Monthly Archives: October 2014

Aintree & Chepstow Preview – 25th October 2014

With plenty of variety on show tomorrow with the National Hunt season beginning in earnest with two quality meetings from Aintree and Chepstow and the flat coming towards its end with the Group One Racing Post Trophy the feature from Doncaster plus some Group action from Newbury. This blog will concentrate on both Aintree and Chepstow with thoughts on the Channel 4 action below. I shall be in attendance at Aintree both days this weekend and am looking forward to being back there. As always, OnTheOtherHoof have their usual weekly preview with the whole panel back together tonight.

Earlier this week, myself, Luke, Calum and special guest George Gorman did our 2014-15 National Hunt preview with all of our horses to follow for the upcoming campaign.

Aintree

2:00 BETFRED TV HANDICAP HURDLE (CLASS 2) (4yo+ 0-150)  2m1f

An interesting handicap hurdle starts the card with some useful novices and juveniles from last season making their return to action. Garde La Victoire won the maiden hurdle on this card twelve months ago and showed a good level of form throughout the season including when second to Ballyalton in December at Cheltenham. He disappointed in the Tolworth behind Royal Boy before struggling in the Supreme when fourteenth behind Vautour. The season ended for him with a confidence boosting win at Taunton when stepping up in trip and a similar success at Cheltenham. He looks interesting off his handicap mark but the improvement came over two and a half miles last season so he can be opposed.

Wadswick Court looks appealing off his mark.
Wadswick Court looks appealing off his mark.

The other novice from last season WADSWICK COURT appeals here. He won two of his three starts over hurdles including at Huntingdon where he was keen early on before beating a fair field. His last start at Ascot he threw away after the fall at the last flight of Wilde Blue Yonder who looked an assured winner. He picked up those pieces however idled badly allowing Mountain King to get up. The better ground is a huge positive plus the yard of Charlie Longsdon is in excellent form.

The first two home in last season’s Fred Winter Hawk High and Katgary reoppose here. The runner up was one of the unluckier in running when hampered by the fall of Clarcam at the second last and the winner got first run on him. He then went off a short price over course and distance in the conditional jockeys handicap hurdle on Grand National day and travelled well before not picking up when sixth to Court Minstrel. He could be ahead of the handicapper but he may want further on a flat track.

Hawk High won the juvenile hurdle at this meeting twelve months ago before going on to better things which culminated in his big price win in the Fred Winter which he duly deserved after an excellent ride from Brian Hughes. He ran well enough in the Grade One juvenile over course and distance where a mistake two out ended any chance he had behind Guitar Pete. Better ground will help his chances here and being back in handicap company, he should be going close if ready. Broughton is the other juvenile from last season who was fancied to go well in the Triumph after winning nicely at Musselburgh beating Clarcam but was disappointing at both spring festivals. He is a watching brief tomorrow.

The 2012 Swinton Hurdle winner Red Merlin came back after two years off the track and ran a huge race at Uttoxeter off top weight in June when second giving the winner plenty of weight.  He looks vulnerable here against potential improvers. Cool Mcavity hasn’t gone on since his Punchestown win whilst Handazan and Eagle Rock don’t look good enough here.

Selection – Wadswick Court

 

3:00 BETFRED MONET´S GARDEN OLD ROAN CHASE (A Limited Handicap) (Grade 2) (CLASS 1) (4yo+) 2m4f

The race that features the name of three times winner Monet’s Garden, one of the finest jumpers of a fence we have seen in recent years who even beat the mighty Kauto Star in this race in 2007.  On paper, this year’s renewal looks fairly strong with the top weight Module having a BHA rating of 164. He brings a fairly solid look to the race with Graded form including a win in the Game Spirit (I refuse to use the actual name given on the day) at Newbury and a staying on third in the Queen Mother Champion Chase behind Sire De Grugy. His final start he was badly hampered by the fall of Hidden Cyclone and was pulled up sharply by Barry Geraghty. The return to this distance is a positive but he does have plenty of weight.

Uxizandre winning last time over course and distance and is taken to repeat that today.
Uxizandre winning last time over course and distance and is taken to repeat that today.

UXIZANDRE progressed a lot last season for Alan King under forceful tactics when putting up two excellent efforts at both Cheltenham and Aintree. The effort in the JLT surprised some however allowed to stride on unlike at Warwick the previous time; he put the field to the sword under a superb front running ride from Robert Thornton and was only denied late on by the forceful AP McCoy on Taquin Du Seuil. McCoy returned for Aintree where again he was given another fantastic ride with his jumping winning him the race against Oscar Whiskey. If allowed to use those tactics, he will be the one to beat tomorrow as he looks the horse to have the most potential going forward this season.

Rajdhani Express only had three starts last season with him meeting with a setback after his first run. His best run of the year was his third to Dynaste in the Ryanair but disappointed over course and distance in the Melling Chase behind Boston Bob. Potentially on a sharper track he wants three miles so can be overlooked. Rolling Aces put up a career best in the same race when second and with conditions to suit, he could run a big race although the yard’s horses have looked to need the run.

Conquisto, VIVA COLONIA, Mr Moonshine, Wishfull Thinking and Edgardo Sol represent last year’s form. Conquisto looks to be the one with the obvious chance however this does look a stronger race than twelve months ago. Viva Colonia’s best recent form is at this distance including when third last year and when second to Mr Moonshine at Musselburgh. He was travelling well enough in the Topham when he unseated Danny Cook at the fence before Becher’s and he looks overpriced with a run on the flat to blow away the cobwebs.

Mr Moonshine will probably find this a tad on the sharp side with other targets at this course awaiting him later in the campaign. Wishfull Thinking will probably need this run but looked for some of last year to have returned back to his old form when second here in December to Unioniste and winning off top weight at Cheltenham in January beating Double Ross. Edgardo Sol has changed stables to Emma Lavelle but still looks handicapped to the hilt.

Bold Sir Brian hasn’t been seen for a while but this looks to be a confidence booster with the horrific fall on 2013 Trials Day still fresh in the mind. Lucky William fell too early last time out to know how he would have fared against Sizing Europe and Kie’s jumping can leave a lot to be desired.

Selections – Uxizandre/Viva Colonia (E/W)

 

3:40 BETFRED MOBILE VETERANS´ HANDICAP CHASE (CLASS 2) (10yo+ 0-150) 3m1f

A small but select field go to post for the Veterans Chase which in recent years has been a fantastic initiative. If anyone asks me for a race that the Cheltenham Festival needs, it would be this. All five have claims here starting with Burton Port who looked for the majority of last season that he had lost his way but a good run at Newbury in a similar race showed the old fire was there. He then unseated at the second in the Grand National before travelling like the winner of the majority of the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown when outstayed by Hadrian’s Approach. He definitely goes in with a favourite’s chance.

Hey Big Spender was a huge eyecatcher in this race twelve months ago when travelling like the winner before blowing up. He followed that run with a win in the Rehearsal Chase and I fully expect tomorrow to be similar to last year’s run. The yard hasn’t fully hit their stride yet but the horses are running well without winning.

Lie Forrit will definitely appreciate this small field over fences after finding the Scottish National too much for him but should come on for the run. McMurrough ran well in a Veterans Chase back in Feburary at Doncaster behind Tranquil Sea but tends to need the run which leaves PIGEON ISLAND who comes into this fifteen pounds lower than when second to Jamsie Hall a year ago. He has been running well without winning and with Jamie Bargary taking ten off, he looks unbelievably well handicapped on the pick of his form.

