Diary: November 1 2011

 

The Melbourne Cup (Flemington)

The Melbourne Cup was first run in 1861. Perhaps the most famous winner was Phar Lap, (pictured below) a horse that became a national hero during the Depression years in Australia.

phar-lap-1

Lyn Beaumont – Australian Equine Artist

Bought for £168 pounds in New Zealand he won his first major race, the AJC Derby in 1929. His Melbourne Cup victory came in 1930 winning in a canter off top weight of 9 stone 12 lbs. He enjoyed a hugely successful career and his bronze statue stands outside the entrance to the Members’ Enclosure at Flemington. His last race was in what was at the time the richest ever race, the Agua Calienti in Mexico in March 1932. Despite having to adjust to alien conditions and contend with a split hoof Phar Lap won in imperious fashion. Tragedy struck though when he died just 17 days later in mysterious circumstances, possibly as a result of poisoning.

Makybe Diva (pictured below) made history in more recent times by winning the race 3 times, 2003, 2004 and 2005. The horses was cleverly named after 5 of the owners employees – Maureen, Kylie, Belinda, Diane, and Vanessa – by taking the first two letters from each of their names.

DSC_0243

Lyn Beaumont – Australian Equine Artist

Big race form guide

There is a strong British challenge this year with a number of trainers double handed. Mark Johnston saddles Jukebox Jury and Fox Hunt. The former comes into the race in top form having won 3 of his last 4 starts. He beat Kasbah Bliss in a Group 2 at Deauville in August and dead heated with Duncan in the Irish St Leger. He’s tough, stays and will handle the ground but he does seem to have plenty of weight. Fox Hunt is another St Leger winner, having won the German version at Dortmund last month. He has won 4 times this year, seems to handle any ground and goes well for Silvestre De Souza.

Luca Cumani’s bet chance could be Drunken Sailor who won a Group 3 at Goodwood earlier in the season and warmed up for this when 7th in the Caulfield Cup a couple of weeks ago. Manighar was 7th in the Melbourne Cup last year and has some good form this season. He certainly stays as evidenced by his 4th in the Ascot Gold Cup. His recent form is good. He was 4th to Jukebox Jury at Deauville and is now 7 lbs better off and his final prep race was a decent 4th in the Caulfield Cup.

Godolphin had their first runners in Australia in 1998 and since then their biggest victory came with All The Good in the 2008 Caulfield Cup. They will be represented by Modun and Lost in the Moment. The latter does not have particularly strong form this year not having won since January but has a turn of foot and Australian conditions may suit. Modun is unexposed with only 7 career starts but when 4th in the Ebor he appeared not to stay. He has since won over a shorter trip on the all weather at Kempton. He is drawn well in five and has the 2000 Melbourne Cup winning jockey, well known to English fans, Kerrin McEvoy aboard.

Moyenne Corniche looks the better of Brian Ellison’s two contenders. Named after a road in the South of France he was a surprise winner of the Ebor this season and ran well recently when 3rd in a Group 2 at Caulfield but he does not win very often. Saptadi’s only career win came in a Doncaster maiden and he is priced at 66/1.

Another English challenger is Red Cadeaux winner of the Curragh Cup over 14 furlongs in June having earlier won a listed race at Hamilton.

The French challenge looks really strong. Last year’s winner Americain has a big weight but is a strong type and is in top form having won the Drake International at Moonee Valley in October. The other French horse with a big chance is Dunaden who won the Geelong Cup at the Victoria track recently, a race which in the past has proved a reliable trial for the big race at Flemington.

Tullamore is consistent and has an each way chance. He was 3rd in the Caulfield Cup and runner up to Americain at Moonee valley.

Despite the marathon trip a turn of foot is a handy asset and this brings in a couple of comparative outsiders in Unusual Suspect and At First Sight. The latter has had a virus but has shown encouraging form when 2nd over 10 furlongs at Caulfield and more recently when occupying the same finishing position over 12 furlongs in the Bendigo Cup. Jockey Steven King has won the race before. Unusual Suspect is an 8 year old formerly trained in the USA. He won a Grade 1 at Hollywood Park on firm ground in November and on his most recent start was 6th in the Caulfield Cup.

