Virgin Bet Grand Sefton Handicap Chase (Grand National Course) 2miles5f Aintree

grandseftonhandicapFew names resonate more loudly than Carberry around the historic Aintree track. The legendary Irish Jockey, Tommy Carberry (pictured) rode the winner of The Grand National, L’Escargot, in 1975 and then went on to train the 1999 winner, Bobbyjo, ridden by his son Paul. Daughter Nina has also left her mark on the track, competing in six Grand Nationals and winning the Aintree Foxhunters in 2015. All in all it is a superb family record, and Nina’s sister in law, Louisa Carberry, will be hoping to add a further embellishment to the family’s achievements, when her mare, It’s Jennifer, lines up for The Grand Sefton on Saturday.

A 7yo daughter of Martaline, she is trained in France by Louisa, (married to Philip Carberry) and while her win record over fences of 1/11 is hardly inspiring, she looked  an improved animal last time (Auteuil 2m7f VSft Oct 19) when finishing a close 2nd in a valuable Grade3 Handicap. She is a sound jumper, her only blip coming 31 months ago, and Louisa reports the mare to have schooled well over some Aintree like fences at home. She looks well treated on Saturday’s mark of 130, giving her a lovely racing weight of 10-2, and it will come as no surprise if she adds yet another chapter to the Carberry’s amazing Aintree story.

Nigel Twiston-Davies won with the 10yo, Little Josh 7 years ago and will be hoping that his current market leader, Flying Angel, can Land a 2nd win for his Naunton yard. The 8yo has won 4 of his 21 starts over fences and was quite impressive last time,
(Ascot 2m5f Soft Nov22) winning the Class2 Handicap by 8L off a mark of 140. He doesn’t look badly treated off a 6lbs higher mark on Saturday, (has been rated as high as 157 in the past) and has run well enough in his two forays over the National fences, finishing 10/27 despite losing a shoe in the 2018 Topham Trophy, and 6/27 in this year’s renewal of the same heat. Back over the same course and distance it could be a case of third time lucky.

Paul Nicholls, with 3 wins has the outstanding record in the race, and when his sole entry, Touch Kick, is owned by Mr Trevor “Aintree” Hemmings, it’s time to take notice. Trevor has won the Grand National an astonishing 3 times, and himself and Paul combined to win Saturday’s heat with the 9yo, Warriors Tale last year. The year younger, Touch Kick, has won 4 of his 10 starts over fences, and put up his best performance to date last time, winning a Fakenham Class3 Handicap (3m Good Oct 18) by 7L off a mark of 132, following a 195 day break. A 7 lbs rise to 139 for Saturday makes things a little trickier, but it’s worth noting that his full brother, Slate House, is currently rated on 153 and we may not yet have seen the best of this sound jumper.

Nicky Henderson has yet to land a Grand Sefton, but looks to hold quite a strong hand this year with the 9yo Gold Present, and the 7yo Casablanca Mix. The former was sent off a 12/1 chance for the 2017 renewal of The Topham Trophy over Saturday’s course and distance, and jumped well until coming to grief at the 12th, (The Canal Turn). He went on to win his next 2 races, including a victory over the talented Frodon,
(Ascot 3m Gs Dec 2017) but has disappointed in his 6 starts since. He hasn’t been seen since April but is an animal who can go well fresh, and there has been plenty of interest in him in the markets. They certainly know the time of day at Seven Barrows, and if they have the son of Presenting in the same form as when beating Frodon in that Ascot heat, he will be a danger to all.

Stable companion, Casablanca Mix, has won 3 of his 10 starts, including the last 2 and looked a much improved performer when landing Market Rasen’s Summer Plate last time out off a mark of 143. He has been put up a severe looking 11 lbs for Saturday’s race, giving him the unenviable task of having to carry top weight of 11-12 over the big fences on Saturday, but that said, he is a well bred animal (half brother to the multiple French winner, Vanilla Crush, who to date has banked more than £350,000 and the 3 times winning Arkwrisht), and if turning out is worth considering.

