Tag Archives: Willie Mullins

Cheltenham 2017 – Day 3

Cheltenham 2017 – Day 3

Gordon Elliott’s good form continued on Day 2 with 2 more winners (Cause of Causes and Fayonagh). Unfortunately, Shattered Love wasn’t one of them – she just didn’t jump well enough to get into the race at all and maybe would have preferred slower ground

Whisper came within a whisper of giving the blog recommendations a winner in a pulsating finish to the RSA. Might Bite had it easily won, then showed his wayward tendencies to throw it away only to rescue the race again once he had company. A very talented horse who could be a Gold Cup contender next year…though the King George at Kempton might just suit him better.

The capitulation of Douvan in the feature race was quite a shock. With Special Tiara having an unharried lead he had it all his own way. I thought beforehand he wasn’t quite the horse he was but was conclusively proved wrong there. My outside fancy, Simply Ned was well enough positioned but ultimately disappointing once they quickened downhill.

A massive gamble on the Irish raider Linger in the Fred Winter proved badly off target

Not a great day for the blog selections but there’s always another day….


Early thoughts and some selections for Day 3

(Thursday lunchtime updates where applicable at end of each race. Now racing on the New Course. Watering took place last night so ground now Good (good to soft in places) > it could get quicker as days progresses if drying conditions persist

1.30 JLT Novices Chase 2ml 4 fur

Odds can be found here:

Yorkhill is a very talented horse who won last season’s Neptune and would have been a strong contender in yesterday’s Champion Hurdle if not moving to chasing.

He does have his own ideas about racing and in a recent schooling session at Leopardstown there were some very hairy jumps early on before he settled into it. I wouldn’t be considering him as a safe bet to get round here based on what I saw. He can pull very hard as well but that hasn’t stopped him winning in the past.

Politologue has looked very good in his novice chase season but did get a bit worked up last time at Haydock and I would worry about him in the preliminaries here. He’s also had two below par runs at the course (including a very strange jinking out manoeuvre in his first visit here).

Disko’s form in Ireland is pretty solid and as he likes to race handily so will make this race a good test. He has never raced here before and his best form comes on a softer surface.

Top Notch would be my choice as he seems a proper little professional and has got better and better with his fencing through the season. He has good Festival form already.

top notch

He might be a little behind Yorkhill in terms of hurdling form but he’s much more solid  and I find it hard to see him out of the top 3.

Look for 1/4 odds available here – with 8 runners though we really do not want a non runner to emerge which would cause there be to be 2 places instead of 3


2pts ew Top Notch 4/1 (Bet 365, Stan James offering 1/4 odds 123)

****Thursday update*****

Some opposition to the favourite Yorkhill who has drifted from around 2.35 to 2.6 on the Exchanges. Top Notch has stayed strong in the market and 4/1 now gone. He would have appreciated the overnight watering I think


2.10 Pertemps Hcap Hurdle Final 3 miles

Another of the week’s highly competitive hurdles with too many runners for me to go through in too much depth. For now I will just fancy on the one I do fancy

Barney Dwan has been an extremely unlucky horse this season. He probably should have won his first two chases but for mishaps and although running well over hurdles since, I think he can show his true colours again now that the ground is improving. Hopefully, he has already exhausted his quota of bad fortune already this season.


He is trained locally and Paddy Brennan has been very bullish about his chances in the recent Preview evenings. He is 7lbs better off with Impulsive Star from his most recent run. That was on a much softer surface and was probably more about qualifying him for this final

Tobefair has to be mentioned as he has kept winning all season despite the handicapper raising him throughout. He started his winning run off a mark of 81 and his last win came off 134. He’s on 143 here but we have seen such types win at the Festival before (Hunt Ball had similar progress in recent years). Expect him to give his all again but I wonder if softer going would have helped him


Look for firms paying 1/4 odds with 5 places here

0.75 pts ew Barney Dwan (Bet 365)



2.50 Ryanair Chase 2ml 5fur

A sort of ‘middle distance’ championship race but one that has confounded me to pick the winner of it for many a year

I have to admit this is one race I have really struggled to get a proper handle on and seldom have any luck finding the winner of.

It doesn’t help matters that one of the main contenders, Empire of Dirt, is still among the entries for the Gold Cup on Friday so can’t be thought of as a guaranteed runner.

