Diary: October 1 2008

 

Only about 5 weeks left in the 2008 flat season now but we still have plenty to look forward to, most immediately the big races at Newmarket and Longchamps this weekend. In the meantime though there are 4 flat meetings scheduled in the UK on Wednesday although not a great deal that I can find to write about.

There are 4 runners from my list to follow in action up and down the country. Ruth Carr’s Moheeb won at Hamilton last week but to say he had been expensive to follow would be an understatement as he has previously been unsuccessful in 14 runs this season. He runs in the Brandling House Christmas Parties handicap at Newcastle tomorrow at 4.15 where he will carry a 6 lbs penalty for that Hamilton victory. He is effective over a mile and also 9 furlongs and is best with some ease in the ground. His record at this standard is quite good and I would expect him to run well.

high-res-low-res-pics-001

The other “list” runners are Charles Parnell (Nottingham 1.50), Sheer Bluff (Salisbury 1.30) & Stalking Tiger (Salisbury 3.35).

There are a few 2 year olds that caught my eye. Alanbrooke who runs in the Newcastle 3.45 is well related and did enough when 5th on his debut to suggest that he could win a race. Ouqba looks the one to beat in the Salisbury 4.05 while Hesketh has an each way chance in the 5.00 at Nottingham.

Although there are no UK jumps meetings tomorrow the season will soon be gathering pace. I will be coming up with some horses to follow over the next few weeks. One horse that is likely to find his way onto that list is Pancake, trained by Philip Hobbs. This horse has some very unusual markings and is very easy to spot in his races. He also has a bit of a double in the dual purpose horse Mr Ed. See what you think. This is Pancake.

pancake1

This is Mr Ed.

mred1

Today’s painting is by the artist Nick Fegan and the 2 photos are courtesy of Tracy Roberts (Turfpix).

Bye for now.

 

Diary: September 29 & 30 2008

 

Recent winners include: Noble Alan 6/1, It’s Tough 5/2, Amanjena 10/1, North East Corner 5/1, Splashdown 5/1, Nawaadi 5/4, Great Endeavour 2/1, Soul City 5/2, Raven’s Pass 3/1 and Roaring Forte 4/1.

Harlech Castle is the featured horse for the month September on my Elite Racing Club calendar and I will be hoping for a good run from him at Windsor in the 2.30 tomorrow. In truth though he has not shown much form this season so it is more hope than confidence even though he has come down the weights 3 lbs. I won’t hinder his chance by burdening him with my selection as I am going to plump for Luminous Gold in this race. Chris Wall’s lightly raced 3 year old won first time out at Folkestone back on 1st of May and didn’t appear again until finishing 6th at Leicester a couple of weeks ago. That race should have put him spot on for this.

Windsor

In the 3.00 the unraced Ponting from Ralph Beckett’s stable is related to the useful sprinter of a few seasons back, Feet so Fast and could be one to keep tabs on.

William Haggas has his horses in particularly good form at the moment with Roaring Forte and King’s Apostle winning for him over the weekend. He runs Majeen in the 5.00 at Windsor. This son of Rock of Gibraltar has raced a bit too keenly in his 2 starts so far but he has been given a good break, and as he comes from a winning family I am hoping that he can put up a bold show tomorrow.

Barry Hill’s 2 year old Majestic Lady caught the eye when doing all her best work at the finish when 4th at Sandown earlier this month. She can get off the mark in the 2.10 at Bath.

Darley Sun who runs in the 3.40 at Bath could only finish 10 on his debut at Doncaster but may prove to be better than that in time. His dam is a half sister to the classy Flashy Wings (pictured below) , a smart filly for Mick Channon a couple of years ago.

miller flashy wings

When Basanti ran over a mile and 6 furlongs at Lingfield in August he finished 6th but was closing on the leaders near the finish. I was a bit surprised to see him running over 10 furlongs tomorrow in the Bath 4.10 as stamina seemed to be his strongpoint.

There is one runner from our list to follow at Brighton on Monday. Wing Play, a winner at Wolverhampton last November, is joint top weight in the 4.20 where he runs in a class 6 handicap for the first time.

