Randox Health Grand National Handicap 4m2 1/2f Aintree Saturday

In the forty renewals of the great race, between 1958, when the Co Wicklow trained Mr What came home in front, and 1997, Irish yards only collected the prize on one other occasion, (the Dan Moore trained L’Escargot in 1975) but in the twenty runnings since, stables from across the Irish Sea have been responsible for more than a third of the winners, (Bobbyjo 1999, papillon 2000 Monty’s Pass2003, Hedgehunter 2005, Number Six Valverde2006 Silver Birch 2007, and Rule The World two years ago. This is clearly a very significant trend so any contenders from The Emerald Isle need to be treated with plenty of respect, perhaps none more so than current market leader, Total Recall.

Trained in Co Carlow by master handler, Willie Mullins, (who won with Hedgehunter in 2005) the 9yo son of Westerner certainly has plenty to recommend him. He was campaigned until this season mainly around 2 1/2m, with only limited success, (a single victory from his first six races over fences). It is only since he started tackling longer distances last October, that Total Recall’s career has really taken off, culminating in a superb victory in The Ladbroke Trophy at Newbury, ( The Hennessy Handicap until 2017 ) last December. Having won his previous race, a 3m Limerick Handicap very easily from Alpha Des Obeaux off a mark of 129, he was sent off the well backed 9/2 favourite in the 20 runner field for the Newbury classic. Racing off an eighteen pounds higher mark for the 3m2f contest, he duly obliged in the style of a real stayer, keeping on strongly from the last to collar the talented Whisper on the line. Reverting to hurdles two months later, he won a Leopardstown 3m Handicap easily prior to his latest race in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Sent off a 14/1 chance, he was responding to pressure from pilot, David Mullins, to go into 6th place with four to jump, but unfortunately came down at the third last. We will never know what might have happened had he stood up, but there was still petrol left in the tank and I suppose the fall saved him from having too hard a race. He had only fallen once before, (his first race over fences) so this progressive staying chaser, although 9lbs higher than for the Ladbroke Trophy, with 11-4 on his back on Saturday doesn’t look overburdened, and could just make it number two for Willie.

One who did have a hard race at the Cheltenham Festival was the gallant 8yo Shantou Flyer. Runner up in his three previous races, he looked as if he might break the sequence under a good ride from the excellent young James Bowen ( and would have done so in another few strides) when mugged by Coo Star Sivola in The Ultima Handicap. He was pulled up in last year’s National as a 7yo when trained by Rebecca Curtis, but is a much stronger and more mature animal now, and he was staying on stoutly in the 3m1f Ultima on dreadful ground on the first day of The Cheltenham Festival. His pedigree, (by Shantou out of the Bob Back mare Carrigmona Flyer) shouts stamina, and having had thirty two days to get over his Festival effort, he looks nicely handicapped racing off the same mark, giving him a racing weight of 11-1 and at current odds around 40/1 this veteran of 24 chases, who has only ever fallen once, looks one to be interested in.

The Gordon Elliot trained Ucello Conti was going well enough in mid division when unseating at Beechers on the second circuit last year, and runs this time off a 2lbs lower mark, giving him a nice racing weight of 10-9. His Uber shrewd trainer has only given him the two runs since last year’s effort, finishing second to Saturday’s opponent Anibale Fly at Leopardstown in December, and pulled up on heavy ground in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park the following month. He is owned by one of the most successful partnerships on the National Hunt scene, Simon Munir and Isaac Souede and it would come as no surprise to see the 10yo involved on Saturday.

The above mentioned Anibale Fly did best of the Irish contenders in the Gold Cup, finishing third, 8 1/2L behind Native River. While he couldn’t go the pace of the first two, Tony Martins 8yo stayed on well to hold on to third place. Given a revised rating of 168 following that Gold Cup effort he gets to race off his previous mark of 159 in this early closing contest giving him 11-7 to carry. His sire Assessor is a big influence for stamina and his legendary owner J.P. McManus would love to bag a second Grand National.

The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Blaklion ran a marvellous race in last year’s renewal finishing in 4th place. He looked the most likely winner approaching the 2nd from home but took a bump, and was headed between the last two. Slightly hampered at the last he stayed on but lost third place near the line. He ran another fine race over the National fences when winning The Becher Chase, (3m2f) on heavy ground last December, beating The Last Samurai by 9L. Unfortunately this has led to a 9lbs rise in his rating to 161 giving him a racing weight of 11-9 at the weekend, a burden only carried once successfully (by Many Clouds three years ago) since the immortal Red Rum won with 12-0 on his back in 1974. That said his top trainer has won the great race twice before, with Earth Summit in 1998 and Bindaree four years later, so certainly knows what is required, and Blaklion is undoubtedly an improved performer this term.