The ex Irish 10yo Killaro Bay’s form figures read, 1/2/2 since joining the Worcestershire yard of Henry Oliver last May, and his last run, 6 weeks ago, was probably his best, finishing 2nd to Burtons Well over 3 miles on The Mildmay Course, here at Aintree, following a 119 days break. A sound jumper, he is the type of older chaser who often adapts well to the big fences, and down in trip, off the same mark, could be interesting.

With form figures of 1/2/1 over Saturday’s course and distance the claims of Colin Tizzard’s 11yo Ultragold, are hard to ignore. The veteran has been unsighted in his 6 starts since winning the Topham in April 2018, but perhaps the Merseyside air can spark a revival.

Selection.  : It’s Jennifer

EW.            : Gold Present.  Killaro Bay

John Gray

BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase 2m4f (Old Course) Cheltenham Saturday

oddsguru tom dreaper

Tom Dreaper claimed the first ever Mackeson

First run as The Mackeson Gold Cup 59 years ago, the inaugural running was won by Fortria, trained in Ireland by the legendary Tom (Arkle) Dreaper. Fortria did win again 2 years later, but since then Irish successes have been few and far between, and the sole victor from the Emerald Isle in the past 37 years has been the Eddie O’Grady trained
Tranquil Sea ten years ago. However, the Multi-talented trainer from Co Kilkenny,
Joseph O’Brien, is not one to be discouraged by statistics, and is hoping that his upwardly mobile young chaser, Us And Them, can reverse this sorry trend, and land him a first victory in the contest.

On first glance, the 6yo’s record over fences of one win from nine starts, hardly inspires confidence, but closer inspection reveals that he has finished 2nd, (including in this year’s Arkle over the Old Course) four times at Grade1 level, which paints a rather different picture. Until stepping up to 20f for his seasonal debut at Gowran Park 6 weeks ago, he had been campaigned for all his previous 15 starts at around 2 miles, but even a cursory inspection of his pedigree, (by the stayer Stowaway out of the stoutly bred Flemensfirth mare, Manorville) strongly suggested that he would stay further, and so it proved at the Co Carlow track 6 weeks ago. Having his first run for 156 days in the Grade2 heat, he was always towards the head of affairs, and but for mistakes at the last two fences would have finished a lot closer than the 6 1/2L and a Head that he was beaten by. The runner up Peregrine Falcon is rated 159 which makes Us And Them look very fairly treated on Saturday’s mark of 152.

The Colin Tizzard trained 7yo, Slate House, struck for the first time from 5 attempts over fences when landing a 6 runner Novices Chase over Saturday’s course and distance 3 weeks ago. (His record at Prestbury Park in all races is 3/6). Having his first run for 228 days, and a wind operation in June, he travelled really strongly on the heavy ground, and never off the bit, won as he liked. Saturday represents a very different test, but the Tizzard horse is already a better chaser than he was a hurdler, and being by the multiple champion jumps sire, Presenting it won’t come as a great surprise if he ends the season on a considerably higher mark than Saturday’s 147.

The Nick Williams trained Siruh Du Lac’s record over fences is 6/8 and he is unbeaten in his last 4. His last two wins were here at Cheltenham, both Class1 handicaps,
at 2m4 1/2f and both over the new course, in January, and at The Festival in March. He won by narrow margins, on both occasions from the now 166 rated Janika (gave 18 lbs last time) He is making his seasonal debut on Saturday off a mark a whopping 19lbs higher than last time, and racing over the tighter Old Course, looks to have plenty to do.

oddsguru mackesonThe Dan Skelton trained 7yo, Spirit Of The Games, finished 3rd, 3L behind Siruh Du Lac in that Cheltenham race giving the winner 9lbs, (including Lizzie Kelly’s 3 lbs claim) and off level terms on Saturday must fancy his chances of reversing the form. He is another making his seasonal debut, but has won his first race of the season in each of the last 3 years. He has run well in all of his 5 Cheltenham appearances, including in large field handicaps, ( 5/24 County Hurdle 2018), and handles most ground.

