Betfred Cambridgeshire Tips

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Johnny Murtagh’s Eddystone Rock is expected to run a big race on Saturday.


Betfred Cambridgeshire Handicap 1m1f Newmarket Saturday – With four of the last ten renewals going to the classic generation, the top rated of this year’s 3yo entries, Tony Curtis is worth a second look. Richard Hannon’s Rock of Gibraltar colt won two of his four juvenile starts ( including at listed level) and made a satisfactory return to action when finishing fourth in a Group3 over the course in April. Taking a very strong hold he tried to make all, and not surprisingly was headed a furlong out, but kept on well to finish a respectable fourth. Not seen for another 15 weeks, he again ran well to finish 5th in a Goodwood Group3, and thirteen days later finished 4th, again at Group3 level, where he was less than 2L behind Saturday’s opponent, Master The World, who finished 2nd. Upped to 10f last time he didn’t stay but back to what looks his ideal distance he is worth considering off his mark of 105.

Johnny Murtagh won this as a jockey on Educate (runs again on Saturday) three years ago, and must now fancy his chances of saddling the winner with his rapidly improving 4yo Eddystone Rock. Trained in France, with a conspicuous lack of success, for his first eleven races, he was sold for £28,350 at Tattersalls Autumn “horses in training” sales last year, and joined the Murtagh operation. He failed to win on his first three runs for the new connections, but the penny dropped on his fourth outing, a lowly Wexford maiden in May. (9 1/2f yielding). Since then progress has been relentless, with a facile victory in a Navan handicap off 80, and an even more impressive, close second next time, off a mark of 92, to an animal who next time out very nearly defied a 12lbs higher mark in a most competitive heat. Two months later, 30 days ago, he demonstrated in impressive fashion that progress had been maintained when winning a conditions race very easily from the 104 rated filly Laganore, giving her 9lbs. Laganore certainly upheld the form when going down by the minimum distance in a competitive Gowran Park Group3 next time out. Eddystone Rock looks well treated on a mark of 101 and combined with his proven ability to stay further is one for the short list.

Read the Oddsguru’s 2015 Cambridgeshire Handicap Tips.

It is 46 years since Prince de Galles won back to back Cambridgeshire’s, and Richard Fahey’s 4yo Third Time Lucky is the latest in a long line since, attempting this elusive double. It would not come as any great surprise if his shrewd trainer pulled it off, as he gets in on Saturday off a mark only 5 lbs higher than last year, thanks largely to having only contested three races since his dramatic Short head victory in last year’s renewal. Certainly his last run, 37 days ago, in a York handicap, where despite trouble in running he was beaten less than 2L off Saturday’s mark of 100 strongly suggests that he will be a danger to all.

A nose in front of Third Time Lucky in that York handicap, was Brian Meehan’s 5yo son of Dylan Thomas, Spark Plug. He has failed to catch the judge’s eye since May 2015 but has put up some decent performances in defeat, not least when finishing a close second to the very useful Ayrad in a listed Sandown contest in July. Spark Plug seems to have regained his confidence since his traumatic fall in the 2015 Hunt Cup, and handles most ground, so with his very able trainer hitting some form is another worth considering.

John Gosden, who has won this on two previous occasions, runs the very lightly raced 5yo Sacred Act. The son of Oasis Dream was making only his fifth racecourse appearance when winning a Class3 Sandown handicap 15 days ago off a mark of 89

In his first race for 16 months. There seemed to have been a bit of over reaction on the part of the bookmaking fraternity who immediately installed him as favourite for this, but it is worth remembering, that the Sandown  victory guaranteed the lowly weighted Gosden runner a place in the line up, and looks to me like a very shrewd piece of forward planning. Come Saturday evening Sacred Act may have looked a very well handicapped horse.