Turning to the meetings on Tuesday I see that the consistent Reclamation runs in the 4.50 at Southwell. She has not finished out of the first 3 in her 4 starts this season and she looks good for at least a place again.

Dan Chillingworth is another consistent sort, but unlike Reclamation he is without a win this season. Trainer James Fanshawe tries him in a visor for the first time tomorrow in the 5.20.

katy warwick

Amanda Perrett, who had a winner in the first race at Ascot today saddles the two year old Wilfred Pickles in the 2.40 at Warwick. Jockey Jim Crowley picked this one out as a likely horse to follow before its first run and he certainly showed some encouraging signs when 3rd at Newbury on his second outing. The horse is named after the TV broadcaster whose radio show Have a go, ran for many years.

Over the sticks at Sedgefield on Tuesday I would look out for According to Pete and Cool Operator in the beginners chase at 4.00.

The picture of Flashy Wings is courtesy of Lisa Miller.  The other two pictures are both by kind permission of Katy Sodeau. See links for further information on both these artists.

That is about all for tonight, the next update will be on Tuesday evening.

 

Diary: September 28 2008

Sunday sees the final day of the Ascot festival while there are some valuable two year old races at The Curragh so let’s see if we can unearth a winner or two.

The 12 furlong handicap that starts the proceeding off at Ascot at 2.05 looks an open race but Young Mick is likely to be a popular choice with punters. If you favour the course and distance winner approach Young Mick is certainly the horse for you as he has 4 C & D successes to his credit. These wins all came in 2006 however and his last win was two years ago in the Group 3 Cumberland Lodge Stakes. He likes fast ground and Ascot is clearly his favourite track. Apart from his quartet of wins there in the past, he has run well at the Berkshire course this season, finishing 4th and 2nd in valuable handicaps.

There are 3 runners whose fortunes I have been following during the season, Pevensey, Birkside and Kensington Oval. Pevensey has had an in and out season and at times has looked a far from straightforward ride, and he seems to run alternate good and bad races. He has won on good to firm and soft ground and he does have a couple of wins over course and distance on his record. He has tended to get behind early on in his races but he is well capable of winning this if things drop right for him.

Birkside has won 13 races since last May so clearly doesn’t owe connections anything. He is only a pound higher than when winning at York at the end of July and would be no forlorn hope as long as his hectic schedule is not starting to catch up on him. Kensington Oval has only ever run twice. He won on his racecourse debut at Sandown over 10 furlongs in maiden and then missed the break in a listed race at Ascot on good to firm. He could be a bit of a blot on the handicap especially as the extra 2 furlongs tomorrow is likely to bring out further improvement in him. My main concern about him would be the ground. He won on good to soft, and his brother, Ask, has never won with an “F” in the going description.

Morning-on-the-Curragh

There are just 5 runners in the 2.40 which could turn into a tactical affair. Sixties Icon is possibly the safest bet in this race although I am also hopeful that recent Kempton winner Ajhar will run well for a stable that has supplied the winner of this race 4 times in the past 9 years.

I suppose I should be supporting the Hughie Morrison trained My Kingdom in the 3.50 given his connection to the name of my site. He certainly won impressively enough at Brighton at the start of the month while Blown It has been highly tried and could be interesting at a big price.

Godolphin have had a wretched season by their standards and I see that their 2007 Arc 3rd Sagara will be sporting blinkers for the first time in the 4.25. He certainly seems to have regressed this year and as he is probably suited by soft ground anyway I think he is best watched for the time being. Sandbuch is a very consistent performer and rarely runs a bad race and given a true run race here he could go close.

The only runner from our list to follow up at Musselburgh is Peruvian Prince in the 4.45, while over at The Curragh my selections are as follows; 2.20 Hail Caesar, 2.55 Soul City & 4.15 Luminous Eyes.

home straight

Graham and Andrea Wylie have given jump racing a real boost in recent years and they will be hoping that their star performer Inglis Drever can make it a 4th win in the World Hurdle come Cheltenham in March. In the meantime though their should be plenty of winners for the Wylie/Johnson/O’Regan team and they have a fancied runner in the 4.00 at Market Rasen tomorrow. Nosferatu is by the same sire as Inglis Drever and won on the flat when trained by Amanda Perrett. He could well be on an attractive handicap mark over hurdles.