One runner that will be familiar to British racing fans is Glass Harmonium who used to be trained by Sir Michael Stoute. His best win in the UK was in the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown last April where he bet Redwood by a head. He is a course winner having landed the 10 furlongs Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington in October. His form looks good but doubts about his stamina are a slight concern.

German import Lucas Cranach won a Group 2 at Hamburg in June and put himself in the Melbourne Cup picture when 5th in the Caulfield Cup. Connections have a good record in the race and this one is not out of it.

My short list for this would be At First Sight, Americain, Lucas Cranach and Dunaden. Best of the Brits? Fox Hunt is a possible but his lack of an Aussie prep run could count against him. The Luca Cumani pair look to have ideal preparation.

The Haldon Gold Cup (Exeter 2.50)

The most successful trainer in this race in recent years has been Henrietta Knight with 4 wins in the last 10 years, thanks to Best Mate, (pictured below) Impek and Edredon Bleu (twice). Best Mate’s win came in 2001 but in the 2005 renewal tragedy struck when Best Mate collapsed and died during the race. He won 3 Cheltenham Gold Cups, eleven of his 16 chases and never once looked like falling. He truly lit up the jumping world.

best mate

It was good to see Henrietta Knight back amongst the winners today with Loch Ba and Somersby although she has no runner in the Haldon.

Big race form guide

Captain Chris is yet to finish out of the first 2 in 10 starts over hurdles and fences. He finished last season in tremendous form winning the Pendil Novices Chase at Sandown, the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival and the Ryanair at Punchestown, all Grade 1 races. The ground should be perfect for him. His main challengers could be Medermit and Ghizao. They finished 4th and 5th in the Arkle behind Captain Chris. Medermit has earlier beaten Captain Chris half a length in the Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown. The form lines are further confused by the fact that Ghizao beat Captain Chris twice in the early part of last season at Cheltenham and Newbury.

Turf trivia

The prize for the first ever Melbourne Cup was 220 sovereigns and a gold watch.

The best of the rest at Exeter

1.50 Rocky Creek was an impressive winner of an Irish point to point and is expected to make up into a decent staying chaser in time. Starts off over hurdles here and could be one to follow.

2.20 Jump City was a winner on the flat in France. Injury problems restricted him to just one run last season over hurdles. He finished 2nd in a race at Wincanton the form of which has worked out well. Another that has suffered all sorts of niggling injury problems is Mirific. He last ran at Maisons-lafitte in July 2009. He has ability if he can be kept fit and well. His trainer Tony Symonds used to be assistant to Nicky Henderson.

3.20 Only 3 runners contest this novice chase but certainly two of them could well be among the leading novices come the end of the season. Menorah was the Supreme Novices winner in 2010, and returned to Prestbury Park last season to land both the Greatwood and the International Hurdles. Sam Winner was a leading novice hurdler last season and should do well over the larger obstacles although he may need further in time.

3.50 There are 3 in this that are worth considering. Victor’s Serenade was consistent over hurdles last season and should do better still over fences but may need softer ground. Meet the Critics is a very good jumper who won over fences at Newbury in March. Only 5th on his return at Wetherby he should be better for that run. Strongbows Legend was runner up at Carlisle on his last start. His jumping seems to be improving and his stable could not be in better form.

Redcar

2.40 Fieldgunner Kirkup has disappointed since finishing 2nd on his seasonal debut but could repay losses here.

Nap of the day

Captain Chris

Dark horse

Strongbows Legend

My thanks to Lyn Beaumont for her pictures in the Melbourne Cup section and the artist Lisa Miller for permission to use the picture of Best Mate.

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Diary: October 31 2011

 

November calendar

There is a wide variety of racing during the month of November. The flat season in the UK is entering its final week with the last big handicap of the year, the November Handicap at Doncaster. The flat action elsewhere has an international flavour with the Melbourne Cup at Flemington on Tuesday and the Breeder’s Cup at the end of the week in America.

