Becher Handicap Chase Betting Tips

 

Horse Racing - Fantastic Friday Raceday - Newbury Racecourse

Alan King’s Ziga Boy gets the Oddsguru’s vote for Saturday’s Becher Chase

Betfred Becher Handicap Chase 3m2f Aintree Saturday – The two stand out statistics for Saturday’s contest have to be that the last seventeen winners were rated under 149, and the last six to pass the post in front, were rated lower than 138, emphasising, that both The Last Samuri (159), and Vicompte Du Noyer (154) have a mountain to climb at the weekend. Age has been no bar to success with the race going to an animal aged 11 or older six times, since its inception in 1992. Indeed, both Oscar Time, and Hello Bud, (for his second win) were teenagers when collecting. Nigel Twiston-Davies has been the most successful trainer with five victories, followed by Paul Nicholls with three. Apart from two wins by the late lamented Dessie Hughes, Black Apalaci (2008), and Vic Venturi (2009), Irish stables have drawn a blank but, they mount a serious challenge for this year’s renewal, not least with the Eric Mc Namara trained 9yo Dare To Endeavour.

He was beaten 2 1/4L in last year’s contest by Highland Lodge, and meets him on 4lbs better terms on Saturday. He further demonstrated his aptitude for the Aintree Spruce, when completing in the Topham Trophy in April, and having pleased his trainer with a decent run in a Limerick 3m chase eight weeks ago, he comes here with plenty of stable confidence behind him, particularly if it comes up soft.

The 8yo Ucello Conti was trained in France until joining the Elliott Academy at the end of last year. He had won eight of his thirteen starts across the channel, including a 3yo chase at Auteil, but was never tried beyond 21f. Shrewd trainer that Gordon Elliott is, he recognised the animal as a stayer, and he duly ran a very solid race in his first attempt at a trip, when finishing third in the 25f Thyestes Chase last January, in bog like conditions. He was sent off a 25/1 shot for the Grand National next time out, and demonstrated that the Aintree obstacles held no fears for him when, he ran a great race to finish 6th off a mark of 149. Retired for the season, he had a nice pipe opener over hurdles at Navan twenty days ago. He doesn’t look badly treated on a mark of 148, and coming from this yard, which can do no wrong at the moment, looks worthy of his prominent position in the market.

Fergal O’Briens tough staying veteran, the 11yo Alvarado, has been placed twice in the National, and, having run another fine race in the Scottish equivalent last April, where he finished 2nd, off a mark of 135, upped stumps for the season.

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Fergal O’Brien’s teak tough Alvarado also has a strong chance in Saturday’s race

He made a highly satisfactory reappearance behind Saturday’s opponent, Viconte Du Noyer at Cheltenham three weeks ago, where, having lost his place at the 15th fence, ran on well from the 3rd last to finish 6th, 7L behind the Tizzard horse. He meets Viconte Du Noyer on 10lbs better terms at the weekend and with only 10st2lbs in the plate is another to make plenty of appeal.

 

Mouse Morris runs his Irish Grand National winner Rogue Angel and the 8yo looks realistically treated on a mark of 145, 7lbs higher than for his hard fought Fairyhouse victory. Thought to have needed his two outings this season, in the Munster and Cork Nationals, Morris, the hugely talented trainer of this year’s Grand National winner, Rule The World, is quite bullish about the chances of Rogue Angel, expecting “great improvement” from his last run.

It is 15 years since the legendary Ginger McCain won this with subsequent Aintree Hero Amberleigh House, and I’m sure son Donald would love to emulate his dad, by winning this with the 7yo Knock House, for one of his most loyal supporters, Tim Leslie.

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The great Ginger McCain’s son Donald saddles Knock House

He ran a very promising race at the Cheltenham Festival, where, despite being badly hampered at the 13th fence, rallied to finish 4th in a field of 22 runners, off a mark of 144. He disappointed 3weeks later and was retired for the season. He makes his reappearance on Saturday off a generous looking mark of 141 giving him a racing weight of 10st8lbs and as he can go well fresh is another to consider.

 

Read the Oddsguru’s 2015 Becher Handicap Chase preview.

