.

Dredge, ranked 89 in the world, demonstrated his liking for “firm and fast” conditions when finishing tied for eleventh in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last month. Dredge won the World Cup of Golf alongside Stephen Dodd in Portugal in 2005, when the final round was abandoned, so is no stranger to coming in ‘under the radar’ in the 72-hole stroke play event. Manley, ranked 873, arrives in Australia having secured his European Tour card at the Final Qualifying Stage at the PGA Catalunya Resort, under difficult conditions, and should not be underestimated in an event in which he finished tied eighth, under extraordinary circumstances, at Royal Melbourne Golf Club three years ago.

Selection: Wales (125/1 with 32Red or 888Sport)

Monday 21 November 2016

David O’Meara Set for a Big Day at Newcastle on November 17

David O’Meara had five runners on November 17 across the cards at Chelmsford City and the newly installed all-weather surface at Newcastle. O’Meara has had two wins from his last six starts, while Alfred Hutchinson came very close to giving him a hat-trick of successes on November 12 at Lingfield but was just touched off by a length.
The Yorkshire-based trainer was expected to have more joy on November 14 at Newcastle with Mon Beau Visage who was heavily tipped up to win a handicap over 7f, but the 3/1 favourite was headed inside the final furlong and had to settle for seventh place in the race won by Kalk Bay.
The highlight of the year so far for O’Meara has to be his success in Arlington Million XXXIV Stakes where Mondaliste landed the spoils in the Grade One contest at Arlington Park back in August to pick up just short of £400,000 in prize money.
With the turf season done for the year, O’Meara will be concentrating on having as many winners as he can on the all-weather surface during the winter. Here is a look at the chances of O’Meara’s runners at the two meetings on November 17 in what could be another great day for the in-form trainer.
1.25 Newcastle – Betway Sprint Stakes
The first of four runners for O’Meara starts in this competitive 6f sprint at Newcastle where he saddles Highland Acclaim. The consistent five-year-old has been placed on his last two starts so has been knocking on the door of late.

The gelding was only beaten by less than a length at Chelmsford City last month when running off a mark of 90. He led going into the final furlong but just got headed in the last 100 yards by Boomerang Bob and Doctor Sardonicus, who finished first and second respectively.
Highland Acclaim went so close to making up for that loss when he ran at Wolverhampton on his latest start. This time off an official rating of 87, he was just over a length away from the winner, Upstaging, a four-year-old from Paul Cole’s yard, while the heavily experienced Seeking Magic was a neck in front of him in second place.
The horse’s last start was over the sharper trip of 5f which was the first time he had run over that distance before. O’Meara has opted to step him back up to 6f at Newcastle, the distance all four of his career wins have come at and the trip which looks to be where he is most comfortable at.
Highland Acclaim goes into this handicap with a mark of 91, however, that should not punters off backing the horse. He has won off 94 before, while his two recent runs both indicate he is running very well so he may only need a bit of luck to go his way for him to return to the winners’ enclosure.
The danger in the race will be the lightly raced Spanish City who won over this course and distance last month. At the age of just three and with only five runs under his belt, he could be ahead of the handicapper for trainer Roger Varian.
Dragon King is also worth a mention right near the bottom of the weights. Michael Dods’ horse went so close to victory last time out at this course. The first-time headgear seemed to work well on the horse so it would be no surprise to see this son of Dylan Thomas in contention again in the closing stages of this 6f contest.
1.55 Newcastle - Betway Maiden Stakes
Sunglider will be bidding to break his maiden at Newcastle at the 12th attempt under the hands of Graham Gibbons. The three-year-old was first given a mark of 85 by the handicapper but he has sloped all the way down to 75 which gives him a great opportunity to win for the first time. O’Meara’s runner is the top-rated horse in this 1m2f contest and it may not take much winning if he can bring his best performance.
The closest Sunglider has come to breaking his maiden was in his two-year-old campaign when he was trained by Dermot Weld in Ireland. The colt chased home a highly thought-of Aidan O’Brien runner in Shogun where he finished just over two lengths behind the Coolmore runner.
Since that outing at the Curragh, Sunglider has finished second on three other occasions, including runs at Ripon and Thirsk. The three-year-old switched stables earlier this year and he ran for the very first time for O’Meara back in May where he finished second behind Sir Michael Stoute’s Mustashry off a mark of 84.
Sunglider was prominent in the betting on his latest start at Newcastle on the all-weather surface where he handled the track well to finish third of eight runners over 1m2f. The colt was close up inside the final furlong and kept on well under pressure but was unable to go with Ready and L’Inganno Felice who finished ahead of him crossing the line.
To end up in Weld’s stable as a two-year-old, the horse is clearly well bred and with the greatest respect to O’Meara, was probably expected to go onto bigger opportunities than this handicap as a three-year-old. Unfortunately, he has not lived up to what his breeding has suggested he would do. However, that is not to say the Yorkshire trainer can’t find an improvement out of the horse.
The biggest threat to Sunglider in this maiden looks to be James Fanshawe’s runner Issue. He has only seen a racecourse twice and was expected to score at Kempton on his latest start where he went off as the 2/1 favourite. He may just have needed those outings to get used to the whole experience of a racecourse. It would be no surprise to see him make a considerable improvement.
Given it is a weak maiden, it may be wise to also watch the market for any support for Black Is Black and Maifalki who are both making their debuts.  It is not normally advised to back horses who are making their first run, however, they would not need to be special to take this contest.
Sunglider definitely represents a solid each-way bet here though and if all 10 runners go to post, O’Meara’s runner should have a great chance of finishing in the frame and picking up some place money at the very least.
5.50 Chelmsford – ToteQuadpot Four Places In Four Races Claiming Stakes
After two races at Newcastle, O’Meara and his team will be hotfooting down to Chelmsford for their evening meeting. The first of his three runners on the card comes in the 6f sprint at 5.50 where Regal Dan will look to defy top weight against seven rivals.
The talented Regal Dan arguably is O’Meara’s best chance of a winner at Chelmsford as the six-year-old has been running in much better company than this field so is more than capable of picking up the prize money for connections. The talented Shelley Birkett picks up the ride on this sprinter which is very helpful as she claims three pounds of his back.
Regal Dan came very close to winning two weeks back at Chelmsford over the slightly longer trip of seven furlongs. He finished second behind the odds-on favourite Fort Bastion in a really respectable run.
It’s been a busy campaign for the six-year-old as this will be his 12th run of the year. He started his campaign back in April at Doncaster in a Class Three handicap and the closest he has come to winning was at Town Moor in July where he was denied by a nose in a photo finish against James Tate’s Brazos. This horse has been rated as high as 91 so off a mark of 83 at Chelmsford, you have to feel the handicapper has given him a chance.
It’s only a small field for this sprint but the majority of their runners will be in with a chance, including Zac Brown who is the officially the highest rated in the contest at 92. He featured in a Listed race at Lingfield not long ago so is clearly the danger to O’Meara’s runner.
6.25 – Chelmsford – Handicap

