Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Get ready for a party with Blue Bunting

This Saturday sees the 235th running of Britain’s oldest classic, The St Leger. The race has been run in some form every year since 1776 with but a single exception in (1939) and fittingly for a such an enduring spectacle the focus is squarely on which horse has the stamina to last the distance.

The 1 mile 6 furlong trip represents a journey into the unknown for these three year old fillies and colts, most of whom will not have competed beyond 1 mile and four furlongs in their young lives.

As Town Moor holds its collective breath those who have stood the pace as far as the two furlong pole will settle down to battle out the finish. Horse and jockey forge together on into the void. A journey that began with three horses three hundred years ago through centuries of thoroughbred breeding has come to this latest inescapable moment. Onwards, with every hoof beat, into this unknown...

Sir Michael Stoute’s Sea Moon rocketed to favouritism for the season’s final British classic after a demolition job on the Great Voltiguer at York last time.

His performance was beguiling as he put his rivals (including Irish Derby second Seville) to the sword, running out an easy winner. Was the suicidal early pace of the O'Brien pacemaker to blame in leaving his endurance bred rivals out on their feet at the business end of the race? Possibly. With fellow Leger hope Namibian underperforming and subsequently found to have colic what is the worth of the form?

Seville was well behind Masked Marvel in the Derby at Epsom so could seemingly have a fair bit to find when he reopposes with John Gosden’s charge and the horse that one narrowly beat earlier in the season at Newbury, Census. Having been there or there abouts in a lot of group ones but has never had quite the ability to get his head in front. With the traditional Coolmore peloton conspicious by their absence he will be left to duke it out solo along way from home on saturday.

The horse that stands out is for me is Blue Bunting. What I would give to be holding on to a 6/1 docket with this young lady's name on it!

If you put your faith in omens then you will pleased to know that she takes her name from Cyanocompsa parellina, a small bird native to Latin America. Not an omen you say?! Well... back to remedial orthnithology for you for they are sexually dimorphic creatures. Despite the name only males of the species have a deep blue plummage in common with the Godolphin silks. Blue Bunting sees no reason to accept that because of her gender she may not bear that stratospheric blue. She will have whatever the colts have and more, she is emancipated.

One of the most consistent horses around this year having already won three group ones , she’s still 4/1 with most layers and looks like a smashing little bet to nothing for the each way thieves.

In the last decade half of the small number of fillies entered in the race have placed and the 3lbs weight allowance they receive has all the more time to aid them over a longer trip.

Blue Bunting is bred for stamina but had enough toe to steal this seasons 1000 Guineas and with 5 time St Leger winning pilot Frankie Dettori in the stirrups (the same man who has ridden her to three G1 success and one ignominious failure this season) she's certain to make the frame if not fly to victory.


For your Exacta:

1. Blue Bunting

2. Census

3. Masked Marvel

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Big Race Preview: Racing Post Chase, Kempton Park: Tatenen - Renaissance Horse

Hello there Punters,

Whilst I cannot tell you where I have been it's sufficient for you to know that I'm now back to guide your hands and hearts . All roads lead to Prestbury Park at this time of year but let's look away from Cheltenham for a moment and lower our gaze upon Kempton and this weekend's Racing Post Chase where I have a selection

He doesn't meet all the trends for Saturday's big race and I wouldn't advise mortgaging the farm on the lad but I have a feeling Tatenen will more than do himself justice and could go in at 12/1.

Tatenen began his career in late 2007 as a promising young 2 miler but after initial successes began slipping down the rungs of the chasing ladder. He suffered the odd fall and unseated his rider on a few occaisions. Disappointment after disappointment has seen him moved on three times during his career and he has come to rest at the small West Sussex operation run by Richard Rowe. Here it seems he has found some respite from the demons that were weighing him down.

A frivolous (and miniscule) wager went in for me recently when he landed odds of 20/1in a Handicap at Ascot back in January. My reasoning for backing him that day(the outsider in that race) was that surely he had to reproduce some of his early form eventually and so it proved as he won more or less as he pleased from hardy handicappers such as The Sawyer, Edgbriar and Breedsbreeze.

He looked a different animal and jumping convincingly on almost every occaision put his rivals to the sword to score by 16 lengths. He goes into saturday's race with plenty of potential to continue his rejuvenation and the step up in trip may even bring further improvement.

I for one would thoroughly enjoy seeing Tatenen continue his renaissance.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

From the front line...betting shop wisdom # 3 January's Window of Opportunity

After the relentless consumption and bonhomie of the modern ‘festive period’ the return to workaday austerity can often come as a salve to our bloated senses. The seasonal gambler is usually served up such feast of sport over Christmas that one could be forgiven for finding their will to gamble all but consumed by the torpor that has traditionally enveloped other appetites by the time the new year comes.