Alan King runs Ziga Boy, and as he has won in December for the last two years, this certainly looks like his time of year. Having won last December off a mark of 117, he put up a real eye catching performance off a 16lbs higher mark next time, when winning a Class1 Doncaster handicap by 3 1/4L and 1/2L from the useful pair Coologue and Buywise at the end of January. He disappointed in his two following runs, both at Kempton, and was put away until reappearing in a 3m Bangor handicap chase 24 days ago. Needing the race, he finished a respectable 5th off a mark of 138 and lines up on Saturday on a 1lb lower mark. Having won this with West End Rocker in 2011, King knows what is required, and it will come as no surprise to see this good jumper, (has never fallen) involved at the business end.

Selection : Ziga Boy

E.W.       : Alvarado

Hennessy Gold Cup Betting Tips 2016

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A potent force over the larger obstacles Un Temps Pour Tout has a strong chance in the Hennessy writes the Oddsguru

Hennessy Gold Cup Chase (Handicap) 3m2f Newbury Saturday – First run in 1957, the race has been won by some of the greats of the Winter Game, including Arkle, (twice) Burrough Hill Lad, and more recently Denman, (twice). With eight individual Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, and many more outstanding chasers, on the roll of honour, it is advisable to look for a young horse, on the upgrade, who has performed at a high class level in its first season over fences.

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The great Arkle claimed two Hennessys: in 1964 and again in 1965.

Older animals have a particularly poor record in the race, and we have to go back to 1981 to find a winner older than nine. (Doesn’t bode well for 10yo Double Ross). With three winners apiece, training honours are shared by Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls and both are again represented by highly creditable candidates. A man who has never won the race, but did train last year’s runner up, Theatre Guide, is the amazing Colin Tizzard and his upwardly mobile 6yo, Native River heads the market.

A thoroughly genuine type, as his record of six wins and six places from his fifteen starts bears eloquent testament to, he ran his usual solid race on his reappearance in a 3m Wetherby Hurdle four weeks ago. Having his first run for nearly seven months he stayed on strongly to finish 2 3/4L second to Silsol, with the very useful Lil Rockerfeller 1/2L back in third. Second in the 4m National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, he won the 25f Grade1 Novices Chase at Aintree 24 days later under a great ride from Richard Johnson. He won by 3L and 3 3/4L from Henri Parry Morgan and Blaklion, and with the same man doing the steering on Saturday, the Tizzard horse looks a worthy favourite. A definite reservation would be heavy ground as he had no answer to Blaklion in those conditions at Wetherby in February.

The latter’s trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, I’m sure would be more than happy to see the heavens open, as his Cheltenham RSA winner handles heavy conditions better than most. Not that the talented 7yo needs such conditions as we saw in that epic performance at the festival, when he outbattled Shaneshill on good ground. Blaklion made a perfectly satisfactory reappearance in the “Charlie Hall” four weeks ago, finishing 4th, and while he does seem to have some leeway to make up with Native River on Aintree form, I suspect that the Twiston-Davies horse found that race coming too soon after his Cheltenham exertions. Given soft ground I can see This relentless galloper making a big impression.

The Paul Nicholls trained 7yo Saphir Du Rheu was sent off favourite for last years renewal, racing off a mark of 163, but didn’t seem to quite get home, and finished 5th, beaten 22L. It was a similar story for the rest of the season, seeming to struggle in the closing stages of his races, but there were signs of a revival at Ascot last time on his reappearance after a five months break. At the Berkshire venue, four weeks ago, he responded well to pressure from three out, and staying on strongly, nearly snatched second on the line in what was a strongly run race. If his problems are indeed behind him, he looks nicely treated on a mark 9lbs lower than last year, and could provide the Ditcheat handler with a fourth success.

Smad Place put up a sparkling performance last year, when, jumping like a stag, he came home 12L clear of his field off a mark of 155 to leave Oddsguru readers celebrating.

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Could the galloping grey stage a repeat of last year’s success?

