Saturday, 19 April 2008

2 pts win CHINESE WHITE 13/1 ( Exchanges) 12/1 ( Generally available) Juddmonte Oaks

I’ve decided to file away the jumping season as one to forget but with no real regrets as apart from shying away from too much ante-post involvement, there’s nothing I’d do differently again . Aintree proved a hammer blow so it’s just a case of accepting the losses and getting stuck into the Flat once it’s all in full flow. Hopefully next winter will be more successful and there will definitely be a good deal more pre-Cheltenham ante-post activity next time round. Had done all the homework for today’s Scottish National but that was based on a soft ground race so have pulled out of what after all is a race with a very lopsided balance to it.

Looking ahead, it could be worth playing in the Oaks market now. Of those at the front of the market history tells us that the Royer-Dupre/ Aga Khan filly is almost certain to run in the French equivalent, while Proviso could also go for the same race, Sense Of Joy has to prove her well being, Gagnoa may lack the pace at this level, and the news that Cape Amber is shaping more like a stayer and is missing the Guineas for an Oaks preparation could be interpreted as the she has been lacking sparkle at home. Of the others Kitty Matchem is interesting, but preference at this stage is for the filly that she finished behind at Leopardstown in September, Chinese White. In what was her sole outing so far she created a terrific impression that day looking a filly who would be a big player in Group races this summer. She is certain to stay, is in the right hands, and with all the uncertainty surrounding many of her rivals, she could head the market if making a pleasing seasonal debut.

Lost - 2 pts

Saturday, 5 April 2008

1 pt win MON MICHEL 8/1 ( Betfair) John Smith’s Extra Smooth H’cap Hdle

1 pt win SERABAD 27/1 ( Betfair) John Smith’s Extra Smooth H’cap Hdle

1 pt win ASTARADOR 59/1 ( Betfair) John Smith’s Extra Smooth H’cap Hdle

Mon Michel was far from disgraced in the County Hurdle and is worth siding with again. While on the face of it he gives the impression that the handicapper has hold of him, he is proven in this sort of company, handles big fields, is young enough for there to be further improvement, and appeals as one who will pay to follow blindly over the next 12 months.

Of the others, Serabad and Astarador are worth taking aboard. Serabad is hard to assess on this venture into handicap company but what can be said is that as well as running with credit in the Triumph, and in his previous two races against Franchoek, he beat a couple of useful sorts at Haydock and it’s hard to cross him out here. Astarador looked as good as ever when winning at Musselburgh. He will be better suited by this track than Cheltenham as he has a change of gear and is worth chancing as he has looked the type who would reach a higher level than he so far has and is irresistible at his present odds which are admittedly a little off-putting.

Lost - 3pts

2 pts win AURORA’S ENCORE 17/1 ( Betfair) John Smith’s Extra Cold H’cap Hdle

1 p win FRESH WINTER 14.5/1 ( Betfair) John Smith’s Extra Cold H’cap Hdle

Aurora’s Encore wasn’t stopping when winning here on Thursday and has a major chance of following up here over this longer trip. There looked to be more body to that race than there is here and if he turns up here in similar form a 4lb penalty will not be enough to stop him.

John Mackie has had a few through his hands over the past two decades that have improved by a couple of stone and Fresh Winter could be another. He’s still hard to put a mark on and must be taken onside, though confidence would be further increased by further rain.

Lost - 3 pts

1.5 pts win FOREST GREEN 15.5/1 ( Betfair) John Smiths Novices H’cap Chase

1.5 pts win UNOWATIMEEN 15/1 (Betfair) John Smith’s Novices H’cap Chase

Forest Green is supposedly being primed for Galway in July and despite being shockingly weak on the exchanges ( hopefully an over reaction to the trainers comments though if he doesn’t shorten back up that will be a major worry) it’s hard to believe that he’ll arrive here in anything other than tip top shape and provided it doesn’t get any softer ( though he does have some Ok’ish soft ground form) he is the value call and at his present odds is preferred to My Petra who had a very, very hard race at Cheltenham and will not get away with hitting a flat spot here, even with the help of the longer trip.