Selection – Pigeon Island

 

4:50 TOTESPORT.MOBI NOVICES´ CHASE (CLASS 3) (4yo+) 2m4f

Timesremembered can make class show first time out over fences.
Timesremembered can make class show first time out over fences.

A fascinating novice chase with several nice novice hurdlers from last year making the transition to chasing. TIMESREMEMBERED looked a chaser through and through last season. He actually won on this day last year when dotting up in the Persian War beating Potters Cross by nine lengths before finishing placed behind Creepy at Cheltenham and Captain Cutter in the Challow at Newbury. He then went for the River Don at Doncaster and disappointed behind Urban Hymn when sixth on bad ground. The Coral Cup was decided as his Cheltenham target and he ran with great credit when sixth to Whisper only beaten five and a half lengths. He was the highest rated hurdler of these and has won a Point to Point so if he jumps round, he should be winning.

Horizontal Speed looks the main rival having won four of his starts over hurdles including a novice handicap over the fixed brush hurdles on his last start at Haydock. He should give the favourite most to think about. Sergeant Mattie’s jumping on debut at times was excellent however as the race progressed, he became sloppy and only just scraped home at Uttoxeter.

He will need to jump a lot better tomorrow if featuring plus gives weight away as does Wakanda who won a novice handicap chase on debut at Hexham but looks up against it here. Golden Hoof is another to have chasing experience having jumped well at Kempton before potentially being over the top at Uttoxeter.  Volcanic makes his UK chase debut after having experience in France and won easily at 1/9 last time at Cartmel over further. This does look a much stiffer task.

Selection – Timesremembered

 

Chepstow

2:25 TOTEPOOL SUPPORTING THE SPORT YOU LOVE NOVICES´ CHASE (CLASS 4) (4yo+) 3m

This looks one of the races of the day with the majority of the field holding solid claims. This could be one of those early season novice chases to follow as the season progresses. SAUSALITO SUNRISE has looked a thorough stayer over hurdles including when winning a handicap in desperate ground before Christmas at Haydock over three miles. He ran a respectable enough race in the Albert Bartlett when sixth to Very Wood before ending his season with two wins, the latter at Perth being impressive when disposing of Oscar Rock in taking style. Whenever trainer Phillip Hobbs has been asked about his stable stars, he has always mentions this horse without being prompted which indicates the regard he is held in.

Mosspark looked progressive throughout last season. He began his career when second to Grade One winner Annacotty in a Point to Point back in November 2012. He won three on the bounce over hurdles including the Sidney Banks at Huntingdon beating Spirit Of Shankly before finding the Albert Bartlett a culture shock to him. Like the favourite, he looks an exciting proposition to chasing and will win his fair share of races over the winter.

Sego Success was a horse who caught the eye at Haydock in the paddock looking as though he would make into a nice staying chaser in time. He didn’t handle the ground and can be forgiven that effort as it was barely raceable. Although he fell at Exeter, he was unlucky to as he was short of room at the second last and was staying on nicely at the time. He may not trouble the main pair in the market but looks a nice chasing recruit.

The same can be said about Minella On Line who looks to want at least three miles on a galloping track. He found the same distance around Kempton too sharp before winning at Chepstow over hurdles in March. Awaywiththegreys returns chasing after an unsuccessful attempt last time but has kept his form over hurdles whilst Leo Luna won’t like the ground and is on the small side which is a worry.

Selection – Sausalito Sunrise

 

3:35 TOTEPOOL PERSIAN WAR NOVICES´ HURDLE (Grade 2) (CLASS 1) (4yo+) 2m4f

All about SON DU BERLAIS here. One that made it into my second ten to follow list, he came over to England during the summer after a hugely impressive win at Auteuil in March before toying with a 125 rated horse in Val D’arc at Newton Abbot. Whilst Val D’arc hasn’t done much to deserve that rating, Son Du Berlais looked a class above and this galloping track will suit him far better than a tight track like Newton Abbot. A note of caution for anyone wishing to back him for any novice hurdle event at Cheltenham. This is his final start as a novice and his next start will be in open company.

The main challengers are headed by recent Cheltenham winner Vicente who had to battle to beat Present View. The main worry here is whether this race comes too quickly. One of the blog horses to follow Blaklion was withdrawn at the start on that occasion and whatever was troubling Jamie Moore seems to have been sorted. He is fitted with a first time hood here which seems an interesting move but tomorrow he is best watched. The one that will chase Son Du Berlais home is course and distance winner Relentless Dreamer who did it nicely plus gave the Uttoxeter bumper form with Relic Rock and Fletchers Flyer a boost.

Selections – Son Du Berlais / Son Du Berlais/Relentless Dreamer (F/C)

 

4:10 TOTEPOOLLIVEINFO.COM SILVER TROPHY HANDICAP HURDLE (Grade 3) (CLASS 1) (4yo+) 2m4f

The market seems to suggest that Regal Encore is a good thing tomorrow off his mark of 131 but so far over hurdles he hasn’t impressed including when getting turned over when 1/9f at Hexham and also on his two handicap starts when beaten in the Imperial Cup at Sandown and when eighth at Punchestown. The stable was reported to have a virus last season but even allowing for that, his jumping wasn’t the best at times and even if he is well handicapped he has to jump a lot better. With him in the race, if you don’t fancy him then you will get a much better price about other leading fancies.

Dr Richard Newland has listed one of my handicappers to follow BOONDOOMA as a horse to watch out for this season and it wasn’t hard to see why last time out over course and distance where he was hugely impressive beating Peckhamecho. He was raised twelve pounds for that but looks a horse on the upgrade and with his rider’s valuable five pound claim; he could still be well ahead of the handicapper.

Shelford won the first division of the novice hurdle two weeks ago beating Emerging Talent and connections wisely come here to exploit his handicap mark rather than go into Graded company. He has an obvious chance and should chase home Boondooma. Vieux Lion Rouge will love the ground but is one that would either bolt up by fifteen lengths or run a shocker and isn’t trusted after his previous experience in handicap company when running poorly when well fancied for the Martin Pipe at the Festival.

Aubusson will also enjoy underfoot conditions having won on New Year’s Day and Lizzie Kelly’s claim is a definite plus. Shammick Boy won this race twelve months ago off a five pound higher mark but this looks a stronger contest, L’Unique is a spring horse so will come on plenty for this and Closing Ceremony would appreciate further.

Selection – Boondooma

4:45 TOTEEXACTA PICK THE 1,2 HANDICAP CHASE (CLASS 2) (4yo+) 2m

Valdez winning at Doncaster beating Arnaud.
Valdez winning at Doncaster beating Arnaud.

Alan King has had an excellent start with his association with Tom Bellamy and even though he has top weight, VALDEZ looks the solid pick here. He boasts the best form in the race having finished a close fifth in the Arkle behind Western Warhorse and also goes well when fresh. He should have too much class for his opposition here.

Majala finally won again over fences last time out at Perth over two and a half miles so the drop back in trip is a big worry here. Grey Gold has been a fantastic servant to the Richard Lee stable and loves this ground. He is probably the main danger to Valdez. Umberto D’Olivate faces the toughest test of his career and will need to step up on previous form whilst Eastlake has Raymond O’Brien booked instead of the champ. He will probably need the run with other targets on the horizon as the year progresses.

