National Hunt

Galway Festival – Monday

29 Jul
July 29, 2013

Bad information worse than no information at all?

The first day’s racing at Galway was typically enthralling as the Ballybrit track hosted a highly competitive card. Unfortunately an old gripe resurfaced. Information available to racing supporters is at best scant and at worse, plainly inaccurate. Later going reports issued from Galway on Monday related to a softening of the surface and officially described as yielding, yielding to soft on the flat course. This information, at the time, was a boon to those attempting to pare down Tote ticket perms. Lines went through good ground horses faster than the time the bookies take to shorten a Weld runner.

Everything seemed to be going to plan, until the running of the feature race over two miles for qualified riders. Noises had been issued about the unlikely running of Domination, a confirmed good ground performer, on account of the ground. Edeymi was readily discounted as another in search of better going along with Redera, his stablemate. So imagine the consternation when on official going of yielding, yielding to soft in places, these three horses fill out the tricast between them. What was worse was the fact that the merits of Mr.S.Clements (5) were fully known to the author in a contest where pilot competency is vital.

In the same vein, it is probably virtually impossible to calculate accurate speed ratings for the meeting since rail alignments are likely to be drastically altered throughout the week and it will be a surprise if any meaningful information will be passed on. It will be worth knowing that the rails are likely to move inwards and that there will be a strong bias towards runners who race prominently on the inside of the track. But as is often the case, the exact state of the underfoot conditions will be a matter of conjecture.

Champion Hurdle : Cheltenham 3:20.

12 Mar
March 12, 2013

Horseracing Markets

Back Hurricane Fly @9-4

The picture surrounding this year’s Champion Hurdle has changed markedly over the past week due to the change in the weather and ground conditions. Hurricane Fly seemed to be caught out last year by the very fast prevailing ground conditions and up to a week or so ago it looked as if we were set for a similar scenario. The course at Cheltenham is soft all round and underfoot conditions are set to deteriorate further. Many of the leading lights have done their best this Winter to avoid the heavier ground but events for the main day appear not to have panned out for them. In contrast, Hurricane Fly has won in desperate conditions in Ireland and few concerns have ever been expressed over his ability to handle wet ground. His hurdling this season has been sharp and he arrives off an unbeaten campaign. He deserves to be favourite to win back the Hurdling Crown and at 9-4 warrants a serious betting interest. He was posted at around 6-4 when it looked as if he was due to encounter fast ground and now finds himself at a fairer price with conditions in his favour.

Saturday horseracing : Ascot 3:15

16 Feb
February 16, 2013

Horseracing Markets

Back Whitby Jack (EW) @7-1

Whitby Jack finds himself at the right end of the weights in this traditionally strong handicap. While he was never probably under serious consideration for taking up his entry in last Saturday’s ultra competitive Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, but the fact that someone thought he was worth an entry indicates that he still retains a fair degree of progression. He was a decisive winner at Kempton last month and is clearly at home on a right handed track. At 7-1 it is worth finding out whether he can be competitive in this higher grade but the fact that he hails from a stable more than capable of lifting big Saturday handicap hurdles, he is worth the benefit of the doubt.

Newbury / Leopardstown : February 9th.

08 Feb
February 8, 2013

Horseracing Markets

Back Waaheb (EW) @3-1 Leopardstown 2:15

Rock Critic was a good winner for the selection’s stable at Fairyhouse on Tuesday and it was remarkable how mute the post race reaction was. Part of the explanation could be that Waaheb has been waiting in the wings and that this former top bumper performer carries the yard’s principle Cheltenham aspirations. Drying ground will greatly aid his cause where he will be able to use his speed against the one paced Champagne Fever. The latter is posted as favourite but it feels as if his position at the head of the market is by default. The upside is that Waaheb is virtually an each way bet to nothing with convincing prospects of winning the race.

Back Cotton Mill (EW) @8-1 Newbury 3:35

Cotton Mill has been tipped up in some quarters as a potential Champion Hurdle horse. It is hard to argue that he potentially still doesn’t have a progressive profile. Racing off tomorrow’s handicap mark and weight he has to make an impression on this race if he is to feature at the business end of Cheltenham’s feature hurdle. As the winner of a ten furlong maiden on the flat he is likely to have the pace to cope with tomorrow’s assignment and the fact he doesn’t have form over the minimum trip probably adds a point or two to his price. Doubts may surface over his preparedness seeing as he is yet to race this season but there have been plenty of possible alternative engagements where he could have had a much easier race in a small runner field. Instead, it is likely that he is pretty well tuned up heading into this tough handicap and a good account is expected.

Cheltenham / Leopardstown January 26th.

26 Jan
January 26, 2013

Horseracing Markets

Back Johns Spirit (EW) @9-2

Cheltenham’s novice handicap ‘chase run at 12:40 looks a competitive affair but on a day where so many runners are moving up in class, there is a potential class dropper in Johns Spirit. Last time out he took on a field of solid handicappers at Sandown, some of which have stepped up in grade to contest the card’s feature handicap at 1:15. Back against novices the selection must have a leading chance, particularly as it seems that he remains progressive. It is noteworthy that with Johns Spirit back down in trip there has not been a reapplication of any headgear. Clearly connections feel that he will travel well enough throughout the race in this company. Also, it seems as if he has probably gone well enough at home since his last outing.

Back Ted Veale (EW) @9-1

The feature handicap hurdle at Leopardstown at 3:20 is probably one of the day’s hardest puzzles to solve but the case for Ted Veale is convincing. The son of Revoque still remains a horse of great potential and it is no surprise that connections have decided to have a shot at this very valuable prize. It appears as if he has been campaigned in plain sight and it is his progression that will see him well handicapped. He is undoubtedly a talented individual having run in 4 year old point to points and also been sharp enough to win on the flat. His close up second in a graded race last time also demonstrates that connections have not felt the need to hide him away. Part of the trainer’s modus operandi is to employ the very best jockey available heading into a significant race. Davy Russell has been booked even though his retaining owner has runners in the field. While the price could be more desirable in a race against 29 other runners, it is worth examining Ted Veale’s claims in light of the fact that sometimes it pays to focus on the obvious.

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