The jumping season will be gathering momentum in the coming weeks and of course there will be various “guides” to the new season coming out. One that I can recommend is “Jumping Prospects” that is written by Merseysider John Morris. In his book John gives details of his interviews with a wide range of trainers and the comments have certainly helped me to find some big priced winners down the years. Follow the link below for more details.

http://www.jumpingprospects.co.uk/

One of the highlights of the 2007/8 national hunt season was the Grand National triumph of Comply or Die. Now the 2009 Aintree feature may be some way off yet but Christmas will be with us soon enough. The Spinal Injuries Association has commissioned a rather nice painting by the artist Katie Scorgie for one of their Christmas cards this year. As you will see the card shows Comply or Die at Becher’s Brook. This card and others are available online from http://www.spinal.co.uk or by telephoning 01462 735 745. Obviously a very worthy cause.

 comply

Acknowledgements: My thanks to "Howden Joe" for his photo of Market Rasen, and the artists Karen Davies (top picture) and Katie Scorgie (Comply or Die picture) for allowing me to use their work (see links for more information on both artists).

Diary: September 27 2008

 

I will start tonight’s preview at Ascot with the Royal Lodge Stakes at 2.30. All 10 runners for this Group 2 event are previous winners. Almiqdaad won a Newmarket maiden last month and that race has since thrown up a couple of winners. He would be my choice although the ground might be an issue.

John Gosden’s horses are in fine form and his unbeaten filly Rainbow looks good for the 3.05. The Mick Channon trained Silver Games could run well at a decent price. She is a half sister to Nahoodh and ran as though a mile would suit her when 5th at Newbury last time out and she could, run well at a huge price.

soviet song

There is a big prize on offer for the 7 furlong handicap at 3.40. There are a couple of important factors to take into account here namely the likely going which I am assuming will be on the quick side and the trip, which tends to be a bit of a specialists distance.

Both trip and ground suit Dhaular Dhar who was 5th in the race last season. He has since been runner up twice in big handicaps over course and distance and definitely comes here with a good chance. Celtic Sultan won first time up at Chester off a mark of 100 and is racing off 98 tomorrow. He likes to make the running and is drawn 9 which may mean that the pace in the race will be with the low numbers.

Zaahid won a strong Victoria Cup over course and distance in May but is now 5 lbs higher in the weights. He is usually held up and is drawn on the same side at Celtic Sultan so he should get a tow. He seems to handle any ground. I have had the feeling that Mastership will scoop one of these big handicaps at some stage. He has never won over this trip but he has been successful over longer and shorter distances and he should handle the ground OK. He needs things to fall right for him but with J Murtagh in the plate he will get every assistance from the saddle.

Skhilling Spirit was a creditable 5th on heavy ground in the Ayr Gold Cup last weekend and if he has got over his exertions he comes into the picture. Atlantic Story has 11 career wins to his credit although the last 10 have all been on the all weather. He ran with plenty of promise when 5th in a Doncaster handicap a couple of weeks back. He ran there after a 118 day absence so could be expected to have come on for the run and is well handicapped on turf compared to his all weather rating. My short list of 7 is completed by Giganticus who is ideally suited by a straight 7 furlongs on fast ground.

I normally like to go for one drawn high and one drawn low in these big field handicaps. Giganticus from stall one makes some appeal while from the high draws we have Dhaular Dhar (28) and Atlantic Story (26).  It was hard to choose between my favoured 7 as they all have something going for them.  I am thinking of having a few bob each way on Mastership.

The QEII Stakes (4.145) has not been a good race for favourites in recent years and I am tempted to take on the big 2 with Raven’s Pass. The stable are is excellent form and he was not beaten far by Henrythenavigator when they last met.

In the 4.50 Majectic Roi will appreciate the ground and seems to have the strongest credentials. Christany was 2nd, only beaten a head the only time she has run over 7 furlongs and she is the other one I would fancy.

The only runner from our list to follow in action at Chester is Pacific Pride in the 5.00. The 5 year old has a poor strike rate and his only 2 career wins have come in small fields. He has got a good draw however and will like the ground.

At the Races

Staying in the North West there is racing at Haydock where the smart hurdler Souffleur should be all the better for a recent run over course and distance in the 2.25.