Un De Sceaux would probably have run in the Champion Chase if the same stable’s Douvan hadn’t been foaled (they could be rueing that now after today’s result!). Connections have mooted that they consider him more vulnerable on the good ground than they do over this longer trip.

Uxizandre was very impressive when winning this race from the front in 2015. He has had his problems since and only run once this season. He will be hard to beat if in the same vein of form but there remains a question mark on that. Wayne Hutchinson is now riding after some jockey switching today. He’s much underrated and will know the horse very well – this certainly won’t do his chances any harm

Until Empire of Dirt’s participation is known it’s hard to make a proper judgement. Given my terrible record in this event it’s very unlikely I will be making a recommendation though!

***Thursday update****

No sign of Empire of Dirt being taken out of the race. He would be my marginal selection but really have no strong view and happy just to watch this race

3.30 Sunbets Stayers Hurdle 3miles

Nice to see this race come back to it’s old title of Stayers Hurdle after a few years of being renamed the ‘World Hurdle’

Harry Fry’s charge Unowwhatimeanharry has dominated this division this season and won the Albert Bartlett here last season.

It’s hard to knock his chances but the one chink could be that his best efforts have been on softer going.

He beat Cole Harden giving him weight last time (West Approach 3rd). On that basis it would be hard to see a reversal but that was on totally the wrong ground for the second. He’s a previous winner of this race, loves good ground and likes to run from the front.

West Approach is a novice and it seems apparent that the stable preferred to run him in Friday’s Albert Bartlett. That would have been much more his level but it seems the owners preferred to race here instead

When he did win, Zarkandar, looked to be the likely winner coming down the hill until a catastrophic error ended his chances. Paul Nicholls’ ex Triumph hurdle winner had been looking to be on a downward curve since until bouncing back at Haydock last time (first run back after a wind operation). He isn’t getting any younger and is still prone to errors at crucial times but if back to his best again is a big contender.


Shaneshill has lots of both winning and placed Festival form. The ground should also suit him and I can see him reaching the frame again. I’m just not sure he has the class to win it.

Jezki seemed disappointing when beaten last time (form not advertised by Tombstone today). I’m not quite convinced this is the trip for this former Champion hurdler.

Connections seem to be playing with the trip with Nichols Canyon now and he doesn’t look to be enjoying life too much this season. I find it hard to fancy him despite being Ruby Walsh’s choice.


I’m just willing to give Zarkandar a small each way interest with his price appealing as the best value right now. He certainly has the class to go close and looked to have rediscovered some sparkle last time.On softer ground I wouldn’t be looking beyond the favourite but just worry he could be vulnerable. Cole Harden shouldn’t be far away back on his favoured surface – if Ballyoptic (think this one had a wind operation since his last run) doesn’t take him on up front he could get an uncontested lead which would increase his chances.

I’m looking to see how the odds and place terms develop here but Cole Harden and Zarkandar both looking possible each way recommendations later

Added Recommendation

Upon checking updated odds a few firms have pushed out Zarkandar to 28/1 and are offering 1/4 odds…this will do for me. If Cole Harden goes to 10/1 with the same place terms he would be of interest to join him

For now:

0.5pts ew Zarkandar 28/1 (1/4 odds 123 – Ladbrokes, Stan James, 888)

****Thursday update ****

No real movements in the market amongst the principals. Hope of 10/1 for Cole Harden disappeared when Pricewise put him up. Shaneshill looks noticeable weak on the exchanges

4.10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Hcap 2ml 5fur

Probably the race title that trips off the tongue most easily at this meeting!

Diamond King has been well touted in Ireland and already has been backed significantly. He’s a previous festival winner who will appreciate the ground but is still a novice.