The David Pipe trained 9yo Vieux Lion Rouge has an enviable record over the big Aintree fences having completed in all four attempts. He was 6th in last year’s National, 7th the year before, finished 7th behind Blaklion in the Beecher Chase last December and won the previous year’s renewal of that same contest. Presumably with the National in mind he has only had one run since early December, finishing a respectable 4th in an Ascot Handicap (17Feb 3mSoft). He will strip a fresh horse on Saturday and off a 2lbs lower mark than last year it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to see the prize go back to Pond House in Somerset for a third time. (Miinnehoma 1994 Comply Or Die 2008).

Selection: Total Recall

E.W. : Shantou Flyer and Ucello Conti

John Gray

Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase Racing Tips 2m5f New Cheltenham Saturday

First run in 1963 as The Massey Ferguson Gold Cup, it has been won by some top class performers, including two of the greats of the Winter Game, Flyingbolt, who carried an eye watering 12-6 to victory in 1965, and Fred Winter’s Pendil, who won carrying a pound more in 1973. However more recent renewals have been dominated by good solid handicappers, although the 2006 winner, Exotic Dancer, did go on to finish second in The Gold Cup. Having won four of the last eight runnings, any contenders from Paul Nicholls Ditcheat yard, demand maximum respect, as do runners from the Seven Barrows stable of Nicky Henderson, who have hit the back of the net on three occasions. Course form is most important as the last animal to win on his debut at the track, was Kings Fountain, twenty six years ago, and the Bet Victor Gold Cup, run four weeks previously, has proved a solid guide, with four of the last ten winners having contested that particular heat. However the omens aren’t so good for the winner of this year’s Bet Victor, Splash Of Ginge, as only the classy Exotic Dancer in 2006 has managed to follow up since Senor El Betrutti in 1997. It is worth noting that the Bet Victor is run over the old course, which is much tighter in character, and the Caspian Caviar is run over the more galloping in nature, new course, which gives horse and rider that little bit more time to organise themselves.

David Pipe has only won the race once, with Tamarinbleu in 2007, but Dad Martin, won it twice, so they certainly know what is required at Pond House, and there seems to be plenty of confidence in the markets behind their runner up in last months Bet Victor, Starchitect. The 10/1 shot looked the most likely winner before two out but meeting the penultimate and last fence on the wrong stride he just couldn’t get past Splash Of Ginge who revelled in the testing conditions, and went down bravely by a neck. He meets the winner on a pound better terms on Saturday, and if tidying up his jumping must have serious prospects of reversing the placings.

Le Prezien, who finished third in The Bet Victor, did best of the Ditcheat runners and indeed made eye catching progress from off the pace to finish within two and three quarter lengths at the line, and he could well be suited by the nature of the new course on Saturday, so off a mark only two pounds higher, has to be considered. However stable companion, Clan Des Obeaux (pictured), also has plenty to recommend him. Image result for Clan Des ObeauxFrench bred, he is a son of the high class French jumper, Kapgarde who is a sire of plenty of good National Hunt animals, and he showed that he was going the right way when getting to within half a length of Whisper at Kempton on level weights on his reappearance, following a six month break in November. He confirmed the good impression three weeks ago when coming home seven lengths in front of that good yardstick, Vintage Clouds, in the Haydock mud off a mark of 148. As his Kempton conquerer Whisper is now rated on 169 Clan Des Obeaux doesn’t look at all badly treated on 155, and as he has performed with credit on all his three runs over the new course, including a sixth behind Ivan Gorbatov in the 2016 Triumph Hurdle, and a close second behind Whisper in a course and distance Chase last January, he looks a danger to all.

The Nicky Richards trained, Guitar Pete, won two Grade One hurdles as a four year old, when trained by the late lamented Dessie Hughes in Ireland, but unfortunately, daughter Sandra had little luck with the son of Dark Angel. However since his transfer to Richards, things have taken a turn for the better, and he followed a good second in a valuable Class one Market Rasen Chase in September, with an excellent win at Wetherby five weeks later, beating the Nicholls trained Sametagal, by seven lengths off a mark of 127. He lined up for the BetVictor on a mark of 134, but lost all chance when badly hampered at the first. He did persevere, and to his credit, finished the race twenty five lengths behind the winner. He lines up on Saturday on the same mark giving him a lovely racing weight of 10-02 (Including jockeys three pounds claim) and if getting anywhere close to his old Hurdle form would look thrown in.

Talented Welsh handler, Evan Williams has an interesting contender with his lightly raced eight year old Kings Odyssey. Racing off a mark of 147 in last year’s contest he was travelling easily in third place when coming a cropper six from home. He showed little in his next two races but made a very satisfactory return to action thirty three days ago when only beaten two lengths over an inadequate two miles at Carlisle. He gets into Saturday’s contest on a mark seven pounds lower than last year and as a course and distance winner over the new course has to be of interest.

The Nicky Henderson trained O O Seven made a satisfactory return following an eight months break at Newbury fifteen days ago and races here off a pound higher. If turning up, ( also entered at Doncaster ) would be worth a second look.