Taking it up at the 10th fence, he was never headed afterwards, and went into many notebooks as a Gold Cup possible. However, after coming home in front, in what was a real slog in the Cheltenham mud in January, he disappointed in the Gold Cup, and may well have been feeling the effects of that attritional January contest. Retired for the season he made a satisfactory reappearance at Aintree 34days ago, finishing 4th, over an inadequate 20f. As the great Arkle, over fifty years ago, was the last horse to win back to back Hennessys, Smad Place with top weight,  clearly has his work cut out on Saturday, but it’s just possible that we have yet to see the best of Alan King’s charge, and it would be great to see the galloping grey do a repeat.

The prize has gone back to the Nicolashane yard on four occasions, (three for Martin and one for David) and there must be plenty of optimism down Somerset way that the talented 7yo, Un Temps Pour Tout can bring home a fifth. A top class staying hurdler in France, winner of a Grade1 3m1 1/2f contest on very soft at Auteil in June 2015, he showed that he was going to be an equally potent force over the larger obstacles, when winning easily at the Cheltenham Festival, off a mark of 148, on only his fourth run over fences. He had the very useful Holywell 7L back in second,and the Young Master a further 9L back in third in the twenty three runner contest. He was found to be lame behind, when finishing 4th in Native River’s Aintree race three weeks later, but demonstrated his wellbeing when taking an Aintree Hurdle on his reappearance twenty one days ago. This very progressive animal handles any ground and is particularly well suited by soft so has to be on the shortlist to give the Pipe yard a fifth success.

Peter Bowen’s 8yo, Henri Parry Morgan was a useful staying hurdler, achieving a rating of 129, but has really come into his own since tackling the larger obstacles, and is now rated 150 in that discipline. Mind you, both initial attempts over fences were less than promising, finishing last at Bangor, and unseating over course and distance last December. However next time, equipped with a tongue tie, he showed what he could do, storming home from the subsequent winner, Bear Rails in a Chepstow Class 3 handicap. Raised 13lbs for a Uttoxeter Class2 three weeks later, he repeated the dose, coming home 15L clear of Delgany Demon. Upped to Grade1 level, in Native River’s Aintree race he was beaten 3L but reopposes on 5lbs better terms at the weekend. Having travelled well, he unseated at the 19th when favourite for the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April and was put away for the season. This 8yo is bred to stay “forever”(by Brian Boru, out of an Over the River mare) so if conditions are testing on Saturday, would be worth considering.

Selection: Un Temps Pour Tout.
E.W.       : Blaklion.

Betfair Exchange “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle Tips

Horse Racing - The Open 2014 - The Paddy Power Gold Cup Day - Cheltenham Racecourse
Betfair Exchange “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle 2m7f Haydock Saturday – The race features the use of fixed brush hurdles which are based on the French Hurdle design, and are comparable to a lower version of our standard plain fence. Unlike the traditional Hurdle they are of a rigid construction, and as they are much less forgiving,  need plenty of respect. Considering the Gallic origin of the hurdles, it is not surprising that young French Breds, who are schooled over these obstacles from the cradle, have such a good record in the contest. Indeed six of the eleven winners since it’s inception in 2005 were born the other side of the English Channel. No animal older than seven has won in its eleven year history, with five 5yo’s, three 6yo’s and three 7yo’s sharing the spoils. It has proved a stepping stone to greater things for some outstanding chasers including Holywell, Dynaste, and Gold Cup Hero, Synchronised.

Last year’s impressive winner, the ill fated 5yo Irish bred, Baradari, won for the Skelton yard, and they field two very promising types, both born in the Emerald Isle, for this year’s renewal. Born Survivor, a son of Kings Theatre, out of a Bob Back mare is definitely bred with the larger obstacles in mind, but that hasn’t stopped him winning two of his four hurdles starts, and running a race full of promise last time. Having his first start for nearly eight months at Aintree 27 days ago he ran well to finish second (2m4f Good) off a mark of 139. Both his victories have come on slow ground so with plenty of rain about this future 3m+ chaser should be in his element, and off a mark of 141 has to be considered.