O’Meara has given himself two chances of winning this seven-furlong handicap at 6.25 as he mounts That Is The Spirit and He’s No Saint to take on the field. Both horses look to have an excellent chance of being in the mix in what is the best race on the card at Chelmsford.
O’Meara has booked the services of William Buick to ride That Is The Spirit which is an excellent boost for the horse. This five-year-old has been one of the flagship horses in the Yorkshireman’s yard. In 2014 he ran in the Group One Qatar Prix de la Forêt at Longchamp as a three-year-old, while the following season he was successful in a Listed contest and also took part in the Group Two Betfred Hungerford Stakes.
At the age of five, That Is The Spirit is being campaigned in high-class handicap races like this one at Chelmsford. He was a winner two starts back at this trip at Ayr where he made all the running at the Scottish track to score by a head.
The six-year-old’s latest run at Leicester last month is a concern as he ran very flat, finishing last of the six runners. However, if you put a line through that outing, he deserves to be near the top end of the betting for this race and will be in with every chance of coming out on top.
He’s No Saint doesn’t quite have the same CV as his stablemate, however, the son of Dutch Art has earned just short of £60,000 for his connections with four wins to his name in his career so far.
The gelding came very close to a course and distance success last month only to be denied by a head behind George William. At a starting price of 16/1, O’Meara’s runner was not fancied to be in the running, however, he ran very well off a mark of 88 to suggest another big run could follow on Thursday.
He’s No Saint has one win to his name this season. He scored at Lingfield back in September when Champion Jockey Jim Crowley rode him to victory in a six-runner contest. He justified favouritism on that occasion to land the spoils. Since that victory, he has struggled a little with his mark and has finished down the field in runs at Chelmsford and York.
The highest rated horse in this race is Chookie Royale. Despite being eight years old now, the veteran still has to be respected, as he proved on his latest start where he scored at Kempton off a mark of 104.
Chookie Royale has had 66 races so far in his career and has earned just short of £200,000 in prize money. At his very best, Keith Dalgleish’s runner has been rated as high as 111 therefore at 110 he is just shy of that figure.
The eight-year-old has a six-pound penalty to contend with following his Kempton win but Shirley Teasdale will be taking five pounds off his back so connections will fancy of more success from their horse.
Further down the card, Supersta is another interesting contender. He has not been seen on a racecourse in 161 so it would be a fantastic training job from Michael Appleby if he were to come out on top. This five-year-old is a course and distance winner and has Luke Morris in the saddle, arguably the best all-weather jockey riding today.
Of the two O’Meara runners, That Is The Spirit clearly has the best chance of success, however, at the prices, He’s No Saint could be a solid each-way selection given there are 13 runners in the field so you have three places on your side.

Thursday 17 November 2016

Betfair Exchange “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle Preview

The Betfair Exchange “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle, run over 2 miles 6 furlongs and 177 yards at Haydock, is often not quite as competitive as it appears on paper. Three favourites have won in the last 10 years, but nine winners in that period were sent off at odds of 12/1 or shorter. Nevertheless, the rigid construction of the obstacles – which are similar to plain fences, but obviously not as high – always makes for a fascinating contest, in which the emphasis is on clean, accurate jumping as well as stamina.

Rathpatrick (25/1) hasn’t been seen since pulling up in the valuable Murray Spielman Handicap Hurdle at Punchestown in April, but was sixth of 24, beaten 3½ lengths, behind Mall Dini in the Pertemps Network Final at the Cheltenham Festival on his visit to mainland Britain and warrants close attention off an identical handicap mark. The Oscar gelding remains 12lb higher than when winning at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve, but should be competitive if fit and ready to do himself justice after an absence of 205 days.

Western Cape (20/1) weakened quickly when only thirteenth of 18, beaten 70 lengths, behind Barney Dwan over 2 miles 4 furlongs at Sandown on his final start last season. That form leaves him with plenty to find with Two Taffs, but he was only beaten a head by Herbert Park over 2 miles 7 furlongs on his reappearance at Worcester and is entitled to improve for that run, his first since March. The Westerner gelding only 5lb better off for 63¼ lengths with Two Taffs, but he is almost certainly better than he showed at Sandown and remains a decent prospect.

Donna’s Diamond (40/1) unseated rider at the third fence on his chasing debut at Wetherby three weeks ago, but doesn’t look impossibly handicapped on the pick of his form over hurdles and merits consideration, despite stepping up in class. The Cloudings gelding is relatively lightly raced for a 7-year-old and, although still 5lb higher in the weights than when winning over 3 miles 2 furlongs at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day, has an abundance of stamina that should stand him in good stead for this stern test.

Selections: Haydock Saturday 2.25 Rathpatrick, Western Cape, Donna’s Diamond

Tuesday 8 November 2016

7.55 Chelmsford, Friday, November 11

The meeting at Chelmsford on Friday is well subscribed and the final race on the card, the Totepool Betting at Handicap (7.55), a 16-runner, Class 6 affair, looks just the race for us.