Selection : Clan Des Obeaux

E.W. : Kings Odyssey and Guitar Pete

John Gray

Betfred Cesarewitch Handicap 2m2f Newmarket Saturday

First run in 1839, the race was named in honour of the Russian Crown Prince, The Tsesarevich, (reportedly after a donation by him of £300 to the Jockey Club). The unfortunate prince later became the Tsar, Alexander 11, and was assassinated in 1881. Punters, while not exactly suffering the ultimate fate of poor old Alexander, haven’t fared particularly well in recent renewals of the contest. Only two “Jollies” have come home in front since the great Vintage Crop prevailed as 5/1 fav in 1992, and in the past decade we have seen one winner returned at 66/1, two at 50/1, and a 25/1 shot collect the prize, so don’t be put off by a long price. The race, which uniquely starts in one county and finishes in another, (starts in Cambridgeshire and crosses the border into Suffolk) has only the one slight change of direction, at the 10 furlong marker, and this almost straight two miles two furlongs gallop, puts a unique premium on stamina. Jockeys struggle to get a breather into their mounts in this nonstop charge across the heath, so very rarely does an animal without winning form at a minimum of two miles on the flat or over hurdles prevail.

The 4yo, Withhold, was trained last term by Charlie Hills, and following some nondescript efforts, showed improved form when given a test of stamina. The son of Champs Elysee put up an excellent performance when getting the better of Saturday’s opponent, London Prize, over two miles at Haydock last October, winning by 3/4L and he now meets the runner up on 8lbs better terms on Saturday. Transferred to the Roger Charlton (pictured) yard, Withhold wasn’t seen again until reappearing in a mile and a half Newbury Handicap last month where he proved his well-being, finishing third over the inadequate trip. He was keeping on nicely in the final furlong off a mark of 87 and is bound to have benefited hugely from the run after such a long break. He races on Saturday off the same mark, and looks a well handicapped animal with a nice racing weight of 8-8 to carry. With Silvestre De Sousa doing the steering he has to be of interest.

Now six, London Prize didn’t see a racecourse until he was four. He made his debut in a two miles Worcester national hunt flat race in June 2015 which he duly won when trained by John Ferguson. Transferred to the Ian Williams yard the following May, progress was slow, until running Withhold close in that Haydock contest last October, racing off a mark of 72. Since then progress has been dramatic highlighted by a win in the prestigious Imperial Cup over hurdles at Sandown, off a mark of 137, and three further victories on the flat, culminating in a win in the valuable Northumberland Plate consolation race in July off a mark of 89. By Teofilo whose progeny stay well, and out of a mare who has produced the 3mile chaser Categorical and the stayer, Daghash on the flat this tough battler shouldn’t fail for want of stamina and looks reasonably treated on his new mark of 95.

Alan King won this with the 50/1 outsider Grumeti two years ago and considering the way his 5yo, Who Dares Wins, stayed on so resolutely to take The Cesarewitch Trial over course and distance three weeks ago, he must be more than a little hopeful of finding himself back in the winners enclosure on Saturday. Staying is the name of the game for Who Dares Wins as he also demonstrated when staying on strongly to finish a close fourth in the 2m2 1/2f Chester Cup. A winner of a Class1 Newbury Handicap Hurdle with 11-10 in the plate he should cope with a four pounds rise for his Trial victory and doesn’t look overburdened with 9-4 on Saturday.

The Willie Mullins trained, Laws Of Spin did well to win last year’s Irish Cesarewitch (2m good) as a three year old at the Curragh by 1 1/4L from the year older Cradle Mountain, staying on well off a mark of 89. Brought along slowly this term by master trainer Mullins, he came good again last time when winning a valuable 1m5f Leopardstown Handicap off a mark of 97 five weeks ago. He is up another four pounds on Saturday giving him a hefty looking 9-8 to carry but Aim To Prosper won with two pounds more five years ago and Sergeant Cecil carried 9-8 successfully in 2005.

The beautifully bred John Constable, who currently heads the market, hasn’t raced on the flat for over three years, when he was trained by Aidan O’Brien, for whom he had a pretty undistinguished career. This 6yo son of the brilliant Montjeu, is out of that highly talented mare, Dance Parade, who won both The Queen Mary, and Fred Darling Stakes, and is a full brother to the Ascot Gold Cup winner Leading Light. The only success he had for O’Brien was in a 13f Navan maiden, but his talented Welsh trainer, Evan Williams, seems to have found the key to him, and he has really blossomed over hurdles wearing a tongue tie. Having won his last two races he now has a very flattering rating of 156 in that discipline. If this improvement over hurdles, mirrors a commensurate improvement on the flat, he looks extremely well treated on a mark of 89 and would be a serious blot on the handicap.

Selection : Withhold

E.W. : London Prize

John Gray

Racing Tips William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap 6f Ripon Saturday


Named after the patron Saint of the charming North Yorkshire Cathedral City of Ripon, it hasn't always been the most punter friendly contest, but with three of the last five Jollys obliging, we backers have had the best of the more recent arguments. With David O'Meara hitting the back of the net three times, and Malton Maestro, Richard Fahey scoring twice, between them they have had a near monopoly of the last six renewals, and both are strongly represented again.

