Newmarket Craven Meeting – Day 1 Selections

2:55 - £100,000 Tattersalls Millions 3-Y-O Sprint (Bobis Race) (CLASS 2) (3yo) 

It’s a pretty average race for the prize money, just like the sales races are here and plenty have form in similar events from last year. Wedding Ring and Toofi have each landed a big prize, the former twice taking lucrative pots here and she’s since run creditably over in Dubai without setting the world alight.

wedding ring 2

Wedding Ring aims to land another notable Tattersalls pot

She didn’t see out a mile last time but she also needed every yard of 6f when she won here and it’s questionable whether a reproduction of that entitles her to be so short in the market, even if it’s probably the standard set. I do prefer Toofi of the pair but he’s no world beater either and I would much rather be on something that is a lot less exposed, even if they have class to prove

NAADIRR ticks those boxes for me tomorrow. Both his runs thus far have been over 7f but he showed really good speed and that suggests this trip will be absolutely fine. On figures he has plenty to find but he wouldn’t have to be a world beater to take this (that is a theme of this blog). Scrutiny is of similar ilk with just a maiden to his name but he’s worth a chance, Bon Voyage and Muir Lodge look a touch exposed judging by runs so far in similar events. At bigger prices, Quickaswecan and Highland Acclaim both ran promisingly behind Toofi in September and are a touch overpriced.

Advice – Naadirr 2pts win @11/2 generally

 

 

 

3:30 – CSP European Free Handicap (Listed Race) (CLASS 1) (3yo) 

Always a fascinating race to follow and it has to be treated as a handicap even if it is one of the most unique ones in the calendar. Favourite is Shifting Power, a winner of both his starts to date including an impressive success last time on the July Course. He beat subsequent Group 3 winner Treaty Of Paris by six lengths and if fully fit on his first run since August he has to be seriously respected.

Another horse unbeaten in two starts to date is Mushir, who gets weight from most of the field too and has a Listed win to his name, albeit the form is nothing to write home about. It’s fair to say he’s probably better than that mark. Parbold has mixed it with classier performers throughout last season though he wasn’t the easiest of rides and he has to give weight all round off a mark of 111. These connections did have a very impressive winner of the race 12 months ago though.

Instead i’m going for AEOLUS here though solely on his price, which is way too big .I really liked him last season and he built on a very impressive Chester win with victory in a strong nursery at York off 85. He then bumped into Night Of Thunder after that but that is a horse I rate very highly and he held off the 103 rated Stubbs for second. There could be more to come upped to 7f, with plenty of his relatives (smart ones as well) taking well to it.

Ed McMahon is always a trainer I find hard to ignore in races of this kind and I think he can be a good deal better than his mark suggests. Of the others, Saayerr was an early season runner last year and also a Group 2 winner. The trip is a worry for him, though it isn’t for Miracle Of Medinah who had a knack of springing a surprise or two last year including when winning a Group 3 on his final start over C&D. He shouldn’t be the outsider of the field, especially with potentially a lack of pace in the race.

Advice – Aeolus 2.5pts win @8/1 BetVictor

 

 

 

4:05 – Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes (Group 3) (Fillies) (CLASS 1) (3yo) 

The Fillies’ classic is just over two weeks yet nothing has popped up yet that remotely interests me for the race and like the Fred Darling at the weekend, I would be surprised to see a genuine Guineas candidate come out of this. Favourite Sandiva was out very early last year but to her credit she rarely ran a bad race, culminating in victory in a French Group 3 and then only being 5 lengths back in the Boussac.

Queen Catrine was in front of her that day and there’s no reason why she should be double the price, with the trip likely to suit. Connections have suggested a bit of cut in the ground will suit her best though and she may need that to win a race of this standard. Plenty have form that tie into each other and Along Again was last seen running third to Princess Noor in the Princess Margaret at Ascot (Queen Catrine one place ahead). There’s more to come from her and so too the speedy Dorothy B who should relish the ground and is worth stepping up to 7f now.

Euro Charline is a fascinating runner with two impressive Wolverhampton wins to her name and she’s well worth her chance but it’s FOLK MELODY that gets the vote here. Charlie Appleby clearly has his stable quite forward at this time of year, with plenty of runners at a time when it’s rare for Godolphin to have runners. This filly was very impressive on her sole start on the July course and the form of that race is pretty solid too.

We will learn a lot more about her tomorrow but again she wouldn’t need to be of classic quality to win tomorrow, yet has form more potential than most and is a very backable price. Of the rest, her stablemate Majeyda has smart juvenile form to her name but may not flourish until tested over further.

Advice – Folk Melody 2pts win @8/1 William Hill

2014 Flat Horses To Follow List

Balansiya

Dermot Weld – OR102

3yo – Shamardal (USA) – Baliyana (IRE)

There’s not many horses this season that are as potentially as exciting as this filly for Dermot Weld. We’ve only seen her once in her career so far, a late season maiden as Leopardstown where despite being well placed off a slow pace, she quickened like a very smart filly. Her trainer’s comments after suggested she would much prefer a sounder surface but the potential is clearly there for this Aga Khan owned 3yo. She may have bumped into a good one on her return in Bracelet but that was on soft ground too and she still remains in the Guineas hunt, especially as the race is poor at this stage.

 

 

Night Of Thunder

Richard Hannon – OR109

3yo – Dubawi (IRE) – Forest Storm

As soon as I saw Night Of Thunder win his maiden by six lengths on a wet Autumn day at Goodwood, he was one that I instantly put in the notebook. The way he travelled and quickened against opposition that were by no means trees was very impressive. He backed that up with an even more taking effort at Doncaster beating Aeolus, another horse I rate highly. He has a touch to prove seeing as both his runs have been on soft at 6f but he’s by Dubawi out of a Galileo mare and is destined to be a very smart 3yo. Starts in the Greenham.

 

 

Lesstalk In Paris    

Jean-Claude Rouget – OR –                                

3yo – Cape Cross (IRE) – Top Toss (IRE)

Over to France for this one and it’s another filly. Jean-Claude Rouget has had many a good horse over the past few years and he could have another one here. As a juvenile she was seen three times, winning her first two starts in good fashion, including a Group three that has worked out well. She was then chanced in the Marcel Boussac on Arc day and was a hugely unfortunate runner-up, doing way too much from the front from a wide draw. She’s a half-sister to Pouliches runner-up Dastarhon and this one has to have that as an aim too.

 

 

Integral

Sir Michael Stoute – OR115

4yo – Dalakhani (IRE) – Echelon

It’s strange to think Sir Michael Stoute’s filly has only been seen five times in her career but in that short space she has made a big impact. Winner of her first two starts including at Listed level, she ran respectably upped to 10f in the Nassau. That was a very strange race and she’s better judged on her dead heat run at Sandown where Ryan Moore gave her a rare poor ride and then her brilliant second to Sky Lantern in the Sun Chariot. She’s out of Echelon who improved massively for age and as did her half-sister Chic, all formerly trained by Stoute. There’s a lot more to come and races like the Lockinge have to come into play. A step back up in trip some time will help too.

 

 

Pether’s Moon

Richard Hannon – OR106

4yo – Dylan Thomas (IRE) – Softly Tread (IRE)

It is likely to be a big debut season for Richard Hannon Jnr with a really strong crop of 3yos this year, some stalwart older horses back for another year and as ever probably a good bunch of juveniles too. Pether’s Moon has gone under the radar a touch but slowly progressed all through last season. Starting off a mark of 83 he won three times including at Listed level on his final start, showing a good bit of a toe for a 12f horse. There promises to be more to come this season and races like the Hardwicke and the Jockey Club Cup have to be on the radar.