Glorious Dancer has a 100% record at Chelmsford, having won a small 0-75 contest over a mile last February, off a handicap mark of 66, when with Ed Walker. He has yet to trouble the judge in six starts on Polytrack for Lee Carter, but has consequently tumbled down the weights and looks well handicapped if the return to the Essex track sparks a revival. He’s bred to be a sprinter and his two previous attempts beyond a mile were less than awe inspiring, but he would have a squeak if anywhere near his best.

Angel Of Light finished last on her first two starts in maidens at Wolverhampton and Bath in April and showed only minor promise when eighth of 13, beaten 14½ lengths, behind Mazaz in a similar race on her return to action at Kempton last month. Nevertheless, she’s by the excellent young sire Dark Angel, starts life in handicaps at a lowly level and is the only unexposed runner in the field. Trainer Jo Hughes is only 1-14 at Chelmsford in recent years, but jockey Pat Cosgrave is 1-4 for the yard on the all-weather, so Angel Of Light could find the necessary improvement.

Rainford Glory is 2-33 on the all-weather and hasn’t won a race of any description for over a year, but is 5lb lower in the weights than when winning at Redcar last October and shaped with some promise when fourth of 12, beaten 4¼ lengths, behind Mr Frankie at Wolverhampton last month. All of his wins have come at 1 mile 2 furlongs or further, so steeping back up in distance appears in his favour, especially if the first-time visor has the desired effect.

Selections: Chelmsford 7.55 Glorious Dancer, Angel Of Light, Rainford Glory

Friday 4 November 2016

November Handicap Preview

As is customary, the November Handicap, run over 1 mile 4 furlongs at Doncaster on Saturay, brings down the curtain on the Flat season proper on Saturday and, as is customary, a maximum field of 23 runners is set to go to post in search of one last hurrah. The November Handicap has produced one winning favourite in the last ten years and four other winners at single-figure prices in the same period. Nevertheless, winners at 20/1 (twice), 14/1 and 10/1 (twice) in the last decade give us at least some cause for optimism.

Trendsetter (33/1) belied odds of 50/1 when keeping on to finish fourth of 12, beaten 5½ lengths, behind easy winner To Be Wild over course and distance two weeks ago and could go well again with David Egan taking off 7lb. He’s no better off with Wrangler for the length he finished behind William Haggas’ charge on that occasion and he arguably has less scope than his old rival, but he has winning form on good to firm, good and soft going and doesn’t look impossibly handicapped on the pick of his form.

Mirsaale (25/1) emerged from a lengthy spell in the doldrums in April, following his return to Keith Dalgleish, but earned himself a 24lb rise in the weights, which has made life more difficult for him, on the Flat, at least. Nevertheless, he has demonstrated his well-being with three excellent efforts over hurdles in recent months, including a close third in Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow last month. He remains 7lb higher in the weights than when winning easily over 2 miles at Ripon in April, but is equally effective over this shorter distance and clearly on good terms with himself.

Unseasonably fast ground on Town Moor may well put the proverbial cat among the pigeons as far as the result of this race is concerned but, apart from the two already mentioned, it’s hard to find anything in the ‘outsider’ category that’s won without ‘soft’ in the going description. Consequently, we’ll stick with two against the field this week. Good luck!

Selections: Doncaster 3.35 Trendsetter (33/1 with bet365), Mirsaale (25/1 with Bet365)

Thursday 3 November 2016

Rich to Keep Getting Richer

"Cheltenham racecourse" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carine06
It promises to be another stellar season for leading owner Rich Ricci as he contemplates which races to target with his battalion of pink-clad equine stars. The biggest conundrum for Ricci and trainer Willie Mullins will be how to keep their runners apart and which big targets they should be taking aim at over the season. Wherever the big prizes are to be won in Britain and Ireland, Ricci's runners are sure to be prominent in the Bet365 racing betting, with Douvan, Vautour, Annie Power and Faugheen amongst the top talents in the now iconic pink and green silks.
Ricci's recent revelation that Douvan might run in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day has certainly muddied the waters when it comes to the chasers. Last season's Arkle hero, still unbeaten, is widely expected to run in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March. Such has been the majesty of Douvan's runs over two-miles that he would be almost un-opposable in that race.
Were he to keep his unblemished record by winning the King George, there would of course be a clamour to make the Gold Cup his primary spring target. Ricci – like Mullins – has yet to win the Blue Riband and having made a potential error back in March by re-routing Vautour at the Ryanair Chase instead of the Gold Cup, they would be loathe to swerve it in the event that Douvan showed up well over the three-mile trip at Kempton.
There is also the case of Vautour to consider. Narrowly denied by Cue Card in the Kempton showpiece last December, he is entitled to another shot at the prize and Ricci says he could line up. Mullins and Ricci may fancy a tilt at the £1m Jockey Club Triple Crown Bonus this season and that would mean having a rare runner in Haydock's Betfair Chase. Vautour is surely the logical contender for that Grade One and if he is victorious on Merseyside, all roads would lead to Kempton. It is worth remembering that Vautour routinely seems to be able to bring his very best form out at Cheltenham in March. He has won in all three festival appearances and, whichever race he appears in come the spring, Vautour will be one to keep onside.

"National Hunt Chase" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carine06
There is also plenty to consider in the hurdling ranks after Annie Power worked the oracle as last season's Champion Hurdle supersub. She brilliantly ended a 22-year wait for a mare to win the two-mile contest and what's more, she did so in the fastest time that has been posted this century in the race. Surely Annie Power will get the chance to retain her crown?
That could mean Faugheen heads the way of the World Hurdle. There has been speculation that he will step up in trip and the stayers contest could be his destination. Injury denied Faugheen his chance to defend the Champion Hurdle crown in March but no one should forget that he had produced what many felt was a career-best performance at Leopardstown in February before being sidelined. There's no doubting the Mullins and Ricci axis of power will be winning races over the course of this jumps season. They have the firepower to potentially dominate and their biggest challenge might well be in deciding how to distribute their considerable wealth as each big race comes along.

Tuesday 25 October 2016

4.20 Nottingham, Wednesday, October 26

At this time of year, large fields on the Flat and frequent going changes increase the likelihood of ‘shock’ winners and make life difficult for the typical punter, but are a godsend as far as we’re concerned. Sprint handicaps are notoriously difficult to solve in any case, so the 4.20 at Nottingham on Wednesday, a lowly Class 5 (0-75) handicap due to be run over 5 furlongs and 13 yards, with 17 declarations, looks just the race for us.

