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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Kit Kat time

Hi all, I'm going to take a short break from the blogging for a couple of weeks to concentrate on my book. I've pretty much got it done but it needs to be edited etc which takes time. I've been putting it off for ages and keep coming up with excuses to avoid doing the boring parts of the book but it's starting to drag on now and I need to get it finished. So I'm going to try and stay away from Internet land for a bit until I get it completed.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

July Cup

Saturday's Irish Independent article:

I won’t pretend that I know a whole lot about South African racing but I do always take note when the country’s best known trainer, Mike de Kock, sends a runner over to Britain. Admittedly, eleven winners from 77 British runners since 2003 is not exactly earth-shattering stuff; but the fact that you would have broke even to SP and made a reasonable profit at exchange prices blindly backing his horses suggests they are often overpriced. While the sample is small, he’s proved particularly profitable to follow in five and six furlong sprints but it’s my guess that punters are sometimes put off backing horses from outside Britain and Ireland as their form is harder to assess. There are, however, one or two de Kock horses which punters  here may be familiar with and it’s not long since Shea Shea almost became the first South African winner at Royal Ascot (traded at 1/5 in-running in the King’s Stand Stakes).  The six-year-old gelding is back today for the Darley July Cup at Newmarket (3.50) and once again takes on the horse that beat him at Ascot, Sole Power. My big concern about Sole Power is the fact that he's never raced beyond five furlongs and it really is anyone's guess as to whether he'll get the extra furlong today. Shea Shea has proven himself over a number of distances and has won a race over seven furlongs in the past although he's definitely a sprinter at heart and is seen to best effect in five and six furlong contests. While he hasn't yet been successful in Britain, don't forget that he was very stylish when winning the Group One Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan back in March and if he runs anywhere near his best today, he'll be very hard to beat at odds of 7/2 or thereabouts. At Chester, we've a couple of six and seven furlong handicaps on the card and regular readers may remember the Chester strategy I mentioned on these pages last month whereby you back horses drawn in stalls one and two in five and six furlong handicaps provided they are in the top three in the weights. Since then, that system has produced two winners from three bets for a profit of €95 to a €10 stake (results exclude yesterday evening's racing due to copy deadlines).  With those figures in mind, it should be worth siding with Red Explorer to at 9/4 and El Viento  each-way at 8/1 in the 2.50 and 4.0 races respectively. With Chester being the tightest track in Britain, horses drawn low on the inside rail have a big advantage as they obviously have to cover less ground than those on the outside. 

WHILE Stencive would appear to be the most likely winner of the 54th John Smith's Cup at York (2.55), odds of 5/1 make little appeal in a 20-runner handicap which looks quite open. Instead, I'm going to keep Clon Brulee on my side each-way at 8/1. A bookmaking pal across the water who works for one of the big firms told me he's noticed significant interest in this horse since the decs came out and any market support today should be taken as a positive sign. The lightly raced gelding is progressing nicely and I reckon he's a few pounds better off than his rating of 93 suggests. 

WITH Dublin priced 1/10, the bookies believe it's not really a question of whether the boys in blue will beat Meath in the Leinster final; rather it's more a case of just how many points they beat them by. While we've seen some big GAA shocks in recent weeks, Dublin have so much strength in-depth throughout the squad that it almost impossible to envisage Meath lifting the Delaney Cup in the Hogan Stand tomorrow afternoon. We'll probably see some goals so take a chance and back the ultra-talented nineteen-year-old Paul Mannion to hit the back of the net anytime at 2/1 (Ladbrokes).
NOT every horse can handle fast ground but Aljamaaheer has put in a number of notable efforts on firm ground and was unlucky to be collared late-on by Declaration Of War last time in the Group One Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot. He's dropped in class for today's Group Two Summer Mile Stakes (2.30 Ascot) and his recent big-race experience should give him an edge over his rivals, priced around 2/1. That said, he won't have it all his own way and the likes of Afsare and Trade Storm will make sure Warrington native Paul Hanagan has to work hard to earn his riding fee. 

