Azurite the right choice at Fairyhouse

Fairyhouse stages a seven race card this Tuesday afternoon featuring the twelve furlong Like us on Facebook Handicap at 5.05. The Dermot Weld -trained Whitey O Gwaun is likely to start a warm order and might be a blot on the handicap, but there appears to be some each way value in the race courtesy of Azurite, the representative of Ger Lyons (pictured)

Following plenty of early season promise, the fortunes of the selection took a mid summer dip but he returned with a better effort at Dundalk last time to suggest he remains one to still be interested in. I was impressed with the determination he showed when dead heating with Breathe Easy on his seasonal debut at The Curragh and he ran a pretty good race next time when narrowly failing to concede six pounds to a horse who is better than him -Wexford Town at Wexford in early June. He pulled too hard off a slow pace next time over 12 furlongs at The Curragh and proved a disappointment on easy ground in a four horse conditions race at Leopardstown. Wisely given a break then by Lyons, he returned with a fair effort behind the useful Panama Hat at Dundalk and might have finished closer with a clearer passage.

Twelve furlongs is not guaranteed to suit, but he certainly looks worth another shot over the distance. Provided he receives a patient ride and does not race too keenly in the early stages, I think he could easily be mounting a bold bid in the final furlong.

Fairyhouse 5.05: 1 pt ew AZURITE (8-1, Ladbrokes)
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 Azurite the right choice at Fairyhouse

Newton Abbot

Remember Unforgettable at Newton Abbot

With the unseasonably good weather remaining in place we have fast ground conditions prevailing at the three meetings in Britain on Monday, although there looks to have been enough rain at Hamilton to ensure conditions are suitable for my selection. I also have a choice from Newton Abbot’s jumping card.

Newton Abbot 3.00: Unforgettable

He won’t be getting any better at the age of eleven, and has not won for over two and a half years now, but it is rare that any recruit to the Peter Bowen yard cannot find a race or two to be won and so Unforgettable gets another chance on his third start for the West Wales handler.

His only wins to date have been gained over 2m on flat, sharp tracks at Huntingdon and Wexford, so it would appear his stamina can easily be stretched. That theory would explain his poor record every time he is raced beyond the 2m mark.

Both starts for Bowen this summer have seen him heavily defeated over 2m4f, but there is an additional excuse in that he could be rusty from more than a year off through injury. He had previously run a couple of good races for previous trainer Robin Dickin in much better company in the spring of 2013. He placed second in two class 3 2m chases on good ground, at Kempton and here – again both tracks that place an emphasis on speed not stamina. With trainer’s son Sean Bowen taking off a valuable 7lbs, Unforgettable is now 9lbs below his last winning mark and is worth taking a chance with back at his preferred trip.

Hamilton 5.10: Stanarley Pic

Having broken his maiden tag just seven days ago at this track, a fine bit of placing by trainer Alan Swinbank provides Stanarley Pic with the ideal opportunity to follow up over just a furlong further today.

The 3yo had been superbly consistent without winning until last Monday, but he made no mistake last week over 11f, beating Mister Uno by over 2l. At his best on ground good or slightly softer, there has been sufficient rain over the past couple of days to ensure the ground shouldn’t be too lively for him.

He gets into this race off the maximum rating of 70, but his win last week gives him a 6lb penalty which effectively rates him a minimum 16lbs superior to all his rivals today. The weight-for-age scale means though he does not have to concede huge lumps of weight all round. However this unexposed gelding could simply be a class or two too good here.

Recommended bets:

Newton Abbot 3.00: Unforgettable – 7-1 Bet365, Skybet

Hamilton 5.10: Stanarley Pic – 11/4 William Hill


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 Remember Unforgettable at Newton Abbot

Michael Halford

Take a Pit Stop at The Curragh

Pit Stop has been shaping with promise all season steadily improving with each run and this could be the time when he is ready to come of age and land a big handicap. Michael Halford’s representative began the season in promising fashion when fourth at Naas and followed that up with a neck defeat of Beyond Brilliance at Leopardstown, who has shown the form in a favourable light since. He has not been disgraced in a few strong handicaps subsequently, shaping better than his final placing suggested at both The Curragh behind Table Rock and York behind Master of The World. We can draw a line through his latest effort in a strong seven furlong handicap at Leopardstown where he was kept too far off the pace and endured a troubled passage. From stall one , he will likely be more prominently placed today and while at the same time I would not want to see him ridden too aggressively, if Hoban can get him settled in third or fourth place in the early stages we could be on a winner. I have doubts on a number of his market rivals and this could be Pit Stop’s opportunity.

Defining Year has a chance on his Galway effort,  but at big prices, a small fluuter is advised on Whimsical. Now with Joanna Morgan, this son of Strateghic Prince shaped well in decent company earlier in the season and shaped better at Listowel recently following a summer dip in form. With a likely strong pace, the race could be set up for a closer and this lad could reach the frame.

Pencil Hill was heavily punted last time out following an unlucky effort on his penultimate start seven days previously. In hindsight, perhaps the run came too soon and at a much bigger price today, he could be worth chancing.


