St Leger Preview

The St Leger is moving swiftly onto the horizon and despite the absence of previous ante-post favourite, Cracksman, it still looks set to be a great race.

A ‘typical Sir Michael Stoute improver’ is a phrase often used by people previewing horse racing betting tips and0 they’ll be pleased to see Crystal Ocean currently head the market.

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After being somewhat of a hype horse before the Dante and Derby, he put in a performance of the highest calibre when routing the field at Goodwood last time out.

 

He holds obvious claims but the value could lie with Joseph O’Brien’s Rekindling.

 

He was somewhat of a surprise (16/1) winner of a hot looking Ballysax Stakes (Irish Derby winner Capri back in fourth) before failing to handle the York track when fourth in the Dante.

He was only two lengths behind Crystal Ocean that day despite hating conditions, so he is sure to be of interest on a seemingly straightforward Doncaster track.

Quirks were on display as he didn’t go a yard on the undulations of Epsom but he bounced back with two outstanding runs.

Stamina appeared to be his forte when striking late to nail the high class Wicklow Brave, while getting witching five lengths of former Ascot Gold Cup winner Order Of St George last time out was arguably his best run to date, against elders.

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That was in the Irish St Leger and although he’s entered up in a host of group one’s over the next few months, the St Leger looks the long term target.

Capri, who Rekindling managed to get the better of over in Ireland, is joint favourite after his Irish Derby success but the price disparity seems too big to ignore

At 12/1 (20’s on the Exchange) he is worth a small each way bet.

While looking ahead, he could be very well treated for a potential tilt at the Melbourne Cup. He’s currently 75/1 on the machine (50s readily available elsewhere) and this might be worth a very small saver in case that is the way the O’Brien clan decide to head.

Selection:

0.75pt ew – Rekindling (St Leger) @ 12/1

0.25pt win – Rekindling (Melbourne Cup) @ 76.0+

Put Your Faith In The Angel At Ascot

Caravaggio is sure to be top of many ‘banker’ lists ahead of Friday at Royal Ascot, yet it may pay to look elsewhere.

There’s no doubting his class and Aidan could hardly be more bullish about his chances, after a pleasing reappearance.

However, the same could be said about Harry Angel. He’s been heavily backed every time he’s set foot on the course, which suggests he obviously shows something at home, and his last performance was simply jaw-dropping.

He pulled hard when being just touched off by the reappearing Blue Point (giving him four pounds) on his seasonal reappearance and it would be no surprised to see the form reversed.

Godolphin now own the pair, after forking out a hefty some following Harry’s last visit to the track. He made all at Haydock, never seeing another rival, moving readily clear of Second Thought and Mubtasim, who since ran a stormer to finish third in the Jersey.

Harry’s Angel is a horse on the upgrade and at 7/2, he looks worth a small interest.

Selection:

1pt win: Harry’s Angel (Commonwealth Cup) @ 7/2

Magic Mori Can Turn Heads At Ascot

We’ve enjoyed a solid start to Ascot and hopefully this will continue across the next three days.

Thursday sees the Ascot Gold Cup take centre stage and given Aidan O’Brien’s misfortune so far this week (gutsy Highland Reel apart), there has to be a slight concern about steaming into Order Of St George.

It looks a fairly messy race and this means I’ll be leaving it well alone but will be hoping for a Big Orange win.

The one and only punt for Thursday comes in the Ribblesdale, in the shape of Mori.

She finished a respectable fifth on debut at Newbury – after going off favourite – and she showed the benefit of the run, winning smartly at Ascot next time out.

She was punted off the boards before her cosy Listed win and she has the scope to progress even further.

She’s a Frankel filly out of Midday, so big things were always going to be expected. Good ground is ideal and she looks an attractive proposition stepping up in trip against the AOB-trained fav, who finished third in the Oaks last time.

Selection:

1.5pt win: Mori (Ribblesdale) &@ 10/3

Enjoy The VIP Treatment At Royal Ascot

Wednesday brings a host of interesting races to get stuck into, with the best punting race of the day sure to be the Royal Hunt Cup.

A cavalry charge down the straight mile at Ascot often bring about thrills and spills and you’re sure to hear many a hard luck story on Twitter come Wednesday evening.

Given a mention of hard luck story, the selection does come with somewhat of a warning. Frankie Dettori is very much a ‘marmite’ jockey. You either love him or you hate him – usually dependant on how well he’s timed his ride.