Sir Mark Prescott won the Cambridgeshire three times between 1988 and 2003 but has drawn a blank since. However his 4yo colt Celestial Path, 5th in last years 2000gns would have a serious shout at improving the Prescott c.v. If only slightly improving on his good run in a York handicap in July. Badly drawn and attempting to give the winner 15lbs he could be considered an unlucky loser in that strongly run heat, and is only 2lbs higher at the weekend. As excuses can be made for his two subsequent lapses he is definitely one to consider.

The James Fanshawe trained 6yo Knight Owl, running off Saturday’s mark of 92 ran a great race at Ripon last time. He was having his first run for over two months but was only beaten a Shd by course specialist Treasury Notes. This tough and rugged competitor, who is a course and distance winner wouldn’t need to improve much to be competitive and is considered.

Selection:   Sacred Act

E.W.      :    Knight Owl     Eddystone Rock

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Horse Betting Tips Scottish Grand National Ayr Saturday

Sam Winner

Paul Nicholl’s Sam Winner looked a likely type for this when beating The Druids Nephew and Saint Are over 3m31/2f at Cheltenham in November, and confirmed He was on the up, when beating the classy pair Medermit and Ma Filleule at Aintree four weeks later.

Saint Are, our e.w. Suggestion in last weeks National, ran a great race to finish 2nd at the rewarding odds of 25/1, so let’s hope we can point you in the right direction in this weekend’s Scottish equivalent.

Having won the race once and been placed three times from only ten runners, over the last decade, anything proud Scot Alan King enters must be treated with respect. His representative on Saturday is the 7yo Beneficial gelding Sego Success, who on only his second attempt over the larger obstacles, beat the well backed favourite, If In Doubt (won next time out) over 3m1f at Wetherby last November. He followed up six weeks later with quite a fetching performance when winning a Cl1 listed novices chase over Warwick’s demanding course. Strongly fancied for the four mile National hunt chase at the Cheltenham festival, He got seriously knocked about, and his jumping suffered, so it was to his credit that he was still in contention until between the last two fences. He faded to finish 5th 17l behind the runner up, and favourite for Saturday’s contest, Broadway Buffalo. Given a more trouble free passage at the weekend, the very progressive Sego Success, with his nice racing weight of 10st5lbs must have a good chance of being involved at the business end on Saturday.

Following his fine run at the Festival Broadway Buffalo’s chance has to be respected, but he has had a busy season and perhaps Saturday’s contest is something of an afterthought. He also does seem to reserve his best for an easy surface, so conditions are unlikely to to suit.

Paul Nicholl’s Sam Winner looked a likely type for this when beating The Druids Nephew and Saint Are over 3m31/2f at Cheltenham in November, and confirmed He was on the up, when beating the classy pair Medermit and Ma Filleule at Aintree four weeks later. Three weeks after that He again ran another good race when finishing 3rd in the Gd1 Lexus chase at Leopardstown. He reappeared 14 weeks later in the Gold Cup where he was pulled up before the third last, when he may well have needed the race. He remains the class act in Saturday’s contest, will not be inconvenienced by good ground, and must have serious prospects of emulating Grey Abbey in 2004, the last animal to hump 11st12lbs to victory.

Jonjo O’Neill’s Catching On, in March, won a 3m61/2f Exeter handicap very easily off a mark of124, and eleven days later was backed in to 5/2 fav to win the Midland Grand National at Uttoxeter off 130. The race may well have come too soon as he never got into his stride, and fell at the 8th. Now racing off a mark of 139 He doesn’t look particularly well handicapped, but with his attractive weight of 10st3lbs and coming from this yard, He is difficult to dismiss.

Last years runner up Trustan Times, has had a disappointing season and as a result is 2lbs lower in the handicap than last year. His shrewd trainer used the same race (Pertemps hurdle final) at the Cheltenham Festival, as he did last year, as the horses final prep for this. While it is true that Trustan Times has been disappointing over the season, it is worth remembering that the stable was badly out out of form all winter, and it would be no great surprise to see him to the fore again with his feather weight of 10st2lbs.

