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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Saturday's Indo article

WITH just a week and-a-half to go before Cheltenham, the racing world is very much in a 'calm before the storm' mode and with no Grade One contests scheduled for today, we'll have to settle for handicaps as feature races instead. Still, it looks like there are a few decent betting opportunities around and having had a number of maximum bets get turned over lately, I could do with some extra readies to add to the Festival war chest. My betting pot is not as big as I'd like this year but that can all change if the Paul Nicholls trained The Knoxs wins the Greatwood Gold Cup (3.50 Newbury), priced around 5/1. With an average 2013 win rate of one in four, Nicholls' yard has been firing on all cylinders lately and his record in this particular race record is outstanding with five winners and two seconds since the race was established in 2004. The Knoxs doesn't have too many miles on the clock for a ten-year-old and has won some decent enough handicaps since coming over to Ditcheat from Howard Johnson in October 2011 - although it is a little concerning that he's fallen more than once so hopefully the work that Nicholls has been doing with him at home over the winter will pay off. He was a smart hurdler in his day and has taken well to the bigger obstacles winning the valuable Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase at Ayr back in April which was his sixth career win from 14 races. He was disputing with Bless The Wings in a Handicap Chase at Newbury last time before coming down at the last but he was going the best of the two and I'm fairly confident he would have added a seventh victory to his record had he not taken a tumble. At first glance, the fall looked a little nasty and he was left winded on the ground for some time but Nicholls has given him plenty of time to recover and the horse usually goes well fresh. He looks well handicapped just 2lbs higher and provided he stays up, he'll take all the beating this afternoon. David Pipe's French import Garynella is likely to attract support in his second British race and although he won over fences at Nantes, his foreign form is somewhat hard to assess so the one I'm most worried about is the Alan King trained Midnight Sail. He's remarkably consistent and is rarely out of the placings although the handicapper may have his measure and he's getting no favours up 7lbs on his latest win to a career high mark of 134. At Doncaster, Lienosus looks a good bet at 2/1 in the Crabbies Spiffing Alcoholic Ginger Beer Novices' Hurdle (4.05). Successful twice in point-to-points, he managed to place in both a Listed and a Grade Two race in his only starts under rules and the fact that connections have entered him in good quality races straight-off says a lot about their confidence in the seven-year-old. Definitely one for the notebook.
CARRYING a stone less than topweight Calgary Bay, the Sue Smith trained Mr Moonshine catches the eye each-way at 8/1 in the William Hill Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster (2.55). He was an excellent second to Cape Tribulation in a Grade Three handicap chase at Wetherby on St Stephens' Day and at 140, the handicapper has taken a wait and see approach which gives the gelding more scope for improvement. While it looks competitive, he'll like the distance and this genuine sort can be trusted to give punters a good run for their money.
Horseracing: THERE'S no such thing as a dead cert but at 1/2 Ma Filleule looks fairly bombproof in the William Hill No.1 Downloaded Betting App Mares' Novices' Hurdle (1.45 Doncaster) and I'll be amazed if one of her three rivals can go one better. She cost her connections a fair few quid but she's started to repay and won a Grade Two hurdle at Warwick handy enough last time out. While questions have been raised over today's longer trip, she has a full stone in hand on official ratings which should see overcome the 5lb penalty she has to give to her rivals.
Soccer: WE all love a good derby and the north-London Tottenham/Arsenal clash has certainly delivered in terms of excitement over the past few years - although it must be noted that The Gunners haven't won a league match at White Hart Lane since 2007. Arsenal's defence haven't been too convincing lately and with Spurs now unbeaten in 11 league matches, Victor Chandler's 11/8 on a home-side victory looks generous.

1.45 Doncaster: Ma Filleule
2.55 Doncaster: Mr Moonshine (e/w)
3.50 Newbury: The Knoxs
4.05 Doncaster: Lienosus
4.15 Kelso: BallaBriggs

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