Diary: May 2 2009

King of Dixie was a disappointing beaten favourite at Doncaster a couple of weeks ago but may return to form tomorrow in the 4.30 at Lingfield. His record on the all weather surfaces is 3 wins from 3 starts.

Both Fortuni and Scene Two got off the mark last year on the all weather in December and both look to have the scope to progress this season in handicaps or perhaps even better. They are my fancies for the 5.35.

At Musselburgh Pedregal’s recent 3rd at Catterick puts him in with a chance in the 2.20 with the added bonus that the stable are in excellent form.

At Punchestown the two top weights Gold and Silver and Tranquil Sea are my two against the field in the 4.55.

hardy_eustace

The 5.30 is a fascinating contest with the Champion Hurdle winner Punjabi facing some stiff Irish opposition with the likes of Jered, Sizing Europe, Solwhit and Quevaga in the line up. Punjabi is a dual course and distance winner and defends his title her. He is probably best on better ground though and I would give slight preference for Quevega who was such an impressive winner at Cheltenham and Solwhit whose victory at Aintree was boosted by the runner up winning today.

In the 6.05 Cousin Vinny may be able to spring a surprise and get the better of his more fancied stable mate.

The 6.40 looks a competitive heat. Former top bumper horse Zaarito may have ahd excuses for his defeat at Naas last time out. Prior to that he had won over course and distance and he should handle the ground OK. Sorcerer is another course and distance winner with chances at a bigger price but for my selection I am going for the consistent Copper Bleu.

The picture today is of Hardy Eustace who runs in the 5.30 and is included thanks to the artist Sarah Aspinall.

Diary; April 30 2009

Sir Mark Prescott sends Alicante (pictured below) up to Redcar to contest the 3.40. This grey filly had the customary 3 runs over sprint distances last season but is related to a host of middle distance performers and is likely to show marked improvement now she runs over a longer trip.

Alicante_081007_folk1

Another that can do well on his handicap debut is Kattar in the 5.20.

John Gosden’s Charm School has not lived up to expectation thus far but is fitted with first time blinkers for the Yarmouth 6.00 tomorrow and may well bounce back to form. Another to watch out for in this race is Cloudy Start who comes from a stable bang in form.

The pair that make most appeal in the 6.30 are Ithbaat and Hyades. Slight preference is for Ithbaat who showed plenty of promise on his only run as a juvenile and has reportedly wintered well.

At Punchestown my two against the field in the 3.45 are Jessie’s Dream and Uimheraceathair.

Both Duc de Regniere and Pettifour began the 2008/9 season well but were unable to build on their early successes. They line up in the 5.30 where I prefer the claims of the home contenders, in particular Fiveforthree who is my selection. He has had a much lighter campaign than some of his rivals and ran well in defeat behind Solwhit at Aintree. Nicanor could run into a place at a decent price.

In the 6.40 I expect Forpadythepalsterer to get the better of the Paul Nicholls challenger Tatenen.

Picture by kind permission of British 2YO Racing.

Diary: April 29 2009

Rose Diamond should have both trip and going in her favour in the Ascot 2.45 tomorrow. She is a consistent sort and with the benefit of a run already this season she should go well. Henry Cecil has two runners in this race, Apple Charlotte and Honest Quality. The beautifully bred Honest Quality won two of her 4 starts last season including a listed contest over 7 furlongs at Sandown on fast ground. Apple Charlotte, a half sister to Arthur’s Girl, won her only race as a juvenile last year in a back end Newmarket maiden.

My fancy for the Sagara Stakes at 3.55 is Patkai who won the Queen’s Vase over course and distance last season. This race should be run at a fair gallop which would benefit Patkai who is a thorough stayer but also has a turn of foot.

Elnawin won twice in good company last season and showed that he had trained on when runner up at Lingfield last month. He is dropped back to 6 furlongs in the 4.30 which should suit him as he has looked a doubtful stayer over further. Nasri was 3rd behind Donativum and Crowded House at Newmarket last October. He was well beaten on his seasonal reappearance in the Greenham but is worth another chance based on his form last season. He may not want the ground too quick however.

golden_moment st

Queen Eleanor showed promise on her two starts as a juvenile and with her stable in form looks an interesting runner in the Kempton 7.20.

Native Ruler was all the rage for the Wood Ditton and although probably not relishing the quick ground managed to finish 2nd. He runs in the Pontefract 2.55 and has to be in with a great chance although the ground may again be a negative factor. Cherish the Moment ran well on his only start last season and finished 3rd on his return to action at Leicester. He is another that might be happier on slightly easier ground. Northside Prince might find this company a bit too hot but could be one for the future once he qualifies for handicaps.