Rusty Rocket won a 0-90 contest at Redcar in May off a handicap mark of 80, so would clearly have an outstanding chance in this lower grade off his current mark of 75, if anywhere near his best. He’s won on good to firm, good, good to soft and soft going, so clearly isn’t ground-dependent, so why he’s failed to reproduce that level of form in seven subsequent starts is something of a mystery. That said, he’s never been the most consistent but, his current handicap mark is his lowest since winning at Catterick last season and he drops into this grade for the first time since, so he wouldn’t be winning out of turn.

Nocturn has clearly deteriorated since winning a 0-105 contest, over 6 furlongs, at Newmarket off a handicap mark of 94 way back in his 4-year-old days. In fact, the Oasis Dream gelding has won just once since joining Ronald Harris in February last year, but even on that form would have an excellent chance. He’s 6lb lower in the weights than when winning a 0-85 contest, over 5 furlongs, at Windsor in July last year and, with Ciaran McKee taking off a further 5lb, is extremely well handicapped on his bets form. He has yet to win on going softer than good, but has run well on more than one occasion with cut in the ground, so shouldn’t be inconvenienced by underfoot conditions.

Young Tiger is 1lb out of the handicap proper and took a backward step when only seventh of 10, beaten 5½ lengths, in a Class 5 maiden at Newcastle last month, but may be better judged on his previous effort at Beverley. He only weakened in the last hundred yards when beaten 2½ lengths by the 74-rated Dance Alone on that occasion, on just his second start, so looks well treated off a mark of 60 on his handicap debut. He’s bed to be speedy and remains open to significant improvement on just his third start on turf.

Selections: Nottingham 4.20 Rusty Rocket, Nocturn, Young Tiger

Tuesday 18 October 2016

15:50 Doncaster, October 22nd - Racing Post Trophy

If we include the 2006 renewal, staged at Newbury, the Racing Post Trophy has actually produced seven winning favourites in the last 10 years. However, winners at 33/1 and 25/1 in the same period provide cause for optimism, as far as this column is concerned and, with the bookmakers betting 10/1 bar three ante post, we couldn’t resist a dabble in the last Group One contest of the season.

Aidan O’Brien, who has won the Racing Post Trophy seven times, is responsible for six of the 17 horses that held their ground at the latest declaration stage, including the first two in the market, Capri (5/4) and Yucatan (5/1). Capri kept on well to beat Yucatan by three-quarters of a length in the Group Two Beresford Stakes at the Curragh last month and sets a decent standard, for all that he’s yet to win on ground faster than yielding.

Frankuus (16/1) is by Frankel out of a Linamix mare, so it shouldn’t really be a surprise that he’s improved for the step up to a mile, and beyond, on his last two starts. He recorded a career-best effort when beating Prince Hlodowig by a neck in the Group Three Prix de Conde, over 1 mile 1 furlong, at Chantilly last month and, while he needs to improve again to win, that’s not beyond the realms of possibility.

Sir Dancealot (16/1) is bred to be a sprinter and looked good value for his winning margin when beating Dream Of Dreams and Perfect Angel by three-quarters of a length and half an length in the Listed Rockingham Stakes, over 6 furlongs, at York two weeks ago. He weakened close home when third, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the Group Three Tattersalls Stakes, over 7 furlongs, at Newmarket on his previous start, but must have decent prospects of staying a mile, especially on a flat track. If he does, it doesn’t require a leap of faith to envisage him being involved in the finish.

Contrapposto (25/1) has plenty to find with the principals on official figures, but his maiden form behind D’bai and Rivet has been well advertised and his chance may not be quite as forlorn as his odds suggest. Indeed, the Cacique colt opened his account when keeping on strongly to win his maiden at Nottingham earlier this month and looks a smart performer in the making. Whether he’s smart enough to cause an upset at this early stage of his career remains to be seen, but he looks one to keep on the right side.

Selections: Doncaster 3.50 Frankuus (16/1), Sir Dancealot (16/1), Contrapposto (25/1)

Monday 10 October 2016

5.15 Bath, Wednesday, October 12

There’s no shortage of runners at Bath on Wednesday and the Culloden Handicap (5.15), a 0-70 contest run over 1 mile 3 furlongs and 144 yards, looks the sort of race in which we should have an interest.

The aptly-named Never To Be hasn’t won for three seasons, but showed signs of a revival when dropped into 0-60 company at Ffos Las last month and – notwithstanding a sole, unsuccessful effort over hurdles at Ludlow last April – attempts a distance beyond an extended mile for the first time. Trainer Nikki Evans switches first-time blinkers for the first-time visor the Thewayyouare gelding wore at Ffos Las and, if lasting home, he must have a squeak, especially with Callum Shepherd taking off a useful 5lb.

Being by Medicean out of a Generous mare, Free Passage was always likely to be suited by middle distances and, indeed, he did find significant improvement when stepped up to 1 mile 2 furlongs at Windsor in August. After two solid placed efforts in this grade, he broke a blood vessel when stepped down in class and up in distance at Ffos Las last time and whether or not he really qualifies as an ‘outsider’ depends on how the bookmakers react to a horse that finished last of eight, beaten 76 lengths, behind Prospectus in a race where the favourite was a ten-race maiden, albeit with a valid excuse.

Highland Code is getting any younger and isn’t really in any form, but the same comments would have applied when he positively hacked up, off today’s mark, in an amateur riders’ race, over this sort of distance, at Doncaster early last season, so it’s dangerous to write him off completely. He makes just his second start after nearly a year off and, having been relatively lightly raced on the Flat, may still be capable of a forward showing.

Selections: Bath 5.15 Never To Be, Free Passage, Highland Code

Thursday 6 October 2016

Dubai 100 Challenge Stakes Preview

The Dubai 100 Challenge Stakes (2.40) at Newmarket on Friday has typically been a poor race for favourites in recent years and, while the nature of the race means that it’s rarely won by an out-an-out longshot, we fancy a couple to go better than their odds imply.

