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Saturday, November 3, 2012


Today's Irish Independent article:

"FALLEN leaves lying on the grass in the November sun bring more happiness than the daffodils" (Cyril Connolly).  As a punter, the month of November is always welcome as the National Hunt season kicks in proper and the flat winds down for another year. We still have the November Handicap at Doncaster next week to officially bring the curtain down on the summer code but for the most part, attention now turns to finding them all important winners over obstacles. It's not that I prefer the jumps, I simply find the months of September and October quite tricky from a betting point of view as it can be difficult to focus on both codes at once with the seasons overlapping. Interestingly, the month of November has proved the most lucrative for punters lately compared to any other month over jumps. In the past decade, National Hunt favourites had a win-rate of 38pc in November which compares favourably to their average win-rate of 35pc. September happens to be one of the worst months for backing National Hunt favourites with just 32% of jollies going on to win. Speaking of favourites, Sizing Europe should reward his backers in the first grade one of the season at Down Royal (2.25), priced around 2/1. The Champion Chase will be associated with now retired Kauto Star, which won the 2008 and 2010 renewals - and the list of other past winners is impressive including Florida Pearl and Beef Or Salmon. In the twelve renewals since 1999 (the race was abandoned in 2005), six favourites went on to win and Sizing Europe should add his name to that list following-on from a handy enough victory in the PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park last month. Last year, Quito De La Roque (3/1) took the selection's scalp in a dour affair on soft ground, but Colm Murphy's gelding has had a number of problems in the meantime and hasn't raced since coming third in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown; so it's hard to tell if he's fully fit. Across the water at Wetherby, a chance is taken on Phillip Hobbs' Planet Of Sound at 5/1 in the grade two Charlie Hall chase (3.25). While the favourite Silviniaco Conti looks the best of the lot on paper, there's not much value left at 5/4 with punters getting stuck in to the six-year-old all week in the ante-post markets. Time For Rupert is another one to watch and I can see him going close, but Planet Of Sound usually goes well fresh and his twelfth place in the Grand National at Aintree doesn't do him justice as he was travelling very well before making a blunder four fences out. It's been a while since his last win in the Punchestown Gold Cup (2010) but he's been thereabouts in some top level contests including the Hennessey Gold Cup at Newbury and I'm hoping his big-race experience will give him an edge over his younger rivals. Later on at Ascot, Puffin Billy should give a good account of himself in the bumper (4.15) at 11/4. A promising sort, he never came off the bridle when winning his debut race at Fontwell back in March and a number of horses he beat that day have since gone on to win.  

Frisco Depot makes appeal at 10/1 in the United House Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Ascot (3.10). Racegoers may remember seeing the gelding win a couple of races for Dessie Hughes in Ireland including a grade two novice chase in Limerick back in April. He's since moved to Charlie Longsdon's yard and with the handicapper giving him a fair chance this afternoon, his new stable will be disappointed if they go home empty-handed. 

Soccer: Manchester United are 8/11 to beat Arsenal this afternoon and that price looks about right considering the Gunners haven't won at Old Trafford since 2006. But with United still experiencing problems in defence, this could be trickier than it looks on paper and I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to be a high-scoring affair. A safer option then, is to back both teams to score at 4/6.
Horseracing: Falcarragh should take all the beating in the Download The Free Racing Plus App Novices' Hurdle (1.05 Wetherby), priced around 3/1. He was rarely out of the frame when racing in Ireland for David O'Brien and he showed plenty on his UK debut for Tim Vaughan when fourth to Court Minstrel last time at Cheltenham. Stick this five-year-old in the notebook as one to watch. 

1.05 Wetherby: Falcarragh
1.55 Newmarket: Desert Image
2.25 Down Royal: Sizing Europe
3.10 Ascot: Frisco Depot (e/w)
3.25 Wetherby: Planet Of Sound
4.15 Ascot: Puffin Billy

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