Selection – Valdez

 

 

Cheltenham Showcase Review 2014

The Showcase meeting signals the return to Cheltenham for the National Hunt and the two days this year have thrown up some very promising horses going forward in the season. With there being more coverage to write about this week, the blog will mention the majority of the races ran over the two day fixture however particular contests will get more attention than others.

Before I go into full detail in the piece, OnTheOtherHoof’s annual season preview video will return on Monday at around 8pm. Follow the Twitter page (@OnTheOtherHoof) for details about the video where we will be joined by conditional jockey George Gorman who gave fantastic insight when on the video last year including the likes of Lord Windermere and Very Wood. We hope you can join us for it and if you have any questions/horses to follow then feel free to send them via Twitter or leave them in the comments box below.

Friday began with the two and a half mile novice hurdle which sadly lost some of its interest when Blaklion was withdrawn down at the start.  In the end, the prize went to Vicente who has had his own problems including a defibrillating heart. However, the result might have been different had Present View not made a significant error at the final flight having travelled supremely well throughout the contest.

Present View ran a cracker on comeback and the Paddy Power Gold Cup looks ideal.
Present View ran a cracker on comeback and the Paddy Power Gold Cup looks ideal.

The winner was muted as a possible for the Persian War next week where he will face Nicky Henderson’s potential smart hurdler Son Du Berlais. The runner up meanwhile has the Paddy Power Gold Cup as his aim and he did no harm to his chances for that race here and off his handicap mark of 144, he has to go in with a serious chance.

The second race on the card featured the return of several exciting horses who were making their chasing debuts in the likes of Un Ace, Chris Pea Green and Thomas Crapper who were all getting weight from recent Newton Abbot winner Court Minstrel. The race lost some of the intrigue when Un Ace put in an extra stride at the third and paid the penalty. Thankfully both horse and jockey got up none the worse.

At the business end of the race, Court Minstrel giving five pounds to both his main rivals won a shade cosily when sprinting up the hill to beat Chris Pea Green by two and three quarter lengths with only a neck to Thomas Crapper back in third. On the whole Court Minstrel handled Cheltenham’s fences really well for a horse that I hadn’t really considered a chaser and on good ground will pay his way but will definitely have a mid-season break due to the likely soft ground over the winter.

Runner up Chris Pea Green ran a lovely race for a beginner over fences. He jumped well mostly but a couple of sticky mistakes late on cost him any chance he would have had against the winner. He looks a type that could potentially improve up in trip as does Thomas Crapper who has excellent handicap hurdle form over two and a half miles having won twice last year and finishing second to Don Poli in the Martin Pipe at the Festival. A first fence blunder didn’t help his cause but he jumped much better after that and connections will be pleased with that.

To be perfectly honest, the Pertemps Qualifier which was won by Sybarite didn’t really have many taking eyecatchers apart from the second Henryville who has improved markedly over the summer for Harry Fry who was giving plenty of weight away to the winner.

The Romford Pele has improved almost two stone in the ratings since the application of blinkers at Worcester back in June and he continued his winning run with a strong display to see off Lamb Or Cod by six lengths. His jockey Barry Geraghty did have to get serious after some scrappy leaps at the fourth last and the third last but he fought tenaciously up the hill. The Hennessy Gold Cup was muted as a target after the race however off a mark in the 150’s, he may struggle against better handicapped horses.

Lamb Or Cod ran a fine race in defeat back up in distance but has been hammered for winning egg and spoon novice chases over the summer. He will do very well to be winning handicaps off his current mark whilst Definite Ruby ran a solid race back in third.

Highland Retreat will come on plenty for her return.
Highland Retreat will come on plenty for her return.

Whilst this could be considered a disappointing effort from the favourite Highland Retreat, there were many positives to take from her run. Considering all of her rivals will have had a fitness edge over her and on ground probably as quick as she would want it, she ran a lovely race for her first try over fences. On the whole she jumped beautifully and it was only after three out she showed the signs of tiredness. She will come on plenty for the run and on softer ground she will be a huge force to be reckoned with and is a horse that connections should have plenty of fun with over the winter months.

Commissioned became the first John Ferguson trained winner at Cheltenham when beating Aintree Champion Bumper winner Ballybolley in the two mile maiden hurdle. A good performer on the flat for Mark Johnston, he was a more than useful juvenile who ran well on all his starts without winning last year including when second in the Adonis behind Activial at Kempton and fourth in the Grade One at Aintree behind Guitar Pete. He was entitled on that form to win here but he did so in impressive fashion and hopefully the handicapper won’t take the win literally as he could be dangerous in big handicap hurdles on good ground.

Ballybolley showed a much improved effort from his first start at Perth having set the early pace before finding Commissioned too good. A step up in trip wouldn’t do him any harm and is another that could do well in handicap hurdles once getting a mark.

The final race also featured a trainer taking his first win at Prestbury Park in the shape of David Dennis when Roman Flight took the honours from Hammersly Lake and the enigmatic Vibrato Valtat. With a steady pace for most of the contest, the winner raced prominently and had to recover from a last flight error to take a deserved success having looked plenty high enough in the weights. Hammersly Lake has been off the track since falling at Ascot on his only start for Nicky Henderson last year and ran a fantastic race in defeat. Perhaps if the winner had drifted towards him, he would have fought back earlier and potentially won but he is a horse of promise.

Vibrato Valtat did his usual trick of travelling powerfully through the race and once it came to finding off the bridle in a battle, he shied away from it. He will be very difficult to win with this year. Mountain King was one who was inconvenienced by the early slow pace and pulled for a fair way. He looked the likely winner turning for home but probably needed the outing and is one for a big handicap when getting a stronger pace to aim at.

 

Saturday’s card looked to promise just as much as Friday’s and again, it didn’t disappoint. The day began with the three mile one and a half furlong novice hurdle in which Vivaldi Collonges was a warm order. He travelled for most of the contest like the best horse however In The Rough who had the benefit of several runs over the summer joined him on the run up the hill and benefitted from the lack of a recent run of his main rival to win for Jonjo O’Neill. Take nothing away from the winner who should make a nice chaser when the time comes for him to jump fences however Vivaldi Collonges will come on plenty for today’s effort and whatever he does this season, he looks an exciting prospect for Paul Nicholls.

John's Spirit looks a serious contender again for the Paddy Power after yesterday's win. Photo courtesy of Dan Heap.
John’s Spirit looks a serious contender again for the Paddy Power after yesterday’s win. Photo courtesy of Dan Heap.

O’Neill didn’t have to wait long to be back in the winners enclosure as John’s Spirit won the two and a half mile handicap chase for the second year in succession off a mark of 147 which is eighteen pounds higher than last year. It was a performance reminiscent of this race and the Paddy Power Gold Cup last year where he just travelled and jumped so well. Personally, I thought he was too high in the weights but there still looks improvement there and he will go again to the Paddy Power Gold Cup with an excellent chance. I also get the impression that he is more suited to the Old Course with his record reading 7111 compared to the New Course 654.

The runner up Persian Snow showed plenty of promise on his seasonal return and will definitely have his day in the sun somewhere this season. Ericht ran well too having been squeezed on the home bend but needs this type of ground to be effective. Astracad ran on again but is one that looks hard to place whilst Champion Court looked awkward when passing the stands with a circuit to go and kept jumping out to his right before folding tamely late on. Claret Cloak needs to brush up on his jumping and he was beat before the distance even came into consideration.