It’s interesting that connections are still persevering with Code Red (40/1), who’s still an entire colt and could, conceivably, have been shipped off to stud by now. Anyway, the son of Bahamian Bounty ran his best race of the season when last of six, beaten just 2¾ lengths, behind Opal Tiara in the Supreme Stakes at Goodwood in August, his first start since May, and may be able to build on that effort. The form leaves him with a little to find with So Beloved and Jallota, but he could fare better if ridden with a little more restraint and comes into the race a relatively fresh horse. Any rain that falls is in his favour.

So Beloved (14/1) ran his best race of the season when second of ten, beaten 1¼ lengths, behind Nemoralia in the City of York Stakes three starts ago, but has failed to settle in subsequent races. On his best form he only has a few pounds to find with the principals and, with a slightly larger field to help him settle, he could represent some value at double-figure odds. He’s yet to win a Group 2 contest, but was far from disgraced in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes, over a mile, at Goodwood in July – a race in which Richard Pankhurst finished last – and appears to have been underestimated by the bookmakers.

Selections: Newmarket 2.40 Code Red (40/1), So Beloved (14/1)

Wednesday 28 September 2016

2.00 Ascot, Friday, September 30

The Veolia Handicap (2.00) at Ascot on Friday is the most competitive race on the card, numerically, and a tight handicap, with just 7lb separating the 18 runners, so looks well worth a crack. Frankly, it’s difficult to write off any of them with any degree of confidence, so we’ve highlighted a couple that we think could go well at rewarding odds.

Free Zone is on a losing run of 14, but is consequently 6lb lower in the weights than when rallying gamely to win a 0-90 contest at Doncaster last season and obviously well handicapped on his best form. The Kodiac gelding has form over further, so a testing 7 furlongs should play to his strengths if he’s able to stage a revival and this race looks easier than most he’s contested over the last 12 months or so.

Valbchek hasn’t done much racing, at all, in the last 18 months and hasn’t won on turf since his 3-year-old days with Jeremy Noseda, but hasn’t been entirely disgraced on his two starts since returning to action after over a year off and is starting to look well handicapped. In fact, Jane Chapple-Hyam’s 7-year-old is 5lb lower in the weights than when finishing third, beaten just half a length, in a 0-100 contest over 6 furlongs at Newbury early last season, so would be nailed on if able to reproduce that form at this lower level.

Lyfka has won two of his three starts over 7 furlongs in this grade this season, off handicap marks of 82 and 83 and was left with too much to do on the other, off a handicap mark of 84, so must have a decent chance once again. The Kheleyf filly has come up short when raised in class on her last two starts, but that should be reflected in her price and she’s fully effective on a sound surface.

Selections: Ascot 2.00 Free Zone, Valbchek, Lyfka

Tuesday 20 September 2016

6.05 Redcar, Wednesday, September 21

No shortage of runners at Redcar on Wednesday and the closing race on the card, the Racing UK Day Pass Just £10 Handicap (6.05), is not only the most competitive race of the day numerically, but also a lowly 0-65 sprint handicap, so looks ripe for a turn-up.

Mercers Row won a 0-75 contest over course and distance last September off a handicap mark of 72 and a 0-85 contest over 5 furlongs at Pontefract the following month off a handicap mark of 76 so, despite having troubled the judge just once in twelve starts since, merits close consideration off a handicap mark of just 65. The Bahamian Bounty gelding drops into this grade for the first time since winning over 7 furlongs at Thirsk early last season and is reunited with P.J. McDonald, who’s 1-3 on him, so it’ll be interesting to see what the layers make of his chances.

At the other end of the handicap, Goadby won a similar race, on good to firm going, at Nottingham in June under Royston French off a handicap mark, so must have every chance of winning again off a 1lb higher mark if able to reproduce that form. Of course, that is a big ‘if’ because, despite the Nottingham form having been franked by the third and fourth, Goadby herself has finished nearer last than first on all four starts since. Nevertheless, the Kodiac mare seems capable enough on her day and is undeniably well handicapped if in the right mood.

Perfect Words has yet to win beyond 5 furlongs, despite numerous attempts over 6 furlongs, 7 furlongs and even a mile. However, the Thousand Words gelding was far from disgraced when fifth of 10, beaten 6 lengths, behind Aprovado in a 0-75 contest over course and distance earlier this month so, with Robert Winston taking over from 3lb claimer Jacob Butterfield, must have a squeak off a 1lb lower mark.

Selections: Redcar 6.45 Mercers Row, Goadby, Perfect Words

Friday 16 September 2016

Weld Gives Green Light for Harzand Arc Run

Despite a recent eighth place finish in the Irish Champion Stakes, trainer Dermot Weld has revealed that he still intends to run Harzand in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly next month. Weld revealed that the dual derby winner had been part of a collision at Leopardstown, and was found to be lame on inspection after the race. The three year old is among the favourites in the horse racing betting odds among bookmakers for the world’s most iconic race, and should well make up part of the line-up if he continues to progress well following his latest outing.

Despite being behind the likes of Postponed and Almanzor in the running at present, odds of 10/1 with online betting certainly look worth backing, given the credentials of Weld’s prized asset. Having won the Irish Champion Stakes ahead of rivals Found and Minding over the weekend, Jean-Claude Rouget’s horse is unsurprisingly given odds of just 5/1 at Betway to claim another famous victory.

Meanwhile, leading the pack at present is Juddmonte International hero Postponed, with trainer Roger Varian talking up his chances of victory after a recent success at York. Having already claimed the Coronation Cup, Dubai Sheema Classic and Dubai City of Gold among others so far this year, Postponed is at just 3/1 in the horse racing betting with Betway, with many pundits convinced that the five-year-old will come out on top once more.

Elsewhere, La Cressonniere emphatically entered Arc contention recently, with a hugely impressive victory in the Group 2 Prix de la Nonette at Deauville. Unbeaten in six starts, including the Group 1 Prix de Diane at Chantilly in June, three-year-old is yet another potential winner for Frenchman Rouget. For those of you looking to back a potential outsider come October, back La Cressonniere now, with odds at Betway falling all the time.