Starchitect is another novice at the front of the betting who also seems to be carrying plenty of stable confidence. His jumping errors over hurdles often cost him dear but so far he’s unblemished over the larger obstacles – albeit at a less competitive level

An old friend of mine, Thomas Crapper, has crept in right at the bottom of the weights and stands out to me. He’s previously finished 2nd twice at the Festival (on a mark of 134 both times) and lines up here off 133. Both the horse who beat him, Don Poli and Irish Cavalier went on to much better things. He had hinted at a return to form a few times this year on unsuitably soft ground but defied those conditions last time to bounce back at Newbury. I don’t think I have ever seen him jump as well as he did that day and even with a 5lb penalty he’s on a winnable mark here. The ground is right up his street and he’s well proven on the course. He would rate as one of my stronger selections for the handicap races this week. He’s formed a great association with his jockey Charlie Poste over the years and hope he can finally get that Festival win tomorrow


1.5 pts ew Thomas Crapper (take 12/1 with 1/4 odds 1234)

***Thursday update****

The recommended bet Thomas Crapper is the main mover here. Pricewise selected him as well yesterday and 8/1 now the best price on offer. C’mon Thomas!

4.50 Troll House Stud Mares Novice Hurdle  2ml

Only the 2nd running of this event but it’s attracted a strong Irish challenge.

The Mullins pair, Lets Dance and Airlie Beach, plus Forge Meadow have already taken on the boys this year and beaten them. They set a high standard but after results from the first 2 days there has to be some concern over the form of the Mullins team

La Bague Au Roi is a lovely mare representing the home side. She’s been kept fresh over the winter while waiting for this better ground. She runs from the front and will try to run them into submission

At a much bigger price though I am plumping for another Irish runner to run a big race – Toe the Line. She is a listed class performer on the flat who has come to hurdling late. It’s all about the ground conditions for me here…she has form on softer but really needs a decent surface to be effective. She’s finished 4th in the Ebor H’cap on the flat and that kind of class could really shine through with a decent gallop here (hoping we get one as many races haven’t been that truly run). She stays well and can produce a turn of foot in a competitive race



0.5 pts ew Toe The Line 33/1 (Betway paying ¼ odds 123)

(365 were offering 40/1 for a brief time while writing but that seems to have gone now)

****Thursday update*****

Another clash with Pricewise here so all of the biggest prices disappear on my pick Toe the Line. Continued support today has seen her come down to a best of 16/1. She is one who I probably wouldn’t have wanted to see the ground being watered for. This race is late in the day though so hopefully conditions have quickened up again by then!


5.30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Hcap 3ml 2 fur

An amateur riders handicap nothing is standing out for me so far. I may come back to the race later but will be concentrating on the horses ridden by the best amateurs who are not claiming weight

A bit more late evening study on this one comes up with this:

It’s natural to be drawn to Squoauteur representing the in-form Gordon Elliott yard. There aren’t many better amateur jockeys around than Jamie Codd who has also ridden two winners here already – plus he has won this race 4 times! The downside is the price which is pretty skinny at around 5/1. Squoauteur has sometimes looked like he has been looked after a bit in his races so he might be well handicapped here..just a bit too short for me.

Mall Dini won at the Festival last year and has another top amateur in Katy Walsh on board. Signs are that he hasn’t quite adjusted to the chasing sphere yet but again he could have been handled a bit tenderly in his preparation!

I prefer some more solid form and my eyes are mostly drawn to Whats Happening at 16/1. For a 10yo he hasn’t got that many miles on the clock but goes on good ground and has very decent course form. His jockey, Richard Harding has also rode the winner of this race twice previously.

Of the others, Potters Legend is a novice but makes some appeal now he is going back up in trip. Lucy Wadham’s stable is in good from right now and there’s another very good pilot in Mikey Legg on board here.

Thursday Update and added recommendation:

Good to see Whats Happening is attracting support overnight so I am now adding as a recommendation . 16/1 is gone but 14/1 still available in places


0.75 pts ew Whats Happening 14/1 (1/4 odds 1234 Bet Victor, Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook)







Best of luck with whatever you back

Thanks for reading







Summary of recommendations so far:

Day 1

1pt ew Singlefarmpayment 15/2 (1/4 odds 12345) – 2nd (+0.88 pts)

2pts ew Apples Jade 9/2  (1/4 odds 123) – won (+11.25 pts)

2pts win Edwulf 11/2 – lost (-2pts)

1pt win Champers on Ice 8/1 – lost (-1pt)

Day 2

1pt ew Shattered Love 25/1(1/5 odds 123) – lost (-2pts)

1.5 pts win Whisper 7/1 – lost (-1.5 pts)

0.75 pts win Our Kaempfer 16/1 (lost -0.75 pts)