This year however the big freeze left us with a dearth of punting pleasures, taking a chunk out of the football schedule and causing the postponement of Kempton’s King George VI card and the Welsh National at Chepstow. Such abstinence may have been downright unseasonal but this could have been a blessing in disguise as we now enter into a golden month for football gambles with all the added wherewithal our enforced restraint has left in our wallets.

The period that is bookended at the beginning by the seasonal fixture backlog in the United Kingdom and the winter break for the softies in mainland Europe and at the end by the return of the best sides to European competition in February is a great time of year for the football punter as it offers the best conditions for predictable outcomes. With no distractions from European competition the momth of January offers the best teams the chance to consistently put out their best available sides without need to have recourse to squad rotation. Consequently the good should, and most often does out. The keys to exploiting this profitably are as follows...

The Tools

The two websites you will need are Betfair and futbol24.com . The former as it allows you to place multiples on an extremely wide range of leagues, the latter because it is peerless in the world of free football form websites.

The Rules

  • Take a pan-european approach- Punt using traditional pText Colourowerhouses (Olympiakos in Greece, Anderlecht in Belgium, Barcelona in Spain etc) as your starting point and the formbook to seal the deal.
  • Be strict with value– Avoid betting odds skinnier than 1.15 as they don’t often reflect the chance a team has of winning. Avoid betting above 2.10 as this tends to suggest too dicey a fixture to put in a multiple.
  • Stake sensibly - This part of the footballing calendar lends itself to daily incremental wins so bet to build profit over time.
  • Keep it real – Don’t get flashy with your multiples. Doubles, trebles and the very occasional four-timer are the order of the day.

That is really all there is to it so all that remains is to wish you Good Luck!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Somewhere over the Rainbow...

Today looks a good chance to charge your betting banks for the weekend. Two likely looking novice chases at Newbury featuring...

13:35 Finian’s Rainbow – Likely to go off odds-on largely due to the amount of hype coming out of Seven Barrows. Nicky Henderson and regular work-rider Barry Geraghty have been enthusing about his affinity for the larger obstacles for a while now. Whether you wish to take 8/13 about him winning is debateable and he faces two useful types here but his win over course and distance as a hurdler should stand him in good stead here.

15:15 Tell Massini - Trainer said he didn’t like the track last time nonetheless he won well enough on his chase debut. He faces some useful sorts this time in Aiteenthirtythree and Be There In Five (point to point winners yet to race under rules) in what looks a trappy affair but Newbury is a galloping track which looks bound to suit and this race should see continued improvement.

In all likelihood both will go off shorter than they should but taking these in a singles doubles combo weighted towards Tell Massini should see you in profit x

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Big Race Preview: The Hennessy Gold Cup, Saturday 27th of November, Newbury

This weekend sees a crack team from Polish Ecstasy roll into Newbury to take in Britain’s oldest sponsored handicap – The Hennessy Gold Cup. The Berkshire track is regarded by the most seasoned trainers as one of the fairest tests of a horses ability around and at the business end of its three miles and two furlongs there is no hiding place for those who lack the courage for battle.

It takes a lionhearted display of galloping to claim Hennessy glory and not too many better examples exist than that of the 2009 renewal when Denman took the plaudits for a second time. In only his second race back after recovering from heart trouble ‘The Tank’ served it up to his rivals whilst giving them in excess of a stone and a half in the handicap, bringing the house down, and several bookmakers to their knees in the process. Many a hardened racing fan stifled a tear with a glass of good cognac in the gloaming of that late November afternoon and would dearly love to see Denman outdo even Arkle, the near-mythical monolith of this sport and take this testing handicap for a third time.

Paul Nicholls’s redoubtable steeplechaser tops the betting for the race again this time tougher proposition. The truth will out in time but this year’s crop of second season chasers including Weird Al, Burton Port and Pandorama promised much in their rookie year and the 20 runner field in general is ultra competitive.

The issue of the handicap is also an interesting one with many horses not being assigned as light weights as it would seem. Due to Denman’s lofty rating there are only six horses in the handicap proper meaning that simply to get into the race all the other competitors are actually carrying more weight than their official handicap rating would normally dictate.

Under the Magnifying Glass

This year’s Hennessy is all about innocence and experience. Horses like Denman, Neptune Collonges and Madison du Berlais have been round the block a few times savouring the victories as well as the bitter taste of defeats, falls, injuries and undulating form. Will the weight of the years weigh too heavily upon their bones or is there enough determination left to wring another battling victory from their aged sinews? Cocking them an ironic eyebrow as they extinguish their fags ‘round the back of the stables are a crop of second season chasers very much on the up with only the odd defeat between them. These youngsters dominate the betting for the race at present and as a result there is plenty of scope for backing the right old stager at a working man’s price. A fascinating race lies ahead, these are my thoughts.