The four year old hurdle looked a cracker on paper with the Triumph Hurdle winner Tiger Roll reopposing the unlucky horse of the race Calipto. The outcome was the same with Tiger Roll coming out on top but the majority of the post-race talk was about the ride Sam Twiston-Davies gave Calipto and you can argue that he set the race up for Tiger Roll however I saw it in a different way. Paul Nicholls has stated that all of his runners will come on plenty for their first run and those that win are a bonus and secondly it was reported that Calipto had a breathing problem. In those circumstances you have to be pleased with the return by both horses with Tiger Roll showing tenacity to battle past Calipto.

Violet Dancer was a definite eyecatcher. Although he finished last, he wasn’t beaten around at all and will definitely have a say in big handicap hurdles throughout the season. He looks a similar type to Chris Pea Green and will improve as the season progresses.

The Showcase Trophy has become the Phillip Hobbs and The Brushmakers benefit race and for the fourth year in a row they won the race with Roalco Des Farges who was given a lovely patient ride by Tom O’Brien to see off the favourite and prominent racing Standing Ovation. The nine year old grey had disappointed on his last two starts at the back end of last year but yesterday confirmed the promise he showed when winning at Newbury back in March. He could return for the staying handicap at the Open meeting or could even be a Becher Chase candidate as Aintree would suit him well.

Standing Ovation ran a great race having been up with the pace throughout and whilst I had doubts about whether he had reached his peak in his handicap mark, he looks as though he could still improve this year and could go for a repeat success in the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton in two weeks’ time.

Golden Chieftain looks well treated again in the handicap.
Golden Chieftain looks well treated again by the handicapper.

Alfie Spinner is a consistent type in these races and a decent enough yardstick and he will pay his way in place money in similar races throughout the year. It was pleasing to see the old boy Chicago Grey run a really nice race on his return and he looks dangerously well handicapped on his best form. As does Golden Chieftain who travelled sweetly and looked the likely winner just after the third last before fitness told. He is only two pounds higher than when he won at the Festival in 2013 and it will be interesting to see where he goes next.

Ulzana’s Raid put up an excellent performance when winning the two mile five furlong handicap hurdle off top weight and did it nicely in the end for Alan King. He looks to have a bright future and could still be ahead of the handicapper.

Splash Of Ginge got off the mark at the second attempt in the two and a half mile novice chase when beating the even money favourite Ainsi Fideles. Splash Of Ginge jumped economically without being flash and looked to have come on plenty for his return at Perth. He could return next month to the Open meeting over the same distance (course being different today) against better opposition.

The card ended with the bumper which on paper looked a good race however the field was annihilated by Fairyhouse bumper winner Moon Racer who made most of the running and quickened away in such impressive fashion. The response on the home turn was immediate and he looks a hugely exciting talent. Arabic History looked in trouble at one stage before staying on up the hill to finish second whilst fancied runners How About It and Going For Gold both looked disappointing.

 

Horses to Follow

Present View – Obvious one but is one in most people’s shortlist for the Paddy Power Gold Cup.

Chris Pea Green – Will come on plenty for that chasing debut.

Highland Retreat – Softer ground and a stamina test will see her excel.

Hammersly Lake – Nice run back and could even go novice chasing after this.

Mountain King – A stronger pace will suit more and will come on for that effort.

Persian Snow – Is one to keep on the right side of.

Golden Chieftain – Looks dangerously well handicapped again.

Moon Racer – Very obvious but looks a smart prospect.

The blog will return next Sunday evening covering the jumps action from Aintree and Chepstow.

2014 QIPCO British Champions Day Preview

Tomorrow’s action represents a good mixture of one of the best days for both action on the flat and over jumps with Ascot’s QIPCO British Champions Day and Cheltenham’s second day of the Showcase meeting. Sadly at Ascot we are missing some of the stars of the season including the likes of Kingman, Australia and The Grey Gatsby for various reasons but the card certainly doesn’t lack in quality although the ground has been a big factor towards the entries. This blog will cover all the races at Ascot without mentioning Cheltenham however a lengthy review of both days of the Showcase meeting will be going up tomorrow night.

As usual, OnTheOtherHoof made a video with just myself and @calummadell as @Lukeelder13 was absent due to not eating up and @mytentoryours due to him being at Cheltenham.

 

1:45 Ascot – QIPCO BRITISH CHAMPIONS LONG DISTANCE CUP (Group 2) (CLASS 1) (3yo+) 2m

http://www.sportismadeforbetting.com/2014/10/champions-day-long-distance-cup.html

Like on Arc day for the Cadran, I wrote this piece for Scott Ferguson covering the race in thorough detail.

 

2:20 Ascot – QIPCO BRITISH CHAMPIONS SPRINT STAKES (Group 2) (CLASS 1) (3yo+) 6f

Whilst this race is missing Slade Power who is currently down in Australia ready to take on Lankan Rupee, the race still has a good outlook to it and soft ground horses dominate the market.

G Force winning the Sprint Cup. The ground is a slight concern.
G Force winning the Sprint Cup. The ground is a slight concern.

G Force has been a wonderful performer this year for David O’Meara and Middleham Park Racing having only cost 25,000 Guineas at the Horses in Training Sale last October. He finally gained a deserved Group One success having been hugely unlucky in the Nunthorpe and relishing the step up to six furlongs at Haydock on ground definitely on the softer side when beating Gordon Lord Byron. The concern tomorrow is whether he’ll handle this ground plus with Ascot being a stiff six furlongs but he is undoubtedly a worthy favourite.

Jack Dexter will appreciate the underfoot conditions.
Jack Dexter will appreciate the underfoot conditions.

Gordon Lord Byron is in excellent form with himself with yet anotherexcellent run in the Prix de la Foret behind Olympic Glory twelve days ago. He is one who won’t mind conditions and the distance should be his ideal but the selection is JACK DEXTER who has been out of sort for most of the year however his last run in the Ayr Gold Cup was a sign that he was coming back to himself. He was drawn on the wrong side and ran a blinder to finish eighth (Third of the far side group) on ground too lively for him. He gets his conditions and looks primed for a big run.

Both Viztoria and Maarek will both like the ground. The latter will need to start better than he did in the Abbaye twelve days ago whilst the former won at the Curragh beating stablemate Gathering Power who reopposes here. If either of those could win, it would cap a superb year for Edward Lynam who has dominated the sprinting scene with both Sole Power & Slade Power.

Of the rest, there are ground concerns for several including Gregorian, Tropics, Baccarat and Lucky Kristale. Alben Star is well worth a go at this level but whilst he will go on the ground, I doubt he will be as effective as others.

 

Selection – Jack Dexter

 

2:55 – Ascot QIPCO BRITISH CHAMPIONS FILLIES & MARES STAKES (Group 1) (CLASS 1) (3yo+) 1m4f

The race that caused a huge headache having fancied Vote Often to run well as she looked unexposed over the distance plus loves soft ground. Silk Sari couldn’t have been more impressive when annihilating her opposition in the Park Hill over a mile and six furlongs at Doncaster last month. The improvement looked to come from the step up in distance and the step back here plus the testing conditions are enough to put me off.