Considering the poor record of top weights in the race (only 2 have succeeded in the last 25 years) Harry Whittingham’s classy 6yo, Saint Calvados, looks to have a tough task on his hands. The French bred made an excellent start to his chasing career winning 4 of his first 5, including a Warwick Grade2, and a Naas Grade 3 but stepped up to Grade1 level has been very disappointing, finishing well beaten 3 times. However, following wind surgery in September, he put in an excellent effort 3 weeks ago, over the Old course on his reappearance, winning a valuable 2mile Chase on heavy ground, conceding lumps of weight. He has never raced beyond 2m1/2f  in his 9 starts since coming to England, but his pedigree, (by the excellent jumps sire, Saint Des Saints, out of the Pistolet Bleu mare Lamorrese) certainly offers hope that he will stay, and he did run on gamely with his big weight up the Cheltenham Hill last time.

The great Martin Pipe won the race 8 times, and son David once, so they certainly know what is required down Nicholashayne way, and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to see last year’s 5th, the 8yo, Eamon An Cnoic play a prominent part on Saturday. Starting at odds of 50/1 last year, he stayed on to finish 11L behind the winner, Baron Alco and ran another excellent Cheltenham race when finishing 4th, beaten 3 1/2L in the race won by Siruh Du Lac at The Festival, (11 lbs better off on Saturday). He hasn’t been out since Punchestown in May, but can go well fresh, and at current odds of 25/1 is worth a second look.

Nigel Twiston-Davies with 4 wins on the scoreboard is another who knows what is required and his 7yo Count Meribel looks very nicely handicapped on a mark of 146, giving him a nice racing weight of 10-13. A winner of 2 of his 5 starts over fences, including over course and distance in the Novice Chase at this meeting last year, he made a very satisfactory reappearance when finishing 2nd at Carlisle 13 days ago and should be spot on for Saturday.

Selection.   : Spirit Of The Games

EW.               : Slate House.   Us And Them

John Gray

November Handicap (Class2) 1 mile 4 furlongs Doncaster

donny races handicapSaturday sees the final major handicap of the flat racing season when a maximum field of not more than 23 go to post for what is always a highly competitive affair. Never an easy heat to predict, only a single Jolly, (the David O’Meara trained, Open Eagle, 5 years ago) has managed to win since Snow Princess passed the post in front 24 years ago. However, on a more positive note, in recent renewals, winner finding has not been impossible, and the last 6 victors have been returned at an SP of 10/1 or less. At the time of writing the current favourite, Deja, is trading around the 5/1 mark and has the profile of one laid out for the contest.

A 4yo colt, Deja, is trained by the dual Derby winning handler, Peter Chapple-Hyam, (Dr Devious 1992, and Authorised 1997) and the son of Youmzain, in his 5 race career, has shown a very progressive profile. He has won all of his last 4 starts, and racing over 12f for the first time 129 days ago, when making his seasonal debut, he put up his  most impressive performance to date, coming home 3 1/2L clear of the decent yardstick, Soto Sizzler, on Kempton’s AW track, off a mark of 93.  He showed that he is equally adept on turf, and can handle the demands of a big field handicap, when easily winning a 17 runner Pontefract heat over 10f in October 2018. He hasn’t been seen since Kempton, (Have his Uber shrewd connections been protecting his handicap mark?) but racing off a mark of 100 he looks really well handicapped, and with his proven ability to act on soft ground looks one to be very definitely interested in.

Saeed Bin Suroor won with the 3yo, Prize Money in 2016 and has another likely looking type from the Classic generation with the 3yo, Passion And Glory. Unraced at two, he has won 2 of his 5 starts, both at 10f, but the manner of his latest win at Doncaster on heavy ground, 15 days ago, suggests that Saturday’s trip should be within his compass. Driven clear over a furlong out, he ran on resolutely to hold the challenge of Saturday’s opponent, Dark Lochnagar by a neck. Stoutly bred, by Cape Cross, sire of Derby and Arc winners Sea The Stars and Golden Horn, he beat the now 105 rated
El Misk by 1 3/4L in August, and looks very fairly treated on Saturday’s mark of 93, giving him the flyweight of 8-3 to carry.