O'Meara won with Out Do three years ago off a mark of 94, and racing on Saturday off a 10lbs higher mark certainly isn't out of it. He showed himself to be as good as ever when winning this year's renewal of the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot off a mark of 99, so Saturday's 5lbs higher mark doesn't look impossible, and he is the intended mount of Daniel Tudhope who has ridden three of the last six winners. Keep a weather eye out though, as all his best form is on good or faster ground.

Rain won't be a problem for Mr O'Meara's second runner, Al Qahwa, and he can easily be excused his 23rd in The Steward's Cup last time out. Racing off a mark of 97, he was one of the best backed runners on the day but suffered repeated interference in what was a pretty rough contest. He has been a bit disappointing since his reappearance win at York in May, (6f soft) off a mark of 94, but it wouldn't come as any great surprise if he was involved at the business end at the weekend, particularly if it comes up soft.

Having finished less than a length behind the winner in the Stewards Cup off a mark of 99, the Richard Fahey trained Growl heads the market. He had previously run an excellent 6th in the Group1 July Cup at Newmarket finishing less than 2 1/4L behind the exciting winner, Harry Angel, and less than a length behind Brando, who went on to win the Group1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville next time out. His new mark of 109, giving him a racing weight of 9-10, looks challenging, but this classy animal is a serious contender.

Brando's talented trainer, Kevin Ryan had his stable virtually closed down for much of the season with the devastating disease, Equine Herpes, but is now beginning to hit a rich vein of form, and is represented by the 3yo, Tommy Taylor. His poor performance last time at Newmarket was almost certainly down to the situation in the yard but previously he had put up an excellent performance when beaten a head by Ekhtiyaar at headquarters in a valuable Class2 handicap racing off a mark of 95. The son of Mizzen Mast handles most ground, and with the stable now clear of that ghastly infection, might well prove up to defying his mark of 100.

Not all horses handle Ripons undulations so the fact that Tim Easterby's 4yo Flying Pursuit boasts a record of two wins and a place from five course appearances speaks strongly in his favour. The son of pastoral pursuits looks progressive, and put up an excellent performance last time winning off a mark of 90 by 2L from Al Qahwa (York 6f Good-Soft) three weeks ago. A six pounds rise looks fair and must give Tim a serious chance of emulating his success with Pipalong way back in 1999.

Roger Varian runs the lightly raced 5yo son of Kodiac, Atletico, and if getting into the race, (at the time of writing needs nine above him in the handicap to come out) could be interesting. Placed on his only previous visit to Ripon, Atletico won nicely at Windsor on July 24th off a mark of 87 and probably, turned out too soon only a week later, was beaten 2L, when finishing 5th at Goodwood off a mark of 93. He has attracted interest in the market, and coming from this powerful yard is worth a second look racing off a mark of 92.

The Charlie Hills (pictured above) trained Shanghai Glory put up an excellent performance for a 3yo when winning a listed 6f contest at the Curragh last October. He was well beaten on his reappearance in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot, but then ran a very solid race to finish 5th, (3/4L behind Growl) in The Stewards Cup at Goodwood racing off a mark of 101. Jockey Fran Berry felt that he was unlucky in running at the Sussex track, and as he does like to get his toe in, the son of Exceed and Excel, racing off the same mark of 101, definitely needs considering if turning up, (also engaged Doncaster Saturday).

Selection : Shanghai Glory (if abs) Flying Pursuit

E.W. : Al Qahwa

John Gray

Betting Tips Qatar Stewards Cup Handicap 6f Goodwood Saturday

There is little doubt that we saw a really exceptional filly win last week's King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and if reproducing this level of form in the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe in the Autumn, Enable looks a certainty. However let's not forget what a fine race our E.W. selection, Ulysses ran to finish second on ground that didn't suit. He proved that twelve furlongs was well within his compass, but just found the concession of fourteen pounds to the outstanding filly beyond him. He is worth bearing in mind for the 12f Breeders Cup Turf at Del Rey, California, in November, a race he was fourth in last year. He is much more the finished article now, and with good ground almost assured, looks good value at the 7/1 available.

Saturday's cavalry charge, down the hill at Goodwood, provides a totally different challenge. It's about speed, ruggedness and toughness to handle the hurly burly of the twenty eight runner field, and ability to act on the eccentric track. Three year olds have won the last two renewals, but over the last thirty years, the four and five year old brigade have had the best of the argument, and one that catches the eye is current market leader Projection.

He ran a great race in the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot, where drawn 28, he won the contest on the stand side, but was beaten 1/2L and a Hd by the winner and runner up, both of whom were drawn low on the far side. A winner on an easy surface (won on Gd-Sft Salisbury), he proved his ability to handle the track, when despite a distinctly troubled passage in last year's consolation race over course and distance, he was only beaten 2 1/2L, finishing fifth behind Hoof It off a mark of 103, where he was sent off the 11/2fav under Ryan Moore. A year older he is only two pounds higher on Saturday, and trained by Roger Charlton, who sent out Harmonic Way (1999), Patavellian (2003), and Genki (2009) to win, has to be on the short list.

