Saturday, 22 March 2008

2 pts win PAGANO 10/1 ( Betfair)Red Square Vodka Fixed Brush Hdle Final
1 pt win LEASE LEND 30/1 ( Betfair) Read Square Vodka Fixed Brush Hdle Final

It's probably wise to leave the flat alone for another couple of weeks and there are a couple of jumping races that could be worth getting stuck into.

In the Fixed Brush Final at Haydock, Pagano has solid claims and is preferred to some of the less exposed types. He himself is far from fully exposed, but there is also a degree of substance to the level of his form. He beat two in form rivals at Sandown last time and was runner up to a useful sort at Wincanton previously. True, he's up a further 7lb from his last outing but his promising conditional rider takes 5lb off and he cannot be resisted at fairish odds.

Lease Lend performed well against some quality sorts in bumpers last season. He looked to be on an upward curve over hurdles when winning at Doncaster in January but went wrong in the later stages at Newcastle last time. He's weak on the exchanges at present but as the yard doesn't make much of a stir in the winter game anymore that is probably not over significant. In fact, he's definitely worth small stakes and is arguably the value call of the race.

Lost - 3 pts

1 pt win GYPSEY GEORGE 12.5/1 ( Betfair) Totescoop 6 Handicap Chase
1 pt win BANNISTER LANE 21/1 ( Betfair)Totescoop 6 Handicap Chase
1 pt win HUKKA LODGE 26/1 ( Betfair)Totescoop 6 Handicap Chase

This is wide open but it could pay to get involved by taking a few aboard.

Gypsey George is difficult to get a handle on. He's lightly raced under rules and his form lacks real substance. Nevertheless, he is suited by a test of staminia, is on the upgrade, and hails from a yard who, with The Grey Berry, have shown that they can keep an animal in form as it progresses upwards.

Bannister Lane appears to be the second string from the McCain yard but he does have strongish claims in his own right, and a reproduction of his first three runs this season would see him giving a good account of himself today. He may have reached his level but his type do win in turn and todays conditions and track are a plus for him.

Hukka Lodge also likes a slog and has won on this stiff track before. Admittedly, he is inconsistent, but though being eleven he retains most of his ability and if he is on one of his going days the conditions are ideal for him to play a big part in this. He catches the eye at his present odds.

Lost - 3 pts

Friday, 21 March 2008

2 pts win SIMON 15.5/1 ( Betfair), 16/1 ( VC Bet) John Smith's Grand National
1 pt win OVER THE CREEK 69/1 ( Betfair) John Smith's Grand National

It's probably best to play in this now as most of the likely candidates will start shortening between now and the race.

From those near the front end of the market, Simon has as strong as credentials as most. On the negative side he is a few pound higher than when coming down in the race last year when looking sure to play a big part in the finish, and there is also possibility that he may not take to the race at the second time of asking - his tendency to hit the odd fence is likewise a little concerning. Nevertheless, his run at Cheltenham in December shows that he retains all of his ability and enthusiasm, he comes into the race on the back of a good prep run at Kempton, and, like a few of his rivals but not all, this has been the definite target since the race last year. He makes more appeal than Cloudy Lane ( despite quotes that he's being trained to peak for Aintree it's unavoidable to dwell on the fact that his Doncaster run was him at his optimum for the season) , Slim Pickings ( clearly has strong claims but is only 2 from 15 over fences and you feel that one or two will prove to good for him again), Comply Or Die ( appears to need a real slog nowadays and thus would need the ground to be testing), Point Barrow( it's a worry that they've been trying him in blinkers), Bewley's Berry( his last run is off putting), Mr Pointment ( bled last time and lines up with question marks hanging over him), Butler's Cabin ( made a promising reappearance but confidence would be higher if he'd shown a little bit of sparkle on his last two outings - is also very weak on the exchanges and his need for oxygen after his races is a further concern), Chelsea Harbour ( would ideally want the ground testing and his run on good ground in last year's Irish National is off putting), McKelvey ( general wellbeing as he's come back from injury) , Philson's Run ( sure to find a few too good for him) and Snowy Morning ( massive chance if taking to the fences but is very weak on the exchanges at the moment).

Of those at longer odds, Over the Creek catches the eye. The is a chance that he won't run with the owner/trainer combination having other entrants, but it'd not hard to envisage him running a big race if he does line up and is worth small stakes at present odds on the exchanges. He beat Simon at Cheltenham in December and though he's run really well in testing conditions since, he gives the impression that a marathon on good ground would suit him best. He has the pedigree of a National horse and all told he should be much shorter than he is now - though of course it's possible that his exchange odds are merely allowing for some doubts over his participation.