 

 

Cape Peron

Henry Candy – OR113

4yo – Beat Hollow – Free Offer

One of two from last year’s list that make it again. I’ve always rated Cape Peron very highly and his performances throughout the whole of last season strongly suggested that this is a potentially top class horse in the making. The key to him is soft ground. He ran well on better ground numerous times last season including in the Britannia and Betfair Mile, two of the most competitive handicaps of the season. He ended the year with a highly impressive win at Chantilly in a Listed race and is now rated 113. On that sort of ground I think he could win some big races at the highest level.

 

 

Western Hymn

John Gosden – OR –

3yo – High Chaparral (IRE) – Blue Rhapsody

John Gosden’s Western Hymn is one that has to go into the total unknown quantity category. A winner of his only start thus far at Kempton, the manner in which he did that was one of a very smart horse. It was a very professional win and the form looks solid though unspectacular. His pedigree screams middle distance and he has a Derby entry which he is a 66/1 shot for. He at least deserves his chance in a Derby trial somewhere which will give us a much better idea of how good he is.

 

 

Slade Power

Ed Lynam – OR115

5yo – Dutch Art -  Girl Power (IRE)

Slade Power makes the Horses to follow list again. He is a big favourite of mine but I’ve said for a long time that he will only improve with age and this is his season for me. Last year he landed the Group 2 on Champions Day from Jack Dexter, the first time that rival had been beaten on soft ground. I was a bit disappointed he went to Hong Kong after that but he ran well and should be ready to take his form to another level this time around. He doesn’t miss the break now, is as consistent as they come and is in great hands with Ed Lynam. I will be very surprised if he finished the season without that so far elusive Group 1 to his name.

 

 

Bracelet

Aidan O’Brien – OR106

3yo – Montjeu (IRE) – Cherry Hinton

Bracelet had a sole maiden win to her name in June coming into this season but the form of that has worked out and she highlighted herself as potentially a top class filly with victory in the 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown. She beat another horse to follow that day in Balansiya and is now Oaks favourite off the back of it. Her pedigree is superb, her dam rated 100 despite never winning and this is her second foal after Wading who also looked to have huge potential at one point. Her dam is also closely related to Sea The Stars and half-sister to Galileo, Black Sam Bellamy and My Typhoon. Bracelet could just be another high-class performer from that family.

 

 

I’m Fraam Govan

George Baker – OR93

6yo – Fraam – Urban Dancer (IRE)

Into the handicappers and I have a couple that are of interest. The first is I’m Fraam Goven, who actually started his career in bumpers for George Baker but has since progressed into a really smart middle distance handicapper. He’s yet to win on the flat away from Kempton but on his latest start won a very valuable handicap there and in really smart fashion. His turf form is fine too though and you have to think a step up in trip can bring out more than the mark of 93 he has at this stage. Hopefully this Sir Alex Ferguson owned gelding can at least have a more successful than David Moyes.

 

 

Retirement Plan

Lady Cecil – OR100

4yo – Monsun (GER) – Passage Of Time

It’s hard to know if this horse is still in training as he wasn’t seen after August last year which was disappointing as there was potentially some very exciting pots to chase. I thought he would have been a very lively Leger candidate after that handicap win, a race that has worked out well and off just his third start. He looks likely to improve for a step up in trip some time. He’s the first foal of Passage Of Time, by Monsun and hopefully he can back up that superb pedigree.

 

 

Steps

Roger Varian – OR106

6yo – Verglas (IRE) – Killinallan

More exposed than most of these on the face of it and he hasn’t been the best friend of punters even with a fair strike rate of 7 wins from 33, though another 10 of those have seen him placed. Last year he had a great time of it though, winning at Thirsk in May and then a Listed race at Ascot on his penultimate start. He is a really good traveller who is versatile on trip and ground and he went up by 16lb in the handicap. I just have a hunch he could further that improvement this year and he’s worth keeping on side in 2014.

 

 

Sea Defence

Roger Charlton – OR82

3yo – Mizzen Mast (USA) – Palisade (USA)

The last two horses are 3yos coming off maiden wins who could make hay with low handicap marks early in the season. The first is Sea Defence, trained by Roger Charlton. He was an eyecatching fifth on his debut at Kempton but built on that with an impressive Newmarket success afterwards, him and another smart horse Think Ahead finishing miles ahead of the rest. If he can’t win off 82 then I will be very surprised as he looks a lot better than that and Charlton seems to do particularly well with types like him. He’s reportedly a very big, strapping type who has a lot of potential but may not stay much further than he’s already been campaigned at.

 

 

Seagull Star

William Haggas – OR81

3yo – Sea The Stars (IRE) – Dash To The Top

Sea The Stars has some really nice 3yos to his name already and I had plenty of them on my shortlist, including Moontime, Mutakayyef and Munjaz. This colt gets the vote though and was clearly not expected to win on debut as he went off 22/1 but win he did and in style too. Trainer William Haggas said at the time he’d need fast ground but again he has a fantastic pedigree that should handle cut too, being out of Group placed mare Dash To The Top. He’s another that has been given a nice opening mark, this time of 81.

Aintree Grand National 2014 Horse-by-Horse Guide

1. Tidal Bay

A real stalwart over the past few years and the oldest horse in the field. Quirks from early in his career have been ironed out and is now one of the most consistent and admirable performers around. Started the season with a Grade 2 win over hurdles, before not finding Haydock a sufficient enough test of stamina in the Betfair Chase. Ran a cracker for third off 3lb higher in the Welsh National and second in Ireland on his last start. Would have to probably break every trend in the bok but if any horse could do it, it’s him. Better horse now than when he unseated in the race in 2011 and though will need luck, the handicapper has given him a great chance and he’s impossible to ignore.

 

2. Long Run

Gold Cup winner from 2011 and despite running some very gallant races since then, he’s never quite found that sort of form since. Still in 30 starts so far he’s only been out of the places in three starts but the worry is that all three of those runs have been this season. He wasn’t right on his return though and Haydock didn’t suit him but he was well beat when unseating in the King George, a race that he had won the year before. This has been the aim since then and he did trial well, beating a decent rival and in good fashion. Jockey is always respected round here, been given a chance by the handicapper and in all he’s a fascinating contender.

 

3. Hunt Ball

Climbed the ranks at an incredible rate in 2011-12, rated 69 originally and finishing the year off 157, a mark which climbed to 162 after winning at Taunton exactly a year ago. Plenty has happened since then, including being in the care of two different trainers, firstly when sold to run in the USA for Jonathan Sheppard. That didn’t work out and he’s now back over here with Nicky Henderson. Showed promise in a Grade 1 at Ascot on his return in ground that would have been far too soft and he backed that up with a solid fourth in the Ryanair at the Cheltenham Festival. Gets good ground which is key, is talented and jumps well but stamina is the major worry as he’s unraced over past three miles.

 

4. Triolo D’Alene

Always well regarded by his top-class trainer but was very frustrating to follow for a while. However it all fell into place this time last year as he won the Topham over the National fences, jumping well and holding on from Walkon in a tight finish. Backed that up with victory at Huntingdon and then proved he stayed further when winning the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in December from Rocky Creek. Kept away from soft ground in the winter and was seen next in the Cheltenham Gold Cup where he ran a touch disappointingly, but he may come on plenty for it. Trip to prove but shows he handles the fences and has a good chance if seeing out the trip.

 

5. Rocky Creek

Young and talented horse who looks built to stay this sort of distance. Finished the end of last year in disappointing fashion at this meeting in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase but there were excuses and he had impressed in small field races at Doncaster, Ascot and Warwick before then. Ran really well on his return in the Hennessy which had been his plan for a while, beating all bar Triolo D’Alene. Finished second on Cheltenham Trials day when last seen behind The Giant Bolster but this has been his target for most of the season. Interesting runner but lack of experience could count against him.

 

6. Quito De La Roque

A good performer on his day, winning six times at Graded level, including two Grade 1’s but majority of those came in 2010-11. Won again back in January 2013 and ran well at Aintree after that (former winner at the meeting) though hard to get too excited about any of his runs this season. Does mean he’s on a slipping mark but hopes pin on finding improvement for the Grand National test and that’s by no means a certainty either.