1.5 pts ew Peregrine Run 10/1 (1/4 odds 12345) (lost -3pts)

0.5pts ew Simply Ned 66/1 (1/5 odds 123) (lost -1pt)

0.5pts ew Simply Ned 66/1 (1/4 odds 123) (lost -1pt)

0.3 pts ew Percy Street 33/1 (1/4 odds 1234) (lost -0.6pts)

Day 3

2pts ew Top Notch 4/1 (1/4 odds 123) 2nd (break even)

0.75 pts ew Barney Dwan 20/1 (1/4 odds 12345) 2nd ( +3pts)

0.5 pts ew Zarkandar 28/1 (1/4 odds 123)

1.5 pts ew Thomas Crapper 12/1 (1/4 odds 1234)

0.5 pts ew Toe The Line 33/1 (1/4 odds 123)

0.75 pts ew Whats Happening 14/1 (1/4 odds 1234)

Day 4

0.5pts ew Forth Bridge 33/1 (1/4 odds 123)


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Cheltenham 2016 – Day 4

Cheltenham 2016 Day 4

Day 3 review

Vautour put to bed any rumours about his well-being with an authoritative win in the Ryanair. Thistlecrack then continued his domination of the 3 mile division with one of the most impressive wins you’ll see in the World Hurdle. As an 8yo you wonder if he’s already too old to embark on a chasing career.If he stays hurdling he should dominate this division for some time. The second, Alpha Des Obeaux, only 6 already looks a huge prospect as an RSA horse next year.

For the blog selections it was place returns from Our Kaempfer (5th) and Al Ferof (3rd in without favourite market)

Smart Talk was very disappointing – didnt look to cope with the downhill well to me.

Top Wood was still bang there and travelling very well when coming down at the top of the hill. He looked like he would have been involved in the finish at the time but the way Cause of Causes came home up the hill, it was probably unlikely he would have won

Out of 10 pts staked on Thursday there was therefore a return of 6.8 pts (3.2 pt loss)

Ultimately a day for the punters though with Limini delivering the final twist of the knife to bookies in the Mares Novice Hurdle. The three short priced favs of the day all winning

Onto Friday….

As per usual the final day kicks off with the Triumph Hurdle at 1.30 – the 2 mile championship for 4yo hurdlers.
I already covered this in my weekend preview and stick with Who Dares Wins who I think will get the ground and strong pace that will see him at best effect.
I rate both him and Clan Des Obeaux much better than the bare form of their last race as they both started to joust far too early then on some very deep ground. Clan des Obeaux would have been a really big danger for me if the ground were a bit softer.
Zubayr is feared also. The Adonis Hurdle he won at Kempton has long been a good trial for this and his preparation is identical to Nicholls’s previous winner Zarkandar.
Ivanovich Gorbatov may well be a lot better on this decent ground than he was when behind Footpad at Leopardstown but is awful value at current odds. I don’t think that race is the strongest line of form here. It was also run on very bad ground and into a strong headwind – the form of that race could easily be turned around here
1pt ew WHO DARES WINS @12/1


Another fiercely competitive hcap hurdle with any number of potential plots.
Great Field and Blue Hell are two Irish raiders who fit that bill but are already plenty short enough at single figure odds.
My two against the field at bigger odds have both been waiting for the better ground they will get here.
John Constable had to be taken out of the Betfair Hurdle in February because of the ground and Evan Williams has been happy to bide his time until the weather improved. He got the closest to an enterprisingly ridden Sternrubin before Christmas but in so doing looked to be a horse to follow from his mark.
Some Plan has also been waiting for the good ground since an eyecatching run at Ascot (also behind Sternrubin). I have heard this has been the aim for some time. A little bit concerned he may want a less testing track but I’m very happy to see Harry Cobden on board to take off a valuable 5lbs (already seen to great effect on Old Guard earlier this season)

0.75 pts ew  JOHN CONSTABLE 16/1 (Betfair Sportsbook paying 1/4 odds 12345)
0.5 pts ew SOME PLAN 28/1 (Corals – not paying 5th place but win odds make up for that)