Lost - 3 pts

Saturday, 15 March 2008

1.5 pts win FLINTOFF 10/1 ( Betfair) John Smiths Midland Grand National
1.5 pt win OPERA MUNDI 10/1 ( Betfair) John Smiths Midland Grand National

Unable to resist getting stuck into this and Flintoff has major claims off a 6lb higher mark than at Haydock, when he looked an ideal sort for one of these events. That race was every bit as competitive as todays and the form looks solid in the context of this race. He may not be entirely straightforward, but that is true of many of these marathon types , and he is at least not adverse to getting his head in front and with the trip sure to prove within his compass, he makes considerable appeal here.

Opera Mundi looked to be going places when winning under a similar big weight as todays at Haydock in December. He looked a real quality sort who would do well in valuable races around 3 mile, and perhaps even the type to progress to the level where he would acquit himself well in top class events. He ran no race last on fast ground last time - but it is still a little surprising to see him stepped up to this sort of trip at this stage in his career. Maybe they've decided from now on only to run where there is ease in the ground and that this race was selected because you invariably get genuine give in the ground at this venue. He's now up to a mark of 157, and it's hard to know what to expect but he is at least worth another chance to confirm the previous impression he created.

Flintoff Lost, Opera Mundi NR - 1.5 pts

Friday, 14 March 2008

3 pts win CHOMBA WOMBA 2.85/1 ( Betfair) David Nicholson Mares Hdle

This likeable mare is the obvious choice but has incredibly strong claims in that she is sure to run her race, is versatile regarding trip and ground and type of track, has a willing attitude, and has a level of form on par with any of her rivals. With the possibility that there could still be further improvement left she is fairly priced to confirm the Doncaster form with Theatre Girl.

Lost - 3 pts

2 pts win FORPADDYTHEPLASTERER 5.2/1 ( Betfair) Ballymore Properties Novices Hdle

1 pt win TRAFFORD LAD 9/1 ( Betfair) Ballymore Properties Novices Hdle

Captain Cee Bee’s victory on Tuesday gave a boost to this seasons Irish novice hurdle form and they have a strong hand here. Forpaddytheplasterer looked a likely type for this when winning at Leopardstown last month and though confidence would have been increased if the two behind him had taken a hand in the finish of the Supreme Novices, both ran respectably enough and there is every reason to believe that this hardy type will improve further for the step up in trip and go very close. Trafford Lad is also worth including. The combination of tiring ground, trip and course will be ideal for him and it will be surprising if he’s not bang in there at the finish.

Lost - 3 pts

2 pts win COUNTRY ZEN 9/1 ( Betfair) Coral Cup

1 pt win KICKS FOR FREE 16/1 ( 2 firms & exchanges) Coral Cup

The ground was supposed to be too soft for Leg Spinner when he won the Cesarewitch but the way they were finishing the races here yesterday it will surely be a big minus for him as you really need everything to suit to win this sort of event.

The Totesport Gold Trophy form has been boosted by Punjabi’s run in the Champion Hurdle and County Zen, who finished just behind him, makes plenty of appeal here. The Newbury run proved that his relative inexperience will not be a drawback in the rough and tumble of this type of event, and there is a possibility that the step up in trip could bring about further improvement.

The weight range of this is more like a limited handicap which increases confidence in the chances of Kicks For Free. He looked a revelation when winning on his reappearance and 10lb hike in the ratings is not overharsh. With the problems he’s had you do worry what he’ll find when he comes off the bridle in what could be a bit of a slog up the hill, but with some useful soft ground to boast of, he could be worth chancing and is fairly priced.

Lost - 3 pts

2 pts win CELESTIAL HALO 5.2/1 ( Betfair)JCB Triumph Hdle

1 pt win BEAU MICHEAL 12/1 ( Betfair) JCB Triumph Hdle

Franchoek has been on the go all season. Admittedly his credentials are stonewall solid but he is plenty short enough and there are some viable alternatives in the field.

Celestial Halo was slaughtered by Sentry Duty at Doncaster. That horse ran too bad to be true on Tuesday and he did have a useful horse well beaten back in third that day. He had previously looked the part when winning at Newbury and although not all of these classy flat horses carry the same level of form over to obstacles, he appealed as on who would and is worth supporting to confirm the impression he made on the Berkshire course.