 

7. Colbert Station

Well fancied for the race last year after winning the valuable Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown and then his prep run over hurdles too. Was still travelling okay in the race last year when unseating AP McCoy at the chair (15th fence). Seems to have been campaigned with this in mind again and after a good third in the Troytown in November, he has disappointed a touch since. Any rain wouldn’t be a hindrance and trainer won this in 2001 with Papillon but McCoy looks elsewhere this time and it’s probably wise for you to do so as well.

 

8. Walkon

Always had a lot of ability even as a four-year-old over hurdles where he finished runner-up at the Festival and went one better at Aintree. Had his days over fences too with numerous placed efforts in big handicaps, including the Topham over these fences last year. This year hasn’t gone to plan, unseating his rider on his return after not jumping well and then beaten a mile in heavy ground latest at Newbury. Jockey booking a positive and ground fine but stamina a major negative.

 

9. Balthazar King

Better than ever at the moment and has gained a real love for the Cheltenham cross-country course where his record reads R1211. Has also won two other handicaps at Cheltenham over the normal course and over in France too. Only disappointing efforts came in this race last year, where he probably went too fast up front but despite finishing was never in contention and that hard race took its toll at Sandown after that too. Worth another chance with a more patient ride as he’s well handicapped after winning at the Festival last month; he stays all day, jumps extremely well and gets his ground.

 

10. Wayward Prince

Another talented horse on his day and twice a winner at this track, including a Grade 1 over hurdles back in 2010. Certainly not had the most straightforward of careers and regularly pitched in at the deep end and hasn’t been up to it. Last win came in December 2012 and only run of note since was in the Charlie Hall when just beat by the smart Harry Topper. Very poor runs since then, races off 150 when he would race off 142 elsewhere and doesn’t strike as a type to relish these fences.

 

11. Mr Moonshine

Represents last year’s winning connections and also changed ownership to the same as Auroras Encore which suggests that this has been the plan all season. Bold and admirable jumper who was pulled up last year without ever looking a serious threat but he’s been in superb form this season, finishing a great third in the Becher Chase over the National fences and then twice winning on softer ground down in trip. Ran well again at Kelso latest and a fair show would not surprise.

 

12. Teaforthree

Antepost favourite for the race for a while. Won at the Cheltenham Festival in 2012 and campaigned over similar marathon handicaps throughout last year, finishing an admirable runner-up in the Welsh National and ran really well for third in this too, making a bold move to hit the front before tiring badly late on. Ran okay again in the Welsh National and his trial in the Gold Cup was a fair effort too, in between running Restless Harry very close at Ascot. Ground ideal and race has been his target all season. If ridden more conservatively then he’s definitely the one to beat. Big e/w claims anyway though could again be a touch vulnerable for win purposes.

 

13. Across The Bay

Admirable performer on his day but needs plenty to go his way and small fields do seem to suit him more as he likes to dominate. Has won two of his last six starts, firstly over hurdles and leading from pillar to post at Haydock and then back at that track over fences this season, staying on really well over 3m2f on heavy ground. Under pressure when unseating his rider again at Haydoc kin February and jumping was his problem again in this race last year, still leading after 26 fences but lost his rhythm when getting tired. Hard to see why that won’t be the case again.

 

14. Double Seven

Subject to support this week after being chosen by AP McCoy as his choice over Colbert Station. Was only rated 111 back in June but a five timer since then, the highlight being victory in the Munster National, has seen him rise to 145. Lost his unbeaten run last time out though ground wasn’t ideal and he needs more of a stamina test now. Trainer won this in 2006 with Numbersixvalverde and rider in 2010 with Don’t Push It and though very much goes into the unknown here, he’s a fascinating contender.

 

15. Battle Group

An absolute revelation at this meeting last year when under new trainer Kevin Bishop he thrashed a fair field off 131 (well backed) over hurdles, before coming back two days later and winning by even further over fences. Then backed it up off 15lb higher at Haydock in May but shown absolutely nothing on his three runs since. Pulled up on two of those and refused to race altogether in between that. Very hard to trust on that basis even if back at Aintree and with ground in his favour.

 

16. Buckers Bridge

Only 12 starts in his career to date making him a lot less experienced than most. Five times a winner including at Grade 2 level but four of those victories came over a year ago and his record since then reads 1/7, unplaced in every other start too. Form of his Bobbyjo run doesn’t look that bad now but he was still well beaten and he doesn’t look up to playing a hand here.

 

17. Lion Na Bearnai

Another veteran that is still going despite clearly having problems with injuries in the past. Won the Irish Grand National in 2012 but was only seen twice last season, pulled up both times, albeit in good races. Won a modest chase off 137 at Fairyhouse in February but ran poorly in every run bar that and handicapper certainly not given him a chance either. Hard to fancy.

 

18. Prince De Beauchene

Lightly raced for his age and his talented if not a touch fragile. Won at the Grand National meeting back in 2011 and also has a victory in the Bobbyjo to his name in 2012. Was antepost favourite for the National itself off the back of that but was pulled out due to a hip injury and he got injured when favourite last year too, this time from a minor stress fracture. Finally he has got here and though his form figures don’t inspire, he’s been running okay. It may just be a case of what could have been with this one but any horse from the Willie Mullins stable has to be respected and he’s shortlisted.

 

19. Monbeg Dude

Let down earlier in his career by his very tardy jumping but has worked on that with Zara Philips and on the basis of his latest shows he has made it a real asset of his. Usually switches off and races in the rear before making ground late on in the race and that style will mean he needs plenty of luck in the National. Won the Welsh National, getting one of the rides of the season by Paul Carberry last year and he is a Grade 3 winner this winter too at Cheltenham. Owned by Rugby players Mike Tindall and James Simpson-Daniel and will definitely have a lot of supporters. Goes on all ground, should stay and if getting the breaks he has a big chance.

 

20. Big Shu

Come from the cross country route into this, being a relatively unknown horse until he bolted up at the Cheltenham Festival last year. Won the La Touche Cup at Punchestown after that, the big cross-country race at the meeting and he clearly relishes that type of test. Again this season he’s run two big races, firstly when just behind Love Rory and then third at the Festival behind Balthazar King, travelling really well before not picking up as well on lively ground. Any rain a huge positive and this is his first try at Aintee but a lively outsider if handling it.

 

21. Burton Port

Another who has seen better days in the past and clearly had troubles too but the handicapper has more than given him a chance now. No win since 2010 when taking the Mildmay at this meeting though he has had two high profile seconds since then, firstly in the Hennessy and then in the Aintree Bowl. Moved to Jonjo O’Neill this year but originally showed nothing, albeit twice over hurdles. Promise on his latest runs, notably last time at Newbury where he probably went too fast up front. Connections have tasted success here before and no surprise if he were to run well.

 

22. Our Father

As hit and miss as they come and clearly not one to trust very much even if he has bags of ability on a going day. Last win came in November 2012 and his performance that day suggested he could reach some real heights. Seems best when fresh and did so again when beaten only 20 lengths in the Hennessy this season but then was beaten 43 and 39 lengths since too, runs off a very poor mark and easy to oppose.

 

23. Mountainous

Rarely runs a bad race and has placed in 11 of his 15 starts to date, winning five. All those victories were in modest grade until this season when he took the Welsh National from Hawkes Point and Tidal Bay. Couldn’t back that up for whatever reason when last seen at Ffos Las and a touch to prove especially off this mark. Absolute mudlark who could find the ground way too fast for his liking, unless a lot of rain falls between now and the race.

 

24. The Rainbow Hunter

Always shown promise but never been able to cut it in the big races until everything fell into place and he won the Skybet Chase at Doncaster on his latest start. Always been prone to the odd mistake or two at his fences but jumped well that day and a wind operation beforehand clearly helped too. New mark workable and a better horse now than what he was last year (unseated at 8th). Has trip to prove though and main worry is definitely getting round anyway.