The jumps season gets under way with the main races during the month the Paddy Power Chase, The Hennessy Gold Cup and the Greatwood Hurdle. Other big races to look forward to over the jumps this month are the Betfair Chase at Haydock and the Fighting Fifth Hurdle up at Newcastle.

The jumping action in November kicks off on the 1st with the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter while another big race in the West Country takes place next Saturday with the Badger Ales Handicap at Wincanton. The channel 4 cameras will pay their annual visit to Fontwell Park to cover the Southern Nation in a couple of weeks. In Ireland Down Royal in the North stage the JN Wines Chase that was won by Kauto Star last year while there is also quality action in the South at Navan.

Tomorrow’s racing

The racing tomorrow is fairly low key. At Kempton it may be worth taking on the hot favourite Somersby with the Paul Nicholls trained Aiteen Thirtythree. The latter could be open to significant improvement.

plumpton-racecourse-watercolour

At Plumpton it is worth keeping an eye on Water Garden. He is probably better than his bare form figures suggest and he can win races although he may need further and handicaps to be shown in his best light.

Today’s picture is courtesy of the artist Katy Sodeau.

Diary: October 30 2011

Carlisle

1.40 Notus de la Tour was nominated as a horse to follow by David Pipe during a recent TV interview. This useful hurdler makes his chase debut here.

3.15 Divers was a progressive chaser last season finishing his season with a win at the Cheltenham Festival. I fancy him to do well again this year but he might just need this race. His trainer Ferdy Murphy tends to adopt a patient approach with his horses and I feel that Divers main targets will be a little later in the season. With that in mind Hidden Keel from the in form stable of Charlie Longsden could be the one to be on here.

katy huntingdon

Huntingdon

1.25 Muldoon’s Picnic is a course winner and is well suited by good ground.

4.05 Turbo du Ranch won a Newbury bumper in March and can defy a penalty here.

Today’s picture is courtesy of the artist Katy Sodeau.

 

Diary: October 29 2011

 

Big race form guide

This is the first weekend of the autumn when the jumpers take centre stage and the highlight is tomorrow’s bet365 Charlie Hall Chase (3.20pm) at Wetherby.

This prestigious race, first run in 1969 as the Wetherby Pattern Chase, has been won by a host of elite stars down the years among them, Wayward Lad (1983 and 1985), Burrough Hill Lad (1984), Forgive n Forget (1986), Celtic Shot (1990 and 1991), Barton Bank (1993 and 1995), One Man (1996 and 1997), See More Business (1999 and 2000) and Grey Abbey (2004).

Last year’s winner Nacarat lines up again. He is only 4 lbs higher in the handicap despite having won since in the Totebowl Chase at Aintree and finished 3rd in the Racing Post Chase. This season’s race looks a strong one. Neptune Collonge is a former winner of the Irish Hennessy and the Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup, he has been placed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and last season won the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham. Poquelin’s last 5 wins have all come at Cheltenham including back to back Boylesport Gold Cups. Others in with a shout are course and distance winner Weird Al who has recently joined Donald McCain’s stable and Chicago Grey who was travelling like the winner when tipping up 2 out on his latest start at Cheltenham.

The pair that most interest me though are Time for Rupert and Diamond Harry. The former was runner up to Big Bucks in the World Hurdle. When moving on to fences he looked good when winning his first two starts. Made favourite for the RSA Chase he could only finish 5th but there were excuses that day and he remains an exciting prospect. Diamond Harry has won first time out on each of the last 4 seasons so clearly goes well fresh. He has an outstanding strike rate and was an imperious winner of the Hennessy last season showing a marked improvement in the jumping department before injury curtailed his campaign.

Given his record first time out Diamond Harry is hardly an original choice but I was just going to favour him over Time for Rupert and burden him with my selection. However fast ground is definitely a concern for Diamond Harry so I am going to switch my allegiance to Time for Rupert.  They do say “Never change your mind!”  Incidentally, the ground will also suit Nacarat and Poquelin if you fancy either of them.

katy wetherby

Wetherby

2.15 Whoops a Daisy won 3 times over hurdles last season and looks one to follow in these mare’s races.

2.45 Although Restless Harry hasn’t won for 18 months he is a very consistent hurdler and has an each way shout here.

3.20 Dealt with elsewhere

4.00 Lucky Landing is one for the notebook. A winner of a bumper at Uttoxeter he then went off the boil last season but I expect him to go novice chasing soon when he will be likely to `do better.