The second Skelton runner, Two Taffs, is an Irish bred 6yo, and he also looks a likely type. A winner of his last two Hurdle races, this animal is also bred to be a 3mile chaser, (by Flemensfirth out of a Saddlers Hall mare) but did have the pace to win a 2m1/2f Market Rasen Bumper as a 5yo. He had an easy task last time, when on his first outing for six months, he trotted up in a 2 1/2m Carlisle Novices Hurdle twenty days ago which should have put him spot on for Saturday. He looks bound to be suited by the step up in trip at the weekend and with only 10st11lbs on his back Harry Skelton has a very tricky choice to make between the two contenders.

Unowhatimeanharry is attempting to become the first 8yo to land the spoils, and he certainly has plenty to recommend him. He won the 3m Albert Bartlett handicap at the Cheltenham Festival off a mark of 152 last time out, and amazingly, for a Festival winner, is now set to race off a 3lbs lower mark. The 8yo didn’t join the Fry Academy until last year, and prior to that had managed to win only one, (a Fontwell bumper in 2013) of his thirteen starts. Since coming under the tutelage of master trainer Fry, he remains unbeaten, winning all of his five starts, culminating in that Cheltenham victory. He handles most ground, can go well fresh and in the hands of his excellent handler could make it six from six.

Despite gaining a couple of places from only seven runners over the last decade, the race has eluded the master of Ditcheat, but Mr Nicholls, with three strong looking contenders this year, seems determined to correct this gap in his C.V. His 7yo French bred, Caid Du Berlais, seemed to improve for the step up to 3m 1/2f at Aintree two weeks ago. Ridden by the very promising 5lbs claimer, Stan Shepard, he won a Class2 Handicap with consummate ease off a mark of 140 and an eight pounds rise looks very fair. He has won a couple of races over fences so Saturday’s obstacles shouldn’t be a problem and with young Stan taking 5lbs off again, giving him a racing weight of 11st2lbs has to be on the shortlist.

Nicholls second runner, Ibis Du Rheu, as a 5yo French bred, who has won over similar obstacles in the land of his birth as a 3yo, has plenty to recommend him on the stats, and he also showed what a talented horse he is when winning the “Martin Pipe” at the Festival in the hands of Saturday’s pilot, the 5lbs claimer Jack Sherwood off a mark of 139. He doesn’t look badly treated on a 7lbs higher mark here and Sherwood’s claim will be useful, but there must be a slight doubt about the trip and he hasn’t been seen since finishing well down the field at Aintree in April.

The Nicholls third runner, another 5yo French bred, Mr Mix, has had a pipe opener, and if it came up very soft would be of definite interest. He was sent off the 4/1 fav over 2 1/2m off a mark of 138 at Chepstow six weeks ago and as it was a first run since March it was a satisfactory effort, beaten only 2L in fifth. Bound to improve for the race and the step up in trip at the weekend he looks well treated on 139. Mr Mix has won on heavy ground so if the heavens do open he is going to look a very definite possible with just 10st9lbs, (including Harry Cobdens claim) on his back.

Selection: Caid Du Berlais

E.W.      : Mr Mix

More Of That For BetVictor Gold Cup Success

more-of-that-for-betvictor-gold-cup-success-1BetVictor Gold Cup looks good for More Of That by Oddsguru – Since the original sponsors, Mackeson, gave up their thirty five year association with the race in 1995, the contest has had numerous backers, and this year’s renewal will see it run under yet another banner, with the BetVictor organisation putting up the cash. Always run at a cracking pace, the race has seen plenty of top notch handicappers in the winners enclosure, but only one, Imperial Commander in 2008, has gone on to win the Gold Cup itself. It has been a race for the younger horse, with only three animals older than nine collecting in it’s entire fifty five year history, and indeed, only three horses older than seven have won since 2000. Only two horses have won back to back contests, Half Free, trained by the great Fred Winter in 1984-1985, and Bradbury Star, trained by Josh Gifford in 1993-1994. The former carried the same weight for his repeat victory, and Bradbury Star had only 3lbs more in the plate for his, so last year’s hero, Annacotty, faces a major task off a 9lbs higher mark, if he is to join this exclusive club.