 

25. Vintage Star

Just 10 starts over fences to date though has won twice and finished second five times. A couple of big efforts in handicaps this season, winning first time up at Carlisle and then finding Hey Big Spender just too good in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle and Wychwoods Brook in the Peter Marsh at Haydock. Gallant sixth in the Welsh National proved he stays further though could only last five fences at Cheltenham latest where his jumping went to pot (ran terribly there before). That can probably be excused and trainer won this last year. Could learn plenty from this for future Nationals however and others are preferred this time around.

 

26. Chance Du Roy

Plenty of poor runs in his career of late though his two standout performances both came over the National fences, firstly a gallant second to Always Waining in the Topham in 2012 and then this season when taking the Becher Chase on soft ground. Pulled up after that though back to some sort of form at Ascot latest (Teaforthree two places in front). Good ground always seemed to suit him best and form round the National course always has to be respected. I was surprised to see him stay 3m2f of the Becher and staying another mile is a big question mark. Chance if he does.

 

27. Hawkes Point

A proper staying chaser who jumps very well and he would probably have been in here with a huge chance if the course was still like what it was a few years ago. Still his traits are certainly no negative round here. Slowly improving this season and did well to finish so close in the Welsh National off 137, just behind Mountainous and ahead of stablemate Tidal Bay. Disappointed a touch since then at Haydock but will be peaked for this. Any rain a major positive but enough may not arrive to make him a selection.

 

28. Kruzhlinin

Four times a winner over fences in 12 starts though three of those have come at Kelso and the other on debut at Carlisle. Always come up short when pitched into better company, the latest being a fair fifth in the Skybet Chase but he disappointed again at Kelso latest (Mr Moonshine 11 lengths ahead). One of only a host of seven-year-olds in the field and very hard to make a case for him.

 

29. Pineau De Re

11-year-old now but arguably in the form of his life. Winner of the Ulster National on his only try so far over 3m2f for Philip Fenton and now with the highly underrated Dr Richard Newland. Had a busy campaign but a good break between his impressive Veterans chase win at Exeter to another eyecatching run at the Festival over hurdles, finishing behind two really good horses in the Pertemps. Fell in the Becher Chase on his only try at the course but connections felt that was down to inexperience and he should be all the better for it. Fine on any ground, fits the profile of a National winner, good jockey on board and enough hope that he can stay; big chance.

 

30. Golan Way

Good performer for Sheena West over the years and now with Tim Vaughan, winning nine times altogether over different codes, including at Listed level in 2011. Ran on the flat in the summer and not disgraced returned to fences since, a close third in the London National followed by an early unseat in a Hunter chase. Made no mistake in a weak race at Warwick last time but this is totally a different level. Extremely hard to recommend.

 

31. Twirling Magnet

Progressed nicely over the summer when getting fast ground, which is key to him and stayed on strongly to win a Novice chase at Cheltenham’s showcase meeting in October. Only seen twice since then, firstly in a Grade 3 behind Houblon Des Obeaux and then unseating his amateur rider in the Kim Muir when looking beat. Trainer always respected round here but very much stable second string.

 

32. Vesper Bell

Placed at Grade 1 level over hurdles in 2012 but staying chases always were going to see him in better light. Not much has gone to plan though with just one win in eight starts despite showing promise. A good second at Punchestown in May when ground down late by Goonyella is still a career best, but he fell at the first here in the Becher, unseated when still going okay in the Classic Chase and could never challenge in the Thyestes Chase. Ground probably too quick for him and jumping still to prove too.

 

33. The Package

Plenty of injuries in the past but is talented and would probably have a bigger reputation if he’d kept sound. Is best when fresh too though so not necessarily improvement to come from him but he did run a big race from a year off in the Festival Handicap on the opening day, form boosted by the winner Holywell and runner-up Ma Filleule going in again at Aintree. Unseated when well fancied in 2010, plenty to prove and doesn’t really represent much value either even if his run last time looks strong.

 

34. Raz De Maree

Finished 2012 with impressive wins in the Munster and Cork Grand Nationasl but was off for a year after that and he hasn’t quite been able to build on those performances so far this season, pulling up twice and finishing unplaced on the other two starts. However there was promise in both those runs, notably when still going well at Punchestown in February before a shuddering mistake stopped him in his tracks. Big price and comes with risks attached but connections respected, first time visor intriguing and worth a saver at huge odds.

 

35. Rose Of The Moon

The least experienced of all of these over fences even though he’s a nine-year-old but that’s an obvious concern for such a gruelling race. Has won three of his six starts thus far, two novice chases and a handicap when last seen at Wetherby. Jumped poorly at the Cheltenham Festival when quietly fancied for the four miler but did better over these fences in the Becher, which he finished without threatening. By no means a forlorn hope but hard to fancy.

 

36. Shakalakaboomboom

Progressed nicely in the 2011-12 season with two smart victories and another good run when second in the Skybet Chase to Calgary Bay. His last run of that season saw him run and go off favourite for the National itself and he held up well for a very long way, stamina probably running out late on but he still finished ninth, beaten 28 lengths. Missed all of last year but returned in a jumpers bumper in January. Shown little in two starts since, firstly over hurdles and latest back at Cheltenham over fences, best to look elsewhere.

 

37. Alvarado

Talented though not straightforward and travels strongly in his races. Was reportedly in good form coming into Cheltenham’s Open meeting and he hit the front late on to land that valuable handicap, the race being over the furthest trip he’s ever faced and he relished it. Pulled up when last seen on New Year’s Day but the ground was horrendous that day and his run can be excused. Owners have had success in the race before with State Of Play and Cappa Bleu. Would have preferred to see him have a prep run but definitely one of the livelier outsiders.

 

38. Last Time D’Albain

Just one win over 13 chase starts so far, that being a lowly Navan handicap chase in December 2011 but finished third in the Paddy Power Chase and Topham last year. Mark clearly being protected this season with two of his three runs being over hurdles, the other being after the weights came out. He didn’t show much at all in any of those starts and the trip also a major negative.

 

39. One In A Milan

Just six chase starts so far but definitely built for Marathon trips. Winner over three miles on heavy at Ffos Las and ran respectably in the Midlands National last season and then a career best fourth in the Welsh National in December. Run twice at that track since over hurdles but didn’t run that well off a much lesser marks than his chase one. Visor on but clearly loves heavy ground which he won’t get and also can’t see him having the class anyway.

 

40. Swing Bill

Gets in by the skin of his teeth for the sponsors Crabbies who have won the race before with Amberleigh House in 2004. 13-year-old now but is still in fairly good heart and only once in six starts has he failed to finish the National course, form figures read 5P0464. Only beaten 34 lengths last year for sixth and less than half that in the Becher. Usually settles in rear and does his own thing making it hard to see him contend for a place but he’s got a better chance finishing the course than most.

 

Verdict

The Grand National, 40 runners, just under 4 and a half miles and a mammoth 30 fences to jump. The course is now very different amid new safety changes. The fences are smaller and safer and the whole complexity of the race, i.e a classier horse taking part, means it’s hard to discount the top horses on account of weight carried.

TIDAL BAYand Long Run are the exact type of horse being trained for the National which wouldn’t have been so in the past and even off big weights, both certainly aren’t handicapped out of it at all. The old boy Tidal Bay would bring the house down if he could win this and he’s a better horse now than when he failed to finish in 2011. His goes in any conditions and it’s hard to find reasons why he won’t go very close. Champion trainer Paul Nicholls also runs Rocky Creek and Hawkes Point.

The Waley-Cohen horses always need respecting round here and Long Run, who stays all day, will certainly be more suited by how the fences are now. He is probably the best chance for Nicky Henderson to finally gain an elusive first Grand National crown though Triolo D’Alene, last year’s Topham winner, is respected. Hunt Ball and Shakalakaboomboom do have stamina doubts

Teaforthree finished best of those who return from last year. He ran a superb race there for third, hitting the front to try and take the sting out of the rest but in the end it paid for his chances. If ridden more conservatively then he goes in with a great chance again.