Silk Sari bolted up last time in the Park Hill. Ground is a major concern.
Silk Sari bolted up last time in the Park Hill. Ground is a major concern.

The form of the race at Yarmouth with Hadaatha and Albasharah has worked out really well with the former running a career best in the Prix de l’Opera when third behind We Are and the latter winning a Listed event easily last week at Newmarket. The ground is a huge concern for the pair of them however. Albasharah’s stablemate Tasaday won’t mind the ground but twelve furlongs will stretch her stamina.

Seal Of Approval winning this race twelve months ago
Seal Of Approval winning this race twelve months ago

SEAL OF APPROVAL won this last year and she finally gets these conditions again. Her comeback run was full of promise in the Yorkshire Cup behind Gospel Choir before racing lazily in the Lancashire Oaks behind Pomology. She showed a sign that she was coming back in the Park Hill behind Silk Sari and this ground will help her enormously. Cubanita is another who won’t mind the conditions as will Chicquita who looks to have had her problems ironed out. She has the best form in the race it’s just whether the exertions in the Arc have taken it out of her.

 

Selection – Seal Of Approval

 

3:30 Ascot – QUEEN ELIZABETH II STAKES SPONSORED BY QIPCO (British Champions Mile) (Group 1) (CLASS 1) (3yo+) 1m

Night Of Thunder can cement his status as a top miler today.
Night Of Thunder can cement his status as a top miler today.

The market suggests that the two three year old colts NIGHT OF THUNDER and Charm Spirit will fight out the finish and I side with the former. His win in the 2,000 Guineas which had Charm Spirit behind in fifth has been franked on so many occasions and that form looks rock solid. He had no chance against Kingman in the St James’s Palace with that rival’s supreme acceleration off a slow pace before clearly not seeing out ten furlongs in the Eclipse. The Moulin is a race he should have won as Ryan Moore mistook the winning post and only gave him his second tap with the whip on the line. Ground is absolutely no issue for him whereas Charm Spirit will have to prove he handles it tomorrow.

Tullius will love the ground and looks overpriced.
Tullius will love the ground and looks overpriced.

However the race definitely isn’t a two horse race. As much as Integral deserves plenty of respect, the ground is completely against her tomorrow and she will struggle. Custom Cut has been a model of consistency and deserves his go in Group One company. His Joel Stakes win was a career best and he will need another here but with the form he is in, he could easily make the places. TULLIUS has been running well all season without getting his head in front and looks a stonking each way bet. His best run was probably in the Queen Anne when staying on to finish fourth behind Toronado on ground that was probably too quick for him. The ground is fine for him tomorrow and a big run is expected.

Top Notch Tonto will adore the ground tomorrow and showed himself in good heart when narrowly touched off by Short Squeeze in a big handicap at York in August. Toormore and Captain Cat are two who want much better ground than this to be seen at their best. Kingsbarn has been out of form this year but his best run last season came in this race on similar ground. He could run into a place if at his best. The other two look out of their depth here.

 

Selections – Night Of Thunder/Tullius – E/W

 

4:05 – Ascot QIPCO CHAMPION STAKES (British Champions Middle Distance) (Group 1) (CLASS 1) (3yo+) 1m2f

No one would deserve to win more tomorrow than Cirrus Des Aigles and his trainer Corine Barande-Barbe.
No one would deserve to win more tomorrow than Cirrus Des Aigles and his trainer Corine Barande-Barbe.

The argument that we only see flat horses for a limited time can be blown out the water by the legend that is Cirrus Des Aigles who has looked this season to be in the form of his life. Three Group One wins in the space of five weeks showed that he is still a potent threat at the highest level and having won this race back in 2011, the apple of Corine Barande-Barbe’s eye is surely primed for another bold bid. After his Coronation Cup injury, some feared he wouldn’t return but he showed the old sparkle when winning the Prix Dollar before being disqualified for interference. As much as I would love him to win for connections, I don’t think he’s bombproof tomorrow.

Free Eagle is a horse that could be a potential superstar. His return to the racecourse last month was seriously impressive both on the eye and the clock, with his time over the same course and distance as the Irish Champion Stakes being quicker. The ground is a major concern plus the bounce factor has to be taken into account.

Noble Mission could steal this from the front under James Doyle.
Noble Mission could steal this from the front under James Doyle.

NOBLE MISSION has been a revitalised horse since the change in tactics allowing him to go forward in his races and he has struck an excellent relationship with James Doyle. The turning point was after his first start this year at Newbury in the John Porter where he hit the front and did his usual trick of stopping in front behind Cubanita. A change in tactics at Sandown however on softer ground did the trick when he thrashed Telescope in the Gordon Richards before confirming the form again at Chester in the Huxley Stakes.

He finally got his Group One success at the Curragh when beating Magician in the Tattersalls Gold Cup before being denied cruelly in the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud on the track by Spiritjim. He won the race though as Spiritjim was subsequently disqualified for a banned substance. Last time out he wasn’t able to dominate in Munich and was beaten by Lucky Lion. I think tomorrow he will get the chance to dominate and with James Doyle having a very good clock in his head, he could steal a few lengths which on the ground will be vital.

Ruler Of The World will definitely appreciate the softer ground after running a good race in the Arc on a surface that was probably a bit too quick for him. He ran a brilliant race in this behind Farhh last year and a reproduction of that will see him go close again. Pether’s Moon has surprised this season as he looked to hate soft ground in the Geoffrey Freer before winning in Turkey and last time out at Ascot on it. The drop in trip shouldn’t be an issue but will probably be outclassed.

Western Hymn will adore this ground and this is his trip so he could easily run into a place as could Sheikhzayedroad who has won his last three starts including the Grade One Woodbine International. Al Kazeem is another you cannot rule out completely but the worry is whether he is still up to Group One standard.

Selection – Noble Mission

 

4:45 – Ascot BALMORAL HANDICAP (Sponsored By Qipco) (CLASS 2) (3yo+) 1m

Chatez will adore the ground tomorrow and is well fancied to do so.
Chatez will adore the ground tomorrow and is well fancied to do so.

When looking at this race at the five day stage and with the amount of rain falling at Ascot, two jumped off the page in CHATEZ and LEVITATE who will both love the ground and it helps that they are both drawn low. The former won a handicap against his own age group at Haydock earlier in the year before running a nice race on ground too quick in the Britannia. This looks to have been the plan for a while and he goes with a winning chance. The latter also loves this type of ground and the former Lincoln winner has a similar chance tomorrow of winning.

The majority of these either won’t stay a mile (Heaven’s Guest and Hawkeyethenoo) or will hate the ground (Gabrial’s Kaka, Bronze Angel, Abseil, Fort Bastion, Belgian Bill and Jack’s Revenge) but one at a price is EMPIRE STORM who ran really well on his handicap debut over seven furlongs two weeks ago behind Intransigent and could be overpriced.

Selections – Chatez/Levitate RFC

Empire Storm E/W

 

 

11th October 2014 – Chepstow Review

There are no doubts now that the 2014/15 National Hunt season is beginning to get into full swing with today’s meeting at Chepstow the one that most enthusiasts look at as the proper return. Last year’s meeting had some bearing on the entire season with Balder Succes who went on from his chase winning debut to become the highest rated two mile novice chaser and Killala Quay who went onto Grade Two success at Sandown plus was fourth behind Faugheen in the Neptune at the Cheltenham Festival. At the end of each review, I shall put a list of horses that caught the eye for future reference.