Mind you the runner up in that Doncaster heat, Dark Lochnagar, meeting the Bin Suroor Horse on 2lbs better terms, has to enter calculations. It’s unlikely that his talented trainer, Keith Dalgleish, has had too many better bred animals than Dark Lochnagar in his care as he is by the Derby winner Australia, a son of the great Galileo, and is out of the 2005 1000gns winner, Virginia Waters. The yard is in top form and it wouldn’t surprise to see him involved at the business end on Saturday if getting into the race, ( needs 4 above him to come out).

2015 November Handicap.

There seems to be plenty of interest in the markets in Hugo Palmer’s 4yo son of Frankel, Collide. A winner of 4 of his 10 starts he made his first attempt at 12f a winning one when winning a Kempton Class3 on his seasonal debut in April off a mark of 96. He followed up with two respectable efforts at York, 4/18, and Royal Ascot 5/19, but finished out the back last time over 14f at Headquarters in July. Twice a winner on soft, Hugo has booked the excellent 3lbs claimer, Ciaran Fallon, and  he looks set for a big run on his mark of 98 at the weekend.

If the Mark Johnston trained, Bo Samaraan gets into the race, (needs 3 above him to come out) he could be interesting. The 3yo son of Sea The Stars failed to win in his first 8 starts but has come good the last twice, winning a 12f Catterick Class4 on heavy ground 11 days ago off a mark of 85, with a dour staying performance. Mark has won this twice before so knows what is required and Bo Samaraan, an improving 3yo is just the type the Middleham trainer excels with.

Irish trainers have had a fair old time harvesting top English handicaps this season, and Tony Martin will be hoping to add to their haul with his 4yo filly, Melburnian.
A daughter of Zambezi Sun, she has a relatively poor strike rate of 3/21 but demonstrated in emphatic style 14 days ago how well suited by a big field 12f handicap run on testing ground she is. Racing off a mark of 77 in Leopardstown’s October Handicap on heavy ground, she took it up at the furlong marker and stayed on strongly to win easily by 2 3/4L. She is a half sister to the very talented Heartbreak City,
(also trained by Tony) who improved with age (was only beaten a head in the
Melbourne Cup as a 6yo) and Melburnian may prove to be a similar type. The old adage to follow a filly in form this time of the year could be well worth remembering.

Selection.  : Bo Samaraan   if abs  Deja

EW.              : Melburnian.   If abs Passion And Glory

Saeed

John Gray

bet365 Charlie Hall Chase (Grade2) 3m Wetherby Saturday

charlie hall chaseSaturday sees the first Grade2 action over fences of the season, and with 12 contenders, nearly all for whom a credible case can be made, it promises to be a real cracker. The Naunton yard of Nigel Twiston-Davies has sent out the winner on 5 previous occasions, (the first time with Tipping Tim 27 years ago) and the stable will be hoping their talented 9yo, Ballyoptic, can bring home the bacon for a 6th time.

A son of the top class jumps sire, Old Vic, he has won 3 of his 11 starts over fences, including a Grade2 heat over Saturday’s course and distance, (The Towton Novices Chase on Heavy ground) in February 2018. His fortunes have certainly been of the mixed variety since, losing out by the minimum distance in the 4 mile Scottish Grand National in April 2018, and falling twice over the Big Aintree fences including in this year’s Grand National (came to grief 4 out). However he made a bright start to this year’s campaign, making all, and jumping with aplomb he came home 9L clear of
Lil Rockefeller in a 3m Class2 Chepstow Handicap three weeks ago. Relatively lightly raced for his age there may be further improvement in him and coming from this yard is one to keep on the right side of.

Paul Nicholls has won this 3 times, twice with the 1999 Gold Cup Hero, See More Business, and with Silviniaco Conti seven years ago. He relies on the tough and consistent runner up in last year’s renewal, Black Corton, and the 8yo certainly did his prospects no harm with an excellent effort in the Uber competitive, Galway Plate last time out. Carrying top weight in the 22 runner handicap, he finished 2nd but may have been a little unlucky, as he was going really well when hampered by a loose horse and carried right on the run in. Beaten 2L by Definitely Red in last year’s renewal, he didn’t seem to quite get home, but he looks a stronger and improved animal this year, and it could be close between them.