4.30 Havingotascoobydo was a faller at Aintree last week but should make amends here.

Selections – Whoops a Daisy, Restless Harry, Time for Rupert.

Ascot

1.55 Fontano should be all the better for his run at Wincanton last week and is one for the short list. Merehead had rather a disappointing season last time but is the sort to improve with time as he strengthens up.

2.30 Baseball Ted won 3 times last season and has quite a lot going for him here. He has already had a run this season finishing 2nd at Carlisle. That was without his favourite cheek pieces which will be back on tomorrow. The stable are going great guns and the track should suit.

3.00 Third Intention won twice last season and was 7th in the Triumph Hurdle. He has plenty of speed and is a slick jumper of hurdles. My only slight worry would be that a couple of other fancied runners from this stable were beaten last week.

3.40 The Philip Hobbs duo of Quinz and Balthazar King are my pick here. Balthazar King won well a fortnight ago at Cheltenham. He is a fluent jumper that appreciated good ground. Quinz was most progressive last season and won the highly competitive Racing Post Chase. He was then pulled up in the Grand National when he burst a blood vessel. It looks as though Richard Johnson has chosen to ride Quinz here so I will take that as a tip in itself as he rode Balthazar King to victory at Cheltenham and presumably had the choice of rides.

4.15 Tornado D’Estruval makes his UK debut. A winner at Vichy he is by the same sire at Sprinter Sacre.

4.50 Ackertac was pulled up at Aintree recently after making a bad mistake. Megastar is a course winner and will appreciate the ground as he needs a sound surface.

Selections – Merehead, Baseball Ted, Third Intention, Quinz, Megastar

Newmarket

2.40 Repeater may be able to turn the tables on Rougemont who beat him at Leicester earlier in the month.

3.15 Farhh looked a smart prospect when winning at Newmarket last July. He has not been seen since but horses from this stable often win after lengthy layoffs. Mull of Killough was 3rd in the 2.10 Lincoln Handicap. He was returning from a 15 month absence when 8th of 11 at Haydock last month.

5.00 Eric Alston sends King of Eden down from his Preston base. King Of Eden was staying on well over six furlongs last time and looks as if he’ll stay seven.

Selections – Repeater and King of Eden

Naas

2.20 Noble Prince should be too good for his rivals here as long as he puts in a clear round.

Nap of the day

Time for Rupert

Dark horse

King of Eden

From the archives

Well it’s part 2 of our brief look back at Alexandra Park. Brian Rouse rode his first winner there on a horse called Gay Bird in 1957 but soon after left the sport and only rode his second winner 15 years later. Rouse was later to win the 1,000 Guineas in 1980 on Quick as Lightning. Pat Eddery, then an apprentice won the last ever London Gold Cup run at the track on Peter Robinson’s Angarrick in 1970.

Turf trivia

The first American bred horse to win the Derby was Iroquois in 1981, ridden by the great Fred Archer.

Picture courtesy of the artist Katy Sodeau

Diary: October 28 2011

 

Newmarket

2.25 Harlestone Wood is an interesting newcomer. He is related to Harlestone Times and Hot Spice and while this trip will probably be on the short side he is one to look out for over further, probably next season.

5.20 I had Defence of Duress on my list to follow this season but he has been rather a disappointment. He held an Irish Derby entry at one stage so must have been showing some from at home. Despite not winning he hasn’t come down the weights very much.

Wolverhampton

5.40 Purple ‘n Gold won at the track over 6 furlongs and this extra distance should suit him even better.

6.40 Watch your bets in this race as End of Dreams and Hill of Dreams both line up.

Selection Purple n’ Gold

Wetherby

3.20 Phidippides won well at Ludlow last season but went off the boil a bit after that. Well thought of by his trainer he could be open to further improvement?