The runner up in the Wokingham was the Saeed bin Suroor trained 4yo, Steady Pace, and the son of Dark Angel was stepped up to 7f three weeks ago where he ran well to finish third at Newmarket, but didn't seem to quite get home. Back over six furlongs he has to be feared but with plenty of rain forecast his ability to handle easy ground has to be taken on trust.

There are no such worries about the Willie Haggas (pictured above) trained Raucous, and as his talented trainer has already sent out the winner on two previous occasions, he certainly knows what is required. The 4yo son of Dream Ahead was an excellent third in this last year off a mark of 102 when only beaten 1 1/4L and he looked set for a successful campaign when winning at Chelmsford on his seasonal debut in April. Things haven't gone his way since, and he was a disappointing 11/2 favourite for the Wokingham. However his 4th on soft ground in a Newbury Group3 last time, where he had little room when mounting a challenge two furlongs out, wasn't too bad, and his proven track form and ability to handle soft conditions could prove potent weapons on Saturday.

The David O'Meara trained Edward Lewis disappointed three weeks ago when well beaten over 5f at Ascot, but had put up a respectable effort when finishing 6th in the Wokingham, and prior to that ran a fine race when beaten less than a length in "The Dash" down Epsom's roller coaster five furlongs. Badly drawn in stall 11 he was hampered over 1f out but ran on strongly in the hands of claimer Josh Doyle. Another who should be suited by the track and who handles soft ground, this 4yo son of Kyllachy will have the excellent Daniel Tudhope taking over steering duties from young Doyle and is one to keep on the right side of.

For a horse who has been successful at Group3 level and continues to be competitive in the Grade, the 6yo Aeolus doesn't look badly treated on a mark of 103. He ran well when beaten a neck by the useful Mythmaker at Haydock in May, and again performed with credit last time, finishing 4th in a Newcastle Group3 (A.W.) where he would have been closer but for being short of room when making his challenge two furlongs out. An infrequent contender in these big handicaps, he was a respectable 9th in last year's Ayr Gold Cup off a mark of 107. With proven ability on soft ground he is a big price and is worth considering.

The David Simcock trained Polybius hasn't won since 2015 but has been a model of consistency in his last three races. Rested after a good third at Meydan in February he was only beaten a length when fourth from a high draw (nk behind Projection) in the Wokingham, and again ran well last time when beaten a length by Saturday's opponent Danzeno, whom he meets on 6lbs better terms. However he will need the track to dry out (which at the time of writing seems unlikely) as he was well beaten the only time he has run on anything slower than good.

Selection : Raucous

E.W. : Edward Lewis

John Gray

Betting Tips Peter Marsh Handicap Chase

betting-tips-peter-marsh-handicap-chasePeter Marsh Handicap Chase 3m Haydock Saturday – What a great race our “alternative” E.W. selection, One For Arthur, ran in last week’s Warwick Classic, winning at the rewarding odds of 14/1 with plenty of petrol left in the tank. Considering how well he handled the Aintree fences in his previous race, this upwardly mobile animal, who seemed to benefit from the use of a tongue tie for the first time last week, has got to be seriously considered for the Grand National itself if getting in. Certainly his trainers post race comment, “He jumps superbly and if going up sufficiently in the handicap could be a Grand National horse this year, and if not definitely will be next year” was most encouraging. In it’s thirty six year history only one horse, the Twiston-Davies trained Earth Summit, has gone on from this Saturday’s Peter Marsh Chase, to Aintree glory, but with the top eight in the handicap, at the time of writing, rated above 148 it’s not impossible that another Aintree hero could be lurking.

Course form is always important at Haydock, and this contest is no exception, with ten of the last fifteen winners, including last year’s victor, Cloudy Too, (Oddsguru’s E.W. selection), having winning form at the track. Wychwood Brook in 2014 was a rare novice to win, but most victors have had  plenty of previous experience, and indeed, a 10yo, an 11yo, and a 12yo have come home in front in three of the last five renewals. Recent runnings have been great for less experienced pilots, with claimers riding five of the last seven winners. Winter ground at Haydock is particularly attritional and a recent outing has been a help. Sue Smith with three previous winners is the most successful trainer and is represented by the 7yo novice Vintage Clouds.

He was a decent hurdler, winning a novice Hurdle over the course, and was also placed in a Grade2 on the track. Switched to the larger obstacles this term, he acquitted himself well in his first two races. He finished second to subsequent winner Briery Belle at Carlisle in November, and eleven days, later put in another promising effort when finishing second to another subsequent winner, Politologue, in a valuable Novices Chase here at Haydock. Slightly disappointing last time over Catterick’s tight circuit, he might well resume his previous progress over Haydock’s more galloping track, and looks nicely treated on a mark 1lb lower than his hurdles rating.