Today's selections
2.30 Ascot: Aljamaaheer
2.40 Newmarket: Good Old Boy Lukey
2.50 Chester: Red Explorer
2.55 York: Clon Brulee (e/w)
3.50 Newmarket: Shea Shea
4.00 Chester: El Viento (e/w)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Coral-Eclipse at Sandown

Today's Irish Independent article:

BACK in the 18th Century, if a horse was beaten by more than 240 yards (just over a furlong), it was officially recorded as finishing 'nowhere'. How accurate the race records of the period actually are remains open to question but the outstanding horse Eclipse, which won every one of his 18 races from 1769-1770, is said to have left many horses trailing far behind in his wake. A popular phrase at the time among racegoers (which still survives today) was 'Eclipse first - and the rest nowhere'. I read somewhere that Eclipse was so talented, he never once ended up in a tight finish and jockey John Oakley had no use for his whip whatsoever. Looking at the field of seven for the race named after the great horse, I highly doubt we'll have a runaway winner today with just 1lb separating Al Kazeem and Mukhadram at 126 and 125 respectively (3.50 Sandown). There was only a neck in it when the former beat the latter last time in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot with another one of today's runners, The Furge, back in third - so a closely fought battle is expected again this afternoon. I must admit, I had been a bit concerned about Al Kazeem earlier this term and wondered if he would bounce back from a stress fracture that kept him away from racing for a year but he's proved his worth with a trio of Group wins since his return. Mukhadram is a straight-forward sort and Paul Hanagan gave him a simple front-running ride at Ascot which, at one stage, looked likely to pay off. But the response from Al Kazeem was impressive as he pushed forward strongly in the late stages of the race to assert his authority and took the lead to win. While Mukhadram is sure to make this competitive, I have a fear that he lacks that extra gear and his honest running style leaves him open to be picked off by others with a good turn off foot. The more I watch the re-runs of Royal Ascot, the more I'm convinced that the placings will remain the same and as such, I'm quite happy to take the 15/8 on offer about Al Kazeem. As for The Furge, she was held off the pace for far too long at Ascot and a different type of ride here by William Buick could see her make the frame. She seems to be maturing nicely and is one to keep on side over the summer, especially if she goes back racing against her own sex. On jockey bookings, Declaration Of War is the pick of the O'Brien pair but you'd have to wonder if his stamina will hold out over this distance if Mukhadram goes off ahead early as expected.  

Each-way outsider
Sir Michael Stoute's Opinion heads the weights for the Bet365 Old Newton Cup Handicap (3.30 Haydock) but 7/2 seems a bit short considering he's up 8lbs for winning the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes. At 20/1 and higher, Communicator is capable of causing an upset from the Andrew Balding yard. While his latest two starts were disappointing, the handicapper has now dropped his mark back down to 94; a figure off which he was a close second to Art Scholar in the November Handicap at Doncaster. 

THIS time last month, Kilkenny were odds-on in places to win the All-Ireland and Dublin were rank outsiders at 66/1. But there's been a seismic shift in the hurling landscape since and amazingly, The Cats find themselves battling it out in the qualifiers against 2010 winners Tipperary. While Tipp made plenty of mistakes against Limerick, Kilkenny fans have more reason to be concerned considering their side couldn't get ahead of Dublin at any stage of last week's replay. Back the Premier County to qualify this evening at 21/20 (William Hill).
NARGYS shaped well when fourth to Annecdote in the 26-runner Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot last time. She was just a length off the winner which was no mean feat considering she had to switch course by Jamie Spencer just over two furlongs out and she ended up covering a lot of ground. Back in October, she was denied a clear run in the Group Two Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket (but still managed second) and it looks to be a matter of time before she wins a decent race. Today might be the day and a chance is taken on the three-year-old at 7/2 in the Coral Distaff at Sandown (3.15).

*Last week's double was successful on both legs at an overall price of just under 5/2.  

Today's selections
2.05 Sandown: Mince
2.55 Haydock: Albasharah
3.15 Sandown: Nargys
3.30 Haydock: Communicator (e/w)
3.50 Sandown: Al Kazeem