Last year’s victor, now 10, is trained close to the course in North Yorkshire by the talented Brian Ellison, (trains last week’s Oddsguru selection, Forest Bihan, who didn’t take up his Cheltenham engagement but went for the more valuable Old Roan Chase at Aintree the following day, a race he won very comfortably) and Brian is currently operating at an amazing 50% win to runners ratio (8 wins from last 16 runners).
Following his win in The Charlie Hall, Definitely Red won again, an Aintree Grade2, 5 weeks later, but finished his season well beaten in the Punchestown Gold Cup at the beginning of May. However, following the same pattern as last year, he is making his seasonal debut, and following a recent workout on the course, Mr Ellison reports him in rude health. With a course record of 2 wins and 2 places from 4 starts, and meeting Black Corton on 3 lbs better terms, his prospects of joining the elite band of Celtic Shot, 90 91, One Man, 96 97, and See More Business, 2000 2001, as the only consecutive winners of The Charlie Hall are hard to ignore.

charlie hall greatrex

In the Bague? Warren Greatrex saddles our leading fancy

The exciting mare, La Bague Au Roi won 4 of her 5 starts over fences, (including 2 at the top level) and didn’t look suited by the drop to 20f last time, when despite running on strongly, she was beaten 1 1/2L by Kalashnikov in an Aintree Grade1 in April. The apple of trainer Warren Greatrex’s eye, she can go well after a break, and back up in trip, with her nice Mares allowance a bonus, is well worth considering.

Having only been beaten 1 1/2L by the seriously upwardly mobile Frodon in Cheltenham’s Ryan Air Chase last time out, the Venetia Williams trained 9yo Aso, is top rated for Saturday’s heat, and if the race was run over 4f shorter, would probably be at the head of the market. However, he has only run beyond 21f twice in his 30 race career, and didn’t seem to get home on either occasion. However, that said, his shrewd trainer certainly knows the time of day, and may be hoping the undemanding Wetherby track will suit,  and her talented 9yo is another who can go well after a break.

Colin Tizzard won with the outstanding Cue Card four years ago and will be hoping his progressive 7yo, Elegant Escape can bring the prize back to Milborne Port for a second time. One thing is for sure the son of Dubai Destination won’t fail for a lack of stamina as he certainly wasn’t stopping when winning last year’s 3m5 1/2f Welsh Grand National. He ran another excellent race in the 3m 1 1/2f Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January finishing a staying on 2nd to Frodon who was conceding 2lbs. He failed to make any impression in the Gold Cup or in an Aintree Grade1 20 days later and hasn’t been seen since. I just wonder if he has the pace for a race like Saturday’s and unless the heavens open he may find them going a little too quick.

Selection : La Bague Au Roi

EW.           : Ballyoptic

John Gray

Randox Health Handicap Chase 2 miles Cheltenham Saturday

Cheltenham RacecourseThis weekend sees the commencement of the new season at Prestbury Park and Saturday’s feature, The Randox Health Handicap Chase, with 18 runners declared at the time of writing, looks like being a pretty competitive affair. The Paul Nicholls trained Modus won last year’s renewal, but only after a sustained battle up that famous hill with the 10yo Duke Of Navan, and racing off the same mark this year, the “Dukes” talented trainer, Nicky Richards, must fancy his chances of going one better with his evergreen veteran. Having his first run for 189 days, the son of Presenting travelled superbly throughout last year’s heat, took it up after the last, and in a sustained dual with the winner was only collared in the shadow of the post. The 11yo, who handles most ground, showed he was as good as ever when finishing a close 3rd in a valuable Leopardstown Handicap in February, and following the same pattern as last year (he is again making his seasonal debut following a 197 day break) has to be of interest.