Barney McGrew and Burning Incense represent our list to follow in the 6 furlong handicap at 3.00. Burning Incense has not won for over 2 years but has slipped to a mark he is capable of winning off. Barney McGrew, a winner at Newcastle at the end of May will certainly handle the ground. At around 11/1 I would favour Burning Incense each way.

In the 3.35 Aegean Dancer and Quiet Elegance are horses that I have been following during the season. The former probably handles any ground but is best on a fast surface. There is a suspicion though that the assessor may just have his measure. Quiet Elegance won at 22/1 first time out but has been disappointing subsequently.

There is evening racing on the all weather at Great Leighs where there is an interesting newcomer in the 6.50. Nawaadi is the subject of good reports and comes from a stable in form.

Roaring Forte has been consistent enough but expensive to follow nonetheless. I am going to stick with him in the Great Leighs 7.20.

The jumps season is starting to warm up and there is some decent racing at Maket Rasen. Alan King runs Black Jacari in the 2.40. Black Jacari is a winner at Chepstow and Goodwood on the flat and is in the same ownership at Triumph Hurdle winner4 Katchit who is a former winner of this race.

summer hurdles1

Nudge and Nurdle is owned by some cricketing enthusiast called The Yes No Wait Sorries. Now if you follow cricket you will understand both the significance of the names of both horse and owner’s syndicate. If you don’t follow cricket, take my word for it, it would take far too long to explain! Anyway, Nudge and Nurdle is an unexposed sort that has already won twice over fences. He takes on some more experienced campaigners here but certainly looks one to keep on the right side.  He runs in the 3.15 at Market Rasen.

The opening race (1.35) at Market Rasen looks quite an interesting one.  Solent is the obvious choice from John Quinn’s yard after he created a good impression when winning at Bangor. Unfurled is an intriguing runner for Nigel Twiston-Davies.  He was a listed race winner on the flat and ran second in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes but hasn’t run since August 2005 and makes his hurdles debut tomorrow.

Bye for now.

My thanks to John Thurm for his photo of Haydock Park.  The two paintings are by courtesy of the artist Lisa Miller.

Diary: September 25 & 26 2008

I am penning these notes a little earlier than usual but I see we have already had one winner today thanks to It’s Tough at Perth (5/2). I will start my preview of Thursday and Friday with a look at a couple of prospects for the jumps meeting at Perth tomorrow.

Noble Alan won twice at Newcastle last season, once in a bumper and then in a novice hurdle. He retains his novice status until the end of the month and runs in the 2.20. He should win more races this season especially where he does not encounter soft ground. The other one I like at Perth is Crescent Island in the 2.50. He ran 5 times over hurdles last season winning twice and finishing in the first 3 in the reminder. He looks the type to be even better over fences.

dunnjumps

There are several runners from my list to follow running on the flat tomorrow. Perhaps Ascot Lime has the best chance, in the 4.30 at Pontefract. He is a progressive 3 year old with a willing attitude and represents the same trainer/jockey combination that won the race last season.

Other runners from our flat list are, Smarterthanuthink (Pontefract 5.30) and 3 more at Great Leighs, Fantasy Fighter (7.20), Houghton (8.20) and Piverina (9.20).

The main flat meetings on Friday are at Ascot and Haydock Park.

Starting at Ascot Amenjena represents our list to follow in the 2.10. Andrew Balding’s filly was a winner at Kempton before being tried in Group and listed class in her next two outings. Runner up in a handicap at Windsor on her last start she comes into tomorrow’s race with an each way chance.

Film Maker has done well for me this season winning at Redcar and Great Leigh’s. He was a bit disappointing on his last run at Lingfield and wears blinkers for the first time in the 2.45 tomorrow. He has trip and ground in his favour but is 7 lbs higher in the weights than when winning at Great Leigh’s.

Looking at the 29 runner Watership Down Stud Sales Race at 3.20 6 of the last 7 winners have been drawn 18 or higher. Prowl has only had one run and showed some promise when 3rd at Leicester but she is drawn 10. Having said that last season’s winner came out of stall 11 so perhaps there is hope. Lack of experience in such a big field might be a problem though. Ballyalla looked good when winning at Newbury but made no show in a listed contest on her next run. She has a chance from a high draw while the other one I like is Penny’s Gift but she is drawn 7.