Franchoek’s treatment of Won In The Dark here in November does not inspire confidence in the level of juvenile form in Ireland, but Beau Micheal is progressing fast and is hard to put a gauge on. The nature of this race has changed since the creation of the Fred Winter and his style of running is not the negative that it once was .He is interesting and warrants support.

Celestial Halo won + 9 pts

2 pts win THE TOTHER ONE 5.4/1 ( Betfair) Albert Bartlett Novices Hdle

1 pt win WHAT A FRIEND 25/1 ( Betfair) Albert Bartlett Novices Hdle

Both of Paul Nicholl’s runners should run well here and it could pay not to dwell too much on the fact that Walsh is on a Willie Mullins runner as we don’t know when these arrangement were finalised and it seems that The Tother One is Sam Thomas’s ride in any case.

The unbeaten The Tother One goes from strength to strength, will not mind the step up in trip, is probably still some way off reaching his ceiling of ability, and looks a ready made type for this race. He also possesses a turn of pace as well as staminia and looks sure to run a massive race here.

Stable companion What A Friend is arguably the value call of the race. He ran Carruther’s close early on in the season and has done nothing wrong since. He is definitely worth small stakes at his present exchange odds.

Lost - 3 pts

2 pts win MY PETRA 5/1 ( Betfair) Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase

1 pt win HOWLE HILL 15.5/1 ( Betfair) Johnny Henderson grand Annual Chase

On the face of it My Petra is very inexperienced for this type of event, but in a field full of animals with question marks hanging over them, and with the obvious incentive for the Henderson yard to win this race, she looks the one to be on. Noland did not let the form of the Sandown race down on Tuesday and she did really appear to stretch him that day and on the face of that is arguable very well handicapped. Howle Hill appeals at longer odds. He’s taken really well to fences and has been very highly tried on a couple of occasions. Despite wearing blinkers he has a likeable attitude and is the type to run well here, irrespective of his weight not fitting in with past trends for this event.

Lost - 3 pts

1 pt win I’MSINGINGTHEBLUES 11/1 ( Betfair) Vincent O’Brien County Hdle

1 pt win MON MICHEL 10/1 ( Generally available) Vincent O’Brien County Hdle

1 pt win MISSIS POTTS 20/1 ( Generally available) Vincent O’Brien County Hdle

There’s clearly room to take three aboard here. I’msingingtheblues is the one with the most long term potential, has course form, is clearly well fancied by his connections, and should be thereabouts. Mon Michel reappears after an early fall at Sandown. He’ll not mind the hustle and bustle of this type of event seems set to run well. Missis Potts ran respectably in the Tote Gold Trophy and at her present price, appeals most of those that lined up at Newbury. A fast run race at this course should be ideal for her

Lost - 3 pts

Thursday, 13 March 2008

1 pt win JOE LIVELY 12/1 ( 2 firms and exchanges)Royal & Sun Alliance Chase

1 pt win BATTLECRY 31/1 ( Betfair) Royal & Sun Alliance Chase

Oscar Park is already on side in the Ante-Post market and in a non-vintage wide open renewal there is room for two more double figure priced animals. Anyone not on Alberta’s Run prior to Ascot will be reluctant to get involved now, and it could be worth chancing that Joe Lively will return to his very best. He’s won both times over fences around here and his level of form is on par with that of any of his rivals. Like Oscar Park, he’s a nine year old which doesn’t fit the ‘profile’ of winners of this race but in a substandard season for staying novices both have live chances. If Joe Lively was from one of the fashionable yards he’d be a good few points shorter than he is and he’s too tempting to resist at his current odds.

Battlecry was a revelation in the Reynoldstown, looking the likely winner at one stage. Strictly on the book he should not be reversing the form with the two who finished ahead of him but it just could be that he’s on an upward curve and it will only take a combination of some further improvement or/and the other two to perform a bit below par for him to do just that. He’s definitely worth an interest at his present price.

Lost - 3 pts

3 pts win VOY POR USTEDES 3/1 ( Generally available) Season’s Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase

The drying ground increases confidence in the chances of him successfully defending his crown and there is no reason why this likeable sort will not go very close again. He is sure to be at the top of his game, and at a track where he possesses that bit of an edge and in a race sure to be run to suit, he can be expected to turn around this seasons’ form with Master Minded and Twist Magic.

Lost - 3 pts

2 pts win OUR VIC 3.9/1 ( Betfair) Ryanair Chase

1 pt win THE LISTENER 3.7/1 ( Betfair) Ryanair Chase

This is going to be Our Vic’s last chance of winning at the festival, and with the blinkers on for the first time, he may just have his day. This renewal is no hotter than the one he went so close in last year and in conditions that suit, on a course that he runs well on, and with the stable in form, he is the one to be on.