Barters Hill is unbeaten and thoroughly likeable as he doesn’t let anything pass him. His last win was a bit unconvincing but it subsequently transpired he had lost a show during the race so it was excusable.
It’s more worrying that news emanated from the stable today that the horse had seemed a little stiff after working at home.
It will be very hard to win a race like this with his front running style but he sets the standard on form.
I think we can expect his price to drift however based on the latest rumours.
Shantou Village was no match for Yanworth last time but won’t have anything like that to deal with here. He shapes like this trip will suit and the better ground should also be in his favour.
Up For Review was sharing Ante Post favouritism for this race earlier this year before he was soundly beaten by Barters Hill at Doncaster. Mullins’s horses all ran badly that day (Shaneshill on same card bounced back yesterday to run a great 2nd in the RSA). He was described as a nervous type subsequently so I would be a little concerned if he’ll cope with this occasion
Of all the Mullins runners available to him, Ruby Walsh has picked Long Dog and he is at the top of my shortlist for this race. He is unproven over this trip but gives the impression he will stay. He got some favourable mentions at previews when it looked like the Neptune was more likely for him. Davy Russell even suggested he would be 5/2 fav if he ran in this. He’s been shown to be a little out on that assumption but I don’t think he should be 8/1 now that Ruby is on board.
Ruby wouldn’t have had the choice of Gigginstown runner, Gangster, who was supposedly the horse who beat Vautour in a gallop recently. If thats true we should see his price shorten. How much we read into that I’m not sure if today’s Ryanair winner was under par at the time. Strictly on form he still has something to find.
Bleu Et Rouge will be facing totally different conditions than his battling win over 2 miles at Leopardstown
1pt ew LONG DOG 8/1 (generally available but make sure of firms paying 1/4 odds a place rather than 1/5th)



The Gold Cup – the centrepiece of the meeting.
I’m assuming that Road to Riches won’t run after his exertions in the Ryanair on Thursday.
A run down of the runners (numbers in brackets are previous form on the course which I think is relevant here – the last number being the most recent effort)
Don Cossack B. J. Cooper (F3)
Brilliant winner at Aintree last season and possibly unlucky when falling at Kempton where he ran a bit in snatches. Some have expressed concerns that Cooper doesn’t get on with him as well as other jockeys but I’m more worried about his previous form on this course which suggests he doesn’t act on it as well as a flat track. The good ground will suit him.

Djakadam R. Walsh (F2F)
Last year’s Gold Cup 2nd but that is the only time he has completed here in 3 attempts. May want softer ground and would be worried that he still has the memory of his last run here where he needed several stitches afterwards


Cue Card Paddy Brennan ( 1241U21)
A regular here since winning the Festival bumper in 2010 (also successful in Ryanair in 2013). Revitalised this season since a breathing operation and now looks much more a stayer. Used to run more freely and stamina was a question mark. His dam was a good stayer and gives very encouragement now that he will last over this trip.


Don Poli Davy Russell ( 11)
Unbeaten at Cheltenham in two attempts gives him the best course record in the field. His form doesn’t quite match up to some of the others but he’s a lazy type who just does enough. If he’s close up as they come round the home turn the rest should be frightened on the uphill finish – but will he have the speed to lie up with them on this quicker ground (softer may have been preferred). Davy Russell gets the leg up on Bryan Cooper’s cast off – but it’s Russell who is riding the better so far this week.

Smad Place Wayne Hutchinson ( 0332201)
Another horse who has seen his career flourish since a wind operation. Didn’t have his own way up front when well beaten in King George. With Vautour and probably Road to Riches out he now may get an uncontested lead which increases his chance. Still something to find on form but not out of it


Road To Riches (3)
Last year’s third is a very doubtful runner

Carlingford Lough Barry Geraghty (00)
Saves his best for Leopardstown. Has twice come here fancied and disappointed on the course

Ofaolains Boy Noel Fehily (41P0)
Previous RSA winner (beating Smad Place). Had his problems since and would seem to need soft ground nowadays which he wont get here

On His Own Mr P. W. Mullins ( 04P20U ) (U cross country)
Previous runner-up but form someway off that level now

Irish Cavalier P. Townend (310P)
Has won at the course but is outclassed here on all previous for