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Island Vista won a maiden at Newbury first time out last month and the runner up, Duncan has won well since. She takes on listed company in the 3.55 so will have to find plenty of improvement but as she has only run twice that is by no means impossible. The other runner from our list to follow in this race is Wood Chorus. This filly seems best on rain softened ground so may not have conditions in her favour.

Alicante was 9th of 11 over 6 furlongs at Catterick 5 days ago and is out again over the same trip at Haydock on Friday. This filly is bred to stay much further and it looks as though she is being campaigned with her 2009 handicap mark in mind!

Navajo Joe represents out list to follow in the 4.55. He won at Lingfield in June but has spoiled his chance in subsequent races by pulling too hard. He will need to settle much better before he wins again.

Late update – Southwell 4.45 – selection Great Endeavour.

The pictures today are by courtesy of the artist Jane Dunn (see links).

The next update will be on Friday evening.

Diary: September 24 2008

Kempton continues to be a lucky track for me and the latest winner there was the Luca Cumani trained filly Splashdown on Monday. A bit “naughty” going in the stalls she drifted in the market quite alarmingly but once the race got under way she stayed on nicely to win at 5/1. She is by Falbrav and should certainly improve once she races over further.

Moheeb was a winner for my list to follow at Hamilton on Monday, fairly scooting clear of his rivals to win comfortably. This was his best effort to date and he probably benefited from being dropped in grade. Sortita was another winner for our list today in the 5.20 at Folkestone.

Baybshambles has been one of the more successful horses on my list to follow with 3 wins, a second and 2 thirds and he continues his busy campaign in the Redcar 5.10. With Barry McHugh taking a valuable 7 lbs off I would be hopeful of another good run from the 4 year old.

At Goodwood King of Wands should go well in the 3.10 while in the 3.45 I see that Tudor Prince, who is in a 17 race losing sequence, will be sporting a first time visor.

Like Tudor Prince, Royal Jasra is another horse from my list to follow that has been disappointing. He looked promising when winning at Haydock a year ago but has shown very little since, finishing last on his latest start when he was tried in blinkers. He runs without the blinkers in the 8.50 at Kempton tomorrow

There is jumps racing tomorrow at Britain’s most northerly track at Perth.

the race

There was much to like about the way It’s Tough won a fair bumper at Worcester for David Pipe in April. He makes his hurdles debut in the 2.25 and should go well.

The giant Justtheoneforyou was placed a couple of times over hurdles and certainly has the look of a horse that would be better over the larger obstacles. He makes his chasing debut in the 3.00. Peter Bowen does well with the runners he sends to Perth and he saddles Santando in the 4.10.

Later on the Perth card the Nigel Twiston-Davies pair of Buck the Trend (5.20) and Diablo (5.50) are worth considering.

My thanks to Roj Wilson for today’s photograph.

My cat and I

 

Girls are simply the prettiest things

My cat and I believe

And we’re always saddened

When it’s time for them to leave.

We watch them titivating

(that often takes a while)

And though they keep us waiting

My cat & I just smile

We like to see them to the door

Say how sad it couldn’t last

Then my cat and I go back inside

And talk about the past.

by Roger McGough

 

Diary: September 22 & 23 2008

It was always a fair bet that one of the Dandy Nicholls team would win the Ayr Gold Cup but picking the right horse from the trainer’s multiple entries is never easy and I am afraid I got in wrong again! Still, Tajneed gave us a run for our money in second place. Overall Saturday was not the best of days on the tipping front with only Tarkheena Prince saving me from a complete whitewash. Of the rest the Clive Cox trained Electrolyser ran well at Newmarket after a long absence from the track and his turn may come before the end of the season, while Montbretia, another runner up at HQ, may also be able to pick up a race this autumn.

Tarkheena Prince won in a tight finish up at Ayr under a strong drive from Robert Winston who received a 3 day ban for a combination of careless riding and overuse of the whip. Tarkheena Prince has more than justified his place on my list to follow as this was his 3rd win of 2008.