Punchestown selections; 4.55 Merrydown; 5.30 Sweeps Hill; 6.05 Imperial Commander

Today’s picture is by kind permission of the artist Jo Stockdale (see links)

Diary; Punchestown update

 

It is a little difficult to get away from tipping the obvious contenders at Punchestown tomorrow with Cheltenham form likely to be upheld in at least two of the major races.

The exception could be the 4.20 however.  Go Native travels really well in his races and was a worthy winner at Cheltenham but he comes up against Hurricane Fly tomorrow who beat him easily at Christmas.  Riverside Theatre heads the UK challenge and has an each way chance.

In the 4.55 my two against the field would be Robin Du Bois and Eagles Pass.

You can’t oppose Master Minded in the 6.05.  Big Zeb could be the one to chase him home after a confidence building effort over hurdles.

Cooldine was another impressive Cheltenham winner and he should confirm the form with Horner Woods.  The improving Joncol with Tony McCoy on board would be the main threat to Cooldine in my opinion.

Diary: April 27 & 28 2009

Michael Bell has not had a winner with his last 21 runners so we do need to exercise a degree of caution with his horses for the moment. I will put forward his runner in the Windsor 5.55, Halfway House, as one to have a close look at however. This one ran 3 times last season to gain a handicap mark but should do better this time around now that he tackles middle distances.

The same is true of the Luca Cumani trained Forte Dei Marmi who runs in the 7.55. He steps back up to a mile tomorrow after an encouraging effort over 7 furlongs when he finished 4th on his final start last season at Yarmouth. My other selection at Windsor is Putra One who I hope can go one better than his last run when 2nd at Yarmouth.

BEEF OR SALMON

Moving on to Tuesday there is a competitive sprint at Bath (5.05). My two against the field in this are Crimson Fern and Look Busy.

Bullet Man was a big disappointment when a well beaten favourite at Yarmouth earlier this month. He had previously impressed when winning at Lingfield in December and may be worth another chance in the Windsor 7.05. My selection in this race though is Ed Dunlop’s Stone of Scone. This one was 6th in the Wood Ditton last season and then went on to impress many good judges when winning a maiden at Great Leighs. He suffered a minor setback after that and did not run again last season. He is well bred and held in high regard by his trainer. Ryan Moore has the ride.

In the 7.35 Aestival follows a well worn path that you will recognise if you follow trainer Sir Mark Prescott. Given 3 runs in quick succession as a juvenile over sprint distances he starts his handicap career over 10 furlongs and a mark of 53.

Windsor

Venture Capitalist ran 3 times last season showing most promise on the last of these outings when 3rd at Wolverhampton. He looks one to follow and starts his 3 year old campaign in the 8.05.

I will try to update the site on Monday evening with some thoughts on the racing at Punchestown.

My thanks to the artists Jenny Lupton for the portrait of former Punchestown Gold Cup winner Beef or Salmon, and Katy Sodeau for her picture of racing at Windsor.

Diary: April 25 2009

No trainer has been in better form on the flat than John Gosden but one of his runners yet to live up to expectations is Invisible Man who was a beaten favourite when making his seasonal reappearance at Newmarket. He does have a question or two to answer now but over a furlong further in the Haydock 7.40 tomorrow I will give him another chance.

I did well last season following trainer Michael Dods. He saddles Hey Up Dad tomorrow in the Haydock 8.10 and this 3 year old by Fantastic Light looks to be on a reasonable handicap mark after just two runs last season. Hey Up Dad won on his second outing last season in heavy ground at Ayr so we don’t really know if he will handle the very different conditions he is likely to face at Haydock which would temper my enthusiasm a little. Another interesting runner in this race is Petella, trained by Chris Thornton and a full sister to the stable’s stayer Lets Roll. Campaigned over 6 furlongs as a juvenile this filly should appreciate the step up in trip.

The Leicester 3.05 features some nice types and although there are only 4 runners it is still a tricky puzzle. The likely favourite is John Gosden’s Lively Fling, a winner last month over course and distance. The runner up that day has since been beaten though. Orbitor has also had a run this season finishing 3rd in a Doncasterwa handicap having won at Great Leighs last October. He ran over 10 furlongs at Doncaster and may well improve for the extra distance tomorrow. Alcalde won both his starts as a 2 year old and as a half brother to the useful Alambic he is another that should be suited by the trip. This is a difficult race to assess but Alcalde may prove a tough nut to crack in typical Mark Johnston style.