On his day, there are very few better judges of pace and this will be a necessity with EL VIP in the Hunt Cup. Jamie Spencer is on Banksea in the big race, meaning Dettori will be needed to produce the colt on the final furlong, similar to his last performance at Newcastle.

Dettori has only ridden the 4yo twice in seven runs, which is somewhat of a surprise given he’s number one rider for the owner, and both of those returned rather lacklustre efforts at Haydock.

However, his early campaigns over a longer trip didn’t quite go to plan and he was certainly in need of the run at the Merseyside track earlier this year.

He looked a different horse all together come Newcastle recently. He was strong in the betting, travelled ominously well and when the gap came late, he shot through and won well going away.

This effort suggested he would relish the straight Ascot track and being buried behind a wall of horses. He’s obviously a risk factor, given he will need luck to get his run, yet there’s no doubt there’s plenty more to come from the son of Pivotal and at 14/1, he looks worth a second glance, especially given Afjaan no longer runs for the same owners.

Elsewhere on day two, LE BRIVIDO is of huge interest in the Jersey Stakes. Dream Castle looks sure to be suited over this slightly shorter trip, after somewhat disappointing in the Guineas. However, there have to be questions about his willingness to battle it out, should it come to it, following his displays at the tail end of his last two races.

Daban should frank the Winter form by running her race but the French raider stands out on his three runs thus far. A cosy debut win was followed up with a battling performance over six, next time out, suggesting speed won’t be an issue over the seven.

He then ran a huge race in the French 2000 Guineas, only just being beaten by Brametot, who followed up with a French Derby win and is currently second favourite for the Arc. That short-head second, finishing three lengths ahead of Rivet and Orderofthegarter was a solid bit of form and with so much pace in the race, the fact that he definitely gets a mile, will play into his hands over the seven at Ascot.

He will be able to track Dream Castle and when push comes to shove, Le Brivido can repay Andre Fabre’s faith at a nice price.

1pt EW: El VIP (Hunt Cup) @ 14/1

2pts Win: El Brivido (Jersey) @ 4/1

Get off to a Blessed start at Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot begins on Tuesday, kick-starting five days of pomp, pleasantry and punting.

Ribchester & Churchill are the two hotpots on day one and although they both look rock-solid favourites. However 5/6 and 8/11 shots are not for everyone, so the other races could be where the value lies.

The King’s Stand Stakes is the meat in the Sandwich of the Queen Anne (Sky Bet offer is superb, yet again) and the St James’s Palace Stakes, so it’s sure to be a proper betting race, with punters (and bookies) looking for salvation amidst the odds-on shots.

Lady Aurelia heads the market and after apparently impressing Ryan Moore in a piece of work earlier last week, the money has come again, forcing her into a best price of 3/1. Her latest victory was not too impressive on the bare bones but there is sure to be more to come and it is hard to forget her previous victory at the track.

Marsha’s latest victory at Newmarket, giving weight away, was a monstrous effort, which suggests she is certainly a Group One filly. However, it is the next horse in the market that looks to be worth a chance.

SIGNS OF BLESSING was relatively unfancied when he arrived from France for the Diamond Jubilee, going off 25/1 before only just getting reeled in, in the shadow of the posts, eventually finishing a neck and short-head back in third.

After winning a Group One at Deauville, he returned to run a monster at Ascot in the Champion Sprint Stakes, finishing a close fourth after getting caught late. He gave Profitable almost a stone and a two length beating on his final start, which was simply jaw-dropping and the only real negative could be the ground

His best work has come on Soft but the Ascot clerk is sure to water in an attempt to get any firm out of the ground. Freshly watered, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue and it’s hard to see him not running a huge race.

He’s drawn just five stalls away from Lady Aurelia, so it will be an interesting tactical battle for the lead but it’s hard to see him out of the placings and there are sure to be extra place offerings on the day,

Elsewhere on day one, it could pay to side with ENDLESS ACRES at a big price. Thomas Hobson is sure to prove popular for the majestic combination of Moore and Mullins, yet Charlie Fellowes’ horse could be worth a second glance.