Likewise Monbeg Dude has improved his jumping, will be very popular to back and if getting the breaks then he will be involved. Money for Double Seven seems significant and he looks the best chance for JP McManus over Colbert Station who himself was fancied last year.

Cheltenham cross-country form is really starting to be tested in the National and BALTHAZAR KING and Big Shu both come from that sphere. They finished 1st and 3rd respectively in this year’s renewal and both have good e/w chances, the former especially if ridden more conservatively as he’s in such good form of late and the latter if rain arrived.

My main fancy for the race is PINEAU DE RE, who I backed at 100/1 in January. Since then he’s run a cracker over hurdles in the Pertemps and he has a really good profile for the race. He is still my main fancy for the race at his current price with genuine hope that he can handle the fences and stay the trip.

David Pipe has tasted success in this race before though will do well to take it this year with any of The Package, Our Father and Swing Bill while another former winner of the race Jonjo O’Neill runs Burton Port and Twirling Magnet.

Others with chances include Prince De Beauchene for Willie Mullins, antepost favourite for the race in the past two years while if seeing out the trip there could be good runs from Chance Du Roy, who loves the National fences and also Mr Moonshine who has been in great form this season and represents connections of last year’s winner Auroras Encore. They also run Vintage Star

Jumping is the worry for The Rainbow Hunter and there’s not too many that appeal at bigger prices. If significant rain came than Mountainous would have a squeak but that’s unlikely. Alvarado didn’t have a prep which is a bit off-putting but this strong travelling type represents owners who have had State Of Play and Cappa Bleu placed in the past. At a big price RAZ DE MAREE is a Cork and Munster National winner and is overpriced at 66/1.

Already Advised – Pineau De Re @50/1 (100 win Betfair, 18 place)

Advice

1. Pineau De Re 2.5pts e/w @28/1 Coral

2. Tidal Bay 1.5pts e/w @18/1 generally

3. Balthazar King 1pt e/w @20/1 generally

4. Raz De Maree 1pt e/w @66/1 generally

Saturday’s Selections – Doncaster & Kempton

The Flat is back and in some style. It’s superb Doncaster card but I’m struggling a touch to find winners in some of the races, notably both mile races and the sprint, all of which are hotly contested. All thoughts on those races and the rest of the C4 action are on the video with the usuals.

 

 

 

Doncaster

3:50 - William Hill Lincoln (Heritage Handicap) (CLASS 2) (4yo+) 
Got to have a go at the showcase race of the opening day of the flat, the Lincoln handicap. The draw is probably going to have an effect but it’s tough to know which side to be on so it’s not something I’ve strongly considered. Last year’s winner Levitate is well fancied off 106 with Joe Doyle taking off 7lb. He is probably vulnerable off that mark even with his ideal conditions of soft ground at this trip giving plenty of weight to most.

Tullius too even with Oisin Murphy claiming 3lb for free, has a tough ask off 109. He’s not the most straightforward but Gabrial’s Kaka is well handicapped if getting his act together but he is priced accordingly and Off Art is a lot less exposed than most but off a bit of a layoff this is tough.

Sweet Lightning is on a slipping mark but this doesn’t seem his conditions to me and neither One Word More who also doesn’t scream out as being one which will necessarily find improvement now, which he will need. Whispering Warrior would be suited if this turned into a real slog though he’s also shown a liking for fast ground in the past and in the race he won last time, Tres Coronas ran as if in need of the run and that is an ideal trial coming into this.

There’s two I like more than most though, the first is JACK’S REVENGE who is very tough to win with but it’s unfair to call him a rogue as such as he regularly runs well. Soft ground always is his ideal and over this trip for me and he gets it. He was beaten just two lengths last year off 91, only 4lb higher now I think will see him run really well and 16/1 means there’s scope for eachway money.

There seems to be a real lack of the unexposed Newmarket type that have dominated this race in the past though if any come into that category is CONSIGN who was well tried last year but could find a bit more this season. He showed a liking for soft ground especially when winning a good race at Ascot though he did disappoint a touch at Newmarket on his final 2013 start, maybe just one race too many.

He’s had a good prep at Lingfield, a race in which he was unsuited by the pace but also got no run at all down the inside rail and that can be forgotten. He fits the bill as a potential winner for me.

Advice – Jack’s Revenge 1pt e/w 16/1 BetVictor

                  Consign 1pt e/w @12/1 generally

 

 

 

Kempton

2:20 – 6 Places At Aintree At BetVictor Magnolia Stakes (Listed Race) (CLASS 1) (4yo+) 

A race that somewhat revolves around Trumpet Major, a Group 2 and Group 3 winner on both his returns to a new season in the past. This is two furlongs further than he’s faced though and with potentially a lack of pace too, there is a real worry that he could too fresh here for his own good. The lack of Richard Hughes doesn’t help that and also he regressed throughout last season too so there’s more than enough to oppose there.

Then there’s finding the right horse to do that with. Modernstone is the progressive handicapper who gets a handy 5lb from all the main market rivals and he comes off a career best performance too. Contributor also has some handy form, particularly at face value, including a second to Magician at Chester. He definitely needs more of a stamina test than this. ENERGIA DAVOS meanwhile has been running really consistently over in Dubai, mixing it in some of the best handicaps of the whole Carnival.

He should have finished runner-up to Cat O’Mountain on his first start and then was not far behind Sanshaawes after that. Both those run tomorrow in the Dubai World Cup which shows the form is strong. Again he ran his race behind Tha’ir over a furlong further and with there being absolutely no reason for me why he can’t reproduce that, he is way overpriced as on form he’s got a better chance than all of them, bar the favourite if he turns up.

Advice – Energia Davos 2pts win @9/1 BetBright

 

 

Meydan

Every race for World Cup Night covered below

Dubai World Cup Night 2014 Preview and Selections

Well worth watching the video preview with myself, as usual @LukeElder13 presenting and special guest @ThoroughbredAR. It’s a really good piece anyway.

 

 

 

1:10 – Godolphin Mile Sponsored By Meydan Sobha (Group 2) (Tapeta) (3yo+)

This looks a straight shoot out between the front three in the market and originally I wanted to side with Soft Falling Rain who somehow won last year despite getting a dreadful passage into the race. His UK form was pretty fair, the Joel Stakes win a notable highlight with defeats in his other two runs (excuses for both).

He was beat for the first time in Dubai on Super Saturday but badly needed the run over an inadequate trip and this is more his bag. There is just a niggling doubt about whether he will be fully primed in this as connections clearly have big UK aims for him. One that will have this as her aim is Shuruq, twice a winner this Carnival at Group level, both performances split by a poor run back on turf.

She’s a totally different proposition on Tapeta though, taking her record to 3-6 on it, only once out of the first two. There’s no reason why she can’t confirm the form with Variety Club, also considering this big striding type has a wide draw to contend with. I just don’t think a race like this shows him at his best, but he at least handles surface and is a very good horse, so will be thereabouts.

It’s hard to really be confident about any of the rest, Mull Of Killough will be well supported e/w over here but shouldn’t be winning this, Flotilla hasn’t looked in great form this Carnival and Penitent was held in the race last year. A wide draw is a negative for Capital Attraction who would have a great chance of a place if getting to the front.

Haatheq, second last year and filling the same position earlier in the season behind Variety Club, was disappointing last time but is overpriced if that run can be overcome. It’s not a race I can make my mind up on now though, my heart very much being the deciding factor on Soft Falling Rain being who I think probably wins this over Shuruq but my head is not confident enough to bet on that.

