Irish Cavalier the value in bet365 Charlie Hall Chase

Irish Cavalier looks the value in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase by Oddsguru
– Since its inception in 1969, The Charlie Hall Chase boasts an impressive roll of honour which includes four individual Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, Captain Christie, Burrough Hill Lad, Forgive ‘n Forget, and See More Business, (twice). The latter in 2000 was the last of this elite band, and sad to say, with the withdrawal of the 2015 Gold Cup winner, Coneygree, from Saturday’s contest, the score must remain at four. With the benefit of their new state of the art, all weather gallop, the Bradstocks were hopeful of getting their Cheltenham hero, who was the first novice since Captain Christy in 1974 to win The Gold Cup, to the start, but the dry Autumn has defeated them and we must wait until Haydock in three weeks time to see the exciting Coneygree’s return to action.

The wonderful Cue Card had gone nearly two years without hitting the back of the net when coming home in front in last year’s renewal, comfortably beating Dynaste. He then went on to record three Grade1 victories and as a result will be carrying the maximum 10lbs penalty on Saturday, leaving him with rather more to do than last year, when un-penalised, he had only 11st in the plate. Carrying the maximum penalty has been a definite negative, with only two managing to do so in the last decade, and indeed last year, of the three carrying the maximum  impost, the best any of them could manage was 4th place. However following that unlucky fall in the Gold Cup, Cue Card was very impressive when beating Don Poli, Djakadam and Dynaste at Aintree, and probably had had enough for the season, when finishing 4th at Punchestown in April. The record of older horses is poor, and 10yo’s are 0 from 15 in the last ten years, and indeed only four have prevailed since 1981. However it will come as no great surprise if Colin Tizzard’s hero defies the stats.

Watch the 2015 Charlie Hall Chase here.

The Rebecca Curtis trained 7yo Irish Cavalier, finished off an otherwise disappointing campaign in great style when taking a highly competitive Punchestown handicap off a mark of 153, last April. Always going well throughout, he took it up after the second last and staying on really well won by 3 3/4L. He has never won beyond 21f but his very talented trainer, whose yard was under a cloud for most of last season, is hopeful that Saturday’s easy 3miles will be within his compass. With the stable in much better form now, plus the evidence of his 5th behind Don Cossack in The Gold Cup, and that strong finish at Punchestown, her optimism may prove well founded. He is the only runner in the field who has had the benefit of a recent run so is well worth considering.

It looks as if Virak will be the sole representative from the three times winning stable of Paul Nicholls and this 7yo will have to have improved a fair bit to figure, but coming from this yard  that is not impossible. A winner of 4 of his 13 chases, including at Grade2 level, he hasn’t scored since April 2015, and having been beaten by an aggregate of nearly 40 lengths in his last three races is hard to recommend.

Second to Cue Card last year, the 10yo Dynaste has been a big disappointment, and hasn’t won since his Grade1 victory at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival. However he has had a wind operation over the summer, and if this previously very talented animal turns up on Saturday (also engaged Ascot), would be worth a second look.

Kim Bailey who won this three years ago with the 6yo Henry Topper, runs his Grand National runner up, The Last Samurai. He has had nearly 7 months to recover from his Aintree exertions, and if fit, could have a say on Saturday. As the Bailey team are amongst the winners, and The Last Samurai can go well after a break, the omens look good. He certainly doesn’t need extreme distances to show his best as we saw at Kempton last December when he quickened impressively inside the last furlong to take a 3m Class2 chase, or indeed when winning the 26f Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster in March.

The Philip Hobbs trained Menorah won the 2014 renewal, and though now 11, showed there was plenty of life in the old dog yet when winning a Sandown handicap (22 1/2f) off a mark of 165 last April. He was beaten in his next two races both over further than 3m, and the reality is that he barely gets 24f. Indeed his only win from 11 attempts at the distance was when he won that 2014 renewal, and it’s not impossible, that back on this easy three miles, this grand type could repeat the dose on Saturday.

The second Hobbs runner, Sausalito Sunrise went down with all guns blazing in the big (29f) end of season chase at Sandown in April when gallantly failing to give 14lbs and 16lbs to The Young Master and Just a Par off a mark of 159. He is another who can go well after a break, but is probably more effective over further.