Mr Nicholls has two entered, Capeland and Brelan D’As, and despite the formers win in a Bumper over the track in 2016, the impression remains that he is better suited by going right handed, so Paul’s best chance of bringing the prize back to Ditcheat again would seem to lie with the 8yo Brelan D’As. The ex French son of Crillon has won 2 of his 10 starts over fences, and put in an excellent effort when finishing 3rd in The Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap over the New course at The Festival in March. He could be better suited by the less galloping nature of the Old course on Saturday, and as one who can go well after a break, and handles soft ground is well worth considering.

trainer brian

Brian Ellison saddles our fancy Forest Bihan

Just behind Brelan D’As in The Grand Annual was the Brian Ellison trained Forest Bihan, and 8lbs better off with the Nicholls horse on Saturday must have serious prospects of reversing the form if taking up the engagement. (Also entered in The Old Roan at Aintree on Sunday). Following a break of 176 days he had a nice pipe opener when finishing 3rd behind Saturday’s opponent, Mcgroarty at Kelso 20 days ago and sure to have benefited from the run can be fancied to get the better of Dr Newland’s charge on 5lbs better terms. As a Grade 2 winner over fences he has a touch of Class and with the yard firing in the winners from all directions the 8yo has plenty to recommend him.

Mind you the Ellison second string, the 6yo, Nietzsche, is not without a chance. A hugely versatile type, he must be a real pleasure to own. A talented competitor on the flat, he has won 4 times in that discipline, and has proved just as adept at hurdling, notching up another 4 wins over timber. To date he has won 2 of his 6 starts over fences and is rated on a mark of 135 giving him a nice racing weight of 10-6 on Saturday. However a lot of rain wouldn’t help his cause.

The Charlie Longsdon trained Western Miller’s form took a definite upturn in June with two impressive front running victories over 20f at Stratford and Southwell and is now rated 16lbs higher than he was at the end of May. He has never won over 2 miles but isn’t short of pace, (close 2nd twice in National Hunt Flat races) and could make his presence felt with another front running effort.

The Dan Skelton trained 8yo Marracudja, has won over Saturday’s course and distance when trained by Paul Nicholls but has drawn a blank in his 8 starts since changing yards 14 months ago. However his penultimate run at Perth wasn’t without promise and he is now on a mark a pound lower than his previous winning mark. Coming from this yard it won’t surprise if the son of Martaline proves competitive.

Harry Whittingham’s ex French 6yo, Saint Calvados, has won 4 of his first 5 races including  a Warwick Grade2 in February 2018 and a Naas Grade3 in Nov 2018 since crossing the Channel. However, stepped up to Grade1 level for his three runs since, he has failed to be competitive, last time finishing 24L behind Altior in The Queen Mother Chase at The Festival. Saturday represents a big drop in class for this talented individual who will relish plenty of rain, can go well fresh and looks reasonably treated on his mark of 155.

Selection  : Forest Bihan

EW.            : Duke Of Navan

John Gray

Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes (Group1) 1m (Str) Ascot Saturday

ascot moetThe Queen Elizabeth II Stakes is the big international centrepiece of British Champions Day on Saturday, and while the overall record of Gallic invaders hasn’t been that impressive, they have won two of the last five renewals, courtesy of the Freddy Head trained duo, Charm Spirit in 2014 and Solow the following year. The legendary Jockey/Trainer is unrepresented at the weekend, but fellow French handler, the upwardly mobile, Francis-Henri Graffard, looks to have serious prospects of again taking the prize across the Channel for France with his rapidly improving 4yo gelding, The Revenant.

The son of Dubawi has won 8 of his 10 starts, the first two, (at a pretty modest level) when trained at Newmarket by Hugo Palmer. Transferred to Chantilly handler, Graffard, for his 3yo campaign, he won 3 of his 4 starts, again at a fairly low level, ending the season with a win in a Saint-Cloud conditions event. Gelded over the Winter, he returned to action at a higher level, winning all his first 3 starts, culminating with a Group2 Victory at Baden-Baden at the end of May. A real soft ground specialist, he took a 128 day Summer break, (presumably avoiding the faster ground) and put in a really scintillating effort on his reappearance in Longchamp’s Group2, Prix Daniel Wildenstein, on very soft ground a fortnight ago, beating the Group1 winning Olmedo, by 4 1/2L. With plenty of rain in the forecast he looks likely to get his ground, and with riding phenomenon, Pierre-Charles Boudot, doing the steering, the son of Dubawi, has plenty to recommend him.