Advice – No Selection

 

 

 

1:45 – Dubai Gold Cup Sponsored By Al Tayer Motors (Group 2) (Turf) (3yo+)

It’s tough to see past Cavalryman who was a very impressive winner of this last year and was similarly impressive in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy on his return, sailing away for an impressive success over the consistent types of Star Empire and Certerach. If the race was really run with an emphasis on stamina then he’d be vulnerable as he’s not an out and out stayer, just a middle distance horse who gets the trip.

That would also really suit something like Simenon but whether that happens is very much open to debate and the favourite is definitely the one to beat. Ernest Hemingway is very much flattered by his rating for me and certainly has to overcome two well below par efforts. Aidan O’Brien had a similar and arguably better type in Imperial Monarch disappoint last year.

The price of Cavalryman is short enough for one his age to look elsewhere and JOSHUA TREE is the one I felt was overpriced. He’s no stranger to running big races abroad and again he landed the Canadian International late last year before disappointing a touch in a very hot Japan Cup.

He ran respectably on his return over 10f in round 3 of the Al Maktoum challenge but over this trip he’s a touch unexposed, finishing runner-up in this two years ago and has since run well at this sort of trip when getting fast ground. I think he can outrun his odds more than anything. Elsewhere Sheikhzayedroad is a fascinating runner trying this trip and if settling could also outrun his odds, he’s the best of the rest for me.

Advice – Joshua Tree 2pts win @10/1 generally

 

 

 

 

2:25 – UAE Derby Sponsored By The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (Group 2) (Tapeta) (3yo)

A fascinating UAE Derby and in 13 years of this race, amazingly only three trainers have had the winner, Saeed Bin Suroor, Mike De Kock and Aidan O’Brien. The former pair have just outsiders Jallota and Paximadia between them, though O’Brien has GIOVANNI BOLDINI who looks to have a massive chance to make this three wins in as many years for Ballydoyle.

giovanni boldini

Aidan O’Brien has won the past two renewals of this with less appealing types than Giovanni Boldini and Ballydoyle could well celebrating a hat-trick this year

Those past winners both ran down the field at the Breeders’ Cup but this one ran a big race for second, just getting ground down by Outstrip late on. Ryan Moore was critical of the ride he gave him that day as this is clearly a talented horse who should take well to the surface on pedigree and for me is by some way the one to beat with more to come upped in trip. Long John is favourite though after his impressive UAE 2000 Guineas win.

He beat a modest bunch but did it in style and this horse certainly does not lack speed. That means a step back up in trip is hardly going to be ideal but this is the logical race for him at the big meeting. His only try at this saw him disappoint in the Cox Plate and though that is always a very good race, it’s a niggling doubt for me. The other worry is Charlie Appleby’s runners, with none winning since this horse’s last win and still he has yet to take a race with a horse not running first time up this season (0-26). He is one of the favourites on the card well worth taking on.

Asmar was behind him that day but broke his maiden in real style on Super Saturday, improving massively for the step up in trip which did seem like he would beforehand. Both he and Long John beat the same rival Emirates Flyer in good style and he will relish every yard of this, unlike the Godolphin horse.

Toast Of New York is a fascinating runner, winner of his past two starts in modest a/w events at Wolves. This was talked about as an aim for a while and he deserves his chance at least. Cooptado is another that is hard to weigh up, Sir Jack Layden and Sir John Hawkins have it to find based on their mixed UK juvenile form.

Advice – Giovanni Boldini 3pts win @3/1 Generally

 

 

 

 

3:03 - Al Quoz Sprint Empowered By IPIC (Group 1) (Turf) (3yo+)

Very hard to see past SHEA SHEA again, winner of this last year and also on his return in the Meydan Sprint. I thought he did that well considering he probably needed that run and he was always holding Ahtoug late on. That should see him spot on now and I think he can win this and in style too.

The real unknown quantity is Hong Kong speedball Amber Sky who has taken a bit of time to come into himself but comes off the back of a highly impressive Sha Tin win on the straight track. You will do well to find a quicker horse out the gates than this one but whether he can sustain that at the highest level is open to debate. It also means the race could be run at a scorching pace and I think Shea Shea will be really suited by that.

Amber Sky, Beat Baby and Hamza all have middle stalls and all also like to lead which means late on I think something from further off the pace could pick them off. Runners like SOLE POWER and MEDICEAN MAN will be really suited by chasing a potentially suicidal pace. The former was runner-up in last year’s Meydan Sprint, fourth in this race and ran a fair return to action on Super Saturday.

The latter has been in brilliant form this Carnival, winning his last two, firstly taking a handicap from Ahtoug and then taking full advantage of a mark of 101 on the Tapeta. The play here for me is small straight forecasts between Shea Shea and these two.

Advice – Shea Shea/Sole Power 1pt Straight Forecast                 

                     Shea Shea/Medicean Man 1pt Straight Forecast

 

 

 

 

3:41 – Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored By Gulf News (Group 1) (Tapeta) (3yo+)

Arguably not the strongest of races and there’s no standout on the domestic front this year in a race that regularly does go to a home horse or one that has been campaigned over here that season. It does open the door for the smart Hong Kong sprinter Sterling City who has got a handy draw and some smart form to his name back home. I certainly think he’s a better horse than Rich Tapestry who had most of these behind on Super Saturday.

That race totally fell apart up front and he used good early speed to gain a handy position and he put the race to bed like he was entitled to. A wider draw and potentially a better run race makes him much more vulnerable now. Last year’s winner Reynaldothewizard ran well for second in that but again was well placed throughout and just doesn’t seem to be in the same heart as he was coming into this 12 months ago.

I think he runs well though, so too Russian Soul who ran a bit flat in the same race but before that had won the Al Shindagha over C&D. The two to highlight from the race were definitely Balmont Mast and JAMESIE, both virtually last turning for home but in the end finishing 5th and 4th respectively. The former was placed last year and needs a scorching pace to be at best but the latter is less one-dimensional and is improving out of sight this Carnival.

The way he made up ground late on in the race was very eyecatching and though I’d have liked him to get an easier draw, he’s rash to dismiss with more pace likely to be on in this race hopefully from Nawwaar from his low stall and with this horse being in the form of his life. I think e/w at 14/1 is a very fair bet.

Advice – Jamesie 1.5pts e/w @16/1 Coral

 

 

 

 

4:39 – Dubai Duty Free Sponsored By Dubai Duty Free (Group 1) (Turf) (3yo+)

This arguably is the best and most fascinating race of the night with four maybe five in with strong chances. The Fugue comes here despite the World Cup looking a fair bit weaker but clearly the decision has been made to run on turf. I get the suspicion that a touch has been left off her for the UK season, but she’s a classy mare who despite facing the shortest trip since her Guineas place and has to be respected.

vercingetorix

The Dubai Duty Free is one of the races of the night. Vercingetorix is 6/6 so far and would need to improve to win but he’s a touch underestimated in the market at 8/1

The Japanese horse Just A Way is probably the one to beat here after two highly impressive wins back in Japan, firstly thrashing Sheema Classic hope Gentildonna and then again beating a strong field on his return over this trip at Nakayama. He’s clearly taken his form to another in those two runs and if backing that up here and more importantly settling well, then he probably wins.

Dank comes off the back of two impressive wins in the USA, firstly in the Beverley D and then at the Breeders’ Cup despite pulling way too hard early on. She has to prove she can run to that sort of form without Lasix but if she does here then again she goes on the shortlist, but her UK form alone leaves her well short.

Both Mshawish and VERCINGETORIX have the advantage of running here already this Carnival, the former unlucky behind Anaerobio in the Al Fahidi Fort but had everything go his way instead in the Zabeel Mile where he sat at the front of a very slow pace and quickened well to beat Trade Storm. He needs a career best as past efforts suggest he is a touch below Group 1 level and make no mistake this race is exactly that in quality. The tentative vote goes to the Mike De Kock horse, winner of the Jebel Hatta on his latest start, a race which has come under scrutiny very much for the wrong reasons since.