I fared rather better with my preview of today’s action with a couple of winners. Knot in Wood had acquitted himself well in the Ayr Gold Cup yesterday finishing 4th and coming home the best of those drawn low but he went one better this afternoon running out a comfortable winner at Hamilton Park. Richard Fahey’s 6 year old has now won 4 times at Hamilton from his 5 visits to the track. Wyeth was my other winner coming in at 7/1 at Plumpton on his hurdles debut , which was not a bad price for a horse who is related to the classic winner George Washington!

ridingwork sally martin

Tomorrow Luca Cumani introduces an interesting 2 year old in the Kempton 3.30. Splashdown is by first season sire Falbrav and is a half sister to Cosmodrome. Unlikely to be rushed she could be one to note for the future. There is not much else to comment on tomorrow although there are a couple of runners from my list to follow in Moheeb (Hamilton 4.10) and Tiger Dream (Kempton 5.00) although neither have an obvious chance.

On Tuesday there is a decent sprint at 2.30, The Violet and Eddie Smith Memorial Conditions Stakes. Pawan was 4th today behind Knot in Wood after being tapped for toe in the early stages and is entered again at Beverley where he is a course and distance winner. Also in this race are Michael Bell’s four year old Hoh Mike and the half brothers Fire up the Band and Strike up the Band as well as the winner of last year’s Portland Handicap Fullandby. It is a competitive little race but I am hoping that Oldjoesaid can win it. He won his first start of the season but has not always had the rub of the green since. Dane O’Neill has the ride for trainer Henry Candy.

downwarrenhill Sally martin

There are 2 other runners from my list to follow running on Tuesday, the disappointing General Tufto in the 3.30 at Beverley and Sortita at Folkestone in the 5.20. Sortita has only had 4 runs in her career and looks to have more scope for improvement than many of her rivals. She won at Doncaster last month and then ran badly when a beaten favourite on the all weather at Lingfield. If we ignore that last run and assume she either didn’t like the surface or there was something amiss she would have a chance. The oldest horse in the race is Bustan. This 9 year old was 4th in the Great Voltigeur back in 2002 when he was only half a length behind subsequent St Leger winner Bollin Eric and less than a length behind the winner Bandari. It is some years since he crossed swords with such rivals though. In fact he went nearly 5 years without a win between 2002 and 2007 but has had something of a resurgence of late winning at Sandown and Beverly this year. He is best on a sound surface.

Eddie Boy didn’t make much of an impact on his debut at Newbury last month but he should have come on for that run and is worth considering in the 4.00 at Beverley. He is a full brother to Sweet Lilly a filly that won times for Mick Channon as a juvenile. Eddie Boy may not want the ground too soft.

The next update will be on Tuesday evening.

My thanks to Sally Martin for today’s pictures.  See links for more examples of this artists work.

 

Diary: September 21 2008

 

There are 3 meetings tomorrow but only one on the flat.

There are two runners from our list to follow entered at Hamilton. Knot in Wood has a very good chance if taking up his engagement in the 4.10, although as he ran in the Ayr Gold Cup today his participation may be in come doubt.

Hurlingham has done well for us with 2 wins and goes for the hat trick in the 4.40. His wins have come over 11 furlongs but tomorrow’s race is over an additional quarter of a mile. He has an each way chance at around 6/1, as it looks as though his trainer thinks there is more improvement to be had from him over the longer trip.

webvictorybig

Over the sticks at Plumpton Wyeth makes his debut over hurdles in the 3.00. He is a half brother to George Washington and recently got off the mark on the flat at the 9th attempt.

Today’s picture is by courtesy of the artist Wendy Stevens.  Follow the link for more examples of this artists work. http://www.equineartguild.com/~gambleart/

 

Diary: September 20 2008

There were a few successes from the horses previewed yesterday evening with a trio of 3 year old winners at Newmarket, Archie Rice (4/1), North East Corner (5/1) and Oasis Knight (5/1).

The Ayr Gold Cup

Tomorrow sees the Ayr Gold Cup which is one of the biggest betting heats of the flat season. So it seems to make sense to start tonight’s preview there.