With the return of the National Hunt, OnTheOtherHoof shall be doing our jumps season preview video next Monday night around 8pm so we hope you can join us and even send in your questions/horses to follow for the upcoming campaign. Keep an eye on our Twitter page (@OnTheOtherHoof) for details of the video.

The opener on the card was the juvenile hurdle in which champion trainer Paul Nicholls has a very good record with the likes of Far West, Domatline and Keltus all winning this race in recent years. He relied this year on the favourite Full Blast who was very disappointing after making an early mistake when fifth behind the Alan King trained Karezak.

The winner moved to King’s yard over the summer and with a tally of five second place finishes, he deserved to get off the mark however some of his leaps left something to be desired although given more time, he will definitely improve his technique. Softer ground also didn’t seem to impede him and it would be no surprise to see him out again quickly, potentially at Aintree’s Old Roan meeting in two weeks’ time. The runner up Golden Doyen will definitely be winning over the winter as he and the winner both pulled twenty two lengths clear of the third Russian Bolero, a winner on his only hurdles start at Plumpton.

Nicholls also had the second favourite of the day in Emerging Talent in the first division of the novice hurdle but he had to settle for the runner up spot behind Shelford who jumped better on the whole and fought all the way to the line. The winner was last seen finishing second to the useful Simply A Legend and could be one for early season handicap hurdles now having run three times. A mark in the mid 120’s wouldn’t be a completely harsh assessment. Emerging Talent looks already to need a fence with his hurdling technique looking very sketchy on occasions plus he didn’t help his chances early on by running far too freely but he looks to possess a fair amount of promise. There are races over hurdles to be won with him but his future lies over fences and he will be given plenty of time to mature.

The second division went the way of Relentless Dreamer for Barry Geraghty and Rebecca Curtis who provided a good boost to his Uttoxeter bumper with two highly regarded horses in Relic Rock and Fletchers Flyer. He jumped nicely in the main and has plenty of stamina in his pedigree which was suggested by the way he finished his race off today. He will probably stay at this distance before tackling further before the season is over whilst Bandit Country ran a race full of promise on debut without Richie McLernon having to get too serious and is one for handicaps later in the campaign.

Of the rest, Bincombe should come on for the run and will probably be seen back in handicap chases in the near future, Ruperra Tom shaped with much more promise than he did on hurdling debut at Chepstow eleven days ago and the favourite Truckers Steel is another chasing type who faded away after not being entirely foot perfect at some of the obstacles.

After some reversals earlier in the card, Southfield Theatre ensured Paul Nicholls left the Monmouthshire venue with a winner after a pleasing enough debut over fences in a race won in recent years by Cue Card, Fingal Bay and Balder Succes. His jumping mostly was sound but there were one or two niggly errors late on when he increased the tempo which could be a worry when he goes up in class but he will definitely come on plenty for the run with the Rising Stars Novices Chase at Wincanton in a couple of weeks an intended target.

The runner up Monkey Kingdom fits a similar mould to his stablemate The Romford Pele having jumped well enough on chase debut and looks the type to be winning some nice handicaps in the future. Broadway Buffalo made a shocking mistake at the second but to his credit jumped better as the race progressed. He will want at least three miles and softer ground to see him at his optimum whilst Prima Porta was unlucky to fall after over jumping at three out.

For write-up purposes, the four year old limited handicap hurdle has no use whatsoever for the form book as the start was a complete farce with nobody wanting to make the running. Full marks however must go to Harry Skelton on the top weight Bertimont for using his brain and poaching an unassailable lead at the beginning of the back straight to win eased down by sixteen lengths. Unfortunately for the horse, the handicapper will have to put him up so you have to hope common sense prevails and he doesn’t go up too much.

Whilst Skelton deserves praise for his quick thinking, his fellow riders which include senior jockeys in the weighing room were made to look complete and utter fools and it robbed the betting public of a proper race with one horse given an unbelievable advantage. The most surprising aspect of this was that the stewards didn’t even hold an inquiry into the race. I have a feeling it won’t be the last we have heard of this incident.

Doctor Richard Newland has a horse to be excited about apart from Pineau De Re in Boondooma who bolted up in the two and a half mile handicap hurdle under seven pound claimer Christopher Ward. He travelled easily throughout before sealing the race in decisive fashion. It will be interesting to see what the handicapper makes of this but he could be back at Chepstow for the Silver Trophy or he could go for the intermediate handicap hurdle at the Paddy Power meeting. Peckhamecho ran well back in second and would be interesting if he goes back chasing off a nice enough mark whilst Agreement was outrunning his odds before falling at the second last.

For hardcore jumps fans, the three mile handicap chase was the race of the day with many old timers returning yet again for another season and it was pleasing to see Victor’s Serenade back in the winners’ enclosure. He ran in this race two years ago where he travelled really well before making a shocking mistake five out and was pulled up instantly. Last season, his trainer Antony Honeyball’s yard was plagued with a virus so it should explain his poor run in the Classic Chase. He travelled well throughout the contest for Denis O’Regan and apart from making a slight error at both five out and the last, he stayed on stoutly to take a deserved win.

The runner up Monbeg Dude looked a completely different horse to the one we saw blundering his way round the same course when winning the Welsh National. Michael Scudamore and his team deserve plenty of credit for ironing out his jumping issues as today was probably his best round with him hunting round at the back before moving into contention. Although he is a strong stayer, the Grand National probably stretched him but he could easily make into a leading contender in the big staying chase at the Paddy Power meeting which he won two years ago and the Becher Chase as he looked to enjoy the National fences and whilst Paul Carberry suits this horse’s waiting tactics, Tom Scudamore has looked a very able substitute both times he has ridden him.

Handy Andy should be winning a race or two of this nature this season whilst Benbens is worth another go over three miles after a jolting mistake in the back straight before plugging on again. Highland Lodge in first time headgear looked very dangerous on the turn for home but didn’t pick up which is confusing as his best efforts seem to come when fresh.

The concluding bumper was won in taking style by the 100,000 Euro purchase Duke Des Champs who stuck his head down and battled tenaciously to fend off Herbert Park. The winner’s dam is a half-sister to dual Gold Cup placed Harbour Pilot and there looked plenty of promise today from this son of Robin Des Champs. Herbert Park showed plenty of promise and will be winning a bumper in the near future. The favourite Murphy’s Way will benefit from softer ground and when the time comes, a step up in distance whilst Salvator’s Legacy was certainly not disgraced back in fourth considering his bid odds.

 

Horses to take from today

Emerging Talent – Will be a long term plan but looks a very nice horse.

Bandit Country – When he gets a handicap mark, he will be very interesting.

Boondooma – Could be well ahead of the handicapper and has the potential to win some nice races this season.

Monbeg Dude – His jumping was spot on today and can easily bag another staying handicap chase.

2014 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Day Preview

Arc day is always a favourite of mine in the calendar and it deserves attention so a blog post shall suffice! To go with this post, we did a video just like last year covering the Group One action from Longchamp where we seemed to agree on a lot of things!