Take nothing away from this horse though, even thoguh he was placed well, he quickened very nicely and was always doing enough. That took his record to six wins from six and he does seem a horse that never does more than actually is needed. This requires more but I think he’s been a touch underestimated in the market, making him the play. Elsewhere Tasaday has place claims and won a decent enough race last time but it did fall in her lap somewhat, if horses had laps.

Anaerobio could set the pace again here and depending how fast they go up front really decides how close Trade Storm gets but he was held in a weaker version of this last year. Tokei Halo is a smart Japanese performer and actually went off favourite for the race won by Just A Way last time. He was six lengths behind that day and it’s tough to see where he will make that ground up.

Advice – Vercingetorix 2pts win @8/1 generally

 

 

 

 

5:17 – Dubai Sheema Classic Presented By Longines (Group 1) (Turf) (3yo+) 

Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Magician has to come into this with a big chance of giving Aidan O’Brien his second win in the race in as many years. That was an incredible performance for his first run since his setback in June to beat a top yardstick in The Fugue too. I got the suspicion he’d have been more suited to the Dubai World Cup as he does not lack pace at all, while Ruler Of The World would have relished this test more.

That doesn’t take much away from this one as he should run a big race. Runner-up last year Gentildonna has been running at a high level back in Japan but she came into the race 12 months ago with five consecutive wins, this year she’s won only one of her starts from four. Ryan Moore on board is a big boost and she did take the scalp of DENIM AND RUBY in a strong Japan Cup but there was a nose between them and considering how the race panned out for the latter, I think the filly can overturn that form.

She got checked at a crucial stage in the race, before then was twice a Group 2 winner but the further the trip the better she is and she looks one who could really improve as a 4yo. I think she is the value of the race at 7/1 though Magician is definitely the one to beat in my eyes and the race does revolve around him a touch. Cirrus Des Aigles won this two years and off being beat in the same race he was only fourth in this season at Deauville.

He took a lot of time to come to hand last year due to an early setback though I think this trip and on fast ground is really not what he wants anymore. He definitely has the ability to run to a high standard and his Hong Kong run did surprise me a touch, but he is vulnerable against the front three. Dunaden will appreciate a return to turf though will do well to better his fourth last year, beaten just under five lengths.

There’s definitely stronger e/w plays to have with Excellent Result, winner of the City Of Gold on Super Saturday. That was a career best by some way and also Dominant, Hong Kong Vase winner who relishes this trip and ground, though he has been on the go for a while now.

At bigger prices, Dubday is especially overpriced. He has a similar profile to Very Nice Name who was placed in the race last year and though the race he won in Qatar was not of the highest quality, he won it in good style. He’s worth a small place bet.

Advice – Denim And Ruby 2pts win @7/1 generally

                    

 

 

 

 

6:05 – Dubai World Cup Sponsored By Emirates Airline (Group 1) (Tapeta) (3yo+)

The best race in terms of prize money and what’s meant to be the real highlight of the whole meeting but the race certainly lacks a superstar this season, firstly with a distinct lack of US participants and simply nothing out of the ordinary turning up from abroad or coming up through the previous Carnival races. Ruler Of The World is a good horse though and he ran a career best on Champions Day when just behind Farhh and Cirrus Des Aigles on his latest start.

However he is a proper 12f campaigner for me and this won’t be enough of a stamina test for it to suit him enough. It’s fascinating to see Al Shaqab Racing have bought 50% of him and I’m sure he will prove that to be a fair investment back over here and at stud, but he is very much worth taking on tomorrow. Meanwhile the more I look at the race, the more I simply can’t get away from MILITARY ATTACK.

Military Attack 240213

Military Attack hit form around this time last year and again put up his personal best this season in the same race which started that purple patch 12 months ago

He has to prove he handles the Tapeta but I would be surprised if that was what got him beat and he just seems such an uncomplicated and classy horse in Hong Kong. Using his debut defeat at Kempton as a reason to oppose him is truly staggering and Ryan Moore makes a good point that he feels Ascot is a very similar surface to the Tapeta and when with John Hills Military Attack (known as Rave) actually won at Ascot. He hit form big time around this time last year and you just feel he is peaking at the time again.

He won the Hong Kong Gold Cup in smart fashion when last seen, by far his best run of his season so far and since his purple patch 12 months ago which saw him win the same race, a Group 3 and then the QEII Cup and Singapore Cup. Akeed Mofeed beat him in the Hong Kong Cup earlier in the season but it felt as if that really was his main aim of the season and despite only having one more race than the selection, it’s certainly been a busier campaign

The Godolphin team look a touch vulnerable to me with Prince Bishop leading the way after his two Al Maktoum Challenge victories under Kieren Fallon, both very good rides from the Irishman. African Story still doesn’t convince me as a stayer and was held in last year’s race while Cat O’Mountain seems to be the choice of Barzalona ahead of Vancouverite. The former hasn’t been able to show his best so far due to his fairly incompetent and thoughtless jockey round here on both his last two starts though a wide draw does not help proceedings again. I’ve backed him antepost but he’s now a bigger price anyway.

The Japanese pair Belshazzar and Hokko Tarumae are intriguing runners, the former certainly looks to have a better chance judging on their dirt form but again each would need a career best. Hillstar could potentially be an improver this year but all his form thus far suggests he should be short of this standard and the UK have a better chance of a winner with Mukhadram, who if taking to the surface would go quite well. A better draw would have been nice but a place is very much up for grabs here and the same could be said for Red Cadeaux who did exactly that last year and there’s certainly no Animal Kingdom in the field this time.

We haven’t seen the best of Sanshaawes yet and he could well overturn form with Prince Bishop from Super Saturday but he would need to do that and more to challenge. Ron The Greek is a fair dirt performer in the USA now with Saudi ownership but he’s got no better chance than the market suggestz and neither do Surfer or Side Glance who would be surprise winners even if there really shouldn’t be a surprise if anything happened in this this year.

Advice – Military Attack 3pts win  @7/1 generally

Saturday’s Selections – Lingfield & Newbury

Lingfield

2:40 - bookmakers.co.uk Hever Sprint Stakes (Fast Track Qualifier) (Listed Race) (CLASS 1) (4yo+)

With potentially a lack of pace in this race, the form horse ADDICTIVE DREAM will be tough to be peg back here from a good draw. He’s been in great form this winter, winning twice at Lingfield and though I always felt 6f was more his trip, round here he shows the speed when it matters to handle the minimum.

His handicap win was off 98 but it was such a commanding performance that I have no worries he can back that up and maybe improve from it in better grade. The clear danger is Ladies Are Forever, who won this last year after also taking the Cleves Stakes before it, a race that this year she finished 6th in from a poor draw. She does have a penalty to burden but will definitely be thereabouts.

Kingsgate Choice if ready from his break is a big danger though he is a 7yo now so he is entitled to need it. The rest of the horses that have been running on the a/w need to improve fair deal, though Forest Edge is in with a chance if getting a good start even with his trainer out of form. Stepper Point is one of the better runners in this though a penalty and running first time up should be enough to prevent him winning.

Advice – Addictive Dream 2.5pts win @9/2 generally

 

 

3:50 – coral.co.uk Winter Derby (Fast Track Qualifier) (Group 3) (CLASS 1) (4yo+)

Aussie Reigns

Aussie Reigns is a big price in the Winter Derby and is well worth backing

A race that totally revolves around Grandeur who is a fair deal better than the rest of these and there’s no reason why he won’t run a big race. If he didn’t have the wide draw in 14 he’d be close to evens here as he won well last time, should come on for that, has Ryan Moore on board and cheekpieces could bring out more.

Then you look at his rivals and you struggle to find what beats him. The past two winners take part, Farraaj and Premio Loco though they faced nothing of the favourite’s calibre in their respective wins. Windhoek won in Dubai last time, but the race was very weak and even though he did well to win it from a wide trip and for being quite keen throughout, he needs to improve a fair bit to take a hand.