He missed the Chester Cup and ended up bumping into a well-backed Mark Prescott horse at Newmarket, finishing a fair second, with the pair well clear of the field. This will have put him spot on for Ascot, which will have been the long-term goal and at 20/1, the lightly raced son of Champs Elysees is worth a small interest.

1pt EW: Signs Of Blessing (King’s Stand) @ 7/1

1pt EW: Endless Acres (Ascot Stakes) @ 25/1

Golden Horn – A Golden Horse?

As Golden Horse strode majestically down the camber at Epsom, eating up the ground on the classy Jack Hobbs – those who were fortunate to have a space in the packed grandstand knew they were witnessing something special.

Doubts were diminishing, pressure was being eased and a date with destiny (part two) was answered as Frankie Dettori saluted the crowd with Golden Horn lengthening a few lengths clear underneath him.

This was the crowning glory of the animal who had crept under the radar since his sole two-year-old start and with the horse racing fraternity searching for a superstar among the ranks, Golden Horn has done nothing but answer graciously.

His only visit to the track as a two-year-old ensured he created a rather understated impression that looks more and more impressive the more you revisit it. He was slow away, looked set to be outpaced over three-furlongs out before making smooth headway under pressure, to pick it up and gallop relentlessly to the line.

He was always keeping Storm the Stars at bay and eventually crossed the line a head to the good, with seven lengths back to the third. It was the type of performance that brought a ‘wow’ reaction without too much thought being given to the actual strength of the race.

Still, it was enough to ensure he returned to the track as a warm favourite, as he took his place in the Listed Fielden Stakes (9f) at Newmarket. Again, he was held up before making smooth headway through the race under new rider, Frankie Dettori, taking the lead when edging left in the final furlong before going on to a clever length and a half success.

At this stage it was evident a mile may not be sufficient and a step up in trip was likely to bring out even more improvement from the colt.

So, with the long-term plan being the French Derby, he was sent to York to contest the Dante Stakes over 10f. It was a race that many thought would be a mini-Derby, with many of the leading candidates turning up on the Knavesmire.

However with connections feeling Golden Horn was a real 10f horse, there were very few Epsom murmurs, until William Buick manoeuvred the colt out to track the leaders, swooped upside Jack Hobbs and then kicked on to win a shade cosily.

The manner in which he galloped past rivals with a hint of ease suggested he may well get further and the commotion after the event surrounded future decisions. Would Mr Oppenheimer opt to swerve Cahntilly for a crack at the prestigious Epsom Derby?

Trainer John Gosden was certainly vocal with his feelings but he left it completely to the owner and it mustn’t have taken too long for a decision to be made, as he was swiftly chartering a different course, heading straight at Epsom.

The tracing fraternity finally had a horse to latch onto, an improving, unbeaten colt who had done no wrong. Golden Horn.

Another major pull was the renaissance of popular rider Frankie Dettori, as the Italian fought back from the brink of obsuciroty to secure himself the top rides with the in-form John Gosden. With William Buick’s Godolphin links it was highly likely he would be needed elsewhere and in a bizarre twist of fate, the jockey’s switched horses as Godolphin purchased Dante runner-up and Derby second-favourite, Jack Hobbs.

This meant Buick got on-board Jack Hobbs while Dettori gleefully took the reins on Golden Horn as he bid for his second date with destiny up the famous Epsom camber.

He was settled towards the rear as the leaders went hell-for-leather up front and as he swung around Tattenham Corner, Dettori began to ease the colt through the pack, while stablemate Jack Hobbs got first run and took up the running.

He took a few strides to really hit top gear, but Golden Horn was merely teasing backers, and the flat spot was no more as he picked up the bit and galloped after his big, stocky, stablemate. Then came the sense of inevitability.

The nervous expression of backers suddenly changed to confidence, with “Go on Frankie!” bellowed from all parts of the racecourse. The horse at this stage had just loomed upsides and then gone past Jack Hobbs, delivering a crushing blow as he sauntered across his barn buddy before running on strongly up the rail to coast home an impressive winner.

He then reappeared in the Eclipse, bidding to join the greats such as Sea The Stars and Nashwan in the elite group of animals to do the Derby/Eclipse double and it was here he cemented himself as a top-class horse.

After the field understandably cut up with many swerving the chance to face a red hot Derby winner, Golden Horn faced four rivals, including the consistent horse from the Kevin Ryan stable, The Grey Gatsby.