The Alan King trained 8yo only ran three more times last season, winning once, again over the course in January, and was well beaten in his last race, finishing 43L behind Vautour at the Festival. However he clearly goes well at the course, is at his best when fresh, and following a successful hobday operation, his excellent trainer is hopeful that he has made the necessary progress to defy Saturday’s new mark of 156.

more-of-that-for-betvictor-gold-cup-successPaul Nicholls has won two of the last four renewals, and is mob handed, seeking a third. Cases can be made for all four of his runners, but undoubtedly the 4yo Frodon is of particular interest as it is unprecedented for a horse of his age to participate. This ex French gelding has contested four chases, the first of them as a three year old at Auteil where he finished fourth of nine. He did win over hurdles at Auteil before joining the Ditcheat team, where, despite a win at Haydock last February, he has struggled over the smaller obstacles. However he has really come into his own since tackling fences, winning all three contested chases, last time quite impressively, a Grade2 novice chase at Wincanton seven days ago, where spring heeled at the obstacles, he came home in front in a good time. There is some uncertainty as to how he will react to the entirely different ball game of racing against twenty seasoned handicappers travelling with the choke out over Cheltenham’s tricky circuit, (he was well beaten in large fields at both the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals over hurdles) but it’s worth remembering that these French breds are taught to jump from the cradle, and if Mr Nicholls thinks he’s ready for Saturday’s test we should take note.

Tom George, who is having such a good season runs Double Shuffle, and this 6yo made an eye catching reappearance thirty four days ago. Racing off a mark of 140, and ridden for the first time by new stable jockey A. Heskins, he was having his first run for nearly six months, and looked badly outpaced until three out, where, taking hold of the bit, he ran on strongly, and only just failed to catch the winner, Art Mauresque, by a fast diminishing head. He has run well on all three previous visits to Cheltenham but didn’t seem to be quite getting home. That run at Chepstow strongly suggests that a lack of stamina has not been the problem and it may be that new man Heskins has found the key to him. Well worth considering!

Jonjo O’Neill has won the race twice and has two live contenders on Saturday, More of That and Taquin Du Seuil. The former won the 2014 World Hurdle, and following an enforced holiday, launched his chasing career at this meeting last year, where he comfortably beat Saturday’s opponent, As de Mee, over course and distance. He won again over the course four weeks later, and might well have remained unbeaten over fences, (and on the course) but for breaking a blood vessel in the RSA chase where he finished third. O’Neill considers him the best he has trained, and entertains strong hopes of winning the Gold Cup itself in March with this hugely talented animal, so you would have to give the 8yo, who goes well after a break, and racing off a mark of 154 a great chance at the weekend.

His other runner, Taquin Du Seuil is no back number either as he is twice a course winner, including at Grade1 level, and is ideally suited by Saturday’s trip. He ran a perfectly satisfactory trial for this when finishing less than 3L back in 6th, behind Ballyoptic over hurdles at Chepstow thirty one days ago on his first start for six months, and it will come as no surprise to see him involved at the business end on Saturday.

Young, and upwardly mobile trainer, Johnny Farrelly, runs the previous inmate of the Nicholls academy, Stilletto, and this 7yo could get involved at a nice price. He won off a mark of 132 by 10L at Leicester in February, and was then sent off the 11/2jf  for the Plate at the Festival, only to come down at the third fence. He made a satisfactory debut for his new stable five weeks later, finishing last of three over an inadequate two miles at Warwick. He looks nicely treated off a mark of 141, giving him a nice racing weight of 10st7lbs, and with one of the best pilots around, Noel Fehilly, doing the steering, could be there at the finish.

Selection: More Of That

E.W.      : Double Shuffle

Badger Ales Trophy Tips

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Badger Ales Trophy Odds 3m1f handicap chase Wincanton Saturday
– I hope you managed to get on Oddsguru’s 16/1 selection, Irish Cavalier in last Saturday’s Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. He got a great ride from young Irish pilot, Jonathon Moore, getting to the front after three out, and holding on well from the runner up Menorah. He was always in command, and firmly demonstrated his stamina credentials for three miles in this strongly run race. He is the type who thrives on racing, (ran twice at the Punchestown festival in April winning on the second occasion), so given decent ground at Haydock in a fortnights time, is one to bear in mind for the Betfair Chase.