Despite losing out to Wicklow Brave in the Irish St Leger this past weekend, as well as having been handed the top weight for November's Melbourne Cup, Order of St George remains in contention for the race at Chantilly, and is seen as the 25/1 outsider at Betway. With trainer Aidan O’Brien looking set to choose the event at Flemington over the French Classic, odds of 16/1 for Order of St George to win the Melbourne Classic certainly look favourable at this moment.

Wednesday 14 September 2016

5.20 Ayr, Thursday, September 15

The SM Signs Handicap (5.20) at Ayr on Thursday has produced just one winning favourite in the last ten years and looks as competitive as ever this time around. Twenty runners, headed by Crosse Fire, are set to face the starter and, while Scott Dixon’s 4-year-old is rated 17lb higher on synthetic surfaces than on turf, he still warrants close inspection.

The Monsieur Bond gelding has been dropped another 5lb since finishing fifth of 13, beaten 6¾ lengths, behind Singeur on his last outing on turf, in a 0-85 event at Catterick in July, and appears in 0-70 company for the first time since winning, convincingly, off a 3lb higher mark at Southwell in January. He finished last of twelve, beaten 18 lengths, behind Magnus Maximus over 6 furlongs at Chelmsford last month, so clearly isn’t without risk, but is inordinately well handicapped if anywhere near his best.

Next door to Crosse Fire, in stall 17, Townsville is another whose handicap mark is in freefall and can be given a squeak on his first attempt over 5 furlongs in a first-time visor. Formerly owned by Khaled Abdullah and trained by Amanda Perrett, the Zamindar gelding has yet to trouble the judge in four starts for his new connections, but was still in the firing line at this distance when attempting to make all over 6 furlongs on the course last month. The drop back to the minimum trip could be a shrewd move, especially as he’s 2lb lower in the weights, well drawn and has the headgear to help him concentrate, but could equally be an act of complete desperation.

Finally, an honourable mention – no pun intended – must go to connections of long-standing maiden Bannock Town, who has yet to start at odds shorter than 66/1 and has yet to trouble the judge in 23 starts stretching back three seasons. In fact, the Denounce gelding has finished stone cold last on 16 occasions and, from 11lb out of the handicap, looks destined to do so once again. Good luck to all concerned, but if Bannock Town breaks his duck here I’ll eat my hat.

Selections: Ayr 5.20 Crosse Fire, Townsville

Monday 5 September 2016

Pinnacle Cup Straight Mile Series Qualifier

The Pinnacle Cup Straight Mile Series Qualifier (3.50) at Redcar on Tuesday features 16 runners, exactly half of whom have never won on the prevailing good to soft going, or softer, and just one of whom troubled the judge last time out. As such, a ‘shock’ result is by no means out of the question, so we’ve highlighted a couple that we think might have punters thumbing through their racecards.

Bahama Moon made a bright start to the season, winning a similar race over course and distance, on heavy going, on just his second start for David Barron. He subsequently finished last on both attempts over 7 furlongs, but he ran a little better back over a mile at Thirsk in July – albeit when only ninth of 14, beaten 5¼ lengths, behind Ginger Jack in a 0-90 contest – and he’s another 2lb lower in the weights today. He’s obviously not without risk, but he’s attempting little or nothing more than he’s achieved in the past if he’s anywhere near his best.

Haraz is still a maiden after 14 starts, which may tell it own tale, but the Acclamation gelding has run creditably on all five starts in handicaps since joining David O’Meara in May and wouldn’t exactly be winning out of turn. He was far from disgraced when fifth of 9, beaten just 2½ lengths, behind Dolphin Vista in a 0-105 affair over 1 mile 2 furlongs at Beverley ten days ago – from 2lb out of the handicap and carrying 1lb overweight – so must have an outstanding chance, off a 4lb lower mark, if able to reproduce that form over a mile. He has yet to tackle going softer than good, but taking chances is what we’re all about and he looks worth chancing.

If you need one for the Tricast, Altharoos hasn’t won since last August, but has consequently been dropped 9lb in the weights since the start of the season and is starting to look well handicapped. Sally Hall’s 6-year-old ran his best race for some time when fifth of 14, beaten 3 lengths, behind Fuwairt in a similar race over course and distance last month. He has a squeak off a 2lb lower mark, dropping back into this grade for just second time in over a year. Sally Hall doesn’t have many horses in her Brecongill yard these days, but she still knows the time of day and Altharoos looks one to keep on the right side in first-time cheekpieces.

Fingers crossed for the selections this week. A nice big win early in the week wouldn't go a miss! I've been on Hityah Media site, having a bit of a flutter on the roulette, as I'm off to Great Yarmouth (again!) soon, for a bit of a race track and casino break. A few of us go this time every year. Let's see how it pans out this time!

Selections: Redcar 3.50 Bahama Moon, Haraz, Altharoos

Thursday 25 August 2016

3.20 Goodwood Revival Stakes, August 27th

The Goodwood Revival Stakes (3.20) on Saturday has produced four winning favourites, including one joint favourite, in the last 10 years, and no winner at odds longer than 7/1 in the same period. As such, it wouldn’t typically be a race for us, but any 20-runner handicap is always likely to throw up an unconsidered winner and, as usual, it’s our job to find it. Withernsea remains 7lb higher in the weights than when winning at Doncaster last November, but has been running creditably in defeat this season and doesn’t look impossibly handicapped. The Dark Angel gelding was never beyond mid-division in the Stewards’ Cup, over an inadequate 6 furlongs, at Goodwood four weeks ago, but his previous form over 7 furlongs was solid enough. His three wins have come on good to soft, soft and heavy going, but he’s equally effective on the prevailing good going. In fact, he was beaten just a length in a similar race at Haydock at April, on good going, off 1lb lower mark, so must have a decent chance if putting his best foot forward. Musley Bank trainer Richard Fahey also saddles Farlow, who is 1lb lower in the weights than when winning at Doncaster last August and consequently 12lb better off for 1¼ lengths he finished behind Withernsea in the aforementioned race on Town Moor last November. The Exceed And Excel has yet to trouble the judge in six starts this season, but was only beaten 1¾ lengths in a similar race at Newmarket in July, off a mark of 100, so looks well handicapped off a mark of 96. He needs everything to go right for him, but is clearly not without a chance if it does. That Is The Spirit was quite highly tried after making all to beat subsequent winner Dusky Queen by 1¾ lengths in a Listed race at Haydock last May and, while his handicap form this season is nothing to write home about, he has tumbled down the weights as a result. In fact, a 10lb drop since the start of the season means that David O’Meara’s 5-year-old is just 3lb higher in the weights than when winning a competitive handicap at York as a 3-year-old, so he has a definite squeak if retaining his old ability. He requires a leap of faith, but that should be factored into his price and he could go well at silly odds. Selections: 3.20 Goodwood Withernsea, Farlow, That Is The Spirit