As mentioned in the weekend preview blog I’m strongly with Cue Card here as I think he’ll be better still on this course than at Kempton. He may or may not have won that day if Don Cossack had stood up but he is far more proven on this course than that one.
Smad Place is feared if he is left alone up front as he may now get an easy lead. Don Poli would be the one I wouldn’t want to be seeing close by coming down the hill but think the ground may have gone against him and he’s too short a price on his bare form
2.5 pts ew CUE CARD 4/1 (1/4 123 – generally available)

There’s a bit of a feeling of a wind down after the Gold Cup normally but the Foxhunters at 4.10 will get plenty of media attention now with Victoria Pendleton on board Pacha Du Polder. The horse is well worth its place in this race but ‘Pendo’ is a long way behind ability wise compared to some of the top amateur riders she faces here. She’s been riding against similar inexperienced riders in her build up to this but is at a huge disadvantage here. I just hope she gets round safely more than anything but give her very little chance of reaching the frame.
On The Fringe won this easily this year and was given a very easy introduction last time in heavy conditions at Leopardstown. Expect to see far better here but I can’t say I was bowled over by the horse the first time I saw him in the paddock there
He’s the one to beat but I won’t be betting on him this year
I don’t have an opinion in the 4.50 currently but there’s an interesting outsider in the last.
Barters Hill’s trainer Ben Pauling fields an interesting outsider here in Ravens Tower, who has outdone himself before at this meeting as a 4yo hurdler. He won well last time on ground that shouldn’t really suit. It’s clear to me he’s a horse who will always be seen to best advantage on good ground, in a competitive race with a strong gallop. All these things he will get here. He is a novice, and as we saw with Out Sam earlier in the week, this sort of race can be too much for them early on in their careers. Novices do have a decent record in this race though and Ravens Tower appears a sound jumper on what I’ve seen thus far
He’s worth a small interest in what could be his optimum conditions
0.5 pts ew RAVENS TOWER 25/1 (Bet 365 paying 1/4 odds 12345 – others may enhance later on this)


EXTRA SELECTIONS (added 1900 GMT  Thurs evening)

Further review of the last 2 races and I have two extra selections.

Lucinda Russell is in tremendous form currently after quite a barren spell early in 2016. She sends one runner down from Scotland this week and such is her strike rate now I have to make Sky Khan a bet at huge odds of 66/1 in the 4.50. Squoauteur looks an obvious plot in this race to give Gordon Elliott another hcap win but he is already very short in odds


0.5 pts ew Sky Khan 66/1 (Bet 365 paying 1/4 odds 5 places)

In the final race I’m also adding Dan Skelton’s Workbench at a big price. Dan’s runners have been performing well this week without winning and this one will be happy to be back on a sound surface. He ran well at the track before Christmas before disappointing on softer ground and is another I feel is overpriced


0.5 pts ew Workbench 33/1 (365 again offering the best place terms with 5 places)


It’ll be hard to come close to the reaction of Sprinter Sacre’s win on Wednesday, but if Cue Card were to prevail and secure a £1 million bonus it would put the icing on the cake this week
Good luck for the final day with whatever you back
Thanks for reading



Friday’s selections:

(Prices may have changed since selections were posted on Thursday – Ravens Tower was a selection of Pricewise last night for instance)

1pt ew WHO DARES WINS 12/1

0.75 pts ew JOHN CONSTABLE 16/1 (with 5 places)

0.5pts ew SOME PLAN 28/1

1pt ew LONG DOG 8/1

2.5 pts ew CUE CARD 4/1

0.5 pts ew SKY KHAN 66/1 (with 5 places)

0.5 pts ew RAVENS TOWER 25/1 (with 5 places)

0.5 pts ew WORKBENCH 33/1 (with 5 places)

Total stakes for day 14.5 pts


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Royal Ascot 2015 – Final Day

Royal Ascot 2015 – Final Day

It’s been fast ground all week at Ascot but there is a real threat of heavy rain coming on Saturday to upset the party.
This makes analysis very hard to do the day before. We could easily have a completely different surface being raced on tomorrow and that could also change the draw bias (which has seemingly favoured low numbers in most big hcaps on the straight course this week)
Thoughts are below but it’s impossible to give any recommended bets until knowing the exact conditions and I’ll be holding fire with most of my bets until as long as possible if the heavens look like opening (will add anything on Twitter during the day tomorrow)