Dandy Nicholls has been the trainer to follow in the recent past with 4 wins from the last 10 renewals. The trainer’s son Adrian has ridden 2 of those winners so he does seem to be able to pick ‘em. This year he is riding Tajneed who has won 2 of his 4 starts this season, most recently getting home by a head from his stable companion Valery Borzov in the Great St Wilfred Handicap at Ripon. Valery Borzov has had a successful campaign winning 3 times already and he certainly comes into the reckoning here as well.

No favourite has won the Ayr Gold Cup during the last 10 years and 4 winners have started at 20/1 or bigger so it is worth considering a few outsiders. Another Nicholls runner of interest and one that should start at a nice price is Turnkey. He hasn’t run since coming 4th at Doncaster in early May and it is just possible that he has been laid out for this. He acts on soft ground and gets on well with his rider, young Adele Rothery. He tends to be ridden with exaggerated hold up tactics and whether Adele can weave her way though this big field from the back remains to be seen.

Another horse that just could be a bit of a “plot” for this is Karl Burke’s Aahayson. His form stands up to close inspection having finished runner up to Sakhee’s Secret last April. He seems to handle any ground. At a shorter price Hogmaneigh is sure to have his supporters as he comes here just 7 days after his triumph in the valuable Portland Handicap at Doncaster where he beat River Falcon by a short head. He is another confirmed hold up horse so will need a degree of luck in running. Soft ground will not be a problem though. The runner up River Falcon is a grand sort and still going strong at the age of 8. He was 6th last year off a mark of 99 but is now down to 92 with Kelly Harrison taking off a further 5. River Falcon is trained by Jim Goldie who also saddles Dhaular Dhar. I used to think that this 6 year old was only worth considering at sharp tracks such as Chester and Catterick but a couple of really good second place efforts in valuable Ascot handicaps this season have rather blown that theory away. I am not convinced that 6 furlongs is his trip though as he seems best at 7.

miller heads down

There are a couple of former winners of the race in the line up in Advanced and Fonthill Road. Advanced won last season and comes back in good nick as he has finished runner up on his last two starts. He has actually come down the weights since last year’s win so we have to give him plenty of respect. The admirable Fonthill Road won in 2006 beating Borderlescott but has risen 7 lbs in the ratings since then. Freddie Tylicki is an able apprentice though and he takes 5 lbs off. Fonthill Road was 2nd in 2005 and 5th in 2007 so clearly likes this race and is one for the shortlist. Knot in Wood won at Hamilton a few runs ago beating Baby Strange by a nose. Both horses are a little higher in the weights now, which is making them hard to place. Knot in Wood was 3rd in the Stewards Cup in 2007 (off 98) and 4th in this season’s Wokingham, again off 98. He is a danger but a rating of 102 might just anchor him.

Patavellian is not the force of old at the age of 10 but he was 3rd last year and has come down the weights since so is not out of it. Skhilling Spirit is best with plenty of give in the ground. He is quite a consistent sort when he gets his conditions and he could just come in at a silly price.

Northern Fling won on soft ground at Doncaster over 5 furlongs in April. He finished last in this race in 2007 but is better than that. Mmm – rather a long short list! In the Silver Cup this afternoon those drawn low got the better of the argument but to be on the safe side I am going to pick one from each side of the draw for my “final answer.”

From the low draws Patavellian, Fonthill Road and River Falcon are all over 7 and older horses have a poor record so I am going to cross them off my list. Dhaular Dhar is better at 7 furlongs which leaves me with Advanced and Valery Borzov. Four year olds have a good record and given the fact that he is trained by Dandy Nicholls I am going to choose Valery Borzov from stall 7. Hogmaneigh, Northern Fling, Tajneed and Skhilling Spirit qualify from those drawn high. Tajneed is the choice of Adrian Nicholls and gets the nod.

The hat trick seeking Perks is rated 110 after a very profitable 2008 so far which rather rules him out of handicaps. If he lines up in the listed race at 4.40 he would be interesting as he loves soft ground and is on an upward curve. Another real mudlark in this field is the William Haggas trained Mutajarred. If the ground is riding soft these would be the two I would concentrate on.

Tarkheena Prince has done well for me this season with two wins at nice odds. He lines up in the 5.15 where he is significantly upped in distance. Tarkheena Prince handles soft ground and although the trip is an unknown his shrewd trainer would not be running him if he had really significant stamina doubts. One that will certainly get the trip is Let’s Roll as he won the race in 2005 and 2006.