Cross these off your list

Barber’s Shop - consistently found wanting in big races and Baa Baa the Elephant (ridden by Jamie Spencer) would probably stand a better chance of winning this. Hills of Aran - hasn’t shown form anywhere near what is required here in his three runs so far this season. China Rock - having been beaten off level weights over three miles by Pandorama last year it’s difficult to see him reversing form here. Has performed with great credit so far this season, but surely this will be beyond him after a tough race last time out. Niche Market – placed in this last year but whilst others are on the upgrade this one seems to have been treading water for rather too long to threaten. The Tother One – recent form has been uninspiring and the handicapper looks to have his measure.

A Working Man's Price

Razor Royale – a dour stayer who took the Racing post trophy last season, has big race jockey of the moment Sam Twiston-Davies on board. Carruthers -finished thirty lengths behind Denman at Cheltenham but didn’t handle the track, has a pull in the weights supposedly worth about 20 lengths here and is 3/4 at Newbury where his liking for the track may see him improve on the level of his Gold Cup fourth. Neptune Collonges - seems Nicholls’ best chance on jockey bookings and his trainer can ready a horse to win after a long absence. Not too far away from Denman on his previous best performance off level weights and with a over a stone pull this time around 16/1 is good value about him being back to somewhere near that level. Madison du Berlais - loves Newbury and has won this race before, seemed to be on the downgrade in the latter part of last season but that will seem him run off a nice weight here.

The Young Pretenders

Diamond Harry - excellent record at the course but jumping was a problem throughout his first chasing season and not great value a 8/1. Weird Al - unbeaten over fences and should definitely see out the trip though all his wins have come in small fields, strong chance if unshaken by the large field but 5/1 doesn’t seem like value. Pandorama – another who is unbeaten over fences the main doubt is whether he will stay the trip. That said he’s beaten decent fields pulling a standard piano on heavy ground over the water and his defeat of Weapon’s Amnesty cannot fail to impress given that he went on to beat others in this field comprehensively. Receives weight from almost all. Burton Port - outperformed all expectations for Nicky Henderson last season and a big threat if continuing to improve. Seems to be held by Weird Al on a form line through Knockara Beau and not known for being at his best first time out.

The Nicholls contenders

Denman – not easily discounted but this is much harder than last year and there is far better value in this field. Taranis – Paul Nicholls readied him to win after a three year injury lay off beating Carruthers in the process. Previously looked on his way to being high class and having won every seasonal debut in his career clearly goes well fresh. This is tougher but could make the frame.

The Verdict

Pandorama, Weird Al, Denman and Carruthers are my four against the field. A Denman win is not inplausible (no doubt I'll probably stick a bluey on him out of sentimentality) but whilst it would make my day the preference is for PANDORAMA whose progressive profile and light weight should see him take this. Weird Al also has exceptional claims but shouldn’t be 3 points tighter in the betting than the selection whilst still improving Newbury lover Carruthers is stonking each way value at current prices.

As always only the best of luck with your selections, as long as they match mine x

Friday, 5 November 2010

One from the Notebook

Stoney's Treasure (Alan King) Fontwell 14:50

This horse will have gone into many notebooks after Alan King gave him a very encouraging write up in his At The Races stable tour.
“Lovely horse that I’m as excited about as anything in the yard because he’s an absolute natural over fences. Because he’s got such a decent hurdle rating, 113, I’m going for a novice chase for horses not rated above 115 — if not a handicap 0-120. One thing's for sure; he's certainly much better than his current handicap mark of 113.”
The Barbury Castle yard was under a cloud of illness, injury and misfortune for most of last term but hopes are high that this season will different. It bodes well that in the midst of all the doom and gloom enveloping the stable at the time today's selection Stoney’s Treasure found time to build on a good bumper success with a pair hurdle wins.

At this time of the season we often see horses who have been talked up in the summer come out to have their first runs. Whilst over the course of the year they are more often than not exposed as all fur coat and no knickers so many young turks ease into the action by picking up races like today's novice chases that the punters should not ignore the trend.

In the fullness of time Stoney's Treasure may flatter to decieve but such a glowing schooling report suggests that he should take to fences nicely and is potentially well in on his hurdling mark. He is fancied to land the odds of 9/4 today.

Good luck all x

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The beginings of a new campaign

At long last the flat season is drawing to a close and with the advent of this weekend’s Charlie Hall Chase the jumps season proper will be underway. As the fogs roll down over Punchestown and the damp gets into the late October air in Lambourn gamin young hurdlers and venerable steeplechasers alike have long since begun to sense that the summer is but a memory and the time to prove themselves anew is at hand.

Just around the corner Cheltenham’s Open Meeting neatly foreshadows the great culmination towards which the modern jumps season builds. All roads lead to the festival or so the ‘Racing for Change’ marketing men would have us believe and as usual it is against the ticking of this clock that every hoof beat is measured. With this in mind we’ll take a look over the coming weeks at various aspects of the coming campaign.