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies reports last season’s RSA hero Blaklion in fine fettle for his seasonal debut, and granted ground no faster than good is an intended runner. If turning up, this tough and talented 7yo could give the Naunton handler his 5th success in the race. Successful twice at Grade2 level over hurdles, despite a blip in his second chase, the next five outings over the larger obstacles have shown him to be a champion in the making. The scintillating win over Shaneshill and More of That in the RSA at the Festival was particularly  impressive. Already a course and distance winner at Wetherby he may prove too good for the older brigade at the weekend.

Selection: Irish Cavalier

Danger : Blaklion

Aidan O’Brien’s Yucatan For Racing Post Trophy Glory

Last week’s selection, Almanzor, proved himself the best 3yo around when winning last week’s Champion Stakes, probably the best race run anywhere on the planet this year. He is to be kept in training as a 4yo, and with that electrifying change of gear, may well go on to prove himself one of the all time greats.

This week’s contest was originally conceived of by the founder of the Timefom organisation, Phill Bull, and was first run as The Timeform Trophy in 1961. It continued in various guises until The Racing Post took over in 1989. Plenty of top class animals, such as Ribocco, Vaguely Noble, and High Top, came from the early days of the contest but it wasn’t until Refefence Point, in the hands of Pat Eddery scooted home by eight lengths in 1986 that we saw a future Derby winner. Four future winners of the Epsom Classic have prevailed since, with the Aidan O’Brien trained Camelot in 2011 the last. O’Brien, with 21 Grade1 victories to his credit already this year, is within touching distance of the great American trainer, Bobby Frankels, all time record of 25, so victory in this  Group1, which he has already won seven times, would be particularly sweet. He is most likely to be represented by three sons of the great Galileo, who has been so significant in the success of the Ballydoyle operation in recent years, and it’s difficult to choose between two of them.

Capri made his racecourse debut at the Curragh in July, and, easy to back in the market, finished second at 6/1. He made no mistake 2weeks later, taking an 8 1/2f Galway maiden, and only 7 days after that, easily won a 7 1/2f Tipperary listed affair. Stepped up to Group2 level at the Curragh next time, (1mile heavy Sept 25) he beat his two stable companions, Yucatan and Exemplar by 3/4L and the same, with the fourth horse 16L behind. Clearly the form looks pretty strong, but I just wonder if the runner up, (went off at 10/1 behind the strongly fancied winner, 8/11) is the one to take out of the race. Yucatan was a very late foal, (May 17) which actually makes him more than 3 months younger than his stable companion, and little was expected of him when making his racecourse debut, (August 7th) as he went off at 10/1. Again three weeks later, when a seemingly unfancied 4/1 shot behind his 7/4 stablemate, Taj Mahal, he won a Curragh mile maiden cleverly. His last run, in that Group 2 behind Capri at the Curragh, was another step forward, and this son of Galileo, whose dam, Six Perfection’s, won the 2003 Breeders Cup Mile, and whose own dam Yoga, was a half sister to the two times Breeders Cup Mile winner, the immortal Miesque, is clearly bred to be a champion, and it will come as no surprise if he improves past his talented stablemate.

Young handler, David Merusier, is beginning to make his presence felt in the training ranks, and has an interesting contender, Contrappasto, who showed promise when finishing second to Rivet in the Convivial Stakes at York on only his second outing. Described by his trainer as a “big baby” he ran green but once he got the hang of things ran on strongly to get within 3 1/4L of the Haggas horse. Given plenty of time by his talented trainer he showed the benefit when comfortably taking a Nottingham Maiden seven weeks later. Much more will be required at the weekend but this son of Cacique is clearly going the right way.

Contrappasto’s York conqueror, Rivet took a big step forward in his next race when winning the 7f Group2 Champagne Stakes over Saturday’s Course three weeks later, but then disappointed when only 5th in the 7f Dewhurst Stakes. By the Australian champion sprinter Fastnet Rock he may be best at distances short of a mile. However he is due to be ridden by Andrea Atzeni who has partnered the last three winners of the contest, for three different trainers, so who knows.

Brian Meehan runs his Sea The Stars colt, Raheen House, and this well bred animal, (dam is a half sister to the Queen Mary winner, and 1000gns third, Maqassid) is quietly progressive on the racecourse. Second in his first two races he won his last, a 1m York Maiden Auction in workmanlike style. Plenty of improvement is required but his able trainer won this in 2008 with Crowded House, so knows what is required. This well bred animal is on an upward trajectory and is worth considering.