Tony Martin sends Gallant Oscar over from Ireland, and this lightly raced 9yo looks nicely weighted with just 10st1lb. He ran like a stayer at the Festival, when a running on 3rd behind The Druids Nephew and Grand Gesture. He had previously finished 4th in the Thyestes Chase, in awful conditions, to the Gold Cup runner up Djakadam,so does appear to be well treated at the weekend.

Peter Bowen is represented by Al Co and Edmund Kean. Al Co won last years renewal for the stable, but having got no further than the first last week at Aintree, and being 5lbs higher than last year, perhaps the more interesting of the two is Edmund Kean. Having been pulled up in his previous two races Edmund Kean, last time, ran very promisingly at Stratford when going down by a neck to Midnight Lira off a mark of 127. Bound to be suited by the step up in distance, and despite being 3lbs wrong in the handicap, it is not impossible that he might emulate Joes Edge, who won from three pounds out of the handicap in 2004.

Selection: Sam Winner

E.W. : Gallant Oscar

The John Smith Novices Handicap Chase (Cl 2) 2m5 1/2f Kelso Sat 3.25

Leading trainer at the Scottish track over the last five years, Cheshire based handler Donald McCain is represented by the 6yo gelding Degooch.

Leading trainer at the Scottish track over the last five years, Cheshire based handler Donald McCain is represented by the 6yo gelding Degooch.

Leading trainer at the Scottish track over the last five years, Cheshire based handler Donald McCain is represented by the 6yo gelding Degooch. He has been plying his trade at Cl 4 level and Saturday’s task represents a considerable step up in class, but he did win very comfortably at Sedgfield last time ( 2m4f soft handicap chase ). He has only been raised 4lbs for Saturday giving him a nice racing weight of 10st 7lbs, so with these connections, it would be no great surprise to see this progressive young chaser bridge that class divide.

Having won a Cl1 bumper and a Cl3 chase, Malcolm Jefferson’s joint top weight Oscar Rock is the class act of the race. He was quite impressive last time out ( 21 Feb Newcastle 2m4f gd/sft Cl3 handicap chase ) where having raced prominently, he made smooth headway to lead at the last, and despite idling in front won comfortably. As this was only his second start over the larger obstacles plenty of progress can be anticipated, making his 6lbs rise look less than onerous. In his only other chase ( Kelso 7 Dec 2m7 1/2f soft ), when finishing second, he didn’t seem to get home over the trip,suggesting that Saturday’s distance may prove ideal.

Having won on four of his seven course appearances, the thouroughly genuine Philip Kirby trained Stopped Out has to be of interest. He has combined a hurdling and chasing career to such good effect that he has won ten and been placed eleven times from his fourty three starts. It has to be said that only two of these successes have been acheived over the larger obstacles, but one of them was last time out in a Cl3 Novice chase ( 2m6 1/2f Market Rasen ) where he beat Minella Forfitness and the 2/5 favourite Close Touch. Can he be improving as a chaser at the age of ten? Time will tell, but he is of some interest racing off a mark 4lbs lower than his hurdles rating on a track he clearly enjoys.

Selection: Degooch.

Danger: Oscar Rock.

Betting Preview Betfair Hurdle Newbury Saturday

Betting Preview Betfair Hurdle Newbury Saturday

The winner of his last three races, and trained by the Welsh maestro Evan Williams, the 7yo On Tour, is definitely of interest.

Known as the Schweppes Hurdle since it’s inception in 1963 until 1986, it’s early years were dominated by the legendary Captain Ryan Price, and his equally famous jockey Josh Gifford, who won four of the first five runnings.

Historically weight has been a serious issue, with only ten contestants since 1980 managing to carry more than 11st. While Persian War lumped 11st13lbs in 1970 to victory, only Make a Stand, ( 1997 ) the subsequent Champion Hurdle winner, and Copeland ( 2002 ) have managed to win carrying 11st7lbs.