It’s worth taking something else for cover. Enthusiasm for Mossbank is dampened by his performance here last year, Turko will need to find further improvement, and Racing Demon does not inspire confidence around here; thus The Listener remains. He’d be an even money shot if this was run in the mud at Leopardstown, and while you’d be kidding yourself to believe that he can produce the same level of form here, he has won at this venue and he will not need to produce a lifetime best to win this.

Our Vic won + 6.9 pts

2 pts win DON’T PUSH IT 3.6/1 ( Betfair) Racing Post Plate

1 pt win OEDIPE 11/1 ( Betfair) Racing Post Plate

Don’t Push It could still be a good few pound better than his current rating and stands out in a field containing many disappointing sorts. Despite his absence being partly due to a setback, there is no doubt that this race has been the target for a while and with track and conditions suiting it will be surprising if he doesn’t go close.

Oedipe has been off the track for well over a year but left a lasting impression when winning at Kempton, looking the sort who could even progress to championship class. We take for granted that the big yards will have their horses spot on after a long absence when they turn up at these festivals, a fact that takes some of the value angle away from these types, but needless to say Oedipe should not fail on fitness grounds and, along with Don’t Push It, is one that could be a good deal better than a useful handicapper.

Lost - 3 pts

1 pt win BACKBORD 8.4/1 ( Betfair) Pertemps Final

1 pt win GUNNER JACK 15.5/1 ( Betfair) Pertemps Final

1 pt win SIR OVERBURY 64/1 ( Betfair) Pertemps Final

There’s plenty of room to take three on side here and from those at he front end of the market Backbord makes plenty of appeal with the ground drying. His claims are as strong as anything in the field and I’m taking the angle that it was the ground and not the track that caused him to run poorly here earlier in the season on the grounds that if connections were convinced that the course was to blame they could have held him over for Aintree rather than risk finishing him for the season, particularly as he wants spring ground.

There are not many Gunner B’s left, and Gunner Jack seems a typical hardy sort with a big future over fences. He’s one who would not have minded the ground to have stayed easier but he appeals as one who’ll pay to follow blindly over the next couple of years and is capable of running a big race here.

Of those at the fancy prices Sir Overbury catches the eye. He has proven big field form and on better ground should not be over double the odds of his Leopardstown conqueror, Footy Facts; though it is a shade off putting just how easy he is in the market at the moment.

Lost - 3 pts

2 pts win ZAARITO 4/1 ( Generally available)Weatherbys Champion Bumper

1 pt win BIG EARED FRAN 9/1 ( Betfair) Weatherbys Champion Bumper

It was impossible not to be taken in by the visual impression created by Zaarito at Naas last time, and he’s impossible to resist despite the fact that in those soft ground bumpers superiority is often exaggerated. Although he was not as impressive in his previous races on better ground , some of those in behind him have gone on to acquit themselves in good novice hurdle company and while he may not have as much long term potential as some of his rivals, he looks the one to be on today.

Big Eared Fran also looked the part when winning at Sandown in November. His new connections have put him away for this, taking a build up similar to Liberman and Cork All Star. He is worth supporting his own right, the only possible negative being that if connections quotes are to be believed, then they were dilly dallying whether to let him take his chance.

Lost - 3 pts

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

1.5 pts win TIDAL BAY 7/1 ( Generally available) Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy

1.5 pts win THYNE AGAIN 9/1 ( Generally available) Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy

Noland’s level of form over fences does not justify him being so short. Admittedly, his jumping is a big plus, but it there are half a dozen contemporaries with similarly strong claims and win or lose, he is not an attractive proposition at his odds.

Tidal Bay is worth supporting despite worries over the well being of his yards horses. His jumping for Regan in general has been OK, including when winning around here in December. And while confidence would have been higher if he hadn’t blundered the race away at Doncaster last time, that performance is built into the price and his raw level of ability to win this is not under question.

Thyne Again looked far more assured in the jumping department when winning in pleasing style at Naas last time, giving the all round impression that he is genuine championship class. Like Noland and Tidal Bay he would ideally want a bit further, but the combination of the pace, track, and a bit of genuine ease in the ground helps his cause and he cannot be resisted

Tidal Bay won + 9 pts

3 pts place KATCHIT 2.2/1 ( Betfair) Smurfit Champion Hurdle

Provided the ground is no worse than good to soft this is the animal who can be most relied upon to run his race and with, as is often the case, at least two of the others near the front end of the market not going to produce their optimum, then he’ll surely be in the frame. Admittedly, there is likely to be something too good for him but unless you are on Sizing Europe or Osana at fancy prices, then it’s hard to tempt yourself now – despite the iffy logic of such a ploy.