1:00 QNB PRIX DE L´ABBAYE DE LONGCHAMP (Group 1) (2yo+)  5f

We start the day with the roller coaster that is the Abbaye and in recent years the ground has been far too soft for SOLE POWER who finally gets his conditions and whilst he is clear favourite, he deserves to be. This has been his best season to date with wins in the Palace House, King’s Stand and the Nunthorpe before running well enough in the Sprint Cup when fourth to G-Force on ground softer than ideal and over six furlongs which will never see him at his best. He will get the lightning fast pace which he adores and as long as Richard Hughes isn’t looking for trouble in the traffic, he should win. He is also attempting to become the first horse since Dayjur in 1990 to complete the King’s Stand/Nunthorpe/Abbaye treble.

Sole Power winning the King's Stand this year under a confident Richard Hughes.
Sole Power winning the King’s Stand this year under a confident Richard Hughes.

Although I think Sole Power will win, it wouldn’t be fair to dismiss his opponents as several have finished close to him on more than one occasion. Stepper Point has been in the form of his life this season and has failed to run a bad race all year. He was second in both the King’s Stand and the Nunthorpe behind Sole Power before finally getting his head in front in a Group Three at the Curragh last time out. His draw of 14 is a concern though.

The draw is also a concern for the two year old Cotai Glory who blazed a trail at Doncaster before unseating George Baker in spectacular style just before the line in the Flying Childers. I was keen on Catcall at an each way price after his second in the race last year however he’s drawn in the car park in 19 and will need plenty of luck in running if he is to feature.

Those drawn low that are fancied include Take Cover and Rangali, two that I liked for the Nunthorpe. Take Cover gets his ground again after looking laboured at Newbury last time out behind the speedball that is Mecca’s Angel. The only concern for him is the amount of front runners that could take each other on here. Pace also comes from the likes of Hot Streak, Hamza and the other two year old Goken. Hot Streak will want a softer surface whilst Hamza will probably set the race up and Goken is drawn badly in 17.

Selection – Sole Power

 

1:35 TOTAL PRIX MARCEL BOUSSAC – CRITERIUM DES POULICHES (Group 1) (2yo Fillies) (Turf) 1m

The formline that looks the most noteworthy here is the Moyglare form with the second Lucida winning at Newmarket last week and Osaila winning yesterday’s Sales Race. However the pricing between Found and MALABAR is crazy considering how close they were back in third and fourth. The former won on debut nicely however the latter is preferred due to how overpriced she is and her form is standing up nicely. She was fourth to Cursory Glance in the Albany before breaking the track record on her next start at Ascot. She then won easily at Goodwood before her solid effort in Ireland and the step up to a mile will help.

Malabar breaking the track record at Ascot.
Malabar breaking the track record at Ascot.

Erveyda links with The Wow Signal who runs later on in the Lagadere and the step up in trip shouldn’t be a big issue for her. Jack Naylor has form with Agnes Stewart who has since gone on to win a Group Two at Doncaster. Shahah was a shock winner when winning last time out beating the expensive Al Naamah who runs for the same ownership Al Shaqab. Night Of Light looks a horse for next season being out of Sea The Stars but she could run well here.

 

Selection – Malabar

 

2:10 QATAR PRIX JEAN-LUC LAGARDERE (Grand Criterium) (Group 1) (2yo Colts & Fillies) (Turf) 7f

The Wow Signal winning the Coventry at Royal Ascot.
The Wow Signal winning the Coventry at Royal Ascot.

Another race where the foreign challenge look to have a strong hand with Group One winners THE WOW SIGNAL and Gleneagles. Preference is for the former as he remained unbeaten after a good win in the Prix Morny where he beat the speedball that is Hootenanny on very bad ground. Before that on quick ground at Royal Ascot in the Coventry, he was even more impressive coming from stall one in the centre of the track where the draw bias was towards the stands rail and the higher numbers plus the form of the race looks solid. The step up to seven furlongs should pose no issue to this son of Starspangledbanner and he could very easily make into a 2,000 Guineas contender next year.

Gleneagles hasn’t done much wrong himself with a win last time out in the National Stakes at the Curragh but his form isn’t as strong as The Wow Signal’s. Full Mast was given an clever front-running ride last time out by Thierry Thulliez where he beat Nucifera and TERRITORIES by dictating a steady pace over course and distance before kicking on and winning cosily. He won’t get his own way out in front and the latter mentioned looks overpriced.

When Full Mast kicked, he got outpaced before running on into third with Maxine Guyon not being overly hard on the horse. I think he will reverse the form with Nucifera and could easily grab a place. Of the rest Citron Spirit won well at Baden-Baden last time out but could be up against it here, War Envoy is an interesting second string for O’Brien with Ryan Moore booked and Aktabantay carries first time blinkers after his Solario Stakes success. Any rain for him wouldn’t be welcome.

Selections – The Wow Signal & Territories (E/W)

 

2:45 PRIX DE L´OPERA LONGINES (Group 1) (3yo+ Fillies & Mares) (Turf) 1m2f

Tarfasha winning last time out at the Curragh.
Tarfasha winning last time out at the Curragh.

This doesn’t look the strongest renewal of the Opera and I expect the three year olds to fight out the finish. We Are has been very unlucky this season having had two wins taken away from her due to an unsatisfactory dope test due to an ovarian cyst which was operated on.

She returned a few weeks ago where she was outpaced in a Listed race before staying on at the finish. That looked a good warm up for here and she should be going close however the Oaks runner up TARFASHA appeals most. She didn’t stay twelve furlongs in the Oaks and the drop back in distance to ten furlongs will be perfectly ideal for her. She won nicely beating Chicquita last time out and this looks a good opportunity for her to pick up a Group One.

Ribbons was a Group One winner last time out surprisingly in a Prix Jean Romanet after getting beat off a mark of 95. She probably wants a softer surface to feature more whilst Narniyn was a disappointing fourth and needs to bounce back. Sultanina ran well enough when probably not staying last time out in the Vermeille when fifth. The drop in distance will help and ground won’t be an issue.

Shamkala looked an exciting filly before the Diane where she was fourth to Avenir Certain but since has disappointed when behind Star Lahib. She will need to show her early season form to feature here. Hadaatha is a fascinating contender who will probably improve again next year if allowed to stay in training having only had three starts. German Derby winner Feodora wants twelve furlongs and softer ground and Crisolles will hopefully run well to give Avenir Certain a form boost before the Arc.

Selection – Tarfasha

 

3:30 QATAR PRIX DE L´ARC DE TRIOMPHE (Group 1) (3yo+ No Geldings) (Turf) 1m4f

Around two months ago, the appetite for the Arc was insatiable with plenty of lofty reputations ready to be placed on the line. Fast forward to now and we have the most wide open Arc in years. The absence of easy German Derby winner Sea The Moon and dual Derby winner Australia takes away some of the intrigue plus Taghrooda losing her unbeaten status in the Yorkshire Oaks after being found to be in season means at the time of writing, the race is 7/1 the field.

Taghrooda powering to victory in the Pretty Polly.
Taghrooda powering to victory in the Pretty Polly.

The place to start is with John Gosden’s filly who was so impressive in both the Oaks and again in the King George where she beat her elders in convincing style. The Yorkshire Oaks was a shock at the time when she was beaten but being in season plus the effects of a hard race in the King George may have left a mark. Her draw is a slight concern being in 15 although Treve came from the same stall last year and if Gosden can get more improvement from her then she must go close.

Ectot winning the Prix Niel.
Ectot winning the Prix Niel.