It was a new scenario with a distinct lack of pace likely, so it came as no surprise to see Dettori bounce out and ease his charge to the front, where he could dictate the tempo. He set steady early fractions and wound it up in the straight, but there was a real worry for Golden Horn backers as The Grey Gatbsy loomed up large under a patient Jamie Spencer ride, eye-balling the favourite for good measure.

Dettori was urging the colt for more up the rail and as the grey beast next to him was urged for more, it appeared John Gosden’s colt was in for a battle. However he did what champions do, and dug deep to find reserves many questioned were there as he picked up the tempo to forge on for strong pressure.

The crowd responded with cheers and urgings of their own and as he careered away down the Sandown straight, finding his balance with ease to come home a shade cosily in the end, with some distance back to the third, belief had grown.

Golden Horn could be a member of the elite.

After looking as though the 3yo ranks were set for a disappointing return, it is nice to see we have a number of potential top-class animals to pad out the remainder of the year. Golden Horn looks a genuine good ground horse who wouldn’t want it on the soft side, yet he should have the chance to add to his ever growing reputation over the course of the season.

A trip to the King George for which his owner has plenty of sentimental attachment seemed the likely port of call, before a potential crack at the Juddmonte International at York. However rain-softened ground put paid to the former, so the Irish Champion Stakes, the Arc and potentially even the Breeders Cup are all logical options at present and it will be interesting to see which way the colt goes.

At present he looks to have plenty of talent and a whole host of opportunities ahead of him. Hopefully the ground will come good on the Knavesmire and he can put in a big performance for racing fans to latch onto.

Can Golden Horn prove himself as the Golden horse?

Royal Ascot – Day Four Advice

We were left with only one selection on Thursday, as our single, Alive Alive Oh, was declared a non-runner.

However we yielded a decent profit, as Top Trip who was advised each-way at 20/1, was backed into 7/1, finishing a close third behind favourite Estimate in the Gold Cup. It was a great run from Top Trip, and he’s one to keep an eye on for the future, along with Altano who was given a rather strange ride to say the least.

Friday opens with the ever competitive Albany Stakes, for which Joyeuse will be of particular warm order for Lady Cecil, who is in great form.

The half-sister of Frankel overcame greenness to land a Lingfield maiden in great fashion. She is open to massive improvement, and should put in a bold performance.

However I am extremely keen on Richard Fahey’s filly Sandiva, who looked a real classy type when landing a listed race at Naas last time out.

He is a shrewd trainer and doesn’t send runners to Ireland without thinking they are going to go extremely close. She backed up her trainer’s confidence in tremendous style, and this, to go with her maiden victory, is the best form in the book.

That was on good-to-firm ground, the current going at Ascot, so the ground is no worries for he daughter of 2000 Guineas winner Footstepsinthesand.

The 3/1 currently on offer looks great value, although I do expect a gamble on Joyeuse, so bet with a BOG (Best Odds Guaranteed) firm.

To go with this selection, making our Friday a bet, a win-double, we add Battle of Marengo from the Aidan O’Brien stable.

The highly rated colt lost his unbeaten record in the Derby, when he faded late on, losing two places five yards from the line.

Friday’s field is a lot less competitive than the Epsom Derby, and he should take all the beating, if given a patient ride by Joseph O’Brien.

His main competitor is Greatwood, who was a leading Derby hope, before he flopped in the Dante, missing the race completely. He will arrive at Ascot, and should run into the places if he can put his last run behind him.

Hillstar will go close if he manages to settle early, but Battle of Marengo should have far too much class, and the current shade of odds-on may be subject to an even bigger gamble as he looks to be one of the ‘bankers’ of the week.

Advice:

2 points win double: Sandiva & Battle of Marengo @ 6.63/1

Royal Ascot – Day One Tips

It’s finally that time of year, where the Royal’s descend to Berkshire to get involved with five of the greatest flat racing days of the year.

Opening Day Double:

Five days of brilliant Group One action kicks off on Tuesday with the Queen Anne Stakes.

Animal Kingdom is the odds-on favourite, and it seems impossible to oppose the Breeders Cup Mile runner-up, who went on to land the Dubai World Cup in tremendous fashion, destroying a classy field.

He has been working well since coming over to England, and the straight mile should cause no problems for the International raider.

Elusive Kate and Trade Storm are interesting contenders at a price, but Animal Kingdom looks nailed on, and is the beginning of our opening day double.