Paul Nicholls has had two contenders placed from only five runners in the last seven renewals, and his dual course winner Virak, catches the eye. He has been disappointing in his two runs this term, but he did show the talent was still there when finishing second off a mark of 157 in a Class1 handicap chase at Aintree last April. A return to form is not unknown in this contest, and with the going and course strongly in Virak’s favour and off a mark 5lbs lower than Aintree, it will come as no great surprise to see the Nicholls CV further enhanced.

The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained 6yo, Bristol De Mai, must be a lovely horse to own. This genuine animal has won four of his ten chases, and come second in the other six. Until his last race he had been campaigned at distances short of three miles, but in the 23 1/2f rehearsal chase, on soft ground at Newcastle, at the end of November, he showed that the distance was within his compass.

nigel-twiston-davies-bristol

Twiston-Davies’ Bristol De Mai gets the Oddsguru’s nod for Saturday

Giving 8lbs to the winner Otago Trail, and not putting in the most fluent round of jumping, he was headed two out but rallied, and kept on well to finish 3 1/4L in second, with another of Saturday’s opponents, Definitely Red, who went off the 5/4fav, 1 1/4L back in third. As he meets the winner and third on 5lbs and 7lbs better terms respectively on Saturday, he looks well handicapped, and with a Class1 Novices chase on heavy ground over the course to his credit, he has to be seriously considered.

Colin Tizzard is quite bullish about his recent French import, Alary, and it did run a fine race last time when beaten 1/2L by the very talented Milord Thomas, in a Grade1 27 1/2f Auteil chase, on very soft ground. He led over the last and was only collared in the last 100yds by the Jacques Ricou ridden hot favourite. By my reckoning he improved by nearly a stone from his previous race, and if that sort of progress has been maintained since joining the Tizzard Academy, Colin’s confidence could be well placed.

Selection: Bristol De Mai (if abs Alary)

E.W.         : Virak

Betfred Cesarewitch Handicap Tips

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

32Red Sprint Cup Betting Tips

 

32Red Sprint Cup Betting Tips

The Charlie Hills trained 4yo gelding, Magical Memory is the Oddsguru’s selection for Saturday.

32Red Sprint Cup Stakes Group1 6f Haydock Saturday – First run in 1966, it was promoted to Group 1 status in 1988, and having bagged nine of the intervening twenty seven renewals, the classic generation have certainly had their fair share of the spoils. They are strongly represented again this year by the three fillies, Dancing Star, Only Mine, and Quiet Reflection. Henry Candy has been the most successful handler with two winners, the 7yo Markab in 2010, and last year with the 3yo, Twilight Son. It hasn’t been a great contest for the Irish with Tom Hogan’s, Gordon Lord Byron in 2013, being their sole winner since Vincent O’Brien collected with Abergwaun in 1972.

The Candy yard runs two with leading chances, last year’s victor, Twilight Son, and the hugely impressive winner of the Group1 6f July Stakes, Limato. This 4yo gelding cruised home over Newmarket’s 6f but couldn’t cope with the speedy Mecca’s Angel when dropped back to 5f in York’s Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes last time. However there was no disgrace in coming second and if he gets his “must have” fast conditions at the weekend will be hard to beat. If the ground softens Twilight Son will be the preferred candidate, and this 4yo colt has strong credentials. Having won this last year by a Shd from Strath Burn, he went on to further Group1 glory when taking the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at the Royal Meeting in a Blanket finish, with Saturday’s opponent Magical Memory less than 1/2L further back in 4th. Back on fast ground in the July Cup he finished a disappointing 14th behind stable companion Limato, but given his preferred easy surface at the weekend he could quite possibly add another Group1 to his already burgeoning C.V. enhancing further, his already attractiveness, as a future stallion.

The Charlie Hills trained 4yo gelding, Magical Memory finished third, less than a length behind Twilight Son in this last year, and made a great start to this season, winning the Group 3 Abernant Stakes, and the Group2 Duke of York Stakes in his first two races. He looked a tad unlucky when finishing a close 4th in the Diamond Jubilee, and again didn’t get the best of runs when finishing 7th in the July Cup. A slight setback has given him an enforced eight week holiday, a break from which his trainer thinks he has definitely benefited, and if this impressive winner of last years Stewards Cup turns up with his A game he is going to trouble them all.

This year’s winner of the Goodwood cavalry charge, the3yo filly Dancing Star, also came home in great style and looked a group class filly in the making. However she did have the best of the draw in the Stewards Cup and it remains to be seen how she will cope in this her first run at the top level.

The other 3yo filly Quiet Reflection has already run in two Group 1s, winning the first of them, the Commonwealth Cup at the Royal Meeting, and finishing 3rd last time, in the July Cup. This was a particularly meritorious effort as the suspicion lingers that she wasn’t well suited by that her first run on fast ground so if the rain arrives she will make them all go.