5.15: 1 pt win PENCIL HILL (10-1, bet 365)

5.45: 3 pts ew PIT STOP (5-1, General) ; 0.5 pts ew WHIMSICAL (25-1, General)

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 Take a Pit Stop at The Curragh


Crowley the man to follow at Epsom

Epsom’s final fixture of 2014 features the apprentice derby over the full classic trip. However it is two other races on the card that appeal more from a punting perspective with Jim Crowley on board both of today’s choices.

Epsom 3.20: Merry Me

Despite the small field this looks a relatively straight forward race to predict tactically with Lockhart expected to make the running having successfully adopted make all tactics in first time blinkers at Yarmouth last week. Whether he is able to repeat the feat from a 6lb higher mark is doubtful and he could help set the race up for the progressive Merry Me.

After two disappointing outings early in her 2yo career, she returned a stronger and better horse in the winter, earning valuable experience and some prize money for connections in the process. Her first solid effort came in her third run at Lingfield when second despite still running green, earning a starting handicap mark of 70.

She didn’t stay 10f at Kempton next time, but a mile is her trip based on wins in her next two starts, an AW handicap at Lingfield, and then a battling display on soft ground at Ffos Las. She seems perfectly at home on faster going however based on her staying on third at Sandown recently, beaten just a length by GM Hopkins, form that received a massive boost with that rival’s easy win at Newmarket on Friday.

Epsom 3.55: Stormardal

Disappointing so far this season, Stormardal left his form way behind when winning with something to spare at Ripon last time and it could be he remains well handicapped if he can put a consistent run of form together this autumn.

He was thought highly enough of to run in the Dewhurst at Newmarket last season where he came a respectable 5th of six to War Command. However it was his third over a mile at the same track the previous month that showed he could handle decent handicap company.

He put in a couple of respectable efforts in the spring when third at both Haydock and Newmarket with cut in the ground, but failed to progress from that when very well beaten at both Newmarket and Glorious Goodwood in the summer. However he produced his best form on quick ground at Ripon last time, beating a useful yardstick in Woodacre. Hopefully this means he has turned over a new leaf and a reproduction of that effort off a mere 5lb higher mark would probably be good enough.

Recommended bets:

Epsom 3.20: Merry Me – 7-2 Bet365, Stan James

Epsom 3.55: Stormardal – 7-1 general

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 Crowley the man to follow at Epsom

Ralph Beckett

You know what? It was Nice of You to tell Me the winner of the Cambridgeshire

A busy day’s racing with plenty of competitive handicaps. Spearheading proceedings is one of the biggest betting races of the season,  the Betfred Cambridgeshire at Newmarket.

Well touted favourite Cornrow has the right profile and will be a tough nut to crack but I am looking at a pair of bigger priced alternatives. Ralph Beckett (pictured) is always a man to be feared, and his representative Niceofyoutotellme makes each-way appeal. The five-year old son of Hernando boasts fine course form having won two good handicaps at this venue and comes into the race off only a light season which has to be an advantage at this juncture of the campaign. I still maintain that the contest he won on Guineas weekend was one of the hottest handicaps run all season and obviously a straight nine furlongs on quick ground brings out the best in him. His defeat of the smart Nabucco at the venue last year also reads well and a return to HQ could see him bounce back from two slightly disappointing efforts at Ascot ad Goodwood.

Although there are a few negatives about his chance, the 28-1 about Homage appeals as worth taking. A raw inexperienced type last season, he displayed potential in a couple of good handicaps including when second to Asshaad at Sandown. After leaving Jeremy Noseda he joined William Haggas for the new season with reports that he had strengthened up after the years development. He started off the season convincingly at Windsor and evidently had excuses when failing to fire next time at Kempton. It is not a convincing case in fairness, but he strikes me as having the potential yet to better his mark so is not discounted for that reason.

Over at Haydock, we have an interesting fourteen handicap. Dashing Star has looked woefully one paced in three outings this season but is dropping in grade slightly today so we will take a chance on him. In fairness, he ran reasonably well at Goodwood last time as he rallied strongly for fourth having cut out the running and appearing set to drop away when headed. He bumped into a pair of top handicappers on the day in the shape of Van Percy and Havana Cooler and there does not appear to be as strong of rivals against him today. A strong stayer, he will likely be prominently ridden from stall three and he could keep grinding away out in front and prove hard to pass.

Market Rasen stages a strong card also today and we must start following the jumpers much more closely now as we near the month of October. In fairness, handicap hurdles are probably my favourite races of all and we have a well contested one at 2.10. Cool Sky has hit a recent purple patch and who is it to say he will not go close to following up his success at Plumpton a few days ago. Well suited by the fast pace there, he should enjoy a similar scenario today and ought to go close under Richard Johnson.

In the Listed Chase at 2.40, I will take a chance on Fox Appeal defying the welter burden of top weight. Emma Levelle’s charge ran well against some of the top novices last year and his quick agile jumping and ability to travel should stand him in good stead around the tight circuit.


Newmarket 3.50 : 1 pt ew NICEOFYOUTOTELLME (16-1, General) ; 0.75 pts ew HOMAGE (28-1, General)

Haydock 5.20: 1.5 pts ew DASHING STAR (5-1, General)

Market Rasen 2.10: 1pt ew COOL SKY (8-1, General)

Market Rasen 2.40: 1.5 pts win FOX APPEAL (7-1, General)

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 You know what? It was Nice of You to tell Me the winner of the Cambridgeshire