The second horse in the double is Epsom Derby flop Dawn Approach.

The son of New Approach looked a superstar in the making during his unbeaten 2yo career which included a win in the Coventry Stakes at this meeting 12 months ago.

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He carried this form into his 3yo career, landing the 2000 Guineas with sumptuous ease at Newmarket, before going on to disappoint in the Derby, after failing to settle early on.

A drop back to a mile is sure to suit, and he should arrive to the race fresh, after Kevin Manning eased the colt down a long way from home at Epsom.

His magnificent cruising speed and turn of foot make him a worthy favourite, especially with doubts over Magician’s fitness, following reports of bruising on the colts’ shin.

He looked a special horse when landing the Irish 2000 Guineas, and will prove stiff opposition, as will Toronado from the Richard Hannon stable.

Richard Hughes has always maintained confidence in his mount, and said in his Racing Post column this week, if they can get over their own problems, they will win.

However, they now face a bigger problem in the face of Dawn Approach, whose course form, unbeaten record over a mile, and the shrewdness of his trainer Jim Bolger, suggests 11/8 is too big to ignore.

If he arrived here without stepping out at Epsom, he would be around the 1/2 mark, so if you can forgive him that one run, he seems a worthy bet.

Don’t Abandon the Reckless:

Overseas raiders have a brilliant record in the Kings Stand Stakes, but this year, the short priced favourite Shea Shea, does not appeal at the odds.

Instead, we should turn to Clive Cox’s raider, Reckless Abandon at 5/1. He won over course and distance at last year’s Royal meeting, and has since gone from strength to strength.

He’s notched up three group wins, two of those group one’s, since last June, and went very close to making it four, when finishing a narrow third behind Kingsgate Native at Haydock last time out.

That was his first defeat on a racecourse, and he was extremely unlucky, having been stranded down the far side before finishing with a flourish, but Kingsgate Native and Swiss Spirit, who both re-appear at Ascot, having the benefit of the stands side rail.

Spirit Quartz and Morawij have both been out since and franked the form, having both raced with Reckless Abandon on the far side, they have both gone on to land pattern races, which provides a timely boost.

He faces stiffer competition today, but with the weight allowance for three-year-old’s, and a decent draw, the 6/1 looks a solid each-way bet.

Arise Sir John:

The Coventry is as competitive as ever this year, with sixteen quality 2yo’s going to battle it out over a stiff six at the Berkshire track.

The favourite, Stubbs from the Aidan O’Brien stable, looks an interesting prospect, and landed the same prep race as last year’s winner Dawn Approach.

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However, he has a tendency to hand left under pressure, and the fact he’s coming from stall 1, means that is arguably the worst draw possible for the son of Danehill Dancer.

This leads us to look for a bigger priced raider, and one who fits the bill perfectly, is O’Brien’s supposed second-string, Sir John Hawkins.

The pedigree of the colt is simply superb, with the four-time Group One winner, Henrythenavigator being his sire, and his dam being none other than former Irish Oaks winner Peeping Fawn.

He showed great promise on debut, when showing great natural speed, beating a fairly competitive field with a tad in hand.

He will come on massively for the run, and with Ryan Moore on board, the confidence can only increase.

The 13/2 looks a solid each-way bet, and it would be no surprise to see the colt emulate his father, by winning the Group Two on Tuesday.

Advice:

2 points win double: Animal Kingdom & Dawn Approach @ 3.12/1 (Paddy Power)

1 point e.w double: Reckless Abandon @ Sir John Hawkins @ 51.5/1 (William Hill)

 

Royal Ascot 2013

It’s that time of year again, when the Royal’s pay a visit to the Berkshire racecourse, and the country comes together to toast champagne, and chow down on fresh strawberries as they watch the greatest thoroughbreds around battle it out.

Many see it as a day out, an important date in the social calender.. but for many, it’s five of the greatest racing days around, with Group One action taking place every day.

There are plenty of trends to follow, and dress-codes to abide by, so our good friends at BetVictor have very kindly pulled together a graphic, highlighting the big race trends, and important facts to take into consideration when having a punt.

I will be previewing all of the big races the evening before each-day, and hopefully we can make it a profitable week.

http://horseracing.betvictor.com/royal-ascot-2013/

Royal Ascot Graphic