The 4yo gelding Strath Burn nearly caused an upset in this last year when going down by a Shd at odds of 33/1. Having disappointed in his next three runs he moved from Charlie Hills to sprint maestro Robert Cowell. His first run for his new yard was disappointing but he showed rather more last time, when a running on 3rd behind veteran, Kingsgate Native over an inadequate 5f. Substantial further progress is required but Cowell may be the man to find it and that blinding performance in last year’s renewal on his only course appearance makes him one to consider.

Four of the last 12 winners of this came from the Group1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deuville and this year’s race saw the Richard Fahey trained Donjuan Triumphant finish 2nd with David O’Meara’s 5yo gelding Suedois a couple of necks further back in 4th. The O’Meara horse had previously run a great race to finish second in The July Cup And meets Donjuan Triumphant on 4lbs better terms. Close up behind Twilight Son in the Diamond Jubilee and only 1/2L behind Magical Memory in the Duke of York he doesn’t have a lot to find and it wouldn’t be a great surprise if his talented trainer found it.

Selection: Magical Memory

E.W.  :  Suedois

King’s Stand Stakes Betting Tips

King’s Stand Stakes Betting Tips Gp1 5f Royal Ascot Tuesday Last week’s selection, US Army Ranger gave us a good run for our money, but after a sluggish start, which left him out the back for most of the race, he had it all to do. Left with a mountain to climb three furlongs out, he didn’t get the clearest of runs and had to be switched widest of all. He picked up well and looked a possible winner, getting to within a neck of Harzand, but couldn’t go past. However he is still a pretty inexperienced animal and should have learned a lot. The Irish Derby promises to be an intriguing contest!

Intriguing is also the word to describe next Tuesday’s King’s Stand Stakes at the Royal Meeting, with the bookmakers going 7/1 the field at the time of writing. Since it regained it’s Group1 status in 2008, Robert Cowell has led up the winner twice, with Prohibit in 2011, and last year with Goldream. Cowell’s 7yo won at the tasty odds of 20/1 but having added the Prix de L’Abbaye to his C.V. since, such a generous price won’t be available on Tuesday. His win last year was preceded by a lacklustre seventh behind Pearl Secret in the Temple Stakes at Haydock, and his latest run this year, 9th at Meydan in March, wasn’t exactly inspiring. However his talented trainer certainly knows the time of day with his sprinters, and it wouldn’t come as a great surprise to see him become the first to train three winners of the contest.

William Haggas’s 6yo Muthmir, finished in front of Goldream twice in 2014, but has had the worst of the argument in recent exchanges. He was beaten fair and square by the Cowell horse in the Prix de Labbaye, but it was his run behind Goldream in last years renewal of the King’s Stand that offers hope of reversing the form. Taking a fierce hold, he ran the first half of the contest with no cover and with the choke out. As he was only beaten in a blanket finish you would have to be hopeful of him going even closer this year. He has only had his preferred good/firm surface to race on once since, a Group2 at Goodwood, a race he duly won. Given similar conditions on Tuesday he should be involved at the business end.

Clive Cox’s 4yo colt Profitable did Oddsguru a favour when winning the Group2 Temple Stakes at the rewarding odds of 8/1 from Mecca’s Angel and Waady (May 21st Gd/Sft). Twenty one days prior to that he had won the Gp3 Palace House Stakes from Jungle Cat and Waady on similar ground. However as wins at Sandown Gd/Fm, and York Gd show, he doesn’t need to get his toe in and looks a very progressive sprinter who is well suited by a stiff 5f. By that hugely prolific stallion, Invincible Spirit, out of an Indian Ridge mare, a Group1 victory on Tuesday would make him a very attractive addition to the list of sprinting stallions on his retirement, One for the shortlist!

One who does need to hear his hooves rattle is Charlie Hill’s 4yo colt Cotai Glory, and is another who looks progressive. He improved from his first run of the season when finishing second on Gd/Fm behind Take Cover in a listed race at Haydock. A winner of the Group3 Molecombe stakes at Goodwood on fast ground as a 2yo, this Colt by that good sire of sprinters, Exceed and Excell, is going the right way, and given his conditions could cause a surprise.

The 3yo American filly, Acapulco showed blinding speed when winning last years Queen Mary Stakes, and put in another fine performance against older horses when finishing second in the Group1 Nunthorpe Stakes on unsuitably slow ground at York. She has continued her progress this year with two facile victories, albeit at a lower level, at Turfway Park in Febuary and at Churchill Downs in May. Older animals have dominated the last seven runnings of the King’s Stand, but the 3yo Equiano did win the inaugural running of the race as a Group1 contest in 2008, so Acaculpo’s age shouldn’t be a problem. Her talented Trainer Wesley A Ward certainly knows how to win at the Royal Meeting so expect to see this flying filly to the fore.