Unowatimeen beat useful types at Market Rasen at Sedgefield before bleeding last time. Admittedly, his form has been with plenty of give in the ground but he’s still a real unknown quantity who could be anything and is one that is worth support at his present odds.

Lost - 3 pts

Friday, 4 April 2008

2 pts win THE TOTHER ONE 4.9/1 ( Betfair) Citroen Sefton Novices Hdle

1 pt win SOUFFLEUR 9/1 ( 2 firms and exchanges)Citroen Sefton Novices Hdle

It’s hard to put an accurate mark on Tazbar’s Haydock performance. The runner up ran OK’ish at Cheltenham but as promising as he may be, there are a few others with equally strong form credentials and he is probably a shade shorter than he should be.

The Tother One looked the best horse in his Cheltenham race but threw the contest away. He appears to have his quirks ( more so than staminia limitations) but has bags of natural ability and with Walsh on today he should make amends and reverse the form with Nenuphar Collonges.

Souffleur is another character but he too has plenty of natural ability and has already proved his worth around here. He’s run a couple of stinkers on his last two starts over hurdles but will have been sweetened up by a recent run on the level and with conditions to suit is a danger to all.

Lost - 3 pts

1 pt win BOTHAR NA 17.5/1 ( Betfair) John Smiths Topham Chase

1 pt win MIGHTY MATTERS 25/1 ( Betfair) John Smith’s Topham Chase

1 pt win PALARSHAN 31/1 ( Betfair) John Smith’s Topham Chase

A typically wide open renewal and plenty of room to take three aboard. Bothar Na has jumped around here in the Foxhunters and despite not winning for two and a half years, retains all of his ability. The Mullins stable is flying at the moment and this gelding looks set to run a big race.

Might Matters was progressing nicely until he came unstuck at Cheltenham. There looks to be more to come from him and if he takes to the fences he will not be far away. Palarshan, on the other hand, seems to have been around forever, mixing it in amongst the top handicappers. He retains most of his ability and at his present odds is worth chancing that he’ll take to the fences as he could just be the type to get involved here.

Lost - 3 pts

2 pts win STATE OF PLAY 15/1 ( Betfair) Totepool H’cap Chase

1 pt win BOYCHUK 12/1 ( Betfair) Totepool H’cap Chase

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since State Of Play won this event two years ago. He left a lasting impression that day and rarely has there been such an easy winner in a handicap around here. He looked destined for the very top at one stage but has disappointed and is back here on a considerably higher mark than when winning this. Nevertheless, he is not handicapped out of it and with his useful amateur taking 7lb off his back, is too tempting to resist.

Boychuk runs well enough, often enough, for him to be at the mercy of the handicapper. However, his sort do win in turn and as there is nothing lurking here with a ton in hand, he appeals as one who could run very close here.

Lost - 3 pts

1.5 pts win MAISY DAISY 20/1 ( Betfair) John Smiths Mares Only Bumper

1.5 pts win CALUSA CRYSTAL 49/1 ( Betfair) John Smiths Mare Only Bumper

This looks wide open and it could be worth getting stuck into a couple of the longer priced runners. Maisy Daisy has not been seen since winning at Limerick in October, thus it appears that she has been the target for some time. The stable is a successful one at long term planning and it would be no surprise if she proved good enough to win this.

Calusa Crystal appears to be quite highly thought of and the bumper she was betaen in at Wincanton will probably turn out to be better than it looked on the day. Admittedly, it’s a little concerning that she is so big on the exchanges at the moment but she is definitely worth chancing and appeals more than some of those at half her price.

Lost - 3 pts

Thursday, 3 April 2008

2 pts win KICKS FOR FREE 11/2 ( Generally available) John Smith’s Social Club Liverpool Hdle

1 pt win LOUGH DERG 19/1 ( Betfair) John Smith’s Social Club Liverpool Hdle

Although Inglis Drever has run well here before after running at Cheltenham, he was comprehensively beaten in this last year, and arriving here this time after what was at one stage mooted to be his final race, he has to be taken on.

Kicks For Free found plenty for pressure at the festival, and looks a new horse since returning from his breathing operation. The combination of ground and trip should be ideal and while he did have a hard race last time, half of this field have had the guts pulled out of them throughout the season.