Aidan O’Brien has won the race 4 times and both his Magna Grecia, and Circus Maximus, look interesting. The former, was landing his second Group1 from 4 starts when winning The 2000gns by 2 1/2L from King Of Change at the beginning of May but then was a major disappointment when sent off a 6/4 chance for the Irish equivalent 3 weeks later. He failed to make any impression and finished a well beaten 5th. However that was on fast ground and his only other defeat came on a similar surface. The going for his Guineas victory was described as Good but the time would suggest that there was plenty of juice in the ground so it’s probably safe to assume that the son of Invincible Spirit needs to get his toe in to perform to his optimum. Indeed his dam, Cabaret, a daughter of the great Galileo scored her only two wins on soft and his half brother, Invincible Ryder was also at his best when the mud was flying.

Aidan O’Brien’s Yucatan For Racing Post Trophy GloryCircus Maximus was landing the second top level success of his 10 race career when winning the Group1 Prix Du Moulin by the minimum distance from Romanised 6 weeks ago. Headed at the furlong market he really had to battle for it, demonstrating what a tough individual he is. A strict interpretation of the form through the 4th home in The Moulin, Olmedo, leaves him with something to find with The Revenant, but the son of Galileo is out of that classy mare Durtle who was progressive throughout her career, and was at her best on easy ground, suggesting that her son’s career may be following a similar pattern.

Saeed Bin Suroor, with 5 wins to his credit, has the best record in the race, and will be hoping to make it 6 with his top rated, globe trotting, 5yo, Benbatl. The son of the exceptional Dubawi has top level victories in Australia, Hong Kong, Germany, and Dubai on his c.v. and connections would love to add Great Britain to the list, and following an impressive win in Newmarket’s Group2 Joel Stakes 22 days ago it certainly looks possible. Racing over a mile for the first time since June 2018, champion elect, Murphy, sent Benbatl straight into the lead, and dictating the pace throughout, cleared away for an impressive 5L victory. Campaigned over further for most of his career, connections must have been delighted with the performance and are surely looking forward to Saturday with plenty of optimism. A word of caution though, their Super Star, has never won with with the word soft in the going description.

With 2 wins, and 3 seconds, from 6 starts at the Berkshire track, the David O’Meara trained 6yo, Lord Glitters, clearly loves Ascot, and ran his best race ever at the track when landing the Group1 Queen Anne Stakes over Saturday’s course and distance in June. He seems to handle any ground and I’m sure the talented Irishman will have his stable star primed for maximum effort on Saturday.

The Richard Hannon trained King Of Change, was a 66/1 shot when runner up in
The 2000gns, but showed there was no fluke about it 137 days later, when comfortably beating the 112 rated Turgenev, at Sandown 31 days ago. His half brother,
Century Dream ran a great race in this last year beaten only 3/4L in 3rd when an unconsidered 25/1 shot on soft ground.

Selection.  : The Revenant

EW.             : Magna Grecia

John Gray

Emirates Cesarewitch Stakes (Handicap) 2m2f (Rowley) Newmarket Saturday

Cesarewitch guruI hope plenty of followers of The Oddsguru Blog took our advice and rowed in with our EW suggestion, Waldegeist in last Sunday’s “Arc”. Available at some very fancy prices when first advised last Wednesday, Andre Fabre’s, Longchamp specialist was always travelling well within himself at the back of midfield, and when asked by his outstanding rider, Pierre-Charles Boudot, made up ground with consummate  ease from 1 1/2f out, and went past the 1/2fav, Enable, 50yds from the post to win by 1 3/4L, recording his 5th course victory in the process. There will be nothing in the Waldegeist class lining up for Saturday’s Cesarewitch, but in a heat, 2m2f in length, contested over 2 counties, (starts in Suffolk, ends in Cambridgeshire) that is always run with the choke out, some of the French Star’s stamina will not go amiss, and the current market leader, Buildmeupbuttercup, shouldn’t fail on that front.

