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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