Lee Carter

Ben has a big chance at Brighton

September does not really start with a bang in Britain with three modest cards this afternoon, but I have a selection each from the flat fixtures at Brighton and Leicester.

Brighton 4.00: Bennelong

Eight year old Bennelong is something of a character these days but when he is in the mood he is perfectly capable at this lowly level and he has solid form at Brighton in the past.  Current handler Lee Carter has him in decent nick at the moment and this 10f looks ideal for him nowadays.

He has won nine times in his career, at trips ranging from 8f-12f and has twice won with today’s pilot Amir Quinn on board.  Most of his racing has been done on the All Weather but when he does run on turf nowadays it is generally at Brighton.  His course record now reads 1316805, so although it looks like he has not performed well here more recently that does not tell the whole story.  His only run here in 2014 saw him place fifth, but he was hampered late on when looking likely to challenge for a place.

He has regained the winning habit since then with a win over this 10f trip at Lingfield and he had the pace to win over a mile at Kempton last month.  He is at his best when ridden with patience to be delivered with a late run, tactics that can often prove ideal here.  Few if any of his opponents have a convincing profile – two wear headgear for the first time, whilst three more would definitely prefer softer going.  Despite rising in the weights this race represents a fair opportunity for Bennelong to continue his good recent run.

Leicester 5.40: Bonjour Steve

Although he has proved a frustrating gelding to follow from a win perspective, now without a win in 17 attempts, Bonjour Steve has placed in nine of those races, bringing a greater consistency to his form since joining Richard Price this season and he looks each-way value again in Leicester’s finale.

His form was up and down last season with Stan Moore, but the nearest he came to winning was when sent over to Deauville for a claimer, finishing second.  That run came on very soft going, but he was perfectly capable of handling a firmer surface such as when second at Chepstow earlier in the year.

After a poor first couple of runs for his new yard, Bonjour Steve has been competitive ever since.  Two soft ground runners-up berths were claimed at Chepstow in May, but he again showed his adaptability on rock hard ground at this track in June when third over 7f to The Dukkerer.  He was well backed at Warwick last time but lacked the pace to get seriously involved over 6f.  This stiffer track will be more to his liking and whilst he will handle top of the ground conditions any rain that does fall will be of further assistance.

Recommended bets:

Brighton 4.00: (each-way) – Bennelong (8-1 general)

Leicester 5.40: (each-way) – Bonjour Steve (10/1 Skybet, Ladbrokes)

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 Ben has a big chance at Brighton

Michael Halford

Hone in on Halford at The Curragh

 

A cracking days racing from The Curragh featuring the €100,000 Guaranteed Irish stallion farms European Breeders Fund Irish Cambridgeshire.

Michael Halford (pictured) holds a strong hand and I am recommending backing two of his representatives. When watching Hasanour labouring is some poor handicaps earlier in the season, it would have appeared ludicrous to be thinking of him as a potential Irish Cambridgeshire winner, but having watched him display significant improvement on his latest two outings, the notion of him winning a premier handicap like this does not seem as ridiculous. He was particularly impressive at The Curragh last week, travelling strongly and scooting clear in the final furlong despite having obtained no cover and seeing plenty of daylight through the race. The question today is will the step up in class find him out. My gut feeling is that it may not.

Defining Year is a big threat following a hugely unlucky effort at Galway but for a second interest I am tempted by Hasanour’s stable companion, Won Diamond. Always something of a talking horse he has invariably failed to justify expectations, but remains unexposed and capable of better. A victory over Elleval early in his career at Dundalk and a good third to subsequent Britannia winner Roca Tomu at The Curragh are two efforts which suggest he has the class to win a race like this. His seasonal debut at Naas this year was encouraging and while a slightly high head carraige is a negative, Halfords positive comments in today’s Racing Post (reports horse to be working well at home) justify a wager on him at 25s.

In the preceding ten furlong handicap, I like the look of Sli Na Fiarana.The daughter of Dr Fong contested stronger contests last year including behind Stony Grey at Navan and Castle guest at Leopardstown. A fair return effort at Galway over hurdles will have blown the cobwebs away and she look significantly overpriced.

In the same contest the unexposed Weld Arab has to be feared. Despite showing little in three maidens, Dermot Welds gelding was heavily punted at Galway in what was a strong handicap won by Pyromaniac. Twelve furlongs on soft ground proved all too much for him but he left the impression there might be another day. Today he could be dangerous.

In the Group Three Dance Design Stakes, Carla Bianca is a worthy favourite, but there might be some value in going for Palace each-way. Well regarded at the start of the campaign by Ballydoyle, she has only 3/4 of a length to find with the favourite on a run at Naas in June, and todays nine furlong trip with a little ease in the ground could well represent her optimum conditions.

Finally in the concluding sprint, Pencil Hill’s highly unlucky effort last week has clearly not gone unnoticed, but he warrants the chance to gain compensation in a similar handicap today.