Rebellious Guest is progressive but needs to improve a lot, Robin Hoods Bay has an e/w squeak and was placed in this last year but the one that is a truly ridiculous e/w price is AUSSIE REIGNS.

His Meydan form is much stronger than others that have been out there, in fact he’s mixed it in some of the best handicaps this Carnival. Before then he won a Listed race at Kempton, beating Dick Doughtywylie. He’s vulnerable for win purposes but really is not off the standard to place at all, he is still progressive, has Adam Kirby on board, a good draw and all together a lot going for him. He should shorter than half his actual price for me.

Advice – Aussie Reigns 1.5pt e/w @33/1 generally

 

 

 

Newbury

2:55 - EBF Stallions & TBA Mares´ “National Hunt” Novices´ Hurdle Finale (A Limited Handicap) (Listed Race) (CLASS 1) (4yo+)

This is a really good race with a big field and some very progressive mares taking part. I liked Run Ructions Run but am surprised she’s favourite, Mrs Peachy looks a touch vulnerable to improvers while Lily Waugh has been well campaigned to protect her mark but I definitely prefer others.

The Pirate’s Queen has some good bumper form but hasn’t totally convinced she’s come on from that. The trip should suit Joanne One and Down Ace who will find this easier than Cheltenham. But I really like FAIRYTALE THEATRE in this as it’s clearly been the aim for a very long time. I’ve liked her since her first run and though her last two wins have been beating the same rival on heavy ground.

Her class has got her through both those but she really needs better ground and she gets it here over her trip. Absolutely everything is in her favour if she’s good enough and her second to Mayfair Music looks strong form now that that rival won a good Listed Hurdle three weeks ago.

Advice – Fairytale Theatre 3pts win @10/1 generally

Cheltenham Festival 2014 – Day 4 Selections

1:30 – JCB Triumph Hurdle Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (4yo)

Calipto

Calipto has oozed class so far and i’d rather be on nothing but him now

CALIPTO is the antepost fancy here for the Triumph Hurdle, a race that may not have as much depth as it usually does.

Despite being a much shorter price there’s nothing I’d rather be on. He has been hugely impressive in his first two starts over here, mostly by the way he’s travelled both in a race that has worked out very well and then latest against more experienced and older opposition. This is the litmus test but it is for them all and a stronger pace could see him in even better light.

Broughton is the obvious danger and I nearly backed him antepost after he won at Musselburgh where he was extremely impressive by the way he jumped and then put the race to bed, beating a good yardstick which has form with Guitar Pete. It’s obvious that both, including the latter who is trained by last year’s winner, are respected.

On this ground Royal Irish Hussar has claims though I would want a better price, Pearl Castle and Rutherglen also represent a stable with a past winner and the former may have a touch more class, but the latter is consistent.

Abbyssial has e/w claims, as too Lindenhurst who again has good solid form with Guitar Pete while TIGER ROLL is a  big danger if improving for better ground and on just his third start. He wasn’t cheap and Gordon Elliott can show that it was still money well spent.

Already Advised – Calipto 2pts win @12/1

                                 Calipto 2pts win @4/1 generally

   Tiger Roll 1pts win @11/1 generally

 

 

2:05 – Vincent O´Brien County Handicap Hurdle Grade 3 (CLASS 1) (5yo+)

A tough race as it usually is though one of the market leaders could well just turn up here and hack up. Arctic Fire is one of those with that potential with just four starts to his name. He finished like a train behind The Tullow Tank two starts back and got stuck in the mud when further behind that rival on his latest start. It’s obvious this ground is what he wants.

Although he’s been running well on heavy, the ground could galvanise CHELTENIAN, a former Champion Bumper winner who has taken time to come to hand but could come good today. He ran a great race in the Betfair Hurdle latest but there promises to be more to come and that may be seen in a strongly run two miles on this ground.

Minella Foru is a good traveller who should go well though I do think we’ll see better from him over further. Lac Fontana is very much respected on his handicap on Trials Day, where he hacked up and  a 12lb rise may not be enough.

The other McManus have chances, Never Enough Time upped in the weights and Alaivan somehow just getting in. He made good late ground in the Betfair and if staying in touch today turning for home then he’s a big danger.

A few of them appeal at much bigger prices but DEEP TROUBLE does so more than most. He’s run some huge races this season, firstly here when chasing handicap good thing Quick Jack, form in behind strong. He’s backed that up with two big efforts at Sandown and Kempton and he got stuck in the mud in the Betfair last time. On better ground now, 40/1 is an insulting price.

Advice – Cheltenian 2pts win @8/1 generally

                  Deep Trouble 1pt e/w @40/1 generally

 

 

 

5:15 – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup Handicap Grade 3 (CLASS 1) (5yo+)

alderwood

Alderwood beating Kid Cassidy in the Grand Annual last year

A fast run two miles, arguably the fastest of the week. When looking at the horses that have won this race, it really takes a special kind of horse to thrive in it. Horses such as Kid Cassidy and Bellvano, hold up performers that need everything to go right, have been the type of horses to run well or win.

NED BUNTLINE is the one that fits the bill today. Mr Mole could come into it too but the former has a low weight, headgear which may help him a lot and the main man Paul Carberry, who is different gravy in this race.

He will need a lot of luck but the good ground is what he needs and I can see him travelling really well into the race, hopefully he can then find more when asked.

I think this might be too much of a speed test for Claret Cloak and Raya Star, both very talented novice chasers while the Henderson lot are respected, Tanks For That who is 5lb lower than when he was second two years ago. French Opera also has a chance. The rest look vulnerable to the unexposed types.

One that certainly isn’t is NEXT SENSATION. Luke really likes this horse and since he’s not stopped going on about him, I had a look at him. He’s impressed hugely so far, notably at Doncaster in a race that has worked out well. He’s a bold jumper that simply oozes class and it looks likely that he could be a lot better than just a handicapper, albeit a good one.

Advice – Ned Buntline 2.5pts win @9/1 generally

                  Next Sensation 2pts win @8/1 generally

 

 

 

Other Races

A massive field for the Albert Bartlett but it looks  between Briar Hill and Kings Palace. Briar Hill will be the last leg of a big multiple for me so I’m cheering him on. I’ve always thought he would win this as he’s a different horse when chasing a strong pace and on better ground.

He should get that with Kings Palace in the field but without doubt he’s the value of the pair. The Pipe yard are on fire and their runner is one of the best jumpers of a hurdle you will ever see. Scudamore needs to get the fractions right though but he’s got to beat the one to beat on form thus far.

Deputy Dan is overpriced even if the ground is faster than ideal. Captain Cutter is a very good horse but needs to jump better. Champagne West, Mosspark, Urban Hymn and Port Melon are all very good long term prospects and should fight out for a place.

 

Again the Gold Cup it looks a showdown between Bobs Worth and Silviniaco Conti and on this ground, I honestly don’t know what beats the Henderson gelding.

Obviously he won this last year, taking his Festival record to 3-3 and on his Lexus win which was a big return to form, plus on ground that I think will really see him at his best, it will take some horse to beat him if he ran to form.

Silviniaco Conti is a brilliant horse, last seen winning the King George but he’s always better on soft for me and that makes him vulnerable against the favourite. I was a backer of his last year and I was gutted when he fell, where he’d have finished is open to debate.

Last Instalment may not run, First Lieutenant has gone for the right race but Hennessy winner Triolo D’Alene has been working really well at home and is the e/w value now. The Giant Bolster loves Cheltenham and there’s no reason on similar ground why he can’t run into a place, albeit the race is stronger than when he did just that in 2012.

 

I don’t know enough about the Foxhunters runners but Harbour Court is what all the shrewdies are on. The Martin Pipe is one of the best and most competitive handicaps of the week and I will have a couple of interest bets, but at this stage do not have a Scooby.

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