Tiger Flash has shown promise in both his starts to date and looks the one to beat in the 4.45.

Hurdlers

American Trilogy was one of the easiest winners at the Cheltenham Festival and was then only narrowly beaten at Aintree. If he has recovered from these exertions he will be hard to beat in the Sandown 1.35. At a bigger price, Songe, a game winner at Haydock on good ground in January could also go well.

Callisto Moon hasn’t won since November 2007 and as a result his handicap rating has come down. He handles fast ground and is fit from runs on the flat. He could be a live outsider in the 2.05. Another to consider is Sangfroid who fell last time out when holding every chance. Before that he had been runner up to Silk Affair who went on to win the Fred Winter at Cheltenham.

Kalahari King has done nothing wrong this season and although he faces serious opposition from a battalion of Paul Nicholls runners he has the class and can score in the 2.35.

I don’t have a strong fancy for the 3.10 but if pushed for a selection I would go with Hoo La Baloo who will be suited by track and ground and has been aimed at the race. Of the outsiders Always Waining makes some appeal.

The 3.45 looks to be between Paco Boy, Virtual and Dream Eater. The latter was 5th in the Guineas last season and should come on a bundle for his recent run at Warwick. Paco Boy is a high class individual who won the Prix De La Foret at Longchamp last October. He is yet to win over a mile however and I marginally prefer Virtual who won his last 3 races in 2008, looks a most progressive sort and will be suited by the stiff mile.

Going_Away

Virtual is trained by John Gosden who has Pipedreamer in the 4.15. He will be suited by the fast ground and holds a sound chance but for my selection I will side with Tartan Bearer who is the class act in the race having been placed in both English and Irish Derbies last year.

Wells Lyrical is a horse I am looking forward to this season. He was an improver last year winning each of his last 3 starts. He runs in the 3.30 at Ripon tomorrow but I will not burden him with my selection as he really needs some cut in the ground and will not be ideally suited to fast going. He is one to watch though.

At Wolverhampton the well bred Free Falling may be better than her modest handicap mark and is one to look out for in the 8.20.

Today’s pictures are by kind permission of the artist Karen Davies.

Diary: April 24 2009

Tomorrow is the penultimate day of the jumps season and there is racing from 4 venues in the UK.

One feature of the season has been the number of red hot favourites from the Paul Nicholls yard that have been turned over. Fistral Beach is one such as he has started favourite for each of his 5 races but has been defeated each time with form figures that read 22322. He runs at Chepstow tomorrow evening in the 7.55 and although he has the highest rating and wears first time blinkers I would not want him carrying my money. China Gold was 2nd to Imperial Cup winner Dave’s Dream two runs ago and could be the one to beat the Paul Nicholls runner.

There are 3 runners from my list to follow in action at Perth. All 3 have already justified their place on the list but another win would be welcome nonetheless. Great Approach and Merigo contest the 3.55. After 3 runs in novice chases Great Approach was switched back to hurdles at Bangor where he ran out a 9/1 winner off a mark of 120. He runs over a further 3 furlongs tomorrow but should get the trip OK and the ground will be suitable for him.

Merigo has had a good season winning twice over fences including the Eider Chase at Newcastle and also finishing runner up to Grizebeck, from the same stable as Great Approach, over hurdles at Ayr. In Merigo’s favour is his stamina as he stays extreme distances and he is also very favourably handicapped compared to his chase rating. The one negative is the ground as all his best form has been shown on soft or heavy.

Ballygalley Bob was an 11/1 winner at Warwick two runs ago and was an unlucky faller at Haydock last time. He stays well but is 7 lbs higher than when winning at Warwick.

Sir Michael Stoute has been doing well with his 3 year olds already this season. He saddles the well bred Saptapadi in the 2.00 at Sandown and although only second at Wolverhampton on his only start so far this full brother to Patkai has plenty of scope and could pull off a surprise.

Hidden Brief went into quite a few notebooks after a promising run in a back end maiden at Yarmouth. She has the size and scope to improve at 3 and is my selection for the 3.45.

There are 3 runners from my list to follow in the 4.20 with Jedi and Antinori the two most likely to figure after Khan Tengi has been rather disappointing. Antinori has the benefit of a recent run where he was far from disgraced when runner up at Kempton over a mile. His dam won over 1 mile 6 so the step up in trip tomorrow is sure to suit him and he is a serious contender. I was impressed with the way Jedi won his maiden at Nottingham and he is another that should be suited by the trip.

These would be my two against the field.

The pictures today are by kind permission of the artist Julie Whitwham.