Tuesday 16 August 2016

1.55 York, Wednesday, August 17

The Symphony Group Stakes (1.55) at York on Wednesday is a hugely competitive contest in which the bookmakers 10/1 the field and, with exactly half the runners trading at 20/1, or longer, odds in the ante post betting, it looks just the race for us.

Meadway (40/1) has an absence of 54 days to overcome, but won the consolation race for the Scottish Sprint Cup, over 5 furlongs, at Musselburgh on his penultimate start and can be forgiven a lesser effort on the Tapeta at Newcastle last month. The Captain Gerrard gelding remains 6lb higher in the weights than at Musselburgh and has been beaten on all five attempts at this level over the years, but the Musselburgh race has thrown up several winners and he’s not badly drawn in stall 9, so he must have a squeak over a course and distance where he won as a three-year-old.

Soapy Aitken (33/1) made a promising start to his career last season, winning his first two starts and finishing fourth of 27, beaten 2½ lengths, behind Washington DC in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot. However, the Pastoral Pursuits colt has failed to trouble the judge in six subsequent starts, including when dropping back into handicap company at Ascot eleven days ago. He went off like the proverbial scalded cat on that occasion – his first attempt at 6 furlongs – so the dropping back to the minimum trip on a less testing course is definitely in his favour and he, too, has a single-figure draw.

Baraweez (25/1) has never raced at a distance short of 7 furlongs and has been fighting a losing battle with the handicapper since winning over that distance, off a 4lb lower mark, at Galway last August. The Cape Cross gelding has run creditably in defeat on the same course on his last two starts but, for a horse that was tried over a mile and a half as a three-year-old, when with Freddie Head, the decision to run him over the minimum trip is either a stroke of genius or a last resort.

Selections: York 1.55 Meadway (40/1), Soapy Aitken (33/1), Baraweez (25/1)

Big Outsider Wins

Here at we regularly highlight what we deem to be any given week's 'outsiders to watch'. As you'd expect with outsider bets, sometimes we're on the money and at other times our selections fall slightly (or completely!) short. It's inevitable with big priced horses really (or big odds events in any sport) that you're more often than not up against it from the off. That's part of the fun of betting on seemingly unlikely events though, the act of spotting something that others manage to miss and the feeling of beating the odds. A big win for a tiny outlay doesn't hurt either!

Where horse racing is concerned, there have of course been a good few 'meltdown moment' on betfair, where layers are convinced that they're picking up a few pounds here and there by laying a 'no hoper', only for it to storm home, defeating expectations and the layers betting bank in the process. With the big racing events, such as the festivals, a couple of memorable wins include Mon Mome in the 2009 Grand National, ridden by Liam Treadwell and coming it at an impressive 100-1 with bookmakers, the biggest priced winner National winner in many a decade. There was also a 100-1 winner, Norton's Coin , in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1990. Imagine having a small wager on that, it would surely bring about a Cheltenham Roar.

Of course those going even further out on a limb, will instead often go for a multiple bet. In a way these types of bets, even though they often contain short priced selections too, are the ultimate outsider bet. They're often a combination of gut feeling, knowledge of a sport and pure pot luck and result in sometimes mind boggling odds. As I always say though, accumulators make more sense than doing the lottery - it's at least odds to chance. A well known horse racing accumulator win of recent years is the bet Darren Yeats placed on Frankie Dettori's 'magnificent seven'. Essentially all seven of Dettori's rides won that day resulting in Yeats winning a staggering £550,000 from a £59 bet.

Football is no strangers to huge outsider wins too. It was only last season that Leicester City did the (apparently not so) impossible and won the Premier League at a staggering 5000-1. Few punters bet on that, but what a windfall for those who did! As for other outsider / unlikely type wins, there are numerous stories from outside of sports betting at casinos and the like. One that comes to mind is the huge win by US cocktail waitress Cynthia Jay, who was celebrating her Mother-in-law's birthday at the Monte Carlo casino in Las Vegas in 2000. On her 9th spin she won the staggering $34,959,458.56 megsbucks jackpot. I've been playing a few of the pokies machines at M88Asia of late. No mega bucks style win for me so far I'm afraid :-D, but it's good fun none the less. My time will come I'm sure!

What's your biggest win?

Thursday 11 August 2016

Great St Wilfrid Stakes 3:55, Ripon, August 13th

The Great St. Wilfrid Stakes, run over 6 furlongs at Ripon, is the highlight of the season at the North Yorkshire track. Four favourites, including the last three, have won the race in the last 10 years, but were accompanied by winners at 20/1, 18/1, 11/1 and 10/1 (twice), so we at least have a fighting chance of unearthing some value for money.

The ante post favourite, Orion’s Bow (5/1) is one of the most progressive horses in training, having risen 37lb in the weights since May, but his presence does, at least, introduce the potential for rich pickings at the other end of the market.

Go Far (33/1) finished second, beaten a head, in a 0-105 handicap over 6 furlongs at Goodwood on his seasonal reappearance in May, only to be awarded the race in the stewards’ room, and races off an identical handicap mark. He finished last of ten from a wide draw at Chester next time but, although never beyond mid-division, wasn’t entirely disgraced in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood two weeks ago. He won the Ayr Bronze Cup last September off a 7lb lower mark so, while he needs to improve on recent efforts, he won’t be a totally forlorn hope if he does.