Earlier on the card at Ayr I would expect a big run from Zero Tolerance in the 2.50 as long as the ground rides soft. His career record on soft or heavy going reads 1211401014013.

The other Saturday cards

I see that Sir Mark Prescott introduces 2 year old Alicante in the 1.55 at Catterick. This grey filly has plenty of stamina on the dam’s side. The dam, Alba Stella won twice over 12 furlongs and Alicante is related to a number of other middle distance winners such as Aleatricis, Albinus and the Derby runner up Dragon Dancer. She runs over 5 furlongs tomorrow which makes me think her trainer is lining her up for a nice low handicap mark to start next season with!

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Red Max makes his first appearance in a nursery in the 3.00 and has an each way chance at around 14/1 now that he also runs over 7 furlongs for the first time. In the 3.35 we have a runner from our list to follow in Inspector Clouseau. Tom Tate’s 3 year old has not lived up to expectation and is yet to win this season. With both trip and ground a bit uncertain I can’t really tip him.

There are some interesting newcomers in the 1.35 at Newbury, including John Dunlop’s Sadlers Wells colt Tactic who is related to some decent performers. A late foal he may only come into his own next season but he is one to watch. Netta is a half sister to Molomo and Pepperwood who were quite decent middle distance winners while another I like to Skanky Biscuit who is the subject of some good reports.

Carnaby Haggerston was perhaps a slightly unlucky loser when 3rd at Haydock last time and looks a fair each way proposition in the nursery handicap at 2.05.

Alexander Castle was runner up in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at this time last season but connections have had little cause to crack open the Tizer during his 3 year old season thus far. He runs in a handicap for the first time in the 3.10 at Newbury tomorrow where he has a mark of 104 which seems on the high side. He runs over 10 furlongs here trying the longer distance for the first time. This could be interesting as his sire Lemon Drop Kid is an influence for stamina. Last season’s winner Monte Alto is also in the field.

Another horse trying for back to back wins in a race is Rowe Park in the 3.45. He has not run since taking this race last season and to be honest, until his most recent effort he had looked off form. He showed a little more spark when 4th of 7 at Nottingham in August but will need to be back to his best against the likes of Green Manalishi, Reverence, Fullandby and Galeota.

The one that catches my eye in the 4.20 is Roger Charlton’s Splendorinthegrass. This colt is a half brother to Etlaala, a Group 2 winner and also Selective who was runner up in the Lincoln in 2003.

Alfathaa won at Newbury as a 2 year old but has not managed to follow that up, tending to race too keenly. Two runs ago he put in a reasonable effort when 2nd at Newmarket but then disappointed when last of 8 at Goodwood. Possibly the Sussex track didn’t suit but even so it does require something of a leap of faith to back him tomorrow in the 4.55.

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In the Newmarket 2.40 West With the Wind has conditions generally in his favour and may be able to win at the sixth time of asking but he is likely to be a short price.

Montbretia only ran once as a juvenile but started her 3 year old campaign in pleasing style when finishing runner up to subsequent Oaks 4th Clowance. She followed up with a win at Nottingham in July and runs tomorrow in the 3.15, a filly’s handicap. She is lightly raced, clearly goes well fresh and looks interesting.

Electrolyser hasn’t run for 227 days but returns to action tomorrow in the Newmarket 3.50. He has only raced twice in his life, both on the all weather in the winter. He won the second of these races, a maiden at Lingfield and it is difficult to assess just how good he is. It will have been hard for the handicapper to rate him and being so lightly raced he just might be better than his rating. He has an each way chance at around 8/1.

Finally, there are two runners from my list to follow in action at Wolverhampton, Wing Play a course and distance winner in the 7.20 and Silvanus, a winner at Kempton at the end of July, in the 8.50.

Given that racing tomorrow is from the birthplace of Robert Burns I will leave you with a quote from the poet, “There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing.”

My thanks to the artists Lisa Miller (top picture) and Katie Scorgie (2nd and 3rd pictures) for allowing me to use their material.  Further examples of their work can be found by referring to my links.