First up, we peer downwards through our crescent reading glasses at the portents and omens for chasing’s blue ribband event, the Cheltenham Gold Cup...

The powers that be...

With both Kauto Star and Denman entering their eleventh years their pre-eminence in the staying chasers field will be questioned with increasing vigour this season. It has been some decades since an eleven year old won the Cheltenham show piece, yet together with Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Imperial Commander (a ten year old) they are over a stone better on official ratings than the group of young pretenders that aim to be within snapping distances of their heels this term.

Kauto Star – At his supernatural best when destroying the field in the 2009 King George last season nevertheless highlighted that the apple of Ruby Walsh’s eye is not quite the same horse away from the Kempton track, when pipping Imperial Commander in a thoroughly debatable photo finish at Haydock and never looking like he was travelling well in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. One senses that though he has the class to be untroubled by all but the very best at any track in Britain but this year a King George victory will define a successful season.

Denman – After last year’s rollercoaster season it’s difficult to know what to expect from Denman. His Hennessey win and Gold Cup second seem to suggest that he retains plenty of his formidable ability. Things don’t seem to be coming quite so easily to the Tank anymore.

Imperial Commander – Proved just how good he is around Cheltenham by exploding the Denman v Kauto hype surrounding the 2010 Gold Cup. Has a year on Paul Nicholls’ charges and can certainly make hay this term as there seems to be a season to wait before another generation of quality chasers emerge to challenge him.

The rest of the English...

Unusually there are several high quality second season chasers potentially on the Gold Cup scene but there are plenty of reasons (apart from the lack of toughness generally inherent in a graduating chasers) to have reservations about their chances. Of Nicky Henderson’s charges Punchestowns looks to lack the toughness to stay 3 miles plus around Cheltenham whilst Long Run is yet to display fluent enough jumping when questions are asked of his stamina (surely an experiment with a better jockey might shed some light on his true abilities). Indeed it may be the comparatively unheralded Burton Port who holds the biggest threat for the man from Seven Barrows, the RSA Chase 2nd surprised everybody with his progression last season and could well go on from there.

Elsewhere Weird Al, should he recover from the injury which cruelly put to death last year’s bookie busting festival accumulator might be an interesting proposition from a small yard and has already won twice at Prestbury Park. It would be reassuring for those who see him as a potential top level horse to see him pick up a win or two in large field races at 3 miles and beyond.

Somersby will progress for Henrietta Knight after looking for all the world like he needed further than the 2 miles he got in his races last season.

It maybe Planet of Sound who gets the closest of the English to the big three in his third season over the larger obstacles. Phillip Hobbs’s chaser improved to win the Punchestown Gold Cup (beating a sub-standard Denman) on his final start of last season but faces an uphill struggle to convince us that he can win at Cheltenham after his gutless Ryanair Chase flop in 2010.

Raiders from the Emerald Isle...

We saw arguably the most promising performance from a novice staying chaser last season when Weapons Amnesty confirmed his liking for the Cotswolds course with a strong victory in the RSA Chase, his second festival prize. Before trainer Charles Byrnes announced he be would out for the entire season through injury he would have been many a follower of the form’s idea of the most likely to bridge the gap to the big three.

Elsewhere the challenge from the across the Irish Sea looks nebulous at present, Joncol seems far too workman like whilst Cooldine who had a stop start season last term, may be further proof that winning an RSA, often such a gruelling race for a young chaser, may be less of boon to a horse’s long term prospects than one would expect given the fates of recent winners Denman, Weapons Amnesty and Trabolgan.

Pandorama is a horse that has been picking up plenty of wins in Ireland over the past two seasons only to miss the festival on both occasions. Noel Meade's gelding got home in front of Weapons Amnesty on his last run and if he returns well from his injury lay off could surprise a few people.

Wild Cards...
Another Paul Nicholls stable star currently third in some layers ante-post markets is 3mile hurdle titan Big Bucks. Let us not forget that he was in danger of serving it up to a future gold cup winner before falling at the business end of the Paddy Power Gold Cup won by Imperial Commander before returning to hurdles. Nicholls has never ruled out a return to chasing for him and the twelve to one currently available could begin to look silly if he takes to fences with more gusto a second time round.

Polish Ecstasy Verdict

Though the prices will not generally be earth shattering all the horses mentioned should win you a bit of money on their way to the festival in 2011.

It would be tremendous and certainly anything but a whimisical romance to see Big Bucks given another chance in this sphere, such has been his monopoly of staying hurdle prizes over the last two years but it seems by virtue of being younger than his rivals and more mature than the chasing pack that Imperial Commander may be the one to beat.

Dark Horse: Pandorama