Karl Burke’s 3yo filly Quiet Reflection was sold as a 2yo for £44,000 and what a bargain she has proved to be. She has won five of her six starts, including two Group3s and a Group2. The one blot on her otherwise perfect CV came at York last August when she finished fifth in a contest where Easton Angel was 2 1/2L ahead of her in third. She showed that form all wrong next time at Ayr, when winning easily, she had Easton Angel nearly seven lengths back in fifth. Her Group2 win came last time out when impressively winning by 3 3/4L over 6f at Haydock two weeks ago. Both runs this year have been over 6f and there must be some doubt about the drop back in trip being ideal, but she is a very exciting filly with tremendous speed whom we haven’t seen the best of yet, and Ascots stiff track should suit.

Selection : Profitable

E.W.    : Quiet reflection.

Qipco 1000gns Stakes Betting Tips

Qipco 1000gns Stakes Betting Tips 1m Newmarket Sunday

The Young Master kept the Oddsguru ball rolling in fine style when winning last week’s bet365 Gold Cup at odds of 8/1. He had been available at odds of 14/1 at the time of writing, but let’s not be greedy! He ran a brave race under talented amateur, and part owner, Sam Waley-Cohen. Having got the last fence wrong he was headed by the runner up but battled back bravely to get the decision in the shadow of the post. He clearly relished the marathon trip and bearing in mind Waley-Cohen’s outstanding record over the Grand National fences he is definitely one to keep in mind for next years Aintree Showpiece.

We can be fairly certain that none of Sunday’s 1000gns contenders will ever be asked to jump over the spruce at Aintree, but one thing we can be sure of, is that the winner at the weekend will have covered the eight furlongs of the Rowley Mile in under 100 seconds. The great Henry Cecil had a fantastic record in the race, winning it six times, and the only trainer on Sunday to come close, is French handler, Criquette Head-Maarek. She has won it four times, most recently with Special Duty in 2010 and seeks a fifth with Midweek. Her representative is a filly by Motivator out of a Danzig mare and is a half sister to that very useful miler, (RPR 119) Confront. She has already demonstrated her ability to get a mile, winning over the distance at Saint-Cloud last September and perhaps, just as significantly, in this cold and wet spring, she has had the benefit of a run, which may well confer an advantage over her unraced peers. She was second in a 7f Gp3 (heavy) Maisons-Laffitte contest three weeks ago, where she stayed on nicely. While needing to show considerable improvement to trouble the judge on Sunday, in the hands of genius Criquette, it would come as no surprise if she did.

Irish maestro Aidan O’Brien has won the 1000gns twice and fields three, the hot favourite, Minding, Ballydoyle, and Alice Springs. Minding wound up her 2yo campaign with a most impressive win in the Group1 Fillies Mile over course and distance (good/soft) last October, where she came home 4 1/2L in front of Sunday’s opponent Nathra. Prior to that she had beaten stable companion Ballydoyle by 3/4L in a Group1 over 7f at the Curragh, and as the runner up went on to win the Group1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp, the form is rock solid. While Minding does seem to have outstanding claims, it is worth remembering that both of O’Briens previous winners did have the benefit of a previous outing, and many, including her trainer, think that she may well be suited by further.

Ballydoyle, who is reported to be working well, and already boasts a victory over the favourite, (7f Gd/fm) cannot be easily dismissed, but she probably needs top of the ground conditions to excel, so perhaps the third stable representative, Alice Springs is of more interest. A 550,000gns yearling, this Galileo filly, with eight races under her belt is not short of experience, and has run well at the top level, particularly at Keenland in the States last October, where despite being denied the clearest of runs she ran on well to get within 3/4L of the winner, Catch A Glimpse, in a Grade 1 contest. She has had the benefit of a run, at Leopardstown three weeks ago, where she was sent off the 5/4 favourite in a Group3, contest. She was dropped out in the early stages, and left with too much to do on the heavy ground, wasn’t given a hard race. She did come home strongly to finish 3rd and is bound to have benefited from the run. It would come as no surprise to see her outrun her odds of 20/1!

Mark Johnston, trainer of Lumiere is very bullish about the chance of this daughter of Shamardal. She has only run three times, all over 6f. Having won at Newmarket in July she probably found Yorks easy 6f an insufficient test when finishing second, but back at headquarters ran on gamely to take the Group1 Chevely Park Stakes. Her half sister won over 12f and her dam was a wide margin winner over 7f on her only start as a 2yo, so there is plenty of positives on the distaff for Sunday’s trip. Her style of racing also strongly suggests that a mile will suit, so Master Trainer Johnston could well be leading in his second 1000gns winner at the Weekend.

Another, who is sure to have benefited from a race this miserable Spring, is John Gosden’s Iffraaj filly, Nathra. She was put firmly in her place in The Fillies Mile by Minding but may not have been best suited by the hold up tactics employed by Dettori. She was quite impressive three weeks ago when ridden closer to the pace, and she won easily under a hands and heels ride, running on well over 7f at Newmarket. Gosden won this with Lahan in 2000 so knows what is required, and must have high hopes of bringing up the double on Sunday.

Selection : Lumiere

E.W. : Alice springs (if abs. Nathra)