2.30 Chesham Stakes (2yos – 7 fur)
7 furlong races for 2yos will have been very thin on the ground so far this season. Many of the runners have a ‘novicey’ look to them at this stage and will be types that improve with age and distance.
You would think a horse that bears the name of the famous stables would have to be decent and Ballydoyle is the early favourite. That has a lot to do with the Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore combination I’m sure. The actual form of his only start is not the best in the race but he is entitled to improve.
Tonkinese has the best form for me and should really be the favourite here. Also from Ireland, the form of his debut third has worked out very well and he has subsequently won over this trip on fast ground. If the rain does arrive it may not be such an issue as his sire Authorised is an influence for soft ground performers
Mark Johnston’s filly Dessertoflife is also worth a mention if the rains come as she has already won over this trip on soft ground. That win was only 6 days ago though so will this race come too soon?
Selection; Tonkinese (4/1 each way with firms offering 1/4 odds 123)

4.05 Wolferton Hcap (4yo+ – 1ml 2 fur)
Niceofyoutotellme is a few pounds well in here if the form of his excellent 3rd in a Sandown Group race is taken at face value. He won’t appreciate any rain that might fall though.
Mahsoob and Collaboration have been ahead of the handicapper so far this season and probably still on the upgrade. The former is 9lb higher for his latest win and hasn’t raced on anything softer than good yet. Collaboration has gone up 7lbs for his latest win and in contrast he seems more effective when the word ‘firm’ isn’t in the going description.
Mount Logan was well behind Collaboration at Epsom on his seasonal reappearance but was involved in a barging match with another runner at the back of the field. He will be a lot better for that run and I can see winning races of his mark of 100 this season. He’s another for whom a lot of rain might be a negative and this trip may just be a bit shy of his best.
I can’t really give a selection here without knowing exactly what ground they will race on

3.40 Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2 – 4yo+ – 1ml 4fur)
With only 7 runners this has now lost its appeal as an each way heat.
I don’t think there is much between Telescope, Eagle Top and Postponed if the ground remains Good or better. I certainly don’t think that Telescope should be around 5/4 while the other two sit around 7/2.
Sir Michael Stoute’s charge (impressive winner of this race last year) won very well last time at Newbury but his rivals there were not of the same class as he faces here.
Anyone who follows my blog religiously will know I like Postponed and I have backed him Ante Post for this race when it was still possible to get each way with 3 places. He’s been running over too short a trip this season and the ground hasn’t been quick enough for him. He’s back over the trip where he comfortably disposed of Snow Sky at York last season
Neither Telescope or Postponed will really want too much rain to be getting in the ground.
Eagle Top has two lengths to make up on Telescope from King George form last season but was very inexperienced then and could well bridge that gap now.
He was given considerate handling on his reappearance and although he has never raced on ground softer than good, both his sire and dam were effective on it.
He could well be the one to be on if the ground becomes softer than good
It’s hard to imagine Hillstar (hampered at a crucial stage in this race last year) being fit enough to win on his seasonal debut
Quite apart from the ground issue there is another problem with this race though – there is no obvious front runner. It could be a messy tactical affair and that would dissuade me more from getting any further involved in this race.
Selection; on Good ground or faster – Postponed but if the rain falls and there is some soft in the description it will be Eagle Top

4.20 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Group 1 – 4yo+ – 6 fur)
Hard to know how good Australian raider Brazen Beau is who leads the betting (same applies to fellow Antipodean Wandjina). The Aussie hope in Tuesday’s King Stand only managed 13th despite being quite well fancied. I’d much rather rely on previous Ascot winner Mustajeeb but he’s a tiny bit skinny at around 5/1.
Tropics has been around a while and performed well at this level but he looked better than ever on his reappearance winning with a lot in hand despite the margin. A drop of rain will help him more than some of the others and he’ll be my main play if the forecast is right – hopefully 12/1 or more will still be available
I’ve been a fan of Music Master for a long time but he ran so badly at Haydock last time that I can’t support him here. ** since writing I’ve read a valid excuse for his last run – he was wearing a new bit and couldn’t breathe. 20/1 suddenly looks quite tempting!
Selection; Tropics (any rain increases his chances)