Ectot is the one near the head of the market that I just cannot have at all. Yes, he is a very strong traveller and his turn of foot to seal the Prix Niel was devastating however they went slow which suited him plus he stopped once he hit the front and I cannot recall an Arc winner who was delivered at the last possible moment to hit the front. It will be fascinating to see what his pacemaker Montviron does but he will need a masterclass ride from Gregory Benoist.

Avenir Certain winning the Prix de Diane.
Avenir Certain winning the Prix de Diane.

Benoist had a decision to make however Ectot’s trainer Elie Lallouche wanted him to choose his colt as he is the only rider to have ridden him on a racecourse. The horse Benoist turned down is the unbeaten three year old filly AVENIR CERTAIN who I think is the likely winner. She has stamina questions to answer but she has done absolutely nothing wrong so far and did the double in the French Guineas/Oaks. She won her prep race at Deauville easily beating stablemate Crisolles and is still going into the race underrated. The only possible negative could be the draw as she’s drawn right on the inside and could end up trapped on the fence.

Just A Way reigned supreme in the Dubai Duty Free. The distance a worry here.
Just A Way reigned supreme in the Dubai Duty Free. The distance a worry here.

The Japanese trio are headed by Just A Way who on figures is the best horse in the race. His Dubai Duty Free win at Meydan was stunning when he destroyed the field there before just getting up near the line on soft ground in the Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo. If the Arc was run over ten furlongs, then this would be a formality however twelve furlongs is the big concern. If he stays, he wins.

Harp Star should be unbeaten however she was given a poor ride when taken extremely wide and got going too late when second in the Japanese Oaks. She then beat Gold Star in the Sapporo Kinen over ten furlongs and she will definitely stay so she will be in the first three guaranteed a clear run. Gold Star looks a difficult ride especially as he got detached before staying on. He will appreciate the extra distance but he cannot get detached like he did last time out.

Treve hasn't gone on since her triumph in this race twelve months ago.
Treve hasn’t gone on since her triumph in this race twelve months ago.

Last year’s winner Treve hasn’t gone on since her unbelievable win where nothing went right and she slammed her rivals in such an impressive manner. She was given a hard enough race on return in the Ganay behind Cirrus Des Aigles before looking scratchy at Royal Ascot in the Prince of Wales when third behind The Fugue on rattling fast ground.  In saying that, she did break the track record albeit not winning so it was still an excellent performance however her run in the Vermeille, even though a preparation was still disappointing. The Treve of old would have picked those up and carried them across the line but she didn’t look the force of old and the ground is against her.

Al Shaqab’s final contender is Ruler Of The World and he could be the surprise of the race and one I’ve changed my mind about. Last year’s Derby winner was given a great front running ride by Frankie Dettori in the Prix Foy on Arc Trials day, he beat Flintshire in good style and with a potential question about the pace in the race, Dettori could sit handy on him and he has done that to great effect in the Arc before on Lammtarra in 1995 and Sakhee in 2001. This also looks to have been the plan this season compared to last year where he came here after a busier campaign, he definitely has place claims.

Aidan O’Brien saddles two other runners after Ruler Of The World in Tapestry and Chicquita. The former lowered the colours of Taghrooda in the Yorkshire Oaks when appreciating every yard of the trip. She was then stepped back to a mile on Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown and it was the wrong decision as she disappointed. She should run a big race but whether she’s good enough to win is another matter.

Chicquita winning last season's Irish Oaks.
Chicquita winning last season’s Irish Oaks.

Chicquita is a hugely difficult ride and famous for falling on her second start when crashing into the bush when having the race won at Saint-Cloud. She then went onto finish second to Treve in the Prix de Diane despite hanging all the way across the track and she did the exact same when winning the Irish Oaks. She ran well enough on her return behind Tarfasha without showing her wayward tendencies but that would still be a huge worry in the hustle and bustle of the Arc but she does has a lot of talent.

Kingston Hill won the St Leger last time out by showing his class but he has to contend with the draw in the car park in stall 20 where he will either be forced to drop in or go forward. He had a similar dilemma in the Derby and will need something similar to feature. Likewise Ivanhowe drawn next to him in 19 who won the Preis von Baden-Baden beating the now retired Sea The Moon by four lengths and on his day is a smart performer however he will struggle to win from there.

Flintshire could outrun his odds on his favoured good ground.
Flintshire could outrun his odds on his favoured good ground.

Flintshire looks the forgotten horse of the race. He gets the good ground that he loves and will be primed by the master that is Andre Fabre after his second in the Prix Foy. He also ran well earlier in the season in the Coronation Cup behind Cirrus Des Aigles before a below par effort behind Spiritjim (subsequently disqualified) in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud but the ground was against him that day. He missed the King George due to an infection and he will be trained to the minute and he is a big price.

Dolniya was an improving filly but looked one paced last time in the Vermeille behind Baltic Baroness but she is a three year old filly and they have an excellent record in the race. Prince Gibraltar is interesting in the first time visor but he looked a difficult character last time out whilst the rest aren’t good enough.

1) Avenir Certain

2) Flintshire

3) Harp Star

 

 

4:50 QATAR PRIX DE LA FORET (Group 1) (3yo+) (Turf) 7f

A good renewal of the Foret however I don’t expect a performance like we saw from Moonlight Cloud who went through the gears like a Formula One car would in a spellbinding performance. Like last year, Freddy Head does have a well fancied runner in Anodin who has been a hugely likeable performer this season with placed efforts in Group Ones over nine furlongs behind Cirrus Des Aigles in the Prix d’Ispahan, over a mile behind Toronado in the Queen Anne and Kingman in the Jacques le Marois. This feels similar to the same to Goldikova as she used to use this as a preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Mile and this could be on the sharp side for him.

The same could be said for KARAKONTIE who hasn’t been seen since not staying ten furlongs in the Prix du Jockey Club. Given a break to freshen up, this French 2,000 Guineas winner comes into this with an excellent chance; it’s just whether he is fully ready or not.

Karakontie beating Noohzoh Canarias in last season's Lagardere.
Karakontie beating Noohzoh Canarias in last season’s Lagardere.

Olympic Glory has several negatives. He is drawn badly and although he won the Lagadere over course and distance as a two year old, his best form has come on a straight track as since that win, he has disappointed all three times he has returned to Longchamp. Gordon Lord Byron has ran well here the last two years including when he won the race back in 2012. He should give another good account.

Garswood was third in the race last year and didn’t go on from that until last time out when he won the Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville. He will need a career best to win here. Fiesolana won the Matron last time beating Rizeena but the drop back to seven furlongs would be a slight concern.

Ansgar benefitted from a brilliant front running ride in the Park Stakes from James Doyle however the worry here is that with a good amount of front runners, he may struggle to get his own way out in front with the likes of Noohzoh Canarias and That Is The Spirit likely front runners. Aljamaaheer has been the bridesmaid yet again this season in the sprinting division and was second to Ansgar at Doncaster. He gets his ground but is drawn out wide in 14.

Noohzoh Canarias is another who finally gets his ground after laboured effort on softer ground the last twice. If he returns to his 2,000 Guineas form then he could make 25/1 look a silly price.

Selection – Karakonite

 

Cadran piece I wrote here – http://www.sportismadeforbetting.com/2014/10/prix-du-cadran-preview.html

 

Thank you for reading and the very best of luck to you!