Selections:

Curragh: 3.35: 1 pt ew PALACE (8-1, General)

Curragh 4.05: 2 pts ew SLI NA FIARANA (14-1, General) ; 1 pt win WELD ARAB (7-1, General)

Curragh 4.35: 2 pts win HASANOUR (11-2, P Power) ; 1.5 pts ew WON DIAMOND (25-1, General)

Curragh 5.05: 1.5 pts win PENCIL HILL (4-1, General)

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 Hone in on Halford at The Curragh

 

 

Brighton Racecourse Tips

Take a shot on Vodka at Brighton

The August racing programme in Britain ends quietly with just the two Sunday meetings, although the card at Worcester has plenty going for it with two handicaps at the upper end of the spectrum.  I have a selection from the 2m hurdle, but the opening sprint on Brighton’s card is also of interest.

Brighton 2.00: Vodka Chaser

This season has already been a very productive one for Vodka Chaser since joining Alison Hutchinson over the winter, yet there could be more to come from the 3yo in a race that should be run to suit.

With Secret Missile and Lady Gibraltar in the field we can assume a strong gallop from the outset, but that is likely to mean a real change in positions up the hill in the closing stages and Vodka Chaser could be best placed to capitalise.  Although both his wins this summer have come on the flat Yarmouth 5f, his impressive win there last time in particular indicated he might have even more improvement to come on a stiffer track given his best furlong was his last one.

He already has decent form this summer on more undulating tracks with second places at Leicester and Bath, but he has the natural pace to be able to follow a frenetic early pace without getting too far out of his ground.  Whilst he has 6lbs extra to carry today, he is going the right way and another drying day today will help this fast ground specialist out a great deal.

 Worcester 4.10: Pure Style

Ittirad has been well placed by John Ferguson this summer on his favoured good ground to win twice and finish second on his other three starts, but whilst as the only confirmed front-runner in the field, he looks sure to make another bold show today, he might just meet his match in Pure Style.

Apart from a short spell with Paul Nolan last autumn, Pure Style has displayed quietly progressive form with Charlie Longsdon over the past couple of years, winning a couple of bumpers and then a couple of hurdle races this calendar year.  Considering he had just the two runs on unsuitably slow ground for Nolan over the previous twelve months, he ran out an impressive winner at Uttoxeter in March – the ground drying out just enough for this proven good ground performer.

That win gave a glimpse of the potential the 6yo could show given a dry few months and after a short break he came out to comfortably win over course and distance last month.  That run was designed to set him up for the big summer hurdle at Market Rasen, but sadly a thunderstorm before racing scuppered his chances and he ended up well beaten.  Today’s going will be perfect for him and a mark only 6lbs higher than for his win here last month still leaves him fairly treated.

Recommended bets:

Brighton 2.00: Vodka Chaser – 7-1 general

Worcester 4.10: Pure Style – 9-2 general

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 Take a shot on Vodka at Brighton

Clon Brulee

Wonder are we taking the correct Viewpoint today at Sandown

 

A relatively quiet Saturday for me.

The most interesting race of the day comes at Sandown in the shape of the ten furlong St James Theatre Handicap at 3.50. In a number of these handicaps all season, it has proved no harm at all to have the services of a claiming jockey taking off a valuable few pounds and with that in mind I am going to split the stakes on a pair of apprentice ridden runners.

Viewpoint takes something of a leap of faith as he has been hammered on his latest few turf outings, but I am taking a chance that today’s softer ground can bring out a return to form.Richard Hannon’s representative has slipped in the handicap since winning a valuable handicap at Goodwood 2013 and he showed he retains plenty of ability when winning at Lingfield earlier in the season. His race record indicates he has always struggled on good ground and all his best form is either on polytrack or with some cut on turf. Therefore at the prices he is worth a small interest with conditions forecast on the soft side.

Clon Brulee(pictured) has always threatened to develop into a nice horse and his latest success at Newmarket suggested he is ready to start fulfilling his potential. Zetland Gold Cup winner in 2013, he has had his limitations exposed at times in top handicap company, but looked an improved horse for a soft surface last time. With Mikey Ennis claiming seven he effectively competes off the same mark today so his chance must be taken seriously.

The only other betting interest I will be having today is on the domestic front and the sunny south-east at Wexford. Greatness appeals stepping up in trip in the two mile handicap. A little disappointing thus far on the level, he looks worth another chance today with his recent hurdles win at Galway indicating stamina is his forte.

Sandown: 3.50: 1 pt win CLON BRULEE (8-1, General) ; 1 pt ew VIEWPOINT (18-1, Bet Victor)

Wexford 4.55: 2 pts win GREATNESS (3-1, Ladbrokes)

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 Wonder are we taking the correct Viewpoint today at Sandown

Punchestown Races

Dursey Sounds just fine at Newton Abbot

There is good racing on offer everywhere you look on Saturday with some decent prize money on offer for connections and plenty of good betting opportunities for punters.  All four afternoon meetings in Britain have something to look forward to so I have a selection from all four fixtures.  Barney Mcgrew made a place (sp 16-1) in the previous column on Monday.