Lough Derg has handled a succession of hard races remarkably well and has bounced back to form once before this season after looking in need of a break. It will only take Inglis Drever not to be at the top of his game for his present odds to look very attractive.

Lost - 3 pts

3 pts win MONET’S GARDEN 7.6/1 ( Betfair) Totesport Bowl Chase

This animal has an edge around here and, having been laid out for this meeting all season, everything seems set for him to produce his very best again today. He will not fail for staminia , has shown no indications that he’s on the downgrade, and it’s almost impossible to envisage anything other than him running very close in this today. Kauto Star looks vulnerable on the back of his Gold Cup run, while Exotic Dancer has failed to impress recently and they all seemed to run stinkers when he won this last year.

Lost - 3 pts

3 pts win CELESTIAL HALO 13/8 ( Generally available) John Smith’s 250th Anniversary 4yro Hdle

Much has been made about the track being less than ideal for the Triumph Hurdle winner but, ridden forcefully again, he should prove too good for his rivals. Nicholls has a line to Binocular through Peirrot Lunaire, who gave him a race at Kempton, and it would appear that he considers Celestial Halo to be in a different league to his stable companion. Harper Valley and First Buddy niggle in the sense that you can’t cross them out with certainty, but if Celestial Halo is going to be a real Champion Hurdle contender then his class should see him through here.

Lost - 3 pts

1.5 pts win LENNON 6/1 ( Betfair and Paddy Power) Silver Cross Prams Red Rum H’cap Chase

1.5 pts win LESLINGTAYLOR ( 7.6/1 Betfair) Silver Cross Prams Red Rum H’cap Chase

In an event that at first instance looks wide open, these two have standout claims and splitting stakes on them has a bright chance of paying dividends.

Both animals have proven track form. Lennon has visually looked an exciting prospect here in the past and no doubt this meeting has been on the agenda for him all season. He gives the impression that in suitable conditions, when everything falls right, he is capable of running to a level better than he has so far shown. It’s worth remembering too that he’s still only had eight races over fences.

When the emphasis is on pace Leslingtaylor is one of the best novices around and despite his inexperience over fences, he has plenty of all round experience of big fields. What is certain is that his ceiling is going to be much higher than 140, and with todays conditions ideal, he will surely figure.

Lost - 3 pts

2 pts win FRANCHOEK 2.05/1 ( Betfair) Citroen Mersey Novices Hdle

1 pt win RAZOR ROYALE 21/1 ( Betfair) Citroen Mersey Novices Hdle

There’s not a lot else to say about Francheok. He is likeable, takes his racing remarkably well, looks the type who will ideally be suited by the step up in trip on this track, and seeing that he will take all the beating if running his race, he is fairly priced around the 2/1 mark.

It may be worth having smaller stakes on something at longer odds for back up just in case this proves one race too many. The impression created by Razor Royale when winning at Cheltenham in November does not fade. In the light of that he’s been disappointing since, despite the ratings telling you that he’s been running to a similar level of form. Whatever, at his present odds he is too tempting to resist.

Lost - 3 pts

2 pts win PALOMAR 9.5/1 ( Betfair) John Smith’s H’cap Hdle

1 pt win I’M SO LUCKY 21/1 ( Betfair) John Smith’s H’cap Hdle

In a wide open renewal there doesn’t look to be a Ravenswood lurking towards the bottom of the handicap, but of the couple ( Kingscape being the other) who could still prove to be a level above their present handicap mark, Palomar makes the most appeal. It was impossible to gauge what he was capable of when he ran up a sequence earlier in the season. Since then he never got into contention in the Tote Gold Trophy, and did not have the run of the race in the Imperial Cup. Needless, to say this is the meeting for Greystoke and Palomar, stepped up in trip, is the most interesting runner in the line up here .

The talented flat performer I’m So Lucky has improved 20lb since moving to his new yard. He is a likeable sort who, despite disappointing here last year, has a style of running that should be suited to this track. He arrives here in peak form and his price more than compensates for the unknowns over the step up in trip.

Lost - 3 pts