The man with an outstanding record in Saturday’s Badger Ale Trophy with seven victories, is Paul Nicholls, and with two strong contenders it won’t come as a great surprise if he makes it eight. His 6yo, Present Man, heads the market, and following an impressive win over the course (20f Gd-fm) 22 days ago fully deserves to. Ridden by Saturday’s pilot, the talented 5lbs claimer, Jack Sherwood, he won by 4 1/2L and 8L from I’m in Charge and Saturday’s opponent, Gentleman Jon making all. His two previous efforts over the larger obstacles last Spring, (25f and 24f) resulted in him filling the runner up spot on both occasions, suggesting that shorter than three miles might be his optimum trip, a view, strongly contradicted in my opinion, by his very stout pedigree, (by Presenting out of a Strong Gale mare). His superb trainer feels that he has been a slow maturing type and was very quick to nominate the “Badger Ales” as his target after his last win. With only 10st3lbs to carry, (including Sherwood’s 5lbs claim) he’s going to think he’s loose and is going to take some catching.

The second of the Ditcheat contenders, Southfield Theatre has been unlucky in his last two races. He was brought down when making good progress at the Cheltenham Festival, and next time, but for being hampered by a faller at the 19th fence, must have finished even closer than he did, behind The Young Master, when coming 4th in the Grade3 29f end of season chase at Sandown in April. Saturday’s trip will be well within his compass, and 5lbs better off with the Mulholland runner for that 6 1/2L at Sandown, this three times course winner looks a very serious contender.

Oddsguru tipped The Young Master to win the 2014 renewal of the “Badger Ales” which he duly did, only to subsequently have the race taken off him on a technicality, so I’m sure his upwardly mobile trainer would love to lay that particular ghost by seeing his owner, the 3lbs claiming amateur, Mr S Waley-Cohen, steer him into the winners enclosure on Saturday.  The handicapper has only raised him 2lbs for that Sandown victory, and with Whaley-Cohen’s 3lbs claim a serious asset, he has to be on the shortlist.

The ground at Wincanton is currently described as good, good/firm in places, and one  animal who certainly won’t mind if the rain stays away is Harry Fry’s grand 11yo Shuil Royle. He ran a fine race on Gd-fm at Worcester in August, going down by a Shd off a mark of 139, and came out two months later, to take a Cl2 Aintree handicap on good ground by 5L off a 4lbs higher mark. He is up another 6lbs on Saturday, and it is 16 years since a horse older than 9 has won this, so he does look up against it, but amazingly, this three times course winner, actually seems to be improving at his advanced age, so is not easy to ignore.

Fry also has the useful Thomas Brown entered but on all known form seems to require an easy surface. However the 7yo looks quite well handicapped, racing off a mark 5lbs below his hurdles rating and he can go well after a break, so if turning up would be worth considering.

Having been pulled  up in his three previous runs, Anthony Honeyball’s 8yo, Regal Encore, seemed to have put his problems behind him when running a great race at the Punchestown festival last April. In a very competitive 25f handicap he was only beaten 3/4L by the very useful Pleasant Company, and had the third horse 5 1/2L behind. As that was only his eighth race over fences there is probably more to come, so despite an 8lbs higher mark on Saturday is worth a second look.

Emma Lavelle’s Court By Surprise was the beneficiary of The Young Master’s disqualification two years ago, and I’m sure she took little pleasure in getting the race the way she did. However she runs Set List at the weekend, and this 7yo will be well suited by the forecast conditions, and could get Ms Lavelle onto the roll of honour for the second time. He has been campaigned on the good ground all Summer winning at Stratford in July of a mark of 125. He ran well again at Ludlow 31 days ago, beaten less than 2 1/2L off a mark of 129 and will find find the likely conditions much more suitable than many of Saturday’s opponents.

Vyta Du Roc is a fascinating entry for Nicky Henderson and if turning up would be of serious interest. A three times winner at Grade2 level, he can boast that touch of class, and his 10L 5th to Blaklion in the RSA chase at Cheltenham, (only 2L behind More of That in 3rd) reads particularly well. He looks very well treated off a mark of 143, fully 5lbs lower than his hurdles rating, giving him a nice racing weight of 11st5lbs. However he is another who would benefit from an end to this arid Autumn.

Selection: Present Man

E.W.     : Shuil Royale