5.00 Wokingham Stakes (Hcap – 3yo+ – 6 fur)
Quite possibly this is the most difficult race to solve of the week. 28 runners and hard to dismiss anything totally – with only 12 lbs separating the field on official ratings.
A low draw has been favourable in big field handicaps on the straight course this week – if the rain holds off that has to be advantageous. If the rain does fall heavily who knows where the draw bias will be
I could write something equivalent of War and Peace if I summed up every horse here so will restrict to the three I have at the top of my shortlist:
Gamesome 12/1
Probably the most unexposed in the field, he got going late last time to dead heat for 5th at Newmarket. I think he has the potential to be a bit better than his mark of 100 as he gets more experience. Has a low draw which so far this week has been an advantage and he proably won’t mind a bit of rain
Dinkum Diamond 33/1
This 7yo has been a consistent type all of his life and seems to go on all surfaces. He dead heated for 5th with Gamesome at Newmarket and his mark is 1lb lower. The real standout is the jockey though with Edward Greatrex taking another 7lbs off his back. I’ve mentioned this boy before and he really is great value for his claim – a jockey going places. The claim effectively makes him bottom weight in this race with 8st 11lb on his back . He also has a low draw and I think he should be much less than the quotes of 25/1 -33/1 I have seen today
Robert le Diable 14/1
An interesting French raider who may be on the opposite side of the track in stall 20. He won’t be bothered by rain either and his mark of 104 is about 4-5lb below where I think it should be on his run behind Mecca’s Angel at Longchamp
I have backed all 3 of these each way already taking as many places as I can find offered. In such a race ¼ 12345 is a must have but take note of firms like Paddy Power who pay first 6

5.35 Queen Alexandra Stakes (4yo + 2ml 5fur)
The longest flat race in the calendar always attracts a few no hopers. There are 4 horses in the race with a hcap rating over 100 PLUS the totally unexposed Wicklow Brave from Ireland. His form is all National Hunt based but he looks highly useful when things go right for him.
Ryan Moore has an incredible strike rate riding for Willie Mullins and he may well prevail but at no more than 11/8 he is a very skinny price.
Times Up is getting quite old now and has stamina limitations beyond 2 miles. Oriental Fox hasn’t run for nearly a year so must have had some kind of setback.
We are left with Marzocco and Rawaki as the potential main rivals and I would normally be thinking of them as the each way horses to back. But with both it will be a complete stab in the dark to know if they will stay this trip and I’ll happily pass on this race

*Saturday Morning Update*

It was light drizzle at Ascot this morning but the ground had quickened a little since yesterday. With 6mm forecast before racing that really shouldnt make the ground much different from earlier this week. Hopefully what rain trhere is will just serve enough to keep the sting out of the ground so that it isn’t too firm.

This is good news for Postponed in the Hardwicke. I just hope the race isn’t too tactical and he isn’t forced into making the pace again as in his two starts this season. I do feel he is better coming from just off the pace in a strongly run race. A lack of pace will be just as much of a hinderance to him as it will the rest of the field though – this could all come down to jockeyship

Tonkinese shouldn’t mind the ground either way in the first and in the second race (after a bit more study) if I had to pick one ew at current odds it would probably be First Flight (value compared to Mahsoob on York running)

Tropics and Music Master remain bets in the Golden Jubilee with Hills paying 1/4 1234. Tropics wouldn’t have minded softer ground but hius record on Good to Firm is quite impressive. He saw too much daylight in this race last year and hope to see him pounce late on here.

Gamesome is being well backed in the Wokingham and the subject of Pricewise last night. He’s plenty short enough for such a competitive handicap but I’d really prefer to be on a low drawn horse now after what we have seen this week.

My one recommendation comes in that race with the previously mentioned Dinkum Diamond. It’s that 7lb claim that I really like and we know he is suited by this race as was 3rd in it on fast ground in 2013. He effectively carries a 4lb lower mark today and has shown no signs this season that he is on the downgrade.

I think he has a sound chance to hit the frame again from his low draw (Watchable in stall 1 likely to add some pace to that side as he did in Ayr Gold Cup)

Recommendation 0.75pts ew Dinkum Diamond – 28/1 (1/4 odds 12345 with 365, Sky, Tote/Betfred, BetVictor, Ladbrokes)

Good luck for the day and hope it’s been a successful week
Thanks for reading



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