5.05 Mudita Moment is an interesting runner. If you look back through his form he ran 3rd in a very hot bumper . The 2nd and 4th that day both won at the Cheltenham Festival. He runs here off a lenient looking mark of 98.

Selection – Phidippides

Nap of the day

Purple n’ Gold.

Dark horse

Mudita Moment

My thanks to the artist Julie Whitwham for today’s picture.

Diary: October 27 2011

 

Lingfield 3.40 Avon Lady beat Zoowrah at Leicester the other week but the runner up may have been unlucky as the jockey appeared to miscount the number of times he had used the whip.

Stratford 4.20 Sybarite, a former bumper winner had some decent form over hurdles last season and has always been well regarded by his trainer. He should be able to get off the mark over fences here.

Nap of the day

Sybarite

From the archives

It is interesting to reflect that controversy surrounding whip bans is nothing new. Some years back AP McCoy was riding Pridwell in the Aintree Hurdle and just got up to pip Charlie Swan on the great Istabraq in a photo finish.

Racing Post readers voted it the ride of the season but the stewards were less impressed and handed McCoy a 4 day ban, later increased to 6 on appeal, for excessive use of the whip.

Turf trivia

Charlotte Brew made history in 1977 by becoming the first woman to ride in the Grand National riding her own horse Barony Fort. She did not quite complete the course but she did get as far as the third last fence.

Diary: October 26 2011

 

These days there is a seemingly endless array of “Guides to the jumps” that vary in quality. One that I have been buying for years is “Jumping Prospects” written by John Morris. John is both passionate about the sport and extremely knowledgeable and his book is the result of meticulous research. The book contains trainer interviews and horses to follow with comments from both the trainers and Mr Morris.

The winners have already started to flow including one at 25/1. This book will provide you with plenty of information for the new season and help to find those all important winners. Nobody could accuse John of being greedy as the book is on offer at the eminently fair price of £15.

Anyway, follow this link to the Jumping Prospects web site.

Jumping Prospects

By late October it always seems to me that flat racing has rather out stayed its welcome so I will start with the jumpers.

Haydock

Races considered

Haydock 4.00 Fergal O’Brien trained his first winner the other day at Carlisle and he saddles Dammam here. This half brother to De Soto has good form in point to points and hunter chases, stays well, acts on the ground and will be partnered by Timmy Murphy. He should go well.

4.35 I had hopes that Moscow Chancer would pay his was this season but he was pulled up last week at Chepstow. I won’t give up on him just yet though.

Punchestown

Races considered

2.15 Nearest the Pin has impressed in his short career so far winning over hurdles at Fairyhouse in a race that has worked out well and finishing runner up at Punchestown in May. Ruby Walsh rides him for the first time.

2.45 A winner 4 times over hurdles Stonemaster has always looked a chaser in the making and was second on his debut over fences a couple of weeks ago.

5.30 Burn and Turn, a course and distance looks one to follow this season.

Kempton

Races considered

8.35 Basset Road has some miserable recent form but is coming down the weights as a result. The sort to sneak a win somewhere while no one is looking!

9.05 Peponi is still a maiden but two runs ago put in an encouraging effort when 4th at Sandown.

Musselburgh

Races considered

3.30 I have had Gordonsville down as a likely winner in one of these staying races but time is running out. He is not on a bad mark and is a course and distance winner , in fact he won this race in 2009 off a mark 1 lb higher.

PICT0074

Nottingham

Races considered

2.30 Loxton Lad has failed to live up to expectations and drops to a seller here.

3.05 Cameron Highland is a full brother to Field of Miracles and a half brother to Sour Mash. The latter horse has won twice in his career so far – at odds of 25/1 and 20/1!

Turf trivia

Jane Thorne was the second woman to ride a winner over fences. Earlier she had finished 2nd in the 1978 Whitbread Gold Cup riding her father’s horse Spartan Missile. Spartan Missile was later to finish 2nd to Alderniti in the Grand National of 1981.

Good luck