Trained by top Irish trainer, Willie Mullins, (won last year’s renewal with Low Sun) Buildmeupbuttercup proved her stamina for this when a running on 2nd in Royal Ascot’s 2m4f eponymous Handicap in June. The 5yo daughter of Sixties Icon, showed that she wasn’t short of pace either when taking a 12f Galway Maiden next time out, and following a 45 day break, put up another excellent performance 4 weeks ago, when failing by a neck to concede 15lbs to the rapidly improving 3yo Kastasa over 13f. As the winner has gone on to win a Curragh Group3 and is now rated 109, a strict interpretation of the form would make the Mullins mare look like something of a good thing on Saturday off her mark of 94, but it has to be remembered that Kastasa is a rapidly improving 3yo so perhaps that conclusion is a little tenuous. Nevertheless, however you look at it the Mullins mare looks very well handicapped, and proven on soft ground, (won a Bumper on soft when trained by Mick Channon) she is well worth considering.

prescott newmarketThat uber shrewd master of getting a horse well handicapped, Sir Mark Prescott has never won The Cesarewitch but goes to war on Saturday with two contenders, both of whom look very well in, Timoshenko and Land Of Oz. The former, a 4yo, won all 5 starts at 3, and carried on the good work on his seasonal debut, following a 355 days break, he landed a Goodwood Handicap over 2m4 1/2f, 73 days ago. Clearly still improving, he is only 5 lbs higher on Saturday, and the main concern would be soft ground, as he has never won, or been placed on anything slower than Good. On the other hand, Sir Marks’ second runner, Land Of Oz, looked very much at home on soft ground when winning over 2m1 1/2f at Ayr in July, and this improving 3yo son of Derby winner Australia, has been very shrewdly placed to sneak into Saturday’s heat at the bottom of the handicap. He won his first run in a handicap, back in July, off a lowly 58, and despite winning 4 of his next 5 starts, still needed to win Newmarket’s Cesarewitch Trial over Course and Distance 3 weeks ago to get into Saturday’s race, a feat he accomplished in some style, winning comfortably by 1 1/2L. Top lightweight pilot David Egan, takes the ride, and could be the one to Land Sir Mark, his first Cesarewitch.

Another upwardly mobile 3yo is the Andrew Balding trained Ranch Hand, and he revelled in the Haydock mud when landing a valuable 14f Handicap 5 weeks ago. By The Melbourne Cup winner, Dunaden, out of the High Chaparral mare Victoria Montoya who stayed 2 miles well, he is bred for the job, and with champion elect, Oisin Murphy, doing the steering has plenty to recommend him.

It isn’t often that the master of Ballydoyle has runners in a race like The Cesarewitch, so it’s worth taking note when 4 of them appear in the declarations, and the one that catches the eye is the 3yo colt, Barbados. Beautifully bred by Galileo out of the Danehill mare, Sumora, he has only won one of his 8 starts, a Navan Maiden, but undoubtedly his best performance came when racing on soft ground for the first time, he was only beaten 1/2L, by the now 109 rated Dashing Willoughby, in Royal Ascot’s 14f Group2 Queens Vase, where the subsequent St Leger 3rd, Nayef Road, was a further 1/2L back in 3rd. He has done little since, and indeed finished last of 17 last time out, but coming from this quarter, it is premature to write him off, and if the ground does come up soft on Saturday, it could well spike a revival in the fortunes of this well bred colt.

If the going does get testing don’t ignore Alan King’s Chester Cup Hero,
Coeur De Lion as he came home 5L clear of his rivals over The Roodeye’s 2m2 1/2f on heavy ground. He ran well without troubling the judge in his following 3 races, so top handler King has given him a nice 78 day break, and he will strip one of the freshest in the field.

Selection.  : Land Of Oz

EW.             : Ranch Hand