Mythmaker (25/1) is only 2lb higher in the weights than when beaten a neck by See The Sun in a highly competitive 0-105 handicap over 6 furlongs at York on his penultimate start and would have an obvious chance if able to reproduce that form. His subsequent effort on the Tapeta at Newcastle was tame by comparison, but he wouldn’t be the first horse to be unsuited by that surface. He’s been campaigned almost exclusively on artificial surfaces since last October, but the York run represented arguably a career-best effort and he deserves a chance to confirm that promise.

Selections: Ripon 3.55 Go Far (33/1), Mythmaker (25/1)

Tuesday 2 August 2016

8.05 Newcastle, Thursday, August 4

The ROA/Racing Post Owners’ Jackpot Handicap (8.05) at Newcastle on Thursday is a lowly 0-65 handicap that has attracted 14 runners, but only a few in any recognisable form and only a few with any form on the Tapeta surface. In such circumstances, a ‘shock’ result is always a possibility, so we’ve selected a few that we think could go well at rewarding odds.

For Shia And Lula is on a losing run of seventeen and his recent form, including on Tapeta at Wolverhampton, is nothing special, but it’s worth noting that his last three wins came in better races than this over 7 furlongs at Wolverhampton off handicap marks of 75, 71 and 69 respectively. He races here off a mark of 61 so, with apprentice Toby Eley taking off a further 7lb, he is undeniably well handicapped if anywhere near his best.

Alans Pride is on an even longer losing run, of nineteen, stretching back to his juvenile days, but his two runs on Tapeta at Wolverhampton earlier this season weren’t without promise, so he must have a squeak, especially as the second of his wins as a two-year-old came over 7 furlongs off a handicap mark of 70. Off a handicap mark of 54, he warrants close attention back on Tapeta, for all that his last two starts on turf were less than awe-inspiring.

Last, but hopefully not least in this week’s game of ifs, buts and maybes, Just Paul is another professional loser who hasn’t won for twenty-three starts and has never raced on an artificial surface of any kind. On the upside, that does mean that, at least, he’s unexposed on Tapeta and is 21lb lower in the weights than when winning a much better race over 7 furlongs at Musselburgh as a year-old. If a first-time hood rekindles his old enthusiasm, and he takes to the surface, he may exceed expectations.

Selections: 8.05 Newcastle, For Shia And Lula, Alans Pride, Just Paul

Monday 25 July 2016

2:00 Goodwood, Tuesday, July 26th

The Qatar Goodwood Festival kicks off on Tuesday with the Matchbook Betting Exchange Stakes (2.00), a Class 2 handicap run over 1 mile 1 furlong and 192 yards. An 18-strong field is due to face the starter and, with more than half of them available at odds of 16/1, or longer, in the early price lists a ‘shock’ result is a distinct possibility.

Noble Gift (20/1) has encountered good to firm going just once, on his racecourse debut at Newbury four years ago, but has yet to finish outside the first four on five previous visits to Goodwood, including on good going, so could be worth chancing even if underfoot conditions are a little faster than ideal. William Knight’s 6-year-old has been quite highly tried since winning over 1 mile 4 furlongs at Ripon in April, but is consequently just 2lb higher in the weights and just 5lb higher than fourth of 16, beaten 1½ lengths, behind Mount Logan in this race last year. The Cadeaux Genereux gelding clearly enjoys the West Sussex air and can make his presence felt once again.

Imshivalla (20/1) wouldn’t be the most consistent mare in training, but is very useful on her day and could trouble the best of these if deigning to put her best foot forward. She was certainly visually very impressive when travelling strongly and staying on to beat Gold Prince by 1¼ lengths over 1mile 2 furlongs at Epsom three starts ago and remains just 5lb higher in the weights. She ran the proverbial ‘stinker’ when tailed of tenth of 11, beaten 45 lengths, behind Newzaah in a Listed race at Newcastle on her penultimate start, but looked on much better terms with herself over a mile at York last time and the return to further appears in her favour.

Selections: Goodwood 2.00 Noble Gift (20/1), Imshivalla (20/1)

Tuesday 19 July 2016

3:20 Ascot, Saturday, July 23rd

The Gigaset International Stakes, a Class 2 handicap run over 7 furlongs at Ascot, is our race of choice this week. No favourite has won the race in the last 10 years and eight of winners in that period were sent off at double-figure prices, so our search for value may not be entirely in vain.

The first one that takes our eye is Scottish Glen (50/1) who, despite being in the veteran stage of his career, enjoyed an excellent campaign in 2015.He won three times, including over course and distance in July, and finished second twice from five starts, officially improving 16lb in the process. His form this term hasn’t been at quite the same level, but he was only beaten a neck and a short head in a 0-95 contest on the July Course at Newmarket last month and looks far from impossibly handicapped off a 2lb higher mark. All three wins last season were recorded on good to firm going, which he’s likely to encounter for the first time this season, so some further improvement is by no means out of the question.

B Fifty Two (66/1) is hardly prolific, but is capable of decent form and usually pops up at least once a year. Charles Hills’ 7-year-old is probably better known as a sprinter, but has won over 7 furlongs and is just 4lb higher than when last winning a handicap. He has won on firm, good to firm, good and good to soft, so should run his race whatever the weather in Berkshire between now and Saturday afternoon and would have a squeak if back to his very best. That is quite a big ‘if’, because he’s finished nearer last than first on his last two starts, but the handicapper has finally relented, to the tune of 2lb, and he’s never been easy to predict.

Mullionheir (33/1) made giant strides last season, winning five times and going up 36lb in the weights in the process, so it was disappointing that he could only finish eleventh of 13, beaten 10½ lengths, behind Clear Spring on his reappearance at Newbury in May. He remains on a career-high mark, has yet to win on going faster than good and returns from a 71-day break, but wouldn’t be without a chance if able to resume his progress. John Best’s 4-year-old has had just 13 career starts so could, easily, have more to offer this season.

Selections: Ascot 3.20 Scottish Glen (50/1), B Fifty Two (66/1), Mullionheir (33/1)