However it is worth noting that two of the last three winners,Zarkandar ( 2012 ) and My Tent Or Yours, (2013 ) did break the 11st barrier. Age has also been significant with eight of the last ten renewals going to a 5yo or 6yo. Gary Moore has been the most successful trainer over the past ten runnings, with two wins, Heathcote 2007, and Wingman 2008. Messrs Twiston-Davies, Henderson , Nicholls, Quinn, and O’Neill, have hit the target once, and the Irish have collected twice. Good recent form is important with four of the last six winners having won their previous race. The other two were placed.

Top weight Sign of a Victory, from the Henderson yard, looked a world beater, when cruising home at Ascot in November of a mark of 139, but then flopped in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, trailing in 31L behind the brilliant Faugheen. While excuses can be made, (first run for eight weeks) it is difficult to envisage him being the first since the great Persian War, to carry top weight to victory on Saturday. Hendersons second string Vasco de Ronceray looked a progressive type when winning easily at Haydock in November off a mark of 135. Raised to a mark of 143 on Saturday he is set to carry a challenging looking 11st 6lbs, but in the care of N Henderson, is worth a second look.

The winner of his last three races, and trained by the Welsh maestro Evan Williams, the 7yo On Tour, is definitely of interest. A winner of a small handicap at Stratford in October ( 2ml 3f ) off a mark of 122, he had no trouble defying a 9lbs rise at Haydock ( 2ml 4f ) in a much better race four weeks later. Raised another 7lbs for Saturday, giving him a racing weight of 11st 1lb he looks well handicapped. His ability to stay beyond Saturday’s distance is a further plus. One for the shortlist!

The Paul Nicholls trained 5yo Calipto, is favourite at the time of writing, but to date has been dissappointing. There have been valid excuses, as in the Triumph Hurdle, he did seem to be travelling best of all, when his stirrup leather broke at the second last, and he finished fourth, 8 3/4L behind Tiger Roll. Despite starting favourite at Aintree three weeks later, he finished third, 4L behind the Triumph 3rd Guitar Pete. He again failed on his reappearance, beaten 1/2L by Tiger Roll, from whom he was receiving 8lbs. Diagnosed with a breathing problem, he has had surgery, so it remains to be seen if this solves the problem, and elicits some improvement. The jury is out!

Winner of last year’ss Adonis Hurdle at Kempton Park, the Harry Fry trained 5yo Activial, has many of the requisite credentials for this. He ran a fine race in the highly competitive 18 runner Ladbroke at Ascot before Christmas, where despite stumbling, and losing his momentum at the second last, he got himself together, and only went down by a couple of lengths. He has been raised another 6lbs for Saturday, giving him a weighty looking 11st 6lbs to shoulder, but coming from this yard, must be seriously considered.

Dan Skelton’s lightly raced 7yo Fascino Rustico was in the process of running a very promising race of a mark of 126 at Ayr last April, only to tip over at the second last. Not seen again until January this year, he has won both his races, novice’s hurdles, at Bangor and Newcastle, with his head in his chest. Confidence fully restored, now racing off 135, it would be no surprise to see him involved on Saturday.

David pipe’s pair of 8yo’s Balgarry and Swing Bowler are worth a second look. Having only his second run for nearly 34 months, Balgarry ran with great credit to finish a good second in a cl2 Sandown handicap off a mark of 132, four weeks ago. Raised just 5lbs for Saturday, this very lightly raced animal has plenty more improvement in him, and looks well handicapped on 11st. Having finished third to My Tent Or Yours in 2013 and fifth to Splash of Ginge last year, Pipes very useful mare is clearly well equipped for the demands of the race, and with a nice racing weight of 10st 12lbs is considered.

If getting a run,( needs a few to drop out above him in the handicap at the time of writing ) Garry Moore’s Violet Dancer, who was second in a Lingfield A.W. handicap two weeks ago, would be worth a second look.

Selection: On Tour.

E.W. Balgarry.