Selection: Yucatan

E.W.     : Raheen House

Almanzor Primed For Qipco Champion Stakes Glory

Almanzor looks the one in Saturday’s Qipco Champion Stakes
– A race first run in 1877 in which, over the next one hundred and forty years, the classic generation have had more than their fair share of success, but since the race was transferred from headquarters to Ascot in 2011 no three year old has managed to get his head in front. Sir Michael Stoute with two winners, Pilsudski 1997, and Kalinisi in 2000, has been the most successful of Saturday’s trainers, but one name, most conspicuous by its absence from the roll of honour, is one, Aidan Patrick O’Brien. However the Ballydoyle maestro, with four entries at the time of writing is attempting to fill in this glaring gap in his amazing CV, and as his 1000gns and Oaks winner, Minding, is more likely to run in the Qipco Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes, his best chance would seem to lie with the “Arc” heroine of 13 days ago, Found. She was probably a little unlucky when finishing second in this to Fascinating Rock last year, but it is significant that she was again beaten, fair and square over 10f, in the Irish Champion Stakes by Almanzor, prior to that superb Arc victory, and it may be that she now needs a full 12f to show her best. Indeed the French race, which was run in a really fast time strongly played to her undoubted stamina. However she is a really tough animal, as she showed last year when, having finished second in this and the Arc, she went on to take the 12f Breeders Cup Turf only two weeks later, and as this is her time of year, her chance is certainly not easily dismissed.

The Dermot Weld trained Fascinating Rock won last year’s renewal by 1 1/4L and 1/2L from Found and Jack Hobbs, and indeed the score between the Weld 5yo and the filly stands at 2-1 in his favour, emphasizing what a top class animal the son of Fastnet Rock is. He is a big gross horse who needs to get his toe in and if he gets his conditions at the weekend he must have serious prospects of adding to his master trainer’s impressive Ascot record.

Having won his only 2yo race, and hacked up by 12L on his reappearance as a 3yo, Jack Hobbs looked like an animal going places, and so it proved, finishing second in the Derby and winning the Irish equivalent by 5L. Following that honorable third in last year’s Champion Stakes he was put away for the season and reappeared in a 12f Newmarket Group 2 in April where he was sent off the 8/15 fav. He was pulled up, and a stress fracture to his pelvis was diagnosed. His hugely talented handler John Gosden, was firmly of the opinion that the son of Halling was immature as a 3yo, and that he would be more the finished article with another year on his back, so obviously that Newmarket setback was a blow. However on the positive side, horses do make full recoveries from this particular injury, and as he is an animal who obviously goes well fresh, the enforced holiday could prove to have been a blessing in disguise.

Sir Michael Stoute attempts to add to his two previous successes with the very lightly raced 3yo son of Galileo, Midterm, and it would come as no surprise at all if this beautifully bred animal figured very prominently on Saturday. He is out of that marvellous mare Midday who won six Group 1s, including an unprecedented three timer in Goodwoods 10f Group1 Nassau stakes, in her fabulous racing career. An impressive winner of both 2yo starts, Midterm confirmed the promise shown, when winning a Sandown Group3 on his reappearance and was sent off a warm order for the Dante Stakes. Unfortunately he sustained an injury during the course of the race, but for which he may well have started favourite for the Derby itself. However he showed that no lasting damage had been caused when finishing a close second in a Chantilly Group2 four months later. This beautifully bred animal’s career has yet to seriously take off but Saturday could well see him in the departure lounge.

J.C. Rouget’s 3yo Colt Almanzor is a hugely progressive animal. He won the French Derby, (10 1/2f) as an unconsidered 20/1 shot at the beginning of June, and followed up with a comfortable win in a Deauville Group2 eleven weeks later. It was last time though, which showed what giant strides he had  taken, when he cruised to success in the highly competitive Irish Champion Stakes 33 days ago. Second last of the 12 runner field  at the two furlong marker, he was switched to the outer, and made rapid headway to get to the leader, Found, and effortlessly went past the filly inside the last 100yds. With strong reservations on breeding, (his sire Wotton Basset never won beyond 7f) he didn’t take up his engagement, in the Prix de L’Arc, quite rightly in my opinion. He should arrive at the start on Saturday a fresh animal, and is going to be hard to beat.