Beverley 2.25: Kingsgate Native

The admirable 9yo Kingsgate Native has been taking on the best 5f sprinters all season and has been his usual consistent self.  However he has failed to win in five attempts so this drop back to listed class and a stiffer track which he seems to like these days can work the oracle.

Twice a group 1 winner in his younger days, he last won at group race level at Haydock on rattling fast ground last May in the Temple Stakes.  Therefore the drying ground will be in his favour today.  It was fast when he beat all bar Sole Power on his return at Newmarket in May.

Since then he placed third in the Temple Stakes again, on unsuitably soft ground, and was only narrowly beaten over Sandown’s stiff 5f by the recent Group 1 placed Extortionist last month.  He lacked the pace over Goodwood’s sharp 5f to get involved last time out, but he gets into this race without a penalty and should be doing good work as the final climb takes its toll late on.

Chester 2.55: Foxtrot Romeo and Apostle

As ever a low draw at Chester has to be an advantage and my two fancies for this valuable handicap have both been blessed with a decent berth.

Foxtrot Romeo has still yet to win since landing a debut win as a 2yo but has run countless good races since and proven to be a consistent handicapper at this level this season.  Whilst his second place in the Irish 2000 Guineas in 2012 probably flatters him, a switch to Marco Botti this season has rekindled his enthusiasm.  Apart from one run when outpaced over 6f at York, he has been thereabouts ever since and was only narrowly beaten by Accession at Newbury last time having showed his customary high cruising speed early on.  I am hopeful that this turning track and inside draw will keep him sufficiently interested to come there in the straight.  Hopefully Paul Hanagan will be able to deliver him at the right time.

Apostle represents owner Marwan Koukash and as such is now becoming a regular visitor to Chester.  His first two runs here last season were disastrous, but he is clearly getting the hang of the place with form figures of 521 this season.  It was probably significant that he was ridden more patiently than usual last time out over this course and distance and he responded with a much stronger finishing effort.  At home with cut in the ground he can defy a 5lb higher mark

Newton Abbot 3.20: Dursey Sound

One of two top class handicaps at the Devon track, the chase looks the better race and if his jumping holds out Dursey Sound remains well handicapped on the evidence of his big return to form at Southwell last time.

The 6yo remains unexposed and had shown great potential when winning his first two starts in Britain over hurdles in the autumn of 2012.  After a fair second at Ascot upped in class, he was then put away after pulling up behind The New One at Warwick that January.  Connections clearly wanted to mind him before sending him over fences and that is where he went last autumn.

Although his jumping was far from foot perfect he made a winning start over the bigger obstacles in a decent field at Bangor once again displaying a preference for good ground.  However he failed to progress from that, dislodging his jockey on his next two starts, before looking less than resolute in two defeats at Catterick. Subsequent evidence would suggest however that he simply failed to stay the extended 3m.  He struggled in ultra competitive big fields at the Cheltenham Festival and Market Rasen.  However given more space in a smaller field at Southwell he cruised through the contest to take command two out.  A sloppy jump at the last almost ruined things, but he had plenty in hand at the finish.  Provided his jumping holds out today – and the fences here are not the stiffest – he looks the class of the field.

Sandown 3.50: Viewpoint and What About Carlo

The best race of the day at Sandown from a betting perspective is the St James Theatre Handicap and two against the field at double figure odds looks the play here.

Strongest fancy is for Viewpoint a horse who has been generally racing over 12f even though all evidence suggest he barely stays that distance.  There are no stamina doubts over 10f and he also seems at his best on turf with just a little cut, exactly as conditions will ride in Esher.   He is probably just about best on Polytrack and took advantage of a slow pace to just last home over 12f to win the apprentice race on All Weather finals day at Lingfield off a mark of 92.

That win temporarily left him badly handicapped on turf, hence his lack of competitiveness since.  However he ran better than a horse only finishing sixth at Ascot last time where again the stamina gave out over 12f.  His one run this season over 10f can be ignored as the saddle slipped.  However he had the speed to win a fast run 10f contest at Glorious Goodwood last season off 91 and he has now been dropped to a workable rating of 89 – with top apprentice Cam Hardie able to claim a further 5lbs.

One of the class horses in the field, What About Carlo should not be ignored either. A wide margin winner here in the spring over a mile on soft ground, he showed he had the stamina to last out 10f when winning on Derby day at Epsom.  He has struggled in a higher grade since,  but is only 6lbs higher than for that decisive Epsom win and on a track he clearly acts well on.

Recommended bets:

Beverley 2.25: Kingsgate Native – 5/1 general

Chester 2.55: Foxtrot Romeo – 7/1 general

Chester 2.55: Apostle- 15/2 Skybet, BetVictor, William Hill

Newton Abbot 3.20: Dursey Sound – 9/2 Boylesports, BetVictor

Sandown 3.50: What About Carlo (each-way) – 14/1 William Hill

Sandown 3.50: Viewpoint(each-way) – 18/1 BetVictor, Coral

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 Dursey Sounds just fine at Newton Abbot