Katchit won + 6.3 pts

1 pt win MONKERHOSTIN 9.5/1 ( Betfair) William Hill Trophy Chase

1 pt win OFAREL D’AIRY 17.5/1 ( Betfair) William Hill Trophy Chase

1 pt win BOB HALL 23/1 ( Betfair) William Hill Trophy Chase

This seems a far from solid renewal of this event but it’s competitive enough for there to be room to take three on side.

Monkerhostin retains plenty of abilty despite his age and it appears that this has been the target for some time. He looks set to run a big race. Ofarel D’ Airy ran OK in blinkers over hurdles last time, and switched back to fences, he is of interest as he’s gone well at this venue before. Admittedly, he does not have proven form in the book in a race as competitive as this, and though only six, he is at that point in his career where he will go on, or continue at his present level. However, his present exchange odds more than compensate for the doubts and he will hopefully be involved.

Bob Hall appealed as one who would win a valuable handicap this term. He ran well here on his first two outings but disappointed badly when well supported at the beginning of the year. That run can safely be put down to the stable form at the time. Despite being deserted by McCoy he’s ran well for Fehily in the past, likes this track, has good prospects of getting this trip, and is arguably the value call of the race.

Lost - 3 pts

2 pts win GARDE CHAMPETRE 5.4/1 ( Betfair)BGC Cross Country Chase

1 pt win LE DUC BGC 12.5/1 ( Betfair) Cross Country Chase

Garde Champetre looked set for greater things when beating the likes of Monet’s Garden and Inglis Drever in that novice hurdle at Aintree four years ago, and that will surely remain his career highpoint. Nevertheless, with his new yard seeming to have finally ironed out his jumping problems, he is useful enough in his new guise to make a name for himself in this sphere. There is probably further improvement to come from him, and taking the angle that he’s now more assured than when he last ran on this course, he should go very close to winning this.

Le Duc is worth another go in this event. He still held a chance when unseating in this last year and he’s interesting after winning for the first time in three years last time, as his type often go well again when winning after a barren spell.

Garde Champetre won + 9.4 pts

3 pts win ASHKAZAR 2.65/1 ( Betfair) Fred Winter Juvenile H’cap Hdle

This animal was impressive to the whole world on Saturday, and opposing him again purely on the grounds that you were against him in that race is not the approach to take. Truth is, with stamina not being an issue for him here, he is going to take all of the beating and his present odds are fair enough considering that there is only one rival to be really scared of.

Lost - 3 pts

Saturday, 8 March 2008

2 pts win GANSEY 5/1 ( Generally available) Sunderlands Novices Hurdle Final
1 pt win ANDYTOWN 13/2 ( Generally available) Sunderlands Novices Hurdle Final

Although everyone is now in Cheltenham mode it's hard to resist having a go on this card today. This race has always been fascinating down the years and todays event is no different. Those at the front of the market look particularly strong and Gansey is hard to get away from. While on paper he never beat much at Fakenham last time he created something of an impression visually, and apart from them two mistakes his jumping was actually OK. This track will suit him better and he looks sure to be involved. Andytown beat a useful sort last time and this event appears to have been the plan for a while. Confidence would increase if the ground was easier but he arguably has the most potential of anything in this field and is worth back up support.

Lost - 3 pts

1.5 pts win MON MICHEL 10/1 ( Betfair) Sunderlands Imperial Cup
1.5pt win FREE WORLD 11.5/1 ( Betfair) Sunderlands Imperial Cup

Mon Michel has proven form on the board in this sort of event and assuming that all is well after the setback that ruled him out at Newbury, he should run his race and figure on the shake up. As well as being battle hardened in this type of race, there is probably further improvement to come and he makes alot of appeal at his current odds. In contrast, it's all guessing with Free World. However, bearing in mind the bonus, he's in at Cheltenham next week and must surely be thought capable of going very close here by connections. Needless to they don't often purchase rubbish from France and the likelihood is that this animal is a classy sort. While these types can be worth taking on when everyone goes overboard on them, Ashkazar is holding up the market here and Free World is hard to resist at his present price.

Lost - 3 pts