Selection: Almanzor

E.W.       : Midterm

Betfred Cesarewitch Handicap Tips


John Wootton: Racing on the Round Course at Newmarket c 1750

Betfred Cesarewitch Handicap 2m 2f Newmarket Saturday – The Cesarewitch isn’t the longest flat race in the Calendar but is certainly one of the most stamina sapping. Starting in Cambridgeshire, the 2m2f contest takes a sharp right hand turn, and the large field then has to endure a non-stop relentless gallop up the Rowley Mile, to finish in the neighbouring county of Suffolk. Faced with such a challenge it comes as no great surprise, that almost invariably, the winner boasts previous winning form at two miles on the Flat or over hurdles. Surprisingly for such a long race the draw has proved significant, with thirteen of the sixteen winners this century starting from a berth lower than nineteen. Another relevant statistic is that half the winners in the same period have come from yards predominantly National Hunt in character, a stat which makes David Pipe’s 5yo, Starchitect, of definite interest.

Pipe Junior has never won the race, (has gone close on two occasions) but his father Martin hit the back of the net twice, (Heros Fatal, 2000 and Miss Fara two years later) so they certainly know what is required down at Nicholashayne. Starchitect is a beautifully bred animal, by Sea the Stars out of a Sadlers Wells mare, and he is better known for his achievements as a hurdler. He came second in the hugely competitive Betfair Hurdle at Newbury in Febuary, and put up solid performances at both the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals. He demonstrated his stamina credentials for this when winning over 21f in his last outing over hurdles, earning the impressive NH rating of 150. He won the last of his five flat starts, a 14f Salisbury handicap in May, earning a rating of 89 and virtually assuring himself of a place in Saturday’s contest. In the light of his NH rating he looks really well treated, and it will come as no surprise to see him involved at the business end on Saturday.

Read the Oddsguru’s 2015 race preview.

Sir Mark Prescott’s 3yo colt St Michael, ran a fine race to finish 3rd in a truly run, 2m2f Doncaster Cup, twenty nine days ago, finishing 3rd, a nose and 2 1/4L behind Sheikzayedroad and Quest for More, and, as the latter won the Group1 Prix du Cadran at Chantilly last Saturday, the form looks pretty impressive. As St Michael stuck on well at Doncaster, and had won his two previous races authoritatively, with only 8st6lbs on his back at the weekend, he certainly looks well treated, and is a worthy favourite. However he does need four above him in the handicap to come out if he is to get a run, so a waiting brief is advised.

Horses who have performed well in The Cesarewitch often do so again, so connections of last year’s hero Grumeti, must be hoping that at least three above him drop out, and he gets a run. He hasn’t exactly been setting the world alight following last years triumph, but he has had a nice break since June and is only 1lb higher than last year. A repeat of last years 50/1 victory is not just a forlorn hope!

Tony Martin won this with Leg Spinner in 2007 and attempts to bring home the bacon for the second time with the very useful Pyromaniac. The 6yo looks well treated on a mark of 87, and he ran a sound race last time, going down by a neck to stable companion, Quick Jack over 14f at Leopardstown four weeks ago off the same mark.The question is will he stay, as he has been campaigned mostly at distances shorter than 2m. However he did win his only race over two miles, a highly competitive Curragh handicap back in May 2015, and more recently was seen finishing to some effect in a strongly run Killarney 17f handicap hurdle, to take third place. He has been finishing his races off well, and it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that his uber-shrewd handler thinks that his contender might well be suited by this step up in trip. Another for the shortlist!

David Simcock runs his strong stayer, The Cashel Man, and the 4yo gelding did his prospects no harm at all when coming home in second place in the trial for this three weeks ago, which was run over the course and distance. He was beaten 3L off Saturday’s mark of 89, but as the race was very steadily run, in a time more than 15 seconds slower than standard, and the horse suffered interference 4f out, he can only benefit from a much truer run contest at the weekend. Worth considering!

The 9yo Irish mare, Jennies Jewel has won three of her seven flat races, including this year’s Ascot Stakes over 20f at the Royal Meeting. She showed courage in abundance that day, making all, and holding on to deny Qewy by a neck. She was beaten early on in a heavy ground 2m Curragh handicap three weeks ago, but after more than three months off the racecourse she is easily excused. This admirable Grade3 winning chaser, and Grade1 placed hurdler, racing on Saturday off a mark only 5lbs higher than Royal Ascot, could make her presence felt, particularly if we get some rain.

Selection: Starchitect

E.W. : The Cashel Man